The US organisation Solidarity with Novorossiya & Antifascist in Ukraine is holding a protest against the US/NATO backed preparations for a new stage of the war in Donbas in New York on this coming Saturday 10 April. The LCFI and its national sections have endorsed the statement accompanying the protest , and the protest initiative itself, and we urge other anti-imperialists, socialists and communists to do the same.
Statement for upcoming New York Protest
The right-wing government of Ukraine, supported by the U.S., has been at war with the people of the independent Donetsk and Lugansk republics in the Donbass region of eastern Europe for 7 years. 14,000 people have been killed, according to the United Nations. The people of Donetsk and Lugansk live under a blockade by Ukraine and its Western allies. Workers in Ukraine suffer repression, joblessness and price hikes while their government sells off the country to Wall Street. On April 3, a Ukrainian military drone strike killed 5-year-old Vladik Shikhov and wounded his 66-year-old grandmother in Aleksandrovskoye, Donetsk.
On April 4, another Ukrainian drone strike wounded a civilian in Nikolaevka, Lugansk. On March 22, a 71-year-old pensioner was killed by sniper fire near the capital of Donetsk. Many members of the anti-fascist People’s Militia have also been killed while defending residents. Since January, Ukraine has been building up its military forces on the front line of the conflict. It uses prohibited weapons, targets civilians, schools and homes in violation of international law and regional ceasefire agreements.
Battalions of troops affiliated with neo-Nazi groups have been sent to the region, replacing regular Ukrainian Army troops. But the Ukrainian and U.S. governments and mainstream media blame Donetsk and Lugansk for taking steps to defend themselves, and threaten Russia for pledging to protect the people there if Ukraine invades. Both the Trump and Biden administrations desperately want to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project that would allow Germany and other Western European countries to purchase Russian gas.
Children, elders and other civilians in Donetsk and Lugansk are considered expendable targets by Kiev and Washington as they try to provoke a crisis to give them an excuse to further NATO military expansion and punish Russia. In recent days, the U.S. and NATO have been warning of a Russian military build-up near the Ukrainian border, but never mention that one of the largest U.S. Army-led military exercises in decades has begun and will run until June: Defender Europe 2021, with 28,000 troops from 27 countries operating in a dozen countries from the Balkans to the Black Sea.
This is where the real danger of war is coming from. We say no! People in the U.S. don’t want war with Russia to protect the profits of Big Oil and U.S. banks. We don’t want the U.S. proxy regime in Ukraine to kill our sisters and brothers in Donetsk and Lugansk. We don’t want U.S. troops to be sent to fight and die in another needless conflict. We need an end to racist police brutality and anti-Asian violence. We need money for jobs, housing, healthcare and schools, not war. End U.S. aid to the Kiev regime! End all U.S. wars and sanctions!
Shut down NATO and bring the troops home!
Initiated by Solidarity with Novorossiya & Antifascist in Ukraine
Endorsers (list in formation): Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson Emeritus of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle; Phil Wilayto, Coordinator, Odessa Solidarity Campaign; William Camacaro, Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle; Sharon Black, Peoples Power Assembly; John Parker, Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice, Los Angeles; Joe Lombardo, National Co-Chair, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC); No Pasarán Hamburg, Germany; Socialist Unity Party (U.S.); Struggle-La Lucha newspaper; Liaison Committee for the Fourth International; Frente Comunista dos Trabalhadores (Brazil); Tendencia Militante Bolchevique (Argentina) Socialist Workers League (United States); Trotskyist Faction/Consistent Democrats (Britain); Socialist Solidarity Party (Bangladesh) *For I.D. only
U.S. forces based in Iraq have bombed pro-Iran militia units in Syria. This is a clear sign of continuity with Trump’s US foreign policy under Joe Biden’s new presidency. Imperialism is not only a particular phase of capitalism, but also expressed by a policy of war (conventional or not) of the state at the service of financial capital and multinational monopolies.
The ‘respectable’, ‘civilised’ image cultivated by Biden’s supposedly progressive administration is designed to distinguish it from its crudely racist, fascist-sympathising predecessor. But it is not able to hide from the masses of the world that no matter the nuances of the political regime in Washington, its relations with the rest of humanity as the world’s imperialist hegemon, do not change just because the party that rules the White House changes. As Karl Marx noted nearly 150 years ago of an earlier imperialist hegemon, Britain:
“The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilisation lies unveiled before our eyes, moving from its home, where it assumes respectable form, to the colonies, where it goes naked’ .
The Future Results of British Rule in India, Jan 22, 1853, in New York Daily Tribune
A key feature of the world situation in the 21st Century, particularly since the financial crisis and near collapse of 2007-9, is the shaking of the equilibrium of the pillars of world capitalism, the dramatic deterioration of the power of the West and the United States. Another peculiarity of this moment, which combines with the crisis of imperialist domination is the growth of the influence of a bloc composed of dependent capitalist countries, semi-colonies and workers states, as rivals of the USA.
The aforementioned dependent capitalist powers are two former workers states, centrally Russia and China. These two great nations are supported by smaller semi-colonial countries that are also in conflict with imperialism, such as Iran and Venezuela. On this multinational front are also the two remaining deformed worker states, North Korea and Cuba. They are all the target of imperialist economic sanctions. Some, like Cuba, have been under sanctions for more than 70 years. Others, like Iran, have been under sanctions for 40 years.
” In the sphere of inter-state relations the disruption of equilibrium means war or – in a weaker form – tariff war, economic war, or blockade. Capitalism thus possesses a dynamic equilibrium, one which is always in the process of either disruption or restoration. But at the same time this equilibrium has a great power of resistance, the best proof of which is the fact that the capitalist world has not toppled to this day. ”
Leon Trotsky, Report on the World Economic Crisis and the New Tasks of the Communist International, June 1921
Key to our programme today is the defence of these opponent powers of Western imperialism against imperialist attack, and of course regarding the deformed workers states, defence of them against capitalist restoration whether from within or without. These considerations overlay our entire analysis and response to such imperialist actions.
The crisis sparked the shake-up of imperialist domination and simultaneously concentrated capital in the hands of an even smaller handful of banks, monopolies and billionaires. This concentration of power in the hands of financial capital promoted a right-wing turn in globally dominant bourgeois thinking, encouraged fascist tendencies, promoted bourgeois leaders such as Trump, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, Jair Bolsonaro, Scott Morrison, Rodrigo Duterte, Matteo Salvini, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Viktor Orbán. Fascism is a watchdog of financial capital set to terrorize the proletariat in times of crisis, to force it to submit to austerity and slavery regimes. To this end, it regiments, recruits for the state forces of the enraged petit-bourgeoisie and demoralized gangs of the lumpemproletariat, human beings that financial capital itself led to despair and fury. These trends that rely on strong material bases of capital concentration have not cooled with the replacement of one or the other of these leaders.
Iraq is in effect a US colony today. Its Prime Minister, in the latest phase of the US overlordship that has been maintained since the invasion and subjugation of 2003, is Mustafa Al-Khadami, who claims a history as a campaigner for human rights against the former regime of Saddam Hussein. But then one discovers that he is a close associate and friend of Muhammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince and de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, US client and close collaborator of Zionist Israel, murderer of Jamal Khashoggi, and deadly enemy of Iran. Bin Salman is waging a genocidal war against the Yemeni population and particularly the Iran-allied Shia Houthi movement, who now are leading a genuine national independence struggle against their Saudi oppressors, who act on behalf of US imperialism and Zionism.
Iraq has been rent by protest movements against corruption and occupation, the latest being the biggest since October 2019, before the Covid pandemic, which has caused huge suffering and exacerbated the plight of the populations in the entire region, including Iraq, Syria, and worst of all Yemen. This entire circumstance has led to resistance to US rule: with the Sadr movement in Iraq playing a key role, and pro-Iran Shi’a groups in Syria, such as Kataeb Hizbullah, who have been a key part of this resistance to occupation and corruption. But it goes further than a mere religious objection: these movements have class roots, though their relationship with this is complex.
In any case, the US is fearful of populations taking things into their own hands and demanding democracy and an end to US domination, demands that could fuel a challenge to capitalism itself, notwithstanding the current state of mass consciousness. For that is what is objectively posed by US imperialist domination. Breaking from it needs a more fundamental struggle then the current forces can offer, though there is always the possibility that the struggle could provide an opening for more advanced political developments.
The whole situation mixes with the consequences of the failure of the US to subjugate the region’s oppressed semi-colonies. They have not defeated Iran, pressured by sanctions, sabotage, assassinations like Soleimani’s, Israeli bombings, and hybrid warfare operations since the 1979 revolution. They do not fully control Iraq, despite 18 years of occupation. They have not destabilized or overthrown the Assad government, even if they have been trying to do this for more than a decade. During the Arab spring imperialism tried to recycle and expand its dominance in the region by relying on the popular rebellion against the economic crisis that financial capital itself provoked between 2007-9. In allied countries imperialism manoeuvred to crush the “spring”, brutally oppressed the movements of opposition to the governments of Egypt and Bahrain, allies of Washington / Israel / Saudi Arabia. In countries ruled by unreliable regimes such as Libya and Syria, imperialism armed the opposition. In Libya, the imperialist coalition managed to subdue the oppressed nation and assassinate Qaddafi. It was a colonial bloodbath, driven directly by British, French, and American forces. At that time, in 2011, imperialism had the complicit abstention of the diplomatic delegations of Russia and China in the UN Security Council. Brazil, India, and Germany also abstained. South Africa, ruled by the ANC, voted in favour of the colonialist intervention in the sister African nation. No one opposed Resolution 1973 authorizing international support for the movement for the overthrow of Qaddafi. After this tragedy, when the U.S. and Israel tried to repeat this offensive in Syria , relying on armed opposition agents, including Daesh, a military coalition of anti-imperialist forces, mainly Iranian and Russian, was constituted and managed to deliver a major blow against the U.S. and Israel, with the most important battle to conquer Aleppo in 2016.
As we wrote then in a declaration signed by the LCFI’s sections and a number of other revolutionary groups and individuals around the world:
“The final liberation of Aleppo in mid-December 2016 is a defeat of the jihadist militias sponsored by the USA and its allies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Libya, to name the most prominent. A victory for imperialism on Aleppo here would have dealt an enormous blow to the Syrian and Middle East working class.
The defeat of US-dominated world imperialism based in Wall Street’s great finance houses and their allied transnational corporations and the subordinate imperialisms in Europe and Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc. is a victory for the world working class and all oppressed peoples of the planet. Of course, it is not a socialist revolutionary victory but it does strengthen the struggle of the working class of Syria against imperialism and therefore ultimately against its own capitalist ruling class.”
The whole situation is intermixed with the consequences of the failure of the US to fully subjugate Iraq, despite 18 years of occupation, and more recently to destabilise and overthrow the Assad government in Syria. This grew out of the imperialist response to the initially naive Arab spring upheaval. They manoeuvred to brutally crush the movement in Washington/Israel’s allies, such as Egypt and Bahrain, while buying control of it in Libya and Syria, ruled by regimes that had sometimes shown defiance against the US and Israel. Though they succeeded in subjugating Libya and destroying Qadhafi in a reactionary bloodbath directly aided by British, French and US forces, in Syria they were foiled by a military bloc of semi-colonial nations, centrally Russia and Iran, that came to the aid of Syria to resist this imperialist conquest and succeeded in striking a major blow against imperialism by defeating the attempt, centrally at Aleppo in 2016.
Trump and Biden: Continuity and Discontinuity
Trump’s regime was particularly brutal domestically in its white supremacism and cavalier Social Darwinism over Covid-19, costing hundreds of thousands of lives at home. It brought about a hugely polarising clash between two mass camps – a proto-fascist, white supremacist movement behind Trump, vs the de facto popular-front around the Democratic Party of Biden and Sanders, that found armed expression at the Capitol on 6 Jan. Biden’s role is to neutralise that struggle and ‘reconcile and reunite’ the American population.
In foreign policy, the Trump administration was also dysfunctional, veering between national isolation and extreme militarism, between some limited troop withdrawals from the Middle East, and overt threats of nuclear war against Iran and North Korea, followed in the latter cases by pacific overtures and cranky attempts at ‘friendship’. His promotion of the fake ‘President’ of Venezuela, Guaido, going so far as to threaten invasion (and made a failed attempt to initiate one with mercenaries) if Maduro failed to comply with this aggression, was hardly pacific isolationism. Trump personally ordered the murder of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander Qasem Suleimani (mimicking Obama’s assassination of Osama bin Laden) and tore up Obama’s 2015 JCPOA deal with Iran that sought to limit its nuclear capabilities in exchange for the gradual lifting of imperialist sanctions. Biden formally declares he is trying to resurrect and save the JCPOA, but concretely carried out this military attack against Iran. Under this policy, the resumption of negotiations with the Persian nation would be based on a shameful capitulation, which does not seem to be in Tehran’s plans. Resuming these agreements is far less likely and more difficult than the Paris Accord on Climate Change and the World Health Organisation, which Trump walked away from right in the middle of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The JCPOA was openly undermined and condemned by Israel even when Obama was still in power, and Trump was funded by Likudniks – Sheldon Adelson was his biggest campaign donor, this being a key factor in his rise to power in 2016, demanding the abandonment of the JCPOA. This seems to be the nexus of the contradictory relationship between the bulk of the US ruling class, and the overlapping, numerous and powerful Jewish-Zionist part of it that regards Israel as just as much its state as the US itself.
It is not clear that Biden will be able or willing to simply go back to the configuration that existed at the time of Obama’s Iran deal, as Zionism has grown more powerful as an organic component of imperialism, in terms of its influence and centrality through the Trump period: Biden will not simply be a negation of everything about Trump just as Obama earlier was not simply a negation of the Bush period. Obama’s tactics and strategy incorporated strong element of Bush’s, and in turn Trump himself incorporated some Obama era policies and deepened them, e.g. Obama’s mass, million strong deportation programme. Biden in turn appears quite Trumpian in his administration’s actions after only a few weeks. These continuities occur above all because of the common class underpinning of the two US bourgeois parties, no matter the conflicts between them (which can bring other forces into conflict with each other, as recent events illustrate).
Israel sees the very existence of any strong and independent Arab or Muslim state in the Middle East as a threat to its very legitimacy and demands the destruction of Iran and similar states even if the consequences are catastrophic. This was also the role Zionists played in agitating for the destruction of Iraq in the early 2000s, when the 9/11 attacks in 2001 gave them the opportunity to win support for that policy among the wider American bourgeoisie.
The policy of the mainstream of the US bourgeoisie is not that per se. It has no objection to rampant militarism, destruction of nations through invasion and throwing its weight around the globe, but it also understands that such things are often counterproductive and tend to unite enemies against it. It prefers to divide and rule, though ‘soft power’, ‘colour revolutions’ and the destabilisation of opposing forces through hybrid warfare. But there is no absolute distinction between them either. So, when Biden distances himself from Trump’s policy and actions in abandoning Obama’s JCPOA, at the same time he copies Trump in a ‘measured’ way in bombing Iran’s Syrian allies. No doubt he regrets the setbacks that the US hybrid war strategy suffered in Syria. It is possible, indeed likely that the Biden regime will try to revive the kind of hybrid warfare that the US carried out in the Arab Spring along with such military attacks.
Racist Lies and Conspiracy Theories
This overlap is also visible in the fact that Biden has not denounced, but carried on with, the smear and innuendo that the Covid-19 virus, which appears to have crossed the species barrier to humans in or around Wuhan, China, is some kind of manufactured Chinese weapon. This outrageous lie was stock in trade of Trump’s racism in dubbing Covid-19 the ‘China virus’, but Biden has carried on with it as part of seeking to mobilise popular hostility against China over something that in fact is a product of capitalist restoration, the commercialisation of food production, and commodification of wildlife in this regard. The US bourgeoisie instead promotes its own racist conspiracy theory, while decrying supposed ‘conspiracy theories’ elsewhere, particularly accurate descriptions of the behaviour of the Israel-loyal brethren among its own class, any realistic analysis of which it denounces as ‘conspiracy theory’ and hence ‘anti-Semitic’ (of course!).
The ‘liberal’ Biden administration’s continuation of Trump’s racist lie about China has even manifested itself in censorship on social media, as Facebook has banned the sharing of an article by the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) denouncing the smear against China as a warmongering conspiracy theory. (See Facebook censors WSWS article exposing Wuhan lab conspiracy theory, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/02/26/pers-f26.html). This in apparent concert with the liberal Biden supporters of the Washington Post. So, the bourgeoisie waxes indignant at accurate descriptions of the behaviour of its racist, Zionist allies and class brethren, but attacks the left when it criticises their own jingoistic, racist lying blood-libels against China, the outgrowth of the white supremacist proto-fascist Trump.
Such are indexes of the oppressive and dangerous role of US imperialism in the world today. We defend the Shia militiamen in Syria against the attacks they have suffered, and condemn the warmongering smears against China, and the entire world project of the ‘business as usual’ US imperialism of Joseph R Biden and call for its defeat in all conflicts with the oppressed peoples and semi-colonial countries including Iran, Syria, Russia and China. This action by the Biden government exposes all those who created expectations in this new management of imperialism as being “progressive.” The counterrevolutionary, predatory role of imperialism can only be overcome by the strategy of the permanent revolution, by the working class taking the leadership of the struggle against imperialism through principled tactics like the Anti-Imperialist United Front, with the aim of the world revolution at the core of our strategy.
“Any serious factional fight in a party is always in the final analysis a reflection of the class struggle. The Majority faction established from the beginning the ideological dependence of the opposition upon petty-bourgeois democracy. The opposition, on the contrary, precisely because of its petty-bourgeois character, does not even attempt to look for the social roots of the hostile camp.”
Leon Trotsky, A Petty-Bourgeois Opposition in the Socialist Workers Party, December 1939
Almost exactly a year ago when it became clear that a major division had emerged in Socialist Fight, then the British Section of the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International, our comrades from the US, Brazilian and Argentinian sections produced a Resolution on the crisis of the British section of the LCFI (5th March 2020). To document this for posterity, we now reproduce some extracts from the resolution dealing specifically with the British factional conflict:
“We believe that the crisis and split in the Socialist Fight is a step back from all angles for both, the LCFI and for SF itself.
“1. The crisis content: The SF has been under attacks for at least three years as part of a campaign carried on by the right and far right conservative political wings against Labour organizations. Within this right wing, the fraction that carried on the attack was the Great Britain Zionist Bourgeoisie. Against Labourism, using the SF as a target, this fraction even used Prime Minister David Cameron himself, who attacked Comrade Gerry Downing in 2016 directly. Objectively, this Zionist offensive drained virtually all the forces of the small group (as they are all our LCFI groups). The elaboration of the SF made it almost monothematic, international contact has been almost extinct in recent years;
“2. For the result: The Zionist offensive divided one of the sections of the LCFI. This situation created an internal crisis and divided our British section. Any advantage presented by either wing is just verbal triumphalism, without correspondence with reality. Here Lenin’s slogan that the ‘party grows by purifying’ was not worth it. The SF is smaller and now with Gerry’s wing chasing former allies of the Labour left, the SF may be less influential in the workers’ political struggle;
“As materialists, we understand that this Socialist Fight defeat is part of the Labour Party’s humiliating and shameful political defeat in 2019. It was Labour’s biggest electoral defeat since 1935 for the conservative right, which adds to Brexit. One of the fundamental weapons of the imperialist right against the left was this Zionist campaign against the supposed ‘anti-Semitism in the Labour party’.
“Those who sign this resolution understand that the fractionation of the SF is a by-product of the political defeat suffered by the British working class, regardless of how the SF crisis presents itself. But we are not fatalists, it was possible to avoid this defeat, if the SF had not unconsciously participated in this process, had not lost its sense of proportions, had not been involved in the enemy’s game.
“Isolated and weakened politically, British imperialism is increasingly influenced by the Zionist fraction of world imperialism.
“In light of the above, it is clear that the two wings that claim Socialist Fight and the LCFI are at an irreconcilable stage. We propose for the ESTABLISHMENT OF TWO SECTIONS OF LCFI IN GREAT BRITAIN, following the example of the experience of French Trotskyism in the 1930s, when Trotsky was still alive. Other experiences of the kind occurred at the IV International, which were equally brief. It is not an ideal formula, but it is the best status that we can propose today, to stop bleeding, to stop the course of defeat.
“This organizational proposition should not be identified as a centrist position in the face of the crisis in the British section of the LCFI. We understand that the wing led by comrade Gerry Downing, from suffering so much directly, after being the target of the biggest witch hunt (media and within Labour) that a small Trotskyist organization has ever suffered from British imperialism, ended up unconsciously adding to that the Zionist witch hunt against the anti-Zionist faction of the British left and, finally, in the face of the resistance it encountered within the SF, it also finally ended a hunt within the SF itself, in favour of Zionism.”
The objective of this was to create conditions where the comrades who had been driven into political retreat by the defeats of the labour movement and the British left, could reconsider their course and return to revolutionary politics. Comrade Downing failed to do this, his positions matured for the worse, it turned out that his capitulation to Zionism and imperialism (including the accession of a member who accuses China of being imperialist) was not a point outside the curve, but a consolidated trend of breaking with Marxism and the anti-imperialist struggle of the oppressed peoples.
Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the Downing faction, or what remains of it, has followed through the logic of its retreat before the Zionist-fuelled pro-imperialist witchhunt in and around the British Labour Party, and broken with the LCFI.
Sound and Fury hides Contradictions
There is a great deal of sound and fury in the article announcing its final political break, filled with strident denunciations that have the character of excommunication reminiscent of the worst calumnies in the history of the workers movement. The immediate target is the faction in Britain which refused to break with the LCFI, which has maintained collaboration with international comrades, and whose politics are the same as those of Socialist Fight before the split. Such is the tone and content of the Downing faction statement, that it comes across as irrational and utterly self-contradictory. It appears to try to prove, at one and the same time, that the British comrades are both sympathetic to fascism (!) and at the same time opportunist leftists seeking a popular front with the liberal bourgeoisie against fascism. Our British comrades are condemned as ‘popular front’ supporters for condemning the US bourgeois state for not shooting dead armed white supremacist fascist insurrectionists. This is strange behaviour indeed for supposed sympathisers of white supremacist fascism, most normal people would think.
Logically these two propositions cannot both be true; they are utterly at odds with each other. As Trotsky once said of other self-contradictory accusations, “Even slander should make some sense!” Therefore, we must look deeper into the political statement of the splitting faction to discover what is driving them.
Their long document cannot explain the rupture, it tries to justify how the SF ended up where it is, that is, tries to defend the indefenisble by manufacturing for example the category of “fascist antifascist”.
The real essence of what is driving the Downing trend is not difficult to discern. It clearly bears out the diagnosis in the resolution quoted above, that the Downing faction “ended up unconsciously adding to this Zionist witch hunt against the anti-Zionist faction of the British left” and held “finally also a hunt inside the SF itself, in favour of Zionism”. The contradiction was that even while it was doing that, this faction affirmed publicly that it still supported the LCFI and our aspirations to a consistently anti-imperialist, revolutionary internationalist programme and position. Even today, as it splits away to the right, it tries to restate this with the following appeal:
“… we appear to still have close agreement on other issues like the anti-imperialist united front and identifying US imperialism as the hegemonic world power which is the central enemy of the world working class and oppressed. We are prepared to form united fronts with any forces we see as moving to the left without forming any form of long-term propaganda blocs with them. With others where we have a closer agreement, we will seek to unify our forces.”
Throughout this year, March 2020 to almost March 2021, in which the LCFI published several international anti-imperialist statements “identifying US imperialism as the hegemonic world power that is the central enemy of the oppressed and working world class “, Gerry’s SF did not publish any, demonstrating that in practice he had already carried out the resolution that now formally communicates to us.
This orthodox-sounding verbiage is however mixed with a complete break from elementary anti-imperialism concerning Zionism. The slander of support for ‘fascism’ against our British comrades is in fact a defence of Zionism against the charge that it is politically similar to Nazism. But that is the position of the LCFI. The British LCFI comrades and the rest of the LCFI are united around the proposition that Zionism has great similarity to Nazism. The rump SF statement breaks from the politics of the LCFI when it says the following:
“There are Zionists who are fascists, and we will no-platform them like we will attempt to do to all fascists. But we will never equate racists in general with fascist racists. We distinguish between the racism of the oppressor and the racism of the oppressed, we distinguish between the fascist Zionism of the oppressor and the racist, apartheid or liberal Zionism of the oppressed, many of whom genuinely fear the return of the Holocaust and so support the state of Israel.” (emphasis added)
The defence of Zionism is clear in the emphasised passage. It clearly states that, apart from actual fascists, who in Zionism are represented mainly by the Kahanist trend and other kindred spirits particularly among the armed settler garrison populations (which in total correspond to just over 600,000 settlers, less than 7 % of a population of 9.3 million people), that “racist, apartheid or liberal Zionism” is the “racism of the oppressed”. In other words, among political Zionists, only the actual outright fascists who are prepared to openly break even with the ethnocratic Jewish ‘democracy’ that disenfranchises the Palestinian majority (more than half of whom are involuntary exiles) and install a far-right dictatorship over Jews as well as Arabs, can be said to embody the ‘racism of the oppressor’. For all the rest of political Zionism, the overwhelming majority, though it may be ‘racist’, is the ‘racism of the oppressed’. In effect, this defines Zionism as a form of the nationalism of the oppressed, and excuses its racism as driven by oppression and ‘fear of the return of the Holocaust’. This is an appalling apologia for Zionism and completely at odds with the anti-imperialist politics of the LCFI.
It is also completely incoherent. If Zionist Jews were not an oppressor people, how could the fascist trend among them act as oppressors? Ideologically fascist though they might be, if the population upon which they rested and among which they swam were not in a position to oppress another people, then how could they constitute ‘the racism of the oppressor’? To be an oppressor, you have to be in a position to actually…. oppress! The reference to ‘racist, apartheid or liberal’ Zionism “of the oppressed” can only be a reference to Israeli Jews themselves, as such apartheid-type features (it is worse than that!) enforced by Zionism are internal to Israel. Justifying again the unjustifiable Gerry created the category of the “poor and oppressed Zionist-racist-liberal-defender-of-apartheid”.
A clear break of today’s pro-Zionist SF with the anti-Zionist SF of 2018
This is also completely at odds with the position of Socialist Fight prior to the split. In September 2018, when Labour adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism whose mendacious ‘examples’ include an anathema on comparisons between the Zionists and Nazis, Gerry Downing himself denounced this:
“The Socialist Fight Group condemns the adoption of the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism and all its examples on 4-9-18 as a shameful capitulation not only to the Zionist lobby led by the Jewish Board of Deputies and the other right-wing Zionist organisations, also led by the Blairite right wing of the Labour party and the mass media but to capitalism/imperialism itself. The capitulation of Jeremy Corbyn, the even more grotesque capitulation of John McDonnell and the majority of the Labour NEC is an ominous portent of how they would withstand the far greater pressure a leftist Labour government would come under.
Labour now once again puts the rights of an oppressor people clearly above the rights of the oppressed.” (emphasis added).
This was a revolutionary condemnation of Zionism as the nationalism of an “oppressor people”, in comrade Downing’s words. Now, erasing with his elbow what he himself wrote with his hand, Gerry says that Zionist ‘apartheid’ is ‘the racism of the oppressed’.
This is clearly a break with the militant anti-Zionism that drove Socialist Fight when it was a unified revolutionary group. Indeed, Gerry Downing’s new formulation that distinguishes between the ‘fascist Zionism of the oppressor” and the “racist, apartheid or liberal Zionism of the oppressed”, clearly puts Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud in the camp of the ‘Zionism of the oppressed’ since they have not fought to establish a fascist regime over Israeli Jews.
Apparently for Gerry the “apartheid” imposed by Israel is ‘the racism of the oppressed’; Israeli Jews who perpetrate crimes against Palestinians are to be in some way excused, as their crimes are the crimes ‘of the oppressed’ – like when enraged Palestinians commit some indefensible act, presumably. This means that ideologically, comrade Downing has gone over to the Zionist camp and his entire polemic against the LCFI and its British section should be basically regarded as a Zionist tirade against anti-Zionists. Given this, it is necessary to take with a pinch of salt his assertion that:
“Of course, we defend all third world semi-colonial governments and peoples against imperialism, despite fundamental differences with them on their reactionary positions and actions against the working class and oppressed in their own lands, as we have continually made clear. We certainly do not endorse their anti-Semitism.”
op-cit “breaks with the LCFI”
This is thrown into severe doubt by the above. If the Zionist State of Israel has its “victim side” and embodies some sort of ideology of the oppressed, held by people who “genuinely fear the return of the Holocaust and so support the state of Israel”, and if this should be dignified as a response to oppression, then there is every reason to fear that in future conflicts in the Middle East, this faction will go further in its capitulation to Zionism and imperialism. If Zionist Jews are ‘oppressed’, then who are their oppressors? Obviously, they must be non-Jews. But the only non-Jews they live in proximity to are the Arabs. So how could comrade Downing with this position defend the Arab peoples of the region, including the Palestinians, against the ‘oppressed’ Zionist Jews?
Since they have no actual oppressors, the ‘fears’ of the ‘return of the Holocaust’ by Zionist Jews which comrade Downing uses to justify their support for Israel, is a paranoid racist fantasy similar to the fantasies about ‘white genocide’ that white nationalists use to justify racist repression against non-whites. It is this confluence that explains why Zionists and white nationalists are so frequently close allies and co-thinkers these days. As was embodied in the Trump administration that included both.
“Anti-Imperialism”, or the IHRA?
What also casts doubt on comrade Downing’s commitment to consistent anti-imperialism is the fact that the only experienced cadre has still has in his camp, from the United States, considers China to be an imperialist rival to the United States, and rejects the position of the LCFI that regards China as former workers state whose capitalism still is in a subordinate position to imperialism and should therefore be defended against imperialism. While this comrade was in the earlier period a sympathiser of Socialist Fight from overseas the ambiguity of his relationship with comrade Downing in particularly in hindsight had an element of ‘rotten bloc’ about it. Today, when he is comrade Downing’s vocal public supporter the rotten bloc is starkly visible.
The allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ bandied around by comrade Downing obviously concern not merely the positions of the British LCFI comrades, the current Trotskyist Faction, but also the identical programmatic positions argued in the LCFI Statement on the Israel/Trump Annexation Plans in the West Bank, (https://www.socialistfight.org/uncategorized/lcfi-statement-on-the-israel-trump-annexation-plans-in-the-west-bank/) from last summer. The definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ comrade Downing uses here is not the one in standard dictionaries, such as the Oxford English one (“Hostility to or prejudice against Jewish people”) or in Spanish (“Ideología o actitud contraria al pueblo judío o a su cultura” or in Portuguese “Ideologia ou atitude contrária ao povo judeu ou à sua cultura.”, which both translate as “Ideology or attitude contrary to the Jewish people or its culture.”) It is rather one which equates criticism and analysis of Zionist racism, and of those trends in Jewish history and politics that gave rise to it, with anti-Jewish racism.
It is clear from this that Gerry is edging closer and closer to the definition, or rather the accompanying examples, put forward by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). This is a Zionist initiative that has signed up 34, mainly imperialist and allied countries, and attempts to so re-define anti-Semitism through a series of amalgams equating the struggle of Palestinians and their supporters against their oppressors, and the Zionists’ international bourgeois supporters, with Nazi Jew-hatred.
Comrade Downing’s tirade draws spends a great deal of its space in a diversionary sleight of hand attack against Gilad Atzmon, when in fact the real target is our comrades’ own views. Atzmon is just a decoy or imaginary enemy to justify his new positions. The purpose is transparently to make it appear that Atzmon’s erratic views are our own. Atzmon is a confused but interesting Israeli exiled writer and musician who has long been a hate figure of Zionists and the left-wing elements most reconciled with Zionism.
The tirade draws heavily on mendacious, falsified and/or disingenuous denunciations by two notorious Zionists, Dave Rich and Alan Dershowitz, the latter a close associate of Donald Trump, which our British comrades refuted at length a year ago. The repetition of this material, parrot fashion by comrade Downing is an application of the techniques of hasbara, methodical Zionist and Zionist-inspired smear campaigns in which comrade Downing seems to have taken up an apprenticeship.
Like many of the most alienated anti-Zionist elements in and from the Middle East, Atzmon has confused views on WWII and is soft on the ‘enemy’ fascist-led imperialism to the US-led Allies, , which is obviously very wrong and capitulates to an imperialist faction. The only thing unusual about him is that he is of Israeli-Jewish, not Arab origin. That is the form that the common sentiment that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ takes in the Middle East, going back at least to the early 1960s when Gamal Abdul Nasser gave speeches denouncing the Nazi holocaust as “the lie of the six million”; one of numerous similar statements from political figures in the Arab/Muslim Middle East ever since the Nakba. This, not Zionist racism, is an ideology of the oppressed in the Middle East context. Although we understand its causes, we do not share this holocaust denialism, nor do we deny the Armenian holocaust practiced by the Ottoman government (for such things we condemn Zionism which systematically ignores or minimises genocides suffered by other peoples, from Congo to Rwanda, to justify its contention that the ‘unique’ Nazi Judeocide justifies Zionism).
The irony is, given the smears of anti-Jewish prejudice in this polemic, that Atzmon is being targeted by some who claim opposition to Zionism, because they are offended by such views from a Jewish person particularly. If he were Arab, and a Hamas supporter for instance, the leftist elements would be reluctant to attack him because of his oppression, and the Zionists would not pay him so much attention either – he would be just one of many. The motive for the anathema against him, and anyone who refuses to join in with it, is not anti-racism – he is after all being accused of ‘racism’ against his own origins – but communalism, punishing a ‘traitor’ who has gone over to the Arab ‘enemy’ and shares some of the alienated consciousness of those he has embraced.
To those on the left who are soft on such communalism, merely refusing to join in these denunciations and recognising that some of Atzmon’s material on Jewish identity is worthy of study by Marxists, is grounds for excommunication. Comrade Downing’s embrace of Zionist communalism is crystal clear given his new position that most Zionism is an ideology “of the oppressed.” For him, his emerging support for Zionism takes precedence over the duty of Marxists to examine and analyse all available factual material, and sources of interpretation of that material that could provide insights for materialist understanding of the subject matter. This is an attack on the Marxist method in the service of Zionism.
It is also an implicitly an attack on Abram Leon, from whose materialist analysis of Jewish history our analysis of Zionism and the Jewish question is derived and extends. We regard him as an exemplar of the progressive, vanguard role that Jewish militants have played historically in the labour, socialist and communist movement, and particularly of a militant who broke from Zionism to genuine Marxism. Far from being hostile to Jewish militants, we seek to win over such Jewish anti-Zionists to follow in his footsteps and embrace our genuine revolutionary internationalism.
A left turn followed by a step back.
It is important to document how this political break came about. The LFCI comrades’ resolution on the split in Britain put forward an important part of the history:
“Our international was founded in April 2011, following the international declaration: ‘In Libya’s unconditional defense against imperialism! Military United Front with Gaddafi to defeat NATO and the «rebels» armed by the CIA! No confidence in the Tripoli government! Only through the armament of the whole people and the permanent revolution can we win this fight! ‘. At that time, during the widespread and uncritical accession to the ‘Arab Spring’, we were the only international group to defend Libya from the barbarism that it was condemned, with a declaration signed by organizations from three continents. The shape of the logo we use today, was born that year, at the suggestion of companions from South Africa. In January 2017, we greatly expanded our range of relations and international allies, in Great Britain, USA, Argentina, Greece, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, India. In addition to expanding our contacts internationally, we have broadened our sympathy nationally for our positions with various activists, activists and groupings in Great Britain and Brazil approaching our positions. This occurred in a period of general setback for international Trotskyists through the declaration ‘The liberation of Aleppo and the tasks of the anti-imperialist and socialist revolutionaries.”
The LCFI aspires to re-create a genuinely revolutionary, Trotskyist international movement. We do not have a ready-made claim to ‘continuity’ with previous revolutionary organisations as do many fundamentally flawed currents on the existing pseudo-Trotskyist left. What we do have is a determination to consistently oppose imperialism, and to critically re-examine and transcend the errors and capitulations that have weakened our movement and led to its fragmentation and decline. We are composed of comrades who have rejected the flaws of the pseudo-Trotskyists, and under the impact of recent world events have moved leftward from existing traditions and backgrounds on the left.
In Britain, the emergence and evolution of our section involved comrades moving to the left who had tried out a variety of organisation and traditions and rejected them as fundamentally inadequate. Comrade Downing, who founded the group, had emerged from the Healy tendency and been through the British United Secretariat, before rejecting their galloping capitulation to imperialism and seeking to create a new tendency. He had more than one false start in this regard, on more than one occasion breaking with people who in his eyes did not measure up.
It is no accident that our section in its most prominent and successful period became known as the most radical opponents of the imperialist exploitation of the Arab Spring against the Arab peoples, particularly over Libya and Syria, and the most consistent and sharp opponents and critics of Zionism and the numerous trends on the pseudo-revolutionary left who express their softness on imperialism in part through their softness on Zionism.
We were a synthesis of militant anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist revolutionaries from varying backgrounds, and it is no accident that we adopted an understanding of Zionism that actually addressed concretely how a component of the main imperialist hegemon, the USA (and to a lesser extent its European allies), has an overrepresented component of its ruling class which overlaps with that of Israel, meaning that there is a degree of complexity and contradiction in the relationship of US imperialism with what has become its most important imperialist ally in the Middle East region.
This analysis was developed by a comrade whose formative background was in the Spartacist tradition, who like many militants had experienced confusion, had engaged with a variety of trends looking for solutions and was in the process of seeking a better orthodoxy in joining SF in 2015. This consistently Marxist position on Zionism was eagerly embraced by comrade Downing as soon as he encountered it and became not only the position of the group itself, but the position we became best known for.
Including within the left and Labour Party milieu, as demonstrated by the fight we put up against being witchhunted out of Labour Against the Witchhunt by fearful left-reformists and centrists at the beginning of 2018, which attracted national attention. Comrade Downing’s appearance two years earlier on the BBC Daily Politics to defend our position had also given us prominence, and this raised it further as we evidently had not been cowed by the Zionist and soft-left denunciation. Although we were put under pressure by these things, it was a healthy pressure which attracted serious militants to our group, including some dedicated Palestinian supporters of Middle Eastern/Asian background, and a group of militants formerly from the Moreno tendency in Liverpool who evidently saw the group as attractive in part because of its prominent, strident anti-Zionism and the polarising effect that gave rise to, with whom we fused in the Summer of 2018.
The leftist position of Gerry Downing, his Marxist anti-imperialist anti-Zionism, was sustained by the leftward movement in British society epitomised by the rise of the Corbyn movement which really rose to its peak over the whole period of 2015 to late 2018, encompassing the General Election of June 2017 when the Labour Party, under the most left-wing leader in its history, with a public record of outspoken opposition to predatory imperialist wars and defence of the rights of the Palestinians and other victims of imperialism and Zionist crimes, achieved the biggest political swing toward Labour since 1945 and robbed the Tory Prime Minister Theresa May of her parliamentary majority. This took place in a period of deeply contradictory, volatile politics in Britain involving left-wing resistance to a prolonged period of reaction and xenophobic politics brought about by previous betrayals of the Labour bureaucracy and its embrace of neoliberalism and predatory imperialist wars on behalf of US imperialism and Zionism in the Middle East.
However, Corbyn was not capable of leading this left-wing movement, as was shown most extensively when the ruling class struck back and sought to derail it with its most potent weapon: the Zionist-inspired and implemented ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign. It was Corbyn’s numerous capitulations to this Goebbelsian smear campaign, the throwing under the bus of numerous left-wing and anti-racist activists and militants by a leader whose strategy was to appease the racist-Zionist right, not purge them as traitors as should have been done, which gave the neoliberal right, increasingly led by their emerging standard-bearer Starmer (whose professions of loyalty were obviously mendacious), to dominate a weakened leader who had capitulated on everything from adopting the IHRA definition to throwing prominent leftists like Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson to the wolves. The internal undermining and documented sabotage of the Party by the right, which went hand-in-hand with disturbing indications that the ruling class was instigating fraudulent and anti-democratic means to make sure a Corbyn government could not happen, created the conditions for the severe defeat of Labour in the December 2019 General Election.
Retreats, and the Basis for Future Advance
Comrade Downing’s abandonment of his revolutionary positions emerged over the Summer and Autumn of 2019 as it became clear that the Corbyn movement was in retreat because of the default of Corbyn himself. That was when comrade Downing began to retreat from SF’s positions on Zionism. But the floodgates really opened after Labour’s defeat and it then appeared that the comrade was a man in a hurry to renounce his past and regain ‘respectability’ among the reformist and centrist left. His outrage at the suggestion during the faction fight that supporters of the Zionist state really should not be in the Labour Party was a key indication of a latent political weakness that had not been properly addressed in the previous period. It was an indication of something of the social nature of the Labour Party itself, a party whose strident support for Zionism goes back to the 1948 Nakba and even earlier. It should be recalled that in 1944, four years before the Nakba had even happened, the British Labour Party conference passed a resolution that advocated:
“in Palestine surely is a case, on human grounds and to promote a stable settlement, for transfer of population. Let the Arabs be encouraged to move out, as the Jews move in. Let them be compensated handsomely for their land and let their settlement elsewhere be carefully organised and generously financed. The Arabs have many wide territories of their own; they must not claim to exclude the Jews from this small area of Palestine.”
In fact, the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn was something of an aberration. While he showed terrible weakness in the face of the inevitable counterattack, he nevertheless condemned the entire basis of Labour Party policy over this question for most of its history. Despite the courage comrade Downing showed in the period of Corbyn’s rise and leftward movement, when the counterattack came and politics in the Labour Party shifted rapidly to the right, he came under enormous social pressure from long-time associates and family members, and capitulated to it, attempting to take ‘his’ group with him in dictatorial fashion irrespective of the fact that many of the members had joined to fight against this kind of reactionary politics. This contradiction is what blew the group apart.
The complete collapse of disciplined functioning of Gerry Downing, as the group’s founder, and the transparently bureaucratic and dishonest manoeuvring to try to get rid of the co-thinkers he no longer wanted, who comprised half the membership and the most active members of the organisation, were a sad end to comrade Downing’s trajectory as a revolutionary, and his collapse into an apparent rightward-moving centrism.
It is tragic that comrade Downing should end up doing this after half a century of struggle for a revolutionary Marxist position. We can only appeal to him to reconsider, objectively assess the situation, and realise that his current trajectory is the product of defeats in the class struggle over the last two years because of the political dereliction of Corbyn, the defeats of Labour, and the rise of the far right. Maybe the consequences of this break, which is his doing and which we did everything to try to avoid, will compel him to reconsider his rightward course and return to a revolutionary path. We hope so, though obviously that is his choice.
It is most unfortunate that this is how the previous, often politically rich and fruitful period of Socialist Fight during the 2010s and the Corbyn period has ended up, but it was the result of an opportunist impulse of leading comrades. We in the LCFI cannot live in the past; both our British comrades, and the tendency as a whole, regard this unfortunate event as at least the opportunity to draw some public lessons about this, not in terms of calumnies and abuse, but as a means to explain what has happened politically, to assist new forces to approach our Trotskyist politics and programmatic approach.
Democracy and freedom for workers and the leftist opposition, not for agents of imperialism, neo-liberals, neo-Nazis, xenophobes, like Navalny
Alexey Navalny is for Russia, what Juan Guaidó is for Venezuela or Yoani Sanchez for Cuba. The image of the three was constructed as political “dissidents” from governments of enemy nations of the USA. These nations have been subject to economic and diplomatic sanctions for decades and their siege by the military bases of the most powerful army on the planet, which also commands NATO troops, is increasing.
Despite some differences, the political function of the three is basically the same. They operate for the internal destabilization of the adversary and for its international demonization to justify external intervention, sanctions and aggression against the sovereignty of their own countries. They also advocate a political-ideological, neoliberal platform.
In the 21st century, imperialism has been trying to promote and sell these new types of dissidents as leaders of “colour revolutions”, movements whose results only benefit imperialism. These leaders appear to be concerned with the interests of their countrymen, but they defend policies and measures, such as sanctions, that severely punish the population of their countries. Some present themselves as bloggers, like Navalny and Sanchez, others as “politicians”.
In the case of Guaidó, demoralisation is evident and emblematic. His term as a national deputy ended in 2020, he was not re-elected to anything by the Venezuelan people but is recognized as Venezuela’s “interim president” only by the USA and its entourage of bootlicking governments around the world. After all the attacks, invasions, condemnations, lawfares, attempts at a coup d’état were defeated, imperialism only had the possibility of formally proclaiming its own victory and selling it as real.
The impotence of the USA against Venezuela gives the measure of the demoralization of the Empire and the decay of its hegemony precisely in its “backyard”, Latin America, and in Venezuela particularly, where the policy of permanent counter-revolution, of coups to defeat chavismo, has been defeated over the past 20 years. It seems that the imperialist lion has been made toothless and can no longer bite and chew its victims.
In these three nations the ineffectiveness of hybrid war accompanies the decline of the hegemonic power of the USA. In the last 80 years this tactic has proved, in most cases, much more effective than all the expensive investments in conventional wars. During this period, the change in orientation and investment from conventional war to hybrid war was not greater only due to the reluctance of the Military Industrial Complex to lose its budget. It also became clear that an immediate victory in a conventional war can bring about a strategic defeat for imperialism in terms of the political, social control of the defeated country. A classic case of this is Iraq (see Decadence of US imperialism catapulting Iran’s regional leadership), and perhaps the same is true regarding Afghanistan and Libya.
In December 2020 Hillary Clinton issued a long warning demanding a reduction in obsolete conventional military investments from Cold War II, and greater investment in the State Department, that is, in the Ministry that conducts the empire’s foreign policy of the coup d’état:
“China – along with Russia – poses a totally different threat than the one posed by the Soviet Union. Today’s competition is not a traditional global military competition for strength and firepower. Dusting the Cold War manual will do little to prepare the United States for opponents who use new tools to fight in the grey zone between war and peace, exploit its open Internet and economy to undermine American democracy and expose the vulnerability of many of its legacy weapon systems … Budget changes should aim to prepare the United States for an asymmetric conflict with technologically advanced adversaries … A renewed commitment to diplomacy would strengthen the United States’ military position. US alliances are an asset that neither China nor Russia can match, allowing Washington to project strength around the world.”
Without renouncing the policy of continental siege with dozens of NATO military bases, but betting much more on intelligence and infiltration operations, hybrid warfare is a type of conflict that focuses on asymmetric forces, parastatal instruments, civil mobilizations, online propaganda, social media networks, international media campaigns, aggressive diplomacy, “adaptive approaches” (an expression used by Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Command of the Armed Forces of Russia), for the fragmentation of opposing defenses, including public opinion, projecting new dissidents as popular leaders .
Due to the great size of its investments in this paraphernalia of combined instruments, exploiting the contradictions of the opponents, it is possible to convert any bribed rogue into a great and charismatic leader supposedly of the masses. The greatest evidence of the success of this tactic was the coup process that made Bolsonaro the president of a country the size of Brazil.
The new “political dissidents”, mere agents of imperialism, are sold as “leaders of the opposition”, and become epicenters of the imperialist policy of an indirect war modality, aiming at the fall of governments and regime change, which has been refined by the CIA since the successful 1953 coup in Iran.
However, despite the favourable results in Honduras, Paraguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia (until 2020), Libya, the hybrid war has not been successful with regard to the objective of regime change with Cuba since 1959, with Venezuela since 2002 and with Putin’s Russia. In relation to Cuba, the hybrid war is for capitalist restoration in the workers’ state and in Russia, Navalny is against the trends that point to Putin’s state capitalism.
On February 3, the strategic weapons reduction treaty, the new START, was renewed until February 5, 2026, between Biden and Putin. The bilateral agreement limits the arsenals of both to 1,550 nuclear warheads for each country (30% less than the one set in 2002) and 800 launchers and heavy bombers. In addition to the fact that both obey the logic of fear of nuclear war, the ease with which the treaty was renewed reveals that today the possibilities of nuclear war generate less tension between the USA and Russia than hybrid war:
“The Biden government said it is analyzing a series of Russian bad deeds and weighing how the US will respond, including a response to Russia by carrying out a massive cyberattack by government agencies and private companies, reported Russian rewards on the heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan and interference in the US internal elections.
The United States is also evaluating actions against Moscow for the attempted chemical murder of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny and has declared that his arrest and subsequent sentence in a Moscow court is ‘politically motivated’. The United States has also condemned the arrest of thousands of Navalny supporters who are protesting against his detention and government corruption.”
Great Britain and the European Union follow the USA in the campaign of demonization of Russia and promotion of Navalny. These European nations do so not only because of the soft power of US diplomacy, but also because they want to participate in the booty that would come from the victory of a colour revolution in Russia, turning the country back into a brothel for the country’s international plunder as it was during the Yeltsin years (1991-1999).
For its part, Germany is increasingly faced with a paradox. The most important imperialist power in the EU has been militarily occupied by US bases since 1945. Even today Germany is a colony of the USA from the military point of view. The United States military has 40 military installations in Germany. On the other hand, Germany is dependent on Russian gas. That is why, while defending Navalny, Merkel strengthens her relations with China and defends Nord Stream 2, a pipeline that will take Russian gas directly to Germany without passing through Ukraine.
Who is Navalny and what is his programme for Russia?
Putin’s main opponent in almost all Russian elections has been the Stalinist Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). It is understandable that this is so because the CPRF is the main successor to the Soviet bureaucracy that governed the country until 1991.
However, Alexey Navalny is presented by the Western media, inside and outside Russia, as the main opponent of Putin. (See Alexéi Navalny: what you care for, what you do (and why you don’t care), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5bmbYHDBmg ).
In the last presidential elections, in 2018, the CPRF supported the candidacy of the businessman Pavel Grudinin, obtaining, although the second place in the election, a lesser vote than in previous years, 11%. Also the lack of mass support from pro-Western neoliberal parties, even if we unify the votes of the two parties with this profile, the “Civic Initiative” and Yabloko do not reach 3% of the votes.
In 2010 Navalny received a grant from Yale University (Connecticut, United States), becoming part of the “Greenberg World Fellows Program”, a program that annually selects a group of people from around the world to become “global leaders”. The program is a kind of “School of the Americas” for the formation of civilian coup leaders.
In 2011, Navalny founded the Anti-Corruption Foundation NGO (in Russian, донд борьбы с коррупцией). In 2014, the Lava Jato judicial operation was created in Brazil. Both are institutions created during the Obama administration and serve as instruments of the USA to harass the political forces that in 2006 created the BRICS. The lawfare operation was fundamental in Brazil to persecute the PT, arrest Lula and get him out of the presidential race in 2018, ensuring the stability of the coup process and the election of Bolsonaro.
But, unlike Brazil, Russia, ruled by a former KGB agent, did not grant to the pro-Western opposition the country’s vice presidency, financial policy, the media, and the prosecutor. These errors were made by Dilma, even after Eduard Snowden, who went into exile in Russia, announced in 2013 that the PT government and Petrobras were the target of a profound spy operation from the US National Security Agency (NSA), the private arm of the CIA in which Snowden worked.
Corruption is in the DNA of the capitalist state, the management committee, legal or illegal, of the affairs of the bourgeois class. In Russia it is no different. The most corrupt, most mafia-dominated period of Russian politics was when its government was the most deeply under the control of the USA and the European Union, during the dismantling of Russia in the 1990s, when many of Navalny’s current sponsors looted the country in an unprecedented way until it hit rock bottom in the August 1998 speculative attack. Before that, only during the invasion of the USSR by the Nazi army had the country been so looted.
During the 1990s, “shock therapy” was applied to the former Soviet economy, inspired by Pinochet’s neoliberal model. An emblematic article, almost a directive for the new economic policy of restoration, was published in the Washington Post during the rise of Yeltsin, which considered the political regime that could be installed:
“It may upset Western economists, but history shows that economically successful nations can have free markets without free people. Democratic reforms are not essential for explosive economic growth. ‘There is no doubt that there can be rapid economic growth under a dictatorship,’ acknowledges Mancur Olson, a professor of economics at the University of Maryland who specializes in economic development issues. ‘There were dictatorships that understood and respected market forces.’
Pinochet’s Chile, a Pragmatic Model for the Soviet Economy, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/business/1991/08/23/pinochets-chile-a-pragmatic-model-for-soviet-economy/fc079246-2a18-40db-ad76-5e492e400bb5/
And that was what Yeltsin did in 1993 in the war against the legislature. This still went by the name of Supreme Soviet, had great popular support and had approved the impeachment of Yeltsin. On September 28, public protesters against the Yeltsin government took to the streets of Moscow. In the repression of the demonstrations, there were several deaths. On Sunday, October 3, protesters removed police cordons throughout parliament, took over the city hall and tried to invade the Ostankino television centre. On Yéltsin’s orders, the army broke into the building of the Supreme Soviet in the early hours of October 4. The ten-day conflict was the worst street fighting in Moscow since the October 1917 Revolution. According to government estimates, 187 people were killed and 437 wounded.
Like Navalny today, at the time, Yeltsin argued that
“Democratic reforms are essential for economic prosperity” (idem).
The architects of the Navalny campaign appear to be the same ones who wrote Yeltsin’s script:
“The most recent change in the Russian regime, from the Soviet Union to the modern Russian state, again demanded a conspiracy of factors that worked in favour of the opposition. The main leader of the Russian opposition, Boris Yeltsin, like Navalny, played the populist card well, complaining loudly and always within reach of a microphone about scarcity, corruption and inefficiency.”
But Navalny defends a neoliberal program much more radical than Yeltsin himself:
“Entrepreneurs, move on!
Our program includes a wide range of measures to free entrepreneurs from the pressure of bureaucracy, security officials and monopolies. We are implementing a program to demonopolize the economy and reduce monopoly prices. We will reduce the number of regulatory bodies and liquidate some of them. We will prohibit commercial inspections – control of operations will be transferred to an electronic form … The judicial system created by us, totally independent from the executive branch, will reliably protect private property from invasions and arbitrariness by government agencies … In Russia now there is a kind of incomprehensible capitalism, in which the state controls more than half of the economy and commands businessmen. Such a system hinders the country’s development … We will make peace with the civilized world,
An economy without corruption, monopolies and bureaucratic ties
Putin’s system is structured in a simple way: the extortion of honest businessmen and ordinary citizens is constantly increasing in the interest of a limited circle of officials, their relatives and friends, as well as the monopolies associated with them. We see the completely different economic system: a compact state that provides society with important social and infrastructure services (medicine, education, transportation, the social security system) with total non-interference in the country’s economic life and the absence of large state monopolies.”
Navalny is a proven NATO agent. There exists footage from the Russian Federal Security Service, the FSB, in which the Executive Director of the Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), Vladimir Ashurkov, meets with the United Kingdom’s Secretary of Political Affairs, James William Thomas Ford, in the UK embassy in Russia, and asks for greater investments in its movement.
“During the meeting, Ashurkov indicated that ‘if we had more money, we would expand our team, of course’, adding that his goal of getting ‘a little money’ like $ 10, $ 20 million a year ‘would make a huge difference’. He suggested, as can be seen in the video, that the organization’s activities would benefit London companies (British capital). ‘And that’s not a lot of money for people who have billions at stake,’ said Ashkurov. ‘This is not a huge amount of money for people who have billions at stake. And that is the message I’m trying to get across in my fundraising efforts and talking to people in the business community’”.
For liberals Navalny became a symbol of the struggle for rights and democracy in Russia and in the world today, a Slavic version of Nelson Mandela. Not infrequently pseudo-Trotskyist parties and internationals, such as the Russian POI, the LIT section of the Brazilian PSTU, the Austrian RCIT, the Argentine PTS, the TMI, linked to the “Left Marxists” of the Brazilian PSOL, defend Navalny, with greater or lesser reservations, supporting him and his demonstrations even more.
In fact, Navalny was expelled from the Russian Liberal Party in 2007 for his xenophobic nationalism, which was damaging the party’s image. He founded his own party and attracted the sympathy of skinhead and neo-Nazi organizations (banned by the Russian government after the Ukrainian Euromaidan), carried out political campaigns against immigrants, spread messages of support for the violence of the Russian anti-immigration movement, some of the most ferocious of which were responsible for hundreds of racially motivated murders. This can be seen in the video: Alexei Navalny and the Russian Nazis.
Despite the stereotype of Russians as whites with blue eyes and Orthodox Christians, the Russian Federation is a multi-national state with 193 ethnic groups. A great many of the people of the Russian Federation have dark skin and many are Muslim.
However, in a video on his channel, Navalny urges Russian “good citizens” to arm themselves and support the legalization of short-range weapons in order to exterminate dark-skinned Muslim militants in the Caucasus, whom Navalny likens to cockroaches. He says in the video that although cockroaches can be killed with a slipper, in the case of dark-skinned Muslims, I recommend a pistol” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVNJiO10SWw).
Navalny supported the Euromaidan neo-Nazi coup in which Biden, then US vice president, was a direct beneficiary, through the appointment of Hunter Biden, his son as advisory director of Burisma Holdings, a major producer of natural gas in Ukraine, after the coup was successful. (Ukraine reveals payment of Burisma to Biden by lobby, http://hilodirecto.com.mx/ucrania-revela-pago-de-burisma-a-biden-por-cabildeo/)
But, in the civil war, the country was divided in half, with the population of the most industrialized part of the territory armed and autonomous from the capital Kiev. And on the Crimean Peninsula, pro-Russian Ukrainians stormed large government buildings, military bases and telecommunications facilities on the peninsula and forced local authorities to hold a referendum on reunification with Russia, becoming an autonomous republic of the Russian Federation.
Crimea has historically been a geopolitical region where the borders between the classical world and the Pontic steppe are found, stretching from the north of the Black Sea to the east of the Caspian Sea. Since 1783 Crimea belonged to the Russian empire. After the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 it was converted into an autonomous province of the USSR. In 1954, in a gesture for the brotherhood of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, Khrushchev handed over Crimea to Ukraine.
From the height of the authority conferred on him by the imperialist media, as “Putin’s main opponent” (as well as Guaidó in relation to Maduro), the blogger demanded punishments more severe than those that the western powers of the USA and the EU had imposed, for the Crimean defection.
However, Navalny behaves like a chameleon and is always denying what he said, to adapt to different situations in a puerile pragmatism, just as Trump and Bolsonaro do.
Between 2011 and 2013 there were important protests against Putin. As one of the leaders of this movement, Alexey Sakhnin, a member of the Left Front at that time, reports:
“Navalny received support mainly from the capital’s middle class and from the largest cities. But the working class and the poor majority in general did not trust him. They remained indifferent to his anti-corruption agenda, seeing corruption as just one of the techniques to enrich the elite and not the foundation of class inequality.”
Thus, in the same 2018 program in which he advocates privatizations and the minimal state, to please Western businessmen and speculators, he also tries to seduce unwary working class people by saying nice words like that people should live with dignity: decent wages, decent pensions.
“Alexei Navalny’s budget policy priority will be the financing of health and education. Government spending in these spheres will double and, in terms of its share of GDP, Russia will be equal to developed countries”.
The same disguise exists at the level of international politics, as recorded in Wikipedia:
“In March 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Navalny called for more sanctions against officials and businessmen linked to Putin and proposed a list of sanctions for Western countries, saying that previous US and EU sanctions were ‘ridiculed’. In October 2014, Navalny said in an interview that, despite the fact that Crimea was ‘seized’ illegally, ‘the reality is that Crimea is now part of Russia’. When asked whether he would return Crimea to Ukraine if he became a Russian president, he said: ‘Is Crimea some kind of sausage sandwich to be passed around? I don’t think so.’ In 2015, Navalny deplored Russia’s actions ‘welcoming Muslims’ and the opening of the largest mosque in Moscow.”
Putin: from the international plundering of the Yeltsin era to the ruler of the Petro-State that is the main US military opponent today
Putin projected himself as a great leader of Russia after the scorched earth policy, the colonization of the Yeltsin era, between 1991 and 1998. According to geopolitical writer William Engdahl, in his work Manifest Destiny – Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance (2018):
“Boris Yeltsin and his ‘free market reformers’ were part of one of the most criminally covert loot operations in CIA history. It was the rape of Russia by a corrupt circle of treacherous Soviet generals, together with their protected young KGB selection, who were transformed by the operation into billionaire oligarchs. This economic rape was only possible through Western banks and Washington’s so-called ‘democracy machines’ under three successive presidents – Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and Bill Clinton. Few people in the West could understand the sadness and anger of Russian President Vladimir Putin when he said to a select audience of Russian Duma politicians in the Kremlin in September 2016, ‘You know how I feel about the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was unnecessary.’
Putin did not need to describe ‘that. Everyone present knew that he meant the wild destruction of life, of the feeling of worth and pride for most Russians until 1990.”
Later, Engdahl reveals in detail that senior CIA officials participated in this rape, including Bill Casey, the founder of NED, the private agency for dirty and hybrid operations, Rothschild bankers, George Soros, banker Bruce Rappaport, founder of Inter Maritime Bank of New York from the tax haven of Antigua and Barbuda, and even the Brazilian Edmundo Safra:
“Edmond Safra’s Banco Safra of New York branch took over 20% of Rappaport’s Inter Maritime Bank of New York. Beginning in 1992 with the plunder of Russia by the CIA through handpicked oligarchs such as Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky, the Safra Bank was immersed in the laundering of billions for Yeltsin’s select circle of oligarchs.”
Throughout this plunder, Putin held high government posts as deputy director of the Yeltsin administration’s Asset Management department. In July 1998, he was appointed director of the Federal Security Service (FSB, successor to the KGB), a position which, from March of the following year, he held simultaneously with that of secretary of the National Security Council. Beginning in 1999, Putin took control of the country, reestablishing strategic sectors such as oil, gas and defense, reestablishing the status that the country had under the USSR. Putin, then leader of the oligarchy that operationalized capitalist restoration, defeated opponents of the left and right, respectively, led by the CPRF, and the opposition wing of the capitalist oligarchy.
In his Bonapartism, Putin projects himself alongside China in world political geopolitics, setting limits to US domination, in Ukraine, mainly in Syria, and currently in Venezuela. Putin and Lavrov conquered a new space for Russia in the world, after the debacle of the 90s to the point that the country became a world leader for the manufacture and export of tactical and strategic weapons, missile systems, such as Avangard, hypersonic weapons, and Sputinik V vaccines against the pandemic.
But in 2019-2020, Russia’s economic and social situation worsened. The global recession has affected the Russian economy. Economic difficulties intensified with the COVID-19 epidemic. Putin tries to serve the appetites of the employer’s oligarchy in a country deeply plagued by imperialist sanctions. In this context, the growing poverty and concentration of capital deepens.
In an article the Communist Party of the Russian Federation denounces this:
“Today, in Russia, there is colossal social inequality, tens of thousands of companies have gone bankrupt, citizens’ real income has fallen for the seventh consecutive year. The health care system is chronically underfunded and therefore cannot provide high quality medical care, the country is dying: the death rate last year exceeded the birth rate by 700,000.”
The wage losses have been huge, 15% already during the year 2021. On February 1, these losses totalled 1.87 billion roubles, as recorded by Tass. The biggest costs for workers’ families are housing. According to Rosstat, in 2020, the average salary in Russia was 30,500 rubles. But to buy a one-room apartment in any Russian settlement, with the exception of Moscow and St. Petersburg, you need a salary of 100,000 rubles a month. (Experts said how much you need to earn to buy an “odnushka” https://1prime.ru/finance/20210215/833038955.html ). One in five Russian families is a mortgage slave.
The regime uses justifications of controlling the pandemic and the need to defend against imperialist agents to restrict democratic rights also for the leftist opposition.
“However, under the guise of the coronavirus epidemic, we were denied permission to hold this public event. At the same time, contrary to the rules of the law, employees did not even bother to offer alternative sites or other formats for carrying out the action. We were simply told: no.
In all official, “pro-government” media, appeals are constantly heard: not to go to uncoordinated protest actions, to respect the law. At the same time, the ruling party has not only tightened legislation on public events in recent months, but has also deliberately blocked any possibility of rallies, demonstrations and pickets being held legally. Thus, the ruling party itself provokes and pushes people into illegal and uncoordinated forms of protest actions. People simply have no other choice.
We emphasize that the Communist Party has always defended the observance of the law. But none of our notifications about holding public events in central Krasnodar, including the days of the Red Army, Red May Day, Great Victory, Great October, sacred to millions of citizens, have been agreed upon in recent years. The authorities, at best, mockingly suggested that we go to the outskirts of the city.”
Krasnodar region. Statement by the Communist Party Regional Committee On the holding of public events by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation on February 23, 2021, ibid
This strangulation of political rights both for the right and for the left organizations leading the working class, helps the right-wing and imperialism, just as in the time of the USSR the policy of bureaucratic repression of Stalinism favoured imperialist anti-communist and Russophobic propaganda in the name of freedom and democracy.
However, even taking into account the largest pro-Navalny demonstrations, uniting neo-Nazis, xenophobes, liberals, pro-Westerners and some pseudo-leftists, they were no more than 50,000 demonstrators in Moscow, a city with more than 12 million inhabitants.
What sense would it make to defend a movement that, in the name of democracy and historical freedom, that once victorious, expands the dictatorship of the imperialist bourgeoisie against oppressed workers, immigrants, religions and ethnicities?
For Marxists, democracy is a political system, not a universal value or principle. Bourgeois democracy is the democracy of the rich. Even if we are against the coups d’état orchestrated by imperialism and dictatorial bourgeois regimes, the defense of democratic rights under capitalism must be subordinated to the expansion of the struggle for the strategic interests of the exploited class, in order to reach a political system based on the democracy of and for the workers, the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie.
So, the defense of democracy depends on the interests of social classes and the struggle between nations. In this case, it is a matter of defending the oppressed nation, Russia, from a hybrid, camouflaged war, making use of democratic struggles to drag the country back to the kind of destruction of living conditions experienced during the Yeltsin era. If successful, a colour revolution in Russia could have disastrous consequences for the struggle to end imperialist hegemony over the globe. So Navalny is not one of us and we shouldn’t move a finger to get him out of prison. If he depends on our efforts, he will rot.
In exceptional situations of hybrid war, where the country, in this case Russia is under an asymmetric imperialist offensive, as Belarus was a few months ago in acute form, we defend the right to organize and demonstrate only for parties and organizations that defend workers’ democracy, full union organization, those which are enemies of Western sanctions, privatizations, neoliberalism, imperialism, xenophobia and fascism. This dividing line marks the difference between the false defenders of democracy and imperialist freedom and the true defenders of the civil and democratic rights of the majority of the population. So, we do not defend Navalny and his pro-imperialist demonstrations, we defend the full rights of unions to demonstrate.
A decade ago after the imperialist “Arab Spring”, Iran, Russia and Syria were strengthened. USA, Israel and Saudi Arabia despair. To reverse the crisis of hegemony, Biden starts a new offensive.
Extracted from the Blog of the Grupo Emancipação do Trabalho
On the first day of the Biden government, a new operation was launched to invade Syria, with 200 soldiers and a convoy of 40 trucks loaded with weapons and logistics materials from the so-called US-led international coalition entered the interior of Hasaka via al-Walid crossing the northern border from Iraq into Syria. Trump had initiated a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Biden is trying to replace them. The Democrat named old foreign policy hawks, many of those responsible for Obama’s open and secretive interventions in Libya and Syria at the beginning of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’.
Since 2011, the Syrian government, with the support of Russia, Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, has bravely resisted imperialist military offensives. That is why imperialism has been trying to overthrow the Lebanese government, by all possible means. Despite being hegemonized by neoliberals, the government is also composed of Hezbollah, Israel’s arch-enemy who heroically was at the forefront of the wars that defeated the Nazi-Zionist state, in 2006, in Lebanon itself, and in 2016, in Syria.
In Libya, more recently the hybrid war it counted on the explosion of the Port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, a sabotage, played in the lap of the Lebanese government and the journeys against corruption, led by agents of imperialism in the country. The purpose of the operation is to change the Lebanese regime. Now, during the Biden government, these demonstrations were augmented by protests against inflation, the economic crisis, which despite being just, are manipulated externally, following the same script of the so-called Arab Spring, triggered by popular dissatisfaction with the effects of the global economic crisis of 2008.
The new planetary emperor tries to reissue in an accelerated way, seeming to want to make up for lost time, the coup politics that he, as vice president, Obama and Hillary started almost a decade ago and that led to bloody massacres in Egypt, Libya and the endless war in Syria.
Pyrotechnics of Israel and real growing power of the heirs of the first superpower in history
Synchronized and at the forefront of the new offensive is the State of Israel. On January 13, 2021, the Zionist state propagated with great fanfare that it had carried out the biggest and deadliest air strike against Syria since the beginning of the war in 2011, murdering 57 people, explicitly claiming that its target was the militants of Iranian revolutionary guard in Syria.
It is worth remembering that the assassination of Soleimani, the main Iranian military leader, was the biggest military operation of the Trump administration.
But there is more to aerial pyrotechnics and marketing than concrete advances in the new coalition offensive that has been defeated inch by inch within Syria in the last decade, while the unity of the oppressed peoples of the region is consolidating. The US crisis strengthens its biggest enemy in the region. The decline of current imperialism supported by Nazi-Zionist policies, sponsorship of mercenary and bloodthirsty groups such as ISIS, and the cruel and growing siege against Iran since the 1979 revolution, contradictorily, has been catapulting Iranian regional leadership. It is worth remembering that Persia, now Iran, defeated the all-powerful Mesopotamia, liberated the Hebrews from the Babylonian Captivity and revolutionized politics, building the first superpower in world history.
As Magnier portrays:
“In Syria, a military source with decision-making power tells us that ‘Israel was able to target many military equipment and destroyed many hangars’. However, there are about half a million hangars in Syria that do not necessarily contain Iranian weapons and missiles. Is Israel planning to destroy them all? Is Israel able to eradicate Iranian forces and their allies? Is it a propaganda bombardment, serving (Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin) Netanyahu? Is Israel trying to attract sympathy from Western countries to collect financial assistance? Is the goal to have unconditional Western support for all Israel’s actions? Israel is undoubtedly trying to demonize Iran, although Iran’s presence in Syria is at the official request of the government. Israel has failed to expel Iran from Syria despite all its shouts and bombings. Today Iran has established a massive presence in Syria that before the Syrian war had been denied to both Iran and its allies, in Al-Mayadeen, Albu Kamal, Deir Ezzor, T3, Al-Sukhnah, Kajab and Palmyra, reaching Homs. Likewise, centers were established in Handarat, north of Aleppo.”
“Israel began to carry out defensive manoeuvres for fear that its enemy could move forward and take a position in the territories it is occupying, mainly in northern Israel that borders southern Lebanon. Israeli strategic efforts have failed to stop Hezbollah from stockpiling its Iranian precision missiles. It also failed to push Iran out of Syria even when it enjoyed four years of unlimited support from the Trump administration and a friendly Russian presence. Netanyahu hid under Putin’s cloak to bomb Syria. Even so, Iran is in Syria to stay. Israel lost both the battle and the war. ‘You can continue performing your air show as long as Russia does not stop you’, concluded the source.
Elijah J. Magnier, Does Russia turn a blind eye to Israeli bombings in Syria?
In fact, considering that the geopolitical result of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was not the strengthening of the USA or Israel but of Iran over the whole of Iraq; whereas the result of the “Arab Spring” in the Arabian peninsula was not the stabilization of the dominance of the Saudi Arabian dictatorship over the region, but its defeat by an infinitely weaker military force, the Yemeni guerrillas, supported by Iran; whereas Lebanese Hezbollah, driven by Iran’s revolutionary guard were, alongside Russia and Assad’s own forces, this imposed the most humiliating defeat of the Zionist-American front in Syria,
At the base of this expansion of its geopolitical power is the expansion of its economic and cultural power, despite all the sanctions and sabotages imposed by the USA and Israel on the Persian nation. The integration of the peoples of the region against imperialism takes place concretely through the Iran-Iraq-Syria Plan to advance the historic Transnational Railroad ‘Land-Bridge’ (in literal translation, Earth Bridge), as the arm of the Chinese mega project of the new silk road (Belt and Road Initiative) in the region, bridging the gap between China and the Mediterranean via a land route through the Middle East.
At the same time, Russia is increasing its forces in Syria. The Moscow Armed Forces have sent more reinforcements and heavy military equipment to Al-Qamishli airport as they reinforce their presence east of the Euphrates River. The Russian Armed Forces have sent more troops to the front line with the Turkish military near the key city of Tal Tamr. Between Russia and Turkey there is a permanent relationship of tension and association. Russia has also recently sent more ships to patrol Syria’s Mediterranean coast from the naval base at Tartus.
Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia
Turkey seeks to crush any Kurdish organization within Syrian territory. Kurds are an oppressed nationality with no state or territory of their own, inhabiting Turkey (15 million), Syria and Iraq and 23 other countries. During the Syrian civil war that started in 2011, President Bashar al-Ássad issued a decree granting citizenship to inhabitants of Kurdish origin, which they have been deprived of since 1962. However, a fraction of the Kurds who present themselves as “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) was created, sponsored and armed by the United States, which also supported Islamic State, Al Qaeda and every mercenary band imaginable to overthrow the Assad government. In order not to allow Syria to become a strong military base for the Kurdish opposition, Turkey made several military incursions into Syrian territory. Imperialism then sponsors a war of chaos whose main victim is the Syrian population. The SDF is fighting the government of Syria and Turkey, which is also fighting the government of Syria to control the region occupied by the SDF.
“A siege was imposed by the SDF in the cities of Al-Hasakah and Qamishli, closing the entrances and exits of neighbourhoods controlled by the Syrian army and preventing food supplies from reaching them.”
US-sponsored Kurdish separatists besiege Syrian cities in Hasakah https://www.syrianews.cc/us-sponsored-kurdish-sdf-separatists-besiege-syrian-cities-in-hasakah
A few months ago, the Nagorno-Karabakh war broke out between Turkey-backed Azerbaijan and Armenia, which wanted but did not obtain military support from Russia. Faced with the crisis of imperialism’s hegemony, Turkey tries to expand its influence in the transcontinental region where it is located, participating in disputes in Syria, Iraq, the Mediterranean and the Caucasus. It seeks to expand its domains in regions where NATO control has been weakened. Without Putin’s support for Armenia, Azerbaijan won the war. The Armenian government, of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, a liberal very close to European capital who came to power through a “velvet revolution”. The Armenian defeat sparked strong street protests in the country calling for Pashinyan’s resignation to the cry of “Nikol traitor” “Armenia without Nikol”.
Rome does not pay traitors. This is the fate of Putin’s faltering allies, of the rulers of countries that were former workers’ states when they flirt with the Atlanticist West. They are hit or almost by the West itself. So it was with the governments of Ukraine (Yanukóvytch), Bieolorussia (Lukashenko) and now with Armenia (Pashinyan). In the latter case of the Azerbaijan-Armenian war, a Turkish victory may not be a Russian defeat, but a defeat for imperialism.
Everything indicates that the next period will be one of more desperate actions by imperialism and Zionism in the region. The more they lose ground, the greater their savagery. As the Bolshevik revolutionary taught us “In the period of the crisis, the hegemony of the United States will be more complete, more open and unforgiving than in the period of prosperity.” Leon Trotsky, Critique of the Programme of the Communist International, 1928.
However, while we unconditionally defend Iran against the US and Israel, we warn that the current Iranian president is sowing confusion. Sheikh Hassan Rohani, both for being a friendly interlocutor of imperialism within the Iranian state bureaucracy and for representing the interests of the Persian bourgeoisie, does not deserve any confidence from the workers in the anti-imperialist struggle.
In this dispute, workers around the world have a side. They are on the opposite side from imperialism, Israel, Saudi Arabia and all their political and military agents, responsible for the coups, hunger, misery and for making the pandemic more deadly against the majority of the world’s population. Therefore, what benefits the oppressed and exploited in the world is the defeat of this imperialist offensive and its hybrid war. Marxists fight with their working-class brothers and oppressed peoples anywhere on the planet against big world capital, pointing out that no victory is enough for us in the capitalist frameworks and defend a program and strategy independent of the governments facing imperialism.
The statement by the Latin American comrades dissociating them from our position of defence of the outcome of the November US elections from Trump’s Beer Hall putsch misunderstands the relationship between bourgeois democracy and workers democracy, misunderstands key elements of US social reality, and confuses the struggle against imperialist wars abroad with the defence of the workers movement and democratic rights at home.
“The British comrades are in favour of a military bloc with the Democrats and invoke the institutions of the imperialist state machinery against Trumpism, making a false analogy between Spain in 1936 and the United States in 2021, since in both situations it would be present a fascist attack on a bourgeois parliamentary regime in an imperialist country. However, this is a false analogy because it minimizes the fact that in Spain, in opposition to Franco’s fascist imperialist side, there was a popular front, the main component of which is a mass party of the working class, its trade unions and its trade union centres. Therefore, what threatened the Franco regime was proletarian democracy and not just a bourgeois parliament. Defending proletarian democracy against a fascist coup has nothing to do with defending imperialist “democracy” against a fascist coup.”
The problem with this distinction is that trade unions, organs of workers democracy, also exist in the United States, and generally give political support to the Democratic Party, the party that won the election and which Trump’s movement was aimed at overthrowing and barring from taking power. Also, such working-class political trends that have even a modicum of social weight, at this point support the Democratic Party, either by being inside it, or by supporting it in various ways from the outside.
This extends from the supporters of the social-democratic would-be presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, to the AFL-CIO in its more left-wing manifestations, to organised social-democratic groups like the Democratic Socialists of America. It also extends from groups representing oppressed layers, particularly US blacks, to newer movements such as Black Lives Matter and older groups such as the NAACP and the numerous other trends that grew out of the Civil Rights movement. All these movements of the oppressed gravitate around the Democratic Party which has de-facto become, not merely a bourgeois party in the ‘pure’ sense, but in effect the party of the popular front in the American context.
Except that this popular front manifests itself in the form of a party, a phenomenon that is not unknown in some semi-colonial countries – both the Indian Congress Party and the African National Congress are examples of parties that function(ed) as popular fronts in practice. Working class trends function within these parties, and stand in elections for them, as with the South African Communist Party and the former Congress Socialist Party in India. This is rarer in imperialist countries; in most of them there is some nominally independent working-class party component of popular fronts. The United States, which is uniquely backward among even imperialist countries in terms of the political development of its working-class movement, is an exception in this regard. The role of social democrats like Sanders and the DSA is similar, mutatis mutandis, to the class collaborationist role of the SACP within the ANC.
The comrades’ counterposition of the imperialist Spanish Popular Front to the imperialist Democratic Party, the latter being supposedly fundamentally worse because of the absence of independent working-class mass parties in the latter, appears at odds with the Trotskyist movement’s attitude to popular fronts. We do not consider popular fronts to be embodiments of workers democracy.
Elements of workers democracy (trade unions, working class political parties, organisations of oppressed groups, etc) exist in societies characterised by bourgeois democracy despite such political blocs with the bourgeoisie, not by virtue of such blocs. The programme of fascism, however, is to do away with those elements of working-class democracy in bourgeois society, irrespective of whether working-class organisations are involved, or not involved, in a class collaborationist government such as a popular front. The main distinguishing feature of popular fronts is not that they embody working-class democracy, but that they involve a limitation of the class independence of the working-class organisations involved in them, a class compromise and a partial negation of their freedom of independent action and hence independence before the bourgeoisie.
We defend bourgeois-democratic, parliamentary regimes against overthrow by fascists not because those regimes in the governmental sense embody elements of workers democracy (they don’t!) but because in the wider society, the existence of a parliamentary regime is incompatible with the complete suppression of organs of working class democracy, and because even in the most repressive bourgeois parliamentary regime, the existence of elections means that the masses possess some elements of democratic rights, without which a parliamentary regime which has some popular legitimacy could not exist.
The question of democratic rights is crucially important for the masses, particularly in countries like the United States where whole oppressed layers, particularly the black population, have often been disenfranchised. When the comrades write that “Defending proletarian democracy against a fascist coup has nothing to do with defending imperialist ‘democracy’ against a fascist coup” they are dismissing crucially important democratic questions. For instance, the right of black people to vote in elections in the United States comes under the heading of “imperialist ‘democracy’” not workers democracy. The right to vote in a state, federal, or presidential election involves no activity in workers organisations at all. But it is a crucial democratic right nevertheless.
The comrades have not thought this through. The idea that Marxists should not defend imperialist ‘democracy’ against a fascist coup, that imperialist democracy in general is not worthy of such defence, implies that the democratic right to vote under imperialist bourgeois democracy of the black population is not worth defending against such fascist coups.
The circumstances of Trump’s election in 2016, the way he tried to justify his administration governing despite the loss of the popular vote then, and his attempt to stay in power despite the loss of the popular vote and the electoral college in 2020, bears out that Trump and his white supremacist, fascist movement is a threat to the democratic rights of the black population above all.
Trump lost the 2016 popular vote to Hillary Clinton by three million votes. Only the distribution of votes via the electoral college, particularly in ‘swing-states’ where the rustbelt figured heavily, allowed him to claim the presidency. Confronted with his loss of the popular vote after 2016, Trump outrageously claimed that this was due to millions of illegal immigrants illegally voting, and others who should allegedly not be allowed to vote. It was never explicitly stated, for obvious reasons, but it was always obvious he was talking about black voters. Both by implication and by the involvement of the Republican Party in voter suppression that was always aimed at depriving black and minority voters of the ability to vote.
It was always going to be difficult for him to repeat the semi-fluke of 2016; and his claim that Biden’s victory was the result of ‘illegal votes’ is both completely fraudulent, and blatantly racist. The victory of the Democrats in the January Senate seat runoffs in Georgia emphasises that overwhelmingly; it was black voters and some white anti-racist supporters who came out to defeat Trump. Trump was caught red-handed, on tape, in an hour-long telephone conversation with an election official in Georgia, himself a Republican, trying to threaten and induce him to invent another 17,800 votes to allow Trump to take Georgia’s Electoral College votes fraudulently. The official refused.
That tape is proof of attempted election fraud and played an important role in the loss of the Senate seats. Trump’s attempted fraud is the only significant electoral fraud in the 2020 election. And its purpose was massive. His attempt, through his rag-bag white supremacist army, to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s election victory constituted nothing less than a violent attempt to disenfranchise many millions of mainly black people, to install a white supremacist dictatorship in the US.
Such is the blatant nature of the Republican attempt to disenfranchise black people, fuelled by the fear that soon there will not be a white majority in the US, that it has provoked the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) into initiating an unprecedented lawsuit against the Republicans under the Ku Klux Klan Act, alleging that the GOP Is involved in a nationwide campaign to deprive black people of the franchise. Which is obviously true, and a supportable legal initiative, notwithstanding the liberal-bourgeois nature of the NAACP.
Trump’s attempt to stay in power, with his false allegations of electoral fraud and overruling the popular vote, implies the large scale, if not wholesale, disenfranchisement of black people, and the rolling back of the gains of the 1950s-60s civil rights movement at the very least. This would require a dictatorship that would crush these democratic rights. Such a regime from the very start, to survive in power, must crush all independent working class and black organisations, and hence crush those elements of working-class democracy that exist under imperialist bourgeois democracy. It is not possible to crush bourgeois democracy without crushing all elements of working-class democracy, and Trump understands this very well. This is what motivates his otherwise absurd, red-baiting of the Biden-led Democratic Party, his allegations that it is ‘far left’ and ‘Marxist’ etc, which is so bizarre given Biden’s record as a right-winger in the Democratic Party under Clinton and Obama. This Trump verbiage is redolent of Nazi denunciation of social democracy in the 1930s.
The comrades have misunderstood the article by Trotsky, The Lesson of Spain, from 1936, that they cite in support of their position. This was not a polemic against taking sides with a parliamentary regime against a fascist coup, but rather a polemic against social chauvinism in an approaching inter-imperialist war, that is, a war between imperialist powers. Trotsky was talking about a potential war between imperialist France and Nazi Germany, both imperialist powers, and polemicising against those who advocated support for French imperialism in such a war, and the illusion that French imperialism could wage an ‘anti-fascist’ war against Germany.
This is shown clearly by passage quoted:
“But here we are interrupted by the exclamation. ‘How can one dissolve the officers’ corps? Doesn’t this mean destroying the army and leaving the country disarmed in the face of Fascism? Hitler and Mussolini are only waiting for that!’ All these arguments are old and familiar. That’s how the Cadets, the S-Rs and the Russian Mensheviks reasoned in 1917, and that’s how the leaders of the Spanish People’s Front reasoned. The Spanish workers half-believed these ratiocinations until they were convinced by experience that the nearest Fascist enemy was to be found in the Spanish Fascist army. Not for nothing did our old friend Karl Liebknecht teach: ‘The main enemy is in our own country!’”
Yes, the main enemy at home for the Spanish working class in 1936 was the Spanish Fascist Army. The one that under the leadership of Franco was trying to overthrow the Republic. Which Trump’s forces were trying to do in the United States in 2021. Other than that, the main enemy of the French working class was the French ruling class and its army, and it was not possible to defend its democratic rights by defending French imperialism in an inter-imperialist war against Nazi Germany.
The slogan ‘the Main Enemy is at home’ is not much of a guide as to which side to take in an attempted fascist coup, and bourgeois elements out to resist such a coup, within an imperialist power such as the United States. Because both sides are “at home”, by definition. Thus, the comrades’ view that “we defend the defeatism of both wings of imperialism, like Lenin in the First World War, to transform the intra-imperialist war into class warfare” is at odds with the correct position on a variety of attempted and indeed successful right-wing/fascist coups taken by communist organisations in the past in both imperialist and semi-colonial countries throughout our movement’s history. There has never been a situation where a conflict between a parliamentary regime and an indigenous, putative fascist force in the same country trying to overthrow it, has been treated as the same as an inter-imperialist war. Such conflicts operate on a completely different plane, in theory and practice.
The question as to which side is the main enemy can only be decided by the working class according to the need to defend its class organisations, be they strong or weak, and the democratic rights of the oppressed. Of course, it is true that in the 19th Century the Democratic Party was the party of the post-Civil War Slavocracy and the Republican Party was the party of the Northern bourgeoisie, the party of Abraham Lincoln. We have to deal with politics today however, not a century ago, and today this has been reversed: the Republicans are an overtly racist party, the vanguard of neoliberalism under Reagan and Bush that has been seeking for decades to disenfranchise as much of the non-white population of the US as possible, and which now has a sizeable fascist wing. The Democratic Party, also an outright bourgeois party, played second-fiddle in that regard, and now has a sizeable black and working class, partially class-conscious constituency, personified by Sanders, and therefore itself is currently playing the role of the popular front in US conditions.
This is not something we support; we do not advocate votes for the Democrats or even for Sanders or his followers if they stand as Democrats. But in an armed clash between this US popular front, and the fascist element of the Republicans, we stand with the former militarily in the same manner as with the popular front in Spain. The distinction between military and political support we are advocating was summed up by Trotsky in his rendition of An Aesop’s Fable as to why it was necessary to stand militarily with the social-imperialist German Social Democracy against Hitler’s hordes in the early 1930s.
“A cattle dealer once drove some bulls to the slaughterhouse. And the butcher came nigh with his sharp knife.
‘Let us close ranks and jack up this executioner on our horns,’ suggested one of the bulls.
‘If you please, in what way is the butcher any worse than the dealer who drove us hither with his cudgel?’ replied the bulls, who had received their political education in Manuilsky’s institute. [The Comintern.]
‘But we shall be able to attend to the dealer as well afterwards!’
“Nothing doing,” replied the bulls firm in their principles, to the counselor. ‘You are trying, from the left, to shield our enemies – you are a social-butcher yourself.’
And they refused to close ranks.”
Advocating defeatism on both sides, in the circumstances of a fascist coup in an imperialist country like the US, can only mean repeating the error Trotsky was attacking here: failing to see the immediate danger to the working class and the oppressed. It is the nature of imperialism to organise coups and worse in colonial and semi-colonial countries; it is the nature of bourgeois imperialist parties to attack workers, to undermine social gains, to undermine the democratic rights of the oppressed. But the victory, even if it were incomplete, of fascism in an imperialist country is a qualitative intensification and extension of that. Fascism in an imperialist country is the concentrated, purified essence of imperialism. A policy of defeatism on both sides in the conflict over the Capitol, of indifference as to whether Trump managed to seize power against the popularly elected President and Congress, would be similarly suicidal as the policy of the KPD in Germany that Trotsky was polemicising against above.
About our differences over the Trumpist invasion of the Capitol
Bolshevik Militant Tendency (Argentina) – Frente Comunista dos Trabalhadores (Brazil) – Socialist Workers League (USA) – Sections of the Secretariat of the Americas of the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International
1. There are differences within our international current about the current process of civil war trends taking place in the US.
2. FCT, TMB and SWL understand that only the organized proletariat can be trusted to crush Trumpism and they have no illusions in any bloc or support for the imperialist military measures of the Democratic Party. They do not believe that the coup plotters of the Democratic Party, who carried out coups against oppressed peoples, are the best allies of the US workers to combat Trump’s coups. They do not defend the “democracy of the rich imperialists” nor its decadent institutions that deliberate all the evils of big capital on the oppressed peoples of the world and the workers of the United States. This nation was built on the pillars of slave oppression and patriarchy. The Democratic Party is a structural and historical component of that state. Until the 1930s, the Democratic Party was the wing of the bipartisanship that best represented southern historical slavery (1). Therefore, the Democrats have neither strength nor interest in destroying the supremacist wing, nor in eradicating its tradition that is part of the Democratic tradition itself, but only in attenuating them and using them as justification to expand their political power. We advocate a political uprising (far beyond the social or racial) of the indigenous, Latino, Afro-descendant and exploited masses, Muslims, oppressed whites against the carnage promoted by the corporations of all their governmental agents.
3. Thus, we have public differences with the British TF-SF comrades who also make up the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International (CVCI). To our knowledge, comrades make a series of successive and combined mistakes on Trump’s failed coup that prevented us from signing a common statement.
4. The British comrades are in favour of a military bloc with the Democrats and invoke the institutions of the imperialist state machinery against Trumpism, making a false analogy between Spain in 1936 and the United States in 2021, since in both situations it would be present a fascist attack on a bourgeois parliamentary regime in an imperialist country. However, this is a false analogy because it minimizes the fact that in Spain, in opposition to Franco’s fascist imperialist side, there was a popular front, the main component of which is a mass party of the working class, its trade unions and its trade union centres. Therefore, what threatened the Franco regime was proletarian democracy and not just a bourgeois parliament. Defending proletarian democracy against a fascist coup has nothing to do with defending imperialist “democracy” against a fascist coup.
“Defense of Republic is Defense of Capitalism
The political alliance of the working class leaders with the bourgeoisie is disguised as the defense of the “republic.” The experience of Spain shows what this defense is in actuality. The word “republican,” like the word “democrat,” is a deliberate charlatanism which serves to cover up class contradictions. The bourgeois is a republican so long as the Republic protects private property. And the workers utilize the Republic to overthrow private property. In other words: the Republic loses all its value to the bourgeois the moment it assumes value for the workers. The radical cannot enter into a bloc with workers’ parties without the assurance of support in the officers’ corps. It is no accident that Daladier is at the head of the Ministry of War in France. The French bourgeoisie has entrusted this post to him more than once and he has never betrayed them. Only people of the type of Maurice Paz or Marceau Pivert can believe that Daladier is capable of purging the army of reactionaries and Fascists, in other words, of dissolving the officers’ corps. But no one takes such people seriously.
But here we are interrupted by the exclamation. “How can one dissolve the officers’ corps? Doesn’t this mean destroying the army and leaving the country disarmed in the face of Fascism? Hitler and Mussolini are only waiting for that!” All these arguments are old and familiar. That’s how the Cadets, the S-Rs and the Russian Mensheviks reasoned in 1917, and that’s how the leaders of the Spanish People’s Front reasoned. The Spanish workers half-believed these ratiocinations until they were convinced by experience that the nearest Fascist enemy was to be found in the Spanish Fascist army. Not for nothing did our old friend Karl Liebknecht teach: “The main enemy is in our own country!”
Purging Army of Fascists An Illusion
L’Humanite cries pleading for the army to be purged of fascists. But what good is this appeal? When you vote for maintenance credits, when you enter into an alliance with Daladier and, through him, with financial capital, you entrust the army to Daladier – and at the same time demand that this entirely capitalist army serve “the people” and not the capital, then you either became a complete idiot or are you consciously deceiving the working masses. “
León Trotsky, The Lesson of Spain, July 30, 1936
5. Due to this error, the TF-SF induces another: in this analogy, despite denying it, the position of the TF then induces the false belief, embellishment that the United States Democratic Party of 2021 would be something similar to a mass party. From the working class, which is completely false and creates illusions in the hard core of world imperialism. The CVCI Secretariat for the Americas does not agree with the unity of action or military bloc with the Democratic Party, even if it is “critical” or without any formal political support. No front with Biden who as Obama’s deputy promoted and was a direct beneficiary of the neo-Nazi coup in Ukraine! We defend the defeatism of both wings of imperialism, like Lenin in the First World War, to transform the intra-imperialist war into class warfare.
This article was originally agreed as a Liaison Committee For the Fourth International statement and published on 12 Jan. However since it was published, some differences have emerged with comrades in Latin America about the call for a military bloc with Biden and state forces defending the legitimacy of his election, and in particular the criticism of state forces for not using deadly force against the fascist attackers. So in keeping with our long-standing position of permitting the public expression of differences, two articles now have been published.
The political line of the other article, which is reproduced below ours and linked to in the original Portuguese, is not one that we have major differences with, indeed we would endorse many of the additional points included attacking the Obama/Biden administration about its imperialist wars in Syria. Libya and Ukraine, and its own record of deportations of immigrants.We also agree with its statement that the Trump attack on the Capitol was a danger to the working class and its call for the Trumpists’ defeat therefore. But in our view, this implies a military bloc, but no political support, for the existing Congressional/Parliamentary regime, whose forces are loyal to President-Elect Biden, against the Trump forces, which of course gives the possibility of criticising the forces you are blocking with for not supressing the Trumpists with sufficient deadly force.
We consider our position on this to be the same as that of the Trotskyist movement in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-39l, which gave military support, but no political support, to the Spanish Republic against Franco’s fascist/military insurrection. Of course the whole issue was intertwined with the Spanish revolution that errupted, triggered off by Franco’s revolt, and in betraying the revolution, the Popular Front created the conditions for its own defeat by Franco. Unfortunately today, the US working class does not have the level of consciousness of the Spanish proletariat in 1936 and in particular has no mass working class parties. Nevertheless, key elements exist in common between the two conflicts. A fascist attack on a bourgeois parliamentary regime, in an imperialist country, such as Spain in 1936 or the US in 2021, has to be fought off in any situation of this type.
For those who have not yet recovered from the impact of 2020, a very striking year that began with the assassination of one of the most important military leaders of Iran by the USA in the heart of Iraq, a year that had an economic crisis and pandemic, 2021 began on the 6th January and this unprecedented event will be the hallmark of this convulsive year.
In the fiercely contested November 2020 Presidential election Donald Trump got 74 million votes. This exceeded the votes of winning presidential candidates in all previous elections in the US. But it was far exceeded by his opponent, Joe Biden, the victorious Democratic challenger, who got 81 million votes. Biden’s margin of more than 7 million votes, in terms of US Presidential Elections, is a considerable margin of victory, close to landslide territory both in absolute and percentage terms, not quite up to the level of Barack Obama’s redoubtable landslide in 2008 let alone Ronald Reagan’s super-landslide in 1984, but not far behind those. And on both sides, the absolute numbers involved are far greater, a reflection of the political polarisation fuelled by Trump’s white nationalism and a greater popular resistance to it, that was channelled in the absence of a working- class political pole, into Biden’s Democratic Party campaign.
Trump’s attempted coup was motivated and agitated for based on fatuous allegations of electoral fraud, together with megalomania, and white supremacist politics. He pushed for the invasion of Congress, the parliamentary centre of imperialist democracy, to respond to the pressures of his radicalized base and not appear weak to them.
The race question is key to why Trump lost the 2020 election. In 2016 his semi-fluke victory was gained by mobilising a section of demoralised, mainly white workers from the former heavy industrial rustbelts against ‘globalism’ – immigrants, and jobs going overseas. It was tacit white supremacy and in part directed against Obama as the first black President. ‘Birtherism – the allegation that Obama was born outside the US and thereby ineligible to be President, was key to Trump’s appeal.
Part of Trump’s appeal in 2016 was to national isolationism and weariness of the neocon wars that have been waged by both Democrat and Republican administrations for decades. But the subtext of Trump’s programme was to replace them with trade wars, with China, or with the European Union. Which themselves bring the threat of future imperialist wars. But his supposed antipathy to armed interventionism was shown up for what it was by his attempts at coups in Venezuela, and most notoriously by the murder of Iran’s General Suleimani a year ago. This was personally ordered by Trump and even more brazen than Obama’s drone attacks on Al Qaeda and ISIS militants. It was driven by Trump’s hatred of the defeats Iran has inflicted on US clients in Syria and Iraq. He used Twitter to openly threaten both Iran and North Korea with nuclear attack. His policy towards Israel is an open endorsement of Zionist genocide without any attempt to smooth things over with ‘peace processes’. Its openly ultra-right.
The Trump movement is a reactionary response to neo-liberalism, not in any sense a class-conscious movement of working-class people. The MAGA people, even when proletarian, are not class-conscious workers. They still must learn some basic political lessons and lose their imperial, racial arrogance. They are the same layer that voted for Brexit in Britain. They are a jealous lumpen layer lamenting that the decline of US/UK imperialism has robbed them of a privileged labour aristocratic status. Hence the appeal of ‘Make America Great Again’ and Brexit.
This movement has considerable similarities in many ways to European fascism and Nazism in its objectives, though thankfully so far it lacks the cohesion and determined cadre that those movements had. This is because it has not been steeled in battle against a powerful workers movement; in the United States, as in Europe, over the last 40 years once powerful trade unions have been gutted by the internal collaboration of pro-capitalist labour bureaucracies that have acquiesced in the attacks of neo-liberalism.
This has led to social discontent, instead of being directed against the capitalist system, being channelled into nationalism and the identity politics of oppressor peoples, such as white US Americans, in some ways apeing the identity politics of the oppressed which has become widespread on the left as a despairing response to neoliberal attacks and the failure of the workers movement to fight them.
But the identity politics of the oppressor is qualitatively worse and more dangerous than the identity politics of oppressed groups, just as in general the nationalism of the oppressor is qualitatively different and more dangerous than the nationalism of the oppressed, and in today’s conditions such movements as Trump’s resemble fascism and contain many outright fascists and Nazis. This is why Zionism is so dangerous and played such an important role in Trump’s movement and his administration, which broke with the subservient but lukewarm attitude of previous US administrations towards Zionism and openly supported Zionist aspirations to simply destroy the Palestinian people.
Zionism is a prime example of the identity politics of oppressor peoples, trading on the history of oppression of Jews to justify racist crimes today. It acts as a kind of junction box for the joining of older fascist-type nationalism with more modern kinds of identity politics. The fact that some of Trump’s prominent white supremacist supporters declared themselves to be ‘white Zionists’ is highly significant. It can also happily coexist with fascists and neo-Nazis who still espouse anti-Jewish hatred – the pro-Zionist Trump tweeted support for the Proud Boys far right group some of whom sported the acronym ‘6MWE’ (“6 million [Jews] were not enough”) at Trumpist demonstrations against Biden’s election victory in December. The aim of fascistic Zionism in such things is to prove to the old far right that other groups, not Jews, should be the target of their hatred, and that Jews are among the ‘superior races’ who should be doing the oppressing and massacring.
From the point of view of black US Americans, notwithstanding the fact that the Trump movement was not steeled in conflict with a strong militant workers movement, the overthrow of constitutional government in the US by Trump’s movement is a potentially deadly threat. Which all leftists and class-conscious militants need to resist with all the military force they can muster. The fascistic intention was clearly there even if the execution was weak, precisely because Trump’s movement has not been steeled in struggle as Hitler’s was.
To all intents and purposes the events of 6 January should be regarded as a failed insurrection by something approximating to a ‘soft’ fascist movement. It is not likely to stay ‘soft’. The push by Congressional Democrats for Trump’s impeachment, which is obviously supportable, for inciting insurrection, is aimed at precluding his running again for the Presidency by banning him permanently from running for office. It does appear that Trump’s hold on the Republican Party itself may have burst, as some leading figures are supporting impeachment and when the question is put, those who do not may find themselves in an untenable position, defending a man who orchestrated an attack on the US political system from above.
A major split in the Republicans now looks highly likely since the hardened lumpen elements in Trump’s base will not disappear. Sarah Palin is calling for a right-wing split from the Republicans and this may well come to pass. It could conceivably break up the two-party system in the US which may also advantage the left, though this situation also poses the danger of the emergence of a mass fascist movement or party. It could also conversely lead to the fragmentation and dispersal of Trump’s movement under fire. The consequences are not yet clear.
The bible of white supremacist fascism in the US is the 1970s novel The Turner Diaries, which envisages an armed assault on the Capitol, the terror bombing of government buildings, the hanging of politicians who resist, and the erection of a white dictatorship in the US seeking, and carrying out, a worldwide genocide against blacks. Many of the themes and activities of the supremacists who attacked the Capitol consciously evoked and mimicked that. Previous acts of white supremacist terrorism such as the 1995 bombing of the Municipal Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people, by Timothy McVeigh, were inspired by the Turner Diaries.
The left in America needs to be rearmed politically and physically. Politically it needs to break with the Democratic Party. Giving the thoroughly bourgeois Democrats political support when they have been responsible for many of the most egregious neoliberal attack over the past 30 years and have in fact been in power for more than half of those years, is an invitation for politics to radicalise to the right, not the left. As Trumpism shows.
The USA claims to be the guardians of bourgeois democracy on the planet and that would politically justify Yankee expansionism. However, today’s imperial “democracy”, indirect voting, electoral college as in various dictatorships, confused and invariably defrauded (as we saw several times, as in the Bush election and reelection) by the economic power of big capital, has nothing to do with the conquest of for each man a vote, obtained by the French bourgeois revolution. Revolutionaries should not be able to defend imperial democracy or the imperialist democratic party. No political support for the Democrats does not however mean neutrality in situation like Jan 6th. Working class forces should have fought the Trumpists themselves: the campaigns initiated by various small leftist groups in the US for an anti-fascist united front were correct.
The bourgeoisie is usually quite condescending to the right-wing and uncompromising reaction to the oppressed and its left-wing fighters. This was what Marx noticed when he recorded in his work “The Civil War in France” (1871), about the bloodthirsty persecution against the fighters of the Paris Commune accused of arsonists. But, as Marx points out, the same bourgeoisie and its public opinion did not call British troops “incendiary” when “for fun, British troops set fire to the Capitol in Washington” in 1814, in the second war of independence, during the so -called Battle of Washington. We should also condemn and expose the fact that sections of the state and the cops allowed the Capitol to be attacked and the forces engaged in an outright armed attack on the parliamentary centre of the United States took only token casualties. These people should have been subject to live fire and a shoot-to-kill response. They ought to have been massacred. If the insurgents were black, leftist, or anti-racist forces attacking the legislature, they WOULD have been massacred. There are legitimate grounds in terms of working-class interest for condemning the US state for NOT massacring these white fascists.
Trump’s action bore a resemblance to the Beer Hall Putsch launched by Hitler and Ludendorff in Munich in 1923. It was also possibly the most serious attack on a bourgeois parliament in an advanced capitalist country since the attack on the French Chamber of Deputies by Royalist and Fascist forces in February 1934. It would have been in the interest of the working class for these forces to have been massacred, and the leaders executed. This is a crucial point that the left should be making in terms of its propaganda: these types are capable of genocide and it would have likely saved the lives of millions if Hitler, for instance, had been executed after Munich. Making such a point about Trump will no doubt cause apoplexy among his supporters and apologists, and upset liberals, but the point is obvious. This is not about supporting the racist US death penalty, but a matter of civil war against its most ardent, far right advocates.
The question of liberation of the black population from the race-caste system is strategic in the US. It plays a determining role in every major political and social conflict and is the contradiction that is gnawing away at the stability of US capitalism. It is the black and immigrant proletariat, currently the social base of the Democrats mainly, who will be the layer in which political class consciousness comes to be embodied. We do have to take sides with this social base of the Democratic Party, without politically supporting the Democrats, precisely in order to split this potentially class-conscious force from the Democrats and build a mass party of Communism in the United States.
1. For those who have not yet recovered from the year 2020, 2021 started on January 6 with an unprecedented event, indicating how much can be a convulsive year. We recall that, from a geopolitical point of view, 2020 started with a US drone attack that murdered Iran’s top military chief in Iraq, Qasem Soleimani, an event of great regional repercussion that was followed by the global economic crisis and the pandemic.
2. In the November 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump won 74 million votes. This outpaced the votes of winning presidential candidates in all previous elections in the United States. But the Republican candidate was outnumbered by the victorious Democrat, Joe Biden, who won 81 million votes. On both sides, the absolute numbers involved are very large, a reflection of the deep political polarization fueled by Trump’s white nationalism and greater popular resistance to him after the immense march march against the assassination of George Floyd, which was channeled to the Democratic Party, in the absence of a political pole of the working class.
3. Trump’s coup attempt was motivated and agitated based on allegations of electoral fraud, along with megalomania and white supremacy policy. He encouraged the invasion of Congress, the parliamentary center of imperialist democracy, to respond to the pressures of its radicalized base and not to appear weak by peacefully surrendering the presidency after refusing to accept the electoral result.
4. The proletarian vote of the so-called “Rust Belt” was essential for Trump’s victory in 2016. Frustration on the part of this electorate promoted Biden’s victory in these states in 2020. The racial issue is also key to explaining why Trump lost the 2020 election, after the country’s largest mass demonstrations in protest against racist police violence. In 2016, the Republican victory was achieved by mobilizing a fraction of workers impoverished and demoralized by the deindustrialization of the United States, as part of the financialization of the West and industrialization of the East in recent decades. The transfer of entire industrial parks to China by the Republican and Democratic governments fueled the recent reaction of workers, mainly whites, against ‘globalism’,
5. Part of the Trump platform in 2016 relied on national isolationism and economic protectionism, on the tiredness of the wars unleashed by the neocons that were carried out by Democratic and Republican governments for decades. Within this programmatic platform was the replacement of military wars with trade wars, with China or the European Union, elements that in themselves bring the threat of future imperialist wars. But US imperialist state policy has often contradicted Trump’s dislike of armed interventionism. Despite his words, the White House promoted coup attempts in Venezuela, the assassination of Suleimani in 2020 and spurred Israel’s massive wave of air strikes against Syria and the Iranian military in January 2021. This was personally ordered by Trump and was even more blatant than Obama’s drone attacks on al Qaeda and ISIS militants. It was driven by Trump’s hatred for the defeats that Iran inflicted on the U.S. and its allies in Syria and Iraq. While he still had his Twitter account, he threatened Iran and North Korea with destruction by nuclear attack. His policy towards Israel is an open endorsement of the Zionist genocide, without any attempt to smooth things over with ‘peace processes’.
6. The Trumpist extreme right movement is a reactionary response to neoliberalism as opposed to the evolution of working class consciousness. The MAGA (‘Make America Great Again’) movement, even when defended by proletarians, is not a class-conscious workers’ movement. They still need to learn some basic political lessons and lose their imperial and racial arrogance. They are the same class layer that voted for Brexit in Britain. They are an envious lumpen layer lamenting that the decline of US / UK imperialism has robbed them of an aristocratic status of privileged work. Hence the appeal of ‘Make America Great Again’ and Brexit.
7. This movement has considerable similarities in many respects to European fascism and Nazism in its objectives, although fortunately it has not yet had the cohesion and decisive frameworks that these movements possessed. This is because it was not hardened in the battle against a powerful labor movement. On the contrary, in the United States, as in Europe, over the past 40 years, powerful unions have been destroyed by the internal collaboration of pro-capitalist labor bureaucracies that capitulated to the attacks of neoliberalism.
8. This led to social discontent, instead of being directed against the capitalist system, it has been channeled to nationalism and to the politics of identity with oppressors, such as white Americans, is a discontent that mimics the struggle of the oppressed and which became widespread as a desperate response to neoliberal attacks due to the failure of the workers’ movement to fight them.
9. But the oppressor’s identity politics is qualitatively worse and more dangerous than the oppressive groups’ identity politics, just as in general the nationalism of the oppressor is qualitatively different and more dangerous than the nationalism of the oppressed and, under current conditions, movements how Trump’s resembles fascism and contains many self-proclaimed fascists and Nazis within it. That is why Zionism is so dangerous and played such an important role in the Trump movement and its administration that it broke with the servile but timid attitude of previous US administrations towards Zionism and openly supported Zionist aspirations to simply destroy the Palestinian people.
10. Zionism is an excellent example of the oppressors’ identity policy, exploiting the history of Jewish oppression to justify today’s racist crimes. It acts as a kind of connector box for the junction of an old fascist-type nationalism with more modern types of identity politics. The fact that some of Trump’s prominent white supremacist supporters declare themselves to be ‘white Zionists’ is highly significant. It can also happily coexist with fascists and neo-Nazis who still espouse anti-Semitic hatred – pro-Zionist Trump tweeted support for the far-right group “ Proud Boys ”, some of whom sported the acronym ‘6MWE’ (“6 million [Jews] were not enough ”) in Trumpist demonstrations against Biden’s electoral victory in December.
11. From the point of view of US blacks, despite the fact that the Trump movement was not formed in conflict with a strong militant workers’ movement, the overthrow of the constitutional government in the US by the Trump movement is a potentially deadly threat, against which all left-wing and class-conscious militants must resist with all the military force they can muster. The fascist intent was clearly there, even if the execution was weak, precisely because the Trump movement was not enriched in the struggle like Hitler’s.
12. For all intents and purposes, the events of January 6 must be considered as a failed insurrection by something that resembles a contained fascist movement. It is not likely to remain contained. Congressional Democrats’ push to impeach Trump for inciting insurrection aims to prevent his running for president again in 2024 by permanently banning him from running for office. Trump’s control over the Republican Party itself has been compromised, as some key figures are supporting impeachment and when the question is posed, those who don’t can find themselves in an untenable position, defending a man who orchestrated a summit attack. of the US political system. The reprisals against Trump can make him a martyr to his movement, strengthen him,
13. A major internal disruption in Republicans now seems highly likely, as the radicalized elements and lumpens at Trump’s base will not go away. Sarah Palin is calling for a rupture of the Republicans’ right and that can happen. It can conceivably break the bipartisan system in the United States, which can also bring benefits to the left, although this situation also poses the danger of the emergence of a fascist mass party or movement. It could also lead to the fragmentation and dispersal of the Trump movement under pressure. The consequences are not yet clear.
14. The white supremacist fascism bible in the USA is the 1970s novel The Turner Diaries, which provides for an armed attack on the Capitol, the terrorist bombing of government buildings, the hanging of resisting politicians and the construction of a white dictatorship in the USA and a worldwide genocide against blacks. Many of the themes and activities of the supremacists who attacked the Capitol have consciously evoked and imitated this. Previous acts of white supremacist terrorism, such as the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Municipal Building, which killed 168 people, by Timothy McVeigh, were inspired by The Turner Diaries.
15. The left in America needs to be rearmed politically and physically. Politically, he needs to break with the Democratic Party. Giving political support to the completely bourgeois Democrats, when they were responsible for many of the most egregious neoliberal attacks in the past 30 years and have been in power for more than half of those years. For decades, the communist left also renounced all work within the American proletariat movement, in order to privilege purely identity-based political actions, struggles against special / secondary oppressions, abandoning all class struggle against the exploitation of labor, which is very good for capital. This renunciation of the communist left to proletarian militancy in the USA, which has been in existence since the times of Stalin and Earl Browder, free of charge to the hard core of the US proletariat for the Democratic and Republican right. This policy is an invitation for the policy to be radicalized to the right, not the left, as Trumpism shows.
16. The USA claims to be the guardians of bourgeois democracy on the planet and this would politically justify Yankee expansionism. However, the current imperial “democracy”, the indirect election, through the electoral college as occurs in several dictatorships (including the Brazilian one from 1964-1985), confused and invariably defrauded (as we have seen several times, as in the Bush election and reelection) due to the economic power of big capital, it has nothing to do with winning one vote for each man, obtained by the French bourgeois revolution. Revolutionaries must not be able to unmask imperial democracy and the imperialist democratic party. No political support for Democrats, which does not mean, however, neutrality in relation to the January 6 putsch. The working class forces should have fought the Trumpists themselves:
17. The bourgeoisie is generally quite condescending to the reaction of the right and uncompromising to the oppressed and their left-wing fighters. This was what Marx realized when he recorded in his work “The Civil War in France” (1871), about the bloodthirsty persecution against the combatants of the Paris Commune accused of arsonists. But, as Marx points out, the same bourgeoisie and its public opinion did not call British troops “incendiary” when “for fun, British troops set fire to the Capitol in Washington” in 1814, in the Second War of Independence, during the so-called Battle of Washington. We must also condemn and expose the fact that sectors of the state and the police allowed the Capitol to be attacked and that the forces that participated in the direct armed attack on the United States parliamentary center suffered only symbolic damage. This fascist mob should have been subjected to a real fire response from shooting to killing, it should have been slaughtered. If the insurgents were black, leftists or anti-racist forces attacking the legislature, they would have been slaughtered.
18. Trump’s action was similar to Putsch at the Beer Hall launched by Hitler and Ludendorff in Munich on November 9, 1923. It was also possibly the most serious attack on a bourgeois parliament in an advanced capitalist country since the attack on the French Chamber of Deputies by monarchists and fascist armed forces in February 1934. It would be in the interest of the working class that MAGA be slaughtered and its white supremacist leaders, direct heirs to the KKK, executed by the working and black class. This is a crucial point that the left should make in terms of its propaganda: these types are capable of genocide and would probably have saved the lives of millions if Hitler, for example, had been executed after Munich. Making such a statement about Trump will undoubtedly cause apoplexy among his supporters and apologists, and irritate liberals, but the question is obvious.
“If Trump tries to maintain power against his electoral defeat, the left and the workers’ movement must oppose street mobilizations equal to or greater than the current ones to defeat the coup and fight for their own exit in the midst of civil war, for a workers’ government. Workers must take part in the front ranks of any struggle to defeat such a Trumpian coup, up to and including the use of large-scale armed actions and civil war, although a large-scale civil war seems unlikely. In immediate terms, this would mean the tactical defeat of a reactionary and anti-democratic coup by a bourgeois figure whose views and actions are fascist and represent a serious threat to our class. The participation of the left and organized workers in such a battle,
20. The issue of liberating the black population from the racial caste system is a strategic one in the United States. It plays a determining role in all major political and social conflicts and it is the contradiction that is eating away at the stability of US capitalism. It is the black and immigrant proletariat, currently the social base mainly of the Democrats, that will be the layer in which the political class conscience will come to be incorporated. We have to take advantage of this social base of the Democratic Party, without politically supporting the Democrats, precisely to separate this potentially class-conscious force from the Democrats and build a mass communist party in the United States.
21. Racist politics is not exclusive to Trumpism. A review by Univisión Noticias of the numbers of deportations recorded over the past 30 years showed that Obama was the mandate that most people expelled from the country in recent decades, more than Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton or Bush Filho. According to data published by the Department of National Security (DHS), between the fiscal years of 2009 and 2015, the number of deportees was 2,571,860. Neither is neo-Nazism an exclusive feature of the Trump movement. In the Democratic governments that arose since January 2009 – of which Biden was an active vice president, the cycle of coups d’état in Latin America resumed, starting with Honduras in 2009, followed by coups in Paraguay, Guatemala, Brazil. In addition to Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in this cycle of government and Democrats, there were warmongering campaigns by imperialism in Libya and Syria. In 2014, a bloody neo-Nazi coup was dealt in Ukraine, followed by the massacre of dozens of trade unionists in Odessa in the service of imperialism and directly linked to the enrichment of the Biden family.
22. Because of the danger that the Trumpist coup poses to the workers and because all imperialist fractions are responsible for the crimes of imperialism itself, we call on the workers of the United States to defeat the Trumpist coup without putting expectations on the imperialist institutions, the Democratic Party or in any of the authentic imperialist factions, tormentors of the international proletariat and the oppressed peoples of the world. So the Vermont AFL-CIO comrades are correct in approving since November 22, 2020 the call for a general strike against any Trump coup threat and they are also correct in saying:
“In our times of social collapse, a Labor Party founded and controlled by the workers themselves is more necessary than ever. The two bosses ‘parties are conspiring to take everything we have. Move on to an independent workers’ party to confront them! “
“The 2020 elections bury once and for all the mistaken notion that the 2016 elections were a historic accident, an American freak. Donald Trump won more than 70 million votes, the second largest vote in American history (behind only Joe Biden, who was elected). Nationally, he has more than 47% turnout in his votes and appears to have won 24 states, including his favorite Florida and Texas.”
First, it should be noted that Trump got more votes now than four years ago. But the BBC explains Trump’s defeat by claiming that “people are tired of his aggressive style,” that is, from the political superstructure and superficially this result without being able to explain its concrete causes.
The election was the most polarized and had the highest participation of any in in U.S. history. 75 million votes for the Democratic nominee, 70 million for the Republican. Although the Democratic victory was inflated by the media, and the difference in delegates in the electoral college was more than 76 votes, in the number of voters the election was hotly contested. 3% was the amount of percentage votes difference. Pro-Biden polls were an instrument of the Democratic election campaign, supported by most of the financial capital and more than 90% of the world’s media monopolies.
Trump got more votes than four years ago, but lost the election because he lost in states with higher proletarian concentration, where he had won in 2016. Trump failed to repatriate industrial production to the country, as he had promised. During the current economic crisis, accentuated by the pandemic, Trump was no longer able to maintain full employment (supported by precarious jobs), which he had managed until 2019. This reflects the political turnaround in the Midwest and the Rust Belt in Biden’s favor. The Democrats recaptured most of the Rust Belt.
Historically loyal to the Democratic Party, or at least since the 1930s, the proletarian electorate of those states voted for Trump in 2016 in reaction to the deindustrialization policy promoted in recent decades by Democrats. Four years ago, the proletariat believed in the promises of the then-outsider tycoon to bring factories and jobs back to that region. The outsider found room to project himself onto the political scene after, in the eyes of the American proletariat, the Democratic and Republican establishment, associated with Wall Street’s financial capital and Silicon Valley’s “new economy,” promoted globalization and financialization.
Until the mid-1970s, 62% of the working class in the U.S. was made up of the industrial proletariat. This huge mass of factory workers was mainly concentrated in the regions of the Great Lakes and Appalachian Mountains. The states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, were considered the industrial heart of the USA and so were called the Manufacturing Belt of the country. The imperialist bourgeoisie that had reshaped itself into an immense productive force, which drove the creation of Fordism, had also produced its own gravediggers in the Manufacturing Belt. For political and economic reasons this region was dismantled. Monopolies feared the dangerous heavy battalions of the American working class, which exerted strong pressure for wage increases. Monopolies, mainly automobiles such as GM and Ford, wanted to reduce production costs and increase profits. Imperialist capital chose to strangle the proletariat economically and socially, replacing the internal labor force with cheaper foreign labor, promoting two movements: the emigration of industrial production to the East, and the immigration of Latin workers and those from other regions, made legally vulnerable by their precarious condition as poor foreigners and forced to receive less than those who were there already, to work in non-manufacturing services. The rentier, parasitic imperialist bourgeoisie chose to deactivate its own productive region and when it went into decay the industrial belt of the country was renamed Rust Belt. This tragedy is portrayed in the film Roger and I, the documentary that launched the career of Democratic filmmaker Michael Moore. In Roger and I, the filmmaker tries to find Roger Smith, president of General Motors, the largest automaker on the planet, to explain the mass layoffs and closure of eleven factories in Flint, Michigan. GM’s decision contributed to the collapse of the city in the late 1980s.
“Trump’s base in the rust belt of the former working class, was won over by his right-wing populist program of banning Muslims from the U.S., attacking ‘foreigners’ and oppressed groups that “stole jobs,” by protectionism against China to which huge industrial parks were transferred, supposedly keeping the U.S. out of aggressive wars in the Middle East particularly, in part because of powerless disillusionment with 40 years of neoliberal attacks, givebacks to employers, and the prolonged decline in living standards since the days of Ronald Reagan.” (Communist Workers’ Front, the U.S. Election: The Threat of dictatorship, 2020)
Where did Biden’s 10 million more direct votes than Hillary’s vote, come from? As soon as the working class saw that Trump’s promises of reindustrialization were not realized, as early as 2018, they returned to vote for Democrats in so-called mid-term Congressional elections and for Governors, when all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 Senate seats are decided. In Michigan, the state that has the largest number of industrial workers, and in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Democrats won the race for the Senate and state governments and expanded their seats in the House, defeating Trump-backed Republicans at all levels in 2016 and 2020, re-voting for Democrats, ensuring Trump’s defeat.
Trump had gained popularity among a working class tired of being cannon-fodder in the bosses’ wars when he reduced the intensity of wars opened by his predecessors (Democrats and Republicans) in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Libya. But the little he gained by reducing casualties and exhaustion in the external wars of imperialism, Trump lost with internal casualties, with his criminal denialism of the pandemic, which made the richest country in the world the one with most infections and deaths in the world, and exposed his real nature by supporting barbaric murders of poor black workers by police forces. This, given the aridity of proletarian organizations, allowed a mass resurrection of Democrats, regaining their traditional electoral spaces and aborting Trump’s second term.
And, answering the question we asked at first, where did Biden’s 10 million more votes than Hillary come from? This was the reverse of Trump’s social polarization, a reaction to white supremacism, xenophobia, Latinophobia, Islamophobia, machismo. Anti-Trumpism, associated with the disillusionment of a part of the ‘native’ proletariat, mobilized 10 million more votes in these elections. All this was capitalised on by an imperialist party, deceiving with all kinds of illusions which were again deposited in it.
From the desperation to fight for socialism even through rascals like Bernie Sanders, to the biggest anti-racist demonstrations in history
During Trump’s white supremacist and anti-communist tenure, the working class and new generations of U.S. social fighters destroyed the myth that america’s working class would be chronically reactionary. In fact, by its deep contradictions, it has taken a major turn towards socialism in recent years, although it was the fraction of the world’s working class that is most ideologically bombarded by its bourgeoisie, which suffers the most anti-communist brainwashing, which is most persecuted in offensives such as McCarthyism, the hunt for the Black Panthers, and by governments like Reagan and Trump.
In 2008, Barack Obama won in all states of the Rust Belt and the Midwest. In 2010, Democrats suffered heavy defeats there, losing governor’s races in all three states and also in Ohio. In 2012, Obama recovered and won again in 2012 in those states. As it turns out, the proletariat experiments at all times, not hesitating to vote against those who betrayed it in the last term.
In the 2018 elections, the growing voter base formed primarily by younger, non-white people and women spoke strongly across the country. The Democrats managed to elect the first two Muslim women to Congress, Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib in Michigan. They elected the youngest member of the House, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley, the first African-American elected to Congress in Massachusetts.
Kamala Harris is part of a process stemming from a record number of women who increased their participation in Congress. However, Biden’s deputy, who is at serious risk of becoming president, the first black woman to become vice president, has built “her career within the imperialist policy staff for the Senate, and now the presidential ticket, through the office of California’s attorney, when she was responsible for a racist policy of mass incarceration of the poor and black population, condemning her to hellish U.S. arrests for petty crimes, so-called crimes without violence.” ((IDEM))
During Trump’s anti-communist administration was when the biggest wave of sympathy for socialism in the U.S. emerged. This wave adopted as father-figure a senator who presented himself as a socialist and supporter of “Medicare for all” in the U.S., but who was nothing more than a defender of imperialist military invasions against oppressed peoples. As soon as the wave grew enough to threaten control of the oligarchies over the party’s candidacies, Sanders allied himself with the leadership to sabotage his own candidacy and support Biden.
In the election was reflected the largest street struggles in the country’s history against racism. Trump represented the racist vote, which retreated when faced with these struggles. And that reflects the direct votes of the population. Trump also failed to meet the expectations of the ruling classes, Trump failed to regain the ground lost to China in control of world trade, despite the trade war he fiercely waged. He did not do so because it did not interest the parasitic imperialist bourgeoisie who fear the proletariat if there were a reindustrialization of the United States. This frustration is reflected in its way in the different states of the USA. Legally, the U.S. is the union of 50 sub imperialist states, some larger than countries like Italy and Spain in capital concentration. The frustration with Trump in the different states it was reflected in the setback he suffered in the number of votes in the Electoral College, from 304 in 2016 to 214 in 2020. Given this trajectory whose early exhaustion widened after Sanders’ defeat in the primaries, the demand for a Party of workers independent of imperialism and employers becomes the main issue of the day for the Revolutionary Socialists of the United States. The illusions in any Democratic Party politician are substantially diminished, so now we clearly need a mass workers’ party, a Party supported by trade unions and popular organisations, a party fighting against racism, xenophobia, racism and homophobia. The potential is clearly there. We cannot let the right capitalize again on the discontent of the proletariat in the heart of the imperialist monster. It is necessary to give a revolutionary solution, with continuity, to the masses, otherwise their pendular condition dissipates very powerful struggles such as those of 2020. The Sanders phenomenon highlighted the potential of America’s working class. But they desperately need their own leadership and political party. And to this object the entire socialist left in the United States must be oriented. They all have to demand from all union leaders that they start forming an independent Proletarian Party in the US now. With no class alternatives to trust, the proletarian electorate zigzags to one of the wings of imperialism. For a workers’ party independent of its imperialist bosses, supported by trade unions, popular and multiethnic working-class organisations!
The confrontation over Manchester between the Johnson Tory government and the Labour Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, has brought to the fore that the Tories are using the Covid pandemic and the results of their own deliberate negligence and duplicity, to further their class war against the working class, attacks on living standards, and ambitions to impoverish people and create a fearful, passive population who are just raw material for exploitation. Burnham’s refusal to endorse the Tories’ Tier 3 ‘very high’ partial lockdown measures and sign up for the impoverishment of the Manchester working class, while it has not defeated the Tories, has galvanised the hatred of much of the working class population in this country against Johnson’s government.
The real point of the Tory intransigence in Manchester was not so much the quarantine measures themselves, but cuts to furlough pay. It is of a piece with the Tories’ voting to deprive schoolkids of meal vouchers during the school holidays, which was a concession extracted in the early part of the pandemic because of popular outrage over the further impoverishment of poor children. This has created a wave of outrage and class sentiment that even seeped into parliament when Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner lost her temper with some particularly vile Tory specimen and called him “scum”.
Of course, she apologised for briefly speaking a fragment of that truth parliamentary procedures are expressly designed to suppress; that the interests of working class people require war to the death against the bourgeois scum whose political representatives sit in parliament. Rayner is less directly such a representative herself; but being part of Labour as a bourgeois workers party her kind come under potent pressure from below at times like this.
Andy Burnham, despite his refusal to endorse the government’s latest pretend strategy to supposedly combat Covid-19 with its illogical, half-baked and arbitrary three tier system of graduated restrictions, has no coherent demands to counterpose to the government. He was bid down from £90 million initial demands for funding a local furlough as good as the 80% original from the spring, to a mere £65 million but refused to allow himself to be bid down to the £60 million the Tories were prepared to agree to, and their much reduced furlough. So, no deal was reached by the 20 October deadline.
It has been suggested that Burnham, now dubbed “King of the North”, may be positioning himself as a future Labour Party leader, in the manner of Boris Johnson, hoping to jump from Mayor of a major city to potential PM, as Keir Starmer has been so craven and ineffectual that even in this enormous crisis the Tory government still manages to head most opinion polls. Burnham, to his credit, refused to join the 2016 ‘Chicken Coup’ against Jeremy Corbyn, which also gives him a semblance of clean hands. However, his own craven neoliberal support for austerity, reiterated when he stood for the Labour leadership in 2015, and complicity in NHS privatisation under Blair and Brown, make him not supportable by socialists.
It is notable that some of the concessions Johnson made in the early stages of the pandemic to working class people, through the furlough scheme and some increases in benefits, were a product of the fact that Jeremy Corbyn was still leader of the Labour Party until April and was in a position to make sharp criticisms of the Tory regime and act as a focus for working class discontent. Since Starmer became leader this has collapsed; he has grovelled in the most disgusting manner before the government, sacking ‘left’ shadow Education Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey because she backed the Teachers Unions’ resistance to premature reopening of schools during the pandemic, with a smear about ‘anti-Semitism’. His sackings of other mildly leftist shadow ministers for voting against government measures like legalising murder and rape by ‘Spy Cops’, show what this was really about. Starmer is Johnson’s fag, Eton style.
One result of this is that the current tiered measures are much more geared to a bailout of big business than supporting workers than even the inadequate measures for the first wave. Starmer says virtually nothing about that, even though he has belatedly, along with SAGE, started calling for a two-to-three-week firebreak lockdown to arrest the current virus spread. And Burnham does not address this either.
As a former Blairite turned ‘soft left’ Burnham is not remotely capable of leading the kind of fightback the working class needs against this hard-right Brexiteer Tory government, though his observations about what is driving the regional lockdown policy of the government have often been quite sharp:
“Today we communicated our clear and unanimous view to the Government. It is wrong to place some of the poorest parts of England in a punishing lockdown without proper support for the people and businesses affected.
“To do so will result in certain hardship, job losses, business failure. It will cause harm in a different way to people’s mental health and is not certain to control the virus. People are fed up of being treated in this way, the North is fed up of being pushed around. We aren’t going to be pushed around any more.
“”The Government is not giving city regions like ours and the Liverpool City Region the necessary financial backing for full lockdowns of that kind. That is why we have unanimously opposed the Government’s plans for Tier 3. They are flawed and unfair.
“They are asking us to gamble our residents’ jobs, homes and businesses and a large chunk of our economy on a strategy that their own experts tell them might not work. We would never sign up for that.
“While this is not necessarily Greater Manchester’s view, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer also told us last night that the only certain thing to work is a national lockdown. But the Government told us this morning it is unwilling to do that because of the damage it will do to the national economy. And yet that is what they want to impose on the North West.”
There is huge pressure building up on the Tory government about the likely death toll of many more tens or even hundreds of thousands from the escalating pandemic. Around 60,000 excess deaths have already resulted from the first wave, that is, on top of the 10,000 or so that generally die from ordinary flu in a ‘normal’ British winter. The campaign about free school meals is only a part of it, but celebrities such as football star Marcus Rashford, and the mass outrage behind them, have got the Tories running scared. They have good reason to be even more scared of the death toll from the pandemic that they have allowed to get out of control again.
Fighting the Working Class, Not the Virus
A comment in a recent Facebook discussion, by Martin Deane, a long-time election candidate for the Green Party, sums up where the UK under Johnson stands in the international scheme of things regarding Covid-19:
“The UK is one of 17 countries with over 10k Covid deaths. 195 are under 10k. Look it up on Worldometer. Most of the world has washed its hands of the virus! Of them 155 countries have under 1k deaths. The UK really is an outlier with its 65k spike, 50k Of which were Covid deaths. And now facing tens of thousands more…”
This is the result of a government stratagem of not fighting against the virus but fighting against the popular will and resolve to fight to eliminate the virus. The whole litany of behaviour of Johnson’s Tory regime since the pandemic emerged has been a more mendacious, camouflaged variant of Trumpism, extreme, demented neoliberal, free-market fundamentalism. This was prefigured by his bizarre speech in Greenwich in on February 2:
“…in that context, we were starting to hear some bizarre, autarchic rhetoric, when barriers are going up, and when there is a risk that new diseases like Coronavirus will trigger a panic and a desire for market segregation, that go beyond what is medically rational, to the point of doing real and unnecessary economic damage, then at that moment, humanity needs some government somewhere, that is willing at least to make the case, powerfully, for freedom of exchange.
Some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles, and leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the supercharged champion of the right of populations, of the Earth, to buy and sell freely among each other. Here in Greenwich in the first week of February 2020, I can tell you with all humility, that the UK is ready for that role.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, the likely toll was laid out for the government through SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) by scientists and epidemiologists from Imperial College, London:
“Unmitigated, the death number was 510,000… Mitigated we were told it was going to be 250,000. Once you see a figure of take no further action and a quarter of a million people die, the question you ask is, ‘What action?’”
Sunday Times, 22 March
These figures have been ridiculed by the many ‘Covid-deniers’ in part because one of the key scientists who warned of this scenario was Neil Ferguson, who later was caught out by the tabloid press as having been visited by a woman he did not live with as part of a personal relationship, in breach of the social distancing and lockdown rules at that time.
His projections were dismissed as rubbish, on grounds that he was a ‘hypocrite’ for not adhering completely to measures that he advocated, not only by Covid-deniers but also by those close to the Johnson government that embarked on a rapid and reckless winding down of precautionary measures beginning in June, ending up in early September with their public demand for most people to ‘go back to work’, to ‘save’ the city centres from economic regression.
But this is probably the sharpest expression ever of the logical fallacy of the ad hominem denunciation. Because his personal hypocrisy and his breach of the rules mean nothing in relation to whether his projections were correct, so not. They may well turn out to be correct. In this regard, Ferguson is now warning that it will be necessary to close at least secondary schools to control the currently resurgent virus. This is being ignored – for now, as was the call by Chris Whitty and SAGE for a 2-3 week ‘circuit-breaker’ national lockdown to slow the current ‘wave’ in mid-September, rejected by the Tories because it would damage the economy. ‘Herd immunity’ is still very much alive and kicking.
Johnson raised the possibility of a policy of allowing the SARS-2 Coronavirus to “move through the population” unrestricted, so the population would have to “take it on the chin” and thus develop “herd immunity” in a TV interview on 5th March. Having laid down this strategy as a possibility, he rowed back from openly endorsing it, saying it was necessary to “balance” this with other considerations.
In fact “herd immunity” was the government’s strategy to deal with the pandemic. Initially it was virtually open. As Dr David Halpern, a leading figure in the ‘Nudge Unit’ (‘Behavioural Insight Team’), a semi-privatised government body that looks for ways to manipulate the population to comply with Tory austerity, laid out in a BBC Interview:
“… and there’s going to be a point, assuming the epidemic flows and grows as we think it probably will do, where you’ll want to cocoon, you’ll want to protect those at-risk groups so that they basically don’t catch the disease, and by the time that they come out of their cocooning, herd immunity’s been achieved in the rest of the population.”
Johnson’s ideological guru Dominic Cummings attended meetings of SAGE right from the early days of the pandemic: he is not a scientist or an epidemiologist. He evidently had a major influence on Sir Patrick Vallance, one of the government’s two main scientific advisers to this day (the other being Chris Whitty). Unlike policy wonks like David Halpern, Cummings was well aware it would not be possible to cocoon elderly people from an epidemic that infected the bulk of the population, and laid out what the real attitude of central figures in the government is to the Covid pandemic:
“Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s senior aide, became convinced that Britain would be better able to resist a lethal second wave of the disease next winter if Whitty’s prediction that 60% to 80% of the population became infected was right, and the UK developed ‘herd immunity’
At a private engagement at the end of February, Cummings outlined the government’s strategy. Those present said it was ‘herd immunity, protect the economy and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.”
Sunday Times, op-cit
This fits in very well with the incredible care homes scandal, with Covid patients discharged untested into care homes with the resulting carnage of many thousands, and the masks scandal, where billions were spent by privateers like Deloitte on substandard PPE, much of which went into the pockets of scammers.
And of course, Cummings’ own blatant undermining of the lockdown, driving from London to Durham, and to a local tourist spot, then back again, while he and his wife were infected in defiance of lockdown rules, getting away with it through a tissue of feeble lies, was designed to undermine popular support for public health measures by encouraging the view that they were all a racket to protect the privileged. This facet certainly was effective! In Britain, the first ‘wave’ was never defeated, because the measures taken to combat it were never remotely adequate. This was deliberate.
The battle to starve the virus of the chance to spread, driven by working class people from below from the beginning of the pandemic, was undertaken by the Johnson government only with great reluctance in late March, and by May they were already engaged in machinations to begin lifting it, even though there were still over hundreds of Covid daily deaths.
The population refused to play ball: the attempt to reopen schools at the beginning of June was a flop, as more than half stayed away. But from then the quarantine measures were rapidly and prematurely lifted and undermined. And schools were re-opened on a compulsory basis in September even though teenagers at least are proven to spread the disease just as easily as adults.
The ‘NHS Test and Trace’ system that was put in place in June (after testing was scandalously abandoned by the Tories in March) is a privatised scam. It is nothing to do with the NHS: £12 billion was handed to Serco for not much in particular, to invest in obsolete spreadsheets for recording test results, so thousands of results were ‘mislaid’. Tests are slow and often unavailable: people are often told to travel as far as Cummings did just to get a test! And barely 60% of contacts of infected peopled are traced when to have an effective system it needs to be between 80 and 90%. Around £8 billion of the £12 billion given to Serco is unaccounted for, most likely having been set aside for dividends and/or salted away in tax havens.
Punctuated Herd Immunity
One serious attempt to deal with the effects of the government’s duplicity and the craven nature of the response to it has come from the Workers Party GB, led by George Galloway and Joti Brar. Their recent statement, published on the 17th October, is titled “Lockdowns are neither effective nor fair, but a further proof of government failure to manage the health emergency effectively”. This has given some people the impression that the WPGB is siding with the anti-lockdown, Covid-denying idiots and dupes of the far right, but this is not true, as you can see when you read the statement. It says of the government’s Three Tier policy:
“This policy is neither fish nor fowl; it is neither effective nor fair, and, by compounding increasing levels of hardship and poverty, it is taking a heavy toll on the British working class.
We have no confidence in the leadership of this government, and no confidence in the official Labour party opposition, to protect our interests and lead us through the crisis.”
It is clear that their view of how the pandemic could be fought was broadly correct:
“The Workers Party’s call for widespread testing, tracing and social isolation and care of covid patients – the public health measures that proved successful in eradicating the virus in China and elsewhere – was ignored. Travellers from the most affected parts of the globe (principally Europe and the USA) continued to fly into British airports throughout the worst months of the crisis, despite the supposed ‘lockdown’.”
And they have even come up with a sharp and synthetic characterisation of what the government’s real strategy is:
“It is increasingly clear that these lockdown measures simply represent a kind of ‘punctuated’ herd immunity, and that the government has no intention of taking the measures necessary really to safeguard the wellbeing of those unemployed, elderly or impoverished workers from whom it makes little money, and therefore sees only as a burden.
“For effective protective measures – including the reversal of NHS privatisation, investment in public services, the creation of decent jobs and livelihoods for working people – undermine the very essence of the government’s goal, which is to safeguard the interest of the billionaire class at all costs, and at workers’ expense.”
Fight Covid! Human Need not Profits!
Unfortunately their demands for the crisis seem to somewhat passively accept that in losing confidence in Johnson’s mendacious government and its fake protective measures and lockdown, the whole idea of quarantine measures has “lost the confidence of a large section of British workers, who are tired of the fruitless hardships they have endured.”
Thus the mistaken emphasis of the headline, that “lockdowns” (apparently in general) “are neither effective nor fair” which despite the evident intention of the authors, does cause some confusion and can mislead honest militants into embracing the idiot Covid-deniers, despite the best of intentions.
The demands of the Workers Party in this situation are too modest. They demand
“… a free and comprehensive healthcare system. We want the NHS to be able to do what is expected of it, and for it not to be attacked at every opportunity by hostile governments.
“This is also why we are calling for a corona wealth tax – a 5% one-off tax on fortunes exceeding £10 million. Because the pandemic is just the tip of the inequality iceberg – for far too long now our nation’s problems have been socialised and the profits privatised.”
Even though these demands are correct as far as they go, what is missing is any immediate demands related to what is to be done about the pandemic itself. It appears that this is the result of despair and capitulation at the mood that they have noted in part of the working class, not necessarily the most advanced part, “who are tired of the fruitless hardships they have endured.“
This is not the most advanced layer of the working class; this is the layer that is most likely to be influenced by the right-wing populism that drove support for Brexit and Johnson in the first place, and maybe even by the Covid-denying right-wing idiots and the confused part of the left that is tailing them. The most advanced sections of the working class are very well aware that the discrediting of the government’s appalling duplicity and mendacity does not mean that Covid is any less dangerous. Without serious measures to suppress it, or without a vaccine to develop real herd immunity, many tens, even hundreds of thousands will die.
Whatever the mood in the working class, whatever the ‘concern’ about the economy, we must demand that all economic resources be devoted to protecting the health and lives of the population. We demand proper measures of social distancing/isolation to crush the virus and bring it down to manageable levels that can be handled by a proper testing and tracing system, be implemented and be paid for in its entirety by the capitalists. We demand full pay during this period for all workers, whether regular, casualised or self-employed, immigrant or non-immigrant, to ensure no one falls victim to destitution or starvation. We demand an end to all evictions and the housing of the homeless, not as a temporary, reversible stopgap, but securely and permanently. We demand a rise in benefits for all claimants to at least the level of a living wage, to be decided on by workers and claimants themselves, through them becoming organised in unions and similar bodies that may come into being in the struggle.
Above all, we demand that production and the economy be remodelled and re-organised to make its overarching purpose the preservation of life and considerations of human need, not private profit. The objective situation of the pandemic demands this, and in a sense, though fear of the disease in the short term makes it difficult to organise mass actions to force it, it can also act as a learning experience for the mass of the population as to the need for socialism, whose essence is production for human need instead of profit. The programme of any putative working-class party should be formulated as to make that more and more conscious among the most advanced layers of the working class.
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