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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 1415 5th November 2012


$Multi-billion US election hype and manipulated "democracy" is nothing but argument within the ruling class about how to deal with the catastrophic failure of the capitalist world system. How fast and aggressively can it step up class war to drive up the rate of exploitation and international war aggression? Either way "shock and awe" blitzing and death squad droning to bully the world into continuing acceptance of bankrupt US domination and tyrannical exploitation will continue and escalate, dragging the entire planet into renewed World War disaster with Iran and Sudan in the sights. Obama's first term saw escalated war, drone killing, war-crime death squad assassination, torture, NATO blitzing and coups – ever more openly fascist action under cover of single-issue reform to hoodwink section of the working class (with fake-"left" help). Crisis spiral into Depression and repression is unstoppable except by revolution. Major class discussion crucial to build Leninism

The Western media has once again been hyping up the monstrous farce of the American presidential election as if this ever more threadbare and despised bourgeois "democracy" racket of carefully controlled $billions advertising "spend", calculated and cynical public relations "family man" stunts, biased monopoly TV and newspaper coverage, behind the scenes string-pulling and bribery, deliberately distorted "opinion polls" (to stampede voting patterns) and outright ballot rigging anyway, bears any relationship to what ordinary people either want or need, inside or outside America.

Quite the opposite.

Whichever of the slick political racketeers for the different wings of the ruling class is successfully leveraged into position, the foul degeneration of world imperialism into ever greater corrupt greed, sick decadence, chaotic warmongering destruction, incompetence and confusion, will continue relentlessly on, up to and after inauguration day.

There is no stopping the catastrophic failure of the world monopoly capitalist economic structure unravelling everywhere into full-on Depression and disaster.

It is the crisis collapse of the entire capitalist world order and its private profit making way of doing things that is driving events, and the vicious class war and international upheavals underway, not supposed "policy choices" and political manifestoes and promises by variations of the ruling class.

It will not stop until capitalism is stopped, possible only by its complete revolutionary overturn and the establishment of working class disciplined rule, the dictatorship of the proletariat, to build socialism.

Far from the "liberal" Obama being at least a "less appalling" option than the terrifying and near-insane reactionariness of the increasingly demented Republicans, and their ever more grotesquely greed-ridden and wealthy backers, as various fake-"left" intellectuals have opined (such as the Zionist-sympathising pretender Jonathan Freedland at the petty bourgeois Trot-saturated and anti-communist Guardian) – the return of this "black nationalist" and "feminist" presidential regime will continue to disarm and divert the masses from the revolutionary conclusions they need to draw about capitalism.

As the EPSR declared early on in a major polemical conflict with breakaway comrades, the Obama presidency was far from some kind of "step forwards" for poorer sections of the population, and particularly those doubly exploited by racism, but a last-ditch throw of single-issue reformism (doubled up for sureness – "black emancipation" and feminism) to try and extend the life of the hoodwinking "democracy" racket a bit further after it was almost destroyed by the neocon Bush presidency and the slow defeats the US Empire warmongering and its underlying crisis had run into in Iraq and Afghanistan (on top of decades of slowly accumulating contempt among ordinary Americans anyway for the wool-pulling electoral circus).

In practice the Obama/Clinton double act has not only "failed" to achieve any of its hyped-up pretences about looking after the poor and repressed (as the mealy-mouthed liberal journalists apologise for it), but has been the instrument for even more brutal and ruthless world oppression than the Bushites.

More thoughtful bourgeois intellectuals are growing increasing agitated at how the deception of "single issue" individualist reformism (given credibility and weight by decades of fake-"left" feminist, black nationalist, gay "rights" and environmentalist campaigning) has been a useful cosmetic cover for sliding through ever more overtly fascist repressive and warmongering executive action, normalising and making routine the illegal war, assassination and blitzkrieg that the crisis is driving all capitalism towards, but especially the increasingly uncertain and bankrupted topdog of the USA:

as "the United States' conventional wars are winding down", the Obama administration "expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years" (the "capture" part of that list is little more than symbolic, as the US focus is overwhelmingly on the "kill" part). Specifically, "among senior Obama administration officials, there is broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade." As Greg Miller of the Washington Post puts it: "That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism."

...All of this, writes Miller, demonstrates "the extent to which Obama has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war."

The Post article cites numerous recent developments reflecting this Obama effort, including the fact that "CIA Director David H Petraeus is pushing for an expansion of the agency's fleet of armed drones", which "reflects the agency's transformation into a paramilitary force, and makes clear that it does not intend to dismantle its drone program and return to its pre-September 11 focus on gathering intelligence." The article also describes rapid expansion of commando operations by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and, perhaps most disturbingly, the creation of a permanent bureaucratic infrastructure to allow the president to assassinate at will:

"JSOC also has established a secret targeting center across the Potomac River from Washington, current and former U.S. officials said. The elite command's targeting cells have traditionally been located near the front lines of its missions, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. But JSOC created a 'national capital region' task force that is a 15-minute commute from the White House so it could be more directly involved in deliberations about al-Qaeda lists."

The creepiest aspect of this development is the christening of a new Orwellian euphemism for due-process-free presidential assassinations: "disposition matrix". Writes Miller:

"Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the 'disposition matrix'.

"The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. US officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the 'disposition' of suspects beyond the reach of American drones."

The "disposition matrix" has been developed and will be overseen by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). One of its purposes is "to augment" the "separate but overlapping kill lists" maintained by the CIA and the Pentagon: to serve, in other words, as the centralized clearinghouse for determining who will be executed without due process based upon how one fits into the executive branch's "matrix". As Miller describes it, it is "a single, continually evolving database" which includes "biographies, locations, known associates and affiliated organizations" as well as "strategies for taking targets down, including extradition requests, capture operations and drone patrols". This analytical system that determines people's "disposition" will undoubtedly be kept completely secret...

This was all motivated by Obama's refusal to arrest or detain terrorist suspects, and his resulting commitment simply to killing them at will (his will). Miller quotes "a former US counterterrorism official involved in developing the matrix" as explaining the impetus behind the program this way: "We had a disposition problem."

The central role played by the NCTC in determining who should be killed – "It is the keeper of the criteria," says one official to the Post – is, by itself, rather odious. As Kade Crockford of the ACLU of Massachusetts noted in response to this story, the ACLU has long warned that the real purpose of the NCTC – despite its nominal focus on terrorism - is the "massive, secretive data collection and mining of trillions of points of data about most people in the United States".

In particular, the NCTC operates a gigantic data-mining operation, in which all sorts of information about innocent Americans is systematically monitored, stored, and analyzed. This includes "records from law enforcement investigations, health information, employment history, travel and student records" – "literally anything the government collects would be fair game". In other words, the NCTC - now vested with the power to determine the proper "disposition" of terrorist suspects - is the same agency that is at the center of the ubiquitous, unaccountable surveillance state aimed at American citizens.

Worse still, as the ACLU's legislative counsel Chris Calabrese documented back in July in a must-read analysis, Obama officials very recently abolished safeguards on how this information can be used. Whereas the agency, during the Bush years, was barred from storing non-terrorist-related information about innocent Americans for more than 180 days – a limit which "meant that NCTCwas dissuaded from collecting large databases filled with information on innocent Americans" – it is now free to do so. Obama officials eliminated this constraint by authorizing the NCTC "to collect and 'continually assess' information on innocent Americans for up to five years".

And, as usual, this agency engages in these incredibly powerful and invasive processes with virtually no democratic accountability:

"All of this is happening with very little oversight. Controls over the NCTCare mostly internal to the DNI's office, and important oversight bodies such as Congress and the President's Intelligence Oversight Board aren't notified even of 'significant' failures to comply with the Guidelines. Fundamental legal protections are being sidestepped. For example, under the new guidelines, Privacy Act notices (legal requirements to describe how databases are used) must be completed by the agency that collected the information. This is in spite of the fact that those agencies have no idea what NCTC is actually doing with the information once it collects it.

"All of this amounts to a reboot of the Total Information Awareness Program that Americans rejected so vigorously right after 9/11."

It doesn't require any conspiracy theorizing to see what's happening here. Indeed, it takes extreme naïveté, or wilful blindness, not to see it.

What has been created here - permanently institutionalized - is a highly secretive executive branch agency that simultaneously engages in two functions: (1) it collects and analyzes massive amounts of surveillance data about all Americans without any judicial review let alone search warrants, and (2) creates and implements a "matrix" that determines the "disposition" of suspects, up to and including execution, without a whiff of due process or oversight. It is simultaneously a surveillance state and a secretive, unaccountable judicial body that analyzes who you are and then decrees what should be done with you, how you should be "disposed" of, beyond the reach of any minimal accountability or transparency.

The Post's Miller recognizes the watershed moment this represents: "The creation of the matrix and the institutionalization of kill/capture lists reflect a shift that is as psychological as it is strategic." As he explains, extra-judicial assassination was once deemed so extremist that very extensive deliberations were required before Bill Clinton could target even Osama bin Laden for death by lobbing cruise missiles in East Africa. But:

Targeted killing is now so routine that the Obama administration has spent much of the past year codifying and streamlining the processes that sustain it.

To understand the Obama legacy, please re-read that sentence. As Murtaza Hussain put it when reacting to the Post story: "The US agonized over the targeted killing Bin Laden at Tarnak Farms in 1998; now it kills people it barely suspects of anything on a regular basis."

The pragmatic inanity of the mentality driving this is self-evident: as I discussed yesterday (and many other times), continuous killing does not eliminate violence aimed at the US but rather guarantees its permanent expansion. As a result, wrote Miller, "officials said no clear end is in sight" when it comes to the war against "terrorists" because, said one official, "we can't possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us" but trying is "a necessary part of what we do". Of course, the more the US kills and kills and kills, the more people there are who "want to harm us". That's the logic that has resulted in a permanent war on terror.

...It is literally impossible to imagine a more violent repudiation of the basic blueprint of the republic than the development of a secretive, totally unaccountable executive branch agency that simultaneously collects information about all citizens and then applies a "disposition matrix" to determine what punishment should be meted out. This is classic political dystopia brought to reality (despite how compelled such a conclusion is by these indisputable facts, many Americans will view such a claim as an exaggeration, paranoia, or worse because of this psychological dynamic I described here which leads many good passive westerners to believe that true oppression, by definition, is something that happens only elsewhere).

...In sum, there are factions in many governments that crave a state of endless war because that is when power is least constrained and profit most abundant. What the Post is reporting is yet another significant step toward that state, and it is undoubtedly driven, at least on the part of some, by a self-interested desire to ensure the continuation of endless war and the powers and benefits it vests. So to answer Hayes' question: the endless expansion of a kill list and the unaccountable, always-expanding powers needed to implement it does indeed represent a great success for many. Read what John Jay wrote in the above passage to see why that is, and why few, if any, political developments should be regarded as more pernicious.

Detention policies

Assuming the Post's estimates are correct – that "among senior Obama administration officials, there is broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade" – this means that the war on terror will last for more than 20 years, far longer than any other American war. This is what has always made the rationale for indefinite detention – that it is permissible to detain people without due process until the "end of hostilities" – so warped in this context. Those who are advocating that are endorsing nothing less than life imprisonment - permanent incarceration – without any charges or opportunities to contest the accusations.

That people are now dying at Guantanamo after almost a decade in a cage with no charges highlights just how repressive that power is. Extend that mentality to secret, due-process-free assassinations – something the US government clearly intends to convert into a permanent fixture of American political life – and it is not difficult to see just how truly extremist and anti-democratic "war on terror" proponents in both political parties have become.

UPDATE: ...Afghan officials reported that three Afghan children were killed on Saturday by NATO operations. Today, reports CNN, "missiles blew up part of a compound Wednesday in northwest Pakistan, killing three people - including one woman" and added: "the latest suspected U.S. drone strike also injured two children." Meanwhile, former Obama press secretary and current campaign adviser Robert Gibbs this week justified the US killing of 16-year-old American Abdulrahaman Awlaki, killed by a US drone in Yemen two weeks after his father was, on the ground that he "should have a far more responsible father".

Also yesterday, CNN profiled Abu Sufyan Said al-Shihri, alleged to be a top al-Qaida official in Yemen. He pointed out "that U.S. drone strikes are helping al-Qaida in Yemen because of the number of civilian deaths they cause." Ample evidence supports his observation.

...At Wired, Spencer Ackerman reacts to the Post article with an analysis entitled "President Romney Can Thank Obama for His Permanent Robotic Death List". Here is his concluding paragraph:

"Obama did not run for president to preside over the codification of a global war fought in secret. But that's his legacy. . . . Micah Zenko at the Council on Foreign Relations writes that Obama's predecessors in the Bush administration 'were actually much more conscious and thoughtful about the long-term implications of targeted killings', because they feared the political consequences that might come when the U.S. embraces something at least superficially similar to assassination. Whoever follows Obama in the Oval Office can thank him for proving those consequences don't meaningfully exist.

This agonised American constitutionalism grounded in some still deep running, if long overridden, revolutionary bourgeois democratic ideals from the 1765 anti-British colonialism, anti-monarchy Independence War (a valuable current remaining in US society), is a long way from communist understanding and almost certainly hostile to it, but it still manages to say far more than most of the fake-"lefts" about the fascist warmongering reality of all monopoly capitalism, always there but rising to the surface again because of the desperate and unsolvable crisis collapse of its entire way of doing things, a historic endpoint for an the class-rule system.

For all their sometimes histrionic posturing about "revolution" and even theoretical (and usually academically turgid and contradictory) statements about the "need to overthrow capitalism" because of the crisis and even "smash the capitalist state", the entire spectrum of fake-"lefts" in practice remains tied to the tamest and most ineffectual reformism and "Stop the War" and "Stop the Cuts" protest pacifism.

Revolution is relegated to "our principles" sections of their papers, or the last few paragraphs of articles, rather than being the starting point and central philosophical pivot of all analysis of all events.

All of them tie the working class down to the parliamentary democracy, hoodwinking pretences which cover the vicious and tyrannical reality of the bourgeois dictatorship which alone makes the real decisions in the monopoly capitalist world, and continues to do so even though the corruption scandals and degeneracy (including the massively covered up, and still hidden, paedophile and homosexual networks to the top of bourgeois society) have almost destroyed all remaining illusions in "parliamentary democracy" among a cynical, and rightly contemptuous, working class which barely bothers to register for voting, let alone turn out in elections (as is also the case in the United States).

The nasty anti-communist twister Dennis McShane has just added another straw of contempt for the self-interested pocket-lining of the MP racket, piling higher the great mountain of disgust felt by ordinary people for the mountebank "politicians".

But his greatest scam, for which he should really be condemned, was the pretence of being a "left against apartheid" etc while relentlessly defending the capitalist system which generated it and speaking out for every piece of CIA organised counter-revolutionary pretence going like the Pilsudksi-loving fascist bogus Solidarnosc "trade union" in Poland which was used to topple the workers state there and help precipitate the revisionist liquidation of the Soviet Union.

Every single "left" group in Britain was busy at the last general election calling for "critical support" for assorted allegedly "more left" versions of the opportunist scumbags who continue to stand for parliament and continue to try fooling the working class that if only "proper socialists" can be elected then progress forwards can be made, perhaps with a larding of "left pressure" demonstrations.

Even those mightily sounding off about the "need to break with Labour" like the museum-Stalinist Lalkarites, were advocating voting for various allegedly "lefter" candidates.

Elections are not the problem as such.

There is not only no harm in even revolutionaries using the platform (chance to go on radio, do leaflets etc) afforded by the bourgeoisie's need to keep its "democracy" pretence going (it has to have some verisimilitude), it would be a mistake or even a crime not to do so, as Lenin argued in his famous Left-wing Communism: an infantile disorder (which the fake-"left"s usually distort to "justify" their parliamentary opportunism, explaining why it is the only Lenin book they ever really reference).

But the key point which Lenin emphasised a thousand times over in this and many other writings was that parliament was a tactical tool to use only in order to advance the revolutionary development of the working class and most of all to break them with illusions of being able to elect "democratic socialism".

First and foremost that means exposing and denouncing the hypocritical and foul lies of bourgeois "democracy", "human rights", "freedom" and "the rule of law", all total fraud and humbug, and educating the working class in the revolutionary grasp that only be establishing the firmest working class rule can they hope to build a better world.

But not one of the fake-"left" groups did any such thing, from the assorted Trotskyist anti-communists (who pour out almost more filth against the gigantic achievements of the workers states like the Soviet Union, Cuba, China etc. than the bourgeois media machine) to the revisionists and their "peace struggle" tepid pacifism and "parliamentary roads".

This is because deep down these petty bourgeois elements do not want, and cannot bear, the idea of the working class actually taking power.

One of the key expressions of this complete abandonment of Lenin's revolutionary philosophy lies in the notion of an "anti-fascist" fight as something additional to and separate to the struggle against capitalism.

Of course, as the rise of the Golden Dawn fascist movement in Greece, or renewed Le Pen-ism in France currently demonstrate, there is a particular and violent populist reactionary manifestation kept simmering on the back-burner all the time by capitalism and mobilised as a scapegoating diversion (anti-Jew or pro-Zionist anti-Muslim as current needs require) and violent anti-communism once crisis bites.

But this is part of capitalism itself, generated by capitalism, and entirely caused (and funded) by capitalism, to be used in extremis as an additional reactionary weapon to fool the working class, fragment it and suppress it.

To declare this theatricality to be the main enemy as all the "lefts" do overtly or by implication, warning of the urgent need to "Stop Fascism on the street" etc etc is to miss the real core fascism of capitalism itself, and the only possible solution to dealing with Golden Dawn or the Front Nationale or the BNP, EDL etc, which is to overthrow capitalism by revolutionary struggle.

In other words, far from exposing bourgeois democracy as Lenin insists, this "anti-fascism" implies that "things are not that bad yet" and that "if only we take up the 'anti-fascist' fight" the world will stagger on, or even open up again for more reformist advances.

Like the mockery of Marxist warnings to the working class of the oncoming slump disaster facing them, which the "left" swamp has derided for decades over and over as "old fashioned catastrophism which no longer applies in the modern world" – a tune still sung by a few, despite the glaring and incontrovertible reality of world credit crunch disaster still onrolling (and ready to lurch into even worse disaster shortly) and which even the BBC recently conceded meant "perhaps Marx got it right after all", – the swamp tries to mock the notion that capitalism itself not only gives rise to "fascism" but essentially is fascist in essence.

"Fascism is a special state of capitalism with special features and we are not there yet" the ponderous wooden, and undialectical, thinking goes.

"Meanwhile" we get on with "what is possible", meaning reformism and the "putting-off" of revolution to the future as something "ultimately to be done".

It is smug complacency.

It is the foulest disarming nonsense, which deliberately heads away from the grasp that capitalism itself is the enemy, and capable all on its own of driving the entire world into the greatest destruction and mayhem ever seen, exactly as its Slump disasters have already done in two universal World Wars, most fought by alleged "anti-fascist" forces.

As it squirms and writhes in its desperate crisis, capitalism cannot do anything but drag the world back into the international inter-imperialist conflicts and antagonisms over collapsing markets which ended up in world war in 1914 and 1918, "saving" capitalism by destroying huge amounts of the surplus value clogging its system and leaving the investment field open again for a while, for the victors – US imperialism after World War Two.

This "anti-fascist" front narrowness can be traced at least as far back as the Spanish Civil War and the Stalinist theoretical mis-analysis that supporting the republican bourgeois democracy via a Popular Front, merging the working class with the petty bourgeoisie in an "anti-fascist" struggle was in itself all that was necessary to "stop Franco" and building up working class illusions in the possibility of progress through bourgeois parliament.

What was required then just as now in many of the struggles against imperialism was that the working class should constantly be led by, and be drawn into developing, a revolutionary perspective.

It should join the fight to defeat the reactionary onslaught while simultaneously remaining aware of the ineffectuality and potential treachery of petty bourgeois parliament, exactly as Lenin had understood in the August 1917 period when General Kornilov attacked the new Kerensky bourgeois parliament.

No support for the republicans in other words, only common and coordinated action against a more pressing enemy, but moving on as soon as the imperialist Nazi-supported reaction could be defeated, to take up the struggle for communism, and the dictatorship of the proletariat against the republicans (which in the conditions of then erupting Second World War might have remained a pending issue for some time but which had to remain a conscious understanding at all times).

This is the basic understanding of Leninist defeatism, equally applicable now to Syria and Libya.

An argument can be had about whether the working class in Spain was strong enough anyway to succeed in the reactionary pre-war climate of 1936-39 but at least it, and the rest of the international movement, would have been better armed theoretically instead of being misled by the even greater Third International revisionist brainrot.

Instead this "anti-fascism" was later taken to new levels by declaring there to be two flavours of imperialism, aggressive (Japan, Germany,Italy) and non-aggressive ("democratic" USA, Britain, France etc) immediately short-handed by wider understanding into the idea of "good and bad" imperialisms.

It was a deadly fiction that persisted long after the Second World War (reinforced by the brainwashing propaganda of the imperialists themselves and a dozen shades of single-issue "human-rights" diversions from fake-"lefts") along with the steady brain-rotting Third International illusions in "democratic paths" and "containing imperialism by preventing it from turning to war" built on the dire mistakes of Stalin's 1952 book, "Economic Problems of Socialism"; (see numerous past EPSRs but particularly the never answered anti-Lalkar polemics of issues 1190-96 for much more detailed understanding of this).

It was the most disarming rot as court cases and reluctantly released information have gradually leaked out as detailed in this lurid description:

Last week three elderly Kenyans established the right to sue the British government for the torture that they suffered – castration, beating and rape – in the Kikuyu detention camps it ran in the 1950s.

Many tens of thousands were detained and tortured in the camps. I won't spare you the details: we have been sparing ourselves the details for far too long. Large numbers of men were castrated with pliers. Others were raped, sometimes with the use of knives, broken bottles, rifle barrels and scorpions. Women had similar instruments forced into their vaginas. The guards and officials sliced off ears and fingers, gouged out eyes, mutilated women's breasts with pliers, poured paraffin over people and set them alight. Untold thousands died.

The government's secret archive, revealed this April, shows that the attorney general, the colonial governor and the colonial secretary knew what was happening. The governor ensured that the perpetrators had legal immunity: including the British officers reported to him for roasting prisoners to death. In public the colonial secretary lied and kept lying.

Little distinguishes the British imperial project from any other. In all cases the purpose of empire was loot, land and labour. When people resisted (as some of the Kikuyu did during the Mau Mau rebellion), the response everywhere was the same: extreme and indiscriminate brutality, hidden from public view by distance and official lies.

Successive governments have sought to deny the Kikuyu justice: destroying most of the paperwork, lying about the existence of the rest, seeking to have the case dismissed on technicalities. Their handling of this issue, and the widespread British disavowal of what happened in Kenya, reflects the way this country has been brutalised by its colonial history. Empire did almost as much harm to the imperial nations as it did to their subject peoples.

In his book Exterminate All the Brutes, Sven Lindqvist shows how the ideology that led to Hitler's war and the Holocaust was developed by the colonial powers. Imperialism required an exculpatory myth. It was supplied, primarily, by British theorists.

In 1799 Charles White began the process of identifying Europeans as inherently superior to other peoples. By 1850 the disgraced anatomist Robert Knox had developed the theme into fully fledged racism. His book The Races of Man asserted that dark-skinned people were destined to be enslaved and then annihilated by the "lighter races". Dark meant almost everyone: "What a field of extermination lies before the Saxon, Celtic and Sarmatian races!"

Remarkable as it may sound, this view soon came to dominate British thought. In common with most of the political class, W Winwood Reade, Alfred Russell Wallace, Herbert Spencer, Frederick Farrar, Francis Galton, Benjamin Kidd and even Charles Darwin saw the extermination of dark-skinned people as an inevitable law of nature. Some of them argued that Europeans had a duty to speed it up: both to save the integrity of the species and to put the inferior "races" out of their misery.

These themes were picked up by German theorists. In 1893 Alexander Tille, drawing on British writers, claimed that "it is the right of the stronger race to annihilate the lower". In 1901 Friedrich Ratzel argued in Der Lebensraum that Germany had a right and duty, like Europeans in the Americas, to displace "primitive peoples". In Mein Kampf, Hitler explained that the German empire's eastward expansion would mirror the western and southern extension of British interests. He systematised and industrialised what imperial nations had been doing for five centuries. The scale was greater, the location different, the ideology broadly the same.

I believe that the brutalisation of empire also made the pointless slaughter of the first world war possible. A ruling class that had shut down its feelings to the extent that it could engineer a famine in India in the 1870s in which between 12 million and 29 million people died was capable of almost anything. Empire had tested not only the long-range weaponry that would be deployed in northern France, but also the ideas.

Nor have we wholly abandoned them. Commenting on the Kikuyu case in the Daily Mail, Max Hastings charged that the plaintiffs had come to London "to exploit our feeble-minded justice system". Hearing them "represents an exercise in state masochism". I suspect that if members of Hastings' club had been treated like the Kikuyu, he would be shouting from the rooftops for redress. But Kenyans remain, as colonial logic demanded, the other, bereft of the features and feelings that establish our common humanity.

The establishment friendly "radical" George Monbiot prefaces this piece with a suitably foul anti-USSR swipe to deliberately, lyingly and gratuitously imply, utterly without foundation, that somehow the Soviet Union committed "even worse" atrocities thus signalling his anti-communist soundness to the appropriate powers:

Over the gates of Auschwitz were the words "Work Makes You Free". Over the gates of the Solovetsky camp in Lenin's gulag: "Through Labour – Freedom!". Over the gates of the Ngenya detention camp, run by the British in Kenya: "Labour and Freedom". Dehumanisation appears to follow an almost inexorable course.

But this reference to the grotesque parodying of Soviet working class freedom by Nazism is only inserted to suggest there is some 'universal human sadness' being explored rather than making the real point which is that this is a complete exposure of the Western "good imperialists" as being at least as barbaric and tyrannical – and fascist – as the German Nazis, all immediately after a war in which the working class had been once again flung in as cannon fodder essentially to battle it out for imperialist plunder while fooled with the pretence of "anti-fascism and the struggle against the horrible Nazis".

Once the workers state of the Soviet Union had been attacked there were other reasons for workers to be drawn into the war, as defence of the USSR but critical point is that fascism is the very nature of capitalism and particularly in its tyrannical oppression of the Third World.

As further condemnation of the fake-"lefts" it should be pointed out that this barbarism was operated and continued by the post-war Labourites whose overwhelming majority government (headed by the hero of the fake-"lefts", Clement Attlee) was in power in the post-war "anti-Nazi" period of Nuremburg trials.

In that time came the 1945-49 Greek civil war suppression of the communist partisans with British backing for the same fascists who had colluded with the German occupation, suppression of Malaysia's communist and national anti-colonial revoluion using appalling concentration camps, torture and massacres and many more acts of tyranny, some also now emerging in letters and articles:

Future claims are most likely to come from:

Cyprus: The International Committee of the Red Cross documented hundreds of cases of torture during the 1950s Eoka insurgency. One Red Cross inspector said he had seen broken fingers and limbs, missing fingernails and traces of whip marks. Some prisoners complained they were waterboarded, with kerosene mixed with water. "The British policy is to break the back of Eoka by any means," the inspector told his superiors in Geneva.

Aden: After Amnesty International's first-ever investigation concluded that British forces were torturing prisoners in the mid-1960s, an official investigation was mounted. Some of the documentation from this investigation was destroyed, but a few papers survived and have since been declassified. They show that the torture of suspected insurgents continued despite the official investigation, ending only with the British withdrawal in 1967.

Malaysia: Families of 24 rubber plantation workers who were massacred by British troops in 1948 are seeking a public inquiry. There have also been allegations of torture and extrajudicial killing during the 12-year war against communist guerrillas in Malaya, while a former head of Special Branch in the country has said the British conducted highly secret drug experiments on prisoners.


the atrocities carried out in Kenya are not isolated, as many Irish, Arab, Indian, Chinese and other people can no doubt testify.

But these revelations also raise important questions. For instance, are any of those British army and colonial officers who organised the roasting alive of prisoners still themselves alive? If so, can they be arrested forthwith? Would Gordon Brown, Niall Ferguson, and other recent apologists for the British empire like to comment on the "British values", to use Brown's phrase, revealed by such colonial barbarism?

The question also arises about the role of the Queen. Was she aware of these actions of her servants? If so, did she request that they be arrested, as apparently she did in the case of Abu Hamza? In the light of these recent revelations, perhaps a diamond jubilee penance could be organised as soon as possible.

Dr David Hookes


George Monbiot claims that the colonial mindset is alive and kicking. It certainly is. Blessed with Tony Blair as its most prominent advocate, it now appears as liberal intervention, a doctrine that sanctions the use of massive lethal force as a means of imposing a more "advanced" order, one in which the free market is sovereign. Bestowing the benefits of empire in the old days saw the Maxim machine-gun come into its own – Kitchener's slaughter of the Mahdi's followers at Omdurman comes to mind. Today we have the drone and Hellfire missiles for the tribal areas of Pakistan.

John Lloyd


..A regular frustration of mine is when current abuses – such as the west sourcing cheap goods from ultra-low wage regions, war born out of the need for us to control the oil-producing regions of the world, EU fishing fleets that head off to rake the African coastline clean – come up in conversation and my German friends agree, but then go off on tangents examining their own guilt about the injustices which Germany perpetrated under Hitler.

Here there is a risk that Britain will develop "colonial blinkers", with people flailing themselves with the guilt of the past while forgetting that the cheap outfit they just bought for a couple of pounds was produced under conditions that are often equivalent to and sometimes worse than those under colonialism.

Alan Mitcham

Cologne, Germany

As the last letters begin to tease out, this is not some legacy of past times when things were "different to now" but the constant running character of imperialist domination, precisely to ensure the super-profits exploitation of the billions in the Third World

Torture and repression is daily and normal as one of the better parts of bourgeois journalism has been exploring in detail. Apologies for the further long quote but for the record:

Among the Britons who were picked up in the wake of the attacks was a man called Jamal al-Harith...

After 9/11, he had been imprisoned by the Taliban, who suspected him of being a British spy. At one point he and several other prisoners were forced to share their large cell with a horse that had offended a local Taliban leader in some ill-defined way. A British journalist found Harith languishing in the prison in January 2002 and alerted British diplomats in Kabul, believing they would arrange his repatriation. Instead, they arranged for him to be detained by US forces, who took him straight to an interrogation centre at Kandahar.

Harith then spent two years at Guantánamo, being kicked, punched, slapped, shackled in painful positions, subjected to extreme temperatures and deprived of sleep. He was refused adequate water supplies and fed on food with date markings 10 or 12 years old. On one occasion, he says, he was chained and severely beaten for refusing an injection. He estimates he was interrogated about 80 times, usually by Americans but sometimes by British intelligence officers.

Nine months after his release, Harith issued a statement in which he said he was still in pain as a result of the beatings he received before interrogation. "The irony is that when I was first told in Afghanistan that I would be in the custody of the Americans, I was relieved. I thought that I would then be properly dealt with and returned home without much delay."

A number of US Department of Defense documents leaked several years later showed that, like other men who were rounded up and taken to Guantánamo, Harith was there not because he was thought to be dangerous, but because the information he possessed was considered useful. Harith's file shows that he was sent to Guantánamo "because he was expected to have knowledge of Taliban treatment of prisoners and interrogation tactics". Eighteen months later, the camp authorities had satisfied themselves that he had no connection with the Taliban or al-Qaida, but decided against releasing him because his "timeline has not been fully established" and because British diplomats who had seen him in Kandahar had found him to be "cocky and evasive".

In all, nine British nationals were sent to the maximum-security prison at Guantánamo, along with at least nine former British residents. All were incarcerated for years, and from the moment they arrived they suffered beatings, threats and sleep deprivation. All were interrogated by MI5 officers and some also by MI6. When Harith was eventually released, along with three men from the West Midlands known as the Tipton Three, a man called Martin from the Foreign Office was waiting for them as they boarded the plane home. "Can you," he asked, "make sure you say you were treated properly?"

Martin's boss, foreign secretary Jack Straw, was particularly concerned that the wider world should never learn of the extent to which the British government had become involved in the torture of its own citizens at Guantánamo. In December 2005, the full truth about British complicity in rendition and torture was still such a deeply buried official secret that Jack Straw felt able to reassure MPs on the Commons foreign affairs committee about the allegations starting to surface in the media. "Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories," he said, "and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States… there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition."

Two days after 9/11, during a meeting of President Bush's closest advisers, his head of counter-terrorism, Cofer Black, declared the country's enemies must be left with "flies walking across their eyeballs". Unlike its allies – the UK, France, Spain and Israel – the US had little experience of serious terrorist attacks on its own territory. Bush turned to his Department of Defense and found it had no cogent, off-the-shelf plan for a response. The CIA, on the other hand, did have something in its arsenal: it had the rendition programme.

Since 1987, the CIA had been quietly apprehending terrorists and "rendering" them to the US for prosecution, without any regard for lawful extradition processes. In 1995, President Bill Clinton – apparently with the full encouragement of his vice-president, Al Gore – agreed that a number of terrorists could be taken to a third country, including countries known to use torture, a process that would come to be known as extraordinary rendition.

Within five days of 9/11, Black had drawn up plans for the CIA's response. It would entail a vast expansion of the rendition programme. Hundreds of al-Qaida suspects would be tracked down and abducted from their homes and hiding places in 80 different countries. The agency would decide who was to be killed and who was to be kept alive in a network of secret prisons, outside the US, where they would be systematically tormented until every one of their secrets had been delivered up.

The evening before Bush signed off the plans, Black and a handful of other senior CIA officers went to the British embassy in Washington, where they told senior British intelligence officers what was about to happen. At the end of Black's three-hour presentation, his opposite number at MI6, Mark Allen, commented drily that it all sounded "rather blood-curdling". Allen also expressed concern that once the Americans had "hammered the mercury in Afghanistan", al-Qaida would simply scatter across south Asia and the Middle East, destabilising entire regions. One of the CIA officers at the meeting, Tyler Drumheller, could see that while the British appeared laid-back, "it was clear they were worried, and not without reason". According to one account, even Black joked that one day they might all be prosecuted.

Shortly afterwards, Allen departed for London, where Tony Blair and Jack Straw were waiting to be briefed on the Americans' plans. The CIA's closest ally had been put on notice: the British could never honestly claim that they did not know what was about to unfold.

At the end of September 2001, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 1373, which required member states to do more to assist the US and each other in eliminating international terrorism. On 2 October, Nato members met at the organisation's headquarters in Brussels and agreed they should invoke article five of the North Atlantic Treaty, under which an attack on one member is to be regarded as an attack on all. At a second meeting two days later, the US representatives presented a number of specific requests, all of which were granted. Eight of those requests have since been made public. They included enhanced intelligence sharing, taking "necessary measures to increase security" and granting blanket over-flight clearances for the US and other allies' aircraft for military flights engaged in counter-terrorism operations. Nato has since admitted that a number of other requests were granted; all of them remain secret.

Over the next few years, men were rendered not only from the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, but from Kenya, Pakistan, Indonesia, Somalia, Bosnia, Croatia, Albania, Gambia, Zambia, Thailand and the US itself. The US was running a global kidnapping programme on the basis of Black's plan and the agreements reached at the Nato meeting. Some prisoners were dispatched to Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan and Syria, or to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, and an unknown number were sent to secret prisons that the CIA operated in Thailand, Poland, Lithuania and Romania. Wherever they ended up, they had one thing in common: they were going to be tortured.

Quietly, Britain pledged logistics support for the rendition programme, which resulted in the CIA's Gulfstream V and other jets becoming frequent visitors to British airports en route to the agency's secret prisons. Over the next four years, a 26-strong flight of rendition aircraft operated by the CIA used UK airports at least 210 times. Dozens of private executive jets chartered by the agency were also regular visitors to the UK.

The US authorities also asked the UK for permission to build a large prison on Diego Garcia, the British territory in the Indian Ocean that operates as a US military base. The project was dropped, for logistical rather than legal reasons, but Diego Garcia continued to be used as a stopover for rendition flights, and senior UN officials believe that a number of prisoners were held and interrogated there in 2002 and 2003.

The UK would do more than offer mere logistics support to the rendition programme, however. It would become an enthusiastic participant. And, as I discovered, this would not be the first time it was involved with the torture of its own citizens.

In 2005, when I was investigating the UK's support for the US rendition programme, two words in a book review caught my eye. The article referred to a wartime detention centre I'd never heard of: the London Cage.

An out-of-print book led to some yellowing cuttings at the British Library...and I began to learn more about the torture centre that the British military had operated throughout the 1940s, in complete secrecy, in a row of Victorian villas in one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in London. During the course of the war, thousands of Germans had been beaten, deprived of sleep and forced to assume stress positions for days at a time. But many of the first to arrive at this interrogation centre were not Germans but British fascists. The interrogation of British nationals all but ended in November 1940, but the centre continued to operate for more than three years after the end of the war.

The files at the National Archives also contained a couple of oblique references to another interrogation centre that the British had run during the cold war, this time in the village of Bad Nenndorf, near Hanover. The taking of life there was not unknown. There were further hints in the files that other such facilities may have existed, not just in postwar Germany, but also in north Africa, the Middle East and beyond. Throughout the postwar period, it seemed, there had been a network of secret prisons, hidden from the Red Cross, where men thought to pose a threat to the state could be kept for years and systematically tormented. And what of more recent incidences?

Why had the British army in Northern Ireland resorted so readily to torture on the opening day of internment in August 1971, and how did they develop the interrogation methods – the so-called five techniques – that they employed? Why, long after the Troubles in Northern Ireland had ceased to resemble civil war, had coercive interrogations remained at the heart of the UK's counter-terrorism strategy, being used to extract confessions from hundreds of suspected paramilitaries who could then be convicted by the no-jury courts?

There were also the former British colonies. In the early 21st century, a group of ageing former Mau Mau fighters started proceedings against the British government, alleging that they had been systematically tortured in prison camps in Kenya in the 1950s. Their claims were resisted every step of the way, and earlier this month, when they finally won permission to sue the government, the Foreign Office said it would appeal, despite having admitted that the allegations were entirely true.


Back in London in 2001, government ministers and their intelligence advisers could not decide what to do with the young British Muslims being interrogated at Kandahar and at a second centre that US forces had established at Bagram airbase north of Kabul. One idea was to have them brought back to the UK and prosecuted, possibly for treason. MI5 asked the Crown Prosecution Service whether they could "interview" the prisoners first and were told they could, as this would not inhibit any subsequent prosecutions.

In Washington, meanwhile, members of Bush's war cabinet had decided that the expanded rendition programme should result in the majority of prisoners being interrogated by the US military, rather than by overseas intelligence agencies. They needed somewhere to carry out these interrogations and chose the Guantánamo Bay naval base on Cuba as the site for Camp X-Ray. On 6 January 2002, the first US combat engineers and contractors arrived at Guantánamo to begin construction. Three days later, senior lawyers at the US justice department drafted a memo that concluded that the Geneva conventions did not apply to al-Qaida fighters or Taliban members.

Twenty-four hours after the drafting of this memo, on 10 January, British ministers had second thoughts about prosecuting British Muslims captured in Afghanistan. Government lawyers were warning that these men appeared not to have committed any offence under UK law and there was deep anxiety that the US government would be furious if they were brought back to the UK and subsequently released. Furthermore, police interviews in the UK would not be so effective as interrogations conducted overseas. So ministers decided, in the words of a secret Foreign Office memorandum, that their "preferred option" was the rendition of British nationals to Guantánamo.

Events moved rapidly. Later that day, Straw issued a classified telegram to the British embassy in Washington and embassies across the Middle East: no objection should be raised to the transfer of the British nationals to Guantánamo, he ordered, as this was "the best way to meet our counter-terrorism objectives". He added, however, that their removal from Afghanistan should be delayed long enough to allow questioning by a "specialist team" of MI5 interrogators.

The first team of MI5 interrogators had arrived in Afghanistan the previous day, joining a number of MI6 officers who had entered the country at the end of 2001. The first interrogation was conducted at Bagram just as Straw was sending his telegram. There were 80-odd prisoners there, mostly Afghans and Arab fighters, and a handful of Britons, and it was immediately obvious they were being mistreated. Some of the prisoners were chained upright inside the pens with hoods over their heads. Others were being beaten. One of the officers alerted his superiors that the first prisoner he questioned had been abused by the US military before the session began, and the complaint was passed rapidly back to London.

The next day, both MI6 and MI5 sent written guidance to all of their officers in Afghanistan. Covering two pages, these instructions had been prepared earlier in anticipation of such a complaint and were very carefully crafted. Referring to the treatment of the prisoners, the guidance stated that: "Given that they are not within our custody or control, the law does not require you to intervene to prevent this. That said, HMG's stated commitment to human rights makes it important that the Americans understand that we cannot be party to such ill-treatment nor can we be seen to condone it." It continued: "It is important that you do not engage in any activity yourself that involves inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners."

So MI5 and MI6 officers should not be seen to condone torture and must certainly not torture any prisoners themselves. But, crucially, they could continue to question people whom they knew were being tortured. The door that could have been shut upon the use of torture had been left open just a crack, and over the years to come, all manner of horrors would slip quietly through.

At least two Afghans died under interrogation at Bagram after being chained for several days from the ceiling of their cells while being beaten about the legs. Postmortem examinations showed their injuries were so severe that, had they survived, their legs would have had to be amputated.


Documents later disclosed in court showed that after one British terrorism suspect, Martin Mubanga, was detained in Zambia, either Blair or someone close to him at Downing Street intervened to ensure that he could not escape rendition to Guantánamo. Mubanga denied any involvement in terrorism. Nevertheless, a reason for his rendition was set out in a note that Eliza Manningham-Buller of MI5 sent to John Gieve, the permanent secretary at the Home Office, which was also disclosed in court: "We are… faced with the prospect… of the return of a British citizen to the UK about whom we have serious concerns, whom it may be difficult to prosecute and whose release could trigger hostile US reaction."

MI5 and MI6 officers carried out around 100 interrogations at Guantánamo between early 2002 and the end of 2004. Even when British intelligence officers weren't present in the room, their input in the interrogation of prisoners with a British connection was often vital, as it was in the case of Binyam Mohamed, a 23-year-old Ethiopian who had been living in London. Details of what happened to Mohamed would emerge piece by piece during civil proceedings that were later brought on his behalf in the British courts. It was a textbook example of complicity in torture, one that would result in MI5 facing a criminal investigation for the first time in its history.

In April 2002, Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi militant suspected of being a senior al-Qaida figure, was interviewed by FBI agents. He told them of two men who had been tasked with mounting an operation almost as ambitious as the attacks of 9/11: the detonation of a radiological dispersal device, or dirty bomb, in an American city. One of the two men was identified as "Binyamin Mohamed", who had been detained in Karachi while attempting to board a flight to London with a doctored passport. Mohamed denies he is a terrorist and, despite having clear reason to regard him as suspicious, US authorities would later admit that the dirty bomb plot never proceeded beyond some rudimentary internet research.

Mohamed was handed over for brutal interrogation. The Pakistanis and Americans soon established that he had been living in London before travelling to Afghanistan, and MI5 and Scotland Yard's special branch began questioning his friends and associates in west London. The following month, the CIA granted the British permission to question Mohamed.

When the court discovered that MI5 and MI6 knew full well that Mohamed had been tortured before the British officer was sent to question him, the British government attempted to persuade the judges to omit this fact from their public judgments. David Miliband, then foreign secretary, was particularly anxious to preserve the control principle in relation to intelligence, whereby material provided by one nation to another could not be released without the consent of the originating country. Under this heading, he argued that the public should not learn of seven key paragraphs from one court judgment that revealed that MI5 were aware that Mohamed had been "intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation" and that the effects of the sleep deprivation were "carefully observed"; that Mohamed was told he could be made to disappear; and that the interrogation and mistreatment were causing "significant mental stress and suffering".

While the British officer said nothing in court about his prior knowledge of Mohamed's torture, he did let slip one intriguing fact. He explained that he served with a division of MI5 known as the "international terrorism-related agent running section": the section routinely responsible for interviewing suspected terrorists. The MI5 officers who were interrogating al-Qaida suspects – men who were being tortured in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guantánamo and elsewhere around the world – were agent handlers. It appeared that MI5 was seeking to recruit torture victims as double agents.

Mohamed was rendered to a secret prison near Rabat in Morocco, where interrogators beat him for hours and subjected him to loud noise for days. Once a month, he says, his torturers used scalpels to make shallow, inch-long incisions on his chest and genitals. He was accused of being a senior al-Qaida terrorist. Mohamed says he would say whatever he thought his captors wanted and he signed a statement about the dirty bomb plot.

It was clear that Mohamed was being interrogated, in part, on the basis of information supplied by the UK. During the subsequent court case, it would emerge that reports of what Mohamed was saying under torture also flowed back to London. The security service's lawyers admitted that MI5 knew Mohamed was not in US custody during this period, but repeatedly denied knowing he was being held in Morocco. Then a number of documents disclosed during the case showed that the British officer had visited the Moroccan torture centre on three occasions while Mohamed was being tortured there. After the last visit, MI5 had sent the CIA a list of 70 questions that it wanted put to Mohamed.

Mohamed's torture in Morocco went on for 18 months until a team of masked Americans came to take him away. One photographed his genitals, to establish that they had been mutilated when he was with the Moroccans, not in US custody. Then it was off to Afghanistan. For five months he was detained in a darkened cell in a prison somewhere near Kabul. He says he was chained, subjected to loud music and questioned by Americans. Four months later he was flown to Guantánamo, where he says he was routinely humiliated and abused over the next four and a half years.

Mohamed became one of the best-known victims of rendition and torture after 9/11, and one of the most blatant examples of British complicity in US crimes. But he was far from alone and he would not be the last.

Edited extract from Cruel Britannia: A Secret History Of Torture, by Ian Cobain,

The fascism not only continues but has been escalated as the decades long developing economic world crisis has finally broken out into the open.

It saturates the deliberately provoked civil wars in Libya and Syria, part of the US Empire intimidation and violence to "shock and awe" the planet into continuing its diktat, suppressing the Middle East uprisings by stirring up the foulest counter-revolution and violence under the bogus pretext of an "uprising" (swallowed hook, line and sinker by the Trotskyists and other fake-"lefts".

The sight of Hilary Clinton smiling evilly on breakfast TV at the news of Muammar' Gaddafi's illicit killing by iron-bar buggery (now reported as a bayonet) lacked only her stroking a white cat as a personfication of evil.

And the reports of the alleged "rebellion" in Libya and Syria constantly leak details of the Nazi minded realities and reactionary petty bourgeois atrocities which have been unleashed, encouraged and in many cases directly led by covert Western forces.

Admissions of summary executions and destruction trickle out in the bourgeois press despite the best efforts of the intelligence agencies propaganda machine and the their willing colluders in the Western media propaganda machine:

Bilal Bettamer, a 22-year-old law student in the city who was one of the organisers of the Benghazi protests, said he was optimistic the militias would be disbanded. "You can't have 100% success in these situations. [But] that's what we wanted – the militias are put on notice and everyone knows now that this country will refuse any extremists and will eventually get rid of them, and become a country that we wanted on 17 February."

He condemned the apparent killing of militia guards as a "stupid move"...An army unit from Sirte, former stronghold of the late dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, has occupied the compound of the Raffala al-Sahati militia, whose soldiers shot many of the 11 killed in the early hours of Saturday. Investigators are trying to establish who killed six militiamen whose bodies were found, each with a bullet to the head, in a field near the Raffala base.

...A year after the violent death of Muammar Gaddafi, debate still rages about Libya's 2011 revolution. Was it worth it? Or will Gaddafi's overthrow lead to a second Iraq? Optimists say that despite the recent murder of the US ambassador in Benghazi, Libya could in time be a success story. For the pessimists, though, the country is already a mess: the central government is weak; armed militias roam with impunity; fighting resumed this month around the loyalist town of Bani Walid. In the east of the country is the spectre of radical Islam. In a series of extraordinary portraits from the new Libya, the photojournalist Louis Quail sets out to provide some answers...

To his credit, Quail also sought out the revolution's losers. He talked to imprisoned Gaddafi fighters. He recorded the spot where many had died. And he travelled to Tawerga, a Gaddafi-loyalist town just down the road from revolutionary Misrata. After the fall of Tripoli, rebels burned down all of Tawerga's houses, forcing those left behind to flee. A photo shows a rusting car in an alley of abandoned houses – a strange urban landscape bereft of life. The rebels knew this violence was wrong. But they were unable to stop themselves; one wrote on a wall: "Sorry Osama [the local leader] I couldn't control myself." (!!!!)

Gaddafi's overthrow, of course, was only possible because of Nato's assistance: UK and French warplanes bombed his troops, and last October targeted his convoy, forcing him to seek refuge in a storm drain. It was from here that he was captured, beaten and shot. Quail says most Libyans are grateful for Nato's help.

So much for the willingly gullible Western fake-"lefts" continuing to help the Western war effort with their shallow petty bourgeois impressionism that "if it is on the street it is a people's struggle" – a sick capitulation to imperialist war pressure that has become an overt hostility to all the real struggles in the world since they "condemned" the 9/11 Third World attacks on New York.

The Libya "uprising" was a bogus struggle deliberately provoked using a handful of malcontents, petty bourgeois, monarchists and reactionaries (and doubtless CIA paid stooges) to muddy the waters of the stunning Egyptian revolt, a truly spontaneous upwelling of mass anti-Western hatred building on the equally spontaneous rebellion in Tunisia and spreading rapidly into the backward feudal oppression of the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia.

To all except the Trots, blinded by their small minded hatred of genuine world revolutionary struggle (the legacy of the their anti-workers state hostility of the past) Libya and now Syria were obviously different, not least because they were not run by heavily subsidised Western stooges or primitive tribal monarchies which should have ended in the Middle Ages, surviving only by massive Western military support.

Their bourgeois nationalist regimes are far from perfect but still a thorn in the side for imperialism. More importantly they are both suitable targets to disrupt and intimidate the whole Arab and Middle Eastern revolt, which has terrified imperialism in its unpredendented scale and extent. Washington has been muddying the waters and simultaneously keeping the world war atmosphere on the boil.

The artificial and viciously petty bourgeois nazi character of the Syrian revolt is also repeatedly confirmed both in revelations of atrocities and in the febrile incoherence of this cobbled together "rebellion" which threatens constantly to break up and which requires constant Western intervention to keep going, via covert and direct Western aid and organisation, most recently demanding the direct intervention of the warmongering feminist Hillary Clinton:

The risks that have so far prevented direct western intervention were made clear on Friday with the emergence of a video apparently showing the execution of captured government soldiers in Idlib province. A rebel fighter from the province, Abu Abdul Rahiem, said the killings took place in al-Nayrab to the west of Saraqeb, on the highway between Aleppo and Damascus, which the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) claimed to have captured on Friday. He claimed the executions were carried out by a Salafist extremist group, operating outside the command structure of the FSA.

"Assad's soldiers were inside a military camp in the town. Fighters from the Salafi Dawood brigade overran the camp and captured the soldiers. Initially there were only 10 of them so they could not take the soldiers captive, and had to kill them immediately. No trial could be held because the fighting was still going on. This is guerrilla warfare," Rahiem told the Guardian.

"We do not wish to turn Syria into another Afghanistan, but we can't stop these extremists groups. We are really worried about the future of Syria. We need weapons and media support, but there is nothing on the ground."

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN human rights council, said the video still had to be verified, but added: "The allegations are that these these were soldiers who were no longer combatants. And therefore, at this point it looks very likely that this is a war crime, another one."

Washington's decision to swing its support behind the Doha initiative marked a decisive break with the SNC after months of mounting frustration over the exile group's failure to unite the internal and external opposition.

"We've made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition," the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said on Wednesday. "They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard."

A few of the fake-"left" Stalinist groups have avoided going along with the warmongering buildup in Syria (which keeps the slump driven world war drive on the boil, and prepares for the possible blitzing of next door victim Iran of the West in addition to surrounding the Egyptian revolution).

But the world crisis and revolutionary context of all this is no better brought out by the "Stop the War" pacifism of the Lalkar/Proletarian CPGB-ML the wooden Stalinist thinking on Syria which tells the working class to support the vacillating and inconsistent capitalism of the Assad Ba'athists, spreading the direst illusions.

Leninism would happily see the foul fascist circus of pretend "democratic revolt" stirred up by Washington and the Zionists run onto the rocks, defeated and broken up, along with as much damage as possible to all the other Western coordinated counter revolutionary intervention there from Zionism's covert agents to the NATO Turks.

But such necessary defeat for imperialism is a million miles from giving credence to the Assad regime by supporting it as such.

Assad eventually needs toppling as much as any other wretched bourgeois regime keeping capitalist antagonisms and societal conflict alive everywhere, and Syria needs a communist future as much as the rest of the world. Agreed that cannot be right now and is a secondary issue put in abeyance while the overwhelmingly important question, that of defeating capitalist world domination is completed.

But revolutionary clarity remains the overwhelmingly important questions and it is not served by telling the working class their future lies with Ba'athism or Gaddafi's "Green Book".

This wooden Stalinist refusal to clarify the world continues to tragically mislead struggles everywhere.

In Venezuela too the world can celebrate the recent election defeat for the subversion and interference of Washington, and local bribery and corruption of the massively wealthy capitalist ruling families, which was trying every dirty trick in the book to topple the populist left nationalist Hugo Chávez.

But where is the historical context for the working class of Caracas warning them of the dangers of coups and military overturns, and of the crucial need to fight for and achieve the dictatorship of the proletariat, taking over the wealth and property of the rich into common ownership.

The more buffoonish nonsense of the demagoguic Chávez needs to be exposed and challenged, not uncritically "solidaritised" as the smug Western liberals love to do. Just consider the last paragraph of the news story here in the light of all the evidence of the Western plunge into fascism, led by Obama to see what deadly confusions still beset the world.

Chávez would "vote for Obama" leader of the great fascist turn on the planet.

Could confusion get any more stupid????

The great lessons of the dangers of illusions in democracy were taught in Latin America by the CIA led murdering coup against the opportunist revisionist Salvador Allende in 1973, who had promised "legally elected communism".

His philistine rejection of the need to build revolutionary theory, and ignorance of the need to build the dictatorship of the proletariat led to the slaughtering and torturing tens of thousands under the General Augustus Pinochet coup.

But revisionism (tragically including heroic – and revolutonary – Cuba's Third International illusions in Havana) still says nothing, refusing to take up the struggle for the fullest Leninist revolutionary theory itself and feeding out "heroic" celebrations of Allende's "martyrdom" instead of a reasoned and thoughtful criticism of the tragic mistakes:

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez may have started a new term, but it was the old, anti-imperialist, anti-US drive that characterised his first press conference since winning re-election for six more years.

Lambasting Washington, backing Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and accusing Europe of cashing in on the death of Muammar Gaddafi, Chávez came out swinging after his comfortable victory on Sunday.

On ebullient and provocative form, the president accused the US of fomenting unrest in the Middle East, particularly in Syria. "This is a crisis that has been planned and provoked … Syria is a sovereign nation. This crisis has a single cause: the world has entered into a new era of imperialism. It's madness. The US government has been among the most irresponsible. I hope Obama rethinks this," he said.

Venezuela has supported the Syrian government by shipping oil to make up for shortfalls caused by US-initiated embargoes.

"How can I not support Assad. He's the legitimate leader … We will continue in our support and advocate peace," Chávez told reporters at the presidential palace in Miraflores.

He also lamented the death of his friend, former Libyan leader Gaddafi. "The way he died was a barbarity. Gaddafi was assassinated almost on TV." He said the former Libyan leader had sent him a last message, in which he compared himself to Che Guevara: "I shall die like Che – I will be a martyr."

Europe, he said, had frozen billions in Libyan assets, which was "convenient" at a time when it was facing its own financial crisis.

Chávez accused outside forces of trying to oust him in the presidential election.

"We didn't just defeat [his rival, Henrique] Capriles. We also defeated an international coalition. This wasn't just a domestic battle."

He said voters had been inundated with 500,000 automated messages from the US and Europe urging them to back his Capriles.

"How much did this cost? Who has the capacity to do such a thing?", he asked. "The great transnational phone companies were supporting Capriles. It was electoral harassment."

Friendlier foreign forces were, however, quick to congratulate Chávez on his victory. Other leftwing leaders in Latin America gave celebration calls. Russian president Vladimir Putin reportedly told him the election news was the "best present I could have for my 60th birthday".

Chávez also castigated the foreign media's coverage of the election, which he won with 55.2% of the vote against Capriles's 44.1%.

"I've read that Venezuela is divided. But the US is also divided. Every country is divided," Chávez said. "I won by 10 points and the foreign media call the victory slim. How much did Hollande win by in France? How much will Obama win by? You know Obama is my candidate? … I would vote for him if I could."

Such ignorance and theoretical confusion is a deadly danger and needs to be fought all the way.

Build Leninism.

Don Hoskins

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