This year gone many billionaires doubled their wealth and 500 new ones emerged. While 150 million more pushed into extreme poverty.
Capitalism must be overthrown!
For May Day 2021 the working class internationally faces the direst situation since the early 1930s, and in some ways worse. Capitalism is squeezing our class around the world from many directions. The Covid-19 Pandemic is a result of capitalist despoilation of the environment and a terrible by- product of its wanton exploitation of nature. Its apparent origin in China is no doubt a by-product of the commodification of that society through capitalist restoration, but such despoilation of nature, which creates risks of spill-over biological events that can do enormous harm to humanity, are possible in many places. Nature is being degraded by capitalism all over the world.
We are being affected by a multi-sided crisis of considerable complexity and the need for radical and even revolutionary solutions, and the political leadership that can bring them into being, is a felt need of masses of people all over the world. The last century or so since the Russian Revolution of 1917 has been a century of wars, revolutions, and counterrevolutions. Since the 1980s, however, we saw a wave of counterrevolutions, when the conditions and gains achieved by working class people the world over have come under concerted attack from neoliberalism, the capitalist ideology that aimed to free monopoly capital from all the restraints on it resulting from a century of working class struggles and gains, in the name of a ‘free market’ which under todays concentrated, monopoly/corporate capitalism is a complete myth and lie.
The destruction of a number of so-called ‘Communist’ countries a generation ago: which were in fact deformed workers states, damaged by-products of the Russian and international workers’ struggles of 1917 onwards, has not led to a world of freedom and democracy, “the End of History” as neoliberal ideologues such as Francis Fukuyama proclaimed a generation ago in the midst of counterrevolution in the East. It has led to the unrestrained despoilation of the planet by neoliberal capitalism, and the re-emergence of pandemic disease on a scale last seen in 1918-20, after what was then the most terrible world-wide war in history, the product of imperialist capitalism.
The crises we face today: the pandemic and the millions of deaths it has already led to, the climate threat it is linked to, the economic crisis that was already a problem and the pandemic is deepening into a depression that is already desperately impoverishing the masses in semi-colonial countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well as hurting the masses in imperialist countries also. According to Forbes, nearly 500 new billionaires joined Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk last year as the world’s richest became $5 trillion richer (see https://www.businessinsider.com/billionaires-became-5-trillion-richer-during-pandemic-forbes-list-2021-4). Meanwhile, the World Bank estimated last October that the pandemic would :
“… push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as many as 150 million by 2021, depending on the severity of the economic contraction. Extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day, is likely to affect between 9.1% and 9.4% of the world’s population in 2020, according to the biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report. This would represent a regression to the rate of 9.2% in 2017. Had the pandemic not convulsed the globe, the poverty rate was expected to drop to 7.9% in 2020.https://tinyurl.com/askdcje8
All these things, like the two world wars, are products of the untrammelled capitalism that led to world war then and, unleashed, is pushing the world toward a similar or likely worse catastrophe today. Capitalism is incapable of solving the problems it has brought into being in the early 21st Century. It is incapable of ceasing to destroy our environment and thus avoiding more future catastrophes such as pandemics and wars that threaten our existence, because the fundamental nature of the system is the unlimited, expanding production and realisation of surplus value for private profit.
Only when humanity takes all production out the hands of capital and plans production and distribution in accord with both the needs of all humanity at a global level, and the preservation and sustainment of the natural world on which we depend, removing the profit motive from social production, can the future of human civilisation and nature be saved from otherwise inevitable destruction. In the meantime, we need to demand that workers, peasants and other oppressed layers around the world who are forced to quarantine by the deadly threat of Covid-19 be fully paid and compensated for their loss of income, with full sick pay. Imperialist capitalism, which sucks the blood out of the working masses of the world and has accumulated enormous wealth, whose value representation is stored away in tax-havens around the world, must be forced to pay for this, on pain of igniting an international working-class movement against them that can be the gravedigger of capital globally.
It was the existence of the workers states, latterly severely damaged, of which only Cuba and North Korea now remain, as a systemic alternative that forced the capitalists to make concessions to workers in the three decades after the Second World War, that are being plundered by neoliberalism today. Obviously, these workers states and what remains of those gains need to be defended against counterrevolution, but above all we need a new thrust towards an international revolution against capital. We need to create the mass movements and parties to lead that.
The pandemic is the immediate question of the hour facing the world working class; the trillion-dollar capitalist pharmaceutical industry is now kicking into gear and has launched mass vaccination campaigns in the imperialist countries, having perfected a suite of quite effective vaccines. The Trump regime caused hundreds of thousands of working-class people to lose their lives because it refused to implement basic quarantine measures and as part of this right-wing populist form of neoliberalism, employers routinely forced workers to work in unsafe conditions. Trump even supported protests by right-wing libertarians against State public health measures. This cost the US 575,000 deaths and counting, a calamity more than ten times greater than US losses in the losing Vietnam colonial/counterrevolutionary war, which was previously the benchmark of national catastrophe in the US. Now Trump is gone, a more efficient and formidable US imperialist administration is taking steps to eliminate Covid among its own population and has embarked on a mass vaccination drive that is rapidly outpacing anywhere else where the disease was allowed to run rampant.
This is also happening in Britain: the demise of Trump appears to have forced Britain’s mini-Trumpian Brexiter Johnson to focus on mass vaccination as the way to sustainably re-open the economy, after a year of staccato lockdowns that were repeatedly sabotaged from above before they could be fully effective. In the European Union, issues involving disputes about limited supplies of vaccines and about vaccine side-effects, mean vaccination has been slower than expected, and some similar issues have slowed vaccinations in Japan. However, particularly in Britain, this has been laced with racism. Johnson’s government changed its approach to testing and quarantine at the borders at the end of 2020, with the third wave. Previously in 2020 the government was very reluctant to close borders and indeed for part of the year, in the summer Britons were encouraged to take overseas holidays to 59 countries, notwithstanding the pandemic. In the third wave, however, they have banned all pretty much all travel. However, they plan in May to introduce a traffic light system, that bans all travel to and from a large number of mainly Global South countries, mixing those like Brazil, Mexico and India with appalling Covid epidemics and new strains of the virus which are indeed a threat, with other places that have had much lower Covid rates than much of Europe. Europe meanwhile appears to be largely exempt.
The pandemic coincided with the ascendancy of right-wing populism not just in advanced countries, but around the world, including not only the Trumps and Johnsons, but also the grotesque Bolsonaro in Brazil who has made the pandemic considerably worse.
The frustration of the masses with the left-wing populist wave of the first 15 years of the century (particularly in Latin America) in overcoming the ills of capitalism, favoured the appearance of right-wing populism. In making this observation, we do not put an equals sign between populism on the right and on the left. We defend the working masses and their historical rights against the rise of right-wing populism. We defend the oppressed countries and the remaining workers’ states against imperialism. But, at the same time, we signal the failure of populism on the bourgeois left. The working masses cannot continue to be deceived forever by different options of their class enemies, they must break and overcome the demagogues of capital in their struggle to expropriate all expropriators.
Other important countries such as India and Mexico have struggled with out-of-control Covid epidemics due to a combination of massive poverty and incompetent governments, in the case of India the desperate plight of its people has been made worse by nationalist extremism, with Modi forbidding the use of tested vaccines from abroad in favour of a home-grown vaccine that had not even got past its trial phases. India is one of the chief sites for vaccine manufacture and export, but its own home-grown vaccine programme is in chaos.
The historical dimension of the current massacre of the Brazilian people at the hands of the Bolsonaro government
No previous massacre killed as many Brazilians as the current one, neither in the criminal war of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay against Paraguay (the greatest war in Latin America), nor during the “Spanish flu” (1918), nor in the second world war. The population is being defencelessly exposed to the virus, the defences have been withdrawn by the government and the regime on which it is based. The health care system has been dismantled. Labour rights have been withdrawn. The prices of food, medicine, oxygen, fuel, have skyrocketed. The real wages of the proletariat have been reduced. The beds have been reduced. The vaccine was not purchased. The information given was untrue and all of this caused this historic amount of death. The government that was supposed to defend its people, has disarmed it for war and the people are being wiped out like never before. For all these reasons, it is not allowed to believe that there is no control over the pandemic, but an orientation clearly aimed at creating collapse, creating chaos, despair, and the precariousness of the population’s life is being guinea pig for an unprecedented experiment in history.
The analysis of the devaluation of wages allows us to unveil a main expression of this capitalist experiment. The real wages of the proletariat have been cut in half. The “emergency aid” for the pandemic, which was half the minimum wage in 2020, became a parameter for the informal and real national minimum wage has become the new reference value for the devaluation of the workforce. Now, in 2021, the misery of the masses has increased a lot, together with the inflation of goods, with dollarized prices. The “emergency aid” for the pandemic was expected to increase according to the needs of the workers but ended up being reduced to a value corresponding to 1/4 of the minimum wage. and, in increasingly broad sectors, also by new technological applications. Capital is profiting a lot from the pandemic, greatly expanding the exploitation and degradation of the workforce. Wages paid are less than the value of the labour power, preventing this class from reproducing in their normal way of life. For this reason, hunger, and many other ills favoured by misery are created, including the aggravation of the pandemic itself for the poorest. The degree of exploitation of work was also deepened by new technological tools that prolong the journey and occupy the moments of the workers’ day and night to the maximum, now with work also at home. The intensification of work and the compression of wages below their value are two causes that counteract the fall in the rate of profit, already pointed out by Marx in Capital, used by capitalists to avoid, or get out of crises for more than 120 years. Another important element of this experiment is the increase in social control justified by the pandemic. This second element favours the degradation of wages because it puts workers on the defensive even more, creating an additional obstacle for them to fight for their wage and labour rights and their working conditions.
The result was that Brazil became “a danger to the world” in the words of the president of Venezuela, Maduro, because of the carnage there and the space given for more harmful variants to evolve and accumulate. Due to the economic crisis and the pandemic that were made use of by Bolsonaro and the entire bourgeoisie that supported the 2016 coup, in 2021, 116 million Brazilians became hungry poor, and 20 bourgeois became new billionaires. Thus, despite the historic slaughter, Bolsonaro continues to have strong support from the vast majority of businessmen and bankers.
But if no fraction of the bourgeoisie, if the bourgeois opposition of the traditional right does not wish to take Bolsonaro out of power, the left-headed opposition headed by the PT also does not consistently and truly defend the mass struggle against Bolsonaro. Today, the vast majority of the working class wants the return of Lula and the Workers’ Party. The PT was beaten in 2016 and Lula was prosecuted and imprisoned for 580 days in one of the most scandalous and infamous judicial hoaxes in history, assembled from the U.S. Department of Justice during the Obama-Biden administration. This process prevented Lula from being a candidate and favoured the election of Bolsonaro in 2018, supported by Trump and the Brazilian bourgeoisie. However, it seems that Lula’s conciliatory vices remain stronger than all the possible learning during the coup process. The PT seeks bourgeois allies among those who participated in the conspiracy that overthrew Dilma, promises to privatize state companies, does not undertake to revoke all the coup measures that harm the working class, as well as social security and labour reforms, and invited the biggest billionaire in the country to be vice-president on his ticket. Even worse is that, relying on the pressure that the pandemic exerts on the working class to not take to the streets to protest, the PT, the union central CUT and the MST, do not rely on their social bases to stop the coup process and return to government from the struggle for the overthrow of Bolsonaro or even in the 2022 elections. Lula and the PT are betting on a policy of increasing commitments to the coup capital. This tactic of trusting the enemy was the one that favoured the entire coup process to be successful without the coup-takers having to fire a single shot or resort to tanks to achieve their goals. All of this means that despite all the crises and bizarre events, Bolsonaro’s maintenance in the government is also based on the weakness of those who oppose him, especially in the policy of reconciling the leaderships of the workers and popular movement with the coup regime established since 2016.
Argentina and the pandemic
In Argentina the economic situation worsened with the pandemic and inflation led to an increase in poverty levels. At the same time, the government of Alberto Fernández did not take a single initiative to investigate the debt inherited from Macrismo. The right wing and opposition media groups are promoting protests that are incipient forms of hybrid warfare, given the measures taken by the Fernández government in relation to the pandemic.
It is in this context that workers must organize themselves so as not to be victims of the pandemic and defend their living conditions, without placing expectations on the Government of the Frente de Todos or on the union bureaucracy complicit in it.
Global Health Apartheid
The most explosive issue is the deprivation of vaccines from many countries in the Global South. As reported in February, 130 Countries have had zero supplies of any vaccine. This is largely because of the patents on the products produced by pharmaceutical monopolies in Western countries, such as Pfizer, Astra-Zeneca, Moderna etc. These patents ban the production of generic, i.e., unbranded versions of these vaccines, which if it were done would allow a much greater, and global vaccination programme to be organised. No country in the world has yet defied this and violated these patents and indeed there would likely be practical difficulties in the way of doing so without cooperation from the original manufacturers in terms of assisting with quality control and safety considerations.
The Covax progamme, for supplying vaccines to poor and middle level developing countries, initiated by the WHO in conjunction with various other bodies concerned with vaccine distribution, including UN bodies, is quite slow and simply does not have the resources. A proposal to suspend patents and produce generic vaccines, proposed by India and South Africa, achieved the support of most members of the World Trade Organisation in October, but was vetoed by Britain, the US, and the EU. Microsoft’s Bill Gates, who Covid-denying paranoids denounce as seeking world domination by seeking to vaccinate the world, is in fact an important figure resisting the dropping of patents. That is a real crime, putting profit margins for capital above the need of the bulk of the world’s poor for vaccines to wipe out this deadly disease.
Another manifestation of imperialism’s callousness is Israel’s refusal to vaccinate the Palestinian population whose territories it seized, while carrying out a massive drive to vaccinate the Jewish population preferentially. The clear intention is Jews will be immune while the disease will become endemic among the Palestinian population, a genocidal policy using Covid-19 effectively as a racist biological weapon. This policy is so blatant that Israel is coming under a certain level of pressure from its imperialist allies to relent a bit on this. But the complex, overlapping relationship of the Israeli ruling class with the ruling classes of the major Western countries tends to blunt such pressure. This is because of the influence of a powerful faction, with communal loyalty to Israel, within the those ruling classes, whose core is a disproportionately numerous layer of Jewish bourgeois, most of who have Zionist politics, as well as other fellow travellers, such as Christian Zionists in the US. The only consistent ally the Palestinian people have to counter the genocidal Zionist project is a revolutionised, class conscious world proletariat.
Breaking the imperialists’ monopoly on vaccination are the vaccines created and manufactured by the Cuban workers state, and former workers states Russia and China. Cuba has three vaccines in preparation, Russia is distributing the Sputnik-V vaccine and China the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines. Sputnik-V appears to be as effective as any of the Western vaccines; China’s Sinovac vaccine appears less effective and may have been responsible for a relapse after widespread vaccination in Chile. Its other vaccine, Sinopharm, seems to have a better reputation, though so far only Western vaccines have gained full regulatory approval by the WHO.
In any case, the admirable efforts of the remaining workers states, or non-imperialist capitalist ex-workers states like Russia and China, cannot substitute for the productive forces of world imperialism, including its ‘Big Pharma’. The pharmaceutical industry needs to be expropriated, collectivised, and planned on a global level, so the global problems that increasingly globalised capital imposes on the working people, can be dealt with on a global level by the proletariat. We need to re-create the Fourth International as a World Party of Socialist Revolution to carry out such a global programme of expropriation and planning of the world’s resources for human needs on a universal basis, not private profit, or backward-looking national chauvinism.
All the terrible events of the pandemic have seemingly put in the shade the conflicts, war drives and attacks on workers and peasants, and on democratic rights that imperialism is waging around the globe. The exploitation of the pandemic by the wealthy has led to another massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the super-wealthy billionaire bourgeoisie, just as did the financial crisis of 2007-9. The upshot of this was that workers were often mobilised behind reactionary demagogues like Trump who directed their social anger at other workers, particularly migrant workers, and created the basis for a further rise of capitalist reaction. We need to ensure that this time, social discontent is directed against capitalism, not its victims.
The pandemic has come to embody the continuation of imperialist politics by other means. The Trump administration, for instance, sought to mobilise hostility to China in the United States through dubbing Covid, in crude racist terms, as the ‘China virus’ and ‘Kung flu’. Biden has abandoned the racist crudities, but at the same time has continued with Trump’s insidious policy of innuendo and accusation that Covid was an experimental virus that ‘escaped’ from a Wuhan laboratory etc, implying it was a Chinese biological weapon. Biden is thus trying to mobilise the crank layer that wallow in conspiracy theories about Covid, Bill Gates etc, against China in the service of an imperialist war drive.
Trump lost power through a decisive popular vote in the US in large measure because of his policy on the pandemic, one of malign neglect, and the resulting carnage. His attempt to stay in power despite the loss of the election was a frontal attack on the democratic rights of the US masses, particularly the black and Latinx population, given his virtually open white supremacism. That needed to be resisted by all means.
Biden’s miserable plan will not reactivate the decaying US economy
The centre of US concerns today is the decline of its imperialist hegemony over the planet in the face of China’s growth. In the first quarter of 2021, China’s GDP grew 18%, a historic record. The USA grew 4.3%. Biden then launched an economic reactivation plan called the ”American Rescue Plan Act”. Many were impressed and have believed that this is a break with neoliberalism and a return to Keynesian politics such as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s. Firstly, we defend any material aid that will alleviate the miserable situation of workers. However, we cannot fail to highlight how miserable Biden’s stimulus package is, more concerned with seducing the domestic electorate with humanitarian and climate marketing and in the dispute against China. But, the Biden plan is much more modest than the New Deal. Roosevelt’s own plan failed to lift the US economy out of depression and reduce unemployment. It was the Second World War that reactivated the US economy in 1941, when they reached full employment. The Biden Plan does not increase salaries, does not represent any significant fiscal change against the big bourgeoisie (limiting itself to raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%), does not create a universal, public and free health care system like the NHS British or the Brazilian SUS (despite the more than 570 thousand deaths and millions having no medical assistance in the country), it does not nationalize any branch of the economy, it does not make any change in quality in relation to neoliberal policies. The plan only relieves the poorest who are on the edge. At the most, it will encourage large companies to increase their profits based on the renewal of internal infrastructure, the drive for semiconductors and energy alternatives, to technologically strengthen the United States against China. But in fact, as announced, it cannot recover the economy, much less reverse the loss of American hegemony.
Trump won in 2016 because he received support from the rust belt frustrated by Democrats’ financial and de-industrialization policies. Trump lost in 2020 because he frustrated the proletarian electorate of the “rust belt”, as well as political wear and tear with the pandemic and the biggest anti-racist demonstrations in US history after the assassination of George Floyd. Democrats took note of this and try to do electoral marketing and run out of time to seduce the electorate before the mid-term elections that take place in Congress and the Senate in 2022, where Republicans can win if the population is very frustrated with the Democrat. In fact, just as in the 1930s, the main measure of reactivation of the economy known to imperialism is the arms race and, in this Biden-Harris are working in a frantic war of positions surrounding Russia and China on all sides.
Oppose Imperialism’s War Drives!
But Biden coming to power has replaced a dysfunctional US imperialist regime with a more efficient, organised, and equally if not more dangerous enemy of those oppressed by imperialism. Biden’s policy seems to be of cutting the US’ losses, aiming a complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by September, something that had already been earmarked to carry out by Trump had he retained power. But the quid pro quo is redeployment of US resources to the Asia-Pacific region, i.e., bolstering its forces to combat China and laying the basis for future crises, confrontations or worse, with the aim of subordinating China to imperialism. The encirclement of both China and Russia with hostile forces and imperialist basis is a key imperialist stratagem.
The recent coup in Myanmar, that overthrew the semi-nationalist, semi-liberal regime of Aung San Suu Kyi, was driven by her inadequate, in the eyes of the very nationalist military, prosecution of the war against the Muslim Rohingya people, and was not directly connected with this. We do not support such coups, nor do we politically support treacherous nationalists like Suu Kyi, who herself betrayed the Rohingya, but we also oppose attempts to exploit this issue to support imperialism’s drive against China. Likewise with the imperialist outcry about supposedly genocidal terror by China against the Muslim Uyghur people in Xinjiang. We note that the sources for these allegations are few and compromised by their own relations with imperialism, and that if the Uyghurs were subjected to the Western powers, they would likely be treated as terrorists like many other Muslim peoples. This is evidently part of the same kind of hybrid war campaign we see over Ukraine, a tried and trusted imperialist tactic as part of a drive to exploit a wide variety of grievances for ‘regime change’, which only benefits imperialism. We do not endorse the Han Chinese chauvinism of the new hybrid bourgeoisie, interpenetrated with the state, that rules China, but we do defend China against imperialism and do not join in imperialist anti-China warmongering campaigns.
Other manifestations of this are Biden’s launching of attacks in Syria within only a few weeks of taking office, as well as his escalating the drive to bring Ukraine into NATO, upping the rhetoric about Russian troop movements in Russia that even the US admits are exercises. The US though is trying to follow through on a long-standing Imperialist project of seeking to subordinate Russia. At the time of fall of Stalinism in Eastern Europe, promises were made to the last Soviet President, Gorbachev, that NATO would not be extended into the former Soviet bloc. Doing the opposite has been a key element of US strategy ever since, and Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic were followed into NATO by the three Baltic former Soviet Republics. Ukraine is next on the list. We defend post-Stalinist Russia, based on a form of relatively backward dependent capitalism, against imperialist attempts at regime change through hybrid wars waged to destabilise countries on Russia’s periphery, such as Belarus, with the ultimate target being Russia itself.
The relations of US imperialism with Iran in the aftermath of Trump’s defeat are problematic, as Trump junked and broke with Obama’s 2015 deal with the Iran leadership, the JCPOA. The Israel lobby exerted ferocious pressure on Obama against this and Likudniks in the US Israel lobby were Trump’s biggest funders. Even If he wanted, Biden cannot wind back the clock to before Trump, and it is not clear that he wants to. A prolonged process of haggling and pressure is going on, as under the gun of Trump and Israeli militarism, Iran developed its nuclear processing well beyond the confines of the agreement that Trump junked. Israel has been engaged in sabotage and terrorism against Iranian facilities and given that Trump failed in his mission to destroy Iran, would no doubt like Biden to carry on with that mission. However, Obama’s deal when it was signed had bipartisan support because the US bourgeoisie in decline needed economic interaction with Iran; it is a sizeable country and would be difficult to defeat militarily without being drawn into a disaster that would dwarf that of Iraq. So, US imperialism is conflicted about how to deal with Iran.
The overall situation is that US imperialism in this period is facing resistance on several fronts when it tries to assert its dominance and hegemony. In particular from a bloc of semi-colonial countries and ex-workers states: from Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, as well as the two remaining deformed workers states, Cuba and North Korea, which are de facto a part of this non-imperialist bloc, which sometimes acts as an anti-imperialist bloc. It is in South America where perhaps the highest level of class consciousness exists, as the merging of anti-imperialist sentiment with a diffuse socialist aspiration is obvious when you look at Venezuela and Cuba. This kind of diffuse socialism was also dramatically demonstrated in the recent Bolivian election victory of the MAS, which overcame the coup imperialism mustered earlier against Evo Morales. Now something similar looks to be highly likely in Ecuador.
Blocs to counter imperialism are problematic and can prove fragile, as shown by the fate of BRICS in the past. The only consistent anti-imperialist force is the world proletariat, mobilised behind a revolutionary programme, and bringing that force into consciousness and action is still the strategic task of revolutionaries today.
Tory Brexit Britain and Labours Nose-Dive
In Britain today, the Brexit Tory government of Boris Johnson has recovered somewhat in popular support from the severe discredit it suffered because of the huge number, over 150,000, who have died of Covid. The government originally had an outrageous policy of ‘herd immunity’ without vaccines, then shifted under pressure from below to a series of half-hearted lockdowns, which it actually sabotaged by lifting them just as they were on the verge of being effective, to allow profit making to resume. Now that the widespread vaccination programme is showing signs of generating real herd immunity, Johnson’s regime is taking the credit.
It is only able to get away with this because under the Blairite Keir Starmer, there is no opposition to the government, and everyone knows it. Starmer said not long after he became leader that he was seeking consensus with Johnson, that Labour will support the government, whatever it chooses to do.
Starmer supported the reckless re-opening of schools that was the starting point both for the second wave, that essentially began in September though there was no lockdown to combat it until November, which was half-hearted and really a mockdown. Testing had been abandoned as a system in March 2020 and what was re-established in June was a gravy train for Tory donors to pocket billiions of pounds of government funding, not an instrument for tracking down and isolating to eliminate Covid. But Starmer supported all this and sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey as Education spokesperson for opposing unsafe school reopening, covering this up by smearing her as ‘anti-Semitic’. This gave the virus space to mutate into the much more infectious Kent variant which ran amok in the third wave that began around Christmas time. Starmer is as responsible for this as Johnson, as he supported all of it.
Starmer also refused to oppose outrageous Tory legislation such as the ‘undercover cops’ bill, that legalised such crimes as murder, torture and rape carried out while infiltrating those who the ruling class regard as ‘subversive’ to their power. Labour abstained on a bill that gave blanket immunity from human rights laws in military operations overseas. It was going to abstain and let the Tory Policing, Crime and Sentencing Bill, which massively expands police power to ban protests, go through unopposed. But the huge outcry over police brutality against a vigil over the murder, by a male police officer no less, of Sara Everard in South London highlighted this bill, which the Tories had been hoping to sneak through under cover of the pandemic. So, Labour had to belatedly oppose it. Starmer’s Labour people mimic the Tories in that every time Starmer or his cohorts appear on television on Zoom etc, they always have a Union Flag visible behind them. This flag-shagging, to grovel before backward ex-Labour voters who supported Johnson on a reactionary basis, has made Starmer into a despised joke.
And there is the huge witchhunt of the left in the Labour Party, hundreds of thousands, the clear majority of the party if you realise that in the leadership election in early 2020, more Labour members refused to vote for any candidate than voted for Starmer as leader because there was no leadership candidate who was not a witchhunter. The smear of ‘anti-Semitism’ is used against anyone who expresses any sympathy for Palestinian rights, and the number of expulsions and suspensions of leftists have gone through the roof. Over a hundred thousand members have reportedly left Labour since Starmer became leader, though the leadership keeps the figures close to its chest. Starmer’s pronouncement that he supports Zionism ‘without qualification’ during his leadership campaign, his open collaboration with right-wing Tory-Zionist racists such as the Board of Deputies, and Labour’s own right-wing saboteurs, against his own members, his endorsement of the Tory EHCR fraudulent report, and the victimisation of black and Asian members and even MP’s who have contradicted Labour’s virulent Zionists, show that Labour under Starmer is openly racist and Zionist and deserves no support from socialists and class conscious workers. Only those who are in some way at odds with the Starmer leadership over these things deserve support in elections. But now they are usually not allowed to stand.
Huge numbers of left-wing former Labour people, both members and those more broadly supportive, who were drawn to and radicalised by Corbyn’s rise a few years ago in hundreds of thousands if not more, despise Strarmer to the extent that they are determined to punish Labour by withholding their votes. So Starmer’s Labour, according to one recent opinion poll, is 14 points behind the Tories. This is not because Johnson is popular, in fact his government is now facing the eruption of major scandals over corruption, which may prove extremely damaging, but because Starmer’s Labour is deeply unpopular and not seen as an alternative. So, the Government is on top for now, but only because the pandemic has limited political mobilisations, and only by default.
Our British section is outspokenly not supporting Starmer’s Labour at this point in time, prominently using the slogan ‘No Vote to Zionist New Labour’ to draw the political line against those who would capitulate to the concrete manifestation of Labour treachery.
Britain has the potential for huge social struggles as the pandemic begins to wind down. The movement against Priti Patel’s law to restrict the right to protest is huge in its potential. There have been such struggles as the British Gas workers against ‘fire and rehire’ which the trade union bureaucracy stabbed as usual, but there are likely to be many more struggles against these new attacks. Masked by the pandemic, Brexit is proving a disaster. The fishing industry, which was a key force in pushing for Brexit populism, is in deep trouble because of the economic consequences of Brexit. The position of British ‘expats’, i.e., emigrants who left to live in European countries and styled themselves ‘expat’ to deny being migrants, a considerable number of whom in their arrogance supported Brexit to keep ‘foreigners’ out of Britain, is now a newsworthy issue since a number of them have fallen foul of the end of free movement and been thrown out of Spain, among other places. And the North of Ireland has been destabilised, with loyalists erupting in riots, by Johnson’s Brexit deal which has put a trade border down the Irish sea to avoid one at the border with the Irish Republic.
There is considerable potential, therefore, for a left-wing challenge to Labour from the hundreds of thousands of dissident and disillusioned Corbyn supporters, which has the potential to lay the basis for a genuine working-class party to emerge in Britain from the crisis of Labourism. Our comrades in Britain are getting involved in this through the Resistance Movement, initiated by Chris Williamson, which looks like the most promising vehicle for such a movement.