No 1426 2nd June 2013
More “condemn terror” from the fake-“left” after the Woolwich knife attack underlines complete capitulation to bourgeois bullying, helping justify the “kill them all” “righteous” reprisals that have already destroyed three Middle Eastern countries and are now tearing Syria to shreds. Jihadist anarcho-individualism may not be the best way to fight and the ideology is bizarre but it has massively stirred public debate which understands full well that capitalist war blitzing is producing the hate and hostility of the Third World. But moralising over wrong “foreign policy” and Stop the War protests do not make the crucial revolutionary point that capitalist crisis is at the bottom of the war drive which would be erupting anyway. War and fascist repression is unstoppable until the whole of imperialism is overthrown. Better leadership for the fight not condemnation is needed
The enormous worldwide hue and cry over the Woolwich knife attack indicates how jumpy the ruling class has become as its economic and political crisis spirals ever further into utter disaster.
The capitalist state’s ludicrously over-the-top response – virtually invoking Winston Churchill and “fighting on the beaches” as if two jihadists could compare with the overwhelming industrial might of pre-war Germany – underlines the damaging impact of this latest guerrilla war ambush on its confidence.
But like many such incidents before it, this was a blow against imperialism however gruesome its form, tragic the consequences for the victim and perpetrators alike and however weird the religious ideology held by the perpetrators.
Moralising condemnations, both direct or hidden behind theories about allegedly “the wrong way to fight”, or “this is just reactionary Islam” or duplicitous conspiracy allegations that it is “all the CIA doing this really”, do nothing to give the working class any understanding about this or the crisis it is part of.
Just the opposite, they aid and reinforce the ruling class and its Goebbels lies and hypocritical “morality”.
Every kind of sophistry, lie, denunciation, emotional manipulation, scapegoating and condemnation that reactionary capitalist ideology can dream up has poured forth from the bourgeoisie, and the tinpot chauvinist and fascist movements it generates and encourages, in the days following the soldier’s killing by the two Woolwich “jihadists”.
The assorted fake-“lefts” have been drawn along it its wake, as they always are whenever the ruling class turns on the propaganda pressure with its chauvinism, hyped up “patriotic” emotionality, crocodile tears, racist scapegoating and lying hypocritical calls to “all stand together to demonstrate the resolve of the nation in going about its business unshaken by the terrible threat against it” etc etc etc.
Variously they denounce, condemn, declare “ criminal” or “mad” this latest outburst of religious fundamentalist nationalism underlining yet further the complete hollow sham of their alleged “revolutionary” credentials.
But while this individualistic fighting is not the chosen method of Leninist struggle in most circumstances, it is nevertheless a complete mis-analysis to declare it a setback or “playing into the hands of the imperialists” as many of the “lefts” have done in their efforts to distance themselves from such raw struggle.
It has shaken everything once more.
The foul chauvinism and “Great British” backwardness inculcated into some layers of the working class by two centuries of British imperialist arrogance and disgusting petty bourgeois reformist class-collaboration (Labourism, official trade unionism and assorted “lefts”) may have been stirred around by the deluge of crocodile tears from the ruling class and its compliant media (which ignores hundreds of other equally tragic deaths daily in Britain and thousands elsewhere) but mostly a huge public debate has been set in train over the last fortnight, discussing just why such alienation and hatred should erupt “on the streets of England”.
It has immediate focussed on the blitzkrieging barbarity of Western imperialism’s now non-stop war and terrorising of the Middle East and potentially much else of the Third World.
It is making exactly the connections about the real world that capitalism wants to suppress.
As the perpetrators themselves stated, such guerrilla war attacks will only continue, coming right into the heart of the imperialist countries which are waging brutal torturing, blitzing civilian killing and terrorising wars across the planet to try and wriggle out from under the catastrophic failure and Slump disaster their greed-and-profit system has brought the world to.
Nothing that will stop this festering hatred from growing and penetrating everywhere whatever anyone says about it, except the ending of the barbaric and degenerating capitalist system itself, because that is what has driven it to the surface.
What is playing into the hands of the imperialists, is sitting on a high horse declaring that such events are not “justifiable” (which is also implied by descriptions like “murder” or “condemnable”).
Asking if it is “justifiable” is the wrong question.
By whose standards first of all?
Only those of the “Might is Right” principles that have governed the exploited world for centuries using every kind of bloodiness, torture, massacre and violent suppression to impose their tyrannies, keeping in thrall the great masses for endless exploitation.
If the question is asked at all then it should be asked of the imperialist system itself and the hundreds of millions, killed, massacred and maimed over centuries (multiple tens of millions in the slave trade alone, tens of millions more in wiping out whole nations of indigenous peoples for colonising purposes and untold numbers through the slow death (or continuous living death) of grinding labour exploitation and humiliation in degrading slum hovel conditions, starved, often without clean water or sanitation, deprived of education and medical aid, and subject to horrific injury and accident.
“All in the past” and therefore somehow excused? ( using the tricksy bourgeois politician’s evasion of “let’s put that behind us and move on” and the philistine lie that “there is no point in arguing about history”???)
So, is the death last month, and bereavement and family agony now, of 1150 sweatshop women in the collapsed textile factory in Bangladesh, ruthlessly exploited for all of their poverty and labour-drudgery bound lives by Western corporations, “justified” by cheap prices??
Is the non-stop genocidal thieving land seizure and apartheid persecution of the Palestinian people now by Nazi-style colonialist Zionism and its aggressive smiting and blitzing of the entire Middle East “justifiable”?
Seven million historical inhabitants of the region have been herded, terrorised, shunted into appalling refugee camps, and repeatedly blitzed, shelled, sniped, imprisoned without trial in inhuman conditions and worse for seventy years of Jewish-Western collusion, unchallenged by the stooge UN and all the rest of imperialism despite an avalanche of resolutions and declarations “denouncing” and “condemning” this foul intrusion in Arab lands.
Is the blitzing of Iraq and Afghanistan – with constant revelations of yet more torture, inhumanity, warcrimes and degeneracy, justifiable??
How about unsanctioned, illegal, death-squad assassination by terrorising drone?:
President Obama has defended his country’s drone attacks as “legal, effective and a necessary tool in an evolving US counter-terrorism policy” (Report, 23 May). According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Obama approved 300 drone strikes in Pakistan alone between 2009 and 2012, that killed 2,152 people, including 290 civilians, 64 of whom were children. This is a higher death toll than the Bush administration in the period 2004-09, which launched 52 strikes, killing 438, including 182 civilians, 112 of whom were children. This comparison bears close scrutiny for those – including the Nobel Foundation – who feel that Obama represents a turn to a more enlightened page in US history.
Stephen McCloskey. Centre for Global Education, Belfast
That letter refers to Pakistan alone, without mentioning US Empire computer-game killing operations expanding now into Somalia, Yemen, much more of Africa, throughout Afghanistan, and planned for much of the rest of the world.
What about Guantánamo and its inhuman, illegal detention of untried prisoners in endless solitary confinement and repeated torturing “interrogation”, still continuing to imprison people even years after they have been “cleared” and now further imposing vicious “force feeding” on the desperate hunger strike which has brought most of these inmates to the point of fatal collapse.
Is that “justified”?
President Obama’s broken promise on the Guantánamo detention camp doesn’t have to define his term of office, he just needs the political will to walk the talk (Report, 17 May). Obama has executive power, but he doesn’t have the luxury of time. Time is also running out for the hunger strikers in Guantánamo, as the camp-wide strike goes past 100 days. The president could issue an executive order stating the timetable for the closure of Guantánamo. He could stop the brutal force-feeding of the hunger strikers (Report, 14 May) and the abusive physical attacks by the guards. He could order the immediate release of the 86 prisoners who have already been cleared to leave the camp. He could use the waiver agreed by Congress for these transfers. The UK government should help Obama by demanding the urgent release and return of British resident Shaker Aamer. If he dies, the UK and US will be culpable of his murder.
Joy Hurcombe Worthing, West Sussex
Thirteen Guantánamo Bay detainees on hunger strike have written an open letter to their military doctors insisting they receive independent, non-military medical treatment – and appealing to the conscience of their physicians.
“I cannot trust your advice, because you are responsible to your superior military officers who require you to treat me by means unacceptable to me, and you put your duty to them above your duty to me as a doctor,” the detainees write in an open letter from the detention center obtained by the Guardian. “Your dual loyalties make trusting you impossible.”
The signatories, who include former UK resident Shaker Aamer, protest that the force-feedings administered by military physicians at Guantánamo are “extremely painful” and “in violation of the ethics of your profession.” The May 30 letter was co-ordinated by attorneys for the 13 detainees, nine of whom signed the statement directly. Four signed through their lawyers.
Another nine lawyers, some of whom represent Guantánamo detainees, added their names to the letter.
The detainees express an “urgent request” that the Joint Task Force Guantánamo, the military command running the detention facility, allow “independent” doctors selected by their attorneys to treat them. Army Lt Col Todd Breasseale, a Pentagon spokesman, said there is “no precedent” for allowing civilian doctors to treat Guantánamo detainees.
Despite the impassioned tone of the letter, the detainees express “some sympathy” for their military doctors.
“Whether you continue in the military or return to civilian practice, you will have to live with what you have done and not done here at Guantánamo for the rest of your life,” they write. “You can make a difference. You can choose to stop actively contributing to the abusive conditions I am currently enduring.”
The hunger strike, a high-profile problem for the Obama administration, is approaching its fifth month. Of the 166 detainees at Guantánamo, 103 are refusing food. Thirty-six of them are being forcibly fed through enteral feeds, five of whom are currently being observed in detention camp’s hospital. Breasseale said none “currently have any life-threatening conditions.”
In April, a Yemeni detainee, Samir Naji al-Hasan Moqbel, published an op-ed in the New York Times describing his “painful, degrading and unnecessary” force-feeding, which involved Guantanamo personnel inserting tubes into nose, stomach and wrist, as well as inserting a catheter into his penis.
...The detainees do not charge that their military doctors “are bad people,” explained Cori Crider, a lawyer from the UK-based human rights organization Reprieve, which helped co-ordinate the open letter. But “they have let themselves be co-opted into force-feeding practices that the world (and the US) medical community judges unethical – practices even Barack Obama has suggested are un-American.”
Still, the detainees feel that after years of imprisonment without charge and little sign of Guantánamo’s imminent closure, they have little choice besides risking their own deaths to draw attention to their conditions, a situation their letter dares Guantánamo doctors to confront.
Or how about the steadily emerging accounts of what British imperialism has done throughout its ridiculously claimed “civilised” colonialism, such as the revelations of brutal sexual torture, routine beating to death and even roasting alive of prisoners in the war against the Mao-Mao uprising in Kenya, all buried for fifty years in secret hidden files? Or this:
A “lost” report into genocide, torture, rape and enslavement of indigenous tribes during Brazil’s military dictatorship has been rediscovered, raising fresh questions about whether the government has made amends and punished those responsible.
The 7,000-page Figueiredo report has not been seen for more than 40 years, but extracts acquired by the Guardian reveal hundreds of alleged crimes and perpetrators.
Submitted in 1967 by the public prosecutor Jader de Figueiredo Correia, the document details horrific abuse by the Indian Protection Service (widely known as the SPI), which was set up to improve the livelihoods of indigenous communities but often ended up as a mechanism to rob them of land or wipe them out with guns or poison.
The document caused an international storm when it was released, leading two years later to the foundation of the tribal rights organisation Survival International. Brazil, however, failed to jail a single person despite initial charges against 134 officials alleged to be involved in more than 1,000 crimes.
The report was believed to have been destroyed by a fire at the agriculture ministry soon after it came out, prompting suspicions of a cover-up by the dictatorship and its allies among the big landowners. However, most of the document was discovered recently in a musty archive and is being examined by the National Truth Commission, which is investigating human rights violations between 1947 and 1988.
Although the document has not been made public since its rediscovery, the Guardian has seen a scanned copy in which Figueiredo describes the enslavement of indigenous people, torture of children and theft of land.
“The Indian Protection Service has degenerated to the point of chasing Indians to extinction,” the prosecutor writes in an introduction addressed to the interior minister.
The pages – all bound, initialled and marked MI-58-455 – include an alphabetical list of the alleged perpetrators and the indictments against them. Most are accused of falsely appropriating land, misusing funds or illegally selling cattle or timber to enrich themselves at the expense of the communities they were supposed to be protecting. But many are implicated in far more heinous crimes.
The number of victims is impossible to calculate. The Truth Commission believes that some tribes, such as those in Maranhão, were completely wiped out. In one case, in Mato Grosso, only two survivors emerged to tell of an attack on a community of 30 Cinta Larga Indians with dynamite dropped from aeroplanes. Figueiredo also details how officials and landowners lethally introduced smallpox into isolated villages and donated sugar mixed with strychnine.
Among those to whom responsibility is attributed is Major Luiz Vinhas Neves, who headed the SPI from 1964 until he was sacked as a result of the report in 1968. He is cited in more than 40 counts, including financial irregularities totalling more than 1bn reals (£300,000) in today’s money. Following the report, a parliamentary resolution accused him of complicity in the spread of smallpox among two remote communities in Pataxó.
Torture was common. The most oft-cited technique was “the trunk”, which slowly crushed the ankles of the victims. An alternative was allegedly tried out by Álvaro de Carvalho, an official accused of murdering an Indian from Narcizinho whom he hung by the thumbs and whipped.
People were traded like animals. Flavio de Abreau, the chief of an SPI post in Couto Magalhaes, reportedly swapped an Indian woman for a clay stove and then thrashed her father when he complained. He is also accused of starving local communities. Other officers made children beat their parents, brothers whip their siblings and forced women back to work immediately after giving birth.
Figueiredo points out that the authorities operated with impunity to deny Indians what should have been a life of plenty. “There is a fabulous Indian heritage and it is well-managed. They do not require a penny of government assistance to live a rich and healthy life in their vast dominions,” he notes.
The report was highly embarrassing for the military regime and a censored press ensured it was rarely mentioned again. The SPI was replaced by another agency, Funai, but tribes continue to struggle against illegal loggers, miners, government dam-builders and ranchers
This is particularly true in Mato Grosso do Sul, which has the highest rate of murders of Indians in Brazil. The estimated 31,000 Guarani-Kaiowá Indians in the area are now confined to tiny areas, completely surrounded by fields of soy or sugar cane.
Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry, said nothing has changed when it comes to the impunity regarding the murder of Indians. “Gunmen routinely kill tribespeople in the knowledge that there’s little risk of being brought to justice – none of the assassins responsible for shooting Guarani and Makuxi tribal leaders have been jailed for their crimes. It’s hard not to suspect that racism and greed are at the root of Brazil’s failure to defend its indigenous citizens’ lives,” he said.
Lawyers, politicians and NGOs warn the influence of the “ruralista” landowners’ lobby is once again on the rise. President Dilma Rousseff is dependent on their representatives in congress, who have watered down the forest code, and are said to be planning the reduction of indigenous reserves by transferring responsibility for their demarcation from Funai to the conservative-dominated congress.
Most of Brazil’s main newspapers – including Globo, Folha and Estado de Sao Paulo – have largely ignored the rediscovery, even though the Figueiredo report was recently described by the Truth Commission as “one of the most important documents produced by the Brazilian government in the last century”.
Or what about the admissions emerging from the Yugoslav break-up, finally now that they can be buried away (literally) conveniently long after the main figures have died:
Croatia’s wartime leaders of 20 years ago have been found guilty of orchestrating a campaign of terror and atrocities to drive Bosnian Muslims away and to seize their territory.
On Wednesday, during a landmark trial at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague, six Bosnian Croat leaders received sentences of 10 to 25 years for leading the campaign to carve an ethnically pure Croatian mini-state out of Bosnia, through violence and terror, with plans for Croatia to annex the territory.
The trial, which has lasted seven years, amounted to the first close judicial examination of the Bosnia policies of Croatia’s first president, Franjo Tudjman, an extreme nationalist.
The verdict was damning. The judges stated: “All six were found guilty for their participation in a joint criminal enterprise with the objective to remove the Muslim population from the territories on which the Bosnian Croat leadership, with the leadership of Croatia, wanted to establish Croat domination.
“These crimes were not committed in a random manner by a few undisciplined soldiers. On the contrary, they were the result of a plan put together by the JCE [joint criminal enterprise] members to remove the Muslim population.”
The six guilty included the political, military, and police chiefs of the Croats in Bosnia. The judges also named Tudjman, his defence minister, Gojko Šušak, and his army chief of staff, all now dead, as co-plotters in the brutal land grab of 1993-94.
...The most spectacular and dramatic episode of the systematic campaign came in November 1993 when Croatian forces in Herzegovina shelled Mostar’s 16th century Ottoman bridge spanning the Neretva river.
The destruction of the architectural masterpiece, known as the “stari most” or old bridge, was condemned globally as an act of cultural barbarism. The officer held responsible for directing the attack, Slobodan Praljak, a former assistant minister of defence, received a 20-year sentence on Wednesday.
The Croats forced Muslims out of their homes on the west bank of the city into the ancient Ottoman quarter on the east side, then shelled and besieged them for months.
The city remains ethnically divided until this day. The Croats erected a soaring Roman Catholic cross to dominate the skyline above the mainly Muslim eastern side.
...Before the Croatian then Bosnian wars erupted in 1991-92, Tudjman met the late Serbian leader, Slobodan Miloševi? at a hunting lodge near the Serbia-Croatia border to plot dividing up Bosnia between them.
At that time, in January 1991, during a break one day from a tennis game in Zagreb, Tudjman told the Guardian the aim was to replicate the arrangement of 1939 when Belgrade and Zagreb split Bosnia between them to create Greater Serbia and Greater Croatia.
In a whirlwind of violence against civilians in the first months of the Bosnia war from April 1992, the Serbs seized more than half of Bosnia.
In early 1993 the Croats then moved on their land grab, encouraged by the efforts of Lord Owen whose territorial division awarded tracts of ethnically mixed central Bosnia to the Croats.
The Croats torched Muslim villages, massacred hundreds of elderly peasants, set up a string of camps where inmates were tortured, conducted night-time roundups in the towns to evict non-Croats, and prosecuted the siege of east Mostar.
The aim was to establish the mini-state called Herceg-Bosna in the south-west of the country bordering Croatia proper.
Croatian forces, the court found, “exercised extreme violence, Muslims were woken up in the middle of the night, beaten and forced to leave their apartments, often still in their pyjamas. Many women, including a girl of 16, were raped”.
What this court report obscures with its sly suggestion that “the Serbs were just as bad” and “doing deals” with the fascist Ustashe Croats (the chequered flag fascist collaborators with German Nazism in World War Two who outdid even the SS in depravity) is that whole Yugoslavian balkanisation (literally) was precipitated first by the Austrian influenced reactionary Slovenian breakaway and then the Croats themselves, who instigated from the beginning the great waves of “ethnic cleansing” – all deliberately egged on by Western imperialist interests precisely to achieve the fragmentation of the once communist and still revisionist Yugoslavian workers state federation, deliberate breakups to which the entire subsequent Yugoslavian war turmoil was a response.
Even more importantly it was the beginning of the great waves of imperialist warmongering and blitzing that have gone on non-stop since, a pattern of deliberately instigated civil war turmoil and break up repeated in Libya and now Syria, with world war the conscious target ultimately.
This has been non-stop terrorism, by the West using “shock and awe” bullying of the entire planet out of the dominant US imperialism since (along with various smaller stooge powers, notably the UK) to suppress and terrorise all thoughts of challenging its “right” to appropriate the lion’s share of all the natural resources and worked up production of the whole planet produced by the often near-slave labour of the billions on plantations and in factories (the source of all value being human labour and only human labour), even though it is completely bankrupt and unable ever to pay the enormous debts owing to everyone else.
Entire countries have been reduced to rubble and horrific frightened car-bomb turmoil to make the point.
More are on the way, with Syria already shredded to pieces and Iran in the gunsights as the unstoppable storm of capitalist world crisis unravels.
And the fake-“lefts” want to quibble about “morality” and “justifiability” of the Third World revolt which is steadily reaching boiling point, their “condemnations” and “disgust” giving capitalism the perfect “justification” for all its “collective punishments” and “hunt down and kill the terrorist beasts” barbarities, its censorship crackdowns, its detention without charges concentration camps (another one, run by the British just admitted to in Afghanistan).
“Terrorism” as defined by the ruling class (leaving out their own permanent and much greater terrorising of the world) is nothing but the worldwide rebellion of the hundreds of millions of the Third World against the centuries of exploitation and tyrannical oppression imposed on them by the colonial or neo-colonial capitalist system, and its record of multiple genocide, brutality and fascism, encompassing every depravity and horror that human callousness and arrogance could devise, from the Spanish Empire onwards.
However crude, inchoate and confused its ideology, and however desperate, tragic and costly its methods (and nothing involves greater cost and sacrifice than the last ditch of suicide bombing) fighting against enormous and overwhelming firepower with whatever weapons and resources it can muster, the great world revolt of the great majority is unstoppably underway, driven to fight by the impositions of the global “free market” system and massively increased by the crisis escalation of war and international terrorising.
It needs to be underlined five times over that it is the writhing and floundering of capitalism’s crisis and the warmongering “answer” to try and escape that crisis, which is the sole and only real cause of all the torture, destruction, mayhem and Slump collapse agony now engulfing the world.
The bullying insistence by British and French imperialism that yet more arms be poured into the Muslim fundamentalist sectarianism brutally tearing anti-imperialist Syria to pieces, even while continuing its dementedly anti-Muslim hate and “anti-”terror” campaign in Britain makes the point entirely.
Just what is the crude “crusading” chauvinist backwardness in Britain, stirred into shallow hatred and thuggery against “Muslimism” going to make of all that is one good question??
The despicable racist attacks and scapegoating violence to allegedly “stop the threat to normal life” in the wake of the Woolwich street attack, is simultaneously being asked to support and arm the Muslim fanaticism in the Middle East with the likelihood of “our boys” British imperialist military forces soon standing alongside them in Syria, carrying out or sustaining the same bloody atrocities and massacres which the “rebels” have devastated the country with for over two years, pushed and prodded by imperialist intervention, covert forces, secret military guidance, massive arms supplies and demented Goebbels media campaigns, just as was used to destroy Libya’s anti-imperialism (like Syria reinforced by foul Trotskyist “left” cover pretending these monarchists, bourgeois stooges and covert outside reactionary forces constitute “revolution”, taken in is as always by the shallowest notions of abstract “democracy” and “anti-totalitarianism” derived from and built around long decades of petty bourgeois hatred for the workers states and the disciplines of the dictatorship of the proletariat).
But equally it is the long post-war vacuum absence of clear world revolutionary leadership left by Third International dunderheaded social-pacifist retreat from revolution (still being pumped out by assorted Stalinists) which creates the ideological confusion, temporarily putting various sectarian forces on opposite sides (a factor left unexplained by the Stalinists and Trotskyists both, busy “supporting” one or the other sides in Syria for example, instead of simply focussing attention on the enemy by calling for the defeat of imperialism and its manipulations and the open struggle for Leninist theory).
Untangling how Hezbollah and Hamas, both dogged anti-imperialist fighters for the Palestinian cause, and with solid and still developing credentials in fighting Zionist colonial fascist oppression, are currently on opposite sides of the fence over Syria requires a detailed Marxist analysis focussing on the inadequacy of all leadership hamstrung by non-scientific religious ideology
But for the moment the point to make is that imperialism wants to have it both ways, supporting (in fact provoking) confused religious backwardness and sectarianism in one place for its warmongering purposes, driven by the catastrophic failure of its economic and social system, and simultaneously denouncing it domestically, to ferment chauvinist hatred and fascist confusion and head the working class away from revolution – the only possible answer to the total implosion of the class rule system, which has completely run out of road, historically speaking.
After 800 years of world colonising dominance and tyrannical exploitation on an ever expanding scale the production for private profit system has nowhere to go – except into warmongering mayhem to destroy the huge wasteful “surpluses” of production now clogging everything.
The world ruling class has been bent on war at all costs for two decades or more to escape this desperate and unsolvable economic and political crisis it has created and will always create, just as twice in the twentieth century but on a far greater scale than even the horrific WW1 and WW2 industrial slaughter and destruction.
The catastrophe now unravelling for the ruling class could not be more serious nor the mayhem needed to get out of it (in fact an impossibility) .
The near meltdown failure of the “credit crunch” in 2007-8 brought things sharply into focus with the world taken to the edge of total chaos.
By the August of 2008 the entire monopoly capitalist system was just twelve hours away from the closure of all cash machines and the near universal suspension of international credit transfers, as a domino tumbling of bank failures and other financial institutions began in New York, repeating the 1930s Credit Anstalt bank implosion which deepened and accelerated the 1930 Depression and its subsequent extension and transformation into the Second World War, but magnified ten times over.
The result would have been unthinkable chaos as tens of millions of people found themselves without money, unable to pursue even the most basic aspects of ordinary life like buying food, travelling to work and paying the rent.
The entire elaborate infrastructure of capitalist commerce, production and exchange was tilting over an abyss of utter disintegration and paralysis.
Within days this would have become a seething ferment with raids on supermarkets, petrol stations and the like as hundreds of thousands, or rather millions of people in the cities found the most basic of life’s needs running out, electricity and gas cut off etc etc.
Within weeks a country like Britain, completely dependent on imported food and other resources, would have faced mass starvation and collapse, with the rest of the major “advanced” economies not far behind.
Devastating disintegration of society into the heart of even the richest of nations was held off only by the panicked ruling class printing the inconceivably huge flood of paper and electronic money that has temporarily re-inflated the finance system – so-called Quantitative Easing – with trillions of worthless Euro and dollar currency (and now Yen).
But “inflated” is precisely the word.
The terrible poisoning of world trade through the creation of endless Mickey Mouse credit, on top of the decades of dollar pollution which have already been used to keep the capitalist world lurching along for the six decades of the post-war growth “boom” despite its intractable contradictions and the always recurring failures built into it (erupting in regional and national meltdowns and bankruptcies from Latin America to Japan and Asia), is ready to come back at any minute in an even greater meltdown than threatened in autumn 2008.
Repeatedly, the capitalist press and economic analysts return to this terrifying prospect though only within the limits of bourgeois science, never quite grasping or facing the full import:
Central banks may be pumping billions of dollars into the world’s financial markets through quantitative easing, but by artificially inflating the prices of stocks and bonds they’re just storing up an almighty crash for the future.
That’s the argument of City bears, who warn that while last week’s slide may be reversed in the days ahead, the sharp fall in share prices that spread from Tokyo to Wall Street and London was a foretaste of the reckoning that will inevitably come, once QE starts to be unwound. “This is a liquidity-fuelled rally in stock prices. It’s clear that the world economy has not been performing as well as stock prices say it has,” said Neil Mellor of BNY Mellon.
Pessimists cite several reasons to be nervous about whether the rally that took share prices in the US to record highs before the blip can be sustained.
The first is China: a weak reading on the purchasing managers’ index survey for the country – a barometer of its manufacturing sector – was one of the factors that fed Thursday’s decline.
Growth in the world’s second-largest economy has long been expected to slow from the double-digit pace that was the norm before the world recession of 2008-09. But there are serious concerns about the health of China’s banks, which are thought to be sitting on a growing pile of bad loans. “It’s clear that a lot of banks are in an awful lot of trouble,” said Mellor.
Demand from China is critical for a number of major economies, including Japan, for which China is a huge export market, and Australia, which is heavily reliant on its natural resources. Any sign that the Chinese economy was slowing sharply, or worse still, facing a financial meltdown, would have knock-on effects right across the world’s financial markets.
A second reason to worry is the eurozone. While the mood has been quieter since the Cyprus bailout was agreed in March and a rate cut from the European Central Bank boosted confidence, the crisis is far from over.
The eurozone economy remains deep in recession, and there is a long list of countries, from Slovenia to Spain, with unresolved problems that could spiral rapidly into a major crisis.
Third, Japan: markets have been supercharged in recent weeks by the radical policy of “Abenomics”, named after new prime minister Shinzo Abe, which involves deregulation and a boost to public spending as well as the “shock and awe” quantitative easing announced last month.
Even if the policy works well, however, it is unlikely to be the overwhelming success that would be required to validate the 25% jump in share prices seen since the end of last year.
The final reason to be nervous is a more general one: as central bankers themselves have warned, extended periods of cheap money tend to create market distortions, as investors take the money and use it to fish around for better returns, in a “search for yield”.
In the bond markets, for example, countries that would usually find it impossible to attract foreign lenders are finding investors falling over themselves to buy their bonds. Rwanda’s $400m (£265m) bond issue in April was more than seven times oversubscribed, while middle-income countries such as Turkey, Mexico and Brazil have seen their borrowing costs slide. That’s great news for the governments in question, but smacks of what Fed chairman Ben Bernanke recently referred to as “excessive risk-taking”.
Whatever the outlook, “jittery Thursday”, as analysts at City consultancy Fathom called it, underlined the fact that investors should brace themselves for a period of increased volatility.
“This bout of market jitters has laid bare the twin distortions imposed by a combination of near-zero interest rates and unconventional monetary policy, namely an excess sensitivity to small changes in the data and an unhealthy addiction to doveish central banks,” they said.
However, there are three good reasons why stock markets, a few blips aside, will continue to grow for some time: central banks are scared; there is lots of money waiting to be invested; and returns on all other assets are low.
Many analysts blamed the sharp falls in stock market values last week on a hamfisted performance by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who initially gave little hint that the Fed’s QE measures might be scaled down only to say later that several members of his committee thought the time might be ripe in the next few months.
The Fed has injected more than $3tn of freshly minted money into financial markets and is supposed to be increasing the total by $85bn a month until unemployment comes down to 6.5%. It is 7.5% at the moment. The hint that Fed funds would stop early sent markets into a spin, but it was not new. Bernanke had said the same in January.
And the Fed must stay the course because households and businesses across the US and Europe are still paying back debt from the boom years. Only central bank funds are keeping economies afloat. The Bank of England remains steadfast and the Bank of Japan is ramping up its QE programme. Bernanke will stick with his original plan.
Stock markets are also being buoyed by the huge reserve of funds sitting in the Middle East, in Asia, and in western pension funds. Fund managers want to bet the trillions they are keeping on the sidelines on the stock market, should it feel safe. Central banks will continue to make it feel safe.
The third driver comes from the low returns elsewhere. Sovereign wealth funds and pension funds have used large amounts of their spare money as loans to governments and big companies. But buying bonds earns them only a small return. Lending to the German government is such a privilege that investors lose money on the deal.
Strapped to these three rockets, the market can still soar. Of course, Spain could yet go bust or China grind to a halt. There could be a natural disaster, an act of terrorism or war. History tells us a bust is waiting down the track, but while the world economy recovers and governments and central banks maintain their pledge to keep printing money, we should expect prices to rise.
Positive signs???!!! Rockets??? Too much production and too much accumulated capital – “surplus” capital desperate to find a profit – plus even more from the open tap of QE Micky Mouse “money”, combined with “low returns elsewhere” are exactly at the root of the disastrous problems that have caused the crisis in the first place.
In other words, despite the hesitancy and hedging around of caveats, this piece says the world economy is doomed.
The full conclusions are unthinkable, without grasping that an entire epoch of history, the era of capitalist class rule and domination is finished with no way out of its disaster other than through the complete restructuring of the entire human society and its production, ending for good the archaic private control of the means of production and the ruling class that “owns” all the factories, farms and mines, banks and finance houses, and the monopoly of land.
It took Marxism to analyse and understand this unstoppable and unsolvable reality of the production for profit system, which was already becoming clear in the mid-19th century when Karl Marx carried through his titanic 30 years of economic and philosophical research culminating in the extraordinary Capital, whose conclusions have never been demolished or disproven despite a century and a half of bourgeois “economics”.
The intractable problems are still the built-in heart of the system, despite all kinds of “controls”, regulations and modern technology, electronics, the Internet etc. Leninist Marxism has been warning the working class of this disaster constantly in the teeth of petty bourgeois “left” hostility and complacency from all shades of Trotskyism and revisionism.
It fortells the end of capitalism and the necessity of a revolutionary change in the world, because there is no solution at all except to overturn the class rule dictatorship of capital and big money and take everything into the hands of the mass of ordinary people via a new kind of dictatorship, the transient dictatorship rule of the working class lasting until it is possible to create a new kind of socialist planned world economy and society, self-disciplined and rational, ultimately requiring no control at all, except the scientific understanding of necessity and of the revolutionary nature of the world.
Only this can end for good the barbaric and exploitative rule of capital and setting the world on the way to full world communism and the rational existence for mankind.
Only a revolutionary scientific party constantly battling for this perspective can properly grasp and therefore prepare the working class for, the total civil war upheavals coming, inevitably triggered by the increasingly open fascist repressions imposed by the ruling class upon any and every spontaneous struggle driven out by the crisis.
No ruling class has ever been able to accept leaving the historical stage, or even believes it is possible for the world to go on without it, and will pursue the bloodiest of counter-revolution to avoid it, as monopoly capitalism has done for the entire twentieth century, not least in the saturation brainwashing of the world against communism and the constant subversion and war against the workers states.
Capitalism has been desperate to “prove” that “communism doesn’t work” ever since the first founding of a workers state by revolutionary overturn of the old order in 1917 and the steady building, in the teeth of gigantic obstacles like repeated war devastation, of workers states, able not just to exist without any capitalist bosses but demonstrating the enormous potential of socialist society even in the first mistake-filled seven decades.
Non-stop brainwashing and demented horror stories have been pumped into brains via every channel of politics, education, media. culture, films and TV and in case that did not work, non-stop sabotage, economic blockade, subversion and disruption of every effort to build socialist society has been imposed, “justified” with the demented Goebbels lie that communism is a threat to an otherwise prosperous world that would produce endless harmony, “democracy”, freedom and prosperity if only the “Red Threat” did not exist.
It finally worked, convincing the revisionist leadership in Moscow, philosophically weakened by decades of retreat from Leninist theoretical principles, to abandon the struggle and capitulate to the “free market”, with disastrous consequences since, giving up the still viable Soviet workers state which despite revisionist bureaucratic failure of inspiration, and numerous mistakes, was growing steadily until the very end.
But with the deluded liquidation of the Soviet Union by revisionist stupidity and retreat from Leninist revolutionary science and understanding, the exact opposite to “world peace” has happened.
Far from the “end of history” heralding a new dawn of golden civilisation and entrepreneurially-led technological “democratic” plenty for all, the contradictions at the heart of capitalist production have rapidly intensified into the greatest Slump and disintegration in all history.
The proof of Marxist science has never been clearer.
There is nothing else which can now be responsible for the catastrophe in the world but capitalism itself.
Hence the desperate hunt for “others” to blame, from “rogue states” to “extremists”.
The class position of the ruling class may prevent it ever understanding the world precisely in Marxist terms (which would mean accepting its own demise) but it knows and grasps only too well the onrushing disaster it faces and the gigantic storm of rebellion and upheaval that will follow any crisis economic collapse.
Increasingly that disaster is driving spontaneous revolutionary and mass revolt that will eventually find a conscious expression and leadership.
Capitalism has long historical experience of revolt, domestically and most of all in repressing and suppressing its colonial exploitation.
Even now in the centre of even the most advanced countries it has already tasted eruptions like the London riots two years ago, the Paris suburban discontent, the mass demonstrations and occupations of the “indignados” and occupy movements, and right now a week of anti-authority and anti-police rebellious and street upheaval in Stockholm (as vicious a capitalist rule as any despite being one of the Scandinavian favourites of the liberal “lefts” and their reformist theories of “reasonable” capitalism - which does not exist).
Turkey is also erupting.
The world hatred of endless exploitation and suffering is deepening all the time.
And its multiple forms of rebellion, revolt and upheaval have long gone beyond the bounds of even simple guerrilla war, insurgency, national liberation fights like Afghanistian and “terrorism”, into the mass revolts which broke out in Tunisian and Egypt, a qualitative new level of Third World rebellion.
Even if this has been sidetracked for the moment with “democracy” illusions and the counter-revolutions artificially provoked around it in anti-imperialist Libya and Syria (disguised as “more Arab Spring” for the benefit of the petty bourgeois dupes of Trotskyism and liberalism) it has not gone away.
Meanwhile, to wriggle out of its historic responsibility capitalism has been looking for any and every excuse for the greatest escalation of military onslaught seen in history.
That is why it has been stampeding the world behind the meaningless notion of a “war on terror” for two decades at least, working up an atmosphere of demented hatred and chauvinist warmongering to blame others, just as the fascist period of the 1930s picked on a stream of victims from Gypsies to Jews and always the communists, as “responsible” for disaster, to head off understanding of the real cause of world failure.
But what the great debate erupting after Woolwich shows is that public opinion is beginning to grasp more of these questions as the Slump disaster – euphemistically described as “austerity” but imposed with all the callousness and arrogance of the Victorian workhouse - merges with the now constant revelations of Western atrocities.
It is obvious to even the least “political” that the West is responsible for the upwelling of revolt.
That is not yet a majority grasp of the epochal failure of capitalism itself but what emerges is a deep questioning of why Woolwich occurred.
The posturing Tory pretences of “all pulling together” pumped out in sonorous tones after the attack meanwhile are all part of a cynical ruling class effort to head such questioning away, pretending that the only possible cause of the attacks was “monstrous outsiders” or “fanatics” supposedly bent on “destroying our way of life” somehow emerging out of the blue.
To underline this monstrous humbug the arch populist reactionary Boris Johnson, Britain’s answer to the jokey populist buffoonery of Benito Mussolini (or more accurately his late epoch pale imitation, Silvio Berlusconi), was first off the blocks, instantly declaring that the attacks had “nothing to do with Britain’s foreign policy”.
This breathtaking inversion of reality has more sinisterly been followed up with the strident Thatcherite severity of the petty bourgeois harridan Theresa May, with renewed calls to suppress alleged “extremism”, turning up the overt censorship and press repression which is the normal state of capitalist dictatorship as it gets into crisis and can no longer tolerate the pretence of “democracy” and “free speech” (a complete pile of steaming ordure at the best of times anyway).
Underlying this call is the notion that the two jihadists were not really rational, but allegedly “radicalised” by mysterious preachers and with the implication that somehow they were “controlled” by outside “evil” figures.
To which mystical and idealist garbage the only Marxist response can be, that it is not ideas that drive history forwards (or backwards) but history, and the real material conditions of existence, which are reflected in humans’ minds; in other words that stopping or silencing any amount of supposed “hate mullahs” will not stop the rising tide of rebellion and hostility throughout the Third World (and increasingly in the “first” world too as the working class is driven into penury, unemployment, homelessness and despair).
Some of the more craven of the bourgeois “left” intellectuals like the Zionist sympathisers Jonathan Freedland and Nick Cohen (both in the Guardian/Observer middle class liberal cover for imperialist reaction) have tried to give a “left” cover to censorship. A taste of this sophistry:
when killers strike in this way, should we listen to what they have to say? Or should we walk on, pretending we can’t hear?
Judging by our responses to Woolwich and comparable acts of violence, the truth is we don’t know. If you were kind, you would say we are confused. Less charitably, you’d say that we are guilty of double standards and hypocrisy. It seems we’re ready to listen when we have some sneaking sympathy, not for the act itself, but for the cause it seeks to highlight. But when we find the killer’s motive as repugnant as his action, we put our fingers in our ears.
A useful comparison is with the case of Anders Breivik, who ..planted a bomb in Oslo that killed eight people and who went on to murder another 69, mostly teenagers, on the island of Utøya in Norway. He did not spread his message via bystanders’ cameraphones, but through an 1800-page manifesto that denounced what he saw as the evils of mass immigration and multiculturalism.
At the time there was no shortage of voices on the right rushing to denounce what Breivik had done, before suggesting he was voicing a widely felt sentiment, adding that perhaps a frank conversation about the excesses of diversity and the alienating effects of globalisation and migration was overdue. As I wrote at the time: “To listen to it, you’d think Breivik had simply wanted to start a debate, that he’d perhaps written a provocative pamphlet for Demos, rather than committed an act of murderous cruelty.”
Some shook their heads ruefully, sadly noting that they had long warned such violence would be the result of the headlong rush to a multicultural, rainbow-hued future.
Liberal and left opinion knew what it thought of such talk. It was wrong to accord Breivik’s warped beliefs such a respectful hearing. Airing his ideas this way was to reward his massacre, surely providing an incentive for others to repeat the slaughter. His actions should be treated as murder, plain and simple. To respond by debating his grievances was to cede him, and violence itself, too much power.
Yet when the killer’s cause is the matter of western intervention in Muslim countries, it seems some left voices find their previous fastidiousness has deserted them. Cue a BBC interview with Ken Livingstone, who spoke so powerfully after the 7 July bombings in London. Now, he linked Woolwich to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Enter the Stop the War coalition, whose statement on Woolwich similarly made the connection with “western foreign policy in the Middle East and south Asia”, ending with the declaration that events had proved their position “absolutely right”.
Be in no doubt, Livingstone and the anti-war movement would be appalled if their arguments were played back to them in reverse. Imagine what they would say to the claim that Breivik’s terror vindicated the old rivers-of-blood warnings, predicting that decades of multiculturalism would end in disaster, and now it was time to change course. Consider their reaction if the right had seized on the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in 1999, casting it as the inevitable result of a liberalisation of gay rights that was bound to radicalise a certain young male demographic and that therefore a policy shift was in order.
It is Freedland who is (deliberately) confused and hypocritical, sneakily pretending to agree with the straw man “liberal” opinion he sets up, which, he declares, was wanting to silence Breivik.
Liberal and “left” opinion can speak for itself – but this deliberate obfuscation pretending that analysis of events and what the perpetrator says, is “rewarding” or even verifying the psychotic reactionariness of someone like Breivik is a twisted lie.
The choice is not simply between accepting the perpetrator’s own subjective view, and silence, nor is “airing his views” a “reward”.
Hands over the ears and censorship are nothing to do with the rational argument and polemic which can untangle the real material facts of the world, in Breivik’s case showing how the poisonous ideology of capitalist scapegoating, “war on terror” and anti-Muslim “crusading” had led to his deranged fascism is crucial.
Seeing how capitalism itself continued to promote this foulness with its acceptance of Breivik’s “thesis” might be part of the picture.
Freedland’s sly class-collaborating argument tries to pretend there is an abstract “principle” involved, separate from the content and the context, and by doing so to smear with the same colour the Breivik Nazi atrocity and murders and the guerrilla war attack in Woolwich.
Far from being a “useful comparison” it is a foul slander on the rising revolt of the Third World; the statements made by the two “jihadists” indicated something very different to the Nazism of the Norwegian psychotic.
His shallow “logic” inversion suggesting “playing back the arguments in reverse” would validate Breivik, is nonsensical. The point is entirely that the concrete reality of each situation has to be considered always (exactly as Lenin repeatedly expressed) .
Breivik was a deranged fascist; the two in Woolwich are desperate anti-imperialists and from their comments, with far more rationality than many.
The problem with the "Stop the War" movement, Livingstone and all the fake-“lefts” is that despite explaining the cause of the violent attack, and that further repression can only lead to yet more “terrorism” they still end up denouncing the Woolwich event, continuing to tell the world that the warmongering fascist blitzing can be stopped by protest and marches.
They are a million miles from explaining or even grasping the revolutionary necessities which the capitalist system confronts the world with, and which for all the religious confusion and nuttiness the jihadists were driven by.
Public opinion has got further than this, as one “left” US commentator Glen Greenwald managed to say:
given the legal, military, cultural and political significance of the term “terrorism”, it is vital to ask: is that term really applicable to this act of violence? To begin with, in order for an act of violence to be “terrorism”, many argue that it must deliberately target civilians. That’s the most common means used by those who try to distinguish the violence engaged in by western nations from that used by the “terrorists”: sure, we kill civilians sometimes, but we don’t deliberately target them the way the “terrorists” do.
But here, just as was true for Nidal Hasan’s attack on a Fort Hood military base, the victim of the violence was a soldier of a nation at war, not a civilian. He was stationed at an army barracks quite close to the attack. The killer made clear that he knew he had attacked a soldier when he said afterward: “this British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
The US, the UK and its allies have repeatedly killed Muslim civilians over the past decade (and before that), but defenders of those governments insist that this cannot be “terrorism” because it is combatants, not civilians, who are the targets. Can it really be the case that when western nations continuously kill Muslim civilians, that’s not “terrorism”, but when Muslims kill western soldiers, that is terrorism? Amazingly, the US has even imprisoned people at Guantanamo and elsewhere on accusations of “terrorism” who are accused of nothing more than engaging in violence against US soldiers who invaded their country.
It’s true that the soldier who was killed yesterday was out of uniform and not engaged in combat at the time he was attacked. But the same is true for the vast bulk of killings carried out by the US and its allies over the last decade, where people are killed in their homes, in their cars, at work, while asleep (in fact, the US has re-defined “militant” to mean “any military-aged male in a strike zone”). Indeed, at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on drone killings, Gen. James Cartwright and Sen. Lindsey Graham both agreed that the US has the right to kill its enemies even while they are “asleep”, that you don’t “have to wake them up before you shoot them” and “make it a fair fight”. Once you declare that the “entire globe is a battlefield” (which includes London) and that any “combatant” (defined as broadly as possible) is fair game to be killed - as the US has done - then how can the killing of a solider of a nation engaged in that war, horrific though it is, possibly be “terrorism”?
When I asked on Twitter this morning what specific attributes of this attack make it “terrorism” given that it was a soldier who was killed, the most frequent answer I received was that “terrorism” means any act of violence designed to achieve political change, or more specifically, to induce a civilian population to change their government or its policies of out fear of violence. Because, this line of reasoning went, one of the attackers here said that “the only reasons we killed this man is because Muslims are dying daily” and warned that “you people will never be safe. Remove your government”, the intent of the violence was to induce political change, thus making it “terrorism”.
That is at least a coherent definition. But doesn’t that then encompass the vast majority of violent acts undertaken by the US and its allies over the last decade? What was the US/UK “shock and awe” attack on Baghdad if not a campaign to intimidate the population with a massive show of violence into submitting to the invading armies and ceasing their support for Saddam’s regime? That was clearly its functional intent and even its stated intent. That definition would also immediately include the massive air bombings of German cities during World War II. It would include the Central American civilian-slaughtering militias supported, funded and armed by the Reagan administration throughout the 1980s, the Bangledeshi death squads trained and funded by the UK, and countless other groups supported by the west that used violence against civilians to achieve political ends.
The ongoing US drone attacks unquestionably have the effect, and one could reasonably argue the intent, of terrorizing the local populations so that they cease harboring or supporting those the west deems to be enemies. The brutal sanctions regime imposed by the west on Iraq and Iran, which kills large numbers of people, clearly has the intent of terrorizing the population into changing its governments’ policies and even the government itself. How can one create a definition of “terrorism” that includes Wednesday’s London attack on this British soldier without including many acts of violence undertaken by the US, the UK and its allies and partners?
Greenwald still surrounds his piece with caveats about “a barbaric and horrendous act which goes without saying.”
Horrific it was, but if it “goes without saying” why does he say it?
For all the “left” explanations “understanding” what has driven such violence to the surface everywhere, they will all fail to do anything about it except hand-wringing protest and pacifist ineffectuality, tying the working class always back to the pretences of “democracy” and the “proper way to do things” which leaves everything open for the permanent threat of coups and fascist dictatorship.
Condemning the struggles spontaneously produced is to renounce completely the revolutionary perspective that capitalism will continue to degenerate into total fascism until it is overthrown.
Particular methods of struggle in particular circumstance can be disputed and the barmy religious ideology attached to such anarchist individualist attacks is also an obstacle.
But as Lenin long ago argued, in his 1906 Guerrilla War, such events are part of the upwelling of revolt and resistance to the ever deepening tyranny and murderousness of capitalism.
Condemning them is a capitulation to the ruling class.
Offering clearer and better revolutionary leadership which can give a perspective to the world upheaval everywhere of the mass struggle to overtone capitalism for good is the only response. Build Leninism.
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