Engraving of Lenin busy studying

Economic & Philosophic Science Review

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested.--- V. I. Lenin

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No 1430 30th July 2013

Egyptian slaughter of democracy protestors in cold blood further confirms the petty bourgeois treachery and confusion of the fake-“left” Trots laughably telling the world the Cairo coup is a “new phase of democracy” rather than the counter-revolution it is. But the rest of the “left” is little better, decrying this fascist coup for all wrong reasons, still locked into abstract concerns about “democracy” instead of drawing out the revolutionary lessons of the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat. The democracy racket has always been capitalism’s strongest weapon to fool the working class; failure to stay with it reflects desperate weakness in the teeth of the deepening capitalist crisis. Even a tame Muslim Brotherhood president put in place to hold back revolution is now too militant. MB may carry struggle forwards but the real need is for Leninist science

Western fascist brutality grows ever more obvious as the crisis deepens but still the fake-“lefts” refuse to tackle the revolutionary arguments. Instead their confusion and evasions play into the hands of reaction.

The savage killings and shooting, now confirmed, of hundreds of unarmed Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators in the Cairo streets, and stepped up CIA arms supplies to re-ignite the defeated sectarian-terror which has half-destroyed anti-Zionist Syria, are the latest examples.

Both further expose the barbarous fascism of imperialism’s increasingly desperate fight to maintain its world exploitation dominance as worldwide rebelliousness explodes under the pressure of the great catastrophic crisis of world capitalism.

But in the teeth of all the evidence many of the “lefts” are still supporting outright the bloody military coup and declaring it, ludicrously, to be “a second wave of revolution for the people” rather than the obvious reaction it is.

It turns reality upside down.

The latest phase of the Egyptian “popular revolt” has been the cover for a deadly counter-revolution bringing down the Muslim Brotherhood which for all its religious confusion is an expression of potentially militant anti-imperialism.

Despite its compromises it represented a defeat for imperialism imposed by the 2011 uprising.

Now the direct power of the “safer” Western funded stooge military and pro-imperialist bureaucracy is re-asserted.

The first clue to the real picture comes from the Western “international community” response (such as it is), barely commenting on the savagery as snipers and police thugs have slaughtered unarmed protestors on the street who have quite properly been calling for reinstatement of the legally elected president Mohamed Morsi – currently illegally held incommunicado in prison (along with multiple supporters) and facing trumped-up charges of aiding the Hamas militancy in the Gaza strip, which has been in the forefront in the struggle against the nazi-Zionist land theft colonisers.

Unctuous platitudes pouring from the slimy Western government spokesmen, such as the usually pompously aggressive William Hague, have simply involved muttering a few words about “the need for calm” in Egypt while the imperialists temporarily “hold back” some limited arms deliveries to the generals (while continuing to pour in the massive financial subventions and most of the remaining military supplies that have sustained the Egyptian Washington-stooge dictatorship for decades).

Their effective support for the generals is in sharp contrast to the demented media campaigns used to whip up populist hatred and self-righteous world wide petty bourgeois frenzy against the likes of Muammar Gaddafi, the Assad government, and numerous other victim-state targets for Western warmongering, blocked from their own defence by arms embargoes and economically strangled with siege level “sanctions”.

No cries have emerged here for immediate “arming of the rebels” and “establishing no fly zones” to stop the generals from “killing their own people”.

Instead it is absurdly pretended that there is no “coup” at all, just a generous gesture by the army to follow the “popular wishes of the people”.

Even Goebbels would have been lost in admiration for the gobsmacking concept of a gentle “soft coup”a and particularly when it glaringly serves the interests of Washington and its Zionist regional henchmen.

The reality which even the bourgeois press has had to report, of brutal slaughter and murderous intimidation, underlines even more sharply the crucial need for the world to re-build Marxist-Leninist scientific clarity.

Without it, such total confusion and betrayal will continue to reign in the Middle East, giving the counter-revolution full scope.

Even more significantly it will continue everywhere else too as imperialism’s intractable crisis failure – the greatest ever in capitalism’s centuries of domineering existence and with an end-of-epoch significance – continues its disastrous disintegration.

Unparalleled Slump and the intertwined war chaos that is its only “answer” to the intractable contradictions of its private profit greed and plunder system, are now wiping out country after country, both economically and by blitzkrieg destruction and terror chaos, while public services are slashed in the rest, profiteering intensified and wages driven down as an ever tinier minority of the degenerate ruling class grasps ever more levels of insanely wasteful and pointless luxury, wealth and power.

Even then only the insanely expanded creation of utterly valueless “Quantitative Easing” fantasy money has temporarily salvaged the ruling class in the richest and most powerful of the imperialist powers, and particularly the top dog US imperialism, simply buying it time to prepare further for the savagery and destruction to come as the crisis forces it to step up the class war oppression with even more intensified exploitation of the working class.

The whole of capitalist imperialism is now openly following a fascist agenda of repression, universal surveillance, police repression, brutal speed-up and workhouse imposition of wage cuts at home and, worldwide, “shock and awe” bullying and destruction to both intimidate all thoughts of rebellion by “rogue” nations and liberation movements and to head off any rival capitalists as the trade war deepens.

The increasing tensions of trade and currency war are brewing into the greatest conflicts seen in all history, largely focused at present on the successful economy which revisionist workers state China has developed using controlled capitalist mechanisms, but equally likely to erupt against existing major rivals like German-dominated Europe or Japan itself, all desperately pumping out pulses of QE credit to hold their own against the deliberately undermined US dollar.

These dialectically unfolding processes are intractable and unstoppable and in one form or other are driving the world into universal destructive chaos.

There is no way out except by ending the entire private profit system.

What is required is a revolutionary transformation of the world, consciously achieved by the world working class, united by a clear understanding and perspective of the world and every aspects of the class forces driving its movement.

With such revolutionary clarity, the coherent struggle can be built and led that will finally topple increasingly degenerate and failing capitalist world rule and establish the control of the working class via the proletarian dictatorship.

That is the only mechanism by which the ever more disintegrating crisis of the world capitalist system can be stopped, by overturning its vicious class rule everywhere and replacing it with rational progress through worldwide planned socialist development of the economy and the fair society that can be built on its foundations.

But past mistake and errors of the first great workers states, and the revisionism still remaining, need urgently facing to tackle the greatest Goebbels lies of all, that “communism doesn’t work” and, if it does, is “only a totalitarian nightmare anyway”.

But the crucial Leninist polemical struggle for scientific clarity on these and all other questions has yet to emerge.

Instead as these events further underline, the craven capitulations to imperialist propaganda pressure, and opportunist petty bourgeois confusion of the fake-“left” of all shades continues, their shallow dilettantism and utter ignorance falling prey to the sinister manipulations and twisting of the “mass movement” to cover and sustain counter-revolution.

Most craven are the Trotskyists who have swallowed hook, line and sinker the Western political and intelligence agency fed media nonsense that the latest street movement in Egypt represents “the real will of the people”, light-mindedly oblivious to the slaughter which it has brought and the glaring “clues” about its actual nature, such as the alliance with the same army and bureaucracy that was pushed back in the astonishing and unexpected upheavals of 2011.

Those genuinely spontaneous uprisings, stunned the world and rocked the Washington ruling class back on its heels (as the Tunisian upheaval just before had stunned the Europeans).

But just as the original Arab Spring’s mass outbursts against imperialist stoogery and repression were subsequently bent and twisted around into supposed “revolts” against Gaddafi’s anti-imperialist and equitable Libya, and the anti-Zionist Syria, with long prepared, artificially provoked “revolts” (which were nothing but counter-revolution stirred and stampeded by Western covert interventions and deluging big lie press campaigns), so the spontaneous revolt in Egypt itself has been “remodelled”, the petty bourgeoisie mobilised to give a “mass revolt” cover to a counter-revolutionary coup.

It does not matter what illusions that some elements in that continuing “mass movement” might have about taking forwards its revolt, deliberately encouraged by anti-theory philistinism and “flat leadership” petty bourgeois semi-anarchist politics and whether or not they are sincere – it is in practice reactionary.

With the generals back in the saddle, pro-imperialist reactionary policies such as the blockade of the Palestinian Gaza strip, lifted by the Muslim Brotherhood, have immediately been reinstated and the alliance with Zionism re-engineered.

The latest stories report the Mubarak secret police being reactivated.

Staggeringly the Cairo barbarity has been presented to the world as more of the 2011 “revolution”, when it is the suppression of it.

The vacuous politics-by-spin and black-is-white public relations trickery of Tony Blair, that ultra-stooge of US imperialist warmongering, humiliated by the Iraq war failure but now lavishly paid-off as Washington’s pet Goebbels in the Middle East, has been the imperialist voice to slide out the “millions on the street” justifications for the army’s seizure of power, lyingly declared to be a “necessary giving way to the popular will in order to avoid trouble”, and a “new kind of democracy”.

Standing alongside this foul claptrap has not phased the Trotskyists however, giving another indication of the depths of their own opportunism.

First of all is what way does shooting down hundreds of people on pro-democracy demonstrations constitute revolutionary progress???

No communist or genuine peoples movement would carry out the kind of brutal slaughter of protestors just witnessed.

This is a sick joke!

Worse, it is a fascist minded joke.

Armed struggle for both national-liberation purposes or communist insurgency might well be necessary in many circumstances and clearly has been throughout modern history, in North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, China and many more communist revolutionary struggles including in the gigantic and heroic struggle of the Soviet Union against German Nazi invasion in 1941-5 – and effectively the whole sweep of national liberation and socialist struggle against the tyrannical murderous oppression and torture which is the sum total of all imperialist colonialism (which oppression continues in blitzkrieg and drone terror in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, etc and by proxy in Syria and Palestine, and constantly threatened against many others like Iran, Sudan, Cuba, and North Korea, Zimbabwe).

And the world has seen plenty of desperate attacks by the downtrodden against imperialist domination, not least by the Muslim Brotherhood’s compatriot Hamas movement in Palestine against the seven decades long non-stop and genocidal tyranny of the Zionist occupation, and by the Muslim Brotherhood itself two decades ago in the Luxor bombing.

But that would not justify, nor be comparable in any way to the state massacre depravities now being witnessed, so gross that even Washington has been obliged to tell the Egyptian generals to “cool it” for fear of the obvious war-crime ramifications of these premeditated cold-blooded atrocities.

There is not the remotest suggestion that the street demonstrations by the Brotherhood are anything but open protest at the sudden tearing up of a formal and world recognised democratic presidency, about which the only criticism that could be made is that if anything they are too naïve and trusting in the processes of “democracy” (of which more below).

Ah say the Trots, but these were supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood which was trying to impose a religious state structure on Egypt and to restrict freedom.

Leaving aside whether that was true anyway, and there seems to be plenty of signs that “free speech” and freedom to publish were more extensive in the last years than previously, both before and after the Muslim Brotherhood presidency, the mere demand for a “secular state” is a long way from a communist revolutionary demand or even an anti-imperialist bourgeois nationalist demand.

Only if the street movement was clearly at least heading in such directions would it be valid to begin thinking of it potentially progressive.

And if it was that clear, the leadership would not dream of justifying any such grotesque slaughter.

But not such clarity was expressed in the slightest, no such anti-imperialist demands.

Just the opposite – the street movement declared its discontent because it was not getting clear statements of American support initially.

And if Leninist or nationalist determination had been expressed, why would it remotely be likely that the military, heavily funded by Western imperialist billions for the last thirty years, would be carrying such ambitions forwards, especially by using such crude and heavy handed arbitrary and indiscriminate violence and intimidation??

Secondly to suggest that the “mass movement”, stirred up and led by the mysterious Tamarod movement (which appeared out of nowhere and is guided by – who knows which “tweeters” and other “non-leadership” leaders?), would just be able “take advantage” of the army “for the moment” before somehow mysteriously shaking free its influence is even sicker and completely deludedly ignores every lesson of Marxist history.

From the events of the 1848 June insurrection onwards through the Paris Commune of 1971, both overturned by counter-revolution and drowned in the blood of thousands of worker revolutionaries, Karl Marx himself and then Lenin afterwards have made the question of the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat the most central issue of revolution and progress.

Far from allying with, or attempting to take over, the imperialist dominated state forces (police and army, courts and prisons) the urgent task is to break and smash such state forces, which while ostensibly “neutral arbiters” of law and order, will always act on behalf of the ruling class to suppress and eliminate any significant challenge to the existing exploitation order.

That cannot be done simply but needs the force of the unified proletariat imposing its will.

It is no mistake that this question was deemed so significant by Lenin that he spent the summer of 1917, in the middle of the titanic Russian revolutionary events (and while on the run from the Russian reactionary secret police in Finland) writing the stunning analysis of State and Revolution, one of the seminal works of Marxism dealing precisely with proletarian dictatorship and a “must-read” for all revolutionaries.

It could be argued that all kinds of further analysis is required about the particular role of the army in an exploited colonial country such as Egypt, where the army is a major source of education, and where junior officers have emerged as the leadership of revolution from within the ranks (Venezuela and Ethiopia are other examples) and especially in Egypt’s initial history of the bourgeois-national-liberation of the Nasserite period, overturning a then stooge monarchy and the remnants of British colonialism (on the run everywhere after its Second World War humiliations).

The revolt inspired two decades of pan-Arabic nationalism.

But for moment it only needs to be said that the defeats in two wars with Zionism, and the collapse of powerful post-war Soviet influence, caused by the retreats and mistakes of Stalinist revisionism, and finally the liquidation of Soviet power altogether, opened the Egyptian military state to Western bribery and corruption under the gangster Sadat and Mubarak.

It is entrenched.

The great practical lessons of the late imperialist period since 1945 of US Pentagon/CIA world domination and multiple coups and wars, are further evidence and none more than Chile in 1973 where reliance by the “democratically elected” socialists, under Salvador Allende, on the military to “restore order” after more than two years of deliberate disruption and well-documented CIA manipulated turmoil (dressed up as “trade union discontent” by the lorry drivers among others) led to the monstrous torture and coup of the period.

Just old hat events no longer relevant or all too theoretical??

That’s not what the more conservative finance wing of the US ruling class, who have much sounder class instincts then the Trotskyists, was saying. It shocked even some liberal bourgeois press commentators:

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an editorial entitled “After the Coup in Cairo”. Its final paragraph contained these words:

'Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, who took over power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy.'

Presumably, this means that those who speak for the Wall Street Journal – the editorial was unsigned – think Egypt should think itself lucky if its ruling generals now preside over a 17-year reign of terror. I also take it the WSJ means us to associate two governments removed by generals – the one led by Salvador Allende in Chile and the one led by Mohamed Morsi in Egypt. Islamist, socialist … elected, legitimate … who cares?

Presumably, the WSJ thinks the Egyptians now have 17 years in which to think themselves lucky when any who dissent are tortured with electricity, raped, thrown from planes or – if they’re really lucky – just shot. That’s what happened in Chile after 1973, causing the deaths of between 1,000 and 3,000 people. Around 30,000 were tortured.

Presumably, the WSJ hopes a general in the mold of Pinochet (or generals, as they didn’t break the mold when they made him) will preside over all this with the assistance of Britain and America. Perhaps he (or they) will return the favour by helping one of them win a small war.

Presumably, eventually, the Egyptian general or generals – and we should let them have a junta if they want one, so long as it isn’t like that beastly example in Argentina – will willingly relinquish power. After all, democracy cannot “midwife” itself. Presumably, the WSJ is sure a transition to elected government will follow, as it did in Chile. (Although, in 15 years’ time the Argentinian writer Ariel Dorfman’s words will, presumably, ring as true as they do now: “Saying Pinochet brought democracy to Chile is like saying Margaret Thatcher brought socialism to Britain.” More of her later.)

Such quibbles notwithstanding, I’m presuming the WSJ envisages that the Egyptian general or generals will then be allowed to retire, unmolested. Possibly to Wentworth, where the golf’s good. But if any molestation does occur, perhaps by some uppity human rights lawyer, they will receive further assistance from the governing classes of Britain and America. He or they will then retire and, unlike his or their victims, die a free man – or men – in bed.

And presumably, after another 20 or 30 years, when some other group of generals removes a democratic government upon which the Wall Street Journal is not keen, the people of the fortunate country in question will be told what is good for them in the same breathtakingly ugly way.

I am not an expert on Egypt, or Chile – most of my knowledge about General Pinochet comes from a book by a Guardian writer, Andy Beckett. But I know enough that when Margaret Thatcher died, reminders of her enduring support and praise for Pinochet left a nasty taste in the mouth. While people are dying in the streets of Cairo, to read an expression of the same sentiment from a respected, globally-read newspaper is repellent.

So just why does General Augusto Pinochet attract such nostalgic, unquestioning support from some on the free-market right? Do they simply overlook the accepted fact that thousands were tortured and killed under his rule?

Perhaps this might be a case of “Say what you like about Mussolini, but he made the trains run on time”? Bernie Ecclestone, the chap who runs Formula One motor-racing, tried it a couple of years ago – albeit he said it about Hitler (and Saddam Hussain), and we don’t stand for that. Even Britain’s Daily Mail was upset.

Presumably, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board believes that because Pinochet “hired free-market reformers”, he should be excused the excesses of a few death squads. That is, presumably, why they think a business-friendly cold killer in the Pinochet mold is who Egyptians need now to manage their “transition to democracy”.

There are plenty of clues too about the manipulation of events, just as in Chile, and especially around the ludicrous numbers cited as being “on the street”, as well as in the other “allies”:

The debate over the legitimacy of Egypt’s new, military-installed government has become a popularity battle, with some of the most vocal supporters of the coup claiming that the June 30 protests against President Mohammed Morsi represented the largest demonstrations in human history, a real-life Cecil B. De Mille production, with crowd sizes ranging anywhere between 14 to 33 million people - over one-third of the entire population of Egypt.

Substituting subjective head counts for vote totals, Morsi’s opponents have also pointed to the 22 million signatures supposedly gathered by the new-fangled Tamarod youth movement. To them, the tens of millions in the streets were a clear sign that “the people” had sided unequivocally with the army and its political allies.

The importance of head counts to the military-installed government’s international legitimacy was on display at a July 11 press conference at the US State Department. Pressed by Matt Lee of the Associated Press on whether the Obama administration considered Morsi’s ouster a coup, and if it would respond by canceling aid including a planned shipment of four F-16’s to Egypt, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki countered by citing Tamarod’s figures, declaring that the US could not reverse the will of the “22 million people who spoke out and had their voices heard.”

Days later, the Pentagon announced that the F-16 sale would proceed as planned. As far as the US was concerned, Egypt had not just witnessed a military coup. Instead, “the people” - or at least 22 million of them - had spoken.

With Egypt’s new army-backed regime relying on jaw dropping, record-shattering crowd estimates and petition drive figures to assert its democratic legitimacy, it is worth investigating the source of the numbers, and asking whether they add up at all.

Among the first major Egyptian public figures to marvel at the historic size of the June 30 demonstrations was the billionaire tycoon Naguib Sawiris. On June 30, Sawiris informed his nearly one million Twitter followers that the BBC had just reported, “The number of people protesting today is the largest number in a political event in the history of mankind.” Sawiris exhorted the protesters: “Keep impressing…Egypt.”

Sawiris was not exactly a disinterested party. He had boasted of his support for Tamarod, lavishing the group with funding and providing them with office space. He also happened to be a stalwart of the old regime who had thrown his full weight behind the secular opposition to Morsi.

But the shallow class bias of the Trots is not going to be put off by such observations and the correct points made about imperialism’s past historical contempt for abstract “democracy” when the results don’t suit it.

The SWP-linked Keith Flett, infamous for his letter column entries in the Trot-saturated Guardian, sums it up:

Simon Jenkins (Comment, 4 July) refers to those demonstrating in Egypt in recent days as a “mob” in a turn of phrase first popularised by Edmund Burke. I prefer the term used by the greatest historian of revolts, George Rudé, namely, the “crowd”. The crowd has achieved much in history, and the last few days in Cairo and elsewhere suggest that it is still doing so.

Dr Keith Flett

London Socialist Historians Group

Trotskyite rank-and-fileist “revolutionary” play-acting has always been easily (and mostly willingly) duped by such populist stunts which have been part of the stock in trade of the CIA since it was formed - (Philip Agee’s book Inside the Company spells out how in long-winded detail), seemingly oblivious to the obvious signals making the movements’ natures clear.

Or rather they are far from oblivious, picking up quickly when movements are directed against the workers state discipline that appals their petty bourgeois anti-communist instincts or even anything akin to it .

They piled in behind every counter-revolutionary stunt against the Soviet bloc of eastern European workers states from still fresh WW2 nazi remnant upheavals in East Germany in 1953; the Hungarian “uprising” of ex-fascist Horthyites, middle-class reactionaries, Catholic Church feudal clericism and imported German Nazis in 1956 (which “popularly” started by stringing communists from lampposts); the equally vicious Prague Spring of 1968 in Czechoslovakia under the petty bourgeois Václav Havel (later an obvious pro-western stooge president); and the Polish counter-revolution around the bogus Pilsudski-worshipping “union” of Solidarnosc, financed with $100 millions of CIA and Vatican money via the Bank Ambrosiana, and now a mainstay of one of the most reactionary fascist tilting states in East Europe.

In recent times they have helped imperialism’s demented war drive against firstly the Yugoslavian workers state, bolstering the West’s warmongering with abstract and academic “principles of self-determination” bolstering the mafia-gangsterism of the Albanian Kosovans.

An even more definitive capitulation came in 2001 after the New York World Trade Centre guerrilla war attack by Third World revolt, which they roundly “condemned” (along with all the fake-“left”) as nothing but “criminal terrorism” and “beyond the pale”, lining themselves up with the imperialist “war on terror” forever after, and neutering and undermining the anyway token and pointless social-pacifist “No to War” protests they made.

Support for the degenerate nazi-NATO blitzkrieg on Libya’s anti-imperialist Gaddafism (topped with one of the foulest war crime assassinations in history when Gaddafi was killed by buggery with an iron bar (to the TV amusement of Hilary Clinton) has followed.

Even more they have cheered on the even more monstrous sectarian sabotage and destructive civil war terror imposed on Syria using deliberately stirred up sectarian divisions, pushed and prodded by all kinds of external interventions, undoubtedly by bordering Zionism (still occupying part of Syria and repeatedly running bombing raids against it), by Washington and British special forces and “training”, and by heavy funding from the primitive tribal-feudalism of the Gulf states (also busy “shooting-down-their-own-people”).

This Trotskyist poison has its roots in the long decades of hostility to the workers states, where valid enough criticism of revisionist errors and mistakes was saturated with petty bourgeois conceit and subjectivism, beginning with Trotsky’s original Soviet “Opposition” becoming complete hostility to the dictatorship of the proletariat itself, throwing the healthy baby of the brilliant socialist workers state achievements out with the muddy bathwater of Stalinist philosophical retreat.

The sly nonsense of alleged “political revolution” (a meaningless concept) which was used to cover over this destructive anti-Sovietism and support eg the various actually COUNTER-revolutions listed above which finally helped topple the revisionist-led “communism” into the degenerate restored capitalism and festering backwardness of the former east European workers states, with workers rights and conditions torn up and racist (anti-Gypsy eg) , SS-celebrating reaction swirling around.

The “political revolution” is now transformed into the “anti-totalitarianism” shallowness carefully fostered by capitalist “democracy” propaganda against all anti-imperialism and Third World revolt, ignoring all class analysis and jumping on any street movement with a pretend “freedom” banner no matter how reactionary its content.

It is mixed in with the universal fake-“left “condemnation of terrorism” which capitulated to capitalist hysteria after 9/11 and feeds and justifies the pretence of “war on terror”, painting all resistance to capitalist tyranny as evil incarnate threatening to “destroy all out lives” and which therefore “must be smashed and destroyed” even it involves blitzing entire countries and their populations.

But as the EPSR said then (1105 25-09-01):

‘terrorism’ is not some primitive disease or condition from which only unpleasant or backward people suffer; as much barmy moralising bourgeois propaganda tries to describe it. ‘Terror’ is simply a pejorative description by establishment garbage-speak for any resistance to overwhelming repression or domination. Necessarily, this is often likely to be of an arbitrary, individual, desperate, suicidal nature because of the extremely difficult or demoralising conditions for any fighting back spirit.

Under colonial tyranny or fascist occupation, such battling heroism is known as guerrilla-war or the resistance struggle.

Other “lefts” have avoided being caught out with this Trot level of stupidity but end up essentially spreading the same poisonous message.

The once-revisionist and now crypto-Trotskyist Weekly Worker CPGB covers itself by declaring that “no one should have illusions in the army” but then immediately declaring that “celebrations at the fall of Morsi are understandable”.

“Two reactionary forces” its duplicitous and cowardly headline runs.

This intellectual fence sitting is pure cowardice, desperately trying to avoid the now clear consequences of the coup and its Western support.

It is a dissembling lie anyway since the CPGB’s real agenda is the undiluted bile that this group pours out week after week against “political Islam” most notably through its organisation the “Hands of the People of Iran”, HOPI front.

It is pure capitulation to the West’s “crusading” anti-Islam anti-terror propaganda.

For all its pretences the message is still that, allegedly,

“this is the first mass movement of the Arab working class against political Islam and it should be welcomed.

But there is no such evidence of a “workers movement” and even if there were the question would still remain of what its politics and leadership were.

The real content of the CPGBers’ analysis is to pour out hatred onto the Muslim Brotherhood, mixed in with a few caveats about the military, whose intervention is ludicrously declared to be aimed as “halting the (nonexistent) workers movement”.

Talk about convoluted!!

Try explaining to the slaughtered Muslim Brotherhood’s obvious mass support that the military was really intervening on their behalf.

The Weekly Worker-ites are left with the problem that mass support is actually going to the MB, since clearly large numbers of the poor and dispossessed did support it, not least as the election vote partially demonstrated and the dogged and heroic demonstrations now show.

But that is because they have been fooled says the WW.

The MB took advantage of a vacuum in political leadership in Egypt, it says, slipping in a reactionary program to “introduce sharia law into every aspect of society” which it alleges then lost the MB its “mass base”.

Now this needs unpacking carefully.

Religious nuttery is no solution for the world’s masses in any way whatsoever, and there is no question of any revolutionary Marxist-Leninist perspective ever saying anything else, let alone declaring any kind of support as such for the Muslim Brotherhood or any other of the variants which currently have the leadership of various anti-imperialist countries or movements (Iran, Hezbollah, Boco Haram , the Malian struggle against French imperialism for example).

The particular variant in Egypt, compromising with the past Egyptian state and loaded with its own illusions in the possibilities of a “democratic way forwards” is even less directly to be supported (though some of was certainly down to purely tactical considerations, reflecting the practical possibilities while the dangerous old Mubarak state still exists).

But the world does not start with the religious or other ideas in men’s heads, Marx long ago made clear, for example at the start of The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napolean:

Men make their own history but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just when they seem engaged in revolutionising themselves and things, in creating something that has never yet existed, precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them their names, battle cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time honoured disguise”.

What this means is that the real material content of movements needs to be examined, not the expressed ideology “borrowed from the past”, in this case the “battle cries”, puritanical discipline and martyrdom self-sacrifice of 8th century Mohamedism, used now for the bitter and costly fight to get out from under the heel of imperialist exploitation.

Of course the modern age is now one of conscious revolutionism and the “old clothes” ideologies are insufficient to achieve the overturn of capitalism and the building of socialism required; Muslim ideology in its abstract form belongs to a past age and applied as such to the modern world would be completely reactionary, as it is in the weird tribal monarchies of the Gulf, preserved in aspic because it suits imperialism’s oil and other exploitation interests to prevent all social progress there.

But the protection from the real conditions the modern world they receive from powerful imperialist class forces makes the point that it is those material conditions which matter, not the ideology.

In other places the ideology at least channels some of the growing anti-imperialist hatred and hostility of the exploited Third World.

No support needs be expressed for it, but a recognition of the real enemy, which is imperialist capitalism and capitalism alone, is vital.

The Leninist position has always been for the defeat of this enemy no matter who by (including those in the borrowed clothes of the past if that is how history is panning out).

Declaring there to be a “second” reactionary force in the world as the Weekly Worker does (and one described as even worse than imperialism and therefore “deserving” to be attacked NOW) is aiding and abetting capitalist reaction.

The EPSR has previously made the point after the 9/11 events (op cit – 1105):

Ignorant fake-’left’ posturing has alone joined belligerent imperialist disinformation to try to brand this ‘fundamentalist’ anti-imperialist struggle as ‘fascist’. The strong element of religious-nationalist reaction in this fight against Western domination obviously cannot be seen as part of civilisation’s future which has to be communist-materialist; but neither is it ruled out as a legitimate part (because it is actually happening, here and now) of cultural-national resistance to monopoly-imperialist exploitation.

The Weekly Worker further tries to rubbish the MB by implying it has dishonestly, knowingly, and slyly, “taken advantage" of a political “vacuum” in Egypt.

But if there is a vacuum whose fault is that??

A vacuum in Marxism exists for the world anti-imperialist movement (in the main) because of decades of posturing and anti-science fake-“left”-ism.

The complete bankruptcy of Stalinist revisionism, (which spawned this CPGB in the first place from the misleadingly named “Leninist” faction in the old British Communist Party), has left the world’s masses floundering.

Trotskyist petty bourgeois anti-communist “opposition” has only made things worse.

Truly revolutionary perspectives were abandoned decades ago (despite many continuing examples of practical socialist construction continuing concretely, in heroic Cuba especially, North Korea, Vietnam and overall in the Chinese revisionist state despite revisionist leadership faults) and need rebuilding.

The early mistakes and errors by Stalin and the Soviet leadership under the exceptional difficulties of building socialism in a backward economy constantly under Western imperialist attack and subversion, culminated in the completely wrong perspectives of the 1952 Stalin Economic problems of socialism.

As the EPSR has analysed in detail in multiple past analysis (eg Perspectives 2001, issues 1190-96 and many more), these turned the world communist movement towards social-pacifism and the “democratic path” and essentially abandoned the grasp of the inevitable catastrophe of capitalist collapse and world war, solvable only by revolutionary overturn.

So the desperate masses remain in the “borrowed clothes” of the past, which in many Third World cultures, is Muslimism, in its militant forms anyway.

Of course the story is even more complex.

Capitalism has taken advantage of the religious confusions too, most notably in overturning the attempted socialist revolution in Afghanistan and inflicting a defeat on its Soviet support (which Moscow revisionist leadership gave no clear revolutionary perspective to) and in making sure religious mumbo-jumbo filled the gap after the eruption of the Iranian masses against the CIA installed Shah and his torturing Savak secret police, in 1979.

An Ayatollahocracy was better than the potential for revolutionary development in the spontaneous three month long rebellion, and afterwards, was the imperialist thinking, which deliberately aided the flying-in of the Ayatollah Khomeini at the time.

But these are volatile and changeable mass forces.

Iran’s mullahs headed off possible communist development but were never as satisfactory as direct imperialist control, as three decades of thorn-in-the-side mixed posturing and some genuine “anti-great Satan” anti-imperialism has proved to be.

Imperialist manipulation of al-Qaeda has been even more double edged once the same forces which were armed by the CIA and Pakistan, turned under the pressure of material crisis development and bit the very hand that had been feeding them, in 9/11 and afterwards.

The same uncertainty holds in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood has also allowed itself to be manipulated by imperialism, not least in aiding the pretence that “democracy” would change things, capitalism’s greatest trick for heading the working class away from the revolutionary path, into the reformist cul de sac which can be manipulated and controlled by the ruling class while bourgeois dictatorship it hides makes all the real decisions.

It is even the case that Morsi was the carefully selected “safe” option left after the 2012 presidential election shortlist was whittled down with a wide range of judicial and constitutional objections made to various other candidates including more radical MB possibilities.

The old US stooge military establishment still hoped to smuggle in its own candidate.

But in case failed, as it did, the naïvety and confusion of the Muslim Brotherhood and its participation in the “new democracy” was aimed to head off any more direct revolutionary action and take the steam out of the movement.

It was enough for the “international community” (Washington dominated imperialism) to give its blessing to the presidential election last year, hoping it would be enough to hold back the revolution,

A “bonus” was that the sectarian religious traditions of the Brotherhood have helped feed the confusion and intimidation in the rest of the region.

As part of containing the Arab Spring, imperialism has stirred-up pseudo-revolts particularly in Libya and Syria, to muddy the waters, fragment Arab nationalist and wider anti-Zionist unity, and intimidate the Egyptian revolution.

Attacks on Libya, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq and more have been long prepared anyway as part of the neocon, New American Century plans to bully the world into continuing submission to US Empire rule, even as it hits utter bankruptcy from the crisis collapse of its system.

Emergency and premature activation of these plans in response to the sudden totally unexpected Tunisian and Cairo revolts in 2011 was aided by sectarian hatreds against Gaddafi and Assad, which tragically the Muslim Brotherhood supported and supports now in Syria.

The confusion and backwardness of this position is no better summed up than in the sight of Hamas and its parent Muslim Brotherhood in open conflict with the heroic Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, who forced out the Zionist army in 2006 in one of the most shattering defeats for the “unbeatable” occupiers.

But even with all this, huge uncertainty has prevailed in imperialist/Zionist circles about the future strategy with a clear split over continuing support for Morsi versus re-asserting the military dictatorship.

Imperialism stands to lose either way.

Tearing up the newly established “elections” teaches huge lessons to the Egyptian masses, the Middle East and all workers everywhere about the hypocrisy and fraud of bourgeois democracy and will recruit thousands into the militant sections of anti-imperialist resistance.

Where do the tens of millions of Muslim Brotherhood supporters go now with all “legal” avenues closed off?

Tearing up this façade is not done lightly; the “democracy” racket is still the greatest weapon of bourgeois rule yet devised, covering over the rule of big capital interests with the pretence of “freedom” and the “right to have a say”, threadbare and discredited though it is increasingly as the working class accumulates decades and decades of experience in its corruption, manipulation and trickery ,

It is still the lying justification for blitzkrieg invasions and “interventions” to dismantle governments and regimes in the name of “the rule of law and freedom”.

But sticking with the Brotherhood is equally fraught for Western interests.

Despite all its compromises and even the collusion with imperialism which the fake-“left” and liberal commentators point to, the Brotherhood has also made various moves which have unnerved imperialism.

These include attempts to remake the constitution in Egypt, and to give the presidency greater powers, curtailing the courts, the old bureaucracy and the military authority.

In other words the MB has been attempting at least a partial dismantling and restriction of the Egyptian imperialist dominated state structure.

Equally unnerving for Washington, was Morsi’s recent attempted appointment of a leader from the militant wing of the Brotherhood as provincial leader in Luxor, a sign that the apparently “softly softly” strategy of following a “democratic path” advocated by the Morsi-ites, was under pressure from more militant elements.

The vacillation of Washington in the initial stages of the coup, with the American ambassador still supporting the Morsi side, was not a “confirmation that the Muslim Brotherhood was nothing but a tool of imperialism” as the more exaggerated conspiracy theorists want to say (thereby lining themselves up with the other fake-“lefts” effectively) but a sign of its paralysis in the face of the crisis eruptions.

Far from having everything under control with a “pre-prepared” stooge regime allegedly trained by and compliant to the CIA interests, as these shallow conspiracy theorists assert, the Egyptian events underline the fragmentation and weakness of imperialism.

The hard liners in the US ruling class, almost certainly pushed by the fascist minded Zionist lobby, which prefers the “smiting and punishment” path, and fears the boost to Hamas militancy in Palestine that has opened up, have prevailed for the moment.

But it comes at a huge price in shattered “democracy” illusions, further educating the world in the need for revolution.

The exposure of the fake- “left” betrayals will part of that cost.

That requires far more than confused sectarian fundamentalism - it needs the building of conscious Leninist science.

Don Hoskins


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World Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles)


Center for Cellular Engineering, Organ and Tissue Transplants inaugurated in Cuba

A Center for Cellular Engineering, Organ and Tissue Transplants (cicel), which will contribute to the improvement of the country’s national organ transplant program, was opened January 15 in Havana.

Dr. Alexander Mármol, head of the Transplant Department within the Ministry of Public Hearth (minsap), announced that the center will function as part of the Institute of Hematology and Immunology (ihh) and conduct compatibility studies for all human transplants, predominately of bone marrow and kidneys.

Equipped with the latest technology and highly trained personnel, the Center’s laboratories have begun their work using molecular biological techniques which allow for the determination of compatibility between the tissues of transplant recipients and potential donors. (They can) conduct up to 60 tests a week, cicel’s genetic studies should contribute to lowering the number of transplant rejections and infections, as well as improving the survival rate and quality of life of patients, Dr. Mármol said.

..the lab will also conduct genetic studies to identify serious blood pathologies such as lymphoma, leukemia or immunodeficiency, to clarify diagnoses and treatment.

In addition to its medical contribution, the Center will allow for significant savings, since such tests need not be conducted abroad at a higher cost, he commented.

First tests were conducted with dialysis ‘patients waiting for kidney transplants.

The National Nephrology Institute is responsible for delivering blood samples to the national laboratory, which began its first ’typings’ - as professionals describe the process - in Havana and will extend the service throughout the rest of the country, to ensure that all those waiting for kidney transplants have a compatibility profile.

Dr. Mármol reported that currently there are 2,845 dialysis patients in the country and that, among these, some 1,200 are good candidates for a transplant and will be offered compatibility tests.

Ongoing dialysis is much more expensive than a transplant, according to studies undertaken

in Cuba, where the cost of this procedure averages approximately $20,000 a year, per patient.

The doctor therefore emphasized that a transplant is the best approach, since patients recover quickly and do not continue to depend on a machine, visiting dialysis centers every other day.

Studies in more developed countries indicate that it is four times more economical to provide a kidney transplant than to maintain a patient on dialysis, according to Dr. Mármol.


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World Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles)


CIA torture plane was in Shannon Airport 6 days before abduction of German citizen

by Mark Moloney

The CIA plane used to transport a German citizen to a notorious US-run torture centre in Afghanistan known as “The Salt Pit” was in Shannon Airport just six days before it was used in the abduction of Khaled El-Masri from Macedonia.

Irish-based peace group Shannonwatch, which monitors military use of Shannon Airport, says that a European Court of Human Rights ruling last month is one of the “clearest documented cases to date” that Ireland’s Shannon Airport is being used by the US for torture and rendition flights.

The group also backed a call by Amnesty International Ireland for an independent investigation, adding that it will do everything in its power to make the investigation a reality.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in December that Macedonia was responsible for the unlawful detention, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment of German national Khaled El-Masri.

Amnesty says that the decision also shows that the Irish Government facilitated the US “to abduct, transfer, ‘disappear’ and torture people in the course of rendition operations”.

The court ruled that Macedonia “had been responsible for [El-Masri’s] torture and ill-treatment both in the country itself and after his transfer to the US authorities in the context of an extra-judicial rendition”.

El-Masri was detained by Macedonian border guards while returning from a vacation on 31 December 2003 because his name was similar to that of an al-Qaeda suspect. Three weeks later he was handed over to a cia ‘snatch squad’ and flown to Kabul.

It has since emerged that the plane (registration n313p) used to abduct El-Masri and fly him to the Afghan torture chamber on 23 January 2004 had arrived at Shannon Airport six days earlier.

El-Masri was held at the Afghan facility for four months where he was repeatedly tortured and beaten before embarking on a hunger strike, demanding due process. He was eventually released from the facility and dumped on a road in rural Albania on 28 May 2004. Macedonia was ordered to pay €60,000 in compensation.

Colm O’Gorman Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said:

“The Irish Government knew that the cia used Shannon Airport as part of their renditions operations. The plane used by the cia to take Mr El-Masri out of Macedonia, to be tortured in a US-run prison in Kabul, came via Shannon. Amnesty International Ireland is calling again for a full, independent investigation into the use of Shannon Airport to support cia rendition operations.”

Despite election pledges by the Labour Party (and particularly by leader Eamon Gilmore) to end the use of Shannon by the US military, thousands of US troops pass through the Irish airport on their way to wars in Iraq and Aghanistan every year.

Earlier last year, information obtained by Sinn Féin through a parliamentary question showed that, in a period of just four months, the Labour and Fine Gael Government allowed 306 US aircraft carrying weapons, explosives or munitions to the Middle East to pass through Ireland.


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World Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles)


Goebbels lies over Syria’s phantom chemical weapons

IT was enough for a high-ranking Israeli intelligence official to allege on April 21 that the Syrian government was deploying chemical weapons against so-called insurgents, for the infamous phantom to reemerge as the pretext for a possible military invention in that country.

Accusations immediately rained down on Damascus from Western capitals and even U.S. President Barack Obama pointed the accusing finger, threatening to change the rules of the game if the use of these weapons were to be confirmed.

But, why and to what end is this issue being whipped up after the disastrous experience of Iraq 10 years ago, when the George W. Bush administration assured that Saddam Hussein’s possessed weapons of mass destruction, an assertion that proved to be false, but left Iraq destroyed after the aggression of U.S. and nato troops.

In recent weeks, the Syrian Arab Army has made significant advances throughout national territory against the mercenary groupsHundreds of armed infiltrators are tearing Syria apart funded by the West sponsored by regional and Western governments.

In parallel, authorities are advancing in terms of implementing the political program, a document proposing a route map to make concrete an end to the conflict through dialogue with all the political and social organizations involved, as well as with belligerent groups who lay down their arms.

In the international sphere, there is an ever-growing consensus on the need for a negotiated epilogue to a war which, after two years, has left hundreds of thousands of dead and injured.

Moreover, the recent confirmation of the presence of the Al Qaeda terrorist network within groups fighting to defeat the executive and install an Islamic caliphate, is increasing fears of the advance and possible entrenchment of naked extremism, which could soon be knocking at the doors of Europe and the United States.

However, many analysts note that governments such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey who have banked everything on eliminating the thorn of Syria, one of the few secular states in the region, a defender of the Palestinian cause and strongly critical of Israeli expansionism, are persisting in arming opponents in order to foment chaos in this Levantine nation.

Damascus believes that the campaign around the possible use of chemical weapons seeks to increase pressure in the political, diplomatic and media spheres, given the impossibility of attaining the desired regime change, faking over its territory of geostrategic importance, and controlling its vast reserves of natural gas.

Syria has denied on reiterated occasions having access to such weapons and, on the contrary, is accusing mercenary groups of using them, as was the case on March 19 in the Khan al-Asai locality in the northern province of Aleppo, when a missile loaded with a toxic substance killed 25 people and wounded approximately 110.

While Syrian authorities immediately asked the United Nations to send in a team to investigate this incident, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded an extension of the investigation throughout national territory, an option rejected by Damascus, which considered it a manipulation of the issue and an assault on national sovereignty.

Given the lack of evidence to impute the Syrian government, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demanded an objective and impartial investigation into any event related to the alleged use of chemical weapons and called for a de-politicization of the issue.

However, the trumpets of war would seem to be poised to herald an invasion, bearing in mind that the Pentagon has dispatched 200 soldiers from the 1st Armored Tank Division, Fort Bliss, Texas, to the vicinity of the Jordan border with Syria.

The objective would be to plan possible military operations, including a rapid accumulation of U.S. forces, which could reach 20,000 troops if the White House decides an invasion is necessary, as the Los Angeles Times noted, citing senior U.S. officials.

Nevertheless, a recent survey by The New York Times and the CBS network revealed that 62% of Americans are opposed to military intervention in Syria, while General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged that such a decision would be counterproductive in terms of ending the violence and achieving reconciliation in Syria. (Orbe weekly)


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World Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles)

Morocco’s treacherous reneging on Polisario election underlines the dangers of revisionist illusions in “democracy”

Malainine Etkana, ambassador of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, talks with Granma about the situation of the people in the last African colony

A total of 38 years have gone by since Morocco occupied Western Sahara, depriving the Sahrawi people of their right to self-determination and independence.

After decades of armed confrontation against the invading forces, the Polisario Front declared a ceasefire in 1991, on the understanding that a UN-supervised referendum would take place. However, this desired referendum is still being delayed, in virtue of the interests of the Moroccan monarchy.

Granma discussed this issue with Malainine Etkana, ambassador of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (sadr) in Cuba

“After the plan was signed the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (minuso), but regrettably, despite many rounds of negotiations, we are still waiting for the referendum, given that Morocco keeps placing obstacles in the way and failing to meet its international commitments.

“The referendum proposes the option of becoming part of Morocco or attaining total independence, and we are sure that the majority of Sahrawi people are going to vote for the latter.”

Etkana noted that, meanwhile, “Morocco continues taking advantage of our natural resources. The Sahara has one of the largest reserves of phosphate in the world and is a highly favored fishing area.”

“The Polisario Front has returned Moroccans taken prisoner during the years of the armed struggle, but Morocco, has not liberated any of our combatants.

Polisario leader Malainine Elkana“Since 2005, when our population in the occupied territories began to demonstrate through what we call the Intifada (peaceful protest), there has been much repression on the part of Moroccan authorities. The human rights of Sahrawi civilians are being violated, to the point of subjecting them to military trials, and minuso cannot do anything about this because Morocco will not allow it.”

“Is that the reason why there has been talk of returning to the armed struggle?”

“While we are prepared to continue negotiating with UN mediation, Sahrawans do not discount the possibility of returning to arms so that the Sahara is liberated once and for all. We cannot endure the intransigence of Morocco and the country’s rejection of international law for ever.”

This 2013 sees the 40th anniversary of the Polisario Front (an acronym for the Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y Río de Oro), the only legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people.

“The Polisario Front was founded on May 10, 1973, to fight against Spanish colonialism. In 1975, Spain withdrew from Sahrawi territory in a shameful way, by signing a tripartite agreement with Morocco and Mauritania (which latter withdrew in 1979), and since then, our people have faced torture, displacement, arbitrary imprisonment and other forms of repression.

“However, we are proud of these 40 years of struggle and resistance. Morocco invaded the Sahara with the spirit of eliminating the Sahrawans, but they have been unable to do so. Our people are now more united than ever. In 1976, the Polisario Front founded the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, currently recognized by more than 80 nations in the world.

“The most significant diplomatic successes of our people have been the entry of sadr into the Organization of African Unity in 1984 and its participation in founding the African Union in 2002.”

“How does the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic define itself?”

“We are a national liberation front, with a revolutionary ideology which guarantees the civil rights, freedom and dignity of our people. We have learnt a lot from pro-independence revolutions in world; for example, those of Cuba, Algeria and many countries in Southern Africa. We want a Sahara free of Moroccan oppression.

“A large part of our population is living in refugee camps in Algeria where, despite the vicissitudes, we have harvested some achievements in the areas of education and health.”

“How have relations with’ Cuba developed?”

“Cuba has always accompanied the Sahrawi cause and has extended the hand of friendship. Many of our professionals have graduated from universities here, and a Cuban medical brigade is working in the refugee camps in Tinduf.

“I will paraphrase the words of Mohammed Abdelaziz, general secretary of the Polisario Front and President of the sadr, during celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the oau, when he said that Cuba has done a lot for Africa and for that reason we have to support her in the struggle against the U.S. blockade. We also congratulate René González on his return to the homeland and hope that his four anti-terrorist brothers will soon join him.

“The Sahrawi people have much faith in the future, our people are united around their national project and their legitimate representative, the Polisario Front.” •


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World Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles)


Palomares bombs: Spain waits for U.S. to finish nuclear clean-up

Gerry Hadden

On a sunny morning in 1966 two US Air Force planes collided and dropped four nuclear bombs near the village of Palomares in southern Spain. There was no nuclear blast, but plutonium was scattered over a wide area - and Spain is now asking the US to finish the clean-up.

The US government calls nukes that go astray “Broken Arrows” and on 17 January 1966, Palomares got four.

Overhead, at 31,000ft, an American B-52G bomber collided with a KC-135 tanker plane during routine air-to-air refueling and broke apart. Three of the bomber’s H-bombs landed in or around Palomares, the fourth landed about five miles offshore in the Mediterranean.

Manolo Gonzalez says he was standing outside when he heard a tremendous explosion.

“I looked up and saw this huge ball of fire, falling through the sky,” he says. “The two planes were breaking into pieces.”

Gonzalez saw one half of the flaming bomber crash to the ground near the local elementary school - where his wife was teaching.

“I went flying across town on my scooter,” he says. “The plane had just barely missed the school itself.”

In fact, no-one on the ground was killed that morning. Local people call it the only positive part of this story.

The American airmen weren’t so lucky. All four men on the refueling plane died and three of the seven men on the B-52 were killed (the four others managed to eject safely).


There was only one telephone in Palomares in 1966, and no running water. But the skies over that poor region of southern Spain were being criss-crossed daily by the world’s most modern war machines.

It was the height of the Cold War. In an operation code-named Chrome Dome, the US had between 12 and 24 nuclear-armed B-52 bombers in the air 24 hours a day, in an attempt to deter a Soviet first-strike.

There were different flight paths for the B-52s in different parts of the world. The B-52 involved in the Palomares accident was flying the southern route, in a loop from its base in North Carolina around the Mediterranean. The tanker aircraft had taken off from a nearby base in southern Spain to refuel it before the return journey to the US.

The outcome would have been immeasurably worse if the bombs had been armed. Fortunately they weren’t, so there was no nuclear explosion.

In theory, parachutes attached to the bombs should have borne them gently down to earth, preventing any contamination - but two of the parachutes failed to open.

Within days of the crash, the beach in Palomares became a base for a big military operation involving some 700 American airmen and scientists.

Their goal - to find the nukes, and secure them.

The two that fell to earth unsupported by parachutes blew apart on impact, scattering highly toxic, radioactive plutonium dust - a major hazard to anyone who might inhale it.

“What they decided to do was remove the contaminated dirt from the most contaminated areas,” says science writer Barbara Moran, author of The Day We Lost the H-Bomb.

They literally scraped up the first three inches of topsoil, sealed it in barrels, and shipped it to a storage facility back in the US.

“They did have a plan in place,” Moran says. “But it was supposed to happen on a nice flat piece of ground in the US, not on foreign soil where nobody spoke English and there were all these farmers and goats walking around.”

In December 1965, a month before the accident, the James Bond film Thunderball was released.

“The film’s plot had strong similarities to what subsequently happened in real life”, says author Barbara Moran.

“Bond’s mission was to find atomic bombs that had been lost at sea. All the news stories at the time were making the connection.

“In the movie, they had all this really awesome underwater technology that got the bomb. But in real life, it was much harder to first locate, and then recover the bomb from the sea bed.”

As the clean-up got under way, the US and Spanish governments set out to convince the world there was no danger. US Ambassador Biddle Duke even came down from Madrid for a swim, in front of TV cameras.

When asked by a reporter on the scene if he’d detected any radioactivity in the water, Duke replied with a laugh: “If this is radioactivity, I love it!”

But there was huge consternation about the fourth, which drifted out to sea as it descended, and became known as the “lost” H-bomb.

“The design of these bombs was top secret,” says Barbara Moran. “When they were searching, there were Soviet spy ships circling around - and the Soviets had submersible technology.”

Four months later, as the land cleanup was winding down, the missing bomb was finally hoisted on board a US warship from a depth of 2,850ft (869m).


So almost everyone has forgotten about Palomares. Except the people of Palomares.

That’s because the US clean-up missed some areas of contamination. José Maria Herrera is a local journalist who’s been investigating the accident since the 1980s. He stood recently on a ridge overlooking one of three fenced-off areas which is still contaminated, totaling some 100 acres (40 hectares).

“That crater there is where one of the bombs fell,” he says. “You could extract at least half a pound of plutonium from the soil there today.”

Actually, just how much plutonium is still out there is hard to determine, because the US has never said how much the bombs were carrying to begin with. But Spanish investigator Carlos Sancho estimates that between 15 and 25 pounds (7 and 11kg) of the material ended up in the soil. Sancho, who runs the Palomares section of the Spanish Department of Energy, insists it does not pose health risks.

“The earth there can’t be moved because the plutonium is latent in the soil,” he says. “If we disturb the soil the plutonium could be dispersed.”

So Palomares is like a sleeping dragon. You can’t walk in the fenced-off area, and you can’t farm it or build on it.

Some here say that without the negative publicity, Palomares could be every bit as popular as its more famous neighbor, Marbella.

So the community finds itself trapped. When residents complain, the accident makes headlines again and there’s a drop in the number of visitors, and a drop in the prices farmers get at market for their produce.

Palomares Deputy Mayor Juan José Perez says he hopes he can turn the tragedy into something positive. He’d like to build a museum explaining how it all happened.

“Maybe even in the shape of a B-52 bomber,” he says. “We could offer guided walking tours through’ the affected areas.”

But he says for any of that to happen, this story first needs an ending.

For him, a fitting end would be for the US to come back and finish the job.

(Excerpts from Public Radio International program The World)


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