Sunday, September 25, 2022

As dead as a dodo

The Prime Minister didn’t need to meet Joe Biden in New York to be told that the Tory dream of an Anglo-American free trade agreement was dead as the dodo. Truss didn’t need to be reminded that the Biden administration is determined to uphold the Northern Ireland protocol and support the Irish position and that of the rest of the European Union. Nor would she be too happy to see Biden dismiss Tory economic dogma to tell the world that he was 'sick and tired of trickle-down economics' which never work. What she hoped to achieve at this meeting on the fringe of the UN General Assembly remains to be seen. But crawling to the Americans comes as second nature to those sections of the British ruling class who believe that their global interests are best preserved through the might of US imperialism. The politicians who serve them on both sides of the House call it the “special relationship” – a term first used by Winston Churchill in 1946 at the start of the Cold War.
    Churchill, the war-time Tory leader turfed out of Downing Street by Labour at the general election in the previous summer, may not have inspired the Anglo-American pact that was being built by the new Attlee administration. But he certainly started the myth of the “special relationship” claiming it was an alliance of equals who shared a common history, a common language and a common literature and therefore a common destiny in defending what Western leaders were already starting to call the “free world”. It was, in fact, a delusion, or as maverick Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle would say many years later only “special” in the sense that it was a one-way road.
    The strategy of the British bourgeoisie following the establishment of the Common Market in 1957 was to act as a trans-Atlantic bridge to defend their global imperialist interests by playing off Europe against America. But the “bridge” to Europe was burned by Tony Blair when he threw in his lot with Bush over Iraq while Washington sees no need to heed any “special” British concerns because Britain now has no one else to turn to for support.
    If Liz Truss does not break with the die-hard Ulster Unionists she will never get back into Biden’s good books let alone build a post-Brexit understanding with Franco-German imperialism. That is, of course, her problem not ours.
    The Treaty of Rome or the ‘Treaty of Washington’ – either way there’s nothing in it for workers. We need to argue for an end to the American alliance which is dragging us into a conflict with Russia that has already sent the cost of energy spiralling. We need to confront the labour bureaucracy and the fake left posers who support the trans-Atlantic alliance and NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine.
    Above all we must campaign for an end to the fighting in Ukraine and for a just and lasting peace in eastern Europe. This can only come with a neutral and de-Nazified Ukraine that recognises the independence of the Donbas republics, Crimea’s decision to join the Russian Federation and equal rights for all the people of the regions of the Ukraine.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Still a long way to go

Solemn music. Sombre reports. Strikes suspended and TUC conference postponed. Crowds outside Buckingham Palace and massive numbers of people queuing to walk past the coffin of the Queen in Westminster Hall.
    The cult of the monarchy begins at school and continues in an endless stream of reports in the media about the comings and goings of the royals. The monarch’s face is on the stamps, coins and English bank-notes. The antics of the princes and even those of their pets are considered mainstream news, so the pageantry that surrounds the death of the longest reigning monarch in British history should not surprise us.
    What is perhaps more remarkable is general acceptance of the myths surrounding the monarchy that are used to justify bourgeois society as a whole. We are told, for instance, that the monarchy goes back some 1,200 years. But this monarchy only goes back to the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688.
    We are told that the monarch is an eternal symbol of national unity when its origins were quite divisive at the time as far as the Catholic community was concerned.
    Some even say that the monarch serves some sort of divine purpose regardless of the fact that the Crown was the gift to the House of Orange in 1688 by the Westminster parliament, whose power to pick and choose monarchs was last exerted when it forced Edward VIII to abdicate in 1936.
    We are told that although the Crown is the traditional guarantee of our unwritten bourgeois constitution the monarchy has no powers at all these days. But although the reserve powers of the monarch, heavily curtailed by the 1689 Bill of Rights and later Parliamentary reforms, are essentially those of the ruling class as a whole, it is ludicrous to suggest that one of the richest families in the world has no power or influence in the country.
    The Crown, like the House of Lords, ultimately represents the interests of all the other great landowners by upholding the principle of inherited wealth. As such, it remains the pivot of the capitalist class as a whole.
    Support for the monarchy on the street has dropped in recent years. In 2012, 73 per cent supported the institution. This year the same polling company reported that support for monarchy was down to 62 per cent. But all the mainstream parliamentary parties, apart from the Greens, support the monarchy and there’s no serious republican campaign within the labour movement.
    A handful of Labour MPs claim to be republicans but none of them call for the end of the monarchy in any serious way. On ‘Levellers’ Day’ they turn up to honour the three Leveller mutineers who were shot at Burford Church on Cromwell’s orders. But commemorations of the epic days of the English Revolution and the Republic of England are left to the history buffs of the Cromwell Association and the doughty re-enactors of the English Civil War societies.
    New technology has allowed some capitalist enterprises to rise to become monopolies and giant global powers. The state machine has been reinforced along with this rise. Alongside this, there has been a relentless ideological campaign to popularise capitalism, using religion, praising the monarchy and making the armed forces part of the coercive legal system.
    At the same time the bourgeoisie have taken advantage of the divisions in the labour movement. Reformism, which means limiting working class struggle to gaining improvements within the capitalist system, remains the dominant theoretical trend within the working class. Sadly, we still have a long way to go…

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Solidarity with the people of China

Statement condemning the OHCHR’s ‘Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China

We strongly condemn the publication by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of its Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China. In the words of former OHCHR lawyer and human rights expert Alfred de Zayas, this document “should be discarded as propagandistic, biased, and methodologically flawed.”
    Based on substandard research methods and biased sources, the Assessment is completely lacking in credibility. It treats arms of the military-industrial complex such as the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), along with professional anti-communists such as Adrian Zenz, as legitimate sources. Meanwhile the voices of Chinese NGOs, academics and individuals are suppressed, as are the numerous reports of diplomatic trips to Xinjiang – including by representatives of Muslim-majority countries – that have taken place in recent years.
    The Assessment pointedly ignores China’s extraordinary progress in promoting the human rights of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang: in relation to poverty alleviation, social welfare, economic development, safety from terrorist attacks, and more. Instead, the document uses deliberately ambiguous language – that China’s actions “may” constitute crimes against humanity – in order to slander the People’s Republic of China whilst maintaining some plausible deniability.
    It is highly suspicious that the Assessment makes no mention of then-UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s visit to Xinjiang in May 2022. Having visited a prison and spoken to former trainees at a vocational education and training center; having interacted with civil society organizations, academics, and community and religious leaders; Bachelet found no evidence of crimes against humanity. The numerous conversations she had do not form part of the data set for the Assessment.
    What is the reason for the disparity between the OHCHR report and Bachelet’s end-of-mission statement? It is painfully obvious that the OHCHR has come under intense pressure from the US to bolster the credibility of the lurid slanders that have been thrown at China by Western politicians and journalists. Such propaganda forms part of the West’s imperial agenda of undermining China.
    The OHCHR Assessment does a profound disservice to the cause of strengthening global human rights cooperation. The report does not enjoy a mandate from the General Assembly or the Human Rights Council, and it runs counter to the wishes and interests of the mainstream of the international community. A joint statement delivered by Cuba at the 50th session of the Human Rights Council in June this year stated its firm opposition to the “politicization of human rights and double standards, or interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights”. This statement was signed by 69 countries, the overwhelming majority from the Global South.
    Given the OHCHR’s relative silence in relation to persistent human rights abuses by the imperialist powers, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Assessment is politically-motived, produced under pressure from the US, and designed to contribute to a dangerous, escalating New Cold War.
    We call on the OHCHR to withdraw its Assessment, and we stand in solidarity with the people of China, subjected to abhorrent and baseless accusations.

  • Communist Party of Britain
  • Freedom Road Socialist Organization
  • Geopolitical Economy Research Group
  • Ghana China Friendship Association
  • Goldsmiths Anti-Imperialist Society
  • Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War
  • Institute for Independence Studies
  • Instituto Simón Bolívar
  • International Action Center
  • International Manifesto Group
  • La Città Futura
  • Multipolarista
  • Network in Defense of Humanity (Quebec chapter)
  • New Cold War
  • New Communist Party (Britain)
  • Partido Comunista do Brasil
  • Party of Communists USA
  • Peace, Land, and Bread
  • Popular Resistance
  • Qiao Collective
  • Socialist Unity Party
  • South African Communist Party
  • South African Peace Initiative
  • The Canada Files
  • Veterans for Peace – China Working Group
  • Workers World Party
  • Young Communist League (Boston)

Monday, September 12, 2022

End the sanctions on Russia now!

The Putin government has noted that the sanctions imposed by America, Britain and the European Union on Russia have backfired and resulted in a sweeping energy crisis as well as record inflation across the West.
    The Turkish leader says Western European leaders only have themselves to blame for the tough winter they’re going to face this year. Recep Tayyip Erdogan says “Europe is reaping what it sows” when it comes to the natural gas shortages plaguing the region and that the countries’ attitude towards Russian President Vladimir Putin and the sweeping sanctions imposed on Moscow are to blame for the current crisis.
    Even Boris Johnson is saying it. In his last official visit to Kiev last month he told the world that high energy prices are a pain that UK households must endure as part of the effort to resist Vladimir Putin.
    It’s all very well for Johnson and his cronies to talk about “pain”. They won’t feel it. Their vast fortunes will protect them. But for workers the colossal hike in gas and electricity will push millions back into poverty no seen since the Victorian era.
    Back in March the TUC warned that the conflict in Ukraine would hike up energy costs further in a call on the Government to urgently come forward with new measures to support struggling families.
    But that “support” or even the price freeze that Liz Truss is contemplating will be financed by further cuts in services and imposing a higher tax burden on working people for many, many years to come.
    This isn’t the answer. It’s only part of the problem. The real solution is to end the sanctions regime against Russia.
    That, however, is something that Labour leaders and the union bureaucrats will not do. When the chips are down both sides of social-democracy – left and right – close ranks around the imperialists.
    Some like Sir Keir Starmer and the Blairites openly embrace NATO and US imperialism while the fake lefters who pose as socialists essentially argue that peace is only attainable on imperialist terms. They are the sinister forces within the labour and peace movement that have long acted as cheer-leaders for NATO and neo-colonialism.
    They did it in 1914. They waved the flag and cheered on the slaughter. Only Lenin’s Bolsheviks, the Serbian Socialists and pacifists like Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald opposed the madness of imperialist war.
    Now they wave the yellow and blue banner of the fascist regime in Kiev. They serve the war lobby within the United States – the so-called “deep state” that represents the most venal and aggressive sections of the American ruling class that seek to dominate the entire world in the name of “globalisation” and the “new world order”.
    It’s no good bleating about the cost-of-living crisis and soaring inflation without raising the obvious solution which is to end the conflict in Ukraine and restore Western access to the vast gas reserves in the Russian Federation.
    Communists must lead the call for an end to the fighting and a just and lasting peace in eastern Europe. This can only come with a neutral and de-Nazified Ukraine that recognises the independence of the Donbas republics, Crimea’s decision to join the Russian Federation and equal rights for all the people of the regions of the Ukraine.

Saturday, September 03, 2022

Oliver Cromwell

1599 - 1658
OLIVER CROMWELL 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 usually styled in English, was proclaimed soon after.
    In 1653 Cromwell 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 short 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 such 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.
    These days most bourgeois historians simply dismiss Cromwell as an upstart general who made himself dictator through his command of the army. But Marxists have always recognised the historic role of Cromwell and the English Revolution.
    It was, of course, a bourgeois revolution and one that by Cromwell’s terms failed. But the monarchy that came back wasn’t the autocracy Charles Stuart had imagined. The rich merchants and land-owners who wanted an oligarchy were the ultimate victors. They got their “mixed monarchy” when they dumped the last Stuart king in 1688 and put the House of Orange on the throne.
    The English revolution clearly influenced the thinking of the leaders of the later American and French revolutions and the ideas of the Victorian co-operator, Robert Owen. But the question of the monarchy and the House of Lords remains unresolved.

An enemy of the people

Mikhail Gorbachev is dead. He was 91. Imperialist leaders like Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and the rest of the pack mourn him as an old friend. Sir Keir Starmer calls him a “great figure” who will “forever be remembered”.
    In the West you’d think a saint had died this week. But on the Russian street Gorbachev is hated. He’s the traitor who restored capitalism and broke up the USSR for the benefit of the Western corporations and the black-marketeers who emerged from the shadows to become the oligarchs that plunder the country today. He achieved nothing apart from bringing unemployment and poverty back to what was once the Soviet Union.
    Gorbachev didn’t come from nowhere. He wormed his way to the top of the Communist Party posing as a “reformer” who became the idol of the Eurocommunists in Britain and the rest of Western Europe.
    In fact the basis of post-war revisionism was laid down at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The vicious attack on Stalin by Nikita Krushchev had two main effects within the world communist movement. In the West it opened the door to the fallacy of Trotskyism, which until then, had been confined to small groups drawn from the middle strata.
    In the East the loss of confidence in the masses led to the rejection of the leading role of the working class. This created a climate of compromise and defeat and led to the conditions which counter-revolutionary traitors successfully exploited in the end.
    In the international communist movement it reinforced the drift towards social-democratic strategies and the abandonment of Marxist-Leninist thinking.
    They say it’s wrong to speak ill of the dead. But, as Russian communist leader Gennady Zyuganov says, that doesn’t apply to major politicians. “ I believe that Gorbachev was one of those rulers in the thousand-year history of Russia, who brought not only the peoples of our country, but also all allies and friends, absolute misfortune, grief and misfortune” he said. ”I consider it a great tragedy that he came to the crucible of political power...”