No 1577 6th June 2020
Stunning US (and world) uprising over George Floyd murder driven by more than righteous rage at discrimination and race-oppression: worldwide hatred and anger at imperialist tyranny has helped produce this moment through defeats and setback for the barbarous and out-of-time domination and crisis-Catastrophe warmongering of the bankrupt Empire. But though the ruling class is reeling, and Trumpite fascism temporarily humiliated, the grotesque wealth and power of the minority will not only stay on top but become more brutally repressive. Keeping revolt within bounds of single issue politics like anti-racist reformism dooms the downtrodden to disappointment and is ultimately an obstacle to the only way forwards, total class war to end the profit system that generates antagonism, envy, difference, and hatred while dragging the world to war and destruction. Anti-communism against China and condemnation of Third World revolt needs challenging. Deep revolutionary perspectives need building
The street rage all across the US over the grotesque police murder of unarmed black man George Floyd in Minneapolis contains far more than righteous anger and justified hatred against the endemic racism of capitalist society and especially police and state sanctioned racist brutality and killing.
Its dramatic eruption on a new scale takes to a new level the growing world class conflict already driven by 20 years of revolt and rebellion against imperialist warmongering in Africa and the Middle East, particularly in anti-occupation “terrorism” and jihadism, and the Egyptian and other Arab Spring mass street revolts, erupting again in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen etc and spreading through Africa.
Workers and the downtrodden of every colour, both inside America and across the world, will have taken heart from this great spontaneous uprising, cheering at the humiliation of the braggart fascist monster Donald Trump, forced to cower in his White House nuclear war (!) bunker by nothing more than a vigorous demonstration at the weekend.
The upheaval is a generalisation of world anti-imperialism into the heart of the great Empire power itself, albeit a long way from all-out revolution.
As yet unconsciously reflected in the seemingly astonishing explosion of rioting and protest now spread to dozens of cities in the United States – and echoed to some extent in other imperialist countries, – is the growing hostility of hundreds of millions being driven to explosion point against the whole of this degenerate and vile capitalist exploitation society as its Catastrophic crisis contradictions tighten ever further.
But while the scale of sudden domestic eruption has stunned the ruling class, shaking the bourgeois order to the core, it immediately raises huge questions about where things must go next.
And that can only be answered by the struggle for revolutionary leadership and science - Marxism-Leninism in other words.
The ferment of activism and struggle around the initial murderous police actions in first Minneapolis and now their repeated violence against demonstrators generally - including various attempts to run down crowds with vehicles, tear gas, beatings, deliberate flooring, baton rounds and arbitrary arrests, – will certainly be stirring minds throughout the working class and sympathetic intellectual and petty bourgeois elements.
What they are missing however is the conscious struggle for revolutionary understanding of unfolding events – including, and especially, challenging all illusions about bourgeois “democracy” and “freedom”, “condemning violence” and the narrow single-issue boundaries of PC reformism like “anti-racism”, that hamper the working class everywhere, in this upheaval and beyond that.
Without making conscious the general class war significance of the upheaval there can be nothing but frustration to come eventually, despite the impact of this great wave of revolt. It is also wide open to splits and divide and rule disruption by the ruling class.
Moral exhortations “against racism” and “pressure to end inequality” not only will solve nothing but disarm and mislead the working class.
So too will the almost universal anti-communism of the fake-“left” around such struggles, including their direct or indirect capitulation to the anti-China demonisation which Trumpite fascism is using as an excuse for the disastrous oncoming Slump Catastrophe.
Despite the demonstrations having an understandable immediate focal point around yet another monstrous cold-blooded suffocation killing (a de facto lynching as some have said) of an unarmed black man, on top of many more including the virtually identical previous strangulation of Eric Garner in New York, and around the daily routine intimidation and often frightening harassment of all the black population in America, where racist attitudes have a centuries long origin in slavery and oppression, the fury unleashed is a class response to the unbearable inhumanity and Catastrophic breakdown of an ever more unequal system which is out of time and dragging the world down into the abyss of the greatest slump ever faced.
Desperation faces vast sections of the population in America and worldwide, most particularly the poorest, – black, hispanic, Asian and many white too, – all already hammered the worst by the impact of the uncontained Covid virus pandemic let run free by Trump’s deliberateindifference (EPSR 1576), and shortly to face the horrifying impact of mass unemployment and hunger from greatest economic collapse of all time.
Economic breakdown was already underway long before the virus pandemic hit, contrary to the sick BIG LIE excuse making from the Trumpites to explain away the economic implosion as “caused by Covid”.
The artificial and hyped-up US ‘boom’ he claims since 2017 has been a transient fraud, sustained by dollar-printing credit creation already set going under Obama-ism and by Trump’s international trade war bullying and belligerence to push the crisis onto the rest of the world, stoking up huge tensions internationally.
Even before the first virus cases, alarm bells were ringing in every world wide banking, credit and economic agency over the imminent bursting of the bubble (see last three EPSRs eg1575) as the demented Quantitative Easing trillions since 2008 work their inflationary way through an already utterly polluted international dollar trading system.
The entire world dominating capitalist order, roughly eight centuries old, is reaching terminal breakdown, trapped in ever sharpening contradictions.
As Marxism has long warned, such a collapse is inevitable while society’s production resources, necessarily worked in common and on a scale requiring mass, not to say international, cooperation, are kept in the hands of a tiny minority of ruling class “owners” - (including many who are black, hispanic, Asian or otherwise non-white, in the US and outside it) - this few demanding the “right” to cream off all the vast value produced by humanity’s billions of people, save the tiny portion required to keep workers alive (and often barely so in the Third World and/or in war and crisis workcamp conditions).
Whipped-up xenophobic frenzy and international hate-building is the “escape” route out of the crisis for the ruling class, intent on dragging everything into a whirlpool of world war, already underway since Serbia and Afghanistan were bombed, to divert attention from its intractable systemic problems and to destroy the great mountains of “surplus” capital now accumulated.
Once the great “overproduction” surpluses are gone (surplus that is to the needs of profit making of course, not the desperate needs of the mass of humanity – see economics box) the profit rate can be restored and the victors will be able to invest again just as the surviving and largely American bosses were able to do after destroying their rivals in the Second World War (along with their countries).
But to reach the end point dictated by such insane “logic” (objectively speaking, whatever the ruling class actually understands it is doing subjectively) will bring devastation a hundred times worse than reached in 1945, just as WW2 was an order of magnitude more widespread and destructive than the “Great War”.
It is in that context and framework that the latest explosive events need to be seen and their unprecedented extent be understood.
Until such an overarching perspective becomes conscious and widely accepted no amount of protests, outrage and upheaval are going to change the essentially repressive and brutally exploitative nature of imperialist domination including the vile racism which it generates and constantly re-generates as one facet of its arrogant and viciously unequal system, both inside America and worldwide.
Just the opposite – the dialectical sharpening of the class war contradictions will bring more repression, more brutality and more agony, as the ruling class desperately hangs on to its power and wealth.
It is exactly what Trump’s crude and increasingly civil war aggressive measures presage, denouncing “left” and anti-fascist politics as “terrorism”, calling in troops, and preparing for a rightwing crackdown, all symptoms of a system sliding into open dictatorship, – fascism in content however anyone wants to describe it or academic nitpicking fake-“leftism” undialectically quibbles about “proper definitions” of Nazism.
Limiting the issue to a fight about racism itself as many of the reformist community leaders, mayors and others are trying to do, (and many of the single-issue reformists and their fake-“left” backers too) and binding it to “democratic” methods only, is precisely the way not to solve the problems for the great mass of exploited workers and proletarians.
Calls for “anti-bias police training” or for “registering to vote” for the next election to “push out Trump” will not change anything.
That implies that somehow “justice” is achievable within a class-domination system that is actually rotten from top to bottom and getting more putridly fascist by the minute.
It implies that “democracy” is real under capitalism and not a bent and twisted racket, manipulated by billionaire financing, gerrymandered districts, corruption and vote rigging, lying advertising and media brainwashing, and which anyway never offers a real choice to the working class and even if it did, would always be overridden by the hidden power of big money and monopoly corporate interests which pull the strings behind the scenes, backed up by the military and secret service and other elements of the capitalist state – all comprising an actual bourgeois class dictatorship.
And those state forces, if even all that fails, or is badly carried through or miscalculated, will always step in directly eventually to impose outright military/fascist rule, as in Italy under Mussolini, Hitler in Germany, Augosto Pinochet in Chile 1973, and General Sisi recently in Egypt 2013, toppling the newly elected “democratic” President Morsi and as Trumpism is laying the groundwork for, if things go against it in the November elections, (or indeed if all the slick tricks of the democracy racket mean things “go for” Trump, allowing “proper constitutional” changes to keep these White House reactionaries in power, just as Hitler was “elected” Chancellor by the “proper procedures of democracy” in 1933, (before tearing it all up)).
Richard Nixon almost set up a third term, thwarted only by the American defeat in Vietnam which torpedoed his plans and much else of American domination at the time.
Racism is not solvable separately to the issues of overall exploitation and domination and oncoming disaster, and any token moves that are made will leave class oppression pressing down just as hard on the great majority.
It never was solvable separately, as is confirmed, ironically, by all the commentaries around this great upheaval which point to how long the fight has had to go on, back to centuries of slavery and post-slavery repression, and in modern times to the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, the entire “black lives matter” struggle and fights for justice from the Ferguson incidents onwards, the Traynor Martin killing, the dirty “amateur police” murder of Georgia jogger Ahmaud Arbery and dozens of other incidents captured on film or phone, obviously only the tip of the iceberg in themselves.
The EPSR made the same points in 2001:
The Cincinnati riots against black deaths in police custody are what should be expected; but when class-collaborating reformists attack cops’ racist bias as the problem, the ludicrous propositions follow that the Western imperialist states of ‘bourgeois dictatorship’ (as Marx termed monopoly-capitalism’s unreformable domination) have only known the problem of deaths in police custody when a black minority has come under the cosh; and that if this racism would stop (as per the Macpherson recommendations), then this problem would stop; and, even more stupid, that the class bias in all capitalist democracy policing (pro property, and against anti-authority and anti-property agitators) would not be a concern if there was no racist bias involved in cracking down on dissidence of every kind.
Clearly, more than a few anti-racist campaigners would be even happier if the exposures of officialdom’s race prejudice in all its workings were also accompanied by an even more important analysis of the relentless and vicious class-war bias in everything that the state authorities do.
But the question is what to make of public campaigns which do not hammer out that important additional class-war message??
Capitalist exploitation’s racist bias always needs identifying as such, obviously. But much more importantly, all such incidents needs identifying first and foremost as class domination.
The Cincinnati rebellion is essentially about a proletarian revolt against the rule of the American monopoly-bourgeois class which creates a society where all authority will always be vested in a system which protects property and property rights above all else, and which will keep control permanently, by any means possible, over all potential threats to that property system.
Obviously, large black proletarian ghettoes in America’s major cities are exactly such a threat, but the constant harassment and repression of them, such as has led to the current Cincinnati rebellion, is an anti-capitalist propaganda point LOST when presented as a racist issue by the petty-bourgeois class-collaborating race-relations industry inspired by ‘moral’ idealism.(EPSR 1085 17-04-01)
Insisting on a Leninist perspective has nothing to do with belittling the huge and sometimes heroically brave upheavals nor the fact that such class revolt, in the US particularly, is taking a race equality form initially.
But if kept within the narrow boundaries of “anti-racism” there are already signs of future disappointment.
Token gestures of “arrest” of the white-supremacist tainted police involved in Minneapolis have eventually and belatedly been forced on a ruling class, desperate to get the revolts off the agenda.
But the limited scale of the initial third-degree murder charges (“accidental” killing effectively) against only the cop videoed deliberately suffocating the victim Floyd, and not the three holding back any rescuers, suggests already that any such measures will be as much of a cosmetic pretence as dozens of similar incidents in the past.
The latest moves to escalate the charge to second-degree, and to charge the others too is only a token, and all of them are likely to have “not guilty” verdicts slipped through when things have quieted down, or face minor “reprimands” (see below) - but nothing essential will change as some bourgeois press reports have said:
Two Minneapolis police officers captured in video footage restraining George Floyd were previously involved in other violent incidents while on duty, according to a database that documents instances of police brutality.
Video footage showed Derek Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis police department, kneeling on 46-year-old Floyd’s neck for nine minutes as he pleaded for his life. Floyd died following the encounter.
Officers had been responding to a call from a grocery store that claimed Floyd had used a forged check. The Minneapolis police department said Floyd “died a short time” after a “medical incident”.
The FBI and state agencies in Minnesota have launched separate investigations. Four officers, including Chauvin, have been fired.
“Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?” Minneapolis’ mayor, Jacob Frey, asked as he called for charges on Wednesday. “We cannot turn a blind eye, it is on us as leaders to see this for what it is and call it what it is.”
Chauvin, who joined the force in 2001, had already been involved in several incidents, according to a database by Minneapolis’ Communities United Against Police Brutality.
Chauvin was one of five officers who were placed on leave after they shot and wounded an indigenous man in 2011, the Daily Beast reported. Later that year, officers had been responding to a domestic violence call, and Chauvin claimed that the man reached for his gun. The man was shot (not by Chauvin, but by a different officer) and wounded. Authorities later determined that the officers had acted “appropriately”.
The second officer, Tou Thao, is a 10-year veteran of the force. He was previously sued by a man who alleged he and two officers used excessive force during an 2014 arrest. The man, who had been walking along with his pregnant girlfriend, was stopped by Thao and another officer. The lawsuit alleged they “punch[ed], kick[ed] and kn[eed]” the man’s “face and body” causing “broken teeth as well as other bruising and trauma”. The lawsuit was settled out of court.
“Seeing that horrific video begs the question: what did the police do internally in response to the 2017 incident?” Seth Levanthal, an attorney in the suit, told the Daily Beast, adding that “what happened back in 2017 was a pretty serious incident” that “made no headlines at all”.
Combined, the men have been the subject of more than a dozen civilian complaints, for which Chauvin has faced three verbal reprimands. The database confirmed that internal reviews of Chauvin and Thao’s use of force by the Minneapolis police department resulted in no disciplinary action each time.
Other pieces suggest racism runs deep:
The Grayzone is republishing this June 3, 2016 report from our archives by Sarah Lazare. The report details a long history of racist brutality by the Minneapolis Police Department and the presence of a “white power” biker club within its ranks. Minneapolis Police Officer’s Federation leader Lt. Bob Kroll is one among many members of the club, called City Heat.
“The head of the Minneapolis Police Officer’s Federation has claimed that activists from the city’s Black Lives Matter movement comprises a “terrorist organization.”
Kroll’s outrageous statement about local civil rights protesters is part of a wider of pattern of incorporating war on terror-style rhetoric to demonize local African-American activists and politicians, even comparing them to the Islamic extremists who attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Such devices have also been routinely used across the country to criminalize Muslim-American communities, which face arbitrary surveillance, profiling and entrapment at the hands of law enforcement authorities.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Kroll described Black Lives Matter as a band of terrorists. He made the remarks in reference to public outrage and protest over white police officers’ killing of unarmed 24-year-old African-American man Jamar Clark on November 15, 2015. Clark was shot by police in the head while, according to several witnesses, he was handcuffed. The Department of Justice announcement on Wednesday that it will not bring civil rights charges against the officers involved, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze.
Kroll exploited the Justice Department’s decision on Wednesday to blame Clark—who is not alive to defend himself—for his own killing. He stated: “Jamar Clark dictated the circumstances that night.” Kroll then trashed the “Justice for Jamar” movement, declaring: “I don’t see Black Lives Matter as a voice for the black community in Minneapolis.” Finally, he smeared the protesters as terrorists and implied they caused damage to the precinct and police officers’ property.
...Fears of violent incitement are not hypothetical. Last November, alleged white supremacists opened fire at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, wounding five people—two of them seriously.
And in February, a St. Paul police officer Jeff Rothecker was forced to resign after he was caught encouraging drivers to run over Black Lives Matter protesters slated to gather for a Martin Luther King Day mobilization. In comments posted to Facebook, which were later deleted, Rothecker stated, “Run them over. Keep traffic flowing and don’t slow down for any of these idiots who try and block the streets.”
...In 2007, five African American police officers filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the city, police department and police chief in which Kroll’s comments about Keith Ellison and his assorted hijinx were cited. The officers testified that Kroll “has a history of discriminatory attitudes and conduct” and said that he “wears a motorcycle jacket with a ‘white Power’ badge sewn onto it.”
A 2009 article in Pioneer Press mentions that Bob Kroll was a member of City Heat, a motorcycle organization with ties to white nationalism that was repeatedly referenced as a racist institution in the African-American police officers’ lawsuit. In the article, Kroll appeared to defend the organization, which includes numerous police officers in its membership, and dismiss allegations of racism...
Even the Anti-Defamation League, which collaborates with police departments across the country and has been known to attack progressive organizations, raised the alarm about City Heat in a report entitled “Bigots on Bikes.” The ADL wrote:
[T]he City Heat Motorcycle Club, an off-duty police motorcycle club with chapters in Chicago and Minneapolis, has members who have openly displayed white supremacist symbols....One member sports a patch that asks “Are you here for the hanging?”—a reference to lynching.
Tellingly, a continuation of the first quoted article reveals that the Democrat side of the Tweedledum-Tweedledee bourgeois electoral racket in America is as mired in this mess as Trumpism:
Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, a former Democratic presidential candidate, has faced backlash for what critics have called a tame demand for “a complete and thorough outside investigation”, and is now being questioned on her record. Between 1999 and 2007, Klobuchar, the state’s then top prosecutor, declined to press charges against more than a dozen officers accused of killing civilians.
In 2006, Chauvin was one of several officers involved in the shooting death of a man who stabbed others before turning on the police.
Although Klobuchar was the Hennepin county attorney at the time of an October 2006 police shooting involving Chauvin, she did not prosecute and instead the case went to a grand jury that declined to charge the officers with wrongdoing in 2008.
As protests continued in the Twin Cities on Wednesday, Chauvin’s past altercations have drawn additional scrutiny of the Minneapolis police department’s handling of Floyd’s death, and race relations with law enforcement in the state.
“This is what finally broke the camel, and now it’s about to go down,” one protester said during Tuesday night’s demonstrations. “That could have been me, could have been my son. It’s unjust, it just shouldn’t be.”
Campaign Zero, a social justice organization that maps police violence across the US, found that Minneapolis police kill black residents at a rate more than 13 times higher that of white people, one of the nation’s largest racial disparities.
“Our community continues to be traumatized again, and again and again. We must demand answers,” the city councilwoman Andrea Jenkins said in a statement to Kare.
Law enforcement officials in Minnesota have come under fire for police-involved deaths of minorities and the rarity with which they are prosecuted.
Large-scale protests last erupted in the state in 2016, when 32-year-old Philando Castile, who was black, was shot and killed by a St Anthony police officer during a traffic stop. Footage of the incident also went viral but the officer, four-year-veteran Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted.
One police-involved shooting in Minnesota that did result in a conviction only added to the claims of racial bias in state laws. In 2017, Mohamed Noor, a Somali American police officer, shot and killed an unarmed white woman after responding to her 911 call.
Noor was convicted of third-degree murder in April 2019, the first police officer in the state to be convicted in decades.
Democrat collusion and cynicism ran all through the Obama presidency too, despite the initial hoodwinking pretence held out to rescue badly discredited presidential democracy after George Bush’s Iraq defeat, suggesting that a “black man in the White House” would mean “real” changes at last for the minority populations and the civil rights movement.
The militarisation of the police in the US which was escalated at the time of the Ferguson events, all took place under the eye of the Democrat presidency (see EPSR 1541 26-08-14).
Meanwhile beyond all this US domestic repression, inevitably arising from capitalism itself, remains the overall racism of the entire imperialist system imposed on the Third World particularly. Again from the EPSR (Perspectives 2002):
An even bleaker picture is presented by the historical record of ‘capitalist democracy’, and by its current ‘world leadership’ preoccupations.
The Western-backed genocide of the Palestinian nation in order to complete the handing over of the Palestinian homeland to the Western Zionist-imperialist leadership of world Jewry to build a ‘national home’ for the faith-linked freemasonry of some of the Western world’s most powerful monopoly-capitalist banking and commercial dynasties is one of the most monstrous, sustained acts of official racism in all world history.
The West’s ‘liberals’, ‘democrats’, and ‘reformists’ can swear hostility to ‘racism’ in society for all they are worth, but the very existence of the Western way of life is based on its world economic domination, which in turn is totally dependent on the USA’s international military-control system for propping up armed stooges like the Zionists, and putting down any local Third World regimes which might challenge the Washington ‘New World Order’.
This planet-wide network of ruthless blitzkrieg repression is unashamedly 100% racist, by the very definitions of the First World dominating the Third World, and by the utterly merciless brutality with which the master-races put down the Earth’s unter-mensch.
Growing up for 7 generations or more with such a regular routine race-superiority/race-inferiority background to all history, how can the people of the Western imperialist countries not be steeped in prejudices, and assumptions, and hypocrisy of all kinds, concerning what real ‘justice’ there is on earth for the overwhelming majority (non-white) of mankind????
These fascist tyrannies against the Palestinian and Iraqi nations are happening in the West’s name right now, as criminally murderous as any racist-atrocity injustices in all history.
How can there be anything other than complete disbelief, suspicion, and mistrust in all dealings between the majority ethnic populations of the world and the minority White master-race?????
Gross racist repression of the Arabic people and especially of the Palestinians has gone even further since this piece was written, and particularly since Trump’s occupation of the White House with uncritical support for the most reactionary wing of the Zionists under the corrupt Benjamin Netanyahu, now granted outright dispensation by US imperialism to occupy Jerusalem (illegally held for decades by bloody Zionist terror-military domination) and to push through the annexation of the West Bank in defiance of any United Nations resolutions and opposition, or pretences of “international justice”, “democracy”, or even the “law and order” which Trump pretends to uphold.
“Right of conquest”, harking back to the most primitive of times, is to prevail.
The Jewish land-theft occupation and its arrogant and barbaric settler movement now no longer hides behind any pretences at all of fairness or justice for the proud and brilliantly militant Palestinians whose land they have taken (EPSR book vol 20 on Zionism).
Such proffered “justice” was only ever the impossible and humiliating “two-state solution” “offer” to this people anyway, “granting” them just 22% of their own lands (stolen steadily from 1947 onwards, part by international imperialist decree and mostly by ethnic cleansing terror and war conquest) and on the scratchiest and least valuable parts at that, to hold as a second-rate state hemmed in by massive military and economic Zionist power and broken into disconnected fragments anyway).
Even that is now reduced by the US approved “take it or leave it” fascist-might imposition which amounts to virtually the same status of “reservation” herded poverty and festering unemployment misery as the First Nations (indigenous “indians”) in the United States itself had forced on them after three centuries of invasion and occupation, or as the equally genocidally dispossessed Aborigines in Australia who suffer constant economic, political and cultural humiliation larded with a non-stop racial persecution, with the highest rate of incarceration in the world and an average 14 “deaths in custody” every year.
Any anti-racist struggle that does not take up these issues is at best limiting the crucial understanding of the working class in how monopoly capitalist imperialism is the generator and originator of racism and its persecution, and therefore at best limiting the fight for the revolutionary theory critical for its overturn, which is the only solution to all such problems, and at worst play into imperialism’s hands by spreading confusion and hostility to Marxism.
The Zionist issue has illustrated perfectly how imperialism will even take advantage of such reformism and idealist moralising with the demented and nonsensical CIA/Zionist propaganda campaign to accuse those taking up the struggle against the monstrous occupation of Palestine by the artificial cuckoo-state of “Israel”, of being “anti-semitic” and imputing to them “racist” motivations.
Such is the PC fearfulness of petty bourgeois single-issue campaigning that it has been sent reeling by this utter Goebbels gobshyte – vowing to “root it out” and all the other sanctimonious hypocrisy seized on by every opportunist scumbag throughout the corrupt and class collaborating “Labour Movement” and its fake-“left” Trot props, to push down on and suppress any genuine anti-imperialist or anti-capitalist sentiment which obviously will see the Palestinian cause as a fundamental issue, and will see the restoration of every scrap of its people’s land and property as the only way this festering and imperialist-racist injustice can ever be solved (obviously ending the Jewish occupation).
An element of racist hate mongering and xenophobia also runs through the current demonisation and finger-pointing Covid blame-mongering against China, being used first as an excuse for the pandemic ripping through America (and Britain too on a smaller scale) and reaching disaster levels because of Trumpism’s crass and crude cynicism, incompetence and profiteering, and because of the Billy Bunter lying bluster married to barrow-boy spivvery of the Tory mountebanks and “democratic coup” government in Britain, – and then secondly, via the need for a lockdown, as an even bigger nonsense excuse for the slump Catastrophe itself.
An underlying innuendo in the grotesque hate-campaign being whipped up by the ruling class, led by Trumpism and its stooges like the British ruling class and others in the Anglo-Saxon “Five Eyes” spy coalition, but gone along with by virtually all the imperialist bourgeoisies, is nudge-nudge racist sneering at Chinese eating habits, with the not-very-well disguised imputations of lack of cleanliness and personal and cultural depravity, allied with “subhumanness”.
Such insults and sneering have accompanied xenophobic scapegoating and oppression throughout history, especially against slaves and not least against the Chinese “coolies” equated with “dogs” and vermin in the British and other colonial holdings in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
They serve to head attention away from any balanced or scientific understanding of the virus outbreak.
Lost in all the “Eeugh, wet market” imputations of rampant disease spreading (though in the main they are relatively hygienic) is any objective assessment of disease generation particularly from the gigantic American factory farm complexes and similar facilities elsewhere, driven purely by the need to extract maximum profit whatever the cost, and all producing mass waste and huge distortions in the existence of the livestock they produce as well as in the natural ecology around them, which have already seen potentially pandemic scale outbreaks like swine flu or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, MERS.
Once again, simply countering this nasty smearing with anti-racist finger wagging would firstly be useless and secondly missing the point anyway.
Imperialism needs excuses for its crisis failure and China and the Covid outbreak has very - extremely - conveniently given it one.
It fits well with the already escalated trade war belligerence against a country which has become a major economic rival, increasingly outcompeting moribund and growingly inefficient American industry, and even making more and more of its own leaps in technology ahead of the West.
Above all there is hatred of China because it remains a workers state, which despite some truly dire revisionist illusions in the Beijing leadership, continues to make enormous progress as a planned economy overall (including the strategic direction of its capitalist sector by the state).
The dirty jingoistic campaign has been massively increased with the pandemic, because it has given the whole world a telling practical lesson in the huge advantages and overall humanity of a collective society guided by the dictatorship of the proletariat.
As previous reviews have discussed, firm and decisive lockdown and universal mass test and trace, combined with organised social measures to ensure food and supplies to the quarantined, as well as check on them, not only contained the outbreak, but have now allowed the economy to begin its recovery.
And while, like everywhere, the virus impact has obviously temporarily damaged output, China is not facing the kind of catastrophic breakdown threatening tens of millions in the capitalist West with unemployment, starvation, homelessness and mass bereavement (and those disproportionately from the black and minority communities) all happening or pending.
Far from drawing lessons from Beijing’s firm control of the crisis to help save lives, the West has been looking to undermine it, first with sneers at Chinese eating habits and with that failing to get traction, with increasingly Goebbels allegations of leaks from research laboratories – again saturated in racist innuendos about Chinese competence mixed with Hollywood “yellow peril” myths of plotting and skulduggery.
As all this shallow Goebbels garbage has been debunked by Western scientists, the overall anti-China campaign continues using deeper seated anti-communist scaremongering whipping-up a deluge of bogeyman nonsense about supposedly arbitrary “totalitarianism” and “repression”, reinforced by the nonsense lies about the Tiananmen Square massacre so-called, still pumped out as if fact despite multiple buried admissions elsewhere (see World Socialist Review below and the EPSR book vol16 on China) that no such “slaughter” ever took place.
Petty bourgeois reformism and fake-“leftism”, busy making so much noise about their “anti-racist” credentials, give this imperialist hate-campaign a boost with their non-stop abstract “democracy” philosophising and idiot “totalitarianism” phrasemongering along with a deluge of fearful stories about “sinister universal surveillance”, as if the West’s total monitoring of all phone conversations and Internet communication etc through the $tens of billions budgeted National Security Agency and its subsidiary, the British GCHQ, did not exist.
Of course China uses such intelligence methods and data collection - what else would a dictatorship do?
But the difference is in the class composition of the state, and the purpose of such state control, obviously in the Covid situation, for the benefit of the general population, medically and economically helping maintain the overall social discipline required where careless or “dissident” individuals might flout it and endanger others.
More generally it is for the protection of its (majority not minority) class rule, established after a bitter 20 year civil war in 1949 by the revolutionary overthrow of imperialism and capitalism.
The dictatorship of the proletariat is the only way that socialism can be built.
Either things are run by the brutal exploitative capitalist system, hidden if possible behind the historically developed “democratic” voting racket, and using its state to suppress or neuter all opposition, with as much torturing and murderous brutality as needed, if any of it becomes at all a threat to its rule (which no amount of anti-racism will be in itself, since capitalism will always find ways to accommodate such single-issues if necessary, as LGBT rights, feminism and the “Black Voices for Trump” hint at)...Or they are run by the working class essentially, maintaining its class authority through the Leninist party-led dictatorship of the proletariat, for as long as needed against the non-stop sabotage, civil war and skulduggery of still surrounding imperialism until a more mature and self-disciplined society, working in cooperation with the rest of the world and in balance with nature, becomes the norm when it can slowly wither away as Karl Marx and Frederick Engels expressed it (and Lenin subsequently in State and Revolution).
There is no absolute “freedom” and individual right to “be yourself” anywhere in all this.
Freedom is the recognition of necessity, Marxism says, a lesson the barmy reactionaries in America or Brazil, demonstrating with their assault rifles for the “freedom and right” to “defy the virus” by ignoring social distancing, or mask wearing etc, will be learning the hard way, unfortunately at the cost of many poorer lives too.
Human existence is collective and only through socialism dialectically comes the greatest possibility for individual development, by equal access for everyone to education, housing, health, and the full development and exercise of their particular talents in ways denied the great exploited masses under capitalism.
Under class ridden capitalism the only “freedom” is that for the rich and to some extent the deluded middle class in boom times, fondly believing their indulgent and privileged “lifestyle” to be a “right” rather than the result of super-profits ground out of the poor by the ruthless exploitation of workers and especially the masses of the Third World held down under the not-very-democratic-at-all tyranny of tinpot fascist stooges for imperialism and directly imposed coups, takeovers, assassinations and all-out blitzkrieg “reminders” for anywhere that goes out of line.
Such “freedom” comes from decades of reformist bribery and welfarism paid out by imperialism, where it could afford it in the rich “metropolitan” countries, to keep revolutionary stirrings at bay by buying-off the petty bourgeoisie and top layers of the working class, with a paltry share of its ever more fabulous wealth (which currently has seen the $3 trillion (!!) owned by 614 people in America increase by $565bn since the virus outbreak began).
That Western ruling class “freedom” anyway comes only at the expense of constant wariness, gated communities and ruling class fearfulness of the masses, reaching frenzied aggressive repression as the crisis develops, as the demonstrators in America have been tasting.
If there is criticism to be made of Beijing’s leadership (valid only from those giving unconditional support to the workers state) it lies in taking up its dire revisionist view of the world, still not spelling out just these proletarian dictatorship lessons and the revolutionary perspectives needed to establish working class rule.
Initial local hesitancy and bureaucratic nervousness in publicising the Covid outbreak in Wuhan, which has played into the hands of Western propaganda (allowing it to ludicrously imply some sinister purpose to the delays while wildly exaggerating them and their significance) almost certainly derives from a lack of confidence by the local party leadership in its own class rule, and unwillingness to impose a lockdown, because of continuing fearfulness of Western criticism.
That in turn derives from the long philosophical retreat from Leninist revolutionary theory and boldness, shared by all revisionism, misapplying Lenin’s early defensive peaceful coexistence tactics to make them a more or less permanent perspective of peaceful coexistence with capitalism.
Consequent mistakes and misanalysis from the mid-1920s onwards settled into the revisionist world view of Stalin’s leadership and eventually the disastrous “imperialism can no longer expand” post-WW2 line of his book Economic Problems (see EPSR Book 21 Unanswered Polemics).
The revisionist leadership in Moscow henceforth looked for the world to steadily topple into “superior socialism” virtually without conflict, as long as “peace struggle” could “restrain imperialism’s aggressive tendencies” (rather than its core certainty of heading for world war conflict).
When the inevitable inability of a workers state system, providing for all and not driving the working class for profit, proved unable to compete (in consumerist terms) with relentlessly exploitative US imperialism, the by now hopelessly non-Leninist bureaucracy under Gorbachev finally threw in the towel in 1989-91 by liquidating the still viable USSR, unable to see its 73 years worth of huge achievements (despite most of the Third World envying it and often benefitting from its education, aid and military support for anti-imperialist struggles (see Book 13 on Gorbachevism and Book 21 Unanswered Polemics (as above) on Stalinist weaknesses)).
For various reasons China avoided these difficulties at that time despite some desperate sailing close to the wind of “bourgeois democracy” illusions by the CPC central committee in the early stages of the Tiananmen reactionary “Statue of Liberty” provocation, although it has never understood or critically analysed the Moscow failings.
Rapid moves in Wuhan to deal with the local errors and hesitations (which are partly understandable anyway given that the virus was new and unknown in the initial stages) still give encouragement that whatever philosophical flaws it has, the determination to hold onto and defend the workers state remains, and is even developing.
So too do the latest moves to firm up the overall control in Hong Kong (finally) and to deal with the year long non-stop sabotage and provocations of the petty bourgeois “democracy” movement, trying to ape the Tiananmen disruption under Western propaganda influence and deliberate subversive infiltration, forming another front for the Western anti-communist and trade war campaigning.
These include arrests of the major anti-Beijing “democracy leaders”, firm application of calm police action against the endlessly violent petty bourgeois pro-Western demonstrators (whose numbers are always much overplayed by the Western media), the passing of a new law against subversion and foreign agitators, and firm Chinese diplomatic rebuttal of Western and especially British political interference, telling the former colonial “masters” that they no longer have any rights, jurisdiction or influence over the territory.
The British posturing about “broken treaties” and “abandoning the 1997 agreement” is so much impotent nonsense anyway, pretending that Britain somehow graciously handed over Hong Kong rather than being forced to do so by China’s already growing power and its own declining, not to say, defunct imperialist capacities.
The provisions for one country two system were a sour compromise forced onto China with its provisions for “democracy” a sabotaging, last ditch spanner in the works, by an imperial power that never offered any such “freedom” while its colonial rule lasted.
The British complaints now that Beijing has “torn up the agreement” by creating a security law are anyway a total lie as one or two of the bourgeois press diatribes have conceded, buried away beneath their risible hypocrisy and lies about “cherished freedoms”:
The issue has always been controversial. In 1989, Beijing became worried by Hong Kong’s support for the pro-democracy movement in China; it requested that the territory draft anti-subversion laws on its own after 1997, when Hong Kong was handed over to China by Britain. Although this is required by article 23 of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, it has never been enacted. In 2003, the Hong Kong government tried to introduce the legislation, resulting in street protests of half a million people. This time, following months of bitter protests, Beijing has clearly run out of patience.
The legislation is designed to prevent “sedition, subversion, secession and treason”, but the manner in which it is being introduced is undercutting Hong Kong’s relative autonomy, its independent judiciary and its legislature.
So the objection is not really about “breaking the agreement” since such a law is “required” but just the “manner” in which it is being introduced.
That would be firmly and uncompromisingly, we presume?
The huffing and puffing by the useless British establishment is even more risible, its pompous and portentous defence of “freedom” amounting to giving holders of British Overseas passports (which only includes those already born by handover ie an ageing minority) an extension to their 6 month visa entitlement to... wait for it...ta-daa...er,12 months and a “route to citizenship” (price unspecified).
But since Tory policy is for a Union Jack wrapped Brexit, with a key aspect being to inflame Little Englander chauvinism and anti-foreigner anti-immigrant sentiment, the “route” is likely prove difficult to say the least.
The hollowness of all this bluster was underlined by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab limply declaring that Britain wanted to maintain trade relations with China.
Some absolute principles!!!
Beijing has responded with defiance to international criticism of its controversial Hong Kong national security law , threatening countermeasures against the UK and the US, and describing Washington’s efforts to raise the issue at the UN security council as “pointless”.
On Friday, a day after Beijing’s legislature approved plans to move ahead with sweeping anti-sedition legislation in Hong Kong, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned countries that Hong Kong is “purely an internal Chinese matter…No other country has the right to interfere,” he said.
In response to the vote, the British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said the UK would extend the rights of up to 300,000 British national overseas passport holders in Hong Kong if China persisted with the law.
Zhao said that if the UK “insists on unilaterally changing its practices” it will be in violation of international law and norms. “We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take countermeasures,” he told a regular press briefing in Beijing.
China’s plan has prompted international condemnation, most vehemently from the US, which has asked the UN security council to hold a meeting on the issue – a move China opposes.
Zhao said: “We urge the US to immediately stop such pointless political manipulation and do something useful for the international community.”
China has said the legislation – aimed at criminalising separatism, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference – is necessary in the face of increasingly volatile protests that have rocked Hong Kong for the past year. But many say the laws will be used to target critics of the government, and threaten civil liberties as well as the city’s autonomy.
Beijing’s defence of its plans came as the Hong Kong government warned Washington to stay out of its internal affairs. The US has signalled its intention to revoke Hong Kong’s special trade and economic status, under which the city is treated as separate from China on terms that have underpinned Hong Kong as a global financial hub. The US president, Donald Trump, was due to announce his response later on Friday.
Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, has said Hong Kong may now need to be treated like China on trade and other financial matters.
The Hong Kong government said late on Thursday: “Any sanctions are a double-edged sword that will not only harm the interests of Hong Kong but also significantly those of the US.”
It added that from 2009 to 2018, the US trade surplus with Hong Kong was the biggest among all its trading partners, totalling $297bn of merchandise, and 1,300 US firms are based in the city.
The plan has ignited the first big protests in Hong Kong for months, as thousands of people took to the streets this week, prompting police to fire pepper pellets to disperse crowds in the heart of the city’s financial district.
The “pellets” hardly compare to the gross violence which has characterised the allegedly “peaceful democracy” demonstrations for 12 months, including near lynchings, building destruction, Molotov cocktails fired from giant catapults and use of lethal bow-and-arrow weapons, with on this occasion a phone-filmed incident of an unarmed pro-authority lawyer beaten to the ground with iron crowbars.
Such barbaric reaction would unleash utter slaughter if it ever came near power and if anything China has delayed too long in clamping down.
Nor do the “pellets” remotely compare to the savagery of the US police unleashed on mostly unarmed and peaceful protestors in Washington by Trump’s security, or in many other cities, and the Western “dismay” at alleged “repression” has rightly been mocked by the Beijing media for its gross hypocrisy:
Chinese officials and state media have seized on news of the protests sweeping the US, comparing the widespread unrest to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and accusing Washington of hypocrisy.
Mass protests spread across multiple US states over the weekend, many escalating after police responded with teargas, pepper balls and other projectiles, and in some instances using vehicles to ram protesters. Some cities have seen arson and looting, and across the nation police have been criticised for using excessive force.
The US protests follow almost a year of highly visible and significant pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, where police are also repeatedly accused of using excessive force.
The US administration has been vocal in support of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, particularly since Beijing’s declaration it would impose national security laws on the semi-autonomous region.
After days of chaotic scenes in the US, on Sunday China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying posted “I can’t breathe” – Floyd’s last words – to Twitter, with a screenshot of her American counterpart criticising China’s crackdown on Hong Kong.
Fellow ministry spokesman, Lijian Zhao retweeted numerous comments and reports on the protests, including from Russia’s deputy representative to the UN, accusing the US of double standards. “Why US denies China’s right to restore peace and order in HK while brutally dispersing crowds at home?” said Dmitry Polyanskiy.
...“US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once called the violent protests in Hong Kong ‘a beautiful sight to behold.’… US politicians now can enjoy this sight from their own windows,” Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of nationalist tabloid Global Times, wrote on Saturday.
Beijing has repeatedly blamed “foreign forces”, including the US for inciting and driving the Hong Kong protests.
...“Mr President, don’t go hide behind the secret service,” said Hu. “Go to talk to the demonstrators seriously. Negotiate with them, just like you urged Beijing to talk to Hong Kong rioters.”
In another tweet he said both protests defied the law, subverted order, and were destructive, but that Hong Kong’s were seen as justified by the US, while those in the US were unjust.
The outrageous weasel phrase that Hong Kong “police were accused” as if allegation constitutes proof, particularly when no such gratuitous police violence has been recorded anyway in glaring contrast to the US state crackdowns, is a useful exposure of the usual Western Goebbels style of propaganda lie, but a more pertinent point to comment on above is the Global Times editor’s equating of the protestors in the two places.
There is not the remotest comparison between the counter-revolutionary provocateurs deliberately and consciously inciting violence against Beijing and the anarchist excesses in America.
The EPSR has spoken out strongly before on the fake-“left” and revisionists who “condemn” anarchism, as at the 2001 Genoa anti-globalisation protests when Berlusconi’s thug police beat up and severely injured dozens of protestors, and the revisionists declared the anarchists to have “given an excuse to the police”:
prissy, mealy-mouthed small-mindedness of the fake-’lefts’ [is] monstrously obnoxious on this ‘street violence’ issue. No, Marxist revolutionaries are not anarchists, and detest the infiltration of the labour movement by provocateurs and police-agents. But the tone of the following diatribe* [from Weekly Worker - ed] against any stupid provocations that the anarchists in Genoa ere responsible for carries even more serous danger for the working class, - far more serious, - spreading crass illusions in ‘democracy’, and sowing the nonsense that police violence is hampered if it has not got a good ‘excuse’ to stage its brutal reaction, and that the problem of police agent infiltration and provocations might be solved if anarchists could be kept away from the scene of anti-imperialist struggle....
Only revolutionary communism has ever actually overthrown imperialism (as opposed to administering a very serious but one-off defeat for imperialism, and replacing a red, white, and blue capitalist state with a properly green capitalist state, as the Irish national-liberation struggle is on the brink (a few more years, or so) of finally achieving.
But Bolshevism in its struggle for power very rarely made the mistake of imagining that as well as fighting imperialism, it was obliged to help squash other violent anti-imperialist protesters who disputed the Bolsheviks’ leadership of the movement to overthrow the autocratic capitalist state. Even terrorist methods were never rejected by Leninism on principle, but only not employed because the method of mass revolutionary political organisation was so much superior in the given circumstances.
Until quite late on in the revolutionary struggle for working class power, the Bolsheviks and anarchists still fought alongside each other when occasion demanded, despite 60 years of blistering Marxist political polemics exposing every aspect of anarchism as a death-trap of petty-bourgeois ideological confusion for the working class.
Only after the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat did the issue of doing something about anarchist provocations AGAINST THE WORKERS STATE emerge as a genuine responsibility of those struggling to build socialism.(EPSR 1100 31-07-01)
It has become an even more important issue since, with the entire fake-“left” capitulating to the “war on terror” meaninglessness since 9/11, lining themselves up with imperialism’s lying pretence to be just “policing the world” to justify its now non-stop warmongering (continuing under Trumpism in Syria, Libya, Yemen and threatened against Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and others, despite supposed pulling back of American troops).
Further polemics have cited Lenin’s 1906 Guerrilla Warfare article in which he declares all such denunciations to be an abrogation of Marxism.
The Chinese comments cited above, while scoring some good sniping points against US hypocrisy (Trumpite and Democrat alike) therefore also reflect the worst aspects of Beijing revision, and its bone-headed confusions about abstract “democracy”, still disastrously causing confusion in the world, and giving due pause to any thoughts that the recent defiance of the West yet indicates any return to Leninist politics.
Beijing may never do so of course at least until the rest of the world has advanced revolutionary understanding forwards, though remaining strong enough as a workers state to stand up to Western warmongering.
Meanwhile further developments around the US anti-racist upheavals will knock more holes in all this “democracy” garbage and the fake-“left” and liberal cry that “you can’t call it fascism because you still have the right to speak out”.
Journalists covering the protests and riots that have erupted in US cities after the killing of George Floyd have reported being shot at, teargassed and arrested, as well as being intimidated by crowds.
More than 50 incidents of violence and harassment against media workers were reported on social media and in news outlets on Friday and Saturday, according to a tally the Guardian collated.
They included the blinding of Linda Tirado, a freelance photojournalist and activist who has contributed to the Guardian, who was hit in the eye with a nonlethal round while covering unrest in Minneapolis; the arrest of the HuffPost US reporter Chris Mathias during protests in New York; and the shooting of the Swedish foreign correspondent Nina Svanberg, who was struck in the leg by several rubber bullets on Friday night.
“They’re sighting us in,” a member of a CBS News crew was heard saying in another incident in Minneapolis on Saturday, as police fired rubber bullets at the team, who said they were wearing press credentials and carrying large cameras. A sound engineer was struck in the arm, a journalist from the outlet said.
A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation journalist, Susan Ormiston, was hit with a gas canister also while covering the protests in the city. “The thing is, we were in that parking lot all by ourselves,” she said in a broadcast. The police “fired at us to clear us away but we clearly had our camera equipment visible”.
Minneapolis was the scene of especially acute unrest on Saturday night as authorities imposed a curfew and deployed the Minnesota state national guard to clear the streets and prevent the rioting and looting of the previous night.
Protests have spread to more than 30 states across the US since Floyd’s death on Monday. Curfews are in place in dozens of cities and hundreds of people have been arrested.
David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, said the reports of attacks on journalists were “appalling and must be condemned and perpetrators held accountable”.
“They are a repudiation of fundamental rights enjoyed by all Americans, under the constitution and human rights law,” he said on Twitter. “Poor training combined with incessant attacks by Trump on the press as enemy no doubt contribute to an environment ready for such abuse.”
The US president has regularly called the media the “enemy of the people”, including in a tweet he posted on Saturday.
The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders ranked the US 48th in the world in its 2019 index, down three places as a result of growing abuse of journalists in the country. “Never before have US journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security firms for protection,” the report said.
The majority of the most recent incidents appeared to be perpetrated by police, but least two involved crowds. A crew from the conservative outlet Fox News was surrounded by protesters outside the White House early on Saturday morning and jeered at and pelted with objects until they were forced to clear the area. An angry crowd also stormed the headquarters of CNN in Atlanta on Friday.
Police in Louisville, Kentucky, apologised on Saturday after a television reporter covering protests in the city on Friday night was hit with what appeared to be a pepper ball, shouting “I’m getting shot” live on air.
Many of Saturday’s attacks were filmed by the reporters involved. In his footage, the VICENews correspondent Michael Anthony Adams could be heard shouting “press” repeatedly as an officer approached him with his gun raised.
“I’m press,” he says. “I don’t care,” the officer replies. He was pepper sprayed while lying on the ground shortly afterwards.
Some of the incidents were broadcast on national television, including one in which a nonlethal explosive device was fired near the MSNBC correspondent Morgan Chesky and his crew. The CNN correspondent Omar Jiminez was arrested live on air on Friday and released a short time later.
The investigative reporter Ryan Raiche said he had been standing with other journalists in Minneapolis in what he thought was a safe area when police started targeting the group. “We kept saying we’re media,” he said in tweeted. “Police teargassed and pepper sprayed the entire group.”
Britain’s stitched up Tory government, slid into place by the dirtiest of manipulation and election rigging, at the end of last year, increasingly apes the contempt of the Trumpites for supposed press freedom, simply ignoring questions in interviews and talking over them, frequently lying outright to declare black is white and ignoring evidence or proof that they have done so, banning or blocking liberal media representatives from press briefings, refusing interviews on mainstream programmes, and exerting behind the scenes pressure to censor or control disliked media.
Most notorious is the forced suspension of Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, throwing Blairite liberals like Will Hutton into a tizzy:
Time was, when the bulk of the Tory and Labour parties could be trusted to adhere to the notion that there are truths; that BBC impartiality, for example, could exist. However, politics has become increasingly about the fight to control the narrative which then, in turn, dictates “facts”.
Thus a Brexiter politician will celebrate leading Britain into global trading relationships based on “WTO” terms even as the WTO collapses. It’s the story that counts, not the truth – better still if it can be captured, Dominic Cummings-like, in a three-word slogan.
It’s a reflex that is fatally on display in the government’s management of the pandemic. Suddenly the issues are not just a party political fight to create a “dominant narrative”, whatever the facts, but are a matter of life and death. The government wants to portray itself as being truth-seeking, driven by “the science”. But it was not science that justified the fatal weeks-long delay in launching lockdown; it was the prime minister’s own libertarian instincts and accompanying indecision – looking for a scientific rationale to show mitigation was the better policy.
Covid-19 is creating a watershed moment. There really are facts; we had better respect them if we want to stay alive. The furore provoked by Emily Maitlis, Newsnight’s talented and charismatic lead presenter, and her introduction to the Tuesday night programme spoke to the moment. All the country, she said as she opened her programme, knew that the prime minister’s chief adviser had broken the lockdown rules. People “feel like fools” for observing the rules when those at the top did not, and they could not understand why Johnson “blindly” supported his adviser.
But was she stating the facts – or framing a narrative to support a particular truth?
BBC managers, in receipt of thousands of both complaining and supportive emails and a call from No 10, were in no doubt. A lightening fast official BBC reprimand was issued; but not calling out any particular mistake. Maitlis volunteered for a night off, which was quickly portrayed by some as her de facto one-programme suspension.
Were BBC managers right? In a battle for the narratives, her introduction certainly challenged the government’s – but it was actually supported by facts aplenty. Impartiality is about asking questions in search of truth, a value the BBC must hold to the last if it is to survive, and one that needs to be expressed both on and off air. The BBC management’s first instinct when under fire should have been to adopt the same judicious questioning of Maitlis off air that it expects of its presenters on air. They should have worked out a shared response based around shared values and should have done so in their own time, rather than the government’s.
What is wrong about where the BBC has now landed is that too little attempt was made to defend Maitlis, involve her, or create a joint position as the BBC tried to do in the 1980s. Instead it moved, within hours, to concede that Maitlis had overstepped the mark, presumably in being a “narrative creator”, without explicitly identifying what error of fact Maitlis had made.
The bigger political reality is that this was Cummings and a government baying for the BBC’s head – appeasement was the order of the day. If the BBC felt that Maitlis had moved into editorialising, it needed to set that out baldly and factually. Instead, she was turned into a victim overnight, creating just the diversionary story for which Downing Street will have hoped. And, by requesting not to present, she too got sucked into No 10’s game.
The reaction was painful. The BBC, hitherto enjoying growing ratings with reports that its audience could trust, was on the back foot.
The indignation of such middle-class intellectuals is a true enough reflection of the growing dismay at blatant manipulation and bullying news “management” (gross Nazi lies) now being used by the ruling class to upend all notions of rationality and objectivity in favour of jingoistic hate-mongering, preparing the world for the intensified trade-war and ultimately all-out conflict to come as the crisis deepens.
The joke here on the “liberal” Hutton, however, is the pretence that the BBC was ever anything but a major propaganda tool for imperialist ruling class interest, notorious for its reactionary “empire” stance against the Irish republican movement for example, always dredging up the dirtiest of MI6 disinformation and running sympathetic interviews with obscure high Tory analysts to try and sabotage the national-liberation war, fomenting and magnifying the dog-in-the-manger obstacle making by the colonists and their stunts against the peace settlement and the Good Friday Agreement and its implementation.
And it was Hutton’s own favoured Blairites who imposed a major climbdown on the BBC when his namesake Lord Hutton’s stitch-up inquiry forced it to grovellingly back down in 2004 over its story exposing the trickery and lies around the non-existent Iraqi WMD which was the mainstay of the propaganda stampeding world public opinion into the 2003 Iraq war and occupation, beginning a new phase of non-stop war destruction in the Middle East and stirring up the wave of rebellious jihadism and “terrorist” revolt spreading ever since.
Occasional flashes of the real world do emerge even through the usual know-your-limits self-censoring of bourgeois journalism (among the relatively limited numbers not out-and-out touting for ruling class interests and warmongering and pumping out a relentless diet of anti-China, anti-Cuba and anti-North Korea bullshit etc etc) and are vital if the credibility of all this supposed objective and “impartial” (!!!) anti-working class news system is not to be fatally damaged.
It is a complex balancing act and one needing “firm action” to put stories down if they “go to far”, as it was deemed Andrew Gilligan had done with his reports of the WMD doubts of arms inspector Dr David Kelly (mysteriously found dead by suicide shortly afterwards).
As the EPSR predicted then, those forced to make “principled resignations” like BBC director-general Greg Dyke were soon found equivalent roles, Dyke at the Football Association etc (EPSR 1218 03-02-04).
But things have moved on even from this sick Labourite press manipulation and the censorship grows more obvious day by day, along with the blatant big lies, as the crisis deepens and the ruling class is forced to show its hand more and more as an outright dictatorship.
The term “fascism” is not overused, it is the appropriate description for the plunge towards chaos and war; but it is misused by the fake-“left” who see it as something special and different to the normal monstrosities of capitalist rule, and thereby imply that the fight is one for “democracy”.
All kinds of “special” fascist features, such as outright police state impositions, press shutdowns and jingoistic scapegoating are possible and may or may not be imposed by outright fascist parties, military coup etc.
But it is to mislead the working class entirely to imply that imperialist rule is actually any different in its essence, or might not simply directly impose domestic repression, censorship, and warmongering anyway (as happened for WW1 eg).
Believing that fascism is something other than bourgeois dictatorship, and can be “stopped” while capitalist rule continues underpins nearly a century of class collaboration fake-“left” delusions about “democracy” which have been a disaster for the world struggle.
Only revolution can change the world to stop class repression and crisis disaster. Only revolution can stop racism, by building socialism under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
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