No 1554 13th April 2019
Fake-“left” “identity politics” posturing and single-issue reformism such as feminism, LGBT rights and anti-racism, to cover retreat from revolution, are once more exposed by triumphalist seizure of Julian Assange by US imperialism via arse-licking British stoogery. Swedish “rape” charges almost certainly a “honey trap” but anyway remain sanctimonious nonsense playing into hands of barbaric reaction; such narrow minded PC moralising loses sight of the wider realities of capitalist oppression which is the sole cause and generator of inequality, including double oppression of women, “minorities” (world majorities in fact), etc and now plays a reactionary role. Wikileaks exposés are significant blows against imperialism; shutting it down aids all reaction including female oppression etc. Arrest also exposes dire revisionist illusions in steady “left” progress in Latin America, failing to warn of endless US subversion and bribery which turned Ecuador bourgeois president, the misnamed Lenín Moreno. Build real Leninism
The vicious arrest and hounding of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange exposes more clearly than ever the increasingly reactionary role played by single-issue reformist posturing (feminism, LBGT rights, anti-racism, environmentalism etc).
Facilitating this nasty US imperialist repression of Assange by feminist self-centred individualism, setting anyway absurd “rape” charges against the crucially important exposure of international war crime blitzing of tens of thousands (including many women) is beyond lightminded and deranged in its advocacy of supposed reformed “bourgeois justice”.
It goes hand in hand with the continued PC floundering around absurd “left anti-semitism” accusations, which are trying to undermine growing anti-imperialist or anti-capitalist sentiment in public opinion, with twisted upside-down lies pretending that hostility to the 70 year long Zionist-Jewish landgrab occupation of Palestine is just hidden “hatred of Jews” (see EPSR No1543).
Fear of being labelled “racist” leaves much of the “left” unable to challenge this demented nonsense, by explaining that hostility to all those who support the existence of “Israel” - including the great majority of the Jewish freemasonry outside in America and Europe - is caused by the monstrous fascist oppression it imposes, and cannot but impose by its very existence as a landgrabbing colonialist occupation (from its very beginning in 1947).
In both cases (and others like “gay” marches against Palestinians eg) the great swamp of single-issue petty bourgeois opportunists and self-righteous poseurs effectively gives succour and aid to the ruling class, which is quite willing to adopt and use deranged PC subjectivism to help it cover up its degeneracy, brutality and disintegration, and the foul fascist warmongering being imposed on the world as imperialist crisis inexorably deepens.
The EPSR has long declared that such single-issue politics would be a last line of defence for capitalism philosophically (see numerous past issues, forthcoming EPSR book and quotes at the end).
Such PCism, either through naïvety, or outright class treachery, helps the ruling class impose increasing censorship and intimidation of debate, polemic and discussion under the guise of “stopping homophobia” “anti-racism” and “patriarchal oppression” etc.
Its sanctimonious posturing and subjectivism has always been an individualistic distraction away from building the broadest possible perspective and historical dialectical understanding of the capitalist crisis, and of the need for revolutionary overturn of this imperialist world domination – the only way in which capitalism’s monstrous injustices and barbaric tyranny, grotesque inequality and disintegration into war, can ever be tackled (and with it all its multiple inequalities, vile prejudice and backwardness).
Instead of focusing on the objective class-war understanding of Marxist-Leninist theory, consciously fought for by a leadership cadre party as the basis for defeating and overturning the ever more disgusting inequality and degeneracy of this out of time private profit system, it has supplanted it with the notion of subjective “feelings about self” being the basis of existence and a struggle for “fairness”, creating nothing but philosophical onanism that fragments and divides, and sets ever smaller sections of society against each other.
Objective science and revolutionary theory disappears from view.
So “hail” the new mayor of Chicago for example, because she is black, a woman and a lesbian, and never mind the essentially reactionary politics she espouses, continuing to run the capitalist system and, from bourgeois press reports, receiving most support from the privileged white districts of the city anyway.
Ignore that she is as much a part of the machine politics system as of the rest of slick hoodwinking American bourgeois electoral “democracy”, and not even far towards the “left” reformist wing, – because after all she has three points on the “intersectionality” spectrum, topped only by those who might also be physically “challenged”, etc.
This garbage system of minority identity validation, which ignores any attempt to educate or lead the working class into a real understanding of the fundamental class exploitation which holds them down, simply sustains the old rackets of petty bourgeois class collaboration and deludes the working class with the prospect of “improvement within the system” by playing several single-issue cards at once.
But life for the most of the black working class in southside Chicago, all Illinois, all America or anywhere else, will not improve one iota, no more that of the working class of any other skin shade or ethnicity, all this great majority (80%+) destined to be permanent losers in a system built on a few already privileged (or occasionally lucky) “winners”, making it to the top mostly through heredity, wealth, class connection and influence, (or, very rarely, by having some chance talent useful to ruling class), and then living on the ruthless exploitation of everyone else, who must necessarily remain the economic cannon fodder to make it all work.
Once the crisis bites down again and even before, as the temporary economic “success” of Trumpite trade war bullying of the rest of the world starts to crumble, even such “reforms” as might come about will be stripped back again.
And far worse will follow in the economic chaos soon to come as the full impact of world overproduction crisis and credit crunch returns.
Single-issue reformism and the deliberate confusion-mongering of middle class “identity politics”, which now saturates culture and political discourse throughout the “advanced” world, is not just a endless anti-communist blockage (which is bad enough) but increasingly becomes an outright counter-revolutionary tool for imperialism to attack all “left” politics, however tame, as the crisis sharpens.
That is exactly the lesson from the Assange persecution and “anti-semitism” demonisation.
The sick and cynical ruling class politicians, diplomats etc, backed by a venal bourgeois media willingly pumping out every distortion and lie fed to them by the well-funded intelligence agency disinformation departments, do not believe a word of the preposterous accusations of “moral turpitude” and “personal reactionariness” being flung around, be it over alleged “rape” in Assange’s case or “hidden racism against the Jews on the left”.
Their transparently bogus “outrage” “fearfulness” and “taking offence” on both these issues and its obvious use to head attention away from the real monstrosities going on in the world - be it endless Zionist terror massacres and genocidal oppression of the Palestinian people; the non-stop war crime blitzing and starvation of tens of thousands of men, women and children by Western imperialism throughout Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen (so much for “improving women’s lives”); or years of shelling and Nazi-sniper massacre of thousands of the east Ukrainian working class – is a completely cynical pretence coordinated by the ruling class and the mountebanks and careerist politicians who act for it.
These grossly hypocritical histrionics are to divert attention from and distract public opinion from the catastrophic breakdown and failure of the whole monopoly capitalist system and the fascist atrocities, torture and blitzing horrors being imposed in the Middle East and across the planet as it once more turns to warmongering and destruction as a “way out”.
It is no coincidence that the 70 MP signatories to a reactionary call to revive the now dormant extradition of Assange to Sweden on stitched-up “rape” charges, comprise virtually the same figures who have shouted loudest about the supposed “anti-semitism” of the Corbynites and the “left” surge which pushed them up, and have done their best with outright breakaway “new parties” (joining up with Tories!) or slimy sullen Blairite hostility inside Labour, to sabotage and fragment even the very tepid pretences of “radical leftism” the Labour “lefts” offer.
Their slimy treachery is now being mobilised to make sure there is a second string for reactionary US imperialism to use, in case the direct attempt to extradite him to the States for “spying” (itself proving that imperialism has lied on this from the beginning) should fall through, run into popular resistance or legal tangles, and stymie the lifetime imprisonment the hate-filled US ruling class have in mind as vengeance for the damaging disclosures Wikileaks has made of their war crimes, corruption and barbarity (on all sides of the “democratic” system).
If it proves impossible to viciously punish or even execute him, then let him at least be incarcerated elsewhere is the thinking, using a stitched up “rape” charge to win over public opinion.
If the “liberals”, feminists, “anti-racists” and other PCers are unable to see, or don’t want to see, how their posturing oils the cogs, it only confirms what a debilitating effect such extreme narrow-minded focus on the “personal is political” has had on minds, to the exclusion of any wider grasp.
And it shows what a danger such reformist attitudes can be, especially when taken to the such extremes as the self-obsessed sanctimoniousness and witchhunting excesses of the “metoo” movement, ready to pillory and destroy careers and lives with evidence-free McCarthyite populism, far nearer to a lynch-mob than some new rational societal enlightenment finally achieving a new level of civilised “equality of treatment” for women or other groups.
Not only do they mislead and limit understanding, they end up on entirely the wrong side, helping keep in place the capitalist world order which alone is responsible for generating and engendering every kind of division and antagonism and which will continue to do so over and over again whatever partial or limited advances (welcome enough) are made in general consciousness about the extent of double exploitation or sexual abuse, or even a few piecemeal beneficial legal or economic changes (usually for the middle class).
But overall, lives blighted by relentless wage slavery will remain unchanged and most of all in most of the Third World, by this propping up of the existing order; the collapsing concrete sweatshop textile factories in Bangla Desh (almost entirely filled with women); the slave level existence of tea plantation workers in Sri Lanka, palm oil plantations in Indonesia, flower growers in Kenya etc; the poverty in the Brazilian favelas; deprivation in the Manilla slums; and the outright massacres of family weddings, villages and civilians in the “war on terror” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Mali and Yemen (among others) will continue and worsen.
Until all monopoly capitalism is overthrown the lives of women or everyone else, in most of the world, cannot be changed; in other words it is the revolutionary politics that feminism consciously and deliberately opposes, which alone will truly stand up for, and transform the lives of women and all other minorities, releasing the potential of every human to develop in full once a planned socialist world can be built.
A slightly sounder view of the Assange case comes from the excellent bourgeois journalist John Pilger, still hampered by his own anti-communism but able to at least see some of the broader picture after decades of exposing capitalist atrocities and exploitation. It is worth quoting:
The glimpse of Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadoran embassy in London is an emblem of the times. Might against right. Muscle against the law. Indecency against courage...
That this outrage happened in the heart of London, in the land of Magna Carta, ought to shame and anger all who fear for “democratic” societies. Assange is a political refugee protected by international law, the recipient of asylum under a strict covenant to which Britain is a signatory. The United Nations made this clear in the legal ruling of its Working Party on Arbitrary Detention.
But to hell with that. Let the thugs go in. Directed by the quasi fascists in Trump’s Washington, in league with Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno, a Latin American Judas and liar seeking to disguise his rancid regime, the British elite abandoned its last imperial myth: that of fairness and justice.
Imagine Tony Blair dragged from his multi-million pound Georgian home in Connaught Square, London, in handcuffs, for onward dispatch to the dock in The Hague. By the standard of Nuremberg, Blair’s “paramount crime” is the deaths of a million Iraqis.
Assange’s crime is journalism: holding the rapacious to account, exposing their lies and empowering people all over the world with truth.
The warning is explicit towards journalists.
Assange’s principal media tormentor, The Guardian, a collaborator with the secret state, displayed its nervousness this week with an editorial that scaled new weasel heights. The Guardian has exploited the work of Assange and WikiLeaks in what its previous editor called “the greatest scoop of the last 30 years.” The paper creamed off WikiLeaks’ revelations and claimed the accolades and riches that came with them.
With not a penny going to Julian Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, turned on their source, abused him and disclosed the secret password Assange had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing leaked US embassy cables.
When Assange was still trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy, Harding joined police outside and gloated on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the last laugh.” The Guardian then published a series of falsehoods about Assange, not least a discredited claim that a group of Russians and Trump’s man, Paul Manafort, had visited Assange in the embassy. The meetings never happened; it was fake.
But the tone has now changed. “The Assange case is a morally tangled web,” the paper opined. “He (Assange) believes in publishing things that should not be published …. But he has always shone a light on things that should never have been hidden.”
These “things” are the truth about the homicidal way America conducts its colonial wars, the lies of the British Foreign Office in its denial of rights to vulnerable people, such as the Chagos Islanders, the exposé of Hillary Clinton as a backer and beneficiary of jihadism in the Middle East, the detailed description of American ambassadors of how the governments in Syria and Venezuela might be overthrown, and much more. It is all available on the WikiLeaks site.
The Guardian is understandably nervous. Secret policemen have already visited the newspaper and demanded and got the ritual destruction of a hard drive. On this, the paper has form. In 1983, a Foreign Office clerk, Sarah Tisdall, leaked British Government documents showing when American cruise nuclear weapons would arrive in Europe. The Guardian was showered with praise.
When a court order demanded to know the source, instead of the editor going to prison on a fundamental principle of protecting a source, Tisdall was betrayed, prosecuted and served six months.
...Even if journalists who published WikiLeaks’ leaks are not summoned by an American grand jury, the intimidation of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning will be enough. Real journalism is being criminalized by thugs in plain sight. Dissent has become an indulgence.
In Australia, the current America-besotted government is prosecuting two whistle-blowers who revealed that Canberra’s spooks bugged the cabinet meetings of the new government of East Timor for the express purpose of cheating the tiny, impoverished nation out of its proper share of the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea. Their trial will be held in secret.
The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, is infamous for his part in setting up concentration camps for refugees on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus, where children self harm and suicide. In 2014, Morrison proposed mass detention camps for 30,000 people.
Real journalism is the enemy of these disgraces. A decade ago, the Ministry of Defense in London produced a secret document which described the “principal threats” to public order as threefold: terrorists, Russian spies and investigative journalists. The latter was designated the major threat.
The document was duly leaked to WikiLeaks, which published it. “We had no choice,” Assange told me. “It’s very simple. People have a right to know and a right to question and challenge power. That’s true democracy.”
Such indignation is sound, even if Pilger’s illusions that there has ever been, or could be, “true democracy” within capitalism, and that it can be either defended or maintained merely by exposing transgressions, corruption and abuses through “real journalism” (brave enough) is a major flaw.
So too his belief in the “international order” represented by the UN and his one-sided understanding of “jihadism” which far from being a “reactionary creation of imperialism”, despite CIA manipulation, is mostly the early stirrings of revolt against it, crude as it might be.
Pilger has never got past the unprecedented brainwashing deluges of anti-Sovietism which have poured out of imperialism ever since the brilliant Russian Revolution, and the great ideological weaknesses of post-war consciousness engendered by retreat from revolutionary perspectives by Moscow revisionism after Lenin, Stalinist philosophical mistakes (see Unanswered Polemics EPSR book 21) leading eventually to liquidation and temporary world disillusionment.
So while the commendation for Ken Loach’s posting of bail money is fair enough, it only adds more confusion, since Loach’s long history of WRP style bilious Trotskyist anti-Sovietism and misrepresentations in films, TV and political activity, needs always to be highlighted first and foremost, its anti-communist poison against the gigantic 73 year long history of achievement by the USSR causing far more damage than any such liberal gestures might do good.
Neither takes on the way in which the middle-class trivial posturing of single-issue politics has delivered an ideological weapon into the hands of the ruling class which now allows it to cover up the grotesque mistreatment of Assange, courtesy of feminism and all its supporters, Loach-style opportunist fake-“left”ism included.
“Left” demagogue MP George Galloway was slightly more robust about the posturing and pretences early on in Assange’s de facto incarceration at the Ecuadoran embassy with a typically robust turn of phrase:
through a weekly online video broadcast called Good Night with George Galloway, the Respect party MP for Bradford West addressed allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion made by two women – known as woman A and woman B – Assange met on a visit to Stockholm in August 2010, including having sex with one of them while she was asleep. Assange strongly denies the allegations.
“Even taken at its worst, if the allegations made by these two women were true, 100% true, and even if a camera in the room captured them, they don’t constitute rape,” Galloway said. “At least not rape as anyone with any sense can possibly recognise it. And somebody has to say this.
“Woman A met Julian Assange, invited him back to her flat, gave him dinner, went to bed with him, had consensual sex with him, claims that she woke up to him having sex with her again. This is something which can happen, you know. I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion.”
Lawyers and anti-rape campaigners said Galloway was wrong and the law is clear that consent is required every time someone has sex.
Galloway said he was speaking out because “a reign of intellectual terror has descended in Britain” on this issue and he believed the sexual assault claims were part of a “setup” intended to deliver Assange into the hands of the US authorities angered at his publication of state secrets.
“It is staggering just how ignorant, factually and morally incorrect George Galloway can be,” said Katie Russell, spokeswoman for Rape Crisis England and Wales. “It is very concerning that an elected MP should display such ignorance of the law for all the women and men he represents. It sends a negative message to all the women and girls who have experienced sexual violence and a disturbing message to perpetrators. He says he doesn’t believe these women or these allegations and that is a very powerful statement because every woman or girl who has made an allegation of sexual violence deserves to have that treated fairly.”
A magistrates court has already ruled that: “What is alleged here is that Mr Assange ‘deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state’. In this country that would amount to rape.”
The high court also ruled: “It is clear that the allegation is that he had sexual intercourse with her [woman A] when she was not in a position to consent and so he could not have had any reasonable belief that she did.”
In his broadcast Galloway said: “Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you’re already in the sex game with them. It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said: ‘Do you mind if I do it again?.’ It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning.”
Sandy Brindley, national co-ordinator for Rape Crisis Scotland said Galloway’s comments were “very unhelpful” and supported an enduring but false notion of “real” or “serious” rape.
On Twitter, Galloway reacted dismissively to the uproar surrounding his remarks.
“Oh how this ‘liberal’ chorus of Pavlovian reaction must delight the Pentagon!” he tweeted. “Oh my, what a lot of ‘liberal’ useful idiots the Empire can count on. It’s about WIKILEAKS stupid...!”
Galloway also addressed allegations made by the second woman against Assange.
“She claimed that while she did have consensual sex with him, the condom ripped and yet he continued to do it,” he said. “Now you wouldn’t just need to be in the room with the two of them to know the truth of this allegation. I don’t want to take the biology too far, but you would actually need to be somewhere located inside the woman to know if that allegation were true. And if it were true, is it rape?
“I think the whole thing is a setup. I don’t understand how so many of you can’t see that. If he did these things, he’s a rat. But the United States empire, the British empire, the imperial system that around the world is slaughtering human beings by the million, cutting their throats, starving them to death, leaving them to die of poverty and avoidable disease in their millions, is a much bigger rat, no? Imperialism is a much bigger rat than Julian Assange, no? So why would you want Assange to be delivered to the United States and silenced for ever, unless you were on the side of empire.”
The “notion” that rape under circumstances such as this, is different to violent attacks or even forced sex under false pretences etc, “endures” because it is an obvious nonsense to say otherwise as Galloway points out.
But such arguments are missing the point anyway which is the entire context of major difficulties being caused by the Wikileaks disclosures for imperialism and its efforts to get into warmongering in the Middle East.
In the life and death question for the entire collapsing US imperialist domination of the world, a crucial aspect is the propaganda war to acclimatise public opinion to such horrors, supporting the supposed “just cause” of imperialist blitzkrieg.
Of course it is a set up as Galloway says, and as suggested eight years ago, the “rape” charges were a carefully choreographed “honey trap”:
Partisan bloggers have obliged, digging up and publishing previously deleted tweets ...even a document written by the same alleged victim entitled “7 steps to legal revenge”, in which she writes: “Go to it and keep your goal in sight. Make sure your victim suffers just as you did.”
...many details thanks to a Swedish police leak and an interview given by Miss A to a Swedish paper, are in the public domain.
The story appears to proceed as follows: Miss A, having invited Assange to speak to a leftwing campaign group in the town of Enkoping, suggested he stay in her flat, although the two had not met. Both agree that they slept together on the night before the event, during which the condom split.
The following day, the woman attended and helped facilitate the event, at which Miss W was also present. According to her police interview, Miss W accompanied the Australian and some male guests to lunch at which he flirted with her; afterwards the pair went to the cinema, where she told police she had performed oral sex on him. They slept together that night, using a condom, and again the following morning, when both parties appear to agree that a condom was not used, after which Assange left.
What happened next will be the subject of any legal process, but according to her testimony Miss W, for some reason, got in touch with Miss A (they did not previously know each other); some days later the two went to a Stockholm police station where they said they were “seeking advice” on making a complaint against Assange. Miss A is understood to have told police that he had ripped the condom on purpose, while Miss W said the unprotected sex act had been without her consent. They were reportedly advised by the police officer that these allegations amounted to rape against Miss W and sexual molestation against Miss A.
The accusations leaked to the press two days later, shortly after which Miss A gave an interview to the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. She said: “The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl lies with a man who had attitude problems with women.”
...What has most engaged the conspiracy theorists and Assange’s more excitable defenders, however, are a few key incidents in Miss A career, in particular that she is said to have worked in the Swedish embassy in the US, and wrote her university thesis in 2007 on a vision of Cuba after the death of Castro.
One blogger notes: “[Assange] just happens to meet a Swedish woman who just happens to have been publishing her work in a well-funded anti-Castro group...with links to the CIA.
Other reports suggest she was expelled from Cuba for political agitation against the workers state.
But while Galloway is capable of useful swipes against particularly US imperialism, he is no more a Marxist than Pilger or Loach (or indeed Assange himself, reputed to hold views closer to right-wing “libertarianism”).
Galloway is as much an opportunist as the rest of the parliamentary racketeers, and continues to sell the nonsense of “democratic change” as the path forwards for the working class.
He will not jeopardise his own career prospects inside the system, or as a maverick “outsider” (but still tolerated, just as Pilger is) by making the point that capitalist “democracy” is nothing but a giant hoodwinking fraud to cover over a bourgeois dictatorship, and that the only way for the masses to achieve a world in which they participate more and more in building a society serving humanity’s best interests is by class war to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.
None of them draw out deeper lessons, exposing all “identity politics” as hopeless and misleading primarily because it will not say that human relations of all kinds are screwed up and subject to breakdown in all kinds of ways due to the antagonisms, alienation and divisiveness that capitalism imposes on everyone, and that trusting in capitalist law to sort them out is asking for trouble.
Meanwhile the fake-“lefts”, who have long borrowed from this moralising PC humbug and middle class sanctimony, in order to posture mightily about their supposed progressiveness and militant “action”, while covering-up a total retreat from genuine revolutionary politics (or covering-up the total lack of them at all in most cases despite much pseudo-Marxist flannel), will be tarred with the same brush.
Their adoption of such “super-reformism” has been a major obstacle for decades to the building of Marxist-Leninism, always managing to fall on exactly the wrong side of working class sentiment as it did over the UK visit of boxer Mike Tyson in 2000 (EPSR No1029 02-02-00).
It is no coincidence that leading the charge against Tyson, who was cheered to the rafters, by the black working class especially as a symbol of revolt, but condemned by petty bourgeois PC pseudo-piety (on similar and just as specious “rape” accusation as Assange) should be the miserable Trotskyists of the Socialist Workers Party.
And it is no coincidence they are now at the forefront in similarly laying into Assange, covering themselves by “demanding” that he should not be sent to America, but still declaring that he should “answer” for the “rape” charges.
This kowtowing echoes the equally snivelling PC “even-handedness” of the Guardian’s left-Labourite fraud Owen Jones who declares that
“Assange must answer the accusation in Sweden without the threat of extradition to the US”.
Yes, and pigs must fly.
The point of the capitalist conspiracy against Assange is to take him out of circulation with maximum vengefulness if possible to further incarcerate him in Sweden if needed, to hamstring or shut down Wikileaks.
This unreal posturing is the same as fake-“leftist” “No to war” politics, the snivelling pacifist hoax of all these pseudo-“revolutionaries” which disarms the working class and heads it away from understanding that only defeat for imperialism and revolution will ever end war.
It is founded in the rotten anti-communism of all Trotskyism and fake-“left” politics.
And its supposed fairness, in declaring that charges should be taken at face value, is beyond stupid.
It capitulates totally to the nastiest of sentiments as in the piece above and like this Swedish feminist biliousness poured out when Assange first sought asylum:
[Assange who] lost his appeal against extradition to face sex allegations on Wednesday, has changed in a year from the James Bond of the internet to a paranoid chauvinist pig. The man who has been holed up in an English country house instead of allowing himself to be questioned here about an alleged rape cuts an increasingly pitiable figure.
His attempts to depict Sweden as a banana republic that would ship him on to the US is another sign of how desperate Assange has become. You can blame Sweden for lots of things – filthy weather, overrated crime novels, Ikea furniture – but to claim this country is the CIA’s accomplice, with an extremist law on sex crimes, irritates even his most loyal fans, of whom there are still a few.
WikiLeaks really was a historic moment in the history of journalism, but little is left of Assange’s kingdom now...
Last April the freelance journalist Johannes Wahlström conducted a grovelling interview in the leftwing culture pages of the Stockholm tabloid Aftonbladet, in which his hero appeared almost supernatural:
[This] journalist later became the WikiLeaks representative in Sweden and Norway, while his father – the notorious antisemitic propagandist Israel Shamir – ran the site’s dealings with Russia. Assange has subsequently called Sweden “the Saudi Arabia of feminism”; Shamir had earlier talked about “the CIA feminism” that he claimed lay behind the two women who had reported Assange to the police.
Assange-the-hero vanished somewhere in that anti-semitic and anti-feminist slime. Sweden’s relatively high measure of sexual equality and consciousness in gender questions is a matter of national pride. That a dodgy hacker from Australia started knocking it was not popular.
Last Tuesday two women journalists who started a Twitter campaign against Assange’s contemptuous remarks about Swedish women were nominated for the most prestigious prize in Swedish journalism.
.. The noted leftwing commentator Dan Josefsson admitted recently that Assange was not the radical hero he had supposed, but “a solitary and shabby libertarian who wants to tear down democratic societies”.
...It’s probably too late for Assange to recover his former glory. But if he could give up his futile struggle against extradition and show a little respect to the Swedish justice system, that would at least be a first, necessary step.
This personalised poison is barely distinguishable in tone from the most reactionary section of the bourgeois press’s crowing headlines declaring that “he will be laughing on the other side of his face now.”
And how notable it is that it also wants to fling around “anti-semitism” accusations.
But not one word does the SWP raise in doubt about this vile, demented feminist hate campaign, and its bourgeois (Swedish) nationalism, celebration of bourgeois awards, and calls to “respect” (!!!) capitalist Sweden’s state “justice” and “democratic society”.
What snivelling wretchedness, in thrall to single-issue-ism and to reformist illusions that Sweden is “progressive”!
Sweden is a foul a capitalist state as any other, tied into blitzkrieging nazi-NATO (now also incorporating even the death-squad murderers of the Colombian government), with a record of anti-Soviet alliances and Western financial exploitation, and a dirty history of corruption, arms dealing, racism and collusion with Nazi Germany during World War Two (disguised as “neutrality”) and even featuring one of the vilest post-war scandals over state-run eugenic sterilisation to “solve” the “problem of social incompetence” (EPSR No 920 30-09-97).
No-one has to defend Assange himself, feel sorry for him personally nor apologise for his politics which seem far removed from communism.
But it is astonishing that a supposed “revolutionary” group does not at least raise the very obvious notion that the sole purpose of the Swedish charges has been to stop Assange in his tracks because of the huge damage done to US imperialism.
Bad behaviour does not need to be defended, if it were so, but it is insignificant when set against the horrors perpetrated by imperialism and which are due to escalate much further as the crisis lurches again into catastrophic failure, this time without the possibility of further QE and other temporary rescue to stop full economic meltdown.
Not all the “left” have shamed themselves quite so openly on this issue but none of them draw the broader conclusions spelled out long ago by the EPSR in its 2001 Perspectives:
32. One of the most seductive ‘modernising’ aspects of present-day capitalism which has helped to buttress the ‘progressive evolution’ delusion about bourgeois democracy (coupled with the abysmal failure of ‘communist’ revisionism which betrayed the epoch making role that the workers states could have, and should have, played in giving the world a continuous lead in social improvement) - has been the role of aggressive single-issue reformisms such as feminism, black pride, gay pride, etc.
In the class-war long term pattern of history which will need to see planned world socialism under the control of workers states everywhere replacing the 700-year international rule of the capitalist bourgeoisie (with its incurable built-in inevitability of exploitation, elitism, and repression, - and therefore of constantly-reviving prejudices and discrimination of all kinds, - before real equality and an end to injustice can become the natural way of life for all mankind, - these single-issue reformist pressures to make the imperialist ‘democracies’ look blemishless from a ‘human rights’ point of view will only end up being identified for what their real essence is already, - petty-bourgeois class-collaboration. While capitalist states, economies, and societies can be coerced by agitation (which might even earn the description ‘revolutionary’ by its bravery, skill, determination, and energy, etc, in forcing significant retreats in established prejudice) to appear to capitulate to ‘human rights’ pressure all the way down the line, - the fundamental reality of bourgeois society everywhere remains the same: - capitalist class dictatorship.
The ‘reforms’ against racism and sexism, etc, essentially benefit middle-class individuals. Job promotions and professional appointments for women, blacks, and gays, etc, have made progress, and legal discrimination is being tackled. But how does basic class exploitation get affected???? Not at all.
Black individuals can become as prominent as they like in politics, show-business & the professions, etc, but black working-class youth continue to be disproportionately represented in the prison population, in children excluded from school, and generally in the most alienated or disadvantaged sectors of society, which by huge volumes easily outnumber the ranks of black lawyers, black schoolteachers, black foremen, black civil servants, etc.
And the world community, which the United Nations and the G8 leading powers go on contentedly administrating, has exploitation, poverty, starvation, and brutal death for its non-white population (the overwhelming majority) which puts the ‘anti-racist’ agitational achievement of a soft job in corrupt local government somewhere or other, gained by ‘positive discrimination’, somewhat in perspective. Good luck for the individual involved, and more power to the elbow for embarrassing the system’s prejudices in all directions, but at what price in the end are such localised successes gained here and there? At the price of a hopelessly exploitational and discriminatory world imperialist economic system continuing essentially unscathed by means of accepting a few more black middle-class promotions here and there. No discredit to the agitators involved. They are only doing what white petty bourgeois reformist class-collaboration has always done. But discredit to all reformism which has never been anything else but a betrayal of revolutionary proletarian struggle to get rid of colonial-imperialist exploitation (the capitalist system) in its entirety, and which alone has struck the real blows against world bourgeois domination from 1871 onwards (the Paris Commune, echoed and even preceded or bettered by revolts in the colonies since capitalist-imperialism began) which have obliged the free-market ideology to steadily step-up its joke ‘reformist’ posture.
Reformists do the agitating, but it is only the long history of revolutionary blows against the capitalist system which has forced it to constantly pretend to be reasonable about ‘human rights’, etc.
Feminism is an even bigger ‘reformist’ fraud. The sexploitation of women today goes on more offensively than ever before in capitalism’s history. There is not an advert, game-show, or comedy hour that does not have sexual flaunting or innuendo as a theme, - films and pop videos the same. The only ‘equality’ achieved is that toyboys and male escort agency prostitutes are now spoken of almost as openly as their female equivalents, and the reverse sexploitation of the Chippendales and the pub hen-parties has added male strippers to capitalist culture. Many would argue that such sexual ‘liberation’ is only to be welcomed after the stifling hypocrisy and ‘universal prostitution by marriage’ of the Victorian era, and some would even argue that the increasingly open expansion of prostitution/massage parlour industry is a good thing too. Trade-union, legal, and feminist protection of ‘sex workers’, plus feminist champions of pornography as potentially ‘liberating’ for women as well as men, all now conflict with other feminists, just as adamant that the whole scene is merely a continuation of men’s degradation of women, with a patriarchal world having conned many females into collaborating in their own sexploitation, etc.
The reality is that no one can be sure of the route to ‘sexual freedom’ or what it should mean, either in this still-evolving society or in the post-capitalist future, because there are less and less quantities of stable mature community existence on earth where considered judgements over time can be made on such matters.
Rational judgement is not what the fast-moving capitalist entertainment industry is guided by, and the huge profitability from exploiting sex-as-entertainment now flooding the internet, Channel 5, car adverts, pop music and the cinema, - basically providing endless sexual arousal/masturbatory material, - has audience-share and monopoly-balance sheets in mind, not the well being of society. In one sense, it is a scale of sexploitation of the whole world population infinitely greater and more serious than the most patriarchal degradation of Victorian prostitutes (or ‘worthwhile sex industry employment requiring better pay and conditions’ if viewed from that ‘liberated’ feminist angle) that can be imagined - a prostitution trade which, of course, itself now runs on a far vaster scale than ever before, despite (or happily because of, depending on viewpoint) the total revolution in sexual ‘liberation’ that modern capitalism has brought.
An attempted Marxist analysis of what all this means, and where it is heading for, is obviously demanded, but the point being made here is that feminism, as a reformist political ideology pretending to ‘solve’ women’s problems in the modern world, is not just out of its depth on these questions, but is itself clearly part of the problem, and not remotely part of any solution.
Since its arrival on the scene as a major political force, feminism has unquestionably class-collaborated with the capitalist system as such, pretending to ‘reform’ it out of all recognition by challenging its patriarchal bias, etc, etc. But as seen above on the issue closest of all to the feminists, the matter of sexploitation itself, - capitalism is profiteering out of human need, confusion, and difficulties in this area more than ever before in history, and leaving society with less general contentment or future stability and security than it has ever known. Feminists’ class-collaboration with the powers-that-be - pushing to get their share of the ruling class spoils, rather than pushing to end a whole system run on exploitation, - has helped prolong this ‘free-market’ way of life, - i.e. capitalist domination, which screws everybody in the end.
And away from the sexual-politics frontline in the handful of sophisticated Western countries, how has the lot of the overwhelming mass of women fared on earth, - working class women? Throughout the Third World, it faces more relative deprivation, hardship, and suffering than ever before in the 40 years since ‘feminism’ began making its mark on middle class minds.
In the West itself, the female proletariat feels as well or as badly off as the rest of the working class feels, battling against poor schooling for the children, against patchy health-service care, demanding massive environmental improvement, and putting up with work-exploitation drudgery. In other words, no real change at all. And when the post-war trade boom finally collapses, and slump takes over again, the working class will see itself as worse off than ever before, men and women alike, - and will see that the class-collaborating feminist middle class folly has helped to put them there by its anti-patriarch agitation.
Back to the top
Brexit paralysis shows hopeless position of British imperialism as world crisis inexorably advances to trade war and back to total catastrophe. Gung-ho “Leave” attempts to whip up fascist chauvinism to head off potential revolutionary stirrings themselves run into revolutionary obstacle, triumphant Irish national-liberation
The agonised writhing of the ruling class over Brexit deepens daily as the world capitalist crisis tightens it vice-like grip on affairs.
And it is inexorable oncoming economic catastrophe, presaged in the 2008 global bank system meltdown, and “recovered from” only very temporarily by QE credit creation, (via massive bailouts of the ultra-rich), which is the real basis to its humiliation.
It is not “leaving or staying” in Europe which is at stake, but how to cope with the disastrous weakness of British capitalism in the teeth of the most savage inter-imperialist trade war in history and potential world war beyond that, once the artificial QE credit effect runs out altogether.
Ruling class conflict and indecision started long before “Brexit”, which is just a symptom, exposing the recriminatory viciousness of its desperate infighting as the EPSR has explained (last issue and before).
The question the ruling class faces is not simply how to compete economically and politically against a host of more efficient capitalist powers – (including the now gigantic capitalist sector of the Chinese workers state economy, still growing fast because it is within an overall planned framework) – but how to make the necessary profit-rescuing cuts and speed-ups to do that, without triggering revolutionary upheaval.
The ratchet keeps tightening and the fearfulness of rebellion (eg like the gilet-jaunes in France) grows daily.
All the competing monopoly capitalist powers are desperately trying to make the same calculations, driving them deeper into the international rivalries and hostilities which are dialectically sharpening the crisis across the world, in a spiral of potential collapse and antagonism (witness Trump’s latest threat to impose massive tariffs on European food, wine etc, and the anti-Chinese belligerence and arm-twisting – over the Huawei telecoms deals for example).
All are trying to decide with which others they should ally in order to stand the best chances in the coming mælstrom, economically and almost certainly militarily in the end.
Part of the ruling class indecision over Brexit lies in that question, whether to stay with the European bloc against the growing trade war hostility of the US and Japan etc, or cut loose, with the obvious implication of cleaving closer to the most powerful, America, tapping past historic associations, continuing joint intelligence links and common Anglo-Saxon heritage (while bearing in mind American anti-British “independence” hostility too).
But the “Brexit” wing sees another advantage too – stirring up backward chauvinism, jingoism and racism, always a last resort for heading off class revolt.
First, that lets the ruling class divert attention from its own failings and collapse, instead pointing the rising, and (potentially) revolutionary, hostility of the austerity-hammered working class onto assorted “foreign” powers as “the problem”, alongside increasingly vicious and petty scapegoating of outsiders.
Secondly, it inflames public opinion, readying it for the savagery and butchery to come as the trade war degenerates towards outright inter-imperialist conflict, the destructive war “solution” to “overproduction”.
That has already been underway for two decades using the vicious nonsense of a “war on terror” as the excuse (which the whole fake-“left” has fallen for), but needs to be escalated, from blitzing the Third World to full-on inter-imperialist conflict.
It worked brilliantly at first for both the First and Second World Wars, both born of intractable and deepening crisis contradictions, and for many lesser upheavals before and since.
But it also can backfire eventually: most obviously when flag-flying marches “to defend the country” which headed off the near revolutionary conditions of the rising Russian strike movement in 1912-14 for example, turned from a “patriotic” mood to revolution.
It took three years of blood-and-mud butchery of millions to make the transformation, and the 1917 mass turn towards Lenin’s revolutionary party, which then took the lead in the great historic upheaval which deposed the Tsar and then the bourgeoisie, stopping the world warmongering to begin the long process of building socialism (which, in a dialectical twist, then meant fighting civil class war to finally win peace).
The great Red Army victory of the Second World War and the communist and anti-colonial national-liberation it inspired was an even more disastrous backfire for capitalism, a wave of struggles which could have ended the whole system.
It fell back eventually only because of the long growing complacency and philosophical errors of Moscow which influenced world revisionist “communism” and its retreat from revolution as the core of all understanding and leadership, (leading eventually to the liquidation of the huge successes of the USSR and East European workers states and temporary world disillusionment with what it had been told was “communism”).
No-one can know how long it will take workers now to come back round to revolutionary socialist understanding, and all the more so given the complete lack yet of a scientific revolutionary party (or even grasp that it is needed), and a fake-“left” hampering such development with Trotskyist anti-communist poison and revisionist pacifism and brain-numbed “democracy” delusions.
An even more widespread world capitalist economic system than ever before, penetrating everywhere, further complicates the picture, both because of its inherent complexity and through its non-stop deluging of anti-communism brainwashing on everyone, night and day.
The crisis will change that, and in some ways already has in the chaotic “terrorism” and other revolt (gilets-jaunes, even middle class climate change protest).
But chauvinism remains a powerful weapon and sure to gain ground yet while confusion persists; it is being hyped up everywhere from central European fascist movements to, above all, Trumpite “America First” aggression, racism and scapegoating.
Helping it hold back the working class in Britain are the corrupted and “democratic path” illusions of British “Labour movement” tradition built on 150 years of reformist politics and deep class collaboration by narrow trade unionism and its political wing, the Labour Party.
Despite many titanic battles, and heroic painful sacrifices by the working class (not least the General Strike and the 1984 miners strike), this has always essentially been about arguing with the ruling class within capitalism for a “fairer share” – and most of that a “share” of the plunder from the colonially exploited masses.
Pathetic though such crumbs from the table have been, they have long sustained the petty bourgeoisie and the upper opportunist layers of the working class.
This reformist TUC/Labour politics therefore still identifies with the interests of the ruling class, expressed as “doing the right thing for the country” and “in the national interest” instead of calling for the overturn of all capitalism, the only way to really change lives for the better even in boom times, and the only way to stop the plunge into Catastrophic slump and war.
But the working class does not have a “national” interest because it does not “own” anything – save its labour power, sold to the capitalists at cost price (wages – or “salary”) who then pocket all the value produced during the working day including a huge surplus portion far exceeding what they pay out (see Marx’s Capital).
Workers’ interests as the exploited wage slaves of capital can coincide only with those of the working class in every other country, making it an international class.
Becoming caught up in chauvinism plays into the hands of the ruling class therefore, and sets worker against worker.
Fostering such jingoism is such a powerful weapon for the bourgeoisie, that for the fanatical “leaver” section of the ruling class at least, even an economic hit from Brexit might be considered a price worth paying in order to inflame such backwardness (at least in desperate crisis times when revolution starts to loom).
But it is proving hard going and the less “Empire” besotted “realist” wing of the establishment thinks it too risky: they believe that moribund British imperialism “standing alone” or “regaining its sovereignty” is a total nonsense in a world of cutthroat competition and particularly now that “British knowhow” has long been sold to the highest bidder.
They know that popular Brexit street opinion that “we did alright before Europe” is sheer delusion; from Suez onwards the writing was on the wall that the end of Empire “superiority”, built on colonial exploitation, had long set in.
That was why the UK joined Europe in the first place.
The sheer impossibility of the “unicorn” fantasies of surviving alone, explain the paralysis on all sides currently.
It is sinking into sections of the middle class too as this well publicised apostasy from arch-reactionary journalist Peter Oborne sets out:
It’s nearly three years since I, along with 17. 4 million other Britons, voted for Brexit. Today I have to admit that the Brexit project has gone sour.
..It has turned Britain into a laughing stock. We Brexiteers need to swallow our pride, and think again...
The decision..will not just viscerally impact the lives of our children. But also our children’s children.
A clumsily executed Brexit will hit us in terms of lower incomes, lost jobs and industries, worse public services and restricted opportunities...
If we are to leave the European Union we want a sensible Brexit. There’s zero chance of that amidst the pandemonium and hysteria at Westminster just now.
I admire the prime minister, think she’s a hero, and have been one of her strong supporters.
But there comes a moment in life when determination alone turns to madness...
..I’ve heard the argument that people want to get it over with and ‘just leave’. That’s reckless, stupid and could inflict incalculable damage.
The leading Brexiteers argued during the 2016 campaign that the British economy had been held back by membership of the EU and would survive and flourish on its own. That argument is now unsustainable.
Investment-led growth has collapsed..Nissan is abandoning its plans to build one of its flagship vehicles at its UK site in Sunderland. In January, the electronics giant Sony announced it was moving its headquarters from London to Amsterdam. Panasonic did the same in August last year.
The Japanese financial firms Nomura, Sumitomo Mitsui and Daiwa have all made clear their intention to move to other European cities. Honda is shutting its plant in Swindon. The news from Airbus (a particularly striking example of a successful pan-European manufacturing operation) is depressing.
The trickle of companies announcing plans to leave Britain has turned into a flood. It is becoming unbearably painful to read the financial news.
The most wounding insult came with the announcement that Dyson is to shift its headquarters to Singapore. James Dyson is without a doubt an industrial genius. His insistence that Britain could flourish outside the European Union was held up again and again by Brexiteers. James Dyson was our trump card.
He insists that Brexit is nothing to do with his decision. Nevertheless, he joins a long list of rich men who made the case for Brexit but have no intention of living with the consequences.
Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire industrialist and Brexit apologist, recently announced that he would be shifting his HQ out of Britain to save tax.
Investment banks in the City are compelling their employees to sign contracts committing them to move to European centres if required. ... what does this say about the difficulties financial services in Britain may face? Our economy would be lost without them. The City of London has been one of the motors of British post-war prosperity.
There have been decisions to continue to invest in Britain, and they are welcome. But they are easily outweighed by moves in the opposite direction. Easy access to Europe was the most important reason why so many important foreign companies chose to invest...both manufacturing and services.
I vividly recall the wave of national elation when Margaret Thatcher brought Japanese car manufacturers to the declining north-east of England in the 1980s. This was a turning point in British industrial history. The car industry – in seemingly terminal collapse since the second world war – switched course, beginning a sustained revival...
Indirectly we will all be disadvantaged. The biggest and immediate losers, however, will be working-class people from England’s north-east, who are widely said to support Brexit. Some of them currently enjoy relatively well-paid and secure jobs thanks to foreign investment. A lot of those jobs will slowly vanish.
When hedge-fund managers and the Communist Party see eye-to-eye on any question, it’s time to be concerned...
I can’t help noticing that those most vocal in advocating Brexit are two opposing camps. On the one hand traders in financial assets – in particular hedge-fund managers – relish the speculative opportunities created by Brexit volatility. The city state of Singapore is held up as one economic model. The United States is another. I cannot see that there is any popular desire for us to follow the business and employment cultures of such countries.
On the other side we have the far Left, which wants out of the European Union for the exact opposite reason. The Left sees the EU as a capitalist conspiracy because of the protections it offers for private property and the restraints against centralised economic power, in particular state aid. A very substantial faction around Jeremy Corbyn, including former members of the Communist Party, is looking forward to British departure from the EU because they rightly see that the EU prevents the imposition of socialism.
If Brexiteers are clear-eyed about the economic consequences of Brexit, a further question arises. Do they really think that the economic disruption that lies ahead – along with the serious threat to our own union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – is worth it?
...Like millions of others I voted for what I thought were honourable principled reasons.
It’s an exaggeration to say the European Union is anti-democratic, but it is not democratic. This leads to a problem. The politicians operating at a national level are accountable for decisions made in Brussels or Berlin for which they have no responsibility. We have seen a great deal of this over the last ten years. In Italy, Greece and other countries politicians have been obliged to enforce brutal programmes of economic austerity whether they like it or not.
It was never as bad as this in Britain, but some of the same contradictions applied. Politicians and ministers were unable to respond to popular concerns about immigration because membership of the European Union meant they were unable to back words with action. When she was home secretary, Theresa May kept promising to combat the relatively high levels of immigration. The reality was she was powerless to do anything about it.
This has had a noxious effect on our politics in a number of ways. Sometimes politicians make promises that they know they are powerless to deliver. At other times they use Brussels as a whipping-boy for unpopular decisions they would have made in any case....
It has also fanned a resentful belief that decisions are actually made by remote and unaccountable elites. This brings politics itself into disrepute and helps explain the rise of anti-establishment, racist and even neo-fascist political parties right across the European Union.
European leaders have not faced up to the tension between a dogmatic political centre, and unruly and indignant dissent from the periphery. They must. The invisible ropes that bind nations to those who rule them have grown ever more taut. Our politicians should wake up and accept they are in danger of snapping.
Part of me, therefore, still feels proud of Brexit. Well done Britain for challenging remote oligarchs based in Brussels.
Many who voted Leave have a deep – perhaps the deepest – understanding of the communities where they live; and in some of these, everyday life has been spoiled for many by policies imposed on them by a pro-European Westminster elite: policies they never voted for.
...Most of my personal friends are Brexiteers. I think they are – with a few exceptions – decent, patriotic people. They are driven by one great solemn idea, namely that democracy can only exist and flourish within a nation state.
But this is not 1939 or the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The European Union is not a dictatorship, as contemptuous of national identity as Napoleonic France. Nor can it be compared to Nazi Germany – a foolish analogy which has become an ugly cliché and displays an unforgivable failure to understand the true horror of recent European history.
Of course our looming privations and national isolation would be thoroughly worthwhile if we were confronting such a continental menace. Let others call us ridiculous: we would have a duty to stand alone. But is such language appropriate in a century when all our EU partners are democracies, and none poses the remotest threat of taking up arms against us? ..
I readily accept that the European Union is a dysfunctional body beset by all manner of problems. But the lesson of the last two years is that we are much better off working inside the EU (where we are greatly respected; it was British civil servants, remember, who wrote the rules of the single market) for reform and not as a hostile neighbour.
This is even more the case because of the new forces which have been driving history in the two years since our Brexit referendum. We are seeing the frightening collapse of the liberal post-war ‘global’ economic order and the emergence in plain sight of a fist-brandishing system of protectionist blocs.
In this new and dangerous environment, it is folly to rely on the World Trade Organization (WTO). Yet the WTO is fundamental to the Brexiteer economic model. Under attack from Donald Trump’s America and Xi Jinping’s China it is losing the ability to ensure a free market of goods and services. In the Trump and Xi world, relying on the WTO to ensure free trade is like relying on the United Nations to protect human rights: all they can offer are well-meaning but impotent resolutions. When Xi met EU leaders on his visit to Europe last week, I suddenly felt alarmed that Britain wasn’t there.
I don’t think any country that is small relative to these blocs can rely on the WTO alone. We would be adrift and at the mercy of larger powers as we try to go it alone. It’s not a coincidence that Liam Fox’s Department for International Trade will have almost no replacement trade deals ready for Brexit. (This is in despite of Fox’s claims in 2017, shortly after the triggering of article 50, that the UK would “replicate the 40 free trade agreements before we leave the EU”. )
The EU has just signed a huge, ground-breaking free-trade deal with Japan. If we leave, we must begin complex negotiations to get something as good. Japanese trade negotiators are successfully holding out for better terms - evidence, not opinion, that our bilateral trade negotiating power is weaker than remaining. That the ‘freedom to negotiate free trade deals’, which the Brexiteer Tory MPs in the European Research Group regard as a red line, will lead to greater economic prosperity is a delusion.
..That is why no business organisation wants Brexit and why there is no queue of lobbyists in Whitehall screaming to be ‘liberated’ from the EU shackles. In a highly unusual and telling manifestation of unity the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress have written a joint letter to the prime minister expressing a deep-rooted concern about the direction in which the country is headed and urging a change of approach.
..Moreover, there is a second reason for why I have changed my mind. The threat to the United Kingdom. This hits me like a massive punch in the stomach. When I cast my vote in 2016 I believed that the European Union was, if anything, a threat to our own union.
But I did not foresee that Brexit would threaten the continued existence of our kingdom as a union. I reckoned without the separatists within our nation who would push us apart, and seize on Brexit (as the Scottish nationalists are doing) as a reason to break up.
I did not foresee how the popularity of our union in Northern Ireland might weaken, if ease of interchange with the Republic were threatened. Like almost everybody else I underestimated the importance of the Good Friday Agreement. And we’ve all misunderstood the Irish question, even though it has loomed so large in our history for the last 500 years.
My third unhappiness concerns the integrity of some leading Brexiteers. We are learning more and more about the deceit and illegal tactics which accompanied the Leave campaign. Late last month, on a busy news day, Vote Leave dropped its appeal against a £61,000 fine for electoral offences committed during the referendum.
Allegations of illegal overspending are deeply worrying. Britain’s data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office, fined Leave. EU and Eldon Insurance, an insurance company run by Leave’s Arron Banks, a total of £120,000 for breaking electoral marketing laws. The National Crime Agency is still investigating suspicions of criminal offences committed by the unofficial Brexit campaign during the referendum. Banks’ alleged links to Russian money are even more worrying. There have not yet been serious enough attempts to answer these questions.
The fourth problem is the Brexiteers themselves. Language has become ever shriller. Phrases such as ‘vassal state’, ‘empire’ and ‘supplicant’ have entered the language even though they do not even remotely characterise our relation with Europe. The affection of some of them for Donald Trump is ominous.
[This] would quite reasonably be portrayed as a betrayal of the 17.4 million who voted to leave...and having thought about it deeply I would answer as follows.
The Brexiteers made a succession of claims about leaving the EU that have turned out to be untrue. They said it would be quick and easy. They said that a raft of trade deals would be available by the time we left the EU. They made exaggerated and false claims about British finances after Brexit. They used illegal methods, and their funding was obscure.
Of course changing our approach after a year’s mature reflection would need a second referendum. But I don’t believe it would be undemocratic. A great deal of water has flowed under the bridge since January 2016...it makes every kind of sense to re-examine the most important decision in decades.
Finally – and without naming them – I must state that there are many MPs (and not a few journalists) still marching under the Brexit banner who will read this article with a sympathy and support they do not feel able to declare.
I have, and must say so.
[I have no love for the EU]. Only a deep, gnawing worry that we are making a significant mistake.
This pained turnaround remains larded with petty bourgeois British chauvinism and associated delusions in national “democracy” - both deadly for the working class.
Decisions are not “made by remote and unaccountable elites” because they are in Brussels, but because that is the way all capitalism works.
The ruling class in Britain is just as unaccountably an elite whether it is “free of European diktat” or not.
Westminster, meaning the bourgeois parliament, is just as much a corrupt opportunist pocket-lining racket, fixed up and gerrymandered in the interests of capitalism by a thousand tricks, propaganda lies, and manipulation (from subtle public opinion “influencing” in carefully packed media debates, to outright ballot fixing) which, even if it was not a braying pit of mountebanks, shysters and liars, would make no difference anyway to the working class's interests.
The whole pretence of “having a say” by voting - whether through MP representatives or “direct plebiscite” – is a hoodwinking nonsense which simply covers up the reality that big corporations, banks, hedge funds and the capitalist state institutions with which they are intertwined - judges, police, the military etc – are the ones who decide everything of any significance.
Outside Europe, either the British bosses themselves would continue to impose the crisis and austerity on the working class come what may, along with all the sick values, unfairness, alienation and degeneracy of capitalist “society”, or more likely, the demands and pressures of the big international combines and “oligarchs” (Americans largely but all throughout the international “free market”) would force them to do so.
The “democratic” processes simply keep this actual state of affairs hidden away – providing a cover for what Marxism has long explained is in truth a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
It is all international capitalist domination that stops “socialism being introduced”, not the EU specifically – and the failure to spell this out to the working class only proves what hollow opportunists the fake-“left” are, whether Corbynites, or those Oborne quotes posturing behind a “Communist Party” label.
“No to the EU” is not the message workers need (nor “yes”) but “No to the entire capitalist system – bring it down”.
But the interesting point here is that even such “deeply patriotic” middle class voices as this – part of the bourgeois opinion “influencing” machine themselves – are finding it harder to swallow the twisting, manipulation and hypocrisy of the ruling class.
And although the crucial and fundamental class force which will finally make a revolution to end capitalism, is the working class, – classically understood as factory workers etc, or as its modern, streetwise multifaceted form, including also service industry, brain workers (IT, call centres, etc) and other manifestations, – the breakaway from the bourgeoisie by the middle class is a major signal (and additional cause) of the collapse in the capacity of the ruling class to continue its rule.
This undermining of middle class “loyalty” and confidence in the “way things are” is further confirmation of how economic crisis, raging just underneath the surface like redhot lava ready to break through a temporary crust, is shaking society to its foundations, exactly as Marxism says.
As the Oborne piece also worries, the attempt by the “Empire” wing in particular of the bourgeoisie to head off (potential) revolutionary discontent with chauvinism has run into another great tangle of contradictions too.
Its backward Empire nationalism runs smack into revolution coming from another direction, namely Ireland and the national-liberation movement to end the last remnants of British colonialism.
The more “British” jingoism is stirred up, the more that begins to heat up again too.
Push that too far, as the “Empire” reactionaries and the DUP remnants of the old colonist domination are trying to do, and the fear is that it will accelerate the long drawn out, – snail’s pace – process towards final re-unification of the whole island of Ireland which has long been underway.
It is that which finds expression in Oborne’s petty bourgeois nervousness that the “union will break down”.
Eventually that “breakdown” is going to happen anyway, at least for the 1000-year colonised Ireland, which has never voluntarily fused into Britain in way that the Scottish and Welsh feudal and bourgeois ruling classes did and which won, by bitter and dogged armed revolution, first the independence struggle for the 26 counties, and then the now unfolding liberation of the remaining gerrymandered “six counties”.
The Good Friday Agreement accepted that this reunification process would continue.
Being able to use peaceful constitutional means was in itself a victory for the republicans, previously demonised as “nothing but criminals”.
But the reality of imperialism’s defeat at the hands of the Irish liberation struggle would be obscured deliberately, by pretending all had “now accepted democracy”.
As the EPSR alone has consistently explained (see Book 8 on Ireland and numerous past issues eg 1141, 1181, 1216, 1224) for the last 40 years British imperialism has been extricating itself from the artificially imposed statelet of “Northern Ireland”, finding it too expensive and too difficult to maintain as Britain’s overall position in the world has weakened and the imperialist crisis around it has steadily deepened, and as the occupied six counties’ usefulness as a military and industrial “backdoor” for the Empire has diminished and disappeared.
The heroic and determined national-liberation movement provided the critical impetus from the 1970s, the undefeatability of its dogged anti-imperialist guerrilla war, despite horrific repression, concentration camps, foul torture, assassinations and brutal military occupations, steadily forcing Westminster into negotiations and the eventual 1998 GFA settlement.
It was tacitly part of the truce that the defeat of the British and the Orange colonists by revolutionary struggle, arms in hand, would be fudged over, not least by continuing the notional formal status of “Northern Ireland” for the while.
The obfuscation suited Westminster, the humiliated “No surrender” surrendering colonists who would still retain some status and bourgeois privilege, and also the rest of imperialism, particularly America with its own huge Irish diaspora, all leaning on the British to clear up the foul mess, which was damaging the overall imperialist post-war pretence of an international order of “freedom, democracy, justice and human rights” and possibly threatening to turn a solely national-liberation struggle into a revolutionary communist one eventually, (a “Cuba on Britain’s doorstep”).
None of them wanted any lessons to be drawn about revolutionary struggle.
The superficial appearance of a continued existence for the pseudo-“state” of “Northern Ireland”, – imposed in 1921 by Black and Tan violence and military threat, to separate off an occupied enclave for bullying fascist Orange colonialist domination, (completely at odds with an 80% vote for independence in an all-Irish election at the time - so much for the “will of the people”) – is a diplomatic cover, with it understood on all sides that this would be gradually transformed from a “part of the United Kingdom forever more” into its rightful historic status as a region of Ireland.
And in practice that is exactly what has happened as cross border administrative, economic, physical and political connections have been established and consolidated, and the population has grown used to a peaceful existence and to essentially borderless access each way.
It was further understood and agreed as part of the Agreement, that a formal process of reunification would be on the cards in the long term, once a majority decided in a border poll that it wished to do that (as would become inevitable eventually through population changes if nothing else).
The fake-“left” of all shades, wallowing in petty bourgeois defeatism, missed the point on all this, just as they do on every critical and revolutionary issue, as the EPSR said 15 years ago (No 1224 16-03-04):
It was precisely the SLP,...which DISMISSED the SF/IRA national liberation revolution as a failure, supposedly defeated by a “US imperialist imposed peace settlement” (meaning an end to the original national-liberation war ambitions).
Other ‘lefts’ described the Good Friday Agreement as a “capitulation to a now guaranteed-perpetual British ‘Northern Ireland’ statelet for ever”; and Scargill privately scorned the GFA by sneering that he would “never have settled for anything less than the immediate reunification of Ireland’, etc, etc, - the “revolution” by “left” demagogy to the last.
And this entire fake-‘left’ is STILL getting it wrong, and STILL can’t see it, — that the Good Friday Agreement in fact precisely amounts to the END of the separate armed sectarian Orange-fascist-British-colonial statelet IN ALL BUT NAME, — and guarantees Ireland’s reunification in the not too distant future.
Now Brexit has been further proof of this defeat, as Oborne effectively admits.
Firstly, from the beginning Ireland and the question of its border has been an immovable obstacle; and not a single ruling class voice has made the obvious suggestion that if Britain (including the north of Ireland) wants to separate itself from Europe then it should simply re-impose the old border.
If Britain ”leaves Europe” then clearly a border is needed.
Yet the die-hardest Orange bigot and British Empire fantasist Tory, have all insisted that “of course there is no question of re-imposing a border” knowing that it would mean tearing up the GFA.
That has not stopped the backwoodsmen (and women) of the colonist DUP and the Empire reactionaries (ERG Tory group etc) constantly trying to turn the clock backwards by their insistence that “Northern Ireland” continue to be seen as “part of the United Kingdom” and that therefore no special arrangement can made for it to have a separate status for tariffs, taxes and goods inspections - a possible “solution”.
Their “no border in the Irish Sea” would in fact trample all over the GFA and mean a de facto border have to be reestablished around the artificial statelet. Whatever fanciful notions are advanced about “using modern technology” to check lorries, it would inevitably imply some physical border checks, (otherwise how would unrestrained smuggling etc be prevented).
As numerous establishment figures have pointed out, including those involved in the GFA such as Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair, that means vulnerability to attacks on infrastructure by disgruntled locals or dissident nationalists (however much the mainstream republican movement might now stand back), which in turn implies an escalation of security difficulties all the way up to reinstalling a military presence.
That in turn means reverting to pre-98 conditions, essentially re-launching colonial war, requiring the stationing of huge troop numbers, possibly as much as half the already under-provisioned and under-recruited army.
It is an insanity, and there are no signs that British imperialism has an appetite or even the capacity to do any such thing.
Quite the opposite. The slow process of clearing away the foul legacy of 30 years of murderous British and colonialist atrocities and repression continues, albeit with as much grudging prevarication and excuse making as possible, and chauvinist bigotry from the military establishment and colonists. And as always culpability is thrown onto the foot-soldiers (literally in these cases) as even the bourgeois press feels obliged to point out:
There may be only one thing that the Bloody Sunday families and the defenders of the Parachute Regiment are agreed on following the announcement that a former lance corporal is to be charged with two murders and four attempted murders: that it is perverse and unfair that one low-ranking soldier should be made to carry the can for what happened in Derry 47 years ago.
Once again, Kipling’s “poor bloody infantry” are to take the blame.
The man set for trial, Soldier F, didn’t erupt into the Bogside on his own initiative during the civil rights march of 30 January 1972. The plan for the day that ended with 13 dead civilians, had been drawn up by more prominent and powerful men.
Three weeks before Bloody Sunday Maj Gen Robert Ford, commander of land forces in Northern Ireland, wrote in a memo following a recce to Derry that he was “disturbed” by what he regarded as the soft attitude of local army and police chiefs to the Bogside, and added: “I am coming to the conclusion that the minimum force necessary to achieve a restoration of law and order is to shoot selected ringleaders amongst the DYH [Derry Young Hooligans].”
The Bogside had been barricaded against police and the army since the previous August, when internment without trial had been introduced. There were regular riots at the edge of the area. “Free Derry” had become an insult to all established norms of good order. The hooligans had taken over and would have to be put back in their place. Ford was going to sort them out.
On the day, although with no operational role, Ford travelled to Derry and took up position at the edge of the Bogside, shouting “Go on the paras!” as they charged through a barbed-wire barricade towards Rossville Street.
Six months earlier, the same unit had been involved in the killing of 11 unarmed civilians in Ballymurphy in west Belfast. There was no inquiry, apology, admission of guilt.
The “official” account of Bloody Sunday, which was to persist until publication of the Saville report in 2010, was based on a “shot-list” drawn up by Capt Michael Jackson, later Gen Sir Michael Jackson, chief of the general staff, Britain’s number one soldier. The list had apparently been compiled when soldiers, one by one, specified on a map where they had been when they opened fire, and where their target had been and what the target had been doing to justify the shooting.
But Jackson made no mention of it in his statement to Saville or in his oral evidence in April 2003. He was recalled to the stand in October after a document containing the shot-list in Jackson’s handwriting had fortuitously come to light. Asked to explain, he claimed that he had entirely forgotten the whole episode until later, when reports of the inquiry hearings had “stirred a vague memory”.
Answering detailed questions, he responded more than 20 times with phrases along the lines, “I don’t recall”, “I am sorry I cannot help you there”, and so forth.
The point is this – that if Saville had pointed a finger at Ford or Jackson, David Cameron would not have been able to say in the Commons that while the killings were “unjustified and unjustifiable”, no stain had been left on the honour of the British Army or the Parachute Regiment. It was all down to rogue soldiers, like Soldier F.
“I have never looked for vengeance,” said Kate Nash as the families splurged out from the Guildhall after hearing the news. Her brother had been killed and her father wounded. “But there’s still a feeling that the main people haven’t had to answer for anything.”
The reasons behind the decision to bring charges against L/Cpl F for murder and attempted murder on Bloody Sunday – and not against other members of the Parachute Regiment – have been set out clearly in an announcement made by Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service.
One of the central issues was that evidence presented to the Bloody Sunday inquiry under Lord Saville could not be relied upon for a criminal trial. Additionally, the standard of proof for conviction in a court – beyond reasonable doubt – is different to the inferences that the inquiry could make.
The PPS said: “A court would not permit the prosecution to rely upon the majority of the previous accounts provided by the soldiers as evidence against them in a criminal trial. This is because of the circumstances in which they were obtained [often by military authorities without a caution being administered].
“This has meant that, when applying the test for prosecution in these cases, a large volume of material that played a central role at the inquiry was not available to us in order to support potential prosecutions.”
In its section on the shootings by soldiers in Glenfada Park North and Abbey Park, the PPS said: “In relation to Soldier F it has been concluded that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction and Soldier F is to be prosecuted for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney [as well as] the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell.”
Altogether four soldiers were reported in connection with those casualties: soldiers F, H, G and E. Soldiers G and Soldier E have since died, the PPS said.
The prosecutors.. admitted: “A fundamental difficulty in relation to this sector was in attributing responsibility for the various casualties to particular soldiers. The Bloody Sunday inquiry, with the benefit of much material that would not be admissible in criminal proceedings, was able only to say that a particular soldier probably shot a particular casualty.”
...”In some cases the only evidence of what individual soldiers did was contained within their own accounts – which are inadmissible against them. In other cases there was evidence from their co-accused – but it was concluded that this evidence would be inadmissible against the soldiers.”
As the second piece says the establishment has made sure to limit the damage, by finding excuses not to charge any of the others, and avoiding the issues of establishment command, (running all the way to the Tory cabinet), but it is still a victory for the victims’ relatives , especially as another much delayed case is also conceding the principle of potential criminal culpability:
a second veteran is to be prosecuted with murder by the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland....Soldier B, has been accused of shooting 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty twice in the head near his Londonderry home in July 1972.
Daniel was shot in the Creggan area during Operation Motorman, which was aimed at removing ‘no go zones’ for Catholics and Protestants during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
The former soldier will also be charged with wounding with intent after Daniel’s cousin Christopher Hegarty, then aged 17, was shot and injured in the incident.
The sixteen other British military veterans who were investigated over Bloody Sunday will not face action, it was announced this morning.
All this is the bare minimum to maintain the “rule of law” façade as the Guardian frets:
The British state has a long and dishonourable tradition of denying its wrongs and, when that becomes unsustainable, delaying facing the issue for as long as possible. The passage of so many years has inevitably had its impact upon the process of justice – witnesses and soldiers present on Bloody Sunday have died, as have some of the bereaved. Relatives are profoundly disappointed that only one person is to be charged, despite their relief that there are charges at all, and will probably challenge the decision not to pursue other cases.
Their distress and anger has been fuelled by the carelessness, ignorance and crassness of British ministers – all the more alarming given the stresses that Brexit imposes upon a hard-won peace. Last week the Northern Ireland secretary, Karen Bradley, had to apologise for saying killings by security forces were “not crimes” and were carried out by people “fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way”.
The defence secretary’s response to this prosecution has been insensitive in the extreme. Gavin Williamson made no mention of the victims or families in his statement. He went on to say that the government is working on safeguards to ensure the armed forces are not unfairly treated and will “urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues. Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution.” A 10-year statute of limitations has been mooted.
The implications with regard to Iraq and Afghanistan are obvious. So is the message it would send to personnel in operations yet to come. That the state upholds the law, and especially that it addresses its own breaches, is not less but more important in highly charged contexts or full-scale conflicts. If it fails to do so promptly and transparently, it must address that too. To tackle old wrongs helps to rebuild trust and strengthen communities today.
The fascist crudity of the jingoistic wing of the ruling class is only just being reined in, however and along with it, the obscene throwback reaction of the DUPers’ and their attempts to arm twist the desperate Theresa May government.
Their backward intransigence has been sneakily trying to reverse the hated GFA (which hatred itself, further disproves the idiot, and fake-“left” notions that it was a “defeat and sellout” by the Sinn Féin/IRA) with the floundering and weakness of the Tory government giving them an unexpected and massively disproportionate influence.
Instead of sending them away with flea (or much worse) in their ear as should happen, the desperation of the ruling class to prevent even a pretence of “left” government winning ground in Britain , has capitulated as far as it can to these outrages.
But thereby a thousand lessons are delivered in the hollow falseness of “democracy”, from the outrageous clinging to power of the May government itself despite endless resignation level defeats – (and the outrageous opportunist unwillingness of the Labourites to force the issue, since none of them really want to take over either, knowing what an intractable unsolvable mess the British capitalist economy is) using outright bribery with state funds, to placate the Orange bigots - to the endless protests that they are following the “will of the people”.
Not only is such a reliance on a single manipulated-question plebiscite a gross fraud, (used by Mussolini and Hitler for just that reason), and, as is increasingly revealed, anyway twisted by every heavily funded dirty trick in the book (as all bourgeois “democracy” is), but such “popular opinion” is not necessarily correct anyway - was such mass support for Hitler in Germany the right path?????
Even more contradictorily, why should the current referendum be deemed valid forever, when there was a referendum to join 40 years ago?
If “things have changed” then they change again now, continuously.
Or most difficult, why should the referenda on the GFA be trampled across, as they must be if Brexit is put through in full, as pointed out by the Dublin/London GFA signatories Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair:
Following the Good Friday agreement, there were two referendums. The referendum in Northern Ireland, on the agreement, based on facts not promises, clarity not ambiguity, received a 71% yes result. The related referendum in the Republic of Ireland achieved a 94% yes.
Or why should the overwhelming pro-EU “Northern Ireland” vote in the Brexit referendum be dismissed?
There are other contradictions too: such as reliance of the ruling class elements pushing for Brexit on “trade deals”, with the US in particular.
Quite apart, as Oborne says, from the trade war belligerence of Trumpism making clear this will involve massive concessions – screwing working class interests – it equally runs into the Irish issue too.
The republican struggle was always heavily supported by the great diaspora in the US, and it is still a huge influence (hence the recent reactionary “outrage” when Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald helped carry a “British out of Ireland” banner on New York’s St Patrick Day parade).
How serious is it? Listen.
There would be no chance of a US-UK trade deal if there was any weakening of the Good Friday Agreement, US Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned.
..[it] could not be ‘bargained away in another agreement’.
Speaking at the London School of Economics on Monday Ms Pelosi said passing a trade bill in Congress would be very hard and was ‘no given’.
‘But if there were any weakening of the Good Friday accords there would be no chance whatsoever.
‘This is not a treaty only, it’s an ideal, it’s a value, it’s something that’s a model to the world, something that we all take pride in.
She added: ‘We have met the speaker. We met with the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn and we met with those who left the Labour Party and we made it clear to all that if there’s any harm to the Good Friday accords - no trade treaty.
‘Today we met with the Government, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and deputy prime minister and those who are in opposition in the Conservative Party and to all of them we made it clear: don’t even think about it.
Brexit, trying to head off revolution, has run into revolution. As Sinn Féin’s McDonald told Channel Four News recently, the political mood has shifted hugely in the north. A border poll for Irish unity might already command a majority.
Such a final resolution of the Irish national issue clears the decks for the real fight - to end capitalism.
Sinn Féin, remains a purely nationalist movement, and once the settlement is made will show its weakness at that point [as it has before].
Now a party for Leninist revolution needs to be built.
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Discussion (continued from No 1553)
Combatting attempts to undermine Leninism by the fake-“lefts” (arising out of their hatred of the dictatorship of proletariat) by distorting the historical record of the Soviet Union’s revolutionary history –– Part Seven (Concluded)
Lih’s quote from the First Letter from Afar, in which sneered at Lenin for “gloating”, was simply an explanation that the ‘defeatism’ slogan had proved correct. The Tsar’s armies had been defeated by the combined forces of Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, its troops were demoralised and in a state of unrest, and there were enormous food and labour shortages. The defeat of the Tsarist armies had led to revolution, just as Lenin argued it would. The slogan was now redundant.
The fact that the ‘defeatist’ line was dropped by Lenin after the February revolution because Tsarism had been defeated, and not because he was confronted by the “honest defencism” of the peasant masses when he returned to Russia in April, as Lih claims. Lenin described the changed conditions in his April Theses and argued that the task of the Bolsheviks was now to break the those proletarians, semi-proletarians and peasants who had fallen under the spell of “revolutionary defencism” away from the bourgeois Provisional Government that was using this slogan to trick them into backing the continuation of the imperialist war.
Such a split could only be achieved by patiently and persistently explaining to them that peace can only be achieved once capitalism is overthrown. Defeating the influence of national chauvinism on the masses became the most important part of the strategy to transfer all power into the hands of the Soviets. Lenin put this question at the head of his April Theses. “Revolutionary defencism” only becomes valid as a slogan once the proletariat and peasantry were in control with full power, under the specific conditions outlined in the theses:
1) In our attitude towards the war, which under the new government of Lvov and Co. unquestionably remains on Russia’s part a predatory imperialist war owing to the capitalist nature of that government, not the slightest concession to “revolutionary defencism” is permissible.
The class-conscious proletariat can give its consent to a revolutionary war, which would really justify revolutionary defencism, only on condition: (a) that the power pass to the proletariat and the poorest sections of the peasants aligned with the proletariat; (b) that all annexations be renounced in deed and not in word; (c) that a complete break be effected in actual fact with all capitalist interests.
In view of the undoubted honesty of those broad sections of the mass believers in revolutionary defencism who accept the war only as a necessity, and not as a means of conquest, in view of the fact that they are being deceived by the bourgeoisie, it is necessary with particular thoroughness, persistence and patience to explain their error to them, to explain the inseparable connection existing between capital and the imperialist war, and to prove that without overthrowing capital it is impossible to end the war by a truly democratic peace, a peace not imposed by violence.
The most widespread campaign for this view must be organised in the army at the front.
[Tasks of the proletariat in the present revolution, CW Vol 24, April 1917]
One of Lih’s motivations for arguing the bogus position outlined above is to suggest that there was no real difference between Lenin’s April Theses and the positions held by the old Bolsheviks, including Stalin and Kamenev. This is not true, as even Stalin explained in 1924 when he admitted that the old Bolshevik strategy of adopting the policy of pressure on the Provisional Government through the Soviets (by making “demands”), and maintaining the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship slogan, was a “profoundly mistaken position”.
In a passage from “Trotskyism or Leninism”, Stalin correctly explained that this policy reinforced the “honest defencism” of the masses. Trotskyists would claim that Stalin only admitted his mistake so that he would not be exposed through polemic when he (rightly) took on Trotsky. Whatever his motivation, he was right to make the correction:
This was the greatest turning point in the history of Russia and an unprecedented turning point in the history of our Party. The old, pre-revolutionary platform of direct overthrow of the government was clear and definite, but it was no longer suitable for the new conditions of the struggle. It was now no longer possible to go straight out for the overthrow of the government, for the latter was connected with the Soviets, then under the influence of the defencists, and the Party would have had to wage war against both the government and the Soviets, a war that would have been beyond its strength. Nor was it possible to pursue a policy of supporting the Provisional Government, for it was the government of imperialism. Under the new conditions of the struggle the Party had to adopt a new orientation. The Party (its majority) groped its way towards this new orientation. It adopted the policy of pressure on the Provisional Government through the Soviets on the question of peace and did not venture to step forward at once from the old slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry to the new slogan of power to the Soviets. The aim of this halfway policy was to enable the Soviets to discern the actual imperialist nature of the Provisional Government on the basis of the concrete questions of peace, and in this way to wrest the Soviets from the Provisional Government. But this was a profoundly mistaken position, for it gave rise to pacifist illusions, brought grist to the mill of defencism and hindered the revolutionary education of the masses. At that time I shared this mistaken position with other Party comrades and fully abandoned it only in the middle of April, when I associated myself with Lenin’s theses. A new orientation was needed. This new orientation was given to the Party by Lenin, in his celebrated April Theses. I shall not deal with these theses, for they are known to everybody. Were there any disagreements between the Party and Lenin at that time? Yes, there were. How long did these disagreements last? Not more than two weeks. The City Conference of the Petrograd organisation (in the latter half of April), which adopted Lenin’s theses, marked a turning point in our Party’s development. The All-Russian April Conference (at the end of April) merely completed on an all-Russian scale the work of the Petrograd Conference, rallying nine-tenths of the Party around this united Party position.
[J.V. Stalin, Trotsky or Leninism?, Collected Works, V6, November 1924]
Readers can search Lih’s series of articles, amounting to over 60,000 words, in vain for any indication as to why any of this is of any relevance to the working class today. Nor can this be found in amy of the accompanying squabbles between various academic poseurs in the letter pages of the Weekly Worker and subsequent follow-on articles. The real aim is to obstruct any attempts to win the working class over to a Leninist perspective, as the EPSR has long pointed out, eg in 1996, in polemics against the Weekly Worker/CPGB:
The appeal to Leninist theory to demonstrate with chapter and verse that only historically proven or historically provable correct understanding is worth aiming for, is in general an appeal to the historical validity of the whole of Leninism for its accepted reference points.
It is because of this that anti-communists have increasingly begun to drop the usual pretence of being ‘Leninists’ in order to actually start challenging whether there was any historical value in Leninism at all, (the deceitful route that the degenerate philistine Gorbachev pursued, tolerated by the rest of the complacent bureaucracy, to dismantle the dictatorship of the proletariat and move from defending the Soviet workers state to destroying it).
Reconfirmation of every aspect of Marxism-Leninism as embodied by successful revolutionary history should be the permanent practice of every serious socialist movement.
Far from it being ‘bad’ to ‘keep going on about Ireland or the Soviet Union’ or whatever, - it is the only possible route back to a serious revolutionary party in Britain and the world.
Only in the course of making a sensible analysis of world history, - incorporating all that was proved correct in Marxist-Leninist theory by the whole experience of overthrowing imperialism and building workers states and the national-liberation movements - can any worthwhile statements be made at all about the present class struggle and how world social development should proceed henceforward.
In other words, all theory is merely concentrated human experience, and political theory is nothing but the historical record, variously distorted, ignored, or distilled correctly.
The real meat that all anti-communists truly want to chew on is a total challenge to Leninism itself, but many of the more discreet anti-communists (like more than half the British ‘left’) are still too uncertain and mealy-mouthed to come out with it openly.
What the petty-bourgeois fake-’left’ hate about Leninism is its ruthless championing of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and its merciless assault on factionalising dilettantism.
It was Leninism which blitzed the ‘pro-Soviet’ rank-and-fileist Kronstadt revolt. It was Leninism which tore up the results to the post-October-1917 Constituent Assembly elections. It was Leninism which routed several ‘national independence’ revolts in the southern republics and elsewhere using implacable Soviet force. It was Leninism which decided to construct socialism inside Soviet boundaries on its own, in the absence of any spread of revolution into Europe. It was Leninism which re-introduced such free capitalist market measures as were necessary for economic expediency. It was Leninism which sought temporary peaceful coexistence deals with Western imperialism in order to give the USSR a bigger reconstruction breathing space before the next imperialist warmongering. It was Leninism which suppressed factionalising inside the ruling Communist Party because of the danger to the workers state security. It was Leninism which hired bourgeois experts at above average pay to help develop Soviet state and economic power. It was Leninism which granted concessions to imperialist monopolies to exploit Soviet resources which the USSR was in no position to exploit as successfully itself. It was Leninism which set up a powerful state security police. And so on, and so on.
All of these unavoidable historical developments, and scores more besides, were all subsequently attributed to Stalinism alone in additional bogus demoralising accusations which totally dominated the planet in the aftermath of Lenin’s death as the Soviet workers state under its Bolshevik Revolution continued to flourish and strengthen, threatening the spectre of world communism as it developed.
The enormous actual revisionist damage inflicted by Stalinism was tragically bad enough. But the vain cultism, the paranoid suspicion, the bureaucratic fear to encourage ever wider and deeper democratic involvement, and the arbitrary tyranny, which this defeatist retreat from Marxist-Leninist philosophy allowed to flourish, was in turn ludicrously embroidered upon by bourgeois anti-communism to further its real anti-Leninist aims.
Central to this greatest propaganda/disinformation coup in all history, - by the imperialist bourgeoisie or by any other challenged ruling class, - was the turncoat role of the Trotskyite and state-capitalist ‘left’ in the West.
Until decades of fundamental lies in basic Western education, greatly facilitated by the fake-’left’ pursuing their bitter and vengeful anti-Soviet vilification path, - are unlearned, - then the generations of workers and intellectuals who fell for anti-communism will have continued to make a rod for their own backs.
The Soviet Union may be no more, - but there is only one dictatorship of the proletariat, only one basic form of the workers state and its security relations with the outside world, and only one basic form of socialist planned economic development and its essential social infrastructure. Condemn 70 years of Soviet workers state development (and East European development); and avoid (or hope to) having to comment on China, Cuba, and Vietnam, - - and the whole historical fight against the imperialist free-market forces has been abandoned for all time.
There is no alternative to the dictatorship of the proletariat. There is no alternative to the workers state and its difficult security with surrounding imperialism in the possibly short or long interregnum before the completion of the world socialist revolution. There is no alternative to planned socialist economic development plus its essential social infrastructure.
And in terms of its actual colossal unrepeatable impact on world history dominating the 20th century, there is no alternative to the experience of the Soviet workers state as the first great achievement running society without a free-market capitalist imperialist ruling class dominating society via its half-hidden dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
[EPSR, 864, 30 July, 1996]
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