Tag Archive: riots


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

2011 August Uprising One Year On –
The VOAG reviews the RKOB’s analysis

Marking the anniversary of the 2011 August uprising, The VOAG has received with interest a series of documents from the RKOB (Revolutionary Communist Organisation for Liberation).  The Austrian RKOB originated as a left wing split from the LFI (League for the Fifth International), and has since founded the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency of which it is the Austrian section.

The VOAG would like to thank the RKOB for coming over to Britain in solidarity with the workers and youth who bravely fought Street battles against the police in defiance of austerity, unemployment, police harassment and oppression.

The VOAG would like to applaud the RKOB for its internationalism and sincerity. Whilst the RKOB sent a delegation from Austria, many Trotskyist groups based in London were no where to be seen on the streets of London. Left wing groups in Britain, as the RKOB have pointed out, limited themselves to standing on the sidelines, issuing impotent statements of half hearted sympathy and understanding toward the workers and youth. Many within the Labour movement even condemned the communities that participated in the resistance, labeling them rioters.

The VOAG also congratulates the RKOB on its forthright analysis of those August Days and the attitudes of the British labour movement toward them. (4) The uprising was a test which the labour movement universally failed. The RKOB asked the question “What Would A Revolutionary Organisation Have Done” (3) The RKOB says a revolutionary party would:  “have criticised all those reformist and centrist forces which restrict themselves to merely explain[ing] why the poor and oppressed take to the streets,(…) or who only call for abstract solidarity without raising a finger for practical participation and support for the uprising.”

A revolutionary organisation would have visited the communities, distributed propaganda, and directed those involved in the uprising, as much as was possible, away from targeting small shops and personal property and towards multinational chain stores, police stations and barricades. How embarrassing, how utterly shameful that this work had to be done by a group based in Austria, whilst so called revolutionaries in London stayed at home, ignoring historical opportunities to make connections with working class youth and their  communities.

As a member of the LFI –known in Britain as Workers Power, (since expelled for being working class and left-wing) I was amazed at the attitude of my own organization toward the protests. The RKOB correctly criticises Workers Power for not participating in the uprising, even though its annual international youth camp was taking place only two miles away from some of the protests.

The VOAG agrees with the RKOB’s characterisation of the uprising and its conclusion that the lower working classes are central to the struggles to come. The VOAG echoes the RKOB’s criticisms of groups like Workers Power  for being petty-bourgeois and for turning their back on the poorer, oppressed layers of the working class, in favour of the labour aristocracy and organised workers.

However The VOAG considers the RKOB has strayed too far in the opposite direction. It puts too much emphasis on the youth and the poorer, more oppressed sections of the working class. It is true that: “ after the mass protests of the youth in the education sector and the strikes of the trade unions, the lower strata of the working class and migrants have now entered the battlefield of class struggle with their uprising”. (1)

And further: “It is precisely the poorer, the lower, the oppressed layers of the working class – including the young, the racially and nationally oppressed layers – that are often ready to resist against the massive oppression and exploitation. And this part of the working class constitutes the largest mass, the heart of our class. How absurd is – given the present development – the theory of the League for the Fifth International that the labour aristocracy constitutes the core layer of the working class (at least in imperialist countries like the UK). In fact, this part of our class is – as Lenin put it – “the craft-union, narrow-minded, selfish, case-hardened, covetous, and petty-bourgeois “labour aristocracy”, imperialist-minded, and imperialist-corrupted, (…). That is incontestable. In contrast to the false assumption of LFI, the oppressed, the lower layers of the working class can play a central role in taking the class struggle against capitalist oppression on to the streets. This is what we see today in Great Britain.”(1)

However, the corollary of the petty-bourgeois tendencies of the labour aristocracy and trades unions is the alienation and lack of leadership of the unorganised precariate, youth and unemployed. Like it or not only the organised labour movement – however aristocratic- as expressed through the unions, has the ability, organisation and wherewithal to mount effective strike action and economic resistance to capitalism.  It still comes down to who has the economic power in society. And it is they, the organised labour movement, in their aristocratic unions – with their ability to withdraw their labour in a general strike – that hold the power in society.

Whilst the poorer and oppressed layers of the working class can provide a vital push from below, the organised labour movement can give their resistance organisation and economic clout.  Both these categories of the working class have positive and progressive features as well as negative and reactionary features.

The RKOB writes: “it confirmed to us how serious the political mistakes of the unions are not to organize lower layers of the workers en mass”: These aren’t mistakes. The Trades Union bureaucracy wants nothing to do with the lower working class. The bureaucracy is implacably opposed to the radicalisation that would surely follow a serious recruitment drive among the precariate, unemployed and poor.

For this reason the VOAG agrees with the RKOB when it: “advocates that the labour movement organises the most oppressed layers.“  (2) That we need a: “revolutionary Workers International with nationally rooted combat parties…based on the working class and in particular the lower and middle strata.” (5) And that our goal must be: “an indefinite general strike in connection with the organising of youth uprisings”.(2)

 Workers Power, who along with other pretendy trot groups, have clearly chosen petty-bourgeois and labour aristocratic forces over the precariate, youth and unemployed. We as Marxists choose scientific socialism. We make objective assessments of how the class struggle is playing itself out, based on an analysis of the constantly shifting interplay of class forces. We don’t seek to subjectively counter pose one force against another; we seek a revolutionary alliance of these forces.

Note:  The VOAG broadly agrees with the RKOB’s analysis. However – No.4: Five Days That Shook Britain is an excellent document that summarises the attitudes and positions of a number of left groups toward the uprising. If you decide to read any of the original documents linked below, The VOAG recommends you definitely read this one.

  1. These Are Not Riots – RCIT 10-08-2011
  2. The August Uprising Report Of The RKOB Delegation – RCIT 13-08-11
  3. What Would A Revolutionary Organisation Have Done – RCIT 18-08-11
  4. Five Days That Shook Britain – RCIT 01-09-11
  5. On The Anniversary Of The August Uprising – RCIT 07-08-12
    Revolutionary Communist Organisation for Liberation (RKOB)

Where is the LFI drifting?

In April 2011, a left-wing faction in the LFI, the  Bolshevik Opposition, was bureaucraticaly expelled from the League for the Fifth International.  The majority of the faction were members of the Austrian Section, who went on to form the RKOB (Revolutionary Communist Organisation) – and recently founded a new international, the RCIT (Revolutionary Communist International Tendency).

The VOAG recieved a copy of  an open letter to all present and former comrades of  the LFI (published below). Whilst the VOAG doesn’t agree with everything in the letter, we support its general line and are in total accord with the specific criticisms levelled at Workers Power.

The VOAG is preparing a reply to the letter, which will appear on the blog shortly, but in the meantime, we have taken the step to publish this letter in full because it echoes so closely our own criticisms.

A Letter from the RCIT (Revolutionary Communist International Tendency) to the LFI comrades, 11.5.2012

Dear comrades of the LFI,
We address you in this letter because several of our cadre were member
of the LFI until recently. In the last 12 months we have seen divisions,
expulsion and splits in the League for the Fifth International. In April
2011 five cadres from the Austrian section, who have formed the
“Bolshevik Opposition” faction, were bureaucratically expelled by the
LFI’s IEC majority. Amongst them were two members of the International
Executive Committee (IEC) and three members of the leadership of the
youth organisation REVOLUTION in Austria. Around this time a Tamil
comrade from the central leadership of the Sri Lanka section,
responsible for the union work amongst the plantation workers, resigned
too. And several months later a number of members from the Pakistani
section (including a Central Committee member), who had formed the
“Left Opposition” faction, left the LFI. Together with other comrades
we have joined forces and formed — also with former LFI members in the
USA — an international organisation, the Revolutionary Communist
International Tendency (RCIT).

Politically our origin is in the struggle against the LFI’s majority
opportunist adaption towards the union bureaucracy, the reformist and
centrist left and its lack of orientation towards workers and nationally
oppressed.

However shortly after these expulsion and splits the LFI majority split
itself. Recently a number of members resigned from the LFI, amongst them
4 IEC members, central leaders from the British section and the central
leader of the Austrian respectively the Czech section. They are a
right-wing centrist, liquidationist split reflecting the pressure of the
progressive petty-bourgeois strata at the universities and in the
occupation movement.

So as a result, all in all in the last 12 month the LFI has lost half of
its IEC members and — since the congress in summer 2010 — up to 1/3 of
its total membership.

What are the main issues of this letter?
In this letter we point out that:
1. It is the duty of Marxists to make clear which class character
political forces have. The leadership of the LFI has /NOT/ made clear
which class character the liquidationist, petty bourgeois split has.

2. This happens because of the adaption from the leadership of the LFI
towards the petty-bourgeois milieu! In the united front Anticapitalist
initiatives projects which WPB joined they don’t have a sharp
revolutionary profile and are very soft in criticizing centrist forces
or don’t criticise them at all in public. They are even talking about
the “revolutionary left” when they mean the centrist left.

3. The LFI itself is in its composition dominated by activists coming
from petty bourgeois/intellectual layers or the upper strata of the
working class since many years. It has a massive lack of workers from
the broad mass of the proletariat and from the oppressed.

4. Therefore its political degeneration into centrism is related to the
reluctance over years to correct the bad class composition of the LFI.
The organisation has developed an opportunist approach towards the
politics of libertarian and other petty-bourgeois forces!

5. We characterise the reluctance to win workers and oppressed in deeds
(not only as promises and intentions) as part of the problem of
“aristocratism” that goes hand in hand with the opportunism. It means
the orientation to aristocratic layers and the accommodation to various
positions and prejudices of the labour aristocracy.

6. One expression of this was the rejection of the slogan “/For a
Socialist Tamil Eelam/” in Sri Lanka. It was a consequence of
accommodation towards prejudices amongst the petty-bourgeois
intellectuals and the aristocratic layers in the working class. We as
RCIT are demanding not only a Socialist Tamil Eelam but also an “Azad,
Socialist Kashmir” and an “Azad, Socialist Baluchistan” in Pakistan.

7. We sharply critisise the LFI leadership for pushing the organisation
to refuse participate in the August Uprising of tens of thousands of
working class youth in Britain in summer 2011. This was criminal
especially because it happened in London at the same time as the REVO
summer camp, where many comrades from the LFI and REVOLUTION came
together. Active participation was rejected by the leaders of the LFI
and they didn’t even sent a delegation of members to be in the
proletarian districts where the uprisings happened during the nights.
They rather preferred to have a summer camp with the slogan “summer,
sun, socialism” (this was the headline of their report) where the
focus was on discussions and drinking instead of being part of the class
struggle on the burning streets of London. It is a joke to agitate once
or twice in the proletarian districts during the day and to hide in the
camp by night when the uprising takes place. Such a leadership is not
capable to lead sections in semi colonial countries with sharp state
oppression. It demonstrated a lack of revolutionary audacity. This was
centrism in deeds and a betrayal of revolutionary principles.

8. Comrades, mistakes can happen, even grave mistakes can happen. But
the worst thing is not to make mistakes, but to fail in recognising
them, not to learn from them and not to make the necessary sharp
corrections.

9. The LFI has undertaken a sharp centrist degeneration. It is no wonder
that the LFI has shrunken massively.

10. We call all members of the LFI to break with the policy of centrist
degeneration which is dominating now the LFI. Comrades, correct these
fatal mistakes! Reorient the LFI towards the workers and oppressed!

Why did this happen?
Let us see how the LFI leadership characterises the split of the
right-wing liquidationists around Luke Cooper, Simon Hardy (both from
Britain), Roman Riedl (Austria) and Martin Mikula (Czech Republic). In
its Statement on Resignations from the British Section of the League
from 28.4.2012, the International Secretariat (IS) of the LFI correctly
criticises the right-wing splitters for their rejection of democratic
centralism and the need for a programmatically homogenous organisation.
The IS states: “Their argument was simply copied wholesale from the
quasi-libertarian critiques of Leninism and Trotskyism presently
fashionable on the English-speaking left.”  The IS also describes their
views: “The majority correctly characterised these proposals as
liquidationist, both in the political sense, in terms of dissolving our
programme and principles, and the organisational sense, in terms of
dissolving our tendency.”

It is however characteristic that the IS, while describing correctly
several features of this right-wing split fails to go beyond such a
description and to give it a clear political class characterisation.
As a result it fails to analyse, characterise and understand the context
of this split.

We characterise the group around Cooper, Hardy, Riedl and Mikula as a
right-wing, liquidationist split. As all political tendencies and
phenomena in a class society it has a class character. As Marxists we
have to point out what sort of class character the liquidationist split
has. It is a petty-bourgeois, extreme right-centrist current. It
reflects their capitulation towards the pressure of the progressive
petty-bourgeois layers (dominated by university students and (pseudo-)
intellectuals) who have an important influence in the occupation
movement and amongst the left-wing university milieu.

Adaption towards the petty-bourgeois milieu
However the LFI leadership does not give a clear class character of the
split and indeed is even incapable to understand the need of it. Why?
Firstly because it would force them to rethink their own orientation
since it orientates itself to the same petty-bourgeois milieu since
years as the right-wing liquidationists are doing. Secondly because it
would force them to ask themselves how it could happen that a
significant sector of its leadership and membership openly repudiates
Leninism and Trotskyism. And thirdly they would have to ask themselves
why the same leaders with whom together they enthusiastically expelled
future RCIT cadre in April 2011, why these same people desert the
organisation and Trotskyism only 12 month later (after they had started
in Britain an internal campaign for their liquidationist views for at
least half a year)!

For us in the RCIT this development is not surprising and only the
logical consequence of the process of centrist degeneration which the
LFI unfortunately has undergone in the recent past. Already in late 2009
today RCIT cadres who at that time had the majority in the Austrian
LFI section fought against the liquidationist tendencies which
comrade Riedl and others showed during the intervention in a mass
university strike in Austria. They rejected our proposals to intervene
openly as members of the LFI and they refused to publicly criticise the
wrong policy of the centrists and the left-reformist and libertarian
forces which provided the leadership of the movement. Similarly we
fought against the “new discoveries” of Riedl and others in 2010 that
the IMT (Grant, Woods, Lal Khan) and centrism as such “are a current of
Marxism”, albeit not a revolutionary one. And we emphasised against
Riedl and others that the reformist bureaucracy does not betray the
workers because of their “wrong ideologies and lack of understanding”.
This is a false, idealistic explain. As Marxists we say it happens
because as bureaucrats they have a material interest in controlling and
pacifying the working class, they are corrupted and they are therefore
also linked with the capitalist state and class.

These internal struggles dealt with questions touching the principles of
Marxism, in particular the relationship between the revolutionary
vanguard, its petty-bourgeois and labour reformist opponents and sectors
of the masses. These were debates which anticipated a number of issues
around which the splits/expulsion of the Bolsheviks by the LFI majority
occurred in 2011 and around which the split of the right-wing
liquidationists in spring 2012 took place.

The left-wing inside the LFI and later cadres of the RCIT defended the
traditional Marxist position which the LFI, when it was still a
revolutionary organisation, had defended too. But the majority of the
LFI leadership wavered. Several of them sympathised more with Riedls
positions rather than ours but they hesitated to openly wage a
political-ideological struggle against us. So they all agreed that the
LFI leadership should not take a position on these debates. In short
they proved incapable to understand the task of revolutionary cadres to
defend Marxist principles always and from the beginning. They only
started to formally defend some of these principles when the right-wing
proposed to dissolve the organisation and hence a split was already
around the corner.

It is indicative that the LFI majority planned and executed very quickly
the expulsion of the “Bolshevik Opposition” comrades only a few weeks
after they formed a faction in Austria. On the other hand they didn’t
see any reason to expel the right-wing liquidationists despite their
open renunciation of Bolshevism. Would the Cooper Hardy Riedl Mikula
group have been less determined to build their “undogmatic
anticapitalist networks” and would they have not resigned in mid-April
2012, they would still have a place in the LFI. In fact the LFI
leadership actively hopes to win them back as they wrote in their
“Statement on Resignations”.  “We can only hope that our former
comrades draw this lesson from their own experience quickly, and return
to our ranks to build a disciplined international organisation with a
clear programme”. In another statement of the LFI leadership this still
existing closeness to the right-wing liquidationist was made even clearer:

“We regret their decision, as they are all talented people, many of
whom played an important role in the student movement in 2010-11. While
we recognise that there has been a significant divergence in our views
over the last seven months, we had hoped that the debate we conducted at
our national conference last month and our International Council meeting
at Easter could have continued within our ranks. We were disappointed
that the comrades chose to leave after such a short discussion. We have
made it clear to Simon and the others that we will continue to work with
them wherever that is practical and principled. Given the continued
similarity of our political views we expect those occasions to be many
and frequent.” (Reply from Richard Brenner (LFI) to split statement of
right-wing, 14.4.2012,
http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/a-simple-proposal-for-a-new-anticapitalist-left)

The practice of the past 12 month has shown that while the LFI
leadership is totally hostile to the Bolsheviks it is soft and
well-coming to the right-wing liquidationists. They see themselves much
closer to the later.

This is in itself an expression of the centrist character of the
present-day leadership of the LFI. In Trotsky’s days the centrist Stalin
leadership exclaimed that it is “fighting resolutely both against the
left-wing and the right.-wing danger” inside the Communist Party.
Trotsky explained that this equation of the currents to the right and to
the left of the Marxist line demonstrates itself a petty-bourgeois,
centrist position:

“The central idea of the present campaign, that Marxist politics in
general consists in a struggle against the right and against the left
with the same irreconcilable spirit, is thoroughly absurd. To the right
of Marxist politics stands the mighty world of imperialism with its
still enormous agency of collaborationists. There is the enemy. To the
left of the Marxist line there can be only wrong tendencies within the
proletariat itself, infantile disorder in the party, and so forth. The
most extreme expression of this false ‘leftism’ is anarchism. But
anarchism’s strength and influence are all the smaller and less
significant the more resolutely, the more determinedly, the more
consistently the revolutionary party fights against opportunism. That is
precisely the special historical merit of Bolshevism. In its annals, the
struggle against the left always bore an episodic and subordinated
character. The Stalinist formula of the struggle ‘with the same
intransigence’ against the right and the left is not a Bolshevik formula
but the traditional formula of petty-bourgeois radicalism, whose entire
history has been nothing but struggle against ‘reaction’ on one hand and
against the proletarian revolution on the other hand.” (Leon Trotsky:
Crisis in the Right-Center Bloc (1928); in: Leon Trotsky: The Challenge
of the Left Opposition (1928-29), p.  302f.)

In fact the present-day leadership of the LFI fought with a much more
“irreconcilable spirit” against the left-wing and expelled them when
their leaders posed a potential danger inside the IEC. On the other hand
they tried every possible compromise and still sending olive branches
and appeals to the right-wing liquidationists to come back.

The chimera and the truth about the Bolshevik united front tactic
What is the reason for this? It is because the LFI’s leadership itself
is politically confused and has become left-centrist in 2011. (Although
we would not say that all members have left the former Bolshevik
tradition of the LFI and thus it is possible that there might be future
internal struggles around key issues in the context of the degeneration
process of the LFI as a whole.) It is no accident that they and the
right-wingers together attacked and expelled us because of our as
they called it  “sectarianism”. They accused the Bolsheviks who later
formed the RCIT that they have an “ultra-left understanding of the
united front tactic.”

What the LFI and WPB leadership is hiding behind this chimera is its
own growing opportunism. As we have shown with a number of quotes (see
for this the preface to our essay on the Fifth International in our
English-language journal Revolutionary Communism No. 2, p. 26-28;
http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/what-sort-of-fifth-international-do-we-need)
the comrades see the reasons for the left-reformist trade union
bureaucrats failure in the recent mass struggles against the Tory LibDem
government in their  “refusal to think outside the box” and their
“fear of the anti-union laws” not their inability to struggle in
the interest of the workers because of their material interests as
bureaucrats. They also identify as the main problem of the left not
their petty-bourgeois, centrist or left-reformist policy and
subordination to the labour bureaucracy but their “divisions and
fragmentations”. In its latest proposal for a political platform of the
Anticapitalist Initiative WPB repeats this position:

“The leaders of the major unions have postponed and fragmented the
fight back called for by their members. The pensions struggle which
had the potential to unify the movement has been cynically sabotaged
by right wing union leaders, and discoordinated by ‘left wing’ union
leaders afraid of the anti-union laws. (…) The failure of the official
leaderships has been compounded by two key factors:                                                                                                                   withered and weakened state of workplace organisation, and                                                                                                             the inability of the revolutionary left organisations to transcend
their fragmentation.

Instead they project their division into the
anti-cuts struggle, building rival anti-cuts campaigns where a powerful
united front is needed. ” (Workers Power: Draft Proposal for Political
Basis for the Anti-capitalist Initiative, 21.4.2012,
http://southlondonanticapitalists.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/building-a-new-left-a-great-start/;
our emphasis)

In effect the remaining left-centrist WPB leadership spreads the same
nonsensical idea that there exists not a centrist left but a
“revolutionary left” and the problem is that it remains fragmented. In
the past we in the revolutionary LFI laughed about such nonsense. Today,
the Neo-LFI leadership repeats this stupidity itself! If the various
centrist groups would be united in one big centrist organisation … it
would be a unified obstacle, and not an instrument to overcome the
crisis of leadership. Why? Because the centrist left is not
revolutionary, it is centrist. This means they possess a wrong, centrist
method, strategy and tactic. It means that they are politically adapting
and dependent of the labour bureaucracy. THIS is the main reason why
“the left” cannot challenge the official labour movement leadership!

In addition to this the LFI/WPB leadership also adapts to the
libertarian sentiments which are strong amongst the petty-bourgeois
sectors of the university student and in the occupation movement. In
contrast to the past when we intervened in non-revolutionary
organisations, the WPB proposal does not deal with the question of power
and therefore lacks the slogan for a workers government.

The LFI WPB’s leadership whole orientation towards the “Anti-capitalist
Initiative” (ACI) is in itself opportunistically flawed. According to
all reports which have been published this initiative attracted less
people to its foundation conference on 28th April than the number of
people who attended the WPB Anti-capitalism event last autumn. About half
of the 70-80 people present were members of Workers Power and its two
right-wing splits (the Permanent Revolution group and the Cooper/Hardy
group). The rest of the participants were in their majority divided
between various organised and unorganised leftists and some libertarian
university students.

This ACI is neither a reflection of the radicalisation of sectors of the
working class or proletarian youth. Nor does it reflect sectors of
centrism which are moving to the left. It is rather a combination of
centrists moving to the right (who are questioning the “shibboleths” of
the revolutionary pre-party organisations, of Bolshevism, who are
wondering if Leninism might have been responsible for Stalinism etc.)
and some libertarian university students. In short according to all
accounts it is a small petty-bourgeois combination of right-wing
centrists and libertarian forces. While the LFI/WPB’s leadership
correctly criticised the right-wing splitters for their capitulation
towards libertarian views, they themselves orientate to the same milieu
and opportunistically adapt their propaganda to it.

How we did it in the past
This is a break from our revolutionary tradition in the past. While the
LFI majority (at that time the left-centrists and the right-wing
liquidationist were united against us, the Bolshevik wing in the LFI)
accused us of a “sectarian” approach to reformism and centrism, the
opposite was and is true. In the 2000s we had proven in practice by our
work in the Austrian section that we are capable much better than the
rest of the LFI in Europe to intersect with militant sectors of the
masses, putting demands on the bureaucracy and repeatedly force the
reformists and centrists into united front initiatives with us and
combine this with an intransigent revolutionary profile. We initiated or
co-initiated a number of demonstrations and school student strikes with
thousands of participants. As a result our leading comrades could
several times address in speeches thousands of workers and youth at
demonstrations. (Some of them you can see at our youtube channel
http://www.youtube.com revolutioncommunism
http://www.youtube.com/revolutioncommunism

We also played an
initiating and leading role in an electoral left alliance in summer 2008
(called “THE LEFT”). But in opposite to the LFI/WPB’s leadership policy
today we did this with a revolutionary programme and with a sharp
profile from the beginning. Our slogan “Expropriate the super-rich!”
enraged the bourgeois media and annoyed the left-reformists and
centrists inside the alliance. But we also won sympathises and through
our focus on on-the-ground agitation in a working class district in
Vienna we recruited a number of workers and youth. The reports about all
this can still be found in the section “Austria” on the LFI’s website.
And on the RCIT website you will find a report, photos and videos of the
internationalist MayDay 2012 demonstration in Vienna with 1.500
participants organised by a united front in which the Austrian RCIT
comrades played a leading role. In all these years we had not only a
sharp, revolutionary, public profile but also a sharp critic against the
centrist forces.

In contrast when WPB won a leading position in a mass movement as it
did in the university student movement in 2010 — it unfortunately
collapsed into opportunist adaption towards the petty-bourgeois milieu.
When the mass movement hit the streets against the austerity plans of
the Cameron government in autumn 2010 and the general strike slogan
became an important tactic, the WPB leadership rejected agitation for a
general strike and even criticised the SWP for raising this slogan as
“too advanced”! Instead of engaging in a sharp political struggle
against the various centrist and libertarian forces, the WPB leadership
looked for a peaceful co-existence with them in various left-wing
university student alliances. In the end LFI/WPB became centrist itself
and instead of growing it lost 1/3 of its members in Britain.

Similarly the LFI section in Austria nearly all of them university
students declined politically and organisationally after our
expulsion. They announced in public a self-criticism that they want to
correct the “one-sided”, “superficial” positions on Palestine and many
other issues which the Austrian section published under our leadership
in the past decade. Since then not a single document has appeared which
proved the so-called “one-sidedness” of our past positions or which
contained better, “more differentiated” positions. The ideological class
struggle against left-reformism and centrism has de facto disappeared
from the LFI Austria propaganda. No theoretical document has been
published. They also ceased the publication of their e-mail newsletter,
suspended the publication of its paper for half a year and hardly had
any public meetings in the past 12 months. At the same time the Austrian
RCIT section has not only published a monthly paper, two issues of its
theoretical journal, run a regularly updated website and newsletter but
also worked hard and successfully to recruit a number of workers and
working class youth (including migrants from the lower strata of the
working class). And at the same time it participated actively in the
formation process of the RCIT. In fact Austria is a model for the
charlatanry of the LFI majority’s critique against us. They argued for
our expulsion as a need “to prevent a damage of the section in Austria”.
Well, since they “saved” the Austrian section from the Bolsheviks, it
hasn’t produced any theory, hardly any kind of propaganda and hardly any
public meetings took place — this is the new work mode of the sections
since then. In addition to it, Riedl who was encouraged from the LFI to
lead the section played a central role in the liquidationist split, and
the one or other will follow him soon. If this is a successful way to
prevent damage, than we hope that we had not learn anything of it.

What is the cause of the centrist degeneration?
All these failures and adaption’s towards centrism are not accidently.
The right-wing split is just the most consistent form of the political
degeneration which the LFI has undergone in the recent past. These
fundamental problems are related to a wrong understanding of the tasks
of a revolutionary communist organisation in the present period.

A central task of a communist pre-party organisation is to speak out the
truth as it sees it. Unfortunately in the last years a number of LFI
cadres have shared the post-modernist, neo-Gramscian method of Luke
Cooper which is alien to the materialist dialectic. As a result the LFI
majority overthrew at its Congress in 2010 our traditional method of
characterising historical periods. Hence they rejected our analyses of
the period after 2001 as “pre-revolutionary” and of the present period
as “revolutionary”. The same petty-bourgeois method led them to reject
the Leninist position that the labour aristocracy is a small top layer
in the working class which is politically backward and bribed by the
bourgeoisie. They rather believe that the labour aristocracy is the best
organised and most militant sector of the class who gets privileges
because of its class struggle. While the LFI leadership
opportunistically overstate the progressive character of the labour
aristocracy, it underestimates the importance of the middle and lower
strata of the working class and of the national oppressed layers. This
is why they reject our analyses of migrants in imperialist countries as
“in their huge majority nationally oppressed and super-exploited layers
of the working class.” At the same time they tend to welcome
assimilation of migrants into the majority nation as progressive. This
is why we advocate the complete equality of languages of minorities and
the abolition of the state language as the Bolsheviks did (again against
the opposition of a substantial minority at the LFI congress in 2010).
This is why we advocate support for an independent state of oppressed
nations if they have demonstrated in past struggles that they wish for
this. We combine it with the perspective of working class power. This is
why the RCIT advocates a “Socialist Tamil Eelam” in Sri Lanka and an
“Azad, Socialist Kashmir” and an “Azad, Socialist Baluchistan” in
Pakistan.

This includes the propaganda and agitation of the necessary strategies
and tactics for the working class struggle. It also includes the warning
of the vanguard from its wrong friends — the right-wing and left-wing
labour bureaucrats and the centrists of various colours. It means
calling things by their name. That’s why the unambiguous advocacy of
revolutionary tactics, the sharp criticism of the reformist and centrist
forces, the class characterisation of movements and political formations
etc. are indispensable for a communist pre-party organisation.

Why did the LFI degenerate so quickly in the last years? Why did a whole
sector of its leadership cadre renounce Leninism and Trotskyism and
denounce the task of building revolutionary organisations? Of course
there are several reasons but the most important factor is that the LFI
in most sections has a bad class composition, a dominance of university
students, intellectuals and labour aristocrats since many years. It is a
joke to have such a composition over years in imperialist countries
where the working class (especially the lower and middle strata)
represents the absolute majority of the population. This is a serious
problem particularly in the new historic period where the class struggle
from above and from below is sharpening enormously. In such a period the
pressures not only from the bourgeoisie but also from the various
sectors of the progressive petty bourgeoisie and the labour bureaucracy
are increasing enormously. The worse the class composition of a
revolutionary organisation is, the more difficult it is to stand against
these political and ideological pressures.

Trotsky once remarked that  “..the more the party is petty-bourgeois in
its composition, the more it is dependent upon the changes in the
official public opinion.” (Leon Trotsky: From a Scratch To the
Danger of Gangrene (1940); in Leon Trotsky: In Defense of Marxism, New
York 1990, p. 113;
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/idom/dm/21-scratch1.htm)

Indeed the recent degeneration of the LFI is a living proof for Trotsky
observation. The right-wing liquidationist split and the shift of the
LFI to the right is a reflection of the public opinion in the labour
movement and the petty-bourgeois intelligenzija (via the occupation
movement etc.).

A bad class composition is not a disaster in itself … under the
pre-condition that the organisation recognises this situation as a
serious weakness which leads to degeneration if it is not overcome after
a certain, rather shorter than longer, period and therefore undertakes
bold and decisive measures to improve the class composition. This is why
in the years before our expulsion from the LFI — we proposed and
fought for a number of measures for the proletarisation of the LFI and
the Austrian section. As well as we not only argued but also tried to
initiate projects to win more young proletarian people, migrants and
women to the LFI. One of these projects was the building of womens
collectives, followed by a womens organisation in Austria which focused
on building roots of the organisation in a proletarian district. While
several LFI leaders expressed agreement in general for some of the
positions and projects no serious steps were undertaken and in the end
we were denounced as “workerists”. The LFI leaders even made sure to
dissolve the women organisation in Austria.

The leadership explicitly rejected the idea that a bad class composition
is a problem for the LFI. It claimed that in small organisation the
class composition is necessary and unavoidable like this. In a letter to
the LSR conference in February 2011 the leadership of the German section
wrote that the social composition of the fighting propaganda group like
the LFI sections “will have a disproportional high share of university
students or better educated, political interested workers (skilled
workers)”. The reason they gave is: “because of the dominant role of
propaganda”. The Austrian supporters of the LFI majority argued
similarly in a statement: “It is perfectly natural that fighting
propaganda groups tend because of its very high requirements for a
membership tendentially not to be dominated by the lowest layers.”

In other words fighting for the working class interest with a communist
programme requires … “education”, i.e. bourgeois education. Therefore,
according to the LFI leadership, the mass of the global working class —
particularly in the semi-colonial world — which posses a relatively
lower level of education it is rather difficult to meet the requirements
of the type of communist organisation the LFI wants to build. For the
LFI leaders, the well-educated intellectuals and labour aristocrats (of
whom disproportionally many live in the imperialist countries) are more
fit. For us this is no Marxism. Is it really “perfectly natural” to
build an organisation which should make the future revolutionary party
possible, that has the goal to free the working class and all oppressed,
that such an organisation is not lead, not even dominated in its
composition by workers, women, migrants, oppressed nations although they
are the absolute majority in the world? It is only “perfectly natural”
in the halls of the universities in the imperialist countries, but in
the rest of the world it is just “perfectly pervert”.

As a side note it is not without irony that exactly those people who
lectured us about the difficulty for workers from the lower strata to
meet the “very high requirements for a membership”, that exactly the
same people who authored these lines deserted the LFI only one year
later. The truth is the opposite: it is much more difficult for the
petty-bourgeois intellectuals to meet the “very high requirements for a
membership/” than for the workers! The truth is that for workers
(excluding the small layer of bribed aristocrats) it is easier to
understand the Marxist Weltanschauung of their class and to fight for
it than for the non-proletarian layers. We have to ask ourselves: Is it
healthier to have an organisation of mainly workers and working class
youth, even if some of them leave the organisation due to their hard
living conditions and therefore the lack of energy and time? Or should
Marxist prefer an organisation of petty-bourgeois intellectuals and
labour aristocrats who do not carry Marxist positions into the working
class but push the organisation to break with Bolshevism and try to
reconcile the political activity with their lifestyle? Ours is the first
option. And the LFI? Did we not see in the last years a huge increase of
mainly university students who instead of dedicating their life to the
cause of working class liberation struggle preferred to reconcile the
political activity with their lifestyle?!

Trotsky on the question of the class composition of communist pre-party
organisations
In contrast to the views of the LFI leadership Trotskyadvised the
Bolshevik-Leninists in all phases in the 1920s and 1930s to orientate
themselves mainly to the workers and here in particular the mass of the
workers and not to the privileged layers or even the university
students. For example in 1929 — immediately after the foundation of the
Communist League of America — he wrote about the need to find a way to
the oppressed layers of the proletariat:

“The trade union bureaucrats, like the bureaucrats of false Communism,
live in the atmosphere of aristocratic prejudices of the upper strata of
the workers. It will be tragedy it the Oppositionists are infected even
in the slightest degree with these qualities. We must not only reject
and condemn these prejudices; we must burn them out of our consciousness
to the last trace; we must find the road to the most deprived, to the
darkest strata of the proletariat, beginning with the Negro, whom
capitalist society has converted into Pariah and who must learn to see
in us his revolutionary brothers. And this depends wholly upon our
energy and devotion to the work.” (Leon Trotsky: A Letter to the
American Trotskyists (1929), in Trotsky Writings 1929, p. 133f.)

In another document in 1932 he argued in favour of a different approach
towards intellectuals than towards workers, in particular from the lower
strata. What he said would be most likely denounced as “workerism” by
the present-day LFI leaders if it would come from our pen and not
from Trotsky’s:

“When ten intellectuals, whether in Paris, Berlin, or New York, who
have already been members of various organizations, address themselves
to us with a request to be taken into our midst, I would offer the
following advice: Put them through a series of tests on all the
programmatic questions; wet them in the rain, dry them in the sun, and
then after a new and careful examination accept maybe one or two.

The case is radically altered when ten workers connected with the
masses turn to us. The difference in our attitude to a petty-bourgeois
group and to the proletarian group does not require any explanation. But
if a proletarian group functions in an area where there are workers of
different races, and in spite of this remains composed solely of workers
of a privileged nationality, then I am inclined to view them with
suspicion. Are we not dealing perhaps with the labor aristocracy? Isn’t
the group infected with slave-holding prejudices, active or passive?

It is an entirely different matter when we are approached by a group of
Negro workers. Here I am prepared to take it for granted in advance that
we shall achieve agreement with them, even if such an agreement is not
actual as yet. Because the Negro workers, by virtue of their whole
position, do not and cannot strive to degrade anybody, oppress anybody,
or deprive anybody of his rights. They do not seek privileges and cannot
rise to the top except on the road of the international revolution.

We can and we must find a way to the consciousness of the Negro
workers, the Chinese workers, the Indian workers, and all the oppressed
in the human ocean of the colored races to whom belongs the decisive
word in the development of mankind. (Leon Trotsky: Closer to the
Proletarians of the Colored Races (1932), in: Trotsky Writings 1932, p. 112)

In a discussion Trotsky had during his visit in Kopenhagen 1932 he
advised comrades about their attitude towards a student or an academic,
that “the workers movement for its part must regard him with the
greatest scepticism. (…) When he has worked with the workers movement
this way (for three, four or five years), then the fact that he was an
academican is forgotten, the social difference disappear. (Leon
Trotsky: On Students and Intellectuals (1932), in: Trotsky Writings
1932, p. 333)

We in the RCIT have the view that a communist pre-party organisation
should orientate itself to the working class and not the petty-bourgeois
intellectuals and labour aristocrats. Unfortunately the LFI rejects this
and has become a victim of what wecall “aristocratism” the
orientation to aristocratic layers and the accommodation to various
positions and prejudices of the labour aristocracy.

This is related to the distortion of the concept of the “fighting
propaganda group” by the present-day leadership of the LFI. In their
recent “/Statement on Resignations…” they described their view of the
“fighting propaganda group” as follows: “We stand by our
self-understanding as a group whose principal task is to defend and
develop the revolutionary programme and to address the major questions
of strategy and tactics facing the working class in its living struggles./”

This reflects a completely one-sided, un-dialectical understanding of
the tasks of a Bolshevik pre-party organisation. Yes, of course its task
is to “defend and develop the revolutionary programme and to address
the major questions of strategy and tactics”. But this alone is not
sufficient and even a passive propaganda circle could do this. What is
the value of a programme and of strategies and tactics IF they are not
transmitted into the class and its vanguard, IF they are not translated
into recruiting workers and proletarian youth members who are fighting
for this programme and who have roots in the class, IF they therefore do
not lead to a communist pre-party organisation with a mainly working
class composition?!

If a communist organisation does not achieve this, it is not a “fighting
propaganda group” but rather a “commenting propaganda group” which is
isolated from the working class and the oppressed layers.

*Ignoring the August Uprising in Britain as the synthesis of theory
and practice of Aristocratism*

The wrong analysis of the class positions of the labour aristocracy and
the lower and middle strata of the working class as well as the nature
of national oppression of migrants on one hand and the wrong
understanding of the tasks of a communist pre-party organisation on the
other hand found their culmination, its test in practice, in the
position of the LFI/WPB/REVOLUTION leadership during the August
Uprising in Britain in summer 2011. This was an Uprising of the working
class youth, black and migrants after the police killed a black father
of four children, Mark Duggan. According to figures of Scotland Yard,
more than 30.000 youth participated in this uprising which lasted for 5
days. As a completely spontaneous uprising it included a number of
lootings. But in the first line it was an uprising against police
repression. (Our analysis, perspectives and tactics can be read on our
website: Nina Gunic’ and Michael Pröbsting: The strategic task: From
the uprising to the revolution! These are not “riots” this is an
uprising of the poor in the cities of Britain!,
http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/britain-uprising-of-the-poor;
The August Uprising in Britain – A Report of the RKOB delegation on its
visit in London in August 2011.
http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/britain-report-from-uprising;//Michael
Pröbsting: What would a revolutionary organisation have done? August
uprising of the poor, the nationally and racially oppressed in Britain.
http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/britain-august-uprising/;
Michael Pröbsting: Five days that shook Britain but didn’t wake up the
left. The bankruptcy of the left during the August uprising of the
oppressed in Britain: Its features, its roots and the way forward,
http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/britain-left-and-the-uprising/)This character was, despite some wavering, occasionally acknowledged
even by the LFI/WPB leadership itself. After the Uprising the British
comrades wrote in a statement “The August 2011 riots will be remembered
as a working class youth uprising against repression, racism and the
recession. Workers Power stands solidly with the youth and against the
police.” (Workers Power: The political situation in Britain after the
August uprising; Resolution on the political situation after the riots,
19.8.2011,
http://www.workerspower.co.uk/2011/08/political-situation-after-the-august-uprising)

However despite this literary recognition of the character of this mass
uprising (which was contradicted in other statement), the
LFI/WPB/REVOLUTION leadership strongly opposed any participation and a
call for this in this Uprising. During the same time as the Uprising
took place REVOLUTION had its international summer camp close to London.
Given the progressive and mass character of the uprising a number of
young members of REVOLUTION wanted to join and support the uprising. But
the leadership — including Hardy, Cooper, Riedl and the present-day LFI
leaders — all categorically opposed any practical support and
participation in the uprising. Despite the words quoted above, in fact
the leadership saw the uprising as a predominately backward,
un-political, and criminal or even reactionary event. This abstention
from an important class struggle event was even legitimised by the
argument that one does not know the conditions in the area. Leaving
aside that not knowing the concrete circumstances in a city did not stop
us in the revolutionary past of the LFI to intervene in mass struggles
(for example in Genoa/Italy in 2001, in Gleneagles/Britain in 2005 or in
Heiligendamm/Germany 2007), it is a damaging acknowledgment if the
comrades do not know and don’t have any connection to the area in an
important working class district in London (Tottenham) where the LFI has
its strongest branch since more than 35 years!

In fact this event demonstrated the practical consequences of
aristocratism and a petty-bourgeois decadence of middle class people. In
a report called “Summer, sun, socialism – that was our international
summer camp this year'”  the comrades told the public about
“interesting workshops” and the “opportunity of sports and leisure
facilities of the camping grounds”. “Every day we watched the events
of the ‘riots’ in London and discussed about it at the Camp plenary. So
we adopted for example a resolution and an international united front
call against police violence and about the conditions for the British
youth. Since as a youth organization we also like to fete, we had in the
evening parties at a big camp fire or in the community tent.” (see
http://www.onesolutionrevolution.de/?p=1645) How can an organization
call itself “revolutionary” if it prefers to have parties and drink a
lot every evening, while at the same time thousands of youth fight
against the police on the streets only a few kilometers away!?

Conclusion
Comrades, mistakes can happen, even grave mistakes can happen. But the
worst thing is not to make mistakes, but to fail in recognising them,
not to learn from them and not to make the necessary sharp corrections.
If this happens a constant repetition and deepening of the mistakes are
unavoidable. And indeed as we have shown in this letter and in other
documents this is what happened with the LFI in the last year. This is a
shame given the enormous possibilities of class struggle in the present
period to build a strong international revolutionary organisation. But
one cannot achieve this without an unambiguous Bolshevik method and a
revolutionary programme which is applied to the concrete practical and
theoretical questions of the class struggle. We have summarised our
analysis, our lessens and our programme in “The Revolutionary Communist
Manifesto” (which can be read online at the moment only in English
and German language on the RCIT website http://www.thecommunists.net
http://www.thecommunists.net). We would welcome to debate this
programme with you.

Comrades, we have drawn our conclusions from the past experience. After
the bureaucratic expulsion of the “Bolshevik Opposition” in April 2011
and the left-wing splits in other countries comrades in Pakistan, Sri
Lanka, USA and Austria have joined forces with other militants and
founded the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT). We
stand for the continuity of the revolutionary tradition which the LFI
represented in the past. We call all members of the LFI to break with
the policy of centrist degeneration which is dominating the LFI.

Bolshevik Greetings,
Michael Pröbsting and Shujat Liaqat (for the RCIT)

Further Reading:  Workers Power Conference 2012: Divisions, Expulsions, Appeals And Split – The VOAG Investigates.

August Riots: The VOAG Salutes the youth!

For five nights running,working class youth have been on the streets fighting the police in running battles. The uprising spread from Tottenham to Hackney, then Lewisham, Peckham, Croydon, Clapham and on to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham and Bristol – as well as many other towns and cities throughout the country.

The Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford stands foursquare with the heroic youth and workers who have taken to the streets.

The uprisings are an expression of rage at racist police killings, daily police harassment, and underlying it the surge in youth unemployment (25% across London, rising to 80% for black youths in Brixton) and savage cuts in benefits and local services, including cuts in youth services of up to 75% in many places.

The shooting of Mark Duggan and the contempt the Tottenham police showed for his family and the peaceful protest on Saturday were just the spark that lit the fuse. On the 30th anniversary of the Brixton Riots of 1981 it was not forgotten by people on the streets and across Tottenham that this most deprived borough was also the scene of the most intensive uprising against the police in the ’80s – the Broadwater Farm uprising of 1985.

Entirely absent from the speeches of David Cameron and other political leaders has been any mention of the facts that Mark Duggan was gunned down without having drawn a firearm, that police used dum-dum bullets, designed to cause maximum damage to internal organs, and that police issued lies about the incident to the press in the aftermath to cover their tracks.

The Chair of Camberwell Green Magistrates Court, Novello Noades, claims that her court has been given a government “directive” that anyone involved in the rioting be given a custodial sentence. This follows David Cameron’s speach to The Commonons in which he said: “anyone involved in the riots should expect to go to prison”. However: Sentencing is a matter for the ‘independent’ judiciary under British Law.  

Magistrates are being advised by the courts service to disregard normal sentencing guidelines when dealing with those convicted of offences committed in the context of last week’s riots.

The advice, has resulted in cases that would usually be disposed of in magistrates courts being referred to the crown court for more severe punishment and sentences for offences that would otherwise have attracted a far shorter term.

In Manchester a mother of two, Ursula Nevin, was jailed for five months for receiving a pair of shorts given to her after they had been looted from a city centre store. In Brixton, south London, a 23-year-old student was jailed for six months for stealing £3.50 worth of water bottles from a supermarket.

The Crown Prosecution Service also issued guidance to prosecutors on Monday, effectively calling for juveniles found guilty of riot-related crimes to be named and shamed. Those dealt with in youth courts are normally not identified. The youngest suspects bought before the courts last week in connection with the riots were an 11-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy.

The sentencing advice from Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service came to light after the chair of Camberwell Green Magistrates Court, Novello Noades, claimed that the court had been given a government “directive” that anyone involved in the rioting be given a custodial sentence.

HMCTS explained that they had advised magistrates to consider disregarding normal sentencing guidelines. It said: “Magistrates in London are being advised by their legal advisers to consider whether their powers of punishment are sufficient in dealing with some cases arising from the recent disorder- and that thos cases should be referred to Crown Courts.

The HMTCS continued: “Courts can therefore consider the riots as an aggravating factor in any offence, making stealing from looted shops more serious than conventional shoplifting”.

Last week David Cameron told the recalled House of Commons that anyone involved in violent disorder should expect to go to prison. The Ministry of Justice denied that it had asked the HMCTS to issue their advice.

The Judicial Communications Office, which issues statements on behalf of judges, also dismissed suggestions it had been involved. “The senior judiciary has given no directive in relation to sentencing for offences committed during the recent widespread public disorder,” it said.

Magistrates can only sentence offenders to up to six months in prison for a single offence. The chairman of the Magistrates’ Association, John Thornhill, has been pressing the government to raise the maximum sentencing power of magistrates to 12 months. “Many of these cases would have been dealt with more expeditiously and cheaper if we had the 12-month sentencing powers,” Thornhill said. “They would not have needed to be sent to the crown courts.”

In its advice on identifying youths, the CPS said: “We have issued guidance to prosecutors that states they should ask the court to lift the anonymity of a youth defendant when they believe it is required in the public interest that the youth be identified. Legislation permits the court to do so after conviction. These representations will be made on a case-by-case basis.”

Among those appearing before City of Westminster magistrates court on Monday was Wilson Unses Garcia, 42, of Walworth, south London. He was jailed for six months for receiving stolen property: two tennis racquets worth £340 looted from a sports shop in south London. When police searched his property they found the racquets still in wrapping and with price labels on them.

Garcia said he had had the racquets for some time. Police said he later told them: “I knew it was not right the minute they put them into my hand.”

His solicitor told the court that Garcia, who pleaded guilty, had not participated in looting, did not agree with the rioting and had accepted the racquets from a man he knew only from his first name as payment of a £20 debt.

Alicia Wilkinson, 22, was discovered with a vast amount of stolen guitars, televisions and hair braiding equipment when police raided her home in Outram Road, Croydon, at the weekend.

English Defence League (EDL) Not Welcome In Kingston

The Voice Of Anti-capitalism in Guildford (The VOAG), joined around 30 people for a counter demonstration and leafleting session against the English Defence League (EDL) in Kingston Town Centre on Saturday 20th August.

The fascist and racist EDL were due to hold a “meet and greet” in Kingston, South London, for 1.30 in the afternoon, their first formal event in the borough.

The VOAG, together with activists from local unions, Kingston Green Party, Kingston Anti-Cuts Group, Workers Power and anti fascist groups decided to “meet and greet” the EDL and make it clear: The EDL are not welcome in Kingston.

We set up an anti-racist stool on the main shopping street, spoke to shoppers and  distributed leaflets making the case against the EDL and promoting the Anti EDL National Demonstration, due to be held in Tower Hamlets on September 3rd.

The Tower Hamlets demonstration coincides with a planned march by the EDL in Tower Hamlets, and our message to Kingston  was “We will not accept attempts to create fear and instability in our communities; not in Kingston, and not in Tower Hamlets.

Whilst we made our presence felt on the street, with the support from the local community, the rain poured down. Mathew of  Kingston GMB told reporters: “We made the effort to make sure that those who could be susceptible to the EDL’s propaganda knows why the EDL are wrong.”

At around 1.30pm, News reached us that the EDL were starting to gather in a near-by pub. The EDL boasted 35 attendees on their Facebook page. Several “known faces” were seen carrying boxes of flyers into the pub. As the afternoon progressed and the rain continued, reports indicated that they had only attracted eight – not quite the promised mass demonstration.

Perhaps they got stuck to the pub table, perhaps their customary fifteen pints weighed them down, or may-be it was the rain. Whatever the reason, the EDL (all eight of them) didn’t attempt to pedal their rubbish on the high street, and skulked off after a few hours. They were well aware of our presence on the high street and that our numbers far exceeded their own.

Martin George from the Surrey Comet reported that there was a “heavy police presence in the town centre and outside Kingston Mosque, in response to last November, when a small group of EDL members marched from Hampton Wick to Kingston and went on to attack Kingston mosque”.

The EDL failed in their crass attempt to capitalise on the public unease following the riots that took place throughout England recently. The miss-information circulated in the media regarding the riots and the fear it has engendered plays into the right wing fascist agenda of the EDL, however the people of Kingston were not fooled.

National Demo: Racist EDL not welcome in East London. 3rd September. Assemble 11am Weavers Fields, London. E2 6HW

Time for an Anti-Fascist Defence League!
https://suacs.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/time-for-an-anti-fascist-defence-league/

In Defence Of Our Communities

The VOAG (Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford) has been passed Unison’s publi statement on the London riots, released yesterday. We congratulate Unison in speaking up and republish their statement below.

From last weekend there has been rioting and looting spreading across London. People in working class communities have looked on with fear as riots destroyed local shops and left some people homeless. Clearly we don’t support opportunistic looting or for acts of random violence. However, if we are to avoid a return to the social unrest and public disorder seen in the 1980s, this demands a response from our community and its leaders which goes beyond mere condemnation.

Why are our young people so angry and how can we unite our community?
The police.
The police killing Mark Duggan, acted as a spark for the recent riots. This was not an isolated incident. Since 1990 320 people have died in police custody (or following other forms of contact with the police). Stop and search is used as a daily form of humiliation, especially of young black men. In the student protests we saw violence used routinely against political protestors, including school students.

Tory cuts destroying our communities.
The deliberately savage reductions in public spending imposed upon our communities by the Coalition Government weaken our communities and create anger and despair.

In March Haringey Council approved cuts of £84 million from a total budget of £273 million. There was a savage 75% cut to the Youth Service budget, including: closing the youth centres; Connexions careers advice service for young people reduced by 75%; and the children’s centre service reduced. Haringey has one of the highest numbers of children living in severe poverty, and unemployment in the borough is among the highest in the UK. In London as a whole, youth unemployment is at 23%.

Lambeth Council have announced their intention to cut £76million from their budget in the next 3 years. This includes reducing adventure playground opening hours to weekends and holidays only; £1.45 million cut from Youth Centres and Holiday activities; Children’s social care cut but by £3.5million, deep cuts in the Connexions service with opening hours halved, and cuts in Buildings Schools for the Future; alternative education provision (Closing OLIVE School and cutting back Park Campus), and cutting the Young & Safe project which aims to reduce youth crime.

At the same time last year alone, the combined fortunes of the 1,000 richest people in Britain rose by 30 per cent to £333.5 billion. The wealthy bankers whose conduct caused the economic crisis continue to be rewarded with multi-million pound bonuses, while the jobs and pensions of public sector workers – the people dealing with the aftermath of the riots today – are under threat.

What needs to be done?
In order to avoid further riots two things are necessary. First, our police service must become transparently accountable to the communities it serves. There is legitimate and longstanding community concern about deaths arising from police action, and action to address this concern must not get lost in the cacophony of condemnation following the riots.

Secondly, the Government must reverse the disproportionate reductions in local government spending imposed upon Inner London so that we can maintain the social infrastructure which gives our young people a stake – and a voice – in our society. If the Government will not do this, then the responsibility falls upon Labour-led local authorities in London to represent the interests of their electors by fighting, with all means at their disposal, for the resources necessary to provide the vital services which sustain the cohesion of our communities.

The answer does not lie in David Cameron’s “Big Society” or Lambeth’s own “Co-operative Council” but in the defence of public services from a reckless attack by a Government which is indifferent to the social damage being wrought by their economic policies, some of the consequences of which have now been played out on the streets of London.

Lambeth Council needs urgently to review cuts already agreed and being made in services to young people in particular if we are to avoid further disorder and damage to our diverse, vibrant and tolerant community.

UNISON calls for an organised defence of public services and our communities, led by trade unions and community organisations and pledges to support a public meeting in Brixton in the next few days to discuss how to build this campaign.
A MUST READ:  Statement By Workers Power on the London Riots

The VOAG (Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford) Looks at the latest figures on youth unemployment.

According to the latest figures from the German Statistical Office and Eurostat, youth unemployment across Europe has increased by a staggering 25 percent in the course of the past two and a half years. The current levels of youth unemployment are the highest in Europe since the regular collection of statistics began.

In the spring of 2008, prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the financial crash of that year, the official unemployment rate for youth in Europe averaged 15 percent. The latest figures from the German Statistical Office reveal that this figure has now risen to over 20 percent.

In total, 20.5 percent of young people between 15 and 24 are seeking work in the 27 states of the European Union. At the same time, these numbers conceal large differences in unemployment levels for individual European nations.
In Spain, where the social-democratc government led by Jose Luis Zapatero has introduced a series of punitive austerity programmes at the behest of the banks and the IMF, youth unemployment has doubled since 2008 and now stands at 46 percent. In second place in the European rankings is Greece, the first country to be bailed out by the European Union and to install austerity measures, with a rate of 40 percent. In third place is Italy (28 percent), followed by Portugal and Ireland (27 percent) and France (23 percent).

In Britain, where youth have taken to the streets in a wave of riots and protests in a number of the country’s main cities, unemployment hovers around 20 percent. A recent report from Britain’s Office of National Statistics reported that joblessness among people between the ages of 16 and 24 has been rising steadily, from 14.0 percent in the first quarter of 2008 to 20 percent in the first quarter of 2011—an enormous 40 percent spike in just three years.

According to the latest statistics, Europe’s biggest economy, Germany, has one of the lowest official rates of youth unemployment (9.1 percent), but these figures are deceptive. Due primarily to the policies introduced by the former Social Democratic Party-Green Party coalition government (1998-2003), Germany has one of the most broadly developed low-wage job sectors in Europe.

In 2010, no fewer than 7.84 million German workers were employed in precarious so-called “atypical types of employment”—i.e., agency work, temporary work and part-time jobs involving less than 20 hours of work per week. Many of these workers earned €400 or less per month. Recent figures show that the wage levels of such workers have actually declined in recent years, thereby compounding the pool of so-called “working poor” in Germany.
The German Statistical Office notes that nearly 40 percent of young Germans able to find work are invariably employed in such forms of precarious work, which pay badly and are strictly temporary. Exact figures on underemployment in Germany are difficult to obtain, but the extreme situation for youth in the country is reflected across Europe—i.e., the official statistics for youth unemployment would swell enormously if they included the millions who are underemployed.

The growth of long-term unemployment for a broad layer of European youth, including very many highly educated young people with academic qualifications who are unable to find work, has led a number of commentators to refer to a “lost generation”.

The social problems encountered by the young unemployed are compounded by the social cuts and austerity packages being introduced across Europe. All of these measures aimed at restocking the vaults of the banks and the swelling the portfolios of the European capitalist elite hit youth the hardest.

It is no coincidence that the suburb of London where protests and riots began last weekend—Tottenham—has the highest level of joblessness in London, and the 10th highest in Britain as a whole. Just to the south of Tottenham, the London borough of Haringey has already slashed its youth services budget by 75 percent this year. These cuts are part of a package of measures aimed at driving down the borough’s budget deficit along the lines advocated by the Conservative government headed by David Cameron.

The closure of youth facilities, including libraries and sports clubs, together with the slashing of welfare payments, such as youth allowances and housing subsidies, means that unemployed youth are condemned to poverty and denied any opportunity of using their leisure time creatively. Such conditions are not exclusive to London and Britain. They prevail across Europe and have been engineered by governments of all political colours—conservative, social-democratic and Green.

In Britain, leading politicians and both the gutter press and so-called “quality” press immediately sought to deflect attention from their own criminal activities by demonising protesting youth as “yobs” and vandals. For significant sections of the European press, however, the link between what took place in Britain this week and the complete lack of a perspective for millions of young people in modern Europe is evident.
Two commentaries in the German language press make clear that some sections of the media are concerned that the systematic wiping out of jobs and social protection for youth could have not merely explosive, but also revolutionary social implications.

On Thursday, the German Der Spiegel wrote that August 12 is International Youth Day, and posed the question: “This should be a day of celebration and joy…. But is there something to celebrate? Hardly.”
The article continues: “The numbers are so alarming, because they give a face to the European debt crisis. They show that the crisis in the euro countries is not just a problem for the treasuries of bankrupt countries, but has fatal consequences for the population. And, as is so often the case, it hits youth first.”
The article then draws attention to the hundreds of thousands of youth who took to the streets of Athens and Madrid to protest against austerity programmes and makes a parallel with the most recent protests in Britain, concluding, “In London it seems there is no holding back this hopeless generation.”

In Vienna, the Austrian Der Standard writes: “Governments are showering billions into the markets with one hand to keep our resident devil, the Dow Jones, happy. With the other, they’re slashing social benefits. That policies of this sort are received as pure cynicism in countries like Spain, Greece and Britain, where youth employment is around 44, 38 and 20 percent respectively, is a puzzle for the minuscule elite, who discuss the difference between frustrated protesters and criminals over tea while worrying only about the state of the money markets.”

The article continues that the solution is not “extra police and empty phrases, but action. And quickly”. The article concludes, however, by warning: “But who knows whether the generation demonstrating in the streets will see that day come.”