No 1425 17th May 2013
Slump resistance groups and coalitions like “Left Unity” and the “Coalition of Resistance” may be the emerging centrism – halfway revolutionism – that the increasingly vicious Slump crisis is virtually certain to precipitate. But if they are to prove of value to the working class they need to overcome decades of fake-“leftism”, Labourite reformism, revisionism and Trotskyist sour anti-communism, and embrace the fight for revolutionary understanding and clarity about the crisis. That means open debate
A rash of alleged socialist movements, now claiming to be preparing resistance to the non-stop and unstoppable capitalist slump, need assessing with a giant pinch of salt, philosophically speaking.
The “Coalition of Resistance” peoples’ assembly, due to meet in June has given no indications yet that it is anything more than another of the endless lowest common denominator “socialist alliances” and groupings of official trade unionism which continue to pump out failed ideas of regulating and resisting capitalism, and heading- off any discussion of “difficult and contentious” revolutionary theory with Trotskyist anti-communism and bureaucratic “chairman’s rulings”.
Ken Loach’s “Left Unity”, which kicked off with a founding discussion last week, may also possibly be the emergence of a long overdue centrist movement which the capitalist crisis catastrophe makes more likely day by day, but it too needs rapidly to shake off old reformist habits if that is what it has potential for.
Something is needed to fill the gap left by the complete collapse of the parliamentary democracy racket now that its once endless permutations of reformists promises and lies have all been worked through and exposed, including class-collaborating Labourism, its cynical and corrupt Blairite New Labour “spin” follow-on and even the desperate reserve card of the Liberals, leaving only the joke national-chauvinism of the UKIP “Waitrose fascists” (the “classy” end of prejudice and bigotry) in the wreckage.
The bourgeois “democracy” game has been a staggeringly successful fraud for the ruling class over two or more centuries, to hide its actual dictatorship (in which money takes all the decisions) but has gradually been being found out over long decades of working class experience of its lies, cynicism, betrayals and never-fulfiled “jam tomorrow” promises.
Declining votes year by year and contempt for the corrupt pocket-lining antics of the self-interested MPs in their luxury Thames-side drinking club (Parliament) has been intensified with the breaking into the open of the decades-long festering and ever worsening capitalist crisis.
The devastation of the world economy has exposed all these mountebanks and liars, all ready to go along with the workhouse savagery of Slump cuts and “austerity” with just a few token murmurs about how fast to impose it all, and all lying through their teeth about how there is nothing more to discuss than how to get to a nonexistent and impossible “recovery”, saying nothing about the total failure of capitalism itself, the sole cause.
Trade unionism is no better, its class collaborating “left pressure for welfare and working conditions improvements” running into the buffers essentially from the 1984 miners strike, the great high water mark of heroic working class sacrifice and union struggle which ran into the bigger questions of state power and civil war viciousness from the ruling class.
But any new movement emerging to take up the real fight will only go somewhere if it opens up the discussion and not only allows, but encourages, the fullest debate of all ideas including full-on communist perspectives which alone can deal with the intractable and irreversible slump Depression and drive to war of capitalism.
Whether the new Loach group is an attempt to go that way is a moot question and especially so in the light of its alleged starting point, the supposed “Old Labour” virtues of the 1945 Attlee government recently advocated in a new Ken Loach film.
Attlee Labourism was as treacherous and class collaborating in its grovelling to the British Empire ruling class as anything subsequently, running vicious worldwide exploitation on its behalf and pulling the giant confidence trick on workers domestically that they were finally getting “socialism”, simply because a few bankrupted private industries were bought out and “nationalised” in order to keep moribund British capitalism going.
By taking collapsed private railways, coal mines, water and electricity etc into state management, the vital services and supplies needed by the rest of profiteering capitalism were continued, at budget prices.
Workers got nothing but the rescue of the war-and-Depression bankrupted profit system (with the incompetent failed owners lavishly “compensated for their loss” at ordinary taxpayers’ expense) and a few token and always hollow reforms to head them away from the revolutionary post-war mood which swept the great majority everywhere and threatened to carry forward the great momentum of the Red Army victories and topple all of European capitalism.
The NHS and free higher education, grudgingly conceded (with the choicest morsels still reserved for “private” education or medicine etc) were only allowed in the teeth of revolutionary rumbling, both against the old slump agonies and inspired by the huge achievements of the Soviet Union.
Plans were afoot immediately to take them back as soon as feasible (with class collaborating Attlee-ism itself taking the first steps by introducing prescription charges).
“Old” Labour got its chance in power only because of the post-1945 tidal wave of communist sympathies which saw potential majorities for socialism – including out and out communist parties – throughout France, Italy, occupied Germany and Greece, stopping only at the Spanish border where Francoite fascism had slaughtered the left in the civil war and endless massacring suppression since, and equally nasty fascist dictatorship had proved necessary to hold back the Portuguese.
But Labourism also proved to be part of gigantic efforts by capitalism to head this movement off, which elsewhere included such sinister moves as the import of the American mafia into Sicily and southern Italy, and the Europe-wide secret Gladio anti-communist intelligence and freemasonry network set up by the forerunners of the CIA and MI6 to undermine any real moves towards socialism.
The enormous fraud of “controlling and improving capitalism” through “democratic socialist reform” was the weapon used in Britain to head the militant working class away from revolutionary clarity and leadership, still possible because of residual imperialist super-profits wrenched out of the Third World and the long history of philistine petty bourgeois reformism which had never been fully tested in power until then.
The reality of Labourism proved to be totally in the service of capitalism aiding the ruthless suppression of anti-colonial and communist struggles everywhere, notably in Malaysia and the Greek civil war (which used methods as barbaric as anything the German Nazis had managed in concentration camps, torture and scorched earth brutality) and across the British Empire (including running colonies like Kenya, which are just now being revealed to have seen the most monstrous and depraved oppression in the 1950s – including roasting prisoners alive and castrations, with not a murmur from the Labourites then or now).
It also worked hand in glove with American imperialism to surround the wartime “ally”, the Soviet Union, with the Iron Curtain nuclear threat, building the NATO anti-socialist anti-communist alliance and leasing permanent bases to the US for forward attack, in the UK and abroad.
Counterposed to the shallow spin degeneracy of the New Labour charlatans and warmongers, and their even more grotesque Scrooge-moralising Tories, the post-war period might seem virtuous but such illusions will rapidly drag the entire movement into the opportunist mire if taken at all seriously as an actual “solution” to the catastrophe now facing workers.
If eulogising these “old” Labourites is accepted as being just a “left” starting point for some less politicised workers or more naïve intellectuals, growing increasingly dismayed by the crisis and the complete lack of leadership for any working class struggle against it, then the signs are not completely bad, but only if that view is solely a voicing of aspirations for real socialism and a reaction to the ever greater corruption and cynicism of the current parliamentary racket.
It remains the case that only a full blooded perspective of the need for total revolutionary change to the system, can build the kind of movement that can lead to real solutions, the total overturning of all capitalist private ownership and the establishment of planned economic development under the control of the dictatorship of the working class in the interests of all ordinary people.
It is too early to say definitively that these latest movements have no potential to develop some significant leadership against the catastrophe of continuing capitalist rule, and certainly the Loach group has already declared itself to be not simply reformist or defensive socialist but anti-capitalist, which at least sets the right target.
It has also set itself against special privileges and positions for “existing left groups” (which means the self-identified alleged “revolutionism” of the fake-“left” groups of all shades) with a proposal for one member one vote – which means standing against the special pleading for endlessly disruptive federalism and “factional rights” (which in practice means the endless right to disrupt and sabotage party decisions) as did the Socialist Labour Party before it.
A host of Trotskyist groups in particular have already been attacking it for this, even in advance of its inaugural meeting planned for November, which would seem to be a good sign.
If that translates into an opportunity for anyone who joins and builds the group, to present and argue for revolutionary communist ideas and perspectives in a fair and clear way, then it might be possible to see this as the potential centrist movement that Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party initially appeared to be, until its tolerance of debate was tested in practice, and once Leninism started to win some influence, reasserted all the old philistine anti-theory of trade unionist bureaucratic manipulation to block it off.
It remains to be seen how things evolve and it could be only by testing it in practice by participating that this new movement can be assessed fully.
The experience will build further on the wealth of experiences developed during the early period of the SLP in struggling for a return to Leninist understanding.
Some of the same caveats would apply immediately as in this EPSR assessment in 1996 when the SLP launched. Unfortunately there is space only for a part :
And of all political figures with credibility in the working class, Scargill above all is in a position to describe the reality of the bourgeois-dictatorship state in Britain which is basically determined never to allow any socialist threat to take power and abolish capitalism ever even to start its work, let alone finish it, and that was through the NUM’s bitter experiences in the great 1984-85 miners strike against pit closures and the devastation of the coal industry, which was defeated in the end by the vicious onslaught of the courts, the police, the MI5 secret service, and the army to break the miners pickets, confiscate the NUM funds, and to beat up or jail as many strikers and supporters as was necessary to demoralise the movement, hand-in-hand with the Labour Party and TUC demoralisers.
But this SLP excuse about not talking in alarmist tones in order not to inflame bourgeois press criticism, still does not even deal with the real issues involved. The crucial part of not disarming the working class (by feeding them daft democratic illusions about how easy it is going to be to abolish capitalism) is to prepare workers politically for what lies ahead, not organisationally in terms of self-defence mechanisms and legislative measures by which reactionary capitalist-state coups could be nipped in the bud, as important as it is to work these things out in advance and to get workers familiar with them.
The all-important political preparation centres on the scientific understanding of imperialist crisis. Far more needs to be said by the SLP about exactly how capitalism’s ability to rule on, or to bludgeon or trick its way into survival, is going to start collapsing, - and why; - and how the working class is the only force in society which can possibly replace such degenerating decadence and failure, and become the new ruling class instead of the bourgeoisie.
The SLP needs to start taking its bold assertion of Marxist philosophy a bit more seriously. A major plank of Marx’s science of history is the understanding that the era of the bourgeoisie will rise, prevail, and then fall, - to be replaced by the brief era of the working-class in power, the dictatorship of the proletariat, and that whereas capitalism spontaneously grew into power within feudalism before eventually seizing state control guided by all kinds of subjective-idealist delusions and half-truths about religion and democracy, etc, - the working class must take power consciously guided by the only philosophy of effective socialism and rational workers states, - dialectical materialism.
Without correct revolutionary theory, there can be no successful revolutionary practice, and the Leninist heart of that revolutionary theory is the analysis of how 20th century inter-imperialist conflict has brought ruling classes to the point of such defeat, division, and demoralisation that they can no longer rule on in the old way, and how the devastation of those market crashes, slumps, trade wars, and inter-imperialist conflicts has brought the proletariat to the point where it cannot go on any longer in the old way either, in company with large sections of the petty bourgeoisie as well.
The SLP leadership tried to dismiss the need for the party to get involved in any such analysis on other bogus grounds too, such as that perspectives like that about forthcoming imperialist crisis amount to pure speculation.
But such reservations can only be the basis for rejecting any particular specific form of words to describe the nature of imperialist crisis and the likely forms it will take. They cannot be an argument for making no analysis at all about where capitalism is going.
Yet the SLP rejected specific amendments trying to find a form of words suitable for describing what struggles lie ahead for the working class, but made no effort at all to replace them with a more accurate or far-seeing analysis.
What is so noticeable about such an omission and such reluctance to even discuss the detail of such perspectives, merely dismissing them as not needed or as harmful, - is that Scargill himself made a large part of his deserved reputation as an outstanding working-class leader by his bold predictions around the 1984 miners strike against pit closures that the ruling class was planning to virtually destroy the whole of the nationally-owned coal industry. Was that speculative? or sound leadership to prepare the miners and the working class for what the imperialist system in cut-throat competitive crisis had in store for the masses? The correct major point that the SLP now makes in its economic statement about the wholesale de-industrialisation that has hit British industry since 1984 provides the answer.
But how much better would it have been then if Scargill had been able to see even further into the future, and how much better it would be now if the SIP would take its analysis a little deeper.
The NUM strike partly failed because of the continuing belief then that a future Labour Government could restore the position for the nationalised coal industry and the miners, and that a reformist, class-collaborating boomtime Plan For Coal could be resumed, just like that, if everyone was willing.
These were deadly illusions, as Scargill himself now admits partially. And these illusions never wholly convinced all of the working class which came out in support of the miners that they were reliable or the right perspectives. By 1984, large sections of the working class were already beginning to lose faith totally in the Labour Party and the TUC, - a position which Scargill himself now endorses and says was correct then, - as opposed to his continuing delusions then.
Huge credit to Scargill for being big enough to admit all this, but it would be even more important to learn all of the rich lessons which this experience contains for the working class and the fight for socialism.
The struggle took a massive leap forward with the defeat of the 84-85 strike which turned into a vast learning process.
But the struggle would have been even further forward had the lessons about Labour’s class-collaborating reformist uselessness and the TUC’s treacherousness been forced out earlier and used to strengthen the revolutionary combativeness and the self-reliance of the miners and the working class even more. The working class is stronger for being no longer in so complete a position to be fooled and betrayed by Labour. More farsightedness at the time of the 84-85 strike, accepting now as the SLP does, the validity of lessons which were already available then, - would have been enormously to workers advantage.
Therefore, far from it being a question of speculation, the issue of knowing all of the class enemy’s tricks or potential in advance is one of great importance to the working class. The further it examines what lies ahead, the less is the proletariat likely to be taken by surprise, hoodwinked, or betrayed.
By not discussing openly, in advance, the capitalist system’s counter-revolutionary essence, it creates illusions in workers’ minds that the problem of counter-revolution must therefore not be a very important one, or unlikely to be very relevant. Such illusions will leave SLP supporters dangerously disarmed.
By not discussing the likely outline of the imperialist world market’s further crisis degeneration towards trade-war, slump, and shooting war, the working class is denied the most crucial part of its vital re-education in political philosophy, seeing the overthrow of capitalism as the necessary next step for civilisation to take in the interests of everyone.
If the appeal to the working class is left at the level of calling on them to fight for just a bit more justice for themselves, they are hardly being broken from the whole opportunist psychology of reformism, leaving them still prey to the next set of chancers to come along such as the populist chauvinists, or the anarchists, or the fascist-nationalists, or whatever.
Every shade of reformism, from rightwing Labour to the very ‘leftest’ of the most ‘honest and sincere’ leftwingers, is still not committing itself to much more than pie-in-the-sky jam-tomorrow promises. The essence of the eternal appeal of communism to workers is that it promises nothing less than the massive task, virtually unending, of reconstructing the whole of society in the interests of everyone, making creative work man’s prime necessity, allowing people everywhere for the first time to live to work rather than having to work to live.
Interestingly the Loach group seems to be taking a different stance to the SLP on its members staying in other groups, allowing them to participate in outside publications or groups, so that arguments may possibly be heard on their merits as presented by individuals who would rightly be able to continue theoretical analysis of their own.
But less encouraging, in both groups, are the still stifling influences of fake-”leftism” of all varieties, if not formally then in attitudes and positions held generally, which are a complete capitulation to the swamping anti-communist (and lately “anti-terrorist” or “anti-totalitarian dictator”) “freedom and democracy” propaganda which has been pumped into brains throughout the Western capitalist countries via every possible outlet of press, media, school, university, theatre, film, politics, music and literature for the last hundred years, since the working class first took power and particularly in the post-1945 Cold War epoch of demented distortions and lies.
Loach’s own long record of sour Trotskyism, firstly around the long discredited WRP with its petty bourgeois hatred of the Soviet Union, and the Eastern European workers states, and the sly anti-communist undercurrents in film after film such as the execrable Land and Freedom and the Wind shakes the Barley is not a good sign.
Lying “anti-Stalinist” and anti-revolutionary poison permeates both films, the first suggesting that the Soviet Union workers state mysteriously and illogically wanted to prevent real revolutionary struggle in the 1936-9 Spanish Civil War (see archive piece below) and the second implying that the Irish national liberation struggle cynically sold out its “socialist principles” to compromise with the bourgeoisie.
Both these twisted fictions are the foulest of petty bourgeois misrepresentations, given verisimilitude by Loach’s undoubted directorial skills.
Criticism of Moscow’s role in Spain can be made but not because it failed to aid the republican movement, which received its only large deliveries of artillery and small arms in Russian convoys (at enormous immediate danger from fascist attack, expense and international political risk to the USSR itself) and the presence of numerous self-sacrificing fighters on the front (as well as Soviet party sympathising fighters from the UK and Europe etc).
Problems came from the philosophical error in building up hopes in the petty bourgeois republican leadership in a Popular Front, implying that supporting “democracy” and the newly minted concept of an “anti-fascist alliance” would achieve workers’ aims instead of developing revolutionary consciousness which was deliberately and wrongly pushed into the background in order “to avoid alienating anti-fascist democrats”.
Against this, Lenin’s united front tactic would have seen Bolsheviks standing alongside republicans in the ranks to defeat the vicious Catholic reactionary General Franco but making it clear that the bourgeois democrats were not the solution either.
The Irish struggle meanwhile never was a fight for socialism, but one for national-liberation against the dominance of British imperialism, in the 1920s, tapping all kinds of class forces including the peasantry (small farmers and local agricultural businesses).
Loach’s implication that it “betrayed” socialism in a made up scene in 1920 (where the socialist side loses a debt case in an nationalist courtroom to avoid upsetting a petty bourgeois nationalist fund giver) is a nonsense, since it was not a socialist movement.
This fantasy scene is aimed more at the modern day extension of the struggle in northern occupied Ireland, than at the original Irish revolt, suggesting the fight has been “sold out”, a classic Trotskyist defeatist perspective that complete fails to understand the titanic victory of the IRA/Sinn Féin armed struggle.
The Good Friday Agreement and later St Andrew accord achieved the heroic fight’s purpose, of forcing a long slow snail-pace withdrawal of the British from Ireland –(which was recently revealed to have begun even during “backdoor discussions” with the allegedly “hard” not-for-turning Margaret Thatcher, as early as the 1980 Hunger Strike)– giving the formerly “criminal” and silenced Sinn Féin the capacity to continue, by peaceful means, a slow but now inexorable progress towards Irish unity.
The IRA/Sinn Féin has its own weaknesses which become increasingly apparent as the crisis deepens worldwide, precisely because it is not a Marxist socialist movement and cannot offer a perspective to deal with the unstoppable unfolding of capitalist catastrophe.
But that does not change its giant revolutionary nationalist achievements and the tremendous blow to British imperialist prestige that it inflicted, which weakens the political and ideological grip of the ruling class on the British working class, long corrupted by chauvinism and illusions of superiority, and prevented by this false “alliance of interest” with British imperialism from reaching its own emancipation.
There are few Irish jokes cracked any more except, reasonably enough, by the Irish themselves.
These are all key questions for any movement like Left Unity if it is to move beyond the reformist defensiveness and develop the revolutionary vision that is needed by the working class.
Fighting to stop the brutal impositions of “austerity” and slump may be the reason why many are drawn into new movements but they need immediately to get the core Marxist understanding that history is being driven by an intractable Slump crisis that cannot be reversed.
The catastrophe now unfolding is unstoppable whatever partial or temporary victories might be achieved in preventing a hospital closure here, or saving a few jobs there.
Class war can only get more vicious and its associated drive to world war more depraved.
The challenge needs to be made from day one to all agnosticism on this, and all the lying talk of “recovery” and upturn.
The bank failures of 2007-8 were the complete confirmation of Marx and Lenin’s understanding, as capitalism hit the buffers and total credit meltdown stared the world in the face headed off only by insane Quantitative Easing money printing (or its modern electronic equivalent) to allow the powerful economies to pay off their debts with fantasy money.
Nothing since then has changed. QE continues dementedly.
The only “green shoots” and improvements made have come from this Mickey Mouse idiot “magic” allowing the panicked major powers to force the crisis outwards onto one bankrupted nation after another, and driving inflation massively forwards to strip ordinary people of everything (while the rich continue to give each other massive pay and wealth rises, keeping them ahead of the curve).
Savage unemployment, hunger, homelessness and penury has ripped through Egypt, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus, and Spain, and the poor in the “richest nations” including the US, Britain, France etc. Italy, and others teeter on the edge of disaster.
It needs constantly re-stating that there is no solution in capitalism – this is a historical challenge for the working class to finally transform the world.
A giant jump in philosophical grasp is demanded.
It is beyond most of the bourgeois press commentaries who because of their class status cannot see that an 800 year long epoch of history has simply hit the end of the road.
Erratically some of the economic writers try and grapple with the enormity:
Since the start of the crisis five years ago, mainstream economics has been waiting for life to return to normal. Whatever ideological differences they might have, Keynesians and monetarists share a faith that all it takes is time and the right policies to bring back the good times. What unites them is the belief that the tough time the world has been going through since the summer of 2007 is an aberration.
But what if it isn’t? What if – in the memorable phrase of Tony Crosland when the wheels came off the economy in the mid-1970s – the party’s over? What if the 25% share of the vote taken by Ukip at last week’s local elections is not just a here today, gone tomorrow protest, but a sign of the political disaffection to come?
Should that prove to be the case, it will necessitate a complete re-think of political economy, since the model of the past 70 years has relied on decent levels of growth providing the resources not just to raise personal consumption levels but also to allow the expansion of welfare provision.
There are three reasons why this might be an over-gloomy assessment. The first is that growth does at last seem to be picking up, even if slowly and unevenly. In the US, the housing market is on the mend and the financial system has been largely patched up. In Britain, demand for mortgages is rising, new car sales are robust and the forward-looking business surveys are looking stronger. Consumers seem to be fed up with being miserable and have started to spend a bit more.
The second reason why the dark clouds may eventually be banished is that this is not the first time people have predicted the end of growth and been proved wrong. You don’t need to go all the way back to Malthus for an example: in the 1970s, there were plenty of doomsters who said the limits to growth had been reached.
The final reason, linked to the second, is that every now and then a burst of technological innovation has come along to revitalise the western industrial model. It happened at the end of the 19th century with a wave of innovations that included the automobile, the aeroplane and the cinema, and there are those who think what’s happening in digital, biotechnology, robotics and energy will perform the same function over the next 10-15 years.
Let’s take these points in turn. It is certainly true that western economies – the eurozone apart – are enjoying some growth. It is also true that the emergency policy actions of late 2008 and early 2009 prevented a severe recession from turning into a rerun of the 1930s. But five years on these emergency measures are still in place. Not just that, they have been augmented over time and are now permanent features of macro-economic policy. We have become hooked on stimulus and this is not a healthy sign.
An alternative history of the past 40 years goes as follows. The growth pessimists were broadly right, but what they did not anticipate is that the west would find new, ingenious and often dangerous ways of keeping the show on the road: financial de-regulation, personal debt, globalisation, exploiting the environment. There are still a few tricks policymakers can turn, such as shale gas and quantitative easing, but essentially these are just new versions of the old tricks. The game is up.
Nor, if the American economist Robert Gordon is right, can we rely on the cavalry to arrive in the form of technological change. Gordon argues that the current wave of innovations will prove less growth rich than those of a century ago.
Stephen King, the chief economist at HSBC, says in his new book, When the Money Runs Out, that we should not take progress for granted and should instead be bracing ourselves for the end of western affluence. He says the stagnation is far from temporary and will reach crisis proportions before too long.
King paints a dystopian vision of the future in which nations recoil from globalisation and become more willing to fight over resources. Populations lose their faith in governments and in money that has been debased by attempts to revive growth.
You don’t need fully to buy into this argument to see that King might be on to something. In Britain, we have a set of economic assumptions: that the economy will expand by 2% or so a year; that rising house prices will provide owner-occupiers with a nest egg; that the nation is wealthy enough to spend more on the steadily increasing cost of health, education, pensions and care for its elderly citizens.
There would need to be a radical scaling back of expectations in the event that the trend rate of growth is no longer 2 to 2.5% a year but 1%. Some of the promises we have made ourselves about the future would look extravagant, even reckless. There would be hard choices to be made between higher taxes and pared-back provision of public services. There would be a struggle to secure the fruits of what little growth there was, which those with the sharpest elbows would win. Many people would be in the position of seeing their living standards drop year after year, and would be mightily unhappy as a result.
In reality, a dress rehearsal for this sort of world has been going on for the past five years. The economy is smaller now than it was in 2008; living standards have fallen sharply; austerity has been imposed and – as the support for Ukip shows – there is a great deal of disgruntlement about.
Disgruntled!!!!!!! You might as well say the starving Third World is “feeling the pinch” or the 1100 slaughtered workers in the collapsed Bangladesh sweatshop are “under the weather.”
The tepid tailing-off at the end of this Gaurdian piece is partially a reflection of the sheer inability of the capitalist system even to see the disaster in front of it – since it means the end of the bourgeoisie as a class and all its obscene luxury and power – and partly a fear of alerting anyone else to the implications.
That is to say, alerting the working class to the greatest opportunity in all of history to finally throw off all class rule exploitation and dominance and build a fair and just planned socialist world.
Heading the working class away from this grasp has been the role of fake-“leftism” for decades.
Not a word of preparation has been made to warn workers of what the onrushing world capitalism collapse was brewing and the already developing counter-revolutionary plans of the ruling class to push them back into total exploitation (as is now much more clear).
Just the opposite – the small voice of revolutionary politics (now proven to have been completely correct) was stifled and suppressed by union bureaucracy and Labourite hostility at all levels, including every shade of “fake”-leftism from “left”-Labour to the Trots and the Stalinist revisionists.
Their biggest failing has been the universal capitulation to “democracy” notions, everyone of them continuing to feed out the idea of going forwards through the working class finally getting a “real and genuine” socialist to vote for, perhaps combined with left pressure, and “anti-war” actions.
It is all moralising opportunist pacifist garbage.
War and slump were never, and will never, be stopped by holding placards saying “No to War and Slump”.
Plenty of the “lefts” will insist they put “revolution” on their banners but in practice none ever raise or even grasp the issue as the core of all understanding and the necessary framework for the giant turmoil and struggle to come.
Least of all do they expose the lies about democracy.
Internationally the democracy pretence is still being manipulated against victim state after victim from Venezuela to Iran and most of all at present devastated Syria, to continue this world tyranny.
It still gets pumped out, even as faith in the parliamentary racket has reached a virtual zero point in the major countries through cynicism and contempt for the lying opportunism and corruption which it is universally (and correctly) seen to be.
Election turnouts are at such an historic low point in Britain that the laughable bigotry and little Englander shallowness of UKIP alone is left standing to claim “victories”, and in America an entire pack of single issue cards – “gay rights”, feminist pretences, and black emancipation – have been virtually exhausted just to keep the hoodwinking presidential White House racket going a bit longer after the virtual meltdown of the contemptible Bush presidency.
If it were not for the gullibility and soft-brained stupidity of revisionist Stalinism still advocating parliamentary roads and “left pressure” for the working class, the hoodwinking fraud could have been seen through a long time ago.
But that would mean clearly educating the working class in the revolutionary way forwards which alone is going to end the increasing Depression disaster devastating the world.
That would mean clearly articulating the only way such an overturning of the ruling class can be done, through the establishment of a dictatorship of the working class.
But the “left” does the exact opposite, either overtly or implicitly, opposing the Leninist methods and understanding needed to achieve it.
Nothing exemplifies this craven opportunism and philistinism more than the sickening sycophancy and uncritical eulogies poured out over left nationalist reformist president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, who went to his grave hostile to Leninist principles and declaring his willingness to “abide by the democratic system” despite seeing clearly the non-stop subversion and sabotage against him by Washington’s agencies and local bourgeois stooges.
Non-stop sabotage and destabilisation has been underway in Venezuela since by Washington and the local bourgeoisie, whipping up street violence and turmoil exactly as was done against deposed president Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, who also refused to educate and train the working class in the revolutionary truth about the need for the dictatorship of the working class, paying not only with his own opportunist life but much more importantly with the lives of 10 000 or more criminally misled workers.
Yet a recent London “solidarity” conference of assorted fake-“lefts” consciously and hostilely rejected the need to grapple with these questions even as a stream of on-the-spot reports were given on the sabotage and disruption being waged against Chávez successor, Nicolas Maduro.
Hamstrung like this, most of the “left” capitulate to endless propaganda pressure “against terrorism” and the deluge of horror stories poured out against the workers states and the supposed “totalitarian nightmare” propaganda fed by lurid Goebbels lies.
Preventing the working class from turning to communist revolution has been the central aim of all capitalist culture, education and entertainment for decades, filling heads with total lies about the reality of the workers states and the aims of communism, many of them direct inverted projections of the actual and very real horrors, oppression, massacring, torturing and viciousness of capitalism itself, and its non-stop exploitative oppression.
It is not communism which has ever wiped out entire nations of people, from the Aztecs and Incas, the Aborigines and Maoris, to Native American tribes by the dozen, Arabs, Zulus, Indians, Congolese, and now (it is trying) Palestinians.
It is not communism which has used gas trench warfare, poison chemical sprays like Agent Orange in Vietnam, biological attacks on Cuba, atomic bombs, mass carpet bombing, fascist coups, torture of tens of thousands, concentration camps, Guantánamo, death squads, drone assassination, civilian “collateralism”, invasions, and wars without end, in more than 400 incidents, coups and interventions since 1945 including wholesale slaughter of 4 million in Vietnam, two plus million in Korea, one million in Indonesia (butchered for merely possibly being communist sympathisers according to CIA lists secretly fed to the Suharto coup generals).
It is not communism which has kept much of the planet in desperate sweatshop and plantation constant labour, often from childhood and barely given enough to remain alive, subject to the vagaries of unemployment, market collapse, illness, disease and natural disaster, as well as horrific work injuries, building collapses, poisoning from environmental devastation and industrial chemicals – all to rip from them the value which labour alone produces in the world, through the specious excuse of private “ownership” of the means of production.
Yet despite a filthy record of appalling depravity and endless violence, the fantasy fraud is maintained that “democracy” is “fighting for freedom and justice” and opportunities for all.
Bamboozling lies and monstrous propaganda stories have been non-stop against the workers states since the very first days of revolution in Russia and 1917 and, as the crisis deepens, are increasingly part of the build up to world war devastation which is desperate capitalism’s central means to distract attention from its chaotic failure and incompetence, blaming “others” and demonstrating its ruthlessness in order to warm up the entire world for the all out conflicts to come as the catastrophe deepens.
In the absence of many communist states to blame after the Gorbachevite liquidation of the USSR and eastern European workers states, a stream of substitute “rogue states” deemed insufficiently compliant with neo-colonialist diktat have been singled out for the treatment, as a warning to all “upstart” rebellion in part but most of all for capitalism’s world war build-up purposes, keeping the now permanent blitzkrieg atmosphere at simmering point. As the EPSR has long pointed out (Issue 852 07-05-96):
When the final story is told of the history of the greatest brainwashing experiment ever conducted on society, people are going to be staggered at the astonishing lengths and unbelievably devious measures to which bourgeois ideology has resorted in its anti-communist dementia, - cascading its lies, confusion, and stunts throughout the film industry, television documentaries and plays, book publishing, the pop music industry, newspapers and magazines, civil rights stunts, prisoners-of-conscience gimmicks, Nobel Prize awards, refugee and other border provocations, dissident and émigré rackets, and above all the non-stop manipulation of the international news agencies to simply control people’s thinking.
Even the very shoddiness and shallowness of some of these ruses nevertheless helps to rot brains and sow more confusion....
The extraordinary Goebbels luridness is increasing if anything in a world already inured to a thousand nonsensical and demented BIG LIES in Yugoslavia, Africa, North Korea, Cuba, Libya, etc as partly detailed in the excellent if academic book The Politics of Genocide which deconstructs and details how “holocaust” and “genocide” have been turned upside down in meaning and truth for some forty years, demonising anti-imperialist regimes and covering up the actual non-stop slaughter of imperialism.
On occasion you could almost suspect the operators in the massive and lavishly funded intelligence agency propaganda departments taking bets with each other to see just what levels of absurdity they can reach in their allegations.
Typical is a item slipped deadpan into Radio 4’s Today programme recently alleging that Iran (high on the scapegoat target list) is using systematic (systematic note!) “homosexual rape torture” in its prisons.
The slimmest of alleged evidence, namely the unverified, unsubstantiated and un-cross examined accounts of two witnesses (who happen to speak perfect English) is wheeled out to support this along with a train of logic that builds on one unverified supposition to another.
There is no medical proof of any such “torture” we are told but this is explained away in the report by suggesting the regime “deliberately uses a method that leaves no traces”.
There is not really much in the way of witness accounts at all, but this is explained to be because “homosexuality is deeply shaming in this society” and no one will admit to such degradation.
Allegedly this makes the torture “even more awful because the victims turn it in on themselves psychologically”.
Even more convenient.
Having “proved” that there “must be” a lot of (conveniently) “unheard witnesses” it is then adduced in the report that therefore the “practice” is widespread.
Therefore, the by now overloaded and top-heavy chain of pure sophistry then declares, the government “must know” what is going on.
Therefore the next, purely fantasy step declares, it is “ordered by the government”.
A class in GCSE logic could shoot this one down.
But beyond that, there is no explanation of how all this might work in the real world; how the “regime” could organises this alleged torture using groups of guards supposedly mass raping prisoners.
If homosexual acts are particularly shaming in the fundamentalist culture of Iran’s Ayatollahocracy (which supposedly makes it all the more “horrifying”) how come the most fanatical of the population (who therefore abhor such acts more than most), who form the Revolutionary Guard etc are a) able to carry out such acts ideologically speaking? And b) even more how would teams of such guards go about this on demand mentally or physically???
The answer is, the entire story is a patently absurd BIG LIE on a par with the ludicrous “rape camps” alleged to have been used by the vilified Serbians, (but never actually seen, or shown because they did not exist (except in the entirely fictional made-up film account of a Hollywood celebrity petty bourgeois airhead like Angelina Jolie)) or with the even more ludicrous “rape squads” which were supposed to have been unleashed by the Gaddafi bourgeois nationalist regime last year when it was defending itself against the monarchist, racist and fascist counter-revolutionary rabble unleashed by Western provocations and backed-up with a barbaric Nazi-NATO blitzkrieg.
That story was so obviously a nonsense that a hasty amendment was made, alleging the troops were issued with Viagra tablets before going into battle!!!!
The famous Carry on up the Khyber comedy scene where a Highland regiment lift their kilts on command as a weapon to “frighten the natives” has got more credibility (and it is a better film than Angelina Jolie’s to boot).
This planted story “coincidentally” is delivered just as the Iranian presidential election is coming to a climax, and is glaringly part of western propaganda efforts to stampede street rebellions and demonstrations, whipping up a “democratic” opposition as was done with the reactionary petty bourgeois “green movement” in 2009 and as they have successfully done in Libya first of all, and then Syria to follow.
More immediately sinister has been the dirty LIE campaign against Syria, alleging it has used sarin nerve gas, a sinister dance of half-assertions and unverified allegations by the West which immediately fell flat on its face when the UN investigator declared not only no evidence for the assertions but that the rebels had used the gas.
The foul depravity of the western supported and funded “rebels” was revealed too in the “eating the heart of a soldier” video.
But the disinformation lies will continue just as they did with WMD in Iraq.
Capitalism will not stop its war drive – it needs defeating, to open the road to revolution everywhere.
Build Leninist scientific understanding.
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Loach’s ‘Land and Freedom’ completely misrepresents the true history of the Spanish Civil War period, comically exonerating Western fascist-imperialism which master-minded, supplied, and protected the entire military coup and trying to make the tiny volunteer communist resistance responsible for this ‘free world’ outrage. [EPSR No967 22-09-98]
The Loach film ‘Land and Freedom’ shown on national television at the weekend was the classic example of a vicious Cold-War anti-communist diatribe treacherously delivered from the completely fake-‘left’ position of Trots & Anarchists.
Supposedly attacking “Stalinist murderers and exploiters of the working class”, the movie foully miseducates today’s viewers via melodramatic scenes of heartwrenching tragedy and ‘Stalinist betrayal’ at a personal level, — all complete fiction, — and via an outright distortion of the historical background which will leave bourgeois ideological brainwashers who control Western propaganda purring with delight.
Who needs the imperialist police agent George Orwell with his ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’ when there’s Ken Loach.
The infantile ‘revolutionary’ militia group of Trots and Anarchists (who play such ‘jokes’ on each other as directing a newcomer towards an attractive woman comrade as ‘the trench’s whore’ who will give a ‘good time very cheaply’, thus deeply offending both of them (and the viewers too if they had any sense); — and yet who get killed because of arguing so passionately (without taking cover) about whether or not to shoot at fascist soldiers (who are massacring villagers) because they are using a woman as a human shield); — are all only slightly more credible than Dad’s Army.
Their vivacious jollity and humanity is contrasted with the self-righteous earnestness of an American volunteer who coldly and woodenly puts up the official CP/International Brigades line in defence of the Popular Front Republican government coalition in Madrid, in support of which the worldwide appeal for help to Spain was launched in the first place, but really only as Aunt Sallies for the fervour of the ‘all-out revolution’ Trot/Anarchist line to knock down.
This insultingly depicted automaton (bearing in mind that all of these international volunteers gave up ordinary lives in the West to go and face near-certain death to fight internationally-supported fascism in Spain in a completely unequal battle) melodramatically ends up giving just his jackboot to the Spanish Trot heroine as she is shot in the back by the Republic’s “Stalinist army” allegedly just for wishing to continue as a freelance militia unit against Franco and Hitler. Buuullshit, as Mel Brooks would say.
It is a film of disgraceful total historical distortions from start to finish, best captured in the concluding sad letter home from Spain, touchingly read 60 years later by a fist-clenching granddaughter, wallowing in nostalgia.
“We could have changed the world, had we won,” reads the long dead David’s voice. “And we could have won.”
Could they really? Has back-stabbing Trotskyite indiscipline and anti-communism ever won anything, — anywhere,— anytime??? It was ‘Stalinism’ which won power in Beijing in 1949 after an epic 20-year civil war and national-liberation war. It was ‘Stalinism’ which won the revolution in Vietnam and the rest of Indo-China in the 1970s after an even longer period of struggle against even greater and more ruthless imperialist intervention forces and odds which tried to napalm, high-explosive, and chemically defoliate 100 million people back to the Stone Age.
It was ‘Stalinism’ which ousted fascist regimes all across East Europe. It was ‘Stalinism’ which overthrew US imperialism’s Mafia-stooge Batista in Cuba. Etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.
And from the Loach logic in Spain, ‘Stalinism’ nearly bankrupted itself after 1945 trying to help the worldwide anti-colonial national-liberation struggles with fabulous aid and military help and generous scholarships of all kinds for training and education inside the Soviet Union for MILLIONS of international comrades, — — all in order to “exploit” all these nations and peoples of the Third World???????
What a sick and outrageous fantasy.
The USSR was the only country on earth to offer serious support to the elected democratic government in Spain facing a Pinochet-type coup by Franco backed by German and Italian imperialism openly, and backed by the rest of imperialism surreptitiously and by default in that Britain, France, the USA, and the rest all pretended to be “refusing supplies to either side” but in reality only making it impossible for the beleaguered democratic government in Madrid to get supplies or international aid, — the fascists being openly backed by Germany and Italy including tanks and bomber squadrons, using German and Italian full-time military pilots, and liberally supplied with aid of all kinds.
The Soviet workers state’s position in this outstandingly brave and generous help to Spain (its own economic recovering from the catastrophic devastation of the Great War, the Civil War of the revolution, and the War of intervention which then laid waste the whole of Russia in Europe by the armies of 14 capitalist states (Britain, France, and the USA among them) so that the victorious Bolshevik Revolution should have nothing to build on; and still surrounded by enemies itself) — — was precarious.
Aggressive warmongering imperialist reaction was on the march all over the world, fascist brutality breaking out everywhere. German imperialism, industrially and economically three times more powerful than the still puny Soviet workers state, was deliberately being encouraged and built up by the rest of the imperialist powers precisely in order to eventually find an excuse, — any excuse, — to wage invasionary war on the Soviet Union. The Munich sellout of Czechoslovakia by the West, feeding it to German imperialist ‘lebensraum’ ambitions to conquer East Europe, was taking place about the time of the Loach film action.
One false move by the Soviet Union in Spain, — and the imperialists would have had their ‘cause’ for all getting together, to back a German imperialist invasion of the USSR.
The imperialist powers had to be kept divided at all costs, from Moscow’s point of view, thus delaying a German onslaught to give the Soviet workers state more time to build up its defences and prepare for the most massive war in all human history, which eventually was unleashed on the USSR in June 1941. The Soviet state in Europe was again totally destroyed, and more than 20 million Soviet people perished. But the Soviet main strategy of keeping imperialist powers divided from making a joint attack on the USSR, brilliantly cemented for two further years by the clever 1939 Non-Aggression Pact with German imperialism, was desperately bearing this in mind throughout its Spain involvement from 1936 to 1939.
The grand strategy was for non-stop international propaganda and agitation for a mutual security treaty of all the major powers so as to prevent the drift to war (coincident with the incurable imperialist economic crisis of the 1930s) and avoid the more aggressive imperialist powers (Germany, Japan, Italy) making victims of weaker or smaller countries as an extension of the savage trade war and arms race, and jostling for more international political influence that the powers were all conducting against each other.
This strategy for mutual international security dictated to Moscow that it must be seen in Spain to be only there to aid the legitimate Popular Front government, threatened precisely by international imperialist aggression, backing Franco fascism.
Understandably, Moscow caution led it to frown on ‘left’ agitation in Spain to transform the Soviet-aided defence of the coalition government (which included business, farming, and other bourgeois class interests) into an anti-capitalist revolution, — manned, armed, financed, and dominated by the forces of worldwide socialist intervention.
Could Spain’s own anti-capitalist forces have taken power anyway, on their own, minus the pro-Soviet workers movement in Spain??? Well, they tried, which is what the film was about and it was a monumental laughable failure, and has NEVER succeeded anywhere else in the world either. No workers-revolution with an anti-Soviet tinge or history has ever taken place, anywhere, anytime.
Was it just because of ‘Stalinist betrayal’ that this ‘revolution that never was’ failed to get off the ground??
But the question is pointlessly unreal. The policy of the Spanish Communist Party (and of the international communist movement) was what it was, and those class forces (which dominated the labour movement everywhere), had built up their own standing in the world. It makes sense to critically review the Third International’s own assessment of the international balance of class and national forces, and of its tactical decisions about its own strengths and strategic possibilities.
But it makes nonsense to claim historical seriousness or judgements about what use might tiny groups of confused and ill-disciplined Trots and Anarchists have made of the Third International’s forces in Spain. It was never remotely a realistic prospect, and is even less interesting than the local pub bore’s views about who should be in the next England football team, and why, etc.
Moscow’s supposed ‘treacherous crimes against humanity’ are a total nonsense from start to finish. Policy decisions were made and enforced under the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is the only notion Marxist-Leninist science has ever conceived of for taking civilisation from the total chaos of imperialist revolutionary war crisis to the socialist/communist society of the future; carefully built for and educated for under the strictest workers-state discipline against all kinds of regularly recurring petty bourgeois ideological indiscipline and irresponsible activity, such as eventually undermined the Soviet workers state, bringing back the capitalist counter-revolution).
Wrong or bad decisions there may have been, and the EPSR has voiced many criticisms of Soviet history and will return to them repeatedly. But ‘crimes against humanity’ is a concept utterly irrelevant to a Marxist-Leninist analysis for a more successful REVOLUTIONARY understanding of world developments than Moscow eventually came up with.
It is a concept of born middle class losers who have never willed a serious revolutionary attitude towards stable Western ‘democratic’ society in their life.
What was the political record of this bunch of Trots and Anarchists that Loach presents for our admiration? They didn’t have one. Most self-respecting workers in the 1930s did have splendid records of anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggle.
What was to be the political future of this rabble? Loach doesn’t say. He doesn’t care. He just wants to present a bunch of ‘free spirits’ who can play at war for a while and shout out “Stalinist bastards” for cinematic effect in the well-fed Western imperialist boom of the 1990s (but in fact utterly corrupt, falsely ‘democratic’, and totally doomed).
The Spanish Civil War was above all in history a world-shaking event of unbelievable and unprecedented imperialist ferocity in which the fascist military coup in Spain carried out such barbaric massacres, torture,and slaughter as to seriously make Pinochet’s reign of terror in Chile after 1973 look almost feebly mild by comparison, and in which the German imperialist air-bombing blitzkrieg of Guernica and other defenceless Spanish towns was the deliberate warning to the rest of the World to appease German revanchism or face the penalty, which duly happened, — forewarning of the indescribable slaughter and genocide to come in World War II.
It was the most significant dress rehearsal for bourgeois-democracy system degeneracy and savagery that could be imagined, full of enormous political significance for all imperialist-powers’ conduct of the future, such as the Pinochet coup in Chile, and countless HUNDRED other reactionary coups like it since the 1930s.
And what does the ‘left’ Loach make of it all, given capitalist money to make a Western-oriented film?
Present the whole Spanish Civil War and the whole historical period as nothing but a record of a few grubby little ‘human rights’ crimes, all completely fictional, committed by some ‘nasty Stalinists’, (i.e. ordinary workers volunteering their lives to defeat fascism), thus spoiling the pathetic fantasies of a bunch of indisciplined Trots and Anarchists playing war games.
Given the overall-CP strategy, it is just making cheap points for Loach to create a film set-up lecturing the ‘Stalinists’ on the socialist merits of land collectivisation. Loach would be better employed teaching his grandmother to suck eggs.
The same with every other cheap point-scoring trick such as the official government coalition forces not allowing women in the front line. It was the Soviet-workers state which alone pioneered genuine work-emancipation for women in history, — doctors, engineers, scientists, cosmonauts, etc, and women partisan fighters behind German imperialist lines, — not any other society.
Loach’s totally amateurish and cynical view of politics in reality (in other words he is not seriously committed to a political struggle at all) came right out with his heroine’s bollocks remark getting out of the shower: “I want to forget politics and betrayals today; I want to feel human for a change”.
This Loach-approved scepticism and contempt for political struggle is shown again when the hero cannot put two thoughts together in argument against Republican recruits in a cafe and tries thumping them instead. His sad stuff about ‘Stalinist torture chambers’ on the Republican side, presented without the slightest attempt at historical authentication, was the most cynical sheer irresponsibility.
There are some genuinely serious question marks over Third International policy in this period such as the failure to assess fascism’s full menace in Germany (not repeated in Spain), and the linked tendency to agitate for an international security pact against imperialist aggression implying that ‘peace’ could in fact prevail, — an illusion sown again in the postwar anti-nuclear movements.
In the long run, imperialist crisis will ALWAYS lead to war sooner or later, and Stalinist misleadership and mistakes on some crucial theoretical questions has a lot to answer for in the ultimate degenerate reformist debacle of most Western communist parties, and, of course, in the ultimate self-liquidation of the Soviet workers state (dictatorship of the proletariat) by stagnant Soviet bureaucratic complacency.
The EPS Review has alone produced a forward-looking creative analysis of contemporary history, without which serious political mass movement back towards the fight for socialism is impossible.
Build Leninism. RB
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