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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

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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

VOAG-Logo-(Brick)a8Ukraine and the Rebirth of Fascism in Europe

The violence on the streets of Ukraine is not a simple expression of popular anger against a government.  Instead, it is merely the latest example of the rise of the most insidious form of fascism that Europe has seen since the fall of the Third Reich.

Recent months have seen regular protests by the Ukrainian political opposition and its supporters –  protests ostensibly in response to Ukrainian President Yanukovich’s refusal to sign a trade agreement with the European Union that was seen by many political observers as the first step towards European integration.  The protests remained largely peaceful until January 17th when protesters armed with clubs, helmets, and improvised bombs unleashed brutal violence on the police, storming government buildings, beating anyone suspected of pro-government sympathies, and generally wreaking havoc on the streets of Kiev.  But who are these violent extremists and what is their ideology?

The political formation is known as “Pravy Sektor” (Right Sector), which is essentially an umbrella organization for a number of fascist groups including supporters of the “Svoboda” (Freedom) Party, “Patriots of Ukraine”, “Ukrainian National Assembly – Pravy Sektor”.  All of these organizations share a common ideology that is vehemently anti-Russian, anti-immigrant, and anti-Jewish among other things.  In addition they share a common reverence for the so called “Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists” led by Stepan Bandera, the infamous Nazi collaborators who actively fought against the Soviet Union and engaged in some of the worst atrocities committed by any side in World War II.

While Ukrainian political forces, opposition and government, continue to negotiate, a very different battle is being waged in the streets.  Using intimidation and brute force more typical of Hitler’s “Brownshirts” or Mussolini’s “Blackshirts” than a contemporary political movement, these groups have managed to turn a conflict over economic policy and the political allegiances of the country into an existential struggle for the very survival of the nation that these so called “nationalists” claim to love so dearly.  The images of Kiev burning, Lviv streets filled with thugs, and other chilling examples of the chaos in the country, illustrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the political negotiation with the Maidan (Kiev’s central square and center of the protests) opposition is now no longer the central issue.  Rather, it is the question of Ukrainian fascism and whether it is to be supported or rejected.

For its part, the United States has strongly come down on the side of the fascist.  In early December, members of the US ruling establishment such as John McCain and Victoria Nuland were seen at Maidan lending their support to the protesters.  However, as the character of the opposition has become apparent, the US and Western ruling class and its media machine have done little to condemn the fascists.  Instead, their representatives have met with representatives of Right Sector and deemed them to be “no threat.”  In other words, the US and its allies have given their tacit approval for the continuation and proliferation of the violence in the name of their ultimate goal.

In an attempt to pry Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence, the US-EU-NATO alliance has, not for the first time, allied itself with fascists.  Of course, for decades, millions in Latin America were disappeared or murdered by fascist paramilitary forces armed and supported by the United States.  The mujahideen of Afghanistan, also extreme ideological reactionaries, were created and financed by the United States for the purposes of destabilizing Russia.  And of course, there is the painful reality of Libya and, most recently Syria, where the United States and its allies finance and support extremist jihadis against a government that has refused to align with the US and Israel.  There is a disturbing pattern here that has never been lost on keen political observers: the United States always makes common cause with right wing extremists and fascists for geopolitical gain.

The Fascist Menace Across the Continent
Ukraine and the rise of right wing extremism there cannot be seen, let alone understood, in isolation.  Rather, it must be examined as part of a growing trend throughout Europe (and indeed the world).

In Greece, savage austerity imposed by the troika (IMF, ECB, and European Commission) has crippled the country’s economy, leading to a depression as bad, if not worse, than the Great Depression in the United States.  It is against this backdrop of economic collapse that the Golden Dawn party has grown to become the third most popular political party in the country.  Espousing an ideology of hate, the Golden Dawn – in effect a Nazi party that promotes anti-Jewish, anti-immigrant, anti-women chauvinism – is a political force that the government in Athens has understood to be a serious threat to the very fabric of society.  It is this threat which led the government to arrest the party’s leadership after a Golden Dawn Nazi fatally stabbed an anti-fascist rapper.  Athens has launched an investigation into the party, though the results of this investigation and trial remain somewhat unclear.

What makes Golden Dawn such an insidious threat is the fact that, despite their central ideology of Nazism, their anti-EU, anti-austerity rhetoric appeals to many in the economically devastated Greece.  As with many fascist movements in the 20th Century, Golden Dawn scapegoats immigrants, Muslim and African primarily, for many of the problems facing Greeks.  In dire economic circumstances, such irrational hate becomes appealing; an answer to the question of how to solve society’s problems.  Indeed, despite Golden Dawn’s leaders being jailed, other party members are still in parliament, still running for major offices including mayor of Athens.  Though an electoral victory is unlikely, another strong showing at the polls will make the eradication of fascism in Greece that much harder.

Were this phenomenon confined to Greece and Ukraine, it would not constitute a continental trend.  Sadly however, we see the rise of similar, albeit slightly less overtly fascist, political parties all over Europe.  In Spain, the ruling pro-austerity People’s Party has moved to establish draconian laws restricting protest and free speech, and empowering and sanctioning repressive police tactics.  In France, the National Front Party of Marine Le Pen, which vehemently scapegoats Muslim and African immigrants, won nearly twenty percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections.  Similarly, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands – which promotes anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies – has grown to be the third largest in parliament.  Throughout Scandinavia, ultra nationalist parties which once toiled in complete irrelevance and obscurity are now significant players in elections.  These trends are worrying to say the least.

It should be noted too that, beyond Europe, there are a number of quasi-fascist political formations which are, in one way or another, supported by the United States.  The right wing coups that overthrew the governments of Paraguay and Honduras were tacitly and/or overtly supported by Washington in their seemingly endless quest to suppress the Left in Latin America.  Of course, one should also remember that the protest movement in Russia was spearheaded by Alexei Navalny and his nationalist followers who espouse a virulently anti-Muslim, racist ideology that views immigrants from the Russian Caucasus and former Soviet republics as beneath “European Russians”.  These and other examples begin to paint a very ugly portrait of a US foreign policy that attempts to use economic hardship and political upheaval to extend US hegemony around the world.

In Ukraine, the “Right Sector” has taken the fight from the negotiating table to the streets in an attempt to fulfill the dream of Stepan Bandera – a Ukraine free of Russia, Jews, and all other “undesirables” as they see it.  Buoyed by the continued support from the US and Europe, these fanatics represent a more serious threat to democracy than Yanukovich and the pro-Russian government ever could.  If Europe and the United States don’t recognize this threat in its infancy, by the time they finally do, it might just be too late.

Update – Ukraine’s Gold:
Meanwhile the Russian newspaper, Iskra reported on March 11th, that two days previously, in a mysterious operation under the cover of night, Ukraine’s gold reserves were promptly loaded onboard an unmarked plane, which subsequently took the gold to the US:

“Tonight, at 2:00am, an unregistered transport plane took off took off from Boryspil airport. According to Boryspil staff, prior to the plane’s appearance, four trucks and two cargo minibuses arrived at the airport all with their license plates missing. Fifteen people in black uniforms, masks and body armor stepped out, some armed with machine guns. These people loaded the plane with more than forty heavy boxes. After this, several mysterious men arrived and also entered the plane. The loading was carried out in a hurry. After unloading, their plateless cars immediately left the runway, and the plane took off on an emergency basis”.

“Airport officials who saw this mysterious “special operation” immediately notified the administration of the airport, which however strongly advised them “not to meddle in other people’s business. Later, the editors were called by one of the senior officials of the former Ministry of Income and Fees, who reported that, according to him, tonight on the orders of one of the “new leaders” of Ukraine, all the gold reserves of the Ukraine were taken to the United States”.

Indicatively, according to the latest IMF figures, Ukraine’s official gold holdings are just over 40 tons, having doubled in the past decade. Lets hope the Ukranians haven’t just “liberated” of all their gold, which after a brief stay 80 feet below the surface at 33 Liberty, will promptly find its way either to the Bundesbank, or to the billionaire oligarchs, based either in London or elsewhere, and currently in charge of “post-liberation” Ukraine.The Voag is everywhere

National march to release the jailed minersMarch 12, 2014 is the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the National Miners Strike. Local strikes had began at several Yorkshire collieries over pit closures, when Arthur Scargill, the NUM Miners union leader formerly called a national strike, that was to last from March 12, 1984 to March 3, 1985.

Over the coming weeks the inter-web is going to be full of miners strike commentaries, obituaries and articles, so The VOAG thought it would get its post in early. By the time March 12 arrives we will all be sick of miners strike articles and reminiscences.

It seems superfluous to write anything about the miners strike. It is such a well known, momentous event in working class history, that even the generation which has grown up since the strike is well acquainted with it. However, the news of an upcoming Conference on the Miners Strike, “Still The Enemy Within”, to be held on March 8, has prompted The VOAG to mark the anniversary with a short post.Still The Enemy WithinThe Tory government claimed its intention was to close 20 pits with the loss of 20,000 jobs. When the strike began, Scargill said that the government had a long-term strategy to destroy the industry by closing over 70 pits. Not only did the Government deny this but Ian McGregor, the head of the Coal Board which managed the industry, wrote to every member of the NUM claiming Scargill was deceiving them, and that there were no plans to close any more pits than had already been announced. Cabinet Papers released this year indicate that McGregor did indeed wish to close over 90 pits.Miners SupportSupport for the miners brought together disparate radical groups across Britain, involving more people in a greater intensity of activity, over a lengthier period than any other campaign in the history of the labour movement. There were many violent incidents during the strike, the worst being clashes between striking miners and police at Orgreave. Police charged crowds on horseback with their batons and several people were seriously injured. Watch this documentary which tells some of the story of “The Battle Of Orgreave”

The miners and their families suffered great hardship during the strike, many relying on food parcels, soup kitchens and other donations. On 3 March 1985 NUM delegates voted to abandon the strike at a specially convened conference. Two days later the miners returned to work. After the strike the pit closure programme of the conservative Government continued rapidly. In 1984 there were 170 coal mines open in the UK, by 2004 only about 11 mines were still open. The strike was a terrible defeat for the miners and following the strike the coal industry and British trade union movement were never the same again.The Voag is everywhere

Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq
An analysis of the effect of economic sanctions on Iraq –
A film by John Pilger

A poll conducted by ComRes last year asked people in Britain how many Iraqis had been killed as a result of the 2003 invasion. A majority said that fewer than 10,000 had been killed: “a figure so shockingly low it was a profanity”, commented John Pilger, in an article in the Guardian this month.

John Pilger continued: “I compared this with scientific estimates of up to a million men, women and children who had died in the inferno lit by Britain and the US. In fact, academic estimates range from less than half a million to more than a million. John Tirman, the principal research scientist at the MIT Centre for International Studies, has examined all the credible estimates; he told me that an average figure suggests roughly 700,000. Tirman pointed out that this excluded deaths among the millions of displaced Iraqis, up to 20% of the population.

The VOAG reported in March 2010 on two studies exploring civilian deaths as a result of the invasion of Iraq. One study by Opinion Research Business, on behalf of  New Scientist estimated 1.2 million people had died. A second study conducted by Dr Burnham of Johns Hopkins University, on behalf of The Lancet, Organ of the British Medical Association, estimated that a million people had died as a result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

These figures were complied in 2006, and updates in 2010 revised these figures to between 1.2 and 1.6 million deaths. With a pre-war population of 22.5 million, it means that as of 2010 one in nineteen Iraqis 1/19 has been murdered by the coalition. A further 20% of the population (One in five) have been made homeless. When General Franks, the US Comander of the Coalition was confronted with these figures he famously said: “We don’t do body counts”.

These death rates are based on statistical data. They are not confined to direct violent deaths, but all deaths; deaths through disease and loss of infrastructure for example. All ‘extra deaths’ over and above what the levels would have been, had there not been an invasion.

The “shock and awe” of 1993 and the subsequent occupation of Iraq was the extension of a murderous blockade imposed for 13 years by Britain and the US. Its results were suppressed by much of the mainstream media. Half a million Iraqi infants died as a result of sanctions, according to Unicef.; with children dying in hospitals, denied basic painkillers.

John Pilger’s article concluded: “Ten years later, in New York, I met the senior British official responsible for these “sanctions”. He is Carne Ross, once known in the UN as “Mr Iraq”. I read to him a statement he had made to a parliamentary select committee in 2007: “The weight of evidence clearly indicates that sanctions caused massive human suffering among ordinary Iraqis, particularly children. We, the US and UK governments, were the primary engineers and offenders of sanctions and were well aware of the evidence at the time but we largely ignored it and blamed it on the Saddam government, effectively denying the entire population the means to live.” I said to him: “That’s a shocking admission.”

“Yes, I agree,” he replied. “I feel ashamed about it …” He described how the Foreign Office manipulated a willing media. “We would control access to the foreign secretary as a form of reward to journalists. If they were critical, we would not give them the goodies of trips around the world. We would feed them factoids of sanitised intelligence, or we’d freeze them out.”

In the build-up to the 2003 invasion, according to studies by Cardiff University and Media Tenor, the BBC followed the Blair government’s line and lies, and restricted airtime to those opposing the invasion. When Andrew Gilligan famously presented a dissenting report on Today, he and the director general were crushed.

The truth about the criminal bloodbath in Iraq cannot be “countered” indefinitely. Neither can the truth about our support for the medievalists in Saudi Arabia, the nuclear-armed predators in Israel, the new military fascists in Egypt and the jihadist “liberators” of Syria, whose propaganda is now BBC news. There will be a reckoning – not just for the Blairs, Straws and Campbells, but for those paid to keep the record straight.


For More On Iraq:
Focus On Iraq: The War Continues (January 2011)
Latest On The Iraq Occupation (March 2010)
Civilian Death Toll In Iraq And Afghanistan (March 2010)The Voag

We take a look back at some of the many promises and quotes by David Cameron prior to the 2010 general election and ask ourselves why should anyone believe a word that comes out of the PM’s mouth?6

“With the Conservatives there will be no more of the tiresome, meddlesome, top-down re-structures that have dominated the last decade of the NHS”.same as labourThe coalition government went on to make some of the biggest changes to the NHS since its creation.

“We have absolutely no plans to raise VAT. Our first Budget is all about recognising we need to get spending under control rather than putting up tax”.14George Osborne rose VAT from 17.5% to a record 20%.

“I like the child benefit, I wouldn’t change child benefit, I wouldn’t means-test it, I don’t think that is a good idea”.1The coalition government later abolished Child Benefit for higher earners.

“Yes, we back Sure Start. It’s a disgrace that Gordon Brown has been trying to frighten people about this. He’s the prime minister of this country but he’s been scaring people about something that really matters”.7Hundreds of Sure Start centres have since closed their doors.

“We have no plans to change existing Future Jobs Fund commitments”.2Within weeks of the coalition government taking office it announced the abolition of the Future Jobs Fund.

“We’ve looked at educational maintenance allowances and we haven’t any plan to get rid of them”. 8Nine months later the coalition announced that EMA was to be scrapped.

“Let us look at the issue of dependency where we have trapped people in poverty through the extent of welfare that they have”.13Since then we have witnessed some of the biggest cuts to welfare since the formation of the welfare state, which has led to a five-fold increase in poverty-stricken families turning to food banks.

“People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity”.13The UK has been forced to endure some of harshest austerity measures in decades and those policies haven’t come from “further and further away”. They’ve come from David Cameron and his coalition government.

“We cannot go on as we are with 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit, 500,000 of them are under 35.”5Sick and disabled benefit claimants are still being wrongly found ‘fit for work’ by inhumane benefit tests.

“We will say to people that if you want to work, we will do everything we can to help you. We will give you the training, we will give you the support, we will give you the advice to get you back at work”.12Or hide jobseekers away on the government’s controversial Work Programme so that they can manipulate unemployment statistics perhaps?

“When you’re taking the country through difficult times and difficult decisions you’ve got to take the country with you. That means permanently trying to make the argument that what you’re doing is fair and seen to be fair”.9Tax cuts for Millionaires whilst some of the poorest in society are struggling to make ends-meet due to welfare cuts and poverty wages”.

“What we’re putting forward is the most radical reform of the welfare state for 60 years. I think it will have a transformative effect in making sure that everyone is better off working rather than on benefits”.10Figures show that for the first time in history there are now more working people living in poverty than those in workless households.Voag-Logo-Darker

Save Our Schools – Academies Are Asset Stripping Our Schools.

Mumsnet.com, May, 2013
Before the election councils in England held the title deeds to schools and land valued at over £2.5bn. But most people don’t know the very fine print of the academies bill and what it means. 

1. The title deeds of the school and the land are transferred to a private company when the school becomes an academy.

2. Michael Gove borrows £25,000 to pay the legal fees for the private companies to ensure the title deeds are transferred from the council (us taxpayers who paid to build the schools) – to these private companies).

So far £1billion of title deeds for schools has been transferred from taxpayers – with Michael Gove increasing the deficit by £481,750,000 – just for legal fees to transfer ownership of the schools from councils to private companies.

So who has the title deeds now:
Tory party member Philip Harris has his hands on £millions worth of title deeds. Philip Harris made donations to David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party. He is considered to be one of his personal friends.

Stanley Fink, another friend of Cameron has donated £2.62m to the Conservative Party. David Cameron made Fink a Lord as soon as he came to power, and has since made him Tory Party Treasurer and handed his company £millions title deeds for schools.

And today David Cameron has told us, as well as changing the law to transfer state assets to Tory Party members (and I thought only China did that) – now he is changing the laws to allow them to start selling the Land.

Just so you know – Stanley Fink – his company states in their accounts – any extra money – his company has a policy to transfer the funds to the Cayman Islands – via stockbrokers that Stanley Fink just happens to be on the board of.

Now if I remember correctly the directors of southern cross did the same thing with care homes – selling them off – the money disappears offshore, the company goes bust and pensioners are left high and dry (with taxpayers expected to step in).

Well Cameron has just announced Tory Party members who have their hands on the title deeds for our schools and school land can start doing the same thing. And just to be clear – Stanley Fink’s company accounts for the schools also state – if Stanley Fink’s company controlling the schools, the school budgets and the title deeds goes bust – Stanley Fink (Tory Party treasurer on the Times rich list) only has to pay £10.

Academies are not about education, they are about asset stripping, and parents and children will find (just like the pensioners who were left without facilities due to the directors of Southern Cross) private companies selling off the assets and disappearing in to the sunset.

Do Michael Gove and David Cameron shout from the rooftops that they are spending £25,000 per school to cover legal fees to transfer the title deeds to Tory Party members – no I wonder why not. – Could it be they don’t want parents to know the real intentions of the academies bill? It’s not about education, it’s about asset stripping by Tory Party members – thanks to David Cameron, Michael Gove, every Tory MP and every Liberal MP.

These are your schools – they do not belong to the Tory Party (well they do now). Ask Michael Gove if your council gets the money when they sell off school land. Ask Stanley Fink (ARK SCHOOLS) – will this Tory Party treasurer be selling playing fields and as his accounts state, the money be transferred to the Cayman Islands (with his stockbrokers taking a cut along the way). Serious questions – £1bn worth of assets stripped – £half billion in legal fees to pay for it (which we the taxpayers must pay back as Gove had to borrow the money).

A study of ARK accounts for the 8 schools they controlled in 2010 showed Stanley Fink and the other directors of Ark Schools under spent the education budget by 7%. The money that Stanley Fink was given to educate children which he chose not to spend, went to the Cayman Islands via his stockbrokers – to the Ark Cayman Island Fund. In its 2010 accounts Ark reported an operational surplus of £1.8 million, and in 2009 it was £3.6 million.

We paid for our schools and paid for the land. Stanley Fink did not pay 1 penny for any of the schools he holds the title deeds for. Stanley Fink did not pay 1 penny for the playing fields he is now selling. Just because Cameron and Gove changed the law does not make it legal or right. If Parents don’t stand up now and demand these schools are transferred back to councils, like Southern Cross, there will have no schools and no land.

And who is Stanley Fink selling the land to and how much for? Where does the money go? Schools are not assets for stripping – schools are there to educate. But David Cameron, Philip Harris and Stanley Fink all believe it’s not education – its assets for selling.

Save our schools – save our school land – demand the title deeds back into the safe hands of councils – after all they ran schools for years without selling the land, and the title deeds were kept in trust for you. And councils have never transferred education funds to the Cayman Islands via Stockbrokers they own, which is exactly why only democratically elected; accountable councillors can be trusted with the title deeds for our schools.Visit Guildford Against Fees And Cuts on Facebook

Voag-Logo-9After a year of silence The VOAG is back!

Bringing news and scurrilous stories

from Surrey and Beyond.

Campaigning for a better society.

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Supporting

Surrey United Anti Capitalists
Save Our Services In Surrey
Socialist Fight Group

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A Marxist Critique of
“A Scientific Critique of Unscientific Marxism”

A Marxist Critique of “A Scientific Critique of Unscientific Marxism”
Reply by Gerry Downing to Steve Ballard’s “A Scientific Critique of Unscientific Marxism”

Gerald Downing, Editor Socialist Fight.  2012
This short document is a synopsis of a much longer one by Steve. However in neither document does he use actual quotations from Marx and Engels. He makes assertions that they ‘recognised’ this, they ‘hypothesised’ they ‘elaborated’, etc. but makes no attempt to prove these assertions. Supplying an academic apparatus would make his “scientific critique” far more scientific. His original text is in bold in quotation marks and this is followed by my reply.

Steve Ballard writes: “Marx and Engels were the first to recognise how:- The essence of capitalism is a system oflaws, created by dynastic owners of surplus property, which ranks their self-aggrandisement above all other socialobligations, including the obligation to nurture all life, human and otherwise.”

The essence of capitalism is not a “system of laws” but, in common with all forms of class society, the private ownership of the means of production. Wealth is privately owned under capitalism but socially produced. The conflict this creates between capital and labour, the means of production and the social relations of production is the class struggle and according to the first sentence of the Communist Manifesto, “The history of all hitherto existing (class) society is the history of class struggles”

Already we are on the wrong idealist track, Capitalism rests not on a “system of laws” but on this objective relationship, independent of will and consciousness. We might  therefore acknowledge that whilst Marx and Engels regarded “historical processes as law-governed processes” these laws are derived from a study of the evolution of capitalism and are the laws of Historical Materialism.

It is the task of the revolutionary party to make this historical processes a conscious process, we must become the “conscious expression of the unconscious historical process” (Trotsky, My Life). “Marx determined that the concealed essence of capitalism could be found in its history, and that this essence and history were then preserved in disguise within its existing institutions and beliefs. History thus was the entry point for the study of capitalism. This is the materialist interpretation of history, based on the view that what gives history its meaning is material life, meaning economic forces. From this standpoint, Marx was studying classical political economy, but the method he selected is what married this study to Hegelian philosophy. The dialectical element, derived from Hegel, emerged from the realization that there is extreme tension caused by the unequal relations between the superior and inferior classes within society. The main driving force of historical change is thus seen to be the class struggle, and this is associated with a dialectical view because it reveals a contradiction located within all modes of production, a contradiction between the forces of production and the relations of production.”(Marx on Historical Change & Capitalism) http://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1702624.html)

We really do not know what “surplus property”, might be, the expression is found nowhere in Marx or Marxism and can only refer to a reformist notion that the rich have too much property and we should take some of it off them because they do not need it all. This is in line with the current thinking that if only we could retrieve the bankers’ bonuses and invest that all would be well with the capitalist economy. Such notions are pushed by the SWP and the World to Win in their LEAP stuff for John McDonald and the Labour Representation Committee. Feldman performed a like service for Ken Livingstone in his WRP days. There is, of course, “surplus value”, an entirely different concept which forms the bedrock of Marx’s study of Capital.

And really the notion that the owners of this supposed “surplus property” are very nasty  and irresponsible beasts which, “ranks their self-aggrandisement above all other social obligations” and could not give a hoot for their “obligation to nurture all life, human and otherwise” is simply another reformist moralist gripe about the nastiness of the ruling class. And anyway some of them do give a stuff; that nice Mr Gates gives away untold millions to help the poor, surely  he takes his “social obligations” seriously? Even if that is true that he does he is, of course, amongst the foremost defender of the system that starves a great proportion of humanity materially and whilst the world obviously has the capacity to feed, cloth, give proper healthcare, education, etc. to every individual on the planet. But that capitalism can never do, with the best will in the world.

But here we really need to go into some detail about the effects this private ownership of the means of production has on humanity in general; the details of how these social relations distorts and deforms the human psyche of the whole of humanity (including the capitalists) via the four forms of alienation analysed by Karl Marx’s in his Theory of Alienation:

(1)There is the alienation of the worker from the work s/he produces, from the product of his/her labour. The product’s design and the manner in which it is produced are determined not by its actual producers, nor even by those who consume the products, but rather by the capitalist class, which appropriates labour – including that of designers and engineers – and seeks to shape consumers’ taste in order to maximize profit.

(2) This is coupled with the alienation of the worker from working, from the act of producing itself. This kind of alienation refers to the patterning of work in the capitalist means of production into an endless sequence of discrete, repetitive, trivial, and meaningless motions, offering little, if any, intrinsic satisfaction.

(3) There is the alienation of the worker from himself as a producer, from his or her “species being” or “essence as a species”. To Marx, this human essence is not separate from activity or work, nor static, but includes the innate potential to develop as a human organism.

(4) Alienation of the worker from other workers or producers. Capitalism reduces labour to a commercial commodity to be traded on the market, rather than a social relationship between people involved in a common effort for survival or betterment. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/Marxism.htm)

“Alienation (which) describes the separation of things that naturally belong together; and the placement of antagonism between things that are properly in harmony…Alienation (Entfremdung) is the systemic result of living in a socially stratified society, because being a mechanistic part of a social class alienates a person from his and her humanity… Although the worker is an autonomous, self-realised human being, as an economic entity, he or she is directed to goals and diverted to activities that are dictated by the bourgeoisie, who own the means of production, in order to extract from the worker the maximal amount of surplus value, in the course of business competition among industrialists.”(Marx’s theory of alienation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx%27s_theory_of_alienation, Wiki – our numbering)

“The capitalist system of secular laws must eventually overwhelm all pre-capitalist systems of religious laws, because of capitalism’s façade of freedom, its semblance of scientific neutrality and objectivity. Capitalism’s self-perpetuating, self-serving, quasi-scientific ideology of ‘survival of the fittest’ obscures the underlying oppression of whole populations, by owners of the greatest amount of surplus property, with complete disregard for the needs of any life that does not serve their self aggrandisement, human and otherwise”.

“Religious doctrinal laws oblige whole populations, including their most self-aggrandising clans, to nurture all life, human and otherwise, however imperfectly and inequitably; capitalism’s state-enforced repudiation of the socially-necessary obligation to nurture all life (a consequence of science’s repudiation of religion), must eventually cause the disintegration of all societies, pending the development of scientific socialism.”

Here again the problem is posed as if it was ideological and even on this level it is wrong. Only in a very few historical instances were whole societies governed totally by religious laws; Israel and Judea in Roman times, the reign of Mohamed, etc. Even the old Islamic Empire of the Ottoman Turks and modern Islamic Republics like Iran are mixtures of secular and Sharia laws. Already by the early Middle Ages conflict between church and state saw increasing secularisation of the state. And this was a progressive thing, an inevitable step in the preparation of society for the socialist revolution and the taking of power by the working class and so to the abolition of all classes. “Religious doctrinal laws oblige whole populations, including their most self-aggrandising clans, to nurture all life, human and otherwise, however imperfectly and inequitably;” seems to suggest that the development of
capitalism was reactionary and not progressive, this is surely a reference to noblesse oblige, a mere hypocritical principle to justify the jus primae noctis etc. And again we really do not know what “pending the development of scientific socialism” means if it does not signify some vague ‘raising of consciousness’ project and not the socialist revolution.

Look at how Christopher Hill describes this transformation in his great analysis of the intellectual and ideological conflicts that took place in the approach, during and after the English Civil War, The World Turned Upside Down (p242-3)

“One of the fascinating problems in the intellectual history of seventeenth-century England is the collapse of Calvinism. It was as though it had performed its historic task with the establishment of a society in which the protestant ethic prevailed. Before 1640 Calvinism had been attacked from the right by sacramentalist Laudians;[1] during the Revolution it was attacked by rationalist Arminians[2] of the left – John Goodwin, Milton, Quakers. Presbyterian discipline was unpopular both with the ungodly lower classes and with upper class anti-clericals. More serious, Calvinism had proved unable to sustain its defences against Antinomianism.[3] So long as the elect were respectable bourgeois Puritans, their sense of freedom through cooperation with God brought no fundamental danger to the social order. But it was impossible, once discipline brisk down, to decide who the elect were. The radicals rejected as hypocrites those Puritans whose faith did not result in works of love. Artisan Fifth Monarchists[4] proclaimed that they were the saints who should rule. Mechanick preachers and lower-class Quakers[5] were convinced that the Holy Spirit was within them. Some Ranters preached a dionysiac Antinomianism that would have subverted all the moral standards of a propertied society”.

Failure to agree who the elect were drove the men of property back to works — by their fruits ye shall know them. Standards and norms of conduct could be established and enforced by lay J.P.s with no danger of a clerical Presbyterian discipline. This was a very different theology of works from that of Catholics or Laudians; it was non-sacramental, in no “dependent on a mediating priesthood. It avoided both types of clericalism. And the sects themselves, once they had accepted the world and the sinfulness of man, cooperated in enforcing a morality of works on their members. We are all so Arminians now that it requires a great imaginative effort think oneself back into the pre-revolutionary society which Calvinism dominated.

The Catholic counter-reformation at the Council of Trent (1545–1563) decreed that an excerpt from the Gospel according to St John which begins; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” be read out in the vernacular (the only part that the mass of ‘the  common people’ could understand, the rest was unintelligible Latin and Greek until the 1960s) in all churches. It was very important for organised reaction to counter the rising materialist ideology which put men above God and welfare above that of the church.

In the Enlightenment it fell to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to demolish this idealistic reaction in the words of Faust: “This is how ’tis written: “In the beginning was the Word! Here now I’m balked! Who’ll put me in accord? It is impossible, the Word so high to prize, I must translate it otherwise If I am rightly by the Spirit taught. ’Tis written: In the beginning was the Thought! Consider well that line, the first you see, That your pen may not write too hastily! Is it then Thought that works, creative, hour by hour? Thus should it stand: In the beginning was the Power! Yet even while I write this word, I falter, for something warns me, this too I shall alter. The Spirit’s helping me! I see now what I need and write assured: In the beginning was the Deed!”  Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

All serious Marxists side unequivocally with Goethe, it is not “thought works, creative, hour by hour” but thought-driven practice, it was not the “battle of ideas” that determined the outcome of the great British miners’ strike of 1984-5 but the Battle of Orgrieve, which they lost. “Marx and Engels hypothesised that the only means to overcome the quasi-scientific ideology of capitalism would be science ­— the deeper and wider understanding of the unity and interdependence of all life, human and otherwise. They characterised their approach as scientific socialism to distinguish it from democratic or ‘utopian’ socialism, which disregards the particular significance of science’s discipline and methodology in the development of society.”

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Marx’s theory of alienation would refute this sentence. Marx never saw the objective as simply the raising of consciousness and enlightenment. We are revolutionaries because bourgeois ideology is constantly re-imposed on the consciousness of the working class by the social relations of production all workers are forced to enter into in order to make their living. They must sell their labour power to the capitalist; they must subordinate their will to the capitalist in a humiliating relationship as explained by Marx:

In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters.

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)