Engraving of Lenin busy studying

Economic & Philosophic Science Review

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested.--- V. I. Lenin

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No 1531 16th March 2018

Russian “spy murder” accusations a gigantic fascist stunt by failing British ruling class, whipping up chauvinist hatred to distract from disintegrating economy in teeth of the greatest ever capitalist Catastrophe. Any facts drowned out by Reichstag fire level of false melodrama, a demented BIG LIE, magnified by a stinking capitalist press colluding with the farcical racket. Russia targeted for past socialist form despite idiot Putin nationalism and anti-communism. But main purpose is to distract from Brexit paralysis, further austerity, stinking arms industry sales to Saudi Arabian genocidal warmaking and long-planned escalation of Britain’s vile chemical warfare facilities at Porton Down coincidentally (??) 8 miles away. Labourite capitulation to obvious Goebbels rubbish exposes treachery of the entire parliamentary racket including grovelling Corbynism. “Left” Trot Labour entryism exposed for tailending opportunist failure to give any revolutionary perspective and dangerously misleading workers. Leninist theory urgently needed

The real “poison” in the Salisbury “spy” scandal is the deluge of belligerent propaganda poured out ever since.

For the working class to swallow one drop of these foul lies would be fatal, trapping it behind yet more warmongering backward nationalism.

The whole anti-Russian circus with its laughable and completely over-the-top swamping of a small city with hundreds of military and “counter-terrorist experts”, is nothing but a gigantic Goebbels stunt by a collapsing British ruling class to distract attention from its own bankruptcy, venality and degeneracy.

It is not a question of “jumping the gun”, instead of “waiting for the evidence” as Corbynites finally have managed to state, in the usual halfway-house “still being patriotic but see reason” line of “left” Labourite class collaboration (still declaring Russians “guilty” in some way).

It is a deliberately manufactured melodrama knowingly carried out by a cynical ruling class to distract attention from the Catastrophic crisis collapse in general, and particularly its paralysis over Brexit, its dirty dealings in the City, its monstrous arms sales to Saudi Arabia for the barbaric Yemen war (deliberately pushed off the front pages by this farrago) and, just announced, most hypocritically of all, its plans to gigantically expand chemical warfare facilities at Porton Down, coincidentally (???) just eight miles from the “incident” on a bench.

Such facilities, already fully costed at nearly £50M in the announcement by nazi-bootboy Tory Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, are not an off-the-cuff response to a “surprise assassination attempt” but the result of months, even years, of preparation for the warmongering “solution” to capitalist collapse.

They are not “defensive” at all but an escalation of an aggressive first-use capacity by a country which was virtually the first to use such vile methods and which has invented many of the vilest methods (as pointed out in a bourgeois press letter recently after a snide piece by one of the resident demonisers on the not-so-“liberal” but deeply anti-communist Guardian, trying to pin the use of chemical weapons onto the Bolsheviks):

Lenin’s decision to set up the Scientific-Research Institute NII-2 (Deadly story of the KGB’s poisons factory, 10 March) was surely a response to Churchill’s use of the chemical weapon diphenylaminechloroarsine, dropped by British planes fighting the Bolsheviks in north Russia during the summer of 1919.

John Howlett Rye, East Sussex

As the same paper reported some years back:

As a long-term advocate of chemical warfare, he was determined to use them against the Russian Bolsheviks. In the summer of 1919, 94 years before the devastating strike in Syria, Churchill planned and executed a sustained chemical attack on northern Russia.

The British were no strangers to the use of chemical weapons. During the third battle of Gaza in 1917, General Edmund Allenby had fired 10,000 cans of asphyxiating gas at enemy positions, to limited effect. But in the final months of the first world war, scientists at the governmental laboratories at Porton in Wiltshire developed a far more devastating weapon: the top secret “M Device”, an exploding shell containing a highly toxic gas called diphenylaminechloroarsine. The man in charge of developing it, Major General Charles Foulkes, called it “the most effective chemical weapon ever devised”.

Trials at Porton suggested that it was indeed a terrible new weapon. Uncontrollable vomiting, coughing up blood and instant, crippling fatigue were the most common reactions. The overall head of chemical warfare production, Sir Keith Price, was convinced its use would lead to the rapid collapse of the Bolshevik regime. “If you got home only once with the gas you would find no more Bolshies this side of Vologda.”The cabinet was hostile to the use of such weapons, much to Churchill’s irritation. He also wanted to use M Devices against the rebellious tribes of northern India. “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes,” he declared in one secret memorandum.

And, it could be added, Britain was the first, on Churchill’s command, to use air-dropped chemical slaughter in Iraq in 1921.

Like all of crisis ridden world capitalism the British ruling class is once more turning to the foulest Nazi stunts to whip up jingoism, chauvinism and scapegoating hatred.

The whole theatrical nonsense in Salisbury – either taking advantage of a chance incident, perhaps of Russian gangster infighting or, even more sinisterly, one deliberately created (not ruled out at all) – is being used to fill the front pages with bogeymen and distract attention from the paralysis and collapse of the production for private profit capitalist system, the sole cause of mayhem and devastation in the world.

It is part of capital’s last resort strategy to drag the world into war as it tries to escape the onrush of the greatest ever crisis of this viciously exploitative and unequal system, now sliding into deepening cutthroat trade-war as it becomes tangled in the inescapable contradictions of “over-production” and “surplus capital”.

This was all long ago identified by Karl Marx as always bringing the capitalist world to slump and crisis breakdown (see box, the Communist Manifesto and Capital), each time worse than the last, becoming inter-imperialist depraved slugfests to dominate world exploitation spoils in the 20th century as Lenin identified (see his endless writings on the 1914-18 war in multiple volumes of collected works).

The last great upheaval was the 1930s Depression and the horrific follow-on “solution” of World War Two.

The Catastrophic breakdown, unrolling continuing “austerity” since the 2008 “global credit crunch”, is far worse, and so will be the destruction to follow.

Despite all the money printing QE pretences of an “upturn”, things are not going well and particularly for the moribund British ruling class, facing far more efficient international monopoly capitalist competition, as the bourgeois press constantly nags away at:

The UK has been living through the most feeble and protracted economic recovery in modern British history, leaving people on course to be almost £9,000 worse off on average by 2022-23 relative to the pre-crisis trend, according to calculations by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

In its analysis of the Government’s Spring Statement on Tuesday, which contained no new tax or spending measures, the think tank took a longer term perspective on the performance of the UK economy in the decade since the UK economy first sank into recession in 2008.

It has long been noted that the UK’s recovery from that slump has been the slowest since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

But, analysing historic data on UK GDP per capita, the IFS showed on Wednesday that it has been weaker even than what followed the agonising slump of the early 1920s.

In that era output per person fell by 10 per cent, as global industrial overcapacity in the wake of the First World War ravaged once mighty UK firms, resulting in mass unemployment.

The UK recession after the global financial crisis was shallower, with GDP per capita falling by around 7 per cent as banks failed and global trade fell off a cliff.

Yet a decade after the 1920-21 recession UK output per person was more than 10 per cent higher than before the crisis.

Today it is only 3 around per cent higher than it was in 2008-09.

“The history matters,” said Paul Johnson, the IFS’s director.

“It matters in part because we should never stop reminding ourselves just what an astonishing decade we have just lived through and continue to live through.”

The UK has avoided the mass unemployment that scarred the 1920s and indeed employment has grown strongly since 2010, but the chronic weakness of UK GDP and productivity growth since 2008 is the reason why average real wages are still below where they were a decade ago – and are not set to return to their peak until well into the next decade.

“Dismal productivity growth, dismal earnings growth and dismal economic growth are not just part of the history of the last decade, they appear to be the new normal,” said Mr Johnson.

The IFS’s analysis is sharply at odds with the claims by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, who said at the House of Commons Despatch Box on Tuesday that there is “light at the end of the tunnel” for the UK economy.


changes to taxes and welfare payments since 2010 have indeed hit the poorest hardest, whether you look at the record of the 2010-15 coalition government or that of the Conservative government elected in May 2015. Some changes, such as increases in the personal allowance and the minimum wage, have boosted incomes; but others, especially cuts to benefits and tax credits, more than offset this.

Looking both backward and forward, by 2021-22 the overall impact of all these changes will have been to reduce the net incomes of the poorest fifth of households by about a tenth, on average, while making little or no difference to the incomes of the richest fifth.

But it’s not just about whether you’re rich or poor. The pain is spread unevenly between men and women, and people of different ethnicity. Women lose more than men – especially single parents, whether they are in or out of work. The average lone parent family will lose a fifth of their net income. Pakistani and Bangladeshi households, which tend to have lower incomes and to have more children, also suffer a double whammy. And disabled people are very hard hit, particularly those with more severe disabilities. Households with both a disabled adult and a disabled child will lose, on average, about £6,500 a year.

Perhaps the most harmful of the benefit cuts is the four-year freeze in most working-age benefits and tax credits. But the reduced generosity of universal credit, whose original intention was to improve work incentives and family incomes, now means that it will penalise those it was intended to help.

The two-child limit for benefit payments hits larger families. And the changeover from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment will hit people with severe disabilities – although the government’s decision to accept the recent court ruling that all claims should be reviewed, and reassess many of those affected, is likely to mitigate these impacts.

Our analysis shows that if the government continues the current trajectory, Osborne’s claim that we are all in this together will ring ever more hollow. On current plans, the next few years will see very substantial further cuts to the levels of welfare benefits, pushing more children into poverty and further disadvantaging the very groups – people with disabilities, certain ethnic groups, women and lone parents – that are already relatively worse off. A rethink is long overdue.

Brexit is a mess (see last issue), the economy stagnating and the need to impose yet more “austerity” on an already hammered working class, inescapably leading to pressure cooker levels of discontent which could erupt at any time (over the NHS dismantling, ever rising homelessness, local authority cuts savagery, mass casual work near-unemployment, pensions theft, the Grenfell horror and subsequent callous inaction, etc etc).

And all this even before the next lurch downwards in the continuous crisis failure, unstoppably approaching as the QE credit effects work through (themselves making things far worse).

It threatens the “economic nuclear winter” which Labour chancellor Alistair Darling said was only just averted by swamping the world in valueless additional credit ten years ago.

Hence this whole nazi-style exercise, a total pantomime of preposterous accusations, even more preposterous threats and “actions”, and gross hypocrisy, to distract attention.

From the beginning it has been one melodramatic nonsense, an over the top circus, built on lies, distortions and wild unsubstantiated accusation, combined with bullying suppression of all doubts or calls for objective assessment (such as they are from a few hesitantly “left” voices).

Increasingly hysterical assertions have been piled up, each to overcome the obvious hollowness and unjustified surmise of the one before and each underlining the falsity of the whole exercise, its grotesque hypocrisy and above all the complete impotence of this sclerotic and hopeless, but ever more vicious, ruling class.

The pompously announced “sanctions” following the ridiculous Tory “ultimatum” to Moscow this week expose the bluster further, being nothing but pathetic token gestures, completely ineffectual in their supposed purpose and a million miles from serious measures.

The British ruling class knows very well that any really “effective” measures (in bourgeois terms) would be completely baseless belligerence and hostility, and anyway if applied (against resident billionaire oligarchs for example) would do more damage to an already panicking British finance sector than it does to anyone else; the entire City of London is already predicated on servicing and money-laundering every venal Russian oligarch, mafioso, Asian billionaire, Latin American drug dealer, ex-tinpot dictator and tax-avoider going, and without these dirty billions pouring through, its lawyers, banks, stock dealers and accountants - its “professionals” - could not survive.

Without their grubbily “earned” fees, the moribund British economy, heavily distorted towards such south-east middle class “service industries” (ie parasitic finance capital) after Thatcherite shut down most industrial capability (for fear of the working class), would have no chance.

It is not about to shoot itself in the foot and least of all by really going to war against an enemy ten times larger than Iraq, which was a dismal failure for imperialism and especially the British, scuttling out of Basra.

And Russia really does have very advanced weapons of mass destruction:

Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia has developed and is testing a new line of strategic nuclear-capable weapons that would be able to outmanoeuvre US defences, in a possible signal of a new arms race between Moscow and the west.

Speaking in a nationally televised address to the country’s political elite weeks before the presidential election, Putin showed video and animations of ICBMs, nuclear-powered cruise missiles, underwater drones and other weapons that he said Russia had developed as a result of the US pulling out of the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty signed with the Soviet Union.

“You didn’t listen to our country then,” Putin said during the speech on Thursday. “Listen to us now.” Some of the weapons were already being tested, he added.

The existence of several of the weapons systems – like the RS-28 Sarmat, or Satan 2, nuclear missile – were well-known and their tests had been previously reported. What was new was Putin’s portrayal of Russia’s modernising arsenal as an adversarial response to US policy since 2001.

The speech came in the same month that the Pentagon released a new nuclear arms policy, which followed a promise by the US president, Donald Trump, to develop an arsenal “so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression”. The policy envisioned low-yield nuclear weapons on submarine-launched ballistic missiles that could match similar Russian weapons.

Putin’s message was one of defiance. “I would like to tell those who have been trying to escalate the arms race for the past 15 years, to gain unilateral advantages over Russia, and to impose restrictions and sanctions … The attempt at curbing Russia has failed,” he said.

Britain knows that anything more than token playacting gestures would completely alienate the rest of the imperialist world, which can see just how hollow the entire stunt is proving, and which has no wish to be drawn into outright war escalation at this stage, at least not by tail-ending the strategy of the gung-ho British just when inter-imperialist trade war tensions are escalating (and Brexit too).

They have their own targets.

Both Europe and the US have only reluctantly been coopted into pretending some diplomatic support for the British posturing nonsense after a week of hesitations and even outright contempt, including the sacking of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson immediately after he expressed “support” for the British game, and from France’s President Macron, whose spokesman declared the whole thing “a fantasy”.

It obviously took some frantic behind-the-scenes pleading and wheeler-dealing by a British ruling class, desperate for some kind of boost for the whole failing stunt, to get the eventual joint US-Franco-German declaration against Russia, to bolster its laughable case and avoid imminent humiliation (clearly with the understanding things do not go any further).

Meanwhile a rightly contemptuous Moscow has demanded some kind of proof for this stream of demented bullshit.

In particular it has asked for samples of the alleged “nerve agent” declared to have been used in the spy attack and for the 10 days period to consider a response, as allowed for in chemical warfare treaties.

Theresa May’s ignoring of these basic international legal requirements, to stampede an answer, while pretending to be “upholding civilised and legal behaviour” is along just the same blustering and bullying lines used by Hitlerism, (and in fact by all imperialism throughout a five centuries long history of “might is right” trampling tyranny over the colonial world).

But the pathetic gesture of “expelling 23 diplomats” is a long way from sending the troops into the left bank of the Rhineland or imposing an Anschluss on Austria.

The British nazi-style bluster has been a desperate business from the beginning.

Even the compliant capitalist media machine which mostly routinely tramples over any possible notions of “journalistic integrity” as it helps feed out the demented warmongering lies supplied by the intelligence agencies, is struggling to keep up.

From the very first premature ejaculation against Russia by “buffoon” foreign secretary Boris Johnson in the House of Commons on the day of the “incident” (when obviously nothing was known, or could be, about causes, let alone culprits) the “serious” journalists and interviewers have had trouble disguising their growing incredulity at the cascade of ever more elaborate “justifications”, sanctimonious and hypocritical denunciations and “explanations” for all the fuss, and equally for the off-the-wall notions of boycotting the 2018 World Cup (quickly retracted by Boris as he realised he was shooting himself in the foot with a British public).

Irrespective of whatever might be the truth of Russia’s involvement or not (looking less likely by the minute), no shred of evidence was available then and nor has it been since – and plenty of alternative explanations could be offered, including that in the murky world of espionage, the British agencies themselves did the deed, for all kinds of reasons (eg to “take out” someone who had turned “rebel” agent – not implausible given some reports that swopped Russian spy Sergei Skripal was in fact again “active” and that his daughter made frequent trips to and from Moscow).

The fact it was a “Russian made” chemical means nothing of course.

The “recipe” is widespread and during the anarchic chaos of the 1990s in Russia, when carpet-bagging gangsterism ran rife because capitalism was restored post-Gorbachev, virtually anything could be obtained including nuclear material and undoubtedly nerve agent.

So perhaps it was maverick agents, or elements from the rise of the oligarch-mafia. Or maybe the notoriously wide-ranging provocation and death squads of the Zionist secret service Mossad had a hand, trying to get back at the Russian involvement in backing the hated Assad regime in the Middle East, particularly as it re-establishes a grip over the Ghouta area near Damascus.

Perhaps...but without unnecessarily setting any specific conspiracy theories running, a dozen scenarios are plausible.

Which demolishes the repeated “there can be no doubt it was Russia” hype.

But no such possibilities or suppositions have been put forwards by “intrepid” capitalist journalists of course, on TV, radio or the press despite the glaring vacuum of information over the incident itself and the total absence of any actual evidence about perpetrators, or even the method.

Instead these very highly paid media stooges either go with the garbage pouring out, solemnly and uncritically “interviewing” complete reactionaries like Tory MP Tom Tugendhat or, if slightly more doubtful, sitting po-faced through increasingly belligerent Nazi-style rantings against Russia, mostly without raising an eyebrow.

They give an easy ride to a stream of reactionaries and fascists from the rightwing end of the Tory Party, Polish government supporters (even more rightwing!!), axe-grinding exiles from Moscow, obviously coached and mysteriously appearing “former FSB agents now living in Britain”, and a series of “experts” from the ever growing list of murky “independent” think-tanks and institutions run by Western governments or private billionaires to provide a ready source of reactionary “analysis” whenever needed for just these purposes.

They give a very hard ride, if not virtually blocking off, even any reasoned responses from Moscow, let alone to anyone raising rational doubts about the entire stunt, pursuing the usual brow-beating interruption style when any interview does take place.

None of the “I’ll not take no for an answer” boring away has challenged the government “case” and more obvious holes in it than Brussels lace.

It leaves unchallenged such completely specious arguments as “it must be Russia because they deny it with such a cynical tone” (Boris Johnson), or because allegedly they “have done this before” and there is a “pattern of behaviour”.

The alleged “pattern” is anyway a) built from just one past incident in Britain, the 2006 Litvinenko polonium poisoning (or two if the alleged “Bulgarian umbrella incident” is included from Soviet times over thirty years ago, and b) two assassinations (in Russia), one of presidential candidate Nemtsov, and the journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

In all these cases no links have been established with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, and in the Litvinenko case there is as little “evidence” against Russian state involvement as in Salisbury; the political and press declarations that it was “state directed” are based solely on a highly contentious freelance “investigation” and inquiry, built up with second hand information from “informers” (outside the Kremlin) and the “judgement of British intelligence”.

Even then it was unable to come to a completely certain conclusion, its highly biased result declaring that “on the balance of probability” Putin knew of the incident.

Such “evidence” might just stand up in a magistrates court for a driving offence, but not for murder and beyond that the creation of international conflict.

Equally the question has to be raised about “why now” if this was “Russian revenge” on a “traitor”, instead of during the last ten years or so, or even during the years Skripal was in prison in Russia itself, before the spy-swap arrangement that brought him to Britain, a much easier location for an “accident” etc.

Nor is there any actual evidence that Russia “interfered” in British or American elections by “cyber attacks” (which are technically virtually untraceable) other than the assertions of the intelligence agencies, another of the supposed parts of the “pattern” (and a particularly meaningless one given that fraudulent Western “democracy” is already swamped with social media manipulation, advertising, PR hype, gerrymandering and billionaire capitalist-owned press distortions of the ruling class anyway, in which any such “interference” could only be one tiny voice at best.)

But it is on such flimsy foundations Russia is declared to be a “rogue state” which “defies the norms of international behaviour and legality” and is abused with the nazi-non-diplomacy of Williamson’s “shut up” remarks etc.

No one has to defend or support Putin’s Russian nationalist bonarpartism, or declare his idiot Russian Orthodox religious relic-kissing behaviour to be anything but anathema to any hope for rational progress in the world, in order to declare this a monstrous fascist nonsense.

The journalists should also be making the obvious contrast with a long history of British international assassinations, torture and killings sanctioned and directed by government, and ask why it should not equally, or in fact much more, be declared a “rogue state outside the norms of international decency” or whatever.

Apart from virtually continuous warmongering over the last hundred years, (complete with civilian bombing and gross torture) often kept totally secret such as that in Oman in the 1960s and 1970s (see Ian Cobain’s book The History Thieves eg), there is the entire history Rosemary Nelson Irish solicitor assassinated by the Britishof the occupied north of Ireland (deemed part of Britain) to consider, where non-stop use was made of death-squads against the heroic national-liberation struggle, both directly (SAS eg) and through the secret operations like the Force Research Unit and its agent-running in the fascist colonist Orange movement, feeding names and sometimes even weaponry to the colonist thug gangs, to kill republicans, those around them or those suspected of “sympathising” like solicitors Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, or the three unarmed IRA members in Gibraltar.

And while the James Bond 007 “licence to kill” is (supposedly) only fiction (though much glorified as if it were true) the “licencing” of intelligence agencies for criminal activity is not:

MI5 agents are allowed to carry out criminal activity in the UK, the government has acknowledged for the first time.

The prime minister was on Thursday forced to publish the text of a direction to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office, the spying watchdog, on governing “security service participation in criminality”.

It instructs the IPCO to oversee the participation of MI5 agents in criminal activity, which was previously conducted by the now-defunct office of the Intelligence Services Commissioner, under a secret order referred to as the “third direction”.

However, guidance about when British spies can commit crimes, and how far they can go, remains confidential.

The order was published after a legal battle by the human rights groups Reprieve and Privacy International.

Maya Foa, director, said: “After seven-months the prime minister has been forced to publish her secret order but we are a long way from having transparency.

Millie Graham Wood, a solicitor at Privacy International, said there was no justification why the secret direction was not published earlier.

And, if this much is admitted, then what remains secret???

State sanctioned assassination is already approved by the Tories currently of course, with Gavin Williamson the Defence Secretary, and his sidekick Rory Stewart trampling international law underfoot to declare that British citizens who went to Syria with ISIS should simply be “killed” – no mention of here of trials, the “rule of law” or “ international norms of decency” etc.

In fact there is no “should” about it:

Whether or not the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal (Report, 7 March) was sanctioned by Russia, it should be noted that extrajudicial targeted killing by drone on foreign soil is common particularly by the US, but also by the UK.

Ted Watson Brighton

Drone assassination is routine by US and UK forcesAll is signed off by government of course, as too in America where Obama signed off drone killings every Tuesday morning.

On top of this is the leading British role in developing modern “bruise” free torture methods such as stress positions, hooding and water-boarding, all enthusiastically adopted by US imperialism for its non-stop “war on terror” as detailed again by Cobain, in Cruel Britannia and now deliberately sanctioned by the Nazi Trump presidency, sinking deeper into the vilest fascist belligerence:

Donald Trump’s pick for head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Haspel, reportedly oversaw a black site prison in Thailand where terrorism suspects were tortured. She briefly ran the prison in 2002, anonymous officials told the Associated Press.

If the US Senate confirms Haspel, she would be the first female director of the agency, but the historic significance of her nomination was immediately overshadowed by her reported link to the black site, where two suspected al-Qaida members were waterboarded.

“The fact that she’s been able to stay in the agency, rise in the agency and now is in line to be director should be deeply troubling,” Larry Siems, author of the Torture Report, a book analysing government documents relating to Bush-era torture released in 2014, told the Guardian.

Haspel also drafted a cable ordering the destruction of CIA interrogation videos in 2005.

A US justice department investigation into the tapes’ destruction ended without charges, but the event helped spark a landmark investigation into US detentions and interrogations.

Christopher Anders, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office, claimed Haspel “was up to her eyeballs in torture”.

Anders urged the CIA to declassify her torture record before the Senate considers her nomination.

This was echoed by John McCain, the Arizona senator who was tortured during the Vietnam war.

“Ms Haspel needs to explain the nature and extent of her involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program during the confirmation process,” McCain said. He called the torture of US detainees during the Bush era “one of the darkest chapters in American history”.

Haspel joined the CIA in 1985 and has extensive overseas experience. She was deputy director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Services and has held several other leadership roles in the agency.

“I think the world of Gina; she is capable, smart, very experienced, well respected by the Agency rank and file, and a great person,” Clapper said in a post on the Cipher Brief, a global security website.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who blocked Haspel’s promotion within the clandestine service, in 2013 signalled that she would vote for both Haspel and Mike Pompeo, Trump’s choice for the new secretary of state.

Haspel’s alleged links to the Thai black site were scrutinized in February last year when Trump appointed her CIA deputy director, where she worked under Pompeo.

If confirmed by the Senate, Haspel will take Pompeo’s post. He has been selected to take over the secretary of state job, succeeding Rex Tillerson.

The fact that this liberalism even wants to make a “historic significance” feminist celebration point in the second paragraph (even if “qualified”) underlines the completely reactionary role of single issue politics and its priorities even as the world is plunging towards fascist disaster; doubtless they would have been cheering on some of the female appointments in the Nazi concentration camps too.

America’s record on chemical, biological and drug warfare is worse than the UK’s of course, with an even more disgusting record post-WW2 of mass human experimentation on its own soldiers, black prisoners, and cancer victims, as well as live dispersion tests across major cities (including the New York subway system).

It spent major efforts chasing down Japanese warcrime scientists after 1945, not to punish them for their grotesque live experiments on Chinese prisoners, but to garner their results and even recruit them.

One of the major targets for the US has been Cuba’s workers state, subject to endless chemical and biological warfare, including Dengue fever, numerous crop destroying viruses and over 600 – count them, 600 – personal assassination attempts on Fidel Castro, many using chemical warfare including attempts to poison his cigars and to make his beard drop off.

American chemical war use is not limited to individual assassinations (plentiful) but includes the industrial scale use of crippling dioxin laden Agent Orange in Vietnam and later in Colombia against the FARC’s armed struggle, and in many other places.

Tens of thousands have been slaughtered or paralysed for life, and to this day a constant stream of deformed and crippled babies are born in Vietnam as the legacy of the poison still in the ground.

All of which makes the snivelling “loyalty” of the compliant Labour “opposition”, particularly the Blairite scum, trebly vile, as they join in the big lie Goebbels denunciations, declaring their full support to the Tories (!!!) for “patriotic reasons”.

Even Corbynite shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell joins in with calls to “ban” Russian TV (so much for the “freedom of the press”), and “targeted” sanctions against London based oligarchs (on the specious grounds that they might “be connected” to Putin).

And that gives the measure of the sudden Corbyn “left resurgence” – nothing but a completely craven social-pacifist pretence desperately grovelling around to prove its “patriotic loyalty”, supporting the expulsion of the Russian diplomats and playing along with the entire distraction and the hypocrisy surrounding it, save for a few token quibbles as to whether “proper procedures” have been followed.

What a foul trick to play on the working class, and a deadly one to boot.

Its double standard supporting the government’s blame on the Russians but suggesting that “nothing is proved yet” is detestable, and a stinking trap for any of the working class still taken in by the reformist parliamentary racket.

The Trotskyist fake-”left” still backing this Corbynism are painted with the same stinkingly treacherous brush too, dragging workers back behind parliamentary illusions and completely disarming them in the teeth of the most devastating crisis in history, solvable only by revolutionary overturn of capitalism.

The supposed maverick “left” Labourite Ken Livingstone, expelled by this fraudulent Labour “leftism” for refusing to keep quiet about the monstrous Nazi regime in occupied Palestine is barely better, though he has at least drawn attention to the evidence free basis for all the allegations and some of the more obvious doubts about why on earth Russia would want to do such a thing, and at this point in time.

He also raised, ironically in a Russia Today TV interview, the former history of Western warmongering in stampeding public opinion behind blitzkrieg with false “incidents”, infamously in the 1963 Gulf of Tonkin pretence that North Vietnamese torpedo boats had attacked the American fleet, to justify the direct entry of America into the war and the bombing of Hanoi.

The laughable Salisbury “nerve agent” stunt and the reason-free tirades since have all the hallmarks of Tonkin, and multiple other such manufactured “incidents” by capitalism such as the big lie genocide allegations against Serbia (over Srebrenica and Recak) to “justify” the NATO blitzing of this tiny revisionist remnant of once socialist Yugoslavia, and the notorious “dodgy dossier” of outright fabrications about WMD on which public opinion was stampeded behind the Iraq war, as well as subsequent non-stop warmongering by the West including the later 2011 attack by NATO on Libya, again justified with complete fabrication, a supposed “threat” by Gaddafi to wipe out Benghazi.

This was compared to the equally non-existent Srebrenica “genocide” at the time even though Benghazi had not even been touched, and as was admitted later, had not been said anyway (once the devastation of the entire 6 million strong country been completed to leave the civil war/warlordist wreckage now in place).

There are then the stunts manipulated against Venezuela in the first attempted 2002 coup against left bourgeois nationalist Hugo Chávez where mysterious snipers were positioned to stir up mayhem, just as they were in the 2011 Maidan “colour revolution” which the West set up to install an openly Nazi regime in Kiev, Ukraine, and as they were in Syria, shooting demonstrators to set civil war alight.

It is not for nothing that the 1980s CIA handbook for Latin America’s anti-Sandinista Contras in Nicaragua, included the instructions to kill people to “create martyrs”, (as they did in Grenada just prior to the 1983 US invasion to wipe out its New Jewel Movement communist revolution).

Such propaganda manipulation goes right back to the infamous “Reichstag fire” in 1933, the Hitler Nazi stunt to “justify” cracking down on the communists and trade unions, rounding up tens of thousands to begin the concentration camp slaughter and repression which ran all the way into the depravities of the Second World war.

Except there is now one great difference - the British ruling class is no rising power like 1930s Germany, taking on the aggressive warmongering mantle for the whole of imperialism and building up eventually for outright invasions across Europe and against the Soviet Union, after suppressing the working class, but a decrepit and ossified ruling class increasingly losing out in the teeth of the greatest ever oncoming capitalist crisis meltdown.

It faces ever greater threats from the rapidly intensifying world trade war, long failing to keep up with the competitive pressures in the cutthroat world markets.

It is also desperate to cover up its own increasingly grotesque trampling over all the pretences of “freedom, democracy and the rule of law” as the capitalist slide into Slump and war continues.

And while it is not the whole story by any means, it is no coincidence that the two weeks of hysterical “emergency” responses, ridiculously exaggerated army occupations, and lurid accusations filling the front pages, should come just as Prince Salman of the backward feudal Saudi Arabia should be visiting London, granted state visit status (!!) with a Royal reception with the Queen, and signing an enormous arms order.

Despite the utter depravity of the war on Yemen in which they are being used - killing tens of thousands of civilians, and deliberately destroying infrastructure to leave millions facing outright famine in the “greatest humanitarian disaster since World War Two” – British imperialism has no compunction not only in selling all the weapons needed, but providing the military advice for their use.

Such is the desperation of this bankrupted system that it will tread over all concerns about “human rights” to turn another few billion in profits:

Britain’s biggest arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, has moved towards completing an order worth billions of pounds from Saudi Arabia for the purchase of 48 Typhoon fighter jets.

The announcement came at the end of a three-day visit to the UK by the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Although the order could help save jobs, the proposed contract was immediately denounced by arms campaigners concerned about Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen.

The UK signed a memorandum of intent with the Saudis. The BAE chief executive, Charles Woodburn, described the news as “a positive step towards agreeing a contract for our valued partner, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are committed to supporting the kingdom as it modernises the Saudi armed forces.”

Sales of the Typhoon have been slowing and BAE announced 1,400 job cuts in October. The prospect of a Saudi deal provides a boost, coming on top of a £5bn order from Qatar for 24 Typhoons.

Arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been dogged by scandal since allegations of illicit payments to land the al-Yamamah contract – Britain’s biggest arms deal, worth £43bn – surfaced soon after it was sealed in 1985. Both the UK’s Serious Fraud Office and the US justice department investigated.

Andrew Smith, a spokesman for the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said that since the bombardment of Yemen began in 2015, the UK has licensed arms worth £4.6bn to Saudi Arabia even before the latest proposed deal.

The Serious Fraud Office brought its investigation into the al-Yamamah deal to a premature close in 2006 when prime minister, Tony Blair, intervened to say its continuation would harm UK security after the Saudis threatened to stop sharing intelligence on terrorism.

Desperate British imperialism becomes ever more venal and foully fascist as the great hurricane of the world economic Catastrophe spins ever faster.

Only the complete absence of any revolutionary and Marxist leadership and understanding for the working class gives it the capacity to cling on, despite a near paralysis and incompetence.

But the relentless onset of the greatest ever capitalist Catastrophe will increasingly drive the working class towards the need for such politics.

An enormous debate is already stirring which will need to re-examine all the past questions including most of all that of the gigantic achievements of the workers states, China, Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea, and foremost the Soviet Union, as well as the Stalinist revisionist errors and retreats which led to its disastrous liquidation (see EPSR book 21 Unanswered Polemics).

Putin is a dunderheaded tool of the oligarchs but he has to rein in their rapacious exploitation, to balance against the lingering social expectations of a population still saturated in 70 years of Soviet achievement. It is that legacy the West still fears and which drives the demented hatred against Russia currently.

Build Leninism.

Duncan Trubshaw


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World Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles)


Colonial ruin and natural disaster

Insight into the current situation of the U.S. Free Associated State of Puerto Rico, four months after Hurricane Maria struck the territory

AFTER the passage of Hurricane Maria through Puerto Rico, the island was literally left in pieces, although it is not only this natural phenomenon that is to blame for the current crisis faced by Puerto Ricans.

In order to learn more about what has happened in the last four months following the impact of Maria, and the Caribbean island’s economic crisis, Granma spoke to Edwin González, delegate to the Puerto Rico Mission in Havana, a member of the Hostosiano National Independence Movement, a political organization founded in the Cuban capital in 1966 by Puerto Rican independence leader Juan Marí Bras.

How much damage was caused by Maria in Puerto Rico?

There is talk of more than 90 billion dollars in costs after the passage of this hurricane in Puerto Rico. Before Maria struck, the islandPuerto Rico - hurrivanes and colonialism already had a debt of more than 70 billion dollars, which remains the case today. In addition, 250,000 homes were damaged.

How has the recovery progressed in terms of the essential aspects of life for the population?

The recovery has been a real disaster. The fundamental problem after Maria was the total collapse of the electrical system, both physical and operational. Due to the inefficiency of the colonial government and the fact that electric power operations are in private hands, only 60% of Puerto Ricans currently have electricity, and this means that not all people in the same town have power.

Seventy-two percent of the population already has drinking water, although not under normal conditions, but through pumps. This means that we have to restructure this supply network, which after the passage of the cyclone saw 700 million dollars in damages.

With regard to communications, only 60% are active.

The inefficiency is not only a government problem, but is due to existing privatizations. ? p7 All that modernity that was sold to Puerto Rico collapsed from one day to the next, without electricity, internet, water, radio, information for the population, or gasoline.

Regarding the educational sector, classes commenced on January 8 and half of schools still have no power, due to the inefficiency of the colonial government. Only 60% of the school system is operating at this time.

There are currently 6,000 to 8,000 fewer students in classrooms, compared to the previous year, because all these families went to the United States, to their relatives’ homes. They initially migrated temporarily and have spent almost four months there; they have not been able to return to Puerto Rico due to the disaster following the hurricane.

After Hurricane Maria, what do you think are the most obvious consequences of Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. free associated state?

The indifference and slowness on the part of the United States government to restore the island to normality. A clear example was what Donald Trump said during his visit to our island: Puerto Rico has thrown our budget a little out of whack.”

The majority of the pro-independence sector in the nation has viewed that United States attitude in terms of contempt, and negligence, which has affected the life of the population too much.

After the passage of Hurricane Maria, the U.S. government sent 10,000 soldiers and a corps of engineers to Puerto Rico, who did virtually nothing to alleviate the crisis.

In the port there were 1,200 containers with food, without the capacity for distribution to supermarkets. That is to say, the government was inoperative and insolvent in this sense; to have the containers in the port and not distribute their contents to the victims, with truckers present, who waited for orders on what to do with those goods, and received none. Then they distributed a little box of water and put several photos on Facebook, but that did not show the reality.

Another important aspect, in this sense, is that everything that could happen in Puerto Rico’s future must go through the United States Congress. They appoint the Financial Oversight Board, which is now in force in the nation, where natural disaster has been combined with colonial ruin.

How has the migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States since Hurricane Maria developed?

In three months, 200,000 Puerto Ricans went to the United States, but very few have officially established themselves there. Many of them have no job, are in shelters or are in relatives’ homes.

How have the negotiations advanced with the Financial Oversight and Management Board, which seeks to guarantee compliance with Wall Street creditors?

The colonial government has not been able, firstly, as a colony of the US, to renegotiate the debt of $74 billion, due to economic dependence on that nation, which will collect its debt, regardless of the hurricane.

The official position of the US government on the debt, with or without the storm, is that it was generated by the colony and that it must be paid. It will be added to the reported deficit of $90 billion caused by Hurricane Maria last September. The U.S. government will start to collect all that money as soon as the country recovers.

Prior to Hurricane Maria, that was already approved by the Financial Oversight Board, which is in charge in Puerto Rico, rather than the governor Ricardo Rosello. There is also a suggestion that all the money that has arrived from Washington will be handled by this entity and not by the Puerto Rican government directly.

After the many steps taken by the Puerto Rican administration to lobby the U.S. Congress on the debt payment, the only loan approved by this entity is $4.7 billion. This money was intended for the government to be able to operate during these past months, until the beginning of the year, but it has not yet reached the island, that is, the credit line has not been implemented in this regard.

What are some of the problems regarding the functioning of the Puerto Rican government that came to light after the passage of Hurricane Maria?

The corruption of officials of the current Puerto Rican government who “got their hands dirty” through fraudulent contracts, economic vice and favoritism regarding companies. The US government sees that and says: How are we going to provide money for this bad administration? Therefore, there is great caution in Congressional formalities regarding the allocation of funds to Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Maria brought to light the Puerto Rican reality, which had been sold as a showcase for the Caribbean, a country that was “great,” for being part of the United States.

This devastation brought to light the real Puerto Rico: the number of houses in disrepair, the landslides, the terrible planning of all infrastructure such as roads, bridges, building urbanizations where they should not be, due to bad planning.

What was the official death toll after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico?

The government officially said 64 dead, but in my opinion they are trying to cover up the number of deaths, because the more deaths, the greater the disaster. Those who lost their lives, for example, in a hospital, because there was no electricity, also died as a result of the natural disaster caused by Maria. They are not counting the deceased, or do not want to do so, so a mishandling of the figures can be seen. There are several media outlets in the United - States and Puerto Rico itself that have accounted for more than a thousand deaths, but it is regrettable that the colonial government has taken that position of not facing reality in this regard. •



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World Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles)


“Cyber-war” waged on Cuba shows Western hypocrisy

The creation of an “Internet Task Force” to undermine Cuba is one more subversive program using new technologies, along the lines of ZunZuneo, Piramideo, and Commotion

IF the Trump administration presumes to use new technologies to impose changes on Cuba’s internal order, it has chosen a very timeworn route, one that has been inoperative- and ineffective in the past - not to mention that it violates the laws of the country involved, and even those of the United States.

The creation of an Internet Task Force focused on Cuba, announced by the State Department January 23, opens the doors for the continuation of a failed Cold War policy.

This move comes in the wake of the mistaken, poorly-advised speech given by the President in Miami, this past June 16, when he met with a group from the far-right of Cuban origin, to announce with much pomp and circumstance his changes to the country’s policy toward Cuba, which can be summarized, in a few words, as more blockade and less travel between the two countries.

The battlefield chosen for this latest aggression, the Internet, shows clearly Washington’s true objectives when references are made to “free access” in countries it opposes, while in U.S. territory a mega-system is maintained to scan and gather data about what citizens are doing on the net.

Likewise, at the beginning of January, the U.S. Congress advanced a bill to remove the few restrictions that exist on international cyber-espionage, the extent of which was made evident by the leaks of former National Security Agency employee, Edward Snowden.

From the so-called Arab Spring - already lost in oblivion - to more recent plans like the promoting of protests in Iran and support to the violent opposition in Venezuela, Washington has shown a clear pattern of how it uses social networks and the internet for its hegemonic geopolitical purposes.

This is all part of the non-conventional war strategy developed to destabilize nations without the direct use of military force, increasingly deployed since the fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The activation of this new “task force” also demonstrates that, despite facing a government shutdown, there is no lack of liquidity when it comes to financing subversive projects in Cuba. There are plenty of places to find money, even though the Trump administration’s budget presented to Congress for 2018 eliminates the customary $20million allocated for decades, to carry out such aggression.

The facility with which new bodies are staffed, with “government and non-government” personnel, contrasts sharply with the dramatic reduction of U.S. diplomats assigned to the embassy in Havana, which has practically paralyzed the issuing of visas and impacted services provided to Cubans and their families in the United States.

Trump’s new plans did not take Cuba by surprise, since the country has more than 50 years of experience in confronting all kinds of U.S. aggression.

Recent projects like ZunZuneo, Piramideo, Commotion and others run up against both the capacity of Cuban authorities to detect them and the Cuban population’s unity in the face of such attacks.

They come at a time, moreover, when steps are being taken to advance in the digitalization of society, with a vision that prioritizes public access to the internet and protection of the country’s sovereignty, despite economic limitations.

Since the opening of more than 500 WiFi hotspots across the island to provide internet access, without restrictions beyond those created by the blockade and the needs of national security, the country is moving forward with internet service on cell phones -with more than four million in use - and expansion of home connections.

If the Trump administration is only interested in guaranteeing Cubans access to the internet, they could eliminate the blockade restrictions that hamper purchases of advanced telecommunications technologies’ and provide credit for their acquisition.

This would perhaps be less expensive than a “task force” that is, from the start, condemned to failure.•

Subversive projects based on new technologies

- ZunZuneo:

Financed by the United States Agency for International Development (usaid) with the objective of launching a messaging system that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans using “non-controversial” content, like sports news, music, weather reports, and announcements. When they had won over a following, the plan was to begin sending political messages inciting Cubans to make appeals on the network for massive demonstrations to destabilize the country.


- Piramideo:

Similar to ZunZuneo, this program was undertaken by the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (ocb), responsible for the infamous Radio and TV Martí. The plan was to create a network of “friends” that would offer the possibility of sending a massive message to members of a “pyramid” at the cost of a single sms. The objective was to prepare a platform for subversion.


- Conmotion:

A tool to create independent wireless networks, developed by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute (oti), with headquarters in Washington,- originally intended for military use. Although no information on its functioning in Cuba is known, government sources told the New York Times that millions of dollars had been dedicated to an effort toward that end.


- Operation Surf:

Unmasked by State Security agent Raúl - Dalexi González Madruga - this program involved the smuggling of equipment and software into the country to install illegal antennas to access the internet.



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