No 1624 24th February 2023
US warmongering propaganda lies and fascist censorship grow more demented as its nazi-Nato war on Russia in Ukraine descends further into paralysis and corruption, unable to push back Moscow resistance despite massive arms supplies. Splits in the warmongers’ alliance now closer to surface despite Biden bluster as sanctions burden deepens on the European “allies”, and it becomes clearer Catastrophe hammered US imperialism’s main target is Europe itself, confirmed by new detail on US NordStream sabotage plot. Shaming social chauvinist and social-pacifist fake-“left” capitulation to the Western war lies exposes their treachery which keeps the working class fooled and diverted from grasp of capitalist collapse, hamstringing growing strike struggle against Slump cuts. Warmongering will add to the Slump burden as ruling class spends on “guns not butter”. Still the fake-“left” refuses to spell out the revolutionary necessities revealed by this sick warmongering, or make DEFEAT for Nato and its stooges the call (but no support for idiot Putin). Multi-polarity Stalinist “peace struggle” crap disarms workers
Marxist understanding of the intractable imperialist economic Catastrophe, as the real cause of the NATO provoked Ukrainian war on Russia comes more sharply into focus with the latest detailed revelations of Washington’s culpability for the NordStream gas pipeline explosions.
The EPSR has already said that the war is as much, if not more, about intractable and ever-deepening crisis-driven trade conflict with the European Union and especially the German powerhouse economy, for decades relentlessly outcompeting stagnating Anglo-Saxon imperialism, as it is about “containing Russian aggression” (a Goebbels level lie in itself).
It is one of the major trade war contradictions in a system heading for total economic collapse.
Now the implications of the latest exposure of American aggression and secret sabotage underline that understanding.
To anyone with more than a single brain cell left unsaturated in non-stop imperialist fascist-psyops upside-down disinformation and brainwashing, it was immediately clear that Western imperialism was responsible for such a sophisticated operation, certainly not Ukraine and almost certainly British or US special forces.
The suggestion that Moscow itself blew up its own best asset, painstakingly and expensively negotiated and built over a decade, and also destroyed the initial NordStream One pipeline along the same Baltic undersea route, was obviously insane nonsense.
A slew of details of the White House’ secret plotting now exposed by the excellent and principled bourgeois journalist Seymour Hersh confirm how the covert – and totally illegal – operation was calculated and set in train by the US, well before Russia was finally provoked into its military operation by the aggressive NATO build up generally in East Europe, and the specific build-up preparations for an all-out attack on the Russia speaking Donbass by the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists (following years of Western military training) escalated at the end of 2021 after eight years of non-stop barbaric bombardments and shelling by the Kievites on the Russian-speaking zones, killing 14,000 mostly civilian victims before the Russian intervention.
Hersh’s article (essential reading in full here) provides a long and detailed account of the secret plotting to physically destroy the pipeline – an ambition that the US has had for years, exerting massive political pressure on Germany to close down its supply, partly to force it into using American gas, which is suffering hugely from overproduction, but much more to hamstring German (and European Union) monopoly growth, crucifying America’s general economic and industrial output (Volkswagen, Airbus, BASF etc etc).
It spells out how the pipeline sabotage was put in motion months before the Putinite “special military operation”, with secret meetings within the new Biden presidency to set up training for special diving teams to plant explosive charges, (using the Navy rather than the CIA partly because that meant the operation could be withheld from Congressional oversight). As summarised in Hersh’s Wikipedia entry:
sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines had been carried out by the US Navy, the CIA, and the Norwegian Navy, under the direct order of President Biden. Hersh’s report relied on an anonymous source who stated that, in June 2022, US Navy divers placed explosive C4 charges on the pipelines at strategic locations selected by the Norwegians. The source said that charges were placed under the cover of a multi-nation wargame simulation known as BALTOPS 22, and remotely detonated three months later by a signal from a sonar buoy dropped by a Norwegian P-8 surveillance plane.
Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, said the United States had questions to answer over its role in the explosions. The same sentiment was also expressed by the Chinese foreign ministry. A spokesperson for the United States National Security Council said the report was “utterly false and complete fiction”. The CIA said the contents of Hersh’s article were “completely false”, and this was also the reaction from the Norwegian Foreign Department.
Hersh wrote that NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg had been cooperating with US intelligence services since the Vietnam war and has been cleared ever since.
At the time the Vietnam war ended, Stoltenberg was 16 years old, and he had participated during the peak of the Anti-Vietnam war demonstrations in Norway. In 1985, Stoltenberg was part of the Workers’ Youth League in Norway, when the Labour Party was working to withdraw Norway from NATO.
Hersh’s article said the U.S. divers who planted the explosives had operated from a Norwegian Alta-class minesweeper. The Norwegian Defence Forces said no Norwegian Alta-class mine sweepers had participated in BALTOPS 22 or were in the vicinity of the explosions during the exercise.
Following Hersh’s report, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) tweeted that if the story was true, he and many of his fellow senators were not informed of the attack on Nord Stream. “If this turns out to be true, we’ve got a huge problem,” Lee tweeted on February 8. The Chair of Russia’s lower house of parliament called for an international investigation for “bringing Biden and his accomplices to justice”. In the German Bundestag, members of parliament from the government disputed Hersh’s credibility and urged that public discussion of the topic be minimized for security reasons; opposition members of parliament from AfD and Die Linke initiated a parliamentary debate on February 10 about Hersh’s allegations, with Die Linke MP Sevim Da?delen arguing that the government seemed uninterested in clarifying the truth about the bombings.
Hersh’s reporting was criticized by other journalists. Eliot Higgins, the founder of investigative journalism group Bellingcat, said that Hersh was unable to get his article published in a reputed newspaper and that his reporting would only impress the likes of people who support Putin and al-Assad. Bellingcat journalist Christo Grozev described Hersh’s report as “total fiction” and stated that his reporting is seriously damaging to journalism. Simon Pirani questioned the veracity of the report.
[But] Kelly Vlahos, editorial director at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, characterized the public response to Hersh’s article in the West as a “media blackout,” arguing that criticisms of Hersh’s reporting “do not explain the lack of mainstream coverage” of his allegations. In Russia, Hersh’s publication was picked up by RT and the news agency TASS, widely regarded by the West as Russian propaganda organisations. German newspaper Berliner Zeitung interviewed Hersh on the story (this interview was also published in the USA by Jacobin) and Democracy Now also hosted him. In an interview on the podcast Radio War Nerd with Mark Ames & John Dolan, Hersh disparaged the journalistic credentials of Bellingcat’s staff, mentioning a “certain country’s intelligence agency”.
That would be the British international spy, subversion and torture agency MI6 which has been supporting Bellingcat ever since it was set up while pretending it is an “independent open-source” website, – (which appears to think “not being able to get published” is somehow a positive, rather than confirmation of censorship, suppression and total cravenness by the media) – part the psyops lie machine against every anti-imperialist from Syria and Libya to China and Russia.
Bellingcat has been a significant part of the long running coordinated propaganda setup against Russia (and more widely against other “rogue state” targets) preparing the ground for the war with a whole series of lying accusations against Moscow, from distortions and lies about the Litvinenko and Skripal poisonings to the equally stitched-up blame for the missile downing of the MH17 plane over Ukraine, sinisterly directed by Kiev air traffic control directly over an active war zone where military planes had already been attacked.
The quoted Pirani is a notorious anti-Soviet Trot who ran the Workers Revolutionary Party Young Socialists initially and remained as a Healyite throughout the WRP’s implosion in the 1980s from within, superficially due to the scandalous bullying and sexual predation of leader Gerry Healy but primarily because its poisonous Trot politics simply collapsed and fragmented along with the revisionism it had always depended on as a mirror image (by pretending it was the “anti-Stalinist opposition” rather than the poisonous anti-communism that has always been the reality of Trotskyist petty bourgeois idealism - see EPSR Books Vol 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and also issue No 1079 06-03-01 and No 1251 among many others).
He remains a Trot and clearly part of the treacherous social-chauvinist section of the fake-“left” which has completely capitulated to the imperialist warmongering, just as the Second International did at the start of the First World War 110 years ago (leaving the Bolsheviks and a few small east European groups standing alone in their calls for the defeat of each ruling class, to allow opening up of the revolutionary struggle that alone can end the capitalist slide into crisis and war).
In other words these “refutations” are desperately thin efforts, trying to continue the blanket censorship, or rubbishing of and even violent threats to, all objective information about the war and its implications, which has seen the attempted total suppression of any news channels, newspapers and even individuals that try to speak out against the war, from the blocked Russia Today TV channel and various assorted Middle East channels, to assorted outlets and specific accounts on the Internet.
Repression includes blocking and threats against the minimal proportion of the fake-“left” which has not wholly capitulated to the hurricane of demonising fascist war propaganda pressure from the bourgeoisie, “condemning” Russia as an “aggressor”.
Meetings have been suspended or cancelled by mysterious threats and intimidation, alleged to be from “Internet trolls and reactionaries” but quite obviously organised by the state secret services themselves pressurising venues like the Conway Hall to ban any assemblies.
At some point the West will pay a high price for this ever more obviously fascist repression and Goebbels pysops manipulation, exposing the grotesque hypocrisies about fighting for “our democratic way of life” by which its warmongering is “justified” as allegedly fending off “external threats”.
That applies not just for the Ukraine war.
Lying hogwash about “democracy” has been the bourgeoisie’s best weapon for the entire modern period of its 800 year long class ascendancy, and especially is the mainstay of 100 years of brainwashing anti-communism, and the petty bourgeois subjective idealism which swallows it, which has kept the working class bribed and pacified in the metropolitan (rich) imperialist countries, especially since the end of the Second World War (partly going along in jingoist collusion with imperialism for a “share” of its colonialist spoils, and partly because of the class collaborating poison spread by opportunist reformism).
But the whole hoodwinking racket, already being steadily eroded by perfectly sound working class distrust and contempt for a parliamentary “freedom” which not only has never really changed anything, is now increasingly obviously exposed as a grotesque fraud as it helps preside over the worst Slump in history (disguised by QE dollar printing but rapidly unfolding).
Only the self-righteous willingness of a fearful petty bourgeois public, and some still corrupted or deluded elements of the working class keeps the racket alive, propped up by the class-collaborating traditions of the TUC/Labourites and their monstrous opportunism, filled with anti-communism and heading for open fascism themselves around the vacuous Starmerite reaction, inheritors of the Oswald Mosley tradition, the former Labour minister who formed and led the British blackshirt pro-Hitler Nazis of the 1930s (famously boosted by Daily Mail headlines).
The bourgeoisie is in a spiral trap, imposing ever greater restrictions for fear the obvious total suppression of “free speech” will crack its brittle “freedom” façade wide open.
Suppression of Hersh’s bombshell story, which in former periods would have been all over the media is making things worse.
Who are they kidding? While he is no Marxist this is a one of the few principled journalists in the bourgeois media, (John Pilger is another) whose credits include the front page mainstream press exposure of the Mai Lai massacre in the Vietnam war, which was a factor helping the defeat of the Americans; book length details of the Henry Kissinger/CIA financing and direction of the 1973 Augusto Pinochet torture and massacre coup in Chile; front page disclosure of the Abu Ghraib prison camp torture atrocities by the US and its imperialist “coalition” for blitzkrieg occupation of Iraq; the falsity of the Syria “gas attack” allegations by the West to bolster its stirred up sectarian war to topple the Assad regime and suppress the Arab Spring in Egypt (using bogus Arab Spring “demonstrations” stirred up in Libya and Damascus) and revelations about double dealing intelligence operation playing both sides in the same civil war. And much else.
Hersh’s new revelations further confirm that last year’s “invasion” was set going by deliberate NATO aggression and engineered war threats – both through the Ukrainian Nazi stooges installed in Kiev by CIA coup in 2014 after ten years of skulduggery before that and a $5bn outlay by Washington and its “democratic” NGOs (i.e. billionaire and US state brainwashing outfits) – and by general US-NATO belligerence, surrounding Russia with hair-raisingly threatening armaments and military bases for three decades, and constantly escalated.
And it can all only start to raise much deeper questions.
As the EPSR has understood and has insisted from the beginning, the purpose of the war is not simply “routine” domination plans by the US imperialist monopoly, just another in the stream of over 400 coups, invasions, assassinations, blitzings, subverted elections, manipulated and bribed placements and installation of fascist dictators which have characterised its world hegemony since the end of World War Two (and characterise all imperialism alongside and prior to that).
Nor is it simply anti-communism, though the need to suppress any revival of revolutionary communism in Russia or simply popular anti-imperialism which is beneath the surface (no thanks to Putinist confusion) is part of the story.
Nor is it a war for oil (and gas), the limited and one-sided “explanation” punted out by much of the petty bourgeoisie and the fake-“left” at the time of the Iraq war (and ostensibly Afghanistan because of pipeline routings). The economic rationale against Russia is to curb overall world production and thereby find markets for the US over-production, especially of gas and oil following years of expensive (and environmentally damaging) investment in until-now mostly unprofitable fracking.
All these are factors but they tell only a fraction of the story and the main purposes of the warring.
That is to cover up and distract mass attention from the total implosion of the monopoly capitalist order since the 2007-8 global credit collapse, now spiralling into the greatest economic and political breakdown in all history.
Simultaneously it is the next step up into the third and greatest World War ever, already long underway with wars on Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, Yemen and Ethiopia (and more), all instigated and escalated by outright lies about non-existent massacres, “mass destruction weapons threats” and hysterical fearmongering about “terrorism” etc from a desperate bourgeoisie whipping up hate-filled chauvinism and increasingly demented jingoism to confuse the working class and stampede public opinion into war fever.
Capitalism needs war.
As already demonstrated by the horrors of the early 20th century, only devastation and destruction on a massive scale can keep the monopoly capitalism system going and the ruling class knows it by long class experience and cunning.
Marxist science explains why; that only in that way can it wipe out the huge surpluses of capital clogging its system and preventing profit making (see box).
Rational restraint and planned production is impossible; its plundering and ever more unequal competition system cannot stop accumulating, enriching ever further the decadent and degenerate ruling class, even as eventually the shallow glitz and dazzling consumerism of the boom collapses and disastrous Slump pain and chaos is imposed everywhere on the vast majority as now.
The costs must be imposed on rival monopoly powers.
The single-minded and relentless pursuit of profit and capital accumulation which initially spurred on spirited (though always piratical) entrepreneurship and the bourgeois practical science it needed, has long become detached from any rational pursuit and organisation of production to serve human needs, one-sidedly driven on for itself only and trampling over society and nature, to the point where its greed, plundering arrogance and decadence will bring the whole planet to the edge of extinction.
War destruction follows inevitably from the demented “logic” of the “free market”, once a means of pulling humanity forwards from the stultifying backwardness of feudalism but long since become a fetter on humanity’s progress, exactly as first spelled out in the Communist Manifesto and in much greater detail in Marx’s Capital and multiple subsequent works by Marx and Engels (and as taken forward by Lenin’s Bolsheviks, in such works as Imperialism; the highest stage of capitalism).
Without that theoretical grasp founded in a perspective of unstoppable and unsolvable crisis, the very heart of Marx’s brilliant historical and dialectical materialist analysis, nothing can be understood and the working class will be unable to make the conscious revolutionary struggle vital to stop it, by overturning the system in favour of planned socialism, instead being constantly pushed back and down into servitude and poverty.
Nothing can stop it except forceful violent class war, civil war, a revolutionary overthrow of the ruling class which personifies capital and benefits from its indolent, decadent luxury and sweet power, and which is ready to go to any lengths, however ruthless, to stay on top as its depravity has shown in two gigantic and horrifying worlds wars in the twentieth century, multiple wars, massacres fascist coups since and now the world war it is again plunging into on an even more destructive scale.
Country after country has already been pulverised, bombed to rubble and reduced to chaos, by the world’s dominant power, the United States, with civilised life blown apart for millions, butchered and maimed, millions more bereaved and made homeless, millions facing starvation and desperate flight and most of the world kept in terror and fear.
Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, were the initial targets as the boom turned to crash, with first the dotcom collapse and Enron bankruptcy as the foreshocks for the main implosion of the 2008-9 which has been unfolding ever since, despite the worst of the collapse being held off for the rich and its middle class professional servants by non-stop QE dollar printing.
Beijing interventions too have propped up the capitalist order, from a revisionist leadership still deluded by peaceful coexistence notions of maintaining world “stability” (an impossibility as Marxist-Leninist understanding makes clear).
In fact China’s production is a major target for the international aggression constantly being ramped up, with non-stop Goebbels-size lies and fabrications about repression and “totalitarian” torture and murder, from condemnations of perfectly valid state defence in Hong Kong against Western coordinated and provoked petty bourgeois “democracy” protests, (counter-revolution), support for backward feudalist protests in Tibet and the utterly made-up nonsense of “genocide” and “slave-labour” repression of the Uighurs in Xinjiang.
Such is the imperialists’ fear of the abyss their system is plunging into, that the latest anti-communist stunts have become ever more ludicrous, first over Covid and now with demented fearmongering over “Chinese spy balloons”, a propaganda pantomime on a par with the “Reds under the beds” hysteria of the Cold War, nonsensical, idiotic and expensively humiliating (since the $multi-million F22 jet plane costs a fortune for each sortie and had to use a missile to take it down costing about half a million dollars – two in fact since the first missed!!!).
The fortnight long “ooh what’s that mystery object?” stirred-up hysteria, a disingenuous fraud as the US government itself made clear a few days later by trying to magnify the “crime” with a completely contradictory accusation that “this is not the first one and there have been many”, was then surrounded by hypocritical grandstanding about “violations of sovereignty” which reached new peaks of total humbug.
It is only a few years since Hollywood director Steven Spielberg made his “Bridge of Spies” film based on the 1950s Cold War Berlin exchange of a captured Russian spy for U2 spy-plane pilot Gary Powers shot down while over the Soviet Union with top-secret high-resolution cameras.
So no surprises really then since this was a true story in its outline, albeit filled with disgusting anti-communist fabrications and stinking innuendos about the East German and Russian workers states as supposedly crime and poverty ridden bureaucratic hellholes with no greater ambition than to constantly shoot down their own populations, all dreamed up in the festering imagination of the nasty little Zionist “auteur”.
These vile calumnies about the determined efforts of the workers states to build a new society, necessarily defending themselves from the constant subversion, sabotage and counter-revolutionary incursions of the West, are the constant background to which all the West’s populations have been exposed for the last 100 years, in possibly the greatest brainwashing propaganda exercise in history, saturating minds with such philistine hostility to socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat needed to build it, that public opinion will now swallow almost any “anti-totalitarian” garbage without a moment’s thought.
Hence the straight-faced reporting by the bourgeois media of these risible balloons, despite the humiliation for the US military of subsequent disclosure that three other “mystery objects”, again shot down, were sent up by the US itself, originating from the University of Alaska which carries out high altitude weather safety studies for aircraft crossing the North polar snowfields and mountains which are too cold and inaccessible to maintain a regular weather station.
The demented US propaganda was so shot full of holes (to coin a phrase) that a few slightly more “serious” papers like the liberal but very anti-communist Guardian felt obliged to point out what total horse-dung it was, to maintain some credibility, (though only days after the wild and lurid accusations had been given time to work their psyops effects in general, obviously).
Former “left”(ish) Russian correspondent Jonathan Steele was wheeled out to declare that such espionage methods are universal, had mostly been initially developed by the West, and of course have been much extended with thousands of spy and weapon-carrying satellites operated by the US military (which recently formed a separate space-war branch) now cluttering near-earth space and “violating sovereignty” on a 24/7 basis everywhere.
Steele’s attempted “let’s all be sensible” rescue for imperialist society is even more idiotic than the claims themselves however, with a beyond dumb conclusion, founded on braindead notions of an international balance of class forces allowing for permanent peaceful coexistence (commonly referred to as a “multi-polar” world by the continuing cretinous legacy of world revisionism, infecting everything from local British pacifist opportunism to the outlook from remaining workers state leaderships in Beijing and Havana, resistant enough of imperialism but unable, or refusing, to see the cataclysmic scale of the crisis, and its equally profound revolutionary necessities):
Let’s face it. Spying is a benefit. The more that countries know about a potential enemy’s defence systems the better it usually is. Starting hostilities is less likely if you have accurate and up-to-date information about what your army is up against (a lesson Vladimir Putin failed to learn before 24 February last year).
Understanding another state’s or another leader’s intentions is even more important, whether this intelligence-gathering is performed by spies, diplomats and non-governmental political analysts or by what are politely called “technical means”. The crucial issue, which no amount of balloons or satellites can provide, is empathy. Put yourself in the other side’s shoes. Understand their history, culture and the economic and political pressures their leaders are under.
There is no doubt that the relationship between the US and China is the leading global security challenge of at least the next 10 years. The two countries are rivals and competitors, but they are not enemies. Everything should be done by western countries not to slip into a mindset that treats China as hostile.
This fatuous nonsense makes the average parish vicar’s “turn the other cheek” Sunday sermon or the BBC’s “Thought for the Day” look insightful.
It was anti-revolutionary drivel like this which saw the vast and successful USSR workers state idiotically liquidate itself once its revisionist philosophy had spread like dry rot throughout the increasingly complacent and risk averse bureaucratic leadership, seeded by Stalin’s mistakes and errors made in uncritical popular front alliances with petty bourgeois democracy pre-WW2, most notably in Spain, and in formalised post-war philosophical retreats from revolutionary struggle based on a revision of Lenin’s theoretical perspectives.
That was expressed in Stalin’s 1952 declarations that imperialism could no longer expand and “peace struggle” could contain its inherent aggression, which ultimately led on to the all-out “common European home” return to “democracy” twaddle from Gorbachev which disbanded the workers state forces (KGB etc) and opened it up to the free-market carpet-bagging oligarch profit anarchy which drove it into near bankruptcy by 1998 (see EPSR books on Gorbachevism Vol 13 or Unanswered Polemics against Stalinism Vol 21).
Putinism reined in the oligarchs to some extent by applying some of the old Soviet state mechanisms he had been trained in, to discipline the gangster excesses and run some of the monopolies directly, allowing restoration of some of the social conditions which the old workers state had built up.
It temporarily headed off, or suspended, growing nostalgia for the Soviet times, which raw capitalist restoration was pushing towards revived revolutionary sentiment, enough for some sections of the bourgeois world to see Putin as worth supporting initially (though others remained distrustful).
But the Great Russian nationalism guiding his bonapartist balancing act between classes (see EPSR No1614 08-08-22), is a disaster of confusion, backwardness and petty bourgeois idealist moralising – claiming credit for re-instating (some) social conditions which are actually the achievements of communism, but hostile to Bolshevism and Lenin, including the subtleties of Lenin’s grasp of the need for sensitive handling of national rights and self-determination.
Further elaboration of this is needed in a subsequent paper, but Lenin makes clear the dangers of trampling on national sensitivities, while simultaneously being a) in favour of assimilation (achieved voluntarily) and b) aware of the ultimately reactionary bourgeois nature of all nationalism and particularly the twisted use of self-determination principles by the imperialist bourgeoisie as a means of divide and rule for disruption and sabotage of anti-imperialist and communist progress, as for example with Tibet against China; with assorted armed rebellions in Myanmar; with the vicious Tigrayan war against Ethiopia; with the Kosovo Albanian reaction helping break up socialist Yugoslavia and then Serbian anti-imperialism; and most glaringly now with reactionary, not to say Nazi, Ukrainian nationalism (which far from seeking genuine independence, is nothing but a corrupt stooge for the West, paid to wage its wars for it and diverting most of that aid into its own pockets).
Putin’s Great Russian nationalism, and pandering to the oligarchs, simply makes a rod for Russia’s back in its perfectly valid fight against nazi-NATO repression and intimidation.
Its moralising is mingled with the same revisionist inspired delusions as Gorbachevism and now the continuing “multilateralist” perspectives, which says there can be a “peaceful outcome” by “de-nazifying” Ukraine.
But this war is world war, driven by the Western crisis and cannot let up, whatever temporary ups and downs might be forced onto imperialism.
It goes hand in hand with the Kremlin stupidly going along with the overall anti-revolutionary notions of a “war on terror” which has been a major tool for imperialism’s world war drive and particularly since the 2001 attack on the New York World Trade Centre, and another sign of the grovelling capitulation of the entire fake-“left” to imperialist bullying and lies with “terrorism” universally condemned directly or by subterfuge evasions about “all being carried out by the CIA”.
So what do any of the fake-“left” say currently about the “terrorist” resistance of the Palestinians to the ever more aggressive landtheft Jewish occupation of their country, after yet more onslaught and massacre of which the latest example, the summary execution deathsquad raid against three alleged “militants” which just took out eight civilians including an old man and a child, is only one of many incidents of non-stop barbarity???
And where, incidentally, are the “outraged” accusations of “crimes against humanity” against the Zionists of the kind which fill the bourgeois press front pages and the politicians’ mouths on mere say-so, unverified allegations against the Russians, (while ignoring multiple evidenced atrocities by the Ukrainian nazis, shooting prisoners in cold blood, of beating and pillorying Roma, of summarily executing “Russian spies” on the basis of their language or of neighbours’ vindictive denunciations etc etc?????)
Putin’s pomposities about “Russian values” just hamper the world struggle against degenerate imperialism and his hostility to Leninism undermines the existential fight the world is in against imperialist chaos.
Marxism needs to be very clear it is for the defeat of nazi-NATO only but without offering support to Putinism.
His demands for recognition alongside the world’s other imperialist powers could only ever run into the buffers.
As the paper said 20 years ago during the shaming suppression of the justified Chechen self-determination struggle and brutal slaughter of the Beslan school hostage revolt (EPSR No1247 07-09-04):
Putin’s Russia will never make it as a triumphant warmongering imperialist power because
a) in today’s totally monopolised world, there is only room to become a tame stooge of the American Empire;
b) because even that position will become intolerably uncomfortable when real economic disaster from the system’s “overproduction” crisis (see EPSR box) finally hits the planet;
c) because all neo-colonial bullying of smaller countries is facing more and more insuperable resistance everywhere, and is becoming completely unacceptable to rapidly maturing worldwide consciousness; and
d) because internal socialist-educated forces and traditions will reassert history’s anti-imperialist forward march at some stage, fired up by all the above and by many many other world developments that this crisis will bring.
The room “only for stooges” applies not only to Putin but also to the major European powers.
The whole of Europe is being driven into floor by economic sanctions, war disruption and forced dependence on American gas and oil exports and/or exports from American stooge regimes in the Middle East, at multiple times the cost of the Russian gas that Germany has used for several decades as a foundation for its industrial growth.
It is one part of an onslaught that has left the Western European nations hammered economically as some few bourgeois commentators point out like former US weapons inspector Scott Ritter another dissident voice silenced by the mainstream TV and press and blocked out by the outrageous censorship of social media, although finding a way through various Internet channels like Telegram.
He remains a bourgeois pacifist commentator but with a record of refusing to kowtow to the deluge of lies poured out by the Western intelligence agencies, notably for example calling out the complete lie-fabrications about “weapons of mass destruction” used to initiate the second Iraq war in 2003.
His ongoing, primarily military, analysis of the Ukraine war has challenged and discredited much of the Goebbels propaganda about “Russian war crimes” – particularly exposing the “Bucha massacre” lies for example – but also the total lies about Russian military “incompetence”, both in its combat capacities, constantly declaring the soldiery to be “barely trained raw recruits” and “frightened conscripts” etc (not true) and the generals to be “old fashioned and incompetent” etc – as well as the supply infrastructure and logistics of the army to be lacking, shoddy and disrupted with corruption and bureaucratic incompetence; all of course disinformation intended to spread demoralisation and dismay while bolstering the morale of the fascist controlled (Ukrainian) army.
Every wild assertion, accusation or unverified allegation made by the Ukrainian nazi regime about the Russians or generated by the Western military and politicians is repeated as part of a deluge of hate propaganda lies nearly always hedged around with caveats and weasel phrases such as “have been accused of” or “witnesses say that” or “it has not been possible to confirm these figures” or “the bodies had been removed by the time our cameras arrived” – but rapidly hardening into “facts” to make a complete façade of upside down fascist war propaganda which has stampeded the petty bourgeois public opinion behind this deadly war.
(It is notable incidentally that Trotskyist petty bourgeois idealism, defeatist to its core, has picked up on this propaganda, with such elements as the “leading theoretician” CPGB Weekly Worker regurgitating much of this war propaganda in their analyses, though the lead writer on the war Jack Conrad has gone noticeably silent in recent months as the obvious prognosis of imminent Russian wholesale collapse has itself collapsed).
Ritter ridicules the numbers and assessments poured out by the West, and its various braided generals now given virtually free airtime on BBC and other channels to belittle the Russian capacities, and the absurdly optimistic assessments of Ukraine’s capacities & “pluckiness etc” and the same from all the assorted Western NGO sources, virtually all of them billionaire funded, or CIA or Pentagon fronts, like the Guardian’s favourite the Institute for the Study of War which features Afghanistan general David Petraeus on its board, among other reactionaries.
Despite some early mistakes – politically miscalculating the amount of support the West would supply and the impact of Putin’s un-Marxist nationalism – Ritter’s account is of virtually the opposite being the case – a Ukrainian army built from barely trained conscripts being sent to slaughter without significant training and tragically dying by tens of thousands, while Russian losses, still profound, are much less.
Latest bourgeois accounts of a massive reluctance to sign up in Ukraine reinforce his analysis.
The reality he says is that the Ukrainian war effort is being hammered, and that it cannot win – that much trumpeted advances in Kharkiv and Kherson were unsustainable and bought at enormous cost in troops and materiel, and that the steady build up of Russian forces, now with months of training, will overwhelm them.
Ritter has declared for months that the Western support cannot change the picture, with the provision of advanced tanks and planes if that is decided. They are mostly unusable without major maintenance facilities and technical support.
And the West is having difficulties providing supplies and ammunition itself, he adds, a reality now increasingly admitted here and there in through the barrage of inverted lies about “Putin’s failed attack”:
The war with Ukraine will be over unless the EU finds a way in weeks to speed up the provision of ammunition to Ukraine, Josep Borrell, the EU foreign affairs chief, warned on the final day of the Munich security conference.
He said a special meeting of EU defence ministers slated for 8-9 March will provide a chance for countries to offer ammunition from their existing stocks, adding it is taking up to 10 months for European armies to order and receive a single bullet.
“We are in urgent war mode,” he said. “This shortage of ammunition has to be solved quickly; it is a matter of weeks.” He said if it was not the war would be over.
Borrell will also table plans at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday to use the existing €3.6bn (£3.2bn) European peace facility for the EU to procure ammunition jointly on the model of the procurement of vaccines during the Covid crisis, an idea first proposed by the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas.
Borrell said the Estonian idea would work in the medium term, but he believes the urgency of the shortages is such that it requires EU countries to draw on existing stocks. “We have to use what member states have,” he said.
“Much more has to be done and much quicker. There is still a lot to be done. We have to increase and accelerate our military support. It currently takes almost 10 months for the European army to buy a bullet for the calibre of 155mm, almost one year, and almost three years to buy an air-to-air missile. This is not in accordance with the war situation in which we live.”
Kallas, speaking at the same event, said Russia was in a wartime mode, producing ammunition across three shifts, adding there needed to be a similar war footing in Europe. She claimed defence industry executives had told her they had no orders from the EU.
Borrell said the absence of ammunition was because “we forgot about classical wars – we were only engaged with expeditionary forces and technological Blitzkrieg.”
He said some European countries, such as Poland, had doubled their defence budgets, while France was boosting its defence spending by 40%, from €39bn to €59bn.
He pointed out that defence remained a national state competence in the EU, but said if the EU increased defence spending with “everyone in its own corner, we will increase our duplications and not fill in our loopholes”.
He said the war in Ukraine may act as an awakening or incentive to break taboos by increasing defence interoperability across Europe but added that experience showed this would not change overnight, and bewailed a culture of delays that he said weakened the coordinating role of the European Defence Agency.
“We have taken too much time to make critical decisions such as providing battle tanks,” he said, “when everybody knows that in order to win a classical war, a classical war with manoeuvres of heavy arms, you need battle tanks. You will not win this war without this kind of arms.”
Total corruption of the Kiev fascist regime, another of many truths about the war downplayed by the Western media, (even though unable to hide it completely), with much of the Western aid billions siphoned off by the shameless nazi gangsters around the equally venal playactor Zelensky (including gross profiteering on food for the front line) completely undermines the Ukrainians too.
And it will have huge consequences in all the Western countries where massive diversion of Western budgets into warmongering arms, (especially if vast amounts simply turn up later on the black market), is going to become a giant problem domestically, just as the “guns not butter” arguments of the First World War eventually led to mass discontent, not just in the Russian revolution itself (begun in the bread queues in St Petersburg) but throughout Europe, with huge discontent and mutinies of troops on the front lines.
The burdens being forced onto Europe and especially Germany by the war sanctions and American bullying are already having a massive effect as the reactionary Mail reports:
A huge protest organised for this weekend will demand that Germany stop arming Ukraine in its year-long fight against Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
Earlier this month, far-left politician Sahra Wagenknecht and feminist Alice Schwarzer launched what they called a ‘manifesto for peace’ criticising the government’s approach to the conflict.
Calling for ‘an end to the escalation of arms deliveries to Kyiv’ and ‘the opening of negotiations with Moscow’, they have also invited like-minded Germans to join them at a demonstration in central Berlin on Saturday. Russian apologists among the far-left and far-right fringes of Germany society are expected to attend.
As Berlin has increased its support for Ukraine since Chancellor Olaf Scholz took just days to announce seismic shifts in Germany’s military after Russia’s invasion, public support for sending arms in the middle-ground of German politics has also risen.
However, according to Ellen Ehn - editor in chief of Germany’s WDR TV, which runs polls on public opinion - the number of people who say Scholz’s decision to send main battle tanks to Ukraine was a mistake has started to increase.
While 44 percent said in a recent poll that Berlin’s support for Ukraine was ‘adequate,’ Ms Ehn on Thursday told BBC Radio 4’s Today that 39 percent said it was a mistake to send tanks to Ukraine.
‘This is particularly the case in the east. East and West Germany are completely different,’ she told the programme. ‘People in the east generally say that diplomatic efforts don’t go far enough,’ she said, noting that many of those were at the extreme ends - the far left and the far right - in German politics.
Now, more than half a million Germans have signed a petition calling for a change in Berlin’s approach to Ukraine. It says rather than sending Kyiv more weapons, the country should instead insist on peace negotiations and a freeze in the conflict.
However, this could mean that Russia retains control of the vast swathes of Ukraine that it currently controls, an outcome that Kyiv considers to be unacceptable.
Germany today is a different country to what it was a year ago.
Last year, Scholz announced that Germany would plough 100 billion euros into revamping the army, send weapons to Kyiv and wean itself off Russian energy.
But the Chancellor is finding himself struggling to put his ambitious plans into practice and to make them palatable to all in the country.
Wracked by guilt over the Holocaust, post-war Germany has always tread lightly on the world stage and pursued a pacifist approach when it came to conflicts.
Although Scholz has repeatedly said that Germany would lend Kyiv any necessary support in its bid to repel Russia, his decisions on sending heavy armaments from missile launchers to tanks only came after much agonising.
In his recent speeches, Scholz hints at what may be holding him back.
Announcing his decision to send Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine, Scholz underlined in the Bundestag that ‘there are many citizens who are worried about such a decision and the dimension that it could bring’, as he urged them to trust him.
Not only are there fears of an escalation in the conflict, there are also many who remain reluctant to directly oppose Moscow. Others are wary of Germany’s new bid at re-arming itself or as a weapons supplier to Ukraine.
At the Munich Security Conference last weekend, thousands of protesters turned up in the southern German city to demonstrate against armament support for Kyiv.
Scholz has also suffered heavily in recent regional elections in Berlin, seeing support plummet.
Meanwhile anti-NATO demonstrations have also been held in Washington organised by the growing anti-war movements including such figures as sceptic comedian Jimmy Dore – once more in the teeth of total media blackout and censorship by the “free West”.
These stirrings are a long way from grasping the underlying basis to the warmongering.
And like the London demonstrations organised for this weekend by the “No to War” coalition – partici0pants are easily misled by the opportunist “both sides to blame” from the Trotskyist groups organising the “protest”.
Ritter gets closer to understanding something about the real driving force when he asks just why the European (governments) have gone along with the NATO warmongering when not only sanctions and disruption are wiping out their economies and imposing massive cuts on their standard of living but, it is now clear, the US has deliberately targeted the central powerhouse of Germany by breaking up the mutually beneficial industry-natural resources economic alliance with Russia forged for decades.
“Hersh’s account of the pipeline attack shifts the perspective completely” he is now saying in interviews, “because it is clearly an attack on Germany which is to say, ostensibly one of the US’ allies in NATO”.
It makes a mockery of Stoltenberg and Biden’s insistence that the Ukraine war has “drawn the alliance together and made it stronger” as once again repeated in this week’s Warsaw speech by the US president, a venue selection in the capital of the most reactionary clerical fascist country in Europe, which further rubs in the deliberate bullying insult to Berlin and in fact to the whole Franco-German core of the EU which formed the original European trading bloc post-war to provide a big enough market to counter-US monopoly power.
Further huge contradictions are now thrown up by the revelations, not least the question posed by Ritter and Dore, in bemusement at the chaos and damage being done to the European economies, “of why the Europeans accept it while the US sits back and gets all the benefits”.
But the answers to that lie in the hair-raising implications of world Catastrophe though neither have the Marxist understanding of crisis collapse to begin answering it.
But if the basic understanding is the that the Ukraine war is not only obviously nothing to do with “freedom” but also is not essentially driven by “expansionist US domination plans to extend its reach, suppress Russia and finally surround and overcome China” (the shallow explanations advanced by much of the fake-“left” based on a defeatist awe of the ruling class (as the crypto-Trot CPGB WW asserts, building on its long-running “US sorting out the hotspots” nonsense of Irish national-liberation and other “capitulations” - see eg EPSR No 1043 09-03-00) but by the desperation of a bankrupt US bourgeois Empire that is falling apart because of intractable Catastrophe and lashing out in all directions to impose world war armageddon rather than go down, then it makes more sense.
It is the growing challenge of both German and Japanese competition which undermined the Cold War when Reagan was forced to turn resources from the “evil empire” arms build-up on to its rivals Japan and Germany, with aggressive trade tariff wars forcing the former into two decades of stagnation, and ever-intensifying conflicts with the EU (a shift in emphasis which which then led to Gorbachev’s liqudationist stupidity - see Vol 13 Gorbachev book op cit).
Now the aggression is at red-heat.
But it confronts the world bourgeoisies with existential questions – confront the US with its 1000 military bases, in every country of the world virtually, or tug the forelock.
Britain, long running lapdog for Washington has already made its choice, kowtowing to US Empire aggression from Afghanistan and Iraq onwards and most overtly with Brexit after decades of agonising about whether to stay with the Euro-bloc or side with Washington, albeit at the price of opening up the British economy to even more plundering by the international monopolies (mostly American) by eliminating regulations and standards across the board - particularly obviously eg with the NHS being packaged up and sold to the US health combines etc).
The very big bourgeoisie running the hedge funds and City banks secure their interests by acting much like the colonial “comprador” bourgeoisie of the past, handing over the remnants of the British empire and selling out British sovereignty under the banner of “restoring sovereignty” (grovellingly taken up by the servile Labourites who cannot find jingoistic Union Jacks big enough for their “patriotic” campaign rallies ).
Europe increasingly in conflict with the US via Brussels, has only partly capitulated with its support for Ukraine extremely hesitant and potentially heading for opposition to the US as the burdens it is being forced to impose on the population get heavier, undermining the previous high living standards that European reformism has been able to deliver - which much more “free market” Americans have seen as “socialistic”.
Other contradictions are also rising in particular between the European core and the former Soviet camp East European countries which have had to use more overtly repressive fascist ideology to hold back still lingering nostalgia for the workers state past.
It is almost certainly no mistake Biden chose Warsaw for his lightening visit speech rather than more obvious Germany.
The Hitler nostalgic reactionaries in the Baltic states (still annually celebrating their SS wartime links with marches) and the clerical Catholic nazi-reaction in Poland (which the whole slew of Trots helped install with their 1980s backing for the counter-revolution around the bogus “trade union” Solidarnosc) as well as the Finnish nationalist reaction, see their interests lying with Washington imperialism.
All are jostling for position as the crisis deepens with the antagonisms unstoppably intensifying.
Just about uniting them for the moment all is fear of communism, the likely explanation for the conundrum raised by Ritter and Dore about why the big European powers are going along with this.
Putin of course is not a communist. Just the opposite, his relic kissing Orthodoxy and anti-Leninism is an obstacle to the revival of Leninism which is required everywhere.
But defeat for the imperialist warmongering would stir all kinds of sentiments and possibilities (as the re-positioning of Lenin statues in the Russian Donbass hints) - and so too would the imposition of economic burden’s across Europe.
Putin’s dire sub-revisionist stupidity could still create unnecessary setbacks in the way that Slobodan Milosevic’s revisionist nationalism managed to undermine Serbia’s determined fight against the 1999 NATO nazi blitzkrieg, (a dress-rehearsal for this onslaught) or Saddam Hussein’s thuggishness did in the Iraq war.
But so far Russia is a much harder nut to crack.
And the crisis is biting hard in the US too with the unlimited expense so far of tens of billions in support for Ukraine’s corrupt degeneracy causing growing opposition.
But the world’s slide into Slump depression and fascist repression and censorship will continue until the working class turns to building revolutionary understanding.
That will not happen while it swallows all the old chauvinist class-collaborating garbage from the TUC trade union tradition however doggedly the working class battles now with strikes and demonstrations.
Just the opposite. Taking up the fight against the union leaders’ smug anti-communism is vital too.
Build Leninism Alan Moss
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Discussion: PC reformism and “wokeness” are no solution to the antagonisms and divisions of Catastrophe ridden capitalist society and mostly block the way to revolutionary understanding needed to end its sleaze and corruption, gross censorship, info-manipulation brainwashing, and ludicrous psyops World War hysteria (anti-Russia, anti-China etc). Their protests – however worthy – sustain illusions in “freedom and democracy” rather than exposing the grotesque fraud it is, just when the sick plunge into world war from Serbia and Iraq to Nato’s Ukraine makes the need for its overturn ever more urgent. Passively through self-obsession and subjective idealist sanctimonious “morality”, and directly through outright anti-communist hostility these PC causes and campaigns not only divert attention from, and are hostile to, the revolutionary consciousness that is the only route to human emancipation and progress but feed division and splits in the working class, with notions of separate development or man-blaming. Hysteria about the reactionary little spiv Andrew Tate’s misogynist bragging explains nothing about the vacuum in masculinity. Fake-”leftism”, currently swallowing all the lies poured out against every victim country (currently the Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine), hides behind the “righteousness” of a dozen varieties of single-issue reformism from feminism and gay(etc)-rights to eco-protest, black nationalism and “anti-racism”, to conceal its own petty bourgeois failure to develop objective Marxist-Leninist science
Single-issue PC reformists of all kinds are getting tangled in ever greater contradictions as the monopoly capitalist system collapses into ever worsening social and economic breakdown, planet threatening eco-destruction and even more immediate hair-raising escalation of the fascist warmongering (already underway for the last 25+ years).
Assertions that the disgusting and frenzied police murder of Tyre Nichols in the US was driven purely by racism; paralysing “feminist” contradictions for and against putting a “trans woman” in a female prison; feminist backing for imperialist warmongering against Iran and Russia; finger-pointing and man-blaming about youthful susceptibility to the aggressive, misogynistic bragging fostered online by irrelevant fascist minded jerks like Andrew Tate all expose the failure to tackle the real cause of the additional oppressions and alienation in the class based exploitation system.
As the EPSR has declared many times, these assorted causes are nothing but “super”-reformisms (replacing the general failed reformism and revisionism of the past, long drawing nothing but deserved contempt from the working class).
While they might have effected some changes in the most grotesquely offensive aspects of prejudice and division in capitalist society (mainly to the benefit of the middle-class minority) they will never challenge the dominance and control of monopoly capitalism and its bourgeois ruling class.
And for as long as that remains in charge, it can only constantly generate and regenerates all the antagonisms, inequalities, repression and divisiveness which are being “protested” or allegedly “steadily changed and improved” - assuming that all the changes are accepted as positive in the first place.
Even where some of the cruder and rougher edges of some aspects of additional oppression might be smoothed off, these advances change nothing essential in a system plunging unstoppably into the greatest crisis collapse in all history, escalating its sick and depraved chauvinist warmongering all the time and increasingly winding up for the total Third World War destruction which is capitalism’s only “way out” of its political, social and above all economic Catastrophe (see economics box).
It will be small compensation for example that women can now play football increasingly on a par with the men’s game, or that Britain has an ethnically Indian prime minister, when the bombs are falling all around, or the economic collapse has reached the levels of anarchic breakdown that will soon overtake any of the deprivations and agonies imposed during the Great Depression of the 1930s (and already has for many in the Third World and the poorest in the “West”).
Worse. By diverting minds from the crisis dominating everyone on the planet and helping capital to keep the working class away from the only politics that can take human kind forwards, Marxist Leninist revolutionary science, the single-issue campaigns increasingly clearly play an outright counter-revolutionary role, for example eg against the Palestinian cause (see EPSR 1242 20-07-04p4) or notably at present in whipping up war fever and hatred, in the wider Middle East, in Africa and Asia against growing anti-imperialist “terrorist” upheavals and most of all currently against Iran and Russia.
The seethingly bitter anger in the USA itself at the monstrous police violence which brutally killed the innocent Nichols underlines the point as capitalist Catastrophe increasingly hammers even the “richest” of countries.
Repeated exposures and recordings of a non-stop pattern of similar incidents have produced huge hostility, revolt and political turmoil expressing the growing discontent generated by the crisis.
So far it has taken primarily an anti-racist form and, in a country with a long history of slavery and racial oppression, is mostly a movement dominated by black nationalist perspectives (as well as the growing rebelliousness of the dispossessed indigenous people - “native Americans”).
While that is probably historically inevitable, it can also be a source of division in itself, if not combined and extended with the deeper understanding of capitalism itself and the hire-and-fire alienating and exploitative society it creates.
The crucial understanding required is that the rat-race individualist ethos of capitalism inevitably creates division, expressed through every possible difference and particularly racism - and additionally deliberately fosters it as a one of many divide-and-rule strategies.
The point could be made as far back as in the Cincinnati riots 20 years ago and the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles before that as well as :
when class-collaborating reformists attack cops’ racist bias as the problem, the ludicrous propositions follow that the Western imperialist states of ‘bourgeois dictatorship’ (as Marx termed monopoly-capitalism’s unreformable domination) have only known the problem of deaths in police custody when a black minority has come under the cosh; and that if this racism would stop (as per the Macpherson recommendations), then this problem would stop; and, even more stupid, that the class bias in all capitalist democracy policing (pro property, and against anti-authority and anti-property agitators) would not be a concern if there was no racist bias involved in cracking down on dissidence of every kind.
Clearly, more than a few anti-racist campaigners would be even happier if the exposures of officialdom’s race prejudice in all its workings were also accompanied by an even more important analysis of the relentless and vicious class-war bias in everything that the state authorities do.
But the question is what to make of public campaigns which do not hammer out that important additional class-war message??
Capitalist exploitation’s racist bias always needs identifying as such, obviously. But much more importantly, all such incidents needs identifying first and foremost as class domination.
The Cincinnati rebellion is essentially about a proletarian revolt against the rule of the American monopoly-bourgeois class which creates a society where all authority will always be vested in a system which protects property and property rights above all else, and which will keep control permanently, by any means possible, over all potential threats to that property system.
Obviously, large black proletarian ghettoes in America’s major cities are exactly such a threat, but the constant harassment and repression of them, such as has led to the current Cincinnati rebellion, is an anti-capitalist propaganda point LOST when presented as a racist issue by the petty-bourgeois class-collaborating race-relations industry inspired by ‘moral’ idealism. (EPSR No1085 17-04-01).
The point even more obviously can be made over Tyre Nichols.
This time not only the victim but the perpetrators, the five police officers who beat him to death, were all black.
Surely racism as such cannot be the explanation? And “anti-racist clean-up” of the police, and society in general cannot be the solution?
Certainly there remains a racist component – because the black population (or hispanic and other minorities) is disproportionately kept down in the poor and proletarian majority; class oppression often takes a racist form and especially so in the US.
But the crucial lesson for the working class is that the class divisions are the driving contradiction; racism is a symptom not a cause, and the only way to end it is to end capitalism.
Some of the black reformist lobby has indeed been forced to concede that the issue goes far wider than the oppression of the black population, but still trying to keep to the reformist perspective of a “racist hierarchy” without spelling out the real basis of this brutality (and in fact the basis of the brutalising of the cops themselves who impose it) which is now further revealed exactly as Lenin analysed in his book State & Revolution – the existence of the capitalist state forces as the instrument to protect the ruling class and suppress the class struggle. They say:
This is not a case of individual racists, but another example of a policing system rabid with brutality and death. This kind of death is not new, and a true remembering of Black history must address this too. This most recent atrocity that the world witnessed in the video from Memphis is a symptom of a deeper social sickness that must be confronted before we as a nation can be whole.
To remember Black history is to also recall how Black overseers were recruited to maintain order on America’s plantations. When an enslaved person defied the slaveholder’s orders, it was often another Black person who was tasked with strapping the defiant bondsman to a whipping post and brutalizing him in front of other enslaved people. During the civil rights movements, Black and white activists reported terrible beatings in southern jails at the hands of Black men – sometimes fellow inmates – who did the bidding of local sheriffs. The hierarchy of racial terror has never been only enforced by white people. Nor has it only harmed Black people.
From Black and white abolitionists to Black, white, brown and Native civil rights workers, anyone who has directly challenged America’s racial hierarchy has been subject to brutality. But moral fusion movements have also been clear that our goal is to transform systems that devalue the lives of all poor and marginalized people.
Over the past decade, the Black Lives Matter movement has done important work to raise consciousness about the way that non-white people disproportionately suffer from police brutality. But this brutality can also be directed at white people. Just last year a white officer in Concord, North Carolina, shot and killed a poor white man, then lied about what had happened until the body-camera footage of the incident was released. When law enforcement is tasked with defending an order in which inequality is normal, brutality is what poor people come to expect from their interactions with the law.
This is why moral fusion movements that have challenged America’s system of racial hierarchy have never been made up of Black people only. It is also why these movements have not directed their challenge solely at the enforcers of an unjust system.
To focus only on “police reform” in our present crisis would be akin to working for an end of the whipping post during slavery. Abolitionists did not simply demand better treatment of enslaved people. They insisted that slavery was wrong. Likewise, the civil rights movement did not simply protest the brutal enforcement of Jim Crow segregation. They insisted that segregation was wrong because it dehumanized Black people and propped up an economic system in which poor white people were offered the “psychological wages” of whiteness while they continued to struggle to feed their families.
The public lynching of Tyre Nichols is a harsh reminder that we live in an America where some people’s lives are considered expendable. The officers who murdered this man did not act alone. Who else killed Tyre? Every politician who has been silent of the issues of violent public policy that denies some Americans basic human rights like housing, healthcare and a living wage.
Also, every preacher and moral leader who remains quiet and doesn’t challenge the value gap in our society until another fatality is caught on camera. Who else bears responsibility for this brutality? Every American who has refused to believe on-the-ground activists who are crying for justice, and every politician who forfeited the chance to say: “No others bills in Congress until we have police reform, voting rights, living wages and universal healthcare.”
Yes, the officers who brutalized Tyre must be held accountable for their actions. Far too often, officers who abuse their power and the public trust face no consequences in cases like these. But we must also acknowledge that their brutality is a byproduct of too many Americans passing the buck and abdicating responsibility for a society where 700 people die every day, not because God has called them home but simply because they are poor.
Fifty-five years ago, Dr King went to Memphis because two Black garbage workers had been killed on the job by faulty equipment. He wasn’t there simply because the workers were Black, nor was he there only to demand repair of the equipment that had killed them. King, who was in the midst of organizing the Poor People’s Campaign, was in Memphis because working people were standing together to demand dignity under the slogan “I Am A Man”. Until Black, white, Native and brown people unite to insist that our present economic reality is wrong and can be changed by policies that lift from the bottom so everyone rises, we cannot truly say that we have learned the lessons of our history or honored the life of one more soul who has died at the hands of law enforcement.
The Rev William Barber is president of Repairers of the Breach and founding director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale University
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is assistant director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale University
The good reverends’ policies to “lift from the bottom” and “moral pressure” remain no more than reformist nostrums and while they are straw in the wind of the growing revolt in the US still avoid making any connections with the international warmongering being imposed by imperialism to keep the masses trapped behind chauvinism and international scapegoating.
What they should spell out is that it was Martin Luther King’s turn towards international anti-imperialism, opposing the Vietnam war in particular - (as did boxing hero Mohamed Ali) to broaden out the civil rights movement and potentially take it all the way towards communism, which was the real threat to the white imperialist ruling class.
It was that which saw him shot dead by the US state (as multiple subsequent revelations have confirmed).
It has seen others like boxer Mike Tyson – who celebrated revolutionary heroes like Che Guevara, and Mao with body tattoos - persecuted and hounded and essentially fitted-up on specious “rape” charges to impose a prison sentence on his rebelliousness.
Other reverends in the civil rights movement are making sure to head off any such anti-capitalist tendencies, like the arch opportunist Al Sharpton:
I came to London more than 30 years ago to protest against the vicious murder of 15-year-old Rolan Adams. He and his younger brother were waiting at a bus stop when they were chased by a gang of white teenagers, many yelling racial epithets. Adams was stabbed in the neck with a butterfly knife and died.
The white mobs here were eerily similar to the white mobs we witnessed while protesting in places like Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Similar stares, similar hate, similar use of the “N-word”, similar unease, similar tension and a similar lack of justice. More than three decades later, I return to share my film, Loudmouth, which chronicles my lifelong journey advocating and fighting for civil rights. While there has been progress that I have witnessed first-hand, both the US and the UK are still dealing with an excessive amount of police brutality. Whether it is back home or across the pond, the need for effective, thorough police reform is long overdue and we are here to demand it in unison.
As I left the US, my thoughts were still with the family of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was beaten to death by officers according to videotape footage. I delivered the eulogy at his funeral and stood alongside his grieving mother, stepfather and loved ones. The pain that they will carry for the rest of their lives is just like the grief and agony that every family member of victims of police brutality endures whether in the US, the UK or elsewhere. Back home, there is case after case of officers killing unarmed Black and Brown folks in disproportionate numbers, as well as profiling, arresting, incarcerating and just plain targeting them. In the Nichols case, the accused officers are Black. This abuse is a systemic problem, just as it is a systemic problem in the UK.
Last September, the Metropolitan police shot and killed unarmed 24-year-old Chris Kaba. Police followed his vehicle and Kaba died from a single shot by an officer, according to reports. He was about to become a father. His family, members of the community, activists and even some politicians have called for accountability in the case. Similar to protests in the US, many on the ground in the UK have led rallies for reform. The Independent Office for Police Conduct said that it is conducting an investigation, but it may take anywhere from six to nine months. That is simply too long. This heartbroken family must receive answers and justice.
The problems with policing, whether here or in the states, often begin with dehumanising and devaluing Black and Brown lives. At an early age, our children are criminalised, perceived to be older than their age and treated harshly and unfairly. We saw that in the UK in a case in 2020 that garnered international outrage when a 15-year-old Black girl was strip-searched by female officers without the presence of her parents or another adult. The young girl was taken to the school’s medical room and strip-searched (while she was menstruating) by officers reportedly looking for cannabis. No drugs were found. This was not an isolated incident. According to the children’s commissioner for England, 650 children were strip-searched by police in London from 2018-2020. The majority were boys, and about 58% were Black. Simply unacceptable.
Impacts from systemic racism and a police culture that does not view us as deserving of basic human rights has detrimental reverberations. In June 2020, two sisters, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, were murdered and their bodies discovered in a park. Two Met police officers took pictures of their bodies, circulated them to others and made crass comments. The family also learned that a missing person log was incorrectly closed, and police failed to take any real action on the day the young women went missing. Not only was this gross negligence, but it again highlights the lack of care, respect and treatment that our communities receive. Those officers may not have killed them, but they caused further harm by their utter disregard and reprehensible behaviour.
I’m tired of watching Black men like Tyre Nichols die. This shouldn’t be normal
These are just a few of the cases in recent years that have rocked neighbourhoods and communities in the UK, along with many others. It is similar to the pattern and practice misconduct we have been dealing with in the US for years and years. That’s the bad news. There is, however, a glimmer of hope and some good news. Many who’ve fought for justice in the UK are having their voices heard. Stephen Lawrence’s mother, Doreen, is a respected peer. Simon Woolley, the activist I came to protest with in 1991, is now Lord Simon Woolley and the principal of Homerton College, Cambridge. In the US, we elected our first Black president, Barack Obama, and now our first Black vice-president, Kamala Harris, who just gave a moving statement at Tyre Nichols’s funeral.
What a fraud! Having detailed the monstrous racist reality which is constantly engendered by capitalism and its sick dog-eat-dog antagonistic “free market” system, the opportunist Sharpton wants to drag everyone back into the same reformist mire and the pretence that anti-racist campaigning has “made some progress”.
Not as far as the Third World masses are concerned. It was after all a black Secretary of State Colin Powell who presented the monstrous lies about Saddam’s non-existent WMDs to the United Nations to justify the horrific blitzkrieg of Iraq in 2003; another Condoleeza Rice who not only propped up the same warmongering Bush government, and its Middle East destruction laced with the anti-Arabic racism of the Iraq war, and the contemptuous destruction of Afghanistan but push for massive arms increases for aggressive pressure against North Korea, Cuba and continuously besieged Iraq at that time under sanctions killing hundreds of thousands of children (as well as adults).
Not as far as Tyre Nichols is concerned, or George Floyd throttled in Minnesota, or Michael Brown shot down in Missouri under the Obama presidency, (EPSR No1451 26-08-14), and dozens of others, all part of the “achievement” or legacy of a black president who maintained the path into American “shock and awe” warmongering in Iraq and Afghanistan and then extended it to Libya and Syria (a CIA-Mossad provocation deliberately whipping up a sectarian “civil war” to try and topple hated Damascus anti-imperialism, as well as help contain the 2011 Egyptian Arab Spring revolution).
This was a president who backed every vicious barbarity carried out by the Zionists in the Middle East, bombing and terrorising the Palestinian people; who colluded with the Zionists in the 2013 military-coup toppling of the new “democracy” in Egypt, to put the lid back on the Arab Spring with a brutal military dictatorship under General Sisi more repressive than Hosni Mubarak’s overthrown dictatorship; who continued US oppression in Iraq via the corrupt new Shia stoogery; and fed the civil war turmoil in Syria to try and topple the Assad regime with deliberately whipped up Sunni-Shia sectarian revolt; then bombed the same rebellion when it “blew back”, and attempted to create new artificial “Islamic terrorism” groups to keep the anti-Assad civil war going.
Obama-ism also oversaw a sequence of outright coups and rightwing “judicial coup” overturns against the rising “pink tide” of halfway house anti-imperialism in Latin America, including White House approved 2009 Honduras coup, Paraguay just before that, the nonstop CIA guided bourgeois plotting for “legal” overthrows in Brazil, and Bolivia, and for violent counter-revolutionary attempts on Venezuela and Nicaragua; which continued and escalated the monstrous invasion/occupation of Afghanistan; and pursued the utterly barbaric and illegal assassination of Osama bin Laden, trampling all over Pakistan’s notional “sovereignty to do it.
And most pertinently of a president whose regime funded and organised the decade long £5billion CIA colour-revolution plotting in the Ukraine from the 2004 stealing of the election there to the violent Maidan coup in 2014, installing an outright Nazi-dominated government which immediately began an ultra-nationalist repression of the Russian speaking minority and intimidation of much of the ordinary Ukrainian population too, with all the torchlight parade theatrical thuggery of the 1930s and WW2 Hitlerism and a war waged on the eastern provinces for eight years, killing 14,000 (mostly civilian) people and terrorising its cities, long before the eventual response by Putinism 12 months ago (see main story).
Obama-ism laid the foundations for the now grotesque Nazi-NATO proxy war, a deliberately provoked next escalation in a World War Three begun at least in 1999 using the Kosovo thug stooges backed up by NATO against Serbia (a dress rehearsal for the current war) and now threatening to devastate the whole of Europe.
In other words Sharpton’s “glimmer of hope” is nothing but the sickest apologia for the degenerate outright continuation and extension of the imperialist war bullying which became the main tool for the US “topdog” imperialist power to survive (or at least try to “ride out”) the crisis from blitzing of Belgrade onwards.
Domestically all this supposed “advance” has so little changed things for the great 80% of the black population in America that dismay had already set in after Obama’s first term. Only by tapping another single issue lobby, for “gay marriage” could the Democrat vote be maintained for the second term (to continue rescuing almost dead-in-the-water presidential democracy).
It has not changed anything for the white working class either, the great majority of which is also confronting a relentless decline in wages and living standards over decades and the desperation of the great Catastrophe economic breakdown which fully emerged in the global credit collapse of 2008-9.
To now add to that approval for the Labourites in Britain via eulogising the middle-class Doreen Lawrence’ elevation to the House of Lords, and Wooley’s too, is deliberate anti-communist treachery from the slimy Sharpton, solely interested selling his own film and elevating his own prestige.
Doreen Lawrence’s dogged campaign against the gross racist indifference of the Metropolitan police after her son’s savage murder by a gang of vicious white supremacists was determined and heroic in its own way but she has since been absorbed into the establishment quite deliberately – neutralising any further campaigning and demonstrating that imperialism can cope with such reformist difficulties.
She is now part of the ever more reactionary Labour party, whose campaign of censorship, dirty dealing, stitched up expulsions and cynical manipulation to stamp out all hints of the fake-“left” wing (after the shock of seeing how fast the genuine left sentiment coalesced around even the useless opportunism and confusion of Jeremy Corbyn when he was accidentally elected as Labour leader) has itself been grotesquely racist, largely based around a doubly twisted manipulation of single-issue anti-racism; firstly by the outrageous adoption of the Zionist-CIA coordinated world campaign of ludicrous topsy-turvy accusations of “racist anti-semitism” launched against anyone even timidly supporting the cause of dispossessed Palestinian nation, and opposed to the violent, arrogant and brutal Zionist colonisation of its land; and second by its direct outright support for the artificial landtheft colonial occupation itself.
So-called “Israel” is one of the most thoroughly thuggish racist manifestations of imperialist colonialism ever (and particularly so due to its installation in the post-WW2 period of world wide accepted “decolonisation”), its elitist “chosen race” apartheid regime growing ever more reactionary year by year with its extreme fanatic religious wing, now in power, actively pressing for the complete elimination or dispersal of even those Palestinians still remaining in the tiny pockets of land left to them after 70 years of terrorised ethnic cleansing and warmongering seizure of their homes, farms, shops and land property, (sanctioned by the imperialist dominated United Nations in 1947-48) or turned a blind eye to by the monstrous hypocrisy of the “international community” ever since.
War after war by the Jewish occupiers to seize not just more territory but now the entire country, all deemed “illegal” by the UN (as if the initial landtheft by ethnic cleansing terrorising was fine), has been ignored or effectively sanctioned by Western imperialism.
Not only has it taken no action against non-stop settler occupations despite numerous resolutions against “Israel” but has encouraged it with huge economic and military aid subventions of billions of dollars annually from the US imperialist establishment, (in which the Jewish freemasonry is completely intertwined).
Now even the pretence of some “rights” for the benighted and harassed Palestinians is abandoned by the most reactionary like Trumpite Mike Pompeo whose off-the-wall Christian fundamentalism asserts that the Zionists are “entitled” to have all of it because “it says so in the bible”.
This a someone who could be running for president shortly.
Presumably he will also be advocating the return of the lands of the USA to the 200 or so nations of its indigenous people, or what remains of them after 300 years of genocidal slaughter and repression, whose ancestors arrived in and inhabited North America thousands of years before the Jews returned from Egypt (at least according to the Cecil B de Mille Hollywood account) smiting and throwing out the indigenous Philistines (i.e. the Palestinians) for a first time as they did so.
Tragically Baroness Lawrence is a now a mainstay cover for the Labourite pretence to be “standing up to racism” and the deliberate lie that it is possible to reform the police etc. to be non-racist.
The feminist lobby, demanding a “restructuring” of the police in the wake of scandalous and sickening revelations of misogynist and contemptuous attitudes is at least as much of an obstacle to crucial revolutionary understanding as anti-racism as a single-issue reform.
Of course the degenerate behaviour of hundreds of the officers throughout the police and murderous consequences in the most extreme examples, such as the horrifying rape and killing of Sarah Everard, or the serial rape career of David Carrick with dozens of victims, are a damning commentary on the culture of indifference, brutality arrogance and misogyny prevailing in the police state forces (and not simply in the Metropolitan police).
And the growing public awareness, condemnation and refusal to accept such depravity, demonstrating against it and forcing investigations and admissions of “institutionalised” bad behaviour are potentially problematical for the whole capitalist system.
But until that is focused on as being the cause and generator of all such grotesque and sick behaviour because the very dog-eat-dog antagonistic competitive ethos of the system will always constantly produce alienation and dissatisfaction and such distorted responses, it cannot be changed.
The overturn and ending of monopoly capitalist class rule has to be the starting point for transforming society onto a new cooperative basis, where all such aberrant, injurious and self-serving hatred and hostility can be overcome by the community, where individuals all see and understand their contribution to the overall good to be the foundation for the life, not as some pious or religious “moral” aim but as the basis for their own existence guided by a grasp of material necessity - in other words Marxist-Leninist science.
Feminism however wants to take things in entirely the wrong direction, its petty bourgeois idealism and subjectivism adding to the divisiveness by blaming men and maleness for the problems, rather than seeing the objective causes in the contradictions of this class ridden society.
Suggesting that problems can be “dealt with” by a “fight against misogyny” and by ending the patriarchy which is held to be the problem just plays into the hands of the ruling class and its system by splitting the working class, by misidentifying the contradictions and antagonisms in society and by suggesting that reforms can be achieved which will improve life and remove the dangers and fears facing women (itself ignoring that the vast majority of men are subject to fearfulness, alienation, deprivation and exploitation as well).
To begin with there is going to be no significant change in the police while capitalism continues, not only because of the very nature of the human material the system produces for the recruits but because the ruling class wants it that way (whatever cosmetic “apologies” might be made to head off public dismay, and however many “decent and honest” police there might be (no, really there are some, even if it seems hard to find them).
The police are a central component of the state (the bodies of armed men that mediate the class war and in non-crisis periods prevent it from constantly boiling over into the violent disruption that always lies under the surface) and while notionally neutral as explained above they always act for the ruling class and its interests.
They are intentionally kept brutal and aggressive, however much there might be sincere or decent individuals in the ranks, because that it what is required in crisis periods when class rule intensifies and the permanent underlying class war sharpens beyond its usual forced truce too - as the miners found out in the Great Strike of 1984 when Thatcherism let the dog off the leash and turned on full civil war measures against the working class, using almost military levels of violence against the pickets and linking them with the rest of the secret police forces of the state (MI5, GCHQ phone tapping surveillance, bank sequestrations etc etc).
The police are not there to “solve crime” and the capitalist system could not give a damn about the travails and troubles of the ordinary people; the clear up rate for basics like break-ins and thefts is minimal, with all the latest statistics showing that very little effort is made even to investigate them (though financial and other crimes disrupting business are another matter).
“Loyalty” within the police is what is valued, with efforts made to “clean up” only when corruption, criminality or contempt goes so far to the extreme that it causes disruptive public disquiet.
The working class is going to have to rapidly learn these classwar lessons again in the coming period as the Catastrophe deepens into the greatest Slump in history and the savage “austerity” measures the ruling class is forced to impose to survive the raging inter-imperialist trade wars become intolerable for the working class (as has been happening steadily since 2008-9 and now reaching the point of conflict in the strike wave).
Determination and collective courage will be increasingly vital.
But they will not be helped by the divisiveness of feminism and debilitating impact created by its assertions that masculinity itself is a problem, become so widely disseminated that the term is barely used without the adjunct “toxic” in all the middle-class and “liberal” intellectual circles.
So far reaching is the pernicious ideology of PCism or “wokeness” on this question (and its adjunct of homosexuality as “no different to heterosexuality”) that an entire generation of young males is now all at sea in forming their adult identity and flocking onto the Internet sites of figures like semi-mystical Canadian rightwing psychologist Jordan Peterson and the braggart-kickboxing “influencer” Andrew Tate, currently under arrest in Romania for alleged human trafficking and rape.
Of course the crude spivvery and braggart boasting of the shallow showman Tate is repulsive, but the fact it has obviously gained traction with the youth needs explaining.
Middle class moralising feminist dismay has no answers at all and can only reel at the apparent success of these “role models” and make useless calls for them to be banned.
That would make no difference at all. Tate’s extreme version of supposed “masculinity” is just a sick exaggeration of the dog-eat-dog competitive and aggressive winner-takes-all ethos which is at the very heart of alienated capitalist society and which is mostly built on finding ways to exploit the “losers”.
It is based on ruthlessly exploiting women using his own sexuality and confidence while by turning them and their sexuality into commodities, playing on the necessity there is in capitalist society to find some way to survive, which for many women is to sell or exploit their femininity, all the way from “finding a man who “well dressed and cultured (and will pay for dinner”) to the gamut of overt sexploitation and pornography.
For women (and men to a smaller extent) capitalism produces a culture in which there desperate competition to conform to stereotypes of saleable “attractiveness” which becomes increasingly exploited not just directly but by an entire industry of not just cosmetics but non-stop fashion sales, and beyond that “enhancements” and the grotesque surgery - small wonder many end up permanently disfigured.
That in turn creates a “sex for sale” ethos, which in various ways leaves the males as losers, compounding the desperation already felt by millions of adolescent and young adult men in particular, and more every day as the slump crisis bites and any chance of “succeeding” becomes ever more remote (and for at least 80% of population, it has always been remote anyway not to say impossible).
There will always be dozens of “losers” for every “winner” in a society which is predicated on inequality and in fact needs a great majority to remain as losers, to be exploited to the bone in the hire-and-fire uncertainty that prevails even in boom times.
Those who hit the jackpot will have done so through lottery like luck, having the right looks, being in the right place or possessing specific talent which is in demand at present, and most usually because of class advantage through better education, social and family connections, general better living conditions, and even better health.
And while there are always the supposed “started with nothing” stories, mostly they will be those who have a background of stability and enough support financially, psychologically and socially to be confident and therefore determined etc. (And most “bootstrap” stories turn out to be those who had a kickstart one way or another).
Tate is nothing but a confident huckster simply presenting alleged tricks and tips to overcome these obstacles, (his own being precisely the scam of selling tips and tricks) in a kind of psychological Ponzi scheme hyping up what is no more than extreme and fairly ruthless fascist flavoured individualism (no mistake he is linked to various ultra-right groups).
It finds a ready audience only because of the total vacuum in leadership and philosophical understanding in a society based on philistinism and empty consumerism, and intendedly one leaving everyone unsatisfied and alienated, where virtually all human relationships have been reduced to a commodity and community relations of any mature kind barely exist or are able to exist anywhere (with perhaps hints in one or two tighter knit working class villages or towns, of the kind broken up by the ending of the miners strike for example, but even there exposed to the relentless shallowness of capitalist society and the chauvinism and opportunism pervading all capitalism).
But none of this is solved or even solvable in a society like this and will take time to reach a mature development even after capitalism is overthrown.
Feminist politics has no answers either, and only makes matters far worse, first by not helping everyone concentrate on the possible way forwards, the overturn of capitalism so that real communities with healthier human development can start to be built; and secondly by blaming men.
Small wonder that isolated and “useless” males are seduced by those voices which tell them they are not entirely a waste of space, or worse, not only pointless, but “toxic” and their inherent characteristics are the main problem.
The real point, that it is profiteering imperialist society which is toxic, is not only ignored but essentially denied with extreme versions of this petty bourgeois idealist ideology going so far as to suggest men should “be abolished” - replaced by “modern technology for reproduction” as if a world run by Theresa May, Priti Patel, Liz Truss and Suella Braverman would be so much kinder, not mention many others - the reactionary warmongering prime ministers in Finland and Estonia perhaps, the appalling opportunist - or the most gung-ho in Europe the nauseating foreign minister in Germany, Annalena Baerbock, who has taken a lead in whipping up the Ukrainian nazi warmongering.
As a “Green” in the coalition she provides double proof of the sick reactionary opportunism of single-issue politics, showing environmentalism to be just as bad (and hypocritical since she has helped open up more coal production for the “war effort” and the most polluting brown kind at that).
But this vile system works its destructive alienation in all directions:
It was around the halfway mark in Eleanor Williams’s trial for perverting the course of justice when Mohammed Ramzan found himself at Preston crown court, waiting to give evidence.
A number of young women were there too, summonsed after Williams told police that they, like her, had been trafficked by an Asian grooming gang and made to have sex with men at “parties” across the north-west of England as well as abroad.
The girls asked which case he was involved in. “They didn’t know me, but I was supposed to be the evil ringleader, the man who groomed them all for sex and took them to Blackpool, Ibiza, Amsterdam,” said Ramzan, an entrepreneur from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. Williams had named him as the kingpin of a European grooming ring, accused of starting a sexual “relationship” with her aged 12 or 13 and then pimping her out to friends and strangers.
One by one, the girls filed into the witness box to deny being one of Ramzan’s alleged victims. Some vaguely knew Williams from school. Others said they’d never met her. It was just one of many surreal moments in a three-and-a-half year ordeal which saw 43-year-old Ramzan become a pariah, spat at and called a “paedo” in the street.
Ramzan was first arrested on suspicion of sex trafficking on 7 July 2019, while driving his BMW down the promenade on Barrow’s Walney Island, where he lives with his wife, Nicola, above her interiors shop. But his real nightmare began 10 months later, during the first Covid lockdown, when Williams logged on to Facebook and tapped out a 1,362-word post which had profound consequences for the isolated Cumbrian town she called home.
“This is the hardest post I’m ever going to write,” she began. “I didn’t want to share this because I’m scared of the judgment that will come with it, it’s why I keep quite [sic] about what has happened to me, but people have asked me to tell my story. When people have asked why I have had a black eye or bruises I’ve made every excuse, from falling over to banging it on a door.”
The truth, she suggested, was altogether darker. “Yesterday I was put into the back of car, taken to an address to have sex with 3 Asian men. Afterwards I was beaten because I was in debt to these men for not attending ‘party’s’ [sic] for over 7 weeks due to coronavirus. The organisers of the party decided to beat me to teach me a lesson.”
The post on 20 May 2020 was accompanied by photographs of Williams, known as Ellie, who was then 19. She had a black eye, so swollen it was closed. Her legs and stomach were covered in cuts and bruises and the tip of her little finger was almost severed. One photo, dated to 2019, looked to be a photograph of her breast with a slash wound, her nipple covered with a heart emoji.
With that one viral post, she set off a domino run which created a toxic relationship between Cumbria constabulary and the public. Ultimately, it led to a far-right group gaining a foothold in Barrow, striking fear into Asian doctors at the local hospital, creating a culture of fear among the town’s small minority ethnic communities.
Ramzan, by then no longer under investigation, was not named in the post, but it wasn’t long before his name appeared on a list of Asian men and businesses which spread via Snapchat. “That’s when the persecution started. That’s when all hell broke loose and everything came crashing down on us because it went far and wide,” said Ramzan. “It was trial by social media.”
Within 20 minutes of Williams making that fateful Facebook post, she was arrested by police for breaking her bail. What she had failed to mention was that eight weeks earlier she had been charged with multiple counts of perverting the course of justice after a two-and-a-half year police investigation into rape claims she had made against a series of men, all white except Ramzan.
Detectives initially believed they were dealing with Cumbria’s biggest-ever grooming ring – and that at the heart of it was the county’s most vulnerable young woman, reported missing by her mother 32 times in one year, frequently turning up black and blue in mysterious locations, intoxicated and half naked. But gradually, with the help of flight records, mobile phone data and CCTV footage, they became convinced Williams had made most or all of it up. The question was: why?
All of these details could not be made public for fear of prejudicing Williams’s future trial, so detectives were unable to reveal the evidence they had against her, notably forensic analysis which suggested her injuries were self-inflicted with a hammer she had bought from Tesco.
They looked on in horror as the Williams family started a Facebook page, Justice for Ellie, which quickly gathered more than 100,000 followers from around the world. Other young women started telling their own horrific stories of abuse, sparking a sister movement, Justice for the Girls. One of Williams’s most prominent supporters was Maggie Oliver, the former Greater Manchester police officer turned whistleblower about abuse in Rochdale. A crowdfunder, started by a local councillor in Essex who had never met Williams, raised £22,000.
One of Williams’s old teachers created a logo, a purple elephant, remembering the elephant necklace she refused to take off at school. Within a few days, every house in Ramzan’s street, bar one, displayed an elephant in their window.
“You could buy bracelets, cups, T-shirts, hoodies,” says Ramzan. “It became torture, it felt like a manhunt.”
He claims to have received 500 death threats. Bricks were thrown at the shop, and windows in the couple’s rental properties were smashed, driving out the tenants.
“Kids were throwing flour, eggs, crisp packets, anything they could find. They would stand outside and shout ‘paedo’ and then leg it once we called the police,” said Ramzan.
Eventually, the abuse became so bad that Ramzan left Barrow to live with his mother, and says one of his sons left college because of the bullying. He wasn’t the only person who felt run out of town. Simon Fell, the MP for Barrow and Furness, talks of one curry house owner who left Barrow after false allegations left his marriage in tatters. Asian pharmacists, GPs and nurses came to him expressing fear for their safety, as a far-right fringe group called Patriotic Alternative started campaigning against immigration in the town – a move Fell believes was “fuelled” by the case.
One Muslim restaurateur told the Guardian of losing tens of thousands of pounds in business after being wrongly drawn into Williams’s lies, and being chased down the street by two thugs who racially abused him and poured alcohol on his head.
Amy Fenton, a reporter with the local Mail newspaper, temporarily left Cumbria on police advice after receiving death threats. She had covered Williams’s first court appearance for perverting the course of justice and also interviewed a number of Asian restaurateurs who received death threats after wrongly being accused of being part of the grooming ring.
All Cumbria constabulary were able to say at the time was that a year-long investigation with the National Crime Agency and a subsequent independent review found “no evidence” to support claims of the presence of any grooming gang in Barrow.
But the fire lit by that initial Facebook post was already burning out of control. When Williams first appeared at Preston crown court, in June 2020, dozens of supporters in Justice for Ellie hoodies protested outside, shouting “scum” at journalists.
While some of those falsely accused by Williams kept a low profile, Ramzan defended himself in numerous Facebook Live videos and printed out thousands of stickers reading #JusticeForBarrowBoys, which he plastered all over town.
His defiance got him in trouble: last year a court imposed a restraining order on him for harassing Williams’s mother in one of his videos. And although he was not on trial when he later appeared as a prosecution witness at Preston crown court, the defence was allowed to introduce evidence of cocaine found in his flat and the two years he served in prison for assaulting his ex-wife.
Ramzan was lucky he could counter Williams’s claims. The court heard that when she said he had trafficked her to Ibiza his passport record showed he had never been to the Balearics. When she said he’d taken her to Amsterdam and sold her to the highest bidder at a brothel, his bank card was being used in Barrow B&Q.
But there was a sophistication to some of Williams’s other lies. Social media helped to spread her story – and to frame her victims. She created Snapchat accounts bearing names which looked like her alleged abusers, and manipulated her contacts so that real men sending her illicit messages via various social networks suddenly had Asian names.
So why did police take Williams so seriously? Cumbria constabulary said they were dealing with “an extreme set of circumstances… with a wide range of false accounts, with a duty to prove and disprove, thus supporting both victim and suspect, even where those roles became merged”.
Williams was only 16 when she made her first false rape claim, involving another Barrow teenager. When she made her third allegation, police found her battered and naked in her flat, unresponsive to the point they feared she might be dead. After they first arrested her on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, on 20 July 2019, she continued to go missing and was found repeatedly alone and far away from home. On one occasion she was found collapsed and half-naked on Lancaster’s Millennium Bridge; on another she was found injured at Lancaster railway station.
Giving evidence, Williams said she was taken there by “the men”. But she admitted lying about a whole series of incidents, including telling police that Ramzan had trafficked her to Blackpool for a sex party and threatened to throw her in the sea, when she had in fact gone to the coast alone, booking her hotel room on Booking.com.
After the jury returned their unanimous verdicts on Tuesday, talk turned to psychiatric reports to be commissioned before the sentencing in March. One line of psychiatric investigation, suggested prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford KC, could be whether Williams has a factitious disorder, formerly known as Munchausen’s syndrome, in which someone deceives others by appearing sick – by purposely getting sick or by self-injury.
Fell believes that Williams is a victim of something – and needs support.
“No one does what she did to her body, and makes up their stories that she made up and goes to the lengths that she went to without being someone who’s broken in some way and quite damaged,” he said.
Correct. But it is capitalism which is doing the damage – and feminist man-blaming which compounds it. Just consider the cascade of disastrous life destroying consequences revealed here which followed from the metoo# philosophy that women’s allegations should always be believed.
Certainly there is abuse in all directions and more on women than men (though there is plenty of woman on man violence too - see EPSR No1032 22-02-00) .
And let it be exposed and fought against where it can be - but nothing will really alter things until the root cause of capitalism is ended.
Only communist society can begin to sort out the contradictions and specific injustices and inequalities deliberately created by divide-and-rule capitalism on top of the non-stop daily oppression of its hire-and-fire class exploitation.
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