No 1631 19th August 2023
Failure to put capitalism’s raging crisis at the heart of all analysis undermines all efforts to grapple with onrushing disasters facing mankind from devastating world war to ecological collapse. It is the heart of all efforts to grasp the world (as Marx himself demonstrated by spending his life studying it) and thereby to change it. Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolution but the entire fake-“left” circus avoids the real struggle for understanding for fear of its implications, the need for proletarian dictatorship. They leave the working class open to being bamboozled and hoodwinked, deluded and misled by false flags, chauvinism, jingoism and imperialist warmongering to “defend democracy” (the biggest fraud of all) . The Niger coup demonstrates the confusion everywhere, a possible blow against Western oppression and exploitation but bolstering the “anti-terrorism” nonsense that helps imperialism stampede the petty bourgeoisie behind its international blitzkrieging. Defeat for imperialist war is crucial in Ukraine but no support for idiocy like Putin’s Bonapartism. Dollar collapse is coming
The Niger coup against imperialism in Africa is yet a further symptom of how monopoly capitalism is being shaken to the core as its degenerate system spirals into economic and environmental Catastrophe worldwide.
Coming on top of the disastrous setbacks for fascist Ukraine’s NATO plotted, instigated and controlled war on Russia, where the much-hyped “spring” (!!!) offensive has seen only further horrific slaughter imposed on an increasingly reluctant population, bullied and press-ganged into “patriotic” war service by the Nazi stoogery in Kiev; on top of total failure for the ludicrous “war on terror” supposed to restore the Western writ in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Iraq (with the Palestinian liberation at its heart growing more militant by the day, the Yemen Houthi revolt continuing and Hezbollah in bankrupt Lebanon stirring too); and with the “pink tide” of “left” reformist nationalism still advancing in Latin America despite petty bourgeois and revisionist softness and therefore vulnerability against Washington’s never ending subversion, skulduggery and sabotage, it is small wonder the whole imperialist order is increasingly poleaxed.
Domestically, unprecedented splits and recriminations are tearing a paralysed ruling class apart in country after country, be it “liberal” Zionist Jews in mass demonstrations versus the ultra-right settler fascists in occupied Palestine; Brexit hatreds and chauvinist scapegoating fears within Britain’s ruling class, and with Europe’s too; Polish feudal/Catholic fascist reaction facing “ordinary” bourgeois fascist reaction in giant Warsaw demonstrations (with even the arch anti-communist Lech Walesa denouncing the right!!!); dismay at Vox revived Francoism in Spain, Meloni Mussolini fascism in Italy, or at outright racist/fascist parties sharing government in “liberal” Scandinavia (Sweden, Denmark, Finland – so much for these darlings of fake-“left” reformist delusions!); murderously thuggish police state repression facing repeated outbreaks of street turmoil in France; or, biggest of all, the United States’ near civil war “lawfare” antagonism between degenerate warmongering Bidenite billionaire reaction and even more degenerate reactionary billionaire supported Trumpite populism.
All this internal upheaval as a nervous ruling class heads into outright Nazism in country after country, is in itself a gobsmacking symptom of the contradictions in the imperialist system reaching new levels of tension stretched to near breaking point (and incidentally providing confirmation of the EPSR’s Marxist science which has long been suggesting that such splits would emerge like those now seen in “Israel” between Zionist fanaticism and the interests of US imperialism’s bogus “democracy” world policing see EPSR 1190 24-06-03 eg or Books Vol 20 on Zionism and the fraud of “left” anti-semitism).
Within this chaos the turmoil in West Africa is another blow shaking the monopoly capitalist world, especially as it now means anti-imperialist hostility stretches right across Africa from the Atlantic to the Red Sea.
But there are tangles of contradictions in the military officers’ revolt which need very careful unpacking.
Certainly the moves to expel the French imperialist military presence, the remnants of 150 years of colonialist exploitation, are a blow to Western neo-colonialist control, and obviously have mass popular support as demonstrations have indicated:
Supporters of the junta burned French flags and attacked the French embassy in Niamey on Sunday.
The French foreign office said: “Given the situation in Niamey, and the violence that took place against our embassy [on Sunday] and the closing of airspace that leaves our citizens without any possibility of leaving the country by their own means, France is preparing to evacuate those of its citizens and European citizens who want to leave the country.”
The first of three planned evacuation flights lifted off from the Nigerien capital, Niamey, on Tuesday evening, according to French foreign minister, Catherine Colonna.
The evacuations began the day after Mali and Burkina Faso – Niger’s neighbours – said any outside intervention to restore the ousted government would be seen as a declaration of war. Analysts were however sceptical of the statement, with both countries struggling to contain jihadist insurgencies.
The US said it was not evacuating its citizens from Niger for now, but it suspended activities such as training with Niamey’s forces.
Washington is “certainly aware of efforts by France and other European nations to evacuate their citizens. At the same time, we don’t have any indications of direct threats to US citizens or to our facilities, so we have not changed our posture with respect to our presence in Niger at this time,” the national security council spokesperson, John Kirby, said.
The White House said it had yet to make a decision whether to send American troops to support international evacuations. It said it had seen no evidence that Russia or Wagner mercenaries, who operate in the Sahel and central Africa, had been involved in last week’s coup or were actively supporting it.
The Italian government said it would arrange a special flight to repatriate its nationals from Niger and, with the risk of conflict escalating, Spain said it was preparing to evacuate more than 70 citizens by air. Germany urged its citizens to join the French flights.
The EU on Tuesday renewed its call for Bazoum’s release. A spokesperson said the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, spoke to him regularly and he was in good health “but we still need the release of President Bazoum”.
Niger’s junta on Monday accused France of seeking to intervene militarily to reinstate Bazoum, which the French foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, denied. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, on Sunday vowed “immediate and uncompromising” action if French citizens or interests were attacked, after the protest by thousands of people outside the French embassy in Niamey.
Bazoum’s Nigerian party for Democracy and Socialism said Niger risked becoming a “dictatorial and totalitarian regime” after several arrests.
The floundering since, of the African Union and the reactionary ECOWAS coalition of West African nations – led by the corrupt stooge government for British imperialism in Nigeria – further underlines the weakness and loss of grip of the Western neo-colonialist system, as its blustering military threats and deadlines for “restoring order” and “democracy” peter out for claimed “technical reasons”.
In reality they fear just as much popular anti-West hostility brewing in these countries as in Niger, all of them variously with governments installed by or serving the interests of European or American imperialism.
But so far there is little sign the new set of officers has any kind of perspective for inspiring any more general anti-imperialist sentiment let alone carrying through any transition towards planned socialism, which is the only answer anywhere on the planet now for the proletariat as the bourgeois system plunges towards disaster.
One of the declared rationales for the coup, that the deposed president Bazoum was not fighting enough against “jihadism” raises all kinds of doubts, about the junta potentially remaining lined up with imperialism and its nonsensical “war on terror”.
And while that might not be unexpected, given the complete dearth of Leninist understanding in the world, it is important for any genuine Marxist analysis to spell out those weaknesses.
But none of the fake-“left” pretenders to Marxist leadership anywhere else are explaining what are the real implications of this upheaval nor its limitations.
Simply seeing it as “anti-imperialist” is a starting point but to fully characterise the revolt and grasp its contradictory significance is only possible by analysing the uprising in the broadest possible context and with the longest and deepest historical perspective, meaning with the Marxist-Leninist science which in various ways they all avoid (whatever claims they make to be “revolutionary”).
That means most of all starting with the raging economic crisis of world capitalism, the core of Karl Marx’s understanding (as set out in three volumes of his Capital and multiple additional studies and development by Lenin’s Bolsheviks) but ignored, dismissed or at best ill-understood by the entire fake-“left”.
None of them remotely grasp the scale and importance of its inexorable spiral collapse into slump, vicious trade wars and ever worsening blitzing war diversions (Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Ukraine etc and potentially around North Korea and China) and least of all its unstoppable end point – the Third World War destruction that the international bourgeois must impose as a “solution” if it is to continue its ever more insanely unequal and degenerate rule or even survive at all.
They swerve away from such science like a north pole magnet against another north pole because they are terrified of its revolutionary significance and consequences.
The world capitalist collapse is an existential historical issue, which leaves no room for “multipolar” worlds or long term coexistence or class compromises or steady advances – only the revolutionary leap to a new kind of society altogether.
Only in that broadest context of bitter to the death inter-imperialist rivalries and class war can underlying skulduggery be teased out (which might be indicated by the sudden high level visit to the new junta by the sinister deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, central figure in the carefully plotted and organised Ukrainian Maidan coup which installed the outright swastika-toting government in Kiev in 2014 to set the anti-Russian war in train).
Even in the local context the upheaval in Niger needs explaining as only part of a ferment of revolt, which now stretches in various forms across the whole of central Africa, from decades of “jihadist” rebellion in Somalia striking blows against US interventions (whose barbaric atrocities were covered-up by the infamous hero mythologising of “Black Hawk Down”), and more recent anti-Western nationalist consolidation in Ethiopia (partly stimulated by the Somalian revolt and subject to deliberately fostered imperialist counter-revolts like the Tigrayans against Addis Ababa)); through the raging civil war in Sudan with its murky Western disinformation interference and the preceding “colour revolution” pro-Western “democracy” movement; its spillover into Chad and a whole sequence of military coups in Burkino Faso, Mali and now Niger, non-stop “jihadist” revolt in Nigeria to the south, and all the way to the long running Polisario liberation struggle in far west against the reactionary monarchist regime of Morocco and its occupation of the Atlantic coast Western Sahara (inherited from Spain).
Each of these needs analysing concretely, and also in their connections with endless upheaval in countries to the north, not least in the huge population of Egypt, suppressed for the moment by General Sisi’s brutal 2013 military coup (laughably declared a “democratic” presidency by the ultra-hypocritical West) after the revolutionary outburst of the 2011 Arab Spring but with revolt simmering just below the surface and ready to break forth any moment; with the Algerian national revolution which fought and defeated the French in the 1960s, and with Tunisia also part of the Arab Spring, but seeing its new “democracy” subverted back into outright Western serving dictatorship once again.
But always the great Catastrophe needs to be at the forefront.
Certainly in immediate terms the Niger coup reflects growing hostility to French imperialist diktat as partially explained by a recent piece in the “left” bourgeois online journal UnHerd:
[..]On 26 July, a military putsch led by general Abdourahamane Tchiani deposed the country’s pro-Western president Mohamed Bazoum, elected in 2021 amid allegations of fraud and protests.
In each of these coups, the military officers involved cited the same reasons for seizing power: mounting concerns about a surge in terrorism and chronic social and economic underdevelopment. Despite being one of the world’s richest regions in terms of natural resources, including oil, gold and uranium, the Sahel is also one of the poorest financially. Niger is a striking example: it is one of the world’s leading exporters of uranium, yet consistently ranks towards the bottom of the Human Development Index.
In the eyes of these countries’ new leaders and their supporters, much of the responsibility for this lies with one villain in particular: France. They are, after all, all former French colonies, part of what used to be known as Françafrique. And more than any other imperial power, France has continued to exercise a huge influence over its former outposts, replacing outright colonial rule with more subtle forms of neocolonial control — first and foremost with currency.
Before Africa’s decolonisation in the Fifties and Sixties, it was common among Western powers to impose forms of monetary subservience on their respective colonies. The latter were generally forced to use currencies issued and controlled by the imperial centres, to ensure the European countries’ economic control and financial benefit. France was no exception; rather, what set France apart from other imperial powers was the fact that its monetary empire survived decolonisation. While most African colonies, upon becoming independent, adopted national currencies, France managed to cajole most of its former outposts in Central and Western Africa into maintaining the colonial currency: the CFA franc.
In the decades that followed, various countries tried to abandon the CFA system, but very few succeeded. As the Senegalese economist Ndongo Samba Sylla and the French journalist Fanny Pigeaud write in their book Africa’s Last Colonial Currency (which I translated), France did everything it could to discourage countries from leaving the CFA: “Intimidations, destabilisation campaigns and even assassinations and coups d’état marked this period, testifying to the permanent and unequal power relations on which the relationship between France and its ‘partners’ in Africa was based — and is still based today.”
The CFA franc, as a result, continues to be used by 14 countries, mostly former French colonies, throughout Central and Western Africa — including Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Together, they form the so-called “franc zone”, with France still playing a central role. Despite the formal “Africanisation” of this group, which involved transferring the headquarters of the CFA franc’s two central banks to the African continent, France continues to enjoy far-reaching control over the system — and the countries that employ it.
“More than simply a currency,” Sylla and Pigeaud write, “the CFA franc allows France to manage its economic, monetary, financial and political relations with some of its former colonies according to a logic functional to its interests.” They contend that the CFA franc represents a form of “monetary imperialism”, which hinders the development of African economies and keeps them subservient to France.
Consider Niger: the country is France’s biggest source of uranium (providing around 20% of its supply), which is needed to fuel the nuclear plants which provide roughly 70% of the country’s electricity. Yet, only one in seven Nigeriens (and just 4% of rural residents) have access to modern electricity services, while more than 40% of the population live in extreme poverty. Just as strikingly, 85% of the company that operates Niger’s uranium industry is owned by France’s Atomic Energy Commission and two French companies; only 15% is owned by Niger’s government.
The CFA system, and the lack of monetary and economic sovereignty it entails, is central to this systematic plundering of resources — in Niger and elsewhere in the Sahel. Of the 10 countries with the world’s lowest Human Development Index, five are part of the franc zone, including the three that have experienced recent coups.
Nor is France’s control over the franc zone limited to economic tools. Niger is also France’s main Sahelian military base, hosting around 1,500 French soldiers. To further complicate matters, the country is also home to around 1,000 US soldiers, one of the largest contingents of American troops on the African continent, operating under the umbrella of the United States Africa Command (Africom). Since 2013, the US has also been carrying out drone missions from several bases in Niger — including a recently constructed $110-million installation. For both France and the US, the purported objective is to fight Islamic terrorism; the reality, however, is that despite this massive foreign military presence, security in Niger and other countries has deteriorated over the years — as have their economic prospects.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that Africa’s newest military juntas have singled out France as the main target of their ire. In Mali, the current military leader Assimi Goïta expelled the French army, cut diplomatic ties and even banned French as an official language. In Burkina Faso, the young revolutionary leader Ibrahim Traoré also expelled French troops and banned several exports.
For Sylla, this amounts to nothing less than “a second national liberation movement, which aims to bring to completion the decolonisation process which began in the Fifties and Sixties in Francophone Africa”. While the first stage of this process was about obtaining political independence from the West, this latest stage is about obtaining economic sovereignty and independence. This is why, as a recent United Nations report noted, popular support for these new military governments can be understood as being “symptomatic of a new wave of democratic aspiration that is expanding across the continent”. As Sylla told me: “In many of these countries, the militaries are seen as leaders upholding their nations’ sovereignty and independence, as opposed to elected governments, which tend to be puppets of the West and have done nothing to challenge the neocolonial order throughout the years.”
[...] it has revoked a raft of military cooperation agreements with France, closed the country’s airspace — effectively bringing to a halt US drone operations — and announced it is suspending the export of uranium to France. In response, thousands of people have taken to the streets to show their support, burning French flags and even attacking the French embassy. “Since childhood, I’ve been opposed to France,” a local businessman told the BBC. “They’ve exploited all the riches of my country such as uranium, petrol and gold. The poorest Nigeriens are unable to eat three times a day because of France.”
As if to prove his point, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) — a political and economic union of 15 countries located in West Africa which has the support of the West — immediately placed sanctions on Niger, suspending all commercial and financial transactions between Niger and Ecowas countries and, even more ominously, freezing Niger’s assets deposited in the central and commercial banks of Ecowas. The reason they can do this is precisely because Ecowas contains the West African Economic and Monetary Union, which issues the currency used by Niger, and is largely under France’s control. This allows France to weaponise the CFA franc against any government that poses a problem for it within the franc zone. The EU has also reacted punitively, suspending aid and cooperation with Niger despite it being one of the poorest countries in the world.
[...]The Nigerien coup also threatens a $13-billion dollar project to build a gas pipeline connecting gas fields in Nigeria to Europe, which would pass straight through Niger. Following the EU’s decision to wean itself off Russian gas last year, this venture is arguably more urgent than ever.
These setbacks to imperialist exploitation interests are welcome but they also indicate the military coup remains a long way from being the answer for the hard-pressed masses in Africa, or for giving any enlightenment to the proletariat everywhere in the necessary revolutionary fight for socialism, overturning the entire imperialist system.
Just the opposite; as with the relatively recent military takeovers in Burkino Faso and Mali much of the soldiery involved has frequently had training in the US, including studying the complexities of coups, urban warfare and civilian control.
While there is not necessarily any straight line joining the dots, – past revolutionary nationalist leaders like Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and even communists like the Mengistu government in Ethiopia in the 1970s and 80s were educated in the military – the ousting of France could simply be leaving a vacuum that not only suits Washington’s intensifying trade war skulduggery against European rivals but was prepared for.
As already said, the broadest understanding of the great crisis of imperialism needs to be the background for all attempts to understand specific developments and that points to the dirtiest dealings by all the imperialist powers, not only to keep the “Global South” suppressed and under the ruthless exploitation of the great multinational corporations and finance monopolies but also between themselves and the great monopoly blocs.
The most obvious manifestation is in the NATO triggered Ukraine war as the EPSR has explained from the beginning.
As well as being a deliberate diversion from the world economic crisis (suiting all the desperate Western imperialist powers for chauvinist scapegoating and distraction purposes), it is a means for Washington to undermine the ever growing competition from rival powers which have been eating away at its topdog position established at the end of World War Two.
The war is aimed as much at the EU as at Russia, with Washington cajoling and bullying the major European powers into this NATO aggression which not only drains their resources but creates disruptive mayhem and threats on their doorstep.
Steadily more bankrupted American imperialism has been undermined for decades by the growing competition from newer rising powers (like Brazil, India and China’s capitalist sector) but most of all from the established major powers, and particularly groups centred around defeated Germany and Japan which it was forced to leave intact after the last World War when US imperialism established itself as the “topdog” power.
Raw imperialist domination needs which would have seen the US wipe out the “losers” were held back by the need for Cold War restraint on the triumphant Soviet Union and the massive pro-communist impact the Red Army’s victory over Hitler Nazism made on the world working class after 1945.
In fact initial post-war US policy was to flatten any surviving German or Japanese industry, but it was forced to revive them (with the Marshall Plan etc) in the face of post-war revolutionary stirrings, massive Soviet growth and anti-colonialist and revolutionary waves across the world, especially China, and from the impact of the Korean war.
Even by the 1980s their growing competition forced an escalation of inter-imperialist conflict, particularly noticeable in tariff and currency wars against the Japanese and trade conflicts with the EU, accompanied by diversion of US state intelligence and military resources away from the extremes of the Cold War arms race – though it still continued – into industrial and political espionage and pressure (see multiple EPSRs).
[A side effect of that shift was the astonishing Gorbachevite liquidation of the still viable USSR workers state, under the dull-brained opportunist revisionist delusion that “democracy” and “peace” would now prevail because a few Pershing missiles had been removed from Europe (see EPSR book Gorbachevism and Perspectives for 2001 document).]
Washington’s turn to world warmongering at the turn of the century, and intimidation of all rivals saw the inter-imperialist rivalries surfacing sporadically, in Serbia, and particularly apparent with European footdragging over the Iraq war (the French deemed “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” for example).
But crisis has deepened massively since then, imploding fully in the global credit meltdown of 2008 and propped up only by the insane unsustainable dollar printing of Quantitative Easing.
And the underlying hostilities have deepened too.
The crudest and most obvious expression of this hidden agenda was the sabotage of the NordStream Two gas pipeline under the Baltic sea, a sophisticated military operation which only the most naïve or wilful petty bourgeois acceptance would not immediately have understood to be a Washington operation (either done directly by its own special forces as the excellent bourgeois journalist Seymour Hersh has reported or by one of its sidekick “allies” like Britain).
It was the culmination of US pressure on Germany in particular to shut down the pipeline and in fact all cheap Russian gas and oil supplies, which have helped efficient and effective German-led EU industry increasingly outcompete the US (cars, Airbus Industrie, the ESA, construction equipment, and much else, including potentially computer chips).
So it would not be far fetched to suppose there to be US plotting against European interests in the Sahel, either seizing the advantage on the fly or more likely with preparations over a long period, as the establishment of the Pentagon’s Africom division would imply.
Certainly the French think so according to it bourgeois press:
Washington got in the way of its own NATO ally, France, when it decided to send Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland to talk to the nation’s new military government, Le Figaro reported over the weekend, citing a source within the French Foreign Ministry.
The US “did the exact opposite of what we thought they would do,” a French diplomatic source told the paper, adding that “with allies like these, we do not need enemies.” Paris has been insisting on the reinstatement of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum ever since a new military government came to power in Niger in a coup in late July.
The French government was also ready to support the use of force by West African nations for that purpose, as it upheld the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in its decision to mobilize reserve forces in the wake of the ousting.
By sending Nuland to Niger, the US demonstrated it was ready to talk to the coup leaders instead, Le Figaro said. “For [French President] Emmanuel Macron, the credibility of France, particularly in terms of discourse on democracy, was at stake. For the Americans, even if they are also concerned about a rapid return to constitutional order, the priority is the stability of the region,” the paper’s source within the foreign ministry said.
Americans simply want “to keep their bases” in the region above all else, the diplomat said, adding that Washington “will not hesitate” to drop a demand for what he called “constitutional legality” to achieve this goal.
Paris fears that Washington could reach an agreement with Niger’s military government behind France’s back.
The US has a sizable force on the ground in Niger, amounting to some 1,300 soldiers and almost equaling that of France, which has around 1,500 servicemen in the country. American troops are divided between two bases, located in the Niger capital of Niamey and the northern city of Agadez.
Agadez is reportedly of particular importance for Washington as it houses a landing strip for drones and serves as a surveillance hub for a large area stretching from West Africa to Libya in the north.
According to Le Figaro, Paris is also displeased by the fact that, despite both France and the US having troops in Niger, it is only the French presence that provokes resentment among the locals. “The United States, like our other allies for that matter, has a habit of letting us take the hits,” the French diplomat told the paper.
The coup in Niger took place on July 26, when the presidential guard headed by Tchiani detained Bazoum and his family, citing a “deteriorating security situation and bad governance.” The move sparked condemnation from global powers, while ECOWAS imposed harsh sanctions on Niger and issued an ultimatum to the coup leaders to release Bazoum or face military intervention.
On Monday, Niger’s military government agreed to hold talks with ECOWAS in a bid to defuse tensions in the region.
Nuland visited Niger last Monday. During the talks, she warned the new military government against striking any deals with the Russian private military company Wagner and urged them to restore the Washington-friendly status quo.
Obviously the anti-Russian element is also part of this US “negotiation” and it has not necessarily been accepted. Nuland was partially snubbed, forced to speak only with the coup leader’s chief of staff as a blog on the (suppressed) RT channel described:
Who would ever have thought that the US footing the bill for training Nigerien soldiers would result in a net gain for Russia and China? Apparently not the US State Department.
Enter Victoria Nuland with demands to speak to those in charge. Officially the acting US deputy secretary of state, Nuland should really change her title to ‘Regime Change Karen’. In modern parlance, a ‘Karen’ is a middle-aged woman “who uses her privilege to get her way or police other people’s behaviors.” Karens can often be spotted at the customer service desks of big box stores demanding to speak to the manager – or in this case, the military leaders now in charge of Niger.
Nuland demanded to speak to the ousted president, but was refused the opportunity. Instead, she got to meet with one of the coup leaders – the new army chief of staff, Brigadier General Moussa Salaou Barmou, who not only trained at Fort Benning and at Washington’s National Defense University, but was photographed alongside US Special Operations in Africa Commander Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga just a few weeks ago at a US drone base in Niger.
In a State Department teleconference on Monday, Nuland said that she was in Niger “because we wanted to speak frankly to the people responsible to this challenge to the democratic order.” That didn’t actually require a foreign trip, though. She could have just stayed home and called a staff meeting.
Nuland said. “I will say that these conversations were extremely frank and at times quite difficult because, again, we were pushing for a negotiated solution.”
Interesting how peace and negotiations suddenly appear on the table when Washington loses its foothold, finds itself in too weak or precarious a position to start dropping bombs, and needs to buy some time to regain the upper hand. Such was the case with the Russia-Ukraine Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015, which used peace as a pretext for better arming Kiev against Moscow as Western allies trained and supplied Ukrainian neo-Nazis at Russia’s doorstep. Nuland not so subtly hinted at Washington’s priorities when she said that she “had a chance first to sit with a broad cross-section of Nigerien civil society,” describing them as “long-time friends of the United States.” In other words, to better shore up the in-country proxies to defend US interests.
Nuland was long obsessed with Europe’s Nord Stream pipeline of cheap Russian gas – until it was mysteriously blown up. She was spotted in Ukraine back in 2014, handing out cookies to anti-government protesters and caught discussing the potential roles of Ukrainian opposition leaders post-regime change. That recording leaked, featuring Nuland expressing just how much she values US allies and international law when they don’t quite align with Washington’s agenda for Kiev once US-friendly puppets are installed. “So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing, and have the UN help glue it, and you know… F**k the EU,” Nuland told US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt.
At a Senate hearing earlier this year into “Russian aggression in Ukraine and beyond,” Nuland demonstrated that she couldn’t even resist keeping her hands off neighboring Belarus, underscoring that the US was “working intensively with the Belarusian opposition.” Regime Change Karen has her nose in everyone’s business. It seems to run in the family, as her husband, Robert Kagan, is a prominent neoconservative interventionist whose biography on the State Department website describes him as an expert on “NATO expansion.” He also co-founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) think tank, which set out the blueprint for endless US regime change wars against countries that didn’t adhere to Washington’s agenda.
In Niger, that agenda includes keeping the door unlocked so that Washington can come and go as it pleases, like it has in Ukraine, up to and including the point of being able to exploit the country’s resources or use it as a crash pad for operations against its geopolitical foes. Which would explain why the CIA set up a drone base in Niger for its African operations in the wake of the Benghazi fiasco in Libya, after which Washington lost its foothold there. It’s likely not a coincidence that Libya is right next door.
The knockabout tone in this last piece does not fully capture the full import of the “geopolitical foes” despite mentioning the “fuck the EU” tape from 2014.
In fact that was the culmination of two decades or more of steady US subversion in Ukraine costing, as Nuland herself testified later, some $5bn, on top of which were multiple propaganda campaigns by neo-con “democracy” foundations (some of which former US marine and UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter has recently detailed in a very useful documentary on the calculated creation of “Agent Zelensky” by the Western psyops teams).
The Ukrainian conspiracy was as much about winning an inter-imperialist battle for influence between the major powers as it was about dismantling the former communist workers state.
In Yugoslavia in the 1990s the campaign to break up the former communist state and eventually smash down its Serbian core, (by then hampered by Milosevic’s revisionist nationalism but still hated by the West for its long history of anti-imperialism) was initiated by growingly assertive German actions (Slovenia, Croatia etc) but overtaken by the US muscling in via Bosnia.
As well as the Nord Stream “incident” the anti-Russian war has seen the Ukraine mortgaging its state to international debt on a massive scale to pay for the weaponry and arms delivered by the West, as well as opening up its sovereign restrictions on land ownership giving Western multinational corporations the possibility to buy up vast swathes of its rich agricultural land which is cheaper than land elsewhere.
And the purpose of that?
Not for agricultural production in itself, according to German politicians cited in the Ritter documentary, but to control the agricultural land which supplies much of Europe – giving US power a stranglehold on crucial European food supplies.
But these commentaries do not tackle another critical question, the reactionary significance of continuing use of Niger to control “jihadism” and “terrorism”.
One purported rational for the takeover by the new military government, that the outgoing president Mazoum was not doing enough to contain “jihadism” is not a good sign; whatever doubts there might be about methods and ideology of the great wave of “terrorism” sweeping Africa, the Middle East, and south-east Asia its suppression serves only the interests of imperialism.
Not for nothing has the West established a growing military presence in the Sahel, including the CIA’s massive “secret” drone launching facility in Niger’s desert, precisely to suppress what it calls “instability” but which is the nothing but ever growing spontaneous armed revolt against Western interests, influence and culture.
However crude and backward ever growing insurgency and terrorism appear to be, (and which Marxist-Leninist scientific understanding would not need to support as such in the slightest) it has to be recognised most of this rebelliousness is striking blows against imperialism and reflects its breakdown.
As many times discussed it is a disastrous mistake, or rather capitulation to petty bourgeois anti-revolutionary sentiment to “condemn terrorism” and outright opportunism to do so under cover of supposed Marxist-Leninist justifications (or defeatist conspiracy theories about “CIA manipulation” to cover up such capitulation).
Lenin never said any such thing as his Guerrilla War article spelt out in 1906, as quoted in EPSR No 1248 14-09-04):
But beyond conscious, detailed, and genuinely Marxist-Leninist polemics, every other phenomenon is first of all a responsibility of the crisis-ridden imperialist system, and invariably a damning black mark against it.
The fact of “terrorism’ illustrates this materialist philosophical reality exactly.
Why does it exist at all?? Why is it now such a frequent and widespread occurrence, especially “suicide terrorism”???
Why is 99% of it historically associated with desperate injustices or desperately unequal struggles???
Why does it seem to be building up towards a crescendo at this moment in time???
Either the answer is the crisis of the imperialist system, dominating the lives of everyone on Earth. Or evolution has taken a wrong turn and set mankind back, especially the vast majority of mankind in the poorest or most frustratingly disadvantaged and benighted areas of the world, to suffer a repeat of a lemming self-destruct phase of development regression.
But having established that, fundamentally, the reality of imperialist tyranny ALONE is the background for the existence of the now widespread phenomenon and regular historical routine of terrorism, then certain unavoidable implications follow from this.
It makes no sense whatever to BLAME the terrorists for ending up in this desperate, hate-filled, and frequently suicidal frame of mind. (The argument about whether the conscious perspective for the socialist revolution should engage in or “approve of” acts of terrorism IS A DIFFERENT QUESTION ENTIRELY — see Lenin quotes).
It makes even less sense to “condemn” the phenomenon of terrorism taking place.
Society is heading for TOTAL CIVIL WAR. Vastly more elements will be caught up in or actively engaged in this civil war than just the Marxist-Leninist party of revolutionary theory.
Indeed, it is most likely to be the case, as it has been in history so far, that whenever the civil war has finally spontaneously broken out, the serious revolutionary party has at that point no more than the tiniest of tiny minorities among the huge social forces initially spontaneously going into battle. But as Lenin makes crystal clear in his remarkable 1906 article on Guerrilla Warfare, the Marxist revolutionary spirit ALWAYS is in sympathy with any civil war activity, and ALWAYS hostile to all “condemnation” of acts of civil war, however anarchic the terrorism.
To those so-called “communists” and “revolutionaries” and “socialists” who capitulate to the immense social-conformity pressure of a modern bourgeois state to “condemn terrorism”, Lenin says:
“I am hurt by this degradation of the most revolutionary doctrine in the world.”: --------
Marxism demands an absolutely historical examination of the question of the forms of struggle. To treat this question apart from the concrete historical situation betrays a failure to understand the rudiments of dialectical materialism. At different stages of economic evolution, depending on differences in political, national-cultural, living and other conditions, different forms of struggle come to the fore and become the principal forms of struggle; and in connection with this, the secondary, auxiliary forms of struggle undergo change in their turn. To attempt to answer yes or no to the question whether any particular means of struggle should be used, without making a detailed examination of the concrete situation of the given movement at the given stage of its development, means completely to abandon the Marxist position.
The phenomenon in which we are interested is the armed struggle. It is conducted by individuals and by small groups. Some belong to revolutionary organisations, while others (the majority in certain parts of Russia) do not belong to any revolutionary organisation.
The usual appraisal of the struggle we are describing is that it is anarchism, Blanquism, the old terrorism, the acts of individuals isolated from the masses, which demoralise the workers, repel wide strata of the population, disorganise the movement and injure the revolution. Examples in support of this appraisal can easily be found in the events reported every day in the newspapers. But are such examples convincing?
The fact that “guerrilla” warfare became widespread precisely after December, and its connection with the accentuation not only of the economic crisis but also of the political crisis is beyond dispute. The old Russian terrorism was an affair of the intellectual conspirator; today as a general rule guerrilla warfare is waged by the worker combatant, or simply by the unemployed worker. Blanquism and anarchism easily occur to the minds of people who have a weakness for stereotype; but under the circumstances of an uprising, which are so apparent in the Lettish Territory, the inappropriateness of such trite labels is only too obvious. The example of the Letts clearly demonstrates how incorrect, unscientific and unhistorical is the practice so very common among us of analysing guerrilla warfare without reference to the circumstances of an uprising. These circumstances must be borne in mind, we must reflect on the peculiar features of an intermediate period between big acts of insurrection, we must realise what forms of struggle inevitably arise under such circumstances, and not try to shirk the issue by a collection of words learned by rote, such as are used equally by the Cadets and the Novoye Vremya-ites: anarchism, robbery, hooliganism!
It is said that guerrilla acts disorganise our work. It is not guerrilla actions which disorganise the movement, but the weakness of a party which is incapable of taking such actions under its control. Being incapable of understanding what historical conditions give rise to this struggle, we are incapable of neutralising its deleterious aspects. Yet the struggle is going on. It is engendered by powerful economic and political causes. It is not in our power to eliminate these causes or to eliminate this struggle. Our complaints against guerrilla warfare are complaints against our Party weakness in the matter of an uprising.
What we have said about disorganisation also applies to demoralisation. Condemnation and curses are absolutely incapable of putting a stop to a phenomenon which has been engendered by profound economic and political causes. It may be objected that if we are incapable of putting a stop to an abnormal and demoralising phenomenon, this is no reason why the Party should adopt abnormal and demoralising methods of struggle. But such an objection would be a purely bourgeois-liberal and not a Marxist objection, because a Marxist cannot regard civil war, or guerrilla warfare, which is one of its forms, as abnormal and demoralising in general. A Marxist bases himself on the class struggle, and not social peace. In certain periods of acute economic and political crises the class struggle ripens into a direct civil war, i.e., into an armed struggle between two sections of the people. In such periods a Marxist is obliged to take the stand of civil war. Any moral condemnation of civil war would be absolutely impermissible from the standpoint of Marxism.
We fully admit criticism of diverse forms of civil war from the standpoint of military expediency and absolutely agree that in this question it is the Social-Democratic practical workers in each particular locality who must have the final say. But we absolutely demand in the name of the principles of Marxism that an analysis of the conditions of civil war should not be evaded by hackneyed and stereotyped talk about anarchism, Blanquism and terrorism, and that senseless methods of guerrilla activity adopted by some organisation or other of the Polish Socialist Party at some moment or other should not be used as a bogey when discussing the question of the participation of the Social-Democratic Party as such in guerrilla warfare in general.
The argument that guerrilla warfare disorganises the movement must be regarded critically. Every new form of struggle, accompanied as it is by new dangers and new sacrifices, inevitably “disorganises” organisations which are unprepared for this new form of struggle. Our old propagandist circles were disorganised by recourse to methods of agitation. Our committees were subsequently disorganised by recourse to demonstrations. Every military action in any war to a certain extent disorganises the ranks of the fighters. But this does not mean that one must not fight. It means that one must learn to fight. That is all.
When I see Social-Democrats proudly and smugly declaring “we are not anarchists, thieves, robbers, we are superior to all this, we reject guerrilla warfare”, — I ask myself: Do these people realise what they are saying? Armed clashes and conflicts between the Black-Hundred government and the population are taking place all over the country. This is an absolutely inevitable phenomenon at the present stage of development of the revolution. The population is spontaneously and in an unorganised way — and for that very reason often in unfortunate and undesirable forms — reacting to this phenomenon also by armed conflicts and attacks. I can understand us refraining from Party leadership of this spontaneous struggle in a particular place or at a particular time because of the weakness and unpreparedness of our organisation. I realise that this question must be settled by the local practical workers, and that the remoulding of weak and unprepared organisations is no easy matter. But when I see a Social-Democratic theoretician or publicist not displaying regret over this unpreparedness, but rather a proud smugness and a self-exalted tendency to repeat phrases learned by rote in early youth about anarchism, Blanquism and terrorism, I am hurt by this degradation of the most revolutionary doctrine in the world.
It is said that guerrilla warfare brings the class-conscious proletarians into close association, with degraded, drunken riff-raff. That is true. But it only means that the party of the proletariat can never regard guerrilla warfare as the only, or even as the chief, method of struggle; it means that this method must be subordinated to other methods, that it must be commensurate with the chief methods of warfare, and must be ennobled by the enlightening and organising influence of socialism. And without this latter condition, all, positively all, methods of struggle in bourgeois society bring the proletariat into close association with the various non-proletarian strata above and below it and, if left to the spontaneous course of events, become frayed, corrupted and prostituted. Strikes, if left to the spontaneous course of events, become corrupted into “alliances” — agreements between the workers and the masters against the consumers. Parliament becomes corrupted into a brothel, where a gang of bourgeois politicians barter wholesale and retail “national freedom”, “liberalism”, “democracy”, republicanism, anti-clericalism, socialism and all other wares in demand. A newspaper becomes corrupted into a public pimp, into a means of corrupting the masses, of pandering to the low instincts of the mob, and so on and so forth. Social-Democracy knows of no universal methods of struggle, such as would shut off the proletariat by a Chinese wall from the strata standing slightly above or slightly below it. That being so — and it is undoubtedly so — the Social-Democrats must absolutely make it their duty to create organisations best adapted to lead the masses in these big engagements and, as far as possible, in these small encounters as well. In a period when the class struggle has become accentuated to the point of civil war, Social-Democrats must make it their duty not only to participate but also to play the leading role in this civil war. The Social-Democrats must train and prepare their organisations to be really able to act as a belligerent side which does not miss a single opportunity of inflicting damage on the enemy’s forces.
This is a difficult task, there is no denying. It cannot be accomplished at once. Just as the whole people are being retrained and are learning to fight in the course of the civil war, so our organisations must be trained, must be reconstructed in conformity with the lessons of experience to be equal to this task.
We have not the slightest intention of foisting on practical workers any artificial form of struggle, or even of deciding from our armchair what part any particular form of guerrilla warfare should play in the general course of the civil war in Russia. We are far from the thought of regarding a concrete assessment of particular guerrilla actions as indicative of a trend in Social-Democracy. But we do regard it as our duty to help as far as possible to arrive at a correct theoretical assessment of the new forms of struggle engendered by practical life. We do regard it as our duty relentlessly to combat stereotypes and prejudices which hamper the class-conscious workers in correctly presenting a new and difficult problem and in correctly approaching its solution.
*The Bolshevik Social-Democrats are often accused of a frivolous passion for guerrilla actions. It would therefore not be amiss to recall that in the draft resolution on guerrilla actions (Partiiniye Izvestia, No. 2, and Lenin’s report on the Congress), the section of the Bolsheviks who defend guerrilla actions suggested the following conditions for their recognition: “expropriations” of private property were not to be permitted under any circumstances; “expropriations” of government property were not to be recommended but only allowed, provided that they were controlled by the Party and their proceeds used for the needs of an uprising. Guerrilla acts in the form of terrorism were to be recommended against brutal government officials and active members of the Black Hundreds, but on condition that 1) the sentiments of the masses be taken into account; 2) the conditions of the working-class movement in the given locality be reckoned with, and 3) care be taken that the forces of the proletariat should not be frittered away.
While not the revolution itself (in fact, frequently nothing like it and often a hindrance to it), Lenin nevertheless abundantly makes it clear that he “takes the stand of” the civil war activists, — all of them and any of them.
Society under capitalism is disintegrating, “so let it happen” is the revolutionary’s response.
Only petty-bourgeois minds with an incurable attachment to piecemeal improvements that feeds into and is fed by a natural not-properly-thought-through optimism that “things always get better”, stick to the treacherous reformist opposite which “condemns” such messy civil-war breakdowns as Beslan and such international “outrages” as 9/11 (which equally signal a disintegrating world).
The appalling tragedy of the Caucasus school massacre IS A REALITY OF LIFE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE IMPERIALIST SYSTEM, and another such pitiable disaster will be along in a week or two somewhere on Earth, and more and more frequently.
Only imperialist tyranny and deluded reformists think “this has got to be stopped”, damning the act of terrorism.
Revolutionaries think “this has got to be stopped”, striving harder than ever to see a way that the defeat, overthrow, and crushing of the imperialist system, every scrap of it, can be achieved.•
Unfolding events might give more clues about this, if the generals expel the Americans too (and assorted, often undeclared “allied” military from Britain etc) and shut down these bases.
So too will the suggested presence of Russian Wagner mercenary troops, already there or reputedly to come, (and already in Mali), which does not necessarily indicate a progressive agenda either as some of the fake-“left” would have it, particularly those that have taken an outright pro-Putin position over the war in Ukraine and insist the Moscow has only anti-imperialist intentions (as opposed to simply calling for defeat for the Kiev Nazis and their Western Nato puppet masters but with no confidence in the idiot Bonapartist Putin’s oligarch regime – just as supporting Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, or Assad in Libya was to confuse and mislead).
The stated task for the mercenaries in Niger is said to be primarily suppressing the “terrorism”, fully in line with the now longstanding Putinite policy of apeing the West’s “war on terror” justification for its stepped up world blitzing and bullying barbarity against all and every manifestation of anti-Western anti-imperialist struggle.
Moscow’s acceptance that the world is threatened by some abstract alien force called “terrorism” deemed to be the cause and inflamer of “instability”, and which has to be blitzed and destroyed from Libya and Syria through to various self-determination struggles in or around Russia itself, notably Chechnya, and Kazakhstan recently, only plays into the hands of imperialism’s demented hate-stirring and racist chauvinism, helping create the jingoist atmosphere for its war blitzing of nation after nation, and utterly barbaric destruction of all resistance to its diktat and domination.
The designation of all stirrings of resistance to imperialism, especially armed resistance, as “terrorism” has been the justification for decades for the most barbaric butchery and slaughter imposed on national liberation movements, popular anti-imperialism and entire countries, deemed either to be “rogue states” or simply to be alleged “backers or promoters or sponsors” of terrorism.
The Provisional IRA Irish national-liberation struggle was declared just “terrorist criminality” for 30 years, subject to every kind of persecution and repression from concentration camp internment, non-stop community street raids and military intimidation, arbitrary killings and beatings, police, secret police (MI5 Gestapo) and military death squad assassinations, brutal intimidation and state terrorising including grotesque new methods of torture devised by British imperialism (later used by Washington in Iraq, Afghanistan and the wholly illegal (for what that is worth) Guantánamo concentration camp - see Ian Cobain book on Cruel Britannia) until it fought declining British imperialism to a standstill and won the right to complete its Irish unification struggle by peaceful means.
British colonialism justified the most monstrous colonialist repression and butchery for the whole twentieth century in fact, frequently as being a “fight against terrorism” such as butchering the Mau-Mau resistance in Kenya, the same against communist nationalists in Malaya, against the Greek communist partisans during the four year civil war after 1945, and further back against tribal and national resistance in the Middle East and Africa, including for the first time using gas and aerial bombing of villages for collective punishment.
The heroic Umkhonto We Sizwe armed struggle in South Africa to overturn and end the feudal/colonial apartheid racist regime there was brutally suppressed as “terrorism” until it won its gigantic victory (though the revisionism and opportunism in the subsequent bourgeois nationalism has again been showing its backwardness too, currently also calling for a “restoration of democracy” under President Bazoum).
Together with the reactionary Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher’s Britain bombed the Gaddafi regime in Libya as “terrorist” in the 1980s (finally invading it in conjunction with NATO in 2011, culminating in one of the most grotesque terror actions in modern history, namely the illegal summary killing by the West of the captured Muammar Gaddafi himself with a steel blade in the anus (with none of the usual “horrified” petty bourgeois responses and sanctimonious calls for the perpetrators to be hunted down and tried in a “warcrimes” trial – only the tinkling and delighted laughter of the monster Hillary Clinton, then US Secretary of State in the first Obama presidency)).
The anti-occupation resistance in Iraq after the country was blown apart in 2003 was designated “terrorist” (and before that in 1991 and throughout the 1990s when siege levels sanctions and routine bombing runs were made to contain its “terrorist” activities killing three million adults and half a million children during the decade, even before the full scale invasion of the second Iraq war).
Iran’s Islamist anti-imperialism doggedness (a posturing fraud by the anti-communist Ayatollahs but driven by the need to remain on top of real seething anti-Western sentiment in the mass population) is labelled “terrorism” to justify non-stop Zionist and Western intimidation (hotting up again with 3000 US troops just arrived in the area).
And most of all suppression of “terror” has been the central justification for the non-stop genocidal oppression for seventy years of the dispossessed Palestinian people by the fanatical Zionist occupation of their land, with every scrap of resistance and fightback declared to be just “baseless criminal terror”, the most monstrous topsy-turvy big lie ever, by this monstrous colonialist cuckoo, and the greatest historical irony ever.
And what do all the self-righteous petty bourgeois “lefts” busy declaring “terrorism” to be a thing-in-itself and condemning it across the board, have to say about the blows struck by the militants and fighters in Gaza and on the West Bank???
Or what do they say about the Hezbollah militants, currently pushing back against the Zionists on the southern border of Lebanon:
Tensions between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah are at their highest level in years after a series of inflammatory incidents on the UN-controlled boundary between the two countries.
Seventeen years after the Iran-backed movement’s last devastating war with Israel, Hezbollah appears to be trying new tactics in the volatile border region to test Israel’s resolve. Such brinkmanship is not unknown, but the increasing frequency of the border skirmishes is raising the likelihood of miscalculation – and escalation.
“I believe this is Hezbollah seeing what they can get away with. There is no desire on either side to return to full-scale fighting, but also, the context has changed,” said Mohanad Hage Ali, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Centre.
“[Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin] Netanyahu, has historically been cautious when it comes to all-out conflict, but coordination between Hezbollah and the Palestinian factions is better than it was. The US administration is wary of the current Israeli government, and Iran is not on the defensive any more, the way it was in the Trump years,” he said, referring to the former president’s policy of “maximum pressure” towards the Islamic republic.
In June, Hezbollah erected two military-style tents south of the Blue Line, the demarcation line between Israel, Lebanon and the Golan Heights created by the UN after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. The militants claimed the area home to the tents as Lebanese, a small, but provocative and unprecedented step. After diplomatic intervention, one was removed, but the other remains.
And last month, men on the Lebanese side of the border – some wearing face masks and military fatigues, or carrying Hezbollah’s yellow flag – approached or climbed the security barrier separating the two countries on at least four separate occasions, in one case destroying an Israeli surveillance camera, and in another, throwing stones and starting a fire.
An anti-tank missile was also fired towards the town of Ghajar, an Alawite Syrian village in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that was split in two in 2000 after the creation of the Blue Line.
“In recent months it has been intense. There are more and more incidents [on the Blue Line]. Six months ago, one patrol was enough, and now we need four and we are on higher alert. The possibility of violent engagement is higher,” an Israeli security official said.
Unifil, the UN peacekeeping mission that patrols the Blue Line, has called the situation “extremely sensitive”, urging all parties to “cease any actions that may lead to escalation”.
There were two serious incidents earlier this year: in March, a militant managed to cross into Israel, detonating a roadside bomb 57km (35 miles) south of the Blue Line that injured one person. It is not clear whether the blast was a cross-border attack by Hezbollah, which would be the first of its kind in years.
And in April, the biggest salvo of rockets since the 2006 war was fired from Lebanon into Israel in response to Israeli police raids on Jerusalem’s holy Aqsa mosque compound. While it is believed the missiles were launched by Palestinian factions based in Lebanon, they almost certainly acted in coordination with Hezbollah, which controls much of the country’s south.
Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary general, has said the group’s recent activity is a response to Israeli actions in Ghajar, which until last September was a closed military zone. Without notice or explanation, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and police withdrew from the village, after which Ghajar’s Arabic-speaking, Israeli citizens built a fence around the urban perimeter.
This means that the Hasbani River has become the de facto demarcation line, rather than the official Blue Line, and the half of the village claimed by Lebanon is now under further entrenched Israeli control.
Meanwhile the underlying crisis collapse of the whole profit-driven monopoly-concentrating system comes ever closer.
The EPSR has long attempted to grapple with the detail of how the great overproduction crisis identified by Marxist science, (see box) finally implodes, to the derision and mockery of the petty bourgeois fake-“left” all around declaring Marxist science “out of date” or just not relevant any more – just “unproven Catastrophism”.
And that cynicism and complacency has been propped up and reinforced by the enormous complexity of the huge interlocked world economic system post-WW2 and its seemingly endless capacity to create yet more inflationary credit – most of all in the wake of the world shaking global bank meltdown which was the strongest confirmation yet of the colossal fault lines running through the entire international production and trading system and of Marxism (on top of repeated partial, sectoral or regional collapses over decades – 1987 Black Monday, Latin American credit crises, Argentinian default, the Asian currency collapse, the dotcom implosion etc etc).
“It’s all fiat money now” the sceptics say, tapping their noses knowingly “and the big powers can simply print their way out of bankruptcy”.
Try telling that to the desperate austerity hammered masses of the Third World and increasingly in the First World too – or those destroyed by the non-stop warmongering intimidation required to keep the US financial dominance in place.
Such smug and hollow “theories” are “fiat” science, to turn the phrase, based as little on reality as the value of “paper” or electronic dollars is based on real things (traditionally on gold - see Marx’s Capital Volume One – which in defiance of the “modern economists” still rises rapidly in price with every nervous twitch of the world finance markets ).
Certainly the imperialist finance system has managed to spin out the crisis far, far beyond its “natural” collapse point (aided by the other economies too, and most of all revisionist Beijing, piling in to use their giant surpluses to help prop up the otherwise bankrupt American and European system).
Just how that has been done in the post-war period of overwhelming monopoly concentration requires a massive extension to the economic grasp of first Karl Marx and further than the the Bolsheviks’ own extensions in Lenin’s Imperialism - the highest stage of capitalism and Bukharin’s book on Imperialism.
It needs another volume at least of Marxist science.
A key symptom of the oncoming Catastrophe is the collapse of the dollar as the EPSR has warned constantly.
It is already clear from the raging inflation which now permeates the world – hammering the poorer countries most of all, which do not have the financial firepower to push it outwards as the big imperialists do (though they are showing the impact too and none more than moribund British imperialism, the weakest link in the chain).
But worse is coming as the Sunday Times resident bourgeois economic commentator Irwin Steltzer frets (though propping his pessimism up with usual “fundamentals are strong” bullshit):
So it’s come to this. Last week Fitch Ratings followed the lead of S&P Global and downgraded its US debt rating from AAA to AA-. Goodbye “outstanding” - hello mere “excellent”. Fitch cited expected fiscal deterioration in the US over the next three years, a high and growing general debt burden, and “a steady deterioration in the standards of governance over the last 20 years... [which has] eroded confidence in fiscal management ... In addition, the government lacks a medium-term fiscal framework”.
With the 2024 election campaign underway, and Joe Biden’s economic approval rating already down to 37 per cent, the White House resorted to its by now familiar strategy. It labelled Fitch’s decision “the Trump downgrade” - due, it claimed, to the ex-president’s “deficit-busting tax give away for the wealthy and corporations”, and the events of January 6, 2021, which my calendar shows were two and a half years ago.
A gaggle of big-name Democrats attacked Fitch’s move, among them:
Larry Summers, treasury secretary in Bill Clinton’s government - “absurd”:
•Jason Furman, top economic adviser to Barack Obama - “completely absurd”;
• Paul Kfugman, Nobel award winner, New York Times columnist - “bizarre”;
• The White House press secretary quoting whoever is issuing statements for the vacationing President Biden -“off-base, widely and correctly ridiculed, defies reality”;
• Janet Yellen, treasury secretary - “arbitrary and based on outdated data”.
The not-so-outdated data suggests Fitch’s move is not before time. By 2025, the US debt burden will come to 118 per cent of GDP, against the median of 39 per cent for AAA-rated countries. This year’s fiscal deficit is up 170 per cent over the same period last year. Due in part to the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of debt servicing will double by 2032. Others foresee it more than trebling, In either event, the cost of carrying the debt will exceed programmes such as defence and Medicaid by 2033.
Unspoken by Fitch, but surely top-of-mind, is a Biden-Trump battle for the White House. Neither is famous as a parsimonious caretaker of the nation’s finances. Democrats have spending projects ready to propose if elected, Republicans a list of tax cuts. Both have leaders- Biden and House speaker Kevin McCarthy - adept at kicking a can down the road, especially when it is the can of worms that is the US budget.
As a practical matter, Treasury printing presses guarantee that there will always be sufficient dollars to pay interest and principal on the US debt. Default is unthinkable. But de facto default, paying debt obligations in wildly depreciated dollars, is not beyond the imagination of lenders. As consultancy The Lindsey Group put it: “The purchasing power of the repayment might resemble confetti. After all, the Weimar Republic never defaulted on its debt in the formal sense of the word.”
Summers and Yellen argue correctly that “the American economy is fundamentally strong.” Indeed if is, which makes the running of a deficit in a fast-growing economy even harder defend.
GDP grew at an unexpected annual rate of 2.4 per cent in the second quarter and inflation is coining down. The annual rise in the consumer price index - the one watched by the man pushing the supermarket trolly and the woman pumping petrol into the tank of her pickup - was down from 9.06 per cent in July 2022 to 2.97 per cent in June of this year. The Fed’s preferred inflation measure is down from its 5.42 per cent peak in February 2022 to 4.1 per cent.
That is all without driving up unemployment 3.5 percent, according to Friday’ jobs report - or triggering the short and mild recession that a vast majority of chief executives (87 per cent) still expect, and to which economists polled by The Wall Street journal now assign a probability of 54 per cent, down from 61 per cent. GoldmanSach’s economists put that number at a far lower 20 per cent. Bank of America goes further, cancelling its recession prediction, as have Fed staff. Fitch hasn’t. Despite a robust economy and rising real disposable incomes, most Americans seem as unhappy as Fitch with their government’s performance. ...The Wall Street journal reported the Fitch downgrade under the headline “America’s Fiscal Time Bomb Ticks Even Louder” - but not loud enough to be heard by a Congress taking its August recess as the October 1 deadline for bipartisan agreement on funding the government, instead of shutting it down, approaches.
The important phrase in this is the “confetti dollar” and its use eventually to “pay off” the gigantic multi-trillions never-really-repayable debt burden accumulated by America (and smaller fry like Britain) - which is to say, to contemptuously renege on all the liabilities run up by the never-ending boomtime consumerism, wastefulness and extreme profligacy of capitalism, a fantasy world sustained by delusions, petty bourgeois self-interest and Hollywood.
Of course such contemptuous “take it or leave it” defaulting requires massive in-your-face contemptuous aggression against the obviously justified ire of the entire creditor world – just about all of it and not least the competitor powers who have outcompeted the US and now hold vast lakes of dollar reserves.
It puts the arrogant entitlement of American imperialism against all the world – exactly the Make America Great Again agenda of the Trumpites, which is why Donald Trump’s barmy populism not only does not collapse, but gathers momentum.
The need and opportunity for revolutionary understanding to be built for the complete overturn of this grotesque system and its ruling class to end degenerate plunge into Slump disaster, ecological devastation and outright world war is still not being taken.
But it becomes ever more crucial.
Explosive mass revolt, has been erupting repeatedly over the last decades, spontaneously or consciously: in the 9/11 World Trade Centre attacks (twice); in Iraq’s anti-occupation “terrorism”; in the Afghan Taliban national revolt; in mass street revolts of the Arab Spring (2011) and recently in Sri Lanka, in waves of “jihadism” across Africa, (Somalia, Sahel); in South Africa mining strikes; in the nationalist rebellion in Ethiopia; in Yemen’s Houthi war against capitalist stoogery; and by the forgotten Polisario; in Haïti’s “gang” violence; and in non-stop anti-Yanqee turmoil and left popular movements in Latin America – not to mention Britain’s own huge riots in the early 1980s, the city-burning riots 12 years ago and the Cardiff city centre just two months back.
It is still massively confused, not least by the deliberate stirring of counter-revolutionary protest dressed up as “popular movements”.
Only Leninism can distinguish and expose, the false upheavals, the Western organised or provoked petty bourgeois “democracy” or pseudo-national-liberation movements like Hong Kong, Egypt (2013), Belarus, Iran, Myanmar, Libya, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia etc and the invasions, “colour revolutions”, civil wars and coups, that are used to induce if and when the CIA, MI6, Mossad etc can pull it off (or is forced to step in on, to keep them going – like Libya eg).
Every part of it needs analysing and explaining, to disentangle all the confusions, obfuscations, lies and conspiracies, not least of which come from the opportunism and misleadership of the fake-”left”, every shade saturated in 150 years of anti-communism, class-collaborating treachery and/or revisionist induced retreat from revolutionary perspectives.
But such conclusions are still not being spelled out by the fake-”left” however much “militant” posturing or claimed “revolutionary” preening they indulge in (non stop).
Nearly all of them line up in one way or another behind the ruling class, not only swallowing its demented war propaganda and chauvinist racist scapegoating blaming Russia, “terrorists” and assorted other for the problems caused by capitalism itself.
But reason and rationality will win through.
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