No 1471 19th June 2015
Nazi-NATO “exercises” in fascist Baltic states and Catholic reactionary “Solidarnosc” Poland keep war provocations simmering for World War Three. It is monopoly capitalism’s only escape from its catastrophic crisis, still unrolling despite QE “upturn” pretences. Fraudulent Syriza style anti-austerity pleading is a hopeless response to workhouse savagery and Slump “discipline” imposed everywhere and leaves workers disarmed. Only a revolutionary response to take over everything under firm working class control for socialism can stop the slide into Depression disaster and deal with coming counter-revolutionary crackdowns, coups and police state control. Start by bringing down the lying Tory government that no-one voted for and then all of corrupt and hoodwinking bourgeois “democracy”, rightly despised by most working class. Trotskyist and revisionist fake-“left” anti-theory and anti-communism, laced with single issue reformism is the great obstacle. Build Leninist understanding
Hostility to theory continues to be the major obstacle to the working class as the world slides ever deeper into epochal Slump crisis and now continuous war, with new aggressive provocations daily from the Russian borders to possible next “rogue state” Sudan.
The vicious international finance bankrupting of Greece; aggressive NATO war provocations in the neo-fascist Baltic states; endless blitzkrieg of “jihadis” in the Middle East and demented “anti-terror” hysterics to impose domestic Big Brother fascist surveillance, raise crucial questions about the catastrophic and incurable meltdown of the capitalism system.
Devastating Slump is the only future everywhere, and World War Three destruction is capitalism’s only “solution”.
The working class need for revolutionary understanding and leadership has never been greater but the so-called “left” still refuses the great debate needed on Marxist questions.
Just the opposite, it deliberately suppresses this scientific debate to tie the working class back to old class collaboration illusions in parliament – leavened only with a touch of “left pressure”.
But the incurable failure of the system will continue to be imposed, whatever the “will of the people” might be, through the ever more obvious class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (the underlying reality of the capitalist “democracy” fraud).
For the moment that is via grossly manipulated “election” coups (where they can do it, as in Britain), financial bullying if they can’t, (as with southern Europe’s imposed “technocrats” or Paraguay’s judicial coup), and through suppression of trade union and class struggle organisation, “anti-”extremism” censorship and police repression.
If elections cannot be fixed they will turn to outright violent coups as, among many examples, the Nazi swastika rule in Ukraine, installed by CIA disruption and gun and baseball-bat street thuggery, in Honduras, by the bloody, street-massacre military in Egypt and as is being readied for Venezuela with non-stop economic and political sabotage and street violence.
The only way to stop accelerating degeneration is revolutionary class war to finally seize hold of the world and its productive resources, taken into common ownership, so that a rational peaceful planned socialist economy and society can be built, under the control of the working class, organised as a ruling class of the great majority (the 99%).
The dictatorship of the proletariat is required, to suppress and resist the inevitable waves of violent fascist counter-revolution that the “dispossessed” bourgeoisie will continually launch to re-establish their tyrannical exploitation dominance, until eventually their class remnants fade away, displaced by new upcoming communist generations and rationality.
That urgent task can be done only with the leadership of a deliberate, consciously built revolutionary party, fighting for the deepest and broadest understanding of the unravelling crisis and the balance of class forces within it.
It has to tackle and expose all the lies, distortions and propaganda onslaughts of the ruling class, like the ludicrous notion that the British economy is “on the road to recovery” even as it is readied for the greatest Slump cuts onslaught ever made, dismantling all the social services, selling off and privatising most state organisations and relentlessly forcing down wages via undercutting from imported labour, outsourcing, dole coercion and vicious workhouse “disciplines” and hunger “incentives” that would have made old Ebenezer blush, and outlawing even basic union organisation to defend conditions.
It means exposing the monstrous “rogue state” and “war on terror” lies and justifications for the capitalist drive to war, its “escape route” from the Slump mayhem its inevitable over production crisis is creating.
It means exposing too the craven capitulation of the endless variations of fake-“lefts” to the demonisation of “jihadis” and fundamentalists, lining themselves up with capitalism by “condemning terror” and helping its war stampeding propaganda.
Most of all it means hammering out a clear understanding of the great achievements and triumphs of the workers states like the USSR, countering the non-stop anti-communism that is pumped into everyone, while untangling the complex philosophical weaknesses which gradually undermined Soviet society and the East European workers states, originating in the accumulating Stalinist mistakes and retreat from revolutionary perspectives that finally culminated in the 1989-91 Gorbachevite nonsensical liquidation of the workers state in favour of the supposed advantages of the ‘free market’.
But the entire deck of cards of pretend “lefts” does nothing to guide or initiate such critical discussion, whatever their self-declared status as supposed radicals, anti-capitalists or “revolutionaries”.
Just the opposite; in practice they sneer at “cranky old Marxism”, or declare that “now is not the time” or “the workers are not ready”.
That was not the lesson of the General Election where the working class made clear its utter contempt for the corrupt and hoodwinking parliamentary shysters of all shades (EPSR 1470 and 1469) leaving the ground open for a clear revolutionary lead.
But the “lefts” reject the open polemical discussion to establish a clear scientific understanding of the world in the way that the Bolsheviks did under Lenin, building on the great foundations laid by Marx and Engels constantly battling in public with the dozens of false or mistaken positions around them, to clarify themselves and thereby the working class.
Worse still their philistinism and the single-issue subjective reformism which has displaced theoretical understanding with self-righteous moralising and smugness (seen in the recent outrageous public crucifixion of Professor Tim Hunt by Twitter storm, driven from his job for failing to match feminist PC “standards”), has become increasingly turned to reactionary purposes.
In the laughably named “Left Unity” collation of assorted Trotskyists and equally anti-communist former revisionists like the Weekly Worker CPGB, these single issue posturings have turned into a means of censorship, all discussion shut down if any individual “feels offended”, all PC-approved members given priority no matter what weight or significance their contribution might have, blocking out serious theoretical struggle.
Similar anti-leadership and anti-debate anarchic nonsense prevails in the Occupy derived movements, a reflection of petty bourgeois hatred and fear of class discipline.
Gay rights, feminism, global warming and other single issues have become a major tool of the capitalist establishment, adopted even by the Cameron Tories, helping put the warmongering, drone-death-squad, Obama presidency in place (twice) to rescue discredited Presidential democracy brought low by Bush, and being tapped for the even more reactionary Hilary Clinton campaign next year.
Right now they play a part in the Goebbels demonisation of Russia, feeding the deadly warmongering atmosphere being mounted by Washington and the EU with a lightmindedness that is criminal in its effects; willing to see the invasion and blitzkrieging of an entire country of 300 million people because it does not match their petty bourgeois insistence that their own personal wishes and interests override all other considerations.
So useful is this confusion that the West has even pushed oligarch Poroshenko’s Kiev Nazis into holding “gay pride” marches.
But the deadly effects are clear in the latest anti-Russian war “exercise” intimidation in the Baltic states and Poland dominated by counter-revolutionary Solidarnosc anti-communism and clerical fascism – all key supporters of the Kiev Nazi regime which has instigated the terrorising of eastern Ukraine, with over 6000 mostly workers and civilians killed – a serious escalation on the road to all out war:
Dozens of Nato landing craft churned through the Baltic’s grey waters. Further out at sea, huge warships – the US’s San Antonio, Britain’s Ocean and Poland’s Lublin – filled the horizon. On the beach, DVs – short for distinguished visitors – including the UK defence secretary, Michael Fallon, were watching.
The landing craft, especially the mega hovercraft of the Americans, were monstrous, on a scale that would have awed D-day veterans. Eurofighter Typhoons flew overhead. Marines raced out to disappear into the woods. A reminder that even the most carefully planned operations can go wrong came when a Polish transport vessel sank, ignominiously, about 100ft from shore.
The mock landing at Ustka, Poland, on Wednesday was the climax of a two-week Nato exercise called Baltops. Forty-nine naval vessels from 17 countries and 5,900 personnel were involved in this major show of strength.
It was a dangerous game. One of Russia’s most important naval bases, Kaliningrad, is just over 100 miles to the east, and the Kremlin may view such exercises as a provocation at a time of heightened tension over the Ukraine crisis.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, this week announced plans to buy 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles this year. The US, two years after pulling all its armour out of Europe, is preparing to send 250 tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery to bases in eastern Europe.
On Wednesday journalists from around the world were invited to witness Nato’s elaborate exercise in the Baltic. The US-led alliance wants to show that it is doing something, that it is not feeble in the confrontation with Putin. Fallon, when asked about Baltops, said: “It is absolutely not a game.” Asked whether it was provocative to be conducting such exercises so close to Russia, he told the Guardian: “It is not Nato threatening Russia. This is Russia directly trying to intimidate the eastern and northern members of Nato through these flights, through its submarine activity and talk of renewing its ballistic missiles. Nato is not threatening anyone.
So, the military of the most belligerent, crisis-wracked imperialist regimes in history including the dominant USA, thousands of miles from home, which has already blasted Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Somalia into devastated warlord hellholes, and promises “endless war” to maintain it bankrupt world dominance – is “not a threat”, while the Russians, sitting within their own borders and increasingly encircled, intimidated and hemmed in both physically and by strangling economic siege “sanctions”, are?
Berlin’s 1930s Nazi HQ propaganda section would have been lost in admiration.
Some more “left” pretenders may tap the willingness of some workers and petty bourgeois elements to demonstrate “against austerity” but still utterly mislead them by tying them back into the illusions of “democratic protest” and “left pressure” which are not only unworkable but increasingly dangerous in a world heading for war and increasingly dragooned by coups or grotesque electoral trickery.
Not one of them has drawn the obvious lesson from the Greek paralysis for example; that the “left” Syriza government pleading to the EU that “the people voted against austerity” could not only never stop the onrushing crisis but is a deadly fooling of the working class.
At best some interim settlement might temporarily and very slightly take the worst edges off the ruthless imposition of the slump crisis, depending on how worried the European ruling class is about spreading debt default contagion (setting an example to Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland among others), but a pledge to “end austerity” this way is a joke and not remotely a funny one.
There is no stopping the capitalist crisis for as long as the profit system rules on.
Instead of cheering on this hodge-podge of Trotskyists and “peaceful road revisionists” in Athens, the crucial need was and is to expose this anti-communist rabble and its opportunist lies and to warn the working class of the real dangers they face; a repeat of the military fascist coups that have three times been imposed before in history.
It needs to be spelt out that only the working class taking over the means of production, the banks, the farms, the hotels, the factories can now solve anything - which means building up a leadership with and within the working class for just such a revolutionary challenge to fight the inevitable counter-revolution which the entire bourgeoisie (not just the Golden Dawn fascists) is preparing.
And that lesson is as important outside Greece as within it.
The “lefts” everywhere make no such challenges, pandering to the long standing reluctance of the working class (and the “empirical” British philosophical tradition in particular) to tackle theoretical questions and above all the revolutionary theory that is crucial.
And the heart of that is the complacent delusion that “such things could never happen here” - the same deadly nonsense that fooled the working class in Chile in the 1970s where Salvador Allende was so befuddled by revisionist peaceful road illusions that he even invited army chief General Augusto Pinochet into the “democratically elected” socialist cabinet as part of “helping restore order” against the mayhem and sabotage whipped up by the CIA - in cahoots with Pinochet’s military.
Chile’s army tradition was “different” and it was an honourable part of the nation the working class was told, disarming it completely against the subsequent coup in 1973 when Pinochet’s CIA-aided military violently stopped Allende’s reformist moves, with thousands killed and many more tortured and imprisoned, the prelude to decades of such slaughter and massacres in Latin America, and being readied once more against the left nationalist “Bolivarians” in Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina.
But Europe is different it is argued.
Not in Greece, savaged three times by fascist rule and coups and where the post-election decision of the Syriza circus to hand over control of the defence ministry to its right-wing minority coalition partner is possibly one of the most blinkered moves yet seen from the fake-“left”.
Not in France, which saw half the country split away into a Vichy Nazi dictatorship in the late 1930s, and certainly not in once Hitlerite Germany (still full of ex-Nazis long absorbed into mainstream society). Or Mussolini’s Italy. Or Franco’s Spain.
And there is the UK which imposed the most festeringly foul dictatorship in one part of the nation for much of the second half of the 20th century, complete with concentration camps, criminal torture, total surveillance, routine military raids and intimidation of the civilian population and dozens of secret death-squad assassinations.
Blanket censorship was imposed on all those fighting against this tyranny in the Sinn Féin/IRA.
This vile colonialist dictatorship, created in the first place at bayonet point in 1921’s election-defying Partition, backed off only under pressure of the Provisional IRA armed revolutionary national liberation struggle which eventually proved so dogged, determined and politically astute that it could not be defeated, forcing ailing and humiliated British capitalism into a compromising retreat (along with international pressure to get this festering mess off the agenda because of the damage it was doing to the international capitalist “democracy” pretence, still the most important weapon of the ruling class everywhere).
If the republican movement can now take its reunification fight forwards peacefully using the bourgeois democratic mechanism, it is only because of that revolutionary victory and its continuing pressure.
The mainland working class have their own dictatorship experiences too, as just re-surfacing in the controversy over the “Battle of Orgreave” inquiry into the policing of mass picketing during the titanic and heroic 1984-5 miners strike, when the state unleashed new levels of violence and repression, tearing up all the supposed “democratic” niceties of “freedom of the person to travel etc”.
For the first time in modern history the brutal face of outright state repression – the crude reality of the capitalist class dictatorship – was exposed in full.
It is the cover-up of this lesson, that the violence was not simply the “police losing control” or “excesses”, which is the point to draw out, not the abstract notion that “justice is being denied” as the Guardian “left” puts it:
Orgreave is significant in so many ways. There appears to be a link between what happened at Orgreave and what followed at Hillsborough five years later. During the miners’ strike, the police were heavily politicised, referred to by those on the receiving end of their truncheons as “Maggie’s boot boys”. They were trained to regard the striking miners – the “enemy within” – with contempt. Michael Mansfield QC – who defended some of the miners – told me that police statements had “the same writing” and “had obviously been dictated by a unit”. Signatures on statements were forged, leading to the collapse of the trial of picketing miners. The media helped to demonise the victims.
At Hillsborough, the miners were substituted for another group of demonised working-class people – Liverpool fans. “Scummy, working-class Liverpudlians, as far as they were concerned, who were the ‘enemy within’, like the miners,” as Merseyside MP and Hillsborough campaigner Maria Eagle put it to me last year. And, as we know, in that instance, there was a concerted attempt to demonise the victims with the help of the British press. South Yorkshire police had got away with it at Orgreave, and had been taught a valuable lesson: that they could act with impunity when it came to working-class people.
The IPCC has been exposed as an abject failure too many times: it employs many former police officers, for a start. According to the home affairs select committee in 2013, it is “woefully under-equipped and hamstrung in achieving its original objectives.” Orgreave underlines how the IPCC cannot be trusted to scrutinise the police, and an independent inquiry must follow instead.
But it is hard to see an inquiry under this government. It would help expose the role of the state in a dirty campaign to defeat the miners. This defeat was a seminal turning point in British history: it helped cement Margaret Thatcher’s project to remodel society, and represented a rout of the trade union movement from which they never recovered. If the miners – who had toppled Ted Heath’s government in 1974 – could not win, then nobody could win, or so went the sentiment among many trade unionists. Britain has “the most restrictive union laws in the western world,” as Tony Blair once boasted, and the current government is determined to make striking all but impossible with balloting thresholds, a six-person limit to pickets and the use of agency workers as strike breakers. This is the legacy of the miners’ strike, and it is not one the government would wish to see scrutinised.
What a sorry story for those who believe in justice. Whether you sympathise with the striking miners or not, they are British citizens. They have the right to be treated fairly, and to be protected from arbitrary violence and cover-ups on the part of the state...
What a “sorry story” to continue promulgating this reformist notion of a “belief in justice” that has somehow simply been “abused” – or that something can be done about it within capitalism.
The police are always “politicised” - it is their primary role to protect private property and its owners as Lenin’s State and Revolution spells out.
Who supposedly is going to do the “investigating” anyway when such investigations and inquiries are only part of the same complex hoodwinking “democracy” fraud that hides the class rule of big money and capital anyway?
The Orgreave violence was part of a deliberate civil war against the miners as the vanguard of the working class, is what needs to be said, using as much dirty violence and underhand lying as needed.
No “rights to be treated fairly” exist; only the class war caution of a ruling class not to go too far too quickly in pushing a powerful working class towards the revolutionary conclusions that it will be forced to grasp eventually, and to keep fooling it with the same old bullshit about “democracy” and the “rule of law” that has pinned it down for a century and a half of class collaboration.
The miners came close to challenging the authority of the capitalist state in their strike, and though the crisis was far less developed at that point, might even have toppled the Tories (as they did Heath in 1974) and even precipitated a much more all-out struggle for power.
Even if that was not on the cards, at that time, it was the lack of a perspective which in the end hampered the fight, and which continues to hamper it to this day, particularly the illusions in reformism, be it in Labourism and the notion of it implementing a reformist Plan for Coal, or even Arthur Scargill’s later understanding that Labour was part of the problem too but then simply substituting a Mark Two variant of Labour as the answer (as his breakaway Socialist Labour Party turned out to be), fatally hamstrung by Scargill’s own anti-revolutionary bureaucratic trade unionist limitations as the EPSR explained, repeatedly (eg issue No1036 21-03-00 and No1219 10-02-04):
Scargill’s finest hour was not his leadership of the direct-action picketing fight and mobilisation of huge working class support for the miners’ strike to attempt to prevent the dismantling of the deep-mined British coal industry in the 1984-85 dispute, as outstanding as that was. His political achievement in exposing the Tory government’s willingness to deliberately destroy the country’s own major fuel industry in order to score a class-war triumph - against the feared miners, - was an infinitely greater triumph. It could have been the basis not only for the huge proletarian support which it did in fact win, but for taking the revolutionary fight to thwart the ‘elected government of the day,’ even further.
And it was precisely Scargill’s biggest failing which then let him down, - again not an organisational or motivational problem but one of political understanding once more, - an inability to grasp that this ruling-class determination to break the power of the NUM (which weakening British imperialism could no longer afford to make concessions to), would not be countermanded by a new Labour Government coming in. A traditional ‘left’-Labour philistine indifference to theory had Scargill foolishly peddling the idea that if Labour got back in, a new Plan For Coal of state-assisted expansion of the mining industry would be bound to go ahead.
But even then in the 1980s, new conditions of sharpening international trade war were already threatening to bankrupt by a variety of means any state which tried to thwart market trends and private monopoly interests by turning on the public spending taps. Already then, what was needed to mobilise a successful working-class fight against impending privatisation speed-up and imposed self-reliance to replace welfare-state spending in health and education, etc, was sufficient revolutionary theory to foresee how the world monopoly-imperialist crisis must further evolve.
[A matured revolutionary understanding may not have been possible] BUT neither was that completed version...necessarily needed at that time.
Truly colossal historical progress for serious and growing anti-imperialist revolutionary consciousness among workers could have begun to flow just from workers being given the FULL POLITICAL CONTEXT of that epic 1984 class war.
Scargill finally saw aspects of Labour reformism as merely part of imperialist police state never-ending tyranny ONLY when publicly forming the SLP in 1996.
But Marxist science and generations of good British working class communists and trade unionists had understood this and had FOUGHT capitalism on this basis for decades before 1984.
The miners strike should have been fought exactly on that basis, and NOT on the basis that a restored Labour Government and a restored reformist PLAN for COAL, both consciously supportive of working class mining interests (as perceived), were remotely possible, [a basis] made possible by the steady post-1945 international maturing of insoluble imperialist system crisis which was slowly going to make the whole “reformist” delusion in the world utterly REDUNDANT.
Picketing to keep the pits open could have still been picketing to keep the pits open, but done on the basis that insoluble economic crisis would steadily be giving the Western imperialist system, loyally supported as ever by the Labour Party and the TUC, no choice but to steadily destroy all “reformist” concessions to the working class in order to allow unrestrained cut-throat market competitiveness back into the “free world” system for Britain to survive at all within a capitalist world economy.
That would have meant that the “legitimate” miners strike consciousness was ALREADY, there and then, about incipient REVOLUTIONARY consciousness for state power in Britain (or working class interests versus capitalist interests) right from the start.
Even better if this had been consciously made a fight for international working class interests (including workers state communist interests) against international imperialist interests from the start, which could have been well within existing NUM consciousness had the miners traditionally good leadership been even better.
It is not one man’s responsibility that it wasn’t, but it is definitely the rotten philistine traditions of fake-’left’ Scargillism on questions of political theory which were undoubtedly an unnecessary extra burden for the working class to bear in 1984, and a lesson which still refuses to be learnt.
... let workers consider that their whole life is always going to be just like a repeat of the 1984 dispute.
Then it was pit closures, the wrecking of the nationalised coal industry, the destruction of the NUM, & the break-up of the mining communities and their powerful influence in the working class which were the specific challenges from the relentless pressure of imperialist system economic crisis.
Nowadays, it is the robbing of pension rights; the spread of privatisation over the whole of the once public sector; the restrictions of charges and “choice” on the once free NHS; the loss of student grants; the commercialisation and privatisation of schooling; the relentless threat to all human rights in Britain; the ever tighter anti-union laws; the outsourcing of jobs; the ever stiffer first-time housing market and council house destruction; the overgrowing threats of war; etc, etc, etc.
Nowadays it is far worse even than that in the wake of the 2008 world bank failures and the relentless imposition of “austerity” – just a start in the next £20bn plus round being imposed by the lying “mandate” of the hugely un-popular Tory government, which should be brought down immediately.
But the ruling class is also more fearful than ever of what it finds itself obliged to do if it is to survive in its opulent wealth and power – and the suspension of the inquiry reflects its uncertainty, for fear of stirring too much of the class struggle around, even 30 years after the event and even with a reformist tradition still trying to tie the working class back to voting and a faith in alleged “freedom” and “rule of law”.
But that grows increasingly hollow as shown last week when the world’s ruling class lined up to celebrate the 800 year old Magna Carta at Runnymede.
The fetid stinking hypocrisy of these monsters was so glaring, as they impose their crisis fascist destruction on the world from Ukraine to Somalia, it would have made a bluebottle gag.
Never mind the depraved tyranny of feudal King John, just consider the routine horrors and oppression imposed on the world non-stop by exploiting capitalist corporations and the ever-more escalated torture and slaughter imposed on the world by the crisis catastrophe drive to world war.
Whole countries have been torn to shreds and left in a mess of warlordism, civil war and scorched earth agony throughout the Middle East – the latest Yemen, being blitzed to hellish destruction for the West by still pre-feudal tribal monarchy Saudi Arabia (no charters here, Magna or otherwise,) – and with columns of refugees now on the desperate march to escape, joining multiple others now numbering more than at any time since the universal horror of the Second World War.
And this new warmongering is on top of the endless tyranny imposed permanently on the Third World in a stream of invasions, coups, CIA installed fascist dictatorships, and horrific massacres which have destroyed millions at a time, throughout Latin America and Africa, to Vietnam and Korea and Indonesia (the latter brilliantly shown in the new film The look of silence and its complement The Act of Killing, both exposing Jakarta’s 1965 CIA/MI6 organised, minimum one million strong massacre and sixty years of subsequent death-squad gangster dictatorship and ruthless poverty exploitation by American and British corporations, including outright prison camp slave-labour on a par with German Nazism).
And the alleged “justice” they celebrate at home?
Try asking Private Manning, banged up for a life of mistreatment and isolation for bravely revealing the routine war crime murders of the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan; or the hundreds of mostly black workers condemned to death row despair on flimsy or non-existent pretexts in the US, or shot down unarmed by the police or white supremacists in the streets from Ferguson to Baltimore and Charleston ; or the Native American remnants of genocide in the laughable “reserves” like Pine Ridge, living lives of despair, deprivation, alcoholism and endless unemployment (see the useful book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt); or the desperate Mexican “illegals” shot down for crossing the border to escape the sweat-shop labour and prostitution southwards, where millions are impoverished, terrified and intimidated by both criminal drug cartel massacres and the capitalist state forces colluding with them, which US money, corruption, gun-running and influence have provoked.
Here is the “justice” of the USA, the leading upholder of the West’s “democratic rule of law”:
Nearly 24 hours after a judge ordered the release of a man who has spent more than four decades in solitary confinement, another court has ordered him to remain in prison at least until the end of this week.
On Monday, a federal court ordered the immediate release of Albert Woodfox, the last of the “Angola Three” inmates, who has been in solitary confinement in a 6 by 8 sq ft cell since 18 April 1972. Judge James Brady called Woodfox’s release “the only just remedy” after his two previous convictions for the death of a prison guard were overturned because of racial prejudice and lack of evidence.
But Louisiana attorney general Buddy Caldwell on Tuesday appealed to the fifth US circuit court of appeals in New Orleans to keep Woodfox in prison with the intent to try him a third time.
The appeals court sided with Caldwell, issuing a stay on Tuesday that will keep Woodfox in prison until at least 1pm on Friday, “unless this order is vacated, or renewed indefinitely or to a time certain, by this panel”. It gave Woodfox until Wednesday afternoon to appeal that stay.
Woodfox is currently being held at the West Feliciana Parish Detention Center in St Francisville, where he was transferred in preparation for a third trial.
Woodfox’s attorney, George Kendall, met with him inside the jail on Tuesday and found him “guardedly hopeful”. Woodfox has been through arduous court fights before and “understands how the system works”, Kendall told the Associated Press.
Kendall said he did not know when Woodfox might be released, but he expects a ruling on the state’s appeal within 48 hours.
Angela Bell, an assistant professor of legal writing and analysis at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, said she talked with Woodfox on Monday night. She said he’s been suffering from increasing panic attacks, exacerbating other health problems, including diabetes.
“He does not allow himself to be very optimistic about things. I think that that is a coping mechanism that he has developed” Bell told the Associated Press.
Amnesty International and the United Nations have condemned Woodfox’s imprisonment as inhumane. Human rights advocates contend his solitary confinement is a form of torture.
“There is no other American prisoner who has been as long in solitary,” Kendall told the Guardian last year. “If you ask other prisoners who have spent time in solitary, they will tell you that it is the worst thing that can happen to you in prison – it’s as lonely and painful as it gets.”
Woodfox was one of several prisoners accused of killing of Brent Miller, a 23-year-old guard at the prison. A year earlier, Woodfox and Herman Wallace helped establish a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party, while Robert King helped establish a Black Panther chapter in the New Orleans prison.
All three were active in the hunger strikes and work stoppages that spurred improvements to prison conditions, and all three suffered harsh treatment thereafter as prison authorities kept them isolated at Angola to prevent more disruption behind bars.
Wallace died last fall, days after a judge freed him and granted him a new trial. King has become a public speaker since his release in 2001, after the reversal of his conviction in the death of a fellow inmate in 1973.
The campaign to free British resident Shaker Aamer from detention in Guantánamo and return him to his family in London has now reached a crucial stage. He has been held, often in solitary confinement, without charge or trial, for 13 years. There is no evidence against him and despite twice being cleared for release by the US authorities, Shaker remains in detention with all his human rights denied. He now has serious health problems so that his release becomes ever more urgent. A delegation of MPs plans to go to Washington soon after the election to try to keep President Obama to his promise to prioritise Shaker’s case and ensure his release as a matter of urgency. The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign is now trying to raise the money to cover the delegation’s expenses.
Dave Esbester Treasurer, Save Shaker Aamer Campaign
Having just, thanks to the letter in the Guardian, subscribed to the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign (Letters, 6 April), I must ask, What about Mohamedou Ould Slahi, whose horrifying Guantánamo diary was published in January? He may not be British but we can still care about his torture and human rights.
Susan Reynolds London
Sympathetic campaigns for justice are fine, just like all kinds of other issues like defending the National Health Service, if that is how the injustices and contradictions of imperialism first of all impact on any particular individual’s consciousness.
But the point is to see them in an overall context of a class domination system that is utterly cynically contemptuous of human rights and prepared to go to any lengths to hold onto its power, until it is overthrown.
As the EPSR has analysed (see last issues) the working class has never been more ready for such understanding, ever more contemptuous of the old parliamentary racket as the collapse in Labour support indicates.
But the “traditional” Labour movement is working overtime wilfully to keep the working class on the old class collaborating tracks.
The latest scam is the nomination to the Labour leadership contest of “campaigning left” MP Jeremy Corbyn, to “widen the debate”.
It is a giant fraud on the working class that will do exactly the opposite, blocking off Marxism once more.
It props up the old TUC/Labour opportunist racket trying to fool the working class all over again with a pretence that there can be a “fight for socialism” if only “we make an effort”.
“Left”s like Corbyn, “black” MP Diane Abbott, maverick Dennis Skinner and others, play a useful role supporting the Labour illusion and parliament from the “left”, with an alleged “fight for principles” and an endless round of appearances at rallies for worthy causes from Cuba and Venezuelan “solidarity” and anti-Zionist Palestine support meetings, to all kinds of single-issue battles to “Save the NHS” etc.
But all of them are firstly relentlessly hostile to communism, and secondly, cynically aware that they help keep the Labourite illusion propped up.
And this is such a useful falsehood, to head off communist understanding, that the Blairites and rightwingers have even made sure Corbyn gets enough nominations to be included on the ballot, even though they will then vote against him, knowing it gives a useful cover to the out-and-out bourgeois rule reality of the Labourite capitalist “B” team.
But the need for such nominations is also a sign of desperation as the old racket collapses.
So, also propping up Corbyn, even further out on the pseudo-“left”, are most of the Trotskyites and revisionists, who:
prolong the same clubby spirit, wilfully ignoring reality. Of course any Labour Party celebrity is only human, as an individual. And of course as individuals, a few will possibly join the revolution rather than become the likely gauleiters of the counter-revolution.
But they are not acting as individuals in the role they are playing in society NOW. Collectively, they are a stage stooge army playing a CRUCIAL role in the great capitalist fraud called ‘democracy’.
Collectively, if the Labour Party were not there (or some historically-evolved equivalent), then there could be no effective fraud of “capitalist parliamentary democracy” at all.
And any occasional bits of ‘left’ rebelliousness not only do not make the slightest difference to this crucial reactionary performance that this ‘reformist’ collective carries out, it actually enhances the great delusion which permanently pulls the wool over the eyes of the working class. It is the ‘left’ Labourites who for a century have always kept the working class hanging on to Labour in the hope that one day, a programme of ‘real socialist’ policies would be introduced, etc. (EPSR 1079 06-03-01)
One group ostensibly keeping clear of this swamp, and loudly calling for a “break with Labourism” is the museum Stalinist Proletarian (From the CPGB-ML, alter ego of Harpal Brar’s Lalkar group, launched after it was expelled from the SLP following nearly a decade of sycophantic covering up for Scargill’s philistine Little Englander anti-theory trade unionist backwardness).
It is even trumpets the need for revolutionary theory on its paper’s masthead with a Lenin quote, and if not making the crisis central to its understanding, at least laces its articles here and there with a recognition that workers need to “overthrow imperialism once and for all” in order to build socialism.
Seemingly a good start.
But what is this theoretical clarity which the working class is to use for its life and death struggle?
Nothing but a string of evasions and cover ups of past mistakes and errors, in the grand tradition of Stalinism.
Completely missing is any understanding of just how such “overthrowing” is to be achieved, and most of all a complete absence of the key understanding of Leninism, the need to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.
And for all its bold revolutionary declarations and fierce polemics against the Trots, NCP and CPB revisionists, its actual strategy for the working class is no different to the reformism on offer from everyone else - “Stop the War” social pacifism and “anti-austerity” defensiveness:
the only way to stop cuts, privatisation and war being perpetrated by any government that serves the capitalist ruling class and works to preserve the exploitative capitalist system is to organise ourselves en masse to harness our strength, to change the balance of class forces and to shake the power of the ruling class.
We must organise first so as to resist and sabotage the ruling class’s plans to make workers pay for the economic crisis of capitalism through cuts and war. And, finally, we must organise ourselves to overthrow the system of exploitation altogether and put a planned, socialist economy in its place.
The “and finally” is the key phrase; revolution is to be deferred – just as all the rest of the fake-“lefts” have always said, promising to be “there on the day” and “ready when the time comes” but never actually arguing for a revolutionary understanding now, even when crisis has come.
In practice there is no “overthrow” but only a “change in the balance” of class forces.
The same when it comes to imperialist war.
The Brarites lambast the Stop the War movement (dominated by Trot groups like Counterfire, the SWP, and the revisionists) for example, which claims some great success in a new film, We are many declaring that after 13 years of fruitless demonstrations, including the huge 2003 anti-Iraq war rally, it had managed to “prevent a NATO attack” on Syria.
It is capitalist war exhaustion and crisis financial weakness which has held Washington’s Middle East onslaught back, the Proletarian correctly says and not protests. Furthermore:
the film makes not the smallest attempt to mention the connection between imperialism and war; that the struggle against war is inseparable from the struggle for the overthrow of imperialism; that war cannot be eliminated without the overthrow of imperialism.
Correct and very clear. But completely contradicted in the very next column:
The film falsely claims that the anti-war movement has ‘won’. Nothing of the kind. For the anti-war movement to win, it would have to have organised workers to carry out actions that resulted in the stopping of at least one of imperialism’s wars. And to do that, it would have to be led by people who are prepared to really oppose imperialism.
If the British ‘anti-war’ movement was serious about frustrating imperialism’s wars, it would be focused on mobilising working people to withdraw all cooperation with the war.
So wars can be stopped then without said ‘overthrow’?????? Apparently:
The lesson to be drawn from this is that there is no easy way of preventing imperialism from committing war crimes. Much more needs to be done than simply going on a demonstration, even if this is a useful start. What needs to be organised is mass non-cooperation: civil disobedience, strikes, refusals to make or transport weapons, refusals to transmit war propaganda, sabotage of army bases and arms factories, refusals by soldiers to fight in illegal wars, and so on. Determined working-class action could quite quickly prevent our rulers from going to war.
This is back to social-pacifism then, which Lenin relentlessly attacked (see many past EPSRs) as a giant hoodwinking fraud and which was exposed for all time by the 1914 capitulation of the Second International at the beginning of the First World War, abandoning all its promises to “stop war with general strikes” etc.
Only turning war into class war to defeat and bring down your own ruling class could ever stop war said Lenin, the Bolshevik revolution “peace policy” which triumphed in 1917 and eventually halted the Great War.
However Stalin’s great revision of Lenin in 1952’s Economic Problems said that capitalism was no longer capable of expanding, effectively hamstrung by the second world war and the socialist advances in East Europe, China and elsewhere, so that it was now just a question of “containing” its inherent aggressiveness – to be done with “peace struggles”, an extension of the “permanent peaceful coexistence” strategy that led on to all the “peaceful road” parliamentarianism of the revisionist that the Brarites lambast.
This sly trickiness continues all through the paper.
It starts with the latest lead article boldly examining the great parliamentary meltdown:
The first and most important thing to notice about the election was not that the Tories gained a slim majority of seats in parliament, but that, despite a massive propaganda campaign aimed at encouraging people to vote, and despite all the hype about possible coalitions etc that was meant to make people feel that choosing between Labour, Ukip, LibDem and Tory was a life-and-death, now-or-never moment for us all ... four out of every ten British citizens of voting age stayed away from the polls.
To be precise, some 30,686,268 people cast their votes from a registered electorate of 46,424,006. This means that even of the registered electorate, some 15.7 million people decided not to vote. A further 4.5 million (around 9 percent) are unregistered, many of them young people – again, this is despite a massive campaign to try to convince young people to register and to participate in the election.
Quite right (though understating the unregistered numbers which were at least six million) and showing how revolutionary understanding can now be fought for in a more receptive working class which is historically breaking with class collaboration. As Proletarian asserts, the abstentions show “active antipathy” not miserable apathy and defeat.
But this is the exact opposite of what it said in its previous issue, a theoretical inconvenience the Proletarian evades by coughing apologetically behind its hand in a buried away paragraph:
We have written at length in a previous issue about voter apathy vs activism, but let us be clear. While there is certainly plenty of apathy (‘why bother’/‘what’s the use’), there is also a significant level of active antipathy among workers regarding the specific choices (or lack of real choice) on offer. (See ‘“Least worst” vs “don’t bother’, Should workers vote?’, Proletarian, April 2015)
This is anything but “clear”.
But what is “clear” about it is the complete disregard of the Brarites for any consistency and actually complete contempt for theory.
Everyone can get things wrong and events can sometimes unfold that indicate mistakes and errors. The world is more interconnected and complex than ever, the impact of the crisis more difficult and resources for Leninism yet stretched very thin, despite demanding a grasp of the world that must exceed anything achieved even by the great figures from Marx onwards.
But mistakes must be openly admitted to and the reasons for them examined as part of the process of correcting understanding; it is not a trivial matter but the essence of Leninism.
And even the method of the open polemicising is a crucial aspect which the Proletarian also covers up; it is only admitting to its misanalysis in this mealy-mouthed manner (which will vanish from all attention shortly) because it has been publicly caught out – directly exposed by the EPSR (in issue 1465 07-04-15).
But of course it does not say that, or answer it, yet a further cover-up.
This is not said for some point scoring silliness but because this philosophical approach of covering over mistakes has repeatedly been a total disaster in itself and in fact a crucial cause of mistakes, (not least in leading the liquidation of the USSR) as the EPSR has frequently written (the absence of any reply to those challenges further underlining the point):
But the real joke is that Stalin is still worshipped NOW in the same half-brained way that led to all the trouble in the first place, e.g. quoting from Foundations of Leninism but totally ignoring the crucial truth about learning from mistakes, just as in real Third International history, the USSR’s continued achievements were all correctly lauded, but the ever-increasing world-revolutionary THEORETICAL nonsense which Stalin was coming out with was either quickly conveniently forgotten about (as were the increasing disasters it led to), or else was ludicrously turned into yet more excuse for further demented hero-worship of “our great leader Stalin”, etc, etc.
The attempt to blame Kruschev’s late-1950s rule for the setbacks, difficulties, failures or disasters that hurt, damaged, or destroyed various victims of theoretically mistaken Stalinist polices (China 1927; Germany 1933; collectivisation 1930s; Spanish Civil War 1936-39; disbelief in German blitzkrieg 1941; agreement to let imperialism occupy West Berlin postwar 1945; letting imperialism re-occupy communist-liberated Greece 1945-49; supporting Zionist-imperialist colonisation of Palestine 1947; approving the “peaceful road to socialism” counter-revolutionary bollocks post 1945; refusing to fight in Korea 1950; pressuring China to curb world revolutionary enthusiasm post-1950; etc, etc, for scores more examples) - - - - is simply insane,-- a form of religious-faith insanity.
But while ALL of these vexed and complex questions MUST be polemicised to a satisfactory understanding from the perspective of a future successful world socialist revolutionary movement’s needs some time soon, - for the moment the conflict for agreeing on a party of revolutionary theory can continue to concentrate on just two related issues:- the undoubted fact that the Revisionist CPSU,- bequeathed by Stalin after 30 years total dominance & backed by a similarly Stalin-created world Revisionist movement,- effectively agreed to liquidate the Soviet workers state and the international communist movement after 1990 in favour of “market economics” and the “peaceful road to socialism”; - coupled with Stalin’s 1952 summation in Economic Problems of his belief that only imperialist war-provocations had to be avoided in order for the Socialist Camp to simply outperform “non-expanding” imperialism into capitalism’s total collapse in due course.
But even getting the guru-worshippers to debate these issues, let alone even consider that Stalin might have made a series of catastrophic anti-revolutionary retreats in his 30-year career, culminating in this TOTAL Revisionist disaster, - is as impossible now as it was inside the communist movement in Moscow’s hayday.(EPSR No1184 13-05-03)
Since this damning list of disastrous errors the Stalinist tradition has accumulated many more, getting itself more and more tangled in contradictions and confusion.
More need to be taken up but another two are immediately worth attention.
Directly related to Kruschev is the extraordinary failure to give the world working class a clear understanding about Putinism, treated uncritically and favourably in Proletarian’s analysis of Ukraine and Syria for example, larded with phrases about Putin “steadfastly standing by Assad”.
It is wholly right to stand with the working class resistance in east Ukraine against the fascist coup installed by Western imperialism in Kiev; and further to understand that this vile Poroshenko regime is part of a total world war agenda by crisis ridden US imperialism, which is the world’s overwhelmingly dominant driving force, trying to surround and extend its warmongering against Russia.
Proletarian has even written some good detail on the setbacks for Kiev, correctly emphasising the defeats inflicted on its death-squads and civilian shelling military.
That Russian help is given is no problem at all if it defeats Western skulduggery.
But it is completely wrong to give the working class illusions that Putin represents any kind of progressive way forwards for workers in general and wrong to call for the defence of Russia.
Weirdly Putin is constantly given a much more favourable ride by the Proletarian than Kruschev, who for all his revisionist weaknesses (trained by and inherited directly from Stalin himself) was still running a workers state and one that continued to make significant achievements both domestically in science, technology, culture and economy,- the first man in space for example - as well as huge contributions to the international class struggle, simply by its influence on the world balance firstly and also directly – not least supporting Cuba for example and Vietnam, and taking in and training endless numbers of Third World personnel in engineering, politics, medicine and other professions.
But Putin presides over a restored capitalist state, dominated by some of the crudest carpet-bagging gangster oligarchs seen in all history, who spent the 1990s plundering and dismantling the great achievements of the Soviet working class; declares that the West should be grateful to him for “helping to end communism”; hobnobs with and elevates into state authority the superstitious primitivism of the Russian Orthodox Church; and is saturated with ideas of restored Great Russian nationalist pride, including possibly re-taking and re-controlling all the territories once annexed and controlled by Tsarism.
This backward capitalist nationalism seesaws with the historical legacy of socialist society within Russia, the remnants of the possibly irreversible changes in social attitudes embedded by 70 years of workers state development (including partly under Kruschev), which has forced him to rein in the oligarchs’ worst excesses and political ambitions, which by the end of the 1990s were so excessive in their plundering they threatened to bring the working class to total desperation and more significantly back to potentially revolutionary conditions.
Proletarian rightly opposes reactionary Trotskyism which cravenly says nothing against Hitler-loving Kiev “because both sides are imperialists” – and thereby capitulates to dire fascist warmongering from the West which is far and away the overriding power on the planet and the leading instigator of war, including on the edge of Russia.
This is a position driven by the poisonous Trot anti-communism of the past which hated the workers states, and hates even any traces now as imperialism does.
Their formalised “neither Washington nor Moscow” alleged evenhandedness is total betrayal of the working class.
But the Brarites’ wooden non-dialectical grasp thereby gets locked into the same old defencism which has seen it defend Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi and now Assad, causing confusion everywhere.
The critical aspect is to keep the eye firmly fixed on dominant US monopoly capitalism as the generator and source of the problems in the world.
The Leninist understanding can only be to call for the defeat of imperialism in all these situations but without the slightest faith or confidence in such leaderships, which need to be dealt with by the working class as soon as the main imperialist onslaught has eased.
Russia is going nowhere as an oligarch capitalism (which mostly exports its spoils to London etc anyway).
Equally the illusions of eastern Ukrainian workers in Putin, and worse still in Great Russian nationalism, also need to be challenged, both now and later.
Their future can only lie in a return to communist organisation.
Nostalgia for the old days and even for Stalin is an interesting and telling signal of capitalism’s difficulties (which long told the world that the working class would never want such a “return to communism”).
But Proletarian itself demonstrates exactly why even that is not a solution; and why the rebuilding of Leninism is the crucial necessity.
Meanwhile all this confusion gets the Brarites into even greater tangles.
Their straight-line non-dialectical grasp reasons that if a regime shifts a bit leftward, as CIA stooge Saddam did, or Assad, (particularly towards Soviet Russia, – an ironic point given that it was already supposedly a “Kruschevite counter-revolution”) then the way forwards is to defend it absolutely, on the grounds it will shift step-by-step.
It is a dire extension of reformism applied to bourgeois nationalist regimes, that has not one iota of grasp of revolutionary movements, transformation and the overall picture of capitalist crisis.
It also leads them into out and out reaction through missing all the complexities of the Middle East; so all opposition to Assad etc is declared reactionary, despite firstly Assadism being nothing to celebrate, and despite secondly the anti-imperialist and sectarian forces swirling around in the turmoil of imperialist-imposed Middle East chaos themselves being highly fluid; used and manipulated as they may be, they are also part of the great explosion of revolt against imperialist tyranny – including even the ISIS movement.
Denouncing all this turmoil as “psychotic jihadism” is both simplistic, unMarxist, subjective idealism and riven with self-contradictions which go all the way back to the capitulations of the entire fake-“left” to imperialist propaganda denunciations at the time of 9/11. It misses the great revolutionary content of the Third World rebellion provoked by economic and blitzkrieg crisis savagery.
The tangle of contradictions needs more detailed analysis (to come) but it is enough to point to Hamas or Islamic Jihad for example, currently leading the heroic struggle of the repeatedly massacred Palestinians, (and previously supported by the CPGB-ML)to ask how does the Proletarian square the circle by denouncing them as “jihadist headbangers” (as it does their parent organisation the Muslim Brotherhood) while “supporting” them (again instead of calling only for Zionism’s defeat) ?
How does it explain supporting the General Sisi coup in Egypt which is not only one of the bloodiest and most repressive military regimes in the world, shooting down thousands of men, women and children on the streets in cold blood, but has cut off all support for the Palestinians, closing the tunnels into Gaza, and allies itself with Zionism, with lavish military funding provided by the USA????
How does it denounce the Saudi blitzkrieg into Yemen while supporting Sisi which is one of Saudi’s allies???
How does it explain support for Iran which is a theocratic Islamic state, while denouncing as “headbangers”, movements that want to establish theocratic Islamic states?????
How does it explain denunciation of al-Qaeda in the Yemen, which is repeatedly blitzed by CIA run drones from a base inside Saudi Arabia, even though according to Proletarian all these jihadis are actually “funded by the US”. So why does it kill them, or blitz thousands of ISIS???
How does it explain the rise of al-Shabaab’s anti-imperialism in Somalia, or Boko Haram in Nigeria (being slaughtered and tortured by a Western approved and advised former military dictator, recently shoe-horned in as “elected” president) or the Taureg revolt in Mali put down by French imperialism?.
It cannot explain anything because it makes no sense and is not Marxism.
What about cutting the Gordian knot of all these complex conspiracy theories (which credit the imperialist world with a puppet-master omniscience it does not have), and grasp that the Third world is in crisis revolt. If it is confused and chaotic and sometimes manipulated blame lack of Marxism, the fault of Stalinist failure.
Leninism must be built.
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