No 1465 7th April 2015
Multiple parties for UK election and desperate media saturation hype reflect the disintegration of the bourgeois “democracy” trick as the catastrophic world economic crisis teeters on the edge of even greater meltdown than 2008, and World War Three drive continues in Ukraine, Yemen, Somalia etc. Fearful ruling class heads attention away from giant world collapse with shallow, unsustainable “recovery” LIES, and quibbling over “austerity”, petty nationalism, immigration etc to distract a working class, already deeply cynical about on-the-make “politicians”, from turning to revolutionary perspectives. Fake- “left” play the same games, failing to fill the philosophical and political vacuum left by growing contempt for voting with the revolutionary understanding urgently needed. Defeatist sneering at the correct class rejection of parliament expresses complete “left” cowardice and failure which has held workers back. Brand’s shallow anarchist vote rejection better but Leninist science and tactics vital
Saturation media hype around a clutch of laughable “alternative” parties for the General Election is desperate attempt by the crisis-wracked capitalist system to drum-up interest in its burnt-out “democracy” racket and keep it going despite now almost universal contempt and distrust.
The pretence of a “great debate” is being pushed harder than ever with morning, noon and night articles, interviews and special “forums” all pretending to discuss “important” issues but never touching the great catastrophic collapse of the capitalist system and the World War Three drive its ruling class is pushing as its way out.
The mass of ordinary people increasingly sense that so-called “democracy” is not just completely pointless but a massive confidence trick.
Without articulating it as such, they know that voting will change nothing because the entire parliamentary racket is one giant hoodwinking cover for the actual dictatorship rule of the bourgeoisie, imposing desperate Slump speed-up and cuts across the board.
It is the bankers, Stock Exchange dealers, industry bosses and landowners together with the judges, military, spies and police of the bourgeois state around them, who call all the shots.
Parliament is just for show, tinkering around the edges at best and its mechanisms totally intertwined with the ruling class anyway (revolving door private sector/civil service jobs-for-the-boys, cosy deals, bribery and influence peddling etc etc etc).
The Tories are just an extension of the ruling class anyway, a bunch of lying arrogant toffs, whose desperate aim is to continue driving the working class down into Victorian workhouse levels of exploitation while deceiving them by pretending the world crisis collapse is over or not happening, to keep them quiet and quiescent.
The Labourites are a detestable slimy bunch of class collaborating mountebanks who have no solutions to the crisis, doing nothing effective against it for the last five years (or ever in fact) except quibbling over minor details of how, and how fast the Slump is to be imposed.
They are no different to the Tories ultimately, also simply avoiding any mention of the reality of the crisis, which overwhelmingly dominates all world events; playing the game of Tweedledum and Tweedledee “politics” in which all reference to this greatest historic meltdown ever, simply disappears from view.
They are all rightly despised by the working class which barely voted for anyone last time, and the time before that, with voter turnouts almost the lowest in history, part of a long decline reflecting a deepening grasp and experience in the working class of how it has been hoodwinked by this democracy racket.
So too are the Liberals despised, the bourgeoisie’s “emergency stopgap” used to pull a fast one after the great meltdown of the 2010 Election, putting in the “Coalition” through a sleight-of-hand pretence that a government had been “jointly elected” despite total voting paralysis, when the great mass of people either no longer voted at all, or only went to the polls to express their disgust and hostility for the ever more obviously corrupt and degenerate parties.
The Liberal coalition is a trick that will only work once.
Hence the need to boost up allegedly “new” parties, given lavish free publicity for the last five years in preparation, like Nigel Farage’s UKIP, to pretend there is still a “choice”; but none of them has anything seriously different to say than the “mainstream” Labour and Tory alternations of bourgeois capitalist rule that have previously held sway.
They all exist only to try and keep the phoney notion of “democratic choice” going.
Above all the whole game now is to distract attention from the gigantic “elephant in the room” of the great unrolling economic catastrophe that broke to the surface fully in 2008 and which continues to unroll – held off from total world collapse and financial disintegration only by the insanity of “Quantitative Easing” Mickey Mouse money printing and credit creation.
The world will continue sliding into Slump disaster, increased surveillance and repression, and ever spreading war and chaos because it has hit a brick wall of unsolvable crisis catastrophe, from which the only “escape” for the ruling class is total war destruction of its “surplus” capital.
Far worse disaster will inevitably break in the near future, aggravated and inflamed by the very QE “solution” which has simply poisoned the monopoly capitalist world finance and production system even more than the non-stop paper dollar inflation of the post-war decades.
The pant-wetting fearfulness of 2008, when all the cash machines were a day away from complete shutdown (to hold off chain reaction bank collapses), bringing all the anarchic chaos that implies, will look like a tea-party.
None of the supposed “choices” for the election have any way at all to stop this disastrous spiral into collapse and disaster, even if they had any intention of even trying which they don’t.
They are more interested in lining their own pockets and living the degenerate lifestyles that are increasingly revealed by scandal after scandal, including in some cases the most disgusting of homosexual child abuse (which “left” single-issue “gay is normal”campaigning has helped the ruling class cover-up).
But even if they were totally “principled”, the reactionary petty nationalism of UKIP or the Scottish Nationalists, or the “eco-reformism” of the Greens etc etc are only variants on the reformism that has achieved nothing for 150 years – except holding the working class away from revolutionary politics, the only possible way out of this epochal meltdown.
The racism, cuts savagery, domestic repression and international warmongering will all remain.
The great swamp of fake-“left” “revolutionaries” is just as complicit, still failing to put any serious revolutionary understanding in front of the working class that this crisis and its warmongering cannot be stopped except by completely ending the rule of the bourgeoisie, so that planned socialism can be built and a truly democratic socialist society be developed.
Posturing and preening self-declarations of being “Marxists” are hollow jokes because the Trots, the Revisionists and assorted hybrids still call for participation in the election, not to denounce and expose it, the only allowable Leninist tactic, but to once more exert “left pressure”.
So they all leave the capitalist system intact, saying nothing about the crucial need to overturn it and instead feed illusions in the “democratic path”.
No mention is made of the need – the historic necessity – for the working class to take power and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, driven by the impossibility of the world continuing in the old way, as the crisis bites ever deeper and World War destruction escalates.
Even those few “lefts” who notionally include a revolutionary phrase or two, still manage to call for voting, like the revisionist Lalkar/Proletarian CPGB-ML Stalin worshippers.
These opportunists, conscious that their revolutionary posturing will be exposed, even manage to explain the formal Marxist understanding of the capitalist state and its hidden and veiled dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie, referencing Marx and Engels, and Lenin’s excellent State and Revolution, to do so.
Very good and well enough expounded. But then come the following quotes, revealing their total inability to let go of the “democracy” illusions that have poured out of increasingly muddled Moscow-led revisionism for decades, (all long before their eulogised hero Stalin’s leadership was ended, including, during the 1936-9 Spanish Civil War, calling for a (democratic) “republican government” eg and then addling the entire world communist movement post-war with Stalin’s Economic Problems book and its completely wrong assessment that imperialism could no longer expand and would eventually topple without the need for revolution). Says the CPGB-ML:
But how much do elections really matter? For those of us who are workers, not capitalists, then the answer is: not nearly as much as the media would have us believe. And not nearly so much as the representatives of what passes for a labour movement in this country would have us believe either.
But they still matter then according to these “Marxists”, just not “nearly so much”.
Talk about hedging your bets!!!
Is it a hidden dictatorship or not? Can workers achieve anything with it or not?
Is the CPGB-ML revolutionary...or not? It seems not:
Even while capitalism remains, every gain for working people will have to be won by fighting for it. Given the depth and severity of the capitalist crisis, it is only by putting the fear of god and revolution into the hearts of our rulers that we will be able to force them to reduce their profit margins in the interests of making or retaining even the most basic universal provisions for the wellbeing of the working class.
If we want to save our NHS and our schools; if we want to improve pay and conditions for workers and to raise benefits for the unemployed and incapacitated; if we want to end homelessness and rent racketeering, we need to create fighting organisations that will harness the strength of the working class to achieve these concrete aims.
If we want to stop imperialist wars being waged in our name; to stop our rulers using the wealth and weapons created by us and sending the sons and daughters brought up by us to butcher our brothers and sisters abroad and facilitate the looting of their resources, we need to get ourselves organised to disrupt and sabotage the imperialist war machines.
If we don’t want foreign workers to be used to undercut our pay, we need to insist that every worker joins a union, make sure our unions are fit for the job of protecting our rights, and make it impossible for the bosses to keep playing us off against each other.
This “while capitalism remains” is the same old “in the meantime” argument so favoured by all the Trotskyist and Revisionist groups who loudly proclaim themselves “revolutionaries” but who, when it comes to it, never actually put any such perspective forwards right now in any concrete situation.
Instead, apparently, an enormous amount can be achieved by voting (within capitalism) and not even casting the votes for the CPGB-ML Proletarian but for the completely non-Marxist Greens! – saving the NHS for example, even improving conditions and raising benefits in the middle of the greatest storming economic disintegration ever.
It simply requires using “left pressure” – a particularly bold form in this case admittedly (because of the crisis you understand) that makes it necessary allegedly to put
“the fear of god and revolution”
into the ruling class, but “left pressure” nonetheless – to “reduce their profit margins” etc etc.
What misleading opportunist total gobshyte!!!
Is the working class confronted with a revolutionary crisis catastrophe in the world or can it escape this epochal intractable disaster by “protest” and “No to War” and “reducing” profit margins????
That is reformism!!!
It is nothing different essentially to the nonsense poured out by the Labourite and revisionist “left” for 150 years threatening just as much “fear of god” stuff (and the real post-war threat of the Soviet Union Red Army revolutionary advance across Europe in the event) over decades, only to see all the “gains” dismantled again as they are being now (and only just begun).
But the Proletarian declares limply:
“the best we can do with our protest vote is to cast it in favour of any party that stands on a platform of being anti-austerity and anti-war, and which does not seek to blame immigrants for the problems faced by working people under capitalism.”
Some “bold” revolutionaries!!!
What is this “protest vote” notion anyway??? Just another sly way of saying “vote”.
The really dishonest opportunism is revealed in the latest Proletarian which hides all this standard reformism behind the long Lenin-quoting introduction saying exactly the opposite.
But the CPGB-ML knows very well it is on very thin ice, as repeatedly shown by the EPSR’s continuing polemics (the only group which states the revolutionary perspective outright) so it turns to some highly devious sophistry to try and “justify” itself, a tricky variation on the standard “but the workers aren’t ready yet” tailending argument first exposed and denounced by Lenin in 1904’s What is to be Done? against the Economists, who urged sticking to just “practical achievable trade union struggles while leaving ‘all that theory about politics’ to the intellectuals”.
Far from the collapse in turnout and voting reflecting a giant step forwards in working class political development, embodying experience from over 100 years of betrayals and hoodwinking, including at least a dozen Labour governments, which the majority have now seen though, Proletarian declares this to be a triumph for the ruling class!!!
Having grasped this fact, there is another trend of left-wing thought which then declares avoidance of bourgeois elections to be a point of principle, and even that the widespread political apathy that characterises much of the British working class today constitutes some kind of great victory.
But apathy is not the same as class consciousness. Far from it, in fact.
Why are so many people so apathetic and uninterested in the political process? Is it that they have been thoroughly awakened to the nature of the bourgeois state and the need for the working class to replace it with something else?
Not at all. Many workers do indeed have a healthy distrust of all the institutions of the state, and the poorest sections are very well aware that it is neither neutral nor fair. But these instincts have been transformed not into class-conscious action, but into a far more palatable (to the ruling class) resignation. Essentially, many of those who should be the most angry and active in preparing the overthrow of the system have allowed themselves to be duped into the belief that ‘politicians are all the same’ – no matter what their class allegiance.
This is a victory for the ruling class, since the workers concerned are often as suspicious of communist activists as they are of bourgeois politicians. And certainly as disbelieving of the idea that any of their actions might actually be capable of bringing about the changes that are so badly needed.
So much is wrong with this it is hard to know where to start.
First of course is the miserable defeatism, so characteristic of the petty bourgeoisie (whose class attitude is the essence of all these fake-“left” groups) seeing a huge break with parliamentarianism as a “victory for the ruling class”.
Second, this turns things upside down. Having spent a long introduction telling us how bourgeois “democracy” is a major weapon of the ruling class, the Proletarian now declares the breakdown of this same illusion also to be a major weapon of the ruling class.
Or course that requires some quick explaining away of awkward facts:
Still, it is worth noting the horror with which the corporate media’s pundits have recoiled at comedian Russell Brand’s vocal support for those who do not vote – and of his open statements that such a position is entirely to be understood when all the main parties represent essentially the same politics. If such statements from a single, high-profile individual, who has no party or organisation to back him up, are deemed to be threatening enough to justify an avalanche of vilification and ridicule, just imagine how terrified the ruling class would be to see a disciplined, organised and active election boycott!
But the CPGB-ML is not about to let this interfere with its miserabalism.
For all their posturing, like all the petty bourgeois “left”, they don’t actually imagine capitalism not “remaining”, which is to say they do not really, deep down, have the remotest confidence that revolution is even possible, or that the ruling class can be overturned (and actually their petty bourgeois souls recoil from the turmoil and destructive breakdown that revolution means, as an entire historical period smashes into its own contradictions).
So they recommend “voting” just as Salvador Allende, addled with the same Third International revisionist delusions in “democracy” and “peaceful roads” recommended in Chile in the early 1970s leaving the working class open to the horrific Pinochet torture coup of 1973; or the presidential democracy that the entire “left” goes along with in Venezuela now, saying nothing to the working class about the need to take power and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat; or, as all the “left” continue to do, suggesting to the Greek working class that the total bankruptcy of the capitalist state can be sorted out by “voting”:
Given the fact that so many people still have great illusions in the system of bourgeois parliamentary democracy in Britain, however, our party would at the present time be in favour of the principle of putting up communist candidates for election.
Blame the workers again rather than offer leadership!
The Brarites pretend that such voting would just be “to expose” parliament but since they have already declared themselves to be “fighting for reforms” this is so much flannel, notionally correct but overridden by the actual policy of still participating:
In the first instance, just as in the case of an active boycott, standing candidates gives an opportunity to bring communist politics into the wider debate and to spread the influence of a revolutionary understanding. In the second place, any candidates who were actually elected would be able to use the opportunity given to them to expose the system’s inner logic and to make clear to workers how it functions against them and why.
The job of communist MPs is, first and foremost, to prove to workers through their own experience just how unfitted the current parliamentary system is to meeting their demands.
(But surely that is what their abstentionism shows they have already learned!!!!)
Communists use parliament to expose parliament, rather than to foster new illusions in it.
The real purpose of all this is to allow the Proletarian to continue sticking with parliament of course where the allegedly less “apathetic” workers will still be.
According to the quotes above only the “poorer” workers are really taken in (“duped”), stuck in “apathetic resignation” believing all “politicians are the same.”
But all parliamentary politicians, who foster reformist illusions, are “the same” - they are all mountebanks! And grasping that is a giant advance.
This stuff just reveals yet more layers of petty bourgeois arrogance in this Lalkar/Proletarian and a class position firmly aligned with the “better off workers” who do still equate political activity with parliamentary illusions.
But these are precisely the most backward politically.
Engels and Lenin long ago wrote about the corruption and petty bourgeois contamination of the better-off sections of the working class in the metropolitan countries, where capitalism uses a small amount of its super-profits, ripped out of the colonies (Third World sweatshops) to buy-off a whole layer of skilled and supervising workers, creating a “Labour Aristocracy”, – and it runs particularly deeply in Britain.
As the crisis deepens this bribery is lessening but its legacy persists among municipal and state workers particularly (National Health eg).
It is among the poorest, hammered by dole sanctions, housing benefit cuts, unemployment or “zero-hours” working, police harassment and Bedroom taxes that the crisis has been teaching the sharpest lessons.
Far from being “our less well-off brethren” as the Proletarian unctuously and patronisingly describes them like some do-gooding vicar, these are the sections of the working class and proletariat which are moving first.
To bolster its position the Proletarian finally tries embedding some sneers at other left groups that it declares have got it all wrong by allegedly “calling for boycotts” as in the quotes above and here:
Active boycott is a long way from abstention, however, and a party would need to command a meaningful force in order to call for one. For tiny left-wing parties to advocate a boycott in a few leaflets and then claim a great victory when half the working class doesn’t bother to vote is as much a fraud as the electoral system itself, since 999,999 of every million workers has never heard of the parties in question and was unaware of their boycott call!
This is more sophistry, a red (or rather not so ”red”) herring.
Who, apart from Brand, has called for a “boycott”, or then gone on to claim its has created the abstentions?
In true revisionist style the Lalkar/Proletarian does not say, refusing to name the mysterious “tiny left-wing parties” in question, a philosophical evasion in line with all its other multitudinous cover-ups of past errors, and misleading positions.
It fears and avoids true open polemics, the only mechanism by which the revolutionary understanding that the working class needs can be hammered out and agreed positions be reached, and mistakes be exposed and either rejected or corrected.
Of course the finger is being pointed at the EPSR which is the only group (other than Brand’s semi-mystic anarchism which Proletarian specifically rules out) which has pointed to the collapse in voting as a major advance in working class development, opening up its consciousness to revolutionary grasp.
Naming names would allow the arguments to be checked and a reply to be made, thus preventing the Proletarian from lyingly mis-attributing to the EPSR a “boycottist” position.
The intention is to smear the EPSR’s objective assessment of parliamentary voting collapse as an advance, by suggesting that it equates to an ultra-left notion of spontaneous revolutionary development in the working class.
But the EPSR does not, and has never, said any such thing.
Just the opposite, it declares that the need to develop revolutionary discussion and debate, and build a cadre party of constantly developing political consciousness, has never been more urgent.
But it has also never been more possible, and that is the real significance of the “abstentions” – a significance which the fake-“left” wants to avoid.
Tactically that would still include standing candidates and other interventions in elections, but precisely and truly to use the platform to denounce and expose “democracy” and educate the working class in the revolutionary perspectives needed.
It is exactly this that the EPSR struggles constantly to do, as best that a “tiny left-wing” group can.
Strange, given it is so "insignificant" by the Proletarian’s philistine “sizist” criterion, that the Brarites feel the necessity to devote an entire article to trying to evade the arguments the EPSR puts forwards.
The EPSR insists on constant development of theory, spelling out all the points that are missing from the Stalinists’ opportunist half-”polemic”.
First is the catastrophic crisis, unmentioned essentially by Proletarian (except to underline its “super-reformist” demands) which must be always central to any struggle.
Demands to “save the NHS” or even protests against war, or austerity are not ruled out but presented as reformist demands alone they leave unchallenged the deliberate ruling class lie that the economy has been “turned around” to produce an “upturn”.
It is utter garbage. Firstly the working class has already been driven down massively since 2008 (and before in fact, laden with personal debt) with barely a squeak of even half-hearted “protest” let alone resistance from the disgusting opportunism and class-collaboration of the official trade union TUC and Labourites.
Living standards and conditions will continue to be driven down, and on an accelerated scale as soon as the election is over, and far more severely this time because the “easy” cuts have already been made, with massive new welfare and service reductions in a savaged jobs market, while bailouts and privatisation plundering go on for the rich.
Secondly, even that is an optimistic picture, relying on there being no further lurches in the disastrous world crisis.
But sudden massive financial earthquakes are certain as Marxist science (only) has long made clear and as various bourgeois pundits and senior finance personnel keep on warning in the bourgeois press.
Worth noting in some of the accounts is the inter-imperialist conflict being stirred up (between Germany and the US around the Ukrainian warmongering for example) as the desperate battle for world markets continually intensifies:
You may, quite reasonably, think that economic fundamentals, such as GDP growth and crossborder trade flows, still drive exchange rates.
Unfortunately, though, you’d be wrong. For we live in the age of “extraordinary monetary measures” and “central bank diktat”.
That may sound like a remote, jargon-laced statement, the musings of a nerdy economist. I’d say, in response, that the recent actions of Western central bankers are provoking not only heightened market volatility, but also increasing international conflict and the looming prospect of another Lehman-style systemic lurch. The dangers, sadly, are very real.
Currency dealers, and the ubiquitous computerised trading robots, are influenced far less these days by growth or inflation forecasts than by the market’s view on the origin of the next splurge of quantitative easing.
That judgment is driven, in turn, by the coded missives of central bankers like the US Federal Reserve’s Janet Yellen, Mark Carney at the Bank of England and, particularly in recent months, Mario Draghi at the European Central Bank (ECB).
Why did the euro fall to almost $1.05 last week, a 12year low, having dropped some 12pc against the greenback since the start of the year? Why, when each pound bought you just €1.19 last March, can holidaymakers now expect €1.40 for every pound exchanged?
The main reason is the ECB’s long-awaited programme of virtual money printing, which launched last Monday. Under euro-QE, the eurozone will be flooded with at least €1,100bn (£825bn) of newly created money over the next year and a half, as the Frankfurt-based central bank buys government and corporate bonds at the rate of around €60bn a month.
Like some kind of economic horsewhisperer, Draghi then commented that the eurozone economy is “now pointing in the right direction”, apparently raising the prospect of even faster ECB money creation, so depreciating the euro even more. As such, at the time of writing, the single currency has dropped over 6pc in six days, a pace of decline seen only once since the euro was launched in 1999 – and that was just after the 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse.
The other major cause of the single currency’s recent fall is that the Fed – having already indulged in its own vast money printing programme, which saw America’s central bank expand its balance sheet threefold as a percentage of annual GDP over five years – could soon be weaning itself off the monetary steroids.
As such, for the first time in almost a decade, US interest rates may be about to go up. Expectations are rising, ahead of a key policy-making meeting this week, that the Fed will drop its pledge to be “patient”, pointing to a rate rise perhaps as early as June. Such a prospect, of course, pushes up the dollar.
So, as a result of ECB money printing and US central bank musing, the dollar has lately soared against the euro. After months of speculation that Fed QE is finally over and rates will soon increase, America’s currency has rocketed 25pc against a tradeweighted range of currencies since May, with the dollar index now at its highest level since 2003.
The reality, of course, is that the Fed’s successive doses of QE since late 2008 have been designed to keep the lid on the dollar, deliberately reining in the greenback in a bid to boost US competitiveness and limit the value of the vast debts America now owes its foreign creditors – not least China.
The eurozone, meanwhile, having initially had to bow to German objections, has so far implemented QE more covertly, expanding its balance sheet slower than the US – and the UK for that matter. As such, the ECB has used complex transactions beyond the gaze of voters in member states where central bank profligacy is frowned upon and money printing has previously gone badly wrong – sparking inflation, political extremism and worse.
The perpetually moribund eurozone economy of recent years, though, to say nothing of a currency union that stumbles from crisis to systemic crisis, means euro-QE is now, apparently, OK. In other words, the eurozone can finally get its own back on the US and Britain by attempting to print its way to a cheaper currency, winning back some competitiveness. That’s the theory, anyway.
What we’re seeing, then, is the West’s very own version of “currency wars”. For almost half a decade, the big emerging markets have complained bitterly – and often publicly–about mass money printing by the world’s “leading economies”. The likes of Brazil and China have highlighted, rightly, that Western QE has lowered the relative value of £10 to trade shares and no charge to buy & sell funds their carefully accumulated dollar and sterling reserves (and debts) against local, emergent currencies such as the yuan and the real.
Consider that the ECB is launching its QE programme at a time when real interest rates are already negative. As such, historically ultraloose monetary policy is now being made even looser.
Myopic politicians like QE – because, by rigging sovereign bond markets, it allows them to keep borrowing and spending. Mismanaged banks also like QE – because it means they sell their burntout, underperforming investments to the state and pretend they’re solvent, which avoids the discomfort of going bust.
Meanwhile, respectable people are increasingly alarmed, raising concerns about “extraordinary measures” that some of us have been voicing for years.
The head of the Dutch central bank, having not previously complained publicly, last week admitted that euro-QE, by propping up spendthrift governments, would shield the likes of France and Italy from “market discipline”, postponing vital reforms. A senior Goldman Sachs banker added that negative interest rates are “freaking him out”.
And no wonder. For the longer profligate eurozone governments are able to ramp up borrowing, the more likely monetary union is dramatically to implode. And the further share prices are pumped up by QE and other monetary mutations, the more vulnerable global stock markets are to crash.
Now, with eurozone leaders engaging in fully blown QE, and rejoicing at the euro’s fall against the dollar, currency wars are taking place not just between the developed world and the emerging markets but between the developed nations themselves. Japan, of course, is also part of this intraG7 currency conflict, having lately launched an astonishingly extreme QE programme designed to pump up the Bank of Japan’s balance sheet from just over 20pc to no less than 75pc of annual output within three years.
As such, the world’s leading economies have reduced themselves to blatantly competing less on the quality of what they produce, than on the speed with which they can depreciate their currencies against one another. The lessons of history are that such situations are prone to escalate into rancour and, ultimately, conflict. That’s the unfortunate truth.
...news that the consumer price index has fallen to 0%...not only has never happened before, no term exists to describe this situation. Inflation refers to rising prices; deflation, falling prices.
Whatever the name, the government would have you believe it’s a good thing. “The right sort of price freeze,” according to Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander. And provided it doesn’t last long, they’re right. The halving of oil prices over the past year and the resulting fall in the cost of transport and food is good news for most Britons. It also comes in very handy for coalition ministers, who can deflect Ed Miliband’s jabs about living standards. Even if wages are only crawling upwards, a fall in prices leaves more cash in voters’ pockets. A foretaste of this tactic was served up by George Osborne in last week’s budget, in which he boasted that “living standards will be higher in 2015 than in 2010”. This supposed triumph is more rhetorical than real – and it surely won’t resonate in the average household.
...and it’s hard not to worry about the new flation. Already, core inflation – which excludes volatile food and energy prices – is at its lowest for a decade. Seven years on from the banking meltdown, the British economy remains in a feeble condition – and that the people who run it are unsure about why it is so sick or how to make it better. In a speech last week, the Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, noted that when the monetary policy committee (MPC) slashed interest rates to 0.5% in March 2009, “financial markets did not expect this low level … to persist, with the first rise expected nine months later in December 2009”. Six years later, the key rate remains at 0.5%. Similarly, both the Bank and the Office for Budget Responsibility have spent the bulk of the great slump predicting an imminent turnaround – which has never turned up quite as billed. Instead, the UK’s mediocre growth has been flattered by its location in a part of the world (Europe) that has got used to appalling sluggishness, and by the creation of a multitude of low-wage jobs.
Put all this together, and you have an economy that is slowly impoverishing its workers, whose real wages are down almost 10% since 2008. Rather than boasting about falling inflation, government ministers ought to be urgently seeking to boost pay. Instead, as the work of former MPC member Danny Blanchflower and his colleague David Bell suggests, the UK appears to be well on the way to the institution of a new sub-labour market, where workers are trapped in a low-pay, low-productivity spiral. All this is only made sustainable by the Bank keeping interest rates at record lows. What are the chances of having an election campaign dominated by this real economic debate, rather than a Dutch auction between major parties to conjure up the biggest spending cuts? One fears the answer is precisely zero.
Greek ministers are spending this weekend, almost five grinding years since Athens was first bailed out, wrangling over the details of the spending cuts and economic reforms they have drawn up to appease their creditors.
As the recriminations fly between Europe’s capitals, campaigners are warning that the global community has failed to learn the lessons of the Greek debt crisis – or even of Argentina’s default in 2001, the consequences of which are still being contested furiously in courts on both sides of the Atlantic.
As Janet Yellen’s Federal Reserve prepares to raise interest rates, boosting the value of the dollar, while the plunging price of crude puts intense pressure on the finances of oil-exporting countries, there are growing fears of a new debt crisis in the making.
Ann Pettifor of Prime Economics, who foreshadowed the credit crunch in her 2003 book The Coming First World Debt Crisis, says: “We’re going to have another financial crisis. Brazil’s already in great trouble with the strength of the dollar; I dread to think what’s happening in South Africa; then there’s Malaysia. We’re back to where we were, and that for me is really frightening.”
Since the aftershocks of the global financial crisis of 2008 died away, the world’s policymakers have spent countless hours rewriting the banking rulebook and rethinking monetary policy. But next to nothing has been done about the question of what to do about countries that can’t repay their debts, or how to stop them getting into trouble in the first place.
Developing countries are using the UN to demand a change in the way sovereign defaults are dealt with. Led by Bolivian ambassador to the UN Sacha Sergio Llorenti, they are calling for a bankruptcy process akin to the Chapter 11 procedure for companies to be applied to governments.
Unctad, the UN’s Geneva-based trade and investment arm, has been working for several years to draw up a “roadmap” for sovereign debt resolution. It recommends a series of principles, including a moratorium on repayments while a solution is negotiated; the imposition of currency controls to prevent capital fleeing the troubled country; and continued lending by the IMF to prevent the kind of existential financial threat that roils world markets and causes severe economic hardship.
If a new set of rules could be established, Unctad believes, “they should help prevent financial meltdown in countries facing difficulties servicing their external obligations, which often results in a loss of market confidence, currency collapse and drastic interest rates hikes, inflicting serious damage on public and private balance sheets and leading to large losses in output and employment and a sharp increase in poverty”.
It calls for a once-and-for-all write-off, instead of the piecemeal Greek-style approach involving harsh terms and conditions that knock the economy off course and can ultimately make the debt even harder to repay. The threat of a genuine default of this kind could also help to constrain reckless lending by the private sector in the first place.
However, when these proposals were put to the UN general assembly last September, a number of developed countries, including the UK and the US, voted against it, claiming the UN was the wrong forum to discuss the proposal, which is anathema to powerful financial institutions.
Pettifor shares some of the UK and US’s scepticism. “The problem for me is that the UN has no leverage here,” she says. “It can make these moralistic pronouncements but ultimately it’s the IMF and the governments that make the decisions.”
And while the debate rages, developing countries have been taking advantage of rock-bottom interest rates and the cheap money created by quantitative easing to stack up billions in new debt.
Using recently released World Bank data, the Jubilee Debt Campaign calculates that in 2013 alone – the latest period for which figures are available – borrowing by developing countries was up 40% to $17.3bn.
Brazil’s economy is likely to be seriously tested as the greenback rises; Turkey, Malaysia and Chile have large dollar-denominated debts and sliding currencies; and a string of African countries face sharp rises in debt repayments. Ghana and Zambia have already had to turn to the IMF to ask for help. It’s as if, as Pettifor warns, “absolutely nothing has changed since the crisis”.
The crisis has just begun.
Meanwhile the non-stop warmongering being imposed by Washington – followed by the other imperialists - to escape this disaster continues to humiliate and shame the monopoly capitalist order on an international scale, exposing ever more the gross lies and pretences of the “freedom and democracy” fraud, all reinforcing the lessons that the fake-“lefts” refuse to draw.
Coup after coup has been imposed, and blitz after blitz from Thailand to Timbuktu with staggering levels of bare-faced hypocrisy.
Take the non-stop declamations against Russia, because it has aided the working class in Eastern Ukraine in their resistance against the fascist slaughter being imposed on them by the Swastika tattooed full-on Nazis who mounted an outright coup against the (legally elected) Kiev government last year (in itself exposing the falsity of the West’s “democratic legality" posturing).
In true Goebbels style Putin is denounced for “interference in a sovereign nation” – no such thing of course since it has merely defended against the Kiev Nazi takeover.
But the West has itself now made such invasion and blitzkrieg a complete normality, from the takeover of Afghanistan and Iraq to the NATO destruction of Libya.
What total humbug is all the huffing and puffing about “sovereign rights” when imperialism does nothing but interfere, bribe, bully, blast and bomb to keep its writ intact for permanent tyrannical world exploitation.
Not a tiny murmur has been heard against the latest air-raid blasting and strafing of the Yemen – including massive “collateral damage” butchery of refugee civilians – by the Saudi Arabians, a clear interference in another sovereign nation that breaks every principle of supposed “international legality” – assuming the supposed “world government” UN fraud was to be taken seriously in the first place and not identified clearly as the imperialist sham it actually is, a complete stooge body for US and other major power interests.
Nor have any such denunciations been heard of totally corrupt capitalist stooge Kenya, which has casually sent its bombers across the border for completely illegal “punishment” raids to blow apart various settlements on the grounds that they are “connected” to Al-Shabaab and the terrorist raid on the Kenyan University last week – which tragic as it was, is a response to and not a cause of world breakdown and crisis turmoil; Kenya has been making military raids on Somalia for over three years, indiscriminately blitzing and killing Somalians “because they might be, or might harbour” “terrorists”.
This Nazi-Zionist/US imperialist “collective punishment” methodology has now become standard, a complete symptom of the degeneration of the world into increasingly outright fascism as the crisis intensifies, underlining the complete lie that world society under capitalism has got anything to do with “democracy” or ever had.
At the same time coup follows coup with nary a comment or denunciation from bourgeois politicians or Western media, unless it should threaten Western interests.
But the reality leaks through:
The leader of the Thai junta has threatened to execute journalists who “did not tell the truth” in shocking comments aimed at Thailand’s media.
Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters, “we’ll probably just execute them,” when he was asked how the Government would deal with journalists and media outlets that did not adhere to the official line, according to Reuters.
The news agency claims he made the menacing remarks on Wednesday without “a trace of a smile”.
“You don’t have to support the government, but you should report the truth,” he added. Instead, he urged journalists to write in a way that encourages national reconciliation in the deeply divided nation.
Prayuth leads the National Council for Peace and Order which deposed the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a coup last May following months of protests.
Yingluck was recently impeached by Thai legislators for her role in overseeing a controversial government rice subsidy programme that lost billions of dollars.
The coup saw Thailand placed under martial law, giving the army full control over citizens, the way the country is run and providing the junta with sweepings powers over arrest and detention.
Prayuth has lead a crack-down on dissenters and claims Thailand is still not ready for martial law to be lifted.
In January, the junta forced a German foundation to cancel a forum on press freedom. Prayuth was particularly critical of the Thai-language Matichon daily newspaper, accusing the paper of siding with ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his allies.
“Don’t think I don’t know that your writing is pro the previous administration,” he was quoted as telling a Matichon reporter.
“The previous Interior Ministry bought many advertising spaces from you.”
One of the most barbaric of course is the General Sisi led military coup in Egypt which slaughtered thousands in cold blood on the street when it took power and which has imprisoned, executed and persecuted thousands since, while continuing bloody repression:
Dozens of women have rallied in Egypt’s capital, Cairo, to denounce the killing of a female protester and blame the police for her death during a peaceful demonstration.
The slaying of 32-year mother and activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh on Saturday has set off a storm of criticism against police. Officials have denied officers shot and killed her.
More than 100 women protesters gathered on Thursday, holding up pictures of Sabbagh and chanting defiantly: “Police are thugs!” and “Down with every president so long as blood is cheap!”
The protesters later dispersed peacefully and police did not intervene. Egyptian authorities have cracked down heavily on protests and banned any demonstrations without prior government approval. The crackdown follows the coup of the Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, after mass protests.
At least 17 people were killed across Egypt on Sunday as disparate groups of demonstrators gathered to mark the fourth anniversary of the country’s 2011 uprising.
Policemen were accused of shooting dead several protesters in the suburbs of northern and western Cairo, in isolated areas known for their weekly Islamist demonstrations. Trouble also flared in the coastal city of Alexandria, where mourners buried a woman killed by police on the eve of the anniversary, and dissidents set fire to a tram.
“Down with military rule,” chanted many protesters, in a reference to the untrammelled influence of Egypt’s authoritarian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, a former army chief, and his coterie of military advisers.
The protests highlighted how an 18-month-long crackdown on dissent has yet to completely eradicate the revolutionary sentiment that toppled Sisi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, four years ago to the day. But the demonstrations’ modest scale highlighted the reduced appetite for reform among a wider population craving stability after four years of political upheaval.
(Or possibly simply fearful of being shot down???)
By nightfall, at least 45 had been injured, in addition to the 17 dead, a health ministry spokesman told the Guardian. Two militants were also allegedly killed while attempting to plant a bomb near pylons in the northern countryside.
Gunmen in a car opened fire on a security checkpoint near the pyramids, killing two policemen, and a bomb wounded two policemen outside a Cairo sports club, security sources said.
Small gatherings were also dispersed in central Cairo, where protesters have rarely ventured since a counter-revolutionary crackdown began in the summer of 2013. But their numbers were far lower, and they were dispersed far quicker, than the demonstrators who swarmed Tahrir Square in 2011, at the start of an uprising that eventually ousted Mubarak.
Four years on, Tahrir Square was closed off, a symbolic and physical reminder of the grip that the security apparatus has re-exerted after a brief period of increased freedom in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising.
The White House said on Tuesday that it was restoring the military aid to Egypt that it suspended after the military took control of the country in 2013.
The decision is the latest sign of the Obama administration trying to repair ties with the group of authoritarian Sunni regimes in the Middle East that have criticised its efforts to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran.
The $1.3bn in military aid, which will include the delivery of a dozen F-16 fighter aircraft, is being restored despite concerns about human rights abuses and political repression in Egypt since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took control nearly two years ago.
However, the Obama administration also said that it would phase out a system that allows Egypt to buy equipment on credit, which could give Washington greater control over how the money is spent.
According to the White House, President Barack Obama told Mr al-Sisi in a phone call that the new aid rules would “help refine our military assistance relationship so that it is better positioned to address the shared challenges to US and Egyptian interests in an unstable region”.
The White House added that the US continued to be troubled by “Egypt’s imprisonment of non-violent activists and mass trials” and that Mr Obama “encouraged increased respect for freedom of speech and assembly”.
The annual aid package for Egypt, which is the second largest recipient of US military assistance after Israel, was suspended after Mr al-Sisi ousted Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who was elected president in 2012, and after the killing of pro-Morsi protesters that followed the coup.
Last year, the state department said it had not yet decided to release aid to Egypt because it was unable “to certify that Egypt is taking steps to support a democratic transition”.
The decision to restore the aid was criticised by human rights groups who said the administration had given up its leverage over the Egyptian government.
“Egypt’s widespread human rights violations undermine stability and exacerbate political divisions in Egypt, and, on a regional level, harm the multilateral effort to combat violent extremism and terrorism,” said Neil Hicks at Human Rights First. “We urge the Obama administration to use its relationship with Egypt to press for an end to human rights violations and for necessary political reforms.”
America’s traditional allies in the region have been angered by Mr Obama’s attempts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran, which many Sunni countries in the Middle East fear will allow Tehran to accelerate what they believe to be a plan for regional domination.
As well as trying to mend fences with Cairo, the administration has supported the Saudi-led military coalition that has intervened in Yemen against the Houthi rebels who are supported by Iran.
Although the US will continue to request $1.3bn for Egypt every year, from 2018 the administration will end the so-called “cash flow financing” system, which allowed Cairo to place multiyear orders for expensive US weapons programmes that Congress was unlikely to ever cancel.
The White House said that after 2018 aid to Egypt would be focused on counterterrorism, border security, security in the Sinai and maritime security, as well as the maintenance of weapons systems that Egypt already possesses.
Along with the new F-16 fighter jets, Egypt will also receive 20 Harpoon missiles and up to 125 Abrams tanks. Earlier this year, Egypt used F-16s to conduct air strikes against Islamist militants in Libya and some analysts in the US believe Cairo would like to launch a broader military intervention in Libya.
The Proletarian was at the forefront in declaiming the Sisi coup in Cairo to be a great “step forwards” for the Egyptian masses in July 2013 when it toppled the newly elected Mohamed Morsi Muslim Brotherhood presidency, riding an obviously petty bourgeois counter-revolution heavily promoted by the Western media and politicians and clearly organised by the West and its intelligence agencies.
That is just one of the many mistakes that wooden Stalinism has made and which it never returns to, preferring to brush such “errors” under the carpet, along with the hundreds of other mistakes and wrong analyses.
It will doubtless avoid saying anything now about the obvious fascist nature of the Cairo regime clearly displayed in lining up with the feudal reactionary Saudi Arabians to blast and bomb the rebellion in Yemen which was stirred up by the original Arab Spring.
But like its slightly more off-the-wall sympathisers in the amateurish black-nationalist Sons of Malcolm group, who have been more out front in cheering on the Sisi regime, the Brarites are tangled up in contradictions and find themselves exposed and on the wrong side because of their mechanical, undialectical approach to the world.
They cannot see an obvious coup so how are they to say anything sensible about “democracy” and revolution?
A deeper analysis of the confusion around the Middle East caused by lining up with Western “anti-terror” condemnations is needed of course.
But even more basically, a return to building Leninism is crucial.
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