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VOAG-Logo-(Ukraine)Against Ukraine repression: ‘In Donetsk and Kharkov, The people continue to fight’

By Greg Butterfield, Workers World
 April 10 – Desperate to stamp out a popular uprising in Southeastern Ukraine, the fascist junta in Kiev -which came to power through a violent coup against elected President Viktor Yanukovich -is moving to crush the newly declared People’s Republic of Donetsk and rebellions in other cities.  But anti-fascists throughout the region continue to resist in the face of increasing repression by the U.S.-backed regime.

Arsen Avakov, the junta’s Interior Minister, arrived in the Southeast April 9, delivering a 48-hour ultimatum to protesters occupying government buildings in Donetsk and Lugansk to surrender or face military attack. The deadline expires at nightfall on April 11. Avakov, a leader of the far-right Fatherland party, was tasked with bringing the various neo-Nazi groups under the regime’s discipline. To this end he created a “National Guard” composed of members of the Right Sector, Euromaidan Self Defense Forces, and other racist gangs from Western Ukraine. The Communist Party of Ukraine’s headquarters in Kiev was set on fire April 9, just hours after a court ordered the Interior Ministry to remove fascists who’ve occupied it since the coup. Euromaidan Self Defense goons, now employed by the Interior Ministry, were photographed tearing up red flags outside the building shortly before it was torched. In the Southeast, police and military units unwilling to act against the local populace have been replaced by “special task forces” from Western Ukraine.

 According to Ukrainian and Russian sources, Avakov has also enlisted foreign mercenaries from the U.S.-based Greystone Ltd.  U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, in charge of NATO forces in Europe, told the Associated Press April 10 that U.S. troops could soon be deployed in the region. NATO has scheduled an “emergency meeting” on Ukraine for April 14.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy destroyer U.S.S. Donald Cook was expected to arrive in the Black Sea April 10 near Russian waters, where it will join other U.S., Bulgarian and Romanian warships in provocative “war games” aimed at Russia. All of these forces are now deployed against the popular resistance in the largely Russian-speaking Southeast, where the anti-fascist and working-class traditions of Soviet times still run deep, and where some look to Russia as a last line of defense against the neo-Nazi threat from Kiev.

 But instead of intimidating the resistance, the fight-back has continued and spread. After losing ground earlier in the week, anti-fascists in Lugansk held onto government buildings. Miners in the Donbas region have downed tools to go to the defense of Donetsk. Hundreds have remained in the streets of Kharkov despite a ban on protests. And even in the Western Ukraine city of Lviv, near the Polish border, activists briefly seized the local prosecutor’s office to protest a new appointment by Kiev.

Donetsk prepares to fight
In Donetsk, capital of the Donbas mining region, protesters seized the Regional State Administration building April 6 and declared an independent People’s Republic of Donetsk. The new people’s council, with the support of thousands of demonstrators in the main square, announced a referendum for May 11 to determine the future of the region. The demand for a referendum has gripped the masses throughout the Southeast, who want autonomy or independence from the fascist, pro-NATO regime in Kiev, which is in the process of imposing austerity in return for International Monetary Fund loans. Calling for a general mobilization of the populace, the People’s Council said April 9: “According to information from our activists at civilian roadblocks, Ukrainian armored vehicles are on their way to Donetsk. The Kiev junta has decided to solve the problem posed by our protest by military force.  “But their politicians and security forces are afraid of the presence of civilians near the building, where a large number of foreign journalists are also present.

 “Last night, thanks to the presence of thousands of people around the Lugansk state security headquarters, people formed a human shield around the building to protect it and the presence of militias barricaded inside prevented police from carrying out their orders to kill our comrades.  “Let’s be worthy of our comrades from Lugansk! Protect our militia guarding the building of the People’s Council! Let’s defend our independence and freedom!”

And the people responded. Activists and volunteers, including many youth and retirees, have built barricades around the RSA building and other protest strongholds, set up checkpoints on roads, gathered food, water and medical supplies, and joined defense trainings against the expected military assault.

 On the night of April 9-10, teams of activists blocked several military buses and prevented them from deploying troops near the RSA.  “We will be on duty here all night, because the assault could begin at any moment,” one activist on nightwatch duty told Ria Novosti.  Sergey Tsyplakov, deputy director of the People’s Militia of Donbas, said: “In Donetsk airport, about 100 people from the National Guard have been housed. Around 100 Right Sector bandits are also in the city, as well as a hundred employees from a private U.S. military company operating under contract with the Kiev junta. “In total, there are around 300 professionals or well-trained and motivated fanatics,” Tsyplakov said. “This is a major force, but we are ready to fight.”

Kharkov: ‘Resistance does not subside’
  In the city of Kharkov, where the struggle has been led by the People’s Unity coalition and the leftist Union Borotba (Struggle), protesters seized the local RSA building and declared a People’s Republic on April 7.  The People’s Council called for regional autonomy, including independence of NATO, re-nationalization of former Soviet industry, and priority to collective forms of ownership.

That night, hundreds of fascists and mercenaries wearing Special Forces uniforms attacked the building. They arrested 70 people and dispersed the protesters – but only temporarily. Kiev-allied city officials declared they would ban mass protests in Freedom Square and the city center.

But the next day, hundreds again gathered on the square and outside the fascist-occupied RSA building. On April 9, more than 500 people turned out to demand the release of the detained activists, Borotba reported. The fearful authorities had the courthouse surrounded by 1,000 police and refused to admit members of the public. People picketed the courthouse for several hours, chanting “Power to the people, freedom for the Kharkov defenders,” while parents shouted, “Free our children!”

 The activists were sentenced to two months imprisonment or a fine of 180,000 hryvnia – about $14,000 each. Simultaneously, hundreds more rallied at Freedom Square ahead of a court hearing on the planned demonstration ban. “The ban is aimed not only at us, but at all Kharkovites,” charged Borotba’s Svetlana Tsiberganova.  Borotba and People’s Unity have called for a major demonstration on April 12 in defiance of the ban.  “Despite the repression, the resistance does not subside,” declared Borotba coordinator Sergei Kirichuk.  “The people are going to continue the fight.”ukraine pics

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Catapult darkerI’m Confused. Can anyone help me?

At the weekly street stool of the Surrey United Anti-Capitalists this week a passer-by stopped and asked: “I’m Confused. Can anyone help me?”

I’m confused. A few weeks ago we were told in the West that people occupying government buildings in Ukraine was a very good thing. These people, we were told by our political leaders and elite media commentators, were ‘pro-democracy protestors’.

The US government warned the Ukrainian authorities against using force against these ‘pro-democracy protestors’ even if, according to the pictures we saw, some of them were neo-Nazis who were throwing Molotov cocktails and other things at the police and smashing up statues and setting fire to buildings.

Now, just a few weeks later, we’re told that people occupying government buildings in Ukraine are not ‘pro-democracy protestors’ but ‘terrorists’ or ‘militants’.

Why was the occupation of government buildings in Ukraine a very good thing in January, but it is a very bad thing in April? Why was the use of force by the authorities against protestors completely unacceptable in January, but acceptable now? I repeat: I’m confused. Can anyone help me?LuganskThe anti-government protestors in Ukraine during the winter received visits from several prominent Western politicians, including US Senator John McCain, and Victoria Nuland, from the US State Department, who handed out cookies. But there have been very large anti-government protests in many Western European countries in recent weeks, which have received no such support, either from such figures or from elite Western media commentators. Nor have protestors received free cookies from officials at the US State Department.

Surely if they were so keen on anti-government street protests in Europe, and regarded them as the truest form of ‘democracy’, McCain and Nuland would also be showing solidarity with street protestors in Madrid, Rome, Athens and Paris? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?MadridA few weeks ago I saw an interview with the US Secretary of State John Kerry who said, “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretexts in order to assert your interests.” But I seem to recall the US doing just that on more than one occasion in the past 20 years or so.

Have I misremembered the ‘Iraq has WMDs claim’? Was I dreaming back in 2002 and early 2003 when politicians and neocon pundits came on TV every day to tell us plebs that we had to go to war with Iraq because of the threat posed by Saddam’s deadly arsenal? Why is having a democratic vote in Crimea on whether to rejoin Russia deemed worse than the brutal, murderous invasion of Iraq – an invasion which has led to the deaths of up to 1 million people? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?AFP Photo / Pool / Mario Tama
We were also told by very serious-looking Western politicians and media ‘experts’ that the Crimea referendum wasn’t valid because it was held under “military occupation.” But I’ve just been watching coverage of elections in Afghanistan, held under military occupation, which have been hailed by leading western figures, such as NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen as a “historic moment for Afghanistan” and a great success for “democracy.”Why is the Crimean vote dismissed, but the Afghanistan vote celebrated? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?AfghanSyria too is rather baffling. We were and are told that radical Islamic terror groups pose the greatest threat to our peace, security and our ‘way of life’ in the West. That Al-Qaeda and other such groups need to be destroyed: that we needed to have a relentless ‘War on Terror’ against them. Yet in Syria, our leaders have been siding with such radical groups in their war against a secular government which respects the rights of religious minorities, including Christians.

When the bombs of Al-Qaeda or their affiliates go off in Syria and innocent people are killed there is no condemnation from our leaders: their only condemnation has been of the secular Syrian government which is fighting radical Islamists and which our leaders and elite media commentators are desperate to have toppled. I’m confused. Can anyone help me?AFP Photo / Amr Radwan Al-Homsi
Then there’s gay rights. We are told that Russia is a very bad and backward country because it has passed a law against promoting homosexuality to minors. Yet our leaders who boycotted the Winter Olympics in Sochi because of this law visit Gulf states where homosexuals can be imprisoned or even executed, and warmly embrace the rulers there, making no mention of the issue of gay rights.

Surely the imprisonment or execution of gay people is far worse than a law which forbids promotion of homosexuality to minors? Why, if they are genuinely concerned about gay rights, do our leaders attack Russia and not countries that imprison or execute gay people? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?Saudi ArabiaWe are told in lots of newspaper articles that the Hungarian ultra-nationalist party Jobbik is very bad and that its rise is a cause of great concern, even though it is not even in the government, or likely to be. But neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists do hold positions in the new government of Ukraine, which our leaders in the West enthusiastically support and neo-Nazis and the far-right played a key role in the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected government in February, a ‘revolution’ cheered on by the West. Why are ultra-nationalists and far-right groups unacceptable in Hungary but very acceptable in Ukraine? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?BudapestWe are told that Russia is an aggressive, imperialist power and that NATO’s concerns are about opposing the Russian ‘threat’. But I looked at the map the other day and while I could see lots of countries close to (and bordering) Russia that were members of NATO, the US-led military alliance whose members have bombed and attacked many countries in the last 15 years, I could not see any countries close to America that were part of a Russian-military alliance, or any Russian military bases or missiles situated in foreign countries bordering or close to the US. Yet Russia, we are told, is the ‘aggressive one’. I’m confused. Can anyone help me?Socialism-Or-Barbarie Darker

voice of anti-capitalismThe VOAG Focuses On The Labour Party, As Another Member Resigns

With the European elections looming, and the Borough Council elections only a year away, the VOAG publishes a letter of resignation from the Labour Party, posted on Facebook by a former member.

The stark reality is that only a Socialist Party of the Bolshevik type can lead the working class, those that work and produce the wealth, to a better future. Only a Socialist society, one that produces goods and services, not for profit, but according to what’s needed and democratically agreed upon, can fulfill our needs, the producers. With true equality of opportunity comes true freedom.

As Karl Marx, the founder of modern socialism said: “Where one can do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic”…”Where in place of the old bourgeois society we shall have an association in which the free development of  each is the condition of the free development of all”. (Karl Marx, communist Manifesto).

Lenin declared, in his book What Is To Be Done, that “economic arguments [for socialism] are the most widely applied, but not the most widely applicable”. The essence of socialism, the project, often forgotten by fellow socialists overcome by the day-to-day struggle, is the complete transformation of society, the transcendence of mankind, and the liberation of humanity. Socialism, as Marx once said represents “the very beginning of human history“.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

I am returning my membership card for the Labour Party as a means of saying that I wish to resign from the party. It is with regret that I am doing this but I see no other option.

I joined the party in October last year as a longstanding member of the Fabian Society. As an expat, I had come to the University of Cambridge the previous month and was horrified at the damage the coalition government had done to the social fabric of Britain. I had thought and hoped that both the aggressive foreign policies – notably the war against Iraq – as well as many Thatcherite notions endorsed by ‘New Labour’ had been part of the past, and that the choice of Ed Miliband as a more ‘left-wing’ candidate had signified a fresh start for Labour. I admit that I had been very much wrong.

I have closely followed Labour’s policies and campaigns since. Most of these have been concerned with shallow, cosmetic and ultimately insignificant campaigns. Britain surely faces more challenging problems than ticket touts at major rugby events (23 February). The most visible response to the dire problems faced by a society which for the first time since 1945 has seen the Red Cross in action delivering food to the needy has been Miliband calling for a ‘freeze’ on energy bills. Surely nobody in the Labour party is so naïve as to seriously believe that such a move were possible without renationalising the energy companies.

The excesses of an entirely market-driven society and of almost completely deregulated capitalism could be felt by all in 2008 and the following years: Profits had been privatised, and losses socialised. Yet I cannot remember reading any statements by Labour during these last few months that would have called for fundamental changes to an economic model creating the rifts running through Britain. Quite to the contrary, recently even the Labour Party, or rather some members thereof, attempted to jump onto a populist bandwagon to please an immigrant-bashing and xenophobe, Daily-Fail-reading petit bourgeois sector of the electorate with a petty, islandish outlook. This, at least, was the impression conveyed in late January, early February, when the Labour leadership failed to stand up to such tendencies galore, and instead attempted to play the ‘tough on immigration’ card.

Just as bad, if not worse, is the fact that Britain currently has, arguably, the worst Secretary of State ‘for’ Education in history. Michael Gove, on this the person reading this letter will probably agree, is easily the worst person in this office in British history. Education, to some extent the most important brief in the cabinet, is in the hands of a tub-thumping madman. Yet while it is clear that a myriad of different forms of schools has done incredible damage to the education system, that tuition fees have turned higher education into nothing but a marketable commodity, there is no such thing as an education policy on the part of Labour that would even bear the potential – let alone the promise – of making the best possible education again available for all. The most fundamental key to equality is left in ruins, while Labour cannot even bring itself to let go of such a completely failed notion as academies and ‘independent’ schools mushrooming around Britain.

Ultimately, the balance we once attempted to strike between markets and citizens has been abandoned, with the former having been given complete preference over the latter. I continue to hope that from within the Fabian Society – as well as from other think tanks, as well as individuals – alternatives emerge, and that there be people within the Labour party who listen. However, so long as Labour as a party only disagrees with the Tories on how to tip the balance towards markets over citizens, rather than on how to reverse it, it is regret that I need to tell you that I cannot support the party as a member any longer.

Yours sincerelyEnemy Is Profit

VOAG-Logo-(Ukraine)Support the Ukrainian Anti-fascist Rebellion; For the Donetsk People’s Republic

By Steven Argue
On February 23, one day after taking power, the coup government in Kiev voted to take away the language rights of Hungarian, Romanian, Tatar, and Russian speaking minorities. Eventually the bill was not signed, due in part to large uprisings against it, but the chauvinistic intentions and priorities of the anti-democratic government were made clear. That coup government is made up of a closely knit coalition of three capitalist parties, one of which is the neo-Nazi party Svoboda. For neo-Nazi Svoboda leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, taking away the language rights of the Russian minority will be just the beginning. He recently spoke before supporters in Kiev calling for criminal penalties for speaking in the Russian language. In addition, he called for stripping all ethnic Russians of their Ukrainian citizenship, forcing them to become non-citizens in their own land. In 2010 the official Svoboda internet website included in its program their desire to “physically liquidate all Russian-speaking intellectuals and all Ukrainophobes (Fast, without a trial, shot. Registering Ukrainophobes can be done here by any member of Svoboda).”

Political leaders and people in the media who defend the oppressed Russian nationality have been violently attacked by these neo-Nazi fascists. This includes a neo-Nazi attack by the Svoboda Party that forced the acting CEO of the National Television Company of Ukraine, Aleksandr Panteleymonov, to resign. One of the neo-Nazi thugs participating in the attack is ironically the head of the government’s Freedom of Speech and Information Committee.russian bare ukraineAlso attacked by fascists in the Ukrainian parliament was Communist MP Petro Symonenko who declared of the fascists who carried out the coup in February, “You are today doing everything to intimidate people. You arrest people, start fighting people who have a different point of view…” As if to prove him right, he was then interrupted by fascists of the Svoboda Party who physically attacked him. Likewise, on February 25th, fascist paramilitaries of Svoboda searched Petro Simonenko’s house, looking for evidence of anything, and upon finding nothing, burned down his house using Molotov cocktails.

“Give the scum promises, guarantees and then hang them.”
The Obama administration used these chauvinistic neo-Nazis to overthrow the elected government of Ukraine and they now occupy many key posts in the coup government. In eastern Ukrainian regions where the Russian minority constitutes the majority, there have naturally been uprisings against the chauvinistic central government and its appointed governments in the east such as the deputy head of South Eastern Ukraine as appointed by the illegitimate government in Kiev. He is a wealthy capitalist and criminal named Boris Filatov. Of Nazi collaborator and Nazi mass murderer Stepan Bandera, Filatov states, “I am proud of Bandera. He is my Hero. Particularly, as I see that people are ready to die under red-and-black flags.” Filatov has also stated his recipe for the solution in the region saying, “Give the scum promises, guarantees and then hang them.” When questioned on this later he explained it was just something he said on social media and not an official statement.cboboda
In addition to fascist hatred, the Obama installed coup government in Kiev is agreeing to IMF austerity and other dictates, including a 50% increase in the price of heating fuel. This IMF austerity comes on top of mass unemployment and much lower wages that have happened since the overthrow of the socialist economy in Ukraine with the destruction of the USSR. Higher fuel prices will cause the poor to freeze to death. To impose this austerity, the United States and EU supported the fascists and other ultra-nationalists who took power in Kiev in February.

Naturally, the oppressed Russian nationality of eastern Ukraine has risen up against the new imperialist imposed fascist infested government in Kiev. In Crimea the people voted to get out of Ukraine while the getting was good, with 96.5% of the people voting for Crimea to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

russian bareLikewise, the oppressed Czech nationality is looking to get out of Ukraine as well. An estimated 20,000 Czechs live in the Volyn region of Ukraine. During the week of March 20th, Emma Snidevicova, leader of Czechs in Ukraine’s Volyn region, spoke before the Czech parliament appealing for repatriation of Ukrainian Czechs: “The situation in Ukraine is that we are afraid for our lives, families and children. The situation is getting worse every day and pushes us to ask the Czech people to take us back home.”

Czech MP, Radim Fiala, said of the situation: “Crime and banditry is on the rise in western Ukraine, and the local radical groups abiding by the legacy of Stepan Bandera are to blame. Apprehensions of our compatriots who have an experience of clashing with nationalists during the Second World War cannot be ignored.”

Besides Crimea which has now rejoined Russia, and Czechs who are looking to immigrate, there are now strong anti-fascist uprisings across eastern Ukraine, including in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv. Buildings have been seized including facilities where weapons are stored. In Donetsk the rebellion has now organized a 12 member ruling panel, declared its independence, and renamed itself the Donetsk People’s Republic. They are asking for a Russian peace keeping contingent to defend them from the illegitimate government in Kiev.

Regarding the potential for an anti-capitalist program in Donetsk, People’s Republic Commissar Nikolai Solntsev has declared the economic policy of the new government would focus on supporting “the working class, not the bourgeoisie.” Unlike the United States, which continues to carry out measures like an economic blockade against Cuba, the Russian Federation already has close relationships with countries with socialist economies, including Russia’s close ties to Belarus. This flows in part from the fact that Russia is only a weak capitalist country with little direct foreign investment, even in neighboring capitalist countries like Ukraine. Russia’s interests in the region have more to do with maintaining good mutual regional trading relationships while the imperialist U.S. and EU are seeking to maximize foreign exploitation while they also seek to isolate Russia.

In response to the uprisings in eastern Ukraine, the Obama administration, EU, and Kiev government are blaming Russia. The reality, however, is that it is the imperialist imposed coup in Kiev and the chauvinism of that government are the cause the anti-fascist uprisings in eastern Ukraine, not Russian intervention.

Leninist-Trotskyists support the anti-fascist uprisings in eastern Ukraine and call for the continued building of non-sectarian self-defense militias to protect oppressed nationalities, Jews, women, unions, and opposition political parties from fascist attacks. In addition, we call for the building of Leninist-Trotskyist parties that fights to overthrow the capitalist system itself, ending IMF austerity, massive unemployment, national oppression, and other devastation capitalism has brought to Ukraine.

For more articles by Steven Argue on recent events in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, check-out:
US & EU Imperialist Hands Off Crimea, Ukraine, Belarus, & Russia! (In Depth)

http://www.class-struggle.com/2014/03/down-with-us-sponsored-neo-nazi-coup-in.html

Communist Party Wins Mayoral Election in Russia’s 3rd Largest City
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/220100/index.php

For Ukraine’s Self-Defense Militias! For Crimea’s Right To National Self Determination!
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/219919/index.php

Belarus: President Lukashenko Vows to Prevent a Coup Similar to Ukraine
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/219864/index.php

Imperialists Out of Ukraine! Stop Supporting Neo-Nazis! (An earlier article before the coup with in-depth analysis)
https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/01/26/18749806.phpenemy-is-at-home

VOAG-Logo-(Brick)13Anti-fascists organize resistance
as crisis grips Ukraine coup regime

Workers World, March 28, 2014
Just a month after a U.S.-backed coup d’état in Ukraine brought to power a regime dominated by neo-Nazis and pro-Western capitalist politicians, the ruling junta finds itself in deep crisis.

Threats from the government in Kiev and its U.S. and Western European patrons were unable to intimidate the people of the Crimean autonomous region, who voted overwhelmingly to break away from Ukraine and affiliate with Russia on March 16. Russian President Vladimir Putin and local leaders made it official on March 18.

Now infighting has exploded among the fascist factions in the ruling coalition in Kiev.
The International Monetary Fund, meanwhile, has agreed to give the coup-makers an $18 billion loan — but only if they accept painful austerity measures. These are almost certain to throw Ukraine deeper into chaos.

Further, Kiev has been unable to subdue the rebellious eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, where anti-fascists are digging in to organize grassroots resistance.

People in these major working-class industrial and mining areas are rising to oppose the junta and demand political and economic autonomy. They reject the rule of the billionaire oligarchs appointed as new regional governors by Kiev. Some are even calling for re-nationalization of privatized industries.

Thieves fall out
Overnight on March 27-28, members of the neo-Nazi Right Sector gang surrounded the Ukrainian Rada [parliament] and threatened to storm it — much as they had done a month earlier, when the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych was toppled.

But this time, the Right Sector was protesting its own erstwhile partners, some of whom were barricaded inside, including members of the far-right Fatherhood party and neo-Nazi Svoboda party. European television broadcast images of Svoboda politicians hanging out of windows shouting epithets while Right Sector goons hurled rocks at them from the street.

What happened?
On March 24, Right Sector leader Aleksandr Muzychko was shot dead during a police raid in the western city of Rovno. Muzychko had a long history of fascist terrorism and was on several international “most wanted” lists — a Ukrainian version of the anti-Cuba terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.

The assassination of Muzychko was followed by raids on Right Sector hideouts and seizures of weapons. The hit came on orders from acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, a representative of the Fatherland party associated with former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Avakov has established a “National Guard” under his command to deputize the fascist gangs and bring them all under the junta’s control. He also masterminded the joint neo-Nazi/police patrols that have suppressed any resistance in the western cities.

Avakov represents the coalition of far-right forces that control the commanding heights of police, military and prosecutorial powers of the new regime. Some forces in the Right Sector, like Muzychko, didn’t want to follow orders. Avakov and his colleagues decided that those who wouldn’t play ball must be eliminated.

The fascist street gangs served their purpose as the violent fists of the Euromaidan protests that ousted Yanukovych. But when it comes to investments and military strategy, Washington, Bonn and the IMF prefer to work with well-groomed, business-suited fascists like Avakov and Svoboda leader Oleh Tyanhybok.

Tymoshenko: ‘Grab a machine gun’
U.S. imperialism has big plans for Ukraine. First, it contains pipelines that control much of the flow of oil and gas between Russia and Western Europe. In addition, stationing NATO troops and weaponry there is also key to U.S. plans to isolate and dismember Russia.

Even after promising the Kiev junta $10 billion in loans, Washington is worried about the stability of the coup. Means have to be found to stabilize the country — that is, make it profitable for the Western imperialists. That means not only controlling the far-right factions in the western part, but quelling the anti-fascist resistance in the south and east.

While the inter-regime crisis was unfolding in Kiev, a leaked phone call posted online revealed more about the fires of war that the Obama administration and congressional leaders are furiously stoking. The call was from former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, considered a leading candidate in the presidential elections planned for May 25. Tymoshenko, a leader of the so-called Orange Revolution of 2004, was imprisoned for corruption before the coup.

Speaking with a former military official after the Crimea referendum, Tymoshenko urged her supporters to “take up arms and kill the fucking Russians along with their leader.” Tymoshenko also said she was ready to “grab a machine gun and shoot [Putin] in the head.” The recording ends with Tymoshenko threatening to use nuclear weapons against the 8 million Russian-speakers living in Ukraine. After the call went public, Tymoshenko claimed the part about using nukes was manipulated. The rest, she confirmed, was accurate.

Anti-fascists build resistance
In the cities of southern and eastern Ukraine, the leftist Union Borotba (Struggle) is one of the groups organizing anti-fascist resistance. Borotba’s central office in Kiev was ransacked after the coup and its activists forced underground. Outside Kiev, Borotba and other anti-fascists work in a hazy state of semi-legality, operating more or less openly depending on the level of organized resistance in each city.

This creates special challenges for organizers. For example, print shop owners refuse to print flyers or newspapers due to threats from the fascists. However, Borotba has managed to get help from sympathetic workers to publish its materials. A 10,000-copy run of “Front,” the first issue of a newspaper published by Borotba and the Antifascist Resistance Center, sold out in just three days. Borotba activists have set up tents and information tables to spread their message and recruit people to local anti-fascist defense committees composed of activists, workers, youths and former Red Army soldiers.

In Kharkov, where the Right Sector murdered two anti-fascists on March 14, Borotba plays a leading role in organizing mass resistance. On March 22, some 2,000 people defied a ban and rallied at Freedom Square for a people’s speakout initiated by Borotba. A major goal of the event was to recruit supporters for the local defense organization, People’s Unity.

The following day, hundreds marched down Rymarska Street to remember the two slain activists. They chanted: “Fascists kill! Power covers up!” Police then charged Borotba leader Denis Levin, a convener of the rally, with violating the ban and ordered him to appear in court on March 26. After a crowd of supporters picketed the court during his hearing, the judge dismissed the charge as “baseless.”

In Odessa, Borotba activists took up the case of Anton Davidchenko, a local resistance leader who was seized by the “Alpha” special police unit on March 17 and kidnapped to Kiev, where he is being held incommunicado. Some 1,000 people defied fascist threats and rallied at Odessa’s Kulikovo Field on March 23 to demand a referendum on autonomy. Led by Regional Council Deputy and Borotba activist Alex Albu, they marched to the prosecutor’s office to demand Davidchenko’s release and an end to the regime’s political repression.

Communist Party holds congress
The Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) has also been targeted by the junta. On its first day, the new regime threatened an outright ban of the KPU. The party’s headquarters in Kiev was trashed and is still occupied by the Right Sector. Party members have been attacked and beaten. KPU leaders have continued to assert their membership in the parliament although they have been effectively banned from Kiev since the coup.

On March 26, the KPU held its 47th Extraordinary Congress in the eastern industrial city of Donetsk. The party nominated its general secretary, Peter Simonenko, to run for president in the May elections. It is unclear whether the KPU will be allowed on the ballot, or what dangers party candidates might face.

Emphasizing the need of the party to preserve its cadres and organization, Simonenko said: “We have grounds for optimism. In a short time, the new regime showed its anti-people nature and incompetence, its inability to govern. The inevitable deterioration of the situation of workers as a result of the requirements of the IMF will inevitably create the basis for a new protest movement.”

Workers, youths and retirees alike are determined to defeat the far-right gangs and push back Western imperialism. They remember their history as part of the Soviet Ukraine, which defeated the fascist occupation during World War II, with support from the Red Army.enemy is at home

big-societyDon’t Vote UKIP Don’t Vote Alexandra Swann: As UKIP Asks Should The Unemployed Be Allowed To Vote

The former chair of Conservative Future has suggested that the unemployed should not be allowed to vote. Tom Bursnall, who recently defected from the Tories to UKIP on Windsor and Maidenhead Council, specifically targeted the unemployed people on his “Pro Capitalist” blog, asking: “Should people on benefits be allowed to vote?”

And it gets worse — when Tom “Batshit” Bursnall goes on to suggest that rich people should receive more votes than the poor: “It would be terribly ‘unfair’ of you to give equal representation rights to the chap who contributes 50 times more than the next person. In the same way as if you own 60% of shares of a company, you’ll get 60% of the voting rights at the Annual General Meeting.”farage_swannWith Tom and his councillor wife trousering more than £14,000 from the taxpayer, The VOAG wonders how many more votes the Bursnall household would receive.

Now UKIP’s most high-profile new recruit, former Ukip candidate for Farnham North in the last Surrey County Council elections, Alexandra Swann, has joined in. She claims Cllr Tom Bursnall “has a point”, going on to say it is “dangerous” to let unemployed people vote. She continued: “allowing people to vote on how other people’s money is spent — if they dont contribute — is dangerous”

As with Tom Bursnall, Alexandra Swann defected from the Tories in 2012. 23 year-old Alexandra Swann was the star turn at UKIP’s recent conference in Skegness — with party leader Nigel Farage proudly declaring that “the Swann has migrated”. A statement on her website says she left the conservative Party for UKIP because Conservative-led” government submits to every liberal-left piety imaginable.’

She was narrowly defeated by the Tory incumbent, Denise Le Gal, by just 43 votes in the 2012 Surrey County Council elections. Don’t Vote UKIP, Don’t vote Alexander Swann.Join Us On Facebook

voice of anti-capitalismThe sigh of the oppressed

Gerry Downing, Socialist Fight Group
Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

Gerry Downing looks at the origins of monotheism and assesses the attitude of communists towards believers

Abraham Leon’s book The Jewish question: a Marxist analysis has the following to say about the Jewish religion: “Whereas catholicism expresses the interests of the landed nobility and of the feudal order, while Calvinism (or Puritanism) represents those of the bourgeoisie or capitalism, Judaism mirrors the interests of a pre-capitalist mercantile class.”

Leon quotes Marx approvingly from On the Jewish question: “We must not start with religion in order to explain Jewish history; on the contrary the preservation of the Jewish religion or nationality can be explained only by the ‘real Jew’, that is to say by the Jew in his economic and social role.”

The view that the ‘ancient Hebrews’, which refers in the first place to Abraham’s tribe of nomadic sheep-herders, believed in one abstract, invisible god is incorrect. This is mythology, which projects modern values and ideas onto an ancient society to prove some linear continuity. In fact ideas of a deity and religious beliefs have changed out of all recognition since 1900 BC.

Abraham’s nomadic Hebrews settled in a small part of Canaan about 1900 BC and remained semi-nomadic. Their chief god was El. Yahweh (Jehovah) was the god of the Canaanites. Later historical revisions ignored El and gave Yahweh as the only god of the Israelites. In fact during the time of the two kingdoms Yahweh was the northern god and El the southern god. They had no idea of a single god and such an idea did not exist in the planet at the time. The religion of Abraham was polytheism, not monotheism.

The religion of Moses
The religion of Moses was more advanced and did not advocated constant warfare to destroy the gods of other tribes, as long as they did not interfere with Yahweh’s domain. It was the development of a municipal god to replace and include Abraham’s tribal gods. The Hebrews had left the land of Canaan because of famine and came into closer contact with the more advanced culture of the Nile. There is no historical evidence that they ever settled in Egypt. In fact the historical record for the reign of Ramesses II is well nigh complete and there is no mention of any major exodus of slaves from the kingdom.

They did not assimilate into this culture because their nomadic animal husbandry would not allow it. The Bible tale that Moses was raised as an Egyptian nobleman because he was found floating in a basket in the Nile by Pharaoh’s daughter is probably simply a means of saying that the leaders of the Hebrews adopted some of their religious views from the Egyptians.

Where did the religion of the Egyptians come from? There is a quote from Marx that explains: “The necessity for predicting the rise and fall of the Nile created Egyptian astronomy, and with it the domination of the priests as directors of agriculture.” [1] God made himself known to Moses not from the burning bush or from the posterior of Yahweh, but from the social necessity of the Egyptian peasants to know when the Nile would flood so they could regulate their seasonal activity of sowing and harvesting. And only the priests knew that. The peasants had no idea how they knew this and the priests were not going to tell them because knowledge was indeed power. So the ignorant peasants readily believed that the priests were passing on the knowledge of when this was to happen because only god could know that and the priests must therefore be his representatives. The pharaoh was a god because he was the chief priest who knew everything, although there quickly arose a certain, often ill-defined, separation between religious and secular rule. This was not simply a conscious con trick, but a social necessity.

Whilst the Israelites lived in Egypt, the pharaoh Akhenaton had attempted to impose an early form of monotheism in the form of worship of the sun god, Aton, but the society reverted to their traditional gods on his death, and he himself had insisted on remaining a god. The advance to a multi-people empire and towards monotheism was thwarted for that time and the city built by Akhenaton in honour of the new god fell into ruins after his death. But the time for these ideas had arrived and was bound to circulate in an advanced culture like Egypt.

Moses supposedly created the Arc of the Covenant at Mount Sinai, where the god of Israel dwelt after the exodus. True, he was only visible as a sunburst, but, as he lived in that wooden box, he was remarkable small and not very abstract. Moses developed a primitive form of monotheism, dispensing with the multitude of lesser gods like the golden calf, in his own society and for his people alone. Yahweh was, after all, only the god of Israel. The religion of Moses was inspired by Egyptian culture, but retained the old Hebrew tribal deity. In fact the majority of the ‘Israelites’ who departed in the exodus may have been Egyptians.

Moses elaborated the Ten Commandments as new precepts to form the legal basis of a settled and more peaceful community. It was not a religion of one god overseeing all the peoples of the world onto whom humanity projected their idealised selves. It was a halfway house that had not yet developed the notion of one god for everybody. They just did not consider such a state possible because it was not possible at that stage. It was the later rise of great multi-people empires that posed this question.

Paul Lafargue
Over a hundred years ago, Paul Lafargue, explained the evolution of the belief in one god thus: “The idea of god, planted and germinated in the human brain by the unknown elements of the natural environment and the social environment, is not something invariable: it varies on the contrary according to time and place; it evolves in proportion, as the mode of production develops, transforming the social environment.

“God, for the Greeks, the Romans and other ancient peoples, had his dwelling in a given spot and existed only to be useful to his adorers and hurtful to their enemies; each family had its private gods, the spirit of deified ancestors, and each city had its municipal or state god. The municipal god or goddess dwelt in the temple consecrated to him or her and was incorporated into the image which often was a block of wood or a stone; he or she was interested in the fate of the inhabitants of the city, of these alone. The ancestral gods concerned themselves only with family affairs. The Jehovah of the Bible was a god of this kind; he lodged in a wooden box called the Arc of the Covenant; which was carried along when the tribes changed their location; they put it at the head of the army, that Jehovah might fight for his people; if he chastised them cruelly for their infractions of his law, he also rendered them many services, as the Old testament reports.

The Greeks and Romans, like the Jews and the first christians, had no thought of their god being the only god of creation: the Jews believed in Moloch, Baal and other gods of the nations with which they warred as firmly as in Jehovah “¦ The municipal divinities, which belonged to the warlike cities of antiquity, always at strife with neighbouring peoples, could not answer the religious needs which mercantile production created in the bourgeois democracies of the commercial and industrial cities, obliged on the contrary to maintain pacific relations with the surrounding nations. The necessities of commerce and industry forced the new-born bourgeoisie to de-municipalise the city divinities and create cosmopolitan gods “¦ These new divinities, Isis, Demeter, Dionysos, Mithra, Jesus, etc “¦ still took on a human form, though the need was beginning to be felt for a supreme being which should not be anthropomorphic; but it is not until the capitalist epoch that the idea of an amorphous god has imposed itself, as a consequence of the impersonal form taken on by the property of corporations.”

Lafargue here clearly spells out the reasons for the rise and development of monotheism: commercial necessity to trade peacefully. This had superseded the previous necessity, which was to advance by capturing your neighbour’s territory by war. Notions of god and versions of monotheism continued to be developed from the ancient primitive municipal monotheism of middle antiquity to the sophisticated supreme being of the French Revolution and Hegel’s ‘absolute idea’, as humanity’s productive forces gave rise to new social necessities.

Trade routes
Look at any map of trade routes from antiquity to the modern epoch. Almost all show major routes through or near the ancient land of Palestine. It was the land of the Canaanites, a great trading people. The invading Philistines (who gave their name to Palestine) took on much of the culture of the Canaanites, like the Israelites. They invented an alphabet because they needed to tally and record their trading activities, so the ship’s captain and crew would not rip them off.

The Israelites learned to write from the Philistines (presumably between wars). So it is easy to understand that the record of what happened to the Hebrews from Abraham to Moses is second-hand and written to suit the politics of a later epoch. From 1100 to 539 BC the Phoenicians – the name given to the northern Canaanites by the Greeks – traded and settled the Mediterranean lands, just as the Jews did later and for the same reason: location and opportunity. It is entirely unremarkable that the Jews followed and developed this long tradition.

It is part of the mythology of Judaism, developed by the Zionists, that a nomadic tribe could have been culturally more advanced than the Canaanites because of their monotheism. The archaeological dig at Hazor, northern Israel (1955-58) settled all these arguments against the fundamentalists. Modern dating techniques enabled the archaeologists to outline a precise chronology. In the 13th century BC Joshua led the Israelite hosts which defeated Jabin’s city of Hazor (the biblical account that places the battle later under judge Deborah’s leadership was proved incorrect) and burned it to the ground. “Then, in a very long processes, some of those sites began to be resettled by the still nomadic Israelites, who slowly but surely turned the settlements into proper cities, particularly from the time of the Kings onward.”

Further excavations discovered a foundation deposit, which consisted of a jug containing a figurine of a war deity. This was immediately prior to the rebuilding of the city by Solomon soon after 1000 BC. This is a classic example of a more advanced people being conquered by a primitive but more warlike people, who then assimilated the religious culture and customs of the defeated people over a period. They adopted some of their gods like Baal and Hastoret.

The kingdom of the House of David arose around 1000 BC. Yossi Swartz wrote: “The priests of the kingdom tried, according to the records in the Old testament, but without much success, to enforce the belief in one god, Yahweh. How could these priests enforce the god who resided in Jerusalem, on the people of a village who believed that they must serve their local god who does not have to travel far to punish them?”

Following the return of the Israelites to the land of Canaan the next great learning experience was the defeat of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar and the exile of the ruling class to Babylon. There they learned the most advanced trading practices from the most advanced civilisation of the age, the Babylonians. Here the most important Talmud was written which laid down the religious, social and political norms to enable a trading and money-based ruling elite to function without continual inner conflicts.

Yossi Swartz explains: “The defeat of Israel by the Assyrians in the 8th century BC led to the assimilation of the Israelite peasants into other nations, and hence the legend of the 10 lost tribes. Two hundred years later the Babylonians destroyed the kingdom of Judah and the Jewish aristocracy was exiled to Babylon. During the Persian empire established by Cyrus, this aristocracy was sent back to Palestine as political agents of the empire.”

Modern Jewish culture
This was the real beginning of modern Jewish culture. During the Babylonians exile the prophet, called Isaiah the Second because of similarities with the first Isaiah, elaborated the modern Jewish god. His monotheism was universal and not held in by national boundaries. The old God of Israel was a sunburst in a wooden box, which the Philistines were able to capture. The new God of Israel had become too widely travelled and too ambitious to be confined in a small land, let alone in a wooden box. He had to be made suitable for a far-flung trading people, most of whom now lived in the diaspora. However, despite this development, elements of the exclusive ideas that went back to Abraham’s Yahweh survive to this day and have re-emerged over the centuries whenever the Jews found themselves embattled.

The ready acceptance of the new monotheism proved that its time had come. Cyrus, the victorious Persian king, defeated and subjugated all the mercantile trading rivals of the Jews (the Philistines and Phoenicians/Canaanites) and they now seized control of the trade routes as his agents and then spread throughout the territory of successive imperial powers as traders and merchants. Martin Gilbert’s Jewish history atlas gives us a picture of what the next period was like. His maps show growth of the diaspora (500 BC to 100 AD).

The Jews, he says, “moved about freely as traders” and “established flourishing communities” under the protection of the Greek and Carthaginian empires all along the coasts of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, Gilbert writes. The Sinai frontier, near the ancient land of Goshen, the home of Jacob, Joseph and Moses, was repopulated by the pharaoh with 30,000 Jews in 270 BC, the origins of the large Alexandrian Jewish community.

The Jewish risings against Roman rule paint a very different picture than the standard Zionist one. The Jews revolted against Rome in Judea twice, in 66-73 AD under the leadership of the Zealots, and Bar Kochba in 132-35 AD. However, they rose up also in Cyrenaica (the land around modern Benghazi in Libya), in Syne on the Middle Nile, in the entire delta of the Nile, in Cyprus and in Mesopotamia (all between 115 and 117 AD), according to Gilbert’s map.

Contrary to Zionist myths, the brutal suppression of the Bar Kochba revolt by the Roman general, Hadrian, was not the origin of the diaspora. That was the trading lifestyle of the ancient Jews and the far earlier conquests explained above.

The bulk of world Jewry was already far from home. The war between the Romans and the Jews was a clash of cultures, which reflected conflicting economic interests. Basically Rome was subduing the Mediterranean lands to extract tributes to feed the ever growing parasitic nobility and restless plebeian masses at home and they wished to appropriate the money that flowed from the activities of Jewish traders and cash-crop farmers.

Universal monotheism
Bruno Bauer’s theses are by far the most logical on the history and origins of early christianity. According to Bauer, christianity was first postulated by the Alexandrian Jew, Philo Judea, and developed by the Roman Stoic philosopher, Seneca.

Its fundamental tenets were: “the inborn sinfulness of man; the logos, the word, which is with god and is god and which becomes the mediator between god and man; atonement not by sacrifice but by bringing one’s own heart to god; and finally the essential feature that the new religious philosophy reverses the previous world order, seeks its disciples amongst the poor, the miserable, the slaves and the rejected and despises the rich, the powerful and the privileged – whence the precept to despise all worldly pleasure and to mortify the fresh “¦ And, as we see, we need only the keystone and we have the whole of christianity in its basic features: the incarnation of the word becomes man in a definite person and his sacrifice on the cross for the redemption of sinful mankind.”

In 313 AD the Roman emperor, Constantine, chose this religion above two others. It had been modified since its development 300 years before from a primitive redistributive consumer communism of the poor Jews of the Roman empire to one that could suit the needs of Rome. Constantine found he could easily adapt christianity to the pressing need to have a unifying ideology to bind together and oppress a far-flung multi-people empire.

This new christian religion excluded all other gods and forbade its followers from believing in them. As part of the dialectic of history christianity also hailed the fall of the world of antiquity as a victory of the spirit over the flesh and the just reward for corruption. It became the ideology for spreading the new empires that emerged out of the dark ages at the end of the first millennium.

A will o’ the wisp
You will note that in the search for the origins of a universal monotheism we are constantly frustrated by the realisation that every form of monotheism we examine is not really monotheism at all. Right up to Constantine’s adoption of christianity all religions acknowledged and believed in other people’s gods, as well as adoring and obeying their own (as interpreted by a privileged priesthood).

Even christianity is not really a universal monotheism. There is the doctrine of the trinity – three gods in one, and one god in three – although believers were bound to acknowledge under pain of the inquisition that each of these ‘persons’ was individually god. And then there was the anthropomorphic belief in Jesus Christ as god, made man, made god again; and all the saints, who are sort of minor gods (leaving aside how we may rationalise or adore the Virgin Mary) the faithful may worship if they choose. In fact there is a logical argument that the only real monotheistic religion is islam and that must surely explain its remarkably progressive nature from the 7th to the 15th century.

Contemporaneously with the religious wars in Europe in the 17th century, deism – a new form of monotheism that was more genuinely and rationally universal – developed. This rejected all religious practices associated with formal religion (which they blamed for Europe’s devastation) and ascribed to the supreme being the role of creator and initiator of motion. This was the divine watchmaker theory. Miracles – the fundamental method used by all religions to get the believer to suspend their critical, logical judgement – were rejected. The English philosopher, Anthony Collins (1676-1729), was the chief theorist of this school. Abraham Lincoln was a deist.

The Irish philosopher, John Toland, was the first to coin the term ‘pantheism’ in 1705 to describe the new logical religion. There was a long line of antecedents who had developed this idea. Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant and Hegel were ideological pantheists, as were several of the romantic poets.

However, having achieved its highest development, monotheism also signalled its logical downfall. Learned opinion speculated that Collins and Toland were covert atheists, as well they might. Because to a materialist philosopher like Collins and a follower of the famous Jewish philosopher, Spinoza (mind and matter are one substance, Spinoza believed), it must have been an obvious step to ask, if the creator created everything and gave it motion, who created the creator? Once miracles were denied, deism logically led to atheism by a small step. The poet, Shelly, made this small step and got expelled from Oxford by the high Tory gentlemen who led that establishment and banished from his father’s house forever for this ‘crime’.

When the perfect and logical monotheism was achieved, atheism was just too tempting as the next step. Back to fideism and the Bible then with its talking donkey and snake. Napoleon had to restore catholicism in France to end the revolution.

Religion within the limits of reason alone is one of the most famous books of the idealist philosopher, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). The ‘absolute idea’ of Georg Hegel (1770-1831) pushed god to his furthest limits. It was a great feat for Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-72) to interpret Hegel materialistically. Feuerbach’s problem arose from the fact that, like Hegel, he was unable to identify practice, where humanity changed the world and the changed world changed humanity, as the subject-object of history. It only required Marx to read Feuerbach’s work to successfully turn Hegel on his head (or set him on his feet) to identify the social necessity of the productive forces to develop, driving the class struggle as the motor force of history, and not the intentions of god or man.

After that there was no more seeking the truth about god by honest bourgeois philosophers. The truth was out and its acceptance or rejection now became part of the class struggle itself. Atheism, particularly in the working class, is seen today as a threat to the system because a fundamental element of social control has been overturned.

Religion today
Modern religions have become the expressions of the material interests of a particular ruling class or a section of that class in a particular historical setting. No Marxist would deny that that the heretical sects of the Middles Ages represented the first failed attempts of early mercantile traders to free themselves from the feudal ignorance and oppression of the church. Lutheranism and Calvinism represented the ideology of a rising bourgeoisie.

Without that understanding conflicts like the 30 years war in Germany (1618-48), when a third of the population (seven million out of 20) perished, are totally meaningless. At the time they explained it as people gone insanely bloodthirsty for their version of the love of christ, but, of course, they fought over their material interests in the final analysis – and we must stress ‘final analysis’, because we are sure that very few of them thought of it in that way at that time.

No religion can be a mixture of conflicting viewpoints reflecting the mixture of classes. All religions are a false illusion, a fundamentally idealised and incorrect view of the world, which can only strengthen oppression by preventing the oppressed from seeing that the causes of their oppression (material and psychological) are in this world. They are based on ignorance of two types: the ignorance of the primitive and uneducated of the reasons for all natural phenomena; and the ignorance of the causes of social and economic phenomena like booms, slumps, wars and revolutions. The intellectual representatives of the bourgeoisie must reject Marxism, the only explanation for and way out of these crises if they are to serve their masters, because to accept it would be to accept the inevitable demise of capitalism.

These ideas are lodged in the social relations of production that the oppressed of every age must enter in order to live. Religion is subservience in a mystical cloak, which can only serve the interests of the ruling class, in the short and long term, no matter what episodic religious conflicts might break out. The ‘mixture’ notion of Judaism is an implicit defence of the rabbi and the Zionist rulers of Israel.

Of course, religious views are more complex than simply representing a straight rationale of one’s life activity. They develop in a much more complex way. In classical Marxist understanding there is the religion of the oppressor and the religion of the oppressed. This is how Marx tackles the question:

“Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.

“The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusions about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusion. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of the vale of woe, the halo of which is religion.

“The task of history, therefore, once the world beyond the truth has disappeared, is to establish the truth of this world. The immediate task of philosophy, which is at the service of history, once the saintly form of human self-alienation has been unmasked, is to unmask self-alienation in its unholy forms. Thus the criticism of heaven turns into the criticism of earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of right and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics.”

Marx is here dealing with religion as a whole, not just the religion of the oppressed. But he does not see any side of religion as progressive – no, it is all reactionary and must be overcome in order to achieve liberation. It is the illusion that we must get rid of in order to rid ourselves of the “condition which needs illusions”. Any religious ideology represents a reactionary element of a people’s culture, because it must represent the domination of some ruling caste over the mass of the people. It is a vehicle for internal social control by the rabbi, priest, vicar or ayatollah, all of whom make a very good living disseminating magical nonsense on behalf of the ruling elite.

In Jewish history these elites were kings and rabbis (when a theocracy ruled) and today it is the state of Israel in the main, where elements or theocracy are stronger that anywhere else, apart from in the states of its bitterest enemies like Iran and Syria. In other cultures and states it is the established church or its equivalent which provides this prop.

Religion of the oppressed
Having said all that, it is necessary to stress that Marxists do differentiate between the religion of the oppressor and the religion of the oppressed (as we do with all manifestation of oppressive bourgeois ideology, including racism, sexism, homophobia, etc in the ranks of the working class and oppressed). These prejudices may not sit as firmly in the mind of a worker, particularly when he of she is moving into conflict with their employers or is beginning to see the need to tackle the system as a whole. A space is opened for progressive and revolutionary propaganda.

This is how the early Bolsheviks tackled the religion of the oppressed in the muslim countries of Soviet central Asia. They approached the oppressed women in particular with extreme sensitivity. The revolutionary women of the Zhenotdel in the early 1920s donned the paranja (a garment that totally covered the face without even openings for eyes and mouth) to get the ear of oppressed women.

Dale Ross (DL Reissner), the first editor of the Spartacist League’s Women and Revolution, explained that method and history well in her article ‘Early Bolshevik work among women of the Soviet east’ (No12, summer 1976). She goes into great detail to explain the difference between the Bolshevik method of approaching this work and both the Menshevik and Stalinist method. Her article points to the fact that failure to distinguish between the religion of the oppressor and the religion of the oppressed has disastrous consequence for socialists. There is no need to ask which method the PDPA and the ‘Red Army’ operated in Afghanistan. Or which method the Spartacists’ International Communist League supported so uncritically after 1979.

“The Bolsheviks viewed the extreme oppression of women as an indicator of the primitive level of the whole society, but their approach was based on materialism, not moralism. They understood that the fact that women were veiled and caged, bought and sold, was but the surface of the problem. Kalym (the bride price) was not some sinister plot against womankind, but the institution which was central to the organisation of production, integrally connected to land and water rights. Payment of kalym, often by the whole clan over a long period of time, committed those involved to an elaborate system of debt, duties and loyalties which ultimately led to participation in the private armies of the local beys (landowners and wholesale merchants). All commitments were thus backed up with the threat of feuds and blood vengeance.

“…Lenin warned against prematurely confronting respected native institutions, even when these clearly violated communist principles and Soviet law. Instead he proposed to use the Soviet state power to systematically undermine them while simultaneously demonstrating the superiority of Soviet institutions – a policy which had worked well against the powerful Russian Orthodox Church.

“”¦ Then on March 8 1927, in celebration of International Woman’s Day, mass meetings were held at which thousands of frenzied participants, chanting ‘Down with the paranja!’ tore off their veils, which were drenched in paraffin and burned. Poems were recited and plays with names such as ‘Away with the veil’ and ‘Never again kalym‘ were performed. Zhenotdel agitators led marches of unveiled women through the streets, instigating the forced desegregation of public quarters and sanctified religious sites.”

The consequences of these brutal Stalinist methods were the same as they were in Afghanistan 60 years later: “Women suing for divorce became the targets of murderous vigilante squads, and lynchings of party cadres annihilated the ranks of the Zhenotdel. The party was forced to mobilise the militia, then the Komsomol, and finally the general party membership and the Red Army to protect the women, but it refused to alter its suicidal policies. The debacle of International Woman’s Day was repeated in 1928 and 1929 with the same disastrous consequences, exacting an extremely high toll on party cadre.”

Only the method of the early Bolsheviks will work to defeat the rise of fundamentalism today. That requires a comprehensive understanding of religion, its origins and methods of control. This article is dedicated to beginning anew that task.Voag-Logo-catapult2

Diabled CampaignThe Black Triangle Campaign was founded to support the human rights of disabled people and to oppose the Government’s “Work Capability Assessments”, which re-classify sick and disabled people as “fit for work”.

 

The hidden welfare state that the U.K. government dares not speak of

The UK has two welfare states. There is one that is reported and endlessly discussed, and another, which is rarely mentioned. Whilst the first is suffering enormous cuts under the Tory/LD coalition, the other just keeps expanding.

Governments on the left and the right can always justify welfare cuts by pitting, for example, mobility scooters against needle exchanges, or the soft-play area in children’s playgrounds against an old people’s home. Who deserves it most, they say, students or cleaners? Old or young? But when we’re running not one, but two welfare states, that’s a totally fake scenario. The real choice is between playgrounds or gas rigs; between Meals on Wheels or The City of London Currency Speculators’ Maintenance Allowance.

There’s a connection – never mentioned – between, let’s say, Britain’s eight new deep-water gas rigs and its new food banks. The connection is that the $4.5 billion subsidy package being doled out to transnational gas corporations is a very big slice of the welfare pie. And to keep the gas transnationals on the benefits to which they are addicted, hungry humans have to queue for tinned food that is too close to its sell-by date to be kept on the shelves of supermarkets, many of which are themselves massive recipients of corporate welfare.

Not only does the UK pay out unemployment benefits less generous than Romania, Albania and the US, but the wages of the employed have simply not kept pace with productivity over the last 30 yrs. Tory Ideology is all about Handouts to the Wealthy paid for by the Poor.unemploymentGeorge Osborne has cut £18bn from benefits plus a further £81bn from public services in the name of unavoidable austerity, whilst at the same time providing huge subsidies, tax cuts and removing regulation for the hidden ‘welfare’ system that benefits the private sector.

No goods or services are directly returned to the government in exchange for these expenditures, although of course, politicians will argue that they’re stimulating the economy, helping struggling industries, creating jobs or funding important research but actually this is just a corporate welfare system.

The Cato Institute, for example, estimated that in the US, $93 billion were devoted to corporate welfare in 2002. This was about 5% of the federal budget, and nearly twice the amount spent on social welfare ie. feeding people, housing the homeless, raising children out of poverty etc.

There is no reason to think the situation is different in the UK. However, overall statistics for the UK corporate welfare budget are hard to discover, and the variety of different subsidies are staggering. Needless to say, the Tories focus their attention on fraud and waste in the social welfare budget.

Welfare fraud and waste is never far from the top of the UK’s news agenda – but the real figures often bear almost no resemblance to popular belief. The British public, for example, think around 27% of the welfare budget is lost of fraud, according to TUC research.

The Department for Work and Pensions’ latest data on fraud and error in the benefit system shows a very different reality: fraud exists, but at a far lower level than the public believes – and is outweighed by errors from claimants and officials alike. The DWP estimates £3.5bn has been overpaid due to errors and fraud in the system; 2.1 per cent of the overall benefit expenditure.

The corporate welfare budget arises from four main sources: Paying little or no tax – Tax havens; tax breaks; enjoying huge subsidies and the removal of employment and environmental protection regulations.

Tax Havens
 The UK’s 100 biggest public companies are running more than 8,000 subsidiaries or joint ventures in onshore and offshore tax havens, according to research. The figures, published by the charity Action Aid, show that only two of the companies listed on the UK’s FTSE 100 have no subsidiaries in tax havens – while companies such as Barclays and Tesco own hundreds. http://www.guardian.co.uk. The UK Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories constitute half of the world’s most frequently used tax havens.

Tax Breaks
Almost one in four of Britain’s biggest listed companies paid no corporation tax in this country last year – and almost half fail to disclose their tax payments to the UK at all, according to research by The Mail on Sunday.  According to the annual reports and accounts of all the companies in the FTSE 100, 47 companies gave no obvious figures for tax paid in Britain.  Of the 53 who did, 12 showed they paid no tax at all and, six actually received a tax credit.Tax AvoidTax Avoidance

 Treasury minister, David Gauke, admitted in reply to a parliamentary written question that only four employees of HMRC are working to capture 124 tax fugitives. The amount of uncollected tax rose again last year. A Labour MP pointed out that the four officials dedicated to the tax fugitives compares with the 450 HMRC staff involved in administering the withdrawal of child benefit from higher-rate taxpayers.

Subsidies
Currently, it is estimated that the government has already provided £43.5bn in various subsidies including the National Infrastructure Plan, the Equity Loan and Help to Buy schemes, the Enterprise Finance Guarantee and the Regional Growth Fund, with nothing to show for it. Far greater sums are in the pipeline, up to £310bn.

Meanwhile supermarkets get an enormous subsidy to help with one of their major overheads, staffing costs. This is because many employees in these large and successful companies are paid only the minimum wage. And because the current minimum wage is not a living wage, nearly everyone on it has to claim tax credits to be able to make ends meet. Those tax credits are funded by the taxpayer. The supermarkets are effectively state subsidised industries.

In addition to the recent unprecedented public support for the financial sector The NEF (New Economics Foundation) identified at least three significant hidden subsidies:

* The ‘Too Big to Fail’ subsidy: The government now provides a public guarantee, effectively insurance against banks going bust. This gives banks a huge commercial advantage over other firms in a market system. It means banks are able to borrow money much more cheaply than if they were not ultimately underwritten by the public. Exchanges with leading auditors in front of the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs in January 2011 confirm this. A conservative analysis reveals that this hidden subsidy could be worth £30 billion annually. It means that bonuses to senior staff for ‘performance’ and dividends to institutional investors are at least in part a straight transfer from the taxpayer.
* The quantitative easing windfall subsidy: When it was decided that the economy needed more liquidity, the Bank of England pumped money in using the technique called ‘quantitative easing’. To meet various, and sometimes self-imposed, requirements, it did by purchasing government bonds through investment banks. Merely for being passive conduits for this ‘risk free’ arrangement the banks took a cut of every trade. Here nef analysts found that banks enjoyed a significant windfall, but that lack of transparency keeps the likely amount hidden.
* The ‘make the customer pay’ subsidy: Since the baking crisis of 2008, the banks have been increased the gap between what they have to pay to borrow money, and what they charge people to borrow from them. This is the so-called interest rate ‘spread’. This is because they can borow money from the Bank of England at virtually 0%. As it is, the taxpayer is subsidising the banks twice over: once through taxpayer funded public support to the banks, and secondly through paying much higher interest to borrow than the banks do. This hidden subsidy amounts to at least another £2.5 billion each year.Rebuild The Fourth International

Housing-For-AllSale Of Small Council Homes Condemning Thousands To The Bedroom Tax – The VOAG Investigates

Thousands of one and two-bedroom council homes have been sold off since 2010, preventing tenants affected by the “bedroom tax” from downsizing to avoid the penalty, research by The Independent shows.

The controversial policy is meant to free up social housing space by encouraging hundreds of thousands of tenants to move to smaller properties, by cutting their benefits if they have a spare bedroom.

But figures obtained by The Independent show that a severe shortage of smaller council homes across the country is being exacerbated by the right-to-buy scheme – leaving many victims of the bedroom tax with no choice but to accept reduced benefits.

In the areas hardest hit by the housing crisis, more than two-thirds of council homes sold off under right-to-buy since the Coalition came to power had one or two bedrooms, figures obtained under Freedom of Information show.

Central London is suffering from the biggest sell-off of small homes. In Camden, 81 per cent of properties sold since 2010 had two bedrooms or fewer, and 49 per cent had one bedroom. Figures for Hammersmith and Fulham show that 77 per cent of sales were of small properties.

In Southwark, 74 per cent of those sold were small, with 32 per cent one-bedroom properties, and in Lambeth, 74 per cent of its right-to-buy sales were of the smallest homes.

Brighton and Hove council has sold 111 properties since 2010, of which 74 per cent had one or two bedrooms. Although Bournemouth council sold just 20 homes, all of them were small.

The analysis of 125 council areas found that of 14,616 properties sold across England, 45 per cent had one or two bedrooms. About 61 per cent of England’s total social housing stock is made up of one- or two-bedroom properties, suggesting that some councils appear to be selling off a disproportionate number of smaller homes.

Alison Garnham, the chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said the figures exposed the bedroom tax as “a hasty shambles” which had forced some of the most vulnerable children into unfit housing. “It’s often pushing them into the worst quality housing in the private sector – places that aren’t fit for habitation because of problems like damp and mould.”

Labour’s shadow housing minister, Emma Reynolds, said: “The truth about David Cameron’s bedroom tax is that there are simply not enough smaller homes for people to move to. With the Government failing to keep its promise on replacing every home sold through right-to-buy with a new home built, the shortage is getting worse.” Labour plans to scrap the policy if it wins a majority in next year’s general election.

Government efforts to reform the welfare system have resulted in tenants being moved out of expensive areas. But even those cities receiving families who are priced out are losing smaller properties through right-to-buy. In Hull, for example, 44 per cent of houses sold since 2010 had one or two bedrooms.

The housing charity Shelter urged the Government to review the bedroom tax in the light of the findings. “This research points to a serious contradiction at the heart of government policy,” said Roger Harding, Shelter’s director of communications, policy and campaigns. “Unless sufficient one- and two-bed homes are made available the bedroom tax is an unfair penalty on people who have no choice but to stay where they are.”Voag-Logo-catapult2

voice of anti-capitalismModern Day Slavery In Qatar: Workers Paid Less Than 60p An Hour – The VOAG Investigates

The VOAG has been aware of the issue of foreign workers in Qatar for some time. RT, Press TV, and Aljazeera, as well as Amnesty International have made documentaries on the issue, and the VOAG has received a variety of articles on the subject. foreign workers mainly from India, Pakistan and other developing countries are encouraged to go to Qatar to work in the construction industry. Once there they are stripped of their passports and forced to work for very little money, and in some cases, for free.

UCATT, the British construction union recently went to Qatar on a “fact-finding mission” to investigate for them selves, and spoke to the VOAG of their results. UCATT now plan to put further pressure on the Hukoomi – Qatar Government Portal and British based companies working in the country. The plight of workers will become increasingly high-profile, as construction is now beginning for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.ucattUCATT met workers who were being paid less than £0.60 pence an hour and who were being paid a little over £50 a week, while being expected to work excessive hours, 6 days a week in temperatures up to 55 degrees in the summer. The levels of poverty pay are especially stark given that Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

The 2 million construction workers in Qatar work under the kafala system which means they are bonded labour. The workers have their passports confiscated and cannot leave the country without their employer’s permission. For many workers this means that they cannot return home for at least two years. The workers also have to pay up to a thousand pounds each before they are allowed to work in Qatar, which are often financed through loans at very high interest rates. Often workers do not receive the wages owed to them. During the mission UCATT met workers who had not been paid for five months.

UCATT also visited the accommodation provided for many of the workers and saw how workers live in abject squalor. UCATT met a group of nine workers who were expected to live in one tiny room measuring 10 square metres. Welfare facilities were entirely inadequate with just five poorly maintained toilets provided for 200 workers. The facilities for workers to prepare food were also atrocious. Workers report there is often no running water and they are forced to wash in sea water.

Steve Murphy, General Secretary of UCATT, said: “The treatment of migrant construction workers in Qatar is appalling. If animals were being treated in this way in Britain there would be a national outcry. The fact that this is happening overseas means that many companies are prepared to look the other way in the pursuit of profits.CONSTRUCTION WORKERHundreds of migrant construction workers die in Qatar every year. In the last two years 500 Indian workers have died. Last year 195 Nepalese deaths were recorded 123 of these were recorded as being due to cardiac arrest. UCATT learnt that deceased workers do not receive a post mortem and if the death was recorded as natural causes then no compensation was paid. Mr Murphy added: “The way that migrant workers are treated in Qatar demonstrates that those in power consider their lives to be cheap and expendable.”

The fact finding mission to Qatar was jointly organised with Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) the international federation of construction unions.

Reporting on the preparations for the 2022 World Cup, an RT (Russia Today news channel) investigation discovered foreign construction workers “toiling in terrible conditions and having received no salaries for months”, and their “passports confiscated by employers”.

One of the men interviewed worked for 12 years as an accommodation specialist, but, as Peter Giesel, the film maker, indicated to RT, “ironically, his accommodation itself doesn’t even have a fan.” The man hasn’t been getting his salary and bonuses for a number of years, and his main difficulty is to fight a case against his boss and his firm: the employer took his passport from him, and the 35-year-old worker hasn’t made the money necessary to return home, “the devilish circle”, as the RT report put it. Another group of guys – there were four of them – weren’t paid for seven months in a row and were trying to file a case when Giesel met them.

As the filmmaker explained, one of the main issues surrounding migrant workers is that they are employed under the so-called kafala system, which is “a law basically stating that every migrant worker that comes into Qatar has to find his own personal sponsor meaning his boss, the firm or corporation he’s working for.”

“And that sponsor has to take care of him legally and medically, but obviously, most of the sponsors take their passports away from the migrant workers. That puts maybe tens of thousands of them in a miserable situation. They can’t make any money to go home, so they’re trapped down there.”

Moreover, migrant employees can’t rely on outside forces such as their countries’ embassies, according to Giesel. “I had a chance to sneak into the Nepalese embassy and do my recordings down there. It seems to be some kind of chaos: the bureaucracy not only in the embassies, but also in the Qatari system is too overwhelming for those 1.4 million migrant workers to be treated fairly,” reported Giesel.