No 1432 30th August 2013
Monopoly imperialism’s vacillating “monkeys with grenades” are desperate to step up the warmongering all the way to World War Three despite two decades of significant defeats and setbacks. There is no other possible response to its insoluble ‘over-production’ crisis but inter-imperialist war to destroy the ‘surplus’ capital clogging up the system and push all rivals into the dirt. Insane demands for the blitzing of Syria on the flimsiest of “evidence” are aimed at stampeding the world into far greater levels of war destructiveness than so far experienced. This drive to world war will be relentless, despite the many paralysing defeats and setbacks experienced by imperialism so far. The ruling class knows capitalism is bust and is prepared to use the most destructive weapons ever developed to create the conditions for the next inflationary boom. There is no “stopping war” except by socialist revolution. Egypt’s bloody coup is tearing up all residual illusions in bourgeois “democracy”. Slump in the Third World’s “growth” economies will shatter all notions that capitalism has anything progressive to offer the world. Global revolutionary turmoil will reignite memories of past struggles as revolutionary communism returns with a vengeance.
Imperialism’s drive to total war is rapidly stepping up a pace with the monstrous anti-Syrian Ghouta “chemical gas massacre” allegations now used to intensify the warmongering atmosphere and set the scene for the next round of blitzkrieging slaughter.
Not a shred of evidence has so far been produced to back up any of the claims of “cold blooded slaughter”, and all bourgeois media reporting of the alleged “massacre” has been cautious in the extreme.
The usual qualifying and conditional language of the “...if confirmed would be the worst attack of the kind since...” is used, with the usual opt-out caveats stating that images showing children “apparently” hurt in the attack “cannot be authenticated”.
The most lurid allegations are expressed in quotation marks from shadowy “activist” sources so that the news agencies can distance themselves from any statements proved to be false.
This stands in stark contrast to the media reporting of the bloody slaughter of hundreds of Moslem Brotherhood supporters by the fascist Egyptian military and police, reported as fact and without the the need to quote mysterious CIA-fed “sources on the ground”.
Conveniently, the “gas massacre” allegations emerged just as the fascist nature of the Egyptian military’s usurpation of power had become clear for all to see, with over 1,000 anti-coup protesters butchered already, including the 36 Morsi supporters held for hours in an overcrowded and poorly ventilated police transport vehicle in the oppressive Egyptian heat, and gassed to death with a tear gas canister thrown into the vehicle after they protested against the inhumane conditions.
The allegations also buried the news of the gangster pro-imperialist stooge par excellence Hosni Mubarak’s symbolic removal from prison to “house arrest” (just as the deposed anti-communist Indonesian stooge mass killer Suharto was free to live out the rest of his life and avoid prosecution for “health reasons”); further evidence, if more evidence is required, that the coup was a murderous counter-revolutionary takeover in the Pinochet mould, and not, as the much of the fake-'left' complacently and dismissively assert, a “fall-out between two reactionary forces of no consequence to the working class”.
As the EPSR has consistently argued, the savage destruction of Syrian infrastructure and society (and Libya before it) was a deliberately stirred up counter-revolution from the beginning. It was designed to confuse, intimidate, sabotage and destroy the genuine world-shattering revolutionary upheavals that exploded across the Middle East in 2011, starting with Tunisia and Egypt but rapidly inflaming long simmering discontent and hostility throughout the region, including the Gulf states; and still raging today, as seen by ongoing Bahraini unrest and the sudden US imperialist embassy withdrawal from Yemen in the face of raging anti-imperialist revolt undeterred by Obama’s drone death-squad savagery.
The “Arab Spring” uprisings were of monumental historical significance. They amounted to a qualitative leap in world revolt, pushed to the surface by capitalism’s insoluble crisis and the cumulative build up of Third World rebellion, suicide bombings, “terrorism” and insurgency, especially since 9/11 and the subsequent Nazi-NATO destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Western imperialist economic system is falling apart as the ever-deepening contradictions at its heart drive it irretrievably towards total crisis and slump catastrophe. As capitalism’s crisis uncontrollably deepens, ever more demented warmongering diversions are stoked up to mask over its eventual collapse and provide an excuse for the slump’s inevitable devastating and destructive consequences.
Inter-imperialist tensions are escalating and even a seemingly parochial historical dispute between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar could rapidly escalate into a major conflagration at a particular stage, and under particular conditions as capitalism’s crisis deepens.
US imperialism has the most to lose in any inter-imperialist world war and the fear of greater defeats has left it in a state of total paralysis, which is why it is vacillating over whether or not to bomb Syria now. However, it wants and needs war to destroy the “excess” capital clogging up the capitalist system and to force the burdens of the crisis onto its rivals, and so is compelled to constantly ratchet up the war tensions.
Imperialism has suffered defeat after humiliating defeat ever since it embarked on its war drive by attacking and breaking up Yugoslavia in the 1990’s. Suharto’s downfall, Somalia’s “Black Hawk Down” calamity and later Islamic Courts rebellion, 9/11, Iraq quagmire, the Afghan Taleban uprising, Britain’s snail-paced withdrawal from the North of Ireland, Nepalese Maoist “People’s War” victory, Zimbabwe’s dogged struggle for land reform, Latin America’s “Bolivarian revolution” left-reformist intransigence, Hizbullah’s heroic victory over Zionism and the Palestinian’s nonstop struggle for survival against genocidal Nazi aggression, Islamic nationalist resistance across the Middle East and north Africa, and many many more, are all major defeats for imperialism.
Even Snowden’s NSA and GCHQ spying leaks and the Wikileaks revelations are defeats, as the crisis implications horrify its own “agents” and cause splits and divisions within its ranks.
The continued existence of the workers’ states of Cuba, China, North Korea, Vietnam etc are colossal defeats for imperialism’s non-stop anti-communist provocations, with their relative development and growth becoming daily more appealing to the rest of the Third World as they suffer ever greater levels of impoverishment and super-exploitation.
Socialist revolution will eventually emerge from this raging ferment victorious as the only possible means of ending the crisis and creating the conditions for greater and more profound levels of rational human development than anarchic crisis-ridden capitalism could ever hope to offer.
All the structures put in place to maintain and sustain world ruling-class domination is breaking down in the face of the world revolutionary capitalist crisis.
Further potential defeats are in the forefront of the minds of the ruling class, dividing and paralysing them as they strive by necessity to impose more war on the world.
The berserker war-drum banging of the likes of the fascist-minded pip-squeak Hague and his French counterpart, Fabius, and their crocodile tears over the alleged victims, are as demented a diversion from capitalism’s crisis as Hitler’s bogus “defence” of ethnic Germans living in 1938 Czechoslovakia.
Where are Hague’s statements declaring that the Egyptian killings are “not something that a humane or civilised world can ignore”?
Where are the French threats to “react with force” against proven and uncontested massacres in Egypt?
There are none because the international balance of class and national forces means that it is in ruling class interests to prop up a pro-imperialist fascist military junta in Egypt whilst striving to topple Assad’s anti-imperialist bourgeois nationalism.
Their “jumping-the-gun” hysterical demands for war without even the slimmest piece of evidence that Assad has “gassed his own people” has unnerved more “serious” establishment figures like Ashdown, who want to see a more airtight stitching up of evidence by the United Nations before war can be “justified”, and has caused splits within the British and US military top brass and ruling circles.
The 2011 Egyptian revolution that toppled Mubarak (and revolution in Tunisia) was a catastrophic defeat for imperialism that threatened to bring down stooge regimes across the region.
To head off further revolt in Egypt, the US played the “freedom and democracy” game by manipulating the electoral process to ensure that a seemingly pliant Moslem Brotherhood candidate was the only credible alternative to Mubarak-era reaction. Morsi’s failure to live up to their expectations marks a further defeat for their “democracy” pretences, leaving fascist military rule as the only option for maintaining capitalist “order and stability”, and teaching the planet a valuable lesson.
The unravelling of US imperialism’s strategy in Egypt is accompanied by failure and defeat in Syria as the Hizbullah and Assad regain captured territories. The spectre of Vietnam has returned, as Fred Hof, Clinton's former special representative on Syria spelt out:
“For a long time after Vietnam our government was paralysed with doubt; we are seeing that process again in the wake of the catastrophic war in Iraq ... We have a government that believes that whatever we do it can only make things worse. What this ignores is how bad things are now ... This is a war that Iran and Hezbollah have decided not to lose. We are not yet seeing that level of resolve on behalf of the US administration.”
Despite their humiliating failure and defeats, the crisis will continue to drive imperialism to war, all the way to its ultimate inter-imperialist world war disaster, until it is finally defeated by socialist revolution; and so the demented threats against Syria escalates daily, including the military build up and movement of cruise missiles carrying warships to the region.
A manufactured or manipulated “sarin gas massacre” story would be as good a “justifying” Gulf of Tonkin fable as any to escalate the war drive.
Although there is no evidence to suggest that the entire event was fabricated (and the savage civil war conditions set up by imperialism makes it foolish to rule out the possibility that horrific incidents are being committed by both sides) there are enough questions left hanging in the air to justify being highly circumspect over any “Assad responsibility” claims:
The reports of massive chemical attacks in Syria might become the “red line” for the US for active military intervention. But even rudimentary analysis of the story shows it is too early to believe its credibility.
The Middle Eastern newspaper, Al Arabiya, reports that “At least 1,300 people have been killed in a nerve gas attack on Syria’s Ghouta region, leading opposition figure George Sabra said on Wednesday…” The paper went on to claim that the Government of President Bashar al Assad was responsible for the attacks. If confirmed it could be the “red line” that US President Obama previously stated would tip the US into active military intervention in Syria, using No Fly Zones and active military steps to depose Assad.
That in turn could erupt into a conflagration across the Middle East and a Super Power confrontation with Russia and China and Iran on one side, and the USA, UK, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar on the opposite side. Not a happy prospect for world peace at all.
Therefore the story is worth analyzing carefully. When we do, several things jump out as suspicious. First the newspaper breaking the story was Al Arabiya, initially saying that at least 500 people have been killed, according to activists. From there it got picked up by major international media. Making the story more fishy by the minute were reports from different media of the alleged number of dead that changed by the minute - 635 then to 800 by USA Today and 1,300 by Rupert Murdoch’s SkyNews.
Al Arabiya, the origin of the story, is not a neutral in the Syrian conflict. It was set up in 2002 by the Saudi Royal Family in Dubai. It is majority-owned by the Saudi broadcaster, Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC). Saudi Arabia is a major financial backer of the attempt to topple Syria’s government. That is a matter of record. So on first glance Saudi-owned media reporting such an inflammatory anti-Assad allegation might be taken with a dose of salt.
When we examine the printed content of their story, it gets more suspicious still. First they cite “activists at the Syrian Revolutionary Command Council said regime fighter planes were flying over the area after the bombardment, accusing the forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad of using chemical agents.” This is doubtful on many levels. First we can imagine that anti-government (unnamed) “activists” fighting Assad’s forces would not be exactly neutral.
The story gets even murkier. Further in the text of the article we read that the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens of people were killed, including children, in fierce bombardment.” Now the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has been the source of every news report negative against the Syrian Assad government since the war began in 2011. More curious about the humanitarian-sounding SOHR is the fact, as uncovered by investigative journalists, that it consists of a sole Syrian refugee who has lived in London for the past 13 years named Rami Abdul Rahman, a Syrian Sunni muslim who owns a clothing shop and is running a Twitter page from his home. Partly owing to a very friendly profile story on the BBC, he gained mainstream media credibility. He is anything but unbiased.
The other aspect of the suspicious reports is the “convenient” fact they coincide with the arrival two days earlier of an official UN weapons inspection team, allowed by the government, to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in the Syrian war. It begs the most obvious question: What conceivably would Bashar al Assad stand to gain from using banned chemical weapons just at the time he has agreed to let a UN chemical weapons team into Syria?
They initially were called to investigate evidence of any chemical weapons used in a March 19 attack in Khan al-Assad and in two other locations. In May, Carla Del Ponte, a member of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said that testimony gathered from casualties and medical staff in Syria indicated that the nerve agent sarin was used by rebel fighters. They found no evidence of use by Government forces. That proved highly embarrassing to the faction of war hawks in the Pentagon and State Department, agitating for Obama to escalate direct military intervention including a no-fly zone, de facto an act of war against Assad’s regime. In 2012 Obama declared that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian President would cross a “red line” and change US calculations on whether or not it should intervene in the conflict.
Finally, the region reported to be the site of the poison gas attack by Assad forces, Eastern Ghouta, was re-secured from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra jihadist terrorists, by Government troops in May as part of a major series of rollback victories against the insurgent forces and is not currently a scene of any major resistance to Assad forces.
Pending confirmation by genuinely independent judges of the latest allegations of Al Arabiya, we are well-advised to leave the reports in the category of war propaganda, in league with others such as the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964. That incident, we might recall, was faked by the Pentagon to railroad Congress into giving President Lyndon B. Johnson authority to “assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by communist aggression.” The resolution became Johnson’s legal justification for deploying US forces and the onset of open war against North Vietnam.
Nowhere in any of the bourgeois media reporting on the current allegations is it mentioned that the UN diplomat, del Ponte, had “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that the March 19th attack was conducted by the “rebels” themselves and that the team of UN inspectors currently in Syria are there to investigate this. Del Ponte’s report was buried almost as soon as it was released, and is now gathering dust in the United Nations HQ.
Reports from Médecins sans Frontières of hospitals inundated with patients suffering from neurotoxic symptoms is not evidence of Assad’s responsibility, although that is how the information is presented. Their report of 355 known deaths are far fewer than the “rebels” unverified claims. Their evidence only demonstrates that some sort of toxic gas incident has occurred, not what happened nor who did it.
The murderous “rebels” have demonstrated time and time again that they are capable of committing all manner of appalling atrocities, including tipping people out of apartment windows, eating the hearts of opponents and encouraging young children to behead prisoners.Such bloodythirsty death squad scum would have no qualms in gassing civilians to prepare the way for imperialist blitzing.
Syrian media reports of chemical weapons discovered in tunnels that have been used by “rebels” and claims that soldiers have suffered from “cases of suffocation” after chemical attacks are no less “unverifiable” than the massacre stories, but they are cynically dismissed as “state propaganda” or ignored.
There is no rational reason why Assad would attack a largely secured area with toxic chemicals within miles of a team of UN inspectors investigating such attacks in an area where they already have the upper hand.
Assad would be rightly distrustful of such inspectors anyway given that similar UN inspection teams’ bogus reports had helped soften the world for the barbaric war destruction of neighbouring Iraq.
The fall back position that this merely “proves that Assad is irrational” is a give away because it concedes that there is no logical basis for the allegations.
It is twisted logic to say that “the burden of proof lies with Assad”, as a Guardian commentator argues. This means that any specious piece of Goebbels lying crap asserted by the CIA-primed “rebels” has to be treated as fact unless Assad can prove otherwise. This is Orwellian doublespeak at its most monstrous.
Obama’s “red line” is also a hypcritical moralising pretence that US imperialism has any sort “progressive” humanitarian world role. When has the Western “international community” had any regard for the Geneva conventions, unless it can be used for demonisation purposes against any Third World anti-imperialist “upstart” or former stooge turned “rogue” who gets in their way? Where was the concern over “red lines” for the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lives destroyed by Agent Orange chemical warfare, or the indescriminate use of white phospherous against Palestinian civilians by genocidal Zionism???
The nuclear holocaust destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the end of WW2 demonstrates how far US imperialism is prepared to go to maintain its ruling class domination of the world.
The use of chemical and radioactive weapons is routine. White phosphorous and depleted uranium were used in the destruction of the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, where Swiss-based researchers have discovered increases in cancer, infant mortality and perturbations in the birth sex ratio that are significantly greater than those recorded in survivors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
As this [John - ed] Pilger report shows, Iraqis are still suffering from the devastating effects of depleted uranium shells used by the US during the first Gulf War in 1990-91:
The dust in Iraq rolls down the long roads that are the desert’s fingers. It gets in your eyes and nose and throat; it swirls in markets and school playgrounds, consuming children kicking a ball; and it carries, according to Dr Jawad Al-Ali, “the seeds of our death”. An internationally respected cancer specialist at the Sadr teaching hospital in Basra, Dr Ali told me that in 1999, and today his warning is irrefutable. “Before the Gulf war,” he said, “we had two or three cancer patients a month. Now we have 30 to 35 dying every month. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48% of the population in this area will get cancer: in five years’ time to begin with, then long after. That’s almost half the population. Most of my own family have it, and we have no history of the disease. It is like Chernobyl here; the genetic effects are new to us; the mushrooms grow huge; even the grapes in my garden have mutated and can’t be eaten.”
Along the corridor, Dr Ginan Ghalib Hassen, a paediatrician, kept a photo album of the children she was trying to save. Many had neuroblastoma. “Before the war, we saw only one case of this unusual tumour in two years,” she said. “Now we have many cases, mostly with no family history. I have studied what happened in Hiroshima. The sudden increase of such congenital malformations is the same.”
Among the doctors I interviewed, there was little doubt that depleted uranium shells used by the Americans and British in the Gulf war were the cause. A US military physicist assigned to clean up the Gulf war battlefield across the border in Kuwait said, “Each round fired by an A-10 Warthog attack aircraft carried over 4,500 grams of solid uranium. Well over 300 tons of DU was used. It was a form of nuclear warfare.”
Although the link with cancer is always difficult to prove absolutely, the Iraqi doctors argue that “the epidemic speaks for itself”. The British oncologist Karol Sikora, chief of the World Health Organisation’s cancer programme in the 1990s, wrote in the British Medical Journal: “Requested radiotherapy equipment, chemotherapy drugs and analgesics are consistently blocked by United States and British advisers [to the Iraq sanctions committee].” He told me, “We were specifically told [by the WHO] not to talk about the whole Iraq business. The WHO is not an organisation that likes to get involved in politics.”
Recently, Hans von Sponeck, former assistant secretary general of the United Nations and senior UN humanitarian official in Iraq, wrote to me: “The US government sought to prevent WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where depleted uranium had been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers.” A WHO report, the result of a landmark study conducted with the Iraqi ministry of health, has been “delayed”. Covering 10,800 households, it contains “damning evidence”, says a ministry official and, according to one of its researchers, remains “top secret”. The report says birth defects have risen to a “crisis” right across Iraqi society where depleted uranium and other toxic heavy metals were used by the US and Britain. Fourteen years after he sounded the alarm, Dr Jawad Al-Ali reports “phenomenal” multiple cancers in entire families.
... Their “mess” is a crime of epic proportions, wrote Von Sponeck, referring to the Iraqi ministry of social affairs’ estimate of 4.5 million children who have lost one or both parents. “This means a horrific 14% of Iraq’s population are orphans,” he wrote. “An estimated one million families are headed by women, most of them widows”.
Even if Assad has used chemical weapons on civilians, Syria was stampeded into savage civil war by imperialism from day one, and so their use would amount to a brutal response to already provoked circumstances.
This is not to “justify” such methods of attack or declare any “support” for Assad’s vacillating bourgeois nationalist leadership, but it does need pointing out that the ultimate responsibility lies with imperialism, and that only a defeat for imperialist warmongering will bring the civil war crisis to an end.
Even at this early stage of capitalism’s crisis, its warmongering defeats are causing huge difficulties for US imperialist decision-making. This is set to become far more humiliating as the next dramatic lurch in the crisis intensifies the already strained inter-imperialist tensions, Third World hostility and revolt, and class war/civil war unrest in the imperialist heartlands.
American post-1945 world dominance was only made possible by the self-defeating, decades-long printing of billions upon billions of dollars of valueless money to create the inflationary boom that finally crashed in 2008.
For as long as the insane level of money printing was able to continue without crashing the system, US imperialism was able to bribe and prop up anti-communist regimes (Pinochet, Mobutu, Amin, Suharto, Mubarak, the Duvaliers, Marcos, Noriega, Musharaf, Saddam, etc, etc), and finance endless counter-revolutionary insurgencies and provocations, to ensure that capitalism is able to continue expanding.
The post-war boom looked set to hit the rocks in the 1980’s, before the completely unnecessary liquidation of the Soviet Union’s viable and growing socialist system by Gorbachevite capitulation to capitalist pressure opened up huge markets in the East. This paved the way for enormous IMF-dictated privatisation profiteering resource-grabs throughout the Third World as anti-imperialist and bourgeois nationalist nations that once benefitted from equitable Soviet trade and investment became dependent on crippling loans, with savage conditions attached, to maintain basic unstable infrastructures.
Momentum was also given to wholesale privatisations of nationalised industries and social services in the imperialist heartlands as the “triumph of free enterprise” was heralded by bourgeois party leaders of all shades, and the lying pretence that capitalism can somehow become increasingly “socialist” through steady reformist pressure became redundant.
The overwhelming financial and military power of American imperialism meant that the ever-present threat of crisis could be pushed on to weaker nations - Japan’s 20 year long deflationary slump, the 1991 Indian balance of payments crisis, the 1994 Mexican crash, the Asian financial crisis of 1997-8, Russia in 1998 and Argentina in 1999, and now, crisis in peripheries of Europe.
To protect themselves from the recurrence of such near catastrophic crises arising from the dominance of the American dollar, the “emerging” nations built enormous reserves of US bonds at such astronomical levels that they never be paid back should they attempt to cash in their bonds.
These reserves allowed them to start borrowing in their own currencies; helped to strengthen their export industries; and encouraged inward investment.
Western capitalism was able to free up some of their “surplus” capital (clogging up the system because of the restricted consumption of the masses) by investing in these countries, thereby delaying the inevitable catastrophic consequences of its “overproduction” crisis.
However, the sale of bonds could only be paid for by insanely printing trillions of dollars of valueless money; expanding credit and indebtedness, and artificially keeping interest rates low, to encourage investment and spending.
It also necessitated the devaluation of the dollar to undercut world markets and lower the “value” of the bonds held in overseas vaults. The Third World is now paying for this as the value of their bond reserves slumps and the debt owed by the US is effectively reduced..
Everyone knows that endless money printing will eventually lead to disaster. Inflation is already hitting the roof in essential items, such as food, fuel and transport costs. This is set to rocket if it the money supply continues to artificially expand.
Continuing to devalue the dollar also hits pensions as the yields on the bonds they hold fall, thereby reducing the wages of workers who ultimately be forced to pay for the resulting pension scheme deficits.
Low interest rates also makes it pointless to keep “surplus” capital in banks. Markets are drying up because no-one can afford to spend as much as capitalism needs to survive, and so the only place left to invest money is in commodity speculation on the stock exchange, which just creates yet more enormous speculative bubbles that, once burst, will have catastrophic consequences for the world economy.
However, ending QE also leads to disaster. Mere hints from Bernanke of the Federal Reserve that QE will be stopped has caused turmoil throughout the Third World from Brazil to Indonesia, terrified that Western investment in their economies will end and US orders for goods will dry up as their currencies devalue against the dollar. This is forcing them to raise interest rates; impose controls to stop the flight of capital out of their countries; and start selling their dollar reserves. With potentially catastrophic consequences:
India’s rupee and Turkey’s lira both crashed to record lows on Thursday following the US Federal Reserve releasing minutes which signalled a wind-down of quantitative easing as soon as next month.
Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president, held an emergency meeting on Thursday with her top economic officials to halt the real’s slide after it hit a five-year low against the dollar. The central bank chief, Alexandre Tombini, cancelled his trip to the Fed’s Jackson Hole conclave in order “to monitor market activity” amid reports Brazil is preparing direct intervention to stem capital flight.
The country has so far relied on futures contracts to defend the real – disguising the erosion of Brazil’s $374bn reserves – but this has failed to deter speculators. “They are moving currency intervention off balance sheet, but the net position is deteriorating all the time,” said Danske Bank’s Lars Christensen.
A string of countries have been burning foreign reserves to defend exchange rates, with holdings down 8pc in Ecuador, 6pc in Kazakhstan and Kuwait, and 5.5pc in Indonesia in July alone. Turkey’s reserves have dropped 15pc this year.
“Emerging markets are in the eye of the storm,” said Stephen Jen at SLJ Macro Partners. “Their currencies are in grave danger. These things always overshoot.”
It was Fed tightening and a rising dollar that set off Latin America’s crisis in the early 1980s and East Asia’s crisis in the mid-1990s. Both episodes were contained, though not easily.
Emerging markets have stronger shock absorbers today and largely borrow in their own currencies, making them less vulnerable to a dollar squeeze. However, they now make up half the world economy and are big enough to set off a crisis in the West.
Fears of Fed tightening have pushed borrowing costs worldwide to levels that could threaten global recovery. Yields on 10-year bonds jumped 47 basis points to 12.29pc in Brazil on Thursday, 33 points to 9.72pc in Turkey, and 12 points to 8.4pc in South Africa.
There had been hopes that the Fed might delay its tapering of bond purchases, chastened by the jump in long-term rates in the US itself. Ten-year US yields – the world’s benchmark price of money – have soared from 1.6pc to 2.9pc since early May.
Hans Redeker from Morgan Stanley said a “negative feedback loop” is taking hold as emerging markets are forced to impose austerity and sell reserves to shore up their currencies, the exact opposite of what happened over the past decade as they built up a vast war chest of US and European bonds.
The effect of the reserve build-up by China and others was to compress global bond yields, leading to property bubbles and equity booms in the West. The reversal of this process could be painful.
“China sold $20bn of US Treasuries in June and others are doing the same thing. We think this is driving up US yields, and German yields are rising even faster,” said Mr Redeker. “This has major implications for the world. The US may be strong to enough to withstand higher rates, but we are not sure about Europe. Our worry is that a sell-off in reserves may push rates to levels that are unjustified for the global economy as a whole, if it has not happened already.”
Sovereign bond strategist Nicolas Spiro said India is “caught between the Scylla of faltering growth and the Charybdis of currency depreciation” as hostile markets start to pick off any country with a large current account deficit. He said India’s central bank is playing with fire by reversing its tightening measures to fend off recession. It has instead set off a full-blown currency crisis that is crippling for companies with dollar debts.
India is not alone. A string of countries across the world are grappling with variants of the same problem, forced to pick their poison.
Nepali rupee has further depreciated by Rs. 2.03 a dollar as the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) fixed the reference exchange rate at Rs. 103.50 per dollar for Friday.
Nepali currency (NC) has been depreciating against the dollar for the last few months following the devaluation of Indian currency (IC) as the NC is pegged with the IC.
On Thursday, the IC had dipped to an all-time low of IRs. 65.04 against a dollar despite intervention from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The IC is in the freefall trend due to outflow of the capital from the Indian economy.
Standard Chartered economist Fauzi Ichsan said a policy to increase Bank Indonesia’s benchmark interest rate would temporarily halt the pressure on the rupiah exchange rate.
“Currently, the rupiah is weakening significantly against the US dollar. Those in possession of US dollars will only sell them if the rupiah deposit interest is high,” Fauzi said in Jakarta on Thursday as quoted by Antara news agency.
According to him, the current rupiah deposit interest rate was not high enough to persuade US dollar owners to hold onto them.
Meanwhile, investors in the domestic treasury notes (SBN) market were hoping that the BI benchmark rate would be increased again to compensate the weakening rupiah.
Fauzi added, however, that if the BI rate was increased again, this would introduce liquidity problems to small- and medium-sized banks.
“In the current situation, any measure taken will not be ‘sweet’ for some,” he said.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) economist Iwan Jaya Azis said it was not only the rupiah that had depreciated.
“Actually, all Asian countries are feeling the effect [of external pressures]. Indonesia is not alone. In fact, the Indian rupee is in a much worse state than the rupiah,” Iwan said.
He added that the Indonesian government should immediately introduce a beneficial policy so that the ongoing crisis would not create an even worse impact on the Indonesian economy.
“The government needs to be careful when creating a policy so as to avoid a similar crisis to the one that occurred in 1998,” he said. (ebf)
“Anti-catastrophist” (i.e. anti-Marxist) fake-”lefts” have long been lauding the growth of the so-called “BRIC countries” economies as supposed “proof” that capitalism will always sort out its problems; and thereby deny Marx’s scientific theoretical analysis of the world which says that capitalist “boom” will always end in failure, breakdown and collapse, and which in turn will create the conditions for the return of revolutionary communist revolt everywhere (see economics box).
These Micawbers endlessly hope for “something to turn up” to solve the crisis (and eliminate the need to talk about revolution) and leave them free to building idealistic castles in the sky.
Nothing is going to “turn up” except slump catastrophe and war. Capitalism is trapped by its inherent contradictions and cannot break out of them. Even the Daily Mail commentators now say that “Marx was right”.
Once the titanic credit-fuelled speculative bubble that makes up much of the “emergent” countries’ economies much lauded “growth” bursts, the crash will have the potential to make the 1998 Asian crisis seem like a mere pimple pop.
(The Chinese worker state’s seemingly “excessive” use of capitalist market mechanism’s to boost its economy and eliminate poverty is more complex. It will undoubtedly cause difficulties, but the extent to which it will be effected by the slump remains to be seen as its proletarian dictatorship remains firmly in place.)
The collapse of the American dollar world economy, which is constantly teetering on the edge of catastrophe, will bring total bankruptcy and impoverishment everywhere.
It will not take much of a spark to light an explosion of revolutionary unrest from the world’s impoverished and exploited masses, who have existed on subsistence wages at best, but with hunger, starvation, and “slave labour” exploitation in sweatshops the norm for much of their history.
The Third World masses have a rich history of revolutionary struggle against colonialism and imperialism which, where it may currently be suppressed, has not been forgotten.
Long dormant memories of the CIA and British aided massacre of 100s of thousands of suspected communist sympathisers by Suharto are now awakening in Indonesia, for example.
Joseph Oppenheimer’s excellent film “Jagal/The Act of Killing”, now showing underground across Indonesia (over 500 screenings in 95 cities), exposes the sheer savagery of the massacres, and the stomach-churning lauding of the gangster butchers by the political elite today. And yet there are no calls to bring these killers before the International Criminal Court, despite admitting and celebrating their crimes in gory grizzly detail. So much for “international justice”!
The film is raising the discussions, capitalist slump will rekindle the fight for communist revolution in Indonesia and everywhere else. Build Leninism.
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The fascist counter-revolutionary Egyptian coup confirms the understanding that only a revolutionary struggle for socialism and the building of proletarian dictatorship defences can bring capitalism’s Slump and war crisis to an end. Anti-theory philistinism leads the working class open to brutal NAZI suppression and slaughter (Indonesia 1965, Chile 1973, etc.) “Action” alone will solve nothing. A Leninist struggle for clarity through discussion and debate to bring clarity is vital.
The entire fake-‘left’ (Trotskyist and revisionist) stand exposed by the pro-imperialist fascist coup in Egypt and the barbaric slaughter of pro-Morsi protesters.
Despite Morsi’s role in heading off the Egyptian revolution in imperialist approved stitched-up elections, his compromises with the IMF, the support given to Syria’s bogus “rebels” and the disastrous treaties with Zionism, he was only ever a not-always-reliable stop gap option for the military, who are ultimately imperialism’s preferred choice.
Although Morsi compromised with the IMF, the IMF continued to withhold its loans because he was not restructuring far enough and fast enough for their liking. He’d also opened up the borders to Gaza, and there were signs that he was making closer contacts with Iran, which has a stronger anti-imperialist instinct than Morsi. He had also made moves against the judiciary and amend the constitution to break up the powers of the old order. All of which is likely to have stirred up a counter-revolutionary reaction.
It has since emerged that establishment figures linked to the Mubarak and the generals had helped to finance and organise the protests, and key opposition figures and the military were lobbying western governments for support. The fascist coup-plotters were immediately rewarded with warmonger Blair’s blessing and $8 billion of aid from the imperialist stooge regimes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. A fuel crisis mysteriously ended over night, and the police, who had allowed crime and traffic chaos to increase under Morsi, suddenly returned to the streets.
There were all sorts of pre-coup media reports about military and police involvement in the protests, and yet a near mystical belief in the “spontaneity of the masses” led the more impressionable fake-‘left’ sects to declare this counter-revolutionary take-over to be a “second revolution”! Some even called for the Moslem Brotherhood’s “thugs” to be disbanded (by “the workers”, of course) at a time when they were being gunned down!!
The less impressionable rightly opposed the coup, but only to spread illusions that more bourgeois “democracy” is the answer, thereby failing to draw the revolutionary conclusion that only a defeat for imperialism can help to create the conditions in which socialism can be built.
Rather than re-assess their mistakes and analyse how they got things so badly wrong, the fake-‘lefts’ have been tying themselves up in verbal knots in their attempt to cover up their errors; just as they have been doing over Syria and Libya, where some have been equally caught in the act of oiling the wheels of imperialist warmongering, and others philosophically trapped by their support for various anti-Marxist bourgeois nationalist or Islamist movements.
The idea that there are two types of counter-revolution, as much of the fake-”left” argue, is barmy and not Marxist. If the Moslem Brotherhood is “counter-revolutionary”, why would the a counter-revolutionary army want to overthrow it??? It would make more sense if they started shooting down the protesters who opposed Morsi in order to defend their “counter-revolution”, especially since this “counter-revolution” was elected and so would give legitimacy in the eyes of those taken in by capitalism’s “democracy” pretences.
Just because the Islamists may have it in their heads that their intention is to set up some sort of caliphate, that does not mean that, objectively, this is the way history is heading. Far from it. The English Civil War was fought over religious tenets; in reality, it amounted to the overthrow of the old feudal order. The Irish nationalist struggle was anti-colonialist in essence, not a conflict between religions. The rise of Islamism in the Third World reflects a desire to get imperialism off their backs in the absence of a revolutionary Leninist movement for the overthrow of capitalism.
Had there been a revolutionary party on the ground in Egypt dedicated to building a theoretical understanding of the world that provides clarity, then it is possible that those who had good reason to distrust and oppose Morsi would not have been misled into joining the counter-revolutionary protests.
The urgent need is for the building of parties of revolutionary theory that will engage in all-out polemical struggles for understanding, and draw in as many layers of the working class as possible into the discussions, with a view to developing the broadest possible objective historical perspective of the world that can then be used to guide their revolutionary actions.
The emergence of a centrist party (a half-way house between reformism and revolution-ism) that gives freedom for such discussions to take place has long been anticipated. 17 years ago, it looked as if Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party would be that centrism; and for the first 3 years, it did give space for revolutionary arguments to be made. Tragically (for the working class), Scargillism moved to suppress this healthy debate just at the point when the revolutionary argument was beginning to be taken seriously.
This was a tragedy because it has left the working class bereft of leadership for nearly two more decades (following on from many more decades of revisionist retreat from revolutionary theory), and especially after the long described and warned about (by Leninism) capitalist crisis finally erupted in 2008.
The crisis has been raging ever since, bringing war and Slump misery to billions across the planet, and tearing apart entire nations in the process. And yet, despite the overwhelming proof of Marxism’s long derided theory-based prediction that the internal contradictions within capitalism will eventually tear the entire world apart in the most catastrophic and destructive crisis in history, the only perspective currently presented to the working class is one in which the crisis can be “stopped” by popular pressure and “mass action”.
Yet more reformist wishful thinking, in other words.
The fake-‘left’ sects will make token gestures to “revolution” and even pretend to be in favour of “Leninist debate”, but not one of them are telling the working class that revolution is the only way to end the crisis – by building planned socialist economies everywhere, defended by firm proletarian dictatorships until capitalism has been wiped off the map.
To avoid making revolutionary arguments, they restrict themselves to urging working class to action, whether it is for “general strikes now”, “non-cooperation with the war manufacturers”, or other posturing sloganeering.
It is mis-leading and a total capitulation to capitalist pressure and its “freedom and democracy” pretences.
Ken Loach’s appeal for Left Unity is the call for a debate on the formation of a new party for the working class. For it to develop into a centrist movement, it will need to overcome decades of anti-theory philistinism and give freedom to debate all the issues vexing the working class, starting with the legacy of the Soviet Union (both its triumphs and philosophical blunders) and the reasons for its demise, the nature of capitalism’s crisis, and how to achieve socialism.
Unfortunately, the same futile “No to Austerity - Stop the War” perspective is now mooted by Left Unity’s ‘Left Party Platform’, with the usual elevation of practical activity over theory.
This is not to say that people should not involve themselves in campaigns or protests, far from it; but it is to say none of it will amount to anything unless it comes with the broadest of revolutionary perspectives, so that the working class has the clearest understanding of where it needs to go if it is to bring the crisis to an end. But all this theoretical discussion is “just talk” and is “time-wasting” when there is an urgent need to “stop the cuts”, goes the refrain from some Left Unity “activist” quarters. All sorts of straw men arguments are brought forward against Marxism to supposedly “prove” that “talking never leads anywhere”. They are often supplemented by arguments against the use of Marxist terminology “because the working class wouldn’t understand it.” And anyway, all this discussion and debate is “boring” and the arguments “drive good people away”.
The most world changing event in history was led by a man who did nothing else but “write boring theory” and argue for it. That is “all” Lenin ever did – 33 volumes worth of “theoretical, navel-gazing” but he led the Russian revolution because he got the understanding right and brought about clarity – after years of encouraging open debate and discussion with all-comers, and arguing differences out to a conclusion that was the best appraisal of the situation possible at that time.
The impact of Lenin’s struggle for scientific theory was so immense that it led to the titanic achievements of the Soviet Union (in education, literacy, culture, science, technology, etc, etc), which continued until the 1980’s, despite Stalinism’s disastrous retreat from scientific understanding, suppression of discussion and cover up of mistakes.
This is not a “singular and highly subjective” opinion – it’s the positing of a scientific theory proven by historical reality. An objective understanding of new developments can only come through argument and debate; by putting arguments in writing and testing them through the encouragement of criticism, analysing any theoretical errors made, and re-assessing agreed positions against new developments. Subjectivity arises from the absence of polemical struggle for a line that reflects the best approximation of reality possible.
The parody of “democratic centralism” now polemicised against by some in Left Unity is that all this theorising is done behind closed doors by elite guru figures who then instruct their membership to uncritically accept it and promote it and only talk to people who agree with it.
Whilst this may be the practice of tightly-knit closed-in sects, it is a million miles from Lenin’s party of scientific theory which strives to open theoretical discussions up to the entire working class:
“You gentlemen, who are so much concerned about the ‘average worker’ as a matter of fact rather insult all workers by your desire to talk down to them when discussing working-class politics and working-class organisation. Talk about serious things in a serious manner; leave pedagogics to the pedagogues...Are there not ‘advanced people’, ‘average people’, and ‘the mass’ among the intelligentsia too?...You must realize that these questions about politics and organisation are so serious in themselves that they cannot be discussed in any other but a very seriousway. We can and must educate workers (and university and high-school students) so as to be able to discuss these questions with them; but once you do bring up these questions, you must give real replies to them. Do not fall back on the ‘average’, or on the ‘masses’; do not try to get off by resorting to empty phrasemongering.”
[see Lenin’s “What is to be Done?” (1902) for fuller quote]
The following Che Guevara quote recently included in an article on Left Unity’s website, usefully criticises Stalinism’s wooden non-Leninist approach to working class education that imparts knowledge through diktat rather than encourages such high-level theoretical discussions:
“In this long vacation period I have had my nose buried in philosophy, something I have wanted to do for some time. I came across the first problem: nothing is published in Cuba, if we exclude the hefty Soviet manuals, which have the drawback of not allowing you to think for yourself, because the party has already done it for you, and you just have to digest it. In terms of methodology, it is as anti-Marxist as can be and, moreover, the books tend to be very bad.” (p.140-141 ‘Remembering Che’, Aleida Marsh, 2012)
Despite correctly pointing to these limitations, Guevara failed to pin down what the problems in the Soviet Union were, and the reasons why Stalinism ended up in the disastrous philosophical cul-de-sac that ultimately led to the unnecessary liquidation of the Soviet Union.
Far from being evidence that all Marxism ultimately amounts to is “unthinking subservience” as the article suggests, the quote is a call for more discussion and more debate to understand the world. This does not mean that a soupy eclectic swamp of endlessly discussed abstractions should be allowed to persist, but it does mean a struggle to reach concrete conclusions that can then be tested in practice.
The fake-‘left’ sects have a long history of suppressing and avoiding such discussions for fear of having their opportunistic posturing exposed in front of the working class, as seen in a recent attempt at exclusion from Left Unity meetings in Leeds.
If such philosophically bankrupt anti-theory bids for leadership are allowed to succeed, then Left Unity will fail and the debate will eventually erupt elsewhere, out of necessity, because the crisis is constantly pushing it to the surface.
If Left Unity becomes the vehicle for the struggle for scientific understanding, or even the starting point, then it should be built and promoted enthusiastically.
Leeds EPSR Supporters
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“We need to learn from past and present socialist experiments”
The decision of Left Unity’s National Coordinating Group to allow political platforms to submit resolutions to the its policy commissions and national conference could prove to be one to regret if these platforms are allowed to exist on a permanent basis.
Setting party decision-making procedures around “one member one vote” whilst allowing individual members to maintain their affiliations to other organisations or publications, and refusing all requests from other “left” groups to formally affiliate to the emergent party, is a positive move because it 1), helps to maintain party discipline around agreed decisions; 2), allows individual members to continue their intellectual development outside the party, which they can bring into the party to support and develop its collective understanding of what needs to be done to end capitalism; and 3), protects the party from academic individualists who, under the pretence of wanting to see “unity”, ultimately reject all party discipline and leadership (unless they are in charge), and want the freedom to be able to endlessly “factionalise” and “manoeuvre” around abstractions and prevent positive party development based on a correct understanding of the real world needs of the working class.
Ken Loach’s appeal is a call for a discussion “around the formation of a new political party of the Left”. A healthy debate is required but rather than creating open forums for individual members to argue their positions as individuals, discussions are now deferred to the competing platforms; and the formulation of platform statements and supporting documents are debated internally, away from ordinary members (unless they are platform supporters) and the working class who must be drawn into the debates if they are to develop their understanding of the historical revolutionary role they need to play to bring capitalist exploitation and misery to an end.
All three of the competing platforms consciously avoid discussion around the Marxist-Leninist scientific understanding (proven in practice) that the only way to avoid the devastating consequences of capitalism’s plunge into Slump and world war destruction is to build a revolutionary movement for a planned socialist society; and defended from nonstop subversion and sabotage by firm proletarian dictatorship discipline until capitalism has been overthrown and defeated everywhere.
Instead, all that is on offer from the carefully worded Left Party Platform, Workers Power’s wannabe “practical-activist” Class Struggle Platform and the biliously anti-Soviet “Socialist” Platform is wishful thinking and false promises of a glorious new socialist dawn achievable “if only we get together and do something in a unified, democratic and comradely way”.
Yes, “unity” is essential, and discussions should be held in as “comradely” a way as possible, but the vital ingredient necessary for building genuine unity is the broadest debate possible on the nature of capitalism’s crisis and how to overcome it; as well as the historical legacy of the Soviet Union and the existing workers’ states so that lessons can be learnt from their successes and mistakes. Only through the achievement of an agreed perspective that approximates past and current concrete realities as closely as possible, given the limited resources available, can real unity be achieved.
Far from embracing debate, cynical and scoffing responses of the “We have a government engaging in class war and you want to talk about the Soviet Union!” kind are made. Well, yes!! These discussions are crucial. If they have no relevance, why would the Socialist Platform frame its ‘Statement of Aims and Principles’ around this poisonous assertion tagged on at the end of Point 3: “We reject the idea that the undemocratic regimes that existed in the former Soviet Union and other countries were socialist”, and then refuse to explain it?
If “everyone knows” the Soviet Union had never been socialist, and if it is dead and buried, never to return again, then why even bother to say anything about it?
But there was a purpose to making this statement. “Everyone knows” capitalism has no future to offer the working class, or anyone else for that matter, and very soon “everyone” will want to know what to do about it.
“Everyone” will want to know why the only event proven to have ended capitalist Slump and war, made huge strides in human development without capitalist bosses, and inspired millions across the globe to do the same, the 1917 Russian Revolution, fell apart so disastrously in 1989.
“Everyone” will also want to learn from the only proven theory available for correctly analysing the historical situation and balance of class forces, and correctly building the only sort of democratic-centralist movement that is capable of leading the working class towards revolution, and then defending their revolution from counter-revolutionary intrigue: Leninism, the science of Marxism put into practice.
The purpose of the SP statement is to say that such a movement of revolutionary theory is unnecessary because it has never worked, and only ever leads to “totalitarianism” and “economic disaster” (not true).
The only way to obtain the scientific understanding necessary to achieve socialism is by means of a constant interchange between theory and practice; learning how right or wrong a party’s perspectives, programmes, strategies and tactics have been by analysing their successes and mistakes. This struggle has to be made in front of the working class, drawing in as many layers as possible into the debates, and it has to begin with a struggle to learn from the historical reality of the Soviet Union.
Building a workers’ state out of whatever remains of the old order after the destructive consequences of capitalism’s collapse will always be messy because it has to be based on raw human material, damaged by lifetimes of capitalist dog-eat-dog consumer culture and exploitation.
It is not possible for the vast majority to live a life in capitalist society “as you would want to see the future society to be”. One of the key triggers for revolution is that capitalist exploitation and cultural practices do not allow people to be the sort of decent well-balanced people they would like to be. All sorts of crude and backward notions and practices will be present at the start. Capitalism will need to be overthrown before “all oppression and discrimination” (SP Point 4) can eventually end, and even then only after a lengthy period of socialist education and international co-operative development and growth.
The Russian proletariat were building their newly won socialist state from scratch, with no past histories of socialist construction to learn from, and out of the ruins of extremely backward Tsarist degeneracy. Much of its development had to be done through trial and error. Mistakes were inevitable. Nonstop threats of war, and actual civil war and imperialist invasion combined to create the harshest conditions imaginable for the building of a completely new co-operative society.
Proletarian dictatorship was necessary to defend the new state and steer its development and growth. It was successful in defending the state from total destruction, including NAZI invasion and non-stop threats of nuclear annihilation, throughout the entire existence of the USSR.
It is a myth that the USSR “failed” because its leadership behaved dictatorially or bureaucratically, and that a speedy transition to “complete political, social and economic democracy” (whatever that means) would have somehow have “put it on the right path to socialism”, as the SP statement implies (Point 3).
The USSR did not “fail”. Its growth may have been painful and uneven, but it was growing in general strength, in line with its development since 1917, until Gorbachev’s brain-dead break up of its tried and tested planned economic system and the dismantlement of its proletarian dictatorship, after which the economy tanked.
Anti-communism is endlessly pumping out luridly exaggerated or made up stories about food shortages, labour camps, the KGB, and all sorts of “mistakes”, all of which are eagerly swallowed by the anti-Soviet fake-‘left’ sects and circulated amongst the working class. The same fake-‘lefts’ will promptly put their fingers in their ears and back away when historical comparisons are made between the generous USSR aid and support for Third World national-liberation struggles (technical support, arms, trade and aid) and Western imperialism which, at the same time, was busy sucking all life and resources out of their colonies and butchering any movement that stood in their way (Malaya, Kenya, Algeria, etc).
The real problem was one of philosophy. The Stalin era USSR made all manner of bad decisions and mistakes because it had retreated from Leninism’s struggle to understand and explain what was happening in the world and the insoluble revolutionary crisis that is at the heart of imperialism and into anti-theory philosophical bankruptcy; moving away from the real world and placing all hope for change on “peaceful roads to socialism” and “permanent peaceful co-existence” with “good” imperialists. From this bad theoretical perspective came bad practice.
This wrong-headed perspective developed to the point that the emerging revolutionary movements were not warned of the need to build proletarian dictatorship defences; leading to Chile in 1973 and Allende’s appalling theoretical error of believing that socialism could be brought about peacefully by “democratic” means (and still not corrected by Cuban revisionism today – fascist coups in Honduras, Thailand and now Egypt, and nonstop imperialist disruption in Venezuela and Bolivia show the urgent need to dispel the illusion that bourgeois “democracy” is the way forward).
Gorbachevism’s capitulation to Western glitz and glamour, leading to break up of the proletarian dictatorship, and finally the USSR, was the logical end point of Stalinist revisionism.
The SP declaration that “the socialist transformation of society can only be accomplished by the working class acting democratically” (Point 6) stands in direct opposition to Lenin’s proletarian dictatorship science, as does the statement that “Socialism has to be international... It rejects the idea that there is a national solution to the problems of capitalism” (Point 5). Whilst true in the long term because capitalism will have to be overthrown everywhere before the workers’ states could begin to “wither away”, this abstract statement as it stands is tantamount to telling the Cuban working class today that they have to give up on their socialist construction because they stand alone in the Americas!
Their statement only deals in abstractions, which is where these “Bolshevik” poseurs and academic dilettantes feel most comfortable. How will capitalism’s “state and institutions be replaced by ones that act in the interests of the majority” (Point 2)? What does “a fundamental breach with capitalism” (Point 3) mean in reality? They don’t say, preferring to leave such questions hanging in the air to allow for endless circular debates around further abstract idealising that never come to a conclusion. All this to cause maximum confusion and prevent the working class from understanding that only revolution for the building of socialist proletarian dictatorships will emancipate them from endless capitalist oppression and war.
Once, Trotskyist hostility “conceded” that the USSR was socialist “for a short period of time”, but they could never agree on when the alleged “counter-revolution” took place (because there never was one), or explain why world imperialism was wetting itself in jubilation and triumphalism when it all fell apart in 1989 (the real counter-revolution). The SP doesn’t even bother with that. It simply asserts that it was never socialist and ridicules anyone who suggests otherwise or simply asks for an explanation (which they never give). Their statement amounts to a denial that there has ever been a socialist revolution anywhere (tell that to the Cuban working class!). Can anti-theory philistinism become more degenerate???
The fake-‘left’ sects circulating around the platforms want to hijack Left Unity in order to prevent healthy discussion and debate around these issues and more from emerging. Their subjective individualism wants to see a party riddled with oppositional factions, each subjectively maintaining that they know the “truth” and thinking that they should be the leaders, but ensuring that no-one should ever become “the Leader” or have “a monopoly on the truth” (i.e. be able to give leadership through correctly analysing concrete world developments). Some have recently produced reams of academic papers supposedly “proving” that Lenin was for permanent platforms and factions. Not true. Lenin was against factions and numerous lengthy quotes can be produced to demonstrate this (see below, for a few brief examples). All this work is aimed at justifying factionalising interventions into workers parties, and not simply an obscure historical debate.
Whilst there will be a huge range of motivations for supporting these platforms, and recognising that individuals need to form their own experiences and come to their own conclusions, allowing such platforms to persist indefinitely will, objectively, form a block on discussion.
An understanding of the objective reality of the world can only come by arguing every individual subjective perspective through to a conclusion that can be agreed collectively by the entire party body. Leadership will emerge from this struggle for understanding. Leninist science understands from experience that permanent platforms mean permanent potentials for disruption to such positive developments. More recent experiences in Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party further demonstrate the potentially destructive nature of political platforms.
Abolish the platforms. Build a unified party willing to learn from past and present experiments in socialist construction through genuinely open discussion and debate.
“The struggle for influence in the Party.” The latter group put forward a platform which, it is true, at the beginning speaks of a “struggle for restoring the unity of Bolshevism” but at the end emphatically condemns factionalism, “a party within the Party”, “the isolation and exclusiveness of factions”, and vigorously demands their “merging” in the Party, their “fusion”, and the conversion of the factional centres into centres that are “in actual fact only ideological and literary” (pp. 18 and 19 of the pamphlet: The Present Situation and the Tasks of the Party).
The path clearly indicated by the majority of the Party has now been accepted unanimously — not in every detail, of course, but in the main — by all the factions. A year of acute factional struggle has led to a decisive step being taken in favour of abolishing all factions and every kind of factionalism, in favour of the unity of the Party.
TOWARDS UNITY Feb. 1910
1. The Congress calls the attention of all members of the Party to the fact that the unity and cohesion of the ranks of the Party, the guarantee of complete mutual confidence among Party members and genuine team-work that really embodies the unanimity of will of the vanguard of the proletariat, are particularly essential at the present time, when a number of circumstances are increasing the vacillation among the petty-bourgeois population of the country.
2. Notwithstanding this, even before the general Party discussion on the trade unions, certain signs of factionalism had been apparent in the Party—the formation of groups with separate platforms, striving to a certain degree to segregate and create their own group discipline.
All class-conscious workers must clearly realise that factionalism of any kind is harmful and impermissible, for no matter how members of individual groups may desire to safeguard Party unity, factionalism in practice inevitably leads to the weakening of team-work
3. In this question, propaganda should consist, on the one hand, in a comprehensive explanation of the harmfulness and danger of factionalism from the standpoint of Party unity and of achieving unanimity of will among the vanguard of the proletariat as the fundamental conflict condition for the success of the dictatorship of the proletariat;
Propaganda must also teach the lessons of preceding revolutions, in which the counter-revolution made a point of supporting the opposition to the extreme revolutionary party which stood closest to the latter, in order to undermine and overthrow the revolutionary dictatorship and thus pave the way for the subsequent complete victory of the counter-revolution, of the capitalists and landowners.
4. In the practical struggle against factionalism, every organisation of the Party must take strict measures to prevent all factional actions.
Analyses of the Party’s general line, estimates of its practical experience, check-ups of the fulfilment of its decisions, studies of methods of rectifying errors, etc., must under no circumstances be submitted for preliminary discussion to groups formed on the basis of “platforms”, etc., but must in all cases be submitted for discussion directly to all the members of the Party.
While ruthlessly rejecting impractical and factional pseudo-criticism, the Party will unceasingly continue— trying out new methods—to fight with all the means at its disposal against the evils of bureaucracy, for the extension of democracy and initiative, for detecting, exposing and expelling from the Party, elements that have wormed their way into its ranks, etc.
6. The Congress, therefore, hereby declares dissolved and orders the immediate dissolution of all groups without exception formed on the basis of one platform or another (such as the Workers’ Opposition group, the Democratic Centralism group, etc.). Non-observance of this decision of the Congress shall entail unconditional and instant expulsion from the Party.
In order to ensure strict discipline within the Party and in all Soviet work and to secure the maximum unanimity in eliminating all factionalism, the Congress authorises the Central Committee, in cases of breach of discipline or of a revival or toleration of factionalism, to apply all Party penalties, including expulsion, and in regard to members of the Central Committee, reduction to the status of alternate members and, as an extreme measure, expulsion from the Party.12
PRELIMINARY DRAFT RESOLUTION OF THE TENTH CONGRESS OF THE R.C.P. ON PARTY UNITY March 1921
The liquidator newspaper writes:
“Social-Democracy constitutes a definite ideologically united body and those who do not subscribe to its ideas do not belong to it.”
That is the truth, but not the whole truth, for Social-Democracy is not only an ideologically but also an organisationally united body. This can be forgotten only by liquidators, i.e., by those who refuse to recognise precisely the organised body, who ignore its will, flout its decisions, etc.
The liquidators have been strongly condemned in a number of decisions adopted by this, the only existing political organisation of the workers of Russia; They have been condemned for their intolerable, disruptive and schismatic altitude towards this organisation.
That explains why the liquidationist newspaper, in discussing the question of organisation, concealed from its readers the fact that Social-Democracy represents not only an ideologically but also an organisationally united body. Operating in complete isolation from the organisation, flouting its decisions, making its very existence the subject of derision, the liquidators, naturally, prefer not to remind the workers of this.
But although the liquidator writer conceals this circumstance from his readers, he has nevertheless had to admit that those who do not subscribe to the ideas of the Social-Democratic organisation cannot possibly be regarded as Thbelonging to it.
Both in their organisational activities and in their propaganda of non-Marxist ideas, the liquidators have gone beyond the bounds of Social-Democracy.
Social-Democracy is a definite organisationally united body and those who refuse to submit to the discipline of this organisation, who ignore it and flout its decisions, do not belong to it. Such is the basic rule.
But the liquidator who let the cat out of the bag is also right. He is right when he says that those who do not subscribe to Social-Democratic ideas do not belong to Social-Democracy.
THE VIRTUOUS MATERIAL ON CONFLICT WITHIN S.D. DUMA GROUP Oct 1913
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