Abolish the Monarchy, Abolish Bourgeois Power!

Changing of the guard at Britain’s Medieval-Capitalist Totem

Young student at Edinburgh University was arrested for anti-monarchy slogan. An outrageous attack on free speech!

From the point of view of the independent interests of the working class, the death of Elizabeth Windsor is a non-event. There is nothing to mourn, men and women die of old age every day, its simply a natural process and only of interest to their family and friends. However, for the ruling class of Britain, forcing and brainwashing the bulk of the population to pretend to mourn someone they never met or were never likely to meet, let alone know, is a vital class interest today. Hence the long, orchestrated orgy of propaganda, obsequious grovelling, etc. in the media, together with the whole huge logistics of ‘lying in state’, monotonous repeated street advertising bought up in advance with a level of universal uniformity usually only seen under Stalinist regimes like North Korea, who consciously mimic the trappings of monarchy.

The queues are a bizarre spectacle of superstition and masses of the population acting against their own objective interests in pursuit of a fantasy. Reported at over 13.5 hours long towards the end of the week, it is likely that three or four million out of a population of around 67 million are taking part in this orgy of fantasy nationalism, pageantry and medievalism. Benedict Anderson defined nationalism as akin to religious belief in an “imagined community” comprising of individuals who will never meet, and the imaginary nature of nationalism is certainly on show here. This worship of a billionaire aristocrat is certainly bizarre, and its active encouragement is a long-planned logistical exercise by the British state, codenamed ‘London Bridge’, as is widely known.

The privileged longevity of Elizabeth Windsor, monarch since 1953, is seen as an ideological weapon by the British ruling class who long since abandoned any but the most formal pretence that their class rule is in any sense ‘democratic’. The idea that one elite family, and one individual within it, can epitomise the essence of a supposedly great tradition and nation, is drummed into schoolchildren for instance, with propaganda texts, assemblies and instructions to mourn Windsor and flowers being handed out to pupils across the country. 

Earlier this year a ‘Platinum Jubilee’ textbook was handed out to every primary schoolchild in the country at government expense, costing £12 million. This is an outrageous example of indoctrination into an anti-democratic creed whose whole purpose is to inculcate deference and subservience to inherited wealth into the younger generation of those working-class and even middle-class youth who have no real interest at all in maintaining such a medieval institution. This was done by a government that cracks down ruthlessly on any sign of political dissent in schools, with any set of ideas that oppose capitalism equated with terrorism, racism and anti-Semitism. Fortunately, it does not seem be working, as opinion polls show many more young people under 25 want to abolish the monarchy than to keep it.

This totalitarian brainwashing in favour of private property and deference to hereditary billionaires also has, as is well known, the support of the Starmer-led Labour Party, whose ideologues have also equated anti-capitalism with anti-Semitism, not to mention engaging in mass expulsions of leftists for supporting Palestinians, or opposing expulsions of those who do support Palestine. Now the racist scab leadership of Starmer is banning Labour MPs from commenting about the monarchy during the period of the funeral, and in fact about anything. This in the middle of a strike wave, that, in a serious capitulation, the leaders of militant trade unionists like Mick Lynch have postponed for the duration of the mourning of the monarch.

However, inflation has not been postponed, attacks on the working class have not been postponed at all. The new Tory Prime Minister, the execrable and feeble-minded Truss, has continued to work during the period of supposed mourning, preparing further attacks on trade unions, tax cuts for the wealthier parts of society, and a con-trick scheme to try to defuse the issue that threatens the future of the Tory government: fuel price rises. She aims to do these things at the expense of the working class, both by nailing down most of the existing scandalous profiteering price hikes so far in 2022, effectively at least doubling fuel prices for this year, while using government borrowing, not expropriation, nationalisation or even taxation of fuel profiteers, to offset the next predicited rises, simply stuffing the face of the profiteers with government money to compensate them for the freeze(!!), and laying the basis for future austerity attacks to recoup that from the population and its public services and living standards at a later date.

The Labour Party, for its part, clearly opposes nationalisation of the energy privateers, many of whom are blatantly selling ‘renewable’ energy at the same market price as gas-fuelled energy, which is much more expensive, and thus making huge profits from doing so. Instead, Starmer’s Labour published a ‘God Save the King’ meme on social media, and has said nothing at all to condemn the arrests of individuals who have protested Charles Windsor’s accession as King by dynastic succession, or such provocations as the re-emergence in public of Andrew Windsor, whose involvement with Jeffrey Epstein and child sex-trafficking is a major scandal that also threatens the monarchy.

After the cretinous funeral period, comes the coronation of Charles Windsor and his consort, Camilla Parker-Bowles, as the monarch, probably next spring. It is always, by the very nature of the event, difficult to protest a funeral, but a coronation is something else. The coronation of this couple is going to severely test the stability of the British monarchy, as Charles is discredited among many for his previous adultery and the death of his former wife, Diana Spencer. There is something slightly surreal for an adulterous couple like those two to ascend to a monarchical power that makes the monarch head of the Church of England, which is supposed to oppose the ‘sin’ of adultery (though its founder, Henry VIII, created it in the 16th Century so he could do just that!). It was something along similar lines that was responsible for the abdication crisis of 1936. The monarchy hangs by a thread with his accession to the throne. More intelligent monarchists want to see Charles Windsor refuse the crown in favour of his son, William, who is young and untainted enough (they hope) to give the monarchy a whole new lease of life. But he shows no sign of doing so.

Some naïve liberals believe that the monarchy is purely a medieval institution, an excrescence and anachronism, that British capitalism can overcome and become somehow more democratic.  This is a fantasy however: the British bourgeoisie is terrified of any mass expression even of reformist class consciousness because it fears that such things will start a chain of events that leads inexorably to revolution. Monarchist-nationalism, spread as widely as possible, is the most potent weapon that they have against the emergence of any such class consciousness.

Not only that, but the anti-democratic features of the British constitution, including the power of the Head of State to dismiss governments, are bound up explicitly with the monarchy. They have been used twice in living memory, though not so far within Britain itself: in 1975 for the monarch’s representative to dismiss the Australian Labour Government of Gough Whitlam, on behalf of US imperialism, and similarly in 1983 in the Caribbean island nation of Grenada in the context of a US coup and invasion of that country to destroy and remove its leftist government, led (until his murder in the coup) by Prime Minister Maurice Bishop of the leftist New Jewel Movement. The British monarchy is not a bug, but a feature of British imperialism as it has concretely evolved. Other imperialist states, including those such as the United States that do not have monarchies, nevertheless have other anti-democratic features that allow the bourgeoisie to override the popular will when it suits them to do so. The monarchy is just the form that this takes in Britain.

The monarchy may well be medievalist, but it is no mere feudal relic that can be easily disposed of. It is deeply embedded in the structure of British capitalism. The fight for its abolition is a key democratic demand, to be sure, but such is the nature of capitalism that a real struggle for its abolition will destabilise British capitalism itself. All the more reason why Marxists should demand its abolition as a key part of our programme to overthrow capitalism itself.

The Third World War and the Tasks of International Regroupment

by Humberto Rodrigues

After 200 days, the war in Ukraine is an expression of the return of major wars of indirect confrontation between major military powers in the Cold War; the growing decline of American imperialism and the worldwide wave of popular protests against inflation, united by the repercussions of Western sanctions on Russia, but above all, inflation fueled by the incessant drive of capital (which uses war as an alibi) to increase the rate of exploitation on labour, increasing the price of goods and devaluing wages. In some countries, the fight against inflationary extortion, that is, the economic struggle of popular resistance against capitalists, combines objectively and already subjectively with the anti-imperialist and internationalist struggle against NATO.

The character of the war

In Ukraine we do not support ‘peace’ imposed by the terror of Kiev’s bombs on the oppressed peoples of the Donbass. We do not advocate an end to hostilities without the Denazification and Demilitarization of Ukraine, full of fascist mercenaries, criminal biological weapons laboratories, and NATO weapons. We defend the defensive war of Russia and the workers and soldiers of the Donbass people’s republics against NATO expansion and NATO-Nazi puppets. For us Russia’s is a military and energy power but not an imperialist country. For Marxists, imperialism is the expansionist policy of financial capital, a policy that is not preponderant in Russia’s relationship with other peoples. Russia was the victim of this policy, especially in the 1990s, during the “shock therapy” of privatizations and dilapidation of the material bases of the former USSR. After then, under Putin’s rule, Moscow has been trying to break from being the victim of imperialist economic and military expansionism, as expressed in the current conflict, in the military field and also in the war against sanctions.

For the last six months Russia has been carrying out a war to free the Russian and Russian-speaking people of eastern Ukraine, who are oppressed by Nazis armed by imperialism. This initiative by Moscow came after three decades of NATO’s expansion to its borders. In this expansion, imperialism incorporated into its control the government of Europe’s largest country, Ukraine, which has a huge border with Russia. For the Russians of Ukraine, the delay of this initiative from Moscow cost the lives of almost 15,000 people.

The return of the great symmetrical wars

The beginning of such a war was due to at least two factors: the failure of the instruments of “economic dissuasion” by the US and the EU (which is another sign of the decline of the power of imperialism, from an economic point of view) and the emergence of a military force capable, albeit indirectly, of facing the entire Western world. As Russian military doctor and analyst Vasily Kashin reports, the sum of the various Ukrainian military formations reaches 700,000 people, while, according to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, he estimated the Russian force in Ukraine at 167,000 people.

The West has turbocharged Ukraine and in fact treating the country as an effective member of NATO. Western imperialism recreated Nazism, previously against the USSR and now against Russia, in its mercenary form. The Pentagon directly sponsored the dirty war with 46 biological weapons labs against Russia. In addition to resorting to all this, after eight years of state terrorism against the oppressed populations of the people’s republics of Donbass and in cities like Odessa, the Ukrainian military aircraft reequipped by NATO has been using terrorist attacks that threaten to blow up Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and have already murdered Dugin’s daughter. Despite all this and the superiority of Ukraine’s troops, Russia has conquered 25% of Ukraine’s territory. Ukraine is the largest country in Europe, after Russia. It had a total area of 603,000 square kilometers. The region liberated by Russia from Ukro-Nazi rule that will probably give way to a union of popular republics, a new country that will have a larger area than England, or Greece or Bulgaria. The best farmland in Europe is in Ukraine, and the most industrialized region with important reserves of coal and iron from Ukraine is eastern Ukraine, the Donbass. Notwithstanding as well that the western part of Ukraine was integrated into NATO, in these six months the Donbass was integrated into the Russian Federation and established trade relations with several countries of the Eurasian bloc.

Imperialist decay and strengthening of the Eurasian neo-mercantilist bloc

But this war of restraint on the part of Russia is also possible currently thanks to the decline of American imperialism and its deep internal political crisis. The U.S. has failed to do in Syria what it did in Libya and Iraq, thanks to anti-imperialist intervention by a coalition of forces from oppressed countries such as Iran, through its Revolutionary Guard, and the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas supported by Tehran, Russia, and Syria itself. After 20 years of occupation, the U.S. had to withdraw from Afghanistan defeated socially and politically. In what it considers their own backyard, Latin America, Washington and the CIA have lost five consecutive elections. In the last two years, in Bolivia, Honduras, Chile, Peru and even Colombia, a ‘partner’ of NATO where the Pentagon has military bases, Washington’s candidates have lost to left-wing candidates without the U.S. being able to avoid such results through coups such as the lawfare that arrested Lula to bring victory to Bolsonaro in 2018 and overruled the victory of Evo Morales, in 2019. By the way, the most recent attempts at coups d’état through hybrid warfare maneuvers made in CIA, like that of Bolivia, have come to be short-lived, or have been rapidly aborted by Russian intervention, as in Belarus (2020) and Kazakhstan (2022).

The War in Ukraine marks the return to the era of “great” wars that use the entire arsenal developed by major military powers, and the return of the nuclear threat, as has not occurred since Gorbachev’s rise to the Kremlin, while the USSR was consumed in Afghanistan. The return of this mode of war is another sign of the end of the thirty-year era of the world order of dominance of American imperialism after the end of the USSR.  After 1991 and until now, the inter-state conflicts were characterized by a sharp imbalance of power, technologically asymmetric wars carried out by military interventions of imperialism against semicolonial peoples at extreme military disadvantage in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq again, Haiti, Libya…

Among the main differences between the current War in Ukraine and the wars of the last 80 years, and the post-WWII asymmetric wars, is that the current war takes place while Imperialism, that is, the expansionist policy of financial capital, is losing control of the world market to Eurasian mercantilism. The main characteristics of mercantilism were: accumulation of precious metals, incentive to manufacture, state intervention in the economy, favorable trade balance and protectionism. The types of mercantilism are commercial and industrial. The new mercantilism use globalization to transport commodities across the earth like never before. International interdependencies have increased greatly in the last 40 years. And almost no people can dispense today with exchanges with China, in the export of Chinese manufacturing, converted into a world manufacturing plant by the imperialist financialization itself. Without understanding this, is it not possible to understand the contradiction that there is a Western Boycott of Western sanctions (RCIT).? Contrary to what the West and its right-wing and left-wing spokesmen think, who thought Russian military superiority would be offset by economic sanctions, Russia proved stronger, and the dialectics of the new Cold War strengthened economic ties with China and the entire Eurasian bloc. And in addition, much of Western capital was forced to sabotage the sanctions policy. Since April,

“exports to Russia have steadily increased. In June, the last month for which we have comprehensive data, the dollar value of exports to Russia across the broad sample was 47% higher than the April low, with most of that increase attributable to the EU27, Switzerland, Korea, and Japan – all of which are ostensibly participating in the sanctions. Last week, China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC) revealed that the dollar value of the country’s exports to Russia in July had risen 35% compared to June. For the first time since the invasion began, Chinese exports to Russia were worth more than the monthly average from September 2021 to February 2022. Taiwan’s customs services report that exports to Russia in July were 36% higher than in June, while Korean data shows that exports to Russia increased by 61%. For the three countries, the value of exports in July was about 80% higher in July than the March-April average. The exception so far is Turkey, where exports in July fell slightly compared to June, although Turkish exports to Russia remain about 40% above the pre-invasion average.”

The Squeeze on Russia Is Loosening, https://theovershoot.co/p/the-squeeze-on-russia-is-loosening

All this shows that world capitalism cannot not only dispense with China, but cannot dispense with Russia. And overall, it is not possible to block the Russia-China hub and its allies for the human and natural resources that the Eurasian bloc concentrates, and that explains the fear of the boomerang effect that sanctions have caused in Western economies. The sabotage of sanctions is being carried out by imperialist allies such as Japan and South Korea, who are true U.S. military colonies, and by regional powers that usually play double games like India, Turkey, or even loyal Saudi Arabia.

By maintaining the sanctions, even partially, the German government has been reversing its effects with the highest energy inflation of all time, of 35% between August 2021 and August 2022 , forcing the Germans to suffer economic shortages only comparable to the payment of war debts imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. (https://br.investing.com/news/economic-indicators/inflacao-na-alemanha-atinge-maxima-de-quase-50-anos-em-agosto-1031579?utm_source=responsys&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily_Digest&utm_term=Editorial_DailyDigest_V3_BR_783988&utm_content=subnews_headline)

In other words, because of its vassaldom to the US, far more than that of Merkel herself, the current German social democratic government imposed on the German population a humiliation only comparable to that which imperialist revenge forced Germany to suffer after the first world war. US imperialism is exporting the immediate payment of its decay to its European allies. Boris Johnson predicted Putin’s fall on March 1. Where’s Johnson today? In addition to this British prime minister, due to his position in the face of the war fell also Mario Draghi of Italy, Marija Golubeva of Latvia and Kiril Petkov of Bulgaria.

Russia is generating a trade surplus of $1 billion a day from the sale of oil and gas. In 2022, so far, Russia has already achieved a record surplus of nearly $300 billion, more than double the year before the war. The international stock market is convulsed, devaluing nervously and bitcoins have plummeted. Despite the sanctions Russia has strengthened its trade ties with China, India, South Africa, Iran, Brazil, Saudi Arabia. Putin’s popularity reached 83%, higher than that of any of his opponents.

The second question that those who believe Russia is an imperialist country cannot answer is: are the NATO bloc and the Eurasian bloc equally imperialist, because the NATO bloc (the members of the G-7, supposedly the seven richest countries on the planet), cannot maintain anti-Russia sanctions and sabotage them, instead of expanding negotiations among themselves if they are economically powerful countries for it? Why doesn’t the West have the autonomy to mutually agree? I suspect that the limitations of the RCIT lie in some factors: they do not understand the character of imperialism today, do not recognize the global arbitrage of labor and capital of the time of Western financialization combined with Eastern industrialization, nor do they know how to use the law of unequal and combined development to make a concrete analysis of the concrete situation.

The consequences of these first six months of war are:

1. The liberation of the Russian people from NATO’s Ukronazis

2. The conquest by the Eurasian bloc of a territory larger than that of England outside NATO’s area of control;

3. The dialectics of the Cold War to further solidify the single anti-imperialist front on all terrains;

4. Anti-Russian sanctions failed, in 2022 it was the Russian currency that was most valued and a year in which several transactions began to replace the dollar. Inflation reached 15% in Russia and then began to ebb while in the US and EU it skyrocketed. Germany that would cheapen its energy supply with the Nordstream 2 pipeline is being the victim of the highest inflation since the 1920s, energy inflation only from July to August reached 35% compared to the month of August 2021.

5. Putin did not fall, he increased his popularity as never before and several rulers who cheered for his downfall, such as that of England, Italy and Lithuania were down;

6. outside the European theater of operations there was retreat of imperialist oppression on countries such as Iran and Venezuela;

7. As decaying imperialism cannot control several parts of the world simultaneously and is focused on the race for Europe, it has abandoned its Latin American backyard and its preferred right-wing candidates lost the elections to leftist governments in Chile, Honduras, Peru, Colombia and should lose in Brazil.

8. Ms Pelosi’s provocation in Taiwan accelerated the pace of China’s reaction to preparation for the third war, technological autonomy in the semiconductor war, reduction of US treasury bonds in Chinese hands. China is no longer the largest Holder of U.S. debt after its total fell below $1 trillion for the first time in 12 years Japan became the largest holder of U.S. debt securities, even reducing its stock: “Japan, which reduced its U.S. debt stock to $1.212 trillion in May, from $1.218 trillion in April, is now the largest holder abroad.”; abortion of chinese industrial plant construction projects in the USA.

The spring of inflation rebellions

During the current war was born another conflict of world and proletarian proportions, broader and growing, the spring of the population of various nations of the earth against inflation arising from the sanctions imposed on Russia and its allies by Western imperialism, which immediately caused the price of gas, oil and food to rise across the globe. 26 countries have at least 50% of their wheat exports from Ukraine or Russia. But as Michel Fakhiri’s recent report presented to the UN (recorded by Bert Schouwenburg of the Morning Star), the current global food shortage crisis was born in 2015, and therefore before the war and the pandemic, it is caused by the accumulation and financial speculation practiced by capital in the food business, where “the gains were in the order of 1 billion dollars every two days. In 2021, multinational Cargill made nearly $4 billion in net income, its largest surplus in its 156-year history.” (The UN recognizes the depth of the food crisis, and capitalism is to blame, https://revistaopera.com.br/2022/09/02/a-onu-reconhece-a-profundidade-da-crise-alimentar-e-o-capitalismo-e-o-culpado/). The current extraordinary cycle of capital accumulation is based on an extraordinary growth of world hunger.

Against this inflation, in various parts of the world mass protests shake regimes that have transferred to their peoples the inflationary costs of imperialist sanctions against Russia.  Germany, Bangladesh, France, Indonesia, England, Italy, Moldova, the Czech Republic, Serbia, in many countries spontaneous demonstrations against inflation and many of them against NATO erupt.

The need of the world party of revolution at this time

We need to build an international party defending oppressed peoples against imperialism and defending all workers against the inflationary crisis manipulated by capitalists around the world.

All the major wars of the last two centuries have untied revolutionary waves from the breaking of the capitalist balance in the relationship between states. The Prussian Franco war provoked the Commune of Paris; the first world war provoked the Bolshevik revolution and the creation of the USSR; World War II provoked the revolutionary wave that overthrew capital in 1/3 of the planet.

In 1945, the capitalist balance was restored only between the imperialist states under American hegemony as a need for “antagonisti’c cooperation” (to use an expression of August Thalheimer) against the USSR, the new workers states and the bourgeois nationalism of semicolonial countries. In 1975, with the fall of Saigon and the American withdrawal from Vietnam, a cycle of territorial reduction of capitalism ended, as witnessed by the revolutionary situations of Iran, Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, whose revolutionary processes did not give rise to new workers states. In the last 50 years imperialist financialization has restabilized the balance between states under US hegemony, which was strengthened after the fall of the USSR in 1991.

With the social counterrevolution in the workers states between 1989 and 1991 the tendency to capitalist territorial reduction was reversed, leaving the United States as the only global power. The situation of imperialist-capitalist equilibrium has never been stronger than in this period, especially in the 1990s. In 2008, with the global economic crisis, which was centered first on the U.S. and then the European Union, which are in reflux within the world market, a new phase of imperialist imbalance began, which at first was artificially contained by a wave of coups promoted by the CIA.  Neo-mercantilist, constituted from the inheritance of the most extensive and populated workers states of the past. It is at this stage that the current war in Ukraine takes place and the prospect of a third world war opens up.

Revolutionaries must prepare for the trend of a new war that has indeed begun, by taking sides with the nations oppressed and attacked by imperialism and the unconditional defense of existing workers states such as Cuba and North Korea, which translates politically at this time into supporting Russia’s defensive war in Eastern Europe and rejecting imperialist provocations against China. Therefore, we are not pacifists in front of the warring blocks.

It is possible that the current situation evolves, matures for the third world war in current, chronological times, or in historical times in the medium term.

As Nancy Pelosi’s provocation against China has shown, the internal contradictions of American imperialism, threatened by civil war, can accelerate the chronological times of the historical trend to the third world war.

However, we are not impressionists like the Posadists who fell into an immediate view of the war, who renounced the construction of proletarian internationalism in favor of bourgeois nationalism and Stalinism, we know that only an eruption of the proletariat can prevent a new world war. However, if this war is not avoided, we must be prepared to take advantage of the fall of the interspersed capitalist equilibrium to advance beyond the neomercantilist capitalist bloc that today is driven by the creation of a single anti-imperialist front of oppressed bourgeois states and workers states. We believe that the world proletariat and oppressed peoples of all the world should take advantage of the Intra-bourgeois fissures to impose their own program to change reality.

If we can better understand this reality, establish the necessary tasks in the face of the demands of class struggle for the end of NATO and against inflation, imperialism, and capitalism we can overcome the current stage of an embryo of “international propaganda society” (Leon Trotsky) in the process of regrouping and establishing a program to build the world party of the socialist revolution that the current stage of class struggle requires.

On the Salman Rushdie attack  

by Ian Donovan

Salman Rushdie never challenged religious beliefs. He wrote a book that implied, among other things, that the female relatives of Mohammad were prostitutes. There is no historical evidence of this.

It offends believers but doesn’t challenge belief at all. It attempts to scandalise the founder of a religion with personal slurs according to reactionary social values.

He calculated that the scandal and sensation of his book would make him big bucks. Instead it ruined his life. He is merely to be pitied.

While we do not support or defend the recent stabbing attack on him at a public event in the US, we do not join in the outcry from the vile reactionary media in the Western countries.

We note that even as they wax with indignation at an attack on an author who used fictional slurs to provoke and enrage devout Muslims,  they are involved in the wholesale, and racist, censorship of Russian media in the West, to try to supress the truth about Ukraine: that NATO imperialism is funding outright Nazis in a proxy war against Russia, continuing in its own way Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa which killed 27 million citizens of the USSR, 24 million of whom were Russian.

Muslims, particularly in the Middle East have been the target of innumerable imperialist crimes in the epoch of imperialism and colonialism, and especially since the Palestinian Nakba of 1948, and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians since, as well as periodic atrocities against the people of neighbouring Arab states whenever they are perceived as threatening to act effectively in solidarity with the Palestinians. The polarisation between many Muslims and Western imperialism is fuelled by the material fact that there is no imperialist state (in the modern, capitalist sense) that has a Muslim culture.

Even disputes ostensibly about free speech have a context in the class struggle. We do not tail the bourgeoisie or the liberals on this. Not all such issues are the same.

The Climate Crisis. The Time to Act is Now!  

Deadly wildfires in Portugal in the worst European drought for 500 years. Product of capitalist –induced planetary pollution
 

At the time of writing this article, people in Britain are waking up to the reality that the energy cap is being increased by 80%, raising an average energy bill from to £1,971.00 to £3,549.00, with worse yet to come with energy caps being raised in January and April of next year. National Energy Action have projected that 8.9 million people in the UK will be in fuel poverty by October of this year.[1] While the zombie led government has gone AWOL, the Tory hopefuls Sunak and Truss continue to take lumps out of each other in an attempt to woo their rabid UKIP reactionary base. Part of this courtship display entails blaming everyone else, which includes Russia for a crisis that was already developing last year, before any military interventions into Ukraine were on the horizon. While wholesale sanctions by the West have exacerbated the problem, the crisis was already developing. France was freezing its gas and oil prices last September, allowing electricity to rise by no more than 4%, with this continuing until the end of 2022.

The world was coming out a global pandemic with issues around the supply chain and opening up an economy that had effectively been shut down. This opening up increased demand causing economic stress, in Britain this has been exaggerated with the disastrous isolationist decision-making around leaving the EU. Britain’s economic shock is set to cause a deep recession more than other developed nations, it is projected to be the worst performing out of the G20 [2], apart from Russia which is the midst of fighting against a proxy war financed overwhelmingly by the US and saddled by the heaviest sanctions placed upon any state by the West. UK exports dropped £20 billion for 2021 as it decided to put in place trade barriers with its biggest trading partner 21 miles across the Channel.

COP26 held in Glasgow last autumn seems an eternity ago when Johnson announced in his ‘James Bond’ speech/address at the COP26 opening ceremony to world leaders, the urgency of embracing newer ‘green’ technologies and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. However, these platitudes from disaster capitalist politicians are just noise with no real intent. Ashok Sharma, who hosted COP26, had previously received donations from the business tycoon, Ravi Kumar Mehrotra, the executive chairman of Foresight Group International [3]. Foresight Group is a multi-billion dollar, UK based global conglomerate, which has interests in offshore and onshore oil drilling, port and gas infrastructure, and shipping. The company has close business relationships with partners involved in climate science denial and pro-carbon lobbying, such as ExxonMobil.  Putting wolves into a sheep pen is what these companies do best.

Corporate Climate Change Denial

During the 1980s ExxonMobil employed climate scientists in a research programme to understand the changes in the earth’s climate, which it would inform the company and enable it to make future business decisions based on ethical responsibility. The scientists involved believed that Exxon’s objective was to be at the forefront of solving the problem and offering alternatives. However, the company had a deeper programme of understanding the science to form a strategy of forming arguments against climate change, employing climate deniers to enable the company to continue business as usual [4]. Ensuring that profits could remain unabated by becoming one of the biggest climate deniers by providing counter arguments to seed doubt not only with politicians but also the public. Climate scientists were deliberately targeted by the heavy weight of these conglomerates in attempt to discredit, often with terrible consequences.

Sewage discharged onto UK beaches: End product of privatisation.
 

When this argument eventually became unviable due to the overwhelming scientific evidence available, and the environmental impacts being played out in real life, the defence of their continuance of murdering the planet, has now become one of economic scale and necessity, playing on people’s fears of poverty and disruption of their way of life. Through creating fog, the argument of job losses and the impacts upon the economy have enabled them to get away literally with murder and enable their lackeys in government to not take correct decisions in serving the public that they supposedly represent.  

This is the dilemma that the British government now finds itself in as the UK economy crashes. Its short termism can only look at the here and now as it desperately attempts to seek out growth and profit. Concessions will be made to ensure that the dangers of civil unrest and the development of revolutionary consciousness associated around that unrest, is curtailed. These often come in the form of hand outs, such as the energy payments being paid out to families. These are basically a subsidy passed onto businesses who are already profiteering, and on the other hand the introduction of legislation ensuring that the state has the necessary ‘legal’ apparatus to stamp on any potential protests. These concessions are being swallowed up and will not solve the crisis that the government finds itself in, and does not address how companies such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and Total are able to report profits of $51 billion in the second quarter of this year and get away with it while others struggle [5]. These profits are without BP, who were set to report later.

The Labour opposition are just as woeful as not only do they refuse to endorse striking workers who are demanding a pay to combat rising inflation predominately fuelled by energy costs, but have rowed back on nationalisation of utilities, something that Starmer supported during his own leadership election campaign. He wants to bail out energy companies by providing a package to ‘protect’ consumers by handing over anything between £29-£60 billion back to the energy providers after taking a windfall tax of £8.1 billion from them. In stark contrast it is estimated that it would cost only £2.8 billion to take these same companies back into public ownership. But it is not only energy that is pushing up inflation. The increase in food prices increased by 2.3% between June and July this year, immigration controls post-Brexit according to the NFU has resulted in £60 million in UK crops rotting in farmers’ fields [6]. As a country that is not food secure, the UK imports around 50% of its food needs, this is suicidal. Climate change is already having huge impacts on crop yields with drought and soil erosion and having a policy that seeks to increase its air miles disguised as ‘global Britain’, is flawed as other countries experience climate breakdown.

Contrary to what the British government announced at COP26, Johnson and both the contenders to his crown have signalled in their husting debates what their dystopian future for Britain lies ahead. This includes the approval and opening up of new oil and gas fields in the North Sea [7], removal of the green levy on energy [8], encouraging more investment into new fossil fuel extraction and pressing for fast-track applications for this to take place [9]. This is hand in hand with looking at new legislation to outlaw ‘militant’ trade unions, ‘eco-extremists’ and to place anyone ‘expressing a hatred’ of Britain into the Prevent programme as radicalised political extremists [10][11].

A colour-coded tale of two heatwaves, 46 years apart, from a global perspectives. The worsening of global heating is evident.

It looks increasingly likely that Truss will be the winner of the Tories toxic leadership contest and while some of the comments on the environment coming out of the mouths of both leadership contenders have been warm, in practice they are meaningless without any detail offered and a record of inaction. During Truss’ tenure as Environment Secretary in 2014 she was responsible for cutting £235 million from the Environment Agency budget, which has now resulted in the huge increase of river and sea pollution [12]. The UK is facing a serious crisis in water supply with water infrastructure at bursting point. Billions of litres of water are being wasted every day and raw sewage dumped into rivers, lakes and beaches with huge impacts on biodiversity and the destruction of wildlife and water quality. To put our faith into the hands of the very people who are blatantly responsible for where we find ourselves is criminally negligent.

On a global level it goes beyond this, the technology for greener energy requires critical minerals, minerals that require an increase in mining. This requires opening up of mines in pristine environments, which in turn requires increasing our carbon footprint in the initial stages to open up mines and develop the infrastructure around that extraction. It also includes the pollution associated with mining and the runoff into watercourses. Australia has some of the world’s largest recoverable resources of several critical minerals, including cobalt, lithium, manganese, tungsten and vanadium. The country is the world’s top producer of lithium, rutile and the second largest producer of zircon and rare earth elements and has potential for more undiscovered minerals with 80 % of Australia remaining largely under-explored [13].

Climate Militarism

The US has taken a keen interest in Australia and for good reason [14]. The rhetoric coming out of both Canberra and Washington takes aim at China with both governments seeing China as an economic threat. They counter that by threatening China military via AUKUS. Securing the world’s resources, which includes critical minerals, is part of the imperialist strategy of ensuring US hegemony, either directly or indirectly through its Anglo-Saxon partnership including Britain. The problem with this is that not only does climate breakdown require a global response but it also increases the likelihood of conflict and societal breakdown, which potentially could lead to nuclear exchange with isolationist geopolitics. The Australian government already sees this as potential for a new economic ‘gold rush’ and to secure its own future, when the future of the whole of humanity is at stake. Seeking economic leverage over others is what has led us down this nihilistic path to self-destruction. The irony is that new data has shown that Australian wildfires have destroyed part of the protective ozone layer above [15]. A study led by Lilly Damany-Pearce, a researcher at the University of Exeter in England, suggests that a sudden and unexpected warming of the global stratosphere was detected in early 2020; reaching up to 3 degrees Celsius around Australia and about 0.7 degrees Celsius globally. Adding to this without addressing the overriding environmental concerns does nothing to alleviate climate breakdown.

Since the early 80s the evidence has been clear on the trajectory that governments were taking us to, each time they have clearly failed us, instead relying on ‘the market’ to save us from certain extinction.  Each year we see records broken, 2022 being no different. Last year saw extreme floods hit China severely, this year drought with the Yangste river and its tributaries drying. China is experiencing the hottest summer on record with a heat wave that has so far lasted 70 days [16]. This has resulted in a drought in half of the country resulting in hydro power shortages, electricity rationing and a drop in crop yields as much as 50%. China with a population of 1.4 billion is not only the factory of the world but also is one of the world’s largest agricultural exporters, this will inevitably have an effect not only on food supply but also price increases in an already fragile global economic outlook.

The effects of climate degradation have now come to the people of Europe, which has seen its worst drought in 500 years, leaving some of the most famous rivers on the continent almost dry [17]. This has also led to a sharp decrease in crop yields and electricity shortages. EDF had to reduce its nuclear energy output after the water temperature, which is used to cool the reactors, increased. This also shows the complexity of looking for other alternative forms of energy provision, particularly as nuclear reactors require huge amounts of water, something that needs to be taken into account with drought and rising sea levels. Wind farms have also seen a drop in energy production as the increase in warm air results in prolonged periods of high pressure leading to ‘wind drought’ [18]. The increased temperatures result in increased energy needs to keep cool and is no consolation from the energy crisis we now find ourselves in. Europe has also seen its share of wildfires with loss of life and property, even here in the UK where temperatures have reached 40 degrees Celsius. The increase in wildfires, apart from devastating people, wildlife and the environment on the ground, releases smoke particles into the stratosphere. Once there these particles cause continued heating and changes to the ozone through changes in atmospheric circulation and chemical reactions.

Founding of AUKUS—anti-Chinese Australia/UK/US militarist alliance—in 2021
 

We have had four decades of watching politicians and big corporations lie and absolve themselves from any responsibility of their contribution to this global catastrophe, which is only going to worsen. The Met Office’s Hadley Centre, has forecast that an average summer in central Europe will be more than 4 degrees Celsius hotter by the year 2100 [19].  The Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG), which commissioned the research, are confident in their analysis because it aligns between recorded average temperatures since 1850 and the figures that were predicted by computer models. Even if governments were to substantially cut emissions with immediate effect this will not have any impact until decades down the line. This is criminal and must be treated as such, this is deliberate class warfare on a much serious scale than what the ruling class have subjected workers to previously. This has the potential to end all life on earth and as such as far worse than the crimes of Hitler himself. We must take action now for every year is another year wasted, we have already wasted the last 25-40 years while the ruling class deliberate on how to get out of the mess of their own making. We should be demanding action and if they are incapable of making that change, pushing them out of the way and subjecting them to revolutionary justice. This crisis will only be resolved through global socialist planning and co-operation and not any form of national isolationism.

[1] https://www.nea.org.uk/energy-crisis/

[2] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/oecd-economy-zero-growth-forecast-g20-b2096438.html

[3] https://bylinetimes.com/2021/10/28/cop26-president-received-funding-from-billionaire-fossil-fuel-investor-tied-to-exxonmobil/

[4] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/exxon-knew-about-climate-change-almost-40-years-ago/

[5] https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/big-oils-q2-profits-hit-record-50-bln-with-bp-yet-come-2022-07-29/

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/15/pounds-60m-in-uk-crops-left-to-rot-lack-of-workers-nfu-farming

[7] https://www.thenational.scot/news/19908141.cop26-posturing-ends-tories-set-green-light-six-oil-gas-fields/

[8] https://www.energymonitor.ai/policy/opinion-truss-and-sunak-promise-climate-regression

[9] https://www.agcc.co.uk/news-article/six-new-oil-and-gas-fields-to-be-fired-up-as-sunak-takes-action

[10] https://inews.co.uk/news/liz-truss-heckled-by-environmental-protestors-during-tory-leadership-hustings-1782589

[11] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/rishi-sunak-extremism-terrorism-prevent-b2137158.html

[12] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/aug/22/liz-truss-environment-agency-cuts-sewage-water-pollution

[13] https://www.globalaustralia.gov.au/industries/critical-minerals

[14] https://www.mining-technology.com/analysis/the-pentagon-sets-it-sights-on-australias-critical-minerals/

[15] https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abm5611

[16] https://www.climatechangenews.com/2022/08/23/china-hit-by-longest-and-strongest-heatwave-on-record/

[17] https://www.carbonbrief.org/daily-brief/europes-drought-the-worst-in-500-years-report/

[18] https://www.newscientist.com/article/2174262-weird-wind-drought-means-britains-turbines-are-at-a-standstill/

[19] https://www.independent.co.uk/independentpremium/uk-news/met-office-uk-heatwave-summer-record-b2155043.html

We need a new Working-Class Party and a General Strike!

Fuel Price Attack on Workers: Far Bigger Than the Poll Tax!

Britain is heading for an explosive decompression of neoliberal imperialism and Toryism, including the pink Toryism of the Blairites currently as manifested by Keir Starmer’s Labour Party leadership. Everything is coming together in a perfect storm so that the pressure of the huge capitalist crisis is bearing down on the political regime.

The factors bearing down on them are both international and domestic, a confluence of various damaging factors resulting from the breakdown of the neoliberal capitalist project both on the domestic and international level. The international factors are severalfold: the Ukraine war has given a major boost to the inflation that was already embedded within the system from the pent-up demand that resulted from the Covid-19 lockdowns, which a planned economy could have carried out rationally by simple adjustments of planning. A capitalist economy, however, cannot, as has been proven as inflation was already beginning to soar at the end of 2021, long before the imperialists provoked Russia to defend itself by sending troops into the Donbass to defend its people from NATO-funded Ukrainian nationalist-fascist attacks.

The result in Britain is the biggest attack on working class and lower middle class living standards ever attempted by the ruling class, at least since the 19th Century. Perhaps Hitler’s bombing of London and other cities was comparable. The threatened quadrupling of the fuel bills paid by ordinary people, including pensioners, is a total disaster and will lead to large scale malnutrition and freezing to death among ordinary workers and the poor, particularly old age pensioners, if not stopped.

This is a far bigger attack on the working class than Thatcher’s Poll Tax, which was mainly an attack on the poorest sections of the working class, the unemployed, etc. (it could be called the Ukraine Poll Tax plus). The latest estimate is that the price cap will rise to a staggering £6,000 pa by April 2023, more than quadrupling the price. This attack, from privatised energy resellers in turn in hock to the large oil and gas extractors and international conveyors, is a frontal attack on the living standards of the entire working class and a good chunk of the lower section of the middle class as well. As an illustration of the latter, 500,000 small businesses face being driven to the wall by energy price hikes, and the price of beer in pubs is reckoned likely to soar to £14 per pint by the end of 2023 if inflation is not curbed immediately.

The huge rise in inflation is entirely price driven. The practiced propaganda liars in the media are attempting to try to blame workers going on strike to preserve their living standards for the fact that inflation in August was found to have risen to 10.1% according even to the Tories’ fraudulent CPI measure of inflation. In terms of the correct RPI measure, which takes full account of housing and energy costs and is weighted towards the staple purchases of ordinary people and families, the figure is 12.3%. But they are failing to demonise rail strikers and other strikers, because everyone knows the impact that this inflation is having on their own standard of living: a massive, often unmanageable attack. The result is that despite Truss and Sunak both ranting against trade unions, and Truss in particular promising the Tory rabble whose votes she seeks that she will further ban strikes and attempt to criminalise trade unionism, a clear and growing majority of the public supports the strike wave.

Mick Lynch, the General Secretary of the RMT, has stated that it might be necessary to call a general strike to beat off these attacks on working class people, which is the first time this has been seriously raised as a possibility since the pit closures crisis of 1992. The strike wave is not confined to the railways: a ballot of workers at Royal Mail in a dispute over working conditions, separate from the pay issue, produced a 98.7 vote in favour of strikes out on a 72% turn out. Unite members at the containerised docks at Felixstowe, voted by 92% in favour of strikes, and began an 8-day strike at the port, which handles around half of the UK’s containerised traffic, on 20 August. The strike wave crosses all kinds of barriers – barristers have already engaged in sporadic strikes and are now seriously looking to organise an all-out strike.

The labour bureaucracy and imperialism

The huge problem is that the British trade union movement is heavily bureaucratised, and the bureaucracy centred on the TUC has since the 19th century been a force acting against struggle, reflecting the interests of the labour aristocracy that long considered that it benefitted from Britain’s imperialist position in the world. This attack, together with the preceding four decades of neoliberalism, culminating in the fusillade of attacks in the past decade, have undercut the advantage that the working class itself perceived it had in the preceding century or more. It was a pathetic piece of collective working-class chauvinism that drove part of the working class to back the Brexiteers, hoping vainly to retrieve that former privileged position by supporting the fantasies of Farage, Johnson etc. But what they have gained instead is a likely attempt by Truss to wield the jackboot against them when she takes office in early September. That upcoming struggle, which is now visible and not far away, should provide the British workers movement with a priceless lesson in the need for all-out struggle and solidarity against decrepit British capitalism, in a situation where objective developments now act to undermine such fatuous illusions.

Let’s be clear: in the face of this massive neoliberal crime in the making, and the immiseration of the British working class and even middle class that it threatens, we certainly need a general strike. We need union leaders that raise the necessity for such a mass action in front of the masses. But a general strike needs political leadership and a determined cadre to organise it. We do not have anything like that at the moment. It will have to be created in the struggle itself.

The defeat of Corbynism by the Blairised right wing of the Labour Party has radicalised many ten of thousands, in fact hundreds of thousands, against the Blairised neoliberal bureaucracy in Labour. It has also led to an estrangement of some of the more militant inclined unions from Labour. The various would-be party type formations that have come into being as a result of the defeat of Corbynism, such as the Resistance Movement/System Change, the Galloway-led Workers Party, Breakthrough, and other fragments, including the SLN, need to find a way to work together to build something substantial that can overcome Labour. We welcome the initiative of the CWU, Mick Lynch and Zahra Sultana MP in initiating ‘Enough is Enough’ as a mass campaign to defeat the energy and cost of living attack and note the mass resonance it has immediately gained. It is possible that this also could provide a focus in struggle for the development of a mass political movement to mobilise the working class as a class in itself and for itself, as well as becoming the champion of all oppressed layers, as is necessary in this situation where a general strike is a real possibility and a burning necessity.

RMT leader Mick Lynch and Zarah Sultana MP founded Enough is Enough to fight the fuel price attacks. Comrade Lynch  correctly raised the need for a general  strike
 

Thanks to the Tory crisis, in the face of this burgeoning economic disaster, which is crucifying ordinary people, there is no effective government. The disgraced, pathological liar Johnson is AWOL for most things, having fled to Chequers to enjoy state largesse while Sunak and Truss slug it out in front of the Tory Party membership, swelled by defectors from UKIP as Johnson appropriated both their programme and their people in 2016-19. The contest has become a hate fest against organised labour, and oppressed minorities and their supporters (the ‘woke’) as Truss is predictably making the running even though even senior cabinet colleagues like Michael Gove freely admit she is on a ‘holiday from reality’ in refusing to even attempt to address the crisis caused by mushrooming energy prices.

In other European countries, particularly France, state ownership of the energy industry has led to the state effectively freezing energy prices for the whole of 2022, or at least limiting the rise to 10%. But in Thatcherite neoliberal Britain, privatisation rules: the energy industry (gas and electric) was privatised decades ago by Thatcher, and Blair/Brown’s so-called Labour government, which ruled for 13 years during the 40 years of neoliberalism we have suffered since, didn’t lift a finger to reverse any of it. Blair/Brown’s was a neoliberal government just as much as Thatcher’s.

Neoliberalism and engineered mass slaughter of the poor

The austerity Tory-LibDem coalition we had 2010-2015, with its benefit cuts and hounding particularly of the disabled as ‘scroungers’ caused the deaths of around 150,000. As well the numerous criminal acts of racial persecution under the “hostile envinronment” overseen by Home Secretary and later Prime Minister Theresa May, also meant a considerable number of migrants had their lives ruined, or were deported to their deaths, often through being denied NHS care. The Windrush scandal brought some of this to public view. All these go into the necessary accounting.

Then since 2015 when the Tories gained their short-lived overall majority under Cameron, we have had Brexit, which has obviously crippled the British capitalist economy, hidden somewhat by the Covid pandemic which coincided almost exactly with the actual exit of Britain from the EU. The pandemic provided the opportunity for Johnson to exhibit his own pathological hatred and bloodlust against the working class. Initially the government endorsed a policy of ‘herd immunity’, which involved deliberately allowing this new disease to spread virtually unchecked through the population.

In particular, the policy of discharging suspected Covid patients from hospitals into care homes for the elderly caused carnage, which was the intention, reducing the pension bill of the government. In its initial strains, and prior to any vaccine being developed, Covid was frequently deadly to people who were not young and/or with existing health conditions, which affect a large proportion of the population. Johnson was not able to get away with this ‘herd immunity’ barbarism at the beginning of the pandemic, and was forced by strong criticism from Jeremy Corbyn, who was still Opposition Leader until April 2020, to introduce measures to halt the uncontrolled spread of the disease.

But Corbyn then made way for Starmer who was simply supine: his watchword was: “whatever the government decides to do, we support them”. When Johnson sabotaged the first lockdown in the summer of 2020, and decreed that children had to return to school even though severe forms of the disease were still running rampant, Starmer backed Johnson against the teaching unions, which raised objections and tried to protect their members, and indeed schoolkids and their families, from a still-potent threat to public health. Starmer sacked his shadow Education Secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, because she supported the teaching unions’ position. But instead of openly admitting this he concocted a smear that RLB was guilty of ‘anti-Semitism’ to hide the real reason for the sacking. Given such latitude by Labour, Johnson deliberately sabotaged the first set of quarantine measures before they had time to be effective. The result was the Kent, or Alpha variant of the disease, four times more infectious and just as dangerous as the original, which also rapidly spread around the world.

There then followed an appalling cycle of ‘mockdowns’ – quarantine measures that were for camouflage and clearly too lax to be effective, prematurely lifted in any case, until Johnson grabbed hold of the vaccine programme once it became operative in 2021 in a desperate bid to give himself an alibi, and to distract attention from the enormous death toll of the pandemic: in excess of 200, 000. Fortuitously the virus evolved into Omicron, a somewhat milder form, in 2022. At the same time the liars were organising parties for the privileged parasites that made up and hung around Johnson’s government, the exposure of which finally destroyed the ability of this ‘teflon’ suited pathological liar to keep on lying with impunity, providing the excuse, if not the reason, for his terrified cronies to bring him down this summer.

Since a good portion of the UK Covid death toll was as deliberate and engineered as the death toll from the austerity programme of Cameron-Clegg. it is reasonable to double the death toll of Cameron-Clegg-May’s austerity and deportations and attribute around three quarters of the death toll that Johnson was responsible for as part of a neoliberal cull of the population. This fits in with Johnson’s affinity with other arch-neoliberal, right-wing pseudo-populists such as Trump and Bolsonaro, who did nothing to protect their people from Covid, but rather used it as a weapon to attempt to wipe out sections of the population they saw as surplus to requirements, those that do not make a profit for predatory big capital.

Which makes as least 300,000 victims of neoliberal terrorism in Britain since the Cameron-Clegg austerity programme began in 2010 (not counting the victims of the ‘hostile environment’, who are less easy to quantify, but certainly run into many hundreds). Cameron-Clegg began their attacks with the support of Gordon Brown and his ministers who also stood in the 2010 election promising a more severe attack on public spending than anything that happened under Margaret Thatcher. Cameron won, since he represented this programme more consistently, and delivered a deadly series of attacks on workers.

And his neoliberal successors since have presided over a mushrooming mass slaughter of the working class in Britain, or rather those sections of it – the retired, the disabled, those lacking the relevant skills to survive the huge deindustrialisation that neoliberalism engineered from the 1980 onwards. They did this to drive up their own unproductive renumeration through property bubbles and scams, and appropriating surplus value from overseas through the export of industrial jobs to low wage economies mainly in the Far East to provide cheaper inputs to the imperialist countries.

Populism and imperialism

This is another aspect of neoliberalism that bears some commentary. ‘Populism’, particularly in the US, once meant a political trend within bourgeois politics that stood with the people in some underdeveloped, not-really-class sense, and sought to limit the power of big capital over the people. But in the main imperialist countries today, we have pseudo-populists whose purpose is to harness racist and demagogic sentiments to strengthen big capital over the working class, and to crush movements of workers and the oppressed. That is what right-wing populism means today in the conditions of imperialist decay. It has even spilled over in some cases into dependent countries like Brazil, where the butcher Bolsonaro was put in power by a coup process organised by US capital. Trump in the US made hypocritical capital out of the resentment of workers at the export of industrial jobs overseas under neoliberalism. So did the Brexiteers. And it is Britain that this has been played out to its conclusion economically as the delusion that Britain could regain its former glory by turning away from the EU, has simply led to another massive attack on the workers. One that threatens another carnage, the deaths of hundreds of thousands from malnutrition or freezing to death.

The anomalous thing about this populism is that in some parts of the world where the imperialist bourgeoisie does not call the shots, populism appears to have provided some means for the masses to fight back against neoliberal attacks. The most obvious example is in Russia, where the imperialist-derived shock treatment of Yeltsin, with the carnage that this inflicted upon the working class of Russia and the former USSR, has been to a considerable extent rolled back by Putin’s populist, bourgeois, but non-imperialist government. This however depends on the absence of the imperialist bourgeoisie as the decisive force at the top of society. Forms of left populism have also played an important role in giving expression to mass anti-imperialist sentiments in Latin America, but they have proven less effective than in Russia, because of the deeper roots of a long-standing comprador bourgeoisie whose political and economic links to imperialism are considerable. That class cannot be worked around by ‘left’ populist governments. It must be torn out by the roots.

In Britain and the US, right-wing forms of populism, that is, populism on the basis of the rule of the imperialist bourgeoisie, have proved a genocidal force against the working class, that is, a brutal enhancement and intensification of neoliberalism. Something that has evolved quite close to fascism, in fact. Trump’s Xenophobic, anti-public health populism led to the death of over a million Americans from Covid. The characteristic of this kind of right-wing imperialist ‘populism’ is the mobilisation of the chauvinistic sentiments of sections of the majority ethnic working class against minorities on the basis of a pathetic nostalgia for past imperial glory that is in fact impossible to resurrect. The section of the working class that was always subliminally aware that some of its social gains were paradoxically able to be won because its ruling class had plundered resources from other people, expressed its impotent rage at imperial decline with such constructs as ‘Make America Great Again’ and of course Brexit. The hated ‘elite’ in the lingo of the imperial populists was any section of the ruling class that, for its own reasons, paid lip-service to racial equality, or had links with the labour movement, however tenuous, things like that.

But in fact, the Trumps, Johnsons, Farages, Le Pens, Salvinis, Trusses, even Bolsonaros are part of the imperialist neoliberal elite, or in the latter’s case, a Yankified puppet comprador elite. They are not saviours of the workers, but their bloody assassins. It is in the interest of the working class, not to realign with bankrupt neoliberal imperialist social democracy, the Blair’s and Starmers, but rather to rediscover the use of revolutionary methods in dealing with the neoliberal elite – all of it. To the genocidal butchery of the working class by the neoliberal terrorists, whether Trump with his fondness for open white supremacists, or Biden, Johnson, Blair and Starmer with their increasingly open support for Nazism in Ukraine, we note that the class interests of the workers are objectively for the extermination of the entire genocidal, fascist-implicated neoliberal capitalist elite, whether populist-imperialist like Trump, or shitlib imperialist, like Biden and Starmer. The Ukraine war has revealed they are all supporters of Nazism, and genocide against the working class and oppressed, and willing to lie shamelessly to cover that up, lies that come from the shameless lying liberal media, such as the Guardian in Britain, as well as the more traditional right wing press. They all need to be wiped off the face of the earth by the methods of Robespierre and Dzerzhinsky, a renewed, cleansing elimination of a deadly threat that otherwise threatens humanity with extinction through nuclear war or environmental holocaust.

Defeat NATO’s Racist Proxy War in Ukraine

Defend Russia and the Donbass People!

By Liz Hoskings

Anyone who states that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are defending themselves against a Russsian ‘invasion’ is either misinformed or a racist liar.

Despite the silence of the Western media, the Russian-speaking Donbass region has been subject to a programme of ethnic cleansing by Ukraine since 2014, since they first voted for autonomous status and when that was rejected declared themselves independent republics.

This began with the US-backed Maidan coup of February 2014, which overthrew the elected government of Victor Yanokovich and replaced it with a client regime. Having been funded and encouraged by the United States and NATO in its hope of expanding Eastwards and bringing its forces closer to Russia’s borders, neo-Nazi forces, mostly from the Western region of Galicia, whipped the masses into a nationalist frenzy.

The first act of the newly installed government of Petro Poroshenko was to drop the official status of the Russian language, despite the fact it is the mother tongue of a third of Ukraine’s population. Despite his official banning of the Russian language, the current president of Ukraine was born in Russia and struggles to speak some Ukrainian words himself. In fact, considering the interspersed nature of central Ukraine and the fact it grew up there (it appears to be mostly influenced by old Russian, Turkic languages and Polish) it would be more accurate to call it Galician. It was likely adopted as the official language in 1991 to signify independence, as much as it being the mother tongue of a questionable majority, which it would not have if Galicia had broken away.

Alarm bells rang in Crimea, which was historically part of Russia and only gifted to Ukraine in the 1950s by Nikita Khrushchev, without consulting the population. It held a referendum and re-joined the Russian Federation.

Protests then rang out in the eastern Donbass region, who voted for regional autonomy. This result was not respected by Poroshenko, who sent in troops to reassert dominance over the region. This led to declarations of independence by the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.

Around the same time, a group of peaceful protesters in the Russian-speaking city of Odessa were burned alive in a Trade Union headquarters by Nazi death squads, and those who managed to escape were clubbed to death.

Contrary to the impression given by the Western media, the war in Donbass did not begin with Russia’s intervention in February 2022 following its recognition of the breakaway republics but had been raging for eight years. Residents had suffered shelling daily on the pretence of ‘rooting out separatists’, when in reality civilian infrastructure was being targeted, along with civilians who were not part of the defence militias. The Nazi Azov Battalion was let loose on the region and allowed to loot stores and attack civilians.

Meanwhile, in Central and Western Ukraine, those speaking Russian in public risked being attacked by menacing groups of Nazi thugs. The Russian language was no longer taught in schools, to the further alienation of Donbass civilians and no doubt fearful residents of Odessa, who had been shown the price of resistance.

Streets were renamed after Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, who was responsible for the murders of Jews, Poles, and Russians, despite the recent attempt of the Western media to rehabilitate him. Statues have been built of him, and Poroshenko gave him the title of ‘Hero of Ukraine’, despite the fact he and his thugs had little to no support east of Galicia. He was instrumental in the formation of the Galician Waffen SS Division, the logo of which is used by the aforementioned Azov Battalion.

A Ukrainian nationalism stripped of the history and close lingual and cultural ties with its neighbour (differences indistinguishable by foreigners) is bound to be false. And false it is.  Schoolchildren are taught that Ukrainians existed as long ago as 1000 BC (!) and were responsible for building the Black Sea. From a young age they are given cartoon books glorifying Bandera and demonising the Soviet Union that their not-so-distant ancestors fought and often died to defend from Nazi Invasion. They are also sent to Nazi Summer camps where this malignant nationalism is drilled into them as they learn fighting techniques. The despised Russians are referred to as Orcs, a word which as most people familiar with Lord of the Rings would be familiar with. They were in Tolkien’s world a sub-species, fought against by the good and pure blonde-haired, blue-eyed elves.

Yet this is not Lord of the Rings, with its simplistic world view of good vs evil, a dualism echoed in Christianity as much as it is in racist mythology. Israel views the Palestinians in the same light, an inferior race that must be destroyed by the chosen people (Israel).

The truth of the matter is that as a nation, Ukraine is a young one. Ethnically they are Slavs, and as they are so close together linguistically and culturally as well as geographically they are believed to be one people in pan-Slavic ideology. They were referred to in the West as Great Russians, White Russians (Belarusians) and Little Russians (Ukrainians) Contrary to the claims of the current regime, echoed by the West, that it was a demeaning term, all it truly meant was that it was a smaller country, and especially with cultural and linguistic differences overlapping so as to be indistinguishable to a foreigner, it did appear as a smaller Russia. Prior to the 19th century there was little in the way of a Ukrainian national consciousness. As remains the case even today, the land was rich in agriculture, and was one of the main sources of grain and livestock for the vast empire. The flag in use today represents the yellow of a cornfield and the blue of the sky.

The name appears to derive from an expression used in Russia around the 18th century. ‘I’m going to cross the border’ was crossing the Y’Kraine, and Russian troops on the outskirts of the empire were said to be stationed on the Y’Kraine, pronounced ‘Ooh-kraine’. But this term meant borderlands in general. There was little to speak of in the way of a Ukrainian national consciousness. The language spoken in Galicia and by some communities to the east of it, was dismissed by the ruling classes as a ‘peasant’s dialect’ almost until the revolutions of 1917. In the late 18th century, the term ‘Ukrainian Cossacks’ started to be used.

The emerging Ukrainian nationalism was treated as harshly by the Tsars in the 19th century as the others emerging, and the language was repressed until the revolutions of the 20th century. The land that was then commonly known as the Ukraine declared independence in 1917 along with many other nations in the area. It became part of the Soviet Union partly down to the civil war spreading to the region, and the Whites using it to group. Along with most newly declared republics it was encouraged, albeit not forced, to join the Union.

The idea of Ukraine, its name literally stemming from a word meaning Russia’s border, joining NATO is bound to be seen by Russia as a provocation as it breaks the promise made by George Bush Senior that NATO would not expand beyond its then present borders. Since then, it has been swallowing most countries in Eastern Europe, right to the Baltic States right on Russia’s border. This gives them the right to put American bases with military hardware there. The idea that it is a defensive alliance is put to rest by Putin being rebuffed by Bill Clinton when he asked if Russia could join. It is an aggressive tool which is aimed against Russia and should have been dismantled with the Warsaw Pact.

The idea that the war was ‘unprovoked’ is a blatant lie used by the Kiev regime and the US to garner sympathy from the West. One of the main criticisms by the Russian Communist Party of Putin was that he was betraying the people of Donbass by allowing them to be slaughtered by neo Nazis. They were in full support of the operation, especially with the constant provocative assertions that Ukraine would join NATO at a later date. When Russia finally recognised the breakaway republics in February 2020 and declared the operation, Ukraine’s military forces were very close to Russia’s borders in the Donbass in their non ending war against its people.

This is now a full-scale proxy war between the United States and Russia. Despite their own people facing shortages and rising costs, the Biden regime and its allies keep flooding Ukraine with arms and billions of dollars in ‘aid’. Prior to the war Ukraine was named ‘the most corrupt country in Europe’, and its neo-Nazi problem well documented by mainstream media. Likely because they know the war is unwinnable and the corruption problem not having disappeared since the war broke out, a lot of the military hardware sent by the United States and its EU/UK allies is not reaching its target but being sold on the black market, while US dollars end in the hands of oligarchs.

The social media campaign to garnish support for the war, with propaganda pieces and the sudden appearance of blue and yellow flags, was not spontaneous but was carefully orchestrated by a troll farm, which has now been exposed by the alternative US commentator Jackson Hinkle and others as operating from Discord. Along with posting on alleged Russian war crimes , such as the ludicrous idea put out by Kiev that Russia killed its own POWs in a false flag operation, destroying their own evidence. The only evidence they had for Russia doing such a crazy thing was that the attack was not made by a US HIMAR rocket launcher as originally thought. Common sense tells that it was more than likely ordered by Zelensky as he was worried about what the captives would say to incriminate him and the regime during their conduct of the war.

The Western media was silent when Ukrainian forces shelled a maternity hospital in Donetsk and is silent as it strikes civilian targets there daily. Yet any time civilians are killed in strikes on military targets in Ukraine, the West is mendaciously up in arms. Video footage showing Bucha to have been an obviously staged massacre by the Nazi who was stupid enough to film it on his social media is ignored. And we already know about the Kiev regime’s use of civilians as human shields.

If war crimes by Ukraine since the 2014 coup were gathered in a file, it would be enormous. Yet Russia is not supposed to even defend itself.

Russophobia in the West has become a ‘woke’, socially acceptable form of racism. To show solidarity with Zelensky’s book burning crusade and banning of any Russian art or culture in Ukraine, Italian universities have gone as far as banning Dostoyevsky, and other Russian authors and composers have been belittled, while some of the country’s rich contribution to human culture have been attributed to Ukraine. Orchestras ban Russian composers from being played all over Europe, and a top-class conductor was not allowed to conduct a piece he had previously been invited to do. Racist attacks on ethnic Russians have been reported all over Europe, with truckers being forced to transport goods in fear their vehicles will be attacked. Meanwhile, Zelensky calls for Russians to be banned from entering the countries of his allies. Taken to its logical conclusion this would include himself, as he was born in Russia and still struggles to remember some Ukrainian words.

We support Russia’s military operation in Ukraine out of solidarity with the Donbass people, and the knowledge that they cannot defend themselves without the Russian troops there, who they have welcomed as liberators. Often, they raise the Soviet flag used by their forefathers to defeat the Nazi menace. Now it is back in Europe with full support of the West. The coverage by the Western media, which has long ceased to be objective, is totally one dimensional. French reporters live from the not long liberated town of Lisichansk were surprised to find the people they interviewed supporting the Russians, and had it been recorded it most likely wouldn’t have been shown. Why they would support a regime which now bans their language and where Nazis seek to murder Russian speakers who fail to pronounce Ukrainian test words correctly is anyone’s guess.

Support for the military does not mean solidarity with the right-wing populist Putin regime, but we will defend it against US/NATO aggression. It is not an imperialist power but a semi-dependent regional capitalist power, and though it has built itself up from the poverty of the Yeltsin era its military and other technology have been inherited from the Soviet Era.

Any ‘anti-war movement’ that calls for Russian troop withdrawal is useless, as it is merely echoing the demands of imperialism. It would be abandoning the people of the Donbass to genocide, and Ukrainian forces would easily retake the recently liberated Lugansk Republic, as well as Donetsk and other threatened Russophone/Russian centres like Mariupol if this was to happen.

A principled intervention on Ukraine

On 29th July a substantial motion on Ukraine, taking a firmly defencist position on the Donbass struggle against the far-right Ukrainian regime’s 8 year attempt at suppression of the Russian and Russian-speaking population there, was put to a national members meeting of the Socialist Labour Network. On the face of it, it was defeated by 25 votes to 13, a nearly 2-1 margin. That would seem to be overwhelming. Except that in addition, 10 members abstained.

Ordinarily, one can only speculate over why a layer of members abstain in a meeting. But what it indicative is that the SLN already have a policy on the Ukraine war, which was passed rather hurriedly and at short notice in April, in the circumstances of war hysteria the like of which has probably not been seen since 1914.

Hysteria over Russia’s intervention in a civil war that had in reality been going on since 2014, and the Maidan coup that placed in power a far-right nationalist regime whose key objectives were to parlay Ukraine into NATO. This regime passed a monolingual law that stated that Ukrainian was to be the sole ‘national language’ (even though around 46% of the population speaks Russian as their main language). Evidently its aim was to suppress and/or ethnically cleanse the overwhelmingly Russian-speaking population of the Donbass. This aspect of the conflict is so flagrantly undemocratic that it is akin to trying to ban either French or Dutch in Belgium.

In the face of this, the SLN passed a motion on 8th April that stated “The Socialist Labour Network condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We call for an immediate ceasefire and for all Russian armed forces to immediately withdraw.” (https://www.labour-in-exile.org/uncategorized/the-amm-8-april-passed-the-following-statement-on-ukraine/)

And yet it also said: “We support the right of secession of the 2 breakaway republics, Donetsk and Luhansk in the face of attacks on ethnic Russians and Russian speaking Ukranians” and paid lip service to “Self-determination for the peoples of Donbass and Crimea on the basis of a genuinely democratic referendum.”

The phrase about the “genuinely democratic referendum” is weasel words, as the peoples of these regions have already held referenda, which in the case of Crimea was overwhelmingly for separation from Ukraine and unification with Russia – hardly surprising as the majority of Crimea’s population not only speaks Russian but is Russian.

 In the case of the two Donbass People’s Republics, Donetsk and Lugansk, they voted equally overwhelmingly for autonomy within the framework of the two Minsk agreements, which were supposed to guarantee such autonomy, not least on questions related to language rights. Even though it was supposed to be guaranteed by the OSCE, which includes both Russia and Ukraine, and the bulk of the so-called ‘democratic’ imperialist powers, the far-right regime in Kiev has waged bloody war against the people of the Donbass for 8 years, in which over 14,000 have died. Apparently, those referenda are not good enough to satisfy the drawers up of the April motion.

The SLN’s original policy completely contradicts itself about the self-determination of the Russian and Russian speaking population when it writes “Russia, hands off Ukraine. Immediate withdrawal of occupation forces”. The problem is that there are no Russian “occupation forces”. The only parts of Ukraine where Russian forces are based are areas where the population is overwhelmingly Russian-speaking, and they are in fact in the process of liberating them from 8 years of hostile, far right, often outright Nazi, occupation and oppression.

There are ZERO Russian ‘occupation forces’ in the parts of Ukraine where monolingualist Ukrainian nationalists can realistically pretend, even formally, to rule democratically. So, in fact this call for the withdrawal of non-existent ‘occupation forces’ amounts for the call for the withdrawal of those forces protecting the people of the Donbass from the murderous proclivities of the NATO-backed Maidan regime and the likes of the Azov regiment. The same Azov regiment that the April policy says of which: “In particular we condemn the supply of weapons and training to Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov Battalion by the United States, Britain and Israel. The Azov battalion has been integrated into Ukraine’s armed forces and is part of the Ukrainian state. Ukraine is the only state in the world to hold a national holiday in memory of a Nazi collaborator, Stepan Bandera, whose forces were responsible for the deaths of at least 200,000 Jews, Gypsies and Poles during the war.”

But the SLN is calling for the withdrawal of the so-called occupation forces that are preventing the likes of Azov from conquering the Donbass and reducing its population to a similar condition to that of the Palestinians at Israel’s hands. How is that compatible with ‘self-determination’ for the Donbass?

Evidently it is not. Which is why there was such disquiet among the SLN’s members about this that nearly half of the membership at a meeting failed to support this existing, self-contradictory and in fact reactionary, policy of demanding the withdrawal of the forces of Russia’s ‘special operation’, putting the SLN clearly on the side of the NATO-Nazi oppressor against the oppressed people of the Donbass. What is not surprising, but a little disappointing, is that the often personally courageous but politically vacillating left-centrist Tony Greenstein opposed the motion and led the charge against it, even though he has recently written things that pretty much match the main points in the motion.

His reasons for doing this are simply opportunist. He spuriously claimed that the motion was ‘uncritical’ of Putin. In fact, Putin’s name does not occur in the motion, nor that of any other politician except for James Baker, the US Secretary of State at the time of German reunification, who gave undertakings that NATO would not expand to the East, since massively broken. Putin’s name does not occur because this is not about individual politicians but the social nature of a conflict, in terms that correspond with things that Greenstein has written about in virtually identical terms.

The real reason for this is Greenstein’s fear, as he let slip in the meeting, that some of the more right-wing elements in the SLN would walk away if the SLN adopted a principled, anti-imperialist position on the war in Ukraine. That is simply opportunism and reflects passive acceptance of a situation where there is in fact NO ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT in the main Western countries, as groups like ‘Stop the War’ simply echo the demands of the imperialists for a Russian defeat (while engaging in cheap posturing about ‘a plague on both your houses’ in the worst traditions of traitorous and hypocritical reformism).

The SLN, like much of the rest of the ex-Corbynite left, is politically heterogenous and confused on questions of principle such as Ukraine. Not far off half of that meeting was sympathetic to a principled position, if not yet politically hard enough to vote to overturn the rotten policy and risk a walkout by the confusionist third camp (and worse) types. But it is also clear that there is still much to play for, and as anti-imperialists, we supporters of the Consistent Democrats will not be walking away from the SLN and the ex-Corbynite left more generally.

Motion on the Russia-Ukraine-NATO military conflict

  1. The root cause of the current military conflict is the 30-year drive to expand NATO in breach of public undertakings, by such politicians as then US Secretary of State James Baker, at the time of the dissolution of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, that NATO would not expand ‘one inch’ eastwards from the Elbe. Since then, NATO has expanded to include 10 former Eastern Bloc countries, and the threat to include Ukraine and Georgia, along with hoped-for nuclear weapons and actual bioweapon sites in Ukraine, is regarded as an existential threat by the Russian government and most Russians.
  • The 2014 Maidan Coup in Ukraine led by violent far rightists on the ground, guided and funded with billions of dollars by US politicians and intelligence agencies, installed an effective US puppet government in Kiev. Since the coup this government has not only been a proxy of the US, as the US now openly admits, but has violently suppressed leftists, ethnic Russians, and other minorities. It has introduced a draconian language law that mandates the use of Ukrainian in all official and public contexts, including in the large areas of Eastern Ukraine where Russian is the main language used by the population. This is clear national-linguistic oppression.
  • The repression provoked a bloody civil war in Ukraine as residents of the Donbass established the Peoples Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk to defend themselves from the violently Russophobic Kiev regime and its fascist military forces. Other sections of the Russian and Russian-speaking population of Ukraine outside the Donbass such as Odessa and Mariupol, who also resisted this, were subjected to massacres and atrocities.
  • Russia’s military action in the current war amounted to an intervention in the pre-existing Ukrainian civil war to prevent the destruction and elimination of the Russian and Russophone Ukrainian population by the far-right Ukrainian regime. As this civil war has proceeded there have been numerous organised beatings and murders by Ukrainian far right nationalists of civilians for not speaking ‘proper’ Russian.
  • Although Russia has been a capitalist state since 1991 it is not an imperialist power. Imperialism is more than when one state employs military force against another. Imperialism is a stage of capitalism represented by the dominance of finance capital. Russia is not part of the ‘imperialist club’ but a relatively backward, dependent capitalist economy. Its exceptional powerful military was inherited from the non-capitalist USSR, including nuclear forces that were developed for defence against the US. In 1945 the US used nuclear weapons against Japan, which was already seeking to surrender, to intimidate the USSR as the opening shot of the Cold War.
  • NATO and the US deliberately provoked this conflict over decades. Russia intervened on 24 February to defend the population of Eastern Ukraine from a massive offensive by Kiev that began on 16 Feb. Both in the run up to the Russian action, and especially afterward, the entire population of the West have been subjected to a racist, anti-Russian hate campaign and militaristic propaganda that has not been seen since 1914. Lies about Russian ‘atrocities’ have been brazenly fabricated when in fact evidence points to systematic atrocities against Russo-Ukrainian civilians being committed by NATO-funded Ukrainian Nazis.
  • Foul racism against Russians has become Western state policy. Bans on sporting and cultural figures, the works of long-dead Russian figures like Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky, and even deceased Cosmonauts, are examples of the most disgusting racism, comparable to the Nazis’ bans against Jewish artistic and cultural figures in the lead up to the Nazi holocaust. This has been accompanied by fantasising in the Western media about the possibility of the US ‘winning’ a nuclear war.
  • In the face of this we as socialists must declare our solidarity with the oppressed Russo-Ukrainian population of the Donbass and defend their right to defend themselves against NATO’s far right, racist, warmongering campaign by whatever means are at hand, including by working with the Russian armed forces. Russia also has the right to defend itself against the Western project of dismembering it and plundering it for its natural resources.
  • We should oppose the demand for the withdrawal of Russian troops without securing full national inviolability of Russian/Russophone East Ukraine as a deceitful ‘anti-war’ demand that does not actually oppose war but lays the basis for a slaughter and/or mass expulsion of Russo-Ukrainians, which may resemble that of the Palestinians. We also note that anyone who seeks a genuinely independent existence for Ukraine proper will not achieve this as a puppet of NATO and the US.

Proposed: Ian Donovan

Seconded: Mick Arter/James Hall

BIAS, THE BBC AND THE STRIKE  

By Mark Andresen

This summer’s plethora of industrial action across the UK has reminded us of the mainstream media’s historic disconnect between the priorities of the middle and working classes.

  Sky reporter Kay Burley’s comedically out-of-touch questions to the RMT’s Mick Lynch in June was one of the more bizarre examples. ITV’s Richard Madeley’s baiting of Lynch was no more successful. Meanwhile, to Government ministers and MPs’, such an obvious question as, how do you justify prioritising additional billions of military expenditure in overseas wars over social policy back home? never passes either’s lips. Their woeful omissions of knowledge at least appeared genuinely incompetent; the BBC’s own omissions are long-observed editorial choices, which date from their founding as a private company one-hundred years ago.

  Four years later, the General Strike represented the first test of allegiance for a national media outlet. From the outset, it fell in with the Establishment line. This was the result of a combination of factors: John Reith – the 6′ 6” tall, craggy son of a Scottish Presbyterian minister and first Director-General, respected and feared in equal measure – was a committed Unionist who saw his role as supporting, not challenging, the status quo. His refusal to broadcast a message with undertones mildly sympathetic to the Strike, from the Archbishop of Canterbury, has to be considered in the light of another, accusatory, against the strikers by the Archbishop of Canterbury. While this was a personal decision of Reith’s, the Company’s now compromised status ensured any such future executive decision would be partial. At the time, this could be construed as more structural than intentional.

  Trevor Harris notes: ‘Reith’s main difficulty was that as Managing-Director of the British Broadcasting Company he was head of a private enterprise. Yet, as Chief Executive of a company, which was financed by a fee payable annually by each listener, a fee collected by the Government which, further, licenced all broadcasting, Reith was also head of a publicly controlled company.’

  It is therefore ironic that the supposed ‘independence’ the company advertised as a positive selling point, in  terms of accountability, is also that which has consistently compromised its raison d’etre.

  Harris adds: ‘Throughout the brief Strike, Reith saw himself as guardian of the Company and the Company as the guardian of public order. Reith himself announced both the beginning and the end of the conflict, even inviting (Prime Minister) Baldwin – in order to avoid an inquisitve crowd at the BBC’s premises at Savoy Hill – into his own home to make a crucial broadcast . . . Reith’s (view) was that a Government-controlled broadcasting service could only support a viewpoint clearly opposed to the Government on that Government’s sufferance. And going against a proclaimed state of emergency could well have been treasonable.’

  Tom Mills confirmed: ‘It was left officially “independent” on the understanding that it would continue to broadly serve the political objectives of the Government and the interests it represented.’

   Scannel & Cardiff meanwhile argued that, with its reconstitution into a public corporation after the General Strike, the BBC “crossed the political threshold” by becoming a “governing institution” with aims and functions delegated to it by Parliament, committed to co-operation with Government, and sharing its assumptions about what constituted “the national interest.”

  Therefore, despite its international growth as a Corporation, the only major structural change through subsequent decades (particularly since the founding of the BBC News channel twenty-five years ago) has been technical; i.e. the efficiency in making those same contacts via speed-dial. This has only served to further embed, broaden and make more casual the web of mutual co-operation.

  Yet, an individual representative voice of the people, once given the chance, can still circumvent such expansion. Fast-forward to 2022 and the RMT’s Eddie Dempsey has shown himself as adept, succinct and influential on the mainstream media as Lynch. This two-pronged attacking defence of their position has proven key in the visual, dominant, rolling news media of today and produced (albeit briefly) an advantageous circumvention of state media beyond anything imaginable by the BBC’s first Director-General in 1926.

  What remains is lip-service from the BBC hierarchy to the term ‘balance’; one rarely anticipating compromise from the middle-class boss, but too often from anticipated capitulation of the worker. 

  Harris stated: ‘the customary rejoinder to the horns of the dilemma on which the BBC seems caught, is to assert that since people on both sides of the political spectrum are grumbling, then the balance must be about right. But, for some, “balance” seems a disengaged, passive substitute for a more forensic approach. Applying “balance,” in the words of one observer, merely means that the BBC’s news coverage becomes “increasingly cautious and constipated.” Impartiality, in this reading, seems to have become equivalent to making only a series of negative choices . . .’

  Such negative choices today as presenting authority figures from thinktanks, with no experience as workers in the current environment, as arbiters of fact. ‘Balance’ is, to some extent, achievable where politics isn’t the subject under discussion; where it is – when the Overton Window of ‘centrism’ has shifted so far to the Right – ‘balance’ favours those who oversee where it resides.

  Earlier this year, both the BBC and ITV featured unintentionally amusing commercials highlighting their ‘independence’ and presenting their news with ‘absolutely no spin.’ If the definition of omission is “the action of excluding or leaving out,” then, in that, they certainly succeeded. A small development in recent years is how thinktank representatives have been introduced, as both ‘right-leaning’ and ‘left-leaning’; a differential that, at one level, may appear trivial, but may also be a result of viewer pressure rather than decided in isolation by a Tim Davie dictat. Such an incremental change is no solution in itself, yet as a regular inclusion in one of the most respected of mainstream media outlets may represent the first dent in its subjective presentation of ‘facts.’ Best case scenario, (if only unintentionally), this admission may be the first small foot-in-the-door of shifting the perception of the uncommitted viewer to self-question what they are being fed and from where it is being sourced.

Communist Fight issue #10 now available!

Communist Fight issue #10 is now available

This issue has two overriding and interlinked themes: the fight against imperialist war, and against the ruinous attacks on the working class and oppressed masses occasioned by the interlinked capitalist economic and environmental crises that are intertwined with imperialism’s wars.

The lead articles on the front and back pages take up all these questions in some depth. The front page lead on Ukraine, by Liz Hoskings, is an all-out attack on Russophobia, imperialist militarism and its overt support for Nazism as a means to wage this NATO proxy war on Russia. It also includes a historical treatment of the national question, which is a different angle to previous articles, and should provoke some debate and hopefully increased understanding. Sharing the front page is an analysis of the fuel price attack on the working class, which is a much more serious attack on the entire working-class population (as well as much of the middle class) than the Poll Tax ever was. It is notable that working-class resistance to the Poll Tax played a major role in bringing down the arch-neoliberal regime of Thatcher in 1990. This crisis is much bigger, the attack more ferocious and entrenched, and intertwined with the effects of 40 years of privatisation and plunder by the bourgeoisie against those gains of the working class that were the product of its most historic struggles, not just in Britain but internationally. The potential for mass action is much greater, but the crisis of leadership of the working class is even more stark. This article addresses the many factors that go to make up this crisis and attempts to point a political way forward.

The back page article, on the other hand, addresses the severity of the environmental crisis we now face, in the context of his summer’s massive and deadly heatwaves in Europe, as well as the complete dereliction of the bourgeoisie on this question, which is driving human existence into great peril. All these questions are intertwined, as capitalist collapse and rampant environmental degradation are driving potent threats to our civilisation all over the planet.

A major component of this journal is transcripts of an international discussion that took place online in May to address the Ukraine conflict and the war drive against Russia and China in the context of Victory Day, the celebration of the defeat of Nazi Germany by the USSR in 1945. The effective rehabilitation of Hitlerism by the ruling classes of the West in the current proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, exposes the real nature of the war on the Eastern Front: basically, a class war against a naked imperialist attack. The destruction of the USSR has now led to an imperialist drive to colonise Russia and China in which the temptation to make use of ‘captive nations’ fascists has proved irresistible to the bourgeoisie, especially given the decline of the imperialist hegemon, the US, which has introduced a degree of desperation into their conduct where any means will do to try to reassert US domination. All these questions and much more are discussed in the transcripts.

Other items included are: an account of our intervention in the Socialist Labour Network to try to get that organisation to adopt a principled, anti-imperialist position on Ukraine, which showed evidence of a gradual opening of sentiments on the left to such a position, even if we did not achieve instant success. We have material on the French legislative elections in June, which were an opportunity to put forward our independent class position on opposition to popular frontism in a situation where a popular new left party, La France Insoumise led by Mélenchon, engaged in a coalition that has at least an element of popular frontism about it. Another article in this issue denounces the obscene attempts by the Tories to deport refugees to Rwanda, a statement of genocidal intent if there ever was one. We have an historical analysis of political bias and the BBC by Mark Andresen, an article by our Brazilian comrades about the potential for a coup in the upcoming elections as Lula and the Brazilian workers movement try to throw out the Nazi-populist sociapathic president, Bolsonaro. And we have a commentary on the recent assassination attempt against Salman Rushdie, that is sharply critical of this author and scores the West’s hypocrisy about ‘free speech’ for Rushdie when it is suppressing the Russian media for fear of the truth being disseminating about their involvement with Hitlerites in Ukraine.

This issue is, as usual, very much focused on the struggle against imperialism and war, as a communist journal should be.

Mikhail Gorbachev: A Brief Obituary

Mikhail Gorbachev died on 30th August aged 91. The architect of glasnost (openness)  and perestroika (reconstruction), his ‘reforms’ to the regime created by the political counterrevolution in Soviet Russia/USSR in the early 1920s, finally brought about the downfall of the first workers state after more than six decades of the political monopoly of a privileged, new kind of labour bureaucracy. This bureaucracy had stymied the world revolution and decades later led to the growth of a layer of youthful middle class and aspiring bourgeois from in and around the bureaucracy. This provided the social base for the political liberalisation of glasnost, seemingly in tune with working class interests in freedom of political debate within the workers’ state. But this was part of a programme of ‘market socialism’ that undermined economic planning, leading a rapid decline in living standards of the working class.

This demoralised the pro-socialist elements that initially rallied to Gorbachev, and instead led to the increasing ascendancy of neoliberal ideologues and frankly agents of Western imperialism, who consolidated around Boris Yeltsin as the more consistent expression of what was implicit in perestroika –  the return to capitalism. Gorbachev’s conciliation of Western imperialism led to agreements with the US that proved to be chimerical – from the 1987 INF Treaty to limit short-range nuclear missiles in the European theatre, which was torn up by the supposedly Russia-friendly Trump in 2018, to the verbal agreement with James Baker, US Secretary of State, that NATO would not extend ‘one inch’ to the East in response to Gorbachev not vetoing German reunification. Which was torn up by the Clinton administration in 1997, which in turn laid the basis for the aggressive expansion of NATO and the current NATO-provoked conflict in Ukraine.

There is little doubt that Gorbachev started out as a genuine liberal Stalinist, motivated to a considerable degree by disgust at the stifling of political and intellectual life at the hands of the bureaucratic regime that he had been trained by, and inherited. But he had no political answer, as did the bureaucracy generally. His complete failure to embrace anything other than illusory capitalist forms of so-called ‘democracy’ led to disasters and impoverishment of many in Eastern Europe and the USSR, particularly in the early to mid-1990s, when Russia suffered what can only have been millions of deaths from malnutrition and suicidal economic-induced despair, the human counterpart of an collapse of living standards that led to a 5 year fall in life expectancy in what was the USSR. Only under Stalin’s forced collectivisation disaster had there been a comparably large fall in life expectancy in peacetime.  This was under Yeltsin, who seized power in Russia after the August 1991 coup attempt finally gave him the opportunity to dismantle the USSR. Yeltsin expressed Gorbachev’s marketisation programme more consistently that Gorbachev himself, which ironically led to a similar disaster for Russian workers than happened to sections of the population under Stalin. Reflecting the fact that counterrevolution was and is a barbaric programme. The greatest indictment of Gorbachev was that he became that midwife of that barbaric programme, and indeed of some of the greatest defeats for the working class in the 20th Century, whose consequences could prove to be grave to humanity. We Marxists are fighting against those consequences today.