No 1558 11th June 2019
Trump bluster certainly is a modern expression of fascism – that is the condition of all capitalism as it heads inexorably into the greatest crisis Catastrophe in all history. US belligerence against everyone is the expression of total failure, increasingly outcompeted by China, Japan and Europe and bankrupt. But it is still the greatest military and finance power in the world, and ready to use every dirty method it can to stay on top, including all the way to nuclear devastation if it has to (and is able to). Fake-“left” quibbling on definitions reflects continued complacency and misleading delusions in “democracy” but so does “Stop the Nazis” shallowness which cannot see fascism for what it is, capitalism in crisis. Only toppling the whole system by consciously led class war revolutionary struggle to take over factories (such as Bridgend and Scunthorpe) but all the rest of the economy too can stop the plunge towards World War III. Feeding Brexit illusions all the way to “national socialism” as the CBGB-ML only aids capitalism. Build Leninism
It is not Donald Trump that is pushing American imperialism into ever more obvious fascism (and the rest of capitalism too), but the catastrophic breakdown of the profit making system which has produced Trump and needs fascism.
Stopping Trump himself as such, leaving capitalism intact, will no more hold back the degeneration and collapse into Slump, trade war belligerence and ultimate World War, than assassinating Hitler would have stopped World War Two.
The system and its ruling class will simply throw up another such blustering bigot, possibly changing the superficial timing and character of events but altering nothing about the essential unrolling of history.
That is determined by huge deep down historical movements driven by the contradictions in class society that are pushing the world towards total breakdown.
Trade devastation, brutal cutbacks and massive unemployment are all going to come thicker and faster, and in all countries, because the whole capitalist system is jammed solid with “too much capital” and “too much” production exactly as Marx analysed 150 years ago (see EPSR box and Capital).
It is the inevitable end point of the “free market” way of doing things as repeated past crashes have shown and then two world wars.
Closures like Scunthorpe’s steel work, car plants in Swindon and Bridgend (and swathes of industry and mining in recent decades), are not happening because things have not been run properly, or the “greedy bastards have been allowed to get out of control and should be reined in”, or because there is “too much short-termism” in investments, or because “austerity is unnecessary and just imposed for ideological reasons” (though these might all be partially true as symptoms of the faults and contradictions of capitalism).
They certainly are not happening because “Europe has been holding us back” or because “those Chinese have been dumping stuff unfairly” (or Japanese, or Germans, or Koreans etc etc).
They are happening because the whole private profit system is rotten with the ripening of its inbuilt contradictions, which apart from its grotesque inequality, unfairness, alienation, brutality and callousness (constantly present) will always bring the entire structure to a juddering halt of seeming “overproduction”.
So, what the working class needs to hear is not comments from the posturing opportunist London mayor Sadiq Khan, or assorted “lefts”, about how Trump is “behaving like a 20th century fascist” nor moralising outrage from a slew of single-issue poseurs about his undoubted crudity, environmental crassness, misogyny, arrogance and bluster.
Such outbursts not only change nothing, and offer no answers, but cover up the real cause and driver of Catastrophe, deliberately distracting attention from the fundamental problem, capitalism itself.
The essence of Khan’s comment is not stopping capitalist degeneration but siding with monopoly interests, those most tied up with Europe.
Khan runs and sustains the City of London, for heaven’s sake, the apotheosis of international parasitic finance capital (save perhaps New York), and the concentrated expression of monopoly capitalism, whose plundering and bloodsucking is at the heart of the world’s crisis.
It is capitalism, all of it, which is driving the disintegration, ever greater antagonism and the inter-imperialist conflict which will degenerate all the way to war (as already well warmed up in the Middle East).
His sly “Labourism” continues the Blairite traditions of covering up for capitalism while hobnobbing and colluding with the fatcats.
Khan is opposed to Trump only because half the ruling class see him and Brexit support as a threat to their interests.
They benefit from the monopoly networks established within Europe which Brexit would disrupt.
But as the EPSR has explained, the ruling class is riven down the middle over whether it should stick with the European “bosses club” as some of the “left” Brexiteers like to call it, using its common tariff protections and large-scale market to stand up to the other great economic and power blocs as the huge world crisis unravels and international trade war grows ever more cutthroat and belligerent – or whether it is better to stand outside, hoping to avoid the crossfire from the biggest and most heavily armed bloc of all, the giant USA, as it steps up its belligerence against the whole world.
The monopoly capitalist topdog, the US, has been making it clear for the last two decades that it intends to use brute force to continue forcing the world to kowtow to its interests, and let its plundering and exploitation go on despite the complete bankruptcy of its own economy.
The pretences of international harmony, rule of law and “freedom” and “democracy” are cynically torn up everywhere as necessary, most obviously in the Middle East, even as the lying pretence of such “values” goes on being used as a “justification” for military, economic, trade and sanctions bullying and siege intimidation.
And this will be taken all the way to nuclear war devastation if needed (or whatever high-tech devastation might substitute like the giant conventional bomb dropped for “testing” and general world fear-inducing demonstration on Afghanistan not very long ago).
So the aim of the Brexiteers is to climb as far as they can into the pocket of the US whatever the costs, which as Donald Trump made clear on his “state visit” last week will be high, including opening up the NHS for plundering by US drug and medical companies as well as agriculture and anything else still remaining in British ruling class hands (which is not much).
As the EPSR has said before any romantic notions of a “special relationship” creating “favourable terms” were always hogwash; the only relationship the US will accept for Britain is that of bullied sidekick forced to handover all his marbles for protection.
But however devastating such sales of the remaining bits of the British economy might be - and they will be with “everything up for grabs” as Trump and his British ambassador insist – the pro-Trump section of the ruling class could do very nicely as Private Eye has been revealing once more:
THE Leadsom family won’t have too many financial headaches following Andrea’s resignation as leader of the House last week: one of the winners from the Brexit-era financial turmoil in which she played no small part is... her husband, Benjamin.
Accounts filed recently for the company in which Ben Leadsom is a partner, Island Research LLP, show that while 2018 was the political year from hell, for him it was a halcyon time indeed.
Island Research provides the brains - IT and research - for London hedge fund company Trenchant Ltd, which trades as G-Research and is controlled by Andrea Leadsom’s brother-in-law Peter de Putron from Guernsey (via a BVI holding company). Island Research is also controlled, via Trenchant, by de Putron but shares its profits largely among its dozen “key management personnel”, including Ben Leadsom.
Last year, income of £215m (up 65 percent on the previous year) translated into profits of £47m, of which £27.5m was shared among the 12 bosses - implying a handy seven-figure sum for Ben.
Exactly how G-Research and Island Research earn their millions is a mystery. Island Research says all its income is received from related companies, but Trenchant provides just £60m of the £215m, suggesting the rest comes from offshore companies such as de Putron’s Airain Ltd company in Guernsey.
The companies are known to operate at the sharpest end of the hedge fund market, recruiting Masters and PhD graduates on £100,000 starting salaries. A recent job advert for a quantitative analyst (a “quant” in the jargon) says G-Research operates “in equity, FX and futures markets but [is] interested in any liquid products”.
Since stock markets had their worst year in 2018 (FTSE100 index down 12.5 percent; Dow Jones down 6 percent), Leadsom’s firm’s remarkable returns must have involved some very successful financial bets. Linkedln profiles from staff at the firm show that taking “short” positions - bets against stocks or currencies, for example - is one technique.
A drawn-out Brexit process is the perfect environment for such a firm. Oddly, however, the ex-leader of the House who was so influential in this never declared her husband’s position in the register of ministers’ interests - in marked contrast to other ministers’ spousal declarations.
Others in the Brexit cabal have also had major financial stakes exposed previously from arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg to off-the-wall rightwing “Eurosceptic” John Redwood and more too.
There are many other reasons for their position too of course, of a more general capitalist class-interest nature, (hence the argument with the other wing of pro-Europeans who see their interests in a different alliance).
But there is nothing in Brexit for the working class.
Nor do they get anything from joining with the likes of Khan’s repellent anti-Brexit opportunism or sanctimonious PCism from the fake-“left”.
What they need to know is about the very nature of capitalism itself and its contradictions which will always bring the world back to crisis and disaster.
And then they need to know how to stop it.
As said it will not be done just by “stopping the fascists”, as if there is a “nice” wing of the ruling class and its bourgeois “democracy” hoodwinking lie that would be “less bad”.
It can only be done by stopping the entire ruling class and ending the whole system of production for private profit.
The working class needs to takeover every thing, banks, industry, farming and commerce, to build socialism on a rational and planned basis
That might include occupying steel plant and car works.
Both would be excellent moves for working class militancy rather than uselessly threatening strikes or protest, but only it were done within a framework of revolutionary understanding.
The whole economy needs to be in workers hands, allowing coordinated plans to develop it, and for such industries to be assessed in the context of society’s needs and capabilities, (and balance with nature and the environment) rather than being judged “inefficient” on the basis of the world commodity gluts caused by the anarchic battles of the “free market” and its private profit hunting values (whose “over-production” is an obscene joke in a world where billions are crying out for even the most basic things but are denied them because of the drive to extract profit).
Even if successful, taking over isolated sections of industry in a world of rapidly deepening crisis and slump will not stop the oncoming crisis which is on a scale never before seen.
Panicked ruling class figures made this clear in 2008 when the global bank collapse broke, declaring the oncoming slump to be the “worst in history, far beyond the 1930s Depression” and “like a financial nuclear winter” as then Chancellor Alistair Darling told an interviewer two years later.
The whole edifice has been propped up ever since with Quantitative Easing – completely valueless dollar “printing” (credit creation), extending even further the artificial stretching of the post-war US-led boom, all spun-out for decades by flooding the world with paper dollars.
The chickens came home to roost periodically in regional and sectional crisis collapses around the world, with the US using its financial and military bullying power to force problems onto Mexico, south-east Asia, Japan and others at various points, and always plundering the Third World and exploiting its labour at near slave levels (and actual slave levels too).
But that could never stop general collapse hitting the major powers as it did in 2008.
And nothing will stop the crisis returning again even more devastatingly.
While QE has just about kept the capitalist world propped up, albeit at the cost of deepening austerity having to be imposed everywhere, at the expense of the working class being driven into food banks, homelessness, Grenfell-like disasters, and unemployment (or “non-job” zero-hours style “jobs” at best), with all social provision and care torn to shreds, it will collapse too shortly.
Almost certainly that will see the total breakdown of the dollar itself and its role as the universal trading medium (from which the post-WW2 US has benefitted hugely financially while also gaining vast leverage for pushing and manipulating the rest of the world.)
That will finally puncture for good persisting middle class complacency, (and its effects running deep into working class opinion in the imperialist corrupted West)) which still ridicules Marxism as “old-hat catastrophism” or believes that the ruling class will always “pull something out of the hat”.
Such complacency has revived somewhat despite the shaking of the global bank collapse, (and the never-ending squeeze since on the working class) but it will soon be deflated for good as it becomes clear the artificial QE stimulated “recovery”, thin and austerity laden as it is, will not last, let alone overcome the great reverses in society.
It cannot last, which is why the ruling class has been preparing mass opinion for the great turmoil to come and the massive intensification of trade war conflicts becoming an all-out battle to destroy rival monopoly combines in fights to the death for the world market (wiping out whole countries, just as they did in the World Wars and particularly the Second).
But to do this popular opinion has to be dragged back behind the chauvinism, jingoism and hatreds that fed them into the trenches originally, ready to butcher and be butchered for the interests of their own ruling class.
It is a much harder task than before, after experiences from a century-plus of such total war horrors, but it is being carried out.
First has come the demonising of “rogue states” and the ludicrous and meaningless “war on terror”, blaming inevitable growing anti-imperialist hatred and upheaval for the world’s problems as a new “evil” in the world, to acclimatise everyone to the idea of non-stop war blitzing, as country after country has been destroyed in the Middle East particularly by direct imperialist blitzkrieg, or by manipulations and provocations creating sectarian conflict and civil war to balkanise and weaken insufficiently compliant states (like Syria).
As previously analysed these latter are not a sign of strength by imperialism but of setbacks and defeats in the quagmires of local resistance stirred up by the interventions.
But all kinds of growing backfires (not least the huge popular mass Arab Spring) only makes imperialism’s problems worse and the need to intensify its war drive atmosphere.
Hence Trumpism and its all-directions belligerence.
And hence in Britain the deliberate fomenting of jingoism, finger-pointing blame-laying on “outsiders” in all directions, and scapegoating of foreigners, migrants and minorities in a dozen different ways (as well as endless divide and rule single-issue-ism such as feminism, blaming men, or blaming “old people”).
Brexit is part of this, tapping deep “superiority” illusions penetrating into the British population including far into the working class, all rooted in centuries of Empire colonialist dominance (and slave trading too) and in fact going back even further with Ireland for example.
Some of this has been shaken by the victories of the Sinn Féin-IRA national-liberation struggle in forcing the long slow withdrawal from Ireland to completion in the North (still unfolding its snails-pace progress after the Good Friday Agreement but inexorably heading to a united Ireland).
But its long history remains a powerful influence, as the fantasy notions of “standing alone” and “restoring sovereignty” etc express.
The always corrupting but now also deluded nationalism is a deadly threat to the working class and overcoming it is of vital importance.
It can only be done with a revolutionary explanation of capitalism’s worldwide movement and collapse, including the need for class war to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.
But that it precisely what the entire slew of fake-“lefts” continue to avoid, revisionists on the one hand and the Trotskyist anti-Stalin “oppositionists” on the other.
They flounder instead with moralising and useless PC denunciations of Trump or capitulation to the Little Englanderism of the long corrupted class collaborating official trade union tradition and its political wing in the Labour Party.
One of the more tricky of the “left” arguments for Brexit has come from the Lalkar/Proletarian Stalinists declaring that because the crisis has deepened inter-imperialist antagonism in and around Europe, now expressed in the Brexit breakup, that the breakaway is therefore to be supported because it ostensibly weakens imperialism.
But this is mixing cause and effect and is wrong anyway.
You might as well welcome the closure of Bridgend because it expresses the weakness of imperialist production.
Not all sides of capitalism are weakened at all; the major monopoly rivals to Europe (and its central powerhouse of German imperialism) in fact benefit relatively speaking - as far as there are any benefits in a raging crisis - one reason why Trumpism is so keen to boost up the Brexiteers like Boris Johnson.
The monopoly nature of modern capitalist imperialism is relentlessly pushing to overthrow and consume all weaker rivals and will continue whether the “club” of European bosses is broken up or not.
Aiding one side of the fight is simply aiding one side of imperialism against another
The Proletarian’s argument was made to get round the EPSR’s exposure of the Brarites’ past positions supporting the philistine trade unionism of Arthur Scargill for eight years when it was inside the Socialist Labour Party (in their then sole incarnation as sister paper Lalkar), with not a critical word against his calls for import controls and “British jobs”.
But their backing for Brexit, is built on pandering to the worst of chauvinist sentiments still prevalent in the working class, a rank opportunist avoidance of the need to challenge them, and no different in essence to that SLP position.
The alternative can only be to explain to workers what a giant distraction the whole Brexit issue is from the only possible way forwards of class war to end this whole degeneracy; that means by presenting a revolutionary perspective.
Proletarian’s uncritical Stalin worship is a long way from that, just as their idol was increasingly, his retreat eventually revising Lenin’s understanding of the unstoppable expansion of imperialism out of existence (Economic Problems 1952) and with it the concomitant understanding of crisis crash.
From that followed then the nonsense of being able to “contain” imperialist warmongering and then gradually outpace its development, with revolution to be reined in for fear of “provoking” imperialism.
The brain-deadening effects of that world perspective retreat produced all the “peaceful” road and social-pacifism that has followed ever since.
And it has led the Brarites down a very disturbing path of increasingly strident chauvinism themselves, lacing their articles with extraordinary references to the “British people” and the “popular vote”, all a million miles from basic Marxist class analysis, let alone Lenin’s revolutionary grasp (see last issue).
Now this embrace of chauvinism takes on an even cruder form, disturbing even some of its own supporters:
Are there colours, fonts or names we need to avoid in order to preserve our socialist message as we try to connect Marxism with the working masses?
The following email was received after the publication of our first edition of the British Worker free sheet, which was distributed to thousands of homes and workplaces in Britain in the week before the EU election.
I am writing to inform you about my views on your British Worker paper.
I feel this paper would be dismissed by minorities due to the very white British and racist aesthetics. The title seems to be portrayed to a confining group of people – eg, white British. I feel this isn’t a good look for your party, who are a very open party and hold no racist views. The font used makes the ‘s’ in British to be seen as a Nazi font, which only supports my prior comment. This seems like you agree with and support the National Front party and BNP.
Finally, I will attach a photo of what this new look reminds me of, hopefully you can see the points I have made and change back to the natural red aesthetics and include the logo. The title I feel also needs some work as it is very easy to misinterpret.
Many thanks for your email and we’re very pleased and grateful to receive the feedback.
First of all, be assured that Proletarian, complete with red lettering on white paper (in no way a nod to the flag of St George) is to continue to be printed every two months as it has been since 2004.
Before implementing this change to our free sheet our comrades thought long and hard about the aesthetics and content. Firstly, we chose a name, ‘The British Worker’, which needs no dictionary definition for any English language reader to understand.
We have printed immediately below the title a call to battle, made specifically to immigrants and chauvinists – that they should consider all workers a part of the British working class if they live and work in Britain. Far from being a nationalist, chauvinist or racist position, this is the correct revolutionary proletarian position.
It would benefit us if you could explain to us your understanding of these three lines, and perhaps we may be able to make this more explicit.
Secondly, there are no racist colours or ‘Nazi’ fonts used in the free sheet, and certainly nothing that would be detected as being ‘Nazi’ by any regular member of the British working class. Blue and red are primary colours, white is the colour of the paper we have always used.
They are the same colours used in the flag of the DPRK and Cuba, and the colours are not a nod, subconsciously or otherwise, to any papers produced by the BNP, NF or anyone else. A cursory reading of the content should dispel any reader of that feeling.
Some comrades sympathetic to ‘left-wing’ politics have felt an instinctive disgust when thinking of ourselves as British workers. As disgusted as we may be with the crimes of British imperialism, we cannot conflate the two.
We are British workers. That includes those of us who imagine we’ve been here since the mammoths, those from the Irish or Indian diasporas, or those who arrived in recent years. Our task is to win the British masses over to socialism and communism. That means speaking to British workers, and that is what we are trying to do.
Overall, those who have taken copies of the free sheet have fed back to us that the paper has been taken readily by workers at workplaces, transport hubs and at their front doors. Twelve thousand copies have been distributed this month and many comrades have asked for more. This means our material is in the hands of those who need to read its anti-imperialist, anti-racist, socialist content.
That is just the beginning of the gigantic task that confronts us. We hope that you will consider taking and distributing 50 or 100 copies of the free sheet – to neighbours, outside colleges and workplaces – and gauge the reaction of those who take it, and more, speak to those who read it and try to win them to socialism.
Our comrades are finding out from their practical experience that our message has broad appeal, and broad appeal growing out from adherence to principles is what is going to be needed to win the struggle for socialism.
Comradely Organising Committee
The duplicity and dissembling in the response to a perfectly valid and soundly querying letter only reinforces how far down the road into opportunism this Proletarian has gone.
Seemingly, despite “very carefully considered choices” the colour scheme for this new flyer comes out looking like the red-white-and-blue of the Union Jack, the airforce roundel and every other British Empire symbol, by accident, because those just happen to be “primary colours”.
All this is complete nonsense of course and so too the “explanation” that because such colours are also in the Cuban flag, that ordinary workers will make that connection instead.
And exactly what is the point of the bizarrely different looking “S” shape????
But far deeper than that is the specious notion that the way to overcome chauvinism and scapegoating is to accentuate national identity.
Obviously the idea is to appeal to the most backward reflexes by putting this as the title and in these specific colours – and yes it is “carefully thought out” precisely with that in mind, encouraging nationalist instincts.
Drawing in migrants and others to “Think of themselves as British” and to be “thought of” as British supposedly, is tackling one problem by creating a much bigger one, namely encouraging notions of national identity as the consciousness for workers.
It obviously implies that their interests can be opposed to and set against the interests of workers from other countries, and yes, it encourages and implies nationalism.
It does not help that this is supposedly allied with “anti-imperialist, anti-racist” content; all very laudable perhaps but still a million miles from any revolutionary perspectives, whatever “winning workers to socialism” is being advocated (and left hanging of course is winning it how? - through parliament???).
The last crew that mixed nationalism with socialism turned out very badly indeed; namely the National Socialists of Germany in the 1930s, - short form “the Nazis”.
And without any mention of how socialism is supposed to be achieved, or any perspectives on revolution, or even the defeat of the British ruling class (the specific version for Britain of the Leninist understanding of defeat for your own ruling class) as the way forwards, i.e class war to topple the ruling class and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, this is at best total confusion mongering and at worst something far more opportunist or even sinister.
None of which says that there is no point in building revolutionary parties within single countries nor that, inevitably in a world of uneven capitalist national development, revolutionary struggles will often, if not always, take place in single countries initially – no stupid Trotskyite defeatism declaring that the Soviet Union was “always doomed because you cannot build socialism in one country” is implied.
Just the opposite. After the revolutionary civil war, in the early 1920s Lenin himself and the Bolsheviks around him and then afterwards, understood that they had to get on with building socialism with what they had, in the absence of revolutionary successes in more advanced European countries.
Cuba faced the same challenges and simply got on with building what it can (which has been a huge example).
And there is no contradiction between understanding that for its full flourishing and completion, communism needs to be a world system, possible only after the revolutionary overturn of all capitalism, and the dialectical process of transforming society steadily, under the dictatorship of the proletariat, as was done largely successfully within the Soviet Union for most of its 73 years.
The great problem with the USSR was that it one-sidely pursued this agenda and forget or abandoned the need to see, analyse and grasp the world and its crisis, and constantly to build and encourage the revolutionary perspective.
Its giant struggle, which destroyed Nazism, was an enormous proof of its huge successes, going in just two decades from backwardness to an industrial power able to do most of the fighting in the Second World War, an outrageously “overlooked” fact in the Western D-Day celebrations last week (as an excellent Guardian cartoon from Steve Bell made the point - see alongside).
All respect to the Western worker-soldiers who died or were injured (rightly aiding the war to help the Soviet Union) but it was the Red Army which did the brunt of the fighting – three years of it alone and still with the bulk of the Germans facing them afterwards, three times as many army divisions as on the Western front.
But for all that, the Soviet revisionist leadership, under Stalin first and then his (own trained) successors, lost sight of Leninist revolution, relying on a truce with “good imperialism” (!!!) to achieve world socialism.
They achieved their own liquidation (unnecessarily - see book Unanswered Polemics - Against Stalinism ).
They will achieve even less fostering dire nationalist ideas now and failing to take on the great questions the working class needs to discuss - most of all that of the “collapse” (no such thing) of the Soviet Union; what went right and what was wrong.
Anti-communism remains a great obstacle. Ignoring Soviet and other mistakes, or poisonously writing off all the workers states as the Trots do, does not help.
Back to the top
Crisis wracked imperialism, worried by the giant achievements of the Chinese workers state (despite revisionist flaws in Beijing’s leadership) desperately re-serves stale lies about a “massacre” in Tiananmen, using the “anniversary” to warm over CIA choreographed innuendo about “1000s of deaths” (for want of anything better). But this bullshit was routed 30 years ago and repeatedly since eg with the 2011 Wikileaks publication of US embassy reports showing “no deaths in the square”. Here is how the EPSR demolished this nonsense (in full Book 16 on China)
Deng’s death brought an avalanche of abuse down on Sir Edward Heath’s head for his maverick insistence that British imperialism should get what business deals it can out of the Chinese workers state and not keep making such an artificial fuss about the CIA’s propaganda blockbuster against the Beijing regime, the so-called ‘Tiananmen massacre’. The CPGB, of course, joined in the anti-Heath abuse along with the most rabid anti—communist rightwing of bourgeois ideology.
Reactionary Guardian correspondents in particular kept up their traditional vilification of the legitimate security interests of the Chinese workers state in routing the 1989 bogus ‘democracy’ movement which was allowed to posture for weeks, camped out on Beijing’s main square, toting US imperialism’s most obscene and phony emblem, the Statue of Liberty.
Arrogantly pulling Heath up for some alleged indifference to the victims of that 1989 class conflict in China (which Heath denied was indifference, but rather a mis-elocution which his TV and press critics had deliberately misinterpreted), the Guardian (and others) ranted on once more about “that terrible Tiananmen massacre”.
There was, in reality, no one killed at all on Tiananmen Square, and no massacre, either there or anywhere else, - as the EPSR’s Leninist science established at the time from capitalist press sources and admissions.
It was after more than two months of worldwide hysterical CIA propaganda about the ‘massacre’, systematically denounced and exposed for the lie it was by EPSR Leninism, that the rightwing Spectator magazine, impeccably anti-communist and socialism-hating, published the following:
By the early morning of 4 June, Tiananmen was encircled by the army, which set up the traditional theatre of cymbals and drums. A call to arms rang out over the government-controlled loudspeakers, as monotonous and sinister as a drum roll. ‘Tiananmen is the centre of a counter-revolutionary sedition. The army has the authority to use every means necessary to clear the square.’ Meanwhile a small armoured invasion force formed up before the Gate of Heavenly Peace as thousands more fully armed troops poured into the south entrance of the Great Hall from the south and, on the opposite side of the square, onto the steps of the Museum of the History of China and the Revolution. ‘Now is the time to crush the counter-revolutionary rebellion.’
It now seems clear that the military had orders to use minimum force once inside Tiananmen itself, but no one would have guessed it at the time. Deng Xiaoping had taken a page from the military classic of Sun Tze. Light a thousand camp fires to strike fear into the night.
At four a.m. the boulevard lights were cut off, sending a ripple of fear through the scattered crowds. But the panic subsided when the student loudspeaker broke the silence in a voice as authoritative and steady as if it were announcing a railway schedule: ‘All citizens and students remain calm,’ said ‘command centre’ summoning those few in the tents near the goddess of democracy to gather around the monument to Mao’s ‘People’s Heroes’, a squat obelisk on a two-tiered plinth. ‘We will now sing the “Internationale” to heighten our spirit of resistance.’
I was about 25 yards to the east of the monument, watching this scene with Robin Munro of Asia Watch, the New York-based human rights organisation. Behind us were 3,000 soldiers squatting on the steps of the History Museum and some several hundreds more behind the mausoleum to our left. Close by was a young Chinese woman wearing a white sun-bonnet and holding hands with her boyfriend. ‘Aren’t you frightened?’ I asked her. ‘Oh, we’re frightened to death,’ she said in bright classroom tones. She was a school teacher. ‘They’ll start shooting at any moment.’ But I could not detect the slightest trace of fear about her. And when I asked why they didn’t go, she replied for the several hundreds of others caught in the charmed circle of the obelisk. ‘Oh, we can’t leave until it’s over.’
At that moment a Frenchman walked over from the monument and came up to us. ‘You must come and see it,’ he said. ‘They’ve taken their oaths and are writing their last wills. It’s absolutely serene.’ We followed him up stairs packed densely with student and worker ‘Dare to Die’ brigades. It was dark on the upper tier except for distant floodlights from above the Forbidden City, which cast a harsh light onto the obelisk. These were intended to sharpen the feeling of fear and isolation. But they only increased the courage that seemed to radiate from the monument like a peculiar sort of grace. Some of the students chatted quietly while others, incredibly, were sound asleep. Most simply sat there looking exhausted or bored, as though waiting for a bus.
One girl with gold-rimmed glasses and plastic shoes smiled cheerfully and asked, “What do you think of our struggle?’ I was at a complete loss. Another student gave me his tee-shirt to autograph. ‘We must show the world’, continued command centre, ‘that we are prepared to pay the highest possible price for what we believe in.’ Had they resolved to die, or were they indeed so supremely confident that none of the old comrades they had humiliated so utterly would dare to give the order to fire on them?
I have no answer, but standing on the plinth gave me some sense of the power of non-violent politics in a society like China ruled by fear and humiliation. The students ridicule ‘struggle’ and ‘revolution’. They regard Mao as a simple native too thick to understand civil society. They eschew charisma and have no ‘programmatic links to the masses’.
As we left the obelisk, a man in blue denim overalls came out of the dark, swinging a Molotov cocktail as casually as a tea thermos. He urged us to go immediately ‘because everyone here will soon be killed’. ‘But if it is so dangerous,’ Robin asked, ‘why don’t you leave?’ ‘Because,’ came the matter-of-fact reply, ‘I have nothing to live for except to take revenge on these pigs.’
But just then the situation became fluid and ugly. At 4.15 the fairy lights inside the Great Hall of the People suddenly came on as thousands upon thousands of troops poured from the cavernous doorways through the violent floodlights onto the street. The menacing clatter excited the crowds, who immediately set fire to heaps of sodden bedding marinated in petrol. A long file of elite paratroopers locking and loading their rifles jogged in close formation along the edge of the square. Our friend gathered up stones. But we just stared absently at this scene.
And it was at this moment, 4.25 a.m., that the ‘four hunger strikers’ on the monument chose to bring reason to bear in order to break the primitive spell of the night.
‘Students, workers and all citizens, I am Hou Dejian,’ announced the Taiwanese rock star who was leading the hunger strike of four Chinese intellectuals. ‘We have won a great victory..but I must tell you that without the approval of the student leaders I have negotiated a retreat with the soldiers.’ The news was stunning, and it was later learned that Hou had made overtures to the military at 3.15 a.m. and secured agreement for an orderly evacuation from the south-east corner. But the student leaders and the leaders of the independent labour unions were divided over whether to accept the agreement. Now the hunger strikers addressed the square directly.
‘They have deadly orders from above to clear the square by dawn and they will do it at all costs,’ said the Peking University lecturer, Zhou Tou. ‘We must save our blood, we must evacuate immediately.’ But appealing to self-preservation only hardened resolve. ‘Stand fast!’ came the roar from the plinth. ‘No evacuation!’ The speeches grew more impatient as the soldiers moved in from the west. The leadership was split along the lines dividing the movement at every turn. On the one hand was the appeal to blood symbolism — the hunger strikes, the threats of self-immolation, the sacrifice to ‘save China’ — which stir all Chinese. But on the other was the simple rationality of liberal ideas. Democracy supposedly provided solutions to practical problems. And so the slogan, ‘Die for Democracy’, seemed absurd. Nevertheless. ‘Stand fast!” came the roar a second time. ‘No evacuation!’
It was not the moment to sort out the confusion, but it was the only moment there was. Either the ideas which brought the students into the crisis would strengthen them in the middle of it or they would be lost. And it was the literary critic Liu Xiaopo — later arrested as the ‘black hand of the counter-revolution’ — who forged the link between the ideas and the moment to master the situation.
‘Now students, the principle on which we take our stand is peace and nonviolence. We hope to exchange the highest degree of democracy for the minimum cost of blood.’ He paused, and I could not tell at the moment which was more surreal, the lurid violence of the Nuremberg-like setting or the delineation of first principles in its midst.
‘Now, students, the principle on which we must start with each one of us right here, right now. The minority must obey the majority, that is our highest principle! The citizens are about to riot,’ he said, ‘the soldiers to charge. If we believe in non-violence we must find a way out of this impasse.’ Slowly he turned the question of democracy from a test of courage in some fantasy world of moral absolutes into a practical problem in the immediate present. ‘We must calm the citizens and evacuate them in an orderly and safe manner. The minority must obey the majority.’
When he finished, command centre announced a vote ‘to resolve the matter democratically’. ‘Those wishing to stay will shout “Stand fast!” Those wishing to leave, ‘”Live another day!’” It seemed a fair summary. And from where we stood the ‘Stand fasts’ were louder. Journalists elsewhere had the same impression. And so again we prepared for the final assault.
‘It has been decided democratically,’ said the deputy commander and the husband of student leader Chai Lin. ‘Each college will form up under banners and march to the south-east in orderly fashion. We will live another day.’
The student leaders had apparently interpreted the shouting differently. The Chinese maxim to cover this situation is ‘suppressing the details to seize the moment’. But when at 4.55 a.m. the students began to file off slowly in a long column five abreast. Robin and I also ‘suppressed the details’. We broke out in applause. Robin saw a dumpy middle-aged woman with a bowl haircut and one of the timeless Chinese faces with tears in her eyes. He ran up to her and said in Chinese, ‘You’ve done the right thing, there is no shame in it. You have won a great victory!’
They looked like refugees. Many had no shoes and some were wrapped in blankets or dirty plastic sheets. But those who watched this ragged parade will long remember it. ‘I shall remember those banners at dawn and the vision of their faces, so serious, so innocent, for the rest of my life’ said Juan Restrepro of Television Espanola who stood nearby. And I shall remember how nonchalantly they turned their backs on the troops and walked away. The students had not won democracy for China. No one had illusions they would. But there is great beauty in retreats. They had seen through the weakness of the regime and walked away from Tiananmen by the same democratic principles that brought them there originally.
BLOOD sanctifies whether it is spilled over the altar or runs through the streets. ‘So what does it matter,’ asked the sinologist Ross Terrill, addressing the Foreign Co-respondents Club in Hong Kong, ‘whether the massacre occurred in Tiananmen Square or just a few blocks away?’
Ordinarily this might be a delicate question to put to a roomful of journalists who make a living, after all, pursuing the truth in detail. But there is a magic to the word ‘massacre’ which captured the mood precisely. Something about it encourages journalists to reverse their routine, grasp the truth first and let the facts fall where they may. Thus the ‘Tiananmen massacre’ has become the latest truth on China. And when the truth is known, as Terrill implied, asking questions is simply bad taste.
But the fact is that there was no large-scale killing in Tiananmen Square itself. And the massacre lore which has sprung around Tiananmen is not only inaccurate but, worse, blots out the extraordinary drama that did unfold there. For three tense hours the students stared into the teeth of overwhelming deadly force and then got up and, well, walked away.?
What this left out was the record of the brutal counter-revolutionary pogrom which had been unleashed on the state authorities (police, army, and officials) by these petty-bourgeois anarchists and opportunists behind the Tiananmen camp-out, prior to their eviction from the square and the record of Chai Ling’s determination for blood to be shed at all costs so as to establish ‘democracy’ martyrdom.
But it was the first frank admission by a reactionary bourgeois account that no massacre at all had taken place, and that no one was even killed on Tiananmen when it was finally cleared of its insurrection, - and it at last confirmed what EPSR Leninism had established two months earlier from the initial factual reports of the Western bourgeois press observers, and before the CIA international propaganda domination had been able to put a spin on things, - namely that there were no attacks by the authorities on anyone anywhere, just a murderous pogrom by reactionaries on the state authorities.
This one-sided bloodshed raged for 12 hours before the order was finally given to clear the square of its six-week occupation, - yet still in the entirely peaceful way described by the Spectator. Compare that admirable restraint by the Chinese workers state to these accounts of savage violence by petty-bourgeois individualists despising socialism, and hating the revolution’s still overwhelming popularity among the Chinese masses:
But even on Saturday afternoon there were ominous signs...........Tiananmen Square was the usual spectacle of red flags blowing gaily, but behind the Great Hall of the People 1,000 troops were surrounded by a jeering crowd and the mood was ugly. Occasionally a student emerged holding aloft a captured helmet or showing off a bloody wound.
Littering the street towards Fuxingmen were half a dozen smashed-up army trucks or buses. Troops were trapped in one. Another was crammed full of gear and an AK-47 machine gun had been erected on top as an exhibition. The stream of cyclists drifting up and down were in high spirits, but there was an air of hysteria.
At around 2pm police loudspeakers had warned the crowd it was illegal to steal equipment from the People’s Liberation. Army.
Later, by the square, more troops were hemmed in a crowd by the Revolutionary History museum....They were surrounded by a crowd of 500 and several were almost beaten to death as they tried to escape. Unaware of this, diplomats brought their families out to watch the troops.
All of this had failed to give, us an intimation of what was in store............we began to run back in fear as the crowd began to set fire to the buses.
A tyre on our jeep had been slashed, but we rumbled down the street dodging in and out of the road barriers until we arrived at the Minzu Hotel where an angry band of youths stormed our jeep, hurling stones and rocking us until we established our identity.
We dashed across to the hotel entrance, where a crowd was savagely beating a soldier. Another had found safety in the hotel and the crowd was trying to smash the doors. A police car was burning nearby.
The road was littered with broken glass and bricks. Just before, a detachment of riot police had been attacked, and the air was thick with tear gas and smoke.
From a window we could see shadowy figures flitting through the dark hurling stones, and after an hour the last trucks moved down. One man siphoned off petrol from our jeep and hurled a Molotov cocktail, setting himself on fire.
Others smashed open the cars, including ours.
When the last truck had vanished towards the square, the crowd emerged clutching stones and sticks and moved off in pursuit.
Gradually the chants of “Tu Fei, Tu Fei” — the old nationalist cry of “Communist bandit” — grew louder and louder. People tore down the red pro-government banners draped down the sides of the hotel and burned them.
More and more wounded were being taken to hospital nearby. We went to the small People’s Hospital and it looked like an abattoir. There were bodies on benches and beds or on blood-soaked mattresses on, the floor. Many had ..... badly beaten soldiers and we saw one covered in blood who was clearly not going to live.
It was the same story at the nearby post office hospital.
At the central post office, a journalist from the state news agency had been beaten to death, a family had died in their homes by stray gunfire, another man in his bathroom, a girl by a tear gas shell as she looked out of her window; four police had been dragged out of their car and beaten to death.
Students set on fire two armoured personnel carriers and soldiers who clambered out were beaten to death.
On the other side of the square, people were wreaking a terrible vengeance among the burning vehicles and rubble. An army officer had been burned and hanged. His naked corpse dangled in a charred bus.
At around 10.30 last night normal television programmes were interrupted to transmit pictures of the rioting, taken by the traffic monitors. They showed hundreds of citizens attacking and defeating heavily armed riot police and dragging and punching troops.
Bob Gannon, a 30-year-old freelance photographer sent to Beijing two weeks ago by the Guardian, was in the city on Saturday night when the soldiers and students clashed. This is what he saw.
Gannon and other journalists ran up the Avenue of Eternal Peace, along which more soldiers carrying riot shields were advancing towards Tiananmen Square. It was a little before midnight and the soldiers were met by students.
There were about 70 or 80 soldiers. Everyone was throwing bicycles, rocks, sticks — anything they could get their hands on — at the soldiers. After about 20 minutes of this, the soldiers fired teargas. There was hardly any wind and the gas hung in the air.
The soldiers retreated towards the Minzu Hotel pursued by students, now an angry mob.
In front of me there was a soldier, screaming and crying — he was completely freaked out. They were all around him arms coming in at him holding rocks. They started to drop rocks on his head.
I and a student tried to push people back from him — it was an automatic response. He went to the ground and they just dropped rocks, huge rocks, on to the middle of his face. It was continuous and I got blood spattered all over me. He was virtually decapitated by the time he was dragged away.
Another soldier who was trying to crawl through a hedge towards the hotel was descended upon.
I ran into the hotel. On the foyer floor there was a group of soldiers laid out. I only saw one breathing. I took just one photograph and was jumped on by four or five men, thrust up against the wall, punched and had all my gear ripped off and film taken.
These unchallengeable accounts by the anti-communist Western press who were in Beijing in literally their thousands to whip up the biggest propaganda blitz against the Chinese workers state ever but who could not avoid reporting what they were seeing, - later on were an embarrassment to some on Fleet Street as they dutifully fell in line with His Masters Voice from the CIA, instructing every Western bourgeois regime to spread the ‘Tiananmen massacre’ nonsense.
Some with a ‘conscience’(!) got round it by snarling “What does it matter if it was not actually on Tiananmen. There was still a massacre”. Well, no, as it happens. Just 100 civilians dead over the whole of China over the seven-week confrontation, and slightly more than 100 soldiers, officials, and police [Later total is around 400 - ed].
Other hacks who knew the truth, stumbled even more:
Government propaganda has argued consistently that no one was killed in the square during the crucial hour and a half when the students were evacuating. That may well be true. Most people died that night, either because they were in the way or by accident.
“That may well be true”! Imagine the reaction if Heath last week had actually denied there ever was any Tiananmen ‘massacre’ at all!
Such is the insane hysteria into which the anti-communist bourgeoisie has whipped itself, the CPGB well to the fore, - just as all the Trots, without exception, capitulated to the ‘massacre’ hysteria at the time.
The CPGB, pretending as usual to be ‘defending’ the Chinese workers state ‘on principle’, nevertheless managed to row in with the general hysteria with such phrases as “the horrific sight of the Peoples Liberation Army turning on the people has proved the bankruptcy of the leadership of the Communist Party of China”; and “the slaughter we have seen in Beijing could well be repeated in Moscow, Leningrad, and Kiev”, etc.
No thought, there, of utterly denouncing the completely insane media hysteria throughout the ‘free’ world, effectively distorting the whole of history in the minds of everyone in the West for a brief while, all on account of quite a minor little class-war skirmish, easily and humanely won by the Chinese workers state. Just more fuel on the fires of anti-Chinese race hatred.
And how this hatred was piled up, just like the mysteriously disappearing mountains of dead bodies.
The ‘free’ press, the ‘only guarantee of maintaining the truth’, variously reported:
According to one diplomat, units of the 27th Army which blasted their way across the square on Saturday night broke through lines of soldiers attached to other army groups, causing many casualties. Troops under separate orders, to evacuate thousands of students safely from the square were also mown down as dawn broke on Sunday. About 1,000 soldiers are said to have been killed.
“They had orders that nobody be spared, and children and young girls were slaughtered as mercilessly as the many wounded soldiers from other units,” another diplomat said.
27th armoured units thundered in from the north, the diplomat quoted witnesses as saying that tanks and armoured troop carriers pulped bodies in the square, and then incinerated them with flame-throwers.
Many bodies were ferried away by helicopter, according to the sources...
Up to 3,000 people were said to have been killed when Chinese soldiers and tanks attacked the square, occupied since 15 April by the protesters.
No one knows how many have been killed but one Chinese source claimed that a senior officer on the square has said 10,000 bodies had been collected and were being burnt or lifted out by helicopters which flew in and out all day.
The soldiers piled the corpses up and set fire to them. They did so in order to remove the evidence and witnesses. It is estimated that 2,000 were killed.
Exposing all this nonsense at the time, EPSR Leninism asked why, with more than 2,000 Western TV and newsmen in Beijing for no other purpose than to follow the fate of the Tiananmen occupation, there was never one single photograph, report, or TV footage produced showing one single protester’s body being either burned, or airlifted away from this central vast city square which was the object of everyone’s unceasing attention.
The clearout took place between 4 and 7 a.m. on the morning of June 4. There were no restrictions on the Western press whatsoever. Why did no one see a thing?
As EPSR challenged then:
“At the time of this imaginary ‘massacre’, the Bulletin asked: How were so many bodies disposed of in the middle of this city which was swamped by literally hundreds if not thousands of Western propaganda manufacturers. The BBC alone had a staff of more than 30 out there. Duplicate (this for the other major Western television propaganda agencies and it comes to nearly 300. Add another few hundred for commercial television and the other 150 countries in the ‘free’ world, and then treble or quadruple that sum for all of the capitalist press and news agency propagandists out there, and the total comes to at least two thousand so-called ‘newsmen’. But not a single one saw any bodies being disposed of.
To burn one body successfully without trace between 5 and 7 a.m. on an open square without special equipment and without anyone being able to sneak a single picture of it or convincing eye-witness account in the middle of a massive city which up to that point the Western media was proudly proclaiming to be totally ‘in the hands of the people’, - and partially so still for many days after that, - would be miraculous. To dispose of 10,000 bodies that way puts the parting of the Red Sea and the feeding of the 5,000 with a tin of sardines in the amateur conjuring class.
Despite the presence of the entire-world’s ‘free’ press for weeks before and after the incident and their intimate participation with the counter-revolutionary organisation, plus their all-night activity and film-making on that night with masses of photographs and film footage, - not one single frame or recording exists of this incredible event in the heart of Peking on Tienanmen Square, the centre of the world’s attention, — the destruction by flame-thrower of thousands of dead bodies (an impossibility no matter how long they tried), and/or the removal next day of 10,000 mangled remains (leaving nothing behind) by helicopters “in and out all day”. And they would needed to have been. With a generous ten bodies per helicopter, and a hard-to-achieve (from a loading and air traffic-control point of view) departure of a filled helicopter every four minutes, it would in fact have taken nearly three whole days (72 hours) to clear the square of the dead. Three thousand would have taken 24 hours to clear, a thousand at least eight hours going flat out from 7 a.m. on Sunday morning with a helicopter soaring up every four minutes. But not one single photograph exists of helicopters taking off from Tienanmen with bodies on board or anything else on board, - yet the entire world’s ‘free’ press was right there in the heart of Peking all the time, and all the time filming clandestinely there too as we have seen from their stream of pathetically distorted and stunted-up ‘reports’. Nor one single photograph of the ‘alternative’ method of disposal either, - the burning of bodies with flamethrowers, - or even with a box of matches. Remarkable.
With hindsight, the problem of disposing of the ‘massacred’ thousands looks like even more fiendish oriental magic than ever before.
For consider the task facing British agriculture recently when just 4,700 pigs carcases (less than half the bodies that the Chinese workers state allegedly had to dispose of) had to be burned in reality.
An entire quarry had to be commandeered, and despite vast quantities of fuel used for the bonfire (more than 50 lorryloads), the job still took five days, and the smoke and, smell could be detected more than 15 miles away:
Government vets on a North Wales farm began destroying 4,700 pigs infected by Britain’s worst outbreak of anthrax.
Government vets began shooting farmer Geoffrey Priestley’s herd at midday yesterday. About 1,000 of the pigs at the North Wales farm were due to be killed by the end of the day and their carcasses burnt on a huge pyre built of 300 bales of hay, scores of railway sleepers and 50 tonnes of coal, all soaked in diesel. It was estimated that the process would take three or four days to complete.
So how could 10,000 human bodies have been burned in the middle of Peking in just a few hours surrounded by over two thousand Western newsmen hot on the trail of communist atrocities yet not one single picture or one single paragraph of eye-witness account has appeared anywhere about this miraculous burning??? The answer is simple. There was no ‘massacre’, and there was no mass of bodies to be disposed of at all.’
Not that such facts will stop the anti-communist hysteria, of course, once petty-bourgeois confusion-mongering has made up its mind to it. RB
[Edited from EPSR issue No 894 11-03-97]
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