No 1486 5th February 2016
Hysterical kill-them-all Nazi tone in the US presidential race reflects the fearful panic and belligerence of a world ruling class becoming increasingly desperate. Capitalism needs to pump up hate atmosphere, preparing for further world war blitzing as its desperate QE credit creation falters and the collapse of 2008 can no longer be put off any further. The world economy now teeters on the edge of far worse catastrophe than ever, with profits and commodity prices plunging. Destroying “surplus” capital is the only way out for this degenerate system but getting back into war is even harder after Iraq and Afghanistan defeats. Deliberately fomented migrant chaos, racist hatred and demands for trade war tariffs, are all part of capitalist hate stirring to stampede popular war fever along with “condemnation” of world revolt as “terrorism”. Fake-“left” liquidation into Corbynism and its pacifist, moralising and single issue PCism capitulates to the war drive. Class war and defeats for imperialism are needed, and revolutionary perspectives fought for now
Race hatred, migrant scapegoating, and protectionist hostility are being stirred to scarcely believable new levels by Western bourgeois politicians as the catastrophic world crisis deepens.
The Donald Trump presidential campaign of dementedly emotive populism and gobsmacking bigotry for example would have been inconceivable even two years ago; now it is heading for heights of rabble rousing that have not been seen since the 1930s, shifting the goalposts of “acceptable” aggression and hatred into openly Nazi territory.
Fake-“left” sneers that “you cannot call this Hitlerism” thereby prove only their total bankruptcy and failure to see the crisis disaster in front of their noses.
Little moustaches or not, (or blond toupées or not), Washington has already led a fascist campaign of bloody warmongering destruction and devastation over two decades of non-stop blitzkrieg, torture, and massacring invasion, devastating one entire country after another, and creating the biggest refugee agony since the Second World War, while “austerity”, and economic collapse, tear industries and lives apart everywhere.
It knows there is no possible way out of its Slump disaster for as long as the uncontrollable greed and anarchy of the private profit system continues (which gives the tiny minority its sweet power, luxury and dominance), other than the destruction on a titanic scale of “surplus” capital clogging the system (with $trillions in banks currently unable to find a profitable outlet).
Its contradictions have come to a head like this twice before, in the Great War and the even more destructive World War Two, which destroyed enough world production and capital to restore profitability and allow a renewed “boom” (for a while).
Now, under the trumped-up (no pun) Goebbels excuse of dealing with “rogue states” and “the terrorist threat” (meaning all struggle with an anti-imperialist colouration) war after war has been pursued, from the devastation of tiny Serbia by the nazi-NATO alliance (over a dozen countries ganging up on the one tiny former revisionist socialist state) and the WMD-lie blitzing of Iraq.
But it has also not gone well.
Despite the “end of communism” and a supposed “new world order” of growth and opportunity, imperialism solved nothing with its destruction and brutality.
It teeters on the edge of economic catastrophe and Slump far deeper than anything in history.
Worse still its horrific depredations have exponentially increased the entirely justified spontaneous world revolt against it.
As it works through its own often self-destructive and sectarian contradictions, this rebellion, erupting separately in country after country, is destined to evolve into, or be overtaken by much more coherent all-out class war in some way or another.
Objective contradictions acting on the masses give them no choice but to revolt against the deadly epochal failure of the class domination and exploitation system.
Life has long been unbearable for the great billions of the Third World, brutalised and exploited into the floor by centuries of utmost barbaric colonial and neo-colonial tyranny far outdoing in scale, depravity and horror anything the most lurid “terrorism” has managed, for all the non-stop Western propaganda.
They have increasingly been made aware of their own degradation and exploitation by the very education and training to often high level, that capitalist industry necessarily has given them, in order to exploit them.
As the crisis and its war destruction has intensified their existence has become completely insufferable.
Life is equally becoming unbearable for the great majority in the even richest countries, being driven into the floor with draconian speedups and welfare cuts, and the callous contempt of the ruling class imposing the crisis on the working class.
And this can only get far worse, whatever complacent delusions the fake-“left” promulgate that “they will never manage to cut things that badly”.
Hitlerism did, working tens of thousands literally into the ground in its camps (and not only persecuted Jews) and the Third World – in direct competition with US and European jobs, also does.
Old illusions in some kind of steady progress towards a better life, fed by reformist class collaboration like TUC/Labourism, are beyond threadbare and – “left” defensive “No to Austerity” marches (Corbynism etc) will not salvage them for long either.
So the ever spreading revolt in the Third World will increasingly become intertwined with domestic upheaval and rebelliousness too.
Slump conditions far worse than anything seen so far will soon force much more of the working class everywhere into a desperate fight for survival – and the demand for clarity and understanding will bring the need for revolutionary theory to the fore.
Rebellion in embryo is already emerging everywhere albeit as yet confused and unfocused, in “terrorism”, America’s “Black lives matter” movement, Ukrainian anti-Kiev anti-fascist separatism, the Arab Spring and riots.
It has already had a major impact.
The initial turn to aggressive open warmongering under Blair/Bush, preemptively attempting to cow the world before the economic crisis broke open, suppressing growing anti-imperialist revolt and any potential major power challenges to bankrupt Washington dominance with a “shock and awe” display of ruthlessness, had to be put on hold once it ran into a quagmire of resistance and insurgency.
Steadily growing anti-war sentiment generated domestically by those shattering defeats, and the eruption of the full-on crisis collapse in the global finance meltdown, meant sacrificing the Bush/Blair brashness, the presidency itself only rescued by the “liberal” fraud of Barack Obama, ostensibly pulling out troops.
But America cannot withdraw from the world, and the lucrative sweatshop and plantation colonialist exploitation which underpins its lavish lifestyle (for the rich minority).
Thousands of US troops remain at war in Afghanistan, bases are extended ever further in the Middle East, Africa and Latin American, the Guantánamo torture camp continues, and remote death-drone assassination has been massively stepped-up, while the Middle East turmoil has been escalated with direct NATO blitzkrieg on Libya and the well-funded bogus “Arab Spring” deliberately provoked civil wars to demolish Libya, Syria - and now Yemen:
Well, we are intervening: not simply by supplying weapons but even by providing the Saudi-led coalition of Arab dictators with British military advisers. As the SNP’s Angus Robertson put it to the prime minister’s face, Britain is “effectively at war” – and yet few Britons know anything about it.
Since Saudi-led forces intervened in the conflict between President Hadi and Houthi rebels last March, around 6,000 Yemenis have been killed, perhaps half of them civilians. With the country under naval blockade, what the UN was already calling a “humanitarian catastrophe” six months ago has been unleashed. Eight in every 10 Yemenis are now dependent on humanitarian aid, and most do not have “adequate access to clean water or sanitation”, according to the UN.
Bombing raids have shredded the country’s healthcare system: 130 medical facilities have been targeted, including those run by Médecins Sans Frontières – “a total disregard for the rules of war”, as MSF says itself. The risk of famine looms: the UN believes more than 14 million people are food insecure, half of them severely so, while nearly one in 10 have been driven from their homes.
Yemen is a human-made disaster, and the fingerprints of the west are all over it. Consider what a UN panel report seen by this newspaper has revealed: that airstrikes have targeted “civilians and civilian objects, in violation of humanitarian law”, including everything from refugee camps to schools to weddings to buses.
More than 100 sorties, they believe, relate to “violations of international humanitarian law”. Yes, all sides have been accused of war crimes. But, according to the UN’s high commission for human rights, the Saudi forces are responsible for “a disproportionate amount” of attacks on civilians. No wonder, then, the war is being described as Saudi Arabia’s very own Vietnam.
Rather than condemning this dirty war, the United States stands fully behind its ally, one of the world’s most repugnant regimes. “We have made it clear that we stand with our friends in Saudi Arabia,” says Secretary of State John Kerry, a former member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. But we surely need to hold our government to account for what it does in our name.
Since David Cameron became prime minister, Britain has sold the Saudi dictatorship nearly £6bn worth of arms. Crucially, since the Saudis began their bombing campaign, Britain has signed off more than 100 arms licences. The supply of military advisers underlines that this is no passive acquiescence in what the Saudis are doing: our government is directly involved. “We support Saudi forces through long-standing, pre-existing arrangements,” is how the Ministry of Defence euphemistically describes its role.
As Amnesty International puts it, Cameron’s government has “fuelled this … conflict through reckless arms sales which break its own laws”. According to legal advice given to them by Matrix Chambers lawyers, Britain is in violation of a number of obligations, including its own arms exports criteria and the EU’s common position on arms exports. Indeed, in 2014, a ministerial statement declared that Britain would “not grant a licence if there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law”.
Britain seems to have outsourced foreign policy to Saudi Arabia.
The weirdly “secret” nature of Western involvement and Washington’s encouragement is in keeping with the pretence that the “New American Century” barbarities in Afghanistan and Iraq, costing tens of billions of unaffordable dollars and hundreds of military lives, are no more.
It has kept direct warmongering on the backburner while supposedly “putting the economy back on track”.
But the artificial credit creation of the Obama period cannot salvage the 800 year long capitalist order and class domination.
It is staring into an ever deeper abyss of total epochal failure and disintegration.
It must, and will, continue, along with its stooges, to impose ever more hellish horror on the world until it is stopped, through its defeat and eventual overthrow – possible only through a conscious worldwide revolutionary class war.
Hence the “kill them all” tone of the US campaign, most hysterically expressed by the “kick ISIS’ arse” rant from incoherent petty bourgeois “Tea Party” voice Sarah Palin, mobilising the fear and angst of the middle class behind Trump’s cynical demagogy.
That belligerence, or the more “official” kind from other candidates (including “Democrat” Hillary Clinton) is deliberate ruling class strategy to stampede the world back towards all out war.
They are desperate, as audible in Trump’s own “stop all the Muslim’s until we find out what’s going on”.
What is going on is the greatest disaster yet for the out-of-time capitalist system as its Quantitative Easing credit creation implodes, and the relentless logic of capitalist “overproduction” (see Marx Capital etc) can be put off no more.
Even at current Tory cuts and workhouse “austerity” and unemployment levels, sustained purely on currency manipulations and trade war bullying, driving workers into penury (or even whole populations like Greece, Portugal, and shortly the BRICS nations), the capitalist promises of ever rising prosperity have been shown up like never before for what they are – a sick joke of grotesque inequality and callous indifference by the ever more grotesquely rich.
What conclusions will the working class draw when even such welfare remnants as the hollowed out bankrupt NHS etc, still just about staggering on in the current “belt tightening”, are wiped out?
The return of the bank collapse catastrophe which surfaced in 2008 is just a taster of the greatest economic chaos in all history, made far worse now for having been deferred with this completely valueless Mickey Mouse money printing (and decades of dollar polluting credit creation before that).
When the ATMs were on the edge of being shutdown in August 2008, whole cities would have faced anarchic chaos as people ran out of food, petrol etc. What now?
Only the barefaced lies about “recovery” from the Tories, or Obama’s laughable “State of the Union” (and treacherous fake-”left” complacency) can now ignore the world oil price collapses, commodity meltdowns, world shipping depression, and a thousand other signs of economic disaster (to keep the working class lulled into inaction).
Bourgeois technical experts are clearer – though even then somewhat mealy mouthed:
The global financial system has become dangerously unstable and faces an avalanche of bankruptcies that will test social and political stability.
“The situation is worse than it was in 2007. Our macroeconomic ammunition to fight downturns is essentially all used up,” said William White, the Swiss-based chairman of the OECD’s review committee and former chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).
“Debts have continued to build up over the last eight years and they have reached such levels in every part of the world that they have become a potent cause for mischief,” he said.
“It will become obvious in the next recession that many of these debts will never be serviced or repaid, and this will be uncomfortable for a lot of people who think they own assets that are worth something,” he told The Telegraph on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“The only question is whether we are able to look reality in the eye and face what is coming in an orderly fashion, or whether it will be disorderly.
The next task awaiting the global authorities is how to manage debt write-offs - and therefore a massive reordering of winners and losers in society - without setting off a political storm.
Mr White said Europe’s creditors are likely to face some of the biggest haircuts. European banks have already admitted to $1 trillion of non-performing loans: they are heavily exposed to emerging markets and are almost certainly rolling over further bad debts that have never been disclosed.
The European banking system may have to be recapitalized on a scale yet unimagined, and new “bail-in” rules mean that any deposit holder above the guarantee of €100,000 will have to help pay for it.
The warnings have special resonance since Mr White was one of the very few voices in the central banking fraternity who stated loudly and clearly between 2005 and 2008 that Western finance was riding for a fall, and that the global economy was susceptible to a violent crisis.
Mr White said stimulus from quantitative easing and zero rates by the big central banks after the Lehman crisis leaked out across east Asia and emerging markets, stoking credit bubbles and a surge in dollar borrowing that was hard to control in a world of free capital flows.
Mr White, said it is impossible know what the trigger will be for the next crisis since the global system has lost its anchor and is inherently prone to breakdown.
A Chinese devaluation clearly has the potential to metastasize.
“Every major country is engaged in currency wars even though they insist that QE has nothing to do with competitive depreciation. They have all been playing the game except for China - so far - and it is a zero-sum game. China could really up the ante.”
Mr White said QE and easy money policies by the US Federal Reserve and its peers have had the effect of bringing spending forward from the future in what is known as “inter-temporal smoothing”. It becomes a toxic addiction over time and ultimately loses traction. In the end, the future catches up with you.
A reflex of “asymmetry” began when the Fed injected too much stimulus to prevent a purge after the 1987 crash. The authorities have since allowed each boom to run its course - thinking they could safely clean up later - while responding to each shock with alacrity. The BIS critique is that this has led to a perpetual easing bias, with interest rates falling ever further below their [natural rate].
The error was compounded in the 1990s when China and eastern Europe suddenly joined the global economy, flooding the world with cheap exports in a “positive supply shock”. Falling prices of manufactured goods masked the rampant asset inflation that was building up. “Policy makers were seduced into inaction by a set of comforting beliefs, all of which we now see were false. They believed that if inflation was under control, all was well,” he said.
In retrospect, central banks should have let the benign deflation of this (temporary) phase of globalisation run its course. By stoking debt bubbles, they have instead incubated what may prove to be a more malign variant, a classic 1930s-style “Fisherite” debt-deflation.
Mr White said the Fed is now in a horrible quandary as it tries to extract itself from QE and right the ship again. “It is a debt trap. Things are so bad that there is no right answer. If they raise rates it’ll be nasty. If they don’t raise rates, it just makes matters worse,” he said.
There is no easy way out of this tangle.
Correct, though he is wrong on one count – the problem began long before the 1987 “Black Monday” and runs at least back to President Nixon’s abandonment of the dollar gold standard in 1973.
That is when the US started printing valueless paper money in earnest, effectively reneging on the unpayable international debts caused both by the Korean and Vietnam wars, endless CIA subversion and the costs of maintaining an international network of heavily bribed stooge dictatorships, to make the world “safe” for the neo-colonial corporate exploitation which has kept the central imperialist nations on an apparent endless post-war boom.
The glamour, consumerist delights and technological wizardry of that boom has been an important component in outfacing allegedly “dull and stagnating” socialism where no-one starved, needed a doctor or went unemployed or homeless, but where life was declared “oppressed and drudge ridden” by Western propaganda (and sour Trotskyism).
It was never true and most of the Third World masses, whose actual or near-slave labour feeds the capitalist illusion, would have given their eye teeth for the education, treatment and culture available in the USSR (and were helped in tens of thousands to get them by Soviet anti-imperialist solidarity and generosity – as they still are by Cuba which trains thousands of Third World doctors eg and sends international medical and military aid to many).
But the glitz did finally tip the heads of the dullard leadership left in Moscow, all the way to adopting the “free market” and liquidating the 70 years of Soviet achievement, because of disappointments at the supposed failure of Stalin’s Economic Problems promise, which said Soviet production would surpass a supposedly declining West to deliver consumer miracles.
Such an overtaking against Western colonialist cheap labour production and post-war boom expansion (not contraction as Stalin had declared) was never achievable in a Soviet system emphasising and delivering full fair employment and decent, if basic, conditions everywhere (see EPSR Perspectives 2002) but it took a Leninist clarity to understand that.
The answer would have been for Sovietism to patiently defend and continue its steady, if sluggish progress while waiting for the inevitable huge Western boom to eventually and inexorably hit its disastrous collapse, preparing revolutionary understanding all the while.
That disaster is here, as the glitz-producing dollar pollution can no longer put-off the “day of reckoning” of always accumulating “over-production”.
Super-efficient Japanese capitalism of the post-war epoch was one of the first to show the effects, with the shattering 1990s currency collapses of the Asian economies (which the Yen dominates) and two decades of stagnation which has followed for Tokyo.
Its own burst of desperate Abenomics QE printing of Yen (dialectically compounding the problems by making the overall bad credit inflationary pool even greater) is now failing too:
The Japanese central bank’s board shocked markets on Friday by imposing a 0.1% fee on deposits left with it to encourage lending amid increasing uncertainty over the state of the global economy.
The idea is that instead of depositing money with the central bank or each other, customers lend it to businesses and consumers. Banks may also cut deposit rates paid to customers, encouraging them to spend or invest instead of earning low or negative returns.
Japan has been plagued by deflation – falling prices – for two decades, deterring consumer spending and business investment in the expectation that goods will become cheaper.
“Unconventional” monetary policy, also includes quantitative easing – the buying of bonds from commercial banks by central banks, leaving them with excess cash.
In theory the policy sounds attractive, but banks could choose to pass on to customers the costs they incur for depositing money with the central bank through fees, or depositors could decide to keep their money under the mattress instead of in a bank.
A negative return on parking funds with the central bank might also encourage banks to invest in riskier assets to secure a return, potentially driving new asset bubbles and more pain further down the line.
Banks are likely to increase their purchases of government bonds but [this makes] government borrowing costs artificially low. If a financial shock occurs, the banks and governments could drag each other – and the economy – down.
Staggeringly, all this evidence (and plenty more) that Marx’s profound economic theory is essentially correct (see EPSR Box and Capital etc) – whatever detailed refinements can be argued for – and that, as this science alone has consistently warned, the Daddy of all Catastrophes is unfolding, still does not shift the complacency and smugness of the middle class “left” (including the cynicism around the EPSR itself which broke away and tried to disrupt its work at the time of the first Obama election – alleged to be “an advance” for the working class).
Just the opposite. So fearful are they of the obvious implications – that capitalism has hit an epochal point of collapse making the fight for revolutionary perspectives an immediate necessity – that they hide away the disaster.
The crudest expression of this is the “new left” Labourism of Corbyn and McDonnell, declaring that the crisis is “ideological” and that austerity is therefore “unnecessary” and could be overcome by “more investment” and tighter regulation.
This simply extends the eternal Labour/TUC mendacity that capitalism is not only a workable system, but the only possible one, which just requires reforms – the same treachery and betrayal that has always been on offer from this class collaborating bourgeois party, its “left” there only to soak up and head-off any genuine left movement in public opinion.
The fake-“left” swamp is also so unwilling to draw any other conclusions that much of it has now abandoned any independent effort at Marxist politics at all, liquidating itself into the “left surge” around Corbynism, with a return to “Labour entryism”, and in many cases ending overt independent organisation in favour of parasitically and opportunistically riding the back of the left surge and swamping it with secret factionalising within Labour or the Corbyn supporting “Momentum” group.
Even where keeping their papers going, some spend reams of newsprint “proving” that Marx said there was no crisis because there is no falling rate of profit for example.
But nothing can rescue the world from a slide into ever greater horrors and destruction – already wiping out half the Middle East – except a conscious revolution, leading the total overturn of the monopoly capitalist world order by all out class war to take power and hold it, through the dictatorship of the proletariat (firm rule of the working class).
But so far the working class is being left without any such revolutionary perspectives.
Far from advocating the battle for such scientific leadership, the great swamp of dozens of fake-“lefts” all kinds continue to delude workers with notions of anti-austerity protest, social-pacifist “No to War” ineffectuality and “change through left pressure”.
And by their capitulation to the nonsensical imperialist “war on terror” propaganda demonisation (through assorted sophistries condemning the rising world turmoil as a “new kind of reaction” or “just a part of the imperialist skulduggery”) they even help feed the hate frenzy, giving it a “left” cover.
At the same time they variously join in with, or fail to challenge, chauvinist and Little Englander economic nationalism, blaming economic collapse and unemployment on others (like the Chinese) instead of keeping the eye firmly on the ball of capitalist collapse as the sole cause and generator of slump catastrophe and the international cutthroat competition which underlies war.
Calling for steel job cuts to be imposed “elsewhere” – closing a Tata steel works in the Netherlands instead of South Wales is the latest curmudgeonly example from the opportunist bureaucratic trade union leaders – is disastrous, helping split and divide the working class and leaving it prey to petty chauvinism and hatreds directed at other workers instead of focused on the only real enemy, the profit greedy corporations and banks of the ruling class.
Declaring the European Union to be the problem as a “bosses club”, as the Stalinists do among others, is another facet of this same blame game chauvinism which points the finger at some enemy “over there” and fails to warn workers that they will suffer the same disasters wherever they are in capitalism.
Staying in or out of the EU makes no essential difference.
Overall collapse and ruthless exploitation will be imposed by an American or other corporation instead of one in Brussels.
Only by overturning all big bourgeois private ownership, and taking all the major industries, finance houses and agriculture into the hands of the working class, established as a new ruling class – that of the majority – to build and defend a new socialist world, can anything now be done to stop the plunge into the greatest Depression ever, and the world war it is engendering (essentially already under way in the Middle East).
That is communism, and it is mankind’s only future once the degradation and degeneration of historical bankrupt capitalism is overcome.
To get there requires challenging all the great poison of anti-communist brainwashing which drenches every living soul under capitalism from the day they are born, with non-stop ludicrous stories of alleged tyranny, terror, and drudgery which have far more to do with life in the conditions of the colonially exploited Third World under capitalism than the gradually growing cooperative existence of the socialist countries – which were, and in Cuba, China etc are, relatively harmonious despite the uninspired and uninspiring bureaucratic rigidities of revisionism.
The great debate which is already opening up everywhere and will be driven much more into the open by the crisis turmoil, needs to reconsider and understand the titanic achievements of the first great workers states, especially the Soviet Union, while looking to understand the philosophical failings and retreats which gradually undermined the leadership, virtually from the moment of Lenin’s death.
But this basic Bolshevik input is not only not made by the supposed “lefts” but is actively rejected – the Trotskyists biliously hostile to the notions of workers states and their working class discipline and vigorous defence (which for all their mistakes continued mostly brilliantly), and the Revisionists, puddled with notions of “peace struggle” social-pacifism, “democratic” paths and illusions (See EPSR Book Vol 21) still refusing to abandon their uncritical hero worship of Stalin to reconsider and clarify the mistakes and the cover-up crimes which led to the Soviet liquidation.
Refusal to take up the crucial polemic on this and other questions has been a common aspect of the sectarian fake-“left”, playing to anti-communism and the fear and rejection of theory in the working class, and continuing the cover-up tradition built up by an uncertain Soviet leadership which compounded all of its difficulties.
Fighting for theory and the revolutionary perspective is missing from everything they do and even if notionally dealt with in occasional academic screeds, is certainly never made the centre of everything they say, informing all analysis of ever developing world class struggle, and being informed by those struggles and experiences.
Just the opposite, they are hostile to building a coherent revolutionary leadership, through the only possible mechanism, the disciplined but open polemic struggle to establish an agreed view of the world and its developments, which can then be a guide to action, testing out the understanding in practice and constantly developing it with the derived new knowledge.
This disastrous theoretical failure – or rather deliberate opportunist rejection – variously disingenuously expressed as “we support flat leadership” (???) or as “anti-authoritarianism” and “secular democracy”, or a rejection of “old-hat” Marxism in favour of eclectic subjective impressionist “21st century socialism” – is the hallmark of the “left” swamp from the supine TUC bureaucrats and “left”-Labour to the Trotskyists and the revisionists.
It has helped disarm the working class time after time, and led to disaster after disaster.
The great examples include the bloody 1973 coup in Chile when CIA-backed fascist General Augusto Pinochet toppled the first “democratically achieved” socialist government under Salvador Allende, with thousands killed or “disappeared” and many more tortured, and the working class driven down with openly torturous repression for 20 years (and continuing poverty exploitation to this day), or the slaughter of the entire communist party and at the very least, one million suspected or accused fellow-travellers in Indonesia in 1965.
Failure to warn and educate the working class that bourgeois “democracy” is a giant fraud, and that only the dictatorship of the working class could defend socialist gains, left them open and vulnerable, disarmed politically and physically.
Such tragic lessons are repeated over and over again, from the half-hearted acceptance of the bullying electoral manipulation which ended ten years of the heroically and painfully built Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua to the current toppling by CIA-local bourgeoisie subversion and sabotage of the Venezuelan “Bolivarian revolution”, calmly being accepted by the revisionist influenced anti-imperialist nationalist ”Chavismo” movement under Nicolás Maduro because “those are the rules” instead of being denounced for the monstrous hypocritical stitched-up fraud it is, and the working class being prepared for the vicious counter-revolutionary suppression and even slaughter that will now be imposed, “legally” or as violently as deemed necessary (as the Granma piece below hints at) .
Just like the bourgeoisie in Honduras after the 2009 coup (Washington approved) which has butchered dozens of oppositionists and journalists, or the mass murderous regimes of Guatemala and El Salvador in the 1990s, it will have no qualms about the niceties and legal boundaries if there is resistance.
Disastrously, the soft-brained revisionism which prevails even in heroic Cuba (which sensibly remains a determined workers state and holds its power) continues to pump out notions of peaceful paths and proper procedures, – as if bourgeois elections were ever anything but the most monstrous manipulated, brainwashed and bribed stitch-up frauds by the money and string pulling of the bourgeoisie when it could manage it (aided and abetted in Caracas by years of non-stop CIA coordinated economic and physical sabotage and disruption, and the impact of the world economic disaster and its impact on the oil price, mainstay of the Venezuelan economy – see EPSR last issue).
The working class should declare that it does not accept this lying electoral coup and just hold onto power.
But that would require a Leninist grasp of the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat, (beginning with local defence squads and education to build a revolutionary party, precisely the aspect that has been ignored and even opposed by the entire fake-“left” (in UK “solidarity meetings” too - ridiculing or suppressing all debate on such issues)).
Further lessons have been piling up in the post-2008 recent period, like the disappearance of anarchic Occupy politics, and the “anti-austerity” movements such as Greece’s Syriza “socialist alliance” collation of assorted Trotskyists, reformists and revisionists – all failing to work out their differences or establish any common line on questions – which have proved utterly hopeless and treacherously careerist, now putting through the very cuts they ostensibly opposed.
The 2013 overturn of the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt by the bloody General Sisi coup against the newly established “presidential democracy” is the latest example, the petty bourgeois anarchism and shallowness about “secular democracy”, hostile to any Leninist perspectives and class organisation, playing into the hands of the artificially provoked middle class counter-revolution in July and its undoubted CIA and other external manipulation.
Every one of the petty bourgeois groups denounced the Muslim Brotherhood, either directly or as part of a supposed “reactionary Islam”, sometimes deemed more reactionary than imperialism itself by this fake-“left” posturing.
This is all part of the “condemnation” of the Islamic jihadism and of “terrorism” which all the left groups have capitulated to ever since the 9/11 attacks on New York’s WTC; it also reflects the formulaic prescriptions of the “lefts” of all shades, either insisting on events following the “perfect” ideal trajectories plotted out by the Trotskyists in their heads, (each with their own particular sect taking the lead, naturally), or the anarchistic notions of the “secular democrats” and their “no leadership” shallowness, and all supporting the stunted-up middle class counter-revolutionary demonstrations of July 2013 against the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Stalinists, locked into their own “step by step” formulaic notions that anything seeming a “bit more left” has to be supported, even went so far as to cheer on the military takeover against the Muslim Brotherhood’s government failing to see its obviously Western coordinated nature (with Tony Blair a major voice in it).
Even as the barbaric nature of this pro-imperialist coup has become more and more exposed for its street massacres, shooting down thousands in cold blood, because they demonstrated in support of a legally elected president, and now imprisoning, torturing and executing the opposition by the hundreds, the rigid Lalkar/Proletarian revisionists has continued its uncritical support.
And all this comes from a completely narrow, particular and limited analysis with no attention paid to the overall crisis, to the broader regional picture, concentrating on imperialism and its interests as the critical focus in understanding anything.
With that in mind it was clear that the 2011 uprising was a gigantic shock to imperialism, a sudden mass spontaneous rebellion that caught the whole world by surprise (completely different to the carefully coordinated, hyped up and steadily built up provocations of the CIA colour revolutions for example and with a different target – a Western placed and funded stooge dictator as opposed to an insufficiently cooperative former Soviet bonapartist etc in say Georgia or Ukraine.)
The initial events were a major blow to imperialism and remained so, even when the Muslim Brotherhood managed to ride the popular discontent, even with the semi-cooperative Muhamed Morsi levered into place as the Washington preferred presidential candidate because of his “moderate” willingness to hold back the more radical MB elements.
Only a much firmer and clearer anti-imperialist movement or even one for all-out socialism, and with major mass attraction, could possibly have been supported by any Marxism against the MB.
But that was not the case with the 2013 street movement which unlike 2011 was backed by the West – toppling Morsi was simply opening the door again to the reaction, as it has proved, to the cost of not only the masses, shot down and suppressed again but the “secularist” liberals too, also rounded up imprisoned and tortured.
And this was totally clear at the time, if attention was kept on the ball of imperialism’s overall crisis.
No backward religiosity has to be supported, or left uncriticised for it to be clear, only the understanding that it is the defeat of imperialism, and that alone which is being looked for.
Some of this disastrous misanalysis also colours the reactionary positions adopted by the “lefts” over the astonishingly complex Syria war. First, this and Libya need to be understood as direct results of the Egyptian rebellion – not an extension of the Arab Spring (as Bahrain and Yemen were) but bogus revolts with all the hallmarks of deliberately provoked and exaggerated CIA “uprisings” against targets already selected for Western “rogue state” treatment, and with a clear purpose – to help suppress the Egyptian revolt.
Simultaneously they were used to keep the warmongering atmosphere on the boil.
It was clear from the beginning that the initial “popular” movements were counter-revolutionary opportunism, loudly calling for Western arming and intervention, aid, and anything but the “peaceful demonstrators” hyped up by the intelligence agency fed Western media deluges.
This did not stop the shallow Trotskyists plunging in headfirst with their support, willing to swallow any supposed “street movement” at face value if it shouts loudly about “totalitarianism” and “tyrants”, their individualist petty bourgeois fear and hatred of any kind discipline or authority, and their pre-programmed “revolutionary” fantasies overriding any concrete facts or analysis – all their class instincts riding with such populism, just as the have supported endless counter-revolutionary movements, from the Hungarian “Uprising” to Solidarnosc in Poland (where the legacy of these Pilsudskyites has now become such reactionary fascist backwardness that even arch anti-communists like Timothy Garton Ash have been denouncing them).
All kinds of twisting and turning has gone on since, by the Trots to dissociate themselves from the obvious reactionariness of these civil war provocateurs, and particularly as confirmation has emerged of training, backing and funding for some by the reactionary Gulf State and Saudi feudal sheikhdoms, pretending that there were supposedly proper “left” movements there who somehow did not do the right thing or in one memorable phrase from the arch-poseur and careerist mountebank Tariq Ali, "committed political suicide", it seems by not following the prescribed formulas.
Confusion also emerges from the Stalinist revisionist Lalkar/Proletarian, which while it identified the stirred up civil war against the Assad government correctly enough as deliberate imperialist provocation, has then got itself into increasing tangles by its outright support for this flaky Damascus bonapartism instead of the only possible Leninist perspective, that of calling for a defeat for the imperialist skulduggery but without giving the working class the slightest cause to place any confidence in the regime, which is not going to deliver anything resembling socialism, nor even consistent determined anti-imperialism, and certainly is not going to produce the kind of leadership and understanding to educate and train the working class in a revolutionary perspective, with a full grasp of the imperialist crisis, urgently required.
As the EPSR has repeatedly identified (with Milosevic in Serbia, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Gaddafi in Libya, Putin in oligarch dominated Russia, this non-dialectical outright support is rooted in the past Moscow-derived delusions in “steady forward progress" (eg No 1078 27-02-01):
The Stalinist-Revisionist 57 varieties are urging continued non-revolutionary “challenges” to imperialism as acceptable because it brings closer a universal world of ‘sensible peaceful compromise’ where all mankind’s problems can be solved rationally and harmoniously. It is all just a way of re-stating that their 65-year catastrophic stewardship of the Soviet socialist camp and world communist movement did not end in the anti-Leninist capitulatory disaster that history knows for certain already did happen.
Not only is placing any support in Assad an error in itself but it leads to disastrous consequences in all directions for working class understanding.
Woodenly, all opposition to Assad is declared “terrorism” (imperialism’s meaningless phrase) leading to “condemnation” of all Sunni jihadism as “headbanging reaction”, writing off the great explosion of world rebellion as part of some great CIA plot.
But while some elements have been manipulated by Western intervention (still declared a “moderate opposition”), imperialism is by no means in control as the “blowback” of the ISIS jihadism makes clear.
To make its blanket generalisation fit, even the anti-Zionist anti-Cairo rebellion in the Sinai has to be declared “reactionary”, which then helps justify Lalkar’s bizarre support for the Egyptian dictatorship (and presumably its release of dictator Hosni Mubarak from his Arab Spring imprisonment?)
Then the Putin bonarpartism fronting for the collection of gangster oligarchs running the Russia’s restored capitalism is essentially declared “progressive” - even in the teeth of recent anti-Lenin pronouncements from Putin and the brutal blitzing campaign in Syria.
Putin’s wishes to ally with imperialism (Hollande, Obama) “against terror” pass uncommented. Iran’s Islamic regime is declared progressive.
No space remain to disentangle this further, (to be pursued next issue) but for the moment some further details of the Assad, Putin and US intelligence connections are revealed in a second part of the long Seymour Hersh account quoted in part last issue):
Putin’s bombing campaign provoked a series of anti-Russia articles in the American press. On 25 October, the New York Times reported, citing Obama administration officials, that Russian submarines and spy ships were ‘aggressively’ operating near the undersea cables that carry much of the world’s internet traffic – although, as the article went on to acknowledge, there was ‘no evidence yet’ of any Russian attempt actually to interfere with that traffic. Ten days earlier the Times published a summary of Russian intrusions into its former Soviet satellite republics, and described the Russian bombing in Syria as being ‘in some respects a return to the ambitious military moves of the Soviet past’. The report did not note that the Assad administration had invited Russia to intervene, nor did it mention the US bombing raids inside Syria that had been underway since the previous September, without Syria’s approval. An October op-ed in the same paper by Michael McFaul, Obama’s ambassador to Russia between 2012 and 2014, declared that the Russian air campaign was attacking ‘everyone except the Islamic State’. The anti-Russia stories did not abate after the Metrojet disaster, for which Islamic State claimed credit. Few in the US government and media questioned why IS would target a Russian airliner, along with its 224 passengers and crew, if Moscow’s air force was attacking only the Syrian ‘moderates’.
Economic sanctions, meanwhile, are still in effect against Russia for what a large number of Americans consider Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine, as are US Treasury Department sanctions against Syria and against those Americans who do business there. The New York Times, in a report on sanctions in late November, revived an old and groundless assertion, saying that the Treasury’s actions ‘emphasise an argument that the administration has increasingly been making about Mr Assad as it seeks to press Russia to abandon its backing for him: that although he professes to be at war with Islamist terrorists, he has a symbiotic relationship with the Islamic State that has allowed it to thrive while he has clung to power.’
The four core elements of Obama’s Syria policy remain intact today: an insistence that Assad must go; that no anti-IS coalition with Russia is possible; that Turkey is a steadfast ally in the war against terrorism; and that there really are significant moderate opposition forces for the US to support. The Paris attacks on 13 November that killed 130 people did not change the White House’s public stance, although many European leaders, including François Hollande, advocated greater co-operation with Russia and agreed to co-ordinate more closely with its air force; there was also talk of the need to be more flexible about the timing of Assad’s exit from power. On 24 November, Hollande flew to Washington to discuss how France and the US could collaborate more closely in the fight against Islamic State. At a joint press conference at the White House, Obama said he and Hollande had agreed that ‘Russia’s strikes against the moderate opposition only bolster the Assad regime, whose brutality has helped to fuel the rise’ of IS. Hollande didn’t go that far but he said that the diplomatic process in Vienna would ‘lead to Bashar al-Assad’s departure … a government of unity is required.’ The press conference failed to deal with the far more urgent impasse between the two men on the matter of Erdogan. Obama defended Turkey’s right to defend its borders; Hollande said it was ‘a matter of urgency’ for Turkey to take action against terrorists. The JCS adviser told me that one of Hollande’s main goals in flying to Washington had been to try to persuade Obama to join the EU in a mutual declaration of war against Islamic State. Obama said no. The Europeans had pointedly not gone to Nato, to which Turkey belongs, for such a declaration. ‘Turkey is the problem,’ the JCS adviser said.
Assad, naturally, doesn’t accept that a group of foreign leaders should be deciding on his future. Imad Moustapha, now Syria’s ambassador to China, was dean of the IT faculty at the University of Damascus, and a close aide of Assad’s, when he was appointed in 2004 as the Syrian ambassador to the US, a post he held for seven years. Moustapha is known still to be close to Assad, and can be trusted to reflect what he thinks. He told me that for Assad to surrender power would mean capitulating to ‘armed terrorist groups’ and that ministers in a national unity government – such as was being proposed by the Europeans – would be seen to be beholden to the foreign powers that appointed them. These powers could remind the new president ‘that they could easily replace him as they did before to the predecessor … Assad owes it to his people: he could not leave because the historic enemies of Syria are demanding his departure.’
General Dempsey and his colleagues on the Joint Chiefs of Staff kept their dissent out of bureaucratic channels, and survived in office. General Michael Flynn did not. ‘Flynn incurred the wrath of the White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria,’ said Patrick Lang, a retired army colonel who served for nearly a decade as the chief Middle East civilian intelligence officer for the DIA. ‘He thought truth was the best thing and they shoved him out. He wouldn’t shut up.’ Flynn told me his problems went beyond Syria. ‘I was shaking things up at the DIA – and not just moving deckchairs on the Titanic. It was radical reform. I felt that the civilian leadership did not want to hear the truth. I suffered for it, but I’m OK with that.’ In a recent interview in Der Spiegel, Flynn was blunt about Russia’s entry into the Syrian war: ‘We have to work constructively with Russia. Whether we like it or not, Russia made a decision to be there and to act militarily. They are there, and this has dramatically changed the dynamic. So you can’t say Russia is bad; they have to go home. It’s not going to happen. Get real.’
Few in the US Congress share this view. One exception is Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii and member of the House Armed Services Committee who, as a major in the Army National Guard, served two tours in the Middle East. In an interview on CNN in October she said: ‘The US and the CIA should stop this illegal and counterproductive war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad and should stay focused on fighting against … the Islamic extremist groups.’
‘Does it not concern you,’ the interviewer asked, ‘that Assad’s regime has been brutal, killing at least 200,000 and maybe 300,000 of his own people?’
‘The things that are being said about Assad right now,’ Gabbard responded, ‘are the same that were said about Gaddafi, they are the same things that were said about Saddam Hussein by those who were advocating for the US to … overthrow those regimes … If it happens here in Syria … we will end up in a situation with far greater suffering, with far greater persecution of religious minorities and Christians in Syria, and our enemy will be far stronger.’
‘So what you are saying,’ the interviewer asked, ‘is that the Russian military involvement in the air and on-the-ground Iranian involvement – they are actually doing the US a favour?’
‘They are working toward defeating our common enemy,’ Gabbard replied.
Gabbard later told me that many of her colleagues in Congress, Democrats and Republicans, have thanked her privately for speaking out. ‘There are a lot of people in the general public, and even in the Congress, who need to have things clearly explained to them,’ Gabbard said. ‘But it’s hard when there’s so much deception about what is going on. The truth is not out.’ It’s unusual for a politician to challenge her party’s foreign policy directly and on the record. For someone on the inside, with access to the most secret intelligence, speaking openly and critically can be a career-ender. Informed dissent can be transmitted by means of a trust relationship between a reporter and those on the inside, but it almost invariably includes no signature. The dissent exists, however. The longtime consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command could not hide his contempt when I asked him for his view of the US’s Syria policy. ‘The solution in Syria is right before our nose,’ he said. ‘Our primary threat is Isis and all of us – the United States, Russia and China – need to work together. Bashar will remain in office and, after the country is stabilised there will be an election. There is no other option.’
The military’s indirect pathway to Assad disappeared with Dempsey’s retirement in September. His replacement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Joseph Dunford, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in July, two months before assuming office. ‘If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia,’ Dunford said. ‘If you look at their behaviour, it’s nothing short of alarming.’ In October, as chairman, Dunford dismissed the Russian bombing efforts in Syria, telling the same committee that Russia ‘is not fighting’ IS. He added that America must ‘work with Turkish partners to secure the northern border of Syria’ and ‘do all we can to enable vetted Syrian opposition forces’ – i.e. the ‘moderates’ – to fight the extremists.
Obama now has a more compliant Pentagon. There will be no more indirect challenges from the military leadership to his policy of disdain for Assad and support for Erdogan.
Dempsey and his associates remain mystified by Obama’s continued public defence of Erdogan, given the American intelligence community’s strong case against him – and the evidence that Obama, in private, accepts that case.
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