No 1463 13th Mar 2015
However gruesome and backward jihadist actions are declared, they pale to insignificance against non-stop massacring terror inflicted by imperialism from the Congo to the eastern Ukraine and repeated genocidal blitzing of Palestine. Convoluted theories that jihadists are “all created by the CIA” make no sense, vastly overestimate imperialist powers and evade that, however confused, this unstoppable Third World revolt is growing on its own, inflicting blows and defeats on colonial exploitation tyranny. The chaos reflects the epochal breakdown of capitalism everywhere, as its catastrophic failure spreads its disastrous effects and fascist Washington pushes the world deliberately towards all-out war, the profit system’s only “solution” to its crisis. Mayhem can be ended not by “kill them all” punishment that only spawns more revolt but by ending capitalism itself, the source of all havoc and war. Fake-“left” helps the imperialists. Leninism needed
As capitalism’s systemic economic and political catastrophe unrolls ever deeper the condemnation and denunciation of jihadism and “terrorism” by the entire spectrum of assorted fake-“left” groups increasingly marks out their complete opportunism and capitulation to Western demonisation propaganda and warmongering.
The ever rising tide of rebels and insurgents willing to, (or driven to) use the most desperate suicide methods of fighting, or expecting to be “martyred” or killed, in the world becomes an increasingly insistent and hugely complex issue, needing to be understood by revolutionaries.
It is the way the world is responding to the centuries of tyranny and exploitation imposed upon it by monopoly capitalism and colonialism and the huge intensification of that agony by capitalism’s now disastrous crisis.
The continuing fake-“left” repudiation and “condemnation” of such eruptions and guerrilla war struggles – directly or under cover of assorted “they are all really run by the CIA” convolutions – does nothing to make sense of or explain them, or the gigantic world crisis driving their emergence.
Just the opposite, the petty moralising of the “lefts” (all shades) about “criminal attacks” or “new reactionary elements” is an expression of theoretical failure, and a cowardly bowing to capitalism’s degenerate World War hysteria, deliberately being whipped up to escape responsibility for Slump catastrophe.
It expresses their complete failure to develop revolutionary understanding, or their retreat from it, a revisionist and reformist opportunism which has left a giant vacuum of leadership in the world to be filled by assorted weird and wonderful religious and nationalist ideologies temporarily.
Why has such mass “madness” suddenly broken out?
Or why has a religion that has been around for 1300 years, waited until the last ten years to erupt in this way?
How come a world youth that has been largely resistant to supposed Svengali-like “hate preachers” has suddenly fallen for “radicalisation”? (or been “brainwashed” as the capitalist ruling class put it, with an astounding chutzpah in putting forwards this laughable upside-down accusation, given its “culture” which does nothing but brainwash the entire population with lying anti-communism morning, noon, and night, through capitalist and capitalist state-owned media, plays, “James Bond entertainment”, “philosophy” and politics, as well as education, instructing schools to teach mystical religious, mostly Christian, views to tiny infants and later filling their heads with such anti-communist “classics” as MI5 informer-fink George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 as part of the syllabus for example, while swamping adult lives with facile consumerism, fashion and pop-culture, from cradle to grave.)
No objective answers are forthcoming.
What the “lefts” do do is reinforce the bourgeois propaganda notion of some new “evil” in the world which is an alleged source of chaos and disintegration, taking attention from the real and only cause of world turmoil and the increasing impossibility of living any kind of rational or decent life for the vast majority, (the 99.99999% to adapt a populist phrase), which is the imperialist system itself and its catastrophic failure.
Equally craven are the cod-psychological sneers at “headbangers” or even “evil” people and “psychopaths”, descriptions which are just as medieval and unscientific as they claim their targets to be, unscientifically writing off the insurgencies and uprisings as even “more” reactionary than capitalism itself (most of the Trots) or spinning endless “theoretical explanations” as to why their struggles are “impermissible”, the “wrong way to fight” or even supposedly an expression of capitalism itself (via its allegedly all-powerful behind the scenes manipulations).
But what these rub-the-side-of-the-nose “knowing” “lefts” never come anywhere near explaining, or even grasping, is where objectively this mass outbreak has come from, on a scale far beyond the capabilities of Western control (even if the alleged conspiracies made any sense in a few cases), what material factors are driving it and why it is proving such a major attraction to thousands of disaffected youth throughout the “advanced” imperialist countries.
They neither grasp nor explain how this now overwhelming phenomenon, both expresses and contributes to, the epochal disintegration of the existing world order and its long total domination by monopoly capitalist economic exploitation and tyrannical political control.
The historic dissolution of an entire centuries long, class domination is underway, already far deeper and more universal than the devastating collapses into financial disaster and Depression that led to the First and Second World Wars and threatening the whole world with total warmongering destruction in order for the tiny indolent and corrupt ruling class to hang on to its grotesque luxury and power.
The world is trapped in a vortex of contradiction, expressed through its overproduction crisis, swamped in $multi-trillions of uninvestable “surplus capital” (i.e. unable to find a profitable outlet) unstoppably emerging from the production for the private interests of a tiny minority of “owners” who claim the “right” to all land, factories, finance etc, and the value generated by all those working with these resources.
The internal contradictions of that system can only accumulate, producing ever greater Slump disaster and intractable difficulties until resolved by the complete transformation of society onto a new basis of commonly owned resources and communally planned production, taking over all society’s resources.
That cannot happen by piecemeal change but like all historical and physical development in the world will be a revolutionary change, which is already forcing its way to the surface in the worldwide ferment and upheavals everywhere.
This rebellion is taking a long, contradictory and convoluted path which, as all real world development does, expresses the interpenetrating nature and dialectical unfolding of contradictions and their complicated sharpening.
Of course the backward religious mysticism and puritanism that wants to re-establish a medieval Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East for example, killing innocent civilians by the dozen for “apostasy” and appalling the world with its philistine and primitive destruction of irreplaceable ancient culture, knowledge and archeology, is not any kind of overall long term answer to the historical collapse of capitalism, and in many ways hampers the rationality and objectivity of revolutionary scientific leadership that is needed to establish a socialist future, the only way out of disaster.
But its extraordinarily ruthless fight to expel imperialism and its stoogery from the Middle East cannot simply be declared “the work of the devil” fit only to be “bombed into the desert sands etc etc”.
Such a “kill-them-all” blitzkrieg punishment will not solve anything anyway.
It will simply drive tens of thousands more into the ranks fighting against imperialist writ and control, exactly as has been happening for nearly two decades (as Marxism warned would be the result of Afghanistan and Iraq) and which has generated dozens of rebellions spreading throughout the Middle East and Africa, from the al-Qaeda to the likes of Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab.
These separately arising revolts now extend from Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Philippines and central Africa.
Though they take an Islamic form in many cases – but not always, in Ukraine for example – using adapted local cultural forms to fill a vacuum of communist ideology left by the complete failure of Third International revisionism in Moscow and its even more anti-communist “opposition” in Trotskyism – they are clearly driven by an ever deepening hatred and contempt for imperialist tyranny and diktat, against its corruption and degeneracy and the hypocrisy and lies poured out to “justify” its grotesque and ever deepening inequalities, its money-grubbing sleaze (witness the gross, disgustingly petty self-interest of Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw – Tory and Labour peas in a pod), its overwhelming inhumane unfairness and worldwide “shock and awe” brutality rapidly unrolling towards total world war (a war not “dangerously threatened” if things go wrong in Ukraine for example but deliberately and certainly provoked as bankrupt capitalism’s only way out of crisis).
And of course the water is muddied by all kinds of Western intelligence skulduggery attempting, and sometimes succeeding in provoking and manipulating these movements, or variously tolerating them at certain points, as the Taliban backward tribalism was used to sabotage socialist advance in 1980s Afghanistan, or the Iranian Ayatollahs were given a leg-up after the great spontaneous outburst of popular street revolt against the barbaric Shah in 1979, filling a vacuum of leadership that might otherwise have been taken by communist revolutionary ideas, had the dire influence of Stalinist revisionist politics not long ago neutered all such theoretical grasp with its permanent peaceful coexistence delusions.
The devastating destruction of Syria is the latest and most glaring case, the horrifying civil war there set going by the same kind of Western outside intervention that stirred up the initial artificial “rebellion” in against Libya’s relatively progressive nationalist Gaddafi regime.
That hopeless thin petty bourgeois revolt would have petered out without the Nazi-NATO blitzkrieg which followed – Syria’s equally artificial “revolt” against the bourgeois nationalist and patchily anti-imperialist Assad regime, was also a thin inadequate petty bourgeois affair which would have imploded without the coordinated Western and reactionary feudal Arab Gulf state interventions with massive injections of money, arms, cross-border agents and provocateurs to stir up sectarian tensions.
But even these “successes” repeatedly “blow back” on imperialism, demonstrating that its cynical and subversion and manipulation is at best only temporary; Afghanistan after 13 years is a total corrupt disaster of warlordism and developing Taliban insurgency directed at imperialist occupation, ISIS is now being bombed into the ground because it is out of control and Kenya’s capitalist stooges are building a gigantic wall on the Somalian border because they cannot control Al-Shabaab.
Even the Zionist stooges, imperialism’s main smiting and blitzing instrument in the Middle East to keep the Arab world and its resources permanently in thrall, are in trouble, their mad-dog aggression in all directions in conflict with the US Empire which is being forced to deal with the Iranian Ayatollahocracy in order to prevent the ISIS turmoil in Iraq from turning over its stooge regime in Baghdad.
The “pull the horns in” wing of Zionism, smarting from the dogged resistance of the Hamas-led Palestinian Gaza population may now topple the berserk Netanyahu whose rampaging Nazi genocidal blitzing on Gaza (far more barbaric than anything ISIS has managed), and lurid threats against Iran, are seen as dangerously provocative against a growing tide of resistance and insurgency.
This is not a world of total control by imperialism.
And least of all is it one where Islamic revolt is serving imperialism’s interests.
But blaming this revolt for the havoc in the world does serve its interests.
The Third World War that the ruling class has already started and is desperate to provoke into all-out destruction (to eliminate “surplus” capital blocking the system) will be far more shattering and horrific than anything seen yet.
Failing to put this perspective as the underlying and central factor neatly lets the ruling class off the hook for the great unrolling collapse and agonising turmoil tearing apart country after country building towards the outright mayhem, the ruling class’s deliberately fostered “solution” to its disastrous catastrophic failure.
Instead it helps capitalism justify the poisonous Goebbels scapegoating it needs to continue its now demented war drumbeat, stampeding public opinion behind the drive to war “to deal with the evil in the world”, making a mockery incidentally of all ineffectual social-pacifist “No to War” sloganising and its supposed “winning over a majority” to allegedly halt the ruling class in its tracks.
It also plays into the hands of capitalism’s increasing domestic repression and ever more overt censorship against all dissident opinion, dressed up as “necessary security protection against hate preachers and ‘radicalisers’” etc etc as voiced by the increasingly strident fascistic comments of those like Tory Foreign Secretary Tory Phillip Hammond, sinisterly ready to declare that even asking questions about the causes of this rebelliousness should constitute a crime and be deemed “support for the enemy”.
His comments, and the denunciations and economic persecution imposed on the CAGE charity group for example, show how the ruling class wants to recreate an atmosphere on a par with the Nazi German period when failing to enthusiastically “Heil” Hitler was enough to damn you and even have you dragged away to the concentration camps, if the constant capitalist police surveillance had not already imprisoned you for socialist thoughts or trade unionism.
Well might this ruling class promulgate 1984’s story of “thought-control and doublethink” (which always was a reflection of capitalism itself and its hidden bourgeois dictatorship not the “totalitarian nightmare” which anti-communist propaganda painted about the Soviet Union and other workers states, (echoed dutifully by the crawlarse Trot “left” pretenders).
But this is all weakness, part of the ruling class’ desperate turn to open dictatorship suppression, terrified of the general eruptions of the working class and mass population which it knows will follow once the catastrophic economic disaster of the Slump can no longer be fended off by Mickey Mouse Quantitative Easing money printing and collapsed interest rates (now hitting astonishing negative levels in Germany, Japan and elsewhere - depositors paying to have their money borrowed for want of investment opportunities).
The CAGE charity did no more than suggest that it is the contradictions and alienations of the crisis, and its exploitative, racist, divisive and alienating turmoil, and the clumsy repressiveness of the MI5 – the real, capitalist, “secret police” – which is helping push youths towards jihadism.
A few maverick figures like Russell Brand, whose semi-mystical anarchism makes a braver crack at understanding the revolutionary necessities of the crisis and at least is prepared to say so out loud which is more than most of the “left” will do in practice (whatever their pretended Marxism), have taken up the case, declaring it “understandable” that the pressures and alienation facing many youths push them into migrating to the Middle East despite their supposedly “comfortable lives” in the West (a smug complacency in the first place since such “comforts” are achieved for the middle class and better-off workers only by the relentless exploitation of the Third World anyway).
He points at the following bourgeois commentary, hardly sympathetic to the jihadi rebellion but in its second half reproduced here, debunking the simplified idea that mysterious outsiders who “hate our way of life” for no apparent reason have taken over their minds:
...There are hundreds of stories such as these, from all over Europe.
What they tell us is that, shocking though it may seem, there is nothing unusual in the story of the runaway Tower Hamlets schoolgirls. And that what Emwazi has in common with other European recruits is not so much his harassment as his college education.
The usual clichés about jihadis – that they are poor, uneducated, badly integrated – are rarely true. A survey of British jihadis by researchers at London’s Queen Mary College found no link to “social inequalities or poor education”; most were highly educated young people from comfortable families who spoke English at home. According to Le Monde, a quarter of French jihadis in Syria are from non-Muslim backgrounds.
What draws most wannabe jihadis to Syria is, to begin with, neither politics nor religion. It is a search for something a lot less definable: for identity, for meaning, for “belongingness”, for respect. Insofar as they are alienated, it is not because wannabe jihadis are poorly integrated, in the conventional way we think of integration. Theirs is a much more existential form of alienation.
There is, of course, nothing new in the youthful search for identity and meaning. What is different today is the social context in which this search takes place. We live in a more atomised society than in the past; an age in which many people feel peculiarly disengaged from mainstream social institutions and in which moral lines often seem blurred and identities distorted.
In the past, social disaffection may have led people to join movements for political change, from far-left groups to anti-racist campaigns. Today, such organisations often seem equally out of touch. What gives shape to contemporary disaffection is not progressive politics but the politics of identity.
Identity politics has, over the last three decades, encouraged people to define themselves in increasingly narrow ethnic or cultural terms. A generation ago, “radicalised” Muslims would probably have been far more secular in their outlook and their radicalism would have expressed itself through political organisations. Today, they see themselves as Muslim in an almost tribal sense, and give vent to their disaffection through a stark vision of Islam.
These developments have shaped not just Muslim self-perception but that of most social groups. Many within white working-class communities are often as disengaged as their Muslim peers, and similarly see their problems not in political terms but through the lens of cultural and ethnic identity. Hence the growing hostility to immigration and diversity and, for some, the seeming attraction of far-right groups.
Racist populism and radical Islamism are both, in their different ways, expressions of social disengagement in an era of identity politics. There is something distinctive about Islamist identity. Islam is a global religion, allowing Islamists to create an identity that is intensely parochial and seemingly universal, linking Muslims to struggles across the world, from Afghanistan to Palestine, and providing the illusion of being part of a global movement.
In an age in which traditional anti-imperialist movements have faded and belief in alternatives to capitalism dissolved, radical Islam provides the illusion of a struggle against an immoral present and for a utopian future.
However, most homegrown wannabe jihadis possess a peculiar relationship with Islam. They are as estranged from Muslim communities as they are from western societies. Most detest the mores and traditions of their parents, have little time for mainstream forms of Islam and cut themselves off from traditional community institutions. It is not through mosques or religious institutions but through the internet that most jihadis discover their faith and their virtual community. Disembedded from social norms, finding their identity within a small group, shaped by black-and-white ideas and values, driven by a sense that they must act on behalf of all Muslims and in opposition to all enemies of Islam, it becomes easier for wannabe jihadis to commit acts of horror and to view such acts as part of an existential struggle between Islam and the west.
Simplistic narratives about “radicalisation” miss the complex roots of homegrown terrorism. Proposed solutions, such as banning organisations, pre-censoring online hate speech, increasing state surveillance and so on, betray our liberties without addressing the issues that has made Islamism attractive to some in the first place.
Jihadis are responsible for the choices they make. However much we may deplore western policies, at home or abroad, they provide no reason for the grotesque acts of Isis.
And yet there is an uncomfortable question to be asked of society, too. Why is it that so many intelligent and resourceful young people find an ideology that espouses mass beheadings, slave labour and the denial of rights to women more appealing than anything else that is on offer?
Stated loud and clear in this is the complete bankruptcy of the entire “left” from die-hard Stalinism through to the anti-workers-state Trotskyists, all failing to offer the world anything like the revolutionary perspectives desperately being sought by billions throughout the world.
Those are not going to emerge from moralising horror at the “grotesque acts of Isis” or any other Third World struggles labelled “terrorism”.
To start with the “gross acts” of all such struggles pale into insignificance compared to the non-stop industrial scale world terror and horrors imposed by capitalism itself, throughout its centuries of colonial expansion, which has wiped out with utmost barbarity whole nations of peoples, and then in its modern imperialist domination throughout the twentieth century.
Multiple millions have been slaughtered in two world wars, and then post-war in the grossest possible massacres of the Korean and Vietnam wars, the Indonesian anti-communist suppression (more than one million alone gruesomely tortured and barbarically killed with wire strangulation etc by gangsters still in power and armed by the West), Latin American suppressions, the Congo (several million), and the endlessly repeated genocidal torture and killing of the Palestinian people in order to steal its land, occupied non-stop for fifteen hundreds years.
Secondly if the ISIS, and similar rebellions such as Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda in Yemen and the Taliban (to some extent) have learned to use the most ruthless methods of terrorising the enemy, then they have done so from the only teachers available, the capitalist colonialist domination and occupation which originated and used all these barbarities (as in the multiple beheadings of communists in the Malaysian and Greek civil war suppressions post-1945, carried out incidentally under the command of the British government, which at the time was the allegedly “left” Clement Attlee Labour government) everywhere from Kenya to India and or course throughout the Middle East for the last twenty years.
The hypocrisy of the capitalist politicians is breathtaking too when it comes to their reactionary allies – no bombs are going to fall on Riyadh:
Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger who was sentenced to a decade in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, now faces being beheaded for renouncing the religion, his family have said.
They claimed to have learned of attempts within the Saudi judicial system to have Raif Badawi retried for the crime, which carries a death sentence. Amnesty International said it was looking into the claims, which could not be verified on Sunday evening.
“Raif and his family must be thinking ‘what new hell is this?’,” said an Amnesty spokesman.
“The torment of facing each week the possibility of another brutal public flogging is an unimaginable torture. These latest rumours that the death penalty is a possibility again add to the nightmare.
“Over a million people have called for Raif’s freedom. That should be the only development we’re hearing about.”
In a statement, Badawi’s family said that the Saudi supreme court has referred his case to the same judge who passed the sentence he is currently serving, whom they accused of being biased against him.
He was previously cleared of apostasy – renouncing his religion – in 2013. In January this year, his case was referred to the supreme court by the former king in a move that his supporters hoped would eventually lead to his release.
“It should be mentioned that this judge stated in his written verdict against Raif, that he has proof and is confident that Raif is an apostate.
Badawi received the first 50 lashes outside al-Jafali mosque in the port city of Jeddah in January. He was due to be subjected to 50 more each week but it was postponed after doctors said that his wounds had not healed
The anti-terrorist moralising of the “lefts” will stop nothing, least of all the complete breakdown in world society producing these upheavals.
It shows only their petty bourgeois illusions that there is a “proper” way to go about struggle, step by step, within the “rules” – the old and completely discredited reformism (despite the self-declared “revolutionary” pretensions of the 57 varieties of “left” groups”) and their illusions in abstract “democracy”.
Democracy does not exist in bourgeois society, being a fraudulent cover for the dictatorship of the capitalists.
It can only come about by replacing that repressive class rule by the dictatorship of the majority, the proletariat.
Currently these “left pressure on parliament” illusions have seen all the fake-”revolutionaries” pile in behind the posturing bogus “left democratic anti-austerity challenge” of the populist Syriza in Greece – caught out by its instant capitulation.
The moralising and conspiracy theorising is a symptom too of petty bourgeois defeatism, failing to see in all this upheaval the ever growing world rebellion – writing them off solely as “reactionary” and mostly part of some great Machiavellian manipulation scripted and controlled by imperialism’s intelligence agencies (which are viewed in awe therefore as virtually omniscient) instead of explaining that this rising tide is a huge expression of capitalist breakdown, and a pushing back against it and its attempts to reimpose total colonialist stoogery everywhere, (to allow continuing slave-level exploitation under the “stable conditions” that the multinational corporations constantly demand).
As the EPSR said ten years ago about Beslan school incident, after quoting Lenin’s 1906 Guerrilla War article (Issue 1248 14-09-04):
While not the revolution itself (in fact, frequently nothing like it and often a hindrance to it), Lenin nevertheless abundantly makes it clear that he “takes the stand of” the civil war activists, — all of them and any of them.
Society under capitalism is disintegrating, “so let it happen” is the revolutionary’s response.
Only petty-bourgeois minds with an incurable attachment to piecemeal improvements that feeds into and is fed by a natural not-properly-thought-through optimism that “things always get better”, stick to the treacherous reformist opposite which “condemns” such messy civil-war breakdowns as Beslan and such international “outrages” as 9/11 (which equally signal a disintegrating world).
The appalling tragedy of the Caucasus school massacre IS A REALITY OF LIFE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE IMPERIALIST SYSTEM, and another such pitiable disaster will be along in a week or two somewhere on Earth, and more and more frequently.
Only imperialist tyranny and deluded reformists think “this has got to be stopped”, damning the act of terrorism.
Revolutionaries think “this has got to be stopped”, striving harder than ever to see a way that the defeat, overthrow, and crushing of the imperialist system, every scrap of it, can be achieved.
With every new “appalling outrage”, the unthinking majority forgets that the snarling imperialist threats of “we’ll get them for this”, universally applauded, are exactly what the imperialists said last time. And has this programme of blitzkrieg brutality led to the diminishing of terrorism???
No, it has only led to its dramatic worsening, exactly as the EPSR from the start has explained was inevitable.
As usual, there are claims that “the Chechen situation [read “ISIS situation” now - DH] is different entirely” and “not supportable in any way”.
First, it is continued pure ignorance to see this Leninist scientific analysis as “supporting” all terrorism, simply because it refuses to condemn it and blames imperialism instead.
It is a failure of basic logic. It is the phenomenon of the imperialist system disintegrating which M-L sees as the historically positive continuity. The tragic details of HOW it is falling apart, of which Beslan is just a tiny part of a vast horror story in which 40 million children die painfully, prematurely, and needlessly every year around the world, are 100% the responsibility of the giant imperialist powers alone that no-one or nothing can stop them perpetrating EVERY year for as long as the capitalist system rules — EXCEPT the world socialist revolution.
Marxism-Leninism has always demonstrated its GREATER sympathy with human suffering, and its GREATER courage in trying to do something about it, in this way. The historical record of poverty-stricken and tragedy-stricken countries TRANSFORMED by socialist revolution is unequalled in the whole record of humanity.
In this as in everything, clear rational thinking is the highest expression of civilised development, not emotional day-dreaming.
Complete crisis breakdown is seeing more and more obviously a turn to open fascism, at home and in an international war drive raging far beyond the Middle East and the limited “explanations” about a war for oil.
One of the more perceptive “left” bourgeois journalists, John Pilger, is at least making this point about the US Obama presidency, confirming the warnings already spelled out by the EPSR’s Marxist analysis as far back as 2007 that this “advance for the working class” of a “black president in the White House” could only extend the reactionary degeneration of the Bush neocon “New American Century” period.
Pilger’s weaknesses are apparent in his anti-jihadism throughout the piece but it usefully spells out how the overall imperialist warmongering climate has been built up (with plenty of “gross acts of horror” unleashed):
Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.
In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten”.
The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a “rebel” bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.” His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew... that if we waited one more day,” said President Obama, “Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”
....For Obama, David Cameron and then French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Gaddafi’s true crime was Libya’s economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa’s greatest oil reserves in US dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American imperial power. Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it prepared to “enter” Africa and bribe African governments with military “partnerships”.
Following Nato’s attack under cover of a Security Council resolution, Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu, “confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency”.
The “humanitarian war” against Libya drew on a model close to western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent Nato to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing “genocide” against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59” might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and “the spirit of the Second World War”. The West’s heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.
With the Nato bombing over, and much of Serbia’s infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the “holocaust”. The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines”. A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide. The “holocaust” was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.
Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major manufacturing was publicly owned. This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to capture its “natural market” in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret deal had been struck; Germany would recognise Croatia. Yugoslavia was doomed.
In Washington, the US saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans. Nato, then an almost defunct Cold War relic, was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo “peace” conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the enforcer’s duplicitous tactics. The Rambouillet accord included a secret Annex B, which the US delegation inserted on the last day. This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia - a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation - and the implementation of a “free-market economy” and the privatisation of all government assets. No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; Nato bombs fell on a defenceless country. It was the precursor to the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.
Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations - 69 countries - have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America’s modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as “sanctions”. The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.
“Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.” These were opening words of Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. In fact, some 10,000 troops and 20,000 military contractors (mercenaries) remain in Afghanistan on indefinite assignment. “The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” said Obama. In fact, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the UN took records. The majority have been killed - civilians and soldiers - during Obama’s time as president.
The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina. In his lauded and much quoted book ‘The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives’, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if America is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a popular democracy, because “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion... Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilisation.” He is right. As WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976, Brzezinski, then President Carter’s National Security Advisor, demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan’s first and only democracy. Who knows this vital history?
In the 1960s, a popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in 1978. The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a government and declared a reform programme that included the abolition of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.
The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest; peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For women, the gains were unheard of. By the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan’s doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers. “Every girl,” recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon, “could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a Friday and listen to the latest music. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. We were terrified. It was funny and sad to think these were the people the West supported.”
The PDPA government was backed by the Soviet Union, even though, as former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance later admitted, “there was no evidence of any Soviet complicity [in the revolution]”. Alarmed by the growing confidence of liberation movements throughout the world, Brzezinski decided that if Afghanistan was to succeed under the PDPA, its independence and progress would offer the “threat of a promising example”.
On July 3, 1979, the White House secretly authorised support for tribal “fundamentalist” groups known as the mujaheddin, a program that grew to over $500 million a year in U.S. arms and other assistance. The aim was the overthrow of Afghanistan’s first secular, reformist government. In August 1979, the US embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States’ larger interests... would be served by the demise of [the PDPA government], despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.” The italics are mine.
The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in cash from the CIA. Hekmatyar’s speciality was trafficking in opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a “freedom fighter”.
Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and “destabilise” the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, “a few stirred up Muslims”. His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them. Operatives who would eventually join the Taliban and al-Qaeda, were recruited at an Islamic college in Brooklyn, New York, and given paramilitary training at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called “Operation Cyclone”. Its success was celebrated in 1996 when the last PDPA president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Najibullah - who had gone before the UN General Assembly to plead for help - was hanged from a streetlight by the Taliban.
The “blowback” of Operation Cyclone and its “few stirred up Muslims” was September 11, 2001. Operation Cyclone became the “war on terror”, in which countless men, women and children would lose their lives across the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. The enforcer’s message was and remains: “You are with us or against us.”
The common thread in fascism, past and present, is mass murder.
The American invasion of Vietnam had its “free fire zones”, “body counts” and “collateral damage”. In the province of Quang Ngai, where I reported from, many thousands of civilians (“gooks”) were murdered by the US; yet only one massacre, at My Lai, is remembered. In Laos and Cambodia, the greatest aerial bombardment in history produced an epoch of terror marked today by the spectacle of joined-up bomb craters which, from the air, resemble monstrous necklaces. The bombing gave Cambodia its own ISIS, led by Pol Pot.
Today, the world’s greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are Obama’s victims. According to the New York Times, Obama makes his selection from a CIA “kill list” presented to him every Tuesday in the White House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal justification, who will live and who will die. His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains. Each “hit” is registered on a faraway console screen as a “bugsplat”.
“For goose-steppers,” wrote the historian Norman Pollock, “substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”
Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, “The sovereign is he who decides the exception.” This sums up Americanism, the world’s dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing. Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture. I grew up on a cinematic diet of American glory, almost all of it a distortion. I had no idea that it was the Red Army that had destroyed most of the Nazi war machine, at a cost of as many as 13 million soldiers. By contrast, US losses, including in the Pacific, were 400,000. Hollywood reversed this.
The difference now is that cinema audiences are invited to wring their hands at the “tragedy” of American psychopaths having to kill people in distant places - just as the President himself kills them. The embodiment of Hollywood’s violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, ‘American Sniper’, which is about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The New York Times described it as a “patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days”.
There are no heroic movies about America’s embrace of fascism. During the Second World War, America (and Britain) went to war against Greeks who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of Greek fascism. In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military junta in Athens - as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America. Germans and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the “father” of both the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space programme.
In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans became military outposts of Nato, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine were given their opportunity. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its “new wave” hailed by the enforcer as “nationalists”.
This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government. The shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda. Their leaders include Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.
These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14, Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get “the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry”. If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act of war by Russia.
No western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe - with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, ranted abuse about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime. She referred to the German Defence Minister as “the minister for defeatism”. It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of Robert D. Kagan, a leading “neo-con” luminary and co-founder of the extreme right wing Project for a New American Century, she was foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney.
Nuland’s coup did not go to plan. Nato was prevented from seizing Russia’s historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea - illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 - voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s. The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed. There was no invasion.
At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleansing. Deploying neo-Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to siege cities and towns. They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia. In the western media, they became unpeople escaping “the violence” caused by the “Russian invasion”. The Nato commander, General Breedlove - whose name and actions might have been inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove - announced that 40,000 Russian troops were “massing”. In the age of forensic satellite evidence, he offered none.
These Russian-speaking and bilingual people of Ukraine - a third of the population - have long sought a federation that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are not “separatists” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland and oppose the power grab in Kiev. Their revolt and establishment of autonomous “states” are a reaction to Kiev’s attacks on them. Little of this has been explained to western audiences.
On May 2, 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by. The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history”. In the American and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine).
The New York Times buried the story, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington’s new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims - “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.
If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained “pariah” role in the West will justify the lie that Russia is invading Ukraine. On January 29, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Viktor Muzhemko, almost inadvertently dismissed the very basis for US and EU sanctions on Russia when he told a news conference emphatically: “The Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian Army”. There were “individual citizens” who were members of “illegal armed groups”, but there was no Russian invasion. This was not news. Vadym Prystaiko, Kiev’s Deputy Foreign Minister, has called for “full scale war” with nuclear-armed Russia.
On February 21, US Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, introduced a bill that would authorise American arms for the Kiev regime. In his Senate presentation, Inhofe used photographs he claimed were of Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, which have long been exposed as fakes. It was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s fake pictures of a Soviet installation in Nicaragua, and Colin Powell’s fake evidence to the UN of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of America’s most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently, “No European government, since Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet across the West’s media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established... If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three - much as it did into world war one a century ago - all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason.”
In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: “The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack... In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.” In the Guardian on February 2, Timothy Garton-Ash called, in effect, for a world war. “Putin must be stopped,” said the headline. “And sometimes only guns can stop guns.” He conceded that the threat of war might “nourish a Russian paranoia of encirclement”; but that was fine. He name-checked the military equipment needed for the job and advised his readers that “America has the best kit”.
In 2003, Garton-Ash, an Oxford professor, repeated the propaganda that led to the slaughter in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, he wrote, “has, as [Colin] Powell documented, stockpiled large quantities of horrifying chemical and biological weapons, and is hiding what remains of them. He is still trying to get nuclear ones.” He lauded Blair as a “Gladstonian, Christian liberal interventionist”. In 2006, he wrote, “Now we face the next big test of the West after Iraq: Iran.”
The outbursts - or as Garton-Ash prefers, his “tortured liberal ambivalence” - are not untypical of those in the transatlantic liberal elite who have struck a Faustian deal. The war criminal Blair is their lost leader. The Guardian, in which Garton-Ash’s piece appeared, published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the Lockheed Martin monster were the words: “The F-35. GREAT For Britain”. This American “kit” will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered across the world. In tune with its advertiser, a Guardian editorial has demanded an increase in military spending.
Once again, there is serious purpose. The rulers of the world want Ukraine not only as a missile base; they want its economy. Kiev’s new Finance Minister, Nataliwe Jaresko, is a former senior US State Department official in charge of US overseas “investment”. She was hurriedly given Ukrainian citizenship. They want Ukraine for its abundant gas; Vice President Joe Biden’s son is on the board of Ukraine’s biggest oil, gas and fracking company. The manufacturers of GM seeds, companies such as the infamous Monsanto, want Ukraine’s rich farming soil.
Above all, they want Ukraine’s mighty neighbour, Russia. They want to Balkanise or dismember Russia and exploit the greatest source of natural gas on earth. As the Arctic ice melts, they want control of the Arctic Ocean and its energy riches, and Russia’s long Arctic land border. Their man in Moscow used to be Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, who handed his country’s economy to the West. His successor, Putin, has re-established Russia as a sovereign nation; that is his crime.
The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to modern imperial states. Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of ourselves: our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.
Pilger’s wide ranging analysis usefully sets the Middle Eastern upheavals in a their wider context of world warmongering, interconnected by the common element of US Empire’s (and sidekicks) disintegration and aggression.
But it is also deeply flawed, not least in its ineffectual ending, relying on a “do-gooding” petty bourgeois notion that if somehow the sins of the world are brought out into the open, that will in itself deal with the issues.
History does not work that way and there is no-one to step in and “do something” except the working class itself – which is why a revolutionary party and leadership is required to build a revolutionary perspective of world developments behind which the working class can be united to completely overthrow this foetid stinking capitalist domination and its slide into chaos.
And this is the last thing that Pilger can bring himself to talk about having an antipathy to and aversion to the only possible mechanism that can fully carry through the historic scale of change required, the dictatorship of the proletariat.
He rejects the fight for Marxist Leninist science and sticks to shallow class-independent notions of “opposing totalitarianism”, abstract “dictators” and general “oppression” which all the fake-“left” fall for, the opposite side of the coin to their underlying illusions in abstract democracy to be achieved, presumably, by more protest and “exposures”.
It certainly avoids any difficult or embarrassing questions of having to defend the workers states and the necessities for their more vigorous suppression of counter-revolution, sometimes brutally and tragically involving loss of civilian life, from such relatively minor incidents as the Soviet Union’s downing of the Korean Airlines Flight 007 spying mission in the 1980s to all-out wars (like the one in Afghanistan).
He cannot see that the downfall of Yugoslavia was partly because of Slobodan Milosevic’s revisionist retreat from the dictatorship of the proletariat into a half-arsed compromise with the “free market” to “act as a bridge” between with the West, and that if Yugoslavia had successfully integrated its disparate masses previously it was because of its workers state discipline and perspectives.
But the worst aspect is precisely in misunderstanding the Islamic revolt erupting everywhere, falling for the superficial impressionism that because the Taleban was used – for a while - for anti-communist purposes to entrap the Soviet Union in Afghanistan (demoralising Moscow’s by then already far gone revisionist leadership) that therefore all the subsequent Islamic movements are part of imperialism and essentially its tools.
It is not even the case, as he says early on that the Libyan “Benghazi massacre” Big Lie used to justify the Nazi-NATO invasion originated with -
Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be “a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda”. Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for Nato’s inferno, described by David Cameron as a “humanitarian intervention”.
The Libyan “opposition” was a much more disparate hodge-podge of one-time monarchists, on-the-make petty bourgeois and gangster types, intermingled with some Islamists perhaps but not as the central part. And while some of the jihadists may have been “secretly supplied and trained by Britain’s SAS,” it is just speculation to declare “many of the 'rebels' would become ISIS” and nonsensical to declare the city of Sirte was “destroyed on their behalf by Nato bombers.”
It was destroyed on behalf of imperialism.
That anarchic-nationalist jihadist upheavals are a product of capitalism’s breakdown is true only in the broadest sense, as a response to the unbearable oppression of capitalist rule everywhere.
That their nutty sectarian ideology has let them be manipulated and used is also true, but to see them only as, or even primarily as, an expression of capitalist fascist repression is to turn reality upside down.
Does that include Hamas? Boko Haram? The Hezbollah? Perhaps the Iranian regime currently fighting ISIS? Pilger can neither explain the “blowback” of 9/11 (and the Taliban nationalist war against the West), nor any of the other anti-Westernism of these struggles.
The greatest “blowback” of all is completely missing from Pilger’s account as it is from most of the “lefts”, the huge Arab Spring spontaneous revolt in Egypt and its subsequent Islamic Muslim Brotherhood consolidation.
It this was all a “tool of imperialism” then why was it subsequently toppled by a middle-class counter-revolt which unlike the initial and huge rebellion – which caught the world by surprise – clearly was organised by Western intelligence (possibly by the Zionists)?????
The Libyan chaos and Syrian havoc since was a desperate panic measure by imperialism to help suppress this Egyptian upheaval which in current world conditions could not long remain simply an Islamic government.
None of the “left” will talk about Egypt and its bloody and fascist military dictatorship, massacring thousands of protestors, torturing and imprisoning many more, helping repress the Palestinian struggle by shutting down the tunnels into Gaza, and finally releasing Hosni Mubarak, the target of the initial uprising, because they all supported it, blinded by their shallow democracy illusions and failure to keep their eye on the ball, capitalist defeat.
But it makes a mockery of their denunciations and condemnations,(which now routinely denounce the Sinai militants (also linked to ISIS) fighting this fascist monstrosity.
Total opportunist confusion and cover-up reins on the “left” because its middle class membership is appalled by the reality of the destructiveness of capitalist breakdown.
It is capitalism that has unleashed it, capitalist defeat that opens the door to its revolutionary overturn to build the only stable peaceful future, communism.
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