General strikes to bring down neoliberal regimes!
Vengeance against the killers!
There’s no getting away from it. The runaway rise in fuel costs will drive working class people to their deaths. Within the framework of the current neoliberal regime in Britain and pretty much all the imperialist countries, as well as many of the oppressed dependent and semi-colonial countries under the imperialist thumb, it determines everything else. The characteristic lie of the ruling classes is that in some way Russia and Vladimir Putin are responsible for fuel prices going through the roof. But this is an absurd lie: for a start Britain gets less than 8% of its total oil and gas from Russia, and less than 3% of its natural gas. Furthermore, the rise in energy prices is not caused by any price rise from the Russians – if it did it would be marginal here as any numerate person can calculate. In any case, in Britain in 2020 43% of Britain’s electricity was generated from renewable sources (wind, solar and biomass), and since then it this has fluctuated, but is gradually continuing to grow. These ought rationally to be completely separate in price from fossil fuel sources such as oil and gas wherever it comes from.
But in fact, it is nothing Russia has done, but rather the sanctions against Russia that have escalated energy prices upwards, prices that were already on a sharp upward trend before the conflict in Ukraine started. What is actually happening is massive profiteering by Western oil and gas monopolies are driving up prices. This is seen by looking at the profits of the leading companies involved. A series of major oil and gas companies either have, or are credibly forecast to have, massively increased their profits in 2022 over the same period in 2021. This includes Shell, rising from $12.8 Billion in the period Jan-September 2021 to $30.1 Billion in the same period in 2022 (actual, not estimate); BP rising from $8.2 Billion to $20.7 Billion over the same period (estimate); ExxonMobil from $14.3 Billion to $42.7 Billion (estimate); Chevron from $10.7 Billion to $27.3 Billion (estimate), TotalEnergies from $11.3 to $28.7 Billion (actual, not estimate); Eni from $2.6 Billion to $10.3 Billion (estimate) and ConocoPhillips from $5 Billiion to $13.8 Billion (estimate). (source, Guardian, 27 October 2022, https://tinyurl.com/2ttv9dj5). These are staggering increases in profit, and completely debunk the bizarre propaganda that Russia somehow to blame for the fuel price catastrophe for defending its co-nationals in the Donbass from Nazi terror. What is actually happening is concerted operation to fleece the population of the Western countries, and the wider world, using the Ukraine conflict and the mendacious information war being waged as a cover for doing so.
The sanctions against Russia are driven by predatory political objectives – the expansion of NATO, which has been underway since 1997, even when the West’s favourite lackey, Boris Yelstin, was in power. Even under Yeltsin, the arch privatiser and agent of the West, who starved his own people for the Western privateers and banks, Russia was cast as the ultimate enemy of the West. This is because of what is called the Brezhinsky plan, after former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brezhinsky, to split Russia into at least three effective US colonies, promoted by such imperialist predators as Dick Cheney, architect of the WMD lie and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In 2014 the United States, acting through the so-called National Endowment for Democracy, the outsourced ‘soft power’ wing of the CIA, organised a coup that overthrew the elected Ukrainian President Yanukovitch and placed a puppet regime dominated by Nazis in power.
This regime abolished the equal status of the Russian language, the main language of almost half the population, and began persecuting and killing Russian speakers and waging war against the South and East of Ukraine and its mainly Russian-speaking population. The two Minsk agreements that were supposed to guarantee rights and autonomy for the Russophone population were repeatedly broken leading to civil war. Thousands of civilians from the Donbass region were killed as the Ukrainian Nazi regime waged war against them over the past 8 years. Despite the phoney refugee crisis in the West involving usually quite wealthy Ukranians pretending to flee from Western Ukraine, which is not occupied, more refugees – over 3 million – have fled to Russia, from the Nazi bombardment
Finally, Russia undertook a limited Special Military Operation in February to protect the Russian-speaking population. The sanctions are aimed at punishing Russia for protecting its people from Ukrainian Nazis. Zelensky is just a puppet and a front man for these types. We are in an economic mess because the West is funding bloodthirsty Nazis not to defend the Ukrainian-speaking people who mainly live in Galicia – the West of Ukraine – there are ZERO Russian troops deployed there. They are supplying arms to the Ukrainian Nazis to massacre and ethnically cleanse the population of the Donbass and Crimea. British intelligence has been involved in terrorism against the people of the Donbass provinces and Crimea who overwhelmingly voted to leave Nazi Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. The West regards such self-determination of peoples as a threat to imperialist interests, as shown also by the banning of an independence referendum in Scotland, and the persecution and imprisonment of elected Catalan leaders by Spain for calling such a referendum
Billions are being spent on weapons to murder Russo-Ukrainians for their vote, swelling the profits of military profiteers also, which should be spent on supporting the living standards of working-class people at home facing an economic cliff-edge, hunger, cold and homelessness. Or at least that is what would be done if we lived in a society not ruled by a predatory imperialist ruling class. Instead, they are using this war, as they used the Covid 19 pandemic, as a means to engineer a massive shift of money and wealth from the poor to the super-rich, leaving a huge pile of corpses in their wake.
Austerity Means Mass Murder
Cameron’s austerity killed 330,000 mainly disabled and elderly according to a recent study. Johnson in the Covid pandemic killed at least 150,000. The discharge of infected elderly into care homes was mass murder in plain sight. Poorer countries with larger populations protected people and had a quarter of our 200,000 deaths. Now another massacre, likely even bigger, is being engineered by Sunak and Hunt. That’s half a million murdered in a decade, with many more coming.
And we also see the deliberate endangerment of the lives of migrant workers and asylum seekers. The illegal orders to the Navy to ‘push back’ desperate people in small boats, who have NO legal way to seek asylum in the UK. The failed attempts to deport refugees to Rwanda, which has been carefully chosen for its brutal abuses even of the imperialist concept of ‘human rights’ (as opposed to the universal rights of the working class and oppressed) and for its subliminal association with genocide. And there is the Manston scandal, where refugees were deliberately put into desperately overcrowded conditions in the hope that disease would kill them off. As a result, we have an outbreak of diphtheria, a barbaric throwback to the days of typhus in Nazi concentration camps. The populist neoliberals would like to divide workers by portraying these people as undeserving of any rights, on a nationalist/racist basis. But how they treat refugees is an index of how they would like to treat us all. The ‘hostile environment’, which began under New Labour’s Alan Johnson, and all these murderous actions directed against the poor majority of workers show the need to unite with immigrant workers to do away with the neoliberal vermin completely.
We should fight for full restitution and vengeance for all this as a means to mobilise the mass of working-class people to conquer their own emancipation from this predatory class rule. Madame Guillotine is an excellent leveller and a life for a life is the correct solution to these killings. The entire capitalist/neoliberal elite – Tory, Blairite and ‘Populist’ – needs to be disposed of in the vintage French manner and their property – stolen from working-class people – collectivised.
The rise in food prices is being driven by the voracious profiteering of neoliberal parasites. The creeping rise in housing costs and interest rates was also underway in parallel to that, but In Britain the moronic Voodoo economics of Truss gave a new boost to inflation and provided the ruling austerity mongers with the wafer-thin ‘justification’ for a new round of austerity. We, the working class, are supposed to pay for the lunacies of the Tory membership in imposing the monstrous imbecile Truss with new cuts to the NHS, with tax increases in coming years, and declining real pay in the face of relentless fuel-fuelled inflation. That was the message of Hunt and Sunak’s mini-Budget on 17th November. While they hope their fiscal measures will blunt the rise in interest rates and protect homeowners – the wealthier portion of whom make up much of the Tories’ electoral base – the pay off for this will be the expiry next April of Truss’ totally inadequate average £2500 limit on annual fuel bills – which is itself over double the cap at the end of 2021 – and its likely to rise as high as £4000 pa in April 2020. After that there will be means-tested aid to the poorest, those on benefits etc, who will still be crucified by the doubling before the limit was created, and the rest will have to pay the profiteers in full.
Develop the strike wave towards a General Strike. No support to Starmer!
None of this should be tolerated. It is good that there is a fightback developing in the working class, and one-day strikes have been bubbling away for a few months now. Rail workers, Royal Mail workers, dockers have set some sort of pace for others to follow. Now we see nurses having voted to strike: their pay has effectively been cut by at least 20% in real terms by the refusal of pay rises to keep up with inflation since the beginning of the original Tory austerity programme in 2010. The NHS has been hammered by the same austerity, and by the rampant corruption, malign neglect and profiteering of Boris Johnson and his cronies since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Everyone knows the difficulty now in getting to see a GP. Everyone doubly fears being taken ill today, not only because of the illness itself, but the fact that the Ambulance Service and A&E and Hospital Admissions have been wrecked and plundered by the profiteers, so that Ambulances are forced to queue for hours outside A&E’s before discharging their patients into understaffed hospital facilities, instead of being available to often desperately ill patients within a reasonable time.
But the revival of trade union struggle is still at a relatively early stage. A crucial obstacle to the movement is forty years of anti-trade union laws, which impose a very restrictive legal framework on strikes. And they have a bureaucracy that is long used to manoeuvring around these laws, and often squashing struggles that objectively need to go beyond the repressive legal framework to have a chance of winning. Such struggles are routinely betrayed by the bureaucracy, and have been for decades, particularly since the 1984-5 Miners strike. We need a series of strategic demands and aims centring on further deepening of collaboration and coordination of union actions between different unions, aimed at what is objectively necessary – a General Strike to defeat these attacks and defend the WHOLE working class.
At the same time, we should be wary of such bodies as the TUC, which have the authority to call a General Strike, and given a huge increase in pressure from below, could at some point be forced to comply. History says that the TUC is likely to betray such a strike, as it did in 1926, calling off the strike after 10 days. The only antidote is to build a political class movement at the grass roots that can take the strike out of the hands of such misleaders. Such a movement could strike a severe blow against repressive anti-union laws and force their abolition. We must demand workers control of all prices; a sliding scale of incomes and benefits, and of course the establishment of a workers’ government to put the workers collectively in command of the whole economy so we can expropriate capital and plan the economy in working-class interests.
A crucial obstacle to this is any continued loyalty of the trade unions to the Labour Party. Today the Labour leadership is openly hostile to unions and strikers, and the leadership in one case even sacked an MP from a shadow ministerial position and orchestrated their de-selection as and MP, for refusing to obey an edict not to show support for picket lines. This is entirely consistent with the whole war Starmer has waged against the left since he was elected as Labour leader on a slew of brazen lies in 2020, promising to be a ‘unity’ candidate maintaining many of the mildly left-social-democratic politics of Jeremy Corbyn.
He immediately declared war on everything remotely working class or socialist within Labour. Any support for workers in struggle is proscribed. Any support for Palestinian rights draws the Goebbellsian lie about ‘anti-Semitism’ and the chop from Labour, propelled by the powerful faction of fascistic Zionists of which Starmer is part. Jewish-Zionist racists are indulged in Labour; non-whites, Muslims or other representatives of the genuinely oppressed, even anti-Zionist Jews, are sent to the back of the bus. And any opposition to NATO’s war in Ukraine on behalf of its Hitlerite puppets likewise attracts being purged. Starmer, who says that he supports Zionism “without qualification” at the same time defends the Hitlerite scum like Azov, and Ukraine’s US-quisling Zionist President Zelensky who posts approving pictures of his troops wearing SS Insignia on his Instagram account.
The Tories have reached the end of their line as a currently viable ruling party. It is clear that the ruling class want them out, not least so that they can resolve their huge problems with erratic right-wing populism that were summed up in the bizarre and dysfunctional regime of Johnson and Brexit, and the even more bizarre short-lived Truss regime. The ruling class is actively pushing for Starmer to take their place, as a surrogate, substitute Tory who will maintain austerity and their repressive anti-union laws, their hostile environment for migrants, their racist persecution of minorities, their privatisations and above all their absolute fealty to neoliberalism and the defence of the interests of the super-rich ruling class core against the working class and the oppressed on all questions of any significance.
There should be no indulgence, no support, for Starmer’s New Labour by trade unions. There should be no voting or campaigning for New Labour by socialists, trade unionists and anti-racicsts. Starmer follows in the footsteps of Blair, who kept 95% of Thatcher’s anti-union laws, engaged in its own privatisations including in housing and the health service, and was the chief promoter of the predatory war in Iraq. Trade unionists should involve themselves in the struggle to create a genuine working-class party open to programmatic development towards revolutionary solutions.
Such things are needed across the imperialist countries, and indeed among all those victimised by the current crisis around the world. Neoliberal capitalism needs to be destroyed by the international working class!