Friday, December 30, 2011


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Socialism is the future!

KKE leader Aleka Papariga opens conference

By our European Affairs correspondent

Over a hundred comrades from 78 parties, including the New Communist Party of Britain, took part in the 13th International Meeting of communist and workers’ parties in Athens last weekend.
 Representatives came from 59 countries, including delegations from the ruling parties of Cuba, DPR Korea, Laos, Vietnam and those that participate in government like the  South African Communist Party, the two Syrian communist parties, AKEL in Cyprus and the People’s Progressive Party of Guyana.
          The conference was hosted by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) whose resistance to the bourgeois offensive sparked off the mass struggle against the austerity programme throughout Europe. At the close of the three day event delegates joined the picket line in solidarity with steelworkers who’ve been out for over six weeks striking against short time and a 40 per cent cut in wages.
The communist response to the global capitalist crisis was, naturally, a major theme in the three days of debate in the Greek capital. The communist movement also looked at rise of racism and fascism in Europe, the way US-led imperialism was exploiting the upheavals in the Arab world and imperialist aggression all over the world.
          In his contribution NCP leader Andy Brooks said that: ”In Britain and throughout the rest of the European Union the labour movement has two options as its economic standards decline and its political and democratic rights are eroded.
          “One option for the labour movement is to remain tied to reformist ideology and continue to give its support to right-wing social democratic leadership which co-operates with and capitulates with the demands and interests of state monopoly capitalism.
          “These leaderships have no commitment to socialism, no commitment to defend the welfare state and the social wage and no commitment to renationalise the industries that have been privatised. They lead no effective fight to mobilise the people against reactionary governments. They betray, and work for the defeat of workers in struggle. They refuse to countenance any action which infringes against reactionary capitalist laws. They work to strengthen Nato and US imperialism’s military and political grip over Europe and in Britain and France the social-democratic leadership remains committed to the possession and development of vast nuclear arsenals.
“The other option is to fight to defeat the right-wing class collaborators in the unions and the social democratic movements while building the revolutionary party dedicated to the struggle that can unite and mobilise the working class behind the banner of socialism. Socialism is the only alternative that can achieve the emancipation of the working class and fulfill the people’s desire for world peace, nuclear disarmament and the elimination of the causes of war”.
In the final statement the conference strongly condemned the imperialist war of Nato and the European Union against the Libyan people and the threats and interference in the internal affairs of Syria and Iran, as well as of any other country. It considered that every foreign intervention against Iran under whatever pretext attacks the interests of the Iranian workers and their struggles for democratic freedoms, social justice and social rights.
The conference declared that only socialism can create the conditions for the eradication of wars, unemployment, hunger, misery, illiteracy, the uncertainty of hundreds of millions of people, the destruction of the environment. Only socialism creates the conditions for development according to the contemporary needs of the workers.
          “Working people, farmers, urban and rural workers, women, young people, we call on you to struggle together to put an end to this capitalist barbarity. There is hope, there is a prospect. The future belongs to socialism”.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Goodbye Barcelona: a stirring anti-fascist musical


By Theo Russell

IT IS ALMOST unheard of these days on the London theatre scene to come across a committed anti-fascist musical, in which there are two renditions of The Internationale, as well as No Pasaran! and A valley in Spain called Jarama.
Even for those like myself with no great love for musicals, Goodbye Barcelona, currently showing at the Arcola Theatre in Hackney, is a stirring, visually superb and extremely well acted production. As much a play as it is a musical; there’s a good dose of humour as well.
It is remarkable that today, 75 years after the start of the Spanish Civil War, its politics are still the subject of heated debate and argument in Britain. While Goodbye Barcelona refers to many of the crucial issues – the Soviet Union’s role, the anarchists, and the despicable Anglo-French non-intervention policy – its main focus is on the experiences of three very different International Brigade volunteers.
While the political message becomes slightly confusing towards the end, ultimately the anti-fascist message is not lost.
The story begins in London’s East End in 1936 and 18-year-old Sammy’s part in the battle of Cable Street. Sammy and his single mother Rebecca are Jewish working class anti-fascists and Daily Worker readers.
Sammy responds to La Pasionaria’s appeal to defend the Spanish Republic and decides to become a volunteer. In Spain he falls in with George, an older and more experienced communist, and Jack, a bitter and cynical veteran of the Great War.
Later Rebecca, desperate to find her son, joins the brigade as a nurse, and falls in love with the wounded Spanish anarchist Ernesto, from a remote village in the grip of fascist feudal landowners.
Much of the play is taken up by this affair, and Sammy’s with Spanish girl Pilar, both of which reflect the enormous hardships and sacrifices endured during the war. But more interesting is the ongoing conflict Sammy and George have with the cynic Jack.
Jack is provocative, constantly harping on Stalin’s alleged “treachery”, and morally dubious, and Sammy and George angrily berate Jack’s lack of morals and political commitment.
The climax of the show is towards the end when Sammy, facing the prospect of defeat, becomes disillusioned and defeatist. Just before dying in battle, he tells Jack: “I’m too ashamed to go home. We’ve lost. We’ve lost everything.” But Jack reassures him, saying “You’ve told me enough times. The People!”
            After Sammy’s death Rebecca receives his letter in the same defeatist tone, and says to Ernesto: “We should never have come,” to which he responds: “Don’t you say that! Don’t you dare say that! Spain will never forget what you people try to do for us. Never.”
This episode is somewhat confusing, but the message is that the sacrifices of the International Brigadiers were after all worthwhile and necessary, and that while individuals caught up in war react differently; the volunteers’ cause was heroic and just.
The play is based on a collection of interviews with Brigade veterans by Judith Johnson, with music and lyrics by K S Lewkowicz, and was directed and choreographed by Karen Rabinowitz. It received strong support from Civil War veterans, including the late Jack Jones, and the International Brigade Memorial Trust.
The press launch was attended by the Spanish ambassador and cultural attache and representatives of the Catalan government, and was widely reviewed in Spain. We recommend our readers to see Goodbye Barcelona for themselves.

Goodbye Barcelona runs at the Arcola Theatre until 23rd December (box office 0207 503 1646). Entrance on Tuesdays is pay what you can afford.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Leon Trotsky as I knew him

Reviewed  by Andy Brooks

Leon Trotsky As I knew him: M N Roy, 32 pp, Second Wave Publications, London 2011 

DO NOT be misled by the title or the flattering portrait on the cover into thinking that this is yet another paean of praise for Leon Trotsky. Don’t dismiss it out of hand because it was written by another one-time revolutionary who fell by the wayside. This paper is, in fact, a biting critique from someone who had been in Trotsky’s camp but ended up voting with all the others in 1927 to expel him from the Communist International.
Manabendra Nath Roy was the movement name of Narendra Nath Bhattacharya, a militant Indian nationalist who embraced Marxism and helped found the communist parties of India and Mexico and later sat on the presidium of the Comintern from 1921 until he too was expelled in 1929 for supporting the Right Opposition of Bukharin and the German communist Heinrich Brandler. M N Roy then tried to form a radical wing within the Indian Congress Party and when that failed he openly renounced Marxism in favour of what he called “radical humanism” to lead an Indian humanist society, until his death in 1954.
            These days M N Roy is barely known amongst the British left and he’s been largely forgotten by the Indian communist movement he spurned so long ago. But in the 1920s M N Roy played a prominent role in the international communist movement, working in Moscow and Berlin for the Communist International, where he came to personally know most of its leading members including Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin.
            This is what makes this pen sketch of Trotsky so interesting. It’s from someone who knew him and someone Trotsky considered an ally of sorts, right up to the final denunciation from the Comintern in 1927.
            The discussion had gone on throughout the night. Speaker after speaker had got up to denounce Trotsky but M N Roy was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt until:
Having agreed that it is not possible to build Socialism in the Soviet Union in the midst of a capitalist world there are two alternatives – either we should continue doing whatever is possible by way of advancing towards the ultimate goal of Socialism, pending the success of revolution in other countries; or we should lay down power in the Soviet Union and go back to emigration to wait for the time when there will be a revolution simultaneously throughout the world. I asked whether Trotsky would choose the latter alternative.
            He shouted “No”. Then I would vote for his expulsion, because he had been advocating a policy without understanding its implications or without meaning to put it into practice if he had the opportunity to do so.
            Trotsky looked crestfallen. All through the night, he had heckled the speakers with challenging questions. He kept quiet while I spoke and hung his head in answer to my question. The historic vote was cast against him – unanimously. The Revolution went over the head of one of its most brilliant products”.
            To find out more read the rest of the article, which written immediately after Trotsky’s assassination in 1940 and later included in Men I Met, a collection of a number of M N Roy’s biographical sketches originally published in Indian magazines.
             Leon Trotsky As I Knew Him is available at £2.00 plus 60p postage from: Second Wave Publications & Distribution, BM Box 2978, London WC1N 3XX.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Solidarity with the working people of Greece, PAME and the KKE

communist and workers parties' joint statement
For more than a year the Greek people, the workers and youth, members of the trade union front PAME and the Communist Party of Greece have said NO to the measures that the Greek government authorities are willing to impose on them. They are completely opposed to the fact that the bourgeois class in Greece, its governments, with the support of the EU, the IMF and the ECB, attack the people in order to bankrupt the people under the conditions of the crisis and increase the immense profits of the big financial and industrial capital.
The Greek people, the workers and youth, PAME and the Communist Party of Greece need all our solidarity. Their struggles can give us precious experience.
 Greece itself is a rich country. However, the wealth is concentrated in even fewer hands. Indeed, unacceptable measures are taken against the working people. What happens now in Greece will be extended to all countries of the European Union.
 In all of Europe the question is being raised: Who has to pay for the crisis of capitalism?
 All European bourgeois parties – Social Democrats, Liberals, Christian Social, Conservative and Greens – are united in supporting their colleagues in Greece and the infamous measures of the EU bodies.
 The governments and the European Commission are about to intensify the measures against the peoples: a general lowering of wages, generalisation of insecure working condition, a witch-hunt against all people receiving social welfare benefits…
 Altogether this means the pillage of the world of workers by the world of capital.
 In Greece, the workers, the youth, the ordinary people say NO. They are building a resistance that is exemplary for all Europe.
 Solidarity with this resistance is our duty.
 Everyone should know: today they attack the Greek working people, tomorrow it will be the turn of the Portuguese, the Spanish and the Italian people – and the day after tomorrow they attack all of us.
We are all Greeks!
Support the struggle against the shifting of the burdens of the crisis onto the shoulders of the working people!
Down with capitalism! For a socialist society!
Communist Party of Luxembourg (KPL)
New Communist Party of the Netherlands (NCPN)
Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA)

Algerian Party for Democracy and Socialism (PADS)
Communist Party of Bangladesh
Brazilian Communist Party
Communist Party of Britain
New Communist Party of Britain (NCPB)
Communist Party of Canada
Socialist Workers' Party of Croatia
Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KCSM)
German Communist Party
Hungarian Communist Workers' Party
Communist Party of Ireland
Lebanese Communist Party
The Socialist People's Front, Lithuania
Communist Party of Malta
Communist Party of Mexico
Popular Socialist Party of Mexico
Palestinian People's Party
Peruvian Communist Party
Communist Party of the Russian Federation
Communist Party of Slovakia
Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain (PCPE)
South African Communist Party
Communist Party of Venezuela

Other organisations

Pole of Communist Rebirth in France (PRCF)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

From around the world


By Ray Jones

Revolutionary Democracy Vol XVII, No 1, April 2011. £3 plus 50p P&P from NCP Lit. PO Box 73 London SW11 2PQ. Cheques to New Worker.

IT’S GOOD to see Revolutionary Democracy out again after a short delay with its the usual mixture of interesting articles from around the world.
The first is a piece by N Bhattacharya, which, inspite of an uninspiring title, is an excellent brief overview of India’s situation today, full of telling facts and figures but without overloading the “little grey cells”.
There are a number of articles about the “Arab Spring” from different parties and organisations, which although perhaps a little dated now, certainly widen our perspective.
The question of Libya is of course addressed and here there is a clear difference of approach (which, incidentally, has been reflected in the letters in the New Worker).
            Everyone agrees that intervention of the imperialists should be denounced. But while an article from the Chilean Communist Party (Proletarian Action) points out that the Gaddafi government was at this time objectively part of the front against imperialist aggression, the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations, a forum of Hoxhaist parties, on the other hand, labels it as reactionary.
            The ICMLPO seems to support the Libyan rebels as progressives pursuing “democracy” while at the same time condemning their Nato allies who also seek “democracy”.
The confusion into which the ICMLPO has fallen is not uncommon on the left and it stems from a failure to apply dialectics, a failure to see the situation in the round and apply your principles with the correct priority.
RD as usual includes fascinating Russian archive material as well as material on modern Russia. It concludes with a dose of culture in the form progressive poetry.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Neo-nazis on the web


By Andy Brooks Nationalist extremism on the internet:  Searchlight Magazine & the Radicalism and New Media Research Group, 76pp, pbk, London 2011, £8.50.

This short book is the result of recent joint work between Searchlight, the veteran anti-fascist magazine, and the Radicalism and New Media Research Group at Northampton University, headed by Dr Matthew Feldman. It began with a seminar on exploitation of the internet by neo-Nazi and racist movements that took place at Northampton University last year.
A number of leading academics took part in the discussion on Fascist Radicalism and the New Media organised by Dr Feldman’s group. This was followed up with the Think Global, Hate Local: England’s Far Right conference in April this year and the launch of a new project to look in detail at contemporary far-right extremism.
This book reflects recent research and is the first of a planned series called Mapping the Far Right. Edited by Paul Jackson of the Radicalism and New Media Research Group and Searchlight publisher Gerry Gable, it provides a detailed examination of the way the world-wide web is being exploited by fascists and racists in Britain and throughout the world.
 Topics range from the British National Party and the English Defence League to the Aryan Strike Force, British People’s Party, Racial Volunteer Force and the Blood & Honour music scene.
Critical analysis by leading academic and Searchlight experts reveals how online cultures developed by such far-right movements have revolutionised extremist activity in recent years.
This volume is a collection of well-researched academic papers that provides analysis for campaigners searching for the latest thinking on far-right activity. It is not a campaigning pamphlet for sale on the street and that is reflected in the £8.50 price. But it is vital reading for all students and researchers of modern British fascism.
 It can be ordered from most booksellers or post-free from: Searchlight, PO Box 1576, Ilford, IG5 OHE.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The death of Gaddafi

THE IMPERIALISTS are celebrating the death of Colonel Gaddafi and well they might as they were the ones who killed him. The Libyan leader died in Sirte last week when the Nato-backed rebels stormed the last loyalist bastion on the Libyan coast.
            But there’ll be no victory parades in London, Paris, Washington or Rome. The imperialists are happy to leave that to their local pawns. Behind closed doors they squabble over who’s going to get the biggest cut of the spoils. But in public they close ranks as defenders of what they call “democracy” and “human rights”.
They claim to champion the “Arab Spring”. They believe that they can perpetuate imperialist domination of the oil-rich Arab world in alliance with the reactionary Muslim Brotherhood. They think they can continue to use the United Nations and the “human rights” gang as a smokescreen for their neo-colonial aggressions.
In public they uphold human rights and brand those who dare to stand up to them as “war criminals”.   Naturally they have hastened to assure us that they had no hand in the cold-blooded murder of the Libyan leader. And the rebels were happy to claim credit for killing the Libyan leader and to display Gaddafi’s body in public for days for the benefit of their gloating supporters. They’ve not been so open about the manner of his death.
 Contradictory stories from the rebel camp only seem to add credibility to at least one report that Gaddafi was wounded when his  retreating car convoy was hit by Nato aviation, including a US Predator drone and a French warplane, and then finished off by French commandos.
            The imperialists now believe that the Gaddafi’s death will end all resistance to the “National Transitional Government” (NTC) puppet regime that they’ve installed in Tripoli. That remains to be seen.
 At least one of Gaddafi’s sons, Saif al Islam, lives on ready to fight, and he has apparently been accepted by his tribal allies as leader. If reports that the loyalists have spirited away the country’s entire gold reserves are true they could sustain a continuing guerrilla war in the south for years to come.
That seems the most likely outcome as the rebels, who rely entirely on the might of Nato aviation, have consistently refused to negotiate with the loyalists to end the conflict. The rebels have promised “free elections” early next year but they can’t even agree on the formation of a provisional government.
This rag-bag of supporters of the old royal family, reactionary Muslim Brothers and Gaddafi turn-coats are united only in their hatred of Colonel Gaddafi and a lust for power that they believe they can get by serving imperialism. They would not have won one single battle without the support of Nato air-power and if the imperialist air-umbrella is withdrawn it is difficult to see how they could survive today.
Imperialist air power will doubtless be used again and again to impose puppet regimes in countries that the western powers seek to directly plunder. They will continue to look for more collaborators to do their dirty work. They still hope to maintain control over Iraq and Afghanistan even after the formal pull-out of their garrisons next year. Their greedy eyes have long focused on Syria and Iran and their forces are already fighting with the Kenyans in southern Somalia.
What does this say to the world? Well first of all it tells us that UN structures, in themselves, are useless in preserving peace and that the UN Security Council desperately needs to be reformed to ensure that it can never again be used to sanction another Iraq or Libyan-style invasion. Above all it tells us that Third World countries must ultimately rely on their own defence to preserve their independence.
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi ruled his country for 42 years. He used the oil wealth to create a prosperous modern society for the Libyan people and for the millions of African immigrants who went to his land to work. 
The Libyan leader, like Saddam Hussein before him, made many mistakes. But the biggest was to ever trust the word of imperialist leaders. Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it and Muammar Gaddafi will be remembered as an Arab leader who was ready to fight imperialist aggression to the end and go down guns blazing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Serbia: Far Right in dissarray

By Ilija Buncuk

THE EXTREME right is in retreat in Serbia today. They have not managed to launch any serious actions for years and they’ve split into a number of rival groups, which significantly weakens their strength.
          First of all there was a split in Blood & Honour Serbia/Combat 18 – the Serbian section of the neo-Nazi movement that was founded by Ian Stuart Donaldson and proud of its loyalty to the Combat 18 neo-Nazi terror group that takes its name from the first and eighth letter of the alphabet, AH – Adolf Hitler,
 Blood & Honour (B & H) emerged from the neo-nazi movement and the white power skinhead music scene in 1987. Ian Stuart Donaldson, the lead vocalist in the neo-Nazi Skrewdriver band, was one of its prominent leaders. But a few years after his death in 1993 B & H split into rival factions following arguments over direction and control of the profits.
This division was mirrored in Serbia too. Some disaffected members left the original organisation to establish Blood & Honour Serbia/Unity – the Unity fraction that is opposed to the Combat 18.
 On the Serbian section of the neo-Nazi Stormfront website the verbal duel between the supporters of two camps over who is the “phoney” and who is the “real” B&H went on for months. The newly established the Blood & Honour/Unity has also a new Jurišnik [Stormtrooper] faction. They had their own website, but it went down some time ago for unknown reasons.
Meanwhile Blood & Honour/Combat 18 no longer call themselves the National Alignment (Nacionalni stroj) on their posters and stickers, following the court-ordered banning of its political branch. They now call themselves the National Revolutionaries – Blood & Honour or Combat 18.
The split has seriously weakened Blood & Honour/Combat 18 but there are other reasons for its decline. Attempts to hold public gatherings in the past few years have failed because they were prevented by the actions of the anti-fascists. There have no neo-Nazi attacks on punk concerts in Belgrade since 2003 and in past few years they have not even organised their secret “White Power” concerts.
This is a partly because they are constantly under police surveillance. Their last “white power” concert, held near the city of Niš, was interrupted by the police.  These days Blood & Honour Serbia/Combat 18 actions have come down to the producing Nazi and racist periodicals and cartoons, sticking labels and posters on walls, secret visits to the cultural monuments of “national significance” and taking part in national socialist forums on the Internet.
On the other hand, Goran Davidović, who served a prison sentence for organising an attack on an anti-fascist platform in Novi Sad, has closed his New Serbian Programme (NSP) movement after a faction-fight within it.
 The NSP internet forum NSP has been taken down and it is still unknown whether there were technical problems or whether Davidovic closed it for some other reason.
All organisations of the extreme right in Serbia face stiff competition from Serbian Action (Srpska Akcija), which has only a few members but is very active. They attracted the attention of the public in August when they put a litter bag over the statue of national heroes in Nis – anti-fascist fighters in the Second World War.
 They published footage of that action on their website. Only a few newspapers reported the action and there was no response from the authorities or civil non-government organisations. One of the few public condemnations of the event came from the Young Communist League of Yugoslavia (SKOJ).
 Serbian Action was established by several former members of the reactionary Obraz movement. They had been supporters of Obraz leader Nebojsa Krstic who died in a car accident in 2001. But they walked out in protest at the "lack of clear ideological guidelines" of the new leadership under its current president Mladen Obradovic, to form their own organisation.
Like Obraz, Serbian Action is inspired by the actions of the pre-war clerical-fascist Yugoslav National Movement Zbor. It classifies itself as within the “Third Positionist” movement and alongside Charles Maurras and his Action Française, it considers itself as the successor of the ideological tradition of Codreanu's Romanian "Iron Guard".
 Leading Serbian Action activists present their movement on some extreme right Internet forums as "orthodox-nationalistic" . The Internet blog "Srpski Poredak" (Serbian Order), which is edited by the supporters of the ideology of Adolf Hitler, who also define themselves as "orthodox national-socialists", is close to Serbian Action.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Anti-communism won't pass!

Statement of Communist and Workers’ parties

On the post-Soviet Union area the anticommunist hysteria is in full swing again. On the eve of the anniversary of the Soviet power execution in Moscow in 1993 a court in Kazakhstan has suspended the activity of the Communist Party.
A ridiculous pretext has been found by the ruling regime to actually ban the Communist party of Kazakhstan. It was the participation of the 1st Secretary of the CC CPK Gaziz Aldamjarov in a meeting of an unregistered non-governmental union of citizens. Before that a number of party activists have been subjected to police persecution. One of the leaders of regional party organizations Nurijash Abdrimova was sentenced to a heavy fine only because she dared to address the workers of “KasMunaiGas” company who went on strike.
Suspension of the party activity is yet another act of outrageous tyranny on the part of Kazakhstan authorities. The semi-monarchic regime of Mr.Nazarbaev can’t tolerate the only opposition force in the country, which forms the class awareness, courageously struggles against mass dismissals and impoverishment of the working people and consistently fights for the friendship among nations.
Before that the parliament of Georgia upon the order of Mr.Saakashvili adopted a Law on persecution which says that former CPSU and Young Communist League members, as well as former employees of the Soviet Union institutions are banned to occupy state positions and to teach in the universities.
We express our solidarity with the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and the United Communist Party of Georgia. We resolutely condemn the barbaric and cave-age anticommunism of the powers in Kazakhstan and Georgia!
Communist party of the Russian Federation
Union of Communist parties-CPSU
Communist Party of Ukraine
Communist Party of Belarus
Party of Communists of Republic of Moldova
Communist Party of Armenia
Communist Party of Azerbaijan
Party of the communists of Kyrgyzstan
Communist Party of South Ossetia
Communist Party of Abkhazia
Transdnestrian Communist party

PADS, Algeria
Communist Party of Bangladesh
Workers’ Party of Belgium
Communist Party of Britain
New Communist Party of Britain
French Communist Party
Communist Party of Greece
Communist Party of Israel
Lebanese Communist Party
Communist Party of Luxembourg
Communist Party of México
Communist Party of Norway
Communist Party of Pakistan
Palestinian Communist Party
Philippine Communist Party [PKP-1930]
New Communist Party of Yugoslavia
South African Communist Party
Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain
Communist Party of Sweden
Communist Party of Turkey

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Art of Revolution


By Andy Brooks

The Art of Revolution: John Callow, Grant Pooke and Jane Powell. Hbk, illus, 96 pp, Evans Mitchell Books, London 2011.

THE USSR collapsed, or rather was destroyed by the counter-revolutionaries at the helm of the Soviet communist party in 1991.  Along with it went the old Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and many other so-called communist parties that had clung to coat-tails of Gorbachovism.
The CPGB’s archives went to Manchester’s People’s History Museum. Other documents were piled up in the cellars of the Marx Memorial Library to languish in the dust until the work of cataloguing and preservation began in 2005.
It was then that an amazing discovery was made. Hundreds of posters from the Soviet Union and the people’s democracies were found amongst the bundles of old CPGB dossiers and pamphlets. A collection spanning the entire period of Soviet power from the October Revolution to Brezhnev’s days had come to light, including key campaigning posters from the early days of the German Democratic Republic and socialist Czechoslovakia.
With the help of the GMB union these posters have all been recorded and conserved at Marx House for art scholars and students of the world communist movement. Now a selection of these images has been published in a book produced with the support of the Marx Memorial Library, the GMB and TUink.
This book contains full colour images of over 60 Soviet and revolutionary posters from 1917 to 1953, together with a couple of very rare early examples of CPGB agitational art. While some of these posters are old favourites well known to veteran communists, many others are exceedingly rare and have probably not been reprinted since the day they were first issued.
The publishers have clearly provided a service to the working class in helping a new generation discover the graphic realism and political punch of proletarian art.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the text that accompanies the images. Three academics, John Callow from the Marx Memorial Library and Grant Pooke and Jane Powell, both from the University of Kent, provide a commentary that is technically superb but sadly politically flawed.
The cliché reference to the “Soviet Government, and latterly its satellites…” in the very beginning of the first chapter sets the tone for a potted history of the Soviet Union that accompanies the posters from the Stalin era and it largely accepts the bourgeois explanation of the “Great Purges” that accompanies them. Thankfully it is overshadowed by the detailed commentary on the artists and teams who produced the posters of the 1930s and 40s, which brings to life these gems of Soviet mass art for the modern reader.
This is not a systematic collection of political posters over the years. It simply reflects what was brought back to Britain by leading comrades such as R P Arnot and Andrew Rothstein from trips to Weimar Germany, the Soviet Union and post-war Czechoslovakia. This limitation accounts for a certain unevenness in the selection presented in this book though those posters that have been chosen clearly have been picked to illustrate the particular views of the authors. There’s no other explanation, for instance, for the curious elevation of Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky, who was shot for treason in 1937.
When it comes to the final chapter, largely devoted to Czechoslovak posters of the 1940s, we are treated to an openly revisionist narrative that consciously distorts the role of the leadership of Communist Party of Czechoslovakia  (KSČ) at that time.
 People’s power came to Czechoslovakia in February 1948 when the communists thwarted a bourgeois coup in parliament aimed at breaking up the KSČ-led coalition government.
            The authors accept that the right-wing moved first but then suggest that the KSČ, the largest party in parliament, was set to lose seats in the forthcoming 1948 election. This forced them to portray the right-wing manoeuvres as “miscalculations” based on “too much reliance upon the USA to rally international opinion to their aid”.
 The real motive of the Czech bourgeoisie – to bring down the communist-led government and replace it with one that would accept Marshall Aid – is never mentioned. The Marshall Plan – US imperialism’s project to rebuild war-shattered European economies with American “aid” to exclude communists from government and build a new trans-Atlantic alliance to confront the Soviet Union – is ignored.
 The Prague show trials are treated in a similar way. Former KSČ general secretary Rudolf Slansky and a number of other leading members of the Party arrested in 1951  are said to have been denounced as “bourgeois nationalists”. But we see the snake-like heads of three of them in the grip of capitalism, being beheaded by a worker armed with a hammer in a poster entitled We have captured dangerous vermin. In fact they were all charged with high treason.
 The authors says that the arrest, trial and subsequent execution of most of them was “in reality, an internal struggle within the ruling power” without saying what that struggle was about. They claim that “the root cause of the trials, aside from the animosity of North America, was the refusal of Marshal Tito to let Yugoslavia become entirely subordinated to Stalin’s will and the needs of the Soviet economy”.   
But this is meaningless without explaining what “Titoism” meant, or was supposed to mean, in Czechoslovakia or the other people’s democracies in 1940s eastern Europe.
In 1948 Czechoslovakia had been a major arms supplier to Israel and a training ground for the Zionist air force in 1948. A secret air-base in the town of Žatec, which the Zionists called “Ezion”, was also used to fly four surplus US air-force B17 Flying Fortresses to Israel, despite an official US arms embargo on all warring sides during the first Arab-Israeli war.  One of them bombed Cairo on its way to Tel Aviv.
 But there’s no mention of this or the fact that within the KSČ some wanted that relationship to continue for economic reasons or out of sympathy with the Zionist cause, despite Israel’s rapid alignment with imperialism. Nor is there any suggestion that some of those arrested were, like Tito, opposed to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance set up by the USSR in 1949 to counter Marshall Aid in eastern Europe.
Nothing is said about the continuing controversy that still surrounds the Slansky trial in the Czech republic. The revisionist leadership of the mainstream Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, a mass party with two senators and 26 deputies in the Czech parliament, endorses the rehabilitation of Slansky & Co that took place in 1968. But hard-liners, inside and outside its ranks, still uphold the original Slansky verdict. And even today’s bourgeois Czech establishment concede that Slansky was framed by a letter implicating him as an agent of imperialism planted by an agent of Okapi, a Czech émigré movement set up by the CIA to encourage subversion and sabotage in the new people’s republic.
The text is one problem. The other is the price. This slender volume is no bargain at £30. But at the moment copies can be obtained for £15 plus £2.50 directly from the Marx Memorial Library, 37a Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R ODU.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Hidden Hand at Work


By Andy Brooks

The Poisoned Well: Sean Kelly; NCP pamphlet £2.00

COLD WAR propaganda and Trotskyist dogma would have us believe that everyone arrested during the Soviet purges of the 1930s was innocent. Western pundits would regularly portray the Soviet secret service as an incompetent and brutal instrument of terror and in the same breath charge it with organising legions of dupes in the western world for espionage purposes or to ferment civil unrest.
At the same time the public were fed with romantic tales of agents of imperialism like Sidney Reilly, the “ace of spies” shot by Soviet intelligence in 1925 after an abortive attempt to overthrow the Soviet government, and the fictional exploits of James Bond whose antics soon rivalled those of American comic-book super-heroes.  But a veil of silence was drawn over the army of western government informers and agents within the labour movement on both sides of the Atlantic.
Only after the collapse of the Soviet Union did the ruling class feel confident enough to boast about some of their real agents’ exploits. The release of documents under the “thirty year rule” revealed that the radical novelist George Orwell, the darling of the Trots, had been a police informer.  The BBC ran a series called True Spies in 2002 which revealed that secret service agents bugged, burgled and bribed their way into the heart of the unions throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Yet the story of the sinister role of intelligence agents within the communist movement has still to be published. This pamphlet redresses the balance by summarising attempts to sabotage the communist movement in America, Britain and other parts of Europe.
And it starts by looking at the extraordinary career of Morris Childs, the American communist trained at the Lenin School in Moscow, who became deputy leader of the Communist Party of the USA and the go-between who arranged the transfer of secret Soviet subsidies to the US party. From 1958 until 1980 Childs made 52 trips to Moscow.
 Morris was trusted by leading members of the Soviet party and became a close friend of Leonid Brezhnev. In 1975 the Soviet leader presented Morris with the Order of the Red Flag in recognition of his services to the international communist movement. What Brezhnev did not know was that Morris had been working for the FBI from at least the beginning of the 1950s.
Well if you want to know more order this pamphlet, which is a revised edition of two articles that first appeared in the New Worker in 2002, it can be obtained from:

NCP Lit,
PO Box 73,
London SW11 2PQ

Please add 50p for postage and packing.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Twin Towers ten years on

THOUSANDS of Americans attended the Ground Zero memorial service in New York last Sunday for those who lost their lives in the terror attacks of 11th September 2001. The solemn occasion, led by President Obama, was repeated at similar ceremonies across the United States and in the capitals of US imperialism’s allies across the world.
The movers and shakers of the imperialist world publicly express their grief at the 3,000 innocent civilians killed in the terror attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. They talk about the “war on terror”. They claim that the world has become a better place in the past 10 years. But they say nothing about the million or so equally innocent civilians who have died at the hands of US-led imperialism in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Libya since 9/11. No one plays the bagpipes for them and their names will not be immortalised in bronze in New York or anywhere else in the United States.
US imperialism’s bid for global hegemony began with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Under cover of a bogus United Nations mandate, a trick they first used to attack north Korea in 1950 and one they have used time and time again ever since, Anglo-American imperialism attacked Iraq. Soon after they moved to violently break up the Yugoslav federation and attack the Serbs.
But the American plan for world domination, called the “new world order”, really kicked off after the Al Qaeda attacks in 2001; 9/11 was used by the US ruling class as a pretext to invade Afghanistan and Iraq as part of a plan for total imperialist control of the immense oil and gas resources of what they began to call the “Greater Middle East” region.
Arabs and Muslims who stood in the way were demonised as brutal religious bigots and savages while the crimes of those autocratic feudal leaders willing to serve imperialism were whitewashed by the imperialists and the “human rights” gang that trail behind them. The random terrorism of the oppressed is branded as barbarism while the systematic terror of imperialist occupation is routinely denied.
Piracy and hostage-taking by impoverished Somali fishermen is condemned as extortion while a blind eye is turned to the abuse of prisoners in concentration camps in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. It’s not surprising to see the murder of a Basra hotel worker, beaten to death by British troops in 2003, so easily dismissed as a “very serious and regrettable incident”. His death will doubtless be blamed on individual soldiers and not on the underlying culture of imperialist military occupation that led to the atrocity in the first place. The imperialists spent billions of dollars in their drive to control the resources of the world. But at the end of the day what have they got to show for it?
Despite all the might of their aviation and the strength of their legions the Americans are on their way out in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US economy is in the doldrums along with the rest of capitalist world that is sinking into the biggest slump seen since 1929. Though they control a large part of global oil production they cannot change the rules of supply and demand or the fundamental law of value.
Ten years on the wild hopes of the imperialists lie buried in the dust of Iraq and Afghanistan along with the hundreds of thousands of victims who perished in the attempt to make the world a better place for the big oil corporations.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Oliver Cromwell

1599 - 1658

OLIVER CROMWELL, the leader of the 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 in1649 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.
The fighting had taken a fearful toll in lives and property in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The death toll, including civilians, came to around 870,000, some 11.6 per cent of the pre-Civil War population. Material damage was immense, particularly in Ireland. In 1653, Oliver Cromwell became head of state, the Lord Protector.
Royalist hopes of a counter-revolution were smashed with the defeat of their forces at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Cromwell represented the most militant elements amongst the Puritan bourgeois gentry. While in favour of reform they feared social upheaval that could overturn their own exclusive right to private property.
The democratic movement born from the New Model Army, the Levellers, was crushed by Cromwell’s supporters and the most militant regiments sent to Ireland. Attempts to set up farming co-operatives by the Diggers, many of whom were also former soldiers, were also suppressed.
The republic Cromwell led included England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, the port of Dunkirk and 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 Milton and 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. Richard 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 and the monarchy was restored in 1660. Oliver Cromwell’s death invoked genuine mourning. His funeral, modelled on that of the King of Spain, was the biggest London had ever witnessed.
Two years later his body was dug up and ritually hanged in public at Tyburn. All those still alive who had signed Charles Stuart’s death warrant, apart from a handful that managed to flee the country, were hanged, drawn and quartered. And the “good old cause” they had fought for was buried with them. It was clear that a great revolution had taken place. It is equally clear that it was incomplete.
For communists the English Revolution is a paramount importance. It influenced the thinking of the American revolutionaries. The Victorian utopian socialist and co-operator, Robert Owen, embodied some of the ideas of the Digger philosopher, Gerrard Winstanley, in his writings. And even today the question of the monarchy and the House of Lords is still unresolved.

A Russian sniper's story


By Andy Brooks

Notes of a Russian Sniper: Vassili Zaitsev, Hbk, illus, 208 pp, Frontline Books, London 2010 £19.99.

Vassili Zaitsev was the Soviet sniper immortalised by Jude Law in Enemy at the Gates, the  2001 blockbuster movie set during the Battle of Stalingrad with a star-studded cast including Ed Harris as his Nazi counterpart and Bob Hoskins as Nikita Krushchov. Stalingrad has long been used in the West as a symbol of the sacrifice of the Soviet people in the struggle to defeat Nazi Germany in the Second World War. The film is remarkable for the visual power of the gritty battle scenes and realistic recreation of the ruined city. So film-goers could easily be forgiven for thinking that the movie, produced by French director Jean-Jacques Annaud, was an accurate portrayal of Zaitsev’s wartime career.
            Far from it. Zaitsev, who died in 1991, would have turned in his grave had he lived to see Enemy at the Gates which depicts him as a barely literate hunter from the Steppes and reduces the Second World War to a sniper duel between two men. But while Zaitsev’s own account of his exploits in Stalingrad had been published in the USSR back in 1956 the first English translation was only published in 2003.
            This revised edition published by Frontline Books includes the original introduction by Marshal V I Chuikov and a pithy foreword that demolishes the anti-communist nonsense that is passed off as artistic licence in Annaud film.
            As a boy Zaitsev was taught to shoot and hunt in the woods by his family. A dedicated communist he served a pay clerk in the Soviet Pacific Fleet but volunteered to fight in the army when the Germans invaded in 1941. And it was in Stalingrad that his particular skill was recognised. With at least 242 kills to his credit Zaitsev ended up running a sniper school in the city that broke the back of the Wehrmacht.
            Library shelves are full of dusty memoirs of generals who portray war in terms of manoeuvres and tactics. This book sees war through the eyes of a rank-and-filer on the front-line in a struggle against a cruel and determined foe.
Though Zaitsev was like the millions of Soviet youth who rallied to the call to defend the Soviet Union his particular skill sets him apart from most other soldiers. 
            Snipers are a special breed. They shoot to kill in cold blood and without remorse. As Zaitsev says: “As a sniper, I’ve killed more than a few Nazis. I have a passion for observing enemy behaviour. You watch a Nazi officer come out of a bunker, acting all high and mighty, ordering his soldiers every which way, and putting on an air of authority. The officer hasn’t got the slightest idea that he only has seconds to live”.
            There’s plenty more of this as Zaitsev tells his story of the fight for Stalingrad which also includes a report of his experiences first published in Moscow in 1943 and Stalin’s famous “Not a Single Step Back!” Order Number 227 of 28th  July 1942.
            This is a book well worth reading. Don’t be put off by the publisher’s cover charge. It can be bought for far less on the web or obtained by ordering it from your local library.