No 1581 15th August 2020
Gross monopoly profiteering amid continuing callous Covid chaos and agony is a damning condemnation of the capitalist system underlining the need for its revolutionary overturn. Marxist understanding for the class war struggle remains hampered by delusions in bourgeois “democracy” and brainwashed hostility to workers states still being inflamed by CIA organised anti-communist stunts like the latest colour revolution pretence in Byelorussia, and non-stop BIG LIE demonisation of China over its humane handling of Uighur jihadism and firm suppression of Hong Kong petty bourgeois disruption and violence. The real lessons on the democracy fraud are those from America where Trump’s nazi-reaction is preparing to trample over even the pretence of “fair voting”, and testing outright military dictatorship with unmarked federal police. Leninism needed
Delusions about abstract “democracy” and “freedom”, and petty bourgeois hostility and fear of collective society under workers state discipline, continue to hamper the development of understanding for the mass struggle to end this monstrous capitalist system and its world dominating exploitation.
Class war revolutionary socialist change has never been more urgently needed.
The depravities, degeneracy, rampant greed and sheer arrogant stupidity of the bourgeois ruling class have never been more glaring; the ruin its incompetence, indifference and selfish irresponsibility is bringing on to mass humanity more threatening, wasteful and dangerous than any time in history.
Genocidal war, still maiming and killing millions in the Middle East and Africa after two decades of blitzing, torture, city razing horror and terrorising civilian butchery, and on the edge of further escalation; the horrifying explosive destruction of Beirut through economic collapse, bribery and corruption; worsening Covid plague mass slaughter due to callous trade-war profiteering, corruption and indifference; global warming dangers and gross ecological devastation by corporate plundering from Alaska and Brazil to India and Australia; and the hair-raising escalation of belligerent nuclear weapon and space war deployments, all demonstrate the existential threat to the world of continuing monopoly capitalist domination.
And this will become much, much sharper with the imminent unfolding of this system’s greatest ever crisis collapse (already underway in fact) as it universally turns the grotesque unfairness and inequality of its vile exploitative profiteering system, and its tyrannical exploitation of the Third World, into the intolerable pain, deprivation and suffering of an all-out Slump, on a scale never seen before.
The economic and ecological Catastrophe capitalism is plunging into, of mass unemployment, hunger and homelessness, breakdown and social turmoil, is a magnitude greater than the pre-WW2 1930s Depression (ie at least ten times as bad).
It can only end in outright world war destruction, also on an unimaginable scale, for which the ruling class is whipping up demented reactionary jingoism, scapegoating and fascist repression, desperately trying to evade the degenerate mess its profit system has created.
Yet complacency and confusion still prevails, fostered by capitalist philistinism and anti-communist propaganda pumped into minds for virtually the last century, and consolidated by the class collaborating opportunism of the bribed and corrupted upper layers of workers (reformism, TUC/Labourism and the petty bourgeois fake-“leftism” which props it up).
Middle class individualistic shallowness, deliberately distracted by consumerist and celeb culture, permeates deeply into the working class in the Western “metropolitan” countries above all, and particularly in the Anglo-Saxon wing, with its pragmatic anti-theory traditions of “getting by”, disarming them and leaving them vulnerable to economic disaster and the reactionary and violent counter-revolutionary manoeuvres of the ruling class.
The gung-ho Covid “optimism” of the Tories that “it will all be over by Christmas” (like WW1 presumably) and the shallowness of “eating out to help out” cynically aims to encourage this short-term narrow thinking at present, just as Donald Trump’s “it comes and it goes” fatuousness about the devastating Covid pandemic slaughter in America encourages similar lightmindedness.
But the refusal to think deeper is becoming almost desperate, and there is a sense its perverse stubbornness, aggressively hostile to a wider revolutionary view and clinging on to past anti-communist and “democracy” “certainties”, is being shaken up.
The reality of this greatest ever collapse of the outmoded capitalist system, unfolding in full since the 2008 global credit breakdown and long predating the Covid outbreak, which has simply accelerated the plunge into Depression and international trade war belligerence, is beginning to get through as the crisis teaches its bitter lessons.
The bourgeois press is full of nervous agitation:
Britain has entered the deepest recession since records began as official figures on Wednesday showed the economy shrank by more than any other major nation during the coronavirus outbreak in the three months to June.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic prosperity, fell in the second quarter by 20.4% compared with the previous three months – the biggest quarterly decline since comparable records began in 1955.
After a decline of 2.2% in the first quarter, the figures confirm the UK economy plunged into recession after the Covid-19 outbreak spread in March and the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to contain it. Economists consider two consecutive quarters of shrinking GDP as the technical definition of a recession.
After resisting the launch of lockdown controls until later than other countries around the world and relaxing them at a slower pace, the ONS said the UK had plunged into the deepest decline of any G7 nation in the second quarter.
Britain’s decline was more than double the 10.6% fall in the US over the same period and also surpassed declines in France, Germany and Italy among G7 nations that have reported second-quarter figures so far. Canada and Japan have yet to publish second-quarter data but are not expected to record greater falls than Britain.
Confirming the onset of the deepest recession since records began, the ONS said the decline in the second quarter was widespread, with a dramatic plunge in output across the services, production and construction industries. Reflecting the public health restrictions and forms of voluntary physical distancing in response to Covid-19, it said the pandemic had erased 17 years of economic growth in only two quarters – taking the level of GDP back to the equivalent position in June 2003
Rishi Sunak knows it. Andrew Bailey knows it. Every economic pundit knows it. The UK labour market is facing its grimmest period in decades. It is not a question of whether the dole queues will lengthen markedly, but by how much and when.
A cursory glance at the latest data produced by the Office for National Statistics would suggest the outcome is not going to be all that bad. Unemployment, on the internationally agreed measure, remains below 4%, and has barely budged since the arrival of Covid-19 earlier this year.
But don’t be fooled, because neither the chancellor nor the governor of the Bank of England is taken in by these encouraging-looking figures for a minute.
The true state of the labour market has been veiled by two things. First, and most obviously, Sunak’s job retention scheme has meant millions of workers have been furloughed since March. In the absence of 80% wage subsidies, many of them would have been laid off.
Second, someone is counted as unemployed only if they are both out of work and seeking employment. There hasn’t been much point in looking for a job while the economy has been locked down, so people have been classified as inactive rather than jobless. The government’s alternative measure of unemployment – the claimant count – provides a better guide to what has been happening. It has doubled since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, and rose by 94,000 in July to stand at 2.7 million.
There’s more. The number of hours worked fell by a record 18% in the second quarter to 849m – the lowest level since 1994. On average, a worker put in 25.8 hours a week – falling by an unprecedented 5.6 hours on the quarter. Vacancies have more than halved over the same period.
So, the true picture looks like this. Since the early months of the year, about 730,000 workers have been removed from company payrolls in the UK, a figure that would have been much higher were it not for furloughing. The labour market pain is being felt most keenly among the young, the elderly and the unskilled, groups that will struggle to find new job opportunities. The use of zero-hours contracts is rising fast.
August to October – the furlough phase-out period – was always going to be crucial, because firms now have to decide whether or not to retain staff. The Treasury and the Bank of England await data for this period with trepidation, and rightly so. It will not be pretty.
talk to Emily Pringle. At the end of June, she advertised a job with her home-fragrance firm, Notes of Northumberland. Based in pretty Alnwick, with lovely colleagues – 16 hours a week, working mainly in the shop. Pringle might ordinarily expect 40-odd CVs. This time, within a fortnight, almost 600 people applied.
Many lived more than 30 miles away, in Newcastle. Most were vastly overqualified, and a good number had PhDs.
..these stories are unfolding all over Covid UK. A Manchester restaurant wants a receptionist: over the next 24 hours, almost 1,000 people write in. A south London pub seeks two bar staff: 500 candidates step forward.
Shocking numbers, for now. But by Christmas such vignettes will be piled higher than the snow....the UK faces a jobs crisis the likes of which it hasn’t confronted for two generations. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts that this winter unemployment will rocket to levels last seen in the early 1980s under Margaret Thatcher, with nearly one in eight workers unemployed. Thought you’d been hurt badly by the banking crash of 2008? Just wait.
..if you are under 50, chances are you will never have been in a labour market as tough as the one that lies just ahead. The face of the 1980s recession was The Full Monty: male, middle-aged and on the scrapheap, alongside his heavy industrial employer. The face of the 2020 depression is more likely to be young, female and just let go from a restaurant – but in the early surge it will include a lot of people, from every walk of life.
Once the summer lull is over, an earthquake will shake Britain. Its early tremors can be felt already, as unemployment rises, yet few in the political classes have paused to consider the havoc it will wreak, let alone what might seriously be done about it. If anything, the government is helping to bring on the jobless crisis. This week, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has begun cutting the subsidy he gives employers to keep workers on the payroll. That scheme has helped protect 9.5 million jobs and its gradual withdrawal will immediately mean more P45s being handed out. Not that you’ll hear much about it: Sunak prefers doing photo-ops to publicise his scheme to give voters half-price Happy Meals.
The government that had to be shamed into finding £120m to feed hungry kids over the school holidays happily chucks four times that – half a billion pounds – on a 13-day gimmick. Priorities, eh? Yet Sunak’s reward is ever more newspaper profiles.
..from this sunlit peak his standing can only fall. After doing many of the right things in March to save jobs, Sunak has done precious little since. The result will be to waste much of the £200bn he has spent to keep businesses and workers afloat.
The Treasury fully shuts its job retention scheme entirely at the end of October. Firms will be offered a small bonus to hold on to staff, but many will make redundancies. At that point, temporarily-idled employees who have been drawing 80% of their wages will crash through a trapdoor into the harsh world of unemployment benefits.
David Cameron’s government spent much of the past decade deliberately shredding the social safety net. “This is not an easy life any more, chum,” boasted welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith in 2012. He and his chums helped ensure the UK went into the current crisis with one of the meanest employment safety nets in the industrialised world. And while Sunak has raised some benefits, they remain abysmally low.
What awaits those unlucky millions who go from being “strivers”, as George Osborne called them, to “skivers”? A massive shock. Early surveys by the Resolution Foundation show that of those starting to claim universal credit since the lockdown, one in three are already falling behind on bills. Later this month, landlords will be allowed to evict tenants who can’t pay their rent, and mortgage lenders will again be able to repossess homes.
Imagine what this adds up to: a graduate a couple of years out of university loses her job, then her rented flat then, if lucky, ends up back at her parents’ with a mountain of debt. To keep up on the mortgage, a family goes from shopping at Sainsbury’s to queueing at the food bank. And the part-time lecturer with a PhD has no option but to try for that job selling scented candles.
Across the country, people who believed they’d done the right things and thought they were secure will find they don’t get the right outcome. People who trusted a government, a state, to look after them will learn differently. Those parts of the country that last December went blue may not flip back to Labour – they may instead switch to Nigel Farage, who has been busking hard over this pandemic. And as economist Paul Gregg observes, when the dust clears, those who will ultimately be hit the hardest will be the young, those from deprived areas, and especially minority ethnic people.
In her just-completed book, Abusing Power, journalist Kate Belgrave documents the toll the welfare state takes on those who need it most. She records how Paul, battling in his filthy caravan to keep himself presentable, is told by a housing officer, “You’re too well-dressed to be homeless”, while jobcentre staff interrogate Marsha, who has mental health problems, about her childhood abuse. The government suspended much of this bullying early in the pandemic, but soon enough it will restart.
The welfare system has been reconfigured to punish Other People, not to help People Like Us. It is not fit for an era of mass unemployment. But neither is much else about polarised, privatised Britain during this pandemic. An economy addicted to consumerism looks useless at this point – when the last thing anyone wants is cafes, hotels and consumer services. The low-paid precarious jobs fostered by Tory ministers over the past decade will be among the first to go in this depression.
Over the crises of the past 40 years, the political class has always offered a better tomorrow. Thatcher responded to industrial decline with a services revolution and a credit boom. Tony Blair promised a knowledge economy. Cameron urged us on in the global race. For all his bombast and bluster, Boris Johnson can’t point to any sunlit upland just ahead. This time, there’s just a dead end.
The “better tomorrow” was never anything but a hollow fraud of shallow public relations spin, hobnobbing with the fatcats and draconian discipline for the “feckless lower orders” anyway (particularly under Blairism), to cover up for the ever declining position of British imperialism relative to the rest of the monopoly capitalist system.
Increasingly unable to compete industrially, bar a few mostly armsrace sectors, it has clung on by using its only remaining strength as a centre for the parasitic finance capital which developed early in the “City” (as well as Germany – see Lenin Imperialism-the highest stage of capitalism) and which together with data manipulation, now dominates the whole of world monopoly capitalism.
Even that is part luck, built on a past Empire legacy of the world language and geographical centrality, which has allowed the British rentier class to siphon off a percentage from the gargantuan trading flows through London of value produced elsewhere, primarily in the Third World dominated by the power of ever more concentrated monopoly corporations and Western NATO military might and by Washington-installed and bribed networks of local fascist regimes and stooge dictators.
Much of it in modern times is “desperate business” as the Private Eye cartoon would have it, “discrete” dirty dealing in no-questions-asked money-laundering, arms dealing and tax-“avoidance” through a network of tax-free “offshore” hideaways, along with super-expensive housing provision and “services” for the world’s mafias and drug dealers, fascist stooges, degenerate feudal-thug “sheikhs”, and Russian oligarchs stashing away their post-1990 counter-revolutionary plunder from the huge economy built over 70 years by the enormous sacrifices and sweat of the Soviet workers state.
The result in Britain has been to produce one of the most distorted economies in the world, dependent on importing food and goods, or importing cheap migrant labour where it still produces something locally (though most of that is foreign owned), and mostly running a “service economy” on top, a parody where everyone takes in each other’s washing or tells each other jokes, or runs “little restaurants” which mostly re-distribute the City booty but do not produce much in real value.
Even playing the big monopoly finance games is done secondhand since purely British dealers and bankers barely exist, having been sold off years ago to international combines and hedge funds.
As Covid has bitten Britain’s weaknesses have shown up relative to the rest of the world.
Yet while Britain is one of the weakest links in the imperialist set up, especially vulnerable to the oncoming trade war Depression, it is only part of the hurricane of collapse coming to the whole Western order, including the huge but just as bankrupt American Empire, the overwhelmingly dominant power since 1945.
Far from being a “Covid crisis”, the great downward spiral underway is the collapse of the capitalist system itself, trapped in “overproduction” and surplus capital contradictions (as analysed in Marx’s Capital) which has already produced the year 2000 dot.com implosion and then the 2008 world credit disaster.
Both of those were in turn the culmination of a series of earthquake tremors and shocks in the world monopoly capitalist system over the post-war years and particularly after the initial post-war “boom” of the 1950s and 1960s (a temporary rebuilding upturn made possible by the wartime destruction), which have wiped out whole countries through currency collapses and credit implosion etc.
Those were symptoms of the giant imbalances within capitalism and its relentless monopolisation which draws more and more production into efficient socialised and planned worldscale processes but thereby accentuates the giant contradictions that bring it to eventual slump and collapse, because control still remains in the hands of private ownership.
The ever growing potential of such huge, technologically advanced production – by great international corporations organising and coordinating vast masses of workers across the world, – to be used for mankind’s benefit (reducing environmental impact, serving real needs not wasteful over-consumption, cutting pointless labour drudgery, distributing benefits across all the planet to all people) remains trapped by the continuing manic pursuit of profit and “world domination” growth at all costs, aiming to screw the rest of the world and wipeout the competition.
These great combines represent great steps towards communism and will be once they are in common ownership, as Lenin observed.
But at present the incredible distortions resulting from private “ownership”, concentrating all the value of these huge international human enterprises and labour into a few, mainly American, individual hands (the bourgeois class) has reached insane proportions whereby someone like Jeff Bezos (owner of Amazon) can increase his “worth” overnight, by multiple billions of dollars, in the middle of pandemic disaster, without lifting anything more than the phone to call his stockbroker.
This bourgeois class, of a few dozen ultra-billionaires, a few thousand more plain vanilla billionaires, and a few million lesser fry with “only” hundreds of $millions to their name, will do everything it can with this vast financial power, and the power and brute force of the capitalist state (army, police, judges, prisons, CIA, special forces etc etc) that serves to protect its property and privilege, to keep on concentrating even more of the world’s resources and wealth in its hands, indifferent to the damage it does wiping out rain forests, oceans, species, communities and even whole nations, as it callously and ruthlessly extracts (appropriates, steals) ever more surplus value from the remaining 7 or so billion on the planet whose labour alone is the source of all value (as Marx analysed in Capital and has never seriously been challenged on).
And it will be as ruthless as needed to do all this, particularly as the crisis threatens the lives of the masses, further inflames their inevitable hatred and stirs rebellion, crude and “terroristic” at first and then increasingly consciously organised and directed at ending this nazi-system.
The laws of eat-or-be-eaten competition and monopolisation within capitalism will not allow any other outcome, however “nice” any particular boss/owner might be (not many of them), or however “generously” they found trusts to donate to charities etc (of their choice obviously, still according to their wishes and not what the masses need necessarily – like insane $billions adolescent space fantasies of “living on Mars”).
As the Covid pandemic demonstrates, such “niceness” has strict limits, and the logic of capitalist accumulation overrides all basic humanity and rationality. Even the petty bourgeois professors are dismayed:
Since the start of the pandemic, American billionaires have been cleaning up. As more than 50 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance, billionaires became $637bn richer. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth has ballooned 59%. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’s, 39%. Walmart’s Walton family has added $25bn.
Big drug company CEOs and their major investors are doing nicely, too. Since the start of the pandemic, Big Pharma has raised prices on over 250 prescription drugs, 61 of which are being used to treat Covid-19.
Apologists say this is the “free market” responding to supply and demand – the barons of Big Tech and Big Pharma merely providing what consumers desperately need during the pandemic.
But the market also operates under laws that ban profiteering, price gouging, and monopolizing, and that tax excess profits in wartime. Where did they go? The Trump administration hasn’t enforced them.
Trump is also ignoring laws that ban trades on insider information. The White House is distributing billions in subsidies and loans to select corporations – enabling CEOs and boards to load up on stocks and stock options just before deals are announced, then rake in fat profits after stock prices surge.
Insiders from at least 11 companies have sold shares worth over $1bn after such announcements, according to an analysis by the New York Times.
In late June, a San Francisco company called Vaxart announced that the Trump administration had selected it to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Presto. The value of stock options distributed to company insiders just weeks before increased six-fold. Stock options held by Vaxart’s CEO went from $4.3m to more than $28m.
Moderna, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has never brought a vaccine to market, but company insiders have sold some $248m of shares – most of them after the company was selected in April to receive Trump funding. (Moderna plans to sell its vaccine for profit although taxpayers have footed its research and development.)
The most blatant involves the venerable old camera and film-maker, Kodak. On 28 July, Trump announced a $765m deal with the firm to bring drug production back to the United States. He called it “one of the most important deals in the history of the US pharmaceutical industries,” even though Kodak isn’t even a pharmaceutical company.
Before the announcement, Kodak had handed its board of directors 240,000 stock options, and just the day before had given its CEO 1.75m stock options. After Trump’s announcement, Kodak shares shot up more than 2,757%. Suddenly, the board’s stock options were worth about $4m, and the CEO’s, about $50m.
Is this sort of insider trading against the law? You bet. The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the deal, now temporarily on hold. But the SEC’s co-director of enforcement, Steven Peikin, who had been investigating several of the deals involving the White House and corporate insiders – including Kodak – resigned last week, without explanation. Another in the lengthening list of independent regulators and inspectors general forced out by Trump?
This much is clear: Trump and his Republican enablers won’t provide $600 per week to tens of millions of Americans who need the money to survive the pandemic, because Trump and the GOP believe the money undermines incentives to work. Yet Trump has no problem letting billionaires illegally profit off the pandemic. He thinks that as long as they buoy the stock market, they’re helping the American economy.
That’s pure rubbish. The stock market is not America. The richest 1% of Americans own half the value of all shares of stock held by American households. The richest 10% owns 92%. For years now, stock prices have risen largely because profits have been siphoned from the wages of ordinary workers.
In the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, stock prices are almost back to where they were before the pandemic began. Big corporations and major investors are doing fine. Billionaires are doing better than ever. But most Americans are sinking fast.
This isn’t just unfair. Much of it is illegal.
Sly corrupt profiteering and privatising of the NHS by the Tory government, handing out private contracts to friends and family without even a pretence of proper tendering procedures (“suspended due to Covid”!!!) is another aspect of this degenerate plundering, suitably reduced to the back-alley spivvy dimensions befitting a has-been British ruling class sidekick.
Its disastrous corrupt response to the Covid pandemic, now almost beyond derision, is made even more contemptible by the complete incompetence and failure of many of the deals and the empty bragging about “world beating” that goes with them – from useless phone app developments, unused Nightingale hospitals and wasted “track and trace” testing systems, to the misdesign of face-masks, wasting tens of millions of pounds because the ear loops were wrong.
As many analyses have now shown, the poor and ordinary, and particularly minority BAME populations, have borne the brunt of the pandemic, made vulnerable through poverty, lack of resources, bad or crowded housing, and limited medical access.
Forced exposure to the virus because of the need both to work in close contact with many others, in sometimes monstrous sweatshop and semi-slave conditions as exposed in Leicester, plus the need to get to work on crowded public transport, has meant the impact of the deadly virus is particularly severe for the poorest.
The cynicism of Trump in America, and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil contemptuous of the lost lives and family pain of the disposable poor, is even sicker.
The impact in the Third World is even worse, but largely undisclosed because the resources are not even in place to count the dead, even when they have been left in the street in their coffins, as in Ecuador early on.
Protesting that all this is “illegal” as in the piece above, or making calls for “special taxes” on the billionaires, as just suggested by “radical” fake-“left” Democrat Bernie Sanders is a hopeless and deliberately misleading response meantime, just more of the reformist sky-pie that has failed the working class for nearly two centuries.
Any concessions made in the past in the richest of countries (and only those), to buy off the privileged layers of the working class and head-off revolutionary sentiment were only ever breadcrumbs from the table – and most of those are being dismantled or withdrawn as the crisis bites, as Leninism has always warned would happen.
Austerity and the Covid disaster demonstrates that “regulation” and control is now beyond useless as does the entire history of imperialist exploitation.
Firstly it will never be applied and made to stick in crisis conditions (and mostly never would have in the boom either).
If any government comes anywhere close to “restraining” the monopolists, particularly as the trade war and Depression unfolds, it will be overturned or deposed, or even be wiped out by military coups.
That has been the fate of dozens of regimes worldwide, from central America, Haiti, Iran and the Congo in the 1950s, through notably the lessons of the Allende socialist front in Chile in 1973 toppled by the CIA-directed General Pinochet coup, and the Sukarno left-nationalism in Indonesia drowned in the blood of at least one million, and most likely many more, communists, sympathisers and “suspected fellow travellers” in 1965, all the way to the toppling (and eventual killing) of the newly elected president Mohamed Morsi in Egypt in General Sisi’s 2013 counter-revolution against the Arab Spring, and a still continuing string of rightwing “judicial” coups in Latin America against the left-nationalist movements there, the last in November last year violently toppling Evo Morales in Bolivia to re-establish a bunch of fascists to open it up to Empire corporate plundering.
Complacent middle-class sneering (laced with backward racist attitudes) that such things might happen in “primitive or less developed” countries but not “proper democracies”, needs to rethink – not only is it “democratic” imperialism which instigates and initiates, and often carries through, such coups and overturns but they are increasingly obviously carried through everywhere.
The post-war Gladio secret counter-revolution dominating Italy is case in point, the generals in Greece another.
Now Britain itself is an object lesson in the dirty dealing and sabotage that can and will be brought to bear, with the overwhelmingly popular anti-austerity left tide which lifted Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership five years ago, sent spinning into disarray by the monstrous Goebbels big lie campaign against alleged “left anti-semitism”, set up and run by Western and Zionist intelligence, aided by the reactionary class collaborative opportunism of much of the TUC/Labourite tradition itself stabbing this tepid “leftism” in the back (albeit capitulated to by Corbynism’s fake-“leftism” which was never going to make a real challenge to capitalism anyway).
This was a slow coup by state poison disinformation, lying media manipulation and coordinated media character assassination, backed up with sinister threats from assorted generals and admirals wheeled onto the TV and radio, and with a final stitch-up by the outrageous parliamentary twisting and “bending of procedure” by the rightwing spiv Tories themselves (and their Svengali-like “advisers”).
The totally specious garbage about “anti-Jewish racism” on the left (it was no such thing but valid hostility to the Zionist Nazi occupation of Palestine - see multiple past EPSRs eg No1579) is only one element of the manipulation and bending of public opinion that is par for bourgeois “democracy”, carried out in modern days not only by monopoly capitalist press domination, educational, advertising and cultural brainwashing, and the gerrymandered electoral procedure that has always been the reality of the laughable “parliamentary choice” (between two essentially similar capitalist parties anyway so that the alternative threatens nothing if it ever wins through) but now also using all the ultra-sophisticated big-data tailored “influencing” through social media by well-paid specialist “consultancies” who openly boast about their capacities to “turn” elections and get the results desired by the big money men pulling all the strings (whose dictatorship behind the scenes has always been the reality of all democracy within capitalism as Lenin explained).
Donald Trump’s turn to federal repression in America around the storm of anti-police demonstrations which followed the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, allied with his prevarications about the next presidential election, indicates to what depths American imperialism is preparing to plunge, should even all that election racketeering finally fail to hold the line.
Firstly he makes clear that the election will be bent and twisted on an even greater scale, refusing to answer whether the reactionary Trump White House will even accept the result in November, (it being astonishing enough that the question should even have to be posed).
The ground is being prepared to override the vote as this long winded academic account speculates:
President Trump, who, in his recent interview with Chris Wallace, once again reminded the nation that losing is not an option. He will reject any election that results in his loss, claiming it to be rigged.
Alarming as this may be, Trump alone cannot crash the system. Instead, an unusual constellation of forces – the need to rely heavily on mail-in ballots because of the Covid-19 pandemic; the political divisions in the key swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania; and a hyper-polarized Congress – all work together to turn Trump’s defiance into a crisis of historic proportions.
Consider the following [election] scenario: By midnight, it’s clear that former Vice-President Biden enjoys a substantial lead in the national popular vote but the electoral college vote remains tight. With the races in 47 states and the District of Columbia called, Biden leads Trump in the electoral college vote 252 to 240, but neither candidate has secured the 270 votes necessary for victory. All eyes remain on Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and their 46 electoral college votes.
In each of these three states, Trump enjoys a slim lead, but the election-day returns do not include a huge number of mail-in ballots. Some states, such as Colorado, have been counting their mail-in votes from the day they arrived, but not Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. These states do not allow elections officials to begin the task of counting the mail-ins until election day itself. It will take days, even weeks, for the key swing states to finish their count. The election hangs in the balance.
Only...Trump has already declared himself re-elected. His reliable megaphones in the right-wing media repeat and amplify his declaration, and urge Biden to concede. Biden says he will do no such thing. Biden knows that the bulk of the mail-in ballots have been cast in heavily populated urban areas, where voters were unwilling to expose themselves to the health risks of in-person voting. And he is keenly aware that urban voters vote overwhelmingly Democratic.
The count of the mail-in ballots in the three swing states is plagued by delays. Overworked election officials, slowed by the need to maintain social distance, struggle. Trump’s lawyers, aided by the Department of Justice, bring multiple suits insisting that tens of thousands of votes must be tossed out for having failed to arrive by the date specified by statute. All the same, as the count creeps forward, a clear pattern emerges. By the time the three states complete their canvass of votes nearly a month after the election, the nation faces an astonishing result. Biden now leads in all three. It appears he has been elected our next president.
Only Trump tweets bloody murder. All his most dire predictions have come to pass. The mail-in ballots are infected with fraud. The radical Democrats are trying to steal his victory.
Now things take an ominous turn. Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania all share the same political profile: all three states are controlled by Republican legislatures faithful to Trump[who] declare Trump victorious in their state. Citing unconscionable delays of mail-in, state Republicans award Trump their electoral college votes.
Yet all three swing states have Democratic governors. Outraged [they] announce that they  certify Biden as the winner, and send the certificate to Congress.
It is now January 6, 2021, the day on which the joint session of Congress officially tallies the votes  normally a ceremonial function. But Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania’s conflicting electoral certificates mean the election hangs in the balance.
Seems far-fetched? And yet the nation faced a nearly identical crisis in the notorious Hayes-Tilden election of 1876, when three separate states submitted conflicting electoral certificates. With neither Hayes nor Tilden enjoying an electoral college majority, a divided Congress – a Democratic House and a Republican Senate –fought bitterly over which certificates to recognize. Congress tried to resolve things by handing the problem to a one-off special electoral commission, but partisan rancor plagued the work of that body, too. Inauguration Day neared and the nation had no president-elect –or rather, it had two rivals both claiming victory. President Grant weighed declaring martial law.
Catastrophe was avoided only by a last second disastrous compromise between the parties: Republicans agreed to remove Federal troops from the South, paving the way to Jim Crow, and in return, Samuel Tilden, the Democrats’ candidate, agreed to concede. Chastened by that experience, Congress passed a law –the Electoral Count Act of 1887 (ECA) –meant to guide Congress should a state ever again submit more than one electoral certificate. Since its passage, the provisions of the ECA have been triggered only once – that was back in 1969, and the issue was trivial, with no bearing on Nixon’s victory.
But lawmakers quickly realize that the 1887 law is glaringly deficient. Congress descends into acrimonious debate
Stalemate. Both parties appeal to the US supreme court, but the Court – in sharp contrast to its intervention in 2000 in Bush v Gore – proves unable to solve the crisis.
Experts insist that the court has no role to play ...the court chooses not to intervene.
President Trump invokes the Insurrection Act, deploying the military to protect his “victory.” The nation finds itself in a full-blown crisis of succession from which there is no clear, peaceful exit.
...should Trump’s defeat turn on the count of mail-in ballots in our crucial swing states, prepare for chaos. Our nation could witness dark times.
Lawrence Douglas is the James J Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought, at Amherst College, Massachusetts.
Nothing like such a convoluted scenario is necessary, of course, and nor is it the case that Trump would go quietly if there were a big vote against him. Nor is the “independent” court system likely to stay neutral since the ruling class has carefully stuffed it with reactionaries during Trump’s first term.
And the 19th century parallels miss out the crucial issue that America was a rising power at that point in a world system which had not even reached the monopoly capitalist phase of inevitable world war. Now the US, and the rest of the world’s bourgeoisie, faces the greatest ever collapse, which almost certainly leads to the end of its system and its 800 year rule.
But no ruling order ever went down quietly – and the bourgeoisie is now cornered-rat dangerous, and all the more so given the confusion and lack of preparedness of the world working class.
The other side of this Trumpite story tearing up democracy is the rehearsal for open dictatorship by military rule, nervously tried in Washington DC against the George Floyd “I can’t breath” protests and escalated in Portland, Oregon where the initial anti-racism protests have broadened out with anti-fascist and other protests:
Simonis, 35, who uses they/them pronouns, was in an area that has been a hotspot for anti-racist and anti-police brutality protests. They were suddenly surrounded by federal officers. Their service dog, needed for their PTSD, was pulled away. They were handcuffed and maced.
“Wallace is like my wheelchair or my insulin pump,” Simonis, a quantitative ecologist, told the Guardian. “Yes, he’s a puppy dog, but I can’t live without him.”
Simonis said it took an hour before they were read their Miranda rights and told they were being charged with spray-painting federal property.
For the next nine hours, they said, they were held in a cell in the basement of a federal courthouse, with no potable water. Despite repeatedly requesting a lawyer, they were questioned by federal officers, including a special agent from the Federal Protective Service, the security police division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
When Simonis was released early on Saturday, they were handed a US district court violation notice that lists their offenses as failure to comply with a lawful order of a police officer and assaulting/impeding/resisting certain officers or employees.
After more than 50 nights of protests in Portland, prompted by the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis in May, demonstrators in Portland are being met not only by local police officers, but also militarized federal agents deployed by Donald Trump.
On Saturday night, police said protesters broke into the Portland Police Association building, set it on fire and started dumpster fires. The department declared a riot and teargas was used, according to pictures and video from the scene. In a video posted by Zane Sparling, a reporter for the Portland Tribune, a federal officer appeared to be repeatedly hitting with a baton a man standing virtually still.
There have been multiple reports of federal agents driving through the city in unmarked vehicles, picking demonstrators off the streets. In one instance, a person was handcuffed by two people in camouflage with “police” patches and taken into an unmarked vehicle.
Simonis said the presence of such officers and their own experience meant: “We can talk about defunding the police, but it’s more than that. We need to defund Ice [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], we need to demilitarize our border. There’s so much that’s wrapped up in this.”
DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On Sunday, Trump tweeted: “We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE.”
Portland mayor Ted Wheeler has called on federal officers to stay away. Speaking to CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, he said: “The president has a complete misunderstanding of cause and effect.
“We have dozens, if not hundreds of federal troops descending upon our city. And … they are sharply escalating the situation. Their presence is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism. It’s not helping the situation at all. They’re not wanted here. We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave.”
Lindsey Smith, 26, a pre-school teacher who has been attending protests regularly, said she started noticing federal officers firing teargas and detaining and arresting people at the beginning of July.
On three recent occasions, she said, she saw people bang on the boarded-up doors of the federal courthouse in downtown Portland. Officers opened a door, grabbed the person and pulled them inside. But she said it was important not to let such actions overshadow the fact that the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has been “extremely violent” towards protesters for much longer.
Governor Kate Brown said in a recent statement that Trump was guilty of “a blatant abuse of power by the federal government” and was looking for a confrontation in the hopes of winning political points in Ohio or Iowa.
Oregon attorney general Ellen Rosenblum filed a lawsuit in federal court on Friday, against DHS, the Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Protection Service, alleging their behavior violated state citizens’ right to peacefully protest as well as their due process rights.
A PPB statement said police were “committed to supporting peaceful protests and demonstrations”, and repeatedly stressed that federal officers were working “under their own supervision and direction”.
On CNN, Wheeler said: “The tactics that the Trump administration are using on the streets of Portland are abhorrent. People are … being denied probable cause and they’re denied due process. They don’t even know who’s pulling them into the vans. The people aren’t identifying themselves. And, as far as I can see, this is completely unconstitutional.”
These outright police state moves, described by some of the shocked liberal wing of American middle class opinion as a Pinochet-like traducing of democratic norms with their unmarked uniforms and cars, may have been withdrawn for the moment by a nervous Trump White House, but remain a significant indicator of where the ruling class is going.
And it is going there not because Donald Trump is a particularly maverick, fascist-minded nazi-white supremacist-sympathising, racist, misogynist, depraved, selfish, egotistical, snobbish, arrogant monster somehow accidentally ending up in the Oval Office, and if only he could be levered out from behind its desk everything would be alright again, but because this is what the ruling class wants and needs as its giant slump takes on more and more water and the entire capitalist system lists dangerously.
Or rather it is what a significant wing of the ruling class wants in conflict with the nervous “liberal” Democrat wing, fearful that such open and crude repression will backfire and push the working class faster towards revolution.
So fascism “could not happen here”???? It already did – it is called capitalism in its crisis phase and will go as far as needed (and as far the ruling class can push it).
This makes a mockery of limiting the street protests to calling for “defunding the police” etc - let all protest continue but the sacrifice and fighting spirit needs a much broader perspective.
Only the revolutionary overthrow of this entire system will suffice to stop the degeneration.
Without it, the treachery of “left reformism”, like the Bernie Sanders’ “tax the billionaires” fatuousness, simply disarms the working class.
Even if capitalist dictatorship was not ready to block any “regulation” and “taxing”, such attempts to hold back the monopolies would not work anyway.
The relentless consolidation into ever fewer, more powerful monopolies is the very essence of capitalism and unstoppable while it continues, as is the drive once more towards gigantic conflicts to dominate the world between the great monopoly groupings, (US, Europe, Japan, China in some respects) culminating in World War.
Only taking them over, in common ownership, can resolve the contradictions so they can be directed and controlled for rational human development for everyone.
And that means a titanic class war against the whole capitalist order, to end its entire system and establish a new society under the firmest control of the working class, possible only through the dictatorship of the proletariat.
And that means building the revolutionary party to develop the understanding and leadership for such a huge fight.
What Sanders and all other alleged “lefts” could point to, but will not, is the lesson given the world by China, Vietnam and Cuba, in how planned economies with a popularly supported central authority serving the interests of the majority, have been able to rapidly bring the virus under control even with limited resources like Cuba’s still being relentlessly and damagingly strangled by the 60 year long US economic blockade. Even the middle-class Daily Mail, dismayed by the floundering and corrupt incompetence of the Eton wideboys, felt obliged to comment favourably:
Britain could have avoided thousands of coronavirus deaths in the first wave of the crisis if it took Cuba’s approach, a public health expert has claimed.
Fewer than 100 people have been killed by Covid-19 on the Caribbean archipelago, which is famed for being a communist state.
An expert has said the country’s success has been down to its door-to-door screening of every home — known as ‘shoe-leather’ epidemiology.
Thousands of doctors, nurses and students carried out testing and tracing on foot, quarantining all suspected cases in state-run isolation centres for 14 days.
Professor John Ashton, an ex-regional director of public health in England, said Cuba’s efforts against Covid-19 had been ‘outstanding’.
And he praised the nation — home to 11 million people — for having a system ‘grounded in public health’, investing in local workers.
In comparison, the UK works from a centralised system run by Public Health England which gives orders from the top down and which Professor Ashton said is ‘flawed’.
Professor Ashton claims that the UK’s ‘dramatic failure’ could have been averted by adopting the same methods, which could have saved up to 30,000 lives.
Only Leicester in the East Midlands has used the door-knocking strategy in response to being the worst hit Covid-19 spot in the UK and under a ‘local lockdown’.
Cuba has only recorded 87 coronavirus deaths so far, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In comparison, the British government has reported 44,830 laboratory-confirmed fatalities while national statistical bodies have reported 55,706 based on both suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19.
Professor John Ashton told MailOnline: ‘Cuba has had hardly any deaths at all.
‘For a comparable sized country like Germany, we’ve had twice as many deaths. I think it’s reasonable to say 30,000 deaths could have been avoided based on the failure to get a grip, which was largely to do with testing.’
Shoe leather epidemiology was actually first invented in Soho, London, in the 1850s.
It was proved worthy to control a cholera epidemic because local health officials were able to trace cases to drinking water from a specific street pump.
The practice was used for generations until invention of the ‘flawed agency’ PHE in 2013, according to Professor John Ashton a former regional director of public health in the north west of England.
He told MailOnline sources to control the Covid-19 crisis were available at a local level to help control the spread of the disease, but these were ‘neglected’.
‘We should have made more use of primary care, local government and volunteers,’ he said. ‘Almost everyone is registered with a GP. For first point of contact, it might have been useful to use that.
‘The third arm is volunteers, the 750,000 who responded to the NHS. The volunteers could have been enlisted to help out how they have in China or Hong Kong, taking temperatures outside schools and supermarkets.’
Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Professor Ashton, based in Liverpool, praised Cuba for reacting quickly to the emergence of the new coronavirus in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
The country’s communist government drew up plans before the WHO had declared a pandemic.
Throughout February, medical facilities across the nation were reorganised and staff trained to control the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Then, when Cuba’s first three cases were discovered on March 11 — three tourists from Italy — the plans were put in immediate action.
Tens of thousands of healthcare workers started screening every house resident on foot, Professor Ashton said. It is not clear if every single citizen has been tested.
Seeking out cases quickly helped prevent the outbreak from spiralling out of control – unlike what happened in Europe — with no more than 100 cases detected on the worst day.
Cuba went into lockdown on March 20, when it reported five new cases in one day, and shut its borders on April 1, despite it being a huge holiday destination.
In comparison, the UK kept its borders open from March to June. It only advised against non-essential travel and took a more relaxed approach to screenings at airports.
Professor Ashton said: ‘Cuba has long been renowned for its ability to turn in world beating health statistics while continuing to struggle economically.
‘With a health system grounded in public health and primary care, the country invests heavily in producing health workers who are primarily trained to work in the community. Their efforts with Covid-19 have been outstanding.’
A deluge of Washington hate campaigning and poisonous lies over Hong Kong, the Uighurs, Tibet and Covid itself, pretending that the US and the West is really all about upholding “democratic rights and free speech” (as in Saudi Arabia, with Julian Assange, in America itself, with those opposing Zionist atrocities and repression etc etc ????????), has not stopped China’s achievement resonating through the world.
Despite swallowing some of this foetid Western bilge, some slightly more principled professionals feel obliged to speak out from the ruck of opportunism and careerism that characterises much of the “intellectual world” within capitalism, grovellingly repeating all the demented CIA propaganda blaming China for the whole pandemic. First some facts about virus origins:
Coronavirus may not have originated in China after all, but was instead lying dormant in different parts of the world until environmental conditions allowed for its emergence, an expert has suggested.
Dr Tom Jefferson, from Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), has highlighted a number of recent discoveries showing the virus’s presence around the world before it emerged in Asia.
It comes amid growing evidence that Covid-19 is, in fact, a global organism that was awaiting favourable conditions to finally emerge.
Traces of the disease have been found in sewage samples from Spain, Italy and Brazil which pre-date its discovery in China.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Dr Jefferson has called for an investigation into how and why the virus seems to thrive in environments such as food factories and meatpacking plants.
Along with CEBM director Professor Carl Heneghan, Dr Jefferson believes this could potentially uncover new transmission routes, such as through the sewage system or shared toilet facilities.
He told the paper: “Strange things like this happened with Spanish Flu. In 1918, around 30 per cent of the population of Western Samoa died of Spanish Flu and they hadn’t had ay communication with the outside world.
“The explanation could only be that these agents don’t come or go anywhere. They are always here and something ignites them, maybe human density or environmental conditions, and this is what we should look for.
“There is quite a lot of evidence of huge amounts of the virus in sewage all over the place, and an increasing amount of evidence there is faecal transmission.
“There is a high concentration where sewage is four degrees, which is the ideal temperature for it to be stabled and presumably activated. And meatpacking plants are often at four degrees.
“These outbreaks need to be investigated properly.”
The Chinese government does have questions to answer. The first case of Covid-19, as later reported in the Lancet, took place in Wuhan on 1 December. Why did it take a whole month for Chinese authorities to report the outbreak of a dangerous new disease to the international community? For such a highly transmissible virus, those four weeks of silence lost precious time for alerting the world to the risks of coronavirus.
But the scale of the anti-China reaction is disproportionate to the reality of the courageous contributions made by Chinese scientists to our global understanding of this pandemic. It was Chinese scientists who first described the human threat of this new disease on 24 January. It was Chinese scientists who first documented person-to-person transmission. It was Chinese scientists who first sequenced the genome of the virus. It was Chinese scientists who called attention to the importance of scaling up access to personal protective equipment, testing and quarantine. It was Chinese scientists who warned of the threat of a pandemic.
In their book, Hidden Hand: Exposing How the Chinese Communist Party is Reshaping the World, Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg argue: “An active pushback strategy is required.” They go on to say that “boycotts are often effective” and conclude that, “western nations need to realise that a CCP-led China is not and never will be its friend”.
This approach to China is deeply mistaken. My experience of working in China, collaborating with world-class Chinese scientists and physicians, and cooperating with the Chinese government over its extraordinary efforts to strengthen its health services, tells me that China is a complex nation and that binary verdicts of guilt or innocence misunderstand its intentions.
Instead of joining the chorus of criticism against Beijing, one should perhaps try to put oneself in the position of Chinese policymakers. The common western narrative is that, as the country’s economy has grown, so have its strategic political, economic, diplomatic and military ambitions. China, so this narrative goes, now represents a threat to western leadership of the free world. China has transformed itself from being a partner to being a competitor and rival. China has to be contained.
The Chinese perspective is very different. The “century of humiliation”, when China was dominated by a colonially-minded west and Japan, only came to an end with the Communist victory in the civil war in 1949. The country grew erratically and with terrifying mistakes under Mao Zedong, who aimed to establish relatively secure national borders. Deng Xiaoping created the conditions for economic expansion, lifting as many as 800 million people out of poverty.
Every contemporary Chinese leader, including Xi Jinping, has seen their task as protecting the territorial security won by Mao and the economic security achieved by Deng. Many of China’s policymakers will argue that the government’s actions should be seen not as aggressive, but as defensive.
In the case of Covid-19, China’s scientists acted decisively and responsibly to protect the health of the Chinese people. They advised early lockdown to cut the lines of viral transmission. They implemented strict physical distancing policies to reduce social mixing. And they built temporary hospitals to expand bed capacity and to enable triage of the sickest patients to intensive care.
By contrast with the way Chinese authorities handled the Sars outbreak in 2002-03, and despite the uncertainties about what took place in December, Chinese doctors quickly warned their government and their government warned the world. Western democracies failed to listen to those warnings. There are certainly questions for China to answer, but to blame China for this pandemic is to rewrite the history of Covid-19 and to marginalise the failings of western nations.
At moments of geopolitical stress, it is surely better to intensify, not weaken, personal and institutional relationships. It is surely better to build better understanding between peoples. The present wave of anti-China sentiment has now evolved into an unpleasant, even racist, sinophobia, which threatens international peace and security. China’s 1.4 billion people are not immune from the economic shocks that are currently enveloping the world. A pandemic is a moment for solidarity between peoples, not conflict between governments.
Instead of accelerating a new cold war between the west and China, medicine and medical science can help to establish a new compact between nations. Rigorous questions can still be asked. Perceived encroachments on liberties can still be challenged. But these questions and challenges must be pursued through a commitment to strengthened cooperation, not hostile threats. A pandemic is a moment for conciliation, respect, and honesty between friends.
• Richard Horton is a doctor and edits the Lancet
Despite some sound points the second piece still swallows the overall hate campaigning by the Western intelligence agencies against China, and its Goebbels lies about Hong Kong, the Uighurs, etc, which have been set in train precisely because the West hates the example being set by China and is desperate to prevent the working class and Third World masses from seeing it as an indication of the way forwards.
The EPSR has analysed repeatedly the falsity of the lies around supposed “freedom” demonstrations in Hong Kong (in fact extremely violent counter-revolutionary provocations) and the nonsense that China is running “concentration camps” in Xinjiang province with all the innuendo of “repression, slave labour and extermination” etc carried by the name from imperialism’s horrors during the Second World War.
Its Uighur policy is in fact a fairly humane control of violent Islamist jihadism, which has carried out hundreds of attacks and killings in the province, offering re-education rather than bombing of the entire region into scorched earth wreckage as the US, Britain, France etc have done in Iraq, Syria, Libya and currently Yemen (see recent issues EPSR) to suppress “terrorism”.
Of course it involves force and coercion, to stop disruptive and dangerous attacks on a workers state, but petty bourgeois hysteria about “totalitarianism” and “nightmares” is both ludicrous and deluded, just more of the poisonous anti-communism that has held back the working class for a century and helped give the ruling class a free hand to impose the real nightmare horrors on the planet that its colonialist and neo-colonial exploitation have meant from the beginning, wiping out dozens of peoples, stealing their lands and forcing them into outright slavery or sweatshop, factory and plantation semi-slavery.
It would be useful if Beijing or Havana, or other revisionist leaderships were to be far more assertive about their authority as a workers state, explaining to the world working class the importance of the dictatorship of the proletariat and its revolutionary role in planning and developing a new society that eventually can relinquish all need for “authority” and coercion as classes disappear and the entire population develops the reason and self-discipline of Marxist consciousness.
That would require re-developing Leninist perspectives of the need for worldwide revolution, as a guiding basis for all understanding and analysis of which there are few signs.
They have all at least demonstrated firm action in defending themselves against the non-stop subversion and twisted lies of the Western demonisation campaigns, whipping up the violence in Hong Kong or blockade strangulation around Cuba.
But revisionism still harbours notions that
“conciliation, respect, and honesty between friends”
can prevail as the wishful thinking in the Horton piece above proposes, presumably reflecting attitudes from discussions in China.
By all means “peaceful coexistence” diplomacy can continue to be part of the fight for the survival of any workers state.
But it was the elevation of this Leninist temporary tactic to a permanent status by Stalin’s USSR leadership which was part of the disastrous retreat from overall revolutionary perspectives which led ultimately to the Gorbachevite capitulation to Western “free market” and “democracy” which liquidated the Soviet Union in 1989-91 (EPSR Books Vol 21 Unanswered Polemics).
The crude subversion attempts will continue for as long as imperialism exists.
However, the latest desperate efforts to keep the failed Hong Kong “democracy” pretence provocations going have had to be conducted from London, because finally China has correctly suppressed the non-stop violent sabotaging anarchic damage of the privileged petty bourgeois elements, and the Western coordinated agitators given endless airtime for the last 18 month to spout their bilious hatred of communism, have had to flee.
The latest legal stunt of “suing” the Hong Kong police from London is not only an outrageous colonialist arrogance and yet more gross hypocrisy (why not sue most of the US police then? or perhaps the Saudi Arabian police etc etc, or a hundred other police forces, like say, the French brutally suppressing the gilets-jaunes) but a giveaway about the bare-faced twisting of Western propaganda, a latest trick being to accuse the Hong Kong police of “using the knee”.
This sudden discovery of a supposed “brutal tactic” in Hong Kong long after the George Floyd protests and without any substantiation anyway except carefully coached “witness statements” - and certainly without any record of deaths or major injuries – shows how the West always turns around its own well witnessed and proven brutalities into accusations directed outwards as a smokescreen for its own barbarity.
Even more crude is the latest CIA/EU attempt to topple the dogged anti-Western regime of revisionist Alexander Lukashenko in Byelorussia, maintaining in part some of the old Soviet planning and state ownership principles of the past and refusing to give way to imperialist demands to open the economy for privatisation and other western plundering.
A great flurry of supposed “popular” opposition has been hyped to the eyeballs over the last weeks, and during the presidential election last week, won hands down by Lukashenko, with ludicrous claims about the numbers supporting the rival candidates and supposed “mass demonstrations” - one extraordinarily precise estimate of “62,000” giving away its completely made-up basis. A “privately commissioned exit poll” assured the world that the opposition had “really” got 80% of the vote and not the less than 20% actually counted.
Careful watching of the TV news footage made clear the usual practice of tight camera angles and commentary hype was hugely inflating the alleged “popular support” which was obviously mainly in the better of areas of the capital.
As always too a round of obscure “expert” professors – one from the University of Alberta! - were wheeled out to assure everybody that it was all up for the government.
The alleged state “violence” of police responses to the provocateurs trying to instigate violence themselves was hyped up with reports of “at least one demonstrator being killed” - a total lie withdrawn from later press reports, but not before it had entered public opinion exactly as intended.
Buried in the reports but not emphasised was the admission that “a few” Molotov cocktails had been thrown by the “demonstrators” giving the lie to the “right to peaceful protest” indignation much hyped on the BBC etc, just as the Hong Kong demonstrators were anything but merely “making peaceful democratic demands against a monstrous dictatorial regime etc etc”.
This whole stunt to divert petty bourgeois minds with yet more shallow “anti-totalitarian” protest, reeks of CIA measures, from the careful selection of the rival candidates who were, not one, not even two, but three articulate middle-class women, (to tap single-issue feminist anti-communism in the West) starting “by chance” as separate candidates who just happened to come together in a carefully coordinated package larded with the soundbites and easy-symbolism that the sophisticated intelligence agency teams had dreamed up:
Three women spearheaded the campaign to unseat Alexander Lukashenko, a novelty in Belarus’s male-dominated politics. When Tikhanovskaya announced that her campaign would ally with those represented by Maria Kolesnikova and Veronika Tsepkalo, the three women held up their hands in a peace sign, a raised fist, and a heart. These quickly became campaign symbols.
Just as with the Ukraine counter-revolution in 2014, organised at a cost of $5bn over years by American imperialism there were suddenly appearing colour tokens, not the orange scarves on the Maidan in Kiev but white bracelets:
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s supporters wore white bracelets to polling stations on Sunday in the hope that a show of popular support for the opposition candidate would prevent election workers from spoiling their ballots. Similar initiatives called for voters to upload photographs of their ballots or fold them in specific ways, so they would be visible in the ballot box. Supporters have been seen wearing white ribbons to the subsequent protests or have tied them to their cars and motorcycles.
Note the snide and unsubstantiated innuendo about “spoilt ballot papers”.
No one has to uphold the ponderous revisionist Lukashenko as giving the kind of leadership direction to the masses that is vital for the future nor even to give any illusions that Byelorussia is anything like a great socialist example in the post-Soviet period.
Nor need they maintain that everything about the election was open and above board; but what they do need to be clear on is that the entire hyped challenge is nothing to do with “seeking to uphold democracy and freedom” but a Western provocation attempting to install openly reactionary elements just as was done in the Ukraine in 2014 and certainly leading to just as reactionary a conclusion, with the emergence of every kind of overt fascism, and the potential for the brute violence and killing vengeance seen there, including the non-stop war on mostly working class Eastern Ukraine where the dead now number at least 20,000 and the destruction has blighted city after city.
Another giveaway about the opposition has been its adoption of various anti-communist “anthems”, almost certainly written by the CIA like the infamous Winds of Change maudlin Berlin Wall song by the Scorpions, all laced with vague and amorphous pleas for “freedom” and “change”:
Two songs have been popular at pro-Tikhanovskaya rallies.
One is Peremen (Changes) by the Russian group Kino, a song from the perestroika era of the late 1980s that became a protest anthem in eastern Europe. Its lyrics include the lines: “Our hearts are longing for changes. Our eyes are longing for changes.’ Two Belarusian DJs were each sentenced last week to 10 days in jail for playing it at a pro-govemment concert. The other was a Russian translation of the Polish song Walls, which was popular among the workers of the 1980s Solidarity movement. The chorus ends: “Then the walls will fall, fall, fall. And bury the old world.”
The fake “trade union” Solidarnosc, with its preposterously hyped-up membership numbers (just as now), was the archetypal counter-revolutionary movement of the last century, backed up by CIA and Vatican funds to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars to topple the Polish workers state.
The only “walls that fell” eventually were the Polish workers state defences and along with them the Soviet Union itself, both undermined by the disastrous revisionist delusions of Gorbachevism and the liquidation of the Soviet Union’s dictatorship of the proletariat in favour of “the free market” and “democratic principles”.
It is hardly a recommendation for progress.
The Trots of all kinds lauded and supported this bogus “rank-and-file” movement (including the lying Sparts, who now pretend they opposed it but in fact cheered in on for months) which relentlessly undermined the ponderous revisionist workers state for 10 years until it finally toppled it in 1990, and elevated the Pope-kissing Pilsudski-loving Lech Walesa to the leadership with a reactionary government laced with obvious fascist tones.
He has been lauded and “honoured” by every shade of Western “pro-democracy” reaction from that time on.
His presidency opened the door to a stream of backward Catholic-clerical reaction ever since, so verging on the edge of fascist dictatorship that it routinely incurs the wrath even of the EU, desperately trying to uphold the pretences of bourgeois democracy.
So doubtless the Trots’ vacuousness will be caught out over this latest “colour revolution” stunt too, once more giving the working class a due warning to steer well clear of all such deadly pretend “Marxism”.
Build Leninism. Alan Moss
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