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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

VOAG-LogoThe fight by Ukraine to defeat the EU and the US
accentuates the decline of “Pax Americana”

Statement by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International
(From Socialist Fight No. 16)

Russia’s agreement with Ukraine temporarily dispelled tensions that have created the “EuroMaidan”, demonstrations in favour of the recolonisation of Ukraine by the European Union (EU) on “Maidan” Square (Independence Square) in the centre of the capital Kiev. But the current might not last months and can come back in the form of open civil war in the near future or already a conflict of global proportions, paving the way for a World War III.

UkraineA new diplomatic offensive by the European Union against Ukraine is scheduled for April. The furore was a response to the refusal of the current Ukrainian Government to accept the conditions of the country in November for the Summit in Lithuania, on the eastern flank of the EU, which wanted to celebrate the integration of six former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus: Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan to 28 EU Nations block.

The Ukraine was the highest prize of the agreement, with their nuclear power plants, factories, farms and pipelines. The failure of the Summit dragged in Lithuania on the side of Russia and also Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. Desperate, Angela Merkel, Putin warned: “we should overcome the mentality of we or they, the cold war is over” (AFP, 11/28/2013)

The dispute goes in the opposite direction to the false plea of the German Chancellor and will warm up even more and become more intense the more we approach the elections by the Ukrainian Government in 2015. The current battle was only the beginning of the election campaign where the Ukrainian parties represent different interests the world bourgeoisie.yanokovichIt is worth remembering that the “Orange Revolution”, a precursor to the current wave of protests, was unleashed just when European and American imperialism were rejecting the election results that led to the victory of the current President Viktor Yanukovych in 2004, overthrew him and imposed the victory of one candidate pro-imperialist Viktor Yushchenko. It is worth noting that the economic situation in which Ukraine has arrived is the product of the country’s EU integration by all Governments after the capitalist restoration, including Yanukovych.

Vasyl Gouliï, a businessman from 49 years of Ternopil (west) blamed Europe which, according to him, was not firm enough after the episodes of police brutality against demonstrators in Kiev in November. “Europe could have pressed the Government, but she abandoned the Ukraine “, he lamented. “The opposition must act more actively. They should tell you how to get the impeachment of President Viktor Yanukovych” declared 23 year old AFP Pantchuk Lessia, who comes from the region of Chernivtsi in the west.

russian bareThe signing in Moscow of economic agreements providing for a credit of $15 billion to Ukraine and the decrease by a third in the price of Russian gas, while the country is on the verge of bankruptcy, appears to have destabilized the leaders of the defence, unprecedented since the pro-Western Orange Revolution in 2004. After the Moscow agreements, “attempts to form a “technical” Government to sign an association agreement with the EU are no longer valid. The revolt of the oligarchs was drowned out by the cheap gas”, former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko said recently and he made an appeal in favour of the expansion of the defence forces which are stronger today than in 2004, when he was overthrown by the Orange Revolution, says Volodymyr Fessenko. (AFP, 12/22/2013)

Result of 2013 this battle of the new “cold war”
In the battle for the Ukraine, US and EU imperialism has suffered its third major defeat of 2013 for the composite block by Russia and China. The first defeat was in Syria, when Russia stopped the bombing was announced by a US-led military coalition and France against Damascus. The second defeat for the information war, with the asylum given by Moscow to Snowden, former CIA/NSA spy.

It is a war of positions. The Western hegemonic imperialism has been losing ground to the Eurasian pre-imperialist block. 2013 marked a trend which re-versed the imperialist offensive of 2011. The core Sino-Russian counter offensive began after the bloody occupation of Libya and they saw the eminent risk of repetition of the same defeat in Syria, with warmongering escalating in the Pacific Ocean, particularly on the Korean peninsula and retreat in favour of reconciliation between Venezuela and Iran with the United States. But by mid February Venezuela was back in the firing line and the western imperialist counter offensive had resumed in Ukraine.NazisBefore the three losses, the White House acted quickly to crush the anti-Western coup in South Sudan, the newest nation on the planet, arising from the division of Sudan by imperialism. All this accentuates the decline of world forces correlation established for the entire period of the Pax Americana. Decline that is leveraged by the rise of new block of pre-imperialist bourgeois in Russia and China, a kind of late imperial-ism which must be taken advantage of by the world proletariat in its favour against the whole world bourgeoisie.

What is at stake in Ukraine?
After Russia, Ukraine is the richest and militarily powerful of the 14 former Soviet republics. The Ukraine depends on Russian natural gas, although it is self-sufficient in terms of electrical production, due to nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams. In 2005, was the seventh largest steel producer in the world. The Ukraine has a huge high-tech industrial base; they inherited much of this from the USSR. It includes electronics, armaments and space articles, most of which are still under State control. In the manufacturing sector the country produces metallurgical equipment, diesel locomotives, tractors and automobiles.

The Ukraine is one of the European countries with the highest consumption of energy, in proportion to its GDP, Ukraine consumes twice the amount of energy consumed in Germany. 45% of the energy produced in the country is through its nuclear power plants. The largest nuclear plant in Europe, the Nuclear power plant of Zaporijia, is located in Ukraine.

The issue of Russian gas
25% of the natural gas consumed in the country is produced in Ukraine, but about 35% comes from Russia and the remaining 40% of Central Asia through transit routes controlled by Russia. 85% of Russian gas is delivered to Western Europe via Ukraine. There is one of the core issues which divides the country and the capitalists between west and east. The great economic importance of Ukraine to European imperialism lies in the fact that it’s through Ukrainian pipe-lines almost all Russian gas supplies to Europe pass.

It was precisely to prevent the installation of more NATO military bases in Ukraine and in exchange for control of the Ukrainian pipelines that Russia has agreed to invest $15 billion in debt securities of the Government of Ukraine and reduce by about one-third the price that Naftogaz, Ukraine’s national energy company, pays for gas from Russian State-owned Gazprom, the largest exporter of natural gas on the planet. While the IMF and the European Union require a 40% increase in the price of gas and the de-valuation of the Ukrainian currency, the Grivna.

east westWith the Russian-Ukrainian agreement the EU will be more directly de-pendent on the Russian blue fuel without being able to use Ukrainian pipelines that distribute Russian gas to many nations, as a bargaining chip against Moscow.The economic crisis and the austerity policies of the imperialists pushed the Ukrainian bourgeoisie into the arms of Russia. Until the Lithuania Summit in November, Yanukovych seemed sincerely focused on closer ties with the EU. The turnaround came when he realized that the Ukraine, in the hands of the “Big Three” would go through an intermediate crisis like that suffered by Greece and Spain.

Yanukovych said he needed 160 billion dollars over three years to compensate for the reduction of trade with Russia and Ukraine to help deaden the pain of austerity reforms required by the EU. The EU had little room for manoeuvre, be-cause they couldn’t follow a different road, requiring compliance with the austerity plans by other members of the block and throwing a lifeline to Ukraine. That’s why the EU refused to give the amount required by the Ukrainian Government, offering only half of it.

The Ukraine doesn’t want to follow the path of Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland and Spain. The “reforms” required by the EU include the currency devaluation, the increase in energy prices for consumers, and cuts in salaries and pensions. The opening of its economy to competition from the west would break many industries Ukraine, especially in the east of the country.

The Ukraine is strongly divided between east and west. In the east is the Soviet-era heavy industry, industries that are threatened with going bankrupt if the wolves of imperialism are let loose on the Ukrainian economy. The New York Times reports: “this is how it works in Ukraine: the east makes money, and the west eats it”. This demonstrates the division; the WSWS reports: “A survey con-ducted by pro-EU European Centre for a Modern Ukraine recorded that only 13% of the population in the east of the country are supporting the protests against the Government, compared to 84% in the west. Yanukovych’s decision not to sign an association agreement with the EU, which was the impetus for the demonstrations, is rejected by most in the west, but supported by 70% in the east”.

Many of the protesters were wrong in the current economic crisis, induced to think that the EU would resolve their crisis, driven by the support given to them by Germany and the US in particular. It serves the economic interests of a few oligarchs who dominate politically Parliament and politics in Ukraine today. How-ever, a sufficient number of them fear Personal ruin if they accept the terms of the EU and remain in the opposition.The role of imperialism-vassal of Germany
The greatest imperialist economy in Western Europe, Germany, is a power exporter of capital to the rest of the planet, but militarily, even after the annexation of Eastern Germany, the country remains, since the end of World War II, a US military colony that hosts no less than 227 military bases and 50 thousand soldiers.

36% of the gas consumed in the country comes from Russia passing through Ukraine and the recolonisation of the latter by the EU would represent the liquidation of the Ukrainian industrial base and the dismissal of thousands of workers, destroying the main point of resistance to recolonisation of Ukraine.

The bourgeois interests of Germany are the spearhead of economic recolonisation of Ukraine. Also, the expansion of NATO to the east requires of imperialism take ownership of all the nuclear power, energy and Ukrainian space. In turn, a defeat of the imperialist interests in Ukraine can awaken the anti-imperialist democratic and anti-fascist struggle throughout the region and in particular in Poland and Austria.

Another openly pro-imperialist “revolution”
What we see today in Ukraine is a fraudulent pro-imperialist “revolution” like dozens of other contrived by the CIA during the cold war, in the processes of capitalist restoration of 1989-1991 and the “Arab spring”. The main claim of the “revolution” was the requirement that the country’s Government to sign a recolonisation agreement of “free trade” with the European Union.

The “popular movement” was triggered after the failure of the pressure exerted directly by the heads of the so-called “Big Three”, Merkel, Hollande and Cameron and the US threat to impose sanctions on the country if US “revolutions” directed by the CIA, the US Embassy, CEOs of multinational companies, NGOs, churches and neo-Nazi parties as the Svoboda (Freedom) which held the emblematic destruction of the monument to Lenin during the recent wave of pro-tests Ukrainian pro-EU [1].

While among organizations that claim to be revolutionary, the study of historical experience of proletarian revolutions of the 20th century is still something pre-dominantly amateur, within the intelligence services and military academies in the pay of big business tactics and the revolutionary strategy are subject to meticulous analysis. So much so that since the cold war imperialism has been improving its know-how in coups camouflaged as “revolutionary”.cbobodaThe first “pro-imperialist revolution” was orchestrated by the intelligence services of England and USA was in 1953 in Iran [2], with the overthrow of the democratically elected Government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh who had thwarted the imperialist interests of the multinational British Petroleum by nationalising it.

The behind-the-scenes description of the successful “Operation Ajax” is made by journalist Stephen Kinzer for the New York Times, in his book All the Shah’s men: An American coup and the roots of terror in the Middle East, he shows that “the CIA engineered a scenario that gives the impression of a popular revolt when in fact it is a covert operation. The highlight of the show was a demonstration in Tehran with eight thousand extras paid by the Agency in order to provide convincing photos the Western press,”(All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle east Terror, 2003).

Anti-imperialist tactic and long term strategy for the Ukraine
The Ukrainian industrial proletariat is the main bulwark against the recolonisation of the country in favour of a “Green Europe” with the spoils of the bureaucratised workers states, with Germany as the control tower of the interests of American imperialism.

How many times in history has capitalist economic crises put the issue of Ukrainian national aspirations on the agenda? The question returns again and again to play an important role on the arena of global class struggle. Here are combined elements of imperialist domination, anti worker and fascism, the anti-Communist eminence of a new imperialist war and a historical reckoning with the Stalinist anti worker policy disaster. On this last question, the greatest of all Ukrainian revolutionaries declared: “Toward the sections of the Ukraine now outside its frontiers, the Kremlin’s attitude today is the same as it is toward all oppressed nationalities, all colonies, and semi-colonies, i.e., small change in its international combinations with imperialist governments. (Leon Trotsky, the Ukrainian question, 2/4/1939)”.

Although the negotiation Putin-Yanukovych has benefited enormously the Ukraine with a reduction in the price of gas in relation to the Greek panorama which proposed the EU, the current Russian bourgeois Government uses much more to Ukraine as a bargaining chip than did the Stalinist bureaucracy in the past. And the current Ukrainian bourgeois Government, representative of regional oligarchies, appropriates part of the ad-vantage of reducing the energy costs that could benefit the people.

Even for democratic demagoguery of Putin in Russia, winter pre-Olympiads, the defeat of imperialism in this battle, cheered the struggle for democratic rights in Russia. However, the struggle for democratic rights in Russia, as it had been for a long time in the USSR, is not addressed by the Communist proletarian vanguard, is almost entirely deformed and influenced the politics of democratic reaction of Western imperialism. The first by-product of this new situation was the release of the members of the rock band Pussy Riot, activists from Greenpeace and the Russian oil Tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an ally of Western imperialism against Putin.

In this battle and the civil war that temporarily ebbed but that accentuate in the coming months, the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International (CLQI) believes that the only option for Ukraine is the struggle which combines the tactics of the Anti-Imperialist Front (AIUF) and the strategy of Permanent Revolution. So, join the methods and goals of permanent revolution in the struggle for national independence, i.e. Ukrainian self-determination against the European Union.

This fight is not about to align itself with the lesser of two evils, in the case with the Russian bourgeoisie, but to fight the greater evil, hegemonic imperialism across the globe. Therefore, tactically we’re with the proletariat of Eastern Ukrainian in a Anti-imperialist Front with the Yanukovych Government against the EU and its mercenaries and fascist agents.

But we denounce the Government of Yanukovych as bourgeois oligarch for having led the country to this situation by betting on a gradual plan of privatization and capitalist restoration. We demand the Government defends and restore the Soviet monuments, the statues of Lenin and the monuments that symbolize the victory of the proletariat over fascism, which now serve as inspiration against the imperialist resettlement already suffered by our Greeks, Irish, Italian, Polish and Spanish brothers and sisters.

The LCFI struggle for the construction of a Bolshevik-type party and inter-nationalist in Ukraine that has as its goals a new social revolution against the bourgeois oligarchies both pro-imperialist and pro-Russian. We fight for workers’ control and the Sovietisation of all the country’s economy, in particular the nuclear plants and alongside the tankers Ukrainians fought for control of exploration, gas production and distribution by the workers themselves, as well as the gas pipelines that the Government wants to deliver to the realm of Gazprom as part of the agreement with Putin.

Under the guidance of the most revolutionary of all Ukrainians, Leon Trotsky, we must fight the Ukrainian worker popu-lation to overcome all prejudices built up historically against communism thanks to bureaucratic centralization of Stalin on his country and that today are used by the fascist nationalism to seduce the masses in favour of imperialism. We are aware that in the words of Trotsky, but for the rape of Soviet Ukraine by the Stalinist bureaucracy there would be no Hitlerite Ukrainian policy. The Fourth International must clearly understand the enormous importance of the Ukrainian question in the fate not only of South-eastern and Eastern Europe but also of Europe as a whole. We are dealing with a people that has proved its viability, that is numerically equal to the population of France and occupies an exceptionally rich territory which, moreover, is of the highest strategical importance. The question of the fate of the Ukraine has been posed in its full scope. A clear and definite slogan is necessary that corresponds to the new situation. In my opinion there can be at the present time only one such slogan: A united, free and independent workers’ and peasants’ Soviet Ukraine. [3].

For us, the LCFI the program of independence of Ukraine at the time of imperialism is directly and inextricably linked to the programme of the proletarian revolution. The liberation of Ukraine from webs of bourgeois domination assumes the complete independence of the country in relation to the Russian bourgeoisie and the domestic fronts oligarchies of some large corporations block II. The real Ukrainian national independence can only be achieved through the fight for a Socialist and Soviet Ukraine as part of the struggle for a new Federation of Socialists and Soviet republics.

Notes
[1] In an interview reproduced on the site, a Ukrainian anarchist Freedom Journal describes how the Svoboda: Today, the main political force in the panorama of the extreme right in Ukraine is, undeniably, the Svoboda. If I had to provide some comparison, compare them with other right-wing parties present in Eastern Europe, as the Hungarian Jobbik party, with which I think the American listeners may be aware. There was a great scandal when a couple of years ago they received many votes in Hungary Svoboda is pretty much the same thing, is a political party that has its own design of a so-called “national” Constitution, which would bring a lot of horrible things, such as the death penalty for what they call “anti-Ukrainian” activities, without defini-tions of what are these “activities”. Basically, anything contrary to the spirit of that party could be considered “anti-Ukrainian”.

Today, in EuroMaidan, they are urging a political strike, but, in fact, what most people do not realize is that in their proposed the new Constitution Svoboda politics would make striking a criminal offence. The paradox is that they have become extremely popular among the educated liberal middle class of urban areas, especially in Kiev. So, today Kiev votes Svoboda, as the western regions of Ukraine make, why don’t they just say, “well, I don’t know what your program. I have not read anything about it, but they seem so hard, they’re good guys, and I’m sure that at least they would break the necks of the corrupt who are now in the ruling party.

This is of course a great reminiscence of his-torical situations in other countries in the 21st century. I don’t want to seem too panicked, but there are some similar features, because the middle class bourgeois people don’t see anything wrong with this. And, to some extent, they’re right, because, if the extreme right WINS across the country, these people will not feel any great difficulties in their lives. The main difficulties would be to the extreme left, against all the leftist parties and movements, and to ethnic minorities and to racial minorities.

But normal people don’t feel anything, at least for some time, and that’s the problem. Also another interesting fact about the Svoboda: they went through a rebranding and now they call themselves “freedom”. This is a generic word for the European right, but until 2005 or 2004, they called themselves Socialist National Party of Ukraine. [Transcriber’s note in original: in fact, the current leader of the Svoboda said that all Ukrainians must become Nazis]. http://www.diarioliberdade.org/mundo/antifascismo-e-anti-racismo/45455-ucr%C3%A2nia-anarquista-ucraniano-dissipa-mitos-que-cercam-os-protestos-do-euromaidan-e-alerta-sobre-a-influ%C3%AAnciafascista.html#.UuQqBaZLY6c.facebook

[2] http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operação_Ajax

[3] Leon Trotsky, Problem of the Ukraine (April 1939), http://www.marxists.org/archive/Voag-Logo-catapult2

SF Meeting
Speakers

Peter Banda, Acting GS General Industries Workers’ Union of South Africa (GIWUSA)
Shaheen Khan, chief co-ordinator, Bolshevik Study Circles (ex-RMG).
Latief Parker, Critique journal Editorial Board
Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the RCIT
Gerry Downing, Secretary Socialist Fight Group
Chair, Laurence Humphries, Socialist Fight CC
Shaheen Khan speaks of their work with the Workers and Socialist party (WASP )

“Some of our comrades in the North are members of WASP. Our relationship with WASP starts off with the work our comrades did in the mine workers strike of 2012.
Two of our comrades were part of the mine workers committee in Rustenburg and one in Carletonville, and other comrades regularly attended the WASP meetings in Johannesburg.
I have been asked to do Marxist classes with the youth in the Socialist Youth Movement as well as the National Transport Movement.
We have also hosted WASP in Potchefstroom where they addressed Civic and Youth groups. Our view generally is that we support the WASP in the forthcoming elections and will participate actively to promote a vote for the WASP.”Rebuild The Fourth International

SF Logo2As the situation in Ukraine worsens, the fascists become more violent, and the Crimea prepares to secede.

Meanwhile, the debate on the left is proceeding on drearily predictable lines. One side stresses the unarguably grim nature of Putin’s regime and plays down the [very] dark side of those it chooses to support, the other side does the same but the other way round. Both sides shamelessly cherry-pick such data as are to be had and are equally handicapped by knowing little or nothing about the region and even less about the EU. Rather than scooting off to do some work (read a book or two? perish the thought), name-calling becomes the order of the day and the discussion becomes increasingly sterile.

That said, there’s something odd about how everyone is banging on about Putin’s “invasion” of the Crimea without noticing one key point. By any reckoning, it’s a funny sort of invasion. Western incursions into e.g. Iraq typically involve the preliminary destruction of key targets in extensive (but “precision”) bombing of key cities, tens of thousands of troops crossing borders, columns of smoke over villages, pitiful streams of refugees, “collateral damage” and all the bizz. (It’s what you join the army for.)

All we had here was a few goons slipping out of the local barracks (handily, already sited in the “invaded” country), changing into scary uniforms c/w Halloween hats and standing outside the other side’s office looking very tough indeed. OK, it may have escalated a bit since then but not a single fatality can as yet, it seems, be blamed on the Russian military. What kind of invasion is that?

It occurs to me that the hysteria over Russian sabre-rattling is down less to the impact of military “atrocities” and more to the fact that there is little or nothing that the EU or the US can do about Russia’s not entirely unreasonable (and certainly predictable) defence of its interests. Sanctions? Forget it, the Germans would never wear/can’t afford them. Cut off the gas? Neither side wants that. Invade? C’mon. The EU/US axis has over-reached itself in its hubristic zeal to humiliate Moscow, itself a declining power. The Atlantic Powers are still smarting from their humiliation over Syria. And so on.

I wonder if the real risk is not that some dirty, face-saving deal will be struck, that the US will, as it usually does, declare a victory and leave and that the EU will pick up the tab for Ukraine’s unpaid bills and set about “liberalising” the economy (aka flogging off the silver and screwing the poor) to get its money back. Meanwhile, just as happened in the Balkans twenty-odd years ago, the fiasco has unleashed some very grim forces on both sides whose victims will be left to defend themselves with little by way of succour, the Eurocrats having scuttled back to Brussels and the US having found a new game to play. One has to hope that the Ukranian left is up to the challenge and that the western left does not move on with the same aplomb as its masters.enemy is at home

SF Logo2“Defeat imperialism and Nazism in Ukraine!
United Front with Putin, the devil and his grandmother!”

Statement by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International. 8/2/2014
“Defence against fascism is not an isolated thing. Fascism is only a cudgel in the hands of finance capital. The aim of the crushing of proletarian democracy is to raise the rate of exploitation of labor power. There lies an immense field for the united front of the proletariat: the struggle for daily bread, extended and sharpened, leads directly under present conditions to the struggle for workers’ control of production.” Leon Trotsky, The United Front for Defence, A Letter to a Social Democratic Worker, (February 1933), http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/germany/1933/330223.htm

A Nazi-dominated government
Make no mistake; the recent events in the Ukraine signal that the international proletariat faces the most serious threat to its organised existence since the dark days of February 1933 when Trotsky wrote these words. Look at what Wikipedia reveals of the nature of the Svoboda party:

“In 2004, (Svoboda) party leader Tyahnybok was expelled from the Our Ukraine parliamentary faction for a speech calling for Ukrainians to fight against a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” Svoboda advisor Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn established a “‘Joseph Goebbels Political Research Centre” in 2005, later changing “Joseph Goebbels” to “Ernst Jünger.” Mykhalchyshyn wrote a book in 2010 citing works by Nazi theorists Ernst Röhm, Gregor Strasser and Goebbels. Elsewhere Mykhalchyshyn referred to the Holocaust as a “period of Light in history”.” Svoboda (political party), From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VO_Svoboda

There are seven ministers from the far-right in the new Ukrainian government; Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Sych is from the neo-fascist Svoboda party. The World Jewish Congress has called for the EU to ban this party but the EU has no problem with fascists when needed to crush the working class. Immediately after the removal of President Viktor Yanukovych from power on Feb. 22, the Ukrainian Parliament repealed a controversial law passed in 2012 that allowed the use of “regional languages” – including Russian, Hungarian, Romanian and Tatar — in courts and certain government functions in areas of the country where such speakers constituted at least 10 percent of the population. This is a list of other t acts voted through the Ukrainian parliament by the Nazi-led government: 4201 – Bill to ban Ukrainian Communist Party activity. 4217 – Bill to redress antecedents of the Soviet occupation of Ukraine. 4176 – Bill to repeal law penalizing Nazi propaganda. 4184 – Bill to place V. Avakov as minister of the interior and members of “Right Sector” party on ministry staff (Avakov also belongs to the party which many consider fascist).4215 – Bill to establish a “Pantheon of national heroes.”4203 – Bill to curb state spending.4215 – Bill to pay tribute to participants in the clashes during peaceful demonstrations.4197 – Bill to place “Svoboda” party member Α.Mahnitskogo as Prosecutor General.4204 – Bill delineating the duties of the President of the Uraine.4191 – Bill to place “UDAR” party member V.A. Nalivaychenko as overseer of Ukrainian Security Agencies4211 – Bill to fire incumbent officers and personnel of security forces and replace them with new personnel (the latter are believed to be members of extreme right wing groups).

U.S. imperialism is more consistent in defending the interests of finance capital and therefore prefer fascism rather than just an alternative right-wing who are pro-European. But Workers Power thinks: “This was the result of the USA’s successful efforts to frustrate the plans of German imperialism and its Ukrainian client Vitali Klitschko, whose Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform received nothing in the anti-democratic distribution of spoils. The US imperialists would rather have “their” people in power – even if that means getting into bed with the fascists of Svoboda.” http://www.workerspower.co.uk/2014/03/ukraine-kyiv-regime-rules-under-fascist-whip/ Ukraine: Kyiv regime rules under fascist whip, http://www.workerspower.co.uk

It is no coincidence that since the Second World War, the U.S. assumed the role of policeman of the planet and supplanted Nazism in the art of keeping control of the planet for the finance capital. Learning and applying an opposite and symmetrical method of permanent revolution, we find that only after the dictatorship of the proletariat can it crush fascism, as the USSR did against Hitler. Capitalist “democracy” is unable to perform a consistent struggle against fascism, because when capitalism feels threatened sufficiently it resorts to fascism. As Trotsky observed: “Moreover, if it often impossible to make the army march against the people. It begins by disintegrating and ends with the passage of a large section of the soldiers over to the people’s side. That is why finance capital is obliged to create special armed bands, trained to fight the workers just as certain breeds of dog are trained to hunt game. The historic function of fascism is to smash the working class, destroy its organizations, and stifle political liberties when the capitalists find themselves unable to govern and dominate with the help of democratic machinery.” The collapse of bourgeois democracy, From Whither France? 1934

Anti imperialist and Anti fascist United Front
We are for an Anti imperialist and Anti fascist United Front with Russia and Ukrainian workers and for armed workers defence squads and permanent revolution to win the struggle. This means a united front without political support with Putin, with the Eastern oligarchs or with the devil and his grandmother to smash these “storm troopers of finance capital”.

If Russia invades to seize the east of the Ukraine, thereby smashing the fascist there the working class should form a united front with them, knowing that on the morrow they would have to fight their former allies and whatever government the Russians might install in the east as representatives of the oligarchs there who would then form a new alliance with western Imperialism.

Thus did Lenin form a temporary cease fire alliance with Kerensky against the main danger, the Kornilov coup attempt in August 30 (12 September) 1917. It was a change of tactics forced by events and here is how he explained it: “Even now we must not support Kerensky’s government. This is unprincipled. We may be asked: aren’t we going to fight against Kornilov? Of course we must! But this is not the same thing; there is a dividing line here, which is being stepped over by some Bolsheviks who fall into compromise and allow themselves to be carried away by the course of events.

We shall fight, we are fighting against Kornilov, just as Kerensky’s troops do, but we do not support Kerensky. On the contrary, we expose his weakness. There is the difference. It is rather a subtle difference, but it is highly essential and must not be forgotten.

What, then, constitutes our change of tactics after the Kornilov revolt?We are changing the form of our struggle against Kerensky. Without in the least relaxing our hostility towards him, without taking back a single word said against him, without renouncing the task of overthrowing him, we say that we must take into account the present situation. We shall not overthrow Kerensky right now. We shall approach the task of fighting against him in a different way, namely, we shall point out to the people (who are fighting against Kornilov) Kerensky’s weakness and vacillation. That has been done in the past as well. Now, however, it has become the all-important thing and this constitutes the change.” https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/aug/30.htm

Whilst we recognise that any Russian military invasion would be primarily aimed at securing the privileges of the Russian bourgeoisie, nevertheless it would be in opposition to the main enemy, Western Imperialist finance capital and their Nazi-front government. The working class should fight side by side with the Russian troops and their supporters in the East against the Nazi-led government in order to defeat them and all the better to prepare the overthrow of their temporary allies on the morrow just as Lenin did in September 1917. And it is not a question of supporting the “lesser evil” but one of tactical orientation to face the main danger. As Trotsky explained in December 1931:

“We Marxists regard Brüning and Hitler, Braun included, as component parts of one and the same system. The question as to which one of them is the “lesser evil” has no sense, for the system we are fighting against needs all these elements. But these elements are momentarily involved in conflicts with one another and the party of the proletariat must take advantage of these conflicts in the interest of the revolution. There are seven keys in the musical scale. The question as to which of these keys is “better” – do, re, or sol – is a nonsensical question. But the musician must know when to strike and what keys to strike. The abstract question of who is the lesser evil – Brüning or Hitler – is just as nonsensical. It is necessary to know which of these keys to strike. Is that clear? For the feeble-minded let us cite another example. When one of my enemies sets before me small daily portions of poison and the second, on the other hand, is about to shoot straight at me, then I will first knock the revolver out of the hand of my second enemy, for this gives me an opportunity to get rid of my first enemy. But that does not at all mean that the poison is a “lesser evil” in comparison with the revolver.” Leon Trotsky, For a Workers’ United Front Against Fascism (December 1931) http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/germany/1931/311208.htm

The working class in the Ukraine must defend all ethnic minorities, Tartars, Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Moldovans, Jews, etc. However we have no faith in Zionism to defend Jews here, as the Zionist leaders collaborated with Hitler during WWII the Zionist in the Ukraine are giving full support to the anti-Semitic coupists government. Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny met US Secretary of State John Kerry on 4 March and said; “The bulk of the Jewish community supports the protests…The protestors fought for freedom and democracy, for European values and standards.” The Jewish News 6 March 2014 P. 2

If Russia does invade their army will not attack the workers and revolutionaries will urge Ukrainian troops workers organisations to fraternise with the Russian troops. We fight for the solidarity of the Russian working class with the Ukrainian working class against the Nazi-dominated pro-Imperialist government.

Workers United Front or Popular Font?
“Ah” but some have objected, “yours is not a Workers’ United Front because it contains Russia and the Eastern Ukraine bourgeoisie, the corrupt oligarchs. This is not the Trotskyist a Workers’ United Front but the Stalinist unprincipled opportunist Popular Front you are proposing here.” Ukraine is not an imperialist country but a semi-colonial country which formed part of the degenerated workers state that was the USSR until its collapse in 1991. Its capitalist class emerged in alliance with Boris Yeltsin and US imperialism as corrupt oligarchs. However the emergence in 2000 of Putin as Russian President marked an assertion of the rights of the national bourgeoisie to retain more of the profits from the exploitation of the workers in Russia in opposition the dominance of Wall Street’s and its allies’ finance capital. A similar process, took place in the Ukraine with the conflict between Yushchenko and Yanukovych during the Orange Revolution of 2004 and then between Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko in 2010. Behind the conflicts of the oligarchs was the conflict between US/EU finance capital and the national bourgeoisie, a “semi-oppressed, semi-oppressing” class in the semi colonies, which Russia had then become. Therefore our tactics must be based not only on the Workers United Front but also on the Anti-Imperialist United Front as outlined by the Revolutionary Comintern at the Fourth Congress in 1922:

“The workers’ united front is the slogan advanced in the West during the transition period, characterised by the organised gathering of forces. Similarly in the colonial East at the present time the key slogan to advance is the anti-imperialist united front. Its expediency follows from the perspective of a long-drawn-out struggle with world imperialism that will demand the mobilisation of all revolutionary elements. This mobilisation is made all the more necessary by the tendency of the indigenous ruling classes to make compromises with foreign capital directed against the fundamental interests of the mass of the people. Just as in the West the slogan of the workers’ united front has helped and is still helping to expose the social democrats’ sell-out of proletarian interests, so the slogan of an anti-imperialist united front will help to expose the vacillations of the various bourgeois-nationalist groups. This slogan will also help the working masses to develop their revolutionary will and to increase their class consciousness; it will place them in the front ranks of those fighting not only imperialism, but the remnants of feudalism.” Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 5 December 1922, VI. The Anti-Imperialist United Front, https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/4th-congress/eastern-question.htm

But with the difference that today feudalism and its remnants are long gone and the working class in the more advanced semi-colonies are far more numerous, powerful and better organised than in Lenin’s or even Trotsky’s time. One only has to look at the TU federations in South Africa, Brazil, India or Egypt to appreciate this.

What type of Imperialism?
Nevertheless, as Trotsky explains: “We do not and never have put all wars on the same plane. Marx and Engels supported the revolutionary struggle of the Irish against Great Britain, of the Poles against the tsar, even though in these two nationalist wars the leaders were, for the most part, members of the bourgeoisie and even at times of the feudal aristocracy… at all events, Catholic reactionaries. …To speak of “revolutionary defeatism” in general, without distinguishing between exploiter and exploited countries, is to make a miserable caricature of Bolshevism and to put that caricature at the service of the imperialists.” Leon Trotsky, On the Sino-Japanese War, http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/10/sino.htm

”But at least you must concede that Russia is Imperialist” our critics object “Russia and China are Imperialists like the US, UK, France Germany and Japan surely?” They are not imperialist in the Marxist sense of the word, only in the sloppy sense of wanting to expand their sphere of influence, as Trotsky explains here in relation to the Former USSR in 1939:

“History has known the “imperialism” of the Roman state based on slave labor, the imperialism of feudal land-ownership, the imperialism of commercial and industrial capital, the imperialism of the Czarist monarchy, etc… However, in contemporary literature, at least Marxist literature, imperialism is understood to mean the expansionist policy of finance capital which has a very sharply defined economic content. To employ the term “imperialism” for the foreign policy of the Kremlin – without elucidating exactly what this signifies – means simply to identify the policy of the Bonapartist bureaucracy with the policy of monopolistic capitalism on the basis that both one and the other utilize military force for expansion. Such an identification, capable of sowing only confusion, is much more proper to petty-bourgeois democrats than to Marxists.” http://www.revolutionaryhistory.co.uk/state-cap/fourth-international/state-capitalism/again-and-once-more-again-on-the-nature-of-the-ussr.htm

Therefore we are not facing two imperialist blocs, the U.S. and EU, on one side, and the Eurasian bloc, Russia and China on the other. Russia is an immense bourgeois nation with military independence against Western imperialism, responsible for providing 30% of the gas to Europe, but the export of capital does not predominate over the export of goods (gas, weapons) in the Russian economy.

Beginning with the US/EU-sponsored attack on Yugoslavia in 1995 and 1999, Libya and Syria in 2011 and now in the Ukraine we are told by many on the far left that these are proxy inter-imperialist wars and so we must either support the pro-western Imperialist side fighting for “democracy” (which never comes) or we can take no side for the working class. This is in line with Marxist principles that we should be dual-defeatist in inter-Imperialist wars. But we cannot even fit it into that scenario, the best of these far left groups are third campists, the worst are unashamed supporters of their own ruling class. These are demoralised centrist forces who cannot see any alternative to ‘democratic’ Imperialism and now champion its every lie and every item of war propaganda in support of their regime change global offensive.

In 1916 Lenin provided a careful, 5-point definition of imperialism: “(1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.” Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, A POPULAR OUTLINE, http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/ch07.htm

Since he wrote that a number of things have changed. The results of two world wars and the collapse of the USSR in 1991 have led to the global dominance of the USA as the sole world superpower. The ‘Imperialism’ of Russia and China are substantially different; pre-imperialist may be a better term.

Imperialism today
Today London continues to top the list of the world’s leading financial centres, with New York close behind in second-place, according the latest edition of The Global Financial Centres Index. Sometimes referred to as Ny-Lon, these two cities have dominated global finance for the past couple of centuries.

Hong Kong and Singapore rank third and fourth, with Zurich in fifth place. Tokyo, Geneva, Boston, Seoul, and Frankfurt round out the top 10. Cities in the United States and Canada take the next seven spots, with Chicago in 11th, Toronto 12th, San Francisco 13th, Washington, D.C. 14th, Vancouver 15th, Montreal 16th, and Calgary 17th. Moscow is nowhere and its “imperialism” is so far from that of the US that there is just no comparison.

If we look at a few other economic and military statistics we find that all those countries that some on the left call Imperialist just do not figure in the top flight at all; they either have puny economic and military might, have no multi-national companies in the world’s top 2000, have no foreign military bases i.e. they cannot compete in all spheres with the USA and its close allies UK, France, Germany and Japan.

1. Top 2,000 multi-nationals We have abstracted these details from Forbes 2,000 top companies which gives a good indication of the balance of global economic forces: Of the top 2,000 firms in the world on 17 April 2013 the USA has 543, Japan 251, China 136, UK 95, France 64, South Korea 64, Canada 64, India 56, Germany 50, Switzerland 48, Hong Kong-China 46, Australia 42, Taiwan 41, Brazil 31, Italy 30, Russia 30, Spain 28, Holland 24, Sweden 23.

Banks and diversified financials still dominate the list, with a combined 469 (down 9 from last year) companies, thanks in large measure to their sales and asset totals. The next three biggest industries by membership are oil & gas (124 firms), materials (122 firms) and insurance (109 firms). [20]

When the list first appeared in 2004 the US had almost 1,000 on it, but that decline, whilst real, is offset by the dominant position of the US dollar as the world’s reserve trading currency enforced by its military might and by locating company HQs abroad to take advantage of small economies with very favourable corporate tax regimes from which profits are repatriated to the US. For instance Ireland’s 17 companies apparently place it in the same league as South Africa, Mexico and Saudi Arabia, a ridiculous comparison. In reality up to half of those companies are not really Irish at all except in name. Take its top company, Accenture plc, which is “engaged in providing management consulting, technology and outsourcing services”. It is 318th on the list with a market capitalisation of $53.34 Billion and is clearly a US trans national corporation.

2. Top Stock Exchanges Here are the statistic for the top ten stock exchanges ($US billions) 1. NYSE Euronext, United States/Europe, $14,085. 2. NASDAQ OMX Group, United States/Europe, $4,582. 3. Tokyo Stock Exchange, Japan $3,478. 4. London Stock Exchange, $3,396. 5. Hong Kong Sock Exchange, $2,831. 6. Shanghai Stock Exchange, $2,547. 7. TMX Group, Canada, $2,058. 8. Deutsche Börse, Germany, $1,486. 9. Australian Securities Exchange, $1,386. 10. Bombay Stock Exchange, $1,263. Note the two US stock exchanges are as big as the next eight combined.

3. Ranking by Gross Domestic Product The ranking of countries by Gross Domestic Product, this time the top 20: (Millions of $US), World $70,201,920. 1. United States $14,991,300, 2. China $7,203,784, 3. Japan $5,870,357. 4. Germany $3,604,061. 5. France $2,775,518. 6. Brazil $2,476,651. 7. United Kingdom, 2,429,184. 8. Italy $2,195,937. 9. India $1,897,608. 10 Russia $1,857,770. 11 Canada $1,736,869. 12. Australia $1,515,468. 13. Spain $1,478,206. 14. Mexico $1,155,206. 15. South Korea $1,116,247. 16. Indonesia $846,834. 17. Netherlands $836,823, 18. Turkey $774,983. 19. Switzerland $660,762. 20. Saudi Arabia $597,086.

Again the US, with its close allies Japan, France and the UK outstrip all others by a huge margin:
4. Biggest military Expenditure: The top 15 for military expenditure. ($US billions): 1. United States $682.0. 2. China $166.0. 3. Russia $90.7. 4. United Kingdom $60.8. 5. Japan $59.3. 6. France $58.9. 7. Saudi Arabia $56.7. 8. India $46.1. 9. Germany $45.8. 10. Italy $34.0. 11. Brazil $33.1. 12. South Korea $31.7. 13. Australia $26.2. 14. Canada $22.5. 15. Turkey $18.2. Note the US expenditure is equal to the combined total of all the other 14 on the list.

5. Fleets, aircraft carriers and military bases worldwide The US has five battleship fleets, the Second Fleet in the Atlantic, the Third Fleet in the Eastern Pacific, the Fifth Fleet in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean, the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and the Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific. No other nation gets a look in here. This is a list of the aircraft carriers in service in 2013: United States 10, Italy 2, United Kingdom, 1, France 1, Russia 1, Spain 1, India 1, Brazil 1, China 1 and Thailand 1.

6. The Transnational Institute reports on overseas military bases: Foreign military bases are found in more than 100 countries and territories. The US currently maintains a world-wide network of some 1000 military bases and installations (outside the US, 2,639 including US home bases in 1993). In addition, other NATO countries, such as France and the UK have a further 200 such military locations within the network of global military control. The biggest “host” countries are those that once lost a major war in which the US was involved. Germany, Italy, Japan and Korea are the four biggest ‘hosts’. France and the UK mainly have bases in the remains of their colonial empires. The UK is strong in the South Atlantic and around the Mediterranean; France is strong in the South Pacific and in Africa. Russia currently has six military facilities in former Soviet Republics and India has one in Tajikistan. China currently has no US-style overseas bases.

It is not sufficient to take just one index to determine whether a country is imperialist. For instance if we take GDP alone immediately the question of GDP per capita arises. It is the relationship between the nations that is the crucial question; is that nation oppressed by the big Imperialist powers or is its economy integrated into the world Imperialist structures to exploit other nations for the mutual benefit of both? These are sometimes called piggy-back Imperialist powers; they follow and penetrated markets opened up by the big powers. On all those indices Brazil, South Africa, and India are not Imperialist powers. Neither are Russia and China on the majority of them. Bur “how different is the relationship today between Russia and China to the world market and that of Russia in 1917, which Lenin was very sure was an imperialist power on the basis of economic statistics?” our critics ask.

In his Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism, the section on finance capital Lenin makes this differentiation which has enormously advanced since 1945. He points out that in 1910: “Together, these four countries (Britain, France, the USA and Germany) own 479,000 million francs, that is, nearly 80 per cent of the world’s finance capital. In one way or another, nearly the whole of the rest of the world is more or less the debtor to and tributary of these international banker countries, these four “pillars” of world finance capital.” http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/ch03.htm

What path for human liberation; hypocritical Christian morality or revolutionary Marxism?
It is not a question of supporting Assad or the Taliban or reactionary anti-Imperialist forces against their own working class or supporting women’s oppression at their hands. No, it is a question of fighting Imperialism and seeking its defeat. Of course it is true bourgeois nationalist regimes like that of Gaddafi in Libya or Assad in Syria would fight on behalf of Imperialism if it suited them. Remember the many favours Gaddafi did for the West; how can we forget that the terrible Tel al-Zaatar massacre during the Lebanese Civil War on August 12, 1976 was facilitated by Assad’s father Hafez al-Assad? And also fundamentalists fight on behalf of imperialism for instances in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, in Libya, and now in Syria. But when they are fighting against it as in Mali, Palestine and the Hezbollah in Lebanon we must be with them.

The question is, are they fighting for or against Imperialism right now? Principled Marxists must fight Imperialism alongside those who are fighting it right now to the point politically of forming an Anti-Imperialist United Front in practice, either by means of formal agreement if possible but at any rate politically against Imperialism and its proxies. We insist this is an absolute imperative for every revolutionary socialist. Imperialism imposes an anti-human mode of production on the entire planet that causes the alienation that is so oppressive that it distorts all human relationships everywhere, it causes great personal unhappiness and mental illness, it brings war and famine to humanity whose material recourses and technological advancement are such that every reasonable want and need of every human being on the planet could be satisfied right now if these were deployed in a rational and planned manner. And that is before the great leap in human wealth and culture a global planned economy would bring. Imperialism gives humanity a glimpse of what is possible only to deny its benefits to the great bulk of humanity and leave us contemplating the obscene spectacle of the greatest gap between the poor and the rich the world has ever known; the richest 1% of adults alone own 40% of global assets and the richest 10% of adults account for 85% of the world’s total wealth. In contrast, the bottom half of the world’s adult population own barely 1% of global wealth.

If we understand fully what imperialism is we must take the side of all anti-Imperialist fighters, not uncritically, not foolishly to risk their own lives or concede to them the mantle of socialism or communism or indeed any consistent anti-Imperialism at all. But in a principled manner to fight together to defeat the central enemy of all oppressed humanity in order to expose the inconsistencies of the existing leaders of the semi-colonial masses and TU bureaucratic misleaders everywhere and thereby lay the basis for a true revolutionary internationalist anti-Imperialism, a reforged Fourth International. This will strengthen the internationalism and fighting capacity of the working class in the semi-colonial countries as they see revolutionary forces in the metropolitan countries fighting on their behalf against their own imperialists. And it will encourage the working class in the metropolitan countries to reject their own imperialist rulers and embrace the common cause of workers’ internationalism. Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains!

And what does Imperialism do? We can do no better that to quote William Blum from Killing Hope to establish the main enemy beyond any doubt: “Post-cold war, New-World-Order time, it looks good for the MIIC (Military Intelligence Industrial complex) and their global partners in crime, the World Bank and the IMF. They’ve got their NAFTA and their GATT World Trade Organization. They’re dictating economic, political and social development all over the Third World and Eastern Europe. Moscow’s reaction to events anywhere is no longer a restraining consideration… Everything in sight is being deregulated and privatized. Capital prowls the globe with a ravenous freedom it hasn’t enjoyed since before World War I, operating free of friction, free of gravity. The world has been made safe for the transnational corporation.” “If you flip over the rock of American foreign policy of the past century, this is what crawls out; invasions, bombings, overthrowing governments, occupations, suppressing movements for social change, assassinating political leaders, perverting elections, manipulating labor unions, manufacturing “news”, death squads, torture, biological warfare, depleted uranium, drug trafficking, mercenaries… It is enough to give imperialism a bad name.” — William Blum, Killing Hope

We have comprehensively demonstrated that US-dominated finance capital Imperialism is the main threat to the entire working class and oppressed on the planet. There are, of course, secondary enemies in the national bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations but in all of politics and all ward and threats of war we must identify this main enemy and seek to baulk its projects and defeat its aims by whatever tactical alliance with the devil and his grandmother are necessary. Such is the Marxist programme for world revolution. enemy is at home

InjusticeThe Queen and Prince Charles are using their little-known power of veto over  new laws, according to Whitehall documents.

The Telegraph, January 2013.

At least 39 bills have been subject to Royal approval, with the senior royals using their power to consent or block new laws in areas such as higher education, paternity pay and child maintenance.

Internal Whitehall papers prepared by Cabinet Office lawyers show that on one occasion the Queen vetoed the Military Actions Against Iraq Bill in 1999, which aimed to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to parliament. She was also asked to consent to the Civil Partnership Act in 2004.

In the Whitehall document, which was released following a court order, the Parliamentary Counsel warns that if consent is not given by the royals “a major plank of the bill must be removed”.

Legal scholar John Kirkhope, who fought to access the papers following a freedom of information case, said the document revealed senior royals have “real influence and real power”. “There has been an implication that these prerogative powers are quaint and sweet but actually there is real influence and real power, and totally unaccountable,” he said.

The document also contains a warning to civil servants that obtaining consent can cause delays to legislation. Royal approval may even be needed for amendments to laws, it says. Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, which includes land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, said the findings showed the Royals “are playing an active role in the democratic process”. He called for greater transparency in order to evaluate whether the powers were “appropriate.” “This is opening the eyes of those who believe the Queen only has a  ceremonial role,” he said.

“It shows the royals are playing an active role in the democratic process   and we need greater transparency in parliament so we can be fully appraised   of whether these powers of influence and veto are really appropriate. At any stage this issue could come up and surprise us and we could find parliament is less powerful than we thought it was.”

The power of veto has been used by Prince Charles on more than 12 government bills since 2005 on issues covering gambling to the Olympics.Voag-Logo-34

Dont Get fooled Again: As the Western power’s, opposition steps up pressure on Ukrainian regime

WSWS.Org, 31 January 2014 
In a further step to force Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych out of office, the right-wing opposition parties—the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms (UDAR), Homeland, and the neo-fascist Svoboda—turned down the president’s offer of a political amnesty for anti-government demonstrators arrested during the past two months of protests in Kiev’s Independence Square.

Yanukovych had reportedly bullied deputies of his Party of the Regions Wednesday evening to vote in favour of the amnesty. The opposition immediately rejected the amnesty on the grounds that the government had made the law conditional on demonstrators quitting the government buildings they have occupied and dismantling the barricades set up in the middle of the city. On Thursday, Yanukovych was promptly declared sick and freed from public duties for an unspecified period.

At the weekend, Vitali Klitschko, the leader of UDAR, which was formed in close collaboration with Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, had already dismissed the resignation of the Ukrainian prime minister as a “small step” and called for demonstrations against the government to continue. Following his dismissal of Yanukovych’s latest concession, Klitschko gave an interview to the German Bild newspaper calling for the EU to impose sanctions on Yanukovych and his government.

Klitschko’s call for sanctions against members of the Yanukovych regime was taken up by the president of the Greens in the European Parliament, Rebecca Harms, who gave an interview to German radio on Tuesday. Harms declared that serious preparations for sanctions should be undertaken by “countries such as Germany, Austria or the Netherlands,” where companies attached to Yanukovych and his “family” of associates were active.

Klitschko’s call for no let-up in the campaign against Yanukovych was backed by the leader of the Homeland party, former Foreign Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Yatsenyuk told reporters that the patron of Homeland, oligarch and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, had personally appealed to protesters to keep fighting.

“If you stop now, without having obtained a complete victory, then all victims are betrayed,” she declared from her prison cell.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also kept up pressure on Yanukovych, travelling to Kiev directly after Tuesday’s EU-Russia summit in Brussels. In Kiev, she met with representatives of the opposition, appealed for an end to violence and expressed her concern about reports of demonstrators reported missing.

The European and German campaign against Yanukovych and his main political ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, was combined with a renewed offensive by the US State Department. Washington has already announced travel sanctions against selected members of the Ukrainian government. Reuters cited US congressional aides Wednesday who said that the Obama administration was preparing additional financial sanctions in the event that state forces move against demonstrators.

In mid-January, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled “Implications of the Crisis in Ukraine.” Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, who travelled to Kiev to personally support demonstrators, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Melia addressed the meeting, stressing the strategic significance of Ukraine.

Nuland noted that the fate of Ukraine was critical not only because it lay “at the center of Europe,” but also because it was a “valued” and “important” partner to the United States.

In his report to the meeting, Melia announced that the US had “invested” over $5 billion in Ukraine since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, with $815 million of this total going directly to pro-US NGOs. Melia also reported that, since 2009, the Obama administration had donated $184 million to various programs aimed at implementing political change in Ukraine.

Both Nuland and Melia underlined that the “US stands with the Ukrainian people in solidarity in their struggle for fundamental human rights”. Their comments were supplemented by a report by former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who wrote many years ago of the central importance of Ukraine on the Eurasian chess board.

Against the background of intense US discussions on the future of Ukraine, the announcement this week by US media sources that Russia has tested a new ground-launched cruise missile, in violation of a 1987 treaty banning such missiles, is hardly a coincidence.

In a further development, the US rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S & P) downgraded Ukraine’s creditworthiness this week, thereby raising the interest rates the country has to pay on its debts.

Ukraine will figure high on the agenda at the annual Munich Security Conference, which begins in the southern German city on Friday. Attending the conference are US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Both men have publicly criticised the Ukrainian and Russian governments in the past few weeks.

The intense campaign of political pressure from Europe and the US has led key backers of the Yanukovych regime, in particular the country’s richest man, Rimat Akhmetov, to consider changing sides. Akhmetov made his fortune plundering state-owned property in the 1990s during the first regime led by the current president.

The Guardian newspaper quotes sources declaring that while Akhmetov may take a “short-term hit,” a deal with the EU was preferable for his long-term “bottom line”. The paper quotes a foreign diplomat who declares, “The oligarchs may not care so much about ‘European values’ but they see ‘European value’.”

Exposing the essentially reactionary nature of the Kiev protests, Vadim Karasiov, an adviser to Former President Viktor Yushchenko and director of a Kiev think tank, said: “The protests are financed by oligarchs. Today they don’t want Putin or the customs union and they are scared of the Family… If Putin and the customs union win, then power is in the hands of the Family (i.e., Yanukovych).”

The 2004 Orange Revolution, which was primarily sponsored by the US State Department, led to the replacement of the first Yanukovych government by the oligarch regime of Tymoshenko and Yuschenko.

The duo rapidly plunged the country into chaos when they commenced the further enrichment of Tymoshenko and her affiliated oligarchs. Now at the behest of western powers the regime of Yanukovych and his cronies is being pressured out of office to make way for a new regime of oligarchs more aligned with Western strategic interests.Voag-Logo-Darker

Grass Roots Rank and File Launch Conference.

Saturday 12 April 2014. 12pm
Comfort Inn, Opposite New St Station,

Station Street,

Birmingham. B5 4DY.

Following the successful meeting of the Grass Roots Left National Committee in Birmingham on 18 January the launch conference of the new Grass Roots Rank and File now looks to be on a far healthier basis than was feared when Socialist Fight supporters had been reduced to a minority of two in defence of the Constitution and Platform of the GRL as the basis for the new organisation at the AGM of 9 November. Between the two meetings the SWP had split at its December conference and the new organisation, now called the Revolutionary Socialists of the 21st Century, took the majority of the Unite the union faction who had supported Jerry Hicks for general secretary twice. Both the SWP and the SR21C attended the GRL NC and as they were now rivals they sought to accentuate their leftism. It seems now that the new joint Rank and File organisation will be open and democratic and be based on a platform and constitution at least similar to the old GRL one. Both Workers Power and Socialist Resistance had to reverse themselves and now say that standing on Jerry Hicks election points really was minimalist and not enough and they abandoned their charges of ultra leftism against SF. The SWP, of course, continues its opportunist tailending of all the other the TU bureaucracies as Laurence Humphries’s report on the Unite the Resistance conference on page 30 makes clear. In the meantime we hear that fusion discussions between Unite and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), whose Executive is dominated by the SP/CWI, are going to succeed because the government will withdraw check-off facilities from the PCS and so probably bankrupt it. The SP has already approached the United Left, the Unite bureaucracy’s mouthpiece, to ensure that they become ensconced as that bureaucracy’s footstools as well as for the RMT’s Bob Crow.grass-roots-RandF

SF Logo2The Marxist theory of the state:
Deformed and Degenerated Workers’ States and Capitalist States

From Socialist Fight (British Section, Liaison Committee for the Fourth International) 
The post WWII debate in the Fourth International of the late 1940s and early 1950s on the class character of the ‘Buffer States’ in Eastern Europe was resurrected in 1989-92 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR following the Yanayev coup and Yeltsin’s counter-coup of August 1991. We will see from the struggles we have outlined below that the Stalinist bureaucracies became divided into three camps following the defeat of the Brezhnevites by Gorbachev in 1989; those Gorbechevites on the left who wished to retain the degenerate and deformed workers’ states by opening up the economic plan by glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring), those in the middle (Yanayev and Deng in China) who sought the restoration of capitalism by slow, planned measures, maintaining the Stalinist bureaucracy as the vehicle of restoration and those on the right like Yeltsin who sought a rapid capitulation to western Imperialism and their own enrichment by plundering the state assets in alliance with western transnational corporations. We can observe at least elements of these three tendencies in most of the counter-revolutionary overturns of 1989-92.

The first debate on the nature of the East European countries behind the ‘iron curtain’ in the FI in the late 1940s eventually resulted in the correct conclusion that they were deformed workers’ states, but much confusion remained. We will look at the position again as it emerged in the debate over the class character of Cuba in the early 1960s and the debate about the class character of Cambodia in the late 1970s following the invasion by Vietnam on 25 December 1978. And of course, as we have mentioned, the debate following the victory of the counter-revolutionary restoration of capitalism in Eastern European and Asian states in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Continue reading

Syria, the labour movement and the global working class:  The VOAG speaks to Gerry Downing

Opposition forces battling Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria now number around 100,000 fighters, but after more than two years of fighting they are fragmented into as many as 1,000 bands. According to Russia Today, a new study by IHS Jane’s, a defence consultancy, estimates there are around 10,000 foreign jihadists fighting for powerful factions linked to al-Qaeda. Another 30,000 to 35,000 hard-line Islamists who share much of the outlook of the jihadists, but are focused purely on the Syrian war rather than a wider international struggle, and there are at least a further 30,000 islamists belonging to other groups. Only a small minority of the rebels are linked to secular or purely nationalist groups.

The VOAG spoke to Jerry Downing of Socialist Fight and asked: “What is the correct position to take on the Syria question”

GD: “Within the labour movement internationally – that is amongst the various groupings that purport to represent the interests of the working class, stretching from mass reformist bourgeois workers parties to the centrist groups of the far left – there are five basic positions on the war in Syria, with some crossover between categories, i.e. some groups straddle two positions. 1. Arm the rebels and bomb Assad. This is the straightforward Imperialist position which seeks to defend and advance the war plans of Western Imperialism in the Middle East and North Africa. These are the right wing Labour leaders and Social Democracy internationally with their associated right wing trade union leaders, from Miliband in Britain to Françoise Holland in France. 2. Arm the rebels but don’t bomb Assad. This grouping includes many leftists in the Labour Party and Social Democracy internationally, some Communist/Stalinist groups and the SWP/IST, the ISO (US), Workers Power, the RCIT, the LCC, the LIT and many others. 3. Don’t arm the rebels and don’t bomb Assad – the third campist position. This grouping contains the Socialist Party/CWI, Socialist Appeal/IMT, the ICL/IBT/IG(LFI) (the ‘Spart’ family) and the AWL and others. The AWL manages to be both in group 1 and group 3 at the same time because of the obvious implication of the “Assad is the main enemy” position. It depends on who’s writing the article. 4. Uncritical or mildly critical support for Assad against Imperialist attacks and against the rebels. This group includes the majority of the Maoists, Marxist Leninists and bourgeois nationalists internationally, together with some other communist parties and the Workers Revolutionary Party of Britain and its ICFI. It also includes the RCG/FRFI. 5. The Anti Imperialist United Front, for the defeat of the rebels and Imperialism whilst giving no political support to Assad against the Syrian working class. The genuine Trotskyist position as developed by Lenin and Trotsky. Defended by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International and other groups and individuals internationally”.

VOAG: “for the defeat of the rebels and Imperialism whilst giving no political support to Assad against the Syrian working class” what does this mean in practice?”

GD: “It means that you are for the victory of the Syrian National Army over the rebels and Imperialism and you would work for that politically and in whatever practical way you could. But you would not seek to hide the crimes of Assad against the working class and his and his father’s previous history of collaborating with Zionism and the US against the Palestinians, for instance. You would prepare for his overthrown at a later stage by the organised working class. But right now the main enemy is Imperialism and its allies and proxies in Syria”.

VOAG: “So what is the Anti-Imperialist united Front?”

GD: “It was the name of the tactic developed by the revolutionary Comintern in 1920. It is true that Stalinism has degraded it to a two stage theory of uncritical support for bourgeois nationalists fakers over the years. But the original theses is still applicable and revolutionary. US Imperialism is the enemy of every person on the planet, even the capitalists who back it unequivocally”.

“The great majority of Syrians support Assad because the reactionary character of the rebels is clear and the fate that will befall secular Syria in regards women’s rights, trade unions and workers rights etc if the rebels win. You must be unequivocally for the defeat of Imperialism and its proxies. This is what will both strengthen the working class in Syria and the working class in the Imperialist countries and what we must work for right now. And concession to third campism or seeking to make Assad the equal enemy is reactionary and very wrong.

Of course Assad is an enemy of the Syrian and global working class, but right now he is a secondary enemy and the Anti-Imperialist United Front means a temporary alliance with him today against Imperialism and its proxies, the main and immediately threatening enemy, in order to prepare for his overthrow by the revolutionary working class after the defeat of Imperialism. Such revolutionaries as exist in Syria must have that as their goal, maintaining their political independence in this way”.

VOAG: “Can you elaborate on the Third Campist attitudes?”

GD: “The IBT has a third campist Shachtmanite position on Syria with their slogan: ‘Syrian workers have no side in civil war between Baathists and Islamists’.”

“The Sparts also take a clearly Shachtmanite position, “Neither Damascus nor Washington but the socialist revolution!” It is a “sectarian-communal war they say”. ‘The dire situation in Syria today, and throughout North Africa and the Middle East, emerged from the collapse of Stalinism and Arab nationalism, which opened the way for religious fundamentalism and sectarian/communal conflicts, often exploited by imperialism’ they wrote on their website”.

“All the Spart family propaganda is in the Effilite tradition, as Trotsky lampooned: ‘The only salvation of the workers and peasants of China is to struggle independently against the two armies, against the Chinese army in the same manner as against the Japanese army. These four lines, taken from an Eiffelite document of September 10, 1937, suffice entirely for us to say: we are concerned here with either real traitors or complete imbeciles. But imbecility, raised to this degree, is equal to treason’.”

“The truth of the matter is there is no revolution, there was a brief spring where legitimate protests began against Assad but the Saudi, Qatar and jihadist gunmen intervened within hours. Assad was Imperialism’s ally in the region, until they realised they had better allies in prospect and a chance of seizing control of the whole country so Obama, Cameron and Holland called it a “revolution” more in hope than in strong expectation that they would fool anyone and, to their absolute astonishment, not only their pliant mass media began parroting the lie but some who call themselves far left and even Trotskyists also began parroting the Imperialist lie. You would have thought that only a complete fool would think that the three strongest Imperialist powers in the planet would fund and organise via the CIA a genuine revolution, but up steps Workers, Power, the USFI, the RCIT, the LIT to name but a few, who swallowed it whole and regurgitate this vomit for their gullible members and supporters”.

The VOAG would like to thank Gerry Downing and the Socialist Fight group, British section of the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International. http://socialistfight.com/The Voag