Attention!! If you can see this message it means you are viewing the web with an old browser (web viewing programme such as NETSCAPE 4.x or earlier) or a handheld or mobile phone type reader. That means you will see only a basic version of the pages — the content should be perfectly readable but will have a basic layout. For a printable version you can click on a link to download. A better webpage layout will be shown in modern browsers(eg Opera7, InternetExplorer6, Safari or Mozilla). If you are not limited by small memory in older computers, you can download these programmes from the Internet. Installation is usually quite simple and usually safe from viruses.

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

Skip Navigation(?)

Back issue

No 1380 23rd December 2010

Fake-“left” posturing about “revolution” is nothing but reformist defencism and confusion, aching for a return to the “old certainties” of super-profit fed class-collaboration and welfare stagnation. But the capitalist world crisis now unfolding is an unstoppable titanic historic change that is shaking apart centuries of class rule and demands the deepest running revolutionary theoretical development and leadership to end class rule forever. Leninist debate vital

Increasing eruptions of spontaneous mass bitterness and anger, like last week’s Athens demonstration, Dublin, the student upheavals and much more against the catastrophic economic and political disaster that the monstrous unfairness, arrogance and exploitation of capitalism has brought on the world, are forcing the fake-“lefts” of all kinds to pedal faster than ever to keep up their pretences of “leadership” and “radical action”.

The utterly supine and bankrupt official trade union movement has finally started – six months after the completely fraudulent “democratic” general election (with one of the lowest positive turnouts in history and most of that for the instant turncoat Lib Dems) – tentatively to murmur about calling strikes against the cuts – stung by the exposure of the TUC and the Labour establishment’s vacuum by the student demonstrations, limited in scope and ambition as they are.

Finally even the words “revolution” and “overthrow of capitalism” have made the odd appearance from the fake-“lefts” after years of either not mentioning it at all or, just to keep up appearances, burying the question in tail-end paragraphs to articles, back-page lists of “principles” or in turgid, windy “on the one hand, on the other” agnostic articles which never offered a lead to anyone.

But while this new “left” apparent boldness is an interesting signal of how fast events are beginning to move and reflects profound and encouraging changes taking place in mass consciousness after decades of philistinism, consumerist dumbing-down and debt-fed complacency, it has got nothing to do with the genuine revolutionary Leninist consciousness and leadership that needs to be developed and fought for if the working class is finally to deal with the barbaric and violently tyrannical rule of capital and its rapacious greed, now plunging the world back into world war disaster on an unprecedented scale.

Giant epochal changes are underway which are tearing up the certainties and fundamental assumptions of the post-war order and society everywhere on the planet and into the heart of even the most complacent and smug middle class heartlands (despite the Tories’ “never-had-it-so-good” economic money-printing bribery to keep them fat, which Lord Young made explicit recently).

The staggering Wikileaks confirmations of the cynical fascist-conspiracy reality of Western “freedom and democracy” lies (both by the leaked content and the demented and hysterical US “kill them” reaction to the leakers), the constant and worsening haemorrhaging of the international finance system (unstoppable) since 2008, the stirrings of mass discontent, fears and increasing, justifiable rage everywhere at the savage Slump cuts being pushed onto ordinary people, and the financial and military-morale black-hole disasters and slow defeats that Third World resistance and rebellion has made of a decade of US blitzkrieg and torture attempts to re-establish the full writ of its Empire tyranny in the Middle East and beyond, are all signals of a society being shaken to pieces.

Capitalist class rule has hit the buffers.

It will continue imposing ever more foul, torturing, violent slump agony on the world until it is overthrown root and branch.

But the fake-“left” have not got the remotest grasp of any of it.

Sprinkling the word “revolution” through a few leaflets or scrawling it in a “radical” typeface on a banner at a student demonstration, encouraging a bit of anarchic “street action” window-breaking or fostering “militant pacifism” and “anti-arms peace sabotage” are a million miles from rebuilding the deep running scientific and philosophical understanding that is crucial if the US led imperialist system is not to plunge the world back into Depression agonies and World War chaos.

This disintegration of the world capitalist finance, economic and international trading system, now imploding into trade and currency war, rising inflation, shutdowns and bankruptcies, sovereign debt defaults and international hostility, is permeating every aspect of society and touching everyone in it.

The cuts and cutbacks are not, simply, wilful ideological impositions by a greedy ruling class as new “left militant” Unite union leader Len McCluskey asserts, thereby completely (and deliberately) missing the point by suggesting that cuts can be “pushed back”.

Of course workers can fight, and defend their livelihoods, and even slow the class-war onslaught of speed-up and exploitation to poverty levels being prepared, and they will when the leadership is there.

But without a perspective of the unstoppable nature of the collapse and failure of world capitalism they are left completely disarmed.

But that is not sufficient either.

The economic slump collapse, is the signal of irreversible and accelerating motion of change and transformation which must and can only precipitate the greatest class conflicts ever seen in history in order to end for good the degenerate, foul, stifling, and above all historically bankrupted regime of self-seeking, greed-driven wasteful, capitalist class rule, long out of time and capable only of driving the world into the greatest disasters and Depression collapse of all time.

The eulogising of the students marches, significant as they are as a reflection of societal ferment, the organisation of TopShop tax boycotts, or the call for more union action to defend wages, all fall far short of preparing the working class for the titanic struggles which increasingly face them in Britain, which are already erupting in various forms throughout the Third World and which challenge the whole of mankind.

The perspective of “making the bosses” pay, or “refusing to accept the cuts”, is nothing but the same old reformist illusions in gradually changing capitalism for the better, but re-written for the “temporary” setbacks of “recession”, to “defend” workers.

Workers should of course defend themselves but they need to do it with a rapidly developing consciousness of exactly what the ruling class is preparing for, – all-out class war.

Even if it were possible to make the billionaire Greens “pay up” – which it is not – it would not change the existence of capitalism which will relentlessly plunge onwards into disaster.

This kind of “revolution” is no revolution at all.

It is always tied to calls for “left” pressure to “force more action” out of the existing leaderships, leading the working class straight back round in circles to the very traitors and opportunists who have misled them for decades, tying them back to the illusions of parliament and “democracy” (even as the common experience has virtually broken all trust in, or illusions about the opportunist confidence trick of parliamentary “democracy” for good) and the hamstringing class-collaborationism of the TUC and the official trade union movement.

Every one of the fake-“left” groups including the whole gamut of squabbling Trotskyists, the “militant” union leaders and the remnants of the old pro-Moscow revisionists and Maoists, right down to the “purist” Museum Stalinists, does the same thing in one way or another.

For all that some of them will now talk here and there of the impossibility of reversing the capitalist slump, of its origins and cause in the contradictions of capitalism itself not some alleged misdeeds of the bankers (which while real enough are just a symptom of the intractable contradiction driven disaster of the profit system) and even of the need to “overthrow” or “dismantle” the capitalist state (sound enough in itself) they all come back to mere calls to “insist that the workers don’t pay the price”, that “the struggle for peace” can be won (a pacifist and revisionist nonsense still criminally disarming the working class) and that “better representation” can be argued for.

What a joke.

It does not begin to convey to world shattering implications of the crisis, which is not only the unravelling of eight hundred years of capitalist and imperialist domination, but five thousand years of class rule through slavery and feudalism before that.

Deep down they maintain the assumption that “defending” against the crisis will get the world back on keel.

War can be stopped gibber the museum-Stalinist Proletarian/Lalkerites “if we all get together and say no”.

And the tide can be made to go out if we all get behind King Knut and shout at it loudly enough, presumably.

War is built into the fabric of capitalism and can be stopped ONLY by ending it.

Why not “all get together” to do that?

“Restore the post-war consensus” says John Rees, former leader in the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and now instigator of the “Coalition of Resistance” left lash-up.

What does that mean?

It warns the ruling class that if they tear up the reforms and welfarism established in the post-2nd World War, post-1930s slump period the mass upheavals that follow will turn to revolution.

But the operative word is “warn”.

Rees and all the fake-“lefts” do not see the disintegration now as the great opportunity for the working class to finally end the monstrosity of capitalism by building revolutionary understanding and leadership.

He wants to return to a comfortable reformist status quo, by an “or else” warning that he has no intention of leading.

But the NHS and free higher education etc etc were only ever a pale shadow response by the ruling class to the huge gains being made by workers revolutions in the Soviet Union and, post-war, the whole of Eastern Europe.

In the West such things were granted under duress to head off the revolutionary wave post-1945 inspired by disgust at capitalism’s Depression and war horrors, and admiration for the Red Army destruction of Nazism and the building of socialism in the USSR.

It was ruling class retreat in the face of the threat of losing everything that made it grant as much as it did.

But even at the high points the “Welfare State” has been an overall disaster for the working class.

Of course it put a salve or bandage on the worst deprivation (in the rich countries only). But keeping the poorer workers rotting on the dole and housing allowances (and ever more inadequately) does nothing to alter the grotesque inequalities of society.

It just suppresses their inevitable and healthy anger and revolutionary energy.

On top of that overall it has created further and deeper layers of petty bourgeois-minded, privileged working-class paid off effectively with “good jobs” and opportunities (in the subsidised “public sector” of local councils and quangos especially, where New Labourite illusions and anti-communism run deep) and saturated with racist contempt or indifference, the “labour lieutenants” of capitalism as Lenin approvingly quoted an American communist, pouring petty bourgeois attitudes into the working class to poison and corrupt revolutionary thinking.

The fake-“lefts” are the ideological offspring of all this opportunism and anti-communism, disguising themselves with the “revolutionary phrase” but not the content.

All that was paid for with a (small) portion of the unbelievable flood of super-profits extracted from imperialist sweatshop exploitation of billions in the Third World.

The Third world is increasingly giving its answer, like the massive Bangladeshi riots by the $2 a week garment workers who feed the Western supermarkets with their “cheap” clothing.

That in the end, far more than student demonstrations, will be the driving force in changing the world.

But the working class everywhere needs to understand that it is in the same boat (and likely to be pushed just as far down if capitalism continues unchallenged).

Rees’ “post-war consensus” would just drag them back into the class collaboration of the post-war boom.

But it is an impossibility, because the boom is over.

These confusion politics serve only to buy time for the ruling class.

To do what?

Prepare for the counter-revolution and the brutal suppression of the inevitable upheavals that everyone knows are coming.

Small wonder Rees is suddenly being given oodles of time for “deeply serious” interviews by the cunning and carefully controlled capitalist media which knows almost by instinct what is genuinely revolutionary and what is a useful diversion.

Capitalism’s usual strategy is to ignore at best, or ridicule and mock if necessary, all talk of revolution, and not stir things too much, not even with the shallowness and pretences of the fake-“left”s, which just might trigger more serious thought in the working class along the “wrong” lines, since it has to make a least a pretence of talking revolution.

But in the growing desperation of the world crisis which is panicking major sections of the ruling class, it is too late to stop the anger and rage from mounting.

So the next best thing is to count on the long tolerated fake-“lefts” who now present “revolution” at best simply as a mechanism, not to totally finish with the now unnecessary class domination of one section of humanity over others but just as just another form of pressure on the ruling class to be “fairer” in the way it runs the world, perhaps with the concession that “eventually” it might be needed after “narrowing of the options”.

This literally petty (meaning small)-minded, narrow, pleading perspective is glaring in the current discussions of the preposterous CPGB crypto-Trotskyist mountebanks, the academic ‘Leninism’-pretenders, who believe that stealing the name of the old Stalinist Communist Party of Great Britain somehow gives them credibility to justify the most vicious and poisonous attacks on the remaining workers states and anti-imperialist struggles on the planet and on the entire titanic history of the Soviet Union and other great workers state developments. Listen to this nonsensical “open debate” supposedly about revolution:

...If Britain wants to retain its place in the global pecking order, it has to implement deep spending cuts. The ruling Tory elite cannot imagine serious resistance: it cut its political teeth during Thatcher’s regime, which saw the strategic defeat of the miners and other militant workers. Yet, in order for the bourgeoisie to withdraw the cuts, it needs to be faced with the prospect of “something worse” than not implementing them. It could happen that the capitalist class might get scared as resistance grows, but action is needed on a European scale to effect this. And the overthrow of capitalism needs to be posed, since anything less than this is more easily shrugged off. That is why the party question is basic: it requires a real Communist Party to argue for the overthrow of capitalism, linking the cuts campaigns as a first step.

Peter Manson also thought that the absence of a Communist Party was key.

However, comrade Manson disagreed with the assertion that the cuts regime could not be defeated without at least the threat of overthrowing capitalism. The ruling class was not united on the necessity of a drastic, immediate reduction in spending and cutting the budget deficit: it could be forced to retreat.

Counterfire, COR’s initiators, were the right people in the right place at the right time, according to John Bridge. He worried that COR would have no accountable leadership for six months until the next conference is held. Once things really take off, there will be the urgent need for flexibility and accountability. Hence elected and recallable delegates. However, he disagreed with comrade Manson over a ruling class split, certainly when it comes to parliament. Both the coalition and the official opposition were united over cuts. Speed and depth are mere technicalities and the appointment of Alan Johnston, as opposed to Ed Balls, sent a clear message. A Labour government under Ed Miliband would be looking for sweeping cuts. The room for concessions is narrowing because of capitalism’s long-term decline and the idea of going back to Keynesianism and the 1960s and 50s was completely illusory. The crisis of capitalism is structural, not episodic, and could only be positively resolved by the working class coming to power.

Nick Rogers was dismayed by comrade Bridge’s suggestion, which he interpreted as saying that cuts were inevitable without the overthrow of capitalism. Saying cuts can only be combated by a Communist Party and revolution is wrong. These are not unprecedented levels of national indebtedness, and the UK was hardly the same as an Ireland or Greece. So there is leeway for the ruling class to make concessions, which we can exploit. Tina Becker agreed with comrade Rogers and argued that, while all the proposed cuts could not be overturned without capitalism being superseded, we could force a retreat. She gave the example of student fees being dropped in Germany after the rise of Die Linke.

James Turley pointed out that the parameters for deficit spending were set by global relations: any defeats of cuts in Britain would have to get past the EU and the US first, so it was not a simple question of forcing the British ruling class to retreat. Comrade Farzad emphasised that there was a crisis of over-accumulation. Some bourgeois writers see doomsday scenarios. As Keynesian proposals were non-solutions, she agreed that we must energetically take up the question of overthrowing capitalism, arguing persistently against temporary ‘solutions’.

Lee Rock considered comrade Bridge’s position “not well thought out” - if occupations and strikes cannot win, he asked, why organise them? He characterised comrade Bridge’s view as “cuts or communism”. But the cuts can be stopped - the ruling class always has an escape option. However, a trade union fightback was not inevitable, he said - look at Ireland. Even the left-led trade unions in Britain refuse to organise a pre-Christmas strike against the cuts, and there is no TUC strike call to accompany its March 26 anti-cuts demonstration.

For Stan Kelsey, the balance of class power determines the level of concessions that can be obtained and comrade Bridge agreed with this: yes, of course, the capitalist class will give concessions - but it will try to “take them away the next day”.

Replying to the debate, comrade Macnair underlined the fact that David Cameron’s privatisation agenda cannot be successfully countered by mass demonstrations and strikes. While the “something worse” faced by the bourgeoisie did not necessarily have to be the threat of revolution, he felt something like the working class revolt of the early 19th century would be necessary to force the ruling class to abandon ‘austerity’. Victory for our class means coercing the capitalists; serious action can win concessions, but strikes alone will not do it.

Such a porridge of eclecticism and confusion bears about as much relation to Marxism and Leninism as astrology does to astrophysics. Less.

It is a million miles from seeing revolution as the driving force and mechanism of all development and history, natural phenomena, and human society equally, and permeating and interconnecting every development from the upheavals in Iraq and Afghanistan to the meltdown in the bond markets, and unstoppably arising from the very pores of the old order.

To even suggest revolution is just a “possibility” or a “tactic”, up for discussion at all betrays utter philistinism.

To not take it as the starting point of all analysis and understanding betrays complete petty bourgeois class-based fear of what might be unleashed – matching the fear and detestation all the petty bourgeoisie have for the power of the working class once it is mobilised for open class war, and subsequently for the discipline and control of the working class state power, controlled and defended by the vital dictatorship of the working class to allow the building of planned socialist production and society, the only answer there can be to the disastrous anarchy of capitalism and its slump implosions.

It is notable above that the careful John Bridges steps over the more obvious traps in the discussion by declaring “Keynesianism will not work”.

But this bet hedging, which puts off revolution with an opportunist “in the long term” perspective, covers over the slyest opportunism of all, sniffing in the air the capitalist media attention already being given to the likes of John Rees and making sure to smarm around his Counterfire in case its “media-friendly” zappy website glitz should be the next populist bandwagon.

It is not ruled out that Slump crisis developments may be pushing the working class so fast now that something like the Coalition of Resistance attracts significant numbers of workers looking for leadership, rather then just the assorted “usual suspects” of the fake-”lefts” which populate the endless repeats of petty bourgeois pretend-socialist and class collaborating “alliances”.

That in turn may force it open enough for revolutionary argument and polemic to be given its chance, rather than being avoided or censored as usual in the hopeless evasions of all difference which have characterised repeated “left unity” collectives, all falling apart sooner or later precisely because they refuse to deal with the thousand and one profound political and philosophical issues which urgently need clarifying.

Testing the water, by Leninist interventions and polemical battling in unity and conflict with the rising struggle is needed.

The chance for the vital ferment of discussion was just such a case in the initial development of the Socialist Labour Party after the early 1990s “recession” lurch in the capitalist crisis forced the Scargillite leadership of the heroic miners’ strike to finally break with Labour, inviting all threads of the working class to build a new movement.

The credit-fed temporary revival of the US capitalist economy (at the expense of the Japanese stagnation and south-east Asian currency collapses) and its spillover into the UK housing-hype debt-fed boomlet then soon put a lid on the early debate, reviving the old opportunism, with the class collaborationism of reactionary trade unionism stepping in firmly and using all the old bureaucratic kangaroo-court methodology to suppress the growing momentum of Marxist scientific argument which had proved so attractive, clear and correct that it had swept the board in the SLP discussions, to the point of winning a totally unexpected election victory to deputy leader of the SLP by Leninist and EPSR editor Roy Bull (see EPSR 1247 e.g.).

Bull was pushed out and the Leninist argument too, by a stitch-up.

But the argument must revive again, and will, as the working class faces more and more sharply the desperate conditions of capitalist Depression crisis.

Until such debate and polemic can become widespread to sort out the mistakes and difficulties of the past and most of all getting some kind of agreement about both the giant achievements and the flaws of the workers states and the importance of the dictatorship of the proletariat that is a crucial central element in building socialism, revolutionary leadership is either impossible or a hollow joke.

Far from being Monty Pythonesque “minor squabbles of no interest to the great mass of people” these are the central questions which have to be sorted out if the world is ever to get over the disappointments and difficulties of the first great attempts at socialism and most of all the magnificent 70 year long history of the Soviet Union.

The USSR demonstrated for the first time the huge capabilities in science, culture, social development, and industry possible by a working class unfettered with supposedly “necessary” bosses and private ownership, pushing way beyond bourgeois achievement (first man in space e.g., ballet and music the envy of the world etc etc) even when under the constant sabotage and subversion from the West and starting from one of the lowest levels of economic development, blitzed by a three year long counter-revolutionary war on top of the 1914-18 horrors, and within two decades, once again destroyed utterly across half its land by the Western conspiracy to push Nazi Germany onto the attack.

What went wrong, and the mistakes and sometimes criminal errors remain to be widely discussed.

But instead the dire difficulties of the past retreats from revolutionism, remain either covered up by the assorted CP remnants of Stalinist revisionism or simply totally “condemned” by the Trots, sourly writing off all giant achievements as poisonously as the most reactionary of capitalism.

There is no way forwards by ignoring or evading all the philosophical mistakes of the Stalin period, when Moscow turned away from Leninist revolutionism in favour of “containing” a supposedly hamstrung post-war capitalism (Stalin - 1953) in a revision of Lenin which laid the groundwork for both the appalling illusions in the “democratic peaceful road” and the “peace struggle to stop war” garbage, and the eventual ludicrous and pointless liquidation of the Soviet workers state by Gorbachev, under the illusions that “market forces” would be a better guide to development than the steady growth of planned socialism (still steady, if ponderous, until deep into Gorbachev’s idiocies).

That simply leaves the field open for the desperately petty bourgeois Trots to write everything off as fatal imperfections that deep down they believe are always bound to arise like original sin (see the police/MI5 fink George Orwell’s sour pessimism and middle-class disdain) leading to the repellent anti-communist hatred that pours out of them, because they don’t believe the “perfection” they seek from their polytechnic studies and Islington wine-bars is ever really achievable and therefore every dirty, scruffy, working class struggle to get to socialist society is never good enough or capable of climbing higher.

No struggle will ever match up to the utopian fantasies of the Trots and no struggle has ever been led by them nor could be.

The only real struggle there can be, is that with warts and mistakes and all, by a working class which starts with all its imperfections imposed by a life begun under capitalist alienation and forced ignorance and then constantly faces up to its errors and problems, as Lenin insisted was the only way forwards, not by some chest-beating “self-criticism” of Maoist voluntarism but by open polemical struggle, within and in front of the working class to develop revolutionary theory, the only way it can be developed.

Small wonder that instead of grasping and welcoming the titanic unrolling worldwide upheavals against imperialism throughout the Third World which have been driving the world historic class struggle forwards as capitalism has lurched into the greatest meltdown economic failure of all time (an economic disaster that most of them said nothing about for the last 30 years or, worse, declared to be just “old-hat Marxist catastrophism” to be excluded from meetings and discussions as irrelevant distraction) – instead of seeing this as the opening shots in the greatest uprooting and world historic cleansing of the rotten corrupt and moribund era of class rule in millennia, every one of the fake-“left” groups has denounced and continues to denounce these struggles as “terrorism”, to be condemned.

The scuttling of every single group to line up with capitalism’s denunciations of terrorism – which in reality is the growing worldwide rebellion of the four billion or so desperate humans held in thrall and servitude by fascist and gangster regimes, – was one of the great defining moments of world politics, making clear for all time where these Trotskyists and Revisionists stand when it comes to the outbursts of violent rebellion and fightback by the masses everywhere.

They condemn them and thereby line up with the ruling class, helping feed the “war on terror” propaganda insanity used by US neocon Empire capitalism to begin the only real warmongering happening on the planet which has its source, and its only cause, in the tearing contradictions and antagonisms of the profit system and its now historic incompetence and failure.

They give credence to the frenzied efforts of the ruling class to wriggle away from its responsibilities by diverting the world back into warmongering chauvinism, racism and scapegoating and the eventual destruction of all-out World War, the only hope of destroying enough capital to keep this insane profit “logic” going for yet round of human misery and exploitation.

And this capitulation by every one of the fake-“lefts” in one way or another is the great giveaway about the nature of their failure to understand a scrap of what is now unfolding in the world.

All of them remain trapped in the idea that it is possible to do deals with capitalism, to make it “see reason”, by persuasion and pressure perhaps, or “realistically” (they will now claim they are being) by union strike coercion or demonstrations “if they have to”.

Daringly, under the rising anger now threatening to burst spontaneously to the surface they may even concede sometimes a certain amount of street heave-ho against the police for example when the police violence gets excessive or too threatening, or storming occupations.

But they have no conception of this world going completely haywire and berserk because of the depredations of the imperialist disaster.

Deep down they believe in some kind of (bourgeois) democratic path, always disarming the working class with the notion of steady progress, or, now the capitalist catastrophe has broken in to the open, of “orderly retreat” until – they have all implied until recently – the upturn comes.

Every single one of them was back at the old game of “parliamentary pressure” in the April election this year, calling for support mostly for various allegedly “left” Labourites (astonishingly, in the case of the CPGB, for the arch-opportunist Diane Abbott, as reactionary and anti-communist as they come) or in some cases for candidates outside Labour who were again supposedly “more left” or “more progressive”.

But the only point of any revolutionary standing on any bourgeois parliamentary platform is to denounce and expose the complete lying fraud of elections, as Lenin made clear time after time, showing the working class that Parliament serves the interests only of the bourgeois class, and that if it does not, it will be suspended, overturned, ignored or held at gunpoint and military coup.

It covers over class dictatorship of big money and, under stress and crisis, this will go to any lengths to hold onto its sweet power.

To fail to make this exposure now, when both 100 years of experience has been made in the lies and racketeering fraud of bourgeois parliament is not just inadequate but a complete betrayal of the working class.

Effectively they are simply dragging the workers back into the voting booths with their “more left” candidates, just when the contempt for Parliament has never been deeper and yet another kick-in-the-teeth lesson was about to be learned via the Lib-Dem shyster “coalition” duplicity.

Subsequently declaring this specific government to be “without a mandate” as Workers Power do (yet another of the 57 varieties of fake-“left”) and therefore to be brought down, is trickery too, just another pro-democracy cover, implying that a “mandate” could be possible and dragging workers back yet again to the polling booth.

By all means “bring down the Tories” but it is useful to the working class only with a revolutionary perspective.

There is no “democratic path” is the only truth.

Which is the only response to David Cameron when he condemns alleged “feral violence” by the students and says they should follow “democratic path”.

The sanctimonious, pious preaching and pomposity by well-fed pampered Tories about “violence” aimed at the justified anger and rage of the students is the most outrageous, lying hypocrisy and on multiple levels.

But anyway whose violence was the real brutality?:

A senior doctor has warned that police risk repeating a Hillsborough-type tragedy if they continue with tactics deployed during the recent tuition fee protests.

The anaesthetist from Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, who gave medical assistance to the protesters, said that officers forced demonstrators into such a tight “kettle” on Westminster Bridge that they were in danger of being seriously crushed or pushed into the freezing River Thames.

The 34-year-old doctor, who set up a field hospital in Parliament Square, said that people on the bridge suffered respiratory problems, chest pains and the symptoms of severe crushing.

“Police had us so closely packed, I couldn’t move my feet or hands an inch. We were in that situation like that for hours. People in the middle were having real difficulty breathing.

“It was the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen – it must have been what Hillsborough was like. The crush was just so great. Repeatedly I tried to speak to officers, telling them that I was a doctor and that this was a serious health and safety risk,” said the doctor, who did not want to be named.

Her comments will raise fresh concerns over police tactics during the protest 10 days ago during which almost 50 police and protesters were hospitalised.

During the Hillsborough tragedy of April 1989, Britain’s worst sporting disaster, 96 Liverpool fans died when police failed to control crowds and a lethal crush developed. Hundreds more were injured after being squeezed against the steel-fenced terraces of Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium, which was hosting that year’s FA Cup semi-final. The inquiry into the disaster led by Lord Chief Justice Taylor established that the main cause was a failure of police crowd control.

Student Danielle Smith, 21, from Dagenham, studying creative and professional writing at the University of East London, said she was squeezed so tightly during the kettle that the day after it felt “like I’d been in a car accident”.

“I couldn’t move, and it hurt to laugh, breathe, sleep, sit down and eat. To do anything just really hurt. For days after I took as many painkillers as I could a day. I had real trouble standing in such a tight space. Again people were getting crushed. I had a shield in my face a few times. The police just hit those closest to them, they weren’t really thinking about who was in the wrong or right.”>

She said it was incredible that none of the hundreds of protesters sandwiched between two lines of riot police fell off the bridge: “The people around the edge, they were screaming, saying they thought they were going to fall off.”

The Aberdeen doctor added: “The sides of the bridge were only waist high and all it would have taken is one stumble and someone could have gone over the side. I’m surprised that no one died there. And if anyone had been injured, I would have struggled to respond even if I was stood next to them.” She said that when several police became caught inside the kettle they were screaming to get out. “They were experiencing what we were experiencing.”

Her comments also include allegations of disproportionate police violence, pointing to the number of serious head injuries among protesters. Along with two colleagues who had volunteered to staff a field hospital, the doctor said they treated around 30 protesters.

“It got incredibly violent. The vast majority of injuries I saw were head injuries. I was surprised how much force the police had used. Between us we probably saw thirty folk. A couple of people also had injuries to their wrists and elbows where they had raised their hands to cover themselves from baton blows.”

With students from Cambridge and King’s College London, we entered Parliament Square on 9 December en route to a planned protest vigil against the education bill (Report, 13 December). Once in we found we could not get out. We saw police use batons on people who had done nothing aggressive, charge groups with horses when there was no escape route, and detain thousands of people – including minors – without food, water, adequate heat or sanitation for hours.

This “kettling” cannot have been a response to criminal activity, as the police have claimed, since it began early in the day, and was clearly a tactic planned well in advance. If so, it was dramatically counterproductive: at 5.30pm, after the vote, most of the crowd might have dissipated, but instead were forced to remain. Only then did the level of violence escalate dramatically. When one of us suggested to the police that they intervene to check a drift towards malicious damage when some youths started to break windows, this was ignored and allowed to develop into a significant problem. The police authorities at no point attempted to explain what was happening, or what they wished us to do until, somewhat after 8.30pm, they drove us with batons and shields into a tight mass on Westminster Bridge, where we continued to be detained for a further two hours.

No explanation was offered for what amounted to mass internment, in very dangerous circumstances, of a crowd of demonstrators. The government and the police must consider the consequences of blocking legitimate forms of political expression. Last week’s bad education law goes against the spirit of article 32 of the universal declaration of human rights, which urged free education “directed to the full development of the human personality”; does this government also intend to abrogate articles 9 and 20, with their protection against arbitrary detention and guarantee of free assembly?

Richard Drayton Rhodes professor of imperial history, Kings College London

But secondly what “democratic” option is open to the students – they already tried voting for specific promises.

As the masses are endlessly reminded they must forever put up with the constant corruption, exploitation, monstrous rip-offs, wealth disparities and grotesque unfairness of capitalist society, with the constant arrogance, snobbery, and indifference of the ruling class to the growing deprivations and suffering below.

The world is a nothing but a tyranny of stitched up gangster regimes and CIA installed puppets.

Capitalism is the most relentlessly violent, brutal, torturing and repressive class rule ever seen in world history, a world domination by endless fascist stoogery, war, blitzing, torture, death squads, massacres and genocidal onslaughts which go on non-stop.

Even its most “peaceful” aspects of apparent calm and “stability” are in reality the long drawn-out slow violence of imposed poverty, ignorance, squalor and starvation pushed onto the billions of Third World sweatshop labourers and plantation workers, forced to grind their way through near slavery all their miserable lives in order to keep the fabulous wealth and indolent luxury of the Western ruling class constantly expanding at whatever human cost.

And, as to their credit some of the student leaders have said, the exploitation and poverty being forced back onto everyone is violence.

Even more glaringly what “democratic option” is available to the masses everywhere, generally hampered by lack of schooling, malnutrition, daily grind, etc etc and constantly harried and persecuted. Here’s how the sweatshops feeding the supermarkets and fashion chains, are maintained, as revealed by the devastating Wikileaks disclosures:

The British government has been training a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a “government death squad”, leaked US embassy cables have revealed.

Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which has been held responsible for hundreds of extra-judicial killings in recent years and is said to routinely use torture, have received British training in “investigative interviewing techniques” and “rules of engagement”.

Details of the training were revealed in a number of cables, released by WikiLeaks, which address the counter-terrorism objectives of the US and UK governments in Bangladesh. One cable makes clear that the US would not offer any assistance other than human rights training to the RAB – and that it would be illegal under US law to do so – because its members commit gross human rights violations with impunity.

Since the RAB was established six years ago, it is estimated by some human rights activists to have been responsible for more than 1,000 extra-judicial killings, described euphemistically as “crossfire” deaths. In September last year the director general of the RAB said his men had killed 577 people in “crossfire”. In March this year he updated the figure, saying they had killed 622 people.

The RAB’s use of torture has also been exhaustively documented by human rights organisations. In addition, officers from the paramilitary force are alleged to have been involved in kidnap and extortion, and are frequently accused of taking large bribes in return for carrying out crossfire killings.

However, the cables reveal that both the British and the Americans, in their determination to strengthen counter-terrorism operations in Bangladesh, are in favour of bolstering the force, arguing that the “RAB enjoys a great deal of respect and admiration from a population scarred by decreasing law and order over the last decade”. In one cable, the US ambassador to Dhaka, James Moriarty, expresses the view that the RAB is the “enforcement organisation best positioned to one day become a Bangladeshi version of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation”.

In another cable, Moriarty quotes British officials as saying they have been “training RAB for 18 months in areas such as investigative interviewing techniques and rules of engagement”. Asked about the training assistance for the RAB, the Foreign Office said the UK government “provides a range of human rights assistance” in the country. However, the RAB’s head of training, Mejbah Uddin, told the Guardian that he was unaware of any human rights training since he was appointed last summer.

The cables make clear that British training for RAB officers began three years ago under the last Labour government.

However, RAB officials confirmed independently of the cables that they had taken part in a series of courses and workshops as recently as October, five months after the formation of the coalition government. Asked whether ministers had approved the training programme, the Foreign Office said only that William Hague, the foreign secretary, and other ministers, had been briefed on counter-terrorism spending.

The US ambassador explains in the cables that the US government is “constrained by RAB’s alleged human rights violations, which have rendered the organisation ineligible to receive training or assistance”.

Successive Bangladeshi governments have promised to end the RAB’s use of murder. The current government promised in its manifesto that it would end all extra-judicial killings, but they have continued following its election two years ago. In October last year, the shipping minister, Shahjahan Khan, speaking in a discussion organised by the BBC, said: “There are incidents of trials that are not possible under the laws of the land. The government will need to continue with extra-judicial killings, commonly called crossfire, until terrorist activities and extortion are uprooted.”

In December last year the high court in Dhaka ruled that such killings must be brought to a halt following litigation by victims’ families and human rights groups, but they continue on an almost weekly basis. Most of the victims are young men, some are alleged to be petty criminals or are said to be left-wing activists, and the killings invariably take place in the middle of the night.

In the most recent “crossfire” killings, the RAB reported that it had shot dead Mohammad Mamun, 25, in the town of Tangail, shortly after midnight on Monday, and that 90 minutes later its officers in Dhaka, 50 miles to the south, had shot dead a second man, Taku Alam, 30. Today the RAB announced it had shot dead a 45-year-old man, Anisur Rahman, said to be a member of the Communist party in the west of the country.

What is to be said to the desperately poor of Thailand whose pleading for just a taste of democracy was greeted firstly with the armed street thuggery of the Yellowshirt petty bourgeois reaction and then the state violence of the monarchy’s army and police gunning down 92 of the Red Shirt protesters in April??? Small wonder it is reported that the movement has gone underground and is preparing for armed struggle.

What is to be said to the Hondurans whose “liberal” president was ousted by a coup last year which has barely raised a murmur from the West and notably nothing from the “black nationalist and feminist” Obama and Clinton presidency.

Not only was it tacitly supported and aided by the Western intelligence agencies, just as they have organised coup after coup and death squad massacre and killing after killing throughout Latin America for the last century, but it has re-established a pattern of killings and assassinations of journalists and oppositionists all-over again.

What “democracy” is in Nigeria, whose corrupted government is completely penetrated by Shell Oil?

What, above all, is to be said to the benighted Palestinians who took the US dominated West on at its own game only to find its overwhelmingly correct and internationally verified election result to choose overwhelmingly a Hamas militant government in 2006, was promptly denounced and de-recognised by the entire lying “democracy loving” West, with deliberate manipulation and bribery by the Zionists and their US funders to bolster the disgusting stooge quisling Abbas, even to the point of CIA training for the Abbas controlled Palestinian Authority security forces?

What is to be said to the Saudis and the giant Indian and Pakistani slave labour force which is the real bulk of the population there (and in the Gulf states) where backward feudalism not only prevails but is one of the main instigating warmongers in the region it is now revealed?

Where are the stories pouring out endlessly day by day because of the barbaric practices of public flogging and execution etc etc, as they are poured out against Western victim states like Iran or Sudan recently in non-stop tirades for day after day????

Where are the alleged Western “principles” of democracy in all these places??:

US diplomats describe a world of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll behind the official pieties of Saudi Arabian royalty.

Jeddah consulate officials described an underground Halloween party, thrown last year by a member of the royal family, which broke all the country’s Islamic taboos. Liquor and prostitutes were present in abundance, according to leaked dispatches, behind the heavily-guarded villa gates.

The party was thrown by a wealthy prince from the large Al-Thunayan family. The diplomats said his identity should be kept secret. A US energy drinks company also put up some of the finance.

“Alcohol, though strictly prohibited by Saudi law and custom, was plentiful at the party’s well-stocked bar. The hired Filipino bartenders served a cocktail punch using sadiqi, a locally-made moonshine,” the cable said. “It was also learned through word-of-mouth that a number of the guests were in fact ‘working girls’, not uncommon for such parties.”

The dispatch from the US partygoers, signed off by the consul in Jeddah, Martin Quinn, added: “Though not witnessed directly at this event, cocaine and hashish use is common in these social circles.”

The underground party scene is “thriving and throbbing” in Saudi Arabia thanks to the protection of Saudi royalty, the dispatch said. But it is only available behind closed doors and for the very rich.

Forty years ago, thousands of people were forcibly and illegally removed from their homeland, the British Indian Ocean Territory, to make way for Diego Garcia, a US military base. The expulsion has been described by some as UK foreign policy’s darkest day. Since then the islanders have fought for the right to go home. They won it from the high court, but the privy council took it away. It now seems, from US information released by WikiLeaks (Foreign Office accused of misleading public over expelled ‘Man Fridays’, 4 December), that the Foreign Office has no regrets over its illegal action, and has been planning to destroy the islanders’ campaign by making their former home a marine sanctuary, in which no one would be allowed to live.

As a long-term advocate of conservation, I am horrified that the UK government has used this to keep the islanders from returning to their rightful home, and that I was duped into supporting the creation of the marine sanctuary under false pretences. According to the leaked documents, Colin Roberts, the FCO’s director of overseas territories, told the US that there would be no “Man Fridays” on the islands and said: “We do not regret the removal of the population.” The FCO described the all-party parliamentary group campaigning for the Chagos people’s right to return as a “persistent” but relatively non-influential group. I now regret my support of the marine sanctuary and look forward to joining the islanders in their campaign to return home.

Ben Fogle

Joint patron, UK Chagos Support Association

“Islam is the solution – wake up and vote on 28 November!” blares the loudspeaker, as hundreds of well-wishers crowd at their doorways to shake hands with Bashandi, a bespectacled book publisher in his early 50s.

“We have great, great hopes of this poll,” grins the Muslim Brotherhood candidate amid the commotion. “Of course this isn’t about winning the seat. The regime won’t allow such a thing.”

Welcome to the bizarre world of Egypt’s parliamentary elections, where thousands of candidates from dozens of parties are competing for parliamentary seats – all safe in the knowledge that their campaigning will have virtually no impact.

“No one thinks parliamentary elections in Egypt are democratic or even semi-democratic,” says Mona El-Ghobashy, a political scientist. “The elections do not determine who governs. They are not free and fair. Citizens know that elections are rigged, with polling places often blocked off by baton-wielding police, so few of them vote.”

Yet despite the fraud accompanying what is theoretically one of the largest democratic exercises in the Middle East, these elections matter deeply to a plethora of political forces – from the ruling National Democratic party (NDP), which is guaranteed to emerge from the ballot with a landslide majority in parliament, to a wide range of opposition movements exploiting the poll to mobilise local support bases and raise their party’s profile.

For political observers within Egypt and beyond, Sunday’s vote promises something else too, a rare insight into the drama over who will succeed the country’s ill and ageing president, Hosni Mubarak, himself up for re-election next year.

Kirdasa, a palm-fringed suburb of Cairo, offers a unique window on to the surreal dynamics of this poll. Once a village far from the chaos of the capital, Cairo’s unstoppable urban sprawl has now enveloped the place completely; in recent years migration from the countryside has sent population levels soaring, making this electoral district one of the biggest and most hotly contested in the country.

Every large-scale party is running a candidate here, but few of Kirdasa’s residents seem enthusiastic.

Although the area laps up to the edge of the 4,500-year-old Giza pyramids, it is this constituency’s more modern neighbourhoods, and the contrast between them, that best explains why so many voters feel excluded from political life.

Kirdasa’s vast electoral district encompasses gated compounds for the rich alongside redbrick settlements for the poor, the type of neighbourhood where six in 10 Cairenes now reside and a stark illustration of the social chasm that has come to epitomise Mubarak’s Egypt.

“Our circumstances don’t allow for politics; we’re living on the breadline,” says Alaa Khalil, a 37-year-old welder and Kirdasa native. “The sons of Egypt are in crisis right now. Food prices are spiralling, our incomes are going down, and we have almost no means with which to feed our kids. Elections may have some value for the ‘big sharks’, but not for us.”

Khalil’s cynicism is understandable. Kirdasa has long been marginalised from Egypt’s civil and political centre. With the area viewed by the government as a potential opposition stronghold, no resident has ever been allowed to become a security officer or hold a senior position within the state bureaucracy.

At the last parliamentary elections in 2005 Bashandi, who, in common with other Muslim Brotherhood candidates, is forced to run as an independent to circumvent a legal ban on religious parties, claimed to have won a majority of 12,000 votes, a figure backed up by a number of independent sources.

But the authorities refused to accept the ballot count and instead declared Bashandi’s rival NDP candidate the winner. Later that day riot police stormed the town, tear-gassing hundreds of protesting youths.

This time few of Bashandi’s supporters believe he will represent them in parliament, regardless of the final vote tally. Five of them have already been detained by the security services, adding to the 1,200 Muslim Brotherhood activists arrested nationally in the run-up to these elections.

In a damning report detailing government repression, Amnesty International concluded that “the pattern being established is one that is already familiar from previous elections, which were carried out amid … serious human rights violations”.

It is this sort of political repression that led a host of prominent dissidents, including former UN nuclear weapons chief Mohamed ElBaradei, to call for a boycott of these elections, a call the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as a number of legally sanctioned secular opposition parties offering no real challenge to the political status quo, has chosen to ignore.

“What is happening right now is the actual rigging of the vote,” Saad el-Katatni, a prominent Brotherhood politician, said in a press conference this morning.

Bashandi said: “In normal circumstances we are not allowed to give lectures or hold conferences, we’re deprived of all opportunities to promote our beliefs and connect with the community. During election time, those opportunities sometimes arise, so to remove ourselves from that process altogether would be illogical.”

Judging by the adulation on the streets, Bashandi’s anti-corruption and pro-local services message is finding an audience, despite the frustration at the inequities of the voting process.

But Sunday’s vote is not only a litmus test for Egypt’s opposition movements as they seek to refine their divergent tactics ahead of next year’s presidential ballot. It is also a critical moment for the NDP, which, in light of Mubarak’s waning health, is beginning a search for his successor – the future leader of the biggest nation in the Arab world.

Mubarak’s son Gamal, long considered to be heir-apparent to his father, recently has been forced to publicly distance himself from suggestions that he might inherit power, while competing factions in the NDP clash over Egypt’s post-Mubarak state.

Those internecine struggles have put the ruling party into the strange position of running several official candidates for the same seat in some districts, including Kirdasa, where two formal NDP candidates and one other NDP member are both lining up against Bashandi.

Some disaffected elements of the local NDP are even throwing their weight behind Bashandi, according to local sources.

“It’s impossible to separate the coming parliamentary elections from the 2011 presidential race,” says Bahey el-din Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. “The NDP’s latest decision to have multiple candidates compete over single seats means the internal party battle has moved from ‘behind the scenes’ to the front lines of elections.”

And so Egypt will elect its parliament this week with a collective shrug from the majority of its population, while below the surface a series of developments help reshape the political trajectory of one of the west’s closest allies in the Middle East.

Media crackdown

Egypt’s vibrant independent media sector has been dealt a series of blows in the run-up to this year’s parliamentary elections, with TV stations shut down, critical chatshows hauled off air, outspoken columnists and newspaper editors forced out of their jobs, and new regulations bringing mass SMS messaging and live broadcasts firmly under state control.

Despite government assurances that freedom of expression will not be restricted as the country enters a year of intense political uncertainty, rights groups have criticised a “climate of terror” created by the state, in which dissident voices are excluded from public debate.

The election in Haiti shows, once again, how low Washington’s standards are for democracy in countries that they want to control politically. And there is no doubt who is in charge there. There is a government, to be sure, but since the elected government in 2004 was overthrown, and even more since the earthquake, it is the “international community” that calls the shots – Hillary Clinton’s code for the US state department.

The election was a farce to begin with, once the non-independent CEP (Provisional Electoral Council) decided to exclude the country’s largest political party from participating, along with other parties: Fanmi Lavalas is the party of Haiti’s most popular political leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. It has won every election that it has contested. Aristide himself remains in exile – unable to return since the US-sponsored overthrow of his government in 2004.

Imagine holding an election in the United States with both the Democratic and Republican parties prohibited from participating. If we look at other troubled elections in the world – Iran in 2009, or Afghanistan more recently – Haiti’s is even less legitimate. It is perhaps most comparable to the recent election in Burma.

But the United States government paid for this election, and was determined to go ahead with it and get the usual suspects to endorse it. The pleadings of 45 Democratic members of Congress, who sent a letter to Hillary Clinton on 7 October asking for a real election with all political parties included, were ignored. So, too, were the objections of President Obama’s Republican foreign policy mentor, Senator Richard Lugar.

By Sunday, the day of the election, 12 of the 18 presidential candidates – basically, every prominent presidential candidate except the current government’s choice, Jude Celestin – had publicly called for the elections to be annulled. They were backed by thousands of demonstrators in the streets.

The conduct of the elections turned out to be even worse than expected. There were widespread reports of people being unable to vote because they were not on the voter lists, incidents of ballot-stuffing, and other irregularities.

Despite all of this, the Organisation of American States issued its statement on Monday: “The Joint Mission does not believe that these irregularities, serious as they were, necessarily invalidated the process.” No wonder the leaders of Latin America and the Caribbean met last February and decided to create a new regional organisation without the United States and Canada.

Haiti, of course, has bigger problems than a bogus election. And, in fact, that was a complaint heard on the ground – why was money being wasted on an electoral circus when people do not have access to drinking water, and the country is in the middle of a cholera epidemic? The latter crisis seems to have been pushed off the world’s radar screen by the election, despite the fact that the United Nations has been able to raise only around 10% of the $164m they need to treat an epidemic that is estimated to grow to 400,000 cases of cholera in the next year.

And then there is the unbelievable failure of the reconstruction itself. Nearly a year after the earthquake, less than 2% of the rubble has been cleared, and less than 10% of the 1.5m people made homeless by the earthquake have shelter. Most of the rest are living under tarps, with the earth beneath them turning to water and mud when it rains. The “international community” could not even get them tents.

Yet the bogus election does matter because, if allowed to stand, it will foist an illegitimate government on Haiti. For most of its existence, and until quite recently, Haiti was ruled by illegitimate governments that relied heavily on violence to maintain power. Aristide was the first democratically elected president, in 1990. He was overthrown seven months later, but eventually re-elected in 2000. Because his government was legitimate and did not have to rely on violence, he abolished the army – which was the main instrument of political violence. Washington never forgave him for this, and organised an international cutoff of aid to the country, while pouring tens of millions of dollars into the opposition, thus toppling the government.

In April of 2009, an election that also excluded the largest political party resulted in a boycott of about 90% of the electorate. Participation in this latest election appears to have been higher (although lower than the previous presidential election), but it will not be seen as legitimate. This has already increased social unrest. There is no longer a Haitian army, but there is a badly-trained national police force and a UN military force (MINUSTAH), which is widely seen as an occupying army and is notorious for its violence and human rights abuses. Its standing has fallen even further as it appears to be the source of the cholera epidemic.

A bloodless coup was planned to remove Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s president with the help of pressure from the UN secretary general, according to classified US documents.

A group of exiled Zimbabwean businessman proposed in 2007 that Mugabe could be persuaded to hand over executive power to a prime minister before leaving office completely three years later. American officials welcomed the idea, noting that it was “increasingly in circulation” in the capital, Harare, and “may not require outside intervention”.

The plot came to nothing, although it does bear similarities to the power sharing deal that saw Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai become prime minister after violent elections in 2008.

A confidential memo from the US embassy in South Africa is entitled “Secret power sharing plan” and dated 30 January 2007. At the time Zimbabwe was plunging into an unprecedented economic crisis. The cable names a group of prominent Zimbabwean businessmen living in South Africa who were pushing for change but says their leader’s identity should be “strictly protected”.

Executive power was to be shifted from Mugabe to a “technocratic” prime minister. “To get Mugabe to accept the deal, Mugabe would remain president until 2010 with some power over the security apparatus, but the prime minister would run the economy and get the country back on its feet,” the dispatch says.

“All parties would work together to draft a new constitution. [The businessman] was open to ideas on who best to sell the plan, but suggested new UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, working through an envoy like former Malaysian PM Mahathir, as possible mediators.”

Mugabe would have retained the power to appoint the ministers of defence, home affairs and national security. The prime minister would have appointed other cabinet members, particularly in the economic arena. Deployment of troops would have required the approval of both the PM and president.

In return for various reforms the international community was to agree on a phased lifting of sanctions, the “acceptance” of the extension of Mugabe’s term to 2010 and economic assistance to help rehabilitate the Zimbabwean economy.

The US embassy said it could not comment on the merits of the plan but found it “encouraging” that senior Zimbabwean businessmen abroad were discussing solutions to the country’s political and economic malaise.

An Israeli wanted in Colombia for training paramilitary groups that killed hundreds of people has returned home after being released from a jail in Moscow.

Former military officer Yair Klein arrived at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport on Saturday. He had been held in Russia since 2007 pending an extradition request.

The European Court of Human Rights recommended in April that Klein not be extradited for fear he would not receive a fair trial.

Klein was sentenced in absentia to nearly 11 years in prison for helping train far-right paramilitary groups in the 1980s. The groups were responsible for mass murder and widespread land theft during more than a decade-long reign of terror across Colombia’s countryside.

Klein says he only instructed them in defense tactics.

Alan Shadrake must have believed his gamble had paid off.

Earlier that day, the British author had attended the launch of his controversial book, in which he accused Singapore’s judiciary of bowing to outside pressure and applying double standards in its application of the death penalty.

He knew that the authorities did not like what he had to say.

While wealthy – often well-connected foreigners – can expect leniency, he argued in Once the Jolly Hangman: Singapore’s Justice in the Dock, the poor and disenfranchised are summarily executed.

But at dawn he was woken by the arrival of three police officers who ransacked his room before taking him away for questioning.

Two days of interrogations later, Shadrake was released on bail, minus his confiscated passport, fearing he, too, was about to feel the full force of the same unforgiving criminal justice system he had lambasted in print. “They used shock and awe tactics in an attempt to terrify me into submission.”

Last week the 76-year-old was convicted of contempt of court, for which he could spend up to six months in Singapore’s Changi prison, when the high court sentences him this week. He also faces separate charges of criminal defamation, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a hefty fine. Shadrake’s crime was to challenge the enthusiastic use of the death penalty in a country notoriously intolerant of dissent. Drawing on interviews with a retired chief executioner, lawyers, former police officers and human rights activists, his central claim is that justice in one of the world’s most advanced economies is anything but blind. He highlights several inconsistent applications of the law which, he says, prove Singapore’s judiciary “picks and chooses how they respond depending on the state’s diplomatic and economic interests”.

In handing down the guilty verdict, the judge, Quentin Loh, said Shadrake had “scandalised” the judiciary through “a dissembling and selective background of truths and half-truths, and sometimes outright falsehoods”.

He offered the prolific British author the chance to “make amends”, but Shadrake was unrepentant. “They are effectively asking me to apologise, but I have done nothing wrong and I have no amends to make,” he said. “It’s utter nonsense - I haven’t scandalised anyone. “I’m not going to run away or back down. If they want to jail me, then so be it.” Past experience suggests that Shadrake should have taken the advice of the British high commission in Singapore and excused himself from the book launch.

The country’s elder statesman, Lee Kuan Yew, whose son is now prime minister, has frequently used strict anti-defamation laws to crush dissent and punish foreign journalists.

A Wall Street Journal editor was fined $10,000 last year for publishing articles deemed to have shown contempt for Singapore’s judiciary, while three local activists were sentenced to short prison terms for wearing T-shirts illustrated with a kangaroo dressed as a judge. Shadrake’s conviction has thrown into sharp relief the contradiction at the heart of Singapore’s rise from colonial backwater to economic powerhouse: that the gains that have given its people the highest living standards in Asia since it declared independence from Britain in 1963, co-exist with an unapologetic contempt for freedoms taken for granted in other developed Asian economies.

At least 10 Palestinian children have been shot and wounded by Israeli troops in the past three months while collecting rubble in or near the “buffer zone” created by Israel along the Gaza border, in a low-intensity offensive on the fringes of the blockaded Palestinian territory.

Israeli soldiers are routinely shooting at Gazans well beyond the unmarked boundary of the official 300 metre-wide no-go area, rights groups say.

According to Bassam Masri, head of orthopaedics at the Kamal Odwan hospital in Beit Lahiya in the north of Gaza, about 50 people have been treated for gunshot wounds suffered in or near the buffer zone while collecting rubble in the past three months; about five have been killed.

He estimates that 30% of the injured are boys under 18.

Defence for Children International (DCI) has documented 10 cases of children aged 13 to 17 being shot in a three-month period between 50 and 800 metres from the border. Nine were shot in a leg or arm; one was shot in the stomach.

The creation of the no-go area has forced farmers to abandon land and residents to leave homes for fear of coming under fire. Last month a 91-year-old man and two teenage boys were killed while harvesting olives outside the official zone when Israeli troops fired shells. Forty-three goats also died in the attack.

In another case a mother of five was killed by a shell outside her home near the zone in July.

Israel declared the buffer zone inside Gaza after the three-week war in 2008-9, saying it was intended to prevent militants firing rockets. It has dropped leaflets from planes several times warning local people not to venture within 300 metres of the fence that marks the border or risk being shot.

However, the UN, aid agencies and rights groups say that Israel has unofficially and without warning extended the zone to up to 1km from the fence, leaving residents and farmers uncertain whether it is safe to access their land or property.

“The army knows the kids are there to collect. They watch them every day and they know they have no weapons,” said Mohammed Abu Rukbi, a fieldworker with DCI. “They usually fire warning shots but the kids don’t take much notice.”

Mohammed Sobboh, 17, was shot just above the knee on August 25 when he was 800 metres from the border, he said. The 12 people in his family have no other income and are not entitled to aid from the UN as they are not refugees.

Israeli soldiers shot dead a horse and a donkey used by Mohammed and his brothers to carry the rubble, he said.

His brother, Adham, 22, said children as young as eight collect debris from former settlements and demolished buildings for 30-40 shekels (£5.20-£7) a day. “The price has gone down because a lot of people are collecting,” said Adham.

According to Dr Masri, the number of shootings has increased as more impoverished Gazans turn to collecting rubble to sell as construction material, which is still under Israeli embargo. “Every day we have one or two cases. Some kids are facing permanent disability. Most of the injuries are to the legs and feet, suggesting the soldiers did not aim to kill. That means they know that the people aren’t militants.”

Ziad Tamboura, 27, lying in a hospital bed with a heavily bandaged foot, was shot last week while collecting 500 metres from the border. X-rays showed the bones in the foot to be smashed by the bullet. He collected rubble in order to feed his wife and child. “If I am able to walk again, I will go back. There is no other work.”

The Gaza City-based Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights is to mount a legal challenge jointly with the Israeli groups Adalah and Physicians for Human Rights to breaches of the official buffer zone. “The area [the Israelis] announced is not the same as what exists on the ground,” said the centre’s Samir Zaqout.

He criticised the Israelis for shooting and shelling unarmed civilians. “They know everything. They have the technological capacity to monitor the area. They have drones in the sky all the time. They are observing and screening everything.”

But on 12 September, 91-year-old Ibrahim Abu Said, his 17-year-old grandson, Hussam, and a family friend, Ismail Abu Owda, 16, were killed by a shell fired from a tank on the Israeli side of the border. “This was a very old man taking care of his goats,” said Mohammed, Ibrahim’s son. “Our land used to be like a heaven. Now it’s like a desert.”

The great rage of the US Empire against Julian Assange and the Wikileaks disclosures is because the content of them confirms a 1000 times over the Marxist understanding of the complete cynicism and manipulation and conspiracy of monopoly capitalist tyrannical rule and exploitation.

It makes a mockery of the initial intelligence agency attempts to push the line that “there is nothing here that we did not already know.”

Oh really?? So what is in the really secret treaties???

The very reaction calling for “death sentences” and “CIA assassination” as the leading right candidate for the presidency Sarah Palin has done, (and now Obama’s vice-president too) only confirms the point even more.

No question of proper trials, (even if the ludicrous notion that a crime had been committed had any basis) just deathsquad gunning down, assumed to be perfectly normal and acceptable if US ruling class interests are threatened.

The desperate stunt via Sweden to stitch-up Assange with a ludicrous “rape” charge underlines the point further.

The tangle the fake-“left” has got itself into over years of avoiding real revolutionary politics by pumping up assorted petty bourgeois individualist causes from feminism and black nationalist to gay rights is well exposed by all this.

The notion that “well we have to take these allegations seriously” in the middle of one of the most vicious and monstrous international class onslaughts is deranged – indicating a complete lack of perspective and judgement.

None of which prejudges anything or excuses whatever “bad behaviour” there might have been by Assange (and more needs to be said on this and about the excessive Swedish laws) – but a sense of perspective is crucial. There is to quote an old phrase, a war on, the most brutal class war in history and rapidly getting nastier as the slump bites.

The fake-“left” don’t get it, still run round in circles by every human rights or “democracy” fraud punted out by Western intelligence and the willing capitalist media.

Lakes of crocodile tears for “freedom and democracy” are poured out in weeks of giant headlines for “Burma’s democracy movement” (and even a Hollywood love story in filming now about Aung San Suu Kyi!!!! - hard to make it up), or Sudan’s alleged corruption, or North Korea (again being provoked with live shelling into its waters).

The quasi-religious theatrical symbolism of the “empty chair” at the ultra-hypocritical Nobel Peace Prize, (awarded to a stream of warmongers over decades, like Kissinger) was vomit-inducing and the more so because the “piety” is for a leading instigator of violence, one of the leaders of the Tian an Men “Statue of Liberty” (US symbol par exellence) reactionary anti-communist demonstrations which started the skirmishing of 1989 (see past EPSRs). A few hundred died (not 1000s) in the re-assertion of workers state authority.

But the fake-“lefts” expose none of this, swallowing the whole “human rights” CIA nonsense and disarming the working class.

What “concern” for democracy has the West got??

None. It is dictatorship and needs to be overthrown.

Build Leninism.

Don Hoskins



Return to top