Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, the armed uprising of Palestinians in Gaza against Israeli rule, has taken Israel by surprise. The break-out from Gaza, the world’s biggest prison camp, accompanied by a fusillade of thousands of missiles from the Izz al-Din al-Qassem Brigades, the Hamas military wing, and the seizure back of important colonised land including Sderot and Askelon, which used to be Arab-inhabited territory until the indigenous people were put to flight by Zionist terrorists in 1948.
This bold Palestinian military uprising is yet another expression of the decline of the imperialist world system in the crisis of the Zionist regime, an ingredient that integrates and deepens the decadence of the system, as well as the crisis of French rule in Africa, challenged and defeated by the military uprisings in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, following the defeat that imperialism has suffered in Ukraine.
This is a breathtaking event – the oppressed turning the tables on the oppressor after many decades of slow genocide. It is excellent from the point of view of genuine communists, as tribunes of the oppressed, that the boot is on the other foot and Israel’s armed colonists are now running scared of the people they oppressed, and whose homeland and homes they stole, for decades. Such is the genocidal brutality of the Israeli indiscriminate terror against the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza, that the actions of Hamas militants in taking both military and civilian prisoners to Gaza, actually has a humanitarian element to it. Given the ‘master race’ psychology of Israel, the belief that Palestinian life is worthless whereas Jewish life is infinitely precious, this would seem a valid incentive for Israel not to simply carpet bomb Gaza as they have done repeatedly since Hamas came to power in 2005, most notoriously in the massacres of Operation Cast Lead (2009) and Operation Protective Edge (2014).
These settlers live on land and even homes directly taken from previous Palestinian inhabitants, and driven into exile by murderous Zionists using methods purloined wholesale from Nazi Germany. Israel has for decades wanted to treat the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip in a similar way that Adolf Hitler treated the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto in WWII. But however murderous their intentions, Israel does not have the power to simply exterminate Palestinians in that manner.
Attempts to do so provoke intense rage and solidarity from not just Palestinians, but from the Arab masses and other sympathetic populations in the region. It would risk Israel’s tame allies in the regions crumbling before the masses. Hezbollah in Lebanon has stated, in response to the Netanyahu/Ben Gvir far right coalition statement that Israel is now ‘at war’ (when was it ever not so?) that an attack by Israeli ground troops on Gaza will mean that Hezbollah will enter the war, perhaps with a similar military operation to the one waged by the Izz al-Din al-Qassem Brigades in the South.
Both Hamas and Hezbollah now appear to have access to newer missile technology, and drones, much of it the result of Iranian innovations in the field, which appears to have somewhat shifted the military balance of forces in the region. Such is the efficiency of some of this Iranian military technology that Russian forces have made use of Iranian drones in the Ukraine war. Hezbollah has plenty of this materiel, and Hamas appears to have at least home-manufactured supplies of similar design, even though undoubtedly not fabricated in Iran. This played an important role in the Saif Al Quds war of 2021, when Hamas fought the Israelis to a standstill in a retaliatory offensive for Israeli attacks on the Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, Islam’s third most-holy shrine, which Jewish-Zionist extremists want to destroy and replace with their ‘Third Temple’.
The 2021 conflict was the most significant victory of Arab forces ever over Israel, and has laid the basis for this conflict, that has Israel once again in something of a mess, militarily, having somewhat overreached itself under this far right coalition of Netanhayu with Kahanists and other Jewish settler extremists, whose best-known figure is the Jewish Power leader and National Security minister, Ben Gvir. The accelerated persecution of Palestinians in the West Bank, attempting to drive Palestinian populations there into a similar state of constant military attack as endured by Gaza Palestinians, has tended to drive Palestinians closer together and to broaden sympathy for Hamas. When moderately free elections were last held in 2005 in the West Bank and Gaza as an occupied entity, Hamas convincingly won the elections as they were seen by the masses and incorruptible and not able to be coopted by Israel, unlike the puppet Palestinian authority under Abbas and Fatah.
This act of fighting back has predictably led to outrage from the imperialist politicians of the West, who scream about the supposed ‘terrorism’ of an oppressed people fighting against ethnic cleansing and persecution. The swine were recently exposed in Canada for what they really are when in unison with their far right Ukrainian stooge Zelensky, a Zionist who vows to make Ukraine a ‘big Israel’ (through a similar ethnic cleansing of the Russian-speaking people of the Donbass), the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a thoroughly mainstream (neo)-liberal figure who something of an archetype of Western hypocrisy, was seen publicly saluting a 98-year old veteran of Hitler’s SS. The West’s support for Zionist Israel, as well as their support for Nazi Ukraine, are really signs of the rehabilitation of fascist barbarism that is taking place in Western bourgeois politics as their system slides toward a final crisis.
Israel appears to have major problems in this conflict, that once again it has provoked by its ceaseless persecution of the Palestinian people, aimed at a slow genocide, to make Palestinians lives unliveable, so they will either leave or die out. It’s good that Israel has major problems. Its cohesion needs to be destroyed, its ability to wage war against the Arab masses needs to be crippled, to give the Palestinian people the military and political space to wage a struggle for full equality and the full right to return for all the Palestinian people. That must point toward the creation of a multi-ethnic workers state of Palestine through the means of permanent revolution, a rearmed workers movement leading the national struggle to victory. That requires solidarity, and the unequivocal taking of sides with the oppressed in this conflict and those to come. In this conflict we therefore say: One side right, one side wrong! Victory to the Palestinians!
We condemn the statement (https://azvsas.blogspot.com/2023/09/why-palestine-solidarity-movement.html) you initiated calling for the ostracism of Peter Gregson from the Palestinian Solidarity movement for supposed ‘anti-Semitism’. We note that this accusation is false: the only definitions of anti-Semitism that count are the ones in authoritative dictionaries, such as the Oxford Dictionary which defines anti-Semitism as “Hostility to or prejudice against Jewish people”, or Merriam-Webster which defines it as “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.”
It is clear that no such hostility is present in the political activities of Pete Gregson. Nowhere does he advocate hostility or discrimination against Jews. We don’t know what definition of anti-Semitism you are using, but it certainly is not any of these. And these are the only ones that the labour movement should recognise.
Peter Gregson was a Labour Party member of several decades duration until he became a victim of the anti-left witch-hunt in the context of the Corbyn movement. His views are entirely within the framework of a legitimate discussion of the role of ethnic bigotry and ethnocentric political programmes in the hostile right-wing activities that destroyed the Corbyn movement. No stone must be left unturned, no question must be forbidden from being discussed, in analysing that.
You say it is ‘bizarre’ for Peter to say that “The people who foisted the IHRA definition upon us were the Jews in the UK who support Israel” (emphasis added). It is clear from the words highlighted that Peter was talking about Zionist Jews, not Jews irrespective of politics. Given the role of highly vocal Zionist Jewish organisations in bringing down Jeremy Corbyn in large measure because of his criticisms of Zionism in the first instance, this is a question that the entire labour movement has a class interest in free discussion of.
We must not accept any restrictions on discussion of this issue among labour movement activists. The role of Israeli-funded forces in seeking to purge not only the Labour Party, but also the Conservative Party, of critics of Zionism, was recorded on film by Al Jazeera in The Lobby.
As Norman Finkelstein wrote in 2018 in his famous essay Corbyn Mania:
“The three richest Brits are Jewish. Jews comprise only .5 percent of the population but fully 20 percent of the 100 richest Brits. Relative both to the general population and to other ethno-religious groups, British Jews are in the aggregate disproportionately wealthy, educated, and professionally successful. These data track closely with the picture elsewhere. Jews comprise only 2 percent of the US population but fully 30 percent of the 100 richest Americans, while Jews enjoy the highest household income among religious groups. Jews comprise less than .2 percent of the world’s population but, of the world’s 200 richest people, fully 20 percent are Jewish. Jews are incomparably organized as they have created a plethora of interlocking, overlapping, and mutually reinforcing communal and defence organizations that operate in both the domestic and international arenas. In many countries, not least the US and the UK, Jews occupy strategic positions in the entertainment industry, the arts, publishing, journals of opinion, the academy, the legal profession, and government. “Jews are represented in Britain in numbers that are many times their proportion of the population,” British-Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer notes, ‘in both Houses of Parliament, on the Sunday Times Rich List, in media, academia, professions, and just about every walk of public life.’ The wonder would be if these raw data didn’t translate into outsized Jewish political power. The Israel-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute rhapsodizes that ‘The Jewish People today is at a historical zenith of wealth creation’ and ‘has never been as powerful as now.’ It is certainly legitimate to query the amplitude of this political power and whether it has been exaggerated, but it cannot be right to deny (or suppress) critical socioeconomic facts.”
It is very clear that Pete Gregson was referring to exactly the same phenomena that Norman Finkelstein was referring to in this essay. Not only cannot it be right to “deny (or suppress)” these “critical socioeconomic facts”, but it is a basic right of all members of the workers movement to discuss them without restriction. Attempts to restrict debate on this should be regarded as an attack on all members of the labour movement, whether of Jewish origin or otherwise. Participants in such debates also do not have to be completely correct in their arguments and suppositions either: without such differing views there would be only a stilted debate. Your letter is an attack on that labour movement democracy which is in the class interests of all workers, Jewish, Palestinian, or whoever, who are fighting against Zionism.
Then there is the attack on Peter for raising the question of the involvement of the Rothschild family in the creation of Zionism. You quote Peter as saying:
“‘Right from the outset, rich Jewish bankers such as Lord Rothschild backed Zionism. It is unlikely we would have Israel now were it not for his influence.’”
And you come back with:
“The suggestion that Israel owes its existence to ‘rich Jewish bankers’ is a classic anti-Semitic stereotype. It is also untrue. The Rothschilds were a house divided with the majority of the British family opposed to Zionism. For example the President of the anti-Zionist League of British Jews, formed in the wake of the Balfour Declaration, was Sir Lionel Rothschild, a Tory MP.
“The Jewish bourgeoisie were overwhelmingly opposed to Zionism. The only member of the Lloyd George cabinet who opposed the Balfour Declaration was its only Jewish member, Sir Edwin Montagu.”
This statement that “The Jewish bourgeoisie were overwhelmingly opposed to Zionism” is one-sided and overstated. According to the current Lord Rothschild, writing in the Jewish Chronicle in 2017, the Balfour Declaration was addressed to his great Uncle, Lord Walter Rothschild, not least because:
“…Walter had been deeply involved in the Zionist movement. He had been introduced to Chaim Weizmann and the cause through his formidable Hungarian sister-in-law Rozika, a convinced Zionist, who had married his younger brother Charles.
Walter’s commitment to Zionism was fired by his very first meeting with Weizmann. He became convinced that the future of the Jews lay in Zionism and dedicated himself to the cause. After the Declaration Weizmann wrote to him: ‘May I offer you our heartiest thanks in making this possible — I am sure that when the history of this time will be written it will be justifiably said that the name of the greatest House in Jewry was associated with the granting of the Magna Carta of Jewish liberties….’
The current Lord Rothschild goes on:
“…from another side of my family Baron Edmond de Rothschild played a significant if very different role in the years prior to the Declaration.
The Baron had been deeply involved in the resettling of Jews in Palestine following the dreadful pogroms of the 1880s in Russia. He was moved to support the early settlers by a number of factors, such as the increasing antisemitism and violence in the Pale of Settlement which made a refuge for Jews from pogroms and persecution imperative. But he was looking for more than a refuge. Above all he was inspired by the vision of the rebirth of the Jewish spirit in its ancient land. As he would later write to the early pioneers of Rishon LeZion: ‘I did not come to your aid because of your poverty and suffering for to be sure there were many other similar cases of distress in the world. I did it because I saw in you the realisers of the renaissance of Israel and of that ideal so dear to us all, the sacred goal of the return of Israel to its ancestral homeland.’”
There is at least some truth in the view the Rothschild family was “a house divided” over the project of Zionism, and that others in the Rothschild family, including as you point out, the Tory MP Sir Lionel Nathan Rothschild, were strongly opposed to Zionism. However, the anti-Zionist ‘League of British Jews’ that he founded proved ephemeral, it wound up in 1929 just as the implications of the Zionist colonisation of Palestine were becoming obvious with the first major Arab uprising. It can hardly be considered of major importance. Unlike the provenance of the Balfour Declaration, which echoes to this day, it is at best a footnote in history.
It is certainly true that in the early period of the Zionist movement the Jewish bourgeoisie were divided about it, not least about whether the project itself was viable or feasible, but it is also true that the overwhelming majority of those who were sceptical or hostile to it were later won over, and bourgeois opponents marginalised and defeated. The Rothschilds in the early 20th Century were certainly important in getting Zionism off the ground and the Balfour Declaration, addressed to their main figure in Britain just as British troops under Allenby were poised to take Palestine from the Ottomans, making it a viable proposition therefore, is certainly of high importance.
This is an important historical question on which, again, free debate in the labour movement is of paramount importance. The workers movement should not tolerate restrictions on freedom of debate on historical questions involving Zionism. Arming ourselves politically against any repetition of the destruction of the Corbyn movement is too important for that.
You denounce Peter Gregson for in 2019 linking to an article by Ian Fantom whose primary topic was about splits in the Labour Party. It also contained an extensive discussion of the diaries of Theodore Herzl. And the article also contained a link to an article by one Nick Kollerstrom which contained material casting doubt on the Nazi holocaust. In his petition, Pete Gregson condemned Kollerstrom’s article as ‘toxic’. He did not link to it. What is remarkable is that whereas Pete Gregson did not link to this article, but mentioned it and condemned it, in your rush to denounce Pete in an earlier article denouncing him for this, you linked your website directly to the very same article! Of course, you will say that you linked to it in order to condemn it. Fine! But Peter condemned it as ‘toxic’ without linking to it! This is strange, in fact downright weird, ‘logic’ on your part to denounce Peter for this (see this Consistent Democrats article from January on this for full details including screenshots proving this https://www.consistent-democrats.org/uncategorized/hands-off-peter-gregson-for-workers-democracy-and-free-debate-not-bundist-heresy-hunts/).
You also denounce Peter for making the following allegation about Zionist involvement in shepherding Jews to the gas chambers in Hungary:
“…until 1940 most Jews refused to move to Israel on religious grounds. These were the people that Hitler gassed. With Zionist support. Proof? Over the period 1942-44, Rabbi Weissmandl of Hungary made a deal with Adolf Eichmann whereby the Germans would ‘sell’ the Jews to him”
But Peter was not accusing this (non-Zionist) Rabbi of being involved in the extermination. Very much the opposite … he says that this Rabbi tried to put together a scheme to buy the freedom of Hungarian and Slovakian Jews from the Nazis. There were over 720,000 Jews in Hungary at that time, including tens of thousands who had fled from Slovakia, and another 100,000 or more Christian ex-Jewish converts. Weissmandl became an impassioned anti-Zionist because Zionists refused to help with the scheme. This Slovakian Rabbi apparently tried to do this and was rebuffed by Zionist leaders in Hungary. See (https://www.geni.com/people/R-Chaim-Michoel-Dov-Weissmandl-Rosh-Yeshiva-Nytra/6000000004681147394) for an account of this. Quite how it is ‘anti-Semitic’ to mention this defies belief. It seems that anger at Peter’s association with the orthodox Jewish group Naturei Karta, who rightly hold up Rabbi Weissmandl as a laudable figure, is leading you to smear him in a crude manner.
You made the same accusation that Peter cites, against the leading Zionist in Hungary, Rudolph Kasztner, who knowing full well that Jews who were deported to Auschwitz were being gassed, systematically hid this from the bulk of Hungarian Jews, and indeed made deals with the Nazis, with Adolf Eichmann as his chief interlocutor, to allow a small minority of wealthy Zionist Jews to emigrate to Palestine in exchange for offering no resistance to the deportation (to gas chambers) of the majority. He clearly worked with the Zionist leadership in Palestine and its agents in doing this.
You yourself, in your major work, relate that Kasztner “received a copy of the [Auschwitz] Protocols [a detailed account of the Auschwitz extermination process by two escapees] at the end of April . The Protocols were also sent to the Zionist liaison office in Istanbul, as well as to Nathan Shwalb [a leading Zionist in Switzerland]”. You then note that “Schwalb was ‘reluctant to publicise the news about Auschwitz’” and conclude “This reluctance probably stemmed from his desire not to upset Kasztner’s negotiations with the SS.” (Greenstein, Zionism During the Holocaust, pp199-200).
Then you write about the involvement of the Zionist top layers both in this, and in covering it up, in connection with the Kasztner libel trial in Israel in 1954, where some truth about this criminality was aired for the first time:
“Why did the Israeli state insist on a libel action on behalf of Kasztner? Clearly it believed that it could bury the rumours of collaboration between the JA [Jewish Agency] and the Nazis….
“Instead of exonerating Kasztner the trial achieved the exact opposite. Kastner effectively became the defendant. Kastner’s boasting of a special relationship with the SS and his stay as a guest of the Gestapo in Vienna was seen as particularly ‘repulsive’.
“Hungarian holocaust survivors testified that if they had known the truth about the Holocaust then they would have tried to escape… It was estimated that 4000-5000 Jews escaped across the Romanian border in any event.”
“Kasztner and his associates actively dissuaded the Jews of Kolozsvar from escaping. Joseph Katz, a lawyer from Nodvarod, four miles from the Romanian border, testified that its Jews knew nothing of Auschwitz.”
You then wrote of the verdict against Kasztner in the trial and quote the judge that Kasztner had “sold his soul to the devil”. “It was a damning verdict, not just on Kasztner but the Jewish Agency” you wrote, noting that the decision of the Israeli state to appeal caused the fall of Moshe Shertok’s government in 1955. Kasztner was then murdered, in circumstances that do suggest a state attempt to erase the question, given that Shin Bet withdrew his personal protection even though a government-funded appeal was in train. When the appeal came to court, in 1957, you concluded that:
“If Kasztner were convicted, then the Zionist leadership itself stood condemned.”
And when the court overturned the charge of collaboration, you noted that the “judgement was overturned on legal and political grounds”, and then cited the wife of one of the Auschwitz escapers and author of the Auschwitz Protocols, Rudolf Vrba:
“What Kasztner did was unbelievable because people had the right to have this information… Rudolph was very bitter about the fact than Kasztner was regarded as a hero in Israel while he and Wetzler [the other escaper and co-author of the Protocols] went unrecognised”.
All this is sufficient to more than substantiate Peter Gregson’s statement that Jews from Hungary were gassed “with Zionist support”. That’s what the collaboration of Kasztner, and the Zionist Agency, implicating the leadership of the Yishuv [the proto-Zionist state in colonised Palestine before 1948], amounted to. That’s what your evidence in your large book points to. It seems that you are flinching from the logic of your own argumentation and throwing abuse at Peter, who is more consistent.
There is a lot more of a case for labour movement activists to campaign against supporters of the dubious, pro-Nazi Ukraine Solidarity Campaign, than against Pete Gregson. It is especically strange to be accepting signatories supposedly denouncing ‘anti-Semitism’ from people like Roland Rance and Pete Firmin who support this campaign. USC supports the West’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, which is being waged on the ground by Nazi militias that are terrorising Russians and Roma, and the population generally, and following in the footsteps of those who fought for Hitler in the Second World War. The scandal in Canada, where Zelensky’s visit to the parliament led to a standing ovation to a 98-year old Ukranian who fought in the SS, just shows what a disgrace this campaign is.
On these grounds the undersigned condemn your open letter as an attack on workers democracy and working-class politics, and call on its signatories, including yourself, to withdraw.
Mark Andresen (Marxist activist, Torquay)
Muhammad Basirul Haq Sinha (Bangladesh)
Anna Brogan (Black Activist and Marxist, London)
John Burr (Thailand)
Paul Collins (Marxist activist, Oxford)
Diana Isserlis (Marxist activitist, Bristol)
Jon de Rennes (Thailand)
Ian Donovan (Marxist activist, London)
Jane Elliot (Palestine solidarity activist, Glasgow)
Ian Fantom (Halifax)
Jim Greenhow (Highlands and Islands)
Henry Herskovitz (Anti-Israel Peace Activitist)
Jackie Jarvis (a non-prejudiced, free Palestine supporter)
Victor Logan (South East London Direct Action Network)
Gareth Murphy (Socialist activist, London)
Georgia Murray (Marxist-Leninist, Ireland)
Kevin O’Connor (Socialist Labour Party, London – personal capacity)
Michelle Thresher (Portsmouth, Supporting and in Solidarity with Palestine)
The Diminution of Imperialism and the Rise of Non-Imperialist Capitalism, Deformed by Decades of Non-Capitalist Development, in Russia and China
The series of nationalist military coups in former French colonies, now neo colonies, in North and West Africa, Niger and now Gabon, and the expansion of the BRICS Economic bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), to include 6 new members (Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) from 1st January 2024, are both products of a new situation brought into being by the West’s long, brutal and clearly losing proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. The Ukraine war was prepared by imperialist provocations, ‘colour revolutions‘ (coups), Western-backed far right terror against Russian-speaking Ukrainians, and threatened NATO expansion into Ukraine, was supposed to weaken Russia and cause collapse.
But it has backfired. The sanctions regime has strengthened, not weakened Russia relatively to its imperialist antagonists, who have suffered a greater decline in their economies than Russia itself because of the economic ill-effects. In fact, Russia is rapidly regaining the economic ground lost since the massive intensification of sanctions from the beginning of the Special Military Operation (SMO) in February 2022. It is within a whisker of regaining its GDP position prior to that point and no doubt will do so pretty soon. And in Ukraine itself, the Nazi regime has sent 400,000 of its own troops to their deaths in ‘meat grinders’ trying to destroy the population of the Donbass. It is now clear that Ukraine is not capable of defeating that population and the Russian troops defending them, and the imperialist propaganda façade is showing signs of cracking.
The arrogance with which the collective West (i.e. the imperialists) have demanded that the semi-colonial countries of the Global South ‘sacrifice’ their economies and the livelihoods of its people for their sanctions on Russian oil, gas, and other commodities and exports, has caused a popular backlash against imperialism generally, and antagonised many semi-colonial bourgeois governing layers, who have suddenly seen the possibility of throwing off the shackles of the ‘unipolar world’ and Western economic blackmail and differential trade (exploitation). The growth of BRICS from 5 to 11 members next Jan 1st will mean that around 47% of the world’s energy resources originate in BRICS nations. Next year it is confidently predicted 10 more countries are likely to join, including Algeria and Venezuela, which will take BRICS’ share of the world’s energy resources to around 70%.
The queue to join BRICS is one manifestation of this revolt of countries of the Global South. The coups in North and Central Africa, which overthrew classic French pseudo-democratic puppet regimes, are another manifestation of the same revolt. The increase in the price of Uranium by the new Niger government, from €0.01 to €200 per kg, is a classic example. France was getting its hands on Nigerien Uranium for the former price, whereas the latter (€200) is the normal price charged by imperialist countries that export Uranium, such as Canada. (https://spectacle.com.ng/2023/09/03/niger-increases-price-of-uranium-from-e0-8-kg-to-e200-kg/) No wonder France has been threatening military action itself and trying to incite the neocolonial client umbrella organisation ECOWAS into doing its work for it.
But this was made enormously more difficult by the pledges of solidarity from governments such as Mali, Bukina Faso, and Chad, already seriously at odds with France, who basically have said that they will treat an attack on Niger as an attack on themselves. And it was made even more difficult by the coup that followed in Gabon, which expelled from power another notorious French client regime. France in this situation is acting as the standard-bearer of the imperialist West. So, the consequences of this are giving birth to a major crisis of imperialism and US hegemony. The fact that BRICS is looking for alternative means of trade to the previously almighty dollar is another major problem for US hegemony.
The US is trying to hit back against this challenge to their hegemony in South America in particular, with their obvious support for far-right candidates in the forthcoming Argentine elections. These are in the Bolsonaro mould and far from de-dollarisation, they are looking to massively re-dollarise Argentina, which would mean a massive attack on the living standards of its working class and poor. Struggles are breaking out against that, and the elections in October will be a massive confrontation over this. If they manage this, another coup against Lula in Brazil is the logical next step.
The impending defeat is polarising the US bourgeoisie itself, exacerbating the original clique warfare between Trumpians and Neocons in the Republican Party, and has given rise to the candidacy of Robert F Kennedy Jr in the Democrats. It is highly likely that there could be one or two ‘third party’ candidates in the upcoming 2024 Presidential Election, with both party machines trying to marginalise both far right and ‘liberal’ critics of the Ukraine fiasco. This fragmentation of US politics could quite conceivably result in next year’s elections collapsing into chaos, which would certainly be a symbol of imperial decline.
Counterrevolution and the New Cold War
The Ukraine war has its origins in the problematic sustainability of the counterrevolution that took hold in the USSR, and most centrally Russia, in August 1991. Though it tore apart the USSR and fractured the apparatus whose main function for decades had been to maintain state ownership of the main means of production, it did not result in the dismemberment and destruction of the Russian Federation, the central component of the USSR. Fracturing the state is not the same as obliterating its administrative and especially productive components. Many important elements survived, albeit in some cases under different titles. But in many cases, they preserved attitudes to property and the various components and classes of Russian society that that were simply customary and had been for many decades, almost as an automatic reflex.
This is the context for the paradox of today’s new Cold War. The driving force of the original Cold War was class antagonism and class struggle: in 1917, driven beyond endurance by the first imperialist World War, the working class of the Russian Empire, supported by the poor peasantry in and out of army uniform, took power as a class and began the task of abolishing capitalism. The revolutionary wave that this was part of, despite convulsing much of Europe, was only victorious in Russia. And that was after fighting off invasion by 13 foreign, mainly imperialist armies – attempted counterrevolution from without in league with the executed Tsar’s ‘White Guard’ general staff. They fought right across the length and breadth of Russia from Europe to the Far East.
Nowhere else did the young Communist Parties manage to take power. This isolation of the revolution created a new situation previously unknown in history and not fully foreseen by the earlier classical Marxists. The proletariat was in power in a materially backward country, surrounded by more advanced, more productive and ultimately more powerful capitalist-imperialist states. This situation meant that the proletariat, in power but isolated, was subjected to a new form of oppression by its state power, simply by virtue of the oppressive material circumstances of material deprivation, blockade and encirclement. Over a period of several years, this oppression led to the atrophying of the direct organs of working-class rule, the soviets, and the crystallisation of a privileged labour bureaucracy in the workers’ state. This degeneration caused the proletariat to lose any real control of the state created by the revolution, and consolidated a privileged layer of labour bureaucrats over the working class in power.
Economic and military siege is a crucial weapon of imperialism against a workers’ state in such circumstances. If the world revolution is too long delayed, capitalist restoration begins, in a molecular manner. First with the crystallisation of privileged layers that begin to advocate conciliation with the class enemy, rationalising national isolation into a ‘theory’ that socialism can be built within national borders, abandoning the world revolution as an aim. It continues with the formal dissolution of international organisations, and the gradual, further crystallisation out of the original labour bureaucracy of more overtly bourgeois layers. These agitate politically for ‘market socialism’ and the like, and gradually eat away at the economic planning that the revolution created, seeking a greater economic ‘freedom’, in reality to make money, while exploiting the often-repressive nature of the original labour bureaucracy to demand greater political freedom for bourgeois currents particularly. Then in turn this gives rise, in the next generations as it turned out, to an aspiring capitalist class that inevitably would come to overthrow the workers state if the workers failed to stop it.
This kind of molecular preparation for capitalist restoration took several decades in the USSR. Because of the deep social roots among the masses that the revolution dug, it could only crystallise very slowly. While this was crystallising the USSR, under bureaucratic leadership of this type, fought off the gargantuan imperialist attack of 1941 from Nazi Germany, and then endured the decades-long military and economic blockade of US imperialism, expressed through NATO since 1949. But the health of the world revolution depends on the working class organised politically on an international, i.e., global scale, led by its most class-conscious and clear-thinking political vanguard. Once that is lost, if it is not regained by the conscious action of the masses, capitalist restoration at the hands of the various privileged layers analysed above becomes virtually inevitable.
Thus, there were no politically authoritative forces able to stand up for the USSR in August 1991: only a decrepit remnant of the earlier bureaucratic regime attempted to preserve it against the rampant privateers lined up behind Gorbachev and especially Yeltsin. They were a feeble bunch indeed and when their three-day coup effort failed, the USSR was seemingly rapidly swept away as Yeltsin, the former head of the Moscow Communist Party, took control of Russia and rapidly dissolved the central state, embarking on a massive privatisation exercise and an economic ‘shock treatment’ that forced millions of people into starvation, despair and death as their living standards were rapidly destroyed. Life expectancy fell by around 5 years under Gorbachev and Yeltsin in the early 1990s, something that was only matched in peacetime during the 20th Century by Stalin’s panicked forcible collectivisation of agriculture in the aftermath of the 1929 Kulak revolt (after the bureaucracy, in its own earlier marketising phase, had encouraged the wealthier Soviet peasant layers to “enrich yourselves”). Both events killed several millions. But only the Stalinist famine is exploited by imperialism and its agents to blame ‘communism’; the economic massacre under Yeltsin had the wholehearted approval of the Western bourgeoisies and indeed, Putin is loathed by them precisely for his efforts to reverse a number of Yeltsin’s crimes against the peoples of the former USSR.
The New Cold War: After the Counterrevolution
There is a huge problem with capitalist restoration in countries where for several decades capitalism did not exist, and (sometimes crude) economic planning took its place. This is clear now, as a new Cold War has begun. In the earlier Cold War, the ideology of ‘Socialism in one country’ led to the perverse situation that giant deformed workers’ states such as the USSR and China were on opposite sides of the geopolitical conflict. From the early 1970s until the collapse of the USSR in 1991, ‘Communist’ China was an ally of US imperialism against the USSR. It fought overtly and covertly against the USSR and its allies in several wars: it invaded Vietnam in 1979 as ‘punishment’ for Vietnam’s 1978 armed overthrow of the most brutally irrational of all the Stalinist regimes – Pol Pot’s ‘Democratic Kampuchea’ (Cambodia). It armed and funded, in alliance with the US and Britain, the Khmer Rouge when they effectively became counterrevolutionary warriors against the pro-Vietnamese Hun Sen government in Cambodia through the 1980s. China funded the counterrevolutionary Islamist mujahedin in Afghanistan though the 1980s in their US-backed war against the USSR and its left nationalist allies of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDPA), whose defeat played an important role in the destruction of the USSR. China funded anti-Soviet, anti-Cuban allies of the apartheid regime in South Africa such as Renamo in Mozambique and UNITA in Angola, against Soviet and Cuban allied post-colonial left populist governments such as FRELIMO (Mozambique) and the MPLA (Angola). This is when the state ideology of China was much more overtly ‘communist’ in colouration, as opposed to today when the whole world knows of the powerful capitalist sector that plays a major role in China.
A form of capitalist restoration took place in China in the early 1990s, from above through a large bourgeois layer, the product of prolonged bureaucratic marketisation beginning around 1979, and proceeding for several decades, gaining sufficient power in the state to absorb key elements of the ruling Communist Party itself. Even Xi Jinping, the current Supreme Leader of the Chinese Communist Party, is part of this billionaire capitalist class which had its genesis within the Stalinist regime and has some markedly different features to the capitalist norm, particularly as seen in the imperialist countries where state power is clearly a tool of corporate power. In China, to a degree, state power overlaps with corporate power in a novel manner that is somewhat unprecedented.
Both Russia and China are thus novel forms of capitalism, where new bourgeois classes are very powerful and yet the state power contains much that is left over from the decades when the dominant form of property was state ownership and economic planning. Not socialism, but societies where the forms of property were those corresponding to the rule of the working class and can be said to be part of what should be the transition to socialism. Socialism, or the lower phase of communism, being defined as a society where class-based social antagonisms no longer exist, though the horizon of what Marx called ‘bourgeois right’ has not yet been crossed. Social and economic inequality persists under socialism not between classes as such, but between different sections of the associated producers themselves, simply because social production has not reached the level of abundance for all as to make formal inequality irrelevant. There will be some functions until that point that will require greater material renumeration simply because without that they will not get done. As work becomes more social and rewarding in its own terms it is likely that these will be the most unpleasant and/or dangerous tasks. At a greater level of material-productive and social wealth such considerations will become increasingly irrelevant, and society will cross the horizon of ‘bourgeois right’ to actual communism, the ‘higher stage’. That however is a process that takes time. And neither the USSR nor ‘Red’ China ever achieved even the lower stage of communism (‘socialism’) as defined by Marx, let alone the higher stage.
Limits to Counterrevolution; Further Revolutionary Possibilities
When history rolls backwards though counterrevolution, it rarely manages to do completely. The French revolution that began in 1789 was the greatest of the social revolutions that brought the bourgeoisie to power and overthrew the feudal system of property and production that preceded capitalism in Europe. In terms of its impact in providing the impetus to the overthrow of local forms of feudalism and initially at least, to democracy through Europe, it was one of the greatest events in history. The radical-democratic phase of the revolution under the historic leaders of the Jacobin party, Robespierre, Danton and Saint-Just, where the French aristocracy was basically wiped out by the stern measure of the guillotine, was succeeded by Thermidor, the seizure of power by a more conservative faction, and then the bourgeois Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte. But Napoleon, though his rule decisively ended the radical phase of the revolution at home, nevertheless exported the bourgeois anti-feudal revolution throughout much of Europe, almost all the way to Moscow. After the final defeat of Napoleon, the feudal order in Europe was damaged beyond repair. In the succeeding century, all the feudal absolutisms, including Prussia and Tsarist Russia, were forced to introduce capitalist social-revolutionary measures from above to try to prevent them being forced on them from below, as in revolutionary France.
The final defeat of Napoleon in 1815 led to an attempt to restore the old French Bourbon monarchy. Louis XVIII and his successor Charles X were unable to simply restore feudalism and absolutism. The old regime in France was irreparable, and as the history of the 19th Century proved, so was the feudal order in the whole of Europe, which was convulsed by revolution after revolution, from above and below, right through the 19th Century. Out of such bourgeois-revolutionary events the working-class movement itself took shape and began to act as an independent class force in its own right, with bourgeois revolutions interlacing with proletarian class struggles to an increasing extent throughout the 19th Century, reaching an initial high point with the Paris Commune: the first short-lived attempt to create a workers’ state in history. This occurred at the end of the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian war, which was in effect the culmination of the bourgeois revolution (from above) that unified Germany and created it as a capitalist great power. After which we saw the transformation of European capitalism where such national struggles were still possible into imperialism, where rival European monopoly capitalist powers fought to divide the world between them for plunder.
The culmination of this process took place in Russia in 1917, in circumstances of imperialist world war, where the bourgeois revolution, centring on the agrarian question and the emancipation of the overwhelmingly peasant population of the pre-capitalist Russian Empire, was carried out by the proletariat in power. That proletariat that had been created by the transplantation of capitalist technique by the Tsarist state in a desperate struggle to compete with the European capitalist-imperialist powers culminating in the First World War.
Does capitalist restoration happen ‘automatically’?
All this raises some difficult questions about Russia today. About the nature of capitalist restoration, and the prospects for both the anti-imperialist struggle and the world revolution itself. Since capitalism was restored in Russia in the 1990s, was apparently consolidated, and yet imperialism has resumed its war drive against ex-Soviet Russia with a vengeance that resembles the Cold War against the USSR when it was a workers’ state. Why should this be if capitalist restoration has happened in Russia? What is the meaning of the current geopolitical conflict between Russia, China and the West? And what is the likely outcome, in the event of a defeat of the NATO powers?
The essay by Leon Trotsky titled Not a Workers and Not a Bourgeois State, is an important supplement to Trotsky’s major work on the degeneration of the Russian Revolution, The Revolution Betrayed (1936), which defined the USSR under Stalinist rule as a bureaucratically degenerated workers’ state. It was a preliminary response mainly to Max Shachtman, who had begun to question the proletarian nature of the USSR and later would lead a struggle that would split the US Trotskyist movement and cause major divisions in the movement elsewhere.
Not a Workers and Not a Bourgeois State was written in 1937 and began to at least hint at addressing some questions of future development that were slightly beyond the scope of the Revolution Betrayed. It made some important points about the similarity of the relationship of an economically backward and isolated workers state with imperialism, and those of semi-colonial, formally independent, capitalist countries, with the same imperialism. It is worth quoting from Trotsky’s essay because it does cast some light both on the likely path of capitalist restoration in such a situation, and implicitly the likely aftermath:
“The proletariat of the USSR is the ruling class in a backward country where there is still a lack of the most vital necessities of life. The proletariat of the USSR rules in a land consisting of only one-twelfth part of humanity; imperialism rules over the remaining eleven-twelfths. The rule of the proletariat, already maimed by the backwardness and poverty of the country, is doubly and triply deformed under the pressure of world imperialism. The organ of the rule of the proletariat – the state – becomes an organ for pressure from imperialism (diplomacy, army, foreign trade, ideas, and customs). The struggle for domination, considered on a historical scale, is not between the proletariat and the bureaucracy, but between the proletariat and the world bourgeoisie… For the bourgeoisie – fascist as well as democratic – isolated counter-revolutionary exploits … do not suffice; it needs a complete counter-revolution in the relations of property and the opening of the Russian market. So long as this is not the case, the bourgeoisie considers the Soviet state hostile to it. And it is right.
“The internal regime in the colonial and semicolonial countries has a predominantly bourgeois character. But the pressure of foreign imperialism so alters and distorts the economic and political structure of these countries that the national bourgeoisie (even in the politically independent countries of South America) only partly reaches the height of a ruling class. The pressure of imperialism on backward countries does not, it is true, change their basic social character since the oppressor and oppressed represent only different levels of development in one and the same bourgeois society. Nevertheless the difference between England and India, Japan and China, the United States and Mexico is so big that we strictly differentiate between oppressor and oppressed bourgeois countries and we consider it our duty to support the latter against the former. The bourgeoisie of colonial and semi-colonial countries is a semi-ruling, semi-oppressed class.
“The pressure of imperialism on the Soviet Union has as its aim the alteration of the very nature of Soviet society… By this token the rule of the proletariat assumes an abridged, curbed, distorted character. One can with full justification say that the proletariat, ruling in one backward and isolated country, still remains an oppressed class. The source of oppression is world imperialism; the mechanism of transmission of the oppression – the bureaucracy. If in the words ‘a ruling and at the same time an oppressed class’ there is a contradiction, then it flows not from the mistakes of thought but from the contradiction in the very situation in the USSR. It is precisely because of this that we reject the theory of socialism in one country.”
25 Nov 1937, https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/11/wstate.htm
This juxtaposition of the situation of the semi-colonial capitalist ruling classes, with that of the proletariat in power in a backward and isolated workers state, is highly suggestive of what Trotsky considered likely to happen if the proletariat were to lose power as a class. In a situation where the proletariat even in power was oppressed by imperialist encirclement and backwardness, it is obvious that any bourgeois regime that were to replace it would face the same material conditions, and would likewise be a “semi-ruling, semi-oppressed class”, subject to imperialism. That basic Marxist supposition, implicit in the above passage though not explicitly spelled out is of enormous importance today in understanding not only Russia but also China and, to some extent, Belarus as well, and likely other former workers states such as Vietnam which have (so far) not played a major role in the current developing new Cold War between imperialism and the giant former bureaucratically ruled workers states.
Belarus, a different expression of the same phenomenon
We believe that Belarus has become an intermediate exponent of this process that has China and Russia as phenomena with their own determinations and rhythms. Having undergone a more fragile and shorter process of capitalist restoration, from 1996 onwards, it renationalized part of what had been privatized and, taking advantage of its privileged relationship with Russia, managed to preserve an economy that was even more state-owned and planned than Russia itself, developing as a relatively isolated extension of it, claiming a “socially oriented market economy”. Those who recognize and regret this are the reports from the World Bank and the US State Department itself.
“From the end of 1995, the Government sought to insulate its population from the pain of reform, protecting jobs and wages. This was accompanied by extensive administrative controls over prices, margins and exchange rates. The State maintained control of the majority of productive resources and a significant part of GDP was allocated to social expenses and subsidies. Market-oriented reforms were very limited. Economic growth resumed in 1996, led by State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).”
“As part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus had a relatively well-developed industrial base; maintained this industrial base after the dissolution of the USSR. The country also has a broad agricultural base and a high level of education. Among the former republics of the Soviet Union, it had one of the highest standards of living. But Belarusians now face the difficult challenge of moving from a state-run economy with a high priority on military production and heavy industry to a civilian free-market system.
After an initial burst of capitalist reform from 1991-94, including the privatization of state-owned enterprises, the creation of private property institutions, and the development of entrepreneurship, Belarus under Lukashenko greatly slowed, and in many cases reversed, its pace of privatization. and other market measures, reforms, emphasizing the need for a “socially oriented market economy”. Around 80% of all industry remains in state hands and foreign investment has been hampered by a hostile business climate. Banks, which had been privatized after independence, were renationalized under Lukashenko. The government continued to nationalize companies in 2005, using the “Golden Share” mechanism – which allows government control in all companies with foreign investment – and other administrative means.”
What we are actually faced with is the aftermath of the counterrevolution in the USSR. Trotsky also had some useful observations about the course of counterrevolution, actual and likely, in the context of both the French (bourgeois) and Russian (proletarian) revolutions in an earlier (1935) piece, The Workers State, Thermidor and Bonapartism. Talking directly about the French revolution, he wrote:
“After the profound democratic revolution, which liberates the peasants from serfdom and gives them land, the feudal counterrevolution is generally impossible. The overthrown monarchy may reestablish itself in power and surround itself with medieval phantoms. But it is already powerless to reestablish the economy of feudalism. Once liberated from the fetters of feudalism, bourgeois relations develop automatically. They can be checked by no external force; they must themselves dig their own grave, having previously created their own gravedigger.”
He contrasts that with what would be likely in the event of the collapse of the Stalinist regime and the Russian revolution with it:
“It is altogether otherwise with the development of socialist relations. The proletarian revolution not only frees the productive forces from the fetters of private ownership but also transfers them to the direct disposal of the state that it itself creates. While the bourgeois state, after the revolution, confines itself to a police role, leaving the market to its own laws, the workers’ state assumes the direct role of economist and organizer. The replacement of one political regime by another exerts only an indirect and superficial influence upon market economy. On the contrary, the replacement of a workers’ government by a bourgeois or petty-bourgeois government would inevitably lead to the liquidation of the planned beginnings and, subsequently, to the restoration of private property. In contradistinction to capitalism, socialism is built not automatically but consciously…”
“October 1917 completed the democratic revolution and initiated the socialist revolution. No force in the world can turn back the agrarian-democratic overturn in Russia; in this we have a complete analogy with the Jacobin revolution. But a kolkhoz overturn is a threat that retains its full force, and with it is threatened the nationalization of the means of production. Political counterrevolution, even were it to recede back to the Romanov dynasty, could not reestablish feudal ownership of land. But the restoration to power of a Menshevik and Social Revolutionary bloc would suffice to obliterate the socialist construction.”
But what has actually happened is more complex. We have had something roughly akin to “the replacement of a workers’ government by a bourgeois or petty-bourgeois government … ” and “….the restoration of private property” in Russia since the 1991 collapse of the USSR. In China, we have had policies carried out for decades – abolition of Kolkhoz (collective farming) and the naked encouragement of capitalist enrichment both rural and urban — under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party – that Trotsky considered would lead to the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union into a kulak-led counterrevolution in the late 1920s. By the standards of the struggle of the Left Opposition against the Stalin-Bukharin bloc and its Neo-NEP – it is inconceivable that the regime of the Chinese Communist Party, with its numerous billionaire capitalists whose influence penetrates to the very top of the CCP regime, could be described today as a workers’ state. It is evident that China today is something fundamentally different from the old CCP regime under Mao, and that state power today is used to defend and promote the capitalist development of China, not to suppress it.
And yet far from stabilising world capitalism under the rule of the imperialist bourgeoisie, we now have a considerable level of unity in defensive struggle of the two giant former workers states of Russia and China, against US/led NATO imperialism, which grows more and more hysterical every day. It is worth recalling Trotsky’s remarks above that:
“For the bourgeoisie … isolated counter-revolutionary exploits … do not suffice; it needs a complete counter-revolution in the relations of property and the opening of the Russian market. So long as this is not the case, the bourgeoisie considers the Soviet state hostile to it ….”
This appears to have been only part of the story. Just as with anticipations and theorisations by Marxists of what might happen if a workers revolution triumphed in a backward country, the theorisations of what would happen if such revolutions were subsequently defeated, by even the best Marxist theoreticians, including most notably Trotsky himself, have proven inadequate for the task. “Theory is grey, but green is the tree of life” is an old saying, but that does not mean that anyone should dismiss Marxist theory in some cavalier and philistine fashion. Theory is a guide to action. But such is the profundity and complexity of world-historic events, when they emerge, that they invariably cause a crisis in existing theories, a need to re-examine, correct and deepen existing theory to provide an updated guide to action for a new period.
It does appear that Trotsky was correct to say, of the bourgeois revolution, that “once liberated from the fetters of feudalism, bourgeois relations develop automatically” (see earlier). However, that automaticity does not transfer mechanically to a situation where it is not feudalism that is overthrown by capitalism, but a workers’ state, however degenerated, based on socialised property.
The restoration “to power” of something rather similar to “a Menshevik and Social Revolutionary bloc” took place in the 1990s in a number of bureaucratically ruled workers states, but it does not seem to have been simply able to completely “obliterate the socialist construction”. When degenerated and deformed workers states have been overthrown by pro-capitalist forces, it has not been the case, unlike with feudalism, that “bourgeois relations develop automatically”. What we have in fact seen is that the kind of “bourgeois relations” that have developed have been highly problematic and have in fact given rise to forms of society that the imperialist bourgeoisie does not have confidence in at all. States have emerged that still contain enough modifications of those features of capitalism as a system that the imperialists consider vital and non-negotiable, that the same imperialists fear that capitalism has not been sustainably restored at all, and these societies could flip back to some sort of socialist construction as easily as 19th Century France did to bourgeois-revolutionary upheavals after the defeat of Napoleon, with its supplementary revolutions in 1830, 1848 – which convulsed the whole of Europe – and 1871 – which gave rise to the Paris Commune, the first attempt in history to create a workers state.
The law of irreversibility in natural history and human history
In a way, not only historical phenomena, but also complex natural science phenomena do not return to the initial stage. Evolutionism is not linear, even if previous forms are repeated in the environment, organisms never completely return to their previous form, as was stated in Dollo’s materialist postulates of irreversibility:
“an organism never returns exactly to a previous state, even if it finds itself placed in conditions of existence identical to those in which it lived previously… it always retains some trace of the intermediate stages through which it passed.”
Gould, S. J. (1970). (Dollo on Dollo’s law: irreversibility and the status of evolutionary laws.” Journal of the History of Biology. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00137351)
Even at the risk of being accused of being mechanistic, as in fact the author of the Law, Louis Dollo, was, although we may suffer such accusations for trying to transpose to the social sciences laws that operate under the natural sciences, it is undeniable that the phenomena of historical events “never return to the previous stage”, as we demonstrate in the French trajectory of the 18th and 19th centuries. On the issue of the current states of Russia and China, if one is not contaminated by the stupid imperialist, Russophobic and demonizing media war propaganda about the current Russian government, it is clear that profound differences must be realised between Putin’s Russia of 2023 and the Czar’s Russia until 1917. Likewise, elements of the restoration of capitalism in today’s China bear little or no resemblance to the social form of Chinese capitalism before the 1949 revolution.
It is also undeniable that the capitalist states of Russia, China and Belarus enhance their rise in the world and on the world market by relying on “traces of the intermediate stages” that they went through in the 20th century after the processes of expropriation of capital, nationalization of the economy, economic planning, achievement of energy, military and nuclear sovereignty, … that is, when they were regimes of deformed proletarian dictatorships. Just as the evolution of the workers’ states of Eastern Europe that became neo-colonies of NATO and the EU also deserve more rigorous studies. They also did not return to capitalism at the previous stage that they found themselves in until the second world war, nor in the part of Germany that for almost half a century became East Germany did the landowning Junkers return to being the dominant class.
All these phenomena can be observed in terms of the dialectic of the uneven and combined development of the restoration of capitalism to the workers’ states of the 20th century.
‘Deviant’ Counterrevolutions and Imperialist Hysteria
What seems to have come into existence in those workers states where indigenous social revolutions were once victorious and defeated many decades later, are capitalist states, but ones where capitalist relations are modified and ‘deformed’ in significant ways, and those states do not function either as copies of the imperialist states, or as semi-colonial vassal states. Neither Russia nor China fit into either category. Nor do they occupy any intermediate category between the two – they are qualitatively different from both. This is very different to passively produced ‘satellite states’ like most in East Europe, which have generally become satellites/vassals of Western imperialism.
The deadly imperialist shock treatment in Russia under Yeltsin in the 1990s produced such a huge popular backlash that within the state machine itself, a nemesis was generated, personified by Putin, that rolled back many of the attacks, and though it did not restore the status quo ante, produced a variant of a social-democratic ‘mixed economy’ with considerable concessions to the welfare of the masses, whose genesis is arguably pretty unique. In a ‘pure’ capitalist state, it would take the threat of revolution itself to produce such concessions which would always be under threat. In post-Soviet Russia, the state apparatus itself, heavily marked by its origin in a workers’ state, responded to mass popular sentiment without such upheavals.
Something analogous seems to have happened in China, but with some important differences also. One key difference being that in China initially the capitalist-restorationist programme was carried out from above, without the kind of all-out economic war on, and carnage of, the working-class population that happened in the former USSR. However, there were lesser attacks, from which flowed a similar outcome to that in Russia. As one left-wing source described:
“… the negative consequences of allowing privatization and looting public assets had to be borne by the working people. Mass layoffs continued in the name of ‘management rationalization.’ Social welfare benefits provided by hired state-owned companies have also disappeared. Naturally, the workers were indignant and resisted. Labor disputes have soared… the number of labor disputes has soared since the mid-1990s when “privatization” was realized extensively. The number of participants in labor disputes in 2003 was nearly five times higher than in 1996.”
“This surge in labor disputes has raised the level of social unrest. Like teeth with broken gums, the foundation of Communist rule shook from its roots. Then there was a slight change of direction. In 2005, the Fifth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China announced that it had abolished the theory of rich-first that ‘anyone should be rich first’ and adopted the theory of ‘Let’s all live well together’ .. From the existing ‘private sector advances while State sector retreats’ of encouraging private ownership rather than state ownership, it has shifted to ‘the State advances while the Private sector retreats’ to ‘restore the part of state ownership.” .
China: Social Character and Working Class, Bolshevik Group of Korea
As a result of this policy shift, the result was “the number of disputes and the number of participants decreased significantly over the next few years” (ibid).
These events show clearly that in both Russia and China the state responded similarly by adapting to mass pressure from the working class and adopting what can best be described as a social-democratic recipe of mixed economy. This was possible because of the post-capitalist deformation within these bourgeois states, which act as a transmission belt for pressure from the masses and modifies the operation of the bourgeois state itself. In a way, this change in the internal class struggle, a little later than in Russia, just as the growing siege of imperialism, in the external class struggle, in the struggle between oppressor and oppressed states, has placed China on the path to the bloc with Putin’s Russia that exists today, which represents a gain for the working class. In some cases, this was caused both by the pressure of the masses on these highly deformed bourgeois states, and by the pressure of big imperialist capital, forcing them to behave in a similar way.
Another important difference is that China actually benefitted from Western neoliberalism in that it became a key repository of ‘outsourcing’ – job migration — from Western imperialist countries, whose capitalist rulers saw China’s cheap but highly-educated working class in the context of apparent capitalist restoration as an opportunity for a massively enhanced rate of profit relative to what was possible in the imperialist countries themselves. China was not the only country that acted as the recipient of such outsourcing, but its state apparatus, which also had its origin in an era of state economic planning, was able to make use of it to embark on its own massive industrialisation. As a result, China has become today’s “workshop of the world” in a manner reminiscent of Britain during the 19th Century Industrial Revolution, but on far vaster scale.
The real driving force of Western Russophobia is not the supposed ‘authoritarianism’ of Russia’s political regime, but anger at the political clout that the Russian masses still hold within what used to be their state. Hatred of the Russian people themselves is a key element of today’s Western Russophobia, which resembles Nazi hatred of the Jews for their supposedly inherent ‘Bolshevism’. Likewise, today’s Sinophobia reflects similar hatred for the Chinese masses, as well as the rage of imperialism at the seemingly unexpected industrial development of China. This was not supposed to happen – China was supposed to be a mere source of profit, not a major industrial adversary able to threaten US hegemony. And Russia and China together are an even more potent countervailing force to the hegemony of the imperialist powers which has persisted since the late 19th Century at least.
So, what is at the root of this paradox? One hint of an answer can be found a formulation in Engels’ 1880 work Socialism Utopian and Scientific, where he makes the following point about the tendency of capitalism towards the generation of trusts and monopolies:
“In the trusts, freedom of competition changes into its very opposite — into monopoly; and the production without any definite plan of capitalistic society capitulates to the production upon a definite plan of the invading socialistic society. Certainly, this is so far still to the benefit and advantage of the capitalists. But, in this case, the exploitation is so palpable, that it must break down. No nation will put up with production conducted by trusts, with so barefaced an exploitation of the community by a small band of dividend-mongers.
This formulation, about the ‘invading socialistic society”, stems from the basic idea of Marxism, held in common by Marx and Engels, that “socialism” or “communism” which they considered as two manifestations of the same thing (‘lower’ and ‘higher’) represented a superior mode of production to capitalism:
“Development of the productive forces of social labour is the historic task and justification of capital. This is just the way in which it unconsciously creates the material requirements of a higher mode of production.”
Capital, Vol. 3, Moscow, 1966, Chap. 15, p. 259
Much of Trotsky’s polemic against the Stalinists in the 20s and 30s was against the theory of socialism in one country, the notion that it was possible to build a complete socialist mode of production in a society qualitatively more backward than the far stronger capitalist-imperialist powers that encircled it. That critique retains its full relevance and potency. But then again, Trotsky also noted that despite this, the reactionary course of the Stalinist regime “… has not yet touched the economic foundations of the state created by the revolution which, despite all the deformation and distortion, assure an unprecedented development of the productive forces.” (Once Again: The USSR and Its Defence, https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/11/ussr.htm)
Engels considered that the socialist mode of production, which was completely in the future in 1880 when he wrote Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, had the ability to ‘invade’ contemporary capitalism, and as a kind of unconscious expression of the historical process, affect the development of the same capitalism to (in some ways) anticipate future developments that would come to fruition under a higher mode of production. This is only an expression of the basic Marxist concept that Socialism: Utopian and Scientific expresses — the objective tendency of social development toward socialism:
“The new productive forces have already outgrown the capitalistic mode of using them. And this conflict between productive forces and modes of production is not a conflict engendered in the mind of man, like that between original sin and divine justice. It exists, in fact, objectively, outside us, independently of the will and actions even of the men that have brought it on. Modern Socialism is nothing but the reflex, in thought, of this conflict in fact…”
The point being that the process of capitalist restoration, the destruction of a long-established workers state, cannot be ‘automatic’ in the manner in which capitalism is able to do away with feudalism. The existence of a workers’ state, however deformed or degenerated, means that that state has already begun the transition to a higher mode of production, communism. Even if the transition is blocked by social backwardness, imperialist encirclement and the monopoly of power of a bureaucracy that opposes and attempts to sabotage the world revolution and thereby the completion of the transition, the transition has begun. The train has left the station, even if it is stalled only a few hundred yards down a track that is many miles long. It is extremely heavy, and still very difficult to simply drag back to its starting point and beyond.
Therefore, what we have in both Russia and China are new social formations where the capitalist mode of production managed to defeat the social formation of the previous transition process, but, however, is forced to coexist in this phase with elements of an “invading socialistic society” that profoundly changed those societies. Previous revolutionary processes initiated some kind of transition to the communist mode of production. These processes did not develop in the form of a linear evolution, they were interrupted and sabotaged by the siege of capitalism, imperialism and the internal contradictions originating from this siege. After the expropriation of the bourgeoisie through revolutionary processes and once the post-capitalist process of economic monopolization, centralization and planning has been unleashed, it is no longer possible to return to the previous conditions of the pre-capitalist capitalist mode of production. This generates a series of partial achievements of the society in transition. The restoration of capitalism cannot permanently and completely destroy all of the achievements of the society in transition created by the revolutionary process. The history of the last 30 years has revealed that it is much more difficult to destroy these revolutionary achievements than previously predicted, including by the Trotskyist movement. This substantially changes capitalism in Russia and China and has produced new types of what we could call “deformed capitalist states”, which are evidently not imperialist. The capitalism that has been restored is weak, not so much in the face of its imperialist tormentors and enemies, but in the face of the massive post-capitalist “deformation” in its “capitalist” economies. Finance capital and the systematic transfer of wealth from less developed economies played no role in their post-capitalist development, and there is no material reason for this to happen now.
Within a social formation, more than one mode of production can coexist, in an unequal and combined way. In this case, the post-capitalist mode of production coexists with ‘elements’ (of a “invading socialistic society”) of deformed proletarian dictatorships, which are, at the same time, the germ of a future socialist mode of production. It is important to remember, that in much of the semi-colonial world, capitalism coexists with a pre-capitalist heritage, and China and Russia coexist with a post-capitalist heritage.
There is a classic, dialectical quality in the reality that the outcome of the counterrevolution that destroyed deformed workers’ states that existed for several decades, should be a form of capitalist state that itself embodies major deformations and modifications that stem from those decades without capitalism, to the extent that imperialism still perceives them as a major threat to their rule and their hegemony.
Such deformed capitalist states can be of heterogenous types, depending on the specifics of their history and origins, and there is no pre-ordained ideological banner which is imperative for their ruling political trends to necessarily uphold. Though China is ruled by the Communist Party, whose ideology is a capitalist bastardisation of what was Stalinist ‘Communism’ but really isn’t anymore, Russia is ruled by the centre-right bourgeois (sui-generis) Orthodox Christian President Vladimir Putin, leader of the hegemonic and highly popular ‘United Russia’ party whose authority stems largely from economic programme and practice, which have tangibly and arguably hugely benefited most Russians since the end of Yeltsin’s carnage.
Putin is a kind of a mild Bonapartist who balances between forces to his left and to his right. To his left is the main opposition, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), the former Stalinist Party which has many subjective communists among its base but has not determined as yet what it really stands for. To his right is the broadly ‘Eurasian’ trend most prominently led by the philosopher Alexander Dugin, who many in the West dub as a fascist, a Russian nationalist, a great Russian imperialist, etc.
A close examination of Dugin’s politics reveals that he is opposed to ethnic nationalism, rejects the whole concept of the nation-state explicitly in theory, and actually looking back at history has managed to construct an ‘Orthodox Christian’ rationale for critical support for Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolshevik Party forces in the 1918-21 Civil War against the mainly Christian Orthodox White Guard forces, whom he very perceptively dismisses as tools of Anglo-American imperialism and therefore enslavers of the Russian people (as elaborated in his 1997 work Foundations of Geopolitics). Thus Dugin, the ‘right-wing’ pressure on Putin, is revealed as a still having an affinity with Bolshevism, the originator of the workers state, and a perfect illustrator of the peculiar deforming influence of the past workers state and its legacy on the present-day capitalist state. A supposed ‘fascist’ who argues for critical support for Bolshevism, whereas actual fascists, like Hitler and Mussolini, were driven by the most virulent hatred for Bolshevism.
These deformed post-Stalinist bourgeois states have proven capable, because of the enormous productive gains (and military developments) that were made without capitalism, of defying imperialist capitalism far more effectively than any rebellious semi-colonies. They are far stronger than any semi-colony because of the independent development of the productive forces they possess. In combination, Russia and China may well be stronger than the US militarily and economically. Russia’s military-nuclear arsenal does appear stronger than that of the US. Instead, as the imperialists have declared a cautious but accelerating new Cold War against them (with ‘hot’ elements, like Ukraine) they have proven capable of leading semi-colonial, capitalist countries, long forced into dependence and vassalage to the imperialists, in revolt against imperialist hegemony.
Revolt of the Victims of Today’s Imperialism
We have effectively a revolt by numerous semi-colonies against US imperialist hegemony driven in this 21st Century, for the first time in history, by the unprecedented rapprochement between Russia and China against imperialism. This unity among the oppressed, which has as its core these two giant capitalist countries deformed by their trajectory as workers’ states, has expanded under the banner of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and also the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). But it was from the economic crisis of the imperialist system that had as its epicenter the USA in 2008 that the leap in quality was made. With the stagnation derived from the crisis in the US and the European Union, China surpasses the imperialist system and becomes the main relation of the trade balance of most countries of the world, replacing the industrialized imperialist centers in the world market as early as 2009. Over the next decade, the bloc of China and Russia, after capitulating to NATO’s military intervention in Libya, avoided making the same mistake in Syria and Ukraine. The beginning of the second cold war was over. The bloc of oppressed nations set limits to the expansionist policy of finance capital, neoliberal financialization, in their economies; and limits to the policy of hybrid warfare against the governments of other nations. The contemporary expression of this economic and military resistance is in Russia’s war against the NATO-backed Nazi government of Ukraine’s oppression of the Russian-speaking rebel provinces of Ukraine itself on the European continent; and in the multiple uprising of the African countries of the Sahel and Central Africa against French imperialist domination. At the same time, monetary resistance to the US dollar is growing across the globe and to the CFA franc in Central Africa.
The SCO is specifically Eurasian, like others recently created. The BRICS are a world association created in the twenty-first century, as is the BRICS Bank (the New Development Bank), a counterpoint to imperialism’s mechanisms of international monetary control, such as the World Bank and IMF. In 2013, China launched the New Silk Road under the name Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Chinese initiative has been compared by the West as a kind of Chinese Marshall Plan to expand China’s soft power. Even from the point of view of purely the amount of investments involved, the plan is several times larger than the Marshall plan, in current values. From the point of view of the relations of control over the countries that are recipients of Chinese investments, there has been no repetition of the forms of imperialist coercion and blackmail for the adoption of economic policies dictated by the creditors typical of those of the World Bank and IMF.
These BRICS, BRI, OCX, etc. organisms overlap in several new layers of relations between oppressed countries. Despite the imperialist war drive and economic sanctions against Russia, and the threat of ‘sanctions’ against any country outside the imperialist ‘club’ who does not join in the sanctions. 20 countries have applied to join BRICS, including Argentina, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Indonesia, and many more. 6 are now joining in the first phase – with likely 10 more to follow by next year’s BRICS 11 summit in Kazan. BRICS before their joining encompassed 40% of humanity … the accession of the hopeful newcomers would undoubtedly encompass a majority.
BRICS has something of the flavour of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) led by Nkrumah, Nasser, Nehru, Sukharno, etc. along with the dissident Tito in the early post-war period. Although it still formally exists, its influence is very diminished. The NAM aimed to manoeuvre between the US and the Soviet bloc in the Cold War, understanding that most semi-colonial countries and their bourgeoisies had major divergences of interest with both. But now, in this second cold war, the BRICS in the expansion phase, are part of the non-imperialist bloc. There are many more commonalities between these countries and Russia and China. Most semi-colonial bourgeois states see them as kindred spirits, but more powerful, and having shifted the relationship of forces against imperialist domination in a way that is fairly unproblematic for such bourgeois regimes. Few take China’s verbal ‘communism’ seriously at all and Russia has no such ideological obstacle even formally. So, the main agency of challenge to US hegemony in favour of the multipolar world is BRICS.
There have been some startling indications of changes in the world to the detriment of US imperialist hegemony that have been brought to a head by the Ukraine war. De-dollarisation, the jettisoning of the US Dollar as the habitual currency of which international transactions are made – previously almost irrespective of who is trading with who – has become a major movement. This is a threat to US financial stability and military power, as the US has been for many decades been able to write virtually a blank check for its military based on the earnings received from the dollar being pretty much the dominant currency for international trade. Its worldwide network of military bases is financed through this mechanism. The rise of the Russia-China bloc threatens all this with its own investment network, in its own currencies and already infects monetary and financial controls exercised by second-tier imperialist countries such as France and its CFA in Central Africa.
One startling index of how things are changing is that of the area once called the Middle East, increasingly referred to as Southwest Asia, or Western Asia, a linguistic shift resulting from geopolitical changes. In deals brokered by Chinese diplomacy, Saudi Arabia and Iran, who have been in a state of bitter antagonism for many years, as most sharply expressed in the war in Yemen, have restored full diplomatic relations, and the Yemen war is apparently winding down. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran will join BRICS on 1st January, with the UAE. Syria, whose Assad government the US and its allies tried to overthrow in a similar manner to Libya and were stopped from doing so by Syria being given armed backing by Russia, has now been restored to membership of the Arab League after former US clients dropped their antagonism. The US is on the defensive in Southwest Asia and China has also made demands for a settlement of the Israel-Palestine question, which is certain to prove much more difficult because of the problem of the overlap of Israel’s ruling class with that of Western countries – the material basis of the very powerful Israel lobby.
But the broader question is whether this concept of a multipolar world is somehow an antidote to imperialist capitalism. And the answer has to be one of deep scepticism towards that. Capitalist development has created an exclusive club of monopoly capitalist powers that basically have enriched themselves massively at the expense of the bulk of the world’s population for a century and a half, with a couple of centuries of preparation before that through mercantilism and primitive accumulation of wealth through such means as a revived chattel slavery on an industrial scale. Capitalist slavery was only eliminated when it came into contradiction both with the struggle for liberation on the part of these workers themselves, and with the expansion of the capitalist world consumer market. The problem is that a multi-polar world does not do away with those powers, who will inevitably fight back in some way, either jointly or separately. US hegemony is not the only possible form, and the NATO that is the current expression of imperialist domination. It is worth recalling that between the two world wars there was no undisputed imperialist hegemon – that role was contested between Germany, Britain and the United States and the resulting armed dispute plunged the whole world into war. Such a development in the future could destroy humanity itself.
Imperialism is coherent in its socio-economic objectives, even though it can be thrown into disarray by unexpected challenges from other forces. It will not just disappear into a peaceful ‘multipolar world’. The lion will not lie down meekly with its victims for the greater good – for imperialism the majority of humanity are just fodder for exploitation. The problem that they face is a historical crisis – the imperialist system itself declined through the decline in profit rates in the advanced countries countries as a result of the 30 golden years of expansion (1945-1975), to the point that the solution found for this, the externalization of the industrial labour force, the schemes of cheap labour abroad and the financial frauds exponentially applied in the speculative paper market (which may explode again in a new crisis soon, as recorded by the 2023 bank failures in the US and EU) not only do not sustain the system but have created a powerful global antithesis situation against the globalization of the imperialist system, from the multiplication of the industrial proletariat in the rest of the non-imperialist world, powerfully industrialized oppressed countries. That is an inherent contradiction in capitalism itself, as Marx pointed out, and affects all capitalism.
The creation of deformed post-Stalinist capitalist states like Russia and China, a new form of anomalous non-imperialist capitalism that uses state power to offset the most irrational drives of capital, cannot simply be reproduced. Because it takes the creation of a fundamentally flawed workers state, and then its ruin, to bring such a state into being. And another paradox is that it was the overall strength of the existing imperialist states throughout nearly a century and a half that allowed those same imperialisms to act as an exclusive club and block the development of other capitalist powers into imperialist competitors. So, the only new imperialism that was created in the late 20th Century, which did not emerge organically, but was transplanted, was Israel.
There is a possibility that a strategic defeat for existing imperialisms by these deformed bourgeois states could have the effect of creating the political and economic space for new imperialist states to crystallise. The most developed semi-colonial states that are jumping on the bandwagon of BRICS may well be provided with the means of economic development to the point that they are able to exploit less powerful semi-colonial countries, and thus begin to behave as new imperialisms themselves. That seems a possibility for instance with India or Indonesia, whose rapid economic development is not restricted by any kind of deformity inherited from a previous social revolution.
And overarching this is the question of the palpable destruction of the world’s climate by capitalism with its fossil fuel industry, a problem that can only be resolved by an end to the profit motive as the force driving economic development, and its replacement with economic planning on a global level to make it possible to transform the world’s energy generation to use means that do not destroy the environment for human habitation. Which is currently happening, and not slowly.
Even if the wildest dreams of the theorists of the ‘multipolar world’ are realised, and a new world mechanism of voluntary collaboration between discrete chunks of the planet is able to bring a sustained new rationality to international relations, that will not solve the fundamental problem: humanity will still be afflicted with the contradictions of capitalism.
This contradictory moment in the history of capitalism would never have been possible without the 1917 workers’ and peasants’ socialist revolution in Russia, and then the secondary, derivative but enormous revolution of Mao’s peasant armies in China leading to 1949. It will prove to be fleeting unless the problem pointed out earlier, of the domination of the workers movement particularly in the advanced countries by social-imperialists, at war with those who stand on the revolutionary outlook of the Bolsheviks, is resolved. To resolve it a new Communist International has to be created, with deep roots in the imperialist countries themselves, able to stand up to imperialist pressure and prevail. A successor to the previous attempts of the Third and Fourth Internationals that for diverse reasons have fallen by the wayside. A new regroupment of communists is therefore necessary to create such a movement, otherwise the historic opportunity of this major crisis of imperialism could be lost.
All at the National Plenary of the 21F on September 8th!
Liaison Committee for the Fourth International
Due to the complexity of Argentine civil society and the achievements of the struggle against the military dictatorship (1976-1983), the imperialist offensive sometimes needs to be carried out through elections, as happened with Mauricio Macri, unlike other Latin American countries where parliamentary coups occurred, supported by the powers of the armed forces, judicial and media (Brazil, 2016, Bolivia, 2019, Peru, 2022).
The recent projection acquired by two strong fascist candidates of the Argentine bourgeoisie, Javier Milei and Patricia Bulriich, shows that the agents of imperialism have reached a higher level of their coup escalation in the country. They immediately perpetrated a wave of looting, artificially organized by the right, taking advantage of the growing social misery of the country.
Fernández’s Peronist government tries to balance between big capital and the Argentine workers who vote for it, seeking the impossible task of reconciling the enemy social classes, which results in the impoverishment of the people and the political weakening of the government. The government was not willing to confront imperialist blackmail and to organize the people to defend a sovereign policy of national development against imperialism and the bosses, which is why it launched a candidacy of the right wing of Peronism, Massa, to mediate its relationship with the United States, the United States and the EU.
Due to the sabotage of the Argentine economy by the IMF, there was a qualitative leap in its rapprochement with China, which assumed part of Argentina’s debt with the IMF, with Beijing replacing the role of creditor that the IMF (the imperialist Bank) had been fulfilling in relation to Buenos Aires, with resources from the exchange between the two countries.
During the last four decades, the IMF has been one of the main agents of control of the Argentine economy by international finance capital linked to the global imperialist system. At the 2023 BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, it was agreed that Argentina would join the BRICS in January 2024.
Imperialism is racing against time and intends to abort the course of alignment of Argentina with the bloc of nations opposed to the hegemonic bloc led by the US, leading the Argentine government and power to a fascist coalition that breaks relations with China, with Brazil, aborts the entry into BRICS and, against the current of the world economy, it wants to dollarize the Argentine economy. As many analysts have announced, the victory of fascism will take the country from an economic crisis to social chaos, a terrain favorable to fascism. As the fascist candidacies have already announced, they are imposing a brutal attack on the life of the population in order to achieve the recolonization of the country on the basis of brutal repression.
As the manifesto of the multisectoral 21F summarizes:
“The right, whether with Milei or with Bullrich, comes for everything: for the destruction of unions and the union model by subsidiaries, for collective agreements and an end to ultraactivity, for the elimination of compensations, for devaluations much more brutal than what we are experiencing, due to the privatization of public enterprises and the direct surrender of all our natural resources to prosperous funds. And they came determined to enforce all this with repression, whatever the cost, and regardless of the health of the workers.” ( CONVOCATION TO THE NATIONAL PLENARY OF MULTISECTOR 21 F)
The first and immediate task of the workers in Argentina and throughout Latin America is to crush fascism and defeat all the agents of imperialism so as not to allow the crisis to turn into chaos and at the same time continue to fight for jobs, wages and a dignified life for all.”
For this reason, we join the call of the multisectoral 21F for the convocation of the National Plenary Session on Friday, September 8, at 10:00 a.m., against fascism. The 21F is a multisectoral forum linked to the trade union and social movements linked to Peronism and Pope Francis. The TMB also publishes and disseminates the appeal, despite our differences with Peronism and with the Pope, to recognize the grave moment in which Argentina is the domino to fall due to the coups d’état and counter-revolutionary attacks of imperialism.
PUTTING THE COUNTRY ON THE SHOULDER TO DEFEAT FASCISM CONVOCATION FOR THE NATIONAL PLENARY OF THE MULTI-SECTORIAL 21F
Friday, September 8, at the Truckers’ Library, at 10 a.m.
To our dear colleagues of Multisectoral 21
We appeal to all the multisectoral 21F who played a prominent role in resisting the neoliberal Macri government, in building the unity of the popular camp and during the pandemic, to reorganize quickly at this decisive moment for the Fatherland.
The right, whether with Milei or with Bullrich, comes for everything: for the destruction of the trade unions and the trade union model by branch, for collective agreements and the end of ultra-activity, for the elimination of compensation, for brutal devaluations much worse than the one we are experiencing, due to the privatisation of public enterprises and the direct surrender of all our natural resources to vulture funds. And they come determined to impose all this with repression, whatever the cost, and without caring about the fate of the workers.
The 21 F was born of the struggle against these anti-worker plans and has always had as its motto “Putting the Fatherland on our shoulders” and beyond the mistakes that our government of the Frente de Todos has committed, the disillusionment that it has produced in broad sectors of the population, and even the doubts that some may have in relation to this or that candidate, it is indisputable that EVERYTHING WILL BE MUCH WORSE if Peronism loses, and that WITHIN Peronism we can continue fighting for a distributive bet with social justice and for many of the points we claim in our 21-point program.
We know that several multisectoral organizations continued with social, community and productive work, and others remained practically united, although with each group developing its work separately, but alert in case some emergency called us again. Urgency has arrived and fascism is just around the corner.
We know that many comrades of the 21F supported the formula of Massa, others of Grabois, others of Moreno, others of Schiaretti and even Libres del Sur or some left-wing candidate in the last primaries. But now, in the face of the advance of fascism, it is imperative to attack all together in the same direction and prevent the right or the extreme right from ruling again in Argentina.
For all this, we convene a national plenary with the presence of our inspiring and maestro Pablo Moyano, next Friday, September 8, at the Truckers’ Library, at 10am. For those who are from the Capital, Province of Buenos Aires, or who can come, you are invited to participate in person. For all colleagues from the interior of the country, who cannot travel, they will be able to participate by Zoom from Ushuaia to La Quiaca.
In this plenary we will not focus on the approval of bills or internships, but on how to redouble the campaign throughout the country to convince the more than 11 million compatriots who, out of disillusionment and anger, did not go to vote. And we will speak with the truth, without hiding the serious problems that exist, but not without warning that everything could be infinitely worse with the return of the right to power. And as San Martín taught us: “When the homeland is in danger, everything is allowed, except not defending it.”
The 21F was the backbone of the resistance when Macrismo won in 2017 and with strikes, mobilizations and a lot of militancy we turned the situation around and managed to defeat the right. Today the Fatherland demands that we return to the field and put the Fatherland back on our shoulders to continue fighting for a just, free and sovereign Argentina and to welcome our dear Pope Francis next year with a Peronist government.
On September 8, at 10 a.m., in person or virtually, we expect all of you.
Pablo Moyano Secretary General of the CGT
Gustavo Vera Director of the Executive Committee to Combat Trafficking and Exploitation of Persons Federal Coordination of the 21F
The recent denunciation of David Miller by Jewish Voice for Labour is another terrible example of how solidarity in the face of attacks by the class enemy is undone by political softness on Zionism on the left. David Miller is a professor and sociology lecturer, formerly employed by Bristol University, who specialises in research into political lobbying, with a particular specialism in combatting Islamophobia which repeatedly brought him into conflict with Zionist lobbying groups.
He is a clearly a left-wing political dissident academic whose work has challenged imperialist and Zionist disinformation over the wars in Syria and more recently Ukraine. He is the initiator of a non-profit company, Public Interest Investigations, whose projects include Spinwatch and Powerbase, which are both online resources that deal with lobbying, corruption, power networks and conflicts of interest. Miller’s projects target imperialism and Zionism, and expose the machinations of their functionaries in systematically promoting racism and attacks on the democratic rights of working-class people and marginalised, victimised groups such as Muslims and defenders of Palestinian Arabs, Miller has become of the target of a vendetta from organisations connected with the racist Israeli state, in an attempt to eliminate him from political life.
He has been targeted for the sack for political reasons, by the mainstream of the ruling class, who concur with the Zionists that the questions that he raises should be eliminated from academia, not because they are racist, but rather because of his sharp and meaningful criticisms and exposure of a form of racism that has overwhelming ruling class support.
Jewish Voice for Labour quoted the following tweet from David Miller:
1. Jews are not discriminated against.
2. They are over-represented in Europe, North America and Latin America in positions of cultural, economic and political power.
3. They are therefore, in a position to discriminate against actually marginalised groups.”
JVL commented that in posting this:
“He presents these three bald statements as ‘facts’. They are overstatements at best, flattening and homogenising Jews, ignoring any historical, international or social context and creating an impression of Jews exercising power as a cohesive force.
Many were distressed by some of Miller’s statements in the past which seemed to exaggerate Israeli power but we believed they fell within the terrain of academic freedom. This recent tweet, focusing on Jews, is of a different order and has crossed a line.”
Naomi Winborne-Idrissi did qualify this slightly and attempt to soften it by saying “our intention was very deliberately to play the ball and not the man”. But by saying that he had “crossed a line” instead of disputing his views factually (for instance) it says the opposite. So, this doesn’t wash.
First of all, there is the phrase in the response that David’s remarks “ignore any historical, international or social context”. But there is no suggestion in his statement of any other context than the current one. Latin America aside (its relevance does appear marginal to this), West Europe and North America are the main centres of political and economic power of the so-called ‘free world’ (in reality, the world of the current dominant advanced imperialist capitalism). David was clearly talking about the current context, not the social position of Jews before WWII, or the Middle Ages.
Also, the demand for ‘context’ and the complaint about the “impression” Miller’s arguments give are not exactly factual objections. It does appear that JVL are uneasily aware that they cannot dispute the factual basis of what Miller said but are complaining that it gives a bad impression and should not be mentioned at all, or at least with so many ‘historical’ and ‘international’ caveats as to negate any ‘impression’ that it might otherwise give. It is not the statements of Miller, reporting what goes on, that gives the “impression of Jews exercising power as a cohesive force” but the activities of the Zionists and their lobbying forces, which claim to represent Jews in general, and their so far highly successful attempts to derail left-wing movements like Corbynism that, in however a fragile manner, promised to oppose the oppression of the Palestinian people by Zionism.
JVL’s statement that David’s statements “in the past” fell within the “terrain of academic freedom” whereas this statement has “crossed a line” implies that his views no longer fall within the “terrain of academic freedom” and that JVL no longer defend David’s right to propagate them and not be victimised or dismissed in the witchhunt he is actually fighting. That is appalling in the context of the many victimisations that have taken place of left-wing activists for making criticisms of the racism of the Zionist movement.
The current context is this: the entire basis of the phoney ‘anti-Semitism’ scam that was used to bring down Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party was the mis-portrayal of Jews as still some oppressed layer of the population subject to systematic discrimination and oppression. Allegedly the leftist opponents of Zionism and supporters of the Palestinians in Labour during the Corbyn leadership created an environment of oppression for Jews and terrorised many Jews out of Labour. Without that ‘impression’ being successfully created in the mass media, there would have been no more traction for the ‘anti-Semitism’ scam than there was for the earlier attempted smear that Corbyn had been a “Czech spy”.
Finkelstein and ‘outsize Jewish political power’
That whole concept is light-years from the truth, and David Miller in raising this issue is following in the footsteps of a number of left-wing, anti-Zionist activists including myself and later Norman Finkelstein, have put this in statistical form and attempted to discuss its implications in a rational, socialist manner.
It is worth quoting Norman Finkelstein in his famous 2018 essay Corbyn Mania, which offers the best statistical breakdown of this issues that are central to this controversy. Norman wrote:
“The three richest Brits are Jewish. Jews comprise only .5 percent of the population but fully 20 percent of the 100 richest Brits. Relative both to the general population and to other ethno-religious groups, British Jews are in the aggregate disproportionately wealthy, educated, and professionally successful. These data track closely with the picture elsewhere. Jews comprise only 2 percent of the US population but fully 30 percent of the 100 richest Americans, while Jews enjoy the highest household income among religious groups. Jews comprise less than .2 percent of the world’s population but, of the world’s 200 richest people, fully 20 percent are Jewish. Jews are incomparably organized as they have created a plethora of interlocking, overlapping, and mutually reinforcing communal and defence organizations that operate in both the domestic and international arenas. In many countries, not least the US and the UK, Jews occupy strategic positions in the entertainment industry, the arts, publishing, journals of opinion, the academy, the legal profession, and government. “Jews are represented in Britain in numbers that are many times their proportion of the population,” British-Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer notes, ‘in both Houses of Parliament, on the Sunday Times Rich List, in media, academia, professions, and just about every walk of public life.’ The wonder would be if these raw data didn’t translate into outsized Jewish political power. The Israel-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute rhapsodizes that ‘The Jewish People today is at a historical zenith of wealth creation’ and ‘has never been as powerful as now.’
Finkelstein concludes his statistical survey by remarking that:
“It is certainly legitimate to query the amplitude of this political power and whether it has been exaggerated, but it cannot be right to deny (or suppress) critical socioeconomic facts.”
The problem is that denying and suppressing these crucial socioeconomic facts is exactly the attitude of many on those sections of the left that capitulate to Zionism in various ways, which as well as soft Jewish-left formations like JVL, includes today much of the so-called ‘far left’ from the Socialist Workers Party, to the Weekly Worker/Communist Party of Great Britain.
‘Far left’ phonies join the witchhunt
The Socialist Workers Party of Alex Callinicos jumped on the issue and issued its own awful statement which began by stating that “Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. Saying Jews are ‘over represented’ in positions of power is.” They therefore go further than JVL and explicitly accuse Miller of anti-Semitism. This wretched, opportunist organisation under Callinicos has form for joining in Zionist witchhunts. Callinicos denounced Norman Finkelstein in 1999 for coming “dangerously close to giving comfort to those who dream of new holocausts” with his famous work The Holocaust Industry. (https://socialistworker.co.uk/news/finkelstein-and-the-holocaust/) The SWP in its current incarnation, led by Callinicos, insists on including Zionists in its Stand Up to Racism initiative, particularly in Scotland with a standing invitation to Glasgow Friends of Israel to join its events, to the justified outrage of Palestine activists.
Now the centrist, Islamophobic and soft pro-Zionist CPGB have jumped on the anti-Miller bandwagon with the SWP, in a grossly hypocritical, anti-Marxist, ignorant and two-faced article by Mike McNair (31 August) which agrees with the SWP that Miller uses “really anti-Semitic arguments” and goes on to fulsomely agree with the SWP that David’s words:
“lump together all Jews without any recognition of class or other differences. Miller targets Jews, not the actual ruling class, and plays on the idea of Jews as ultra-rich and manipulative.”
This statement from Callinicos’s political fiefdom is a pack of lies from start to finish. Miller does not ‘target’ Jews at all. He simply cites facts about their disproportionate representation in positions of power, which actually puts them in a similar position to white Anglo-Saxons, in Britain, the US and other Anglo-dominated imperialist countries like Canada and Australia (for example – in other imperialist countries such as Germany or Latin West Europe similar things are true, mutatis mutandis). Nor does he say anything about Jews being ‘manipulative’. These are lies pulled out of Callinicos’ bottom, they are not in Miller’s text. What Miller is actually doing is quite correctly refusing to accept the widely propagated myth that Jews today are today oppressed as a people in a world dominated by imperialism, and citing the material facts that prove this is true.
What’s outrageous and anti-Marxist about this is that McNair admits that David Miller’s facts are correct. He writes, in a polemic against Tony Greenstein (whose recent leftward movement is precisely shown in his defence of David Miller, contrary to his denunciations of myself and Gerry Downing in the past):
“But rather than defend Miller’s right to free speech, even if what he says is crap, comrade Greenstein goes on to argue with the highest degree of artificiality that Miller’s tweet’s focus on Jews being ‘over-represented in Europe, North America and Latin America in positions of cultural, economic and political power’ is not anti-Semitic because it is statistically true. Well, yes. But would you make the same complaint about Jews being ‘over-represented’ in post-revolutionary Soviet government or the Red Army? The ‘over-represented’ claim is classically anti-Semitic.”
This just shows what anti-Marxist cretins McNair, and the CPGB leadership centred around the political coward and charlatan Jack Conrad, actually are. McNair admits that David Miller has got his facts right. “Well, yes” he coyly concedes. But he follows that up with an amalgam that could either have been concocted by the misnamed racist-Zionist ‘Campaign Against Anti-Semitism’ (which really ought to be called the ‘Campaign Against Arabs and ‘Arab-lovers’) or else the forgers that put together the lies about ‘Trotsky-fascism’ at the Moscow Trials.
Of course, David Miller was talking about the situation today, not the situation in pre-revolutionary Russia when Jews flocked to the revolutionary movement because of their oppression under the virulently anti-Semitic Tsarist regime, an oppression that was intimately connection with the dissolution of feudalism signalled by the emancipation of the serfs in the Russian empire in the mid-19th Century. McNair is deliberately lying and smearing Miller here by dragging in circumstances and happenings that are economically and politically light years away from the current context. He is exposing himself here as a disgusting Menshevik hack, who is consciously smearing David Miller in the manner of those who tried to smear Lenin as a German agent in 1917, or those who lied that Trotsky was pro-fascist in the 1930s.
CPGB’s reactionary precedents and philo-semitic racism
The same hackery was used against myself in 2014 when I wrote my Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism, which cited the same set of facts. I was purged from the CPGB-allied Communist Platform in Left Unity by these third-campist Islamophobes. Weekly Worker editor and hack Peter Manson indulged in similar smearing as follows. Manson notes that I had quoted statistics from the pro-Zionist source Jewish World Review that boasted that
“’between 40% and 48%’ [In the US] of billionaires are Jews.”
And Manson then ranted:
“In my opinion, such ‘statistics’ say far more about the person quoting them than the people they claim to study. Even if we accept that those figures are accurate (a big ‘if’), then why would anyone consider them to be pertinent?”
He then made his similar Stalinist innuendo explicit:
“Interestingly, Donovan notes that communist organisations, not least the Bolsheviks, have often featured a high proportion of Jews amongst their leaders, yet he draws no parallel anti-Semitic conclusions about the significance of this (the Nazis were more consistent in this regard, it has to be said).”
And just to emphasise the point, Manson’s pro-Zionist, Nazi-baiting hack piece was accompanied with a ‘holocaust’ cartoon, again worthy of the CAA.
So why would Norman Finkelstein consider these facts to be ‘pertinent’? He certainly made considerable use of them, as quoted above. He noted that “it cannot be right to deny (or suppress) critical socioeconomic facts”. The attitude of the CPGB’s hacks is precisely to seek to supress discussion of these facts, and to try to smear anyone who does seek a proper discussion of them as effectively Nazis.
But they didn’t dare to try to smear Norman Finklestein as a Nazi: for the simple reason that he is possibly the best known Jewish anti-Zionist scholar in the world, and the son of survivors of the Nazi holocaust. He would have skinned them alive if they had tried, as he did to the liars and witchhunters in the Labour Party, Hodge and co.
This is why their denunciation of JVL for saying that Miller’s remarks “crossed a line” and are indulging in ‘cancel culture’ are so grotesquely hypocritical. What do they expect JVL to do, once the CPGB concur with them that David Miller is ‘anti-Semitic’? Invite him to tea and a slap-up meal? The CPGB actually have a position that free speech for fascists is something to be defended as a matter of principle. And they make a pseudo-show of criticising others on the left for demurring from this reactionary position, having Nazi-baited David Miller in classic Stalinist fashion.
They drag in sensitive and complex questions involving transsexuals and the fears of ‘gender-critical’ types of predators exploiting trans rights, etc. Which are only distantly related to the question of ‘free speech’ for fascists and have their own autonomous level of complexity. But any issue will do to muddy the waters and excuse their Islamophobia, which refuses to defend the resistance of Muslim people in Iraq, Iran and Palestine against imperialist and Zionist invasions and terror. During the Iraq war, they made a polemical point of honour of refusing to defend Iraqi resistance against the US/UK invasion. Likewise, they refuse to defend Iran against imperialism. They refused to defend the elected Hamas government in the Palestinian territories against the coup that Abbas and Israel organised to overrule the elected expression of the Palestinian people in 2007. They are very keen on witchhunting those who criticise the privileged position of Zionist Jews in the imperialist world today, but refuse to defend the self-determination of Muslim peoples attacked by imperialism. Their neutral position on Ukraine, and refusal to defend the Donbass people targeted by imperialism and their Nazi Ukrainian puppets, is another manifestation of the same approach.
The CPGB’s own methodology on questions involving Zionism and Jews is driven by racist philo-Semitism, the mirror image of anti-Semitism. Thus, Norman Finkelstein escapes censure for citing the same set of “critical socioeconomic facts” that others, such as David Miller, Gerry Downing and myself, were smeared as ‘anti-Semites” and akin to Nazis for citing. The only conclusion one can reasonably draw is that the reason for the difference in such treatment is a racialised one. Non-Jews are not allowed to cite these socio-economic facts: Jews are tolerated doing so. This is racism similar to that of the Zionists themselves, and reflects the CPGB’s own soft-Zionist politics, that meant that in the early 2000s they were pursuing fusion discussions with the Alliance for Workers Liberty, on the basis of a common defence of ‘two states’ and the Zionist ‘right to self-determination’.
Their leaders are conscious charlatans and liars, particularly the cult leader at the top of the pile, Jack Conrad, who instigated my purge from the Communist Platform in 2014. In an informal discussion in a London pub prior to my purge, in the presence of another CPGB member, Daniel Harvey, Conrad made it clear that he did not believe that my position was ‘anti-Semitic’ at all. But he feared that if the CPGB allowed me to fight for these views within their framework, they would be branded as ‘anti-Semitic’. Therefore, I had to go. “Call me a coward if you like” he said, in private. Well, I will call him far worse, a cowardly pseudo-Marxist charlatan who doesn’t give a damn about the oppression of the Palestinians. The only time the CPGB ever turn up at Palestine demonstrations is when they can make money by flogging badges for their annual fundraising ‘Summer Offensive’. Barring that, they are notable by their absence.
I regret the confused period of my membership and later semi-association with the Menshevik, evolving Third-Campist CPGB/WW in these periods, but one thing I am pleased about is that I earlier in 2003-4 contributed to the collapse of their mooted fusion with the AWL by very forthright criticism of the AWL’s own ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign against anti-Zionists.
The Jewish Question: an epochal shift
There has long been a disproportionate representation of Jews in parts of business, particularly in finance and trade. Even when Jews were a frowned upon and persecuted population under emerging imperialist capitalism in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, this was true, and this layer of Jews appeared in stark contradiction with the mass of Jewish artisan-workers and the intelligentsia, who did not, initially, share such a socially privileged position. The reason for this was that Jews in the medieval period played the role of a middleman class, a trading ‘people-class’, as analysed by the most-able Marxist theoretician of this question, Abram Leon, in his seminal work The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation (1943). In the later medieval period, as capital grew up within the womb of feudal society, Jews were increasingly confined in ghettos and subjected to persecution as their economic role became obsolete and at odds with the logic of the capitalist development that was beginning to tear apart feudal societies in a more general sense.
This layer of traders was a product of the dissolution of this medieval class with the coming of capitalism and the emancipation of Jews which was a important, democratic feature of the bourgeois revolution that finally overthrew feudalism. The first period of bourgeois rule in Europe, from the 17th to the late 19th Centuries, produced a progressive evolution which made major progress in ending the late medieval persecutions of the Jews. But by the late 19th Century free capitalism was being transformed into imperialism, with a growth of racism to justify colonialism, and two reactionary movements came into existence as a result of that. One was anti-Semitism, which drew on medieval myths and old persecutory calumnies about Jews and came up with the concept that Jews represented a separate, “Semitic” race. The growth of this trend meant a new oppression of Jews began, that did not reach its final expression until the mid-20th Century. This meant that Jews were often the vanguard of fighters both for bourgeois democracy against feudal oppression, and in the workers movement.
The other reactionary movement that came into existence at pretty much the same time as racist Anti-Semitism, was Zionism, which sought an emancipation for the Jews at the expense of some colonised people, whose land would be taken off them for a Jewish state. This was always in its real logic at odds with the progressive Jewish democratic, socialist and communist element in and around the workers movement. It was their nemesis, and its real strategy and aim was to create a transplanted advanced capitalist/imperialist formation that could be politically dominated by the Jewish bourgeois layer referred to earlier. As was obvious from the early days, Zionism was not a movement that aimed to fight anti-Semitism and lead a struggle against oppression. Rather, it tended very much to see anti-Semitism as a kindred movement, as they too sought the separation of Jews and Non-Jews.
The existence of the layer of Jewish traders and financiers is something that has at various times in history been an issue that anti-Semitic demagogues, including the followers of Hitler, have been able to hammer on and use as propaganda in favour of the persecution of Jews. Though in their case, it was always coupled with an attack on the revolutionary Jews, and the construction of a fantastic amalgam between them. Thus, the self-sacrifice and heroism of the revolutionary Jews in Russia, particularly, was posited as an unlikely conspiracy with the bourgeois Jews to create a supposed tyranny where the Jews (revolutionary and bourgeois) would jointly oppress the non-Jewish populations, do away with their traditional institutions, etc. That was the theme of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, the Tsarist tract, which was later taken up by Hitler and provided much of the ideological ballast for his movement.
However, we are now in a very different situation. In the early period of imperialism, from the late 19th Century to the mid-20th, Jews were in a very unusual position in that their oppression had a pre-capitalist origin in the advanced countries themselves, but spilled over into the imperialist epoch. Through a kind of conjunctural epochal anomaly, Jews were targeted and oppressed by imperialism for several decades. The ultimate expression of this was the targeting of Jews for genocide by German imperialism led by Hitler’s National Socialists. But then there followed an epochal shift.
Because this oppression of the Jews was not rooted in any colonial question and had a pre-capitalist origin in the imperialists countries themselves, the Zionists realised it could be overcome and Jews could join the imperialist oppressor populations. That strategy succeeded – with the (largely unintended) help of the Nazis. That is what these debates are trying to address. Jews are no longer a people oppressed by imperialism. Imperialist sponsored anti-Semitism does not exist and the imperialist bourgeoisie regard Jews as a favoured population, the inverse of their status prior from the 1880s to (approximately) the 1950s and 1960s, when the Zionist strategy finally won out and was consolidated.
The bourgeoisie has had great difficulty in reacting to and analysing the Jewish question in a rational manner. One bourgeois political cult, centred around the Protocols and Hitler’s contention that Jews were the ‘political parents of Bolshevism’ had major influence before WW2 and led the imperialist bourgeoisie to tolerate the persecution of Jews, if not to persecute them themselves, which some did. Bourgeois political cults do exist and the bourgeoisie are not simply a rational class.
The cult of Zionism is similar but opposite to the cult of anti-Semitism in the past. Its basis is that one influential strand of the imperialist bourgeoisie has a direct interest in the dispossession of the Palestinians because of Israel’s racist Law of Return, which gives those born Jewish anywhere in the world citizenship rights in the Israeli state, while denying them to Palestinians. That strand has a wider influence and very strong political authority within the imperialist bourgeoisie, which is connected to neoliberalism and the view among the bourgeoisie that Jewish-Zionist bourgeois ideologues like Milton Freidman saved their system. The Jewish-Zionist strand are seen as particularly class-conscious representatives of this class.
State sponsored anti-black racism certainly exists and is evident in the US by e.g., the huge incarceration rate of blacks in its jails. A deliberate policy which both parties are up to their necks in, Barack Obama notwithstanding. Ditto for repression against Hispanics, native Americans, Muslims. The same is true in the UK. Anti-black and anti-Muslim racism here comes from all three neoliberal bourgeois parties. The ‘anti-Semitism’ smear in Labour was laced by anti-black and anti-Arab racism. The anti-Arab aspect was very clear from the targeting of Palestine supporters; the anti-black aspect from the targeting of Marc Wadsworth and Jackie Walker. In the US and Britain, such racism is institutional and a fundamental part of the ethos of the state.
That’s the point about the role of imperialism in oppressing whole peoples. This understanding comes from Lenin and the early Communist International and was continued in Trotsky’s Fourth International while it was guided by Trotsky. This oppression of peoples extends internally notwithstanding the fact that it uses some non-white bourgeois collaborators as camouflage. All these peoples are oppressed by imperialism on a global level. That is what we are debating. Are Jews as a people now oppressed by capitalism and imperialism? The answer is no. But many other peoples are. One of the key activities of the Israel lobby (who have pseudo-left extensions and also a degree of secondary ideological influence) is to get avowed socialists and anti-imperialists throwing their own most conscious elements under the bus. Their means of doing this is to spread confusion about just this question. That is why it is essential that this question be debated properly and fully understood. It is strategic and crucial for creating a fully coherent and effective revolutionary left.
The Price of Leftists Making Alliances with Fascists
Putting the neo-Nazi David Clews on the platform of No2NATO No2War public events is something that some of its prominent figures may come to regret. Though possibly not George Galloway, who in doing this appears to be doubling down on the alliance he made with Nigel Farage during the 2016 Brexit referendum, and later his failed attempt to stand as a candidate for Farage’s Brexit Party in the 2019 General Election. In jointly initiating No2NATO with Chris Williamson in early 2023, Galloway seemed to be acting at odds with that and taking aim at the far-right Maidan regime, its Nazi militias like Azov, Aidar etc, and their imperialist backers.
David Clews is the publisher of Unity News Network. This really stands for ‘unity’ of far-right forces against Britain’s immigrant-descended populations, against refugees. ‘foreigners’ and Marxists. In recent years it has gained a bit of notoriety by trying to exploit social discontent at Covid lockdowns and various kinds of popular unease against the vaccination programme. By putting Clews on the platform Galloway is signalling that for him, the aim is not to win the labour movement away from support for imperialism and racist Russophobia, but to find a British nationalist rationale for opposing the war. Whether Chris Williamson and his former comrades in the former Resistance Movement (aka Resist) understand where Galloway is coming from is not clear but seems unlikely. Resist recently merged with Galloway’s Workers Party, after a failed attempt to merge with Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party.
The result of this was shown by what happened at the rally No2NATO called in London on Sunday, August 6th. Billed to speak was David Clews, who however did not show up, perhaps because he feared exposure to a wider audience as an outright fascist. In his place, alongside decent left-wing speakers like Chris Williamson and Richard Medhurst, spoke one Niall MacRae, who is a supporter of UNN and an official of a fake ‘trade union’, called ‘Workers of England’.
Enemies of Organised Workers
This was founded to represent ‘English’ workers, by elements of the far right including those involved in the English Democrats and former members of the BNP (which is hardly a surprise, as many English Democrats are also former members of the BNP). This far right clique dabbling in nationalist ‘trade unionism’ represent nothing in the working-class movement, and are in fact enemies of genuine trade unions, who they have no connection with. On their website they have a section stating that they “campaign to stop racism” but instead of expressing any solidarity with non-white workers, promote the St George’s flag. They also campaign against ‘unregulated mass immigration’ whereas any real trade union would have members at risk from the state’s anti-migrant laws and would have to campaign for their defence. Taken together, this is a big ‘fuck you’ to non-white working-class people, which is precisely how it is intended.
MacRae published his speech on the UNN website (https://unitynewsnetwork.co.uk/abandoning-the-left-right-divide-to-stop-natos-war-in-ukraine/) along with a postscript that is a tirade against the Consistent Democrats who leafleted the No2NATO rally condemning the announced presence of Clews. No2NATO then circulated this in its Telegram group. In his speech MacRae claimed to be open to working with the left: “Left-right, left-right is how soldiers march. Just as they march in unison, the political Left and Right goes in the same direction.” This is cynical hogwash aimed to confuse the unwary – they do not go in the same direction at all.
MacRae bitterly attacks the Consistent Democrats for, in an article in our journal, “comparing Clews to the mass-murdering Nazis”. But he’s coy about quoting us doing so. For the basis for the (true) allegation that Clews is a Nazi sympathiser is quotations from Clews himself – about ‘decent’ ‘revolutionary nationalists’ who ‘took power’ in the 1930s and apparently as part of doing so, were circumspect in hiding parts of their politics at times, in order not to alienate their potential audience. He is evidently talking about Hitler’s party while lecturing Collett and Towler about the need to copy their tactics by his rendering: nothing else fits the description and timing. So MacRae is whinging about Clews’ Nazi sympathies being accurately quoted.
‘Cultural Marxism’ and Marxism
Then he quotes a section of our policy programme, about opposing Brexit and anti-immigrant measures; opposing British nationalism and being for a United Europe; being in favour of women’s liberation and that of oppressed sexual minorities through socialist revolution; opposing both sexual abuse of youth and ‘moral guardianship’ oppression of the same youth, as ‘cultural Marxism’, noting that this makes us ‘enemies’.
He is accurate about one thing: we are enemies of fascists like him. He is in favour of ‘unity’ of the left and right, as long as the ‘left’ grovels to racists, migrant haters and those sympathetic to abuse and/or regimentation of youth like himself. But we are not ‘Cultural Marxists’. We are revolutionary Marxists. We know full well that from the mouth of Nazi sympathisers like Clews and MacRae, ‘Cultural Marxist’ simply means ‘Marxist’, ‘migrant-lover’ and likely also ‘Jew’. Though for some slightly more sophisticated types ‘Cultural Marxism’ often means the Frankfurt School of Adorno, Horkheimer and Marcuse, who rejected the revolutionary role of the working class in favour of incremental struggles for ‘progress’ against reaction in existing bourgeois institutions. This kind of politics was the forerunner of Eurocommunism, which dissolved the remaining communist impulses of many misled fighters into support for imperialist liberalism. We reject that.
We are proud to stand in the tradition of Jewish communist revolutionaries like Marx, Rosa Luxemburg and notably Leon Trotsky, who in 1918 founded the Red Army that crushed the proto-fascist counterrevolutionary Russian white armies and shot down many such fascists. We think the working- class movement should create its own military formations and deal with the far right today in similar fashion. It is truly bizarre to see such a fascist rant against Marxism delivered on a supposedly antiwar platform, and it is something that is likely at any time to blow up into a major public scandal for the leaders of No2NATO. That Galloway should put such fascists on a public platform is a horror and a tragedy.
The Tragedy of George Galloway
Galloway used to be a left-wing critic and opponent of the Labour Party’s collaboration with imperialism. After his expulsion from the Labour Party for the principled, anti-imperialist act of calling for Arab armed resistance to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, he founded the RESPECT coalition (later RESPECT party). Though it had many flaws, this was a clearly anti-racist and anti-imperialist party. It twice defeated the Blairites in parliamentary elections: Galloway won Bethnal Green and Bow during the 2005 General Election against the pro-war Blairite MP Oona King, inspiring many from the East End Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities along with anti-imperialist militants in what was quite a celebrated mass mobilisation. RESPECT went through major crises when the SWP later split away, but Galloway managed to defeat New Labour again in 2012 under the RESPECT banner in Bradford West, because of his reputation as a champion of Muslim people against imperialism and racism. Galloway was then by far the most outspoken opponent of imperialism and Zionism in public life. He could (and did) legitimately boast about being the most pro-immigrant politician in the British parliament.
This changed after he was brutally beaten in the street by a Zionist thug in August 2014, and suffered a dislocated jaw, among other injuries. He was betrayed by the entire parliamentary Labour left, and most of the far left as well, not to mention the entire ‘democratic’ body politic. The only parliamentarian who publicly and forthrightly denounced this act was the Green MP Carolyn Lucas. One or two Labour MP’s such as Jeremy Corbyn sent private messages of sympathy but none of them were prepared to court similar Zionist abuse by publicly taking on the thugs. Many Zionists publicly expressed joy at Galloway’s beating, and the entire establishment basically concurred by its silence, including the ‘left’.
Unfortunately, the destructive work of this act of thuggery and betrayal was more far reaching than was first apparent. But in hindsight, the change clearly dated from 2014. Galloway ran a quite principled campaign against Scottish separation for the September 2014 referendum, under the slogan “Just Say Naw” to separation. A supportable campaign, as Galloway’s main criticism of the Labour Party’s ‘Better Together’ referendum campaign was that it was a cross-class block, explicitly working with the Scottish Tories. Galloway was scathing about this, and called for a vote against independence to preserve working-class unity across the border, not any kind of block with the unionist ruling class parties. This campaign was underway months earlier than his beating on 31st August and was not changed by the time of the referendum on 18th September, during which time Galloway was evidently preoccupied with recovering from the beating, and the legal case against his assailant.
However, the change is clear when you look at what subsequently happened, when the dust settled. Galloway today would not criticise the Labour Party for allying with Tories in Scotland. On the contrary, he openly advocates votes for New Labour, Tories or any other unionist party against the Scottish National Party. The change, and the contrast is so clear with what he was doing immediately prior to the violent assault on him that the cause is simply obvious.
Galloway lost most of his commitment to socialist and left-wing politics as a result of that beating and betrayal, and capitulated to right-wing populism and worse. Hence his association with Nigel Farage over the 2016 Brexit referendum, as well as his apparent friendship with Steve Bannon, Lawrence Fox, and similar types. Although he retains elements of his prior hostility to imperialism, and his pro-Soviet/Russian views, he came to regard left and right as essentially meaningless. So, he became quite willing to ally with Tories and those even further right in support of his own arbitrary objectives. This is a fundamental change and means Galloway has tragically become a treacherous force, a danger to the workers movement because of his alliances with fascists.
This might be a tragedy, but reversing it seems to be beyond the powers of any individual or small grouping in the labour movement. No matter the circumstances that made this happen, the only conclusion that the labour movement can draw is that Galloway now has one foot in the camp of the far right and cannot be trusted. He should be treated with extreme caution, and his Workers Party likewise, as an outfit that habitually allies with neo-Nazis. People like Clews and MacRae are not some amorphous layer confused between left and right. They are hardened far right cadre.
So What Now?
The formerly “most pro-immigrant politician in Britain”, who twice defeated New Labour because of the trust in him as an anti-imperialist and anti-racist by tens of thousands of workers of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, now spits in their face in the worst possible way by providing a platform for fascists like Clews who prints blood-libellous filth about the supposed proclivities of Asian Muslims for sexual abuse. This is similar politics as the worst far right scum in the government, the likes of Braverman who regularly regurgitate similar lying filth.
This is certainly a tragedy, but the workers movement has to deal with facts and political realities, not sentimentality and ‘what might have been’. We cannot allow Galloway to allow Neo-Nazis to wreck the anti-imperialist movement in Britain. We have to call for all anti-imperialist militants to break from No2NATO and create a fascist-free replacement before it is too late.
No2NATO could have started a mass anti-imperialist movement!
Putting neo-Nazis on its platforms has wrecked it and damaged the whole movement!
A crucial task of socialist and communist activists today is to build labour movement solidarity with the Russian-speaking and Russian people of the Donbass and Crimea who have been targeted for elimination by Western-backed Nazis. In 2014 US neocons instigated a coup in Ukraine, overthrowing the elected government and putting in power far right forces. That was the real beginning of the current war, not the beginning of the Russian SMO in Feb 2022, which was justified defence of the targets of genocide. Cult followers of Nazi-collaborators and mass killers such as Bandera became the dominant power in Ukraine. They glory in the killing by the Third Reich of many millions of Russians on Hitler’s Eastern Front in WWII. Bandera’s forces also killed many Jews, but today Israel is an ally of the Ukrainian Nazis, and an elaborate operation has been concocted to camouflage the NATO-funded Nazi bloodlust against Russians with the puppet President Zelensky, whose Jewish origin masks far right Zionist politics.
We should be mobilising anti-fascist sentiment and exposing the proclivities of Western ‘liberal’ hypocrites who are funding Nazi killers, giving them billions in military aid, supplying them with enormous quantities of weapons including DU munitions and cluster bombs, obviously designed to kill as many Russians as possible. This is being done at the expense of the living standards of the working class everywhere, including here, with sanctions, inflation and gun-running. Anti-war activists should be exposing the traitorous union leaders who support this ruinous war against our class for Nazi bloodlust. We should be exposing Russophobia and xenophobic sentiment generally, appealing to the many workers of immigrant background who have experience of imperialist crimes, and who understand full well why such events as the Russia-Africa summit, attended by most African states, are so important in opposing the West’s drive to impose its will on peoples all over the world.
It is a total disaster that No2NATO has put David Clews, a close collaborator of the Neo-Nazi Patriotic Alternative, on its platforms. We need a mobilisation of the labour movement against fascism and Russophobia, which is a potent form of racism today. This behaviour from Galloway and the Workers Party has undercut No2NATO’s potential appeal and helped Russophobic liars to portray opposition to the war as in some way pro-fascist. Its an outrage against the entire non-white population of this country. Clews and co want to ‘repatriate’ non-whites. We do not need ‘allies’ who rail against migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.
We don’t need xenophobic ranting from George Galloway, who was once an outspoken defender of migrants and the Muslim community, incredibly attacking Starmer’s racist Labour Party from the right for liking ‘foreigners’ in a recent outrageous tweet. What’s with the Red, White and Blue roundel symbol, anyway? It sure ain’t Russian even. And in any case, the flag of the labour movement is red only.
We need supporters of No2NATO to demand an end to this reactionary crap, break with the far right, and organise to throw such xenophobia in the rubbish.
Christian Romero, Bolshevik Militant Tendency – Argentina
Humberto Rodrigues, Communist Party – Brazil
The coup in Niger is the latest expression of the geopolitical dispute over Africa. The dispute between decadent, NATO-based, US-led imperialism, and nations historically oppressed by imperialism, led by China and Russia, capitalist states “deformed” by revolutionary and post-capitalist experiences. After the 2008 economic crisis the bloc of countries led by Russia and China emerged as competitors for imperialism in the world market. The irruption from there of the Eurasian pole as in the cases of Russia, Belarus and China as advanced capitalist technocratic states with different degrees of inheritance of the bureaucratic workers’ states. But, those countries that return to capitalism will not return to the previous phase of capitalism that they were – as nothing returns to the previous existence in the history of the evolution of natural and social life. In these cases China, Russia, Belarus and others will not return to the phase before the cycle of social revolutions of the 20th century, but rather will return to contemporary capitalism under uneven and combined development.
The irruption of this Eurasian pole in other parts of the oppressed world, in Asia, Latin America and Africa, made several African countries see the opportunity to dispute, even in part, the control of the strategic resources of the continent. This generates in Africa and especially Central and West Africa a cycle of coups, counter-coups and civil wars. In this context, belligerent forces emerge that seek to join the Eurasian pole in its tendency to enter into contradiction with the different factions of world imperialism, not only the hegemonic ones – such as the US – but also the subaltern ones such as the French one, which has been convulsed by several struggles of the working class in recent years. In this sense, the coup of last July in Niger is part of this last tendency, against French imperialism.
As examples of this trend that predate the coup in Niger, in Burkina Faso and Mali already years ago, governments were installed based on tendencies that include the anti-French sentiment of the oppressed masses and pro-Russia orientation:
“The coups d’état experienced in Mali and Burkina Faso since 2020 have led to the constitution of military juntas of anti-French tendency – that is, questioning the French government’s policy in Africa – which has challenged the traditional Western alliance to strengthen, instead, its relations with Russia.”
Niger’s economic and strategic role in the confrontation between Russia and the Western powers, especially France, is key, especially in the supply of uranium, key to 70% of the electricity generated in France. ( See https://es.ara.cat/internacional/africa/golpe-niger-pone-riesgo-centrales-nucleares-francesas_1_4769644.html)
The role of French neocolonialism in Central and West Africa also extends to the level of monetary policies as in the case of the CFA. Until now, Niger and other Central African countries, former French colonies, use the CFA franc as a monetary unit. Through this mechanism, France effectively exercises veto power over the respective central banks of nations dominated by French imperialism. (see https://elordenmundial.com/que-es-franco-cfa/)
“According to the newspaper Liberation, 34.7% of the 6,286 tonnes of ore imported by France in 2020 came from Niger, ahead of Kazakhstan (28.9%), Uzbekistan (26.4%) and Australia (9.9%). Since then, imports have fallen and Nigerien uranium now supplies between 10% and 15% of the needs of French power plants, estimates the state-owned Orano group, which exploits uranium deposits in northern Niger, “being the key nuclear industry for the French energy matrix.”
France in Central and West Africa was very aggressive even after its former colonies had formal independence. Since 1961 there have been 44 French military interventions in Africa.
We must also add that we must add the imposition of coups d’état as in the 80s in Burkina Faso against T. Sankara with F. Mitterrand (PSF) complying as a substitute of the reaction reganianao-tacherista in Africa. (See https://lcligacomunista.blogspot.com/2016/10/thomas-sankara-ha-29-anos-de-seu.html)
“The governments of Burkina Faso and Mali have warned the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Monday [31 July] that a possible intervention against Niger would be considered a declaration of war against them.”
the statement concluded:
“On the other hand, they expressed their fraternal solidarity with the Nigerien people, who have taken their destiny into their own hands and assumed the fullness of their sovereignty in the face of history.” In any case, the transitional governments of Burkina Faso and Mali invite the forces to be ready and mobilized, to lend a hand to the people of Niger, in these dark hours of Pan-Africanism,”
The above shows how in Central and West Africa the feeling of being plundered of its resources by imperialism develops and how the tendencies of opposition to imperialism itself grow. All that happened on the eve of the BRICS leadership meeting in South Africa, now in August 2023.
Today the sectors that seek greater independence in the countries of West and Central Africa, a dependency closely linked to the presence of French imperialism, seek an alliance with Russia. Also from the economic point of view there is now a rapprochement with China, currently after 9 years of suspension of its activities the enterprise for the extraction of uranium in Niger is resumed in partnership with the uranium company of China.
“We know that Chinese cooperation has made great technological advances and we believe that we can accelerate these advances to have a modern, profitable operation for our economy within the framework of a win-win partnership,” said Niger’s Minister of Mines Ousseimini Hadizatou Yacouba , according to Niger’s own press.
Today in Niger it is vital to unite the tactics of the Anti-Imperialist United Front that today in Niger itself is a united front with every belligerent force that contradicts imperialism including the regular army. The tactic of the Anti-Imperialist United Front must be merged with the strategy of the permanent revolution, since there will only be authentic sovereignty of the people of Niger as part of a federation of republics based on workers’ and peasants’ councils of Central and West Africa.
Imperialism out of Niger! Unite the struggle against imperialism with the struggle for socialism!
This issue is once again heavily concentrated on NATO imperialism’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, with the lead, front page article (though something of a personal view) addressing the political reasons for the accelerating war drive by US imperialism, as the world hegemon, against Russia and China.
The Ukraine war has become a watershed where US hegemony itself is at stake: the ex-workers states of Russia and China may well be capitalist, but the capitalism that has been restored there is so marked and deformed by many decades of anti-capitalist, collectivised social relations as to make these societies fundamentally deformed, ‘hybrids’ that imperialism does not regard as reliably capitalist at all. It regards them as troublesome and subversive rivals that threaten its ‘full spectrum dominance’. Hence the ideologically driven new Cold War of US/NATO.
A start is made in this article in addressing these questions in terms of Marxist theory and it explores the implications of the perspective of the emergence of a ‘multipolar world’, a perspective put forward by prominent Russian politicians and ideologues that has itself become the banner of a revolt by many semi-colonial countries against imperialist world bullying. Far from Russia being ‘isolated’ by the imperialist sanctions regime, BRICS, the Russian- and Chinese- led trading bloc, which already embraces around 40% of the world’s population, has around 20 mainly ex-colonial and developing countries queueing up to join it.
The other major question related to the war addressed in this issue is the big problem with No2NATO, No2War as a putative anti-war bloc, that aims to support the anti-fascist struggle in of the Donbass people against the NATO-Nazi regime in Ukraine. A major blow was struck at this aspiration when George Galloway and his Workers Party of Britain had the idea of putting one David Clews on its platform as a speaker.
As well as being an anti-vax/anti-lockdown activist over Covid, an examination of his politics reveals he is a fellow traveller of the neo-Nazi, anti-immigrant group Patriotic Alternative, and insofar as he is critical of them, it is from an ‘orthodox’ Hitlerian standpoint(!). Both the Consistent Democrats and the bloc of communists and anti-imperialists we support, the International Ukraine Anti-Fascist Solidarity, have put out statements sharply attacking this bloc with part of the far right.
So far, others at the core of N2NN2W have not opposed this, in fact they have doubled down and broken relations with people who criticised this. But we are not prepared to passively allow far right elements to try to hitch a ride on the anti-imperialist movement hoping to profit from social and political turmoil, if, as seems likely (to all, including Clews) the West loses this proxy war.
Apart from that we have a substantive article on the Coronation/Monarchy issue, as well as material addressing repression and purges against leftists. Most important is an article defending Tony Greenstein, veteran Jewish leftist, who is facing a possible prison sentence for his activities on behalf of the direct-action protest group Palestine Action. This a result of Tory and Zionist undermining of the democratic rights of protesters and of their right to present their full case to juries.
Related to that, there are articles on Starmer’s purges of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and of Diane Abbott from the parliamentary Labour Party, all of which underline why no one on the left should be voting for any Starmer-loyal or -subservient Labour candidates in the General Election, when it comes.
On the contrary, we should be working toward the emergence of a real working-class party that can take on the Starmerites for their support for NATO’s Nazis in Ukraine, as well as their overt approval for Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. One step forward recently was when the Socialist Labour Network adopted a principled position of defending the Donbass people in the current proxy war, thus siding with Russia’s armed intervention to defend them. This was a small but real victory in the struggle for genuine anti-imperialist politics. Another step forward was the re-adherence of Socialist Fight, which parted company with us over three years go in a disagreement mainly over Zionism, to the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International (LCFI), our international movement, with a coincidence of views particularly over Ukraine.
And we republish a somewhat pacifist-tinged, but pro-Russian, call for an anti-war conference in Rome this coming October as a preliminary announcement of our critical adherence. We see this as akin to the flawed Zimmerwald initiative in WWI, as a real indicator of the incipient coming together of leftists to oppose the threat of WWIII, but without having the kind of programmatic answers that are needed. We look to the Zimmerwald left, formed by revolutionaries who intervened within the original Zimmerwald movement, which became the nucleus of the Communist International.
And finally, this issue contains a short piece on the candidacy of Robert F Kennedy Jr for the Democratic Party nomination in the US. This might well cause some problems for Biden and his Ukraine war campaign and might even result in a third (or fourth) party challenge, which along with the further travails of Trump, makes next years US Presidential Election extremely unpredictable. An index of the deep crisis and decline of US imperialism and its so-called ‘democracy’.
The motion below was passed by the Socialist Labour Network (SLN) at its All-Members Meeting (AMM) on 9th June. The meeting was smaller than usual, about half the size of the normal run of members meetings. That is likely a seasonal anomaly however, as the SLN still has the loyalty of a broad spectrum of the most militant ex-Labour members who were originally inspired by Corbyn’s leadership. The SLN is the product of the unification of two militant organisations of the Labour left which came together during the period of the Blairite and allied Zionist witchhunt: Labour Against the Witchhunt, and Labour in Exile Network. Both were proscribed by Kier Starmer, as is the unified SLN.
The adoption of this policy is a major shift to the left by the SLN. We in the Consistent Democrats have fought for the SLN to adopt such a principled policy for the whole period of the Special Military Operation. In April last year a third-camp motion was hurriedly passed that equated Russia with NATO, though to its credit it did also call for self-determination for the Donbass people. We opposed that at the time and attempted to correct that in July: a similar motion was then defeated by around 2 to 1 in formal votes. But at the same time, there were so many abstentions that it was obvious that many SLN members were uneasy with the third camp policy. So, it was not a surprise that this motion went through near-unanimously just now.
This is also a symptom of a real shift to the left on this war, as the real Western objective and support for Nazism is being exposed despite the massive media lying campaign. The original version of this motion called for endorsement of No2NATO, No2War (N2N2W). But it fell off the agenda at the April AMM due to lack of time, and the subsequent major error by the Galloway/Workers Party leadership of N2NN2W in blocking with the Nazi David Clews (and then doubling down against criticism of this) meant it had to be amended to take account of this change. That delay was perhaps fortuitous as it turned out.
To defeat the current imperialist war drive and proxy war against Russia, we must work towards creating an anti-war movement that is principled, anti-fascist and anti-imperialist, and stands against the drive of the far-right Maidan regime in Kiev to destroy and ethnically cleanse the Russian speaking population of what was the South-East part of Ukraine (Donbass). We must stand with the Donbass people. The arming of Ukrainian forces with heavy NATO weaponry is aimed to kill Russian-speakers, including the civilian population (in fact Donbass inhabitants). Warmonger Republican US Senator Lindsay Graham, supporting Biden’s war policy, recently boasted that this was the “best money [the US] ever spent”.
Although Stop the War condemns the US and NATO, it also condemns Russia. This is to condemn the Russian assistance of the people of Donbass to resist ethnic cleansing and to avoid being forced into NATO. We need something better and more principled than this. We cannot endorse No2NATO, No2War as its current public alliance with a part of the far right contradicts the whole notion of a struggle against fascism and imperialism.