No 1478 11th October 2015
If Russian bombs destroy all ISIS it cannot stop the agony and horror of Middle East breakdown. Two decades of imperialist blitzing and torture to escape and avoid catastrophic crisis have deliberately torn country after country apart, not mystical “evil”. Fake-“Left” condemnation of “jihadism” is craven capitulation to imperialist scapegoating. All such chaos and mayhem due solely to antagonism and hatred engendered by worldwide capitalist crisis failure and Third World rebellion against its violent tyranny and exploitation. Defeat for capitalist warmongering is the need, opening up chance for revolutionary class war understanding to overthrow this murderous, historically defunct, private profit system. Putin’s macho posturing may set back Western skulduggery and expose uncertainty but apeing the meaningless “war on terror” plays into fascist “kill them all” barbaric stampeding of public opinion for WW3. Redcar steel closure foreshadows return of 2008 global collapse and far worse destruction
Shock closure of the Redcar steel works, Russian “anti-terrorist” bombs in Syria and the Saudi destruction of Yemen make the need for a revolutionary grasp of the world more crucial than ever before.
All are aspects of the paralysis and degeneracy gripping the capitalist world ruling class as the crisis of its system hurtles towards total meltdown catastrophe.
They expose the pointless floundering of the ineffectual “left” opposition, from Corbynite class-collaborating “left” Labourism, still supporting nazi-NATO, and the pretend revolutionaries rowing in behind it, to the wooden limitations of the museum-Stalinists, equally mistakenly supporting the posturing machismo of the Bonapartist Putin and the hopeless bourgeois nationalist Assad.
Their pretences that economic collapse or war devastation can be halted or reversed by “saying no to austerity”, “no to war” and “renewing democracy” (!!!) or by “dealing with the terrorist problem” by “killing them all”, are complete misleadership. They pull the working class away from the only possible way out of the world’s agony – the complete overthrow of the historically defunct capitalist system and establishment of a planned socialist world through firm workers dictatorship.
Instead they play into the hands of the capitalist war drive tearing country after country apart, and fail to warn workers of the counter-revolutionary preparations at home against the spontaneous upheavals which will unstoppably erupt as the Slump bites ever harder onto the working class (as the shirtless Air France management have just experienced).
What is crucially needed everywhere is revolutionary philosophy built on the great understanding of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and Lenin, and constantly, dynamically developed in open polemic by a Leninist party.
Such a grasp alone is now of any use to the working class, making conscious the need for a total transformation in human relations which world crisis makes imperative.
Only an ever-deepened international and history-spanning understanding of the capitalist system and the unstoppable intractable nature of the Slump disaster it will always come back to – as confirmed in the 2008 bank meltdown, by endless stagnation ever since, and by the even worse collapses about to recur once QE money printing illusions are worked through – can guide and lead such an epochal change.
It is international monopoly capitalist economic disaster, unstoppably wiping out the Redcar steel workers’ jobs and much else of the world’s industry, oil and manufacturing, which is to blame for all the growing world chaos and deadly murderous mayhem.
Capitalism is deliberately driving the world to war as its “solution” to its “overproduction” crisis.
Revolutionary class war struggle is needed to overturn it, one which sees and understands that all the blows and defeats increasingly inflicted on imperialism are part of the great upheaval against it, opening up the possibilities for conscious revolutionary developments to bring about a planned socialist world.
But what workers are getting, and have been getting for over a century, is treacherous mis-leadership from craven and opportunist class collaborating TUC-Labourism and, for nearly as long, boneheaded illusions in “democratic paths” and “peace struggle” pacifism from Stalinist revisionist philosophical retreat.
Trotskyist “anti-Stalinism” completes the picture with petty bourgeois PC self-righteousness and posing, covering over bilious anti-workers state hostility.
Not only are workers headed away from a vital revolutionary understanding by all this but are fed all the petty nationalisms, hatreds and scapegoating that capitalism has been whipping up for decades, to get the world back into a warmongering frame of mind and to distract attention from its own disastrous Slump failure and collapse.
The redundancy savagery wiping out Teesside (and 100,000s of jobs before and after) is not the fault of “Chinese dumping” or “foreign ownership” or “migrant workers” but the overproduction insanity of capitalism worldwide, built into its private profit way of doing things (as Marx long ago analysed - see the still vital, original Communist Manifesto and Capital).
It will not be stopped by “properly mothballing” the bankrupted facility while everyone waits for a “upturn” to arrive nor by “leaving the EU” etc.
The war hell in the Middle East, destroying Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Palestine and now Syria and Yemen too, is not the fault of, or caused by, “mad jihadists” but stems from exactly the same capitalist system, trying to ride out the crisis with 20 years of shock-and-awe bullying of all resistance already while beginning to destroy the “surplus” capacity everywhere which has clogged every pore of the world economic system with “excess production” and “surplus capital”.
Keeping this epochal failure of the private profit system in focus, and that alone, as the starting point and generator of all the mayhem in the world is the crucial foundation for all analysis.
It is particularly critical for making any sense of the now incredibly tangled mess of human agony in the Middle East, effectively the opening stages of World War Three.
But that focus is exactly what the latest Russian intervention is not making any easier, for all that it confronts some of the Western war scheming.
The Putinite gung-ho blitzing does nothing to educate the world working class in the real cause of the problems, and their solution, (and nor do the fake-“left” Stalinist revisionists supporting it).
Just the opposite.
Playing along with the imperialist nonsense of a “war on terror” - in fact with the very notion of “terrorism” at all as an “evil and malevolent” generator and supposed cause of the world’s troubles, – gives further credence to the main scapegoating weapon that capitalism is using to fool public opinion and drive the world atmosphere into a war frenzy.
And supporting the dire Ba’athist regime in Damascus, with its petty bourgeois nationalism, and a long chequered history of partial anti-imperialism, and anti-Zionist rhetoric shot through by compromise and sometimes outright imperialist collaboration, is entirely the wrong lead to give the working class.
The Assad government is in no way the answer to the crisis problems facing the masses in Syria, nor any kind of an example to hold up to the world working class as a “way forwards”.
Nor is Putin’s ongoing Bonapartist balancing act, wobbling between Russia’s gangster capitalist oligarch restoration, idiotic Greater Russian nationalist reactionary backwardness (hankering after a “role on the world stage”) and nostalgia for the organisational and social strength of the defunct Soviet workers state, and even more jelly-brained than the disastrous revisionist philosophy which trained him, even as it idiotically liquidated the USSR in the first place.
By quirk of circumstance and its own limited interests it happens to play a useful role for the moment in knocking back the imperialist skulduggery creating and sustaining the Middle East destruction, but the working class needs a clear understanding that this Russia is controlled by the capitalist counter-revolution, not some continuation of the once titanic Soviet workers state.
Imperialism’s bullying and victimisation attacks on Syria and other “rogue states” via proxy disruption needs soundly defeating, and every blow against the degenerate massacring sabotage and ethic cleansing terrorising is welcome, wherever from, including initial Russian bombing against the foul imperialist skulduggery which has created the anti-Assad civil war devastation in Syria.
Hitting the laughable pretence of a “moderate opposition” in Syria (made up from assorted US stooge opportunists, CIA trained disrupters and reactionaries, infiltrated Western special forces, and Zionist intelligence agents), was in the right anti-US direction, knocking back some of the imperialist inspired civilian terrorising violence which has nearly destroyed the entire country.
Some of the stung responses against Moscow from Washington (via leading reactionary warmaker Republican John McCain! eg) and its British Tory sidekicks, who have been carefully cultivating these joke “Free Syrian Army” disrupters and thugs, have helped drive out useful admissions in the bourgeois press confirming all over again the utterly reactionary and stooge nature of these elements:
The Russian targets so far include a small number of avowedly secular fighters who have received limited backing from the United States and the Gulf states. They fight under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and are mainly located in central Syria, near the cities of Hama and Homs. Among them are at least two groups – Tajamu Ala’Azza and Liwa Suqor al-Jebel – which have received limited CIA training and been supplied with anti-tank rockets that have taken a heavy toll on regime armour over the past year.
On Thursday the leaders of both groups confirmed that their camps north of Hama and in Idlib had been targeted. The US senator John McCain told the Senate armed services committee that at least one of the groups had been backed by the CIA. Support for the groups and other vetted opposition units had also been given by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, although both countries – Qatar in particular – has offered more robust backing to Islamic groups in other parts of Syria.
A second round of Russian strikes later on Wednesday in Idlib province hit more hardline Islamist groups, Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra. The US and much of Europe have proscribed al-Nusra as a terrorist group and US jets have attacked it at times during the 14-month air campaign that Washington has waged against Isis.
All these groups have fought Isis during the past two years, ousting them from Idlib province and the Aleppo countryside during a six-week battle in early 2014. They maintained on Thursday that there was no Isis presence within 60 miles of the sites Russia hit in Hama and Homs or within 50 miles of the targets in the north.
The FSA was the dominant arm of the opposition in the first two years of the war and made significant gains against loyalist forces in the centre, south and north of the country. Initially it received backing from Arab states and cautious support from the US. Now though, after years of disunity and faltering advances, its influence has shrunk to a section of central Syria and the southern border with Jordan.
The early years of the rebel army were backed by Qatar and Turkey, with limited support from the US. Saudi Arabia joined the fray in early 2013, initially from the southern front, which it saw as the quickest route to Damascus. The US has maintained its support for a small number of groups, but its efforts to form and arm a large rebel force to target Isis has failed spectacularly.
As the FSA advances faltered, its unity splintered and the war for the north, in particular, became increasingly dominated by Islamist groups and jihadis. Turkey has remained a staunch supporter of Ahrar al-Sham, which is closely aligned to the Muslim Brotherhood movement. It has also offered backing to Jabhat al-Nusra, despite being proscribed by Washington.
Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham are strong in the Idlib countryside near Turkey. Isis dominates the east and is once again ascendant near Aleppo, while moderate units prevail in much of the south, except in the Golan Heights.
Central Syria, particularly the strip of the county running south-east from Tartous on the Mediterranean coast to Homs, is still home to secular groups and moderate Islamists, who are fighting for a change of power in Syria but have declared their support for the state within its current borders
The moderates say targeting them will drive people towards extremism, because such an air campaign would demonstrate that Russia had opened a war on Syrian people as opposed to a mutual enemy in Isis.
These FSA types are not “the Syrian people” as the news report pretends.
Since 2011 these ludicrously designated “moderate” groups have been a counter-revolutionary stunt, organised and prodded by Western intelligence, Turkish meddling and provocations by cross-border infiltration by the nearby Zionists.
Their alleged “peaceful demonstrations against the dictatorship” were anything but non-violent, as hidden snipers got to work to inflame latent sectarian tensions and the Western media dutifully hyped up a stream of fantastical, unproven, unwitnessed, unverified, and quickly forgotten, lying incidents of supposed “repression”, as is now standard practice for CIA “colour revolutions” and supposed “popular revolt” against any even halfway non-compliant or “rogue” regime selected for victimhood by imperialism.
Their loud renewed calls now for Western support and arms – and admissions of their “limited” CIA training (!!!), receipt of weapons and lavish funds from the primitive feudalism in the Gulf states and reactionary tribal Saudi Arabia – have confirmed their dirty and vicious counter-revolutionary character, though to anyone with an ounce of scientific Marxist observation that was clear from the beginning of this civil war mayhem.
(It has also, incidentally, made clear the outrageous Tory conference hypocrisy denouncing Jeremy Corbyn for allegedly “supporting terrorists” when it is this government, the US and its Gulf “allies”, who are feeding this horrifying war and its anti-Assad terrorising groups (and sustaining the devastating Saudi war on Yemen too - see below)).
It confirms too the rottenness and treachery of some Trotskyist groups and reformist “left” who have swallowed wholesale the ludicrous imperialist notions that these are “freedom fighters” against a “tyrannical regime”.
Trot middle-class shallowness, worship of the bourgeois “democracy” fraud and deep down anti-communism, has always tail-ended any cobbled together, supposed “street movement” of a few dozen paid “dissidents”, issued by the intelligence agencies with a few hastily painted “down with dictators” cardboard signs,who are instantly declared “the revolution” (just as they have gone along with multiple Western stunts like it, from the ant-communist Pilsudski-loving bogus trade union Solidarnosc in 1980s Poland, to the “rebels” who buggered to death with an iron blade, the anti-imperialist Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi).
Taking on these Western organised elements with Russian planes is not a problem and the press revelations forced out by the Russian moves may indirectly help educate workers.
But the Russian justification for its actions (which are partly driven by Moscow’s own resistance to imperialist warring aggression and nazi-NATO encirclement in East Europe etc) does not.
Declaring that “terrorism” and “jihadism” is the real problem in Syria, let alone elsewhere, is simply wrong.
Capitalism is the problem, and the sole problem in the world and blaming “terrorists” is to let it off the hook.
Going on to blitz ISIS is far more problematical, and particularly when offering shameful “cooperation” deals to the West to tackle “our common enemy”.
Even if Putin were to kill all the “terrorists” in Syria and Iraq it would do nothing to stop the relentless slide of the world into war and Slump catastrophe.
But worse still, Moscow effectively stands with capitalism against the great rebellion which has erupted worldwide against imperialist domination, from Hamas in Palestine (now calling a Third Intifada) and throughout the Middle East and Africa to Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Marxists do not have to agree with or condone the methods and particularly the sometimes reactionary notions of the religious ideologies which temporarily hold sway as the leadership of these rebellions (filling the shaming vacuum left by revisionist retreat from revolutionary leadership).
But to not understand that they are rebellion, and to denounce and condemn them, as all the “lefts” have done since 9/11, is utter betrayal, as the EPSR explained twelve years ago in the still-to-be-answered polemic with the Stalinist revisionist Lalkar (uncritically supporting the anti-communist Putin even now) [EPSR 1195 29-07-03]:
* In the likely conditions of the depths of economic crisis plus the degradation of war destruction in which the revolutionary party will begin to come into its own, all manner of violent hatred of imperialist rule will be being expressed randomly and spontaneously all round the world, - all of it being venomously condemned as ‘terrorism” by the imperialists, and much of it being made an example of with maximum brutality by the “civilised authorities” for ease of scapegoating ALL opponents with full force in due course.
Whatever negative effects for the revolutionary struggle are envisaged as flowing from such “terrorist outrages”, Lenin insisted that it would be suicidally stupid for the revolutionaries to see anything else in these issues than further signs of a civil-war break-up of the old order in which the revolution should be on the side of EVERY defeat, setback, and humiliation for the ruling class, no matter where it came from or how, while yet keeping itself aloof from negative methods (if so they are judged) and from reactionary anti-establishment attitudes possibly behind such methods, - using the situation ONLY to tell the revolutionaries themselves that they are not yet doing their agitational and enlightening jobs nearly well enough, and seeing the preponderance or popularity of such hate explosions as a condemnation of the revolutionary party for its own weak influence.
Above all, the revolutionary party should avoid humiliating itself in irremediable class-collaborative shame by joining the ruling-class in “condemning” the “terrorist outrages”.
Bombing and killing the ISIS breakaway is about as strong a form of “condemnation” as it is possible to get.
“But ISIS has also been part of the attacks on Assad” it will be argued.
Certainly it has, and the evidence suggests it too was given arms and training, manipulated as past Islamic religious fanatics have been, from the CIA arming of the backward and primitive tribalism of the anti-Soviet Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s, to the deliberate death-squad sectarian civil war brutality let rip and encouraged in Iraq ten years ago by secretive US agents like Colonel Jim Steele (see EPSR 1476).
Washington has been trying to use ISIS as part of the “opposition” to topple the Assad regime, which is hated by the West because it does not completely toe the imperialist line, and even more hated by the next door Zionists, because it has armed and aided the Hezbollah in Lebanon, which inflicted humiliating defeat on the “invincible” occupying Jewish army in 2006.
But the ISIS has gone out of control (as far as it was “controlled” at all).
It is now demonised as an “existential threat” to the West by demented Western propaganda.
(That is a Goebbels nonsense in itself: For all its bizarre Caliphate fantasies and slick lurid terror propaganda (a ruthlessness learned from Western blitzkrieg), the ISIS is no “new evil fascism”, either ideologically or materially, with neither the social, technical nor economic basis available to “take over the world” nor the capability to sustain its weird ideology even if it does make any military gains.
Those could only come on any scale at the expense of weakening imperialist influence anyway, immediately changing the material balance of class forces which has driven out such rebellion in the first place, and therefore also changing the consciousness of those involved as the impossibility of an eight century state becomes clearer.
They would be forced to look for better scientific leadership if anti-imperialist momentum was to be maintained.)
But for the moment it certainly has a life of its own, part of the complete breakdown of society most obvious throughout the Middle East but actually ripping through all “stable” capitalist existence as the world catastrophe deepens.
So how to untangle these contradictions????
A much more careful understanding is needed firstly than the simplistic wooden approach of the museum Stalinists which simply declares “Assad good, therefore ‘jihadists’ bad”, or “all opposition are ‘terrorists’ and therefore ‘bad’” (an approach riddled with contradictions which ends up supporting such monstrosities as the General Sisi fascist coup in Cairo because the Sinai rebels against it are deemed to be “jihadist headbangers” and which uncritically supports Iran, even though it is an Islamic State and capable of some fairly backward “discipline” and punishment to, not least against communists).
It is a flawed premise to begin with that Assad is “good”, any more than the thug Saddam Hussein was, another of the regimes given outright support by the Stalinists (and a few other “left” groups) because it was attacked by imperialism, or any more than the hopeless and crooked revisionist-nationalist Slobodan Milosevic in the Serbian remnant in Yugoslavia (also supported outright).
Or even Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, with his bizarre anti-Marxist “Green book” communal reformist philosophy and the fatal compromises with imperialism it led to.
Whatever social reforms and improvements any of them made, and erratic anti-imperialist form they might have had, they did nothing to bring either their own or the international working class towards any kind of understanding of the overwhelming plunge of the world into devastating crisis, and the need for revolutionary struggle against it, let alone develop the Marxist grasp which alone offers a path out, and in fact they mostly suppressed such philosophy.
Supporting them outright because they are allegedly a “step on the way” towards socialism, is to abandon all grasp of the necessity and inevitability of revolutionary change because of crisis breakdown. It is reformism.
In all these past cases where regimes have been bullied and singled out, a Leninist approach saw the need to focus on defeat for imperialism, necessarily suspending struggle against such leaderships at the point when they were being attacked by imperialist warmongering, to face the common enemy, but giving the working class no illusions in them, or support, and in fact preparing to resume the fight against them for outright communism at the first opportunity (if it came).
This clearly still applies in the deliberate sabotage against Assad by carefully controlled and recruited FSA stooges and their comfortably US-based “spokesmen” so uncritically being rolled out in western media news interviews to pump out CIA-coached soundbites (constantly repeated to drum them in) about “Assad’s chemical weapons attacks” and “the tyrant killing his own people”, and “barrel bombs” – all not just specious allegations but outright Goebbels big lies, as are the mantras systematically worked into every media interview at present that “Assad is responsible for starting the war” and “has done 95% of the killing” and “we just want to bring peace and security” (presumably like they did in Libya?).
That is gobshyte fascism, straight out of Langley.
If Assad is not straightforwardly “good” from a Marxist point of view neither is ruthless rebellious upheaval by ISIS straightforwardly “bad”, and it is far from being the same as the FSA stoogery.
The anti-imperialist sentiments forcing world “terrorist” struggle to the surface (and attracting recruits far and wide - even into the heart of imperialism) are neither the “devilish evil” painted by imperialism with all the mystical scaremongering of the most fantastical lurid Hollywood horror film, nor “fascism” (which is the repressive warmongering face of imperialism in crisis).
The ISIS sectarian fanaticism may have been used by imperialism early on in Syria as part of the vicious terrorising and ethnic cleansing intimidation which wiped out whole city districts but it has “blown back”, just as such Western intrigue and manipulation has repeatedly seen breakaways like the Taliban, turned into a national liberation fight against US occupation and its stooges in Kabul (currently proving who the real “terrorists” are with the callous hospital bombing in Kunduz, wiping out doctors and civilian patients alike).
ISIS’ origins lie in the anti-imperialist Sunni resistance emerging in the US concentration camps in Iraq after the illegal civilian-blitzing and depraved torture US invasion of 2003.
Its sectarian ideology made it open to later manipulation by imperialism, tapping into the sectarian divides which have never been dealt with throughout the region (a black mark against Damascus Ba’athism) and which have revived in crisis and war, because no decent Marxist leadership has emerged with a determined revolutionary perspective which could better unite the general upheaval against occupation and invasion (a black mark against decades of Moscow revisionism and retreat).
But this was a highly risky game for imperialist intrigue, dealing with a maverick movement that had its own agenda, primarily that of getting all dominance off its back, and particularly Western imperialism.
Washington was playing with fire from the beginning with these elements, as it knew from previous experience, and it only did so this time out of desperation, when giant upheavals erupted in Egypt in 2011.
Unwrapping the history of the mayhem in the Middle East, in the light of the capitalist crisis is crucial for understanding the picture, a wide perspective which none of the “left” groups make.
Syria, and the unreported savagery against Yemen nearby, is the latest stage in a two-decade long deliberate warmongering agenda by dominant US imperialism desperate to escape the world crisis collapse that its ruling class already knew was unfolding at the end of the last century - the “New American Century” plan being to shock-and-awe the world into continuing or restored Washington supremacy (as achieved after WW2), despite US bankruptcy, suppressing and intimidating with utmost brutality, blitzkrieg and nazi-levels of torture and incarceration, an already rising Third World anti-imperialist revolt against endless near-slave exploitation.
Simultaneously it would make clear to all rival capitalist powers just what ruthless destruction could be expected if they did not knuckle under in the coming market turmoil and trade war.
The 1998 NATO blitzing of tiny Serbia, the revisionist remnant of once socialist Yugoslavia, around the pretext of an alleged “massacre” at Recak (a totally stitched-up lie too) was the early warm-up for the non-stop destruction unleashed from 2001 onwards, starting with the indiscriminate revenge B52 bombing on Afghanistan after the New York 9/11 attacks.
Under the pretext of “hunting down” terrorists, first of all Afghanistan was pulverised, tortured and blitzed, and then Iraq invaded under the deliberate lying and made up pretext of the “threat of WMD”, inflicting further horrific damage on a population which had already been tortured and punished (losing half a million children alone) by a decade of international economic siege and “no fly zone” bombing attacks, in response to one-time CIA placement Saddam Hussein’s partial defiance of Western diktat over Kuwait etc.
But this turn to open aggression – essentially the increasingly open fascist face of US imperialism as its dominance is threatened - has run into gigantic and ever growing resistance, succeeding only in hugely multiplying the already rising hatred of the world’s masses and, as every rational commentator predicted, recruiting tens of thousands into “jihadist movements”, a momentum which has increased with every further drone attack, revelation of prison torture, pulverised village and blown apart wedding party.
So bad was the rolling defeat and humiliation, imposed by this “insurgent and terrorist” resistance, and the war exhaustion of the US population as hundreds of billions of dollars were spent and the body bags arrived home, that it essentially brought down the Bush presidency and not just that, threatened to topple the entire “democratic” edifice in America.
Only by playing the “Politically Correct” cards of black civil rights and feminism, (and later in 2012 “gay rights”) to fool the public and get the slick careerist Barack Obama in place was presidential “democracy” temporarily salvaged.
As analysed from the beginning by the EPSR Obama-ism has proved as reactionary as Blairism; with non-stop drone death squad assassination, continuing Guantánamo illegal prison camp operations and sustained if reduced military operations worldwide, as well as support for the Zionists through every monstrous Nazi white phosphorus and cluster bomb onslaught on the Palestinians.
But it also had to wind down the direct war operations for the time being, in the teeth of huge domestic public disaffection, with war expense and pain ever more unbearable as the economic crisis erupted in full, threatening to implode the entire economy, already drained by Bushite war.
Resources have had to be diverted for the fearful “pivot to Asia” to surround and intimidate the growing influence and power of the Chinese revisionist workers state, now second only to the US in economic might, and potentially the biggest competitor as crisis bites.
The steady left reformist momentum in Latin America around the misnamed “Bolivarian revolution” (in fact only left bourgeois nationalist reformism) is demanding US attention too, to try and subvert and disrupt countries from Ecuador to Brazil and most of all Venezuela (with coups like Honduras in 2011).
Rising working class revolt in east Ukraine has pushed back the nasty little fascist coup in Kiev too.
In other words difficulties face it on every front and the imperialist system cannot afford more war for the moment.
But it cannot afford to stop war either ; the growing revolt and the eruption of catastrophic financial crisis makes the need for war even greater (from the imperialist point of view) because that is its only escape route from its shame and bankruptcy.
Crisis catastrophe increases daily. Far from being “solved” as bourgeois propaganda pretends, the 2008 economic collapse is just the start.
The epochal failure of the entire, centuries old, private profit system continues to unroll, held off temporarily from full collapse only by the insane expansion of credit through “Quantitative Easing”.
But this pollution of world trade with totally valueless additional credit has only ratcheted up the international tensions in a beggar-thy-neighbour game of currency devaluations and trade war (much of the brunt borne by Germany and Europe, and more by China, soaking up paper dollars) not unlike conditions before the First and Second World Wars.
It has not only not solved the economic disaster but has multiplied the impact it will have eventually once the little boy shouts out that “the emperor has no clothes”.
The ruling class pretence of “economic growth” is spun ever harder but it is a hollow joke, (particularly for those like the Greek working class, the Ukrainians, the Third World or just on the lower rungs everywhere, including the US, already hammered by cuts, speed-up and unemployments - and about to be joined by many more as the Redcar steel workers can testify). It is simply hoodwinking nonsense, pumped out to head off any revolutionary grasp or developing consciousness.
The bourgeois press and the major capitalist institutions cannot hide their jitters however.
Some of the now endless fearfulness is worth quoting as valuable commentary for the complacent and cynical petty bourgeois elements (including plenty of the Trot groups) who sneeringly dismiss scientific Marxist-Leninist warnings as “old hat”, “no longer relevant” and “catastrophist ranting”:
The 158-year-old Wall Street bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on 15 September 2008. As the news broke, insiders experienced an atmosphere of unprecedented panic. One former investment banker recalled: “I thought: so this is what the threat of war must feel like. I remember looking out of the window and seeing the buses drive by. People everywhere going through a normal working day – or so they thought. I realised: they have no idea. I called my father from the office to tell him to transfer all his savings to a safer bank. Going home that day, I was genuinely terrified.”
A veteran at a small credit rating agency who spent his whole career in the City of London told me with genuine emotion: “It was terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. We came so close to a global meltdown.” He had been on holiday in the week Lehman went bust. “I remember opening up the paper every day and going: ‘Oh my God.’ I was on my BlackBerry following events. Confusion, embarrassment, incredulity ... I went through the whole gamut of human emotions. At some point my wife threatened to throw my BlackBerry in the lake if I didn’t stop reading on my phone. I couldn’t stop.”
Other financial workers in the City, who were at their desks after Lehman defaulted, described colleagues sitting frozen before their screens, paralysed – unable to act even when there was easy money to be made. Things were looking so bad, they said, that some got on the phone to their families: “Get as much money from the ATM as you can.” “Rush to the supermarket to hoard food.” “Buy gold.” “Get everything ready to evacuate the kids to the country.” As they recalled those days, there was often a note of shame in their voices, as if they felt humiliated by the memory of their vulnerability. Even some of the most macho traders became visibly uncomfortable. One said to me in a grim voice: “That was scary, mate. I mean, not film scary. Really scary.”
I spent two years, from 2011 to 2013, interviewing about 200 bankers and financial workers as part of an investigation into banking culture in the City of London after the crash. Not everyone I spoke to had been so terrified in the days and weeks after Lehman collapsed. But the ones who had phoned their families in panic explained to me that what they were afraid of was the domino effect. The collapse of a global megabank such as Lehman could cause the financial system to come to a halt, seize up and then implode. Not only would this mean that we could no longer withdraw our money from banks, it would also mean that lines of credit would stop. As the fund manager George Cooper put it in his book The Origin of Financial Crises: “This financial crisis came perilously close to causing a systemic failure of the global financial system. Had this occurred, global trade would have ceased to function within a very short period of time.” Remember that this is the age of just-in-time inventory management, Cooper added – meaning supermarkets have very small stocks. With impeccable understatement, he said: “It is sobering to contemplate the consequences of interrupting food supplies to the world’s major cities for even a few days.”
These were the dominos threatening to fall in 2008. The next tile would be hundreds of millions of people worldwide all learning at the same time that they had lost access to their bank accounts and that supplies to their supermarkets, pharmacies and petrol stations had frozen. The TV images that have come to define this whole episode – defeated-looking Lehman employees carrying boxes of their belongings through Wall Street – have become objects of satire. As if it were only a matter of a few hundred overpaid people losing their jobs: Look at the Masters of the Universe now, brought down to our level!
In reality, those cardboard box-carrying bankers were the beginning of what could very well have been a genuine breakdown of society. Although we did not quite fall off the edge after the crash in the way some bankers were anticipating, the painful effects are still being felt in almost every sector. At this distance, however, seven years on, it’s hard to see what has changed.
And if nothing has changed, it could all happen again.
This apocalyptic view can be dismissed as exaggeration - though mistakenly – but what about the summit of the most influential monopoly capitalist institution, the IMF?:
The next financial crisis is coming, it’s a just a matter of time – and we haven’t finished fixing the flaws in the global system that were so brutally exposed by the last one.
That is the message from the International Monetary Fund’s latest Global Financial Stability report, which will make sobering reading for the finance ministers and central bankers gathered in Lima, Peru, for its annual meeting.
Massive monetary policy stimulus has rekindled growth in developed economies since the deep recession that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008; but what the IMF calls the “handover” to a more sustainable recovery – without the extra prop of ultra-low borrowing costs – has so far failed to materialise.
Meanwhile, the cheap money created to rescue the developed economies has flooded out into emerging markets, inflating asset bubbles, and encouraging companies and governments to take advantage of unusually low borrowing costs and load up on debt.
“Balance sheets have become stretched thinner in many emerging market companies and banks. These firms have become more susceptible to financial stress,” the IMF says.
Meanwhile, the failure to patch up the international financial system after the last crash, by ensuring that banks in emerging markets hold enough capital, and constraining risky borrowing, for example, means that a new Lehman Brothers-type shock could spark another global panic.
“Shocks may originate in advanced or emerging markets and, combined with unaddressed system vulnerabilities, could lead to a global asset market disruption and a sudden drying up of market liquidity in many asset classes,” the IMF says, warning that some markets appear to be “brittle”.
So as the US Federal Reserve lays the groundwork for a return to peacetime interest rates, from the emergency levels of the past seven years, financial markets face what the IMF calls an “unprecedented adjustment”; and the world looks woefully underprepared.
The IMF’s warning echoes a chorus of others. The Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, has argued that the world is entering the latest episode of a “three-part crisis trilogy”. Unctad, the UN’s trade and development arm, would like to see advanced economies boost public spending to offset the downturn in emerging economies. The Bank for International Settlements believes interest rates have been too low for too long, encouraging too much risk-taking in financial markets. All of them fear that the global financial system is primed for a crisis.
The IMF has not given up hope of what it calls a “successful normalisation” – it lays out a series of conditions that would need to be met, from a successful rebalancing of growth in China, to “safeguarding against market illiquidity” in financial markets.
Yet the failure of the world’s policymakers to get to grips with the shortcomings of the international financial system over the past seven years, despite the long shadow cast by Lehman and its aftermath, suggests that any measures enacted now are likely to be too little, too late. The message many may take home from Lima is, “batten down the hatches”.
The Bush neocon warmongering was started to distract attention from this disaster, dragging the world back into total war to continue US Empire dominance at any cost while capitalism generally destroys the “surplus” production clogging the system (as Marx and Lenin explained).
It has gone horribly wrong with the disastrous mess of the Middle East, compounded by the desperate economic meltdown at home.
To keep the war momentum going even while retreating, Obamaism has hugely increased covert operations from secret drone and surveillance camps, to the non-stop subversion and manipulation of the CIA, escalating as much civil war turmoil as possible to divide and disrupt with as little danger as possible for US troops.
It was this shattered and humiliated imperialism which faced even bigger problems in 2011 as not just as the world insurgency massively recruited and expanded, but from a qualitative jump in the anti-imperialist movement driven by the intensified crisis collapse.
First Tunisia and then giant Egypt exploded in spontaneous mass revolt, unlike anything before save the toppling of the Shah in Iran, with millions on the street defying the bloody violent repression of Western stooge dictatorships like Hosni Mubarak.
This Arab Spring happened with a speed and on a scale far beyond any possibility of being “just another CIA inspired colour-revolution” as some of the craven fake-“left” pretend, desperate to wriggle away from all real-world revolutionary developments and to deny their implications.
To the contrary, it is a titanic development which panicked the world ruling class, seeing its example spread like fire from Tunisia to giant Egypt, with its 85 million strong population and a history of anti-imperialist nationalism, and fearful that not just the whole Middle East could be swept up by it, but Africa and the Third World beyond (where revolt has been erupting in outbreaks like Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Mali, Indonesia etc) .
But how to stop it? Direct US intervention was impossible when the even the invasion of much smaller Iraq had proved disastrous and Afghanistan’s slow defeat was still being pulled back from, and when war-weary domestic hostility to further entanglement was still running strong.
It would be inconceivably costly in a massively unstable global meltdown.
Triggering counter-revolution nearby has been the answer, under the pretence it was just “more Arab Spring”, prematurely activating long prepared subversion and sabotage in Syria and Libya, both “rogue state” targets anyway for long-term “New American Century” world intimidation plans and usefully next to Egypt.
But this fraught game is a further disastrous mess.
The bogus “extension of the Arab Spring” attempted in Libya virtually petered out, its opportunist monarchist and western collaborating elements having no real class force and reluctant to do anything more than drive around in the desert for the TV cameras, shooting at the sky with the guns they were given, despite backing from assorted Western special forces secretly parachuted in (as one incompetent British landing revealed).
It had to be rescued by another NATO blitzkrieg invasion, dressed up as “French and British led” to avoid stirring too much opposition in the States, and has left a disastrous mess of warlordism and anarchic violence.
Syria was initially more “successful” with the current sectarian civil war mayhem stirred into a frenzy but failing to get anywhere and now bogged down in the mess which has horrified the world.
Even less public support was forthcoming for direct intervention despite Western Goebbels stunts to stampede public opinion, like the lying “chemical weapons” attacks blamed on Assad, (without a shred of evidence or anything like forensic investigation).
And it has trapped the imperialist warmongering in glaring hypocrisies and contradictions; simultaneously denouncing “terrorists” while fostering and supporting them where it suits; building-up newly “granted” “democracy” in Egypt with a mass vote for a new president to head off the revolutionary momentum of the February streets, only to topple it with a barbaric cold-blooded street massacring military coup 30 months later (this time with a pretend “popular demand” clearly orchestrated by the intelligence agencies, bringing the well-off middle-class out, mobilising sinister reactionary spin figures like Tony Blair in support and vastly hyping-up the numbers with a huge, dissembling international press campaign); and now pushing the degenerate warmongering of the desperate feudal Saudi Arabian and Gulf regimes, floundering badly in the crisis as the oil price plunges, and their corrupt ruling layers facing bankruptcy in the not so distant future, their incompetence exposed with hundreds of deaths at Mecca and rebellion rising internally and externally (all labelled “terrorism”).
The grossly illegal Saudi war on Yemen is so foul and glaring a contradiction that the Western intelligence control of the press agenda has made sure it is largely kept off the main news circuit, (and certainly is never mentioned at Tory political rallies), though stories filter through here and there like this one ( in out of the way corners of the bourgeois press, just enough to pretend objectivity):
While the crisis in Syria continues to garner front-page headlines and ample television coverage, the media has largely turned a blind eye to the other travesty unfolding in the Middle East: Yemen has turned into a humanitarian disaster, where thousands of bombs are being dropped, 1.5 million people are displaced and more than 90% of the population is in need of assistance. The major difference? In Yemen, the US is one of the primary causes of the problem.
The United States and the United Kingdom are actively aiding and abetting Saudi Arabia while the country indiscriminately kills thousands of civilians in Yemen in what amounts to war crimes by almost anyone’s definition. The two western powers, who often purport to care about democracy and human rights, are also helping the Saudi monarchy – one of the most repressive regimes on the planet – cover up those crimes at the UN. These actions are abhorrent, and it’s shameful the brewing scandal has hardly received any attention from the US political establishment or television news.
The New York Times, the rare exception to the giant shrug much of the American media has given this critical subject, recently published a harrowing front-page story on the rash of indiscriminate bombing – conducted in response to Houthi rebels who have attacked the sitting government – that has been killing scores of civilians with direct help from the US. That report came before the latest and deadliest attack on civilians yet: last week, a Saudi strike killed at least 130 innocent people at a wedding, mostly women and children. Over 500 children have been killed since the start of the strikes.
It would be hard for the US to give more assistance to Saudi Arabia as they commit these atrocities without actually dropping the bombs themselves: the Saudis are using cluster munitions (banned by treaty in the vast majority of countries around the world) supplied to them by United States defense contractors. They’re dropping those bombs using American-made fighter jets. The US military, far from being a neutral observer, is actively providing the Saudis with intelligence and logistical assistance for their air strikes. And the US is finalizing a deal to give even more weapons to the Saudis. The Obama administration has already sold them more than $90bn of military weapons over the past five years.
As of Wednesday, the US and UK also successfully prevented the UN from conducting an independent investigation into the potential war crimes committed by Saudi Arabia. Instead, Saudi Arabia will be given license to investigate themselves. Human rights groups immediately castigated the decision.
It turns out that the UK and US also made another secret deal with the Saudi monarchy years ago, according to diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks. In an exchange of votes, the UK and US plotted to get Saudi Arabia the top spot on the UN human rights council, which was just announced last month - also to loud condemnations around the world. (The same week, the country finalized plans to behead and crucify the son of a prominent government critic, whose only crime was attending an anti-government protest when he was 17 years old.)
The Times also reported on the results of Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen for the US: “Rather than turning more Yemenis against the Houthis, though, the strikes are crystallizing anger in parts of the country against Saudi Arabia and its partners, including the United States.” So we’re likely creating a new generation of terrorists, just as the US’s past drone strikes in Yemen have done. And for what?
Even the US military can’t explain why they’re supporting this war so closely. There is no military or national security objective (besides keeping the Saudi Arabian government happy and the coffers of US weapons makers flush). As the Council on Foreign Relations’s Micah Zenko writes in his excellent and depressing analysis of the unfolding tragedy:
“Rather, they call upon all parties in the conflict to halt their fighting, failing to mention that the United States military is one of the parties by providing material support, without which [Saudi Arabia and its military coalition] would not be able sustain airstrikes over Yemen for any period of time.”
Unfortunately, hardly anyone inside the US government seems to care. The Intercept’s Lee Fang went to Washington DC to try to ask members of Congress about the killings. Many ignored him, or if they did talk refused to take on Saudi Arabia directly. John McCain even denied that Saudi Arabia had civilians at all and blamed the Houthis for any deaths that may have occurred. He apparently was not aware UN officials have made clear that the vast majority of civilian deaths were the fault of the Saudi airstrikes, not the Houthis. (It should go without saying that none of this excuses any atrocities committed by the Houthis, which are horrific in their own right.)
So as the US media and politicians become more and more outraged at the senseless carnage in Syria over the next few weeks, as they well should, remember what they are blatantly ignoring: the US-backed travesty in Yemen.
There is nothing “senseless” about the carnage at all; it is the result of deliberate warmongering by a failed system that has no escape from its desperate collapse and crisis.
It is “an end in itself” as another liberal commentator concluded after recoiling this week at the callous and bureaucratic inhumanity of the US “explanation” and non-apology for deliberate NATO multiple bombing of the Médecins san Frontières hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, warning again that this kind of horror serves simply to drive tens of thousands more into insurgencies. He finishes:
So here comes the UK government, first operating covertly, against the expressed will of parliament, now presenting the authorisation of its bombing in Syria as a test of manhood. Always clear in his parliamentary strategy, never clear in his military strategy, David Cameron seeks to join another failed intervention that is likely only to enhance the spread of terrorism.
There are no clear objectives in these wars, or if there are, they shift from month to month. There is no obvious picture of what victory looks like or how it might be achieved. Twelve years into the conflict in Iraq, 14 years into the fighting in Afghanistan, after repeated announcements of victory or withdrawal, military action appears only to have replaced the old forms of brutality and chaos with new ones. And yet it continues. War appears to have become an end in itself.
With his last sentence the fake-“left” poseur George Monbiot puts his finger right on it – what capitalism now wants is war itself, and the circumstances and targets are essentially irrelevant, chosen only because of the ease with which public opinion can be manipulated and driven into a finger pointing frenzy of hate and blame against alleged “dictators” or demonised “terrorists”, dragooned behind their own ruling class into World War just as they were in 1914 and 1939, suffering years of industrialised butchery before waking up and turning to revolution, which finally stopped the warmongering by toppling the ruling class making it.
The desperation to keep war going is clear in the astonishing way the ruling class seems to be continuing to try and use the ISIS revolt despite the alleged “terminal threat to Western lives, peace and security etc etc”.
It can be speculated that Washington has not used anything like the military power it could to stop ISIS; with as much massed air power around the Gulf as was used to devastate Saddam’s armies 12 years ago (supplemented by France’s main aircraft carrier sent by “socialist” François Hollande, and the completely illegal presence and use of British airforce bombers) it could destroy it in days, as it did Baghdad’s armies.
But it has achieved almost nothing in a whole year of operations, not because “air power is not enough” but because this is deliberate policy.
In fact it has achieved plenty, bombing heavily the ISIS expansions too far into Iraq and the threat to topple the US installed administration in Baghdad, the Kurdish north and Turkey where US imperialist allies or stooge regimes are in place, but leaving it more or less untouched elsewhere and corralling ISIS back into Syria.
And this is not because it “cannot bomb” in Syria; because ISIS forces inside Iraq but near to Syria also seem to have been left alone.
Washington seems to hope to continue using ISIS to topple Assad, still astonishingly pretending this is to “establish democracy” and “peace”!!
Either way, through breathtaking hypocrisy and cynicism, or simply incompetence the weakness and desperation of imperialism is apparent, unable to stop the rise of anti-imperialist sentiment and struggle.
The Russian bombing which has immediately started making an impact on the ISIS areas, exposes this double-dealing apparent ineffectuality.
But it does not solve anything either.
“Terrorists” are mostly only the hapless victims of imperialism trying to fight back, however confusedly.
As many liberal commentators frequently declare, they are the product and result of imperialist repression and war, and if they have become “ruthless monsters” then that has been learned from imperialism itself and a two centuries long history of bloody violence, torture and horrors far beyond ISIS atrocities - continuing right up to the present day.
If the brutality and civilian terrorising of the ISIS is horrifying then so is the destruction already wrought by capitalist invasion and a thousand times more so.
And it will not stop even if every last ISIS jihadist is pulverised into the ground; in fact the very business of escalating the bombing and war will itself further alienate and harden the hatred against imperialism which generates “jihadism” in the first place.
The mind-bending complication in understanding the specific situation in Syria lies with imperialism’s own confusions; its hatred and demonisation of the Assad government, as a “rogue state” and mobilisation of terror and ethic cleansing sabotage against it, versus its fears and worries about the rising world revolt which ISIS has become part of, along with the need to use the meaningless demonisation of a “war on terror” to sustain the “kill them” atmosphere needed for the general war escape from its crisis.
As already described, a Marxist grasp cannot support Assad and needs to make clear that Putin is just as disastrous, for as long as Russia remains subject to restored capitalist oligarch exploitation.
Any Russian blows against imperialist sabotage and warmongering, and defeat for its barbarity are welcome perhaps, to the extent that ISIS is just a tool of capitalism.
But that is clearly no longer the case, if it ever was, whether or not the “Coalition” bombers herd its Caliphate ambitions towards Damascus.
Any positive aspects are overwhelmed by the damage done by blaming “terrorism” however as is sharply revealed in Palestine where the Hamas leadership has now declared a Third Intifada, against the eternal repression and fascist suppression imposed by the land-stealing nazi-Jewish ethnic cleansing occupation.
Are these Palestinians to be deemed “terrorists” too, setting them up for pulverising yet again by high-explosives, anti-personnel flêchette bombs and flesh-burning white phosphorus, in “punishment” for the “effrontery” of fighting back with whatever weapons they can muster – including the suicide bombing and onslaughts on whatever part of the occupying population they can find?
It is a monstrous idea.
But Monbiot and all the fake-“left”, much of it running around behind the “left” Labour resurgence, or if even not, still declaring “jihadism” and “terrorism” to be “the problem”, are hoist by their own petard.
Do they support the Palestinian struggle and call for the defeat of the vile fascist imperialist-backed Zionist oppression and the horrors it is readying for the benighted families and children in Palestine struggling to survive in the pathetic remnants of their own country still not yet stolen from them ?
Or do they capitulate to demented Goebbels hatred ?
Do they capitulate to the CIA promulgated lie that hostility to the Zionist occupation is “anti-Semitism”, floundering and “apologising” in case they should be thought “racist”, when what is required is a firm clear lead for the working class denouncing this monstrous occupation and permanent jackboot on the neck of all regional resistance to imperialism?
The Corbynite “revival” has already revealed weaknesses on these issues, at the Labour conference; continuing to declare for NATO; suppressing the Trident debate (under disgusting opportunist TUC class-collaborating pressure because the arms industry “provides jobs” - never mind who gets killed as long as there is a pay packet to support union subscriptions being the only criterion); renouncing recognition of the heroic armed struggle which beat back the British torture and concentration camp occupation in “Northern Ireland” and opened up the possibility for a peaceful transition to a united Ireland; and most all failing to give workers any lead at all in the necessity for the greatest class struggle ever, tying them back to the lying fraud of “parliamentary change”, “loyalty to the Queen” and “British values”.
Virtually all the momentum of the “principled” new politics which saw a great left surge in the Labour election over the summer, mobilising thousands of disillusioned Labourites back into membership, has already dissipated in compromise and evasion.
Fatuous “leadership by popular demand” is not the same thing as open debate to establish the truth; workers need the widest and most open discussion but one that starts with a clear lead built on past scientific understanding in order to battle issues through to a conclusion and establish a coherent understanding of objective reality and the necessities it imposes.
Fundamental to that understanding is that capitalism wants war and the working class needs revolution to stop it. Build Leninism
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