No 1589 20th January 2021
If Bidenite “democracy” garbage staggers an allotted 4 years, it changes nothing about the fascist path the US empire is set upon. International belligerence and internal repression inevitable. Democrats no different to neocons anyway – just serving a different set of billionaire masters; second they are hostage to the more overtly Nazi Republicanism now showing its full racist class-war colours and plotting constantly to sabotage any hint of “liberal” concession. A real coup attempt would follow the Capitol “beer hall putsch” floundering (unsupported by the bourgeois majority at this point). All ruling class trapped by capitalist Catastrophe with no choice but warmongering if it is to survive devastating disintegration of world monopoly capitalist system (due any second when a decade+ of insane credit creation implodes). Democrat craven support for departing Pompeo’s hysterical anti-China Goebbels big lie hatred (Covid, Uighurs, Hong Kong) sets the tone. Fake-“left” lack of Leninism a fatal flaw
The sickest aspect of the deranged civil war turmoil in Washington is the continuing refusal of the fake-“left” finally to abandon their illusions (delusions) in bourgeois “democracy” and hostility to workers state discipline and organisation.
They wriggle and squirm with all kinds of “political correctness”, “radical” reformism and increasingly militant “left pressure” street action, and some even give lip-service to “Marxism”, but all of them shun the urgent revolutionary lesson about the degeneracy, degradation and vicious hatreds in front of them on all sides - Trump and Biden – caused by imperialism’s continuing world domination and crisis collapse.
Plenty will identify correctly enough Trump’s intransigence as stirring a racist, fascist onslaught, and the Capitol Hill occupation as either an attempted nazi-coup or a dress rehearsal for such, clearly with more to come sooner or later from the whipped-up jingoism, flag-waving and small-minded scapegoating frenzy of the Trumpite republican wing.
But they miss the dismay and disgust at the whole degenerate imperialist system which has driven many, even the majority, of the 74 million who voted Trump, and which needs far deeper answers than “stopping fascism”.
It is the whole of monopoly capitalism which is plunging into crisis collapse and chauvinist flag-waving hatred, heading for war and devastation as the way out, whichever side of the ruling class is notionally in control.
It all needs bringing down.
Just as one-sided are other “lefts” who will at least declare the Biden Democrats’ counter to Trumpism as no better.
Correctly they will point out that despite the “rescue of democracy” pretences, the Democrats have just as long a history of sleaze, reaction and service to the corporate establishment and are ready once more to serve the rich and powerful, with plans for more of the worldwide blitzing and anti-communist hate-propaganda (particularly on China) and vicious “policing” of ever spreading “terrorist” revolt and upheaval against the West.
But they too advocate only a “lefter” version of “democracy”.
What none of them do is spell out the overriding perspective of total worldwide collapse and breakdown of the whole capitalist system (see below), which alone can explain these extraordinary scenes, tearing the ruling class apart over the best way to handle the unstoppable plunge towards international trade war, and slump depression, and the world war conflagration that is its only possible end point.
None give the working class the revolutionary theoretical framework it needs, or even any clues towards it, as to what the astounding chaos and turmoil all means, where it is going and what the only possible path forwards can be as the great Catastrophic collapse of the profit system inexorably deepens.
That is the overthrow of the entire capitalist order, to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat led by a party consciously constantly developing revolutionary theory, taking over and controlling all the productive forces and resources of this increasingly paralysed and incapable class society, to run them in the interests not of a tiny, insanely and unjustifiably rich, indolent and wasteful ruling class but for the great majority, not plundering nature but in harmony with it.
Least of all will they take up the unconditional defence of past and existing workers states, challenging and confronting the poisonous and debilitating anti-communism which has been poured into heads non-stop for a hundred years to prevent them ever understanding the great triumphs and achievements of a working class unlocked from daily alienated drudgery and high-and-fire wage-slavery (which is increasingly reverting to Victorian levels of inequality, misery and destitution as the crisis deepens – one food bank manager even reporting that the most desperate are hunting for cigarette butts, not to smoke but to alleviate hunger) once they have common ownership of society’s production.
Until the working class is able to grasp and understand the great triumph of the Soviet Union and the workers states which followed (and still continue in Cuba, China, Vietnam and North Korea) and at the same time see where and how they made the revisionist philosophical errors that led to their (unnecessary) liquidation, they will be held back and hampered from themselves taking up the fight to end capitalist class domination.
Deranged Goebbelsian hysteria is now particularly vicious against China, where calm organised workers state authority has demonstrated its capacity to humanely and quickly overcome the Covid pandemic with organised collective action – exposing the callousness and incompetence of capitalist anarchy and privileged “individualism”.
But revisionism in Beijing itself (and Cuba too etc) falls short on drawing out the revolutionary lessons, not simply on Covid but on the crisis itself.
Nor will the “lefts” (Beijing included) challenge the non-stop hate campaigning and provocations against “rogue states”, “terrorists”, “jihadists” and “insurgents” by which the West “justifies” its worldwide blitzing and torture crusade to dominate and suppress the ever-growing crisis-driven resistance to its savage exploitation, particularly throughout the Third World among the billions who can no longer accept or tolerate the brutal and tyrannical exploitation which sucks away all the fruits of their work and labour, and the bounty of their lands for the privilege and power of the arrogant and contemptuous few “owners”.
What they need is not “condemnation” but the revolutionary theory of Marxist-Leninism to guide their struggle in the direction needed, of ending capitalism to build socialism.
The need and opportunity for revolutionary understanding to be built has never been more crucial or more possible.
The great splits in the ruling class, long growing massively internationally as the crisis has deepened the inter-imperialist inter-monopoly trade war, and causing massive uncertainty domestically (witness the agonies over Brexit eg) have now erupted within the dominant US ruling class as the vicious civil war long anticipated by the EPSR’s Leninist science.
Only half-jokingly theoretical speculations have long occasionally even suggested that the coming Third World War would be fought out between the various intelligence agencies and state organisations of an imploding US Empire ruling class, panicked by the intractable difficulties which its profit-driven system always produces, however glorious, glittering and triumphant the boomtime conditions seem to be (see economics box, Marx’s Capital, EPSR Perspectives 2001 eg).
The key element to be grasped is the great movement of this system towards total mind-boggling crisis failure on such a scale that it is barely possible to comprehend the full import (though the Washington turmoil, the Middle East massacring destruction, the ecological and environmental disasters of rapacious profit plundering, – the Covid indifference and callous incompetence too – and the relentless nuclear re-arming of the major powers, all give some clues).
That is a totally different way of seeing and understanding developments, to the “capitalist bosses bad, socialism good” up-and-down of a century and more of do-gooding reformism, where episodic crises come along more or less like the latest Atlantic storm, and can be “recovered from”, as bourgeois propaganda lyingly pretends.
Instead it grasps that deep, centuries-long transformations, driven by the contradictions within class society, are relentlessly pushing the world towards a revolutionary jump forwards, the only means to overcome the paralysis and devastation of this outmoded and brutal class system still massacring and butchering around the world to keep its corporate plundering and slave-driving going.
Such revolutionary jumps have overturned past stagnating class societal forms which have outserved their time, like the early slave states and empires, and the following millennium of feudal backwardness which the bourgeoisie brought down with violent revolutions.
The great change now needed is on a giant scale that must not only end seven centuries of bourgeois exploitation and imperialist tyranny, but can and must end all class domination, finally to allow the building of rational communist society, on a world scale.
Until it does, the world will continue being dragged into the most horrific breakdown and collapse in history – economic, political, environmental, and military, with the worst, outright international world war, still to come as the inevitable end point of its Catastrophic crisis.
Capitalist governments everywhere are paralysed or toppling - the Dutch from a new sleaze scandal, the Italians brought down in the middle of the pandemic by opportunist self-interest, the British humiliated from total Covid incompetence and croneyism, and with laughable Brexit jingoist delusions in a long lost “British superiority” exposed as weakness and failure, outgunned by Europe.
Endlessly plundered Africa is in uproar, or about to be again, from top to bottom, from ever rumbling Egyptian Arab Spring revolt and the Libyan civil war chaos, to the “terrorist” hostility to the West in Somalia, Nigeria, Chad, Mali, the Sahel and down to Mozambique, and spreading constantly.
Thailand’s reactionary monarchy is under siege, Brazil is a ferment of despair, agony and hatred and the Middle East an ever deepening mess of blitzed destruction, and massacre all failing to save the gangster-thug feudal sheikhdoms.
Even the deadly Zionist rottweiler presence for imperialism in the Middle East is paralysed with doubt, its vicious non-stop blitzing landtheft occupation regime facing its fourth election over corruption, shame and uncertainty in just two years.
But that can only drive this vile system further towards its depraved “solution” of world war, whipping up jingoism and flag-waving scapegoating to drag the masses in, just as for two world wars previously.
Yet as this picture comes into focus, still none of the “left” conveys the remotest grasp of the depth of this crisis.
Until 2008 most were mocking or belittling all such analysis as “old hat Marxism” or “catastrophist hysteria” (see endless EPSRs prior to the global credit meltdown) and even now it is obvious still fail to grasp it as other than a “factor”, not the motor of history.
The economic collapse can only worsen, not because of the pandemic but because of its inbuilt “overproduction” disaster, long predating Covid (which simply magnifies the problems).
That does not mean a slow slide, it means a plunge into the abyss.
Staggering levels of credit creation have stretched out the 2008 global breakdown to just about keep world trade and production ticking over but printing money cannot go on and the giant bubble will burst soon, as the bourgeois press admits, writing about the demented gambling of the speculators’ whose greed pushes them to keep punting all the way to the terrifying end, like Russian roulette addicts:
None of it fazed Wall Street which continued to climb to dizzying new heights. That’s the way with financial markets. When they are in that sort of mood they go up when the news is good and they go up when the news is bad.
Last week’s disappointing jobs report was a case in point. The fact that businesses had been shedding labour meant Joe Biden would have even more of an incentive to deliver an expansionary tax and spending package soon after he becomes president on 20 January. The loss of jobs, in the eyes of Wall Street, was not a bad thing at all. Rather it was a reason to continue buying into a stock market that is higher than it was before the pandemic began.
Shares in London still have some way to go...Here, the asset class that has defied the depressed state of the economy and the health emergency is residential property. According to the latest data from the Halifax, the cost of the average house rose by 6% in 2020, an annual rate of increase normally associated with a fast-growing economy, not one that has just seen its biggest decline since The Great Frost of 1709.
But what links rising share prices in the US and rising house prices in the UK is money creation by central banks. Both the Federal Reserve in Washington and the Bank of England have ramped up their quantitative easing (QE) programmes, under which the central banks buy financial assets, usually government bonds, in exchange for cash.
In theory, the newly created money could fund new productive investment for companies eager to expand, but in reality much of it has been lent for speculative activity of one form or another. There is no real mystery about this. It happened after the financial crisis of 2008 and it is happening again.
The major central banks say they had no choice because the alternative would have been a financial meltdown that would have made last year’s economic collapse even worse than it was. Their critics say QE as currently designed widens the gap between rich and poor, fails to put money into the bits of the economy that really need it and has led to the creation of colossal bubbles that are bound to burst.
...The veteran British financier Jeremy Grantham, who co-founded the US investment firm GMO, fired off a warning to the company’s clients last week. He did not pull his punches. “The long, long bull market since 2009 has finally matured into a fully-fledged epic bubble,” he said. “Featuring extreme overvaluation, explosive price increases, frenzied issuance, and hysterically speculative investor behaviour, I believe this event will be recorded as one of the great bubbles of financial history, right along with the South Sea bubble, 1929 and 2000.”
For Grantham, Tesla is the stock that proves the market has taken leave of its senses. The current market capitalisation of $600bn amounts to $1.25m for each electric car sold, compared with $9,000 a car for General Motors. “What has 1929 got to equal that?” he asks.
The assumption on Wall Street is that the Fed will always stand behind the market. If prices fall precipitously investors can sleep easy knowing that its chair, Jerome Powell, and his colleagues will do what’s necessary to limit losses and get the market rising again.
Grantham says this is wrong. He believes “this bubble will burst in due time, no matter how hard the Fed tries to support it, with consequent damaging effects on the economy and on portfolios.”
...There is a logical inconsistency in Wall Street’s belief that it will be business as usual for the US once enough Americans have had Covid jabs...when demand is going to be picking up anyway.
Inflationary pressure is currently weak but were that to change, the mood in the markets could also change quickly. The yield, or interest rate, on government bonds would start to rise and share prices would fall. Wall Street would be begging the Fed to come to its rescue.
Even this hides the full impact described in Grantham’s cited report, such as:
The strangest feature of this bull market is how unlike every previous great bubble it is in one respect. Previous bubbles have combined accommodative monetary conditions with economic conditions that are perceived at the time, rightly or wrongly, as near perfect, which perfection is extrapolated into the indefinite future. The state of economic excellence of any previous bubble of course did not last long, but if it could have lasted, then the market would justifiably have sold at a huge multiple of book.
But today’s wounded economy is totally different: only partly recovered, possibly facing a double-dip, probably facing a slowdown, and certainly facing a very high degree of uncertainty. Yet the market is much higher today than it was last fall when the economy looked fine and unemployment was at a historic low. Today the P/E ratio of the market is in the top few percent of the historical range and the economy is in the worst few percent. This is completely without precedent
These seemingly neutral technical phrases obscure a complete armageddon of collapse with a reality of lives being ripped apart far beyond the scale of the 1930s Depression and certainly the last austerity decade, which has already produced an explosive turmoil of rebellious discontent worldwide, (which the craven “left” fails to see, writing it off as just “terrorism”, to be “condemned”), and within the imperialist countries themselves.
Failure to control this explosive upheaval with the pre-emptive “shock and awe” Iraq and Afghanistan war conspiracies (following the 2000 crash), and the potential for far greater anti-imperialist upheaval, – already seen in mass “terrorist” recruitment triggered by the invasions, the Arab Spring and the crude, confusedly backward, but ruthlessly efficient eruptions of ISIS for example, – has brought the US ruling class to the point of outright Nazism.
And it is not some “truculent maverick” or “loose cannon” aberration as the shallow “lefts” have painted Trump (for example the revisionist Stalinist Proletarian/Lalkar) but a direct extension of Bush’s warmongering chauvinism backed by half the ruling class as some bourgeois commentators have spelled out:
An anti-tax group funded primarily by billionaires has emerged as one of the biggest backers of the Republican lawmakers who sought to overturn the US election results, according to an analysis by the Guardian.
The Club for Growth has supported the campaigns of 42 of the rightwing Republicans senators and members of the House of Representatives who voted last week to challenge US election results, doling out an estimated $20m to directly and indirectly support their campaigns in 2018 and 2020, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
About 30 of the Republican hardliners received more than $100,000 in indirect and direct support from the group.
The Club for Growth’s biggest beneficiaries include Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, the two Republican senators who led the effort to invalidate Joe Biden’s electoral victory, and the newly elected far-right gun-rights activist Lauren Boebert, a QAnon conspiracy theorist. Boebert was criticised last week for tweeting about the House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location during the attack on the Capitol, even after lawmakers were told not to do so by police.
Public records show the Club for Growth’s largest funders are the billionaire Richard Uihlein, the Republican co-founder of the Uline shipping supply company in Wisconsin, and Jeffrey Yass, the co-founder of Susquehanna International Group, an options trading group based in Philadelphia that also owns a sports betting company in Dublin.
While Uihlein and Yass have kept a lower profile than other billionaire donors such as Michael Bloomberg and the late Sheldon Adelson, their backing of the Club for Growth has helped to transform the organization from one traditionally known as an anti-regulatory and anti-tax pro-business pressure group to one that backs some of the most radical and anti-democratic Republican lawmakers in Congress.
...The Club for Growth has so far escaped scrutiny for its role supporting the anti-democratic Republicans because it does not primarily make direct contributions to candidates. Instead, it uses its funds to make “outside” spending decisions, like attacking a candidate’s opponents.
In 2018, Club for Growth spent nearly $3m attacking the Democratic senator Claire McCaskill in Missouri, a race that was ultimately won by Hawley, the 41-year-old Yale law graduate with presidential ambitions who has amplified Donald Trump’s baseless lies about election fraud.
That year, it also spent $1.2m to attack the Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who challenged – and then narrowly lost – against Cruz.
...Dozens of the Republicans supported by Club for Growth voted to challenge the election results even after insurrectionist stormed the Capitol, which led to five deaths, including the murder of a police officer.
...Public records show that Richard Uihlein, whose family founded Schlitz beer, donated $27m to the Club for Growth in 2020, and $6.7m in 2018. Uihlein and his wife, Liz, have been called “the most powerful conservative couple you’ve never heard of” by the New York Times. Richard Uihlein, the New York Times said, was known for underwriting “firebrand anti-establishment” candidates like Roy Moore, who Uihlein supported in a Senate race even after it was alleged he had sexually abused underage girls. Moore denied the allegations.
Yass of Susquehanna International, who is listed on public documents as having donated $20.7m to the Club for Growth in 2020 and $3.8m in 2018, also declined to comment.
...responsibility lies with the billionaire donors and corporate interests – in other words, the capitalists – who made this moment possible.
Already a picture of the individuals, organizations, and institutions who lent their weight to the movement that stormed Congress has begun to emerge. Last year, the secretive and influential Council for National Policy (CNP), which author Anne Nelson describes as “connecting the manpower and media of the Christian right with the finances of western plutocrats and the strategy of right-wing Republican political operatives,” called for state legislators in six swing states to reject Joe Biden’s election victory. CNP leaders were scheduled to speak at the rally on the morning of 6 January, where Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol.
Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, which has contributed millions to the Republican Attorneys General Association (Raga), listed as one of the participating organizations in the rally. Raga’s fundraising arm, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, sent robocalls encouraging Trump supporters to march on the Capitol ahead of the 6 January rally, at which the former chairman of Raga, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, spoke. But major donors to Raga include not only rightwing bogeymen like Koch Industries, Walmart, or the Adelson family but also household corporate names like Comcast, Amazon and TikTok.
Likewise, although Koch Industries is the single largest corporate donor to Republican representatives who pledged to try to overturn the election results, the next biggest contributors included defense companies like Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon, as well as tech (Amazon) and finance (Goldman Sachs) and insurance (Aflac), according to the Center for Media and Democracy. And while Charles Koch has maintained a posture of personal ambivalence, verging on distaste, for Donald Trump, super Pacs heavily funded by the donor network he and his late brother founded have spent millions supporting congressional Republicans who rejected the outcome of the 2020 election.
Dick Uihlein, the chief executive of the Uline shipping company and a contributor to the Koch donor network, spent at least $2m getting Josh Hawley elected to the US Senate and has contributed more than $4m to the Tea Party Patriots, another one of the 11 groups listed as participating in the Stop the Steal coalition. In 2019, more than $20m was funneled through DonorsTrust, a donor-advised fund that disguises the source of major giving to nonprofits, to a dozen organizations that would ultimately contest the integrity of the 2020 presidential election, including $103,000 to Tea Party Patriots. In a statement provided to the Intercept, Tea Party Patriots cofounder Jenny Beth Martin denied spending any money on the Stop the Steal rally and condemned the violence that occurred.
Investigative journalists will continue to trace and disentangle the funding networks that facilitated 6 January. The list of names will grow longer; the sum of individual and corporate contributions greater. But already it is clear that what happened at the Capitol was not just the unintended consequence of specific capitalists’ ill-advised campaign donations; it was an expression of a deeper, ongoing crisis of capitalism, and the ruling class’s (sometimes contradictory) attempts to manage that crisis.
According to a report released late last year by the Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness, the 651 billionaires in the United States added more than $1tn to their collective wealth since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing the total to slightly more than $4tn. Meanwhile, the racialized distribution of labor in the United States – the concentration of workers of color in both essential industries, where they are more likely to be exposed to the pandemic, and service and hospitality industries, where layoffs have been rampant – means that Black, Latino, and Native Americans are significantly more likely to be hospitalized and die of Covid-19 than non-Hispanic white Americans. This serves as a stark reminder of the white supremacist character of the decades-long effort to defang and declaw the American labor movement – an effort funded and organized by the same far-right capitalists who laid the groundwork for 6 January.
The Capitol siege was just one battle in an ongoing, decades-long assault on democracy.
The highly unusual appearance in the “liberal” bourgeois press of such “left” articles throwing around terms like “ruling class” is a signal in itself of the deadly seriousness of this crisis.
Such muddying of the waters to confuse the picture, trying to bolster illusions in trade unions, and “democracy”, comes just when this giant fraud is more obviously shot full of holes than ever before, and is in itself part of the weaponry the bourgeoisie will fall back on, masquerading as “leftism” to prevent any real Marxist or revolutionary understanding catching hold.
But this confusion mongering also reflects the gigantic split in the ruling class that has opened up, and which the Capitol Hill events illustrate sharply.
On the one side the aggressive wing of capitalism says the old democracy fraud is essentially already dead and the time has come to impose direct dictatorship rule; on the other those who think it will burn all the boats too soon.
The entire ruling class would happily go along with imposing the most draconian open dictatorship measures with all the violence needed to do it – if they could get away with it.
Therein lies the rub.
That would mean openly demonstrating the monstrousness, depravity, vicious repression and hate-creating and racist antagonisms of capitalist rule, and its responsibility for the trade war, blitzing barbarity and ultimately world warmongering mess which its Catastrophic crisis breakdown is leading too.
Once that path is embarked on it has to be done with maximum ruthlessness - no imperialist dictatorship can afford half-measures when intimidation and fear is to be its prime weapon – so the lessons are even more sharply delivered.
For just that reason that the ruling class long ago developed its parliamentary “democratic system” to hide behind - elaborating what was initially a class-limited “committee rule” system for property owners only, into the most effective and elaborate confidence trick in history, fooling the masses with the pretence of “having a say” and, courtesy of reformist “socialist” party collaboration, creating the illusion (delusion) of gradually achieving a peaceful and equalised world, by reining in and regulating the “worst excesses” of capitalism.
It was only ever fully applicable in the richest of countries – those imperialist powers living off the brutal exploitation of the great majority in the colonially or post-war neo-colonially oppressed world.
For the great Third World majority even such “democracy”, always a pretence, was at best an “ambition” while the daily reality was and is one of tyrannical suppression and domination, usually via an assortment of tinpot stooge dictators and brutal regimes.
But in the West it has worked to fool the populace, with usually willing participation by much of the petty bourgeoisie and layers of the better-off working class, in return for a (small) share of the superprofits raked in by imperialism from the double or racistly treble exploitation of the colonies.
To abandon this historic “democratic stability” is fraught with danger, the “liberal” wing believes, not from fear of fascism, but fear of what might be unleashed if open fascist populism goes wrong.
Historic panic underlies the new impeachment of Donald Trump in other words not “democratic principle”.
What if the broken windows, amateur tumbrils and scaffolds outside Congress turned to more serious violence aimed at the whole of the ruling class, Trumpites and Bidenites alike?
What if it began to dawn on everyone that capitalism itself is their problem?
In the unstable conditions caused by the crisis collapse (still pending in full), such reverses are far from ruled out, a nervous and split ruling class is aware, and particularly when it become clear that this barmy nonsense is going nowhere, and solving nothing for the masses.
Not for nothing did the German Nazis knife their Brownshirt movement’s leadership in the back in 1934, once street intimidation had served its purpose in suppressing the communists and working class.
Backward, crude and lumpen as they were, the Nazi rank-and-file had been recruited and driven by hostility to “international financiers” while the Nazi leadership needed to consolidate power with the backing of the big bourgeoisie (which they had pretended to be reining in, just as Trump is supposed to be “draining the swamp”) and the “respectable” middle class.
The confused street movement had a hostility to capital, (for which the vicious anti-Jewish scapegoating was a hate-diversion not the driving motivation).
Confronted with a clearer Communist leadership making an outright revolutionary call in 1933, instead of playing with Popular Front parliamentary tactics which Moscow’s already established revisionism advised, some of them might well have been won over or at least neutralised.
What the Trumpites also have going for them now is that no such scientific understanding of capitalism’s crisis is being fought for on a mass scale yet - and will not be until the great revolutionary debate opens up.
(That will no be done by the “democratic” wing of course, whose own billionaire allies are busy shutting down free and open discussion (such as it ever is in capitalism ie not much) with Twitter bans and Facebook “restrictions” under the pretence of “preventing rightwing radicalisation” - a stupid trap the entire PC deluded fake-“left” is helping them set with its shallow and reactionary posturing around single-issue reformism (feminism, LGBTism, black separatism, environmentalism etc etc) and the anti-communism it helps foster.)
The nervous “liberal” wing of the ruling class prevails for the moment but stopping the anarchic and confused turmoil around the Capitol certainly has nothing to do with “upholding democratic principles” and “resolving our differences peacefully and calmly” - and all the other lying flannel about parliament and presidency, “rule of law” and “freedom” that the bourgeoisie usually smothers its rule in, to hide its actual dictatorship reality.
As for preserving the “sanctity” (Heaven help us!) of the “hallowed” Capitol and the constitution and of “finding calm and peaceful ways to resolve our differences” etc as Joe Biden and the Democrats have poured out nonstop since he “won” the vote, the only response should be two-fingers in the back of the throat.
What grotesque hypocrisy!!!!
It is only 18 months since the whole of the West, and with the “liberals” at the forefront, was cheering on the violent mob storming of a “hallowed” legislative chamber in Hong Kong, contemptuously trashed after the door was battering-rammed and left with hostile flags (the old British colonial rag and its Union Jack) propped up, just as the Confederate flag was paraded through the Capitol.
Even the oddball libertarian reactionary Peter Hitchens can see the gross hypocrisy:
An armed and angry mob surround the seat of government in the capital of a democracy, claiming the most recent election is invalid.
In ferocious clashes between the crowd and the police, several lie dead and many are wounded. Eventually, armed men force their way into the very debating chamber.
And what happens? The mob wins. The government flees for its life. Nice liberal-minded Western governments, especially the American one, along with nice liberal media, rejoice at the outcome of these events, the overthrow of an elected government by unconstitutional means and mass intimidation.
Some of you may recall these events in Kiev, capital of Ukraine, in February 2014. I certainly do, because I found them repellent and wrong. Almost alone among Western journalists, I argued that this had been a violent putsch.
The toppled government of President Viktor Yanukovych was ugly and corrupt, beyond doubt. But by the standards of Ukraine’s young democracy, it was still legitimate.
Elections were due within a year, which could have removed those in power lawfully. The mob did not wish to wait, and even shoved aside a deal brokered by several European statesmen to preserve the rules.
Not long before this explosion, many major figures were seen fraternising with the crowds which later became the mob, including the late US Senator John McCain and Victoria Nuland, then Washington’s Assistant Secretary of State, now tipped for a high place in the Biden administration.
..I am here quite happy to say that the invasion of the halls of the US Congress by Trump supporters was a grotesque, evil and criminal enterprise, which I utterly condemn without the tiniest reservation.
But will you, even now, say that the violent putsch in Kiev, six years ago, was just as wrong?
Hitchens’ trust in “real” democracy is deluded too, missing the non-stop subversion that not only called for the overthrow, but financed it and provoked it with years of $bns subversion and propaganda by the US, the EU and assorted billionaire financed think-tanks, “institutes” and foundations, backed by non-stop intelligence agency planted propaganda both inside the country and in the Western domestic media, to bend brains with “freedom” delusions.
He should know better; his own brother Christopher, the Trotskyist turned open reactionary (the fate of all Trots), wrote a long exposé of the CIA coordination of the 1973 Chilean military coup against Salvador Allende, which is the archetypical warning about all “democratic path” reformist routes to socialism.
By failing to overturn the capitalists, leaving their state intact, such opportunist misleadership always leaves the working class disarmed and vulnerable to the inevitable counter-revolution that the bourgeoisie will mount, as soon as it can create enough mayhem to whip up public support for a coup or takeover (and Biden’s trust in the national guard echoes the Allende “trust” in Pinochet).
Biden’s “democrats” should know all this since under their watch the tradition was vigorously continued with a stream of threatened or actually violent judicial and electoral coups including more murderously violent disruption and coup attempts against the Venezuelan “left” nationalism Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro, both properly elected; the preparations for the “judicial” stitch-up of president Lula da Silva in Brazil, the same in Paraguay, and the brutal Honduras coup in 2009 cheered on by Biden himself as part of the Obama presidency.
They said nothing against the CIA coordinated deposition of Evo Morales in Bolivia in 2019 and fascist murders in its wake.
Nor did they do anything against the brazen Washington/Zionist/EU refusal to recognise the 2006 legitimate election of Hamas as the controlling authority in the Palestinian Gaza enclave, forcing it to forcibly take over a year later.
Jut the opposite, their “veneration of democracy” saw total support for Zionism’s continuing genocidal occupation of Palestine and the repression against which Hamas militancy has been taking a lead
And for violent overturns the counter-revolutionary moves against Libya in 2011, culminating in a NATO invasion and the grotesque bayonet buggery assassination of bourgeois nationalist Muammar Gaddafi, and the CIA provocation and backing of brutal Sunni-Shia sectarian civil war in Syria, trying to remove the anti-Zionist nationalist Assad regime, take some beating.
Both were overseen by the Barack Obama presidency, with the monstrous Hillary Clinton and “Joe” Biden himself as part of it, in order to head off the giant spontaneous revolt which toppled Washington dictator-stooge Hosni Mubarak in Cairo and was threatening to spread against everyw3 reactionary feudal or backward remnant in the Arab World.
Not by chance these wars were in two of the more anti-imperialist countries around Egypt where systematically organised CIA/Zionist counter-revolution was bogusly and lyingly dressed up as “more of the Arab Spring street revolt” as was the subsequent 2013 middle-class/military coup to topple the newly elected Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi, whose pro-Palestinian sympathies did not suit imperialist interests (despite overall “moderateness” and collaboration with imperialism).
So, having supported the “installation” of a new “democracy” in Egypt (deemed preferable to letting the street revolt deepen any further into conscious revolution) the Democrats promptly arranged its downfall, quickly restoring Washington aid and arms support to the murderous General Sisi regime and its butchery of thousands of men, women and children on the street, to consolidate its power.
The new White House will do nothing against this murderous dictatorship despite a horrific record of continuing torture/killing to suppress all revolt and help continue the Western stranglehold on the region:
The number of people dying in Egyptian detention centres rose by a further 100 in 2020, taking the total number of deaths over 1,000 since the Egyptian dictatorship seized power in 2013, a new report says.
The report, The Giulio Regenis of Egypt, by the Geneva-based Committee for Justice, tracks deaths inside Egyptian prisons, official and unofficial detention centres since 2013, with a special focus on deaths that occurred from January to October 2020. The overall total has now reached 1,056.
Giulio Regeni was an Italian student and researcher whose body was found in Cairo on 3 February 2016, with signs of torture. Italy this week charged four members of the Egyptian security forces with his death.
The CFJ’s director, Ahmed Mefreh, said: “Regeni was not the only victim of the Egyptian authorities. After him came the French citizen Eric Lang, the American James Henry Lawne, and others who were killed in cold blood and without accountability for their killers and torturers so far, amid suspicious international silence, and an urgent call to press for investigations into the deaths of foreigners and Egyptians inside detention centres in Egypt.”
Since the military’s takeover of the government in 2013, a total of 731 have died in detention centres due to denial of healthcare, followed by 144 deaths due to torture, 67 through suicide, then 57 in poor conditions of detention and 29 deaths from other reasons.
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, was responsible for war crimes in the country’s claimed fight against terrorism in North Sinai, adding that the mass detention of peaceful Islamists probably itself fuelled terrorism.
The report comes in the week that the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said French sales of arms to Egypt would not take account of the country’s human rights record. Portraying the country as an ally of France in the fight against terrorism, Macron allowed red carpet treatment for Sisi when he visited France this week.
Many of the scenes honouring Sisi inside the Élysée Palace, including the granting of the Légion d’honneur, were not released by Macron’s communications team but instead by Egypt, an omission that led to the scenes being widely shared across France on social media. Macron also faced severe criticism from centre-left newspapers, challenging him to explain how he could square his support for Egypt with his espousal of European enlightenment values.
The “enlightened” Democrats will also do nothing to challenge the even more important smiting tool for the West of Zionism itself (which Sisi maintains a close alliance with) whose gross landtheft suppression of the 8million Palestinian nation becomes more of an obviously fascist occupation by the day.
Its racist apartheid state has been egged on to pursue an ever more crude “might is right” Greater Israel agenda by Trumpism, including the outright and illegal annexation of even more stolen Palestinian land than “granted” in the original UN settlement of 1947, the subsequent ethnic cleansing landtheft terror-war, the 1967 war occupations and the non-stop settler programme, and even the permanent “ownership” of Syria’s Golan Heights through a medieval “right of conquest”.
But Biden will keep the US embassy in occupied Jerusalem, the symbol and focus of this gross Washington support.
It suits US warmongering purposes to keep the region balkanised and constantly blitzed:
Israeli airstrikes on east Syria killed 57 regime forces and allied Iran-backed fighters in the deadliest such strikes since the start of the conflict, a war monitoring group said on Wednesday.
The overnight raids against arms depots and military positions killed at least 14 Syrian regime forces, 16 Iraqi militia fighters and 11 Afghan members of the pro-Iran Fatimid Brigade, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The nationality of the remaining 16 people who lost their lives in the 18 strikes was not immediately clear.
“This is the largest death toll from Israeli raids in Syria,” said the Syrian Observatory’s head, Rami Abdul Rahman.
The official Syrian news agency Sana said “the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial assault on the town of Deir Ezzor and the Albu Kamal region”, adding that “the results of the aggression are currently being verified”.
An Israeli army spokesperson declined to comment.
Days before the strikes, the Fatimid Brigade transported a consignment of Iranian-manufactured weapons to eastern Syria from neighbouring Iraq, said the UK-based Observatory, which relies on a network of sources on the ground. They were stored in the region targeted overnight, it added.
It is less than a week since the last wave of Israeli strikes in Syria. On Thursday, Israel targeted positions in the south and in the southern outskirts of Damascus, killing three pro-Iran fighters.
Israel routinely carries out raids in Syria, mostly against targets linked to Iran in what it says is a bid to prevent its arch foe from consolidating a foothold on its northern border.
Observers have warned that Donald Trump and Israel could up the ante against Iran and its regional allies in the final days of the US president’s tenure.
Trump’s administration, which is to make way for Joe Biden’s on 20 January, gave unprecedented US support to the government of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air and missile strikes on Syria since civil war broke out in 2011, targeting Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces as well as Syrian government troops.
It hit around 50 targets in Syria in 2020, according to an annual report released by its military.
The latest raids came hours after separate strikes near the Iraqi border killed at least 12 Iran-backed militia fighters on Tuesday. The Observatory said it could not identify the warplanes responsible for the earlier strikes.
“In the dying days of the Trump administration, Netanyahu is trying to do as much damage as possible to the IRGC effort in Syria before Biden takes office,” said Nicholas Heras, of the Institute of the Study of War, referring to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
But not just Trump; Bidenism is at least as warmongering and if anything more overtly so, pursuing a continuing policy of “engagement” and the “war on terror” (meaning the war on all rebelliousness and anti-Western turmoil) against the isolationist pullback pretences of Trump’s White House (which has in fact escalated drone attacks, arms spending and threats).
And the new Washington is just as aware of the need to keep a foot on the throat of Middle East rebellion (and its non-stop spread throughout Africa); for all that brute repression and civil war disruption has kept a lid on things since the Arab Spring, the revolt has not gone away.
Tunisia’s compromise with “democracy” in the wake of 2011 has left a festering sourness and behind closed doors in the giant 90 million strong Egypt, the revolt smoulders strongly as even Western petty bourgeois press commentators sometimes observe:
At the end of 2010, I was en route to Sudan for Christmas, scouring Arabic social media in search of scraps of information about a story unfolding in Tunisia; a story the Arab media was censoring and the western media was still ignoring. A street trader, Mohammed Bouazizi, had set himself on fire in protest at the government in the city of Sidi Bouzid, sparking demonstrations that spread across the country.
Weeks before the protests toppled Tunisia’s president-for-life, you could see that something about this uprising was different. There was something about the way the protests resonated in households around the Arab world, the intensity of the moral outrage and the force of the momentum that felt new and exciting.
But even as I wrote then about their promise and potential, I never imagined that they would become what we now call the Arab spring. At the time, it was simply unfathomable that peaceful protests would overthrow an Arab dictator. It had never happened before. No one even knew what that would look like.
A decade later, when the phrase “Arab spring” has become synonymous with shattered dreams of liberation, it is painful to think back on the early days and weeks of protests. It is painful now to remember the heady months of joy and optimism – the sense of power that we had as Arabs for the first time in our lifetimes.
Most of all, it smarts to remember the sense of camaraderie and excitement: when you cried in streets and cafes with strangers, crowded around a radio or a TV as the news of another dictator’s demise came through; when you congratulated them on their country’s revolution and they promised that this time your country would be next.
And it stings to remember all the acts of bravery: the moment when a friend called just before going down to join a protest, and left their parents’ phone number in case they never came back. When you consoled the families of those who had died, and found their parents were not grieving, not cowed; they were determined that their childrens’ deaths would not be for nothing.
And yet, when we look across the Arab world today, it is hard to believe this happened. Only the “Tunisian revolution” remains intact. Every other country affected has either collapsed into chaos and civil war, as in Libya and Syria – or, like Egypt, has entered a new era of dictatorship, darker and more oppressive than ever before. What has come to pass looks like a fulfilment of the warnings that were issued against the protests from the start: this will only lead to even more political instability.
Many who lived through the days of promise don’t like to talk about them now. When they do, it is almost with embarrassment; a contempt for their younger selves, at their naivety and recklessness. “You cannot have freedom and stability,” an Egyptian man told me earlier this year, reflecting on the failed revolution. “This is what we have learned.”
And so the legacy of the Arab spring is not just the atrocities and authoritarians that followed – but the fact that it is now held up as a repudiation of the very notion of protest. “We blame ourselves,” Hafsa Halawa, an Iraqi Egyptian woman active in the post-Tahrir political movement, told me last week. “But we are also blamed.” The revolutionaries have their own regrets to contend with, but now they are also condemned for underestimating the scale of the challenge they were facing.
“You didn’t know what you were up against, you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into,” Halawa says they are told. “But we failed because there was too much pressure on the protest movement to become this political animal. Once protesters overthrew the regimes, they were expected to take their place.”
Even in Tunisia, Bouazizi’s name has lost its sanctity. His family was smeared and harassed, accused of profiting financially from the death of their loved one, and joined the other millions of Arab spring exiles to leave the country. In his home town, a Guardian reporter met a woman walking past the giant picture of Bouazizi erected in his memory. “I curse at it,” she said. “I want to bring it down. He’s the one who ruined us.”
But all this finger-pointing and self-flagellation obscures the real truth about the Arab spring, which is that it failed because it could not have succeeded. Peaceful transition was simply impossible, at that time and in that manner. What we underestimated – from Syria to Sudan – was not the power of the military or the brutality of the security services, or the tenacity of the entrenched interests and elites that would do anything to maintain their power. What we missed was actually the lack of any real counterweight to all these things.
The problem was the absence of enough of the forces necessary to the success of a revolution rather than the presence of too many counter-currents against it. Because dictatorship isn’t just about the rule of one man, it is about the sterilisation of democracy. After the despots fell, it became clear that decades of despotism had salted the earth. There were no opposition parties to harness and guide political energy, no charismatic figures who had returned from exile or escaped imprisonment to galvanise political movements, and no room for political discourse because there was no media ecosystem or intellectual space that was healthy enough to resist capture by conspiracies and sectarianism.
The very thing that made the Arab spring a shocking historical force – that it was an organic, people-powered movement that had no leader or ideology – eventually cannibalised it. The vacuum swallowed the revolution. In that faltering, there are echoes, and lessons, in the resistance faced by anti-establishment movements in the west, from Black Lives Matter to the challenges to the centre ground from the left. What the Arab spring came up against was a universal conundrum – how to convert the forces that demand equality into those that deliver it.
Today, it is hard to see beyond the established narrative of failure: the millions displaced in Syria, Libya and Yemen; the dead and the missing; the bodies filling Egypt’s political prisons. But a closer look reveals a lingering affirmation of what was once so exciting, not least in the insecurity it has sown among the leaders who followed. Egypt’s relentless police state is a sign that the military and security services have learned that the threat of another revolt is so potent they cannot permit the slightest transgression. Like a jailer whose charge once escaped but has since been recaptured, the country’s paranoid leaders will go to preposterous lengths to make sure it never happens again.
And so everyone, from young women on TikTok posting dance videos to doctors struggling with Covid, is seen as a threat to the airless monoculture that needs to be maintained to suffocate any challenge. It is a futile effort. Discontent continues to swell, as corruption and economic struggles push people to abandon rational calculations, to spill out into the streets and into certain detention, torture and even death.
This has been the ticking metronome, marking out time since the protests began a decade ago – one moment a fear for life and livelihood, and the next a desperate, passionate, undaunted rage. You can see this dual consciousness in polls that show a majority in eight countries across the Arab world agree their societies are far more unequal now. But in five of those countries, a majority say they do not regret the Arab spring protests. It is a tense and fragile winning margin for the forces of the ancien régime. Things may be worse than they were a decade ago, but there is one fact that is now clear to the despots and the people alike – a fact that gives the people an advantage they lacked the first time around. It can happen. It has happened before. Now we know what it looks like. And next time, we will know what is required of us.
This piece still suffers delusions in “real democracy” and its “anti-authoritarianism” corollary, which confuses the genuine upheaval of millions in Egypt with the colour- revolution stunts organised in Libya and to trigger the Syrian sectarianism, and is tainted with petty bourgeois defeatism.
Failure of “democracy” is not failure of revolution.
Like the defeat of the miners strike in 1984, or the much greater liquidation of the Soviet Union, these are devastating but historically necessary defeats of revisionist and/or reformist politics (Gorbachev, Scargillism) that get in the way of revolutionary understanding, not defeat of revolution itself (see EPSR book V21 on Stalinism - Unanswered Polemics).
But it is also correctly optimistic, pointing to the unstoppable re-emergence of the rebellion, which coming further Crash can only intensify.
It certainly gives the lie to the opportunist nonsenses of those fake-“left” which “condemned” the Cairo revolts, some even declaring them to be “just CIA counter-revolution stunts”. That was only ever true for the movements which tried to head off the revolts (Syria, Libya and Sisi) and cheered on the 2013 coup, but not for the tremendous spontaneous filling of Tahrir Square in Cairo etc.
The ingredient missed here is Leninism. It needs to be built.
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