Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Resisting the fascist junta in Kiev

By Theo Russell
Campaigners for solidarity with those resisting the fascist junta in Ukraine have seen some minor but important victories recently.
Last month Andrei Sokolov, a Russian left activist and political prisoner, who was kidnapped by unknown assailants in Ukraine and disappeared after leaving a courtroom in April, was released from a secret prison after 8 months.
Also last month, Alla Aleksandrovskaya, the 68 year-old head of the now banned Communist Party of Ukraine Kharkov district and ex-people’s deputy, was released from prison and placed under house arrest. She has been in poor health since her arrest on ‘separatism’ charges in June.
But there is no room for complacency. Vadim Troyan, deputy commander of the openly Nazi Azov Battalion has been appointed chief of police the capital Kiev by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who also has close connections with the Azov Battalion.
Meanwhile, totally ignored by the ‘free and democratic’ Western mass media, the war in the Donbas and deliberate shelling of civilians by the Ukraine Armed Forces and fascist battalions continues day after day. Dozens of civilians are being killed and wounded every month, without a whisper from the BBC, whose network extends to virtually every country in the world including Ukraine.
Another threat to the Donbas people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk is the possibility of an armed ‘police’ mission by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). OSCE has had a mission monitoring the war in eastern Ukraine for some time and is involved in attempts to implement the two failed ceasefires under the Minsk agreements, which is why Russia has continued to participate in it.
But it is still essentially an extension of European Union imperialism, and has long been accused of biased reporting by the representatives of the Donbas republics. Earlier this year large demonstrations took place in the Donbas after rumours of such a mission, which its leaders declared would be “foreign intervention”.
There is no realistic prospect of such a force in the immediate future, but at the meeting of the ‘Normandy Four’ last month in Berlin Vladimir Putin, and the presidents of France, Germany and Ukraine, signalled “potential” support for an armed OSCE mission.
Last week Dr Yevgenii Gerasymenko, a barrister based in Kiev, told a meeting in London organised by Liberation that in today’s Ukraine “trade unions exist legally, but effectively they don’t exist”.
They have been forced to sell off buildings and Soviet-era assets such as holiday camps and clinics, and “are now in fact ‘owned’ by wealthy individuals”. Some have even held joint actions with the armed fascist groups. Anyone protesting against rocketing unemployment, corruption or lost savings are labelled criminal, ‘separatist’ or “the hand of Putin”.
OSCE has declared every election in Ukraine since the February 2014 fascist coup legitimate. And earlier this year Britain doubled its military assistance to Ukraine, to provide training for an army which now incorporates 84 fascist battalions.There is absolutely no democracy in Ukraine, and its working people are being ruthlessly crushed. International solidarity with Ukraine’s citizens resisting this dictatorship must go on. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Afghan victims of war



Book review



By Daphne Liddle

The Displaced:£10 Published by Guy Smallman (guysmallman.com)

GUY SMALLMAN is a rare kind of photojournalist; he is a freelance who is not sponsored by any of the big media corporations or press barons but he gets to places in the world where there are important stories to be told about the impact of war and conflict on local people’s lives that western governments would prefer were not reported.
He is funded by a group of fellow left-wing journalists known a Reel News, and has been visiting Afghanistan regularly since 2008; he now has a network of friends there.
Guy does not make judgements or long political comments – he lets his camera do the talking and leaves us to make up our minds.
Last Tuesday, he launched a new booklet of stunning photos of “the displaced” – Afghan people who have been forced from their homes by the wars and are refugees in their own country, scraping by from one day to the next on next to nothing.
The biggest killer among them is cold and young children are the most vulnerable. One of the most poignant pictures is of a man carrying the small body of his 18-month old niece, Saiyma Gadazia, to bury her among the graves of other children after she froze to death on the floor of her home in Char-e-Qamba camp last January.
Her father, Safarali Gadazia, an unemployed labourer, had reluctantly moved his family to colder, more polluted Kabul as the Sangin district of Helmand province became intolerable.
Without an ID card he could not get work and would be arrested by the police or army on suspicion of being a “foreign fighter”. If he carried an ID card he risked being detained and beaten by the Taliban as a “government spy”.
Many of the pictures are children playing in the rubble of bombed buildings in Kabul, or huddling round small heaters for warmth.
Conditions are about to get worse as neighbouring Pakistan is carrying out its threat to expel three million Afghan refugees, many of whom have to homes or land to return to.
The book launch in Shoreditch, east London, was packed. Guy made a very short speech and Elsie Bowerman, whose group Voices For Creative Non Violence runs loads of projects for disadvantaged kids in Afghanistan, spoke of the reality of being a woman in modern Afghanistan and the extra difficulties they face in making a living because of the religious restrictions on women going out alone.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

THE BATTLE OF POLITICAL IDEAS

Revolutionary action is unstoppable

by Andy Brooks

IT'S not easy being a communist in Britain. We come under constant attack from the ruling class; from social-democracy in all its forms; from the revisionists; the Trotskyites and the rest of the ultra-left fringe. Though often disturbing to those who are new to our ranks we should be glad that this is happening because to be attacked by the enemy is a good thing and not a bad thing.
Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong, writing in 1939 when the communists were battling Chiang Kai Shek's war-lords and the Japanese invaders, said: "I hold that it is bad as far as we are concerned if a person, a political party, an army or a school is not attacked by the enemy, for in that case it would definitely mean that we have sunk to the level of the enemy.
It is good if we are attacked by the enemy, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. It is still better if the enemy attacks us wildly and paints us as utterly black and without a single virtue; it demonstrates that we have not only drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves but achieved a great deal in our work".
It would take an encyclopedia to sum up the entire historical experience of Trotskyism and Anarchism, nor do we need to do it. But we do need to occasionally focus on these two schools of thought which cause so much diversion and harm within the labour movement particularly as they masquerade as socialist movements. Indeed many militant workers, who see that social-democracy is essentially class-collaboration, assume these other trends are socialist in their theory and practice simply because that is what they claim to be.

trotskyism and anarchism
 
Most of us have experienced the disruptive and splittist results of Trotskyite action at first hand in the labour and peace movement. Trotskyite movements in Britain are distinct and organised even when they work within the Labour Party as "entryists" -- a ploy favoured by the old "Workers' Revolutionary Party" until they were expelled by Wilson and continued today by other Trotskyite factions, or the "deep entryism" of the old Militant Tendency until some of their leaders were driven out during the Kinnock leadership.
Anarchism and Anarcho-syndicalism is something different. There are a handful of anarchist groups in this country which publish journals or organise around the Industrial Workers of the World movement.
But the trade unions never produced a syndicalist movement anything like the one which grew during the pre-war Spanish republic or a trade union leader like the American Joe Hill. Though it did found a co-operative movement which continues to this day which also provided a basis for syndicalist ideas.
Though the old Independent Labour Party, which briefly flourished in the Thirties, was a haven for a rag-bag of hair-baked syndicalists and Trotskyites, it essentially was no more than a left social-democratic movement -- much like Scargill's Socialist Labour Party today.
But syndicalist ideas, which originated towards the end of the 19th century, are deeply rooted within the left of the organised trade union movement, amongst many who do not even realise the source of these ideas, how old they are and why they will always fail.
An old Soviet book defined Anarchism as "a social and political trend which rejects the necessity of state authority (including working people's power). Adherents of anarchism disapprove of organised struggle of the working class and working people's political activities", and it summarised Anarcho-Syndicalism as "a trend in the working-class movement alien to Marxism-Leninism and ideologically influenced by anarchism. Its supporters reject political struggle and deny the need for an independent workers' party and for the conquest of power by the working people. Anarcho-syndicalists erroneously consider that only through "direct action" (boycott, sabotage, economic strikes) is it possible to destroy capitalism and build a new society in which the trade unions (without the conquest of state power by the workers) will expropriate the means of production belonging to the capitalists". 

petty-bourgeois opportunism
 
The same book described Trotskyism as "a petty-bourgeois opportunist movement hostile to Marxism-Leninism, which arose in the early 20th century and was named after Trotsky, who engaged in revolutionary phrase-mongering while actually preaching capitulating views on all basic questions of the revolutionary struggle.
"Thus, Trotskyites opposed the creation of a Marxist party of the working class and also the leading role of the proletariat in the revolution. They denied the revolutionary possibilities of the proletariat, regarding it as ideologically immature, and the need for an alliance of the working class and the peasantry, considering the latter to be an enemy who could betray the proletriat.
"Characteristic of the Trotskyites were an adventuristic striving to "spur on" the revolution through promoting revolutionary wars in other countries, rejection of the possibility and necessity of peaceful co-existence of states with different social systems and a negative attitude to general democratic movements (they declare the struggle for democracy to be a stage that had already been completed). In our day Trotskyist ideas have been adopted in some countries by ultra-left adventurist groups whose activities do harm to the international working-class movement".
Now lets look at these definitions -- which correspond to the reality of the experience of the revolutionary movement over the past 150 years. In Britain we see with our own eyes that Trotskyite groups are indeed drawn from the petty bourgeois -- the student movement, intellectuals and the rest of the middle strata.
On the other hand it is equally true that syndicalist ideas are mainly found within the trade union movement and the working class. But they have one thing in common -- they are all anti-communist and though they would deny it -- they all elevate individualism and the illusions of bourgeois democracy. And they all dismiss the revolutionary experience of the Soviet Union, People's China and the remaining socialist countries as at the best irrelevant, but mainly as an obstacle to what they call socialism.
The syndicalists like the rest in the social-democratic camp reject socialist revolutions as "undemocratic" -- they call them "communist dictatorships" and during the Cold War they flocked to side of reactionaries and Western agents. like the leaders of the Polish Solidarnosc union movement or the Afghan mujahadeen militia in the 80s. So did virtually all the Trotskyites.
Trotsky's followers claim it is impossible to build socialism in one state and that socialism can only occur when the working class take power in several imperialist countries at the same time. It is based on Trotsky's crackpot theories of "permament revolution" and "world proletarian revolution". They claim that an alliance between workers and peasants is impossible which means that socialist revolutions can only succeed in the industrial heartlands of Western Europe and the United States.
It was an idea also upheld by mainstream European social-democracy before the First World War to justify the vast colonial empires of the imperialist states. It's an idea which lurks behind the babble of talk about "globalisation" by so-called left-wingers who ignore the continuing revolutionary upsurge in the Third World.
For all of these people the struggle for national liberation is completely futile. Like the leaders of international social-democracy, Trotsky himself brushed aside the problems of the anti-imperialist movement in the colonial empires of his day, regarding them as of no consequence as long as capitalism remained entrenched in the developed imperialist countries. When fascist Italy invaded Abyssinia (as Ethiopia was then known) in 1935 Trotsky declared that "Socialists have nothing to do there, as the defence of Abyssinia would amount to defence of feudalism".
Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin attached immense importance to the national liberation struggle. Trotsky's heirs usually dismissed liberation movements as "petty bourgeois nationalism".
For the Trotskyites the Soviet Union and the socialist countries are at best "deformed workers' states" -- at worst they are "state capitalist". Therefore the peace campaign is meaningless. They claim to defend socialist revolutions when they come under attack from imperialism -- in practice they normally side with imperialism.
To deny the possibility of building socialism in one state or in any non-industrialised country leads to the hidden conclusion that socialism is simply unattainable today and can only be conceived in the remote future when the Trotskyite movement of their dreams gets mass support in the imperialist states.
Lenin drew the opposite conclusion. In his study of capitalism at its imperialist stage he concluded "Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone".
Lenin explained that the world socialist revolution would consist of several stages separated by longer or shorter periods of time. Revolutions in individual countries would emerge as relatively independent links in a single world-wide socialist revolution which embraces an entire epoch in history. 

sectarianism
 
Marx and Engels waged an uncompromising struggle in the First International against sectarianism and anarchism in all its forms.
The common theme of all these movements is the claim that the structure of communist parties is undemocratic and that socialist states are in essence dictatorships of the Party -- not the class. The other thing they have in common is that they all fail.

 Democratic Centralism
 
Democratic Centralism is based on the trade union principle that a majority decision is binding on all members, whether they voted for it or not. It is the only way to organise effective industrial action. It's a concrete expression of solidarity.
Lenin made the decisive and historic break with the Mensheviks on this cardinal principlewhose Soviet definition was "the guiding principle of Marxist-Leninist communist and workers' parties ... means that all leading Party bodies from top to bottom are elected and that periodical reports are given by Party bodies to their Party organisations and to higher bodies. It calls for creative initiative by communists, strict Party discipline and the subordination of the minority to the majority. It means that the decisions of higher bodies are binding on lower bodies. It means inner-Party democracy, criticism and self-criticism".
It's amplified in the statement on Inner Party Democracy issued by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in 1957 which provides the basis for the New Communist Party's rules except where subsequent NCP Congress's have changed them. It stresses the fact that the principle of democratic centralism arose from the experience of the British labour movement, as well as from the experience of the working class in other countries, in the late 19th century when the class found itself pitted against a ruling class which had established a highly centralised direction of its forces.
It is the guarantee of genuine class democracy within the Party. It should not be confused with the parody of democratic centralism practiced by sectarians in the communist movement.
Marx and Engels warned that any organisation that relied exclusively on centralism and rejected democratic leadership would suit only secret societies and sectarian movements. Groups which work in this way are doomed to a shadowy existence and they can never hope to win the trust or confidence of the working class. 

factionalism
 
Some Trotskyite groups claim to practice democratic centralism because they want to pass off Trotskyism as Leninism. What they in theory and practice elevate is the principle of factionalism.
Now factionalism is not the invention of Leon Trotsky. It is simply an expression of bourgeois and social democracy. Bourgeois Parties find it quite normal to have open factions in their ranks -- the Tories with their "Eurosceptics", Monday Clubs and Bow Groups and Labour which has had all sorts include the Tribune Group, Manifesto Group, Clause Four, Socialist Campaign and the Socialist Forum during its long history.
The bourgeois parliament elevates this with the concept of government and opposition. The government rules and the opposition opposes. The govemment's decisions are not binding on the opposition -- though they are of course binding on the government. And this is how the Trotskyites work in broad organisations. If they participate they only accept the decisions they voted for -- and reserve the right to oppose what they oppose regardless of any vote to the contrary.
This has now been elevated to a fine art by some Trotskyite theorists. Splitting working class organisations -- on the theory that this isolates the right-wing -- is the rule of the day for some of them. Others maintain extreme hostility to social-democracy, to the extent that social-democratic parties are branded as the main enemy rather than the capitalists' own parties, sowing further divisions within the labour movement. At the same time most of them have no difficulty in closing ranks with social-democracy when it comes to anti-communist campaigns.
Within their own organisations they recognise the right to faction which leads to the inevitable splits and divisions which follow, the multiplication of Trotskyite groups and their inherent instability.
The root of it all is petty bourgeois individualism. During the Chinese revolution Trotskyism wasn't a problem but "ultra-democracy" in opposition to democratic centralism was attacked by Mao Zedong back in 1929 who said: "In the sphere of theory, destroy the roots of ultra-democracy. First, it should be pointed out that the danger of ultra-democracy lies in the fact that it damages or even completely wrecks the Party organisation and weakens or even completely undermines the Party's fighting capacity, rendering the Party incapable of fulfilling its fighting tasks and thereby causing the defeat of the revolution.
"Next, it should be pointed out that the source of ultra-democracy consists in the petty bourgeoisies's individualistic aversion to discipline. When this characteristic is brought into the Party, it develops into ultra-democratic ideas politically and organisationally. These ideas are utterly incompatible with the fighting tasks of the proletariat".
The Trotskyites claim that they are genuine "socialists", genuine "democrats" opposed to dictatorship -- a position naturally shared by the social-democrats and the bourgeoisie.
But bourgeois democracy is not democracy for the working class and factionalism within a Party is not democracy for the majority of its members -- it specifically denies the majority the right to carry out any decision -- but the democracy of faction leaders and cliques.
The basis of bourgeois democracy is the mobilisation of the maximum number of votes by the smallest number of people. The basis of democratic centralism is that the will of the masses is carried out. It's no surprise to see that the first target of the revisionists -- be they Eurocommunists or bogus communists who pose as "left" but are really rightist -- is democratic centralism. They all seek to substitute it with bourgeois democracy -- sometimes in the form of "platforms" -- a pseudo-Marxist term for a faction.
Syndicalist views are something different. They are not the product of tiny groups of intellectuals but the heritage of a century or more of trade union militancy. These ideas are manifested in the concept that trade union work is paramount and ultimately the only revolutionary way and in the idea that mass industrial action can bring down governments, and in the idea that the ruling class can be overthrown through a General Strike.
In the 70s these views were common throughout the left of the labour movement and were upheld in part by the CPGB's Industrial Department and the revisionist leadership.
The experience of the working class movement throughout the world confirms Lenin's thesis that to make a revolution you need a revolutionary party. The failure of the Paris Commune, the experience of the 1926 General Strike and the century plus experience of the British trade union movement all show that trade unions can never play the vanguard role. That's not their purpose, that's not what they were set up to do, nor can they ever fulfill that role -- though it is in the trade unions and particularly at the point of production that communists must be most active, to encourage militancy, to give wise and determined leadership, and to recruit from the best elements of the class to build the revolutionary party.
Only a revolutionary party can lead the class to overthrow the bourgeoisie. It can't be done through bourgeois elections -- because when the ruling class is threatened they abandon the trappings of democracy -- which is after all only democracy amongst themselves -- and go into open dictatorship. It can't be done through General Strikes because they in themselves can so easily be defeated or diverted by our rulers -- though a general strike is part of the arsenal of the revolutionary advance.
A socialist revolution means the transfer of political power from the capitalist class to the working class. It can only succeed with the mobilisation of the masses. It can only succeed when the ruling class are unable to rule in the old way and the working class are no longer prepared to be ruled in the old way. There must be a leading Marxist-Leninist Party around which the working class can close ranks.
Finally we must always remember that it's not Parties that make revolutions it's working people -- the overwhelming majority of the population of this country -- who once they realise their strength are unstoppable. 

first published in the New Worker in 1998

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Living the Dream in the DPRK

Dermot Hudson at the rostrum for the seminar
By Dermot Hudson
I VISITED the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) from the 6th September to the 13th September to participate in the International Seminar on the Juche Idea for Anti-Imperialism, Independence and Solidarity. The trip was organised by the Korean Association of Social Scientists (KASS) and the International Institute of the Juche Idea (IIJI) and included the celebrations of the 68th anniversary of the foundation of the DPRK, the sacred homeland of Juche!
I made the long journey from London to the DPRK travelling via Beijing. After a 10 hour flight from London I spent one night in Beijing and then proceeded to Pyongyang on Air Koryo. At Beijing Airport I was able to meet Comrade Mikel Vivanko of the Juche Idea Study Group of Spain and KFA Official Delegate for Spain, and also some Juche Idea followers who recognised me from Facebook.
 Koryo is a most revolutionary airline, unlike capitalist airlines; the video screens said it was the "flight of Songun Korea". When we flew over the Amnokgang River the stewardess announced that we were flying over the sites of the anti-Japanese revolutionary battlefields where the anti-Japanese guerrillas lie buried. Our plane glided into Pyongyang.
I was met at the airport by the vice-director of KASS and my guide for the visit, Ms Ri from the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies. She had been my guide in October 2015, and had been a most helpful and kind guide who made me feel at home. I also met the chair of the Writers Union of Korea at the airport.
Although some parts of Korea had been affected by floods, the situation in Pyongyang was quite normal. Looking out of the window of the bus I could see abundant and lush crops of rice and maize growing well in the fields. Later, on the road to the Pyongyang golf course, I also saw fine crops that were beautiful to look at. There was no sign of the crop failure or famine that the lying imperialist media continually claim exist in the DPRK. Indeed, living standards in the DPRK are continuously improving. The DPRK is pushing ahead with massive construction projects such as Ryomyong Street.
When I visited the DPRK in April, Ryomyong Street had simply been flat ground with many construction lorries running up and down. But this time I saw futuristic buildings towering high into the sky; they looked totally out of this world. When the DPRK build streets these are as big as small cities and house up to 20,000 people. The streets have not only apartments but also shops, service facilities and even hospitals. The flats are given to people free of charge – something Londoners could only dream of.  Housing construction was also evident in the rural areas.
Pyongyang is a city of construction and People's Korea is a country of construction. It is amazing that the DPRK is capable of such large scale construction. In London it is said that it costs £150,000 to build one flat (which is then sold for up to £500,000 or more) so the cost of building 20,000 flats would be at least £3 billion!
This shows a number of things: firstly, that the DPRK is putting the people first and investing huge amounts of funds in raising living standards; secondly, the DPRK is also carrying out massive defence construction including the bolstering of the nuclear deterrent – this is the dual line of building up the economy and nuclear force in parallel. Only Juche Korea can carry out such a line.
In the past the revisionist USSR put emphasis on defence build-up but was unable to maintain a high level of economic growth. They asserted that it was impossible to develop the economy and defence in parallel. This is not true of course, as the experience of the DPRK proves. The USSR failed to maintain the building of both the economy and defence because of the malady of modern revisionism and lack of militant anti-imperialist spirit.
In the DPRK the massive construction is being carried out in the face of sanctions by the US imperialists and their executive enforcement agency, the UN Security Council, as well as other imperialists and big power chauvinists. The great self-development first idea and the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance enable the Korean people to carry out a high level of construction, despite the sanctions.
Dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un said that the construction of Ryomyong Street would deal a blow against the sanctions and blockade of the imperialist reactionaries. The self-development first idea is a contemporary application of the great Juche idea and the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance. Some reactionaries and class enemies maintain that People's Korea should abandon Juche and adopt "reform" and "opening up". Such a course would be worse than death. Those countries that adopted "reform" and "opening up" have suffered disaster, despair, crisis and conflict.
During the period of my visit, Juche Korea carried out its 5th nuclear test, on the 9th of September, fully displaying the spirit of Juche and self-reliance. It was an act of militant anti-imperialism that defied the sanctions, blockades and threats of the US imperialists and their followers, as well as the big power chauvinists, revisionists and class enemies. I saw on TV the veteran DPRK news announcer Ri Chun Hee announce the nuclear test. Earlier, on 6th September, the DPRK had conducted the most impressive test of a road-launched Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Both the ICBM test and nuclear test dealt heavy blows against US imperialism. I feel excited to be in the DPRK at a time when the DPRK conducted these tests.
Anti-Imperialism, Independence and Solidarity were the themes of the International Seminar on the Juche Idea, attended by delegates from Spain, Germany, Britain, Russia, Italy, Sri-Lanka, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Uganda, Democratic Congo and Japan. The seminar was presided over by Dr Harish Gupta of the IIJI and was held in the presence of comrade Kim Ki Nam, vice-chair of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK). The speeches were very lively and militant, with diverse opinions given on the situations in various countries but with overall unity around the Juche Idea and Songun Idea. Of particular note were the speeches by Dmitri Kostenko of Russia, by Mikel Vivanko of Spain, Mr Jain of India and one of the Nepalese delegates.
We had excellent video lectures on human rights, the dual line of building the economy and defence in parallel, and Korean folk traditions, which had been prepared by KASS. These lectures proved very useful and increased greatly my understanding of the DPRK. We will share them amongst our members.
We were also given an excellent lecture by Professor Mun Jong Suk on the 7th Congress of the WPK. This lecture was packed full of information. I learnt a lot about the self-development first idea of the DPRK – for example that the DPRK even produces its own sugar Okdang from maize. Truly the DPRK is the most self-reliant country in the world that can stand on its own two feet.
I had the honour of meeting with vice-chair Kim Ki Nam of the WPK twice during my visit. I was also happy to pay a visit to my old friends at the Pyongyang Mission of the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic front of south Korea, which is headed by veteran south Korean revolutionary comrade Zo Il Min.
We had excellent discussions and my hosts showed me two excellent videos, which I enjoyed. We had detailed discussions on the struggle and I met the comrades from the Korean Committee For Cultural Relations and had cordial discussions. The KASS organised a wonderful Joint Friendship Gathering for us at the Pyongyang Golf Course. This consisted of some sports games, then a barbecue and picnic lunch, rounded off by a singing performance.
Sports are a big challenge for me because I have never played any sports since I was at 6th form college 36 years ago. For singing I chose to sing the song the Red Flag, which is common to both Korea and Britain but the Korean version is much faster and differently paced to the British version, which is slow and a bit sombre. In Britain the Red Flag used to be sung at Labour party conferences until arch-traitor Tony Blair banned them from singing it. I think my rendition of the Red Flag was appreciated by the audience. All the foreigners sang the song We will go to Mt Paektu but this was a challenge to me because I think it would take several months for me to learn properly to do the song justice. All Korean people are like professional singers and seem very talented.
On this visit I was able to see the newly constructed Pyongyang Orphans Secondary School on the outskirts of Pyongyang. This has 21 classrooms including an anti-imperialist class education room. It has all the latest facilities and equipment. The school has a massive swimming pool, as well as a multi-use sports hall and a splendid dining room. This dining room did not look like a school dining room at all but like a hotel or a restaurant.
On display in the anti-imperialist class education room were pictures showing the history of US imperialist aggression on Korea. By carrying out anti-imperialist class education the DPRK makes sure that the US imperialists and capitalists do not sneak their ideology into People's Korea. Bourgeois ideology is highly corrosive and poisonous; it can spread insidiously unless resolute and decisive preventive measures are taken. The Pyongyang Orphans School was a good example of the people-oriented policies of the WPK and the dear respected leader Marshal Kim Jong Un.
In capitalist societies orphans are regarded as rejects and outcasts. Children's homes exist in capitalist countries but are fearful places where abuse, physical and sexual, of the children can take place. Usually in my country children who are raised in children's homes become unemployed when they grow up or drift into crime.
 DPRK attaches great importance to youth. Recently the 9th Congress of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League (now renamed the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League) was held in the presence of the dear respected leader Marshal Kim Jong Un. On the TV I saw the massive torchlight parade of youth. My guide Ms Ri told me that she had participated in it. A splendid Museum of Youth Movement History has been built in Kwangbok Street. Here we could see how the history of the Korean youth movement developed under the guidance of President Kim Il Sung, Chair Kim Jong Il and Marshal Kim Jong Un.
There were also pictures and relics showing the contribution of anti-Japanese revolutionary heroine Madame Kim Jong Suk to the youth movement. Ms Ri asked me if we have a youth league in Britain, of course the answer is no.
Some political parties maintain small youth leagues and there are organisations such as the Boy Scouts, which are seen as a joke (in the case of the scouts highly discredited because of their founder's support for fascism and numerous paedophile scandals). Only People's Korea has its own mass youth league. The DPRK trusts young people and puts them forward as one of the pillars of society.
We also visited the Kumususan Palace of the Sun, Mangyondae, the Fatherland Liberation War Museum, the Sci-Tech Complex and the Circus. We enjoyed an excellent art performance at the splendid Pyongwha Art Theatre, which I had never been to before. The performance was based on the legendary Korean song Aririang. I liked the Songun Aririang and the piece about Generalissimo Kim Jong Il ascending the steep Chol pass.
The DPRK is developing excellent cultural facilities for people. I had visited the Pyongyang Zoo four years ago in 2012 but was surprised by the change this time. I did not recognise the entrance to the Zoo, which had totally changed. The Zoo has been reconstructed and expanded; it is very modern with a nature museum. Visitors can also observe fish at close quarters because you can actually walk through a transparent passage that is under water. There are electric cars to ferry visitors around the zoo, thus affording great convenience to people. Ms Ri told me that entrance to the Pyongyang Zoo is nearly free-of-charge so that working people may visit it. But the London Zoo at Regents Park charges £25 for an adult to visit and £29 for a fast track ticket! A ticket for a child costs £17.
In People's Korea of Juche, recreational and cultural facilities are not a means of money making for capitalist parasites but a means of enriching the cultural and emotional lives of the people. The DPRK is pursuing a genuine people-oriented policy thanks to the Juche Idea and the leadership of the dear respected leader Marshal Kim Jong Un.
 was deeply impressed by the hospitality shown by the Korean people. I was given a big hotel room that seemed bigger than my residence (which is 50 square metres) and had a balcony from which I could see Mirae Scientists Street and even glimpse the River Taedong. My guide, Ms Ri, was very helpful, always working hard to arrange my schedule and did everything possible to make my stay convenient as well as providing some short but good explanations of the Juche Idea.
Everyone was very friendly to me even though I had come from a hostile imperialist country, a country that to my eternal shame even sent troops to fight against People's Korea and to prevent reunification.
Although I have visited the DPRK 12 times, each time I learn something new. Being in the DPRK is like being in a dream – a country where there are no homeless or beggars sleeping in shop doorways or in pedestrian subways; a country without internal conflict or contradictions; a society based on single-hearted unity! I think if I lived in the DPRK I would only miss a cup of British tea and fish and chips, as well as my family and friends.
I was sad to leave People's Korea and return to London. Visiting the DPRK for the 12th time I became convinced that the road I had taken was and is the correct one and that I should not deviate from it. I pledged myself to study the Juche Idea and Songun Idea even more intensely and to carry out our work better.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Novorossiya: Thousands killed by fascists since Minsk

by Theo Russell

ACCORDING to figures recently obtained from the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) authorities, since the February 2015 Minsk II agreement over 3,600 civilians have died in the republic because of shelling, sniper and other attacks by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The DPR, along with the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), broke away from Ukraine in May 2014 following “status referendums” and the two republics declared a confederation, Novorossiya.
They grew out of the “Anti-Maidan” movement in the largely Russian-speaking Donbas, Odessa and Crimea regions that sought to prevent the far-right groups which hijacked the “Euromaidan” protests entering their towns and cities after the February 2014 fascist coup in Kiev.
It was hoped that Minsk II, which followed the September 2014 Minsk Protocol and was signed by Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, François Holland and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, would end the war in eastern Ukraine and pave the way for elections and separate status for the “people’s republics”.
But the fighting has never really ended and there are reports of civilian casualties caused by Ukrainian strikes on the rebel republics on an almost daily basis. On 28th August, according to residents of the Petrovsky district of Donetsk city, a Ukrainian sniper shot two women dead “just for fun”.
According to data obtained recently from the DPR authorities, 3,609 civilians died in strikes by Ukrainian forces between 13 February 2015 and 26 August 2016, of which 3,133 were men, 476 women, 65 children and 352 “unknown”.
In addition, figures from the DPR Ministry of Utilities and Housing Construction state that up 20 July 2016, 4, 359 “multi-family housing” were damaged, of which 54 are irreparable, and 6,307 private houses damaged, of which 1,853 are irreparable.
As the neighbouring Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) has also experienced similar military strikes and civilian casualties, a very rough estimate would suggest that at least 6,000 civilians have died in strikes by Ukrainian forces on the Donbass republics since Minsk II.
Obtaining accurate figures for casualties in the war in eastern Ukraine is extremely difficult because of the unstable and insecure situation on the ground, and the fact that the conflict is highly politicised and controversial.
On 3rd August the UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs Tayé-Brook Zerihoun reported to the UN Security Council that the total number of conflict-related casualties since the Ukrainian government launched its “Anti-Terrorist Operation” in April 2014 was 30,729, including 9,333 killed and 21,396 injured.
no breakdown
But the report provides no breakdown of where the casualties have occurred other than “in the conflict area” and there is no indication of which side was responsible.
According to the latest figures from the UN Human Rights Office (UNHRO) and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 261 civilians were killed in the conflict on both sides from February 2015 to June 2016 — far fewer than the DPR’s figures would suggest.
But the UNHRO says that its figures are a “conservative estimate of the OHCHR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights] based on available data” that are “incomplete due to gaps in coverage of certain geographic areas and time periods, and due to overall under-reporting.”
In February 2015 press reports quoted claims from the German BND intelligence service that 50,000 civilians and servicemen had died in the Ukraine conflict, almost 10 times greater than figures given by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshkenko only days before, which said 1,200 Ukrainian soldiers and 5,400 civilians had died.
The Ukraine government does not appear to have any accurate figures for civilian casualties in the conflict. A report in May quoting Mykhailo Koval, First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, said “Russia-backed militants have killed 10,000 Ukrainians and injured more than 20,000 over the past two years” — a strangely precise number, with no breakdown of civilian and military casualties or locations.
The only other body providing detailed information on casualties in the conflict is the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, which has over 570 unarmed civilian monitors in the conflict region. But apart from daily updates the SMM has provided no total figures for casualties, although it has issued reports on the displacement of civilians, access to water and “Gender Dimensions of SMM’s Monitoring”.
Relations between the DPR and LPR governments and the OSCE mission have been deteriorating for months, with the people’s republics claiming it is biased towards the Ukrainian side.
On 29th August the DPR’s Defence Ministry claimed OSCE observers had refused to register damage caused by Ukrainian shelling of Yasinivataya, just north of Donetsk city, “explaining this by the absence of security in this area.”
Last April the Donbas International News Agency reported that the OSCE mission failed to report heavy shelling of Zaitsevo, a village close to the front-line, by Ukrainian forces. At the time Zaitsevo was a flashpoint stoking fears of a return to all-out war, with over a thousand people without electricity, gas or humanitarian aid for several months.
It was also claimed in April that the OSCE failed report the shelling of a hospital in Yelenovka, despite reporting another shelling only 880 metres away. According to reports from the DPR side, 6 civilians were killed and 10 wounded in the two strikes.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine’s mandate says that its mission is “to reduce tensions and to help foster peace, stability and security” by engaging “with authorities at all levels, as well as civil society, ethnic and religious groups and local communities to facilitate dialogue on the ground.”
In May the leaders of the DPR reacted strongly to claims by Poroshenko’s press office that the other leaders of the “Normandy four” contact group (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) had approved the deployment of an armed OSCE police force to the region. Poroshenko said it would be “well-armed with heavy weapons.”
The leaders of the DPR government, Denis Pushilin and Alexander Zakharchenko, declared this plan a “foreign intervention”. Zakharchenko called on Kiev to make a real effort for a peaceful settlement “rather than trying to arm the OSCE to seize the Donbas.”
accusations
Accusations that the OSCE serves Western interests date back to the 2004—2005 “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine. In 2007 Vladimir Putin said that Western States were “trying to transform the OSCE into a vulgar instrument designed to promote the foreign policy interests of one or a group of countries,” using “so-called non-governmental organisations tailored for this task” that “are formally independent but are purposefully financed and therefore under control.”
Russia remains an active OSCE member however, because the organisation would play a major part in any implementation of the Minsk agreements.
Incredibly, the OSCE has declared every election in Ukraine since the February 2014 fascist coup legitimate, despite the fact that the coup was carried out by armed Nazi-supporting groups (Svoboda and the Right Sector), and the removal of Viktor Yanukovych was in breach of the Ukrainian constitution on several counts.
According to the OSCE, the May 2014 presidential election was “a genuine election largely in line with international commitments and with a respect for fundamental freedoms in the vast majority of the country,” and the parliamentary election in October 2014 had “offered voters real choice, and a general respect for fundamental freedoms.”
So the OSCE clearly saw no problems with the fact that many violent Nazis, including militia leaders guilty of serious crimes, were elected to parliament, or that 84 neo-Nazi battalions continue to run amok in Ukraine, attacking, murdering and kidnapping any opponents of the regime, desecrating Jewish holocaust memorials, and threatening and intimidating judges and the police.
According to Donbas sources, a ceasefire announced on 1st September by the Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE), and renewed twice since then, seems to have had little effect. Both the Donbas International News Agency and the OSCE have reported hundreds of violations in the past week.
The truth is that there are no internationally accepted figures for civilian deaths in the Ukraine war — but as in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, Libya and Syria many thousands have died as a result of wars launched by US—NATO imperialism.
And all the while the people of Ukraine are languishing under an effective dictatorship, under which no democratic rights exist, and no opposition to ultra-nationalism or outright fascism is tolerated.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

OLIVER CROMWELL







OLIVER CROMWELL

1599 – 1658


OLIVER CROMWELL, the leader of the bourgeois English Revolution, died on 3rd September 1658. Cromwell, the MP for Huntingdon, was the leading Parliamentary commander during the English Civil War, which began in 1642 and ended in 1649 with the trial and execution of Charles Stuart and the abolition of the monarchy. The Republic of England, or Commonwealth as it was styled in English, was proclaimed soon after.
In 1653 Oliver became head of state, the Lord Protector. By then the republic Cromwell led included England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland as well as colonies in New England and the Caribbean. During its brief life the Commonwealth became a force in Europe. Culturally it inspired the great poetry of John Milton and Andrew Marvell and other radical and pacifist religious movements like the Quakers who are still with us today.
Oliver Cromwell was succeeded by his son, Richard, who was neither a politician nor a soldier. Unable to reconcile republican generals with the demands of the rich merchants and landowners to curb the influence of the New Model Army, Richard Cromwell resigned the following year. The government collapsed. The monarchy was restored in 1660 and the New Model Army was dissolved.
Monarchists see Cromwell as an upstart general who made himself dictator through the might of his New Model Army. Some Irish nationalists see him as another brutal bigoted English invader. Some Protestants, even now, regard Cromwell as a religious reformer who fought for freedom of conscience for all faiths apart from Catholicism. Many in the Jewish community still remember Cromwell as the leader who allowed Jews to live, worship and work in England for the first time since the pogroms of 1290. But for the bourgeoisie Oliver is best forgotten, even though their ascendancy began when their ancestors took up the gun in the 1640s.
The ruling class abhor revolutionary change today because it threatens their own domination so they naturally deny that their class ever came to power through it in the first place. For them the English republic is an aberration, a temporary blip in the steady advance of bourgeois progress, which is the myth they teach us in school. If they elevate anything at all it is the “glorious revolution” of 1688 when the last of the Stuarts was deposed and replaced by a king of their own choosing. Though not as bloodless as they claimed – plenty was shed in Ireland – the establishment of a monarchy that was the gift of Parliament was achieved without the involvement of the masses, which was precisely what was intended.
            These days there are few public monuments to Cromwell or the republic that he led apart from a handful of 19th century statues, the most famous standing outside Parliament in Westminster.
            But there is a national Cromwell Museum which holds the largest collection of Cromwelliana on public display in Britain. The collection comprises nearly 700 items, including portraits, clothing, miniatures, arms and armour, historical documents written by or about Cromwell, and one of his death masks.
The Museum is located in the former Huntingdon Grammar School building, which was where Oliver Cromwell was educated as a schoolboy and where he first received exposure to Puritan ideas through the teaching of Dr Thomas Beard.  The building itself is all that remains of the old Hospital of St John, built to provide hospitality for travellers and pilgrims in the 11th century.
The Museum looks at more than simply Cromwell himself; it also examines his impact and his legacy right through to our own times. It is well worth a visit at:


Grammar School Walk,
Huntingdon PE29 3LF

 And it is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11:00 – 15:30.