Tag Archive: voag


Where the World’s Unsold Cars Go To Die

Above is just a few of the thousands upon thousands of unsold cars at Sheerness, United Kingdom. Please do see this on Google Maps….type in Sheerness, United Kingdom. Look to the west coast, below River Thames next to River Medway. Left of A249, Brielle Way. Timestamp: Friday, May 16th, 2014. There are hundreds of places like this in the world today and they keep on piling up…

THE WORLDS UNSOLD CAR STOCKPILE
Houston…We have a problem!…Nobody is buying brand new cars anymore! Well they are, but not on the scale they once were. Millions of brand new unsold cars are just sitting redundant on runways and car parks around the world. There, they stay, slowly deteriorating without being maintained.

Below is an image of a massive car park at Swindon, United Kingdom, with thousands upon thousands of unsold cars just sitting there with not a buyer in sight. The car manufacturers have to buy more and more land just to park their cars as they perpetually roll off the production line.

There is proof that the worlds recession is still biting and wont let go. All around the world there are huge stockpiles of unsold cars and they are being added to every day. They have run out of space to park all of these brand new unsold cars and are having to buy acres and acres of land to store them.

NOTE:
The images on this webpage showing all of these unsold cars are just a very small portion of those around the world. There are literally thousands of these “car parks” rammed full of unsold cars in practically every country on the planet. Just in case you were wondering, these images have not been Photoshopped, they are the real deal! Its hard to believe that there are so many unsold cars in the world but its true. The worse part is that the amount of unsold cars keeps on getting bigger every day.

It would be fair to say that it is becoming a mechanical epidemic of epic proportions. If anybody from outer space is reading this webpage, we here on Earth have too many cars, why not come and buy a few hundred thousand of them for your own planet! (sorry but this is all I can think of) Below is shown just a few of the 57,000 cars (and growing) that await delivery from their home in the Port of Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. With Google Maps look South of Broening Hwy in Dundalk for the massive expanse of space where all these cars are parked up.

The car industry would never sell these cars at massive reductions in their prices to get rid of them, no they still want every buck. If they were to price these cars for a couple of thousand they would sell them. However, nobody would then buy any expensive cars and then they would end up being unsold. Its quite a pickle we have gotten ourselves into.

Below is shown an image of the Nissan test track in Sunderland United Kingdom. Only it is no longer being used, reason…there are too many unsold cars parked up on it! The amount of cars keeps on piling up on it until its overflowing. Nissan then acquires more land to park up the cars, as they continue to come off the production line.

UPDATE: Currently May 16th, 2014, all of these cars at the Nissan Sunderland test track have disappeared? Now I don’t believe they have all suddenly been sold. I would guess they may have been taken away and recycled to make room for the next vast production run.

Indeed next to that test track and adjacent to the Nissan factory, they are collating again as shown on the Google Maps image below. So where did the last lot go? This is not an employees car park by the way.

None of the images on this webpage are of ordinary car parks at shopping malls, football matches etc. Trust me, they are just mountains and mountains of brand spanking new unsold cars. There is no real reason why you should be driving an old clunker now is there?

The car industry cannot stop making new cars because they would have to close their factories and lay off tens of thousands of employees. This would further add to the recession. Also the domino effect would be catastrophic as steel manufactures would not sell their steel. All the tens of thousands of places where car components are made would also be effected, indeed the world could come to a grinding halt.

Below is shown just a small area of a gigantic car park in Spain where tens of thousands of cars just sit and sunbathe all day.

They are also piling up at the port of Valencia in Spain as seen below. They are either waiting to be exported to…nowhere or have been imported…to go nowhere.

Tens of thousands of cars are still being made every week but hardly any of them are being sold. Nearly every household in developed countries already has a car or even two or three cars parked up on their driveway as it is.

Below is an image of thousands upon thousands of unsold cars parked up on a runway near St Petersburg in Russia. They are all imported from Europe, they are all then parked up and they are all then left to rot. Consequently, the airport is now unusable for its original purpose.

The cycle of buying, using, buying using has been broken, it is now just a case of “using” with no buying. Below is an image of thousands of unsold cars parked up on an disused runway at Upper Heyford, Bicester, Oxfordshire. They are seriously running out of space to store these cars.

It is a sorry state of affairs and there is no answer to it, solutions don’t exist. So the cars just keep on being manufactured and keep on adding to the millions of unsold cars already sitting redundant around the world.

Below are parked tens of thousands of cars at Royal Portbury Docks, Avonmouth, near Bristol in the United Kingdom. If you look on Google Maps and scan around the area at say 200ft you will see nothing but parked up unsold cars. They are absolutley everywhere in that area practically every open space has unsold cars parked up on it.

Below is that same area in Avonmouth, UK, but zoomed out. Every gray space that you see is filled with unsold cars. Anyone want to hazard a guess at how many are there…

As it is, there are more cars than there are people on the planet with an estimated 10 billion roadworthy cars in the world today.

We literally cannot make enough of them. Below are seen just a few of the thousands of Citroen’s parked up at Corby, Northamptonshire in England. They are being added to daily, imported from France but with nowhere else to go once they arrive.

So there they sit, brand spanking new cars, all with a couple of miles on the clock that was consummate with them being driven to their car parks. Below is the latest May 2014 Google Maps image of unsold cars in Corby, Northamptonshire.

Manufacturing more cars than can be sold is against all logic, logistics and economics but it continues day after day, week after week, month after month, year in year out.

Below is shown a recent (April 2014) screen grab from Google Maps of the Italian port of Civitavecchia. All those little specks are a few thousand brand new unsold Peugeots. Just collecting dust and maybe a bit of salty sea spray!

Below, all nice and shiny but with nowhere to go. Red and white and black and silver, purple, pink and blue, all the colors of the rainbow and be they all brand new. Indeed all the colors of the rainbow are down there on those cars, making pretty mosaics, montages of color and still life. Maybe that is all they will now ever be, surreal urban art of the techno production age. Magnificent metal boxes, wasting space and saving grace, all sitting still, because its business at mill.
All around the world these cars just keep on piling up, there is no end in sight. The economy shouts out quite loud that nobody has the money anymore to spend on a new car. The reason being that they are making their “old” cars go on a lot longer. But we cannot stop making them, soon we will run out of space to park them. We are nearly running out of space to drive them that’s for sure!

Below, more cars mount up in the port of Valencia in Spain. They will not be exported as there is nowhere for them to go, so they just sit and rot in their colorful droves.

Gone are the days when the family would have a new car every year, they are now keeping what they have got. It may be fair to say that some families still get a new car every year but its the majority that now do not.

The results are in these images, hundreds of thousands if not millions of cars around the world are driven from their factories, parked up and left.

Could we say that these cars have been left to rot! Maybe, as these cars will certainly rot if they are not bought, driven and cared for. It does not look like they will be sold any day soon, many of them have been standing for over 12 months or even longer and this is detrimental to the car.

Below, as far as the eye can see, right into the background, cars, cars and more cars. But what’s beyond the horizon? Have a guess…Yes that’s right…even more cars! All brand new but with no homes to go to. Do you think they will ever start giving them away, that may be the only radical solution. Who knows, you could soon be getting a free car with every packet of cornflakes.

When a car is left standing idle, all the oil sinks to the bottom of the sump, and then corrosion begins to set in on all the internal engine parts where the oil has drained away.

Cold corrosion is when condensation builds up in the cylinders and rust forms in the bores. The engines would then start to seize and would need to be professionally freed before they could be started. Also the tires start to lose air and the batteries start to go flat, indeed the detrimental list goes on and on.

So the longer they sit there the worse it slowly becomes for them. What is the answer to this? Well they need to be sold and that just isn’t happening.

The epidemic is not improving, it is getting worse. Car manufactureres are constantly coming out with new models with the latest technology in them. Hence prospective buyers of, for example, a new Citroen Xsara Picasso want the latest model, not last years model. Hence all the unsold Citroen Xsara Picasso cars from the previous year will now have even lesser chance of being sold.

The problems then just keep on mounting up. In the end, the unsold cars that are say 2 years old will have no alternative but to be either crushed up, dismantled and/or their parts recycled.

Some car manufacturers moved their production over to China, General Motors and Cadillac are examples of this. They are then shipped over in containers and unloaded at ports. However they are now being told to put a big halt in their import into the U.S.A. as they just can’t sell them in the quantities they would desire. Consequently Chinese car parks are now filling up with brand new American cars. Well nobody in China can afford them on their meagre pittance wages, so there they will stay until our economy improves..And lets not hold our breath for that!Enemy Is Profit

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voice of anti-capitalismThe truth is out: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it

David Graeber, theguardian.com
Back in the 1930s, Henry Ford is supposed to have remarked that it was a good thing that most Americans didn’t know how banking really works, because if they did, “there’d be a revolution before tomorrow morning”.

Last week, something remarkable happened. The Bank of England let the cat out of the bag. In a paper called “Money Creation in the Modern Economy“, co-authored by three economists from the Bank’s Monetary Analysis Directorate, they stated outright that most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong, and that the kind of populist, heterodox positions more ordinarily associated with groups such as Occupy Wall Street are correct. In doing so, they have effectively thrown the entire theoretical basis for austerity out of the window.– moneyTo get a sense of how radical the Bank’s new position is, consider the conventional view, which continues to be the basis of all respectable debate on public policy. People put their money in banks. Banks then lend that money out at interest – either to consumers, or to entrepreneurs willing to invest it in some profitable enterprise. True, the fractional reserve system does allow banks to lend out considerably more than they hold in reserve, and true, if savings don’t suffice, private banks can seek to borrow more from the central bank.

The central bank can print as much money as it wishes. But it is also careful not to print too much. In fact, we are often told this is why independent central banks exist in the first place. If governments could print money themselves, they would surely put out too much of it, and the resulting inflation would throw the economy into chaos. Institutions such as the Bank of England or US Federal Reserve were created to carefully regulate the money supply to prevent inflation. This is why they are forbidden to directly fund the government, say, by buying treasury bonds, but instead fund private economic activity that the government merely taxes.

It’s this understanding that allows us to continue to talk about money as if it were a limited resource like bauxite or petroleum, to say “there’s just not enough money” to fund social programmes, to speak of the immorality of government debt or of public spending “crowding out” the private sector. What the Bank of England admitted this week is that none of this is really true. To quote from its own initial summary: “Rather than banks receiving deposits when households save and then lending them out, bank lending creates deposits” … “In normal times, the central bank does not fix the amount of money in circulation, nor is central bank money ‘multiplied up’ into more loans and deposits.”

In other words, everything we know is not just wrong – it’s backwards. When banks make loans, they create money. This is because money is really just an IOU. The role of the central bank is to preside over a legal order that effectively grants banks the exclusive right to create IOUs of a certain kind, ones that the government will recognise as legal tender by its willingness to accept them in payment of taxes. There’s really no limit on how much banks could create, provided they can find someone willing to borrow it. They will never get caught short, for the simple reason that borrowers do not, generally speaking, take the cash and put it under their mattresses; ultimately, any money a bank loans out will just end up back in some bank again. So for the banking system as a whole, every loan just becomes another deposit. What’s more, insofar as banks do need to acquire funds from the central bank, they can borrow as much as they like; all the latter really does is set the rate of interest, the cost of money, not its quantity. Since the beginning of the recession, the US and British central banks have reduced that cost to almost nothing. In fact, with “quantitative easing” they’ve been effectively pumping as much money as they can into the banks, without producing any inflationary effects.

What this means is that the real limit on the amount of money in circulation is not how much the central bank is willing to lend, but how much government, firms, and ordinary citizens, are willing to borrow. Government spending is the main driver in all this (and the paper does admit, if you read it carefully, that the central bank does fund the government after all). So there’s no question of public spending “crowding out” private investment. It’s exactly the opposite.

Why did the Bank of England suddenly admit all this? Well, one reason is because it’s obviously true. The Bank’s job is to actually run the system, and of late, the system has not been running especially well. It’s possible that it decided that maintaining the fantasy-land version of economics that has proved so convenient to the rich is simply a luxury it can no longer afford.

But politically, this is taking an enormous risk. Just consider what might happen if mortgage holders realised the money the bank lent them is not, really, the life savings of some thrifty pensioner, but something the bank just whisked into existence through its possession of a magic wand which we, the public, handed over to it.

Historically, the Bank of England has tended to be a bellwether, staking out seeming radical positions that ultimately become new orthodoxies. If that’s what’s happening here, we might soon be in a position to learn if Henry Ford was right.Enemy Is Profit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerelyEnemy Is Profit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

InjusticeThe VOAG has been concerned for a long time at the actions of PCS union members who work at Employment Centers. Many of the members of the Surrey United Anti-Capitalists – a local, independent,  left unity project, which the VOAG supports – have been unfairly treated, bullied and victimized by the staff. They have had their only source of income taken away from them on the whim of apparent union members who later go on strike and demand “working class unity and support”

The VOAG was pleased to read the article below, dealing with this very question on the Socialist Unity blog, and re-publishes it here.

 The role of PCS members in the bullying of benefit claimants

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) are engaged in the widespread bullying and intimidation of benefit claimants in Job Centres up and down the country. The evidence can no longer be denied and the union’s leadership must now take steps to educate its members that solidarity is more than just a word on a leaflet during a PCS pay dispute, or else face the accusation of collaborating with the government’s vicious assault on the most economically vulnerable in society under the rubric of austerity.

The upsurge in the number of claimants having their benefits sanctioned for increasingly minor infractions correlates to the upsurge in the demand for the services of the nation’s food banks. This shocking revelation was contained in a report by MPs in January, the result of an investigation by the Work and Pensions Select Committee, which called for an independent review into the rules for sanctioning claimants to ensure that the rules are being applied “fairly and appropriately”.

Among its findings the report stated: “Evidence suggests that JCP staff have referred many claimants for a sanction inappropriately or in circumstances in which common sense would dictate that discretion should have been applied”.

The report continued: “Some witnesses were concerned that financial hardship caused by sanctioning was a significant factor in a recent rise in referrals to food aid. The report recommends that DWP take urgent steps to monitor the extent of financial hardship caused by sanctions”.

The majority of Jobcentre staff are members of the 270,000 strong PCS, the sixth largest trade union in the country, which represents thousands of Britain’s civil servants and public sector workers. The PCS has been a strong critic of the coalition’s austerity policies, making the case for an investment led recovery from recession and calling for mass opposition to spending cuts that have ravaged the public sector and been accompanied by a concerted campaign of demonization of the unemployed and economically vulnerable that is unparalleled in its viciousness. This only makes the role some of its members are playing in intensifying the hardship faced by the unemployed and people on out of work benefits even more deplorable.

It is unconscionable that any trade union would allow its members to engage in the wilful and systematic sanctioning of benefit claimants without offering any meaningful resistance. It flies in the face of the very principle of social solidarity that is the cornerstone of a movement founded on the understanding that the interests of working people – employed and unemployed – are intrinsically the same.

The human despair not to mention humiliation being inflicted on people in the nation’s Jobcentres is evidence that the Tory campaign of dividing working people section by section has borne fruit. It has reached the point where the oppressive atmosphere found in your average Jobcentre is on a par with the oppressive atmosphere associated with a district or sheriff court. Job seekers are not criminals and those sanctioning them so readily are not parole officers, yet you could be easily mistaken in thinking they are after spending just a few minutes in a Jobcentre anywhere in the country.

Enough is enough.
This culture of bullying, harassment, and intimidation against the unemployed must be confronted by the leadership of the leadership of the PCS as a matter of urgency. By no means are all PCS members working in Jobcentres guilty of this shameful practice – indeed many are low paid workers reliant on various benefits to survive themselves – but enough are involved in the practice to leave no doubt that we are talking about an institutional problem rather than the actions of a few rotten apples.

Many of those being sanctioned are being trapped due to mental health issues or language issues making them more vulnerable to violating the plethora of rules regarding the obligations they must fulfil when it comes to searching for work. Many are being sanctioned for turning up five minutes late to a scheduled appointment, regardless of the reason why. In some cases suicide has been the result.

You would hope that the leadership of the PCS would at least acknowledge the despair their members are inflicting on the most economically vulnerable people in society. You’d be wrong. In an article which appeared on the PCS website back in February, addressing the volume of criticism being levelled at the DWP over sanctioning, the union denied culpability in the process. On the contrary they assert in the article:

PCS believes our members do the best job they can in very difficult circumstances. Rather than face criticism, this work should be recognised and valued by management and they should start by ensuring a proper pay increase for DWP staff in 2014.

Any trade union member who allows him or herself to be used as an instrument to attack the poor and the unemployed is deserving of contempt. And any trade union leadership that fails to act to prevent it happening is reactionary.Voag-Logo-34

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

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

voice of anti-capitalismIs our meat fit to eat?

Just when last year’s horsemeat scandal was finally beginning to fade, Britain’s carnivores have now been hit with more bad news about meat. According to the union representing meat inspectors, diseased and dirty meat could end up on Britain’s dinner plates as a result of new legislation. Unison says that proposed law changes will reduce the ability of its members to inspect suspect meat and make sure diseased cuts don’t make the human food chain.

A spokesman for the union said that the new rules could mean meat that “repulses us” making it onto our dinner plates. “Most people do not know that there are a small group of meat inspectors and vets that keep them safe from harmful and repulsive additions to our sausages, Sunday roasts and beef pies,” she added.

It’s just the latest in a string of bad headlines about what, for many of us, is the best part of any meal. So, what are the health implications of producing, processing and eating meat, and is it time we thought about going veggie?

Diseased meat
What many of us don’t know is that millions of carcasses are thrown away every year before their meat can make it onto our plates. They may be carrying parasites such as tapeworm or come from animals infected with pneumonia, septicaemia, peritonitis and tumours.

Meat inspectors fear that, if the new rules come into force, more of that meat will end up in our stores and restaurants. But the health implications aren’t clear. Some of this meat might repulse us, but it won’t necessarily make us sick.

Chicken contaminated with faeces is another story, however. It’s the leading cause of campylobacter, the most common form of human food poisoning in the UK. There are 460,000 reported cases each year, 22,000 hospitalisations and 110 deaths. In the last two years nearly three million chickens contaminated with faeces were removed from the food chain.

The risk is still small, though. Thorough cooking kills campylobacter, and the bacteria is only found in a tiny percentage of chickens slaughtered each year.

Factory farming
But the health risks associated with meat don’t begin at the slaughterhouse. There is a convincing body of evidence to suggest that intensive farming methods which produce a large proportion of our meat are potentially harmful to human health.

Many human diseases have originated in farm animals. Scientists think tuberculosis and the common cold probably came to us from cattle, and influenza from ducks. But many experts think that diseases that may prove harmful to humans have more chance to evolve, and to evolve quickly, in intensively reared animals.

“In recent decades,” writes Dr Michael Greger, author of Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching, “previously unknown diseases have surfaced at a pace unheard of in the recorded annals of medicine: more than 30 newly identified human pathogens in 30 years, most of them newly discovered zoonotic viruses.” (Zoonotic viruses are those that can be passed from animals to humans.)

“Factory farms represent the most significant change in the lives of animals in 10,000 years. This is not how animals were supposed to live.”

And it’s not just that new diseases develop more quickly. It’s also that we lose the ability to control old ones. Some scientists fear that antibiotic use in intensively reared farm animals – which is now tightly controlled in Europe but still widespread elsewhere – is leading to the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant microbes.

Processing
The final link in the chain from farm to plate is processing. Some meat is not processed at all, of course – a juicy steak is a juicy steak – but a considerable amount is turned into sausages, bacon, burgers, pie filling and ready meals. One risk of processing is that we can’t always be sure where the meat in our burger originated, a problem highlighted by the horsemeat scandal.

But even when the meat is bona fide, the general medical consensus is that we should cut down on the processed stuff. According to a study of half a million people across Europe published last year, the biggest consumers of processed meats are 44% more likely to die prematurely from any cause than those who eat little of it.

But cut down to what? Bridget Benelam, senior nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) says: “For red and processed meat, the government guideline is to consume no more than an average of 70g per day. Some people in the UK do consume more than this and so need to reduce consumption, but, on average we are actually consuming about this amount so it’s not necessary for everyone who eats meat to cut down.”

Quit meat?
But others take a more hardline view, and say the health and environmental implications of meat production make it difficult to defend. So, should we be encouraged to quit meat altogether? Is a sausage the new cigarette? It seems that, even if we’re not going vegetarian, more of us are becoming concerned about our meat intake. In 2013, meat-free sales increased by 6.6% over the previous year, while Quorn products leapt by 20%.

Nevertheless, many experts don’t advise that we give up meat, just that we eat less and better cuts. “Meat can be rich in nutrients and national surveys suggest that meat and meat products provide 34% of our zinc intake, 28% vitamin A, 22% vitamin D and 17% iron so it does make a significant contribution to the diet,” says Benelam.

That can also mean eating free-range or at least RSPCA-approved meat. It can be a little more expensive, but eating better meat less often can make it more affordable. When even Richard Turner, executive chef of the famed steakhouse Hawksmoor, urges consumers to eat less but well-farmed meat, and treat meat as a luxury rather than a daily staple, maybe we should all sit up and take notice.Revolution-Enemy Is Profit