Picket Irish Embassy , 17 Grosvenor Place, London SW1X
Saturday 15 August 2-3 pm
● No Extradition of Liam Campbell to Lithuania!
● Abolish the Diplock Courts in the North of Ireland!
● Abolish the Special Criminal Courts in the South!
● Free Brendan McConville and John Paul Wotton!
● Political Status for all Irish Republican POWs!
Liam Campbell was arrested in Dundalk on December 2, 2016 on a warrant issued by Lithuania and endorsed by the High Court in Dublin. Many Irish Republicans have been extradited from the Free State to the six counties in the recent past. When extradited they face the same inhuman torture, beatings and forced strip searches and anti-Irish bigotry from Loyalist screws endured by all Irish POWs there.
Liam Campbell is facing extradition to Lithuania pending an appeal against the 13th July order on 19th January 2021. If extradited and found guilty, he faces a sentence of 20 years. The IRPSG campaigned for Liam Campbell’s brother, Michael, in 2012 and 2013; we put a motion defending him to the 2013 Labour Representation Committee AGM.
In October 2013 Michael Campbell was acquitted of all charges in Lithuania because the court believed he was framed by MI5. His lawyer, Ingrida Botyriene, said:
“A person cannot be sentenced for a crime committed by state officials. He was acquitted because the court found that what he was accused of was a provocation. It was just an activity of the state security services. Michael Campbell was set up in a ‘sting’ operation by MI5, the Irish and Lithuanian intelligence agencies and jailed in Lithuania on 21 October 2011 for 12 years. The spooks had in fact initiated the arms deal on which he was convicted. He would never be involved in arms deals and would never go to Lithuania for such an affair if he had not been provoked by secret agents.”
The same judgement should apply to Liam now as the circumstances are exactly the same. Liam Campbell wrote to the IRPSG in 2011:
“I am held here in Maghaberry prison by the Brits. They want to extradite me to Lithuania, a country I was never in. So, I am here for two and a half now where I have no rights as an Irish man up in front of a Brit judge in my own country”.
This latest attempt to extradite Liam comes after a legal battle lasting nearly 12 years in the High Court in Dublin.
Abolish the Diplock Courts in the North and the Special Criminal Courts in the South
The Northern Ireland Emergency Provisions Act 1973 abolished the right to jury trial in many serious criminal cases, it authorized “preventive” incarceration without probable cause, abolished the right to silence, relaxed standards for admission of coerced confessions, and permitted reliance on the uncorroborated testimony of so-called “supergrasses”, anonymous witnesses who were allowed to testify from behind screens. This was the foundation of the infamous Diplock Courts, which sit today without a jury.
In 1993, the UN Human Rights Committee, a panel of experts established to monitor every country’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, said the Special Criminal Courts (SCC) established under the Offences Against the State Act of 1939 in the Republic of Ireland was not “justified”. In 2000, the committee repeated its concerns, and called for Ireland to “end the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court.” Amnesty International repeated its previous opposition to the courts in 1999 in its submission to the government initiated review of the Offences Against the State Acts, and the Special Criminal Court.
They urged that “the government make a proclamation to disestablish the Special Criminal Court, because the circumstances specified by international standards that might justify the operations of such a court are not apparent in Ireland. …Amnesty International considers that under international standards and the law of Ireland, the onus is upon the government to demonstrate that special courts are essential in current circumstances in the words of the law because “the ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice, and the preservation of public peace and order”.
The Irish Council on Civil Liberties (which was co-founded by former Ireland President Mary Robinson in 1976) has repeatedly called for the abolition of the Special Criminal Court, and opposed its expansion in 2009, from a relatively narrow focus on state security-related trials to organised crime.
And it repeated its stance in June 23 2020; “The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), ahead of the mooted renewal of the Offences Against the State Act next week and the Dáil debate tomorrow, renews our call for repeal of the Act and with it the abolition of the non-jury Special Criminal Court.” They went on, “There is no jury at the Special Criminal Court and it accepts secret evidence from gardaí. This is in violation of our right to a fair trial, our right to trial by jury and our right to equality before the law. ICCL has opposed both the Act and the Courts since their introduction to deal with a terrorist threat in 1972. We continue to strongly oppose these emergency measures which have now become the norm in dealing with organised crime.” In February 2016 Fine Gael voted with the Fianna Fáil-led government in passing the bill retaining the SCCs, but Labour joined Sinn Féin in voting against it.
But on June 25 2020 Aine McMahon reported in the Belfast Telegraph that: “Sinn Fein has not opposed the renewal of Irish legislation that empowers the Special Criminal Court for the first time in its history. The legislation has been used in trials of dissident republicans and gangland criminals in a three-judge criminal court that has no jury in order to avoid any potential intimidation of members. The party have long been opponents of the non-jury court – similar to the Diplock-style courts in Northern Ireland – and have previously voted against the legislation.” The lure of office turns our former revolutionaries even further to the right, endorsing state repression against former comrades by a ‘justice’ system condemned by civil rights groups nationally and internationally, including the United Nations. The main focus of the IRPSG will continue to be campaigning for Irish Republican POWs in the North and South of Ireland.
A series of seemingly mysterious explosions and ‘accidents’ have rocked Iran in the last few weeks, including attacks on power supplies in Tehran. As Russia Today reported:
“Friday morning’s explosions are the latest in a string of mysterious incidents at industrial facilities, research laboratories, ammunition depots and even the Natanz nuclear research facility. While there has been rampant speculation that these might have resulted from Israeli sabotage or cyberattacks, Tehran has not openly assigned blame, while Tel Aviv has issued carefully worded statements neither confirming nor denying involvement.”
The attack on the Natanz nuclear plant, in Isfahan Province, appears to have done significant damage to Iran’s nuclear programme. The Financial Times commented on its significance that:
“In recent days, speculation has flourished about what exactly happened at Natanz, an assembly plant for centrifuges used to enrich uranium, and other facilities around Iran.
“Satellite images of Natanz show a 10-metre crater and destroyed roofing material, according to the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington DC. The explosion delivered ‘a major setback to Iran’s abilities to deploy advanced centrifuges on a mass scale for years to come,’ the institute said.
“Iran’s atomic energy organisation has confirmed that the level of damage was ‘considerable’.”
The FT themselves then speculate about the likely authorship of the attacks:
“The explosion definitely seems like an attack by the US or Israel or both like a warning that ‘we are too close to you,’ said an analyst close to reformist circles. ‘The act was big and caused significant [ financial] damage, making Iran’s tensions with the US even more complicated than before.’
“A group called the ‘Cheetahs of the Homeland’ has claimed responsibility. The group’s statement, sent by the Telegram messaging app, said they were former Iranian intelligence and security agents who want to overthrow the Islamic republic. It said more attacks similar to the one at Natanz were planned.”
“A Middle Eastern intelligence official with knowledge of the incident told The New York Times that contrary to the Iranian government’s initial statement that it was an accident, a ‘powerful bomb’ caused Thursday’s fire.”
And Russia Today, again, has Israel not exactly straining to deny all involvement, undoubtedly as part of the psychological component of the Zionists’ ongoing war drive against Iran:
“’Not every incident that transpires in Iran necessarily has something to do with us,’ Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Sunday. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi went even further, saying that in seeking to block Iran from developing nuclear capability, ‘we take actions that are better left unsaid.’”
So it looks highly likely that this is a terrorist campaign waged by Israel, which has not so far managed, despite its frequent threats to attack Iran, to get the US support, green light and likely military assistance it needs to wage an all-out attack on Iran. A joint US/Israeli military attack on Iran, which Netanyahu has long touted for in Washington, would be considerably more dangerous than the Iraq War of 2003, since Iran is much more powerful nation, more than twice as populous as Iraq, with armed forces undefeated in any recent conflict, and it seems, at the very least, the backing of Russia and China against attempts by Israel’s quartermasters and bloc partners in the United States to extend UN sanctions. As the Eurasian Times reported (4 July):
“The US’s demand to extend the arms embargo against Iran, due to expire in four months, has been rejected by the members of the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) including China and Russia.
“China and Russia are the permanent members of the UNSC who rejected the motion. The other permanent members of the UNSC – the UK and France – also failed to support the extension of the embargo against Iran.
“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that lifting the ban on the trade of conventional weapons would turn Iran into a ‘rogue weapons dealer,’ supplying advanced weapons to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and fueling conflicts in Venezuela, Syria and Afghanistan.”
In this context, the seeming instigation of a terrorist campaign in Iran, probably by Mossad with the likely help of some element of US intelligence, seems a bit like desperation. Although Netanyahu appears to be trying to use the international distraction occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic as a cover to try to push through the annexation of most of the West Bank, getting US support for his longed-for joint attack on Iran seems to be proving rather difficult. Not only that, but Israel seems to be being plunged back into its own crisis with a second wave of Covid-19 building.
Any US intelligence involvement in this is likely to be particularly covert and factional; the CIA is probably not keen to get directly involved with what could be very risky indeed and potentially disastrous. Many remember Carter’s humiliating debacle in April 1980 when helicopters sent to rescue US prisoners held by student Islamic ‘radicals’ from the US Embassy in Tehran, instead collided with each other in the Iranian desert, collapsing the entire mission. That is an experience they have not been keen to repeat since. Indeed since then, the US has sponsored ‘home grown’ stooge movements like the Mujahedin-e-Khalq as its preferred method of seeking ‘regime change’ in Iran; there may well be an element of this with this ‘cheetahs’ movement, assuming it is not simply a Mossad pseudonym.
US covert activities carried our against Iran with Israel today are more likely to be on the model of the Iran-Contra affair in the late-1980s, when a separate, covert operation was run out of the White House, bypassing the normal channels of Congress and the CIA, who can then deny all knowledge.
In any case, as Marxists and anti-imperialists, we condemn this terror campaign against Iran by Zionist imperialism and likely its US ally. UK complicity is undoubtedly not far behind. We call for the defence of Iran, an oppressed semi-colonial nation, and the defeat of imperialism and all its proxies.
The undersigned organizations condemn the threatened annexation of wide swathes of West Bank territory which was due to begin on July 1st, and to be finally announced on July 4th, but has now been delayed seemingly because of contradictions within the Netanyahu/Gantz unstable, uneasy coalition in power in Israel, and also apparently with their external partners-in-crime in the United States government. The various genocidal nationalist factions in power in the Zionist state, and the Trump administration are all in favour of this annexation as part of the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’. But they are still wrangling about the details behind closed doors, trying to produce some formula for the annexation that will not blow up in their faces in a new round of struggles waged by the masses of oppressed Palestinians.
The annexation project has continuity with the ‘peace process’ put together at Oslo under Clinton and the Labour Zionists Rabin and Peres in the early 1990s. The division of the West Bank into areas A, B, and C with the latter fully under control of the Israelis, with only ‘area A’ under the control of the stooge ‘Palestinian Authority’ under Arafat and now Abbas, and ‘area B’ as a buffer between them, was itself a salami-slicing of the West Bank and a preparation for future annexation. So far from the ‘Peace Process’ of the liberal Zionists and their helpmates in the West, the Clintons etc, being an alternative to the annexations and advocates of ‘transfer’ on the Zionist right, in reality the plans dovetailed with each other and Oslo paved the way for annexation. As was seen clearly by some of the most far-sighted Palestinian thinkers like the late Edward W. Said, who condemned the collaboration of Arafat with the Oslo process as comparable to the collaboration of the Vichy regime with the Nazi occupation of France in WWII.
The comparison is quite valid. Political Zionism always was a genocidal project, which modelled itself on the colonial-settler projects spawned by British expansionism in the early capitalist era, where the settlers took the country off the indigenous population of the territories they colonised, and subjected them to enslavement and extermination. The Zionist apologists who claim that the persecution and discrimination against Jews in the late Medieval period and the beginnings of anti-Semitism in the modern era somehow excuse that, overlook this affinity with the other colonial movements that drove that. This was always a movement, right from the start, that aspired to oppress and eliminate the Arab inhabitants of the territory it coveted.
They overlook the specifically Jewish chauvinism that drove the Zionist movement from its beginnings in the later 19th Century, when it went about seeking sponsors among archaic great powers and modern imperialists alike, finally managing to get the support of the British Empire. The 1917 Balfour Declaration; the handing over of Palestine to a third-party colonial movement ultimately to expel its native population was among British imperialism’s most insidious crimes. Thus when we talk about the genocidal character of Zionism, we are talking about it in the same breath not only as National Socialism and the Hitler movement in Germany, of which it is like a mirror image, but also as the genocidal creation of the United States through the destruction of native Americans, of Australia through the destruction of black native Australians, and other such acts of barbarism.
In that regard, for us all of Israel is occupied territory; we, like the Palestinian people themselves, affirm that the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinians in exile elsewhere, and the so-called Israeli Arabs, are all Palestinians, they are the majority native population and they unconditionally have the right to self-determination over the whole territory of historical Palestine. The Jewish settler population have no choice but to accept this basic democratic principle and learn to coexist on the basis of complete equality. In democratic terms, this logic is inescapable.
In a way the creeping annexation of more Palestinian territory involved here recognises the objective unity of Palestine and creates a situation where the Jewish majority in cleansed Israel becomes more and more tenuous. With that, the genocidal rage of much of the settler population becomes more and more severe.
This could erupt in monstrous atrocities against the Arab population and a renewal of the Nakba, the mass expulsion of the Palestinian people. Or conversely, it could result in renewed mass struggle for equality by the unified Palestinian people, across the 1967 Green Line and the various lines drawn by the Israelis and their collaborators across the occupied territories. In all these cases, what is needed is active solidarity from the working class in the Western countries, and throughout the Middle East, in that mainly Arab region also who will have a special role to play in uniting with the Palestinian working class.
The objective need is for a programme of permanent revolution across the Middle East, taking in hand the numerous democratic questions that are unresolved in that region, of which the question of Zionism, Israeli colonialism and the dispossession of the Palestinian people is obviously the most pressing. For it obvious that in its oppressed and dispossessed situation, the Palestinian working class and poor do not have the power to deal with the Zionist state on their own: they need the militant aid of the regional, centrally Arab, proletariat of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and also the Persian proletariat of Iran, among other oppressed peoples in the region. The question of democracy in general, over the whole region with its underdevelopment and long history of despotism can only be fully resolved with the proletariat in power on a regional, federal level, through a federation of revolutionary workers states, and the end of the Nazi-Zionist state through the struggle for a multi-ethnic Palestinian popular council of Arab and Hebrew workers.
The other crucial strand of this is the need for active solidarity from the workers movement in the West, in countries like the United States and Britain that arm Israel to the teeth against the Palestinians and against other forces in the region seeking liberation from Zionist aggression. This is an extremely difficult task right now because of the very powerful position of the Israel lobby in most of these countries. This was shown graphically by the massive Zionist-led campaign to destabilise and destroy the very moderately pro-Palestinian leadership of Jeremy Corbyn in the British Labour Party over the last several years.
There is an additional level of complexity and difficulty for socialists and revolutionaries in many advanced countries, particularly in Europe and North America, in delivering solidarity with the Palestinians. Not only do they have to deal with the ‘normal’ attitude of ‘their’ bourgeoisies to a liberation struggle against one of its allies, but they also have to deal with a specific faction within the ruling class, which based on its Jewish origin and an ethnocentric Zionist variant of bourgeois politics, regards Israel as ‘its’ state and fights just as hard for the interest of Israel as it does for the interests of the imperialists country in which it resides.
This unique overlap of the ruling class of Israel with that of other imperialist countries creates a situation where it is doubly difficult, in current conditions, to deliver real, meaningful solidarity with the Palestinians in those countries as distinct from those engaged in ‘simpler’, more conventional struggles against one’s own ruling class, such as in Ireland or Vietnam in the past. Nevertheless, there is no evading this question, and the international movement has the right to insist that its sections in Israel’s imperialist allied countries address this difficult problem in their political material and agitational work.
Frente Comunista dos Trabalhadores – Brazil
Socialist Equality Council – Bangladesh
Socialist Worker League – United States
Tendencia Militante Bolchevique – Argentina
Trotskyist Faction of Socialist Fight – Great Britain
Pandemic and market pressure luring consumers to their death
By Humberto Rodriguez
Why are half of the planet’s deaths in the US, Britain, and Brazil? By the time we wrote these lines, the disease caused by the Coronavirus had already killed more than half a million people worldwide. 10.5 million people had contracted Covid-19, according to official statistics provided by governments.
Of those officially killed by Covid-19, the U.S. has 130,000; Brazil, 60,000; Britain has 44,000. Officially, these three countries were where the greatest number of fatal victims of coronavirus occurred. Together, they are responsible for almost half of the planet’s dead. These three nations are not the most populous on the planet. But the three governments are among the main denialists of the severity of the health crisis.
If the pandemic ended now, which will not happen, a world historic tragedy would already have happened. But in three nations the tragedy is quantitatively and qualitatively greater.
In Great Britain, with just over 60 million inhabitants, less than 1% of the world’s population, it has almost 10% of the dead. Brazil has 210 million inhabitants, corresponding to 3% of the world’s population, has more than 10% of the dead on the planet. But that is just the visible tip of the iceberg.
Data provided by rigorous public universities in Brazil state that the actual numbers of infected and killed in this country would be seven times higher than the official statistics presented by the very suspected Bolsonaro government. In some states of Brazil, such as Ceará, for example, the number of deaths due to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome increased 46 times compared to 2019. This margin of difference exists due to lack of testing, underreporting of deaths and infections and the attempt of the government to minimize the problem. In the end, as every tragedy has its leaders, irresponsible governments consciously conduct few tests and try to hide bodies as Bolsonaro has been doing since the beginning of June.
Most dramatic is the case of the richest nation in the world. A certificate of multiple bankruptcy and the unrecoverable decay of American imperialism was given during the pandemic. The U.S. has less than 5% (328 million) of the world’s population and more than 20% of deaths from Covid-19 so far. The worst tragedy in the United States, after WWII and becoming the world imperialist hegemon, was the Vietnam War, lost humiliatingly to one of the poorest countries in Asia. The number of U.S. deaths lost in the pandemic is already more than double the number of U.S. deaths in Vietnam (58,000). Trump knows it will cost him re-election. Perhaps it will engender a new war, internal or external, to save his political career.
Chile and India
The other two countries ruled by the right whose policies triggered the pandemic, Chile and India, with these three, account for half of the deaths officially computed on the planet.
Chile has one of the highest per capita infection rates. She followed the model of rich countries, but realized most of her citizens are poor. “There are areas of Santiago where I was unaware of the magnitude of poverty and agglomeration,” said Jaime Mañalich, the Health Minister who had to resign.
In India, the fascistic government of Narendra Modi took advantage of the pandemic to establish a rigid state of siege and a suspicious fund, PM Cares, which he never accounted for, not of what he distributed and even less what he raised.
“On the day PM Cares was created, a huge humanitarian crisis began to occur in India – millions of migrant workers, some of India’s poorest people, began fleeing the cities after Modi imposed a sudden blockade across the country. For weeks, they walked hundreds of miles, hungry and thirsty, to reach their villages. Over a hundred died. It was thought that the government would spend at least some of the money helping those forced to travel, but that did not happen”
In the middle of the process, the Modi government even recreated a border dispute with China, apparently to distract from the tragedy and scandal. As Modi’s measures did not alleviate but accentuated popular suffering, making living conditions more precarious and increasing the pandemic’s spread, under pressure, Modi, as suddenly as he imposed the lockdown, announced the end of mandatory confinement in early June. As a result, overpopulated India has become the new epicenter of coronavirus in Asia. Confirmed infections, despite scandalous underreporting and almost no testing, have doubled every eighteen days, more than in the USA, Brazil and Russia. “If the speed of the outbreak persists, the country should pass U.S. statistics in six weeks,” predicts Ashish Jha, Professor of Global Health at Harvard University. In response, almost like he is copying the three musketeers of the Atlantic Right, Modi declared: “Transmission is under control, recommending the practice of yoga as a strategy to increase immunity.” Read more at: https://veja.abril.com.br/mundo/india-o-novo-epicentro-do-coronavirus/
Criminal Denialists, Agents Of Capital
All health systems in capitalist countries have been put at risk or overwhelmed by the pandemic. Even, at first, also the health system of the Chinese State. However the Cuban workers state resisted, and also sent medical aid to 70 countries. In turn, it is not by chance that the USA, Brazil and Great Britain are where the most catastrophic numbers are recorded. Their rulers are uncompromising defenders of the capitalist market against social intervention by the state. Therefore, they deny the severity of the pandemic and the need for social distancing, the only measure capable of mitigating the lack of capacity of health systems to defend the population against the virus. The three rulers made several sneers at the seriousness of the problem that epitomise this genocidal policy. On March 5, asked how he would deal with the virus, Boris Johnson said:
On April 23, Trump recommended injections of disinfectant to kill the virus. On June 20, at his first re-election rally, he said:
“Testing is a double-edged sword. We’ve tested 25 million people so far. Probably 20 million more than any other country. Here’s the bad part: when you do so many tests, you find more people, you find more cases. So, said to my people: decrease the tests, please”
Bolsonaro has made so many scandalous statements:
“A lot of what they say is fantasy, this is not a crisis” (10/3); “What’s wrong is hysteria, as if it were the end of the world. A nation like Brazil will only be free when a certain number of people are infected and create antibodies” (17/3); “ “It’s not going to be a little flu that’s going to bring me down, okay?” (20/3); “The people were deceived all this time about the virus” (26/3); Are some going to die? Go, wow, I’m sorry. It’s life.” (27/3); [when Brazil already had 5,000 dead replied:] “So what? I’m sorry. What do you want me to do?” (28/4). Since the country recorded 35,000 deaths by Covid-19, the Bolsonaro government has been hiding data on the pandemic.
During the pandemic, governments in Britain, the US and Brazil have shown contempt, negligence, and exploitation of the disease against their populations. It is clear that if these countries are responsible for almost half the pandemic dead, if the population of these countries suffer more than in others, this is due to governments of the far-right, radical defenders of capital against any protection of the lives of workers.
These governments are not, as they appear, just crazed. Their irrational and unscientific statements show that decaying capitalism renounces rationalism and science. Trump, Johnson and Bolsonaro massacre with impunity because this is beneficial to their bourgeoisies: the masterminds of this crime. In the case of Bolsonaro, it serves the Brazilian ruling classes, but above all the great Anglo-Saxon and Zionist imperialist bourgeoisie.
Capital, the father of all modern tragedies
Strict social distancing until a vaccine comes is impossible under capitalism. But, unlike Trump, Johnson and Bolsonaro, the majority of bourgeois governments did some social demagoguery. Many leaders declared life more important than profits. Some carried out, for a few weeks, proper quarantine. Some used the justification of social distancing to attack strikes and protests, and stifle social and political resistance. But after a while, everyone tried to save profits at the expense of lives.
Online commerce has soared, but cannot meet the needs of the capitalist market. Shop reopening was imposed at the pandemic peak, with hospitals collapsed, though it meant more infections and deaths, when the World Health Organization (WHO) said the worst was to come. In the USA, reopening trade was fatal for many. The New York Times records:
“The number of cases is increasing in much of the United States, including in several states that were the first to reopen. As the number of people hospitalized and the percentage of positive people are also increasing in many of these places, the increase in cases cannot be explained only by the increase of tests … And as some places reimpose restrictions, others continue to reopen their economies. .. in some states that reopened early, case levels increased again. ”
We do not refer to the vast majority of harassed wage earners returning to work, especially under the blackmail of unemployment multiplied by the crisis and pandemic. Nor do we require any parsimony of that feeling of reuniting with friends of those who were confined for months. So little parsimony in relation to individual or family consumption itself. The workers created everything, everything, all consumer goods and dreams they are entitled to. There is also a good portion of conscientious workers who seek to preserve themselves by staying home as much as they can. To none of these cases we will refer here. In fact, on parsimony, we stand with Oscar Wilde who once said:
“Sometimes the poor are praised for being thrifty. But recommending them parsimony is as grotesque as it is insulting. It’s like advising a man who’s starving to eat less. For a field or city worker to use parsimony would be absolutely immoral. A man should not be ready to show himself capable of living like a poorly fed animal. ” (The Soul of Man under Socialism, 1891).
With the reopening, thousands of people went to the malls and the market to buy, or simulate the circuit of consumers putting themselves in contact, becoming infected, ill and dying. They were lured like fish to the hook, despite having some awareness of the risks. They go blindly to their deaths. Why? Common sense is often used to criticize consumerism. In this concept, it is the victim’s, the consumer’s, fault. This criticism is moralistic. The blame is not on the workers, as duplicitous bourgeois morality says. Just as the drug addict is not to blame for addiction, but the drug trafficking system that seduced and stimulated addiction. Not even the most perverse capitalist escapes the fetish of capital. Governments are determined by the great capitalists who, in turn, are determined by capital.
“In a social formation in which the production process dominates men, and not men the production process, they are considered by their bourgeois conscience as a natural need as evident as the productive work itself.” (O Capital, p. 156, Editora Boitempo).
To understand this suicidal tendency, we must go to the root of the problem: the commodity fetish. In explaining the process of capitalist production, in chapter 1 of Capital, Marx clarifies that it is a mistake to believe that the commodity is use value and exchange value. In fact, the commodity is use value and “value”, a value born before exchange. The substance of value is work and its measure of magnitude is working time. The form of value of the product of labour is the most abstract but also the most general form of the bourgeois mode of production “[…] it is taken by the natural and eternal form of social production” (ibid, p. 155).
Later, when he explains the fetishistic character of the commodity and its secret, Marx says that the mystical character of the commodity is not in its use value or in the content of the determinations of value. The enigmatic character of goods arises from the social relationship established between them as products of human labour. These products, when they take the form of goods, become sensitive things, suprasensitive, and assume for men a relationship between things. The commodity fetish is not a fantasy, superstition, illusions detached from reality, but illusions fabricated by reality. The fetish of merchandise, money and capital are real illusions. The monetary fetish, for example, makes money bewitch men by acting as “a natural thing endowed with strange social properties”” (p. 157), as equivalent to the value of any and all socially produced goods.
In capitalism, the necessary objects of use become man-made goods. The producers of the goods are conditioned make social contact with each other by exchanging products from their respective jobs. The value form of the product of work is taken as natural and eternal. The goods that own the way of life of men who are controlled by them ,”relate to each other only as exchange values”. And “the value is only realized in the exchange, that is, in a social process.” (ibid, page 158). The cycle of capital is consummated with the exchange of goods. And people, as if obscured by clouds, move behind the goods. Even if this exchange is represented between the form of money and another commodity, commodities and money or capital, products of human labor, demand that men, putting their lives at risk, satisfy them, to complete the cycle. It is the way men produce their life that explains how they end up killing their lives. Much of the depression in quarantine during social isolation is due to the fact that people cannot make this movement or do not have the money to perform this movement, they feel excluded, frustrated. In addition to having the object, having it, regardless of its use value to the consumer, it is important to carry out the practice of payment, in cash or credit,
Fetishism of merchandise is distinct from consumerism. Consumerism, the compulsion to acquire individual consumer goods, is often confused as being equal to the fetish. But these are different elements. The fetish to which Marx refers is the inability to suppose a society based on relationships beyond that established by capital, value, money and credit. Therefore, one can get rid of the consumerist compulsion and still remain bewitched by capital, without believing that a post-capitalist, communist world is possible. So far beyond getting rid of this or that hated genocidal far-right government, which must be done without a doubt, it is also necessary to be disenchanted, to break the spell, in the revolutionary process of struggle for the seizure of political power by the workers , expropriation of private property and production control by popular councils. It is within this process that it can free itself from the phantasmagorical domain of the practical conditioning that capital exercises over humanity, leading it to barbarism and luring it to death. In other words, the social process of life will only get rid of this fatal spell, when men and women freely associate with each other, regain control of the product of their work in a conscious and planned way, eliminating the contradiction between social work and private appropriation, when the means of production are collectivized.
Communist Fight issue no 2 is now available as a PDF. It is not currently available as a hard copy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but we do plan to print and distribute our journal as hard copy as and when circumstances allow.
This journal is a product of our commitment to maintaining a high-quality Marxist journal based on the politics of Trotskyism and the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International.
Particular attention is drawn to the article on page 17, titled The Death Spell by Humberto Rodriguez, a leading Latin American comrade of the LCFI, which contains a theoretical treatment of neoliberalism and the Covid-19 Pandemic, and how alienation and commodity fetishism is used to entice and pressure working class people to endanger their lives for capital.
Other articles, apart from the lead on Starmer’s New Labour, deal with the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey, the upsurge of anti-racist and Black struggles beginning in the United States, and a Zionist witchhunting attack on Black Lives Matter and anti-racist militants.
The sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey (left) as Shadow Education Secretary by Keir Starmer, on the most transparent and absurd pretext about ‘anti-Semitism’, is driven by domestic politics, not by any even feeble opposition to Zionism by Long-Bailey. RLB not only signed up for the ’10 Commandments’ of the Zionist Board of Deputies of British Jews during the leadership election in the spring, but she also declared herself a ‘Zionist’ at the Jewish Labour Movement’s hustings; even Starmer did not do that.
The reference in Maxine Peake’s article, which RLB shared, to Israel training US cops in methods of brutalising people, is simply true. There is much evidence of Israel using the knee-on-neck hold that was used to murder George Floyd. The Jewish Virtual Library has published a detailed account of collaboration between Israeli and US police since 9/11, including in the occupied territories. For example:
“A diverse group of 52 law enforcement officers from 12 U.S. states visited Israel and participated in joint training sessions with their Israeli counterparts during September 2017. This program, known as the Police Unity Tour, has been held periodically since 1997.”
The idea that this is a ‘Jewish conspiracy’ trope is risible. A similar knee-on-neck technique is used by Israel, part of Krav Maga, an arsenal of physical techniques that are made for policing a subjugated population (photo).
Krav Maga is a salient issue: the 2017 Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby, which exposed Zionist activities in the witchhunt, showed Ella Rose, director of the Jewish Labour Movement, fantasising about using Krav Maga against Jackie Walker. George Floyd’s murder highlights her sociopathic fantasy of a murderous act against a black grandmother.
This is really about the Covid-19 Pandemic, with credible reports of a conflict between Long-Bailey, close to the teachers’ unions who have campaigned to defend health and safety by opposing the premature re-opening of schools, and Starmer, competing with Johnson for the favour of the Tory media and backing the reckless reopening of schools to ‘get the economy moving again’.
Starmer is waging war on the left: threats and reprimands against left-wing Black MP’s Diane Abbott and Bell Ribiero-Addy for attending a Zoom event at which purged Labour Party members, such as Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker, spoke ‘from the floor’. Its clear from the protests of numerous leading trade unionists that RLB’s sacking is seen as an attack on trade unions.
Long-Bailey cravenly capitulated, but she was still seen as the ‘continuity Corbynite’ candidate by some. She got 135,218 votes for the leadership, slightly less than half of Starmer. But more did not vote than voted for Starmer; many correctly refused to support Long-Bailey as she had joined the witchhunt. Only a minority of left-wing members could bring themselves to vote for her.
A genuine left candidate could have defeated Starmer. But the process was rigged by the PLP who still largely control nominations. The one left-of-Corbyn MP, Chris Williamson, was hounded out, which made certain that there would be no genuine left candidate. Starmer wants to consolidate his position by driving out that membership.
There is talk of a leadership challenge from people like Ian Lavery who failed to challenge Starmer in the spring. Others are talking about running Richard Burgon, who ran for deputy leader previously. He did not dare challenge for leader which is itself telling. Quite why they would succeed in getting the parliamentary support to do this now is not clear, particularly as the thresholds are more difficult to meet than where there is a vacancy for leader.
If the unions were to seriously back a challenge Starmer might be under threat. But it is not wise to hold your breath since it was the trade union bureaucracy that played the decisive role in ramming the IHRA definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ though the Labour Party’s structures. At this point, to overturn Starmer, it would be necessary to overturn the bureaucracy that put him there.
Realising the unlikelihood of a challenge, left wing members have been tearing up their cards and looking to found a new left-wing party. Chris Williamson’s Festival of Resistance does appear the most viable initiative in train to do this, though it has been projected cautiously as an attempt to build a grassroots socialist movement, leaving open becoming a party. A party is needed, to rally the disillusioned, angry forces that originally rallied behind Corbyn, build a genuine socialist movement that can really challenge capital, and not least to exert the kind of pressure on Labour from outside that could stop the right-wing running riot and bring about a decisive split of Labour’s working class base from the influence of the pro-capitalist bureaucracy.
Last season, Bangladesh set a record for the second highest production in the 175-year history of tea production. The target for tea production in the just-concluded season was 6 crore 23 lakh kg. And 6 crore 20 lakh kg has been produced which is 96 lakh kg more than the target. Although the tea industry has improved, the lives of tea workers have not changed.
After working all day, the income of a tea worker is 102 Taka, there is no own ethnic identity, no opportunity for education, no sanitation. There is a lack of treatment. Even if you are educated, you have to do 102 taka a day or you have to lose a place to keep your head. There is no help even if there is disability while going to work. In order not to be vocal about their rights, the workers are kept intoxicated with the help of the owners. There are liquor stores in each tea garden as planned.
One such unfortunate group is the tea workers. During the British rule, they were brought to different places including Bangladesh by showing greed for a better life, but from the very beginning, only negligence and torture have been inflicted on their foreheads. They are like today’s modern slaves.
Menka Santal, a tea worker at Zulekha Tea Garden, said that even after so many years of independence, the fate of tea garden workers has not changed. Development has not touched their lives. They are not even getting the opportunity to enjoy basic rights. This tea garden community has yet to break the shackles of British feudalism and local babu-sahebs.
According to the Tea Workers Union, the tea population in the country is about 6 lakh. Of these, about 94,000 are registered workers and another 40,000 are irregular workers. The weekly salary of a tea worker is 614 tk. 3 kg 280 gms of rice or flour is given per week (the price of the product is lower than the market price).
British Ghatual, a tea worker at Deorachhara Tea Garden, said there are many families of 5-6 members where one person gets a job for tk. 102 and the rest depend on this money to make ends meet. You have to stay in a small broken house with your children and cattle. Although the garden authorities were supposed to repair the house, it did not happen year after year. They have no place of their own. If you don’t work in the garden, you will lose your place of residence.
Sujit Baraik, general secretary of the Sylhet Tea Community Student Youth Welfare Council, said that according to the 2016 agreement, a worker should be given a pension as an average of one and a half months’ salary for the total number of years he has worked. But it’s just a pen on paper. In old age, they have to starve to death due to starvation and without treatment. Although only a few gardens provide nominal medical care, most gardens do not.
Debashish Yadav, vice-president of the Tea Students’ Union, said, “Even in the midst of so much suffering, we suffer the most when a large section of society considers us’ Indians’. When our ancestors came to Bengal, India was not divided. They just came from one place to another. ”
“Everyone has their own ethnic identity, but tea workers don’t,” he said. “Even though we have our own language and culture, we haven’t been able to get any recognition yet.”
Why can’t they be protesters even after so much deprivation? – Dhana Baury, president of Manu Dhalai Valley of the Tea Workers Union, said, “We can’t end up talking about our hardships. The workers are being kept intoxicated by ensuring easy availability of liquor with the indirect cooperation of the employers so that they cannot unite by understanding their own good and bad”.
Vijay Pal, Founder President of a Social Welfare Organization, said that a tea worker is not allowed to stay in the garden if he does not work in the garden, while almost every garden has low quality liquor shops which are being given all kinds of opportunities by the garden owners. President of Bangladesh Tea Union, Sylhet Valley, said work was underway to improve the living standards of tea workers. Primary schools are being set up in every garden.
History of Tea Labor Day
In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, tea was not introduced anywhere else in the world except China. In 1854, the East India Company started tea cultivation in the Malinichhara tea garden in Sylhet on an experimental basis. At that time workers from different parts of India including Assam, Orissa, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh were shifted to this land to make tea gardens. It did not take long for them to understand the temptation that had been shown to them, even though they were tempted to say, “The tree will move, the rupee will move.”
There is no accounting for how many workers lost their lives prematurely after falling into the clutches of wild animals while clearing huge hills and cultivating tea. Besides, there was the oppression of the British. In protest of their continued persecution, the then tea workers leader Pandit Gangacharan Dixit and Pandit Deosaran called for a ‘Mulluke Chal’ (return to motherland) movement. On May 20, 1921, about 30,000 tea workers from the Sylhet region reached the Meghna Steamer Ghat at Chandpur on foot from Sylhet.
When they tried to return to their homeland by ship, the British Gurkha soldiers indiscriminately shot and killed the tea worker and dumped his body in the Meghna River. Those who fled also had to be brutally tortured for the crime of protesting. They did not get the right to land. Since then, May 20 has been observed as Tea Workers’ Day every year.
Sunil Biswas, a drama personality in the tea garden, said, “We are still neglecting the recognition of the celebration of Tea Workers’ Day by the state.”
For the overall liberation of all other working classes, including tea workers There is no alternative for establishing a new society and an independent socialist society by abolishing the existing capitalist social system to protect the health of all people, including the working class, eliminating unemployment, poverty, social unrest. To end the plunder of capitalism, the state system, imperialism, we have to build a society where there is no human dominance over human beings. People will not exploit people. They will manage themselves. Non-state, non-capitalist socialist self-managed social system. All production systems will be owned by people of the society, including mills, factories and agricultural farms. There will be no volatility of personal ownership. The word employment will disappear forever. People will be completely free.
BASF- working with and for preparing people for changing existing society by organizing, educating and providing training. The society is working to establish a system where no unjust working period, no hierarchy, will be able to manage the entire production system, under mutual Aid.
The recent Black Lives Matter protests in London, inspired by the struggles in the United States against racist police killers, have mobilised ordinary people and activists from a wide variety of political backgrounds and generations, and have played a unifying role in bringing such diverse people together in what promises a renewed struggle against racism and reaction. But this promising, spontaneous anti-racist movement has enemies, racist and far right elements including in the media who are looking for ways to derail it, to engage in provocation against it, and to divide it.
One manifestation, both of the inspiring character of the movement, and the attempts by racists to sabotage and divide it, is the affair of the widely-circulated photograph of two anti-racist activists: Rosie Grace Smith, a young black single mother who was attending her first demonstration in early June, and Jim Curran, veteran labour movement and Irish activist who is one of the most affable, well known figures who left-wing people invariably run into on a huge variety of anti-racist, anti-war political events.
Once posted on social media, particularly Twitter the photograph ‘went viral’ rapidly and became almost an iconic symbol of the new anti-racist movement. But it soon drew the sinister attention of Zionist racists.
Another Zionist Witchhunt
Apparently Jim Curran was logged by Zionists as attending meetings of a group called ‘Keep Talking’, which organises events at which some left wing activists have hosted events with conspiracy theorists about such things as 9/11, questioning the truth of the Nazi holocaust of Jews, and similar topics. Apparently Gilad Atzmon has spoken at an event of this body; he spoke about the Balfour Declaration, not the Nazi genocide or 9/11 Trutherism so from that point of view his material might even be viewed as quite innocuous by comparison. Vanessa Beeley has also spoken to them about Syria, as well as other fringe elements, some from the more eccentric and fossilised elements of the old far right.
Jim Curran was denounced by the Jewish Chronicle as an ‘anti-Semite’ for having attended meetings of this group. This is the same Jewish Chronicle that has written articles defending one Michal Kaminski, a Polish right-wing extremist who happens to be an ally of the Conservative Party. In 2001, on the 60th Anniversary of a notorious 1941 massacre of Jews in the town of Jedwabne by Polish collaborators with the Nazis, where 300 men, women and children were deliberately burned alive in a barn, the then-president of Poland, Alexander Kwasniewski, organised a special commemoration to make a ‘national apology’ for this vile crime. The Guardian then narratied Kaminski’s response:
“Beneath all the controversy, it is not difficult to establish basic truths about Kaminski’s past. The accounts of Polish journalists, historians and local people leave no doubt he was instrumental in urging Jedwabne residents to oppose the president’s apology and boycott the ceremonial event in 2001. He pressed his case at numerous meetings in Jedwabne during the first half of that year.
“’As a local MP, Kaminski played a key role in the campaign questioning the Polish responsibility for the Jedwabne massacre. The campaign had strongly antisemitic overtones,’ said Dr Rafal Pankowski, a member of the Never Again Association and author of The Populist Radical Right in Poland.
But the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, revealed very clearly why despite Kaminsky’s very clear genuine anti-Semitism, the JC defended him anyway:
“As Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, and founding chairman of the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, I am more alive than most to the dangers of the newly resurgent antisemitism. But there is simply no evidence that Mr Kaminski is an antisemite, only a series of politically motivated assertions. It is not Kaminski who is odious; it is those using antisemitism as a tool for their own political ends who deserve contempt.
“I have no axe to grind on Mr Kaminski’s behalf. But I do have an axe to grind against false labels of antisemitism. Far from being an antisemite, Mr Kaminski is about as pro-Israel an MEP as exists.”
And that is the bottom line. Kaminsky, the old-style anti-Semite, is given a clean bill of health because he is “about as pro-Israel an MP as exists”. For these Zionists, accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ are purely instrumental, being turned on and off like a tap according to whether the alleged ‘anti-Semite’ supports Israel and Zionism or not.
Then we see the Daily Mail chiming in. This is now Britain’s biggest selling tabloid newspaper, having only recently overtaken Rupert Murdoch’s Sun. It also has a long history of real racism against Jews, in the period when Jews were an oppressed group in Western countries. It is most well-known for its notorious headline ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’ in January 1934, hailing Mosley’s pro-Hitler fascist party that tried to terrorise Jews in the East End of London. In 1938, in the middle of Hitler’s rising persecution of Jews in Germany, the Daily Mail headlined “German Jews pouring into this country” and highlighted a quote from a magistrate:
“The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage..,”
It is very clear that this rag historically supported fascism and again, genuine anti-Semitism. Today its apologists claim it has changed, its long-lasting Rothemere owning dynasty no longer hate Jews. No, they have changed their hatred to Black people and other immigrants and asylum seekers, you name it. Its modern rantings against migrants, so universally known as to not require quoting, are very similar to the quoted rant against Jews. But it no longer usually targets Jews as Zionism and Israel has led to a situation where Jews in general are regarded as part of the ‘civilised’ Western camp, and in fact Israel is regarded by the racist right as the very model of an ethnic state in much the same way as Nazi Germany was in the 1930s. And unlike Nazi Germany, Israel has so far not been defeated, which makes it even more attractive to the far right.
Thus instead of publishing the earlier Viscount Rothemere’s pro-Hitler material, today the Daily Mail publishes material by the ex-liberal, anti-Muslim racist Jewish-Zionist ideologue Melanie Philipps, author of Londonistan, which portrays London as a nest of Muslim terrorists the way pre-WWII anti-Semites in the US used to talk of Jew York: New York as the centre of supposed plots for ‘Jewish world domination’. The pro-Zionism of the Daily Mail is as central to what it stands for today as was the anti-Semitism and pro-Hitler politics of the Rothemeres in the 1930s.
Zionism today: A far right racist movement
In fact, Zionism is now so popular on the far right that where at least covertly Nazi symbolism was often seen in the past, now Israelis flags are commonly seen at far-right events. It is this reversal and paradox that is at the core of some aspects of ideological confusion on parts of the left, often the part that is angriest and subjectively closest to revolutionary politics. The soft left has much less trouble reconciling themselves to Zionism and are less bothered by such things.
The Zionist ‘Community Security Trust’ and their fake ‘anti-racist’ allied group, Hope not Hate (HnH) also denounced Jim Curran. These fake anti-fascist, fake anti-racist groups both exist to defend Zionist racism, not to campaign against racism of any kind. HnH often target the Labour left, not the far right, as shown by their recent campaign against Chris Williamson, who was the only MP in the entire PLP who defied the Zionist/Blairite campaign to destroy Corbyn’s leadership.
The CST, which is closely allied to HnH and the other gaggle of forces that howled about this, are indicative. They are not an anti-racist group at all. A key struggle that drives anti-racist militants today is the cause of the Palestinians, who have faced ethnic cleansing, pogroms, massacres and racial persecution by Israel for more than 70 years, and who now face a new round of atrocities and slow genocide as Israel plans to annex the West Bank and either expel, or subjugate the bulk of its population. Their leader, Dave Rich, made very clear in his 2016 book The Left’s Jewish Problem that he defends the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and considers it to be morally justified because of the crimes of the Nazis in Europe:
“Comparing the plight of the Palestinians with the Holocaust performs several functions. Its political goal is to undermine the idea that the Holocaust provided a moral justification and a practical need for the creation of a Jewish state.”
(The Left’s Jewish Problem, Biteback 2016, Kindle Edition, location 2875)
The Jewish state that Rich extols the virtue of was created by the Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1947-8, , that drove out around three quarters of the Arab population of Palestine, an overwhelmingly Arab territory when the British occupied it in 1917, almost simultaneously with the Balfour Declaration where the British Foreign Secretary wrote to the chief Zionist representative, Lord Rothschild, promising a ‘national home’ for the Jews. The Nakba was the eventual outcome of the handing over of Palestine to a third-party: a massive pogrom accompanied by massacres such as Deir Yassin and Tantura, and even the use of germ warfare against the Arab population at Acre. According to the CST, this was morally justified.
This ‘moral justification’ is at the core of the IHRA psuedo-definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ that has been imposed on the Labour Party by the Zionists, which says that denying Jews’ alleged “right to self-determination” at the expense of the Palestinians, and saying that Israeli is a “racist endeavour” are both ‘anti-Semitic’ positions. Adhering to this vile, racist concept, which was conceived long before anyone had heard of Hitler, shows clearly that the CST and HnH are anti-Arab racist organisations, that are in principle no better than neo-Nazis. There is no difference in principle between ‘morally’ defending Zionism’s ongoing racist crime against the Palestinians and defending the gassing of Jews. And the Labour Party, which has not only adopted the racist, anti-Arab IHRA into its rules, but also elected a leader that says he supports Zionism ‘without qualification’ should also be regarded as an anti-Arab, racist party.
In response to the vilification of Jim Curran by the Zionists, Rosie Smith defended him, tweeting that “I spoke with Jim and judge him on our convo and from his vibe and work”, and concluded that “The Jews are not innocent, #israelisnotinnocent they deal with mad racism”. This was itself slammed as ‘anti-Semitic’ by various Zionist racist bullies, and Rosie felt compelled to apologise for her remarks, and made her Twitter account private. So the outcome of this is that this black, anti-racist young female activist has been bullied off Twitter by as vile a bunch of pogromists and racists as you will find anywhere, allied with the Nazi-loving, Arab-hating criminal hate-rag the Daily Mail, which even Microsoft’s Newsguard flags as an unreliable source that presents its own views as ‘news’.
Tarnishing the memory of Nazi crimes
We do not have to agree with everything Jim Curran does to defend him and denounce the witchhunt against him. The fact that the Nazi genocide has been instrumentalised to justify crimes against Arabs, for many decades, far longer than the 12 years that Hitler’s regime has lasted, has led to a certain shift in the appreciation of that historical event by some sincere opponents of racism. The Zionist instrumentalisation and abuse of the Nazi holocaust has led to it becoming tarnished to a degree among those whose gut impulse is to oppose racism in all its forms. Therefore leftists, anti-racists like Jim Curran, can at least give a hearing to conspiracy theorists about the Nazi genocide, like Nick Kollerstrom, even if they do not necessarily agree with them. Zionism is responsible for this paradox and Zionism alone.
Rosie Smith could better have said “The Jews are not collectively innocent”; rather than “the Jews are not innocent”. But then she has very little political experience, so slight misformulations are hardly surprising. And in fact, most of the left either does not understand the paradoxes involved in the Jewish question today, or are too cowardly politically to try to address them.
It is grossly hypocritical for Zionists to condemn Rosie Smith for verbally treating ‘the Jews’ as a collective when Zionists do the same thing. They treat “the Jews” collectively, promote that as an unambiguously good thing, and deny that Jewish people who dissent from Zionism are really Jews at all.
There is a tawdry assumption here, that anyone who says anything about ‘the Jews’ that is critical, is talking about every single Jewish person. Today, when most Jews support a racist movement and there are real questions of oppression carried out against ethnic groups who are oppressed by (mainstream) Jews, that assumption is malicious, and racist.
When Diane Abbot made her remarks several years ago about how “white people love to divide and rule” she was talking about the mainstream, not every single white person irrespective of their views. Only racists, only people completely unaware or uncaring of the enormous historical and current oppression that bears down upon Black people, could make such an assumption. The same is true today when someone talks about ‘the Jews”. This is not 1942. This is 2020, when the world’s only Jewish state is also the most openly racist state in the world.
The cowardly British left have taken a dive over the defence of Rosie Smith and Jim Curran from this witchhunt. No left organisation that we know of, apart from ourselves, has published anything in defence of comrade Curran, who has been a fixture at anti-racist, anti-war, labour movement and Irish events for many years. decades in fact. The only prominent figure that has any kind of left-wing reputation, albeit a contradictory one, who has denounced this witch-hunt, is Gilad Atzmon. This is to his credit, though he has himself been vilified, partly because he himself has long been caught up in the same paradoxes as comrade Cullen. He too is motivated by fervent anti-racism but has been driven by this into a similar situation. What is also important is that this phenomenon is deeply embedded in this historical period; it is not going to go away anytime soon, and addressing it properly is one of the left’s most crucial responsibilities today.
More than 100 coal Miners in the town of Antracita in the People’s Republic of Lugansk (RPL), workers who had been on strike at the Komsomolskaya mine for a week since June 6, have won their demands and the company will pay them backpay due to them. After the ‘crackdown’ last week by RPL authorities, with about 25 arrests of miners and left-wing activists, the government has pledged not to prosecute the strikers.
This appears to be a considerable victory by miners in Eastern Ukraine against the oligarchs who own and control the mines. This is a local instance of class struggle between workers and capitalists that takes place within another international conflict between Russia and NATO imperialism (US – EU). The second conflict is permeated by the defense of national self-determination and resistance against the NATO-backed fascist elements who seized power in the 2014 Maidan coup.
The regime in the mainly Russian-speaking region has not hesitated to turn on its own working class with repression, from arrest and torture of some leading militants in the struggle, to interfering with social media and trying to block strike supporters from using it to organise support. The government of the Lugansk People’s Republic (RPL) used the excuse of the Covid-19 pandemic to try to prevent working class organisation and action.
We as Marxists and anti-imperialists obviously support the maximum international solidarity for workers in struggle against their capitalist oppressors everywhere that such resistance is waged, including in the Russian speaking regions that seceded from Ukraine in the aftermath of the pro-NATO, fascist dominated Maidan coup in 2014, that brought to power a regime in Kiev that sought to bring the whole of Ukraine, including its Russian-speaking population in the more industrial regions in the East of the country, into NATO and the European Union.
We note that while many of those who are making a big issue of supporting the Lugansk miners denounce the ‘separatism’ of the Russian-speaking republics, and therefore are implicitly supporting the regime in Kiev, formerly of Poroshenko, now of Zelensky, who appears to be Trump’s man, and are denouncing the Lugansk leadership for its repression of the miners. Well this repression certainly needs to be denounced. But workers need to be alert against some wolves in sheep’s clothing, we referred to those who opposed the self-determination of all eastern Ukrainian people, including the Komsomolskaya miners, and who supported a NATO coup d’état that carried out a bloody massacre of trade unionists in May 2014, where 48 militants were burned to death when the Trade Union House in Odessa was torched by a fascist-led mob of supporters of the pro-NATO Maidan movement.
In the conflict between NATO imperialism and its puppets and satraps, the supporters of NATO expansion into the former USSR, we are militarily on the side of those resisting NATO and US-led imperialism. But we give no political support to those bourgeois forces resisting imperialism. Indeed as is shown by the job cuts, closures and wage cuts that provoked this strike and occupation, the capitalist forces in Russia that support Putin and his own nationalist project of building up a stronger Russian capitalism, also oppress their ‘own’ working class and do not embody any systemic alternative to the imperialists who would like to conquer and subjugate them.
Indeed one of the key reasons for the continued drive to expand NATO into the former USSR is the belief that the proletariat of Russia, which was the driving force of the October Revolution, has not been sufficiently deprived of its class consciousness as to make impossible a revival of the Communism that the Western ruling classes dread. The conservative Russian nationalism of Putin does not reassure them; they consider his sort too weak. They want direct rule by their outright agents and puppet to endure that the Communist spectre is fully exorcised from Russia and the proletariat remains servile and powerless.
We seek the exact opposite; we seek the political revival of Communism in the former USSR through international solidarity with workers’ struggles even when the immediate oppressor is bourgeois forces that are currently at odds with imperialism. Why is that? Because the social force that materially and objectively has the real class interest in destroying imperialism is the class-conscious proletariat. We in Socialist Fight/Trotskyist Faction and the LCFI have been involved with anti-fascist and Communist groups since 2014 both internationally and in Ukraine itself, such as Borot’ba, and we call on these groups to organise a solidarity effort with this and future workers’ struggles that clearly opposes Maidan and the NATO- expansionist social-imperialism that would seek to use workers struggles in Eastern Ukraine to try to garner support for the worst enemies of the working class.
George Floyd was another worker murdered by the imperialist police state, the mortal enemy of blacks, workers and the oppressed of the world
The flagrantly racist May 25th murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has set off an enormous wave struggles in the United States, at least as big as those in the 1960s that were the culmination of the Civil Rights movement against Jim Crow segregation, the legacy of the defeat of reconstruction after the US Civil War abolished slavery. This struggle is against the results of decades of racist reaction that began at the end of the 1970s, with the rise of Reagan, neoliberalism, and the prolonged movement of American society to the right that carried on under Clinton, with its expanded death penalty and mass incarceration of blacks, deepening more under George W Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ militarisation of the cops, hardly dented by the first black Democratic President Obama, culminating with the openly racist Trump since 2016.
The murder of Floyd was captured in excruciating detail on a video as the white cop Chauvin knelt on his neck for nine whole minutes, so he died of asphyxiation. He narrated his own death, gasping “I can’t breathe” as the life was squeezed out of him. Two other cops participated in the murder by sitting on his legs as he was strangled; a fourth did lookout, menacing witnesses who protested. These thugs knew they were killing Floyd; there have been numerous similar murders by cops, infamously Eric Garner in July 2014 in New York, who was similarly throttled and also gasped “I can’t breathe” before he died.
This is common in the racist US; the ‘choke hold’ technique dates to the late 1970s when the post-Civil Rights racist offensive against US blacks gathered pace. The massive militarisation of US cops, giving them armoured vehicles and the like similar to those used by the US military, signify that the US bourgeoisie sees the US black, working class masses as enemies to be fought with similar methods as the wars it fights in the Middle East, Latin America etc. Trump’s ascendancy, fuelled by the support of backward white workers whose own defeats and impoverishment by neo-liberalism has thus far been successfully directed into scapegoating of minorities, posed this point blank.
He brazenly removed palliatives, such as ‘Community Policing’ investigations from the Obama period that gave some lip-service to trying to mitigate police racism. In doing so, he has finally torn off the sugar coating by which previous administrations have disguised their contempt for the black masses, and provoked what appears an even bigger anti-racist response than in the 1960s. One index of the sheer size and power of this movement is the response of many working class whites to it.
In the late 1960s, the black movement was part of the broader radicalisation triggered by the Vietnam War, and backward sections of the working class, for instance construction workers (‘hard hats’) were notorious for their hostility to it and their support for the reactionary demagogue Nixon. Hard hats got repeatedly into fights with anti-war protestors and black militants, whereas in the recent, much more racially integrated movement triggered by the George Floyd murder, many white youth and others have actively joined in the protests, and they have also been applauded by construction workers in New York.
Today’s civil rights movement is very powerful, but we can’t say it’s stronger than the 1960s. Even though the masses are ready and the struggle is real, the movement now lacks true leaders such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and others. The Black Lives Matter is a strong force, but the movement itself is still an organic cry that is manifested sometimes in 20 different protests in different parts of the same city, in NYC for example. Basically, it lacks leadership and organization. And because of that, their struggle, their fight ends up collaborating to demagogic political campaigns such as the Democratic Party. Joe Biden’s numbers are higher than Trump´s now. The big question is, what can African-Americans really expect from the establishment, if they win?
42 US cities have been put under curfew by State Governors, Mayors and the like and Trump has threatened to use the US military to crush protests, using the understandable looting, itself fuelled by racialised impoverishment, which has accompanied some of the protests. Trump has threatened he will send in troops if elected officials do not use National Guard troops to ‘dominate’ and crush the movement.This has raised the question of dictatorship and fascism in the US. But it does appear to have backfired and even split the army brass: most notably military insider and Trump’s former Defence Secretary James Mattis roundly denounced Trump’s threats, and his current Defence Secretary was at pains to distance himself from the idea. This after his participation in Trump’s bible-wielding photo-op at a Washington Church, clearing completely legal protesters forcibly out of the way, an action that has now given rise to a lawsuit against Trump by the American Civil Liberties Union and Washington Black Lives Matter.
The radicalisation has been fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic, which in the United States, as elsewhere, has disproportionately caused death and severe illness among oppressed ethnic groups, including the US Black population. Blacks have also borne the brunt of the economic depression that the pandemic has precipitated. Blacks are being laid off driven into penury in disproportionate numbers, being forced back to work in unsafe conditions in Trump’s drive to ‘save’ the capitalist economy over their corpses, and brutalised by racist police on top of all that.
This has produced a social explosion in the US, different from the gilets jaunes explosion in France, but with some important common elements. Its trigger was the George Floyd murder, but it was fuelled by the pandemic and caused by decades of racist, neoliberal offensive that devastated many lives. This upsurge, and the support for it by working class people, has the potential to unite the whole working class, which has up to now been divided by racism. The morbid expression of this was the rise of Trump, white supremacism and the ‘alt-right’. This can blow all that away.
The upsurge in the United States has enormous revolutionary potential, both within the US itself, and in terms of its potential to inspire revolutionary struggles around the world. For the struggle of US American blacks for real equality today is squarely directed against strategic features of US capitalism itself, which is the hegemon of imperialist capitalism worldwide. US capitalism cannot do away with the oppression of the black masses; capitalism cannot do without the huge inequalities of the world order where most of humanity is enslaved and impoverished to benefit Western imperialist ruling classes whose wealth was obtained through centuries of plunder.
Covid-19 is a by-product of climate breakdown induced by the inability of capitalism to plan resources for human need in a sustainable way that works with nature, as opposed to tearing it apart in the quest for profit. It brought this to boiling point. This is organic and inherent to capital; the only solution is to tear down capitalism itself. For that we need a revolutionary leadership that is able to consciously, and openly, lead the masses in the US and worldwide to overthrow capitalism and replace it with socialism: rational economic planning for social need.
Such a leadership must be created though the intervention of socialists in these struggles, through revolutionary regroupment, and recruiting and training a new generation of Marxists to replace those lost through neoliberal reaction and the terminal betrayals of Stalinism. Such a party must be armed with a programme of transitional demands, addressing both economic grievances and the many democratic questions posed by racist oppression, aimed at uniting all working class and oppressed layers into one big fist under the leadership of a revolutionary party, both on the national and international planes , to take state power from capital.
A key demand today, both in terms of basic democracy and the rights of black people, and the class organisation of the workers, is for an anti-racist working class militia, that must have a substantial representation of black militants, to defend the victims of police and other racist oppression and brutality. In terms of US social reality today, a revolutionary organisation would undoubtedly have a large proportion of black and other oppressed-group militants, a reflection the dynamics of its struggle to overcome the subjugation of the most oppressed, and potentially the most revolutionary, parts of our class.
Building a revolutionary leadership is not a simple task but requires both the highest level of theory, and the ability to sink roots into mass struggles like that in the United States. For that a revolutionary cadre must be developed from among the participants and potential mass leaders that these struggles never fail to throw up. The revolutionary working class organisations are building a revolutionary leadership out of those engaged in this struggle and many others as the only way to achieve the final liberation of humanity from such ferocious oppression.
Frente Comunista dos Trabalhadores – Brazil
Tendencia Militante Bolchevique – Argentina
Socialist Worker League – United States
Socialist Fight – Great Britain
Trotskyist Faction of Socialist Fight – Great Britain
(all the above are sections of the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International)
Grupo Fronteira Vermelha – Brazil
Akash Mirza, for Socialist Party – Bangladesh
Anna Brogan, left militant and black activist, London – Great Britain
Luciano Filgueiras – MovLuta – Movimento Compromisso e Luta – Brazil
Nigel Singh, independent left militant, Oxford – Great Britain.
Alex Dillard, socialist activist, California – United States.
Curtis T, youth and socialist activist, Monrovia – Liberia
Mohammad Basir Ul Haq Sinha, President, Inter Press Network, Dhaka – Bangladesh
Fernando Gustavo Armas, militant of Revolutionary Socialism, Argentina.
Fernando Matos Rodrigues, Anthropologist and ICS Researcher, New University of Minho, Basic Housing Laboratory.
Frederico Costa, Professor and Director of the Teachers’ Union at Ceará State University – Brazil
Mário Maestri, Historian – Italy
Maurício de Oliveira, teacher of public education in Ceará – Brazil
Fernando Moyano – Socialist Militant – Uruguay
Emmanoel Lima Ferreira, professor at the Regional University of Cariri – Brazil
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