Friday, January 27, 2023

What freedom of speech really means…

When the chips are down not much if the latest saga involving George Galloway is anything to go by. The maverick Scottish politician who has been elected to Parliament six times – starting with Labour and then on independent platforms – is known throughout the labour movement for his support of the Cuban and Palestinian people and his defence of Iraq when it was invaded by US-led imperialism.
    A master of the media Galloway was sacked by talkRADIO after sending an allegedly anti-Semitic tweet about Liverpool’s victory over Tottenham in the Champions League final in 2019. But he stayed in the limelight broadcasting on the international services of the Russian and Iranian media, and championing a variety of causes including the party he now leads – the Workers Party of Britain.
Galloway has learned to live with the wrath of the Zionists and Blairites. His politics have fired the anger of cranks and fanatics – he was even attacked in the street during the Gaza war in 2014. But he’s never faced a concerted effort to prevent him from arguing his corner for good or bad on the streets and at public meetings up and down the country. Until now…
    Galloway clearly crossed a Rubicon when he embraced the cause of the people of the Donbas. And when he launched his NO2NATO NO2WARS movement the hidden hand went into action to stop it getting off the ground.
    Speakers included Galloway and former Labour MP Chris Williamson, along with two Irish Members of the European Parliament and a number of other campaigners and journalists. Attempts to hold mass meetings in London have been sabotaged after St Pancras New Church and the Conway Hall cancelled bookings for his new campaign. Conway Hall says it had been subjected to unprecedented harassment – including a barrage of “intimidating emails and social media posts” which meant that “Conway Hall can no longer host your event as we are now unable to ensure the safety of our building and our staff on and offline”.
    Williamson has joined Galloway in denouncing the “anti-democratic cancel culture” that’s being used to silence opposition to Nato. He accused “erstwhile liberals” of being complicit in a state crackdown on anti-Establishment views.
    This is something new. We never saw this when British forces were actually fighting during the Falklands conflict and the Yugoslav, Iraqi and Afghan wars. So why now?
    It’s clearly because the ruling class are afraid of anything that challenges the American narrative on Ukraine.
    Galloway’s party puts it another way. Conjuring up the spirit of Chairman Mao they say “it is good if we are attacked by the warmongers and their online trolls, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. The trolls attack us wildly, threaten the venues and harass staff, they paint us as utterly black and without a single virtue; it demonstrates that we have not only drawn a clear line of demarcation between them and ourselves but achieved a great deal in our work.
    “Our slogan, “No to Nato, No to War” is more widely known and understood than before, more people buy tickets and await the announcement of the next venue. Other events purporting to speak against the war are allowed to go ahead in peace, precisely because they do not challenge the imperialist narrative that the Ukraine conflict began just 1 year ago. This is a lie, and one we are exposing”.
    This we would wholeheartedly agree.

Monday, January 23, 2023

A week in the Alps

Yes it's time for the so-called “World Economic Forum” (WEF) held in the Swiss Alps to allow the great and the good of the capitalist world to transform Davos into a millionaires’ playground to talk about 'Cooperation in a Fragmented World' for a few days in January. In the town demonstrators from the Swiss Socialist Youth and Greenpeace are demanding a climate tax on the super-rich while some 5,000 soldiers and police stand by to protect the 2,700 leaders from 130 countries including 52 heads of state or government taking part in a host of meetings in this Alpine ski resort.
    The World Economic Forum has grown from more modest beginnings as the European Management Forum that was set up in 1971 to bring American and European capitalists together. It has now grown, particularly following the collapse of the Soviet Union, into an annual global jamboree that some of the corporate elite would like to rival and sideline the United Nations. In recent years the forum has reached out to the people’s democracies with the attendance of Vietnam and People’s China and even an invitation to Democratic Korea in 2015 that was, however, revoked the following year over the nuclear issue.
    The world’s media pack has naturally descended on Davos to report the set-piece speeches of the leaders of the political and corporate world but nothing is ever said about what the WEF stands for or even what it actually does.
    It’s the same in the bourgeois media which generally confines “business news” to the ups and downs of the stock exchanges and investment markets along with fiscal law issues and the occasional corruption case. While the traditional rivalry amongst media tycoons has meant that the likes of the Murdochs are put under the spotlight from time to time are subject to scrutiny the political motives of the oligarchs who own the big corporations in Western Europe and the United States are rarely, if ever, questioned.
    No Western get-together can be without a Vladimir Zelensky video appeal for more guns and money to keep his war with the Russians going but he has to compete with many others for attention in Davos this week.
    Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is in Davos posing as “Prime Minister in waiting” and re-assure the global elite that he’s not another Jeremy Corbyn. But the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who is one of the global elite, and his Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, have decided to give it a miss. Sunak doesn’t want to be seen lording it abroad in the midst of a cost of living crisis that has triggered waves of strikes across the country. And his UK delegation – trade secretary Kemi Badenoch and business secretary Grant Shapps – have been told to keep a low profile at the world forum
    So we have to make do Boris Johnson comparing Vladimir Putin to 'the fat boy in Dickens' in an allusion probably lost to most of the delegates who were actually listening to him and Greta Thunberg, the perpetual youth protester, at a fringe meeting saying it was “absurd” listening the people at Davos talking about the climate crisis when they are, in fact, the cause of it. And, of course, she’s right.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Defend the right to strike

As waves of strikes sweep through Britain the Tory government responds in the only way it knows how – repression. The Sunak government is moving anti-union legislation to curb industrial action in key public sectors to ensure that essential public services are maintained during industrial action.
    Rishi Sunak likes to pose as a pragmatist and a liberal conservative, and he was certainly opposed to the sham, empty popularism of Boris Johnson and the crude neo-liberalism of Liz Truss. But while he can rely on their support he’s not a member of the Tory “One Nation” faction in parliament and he clearly doesn’t want to burn all his bridges with the Neanderthal element that is clamouring for more and more anti-union laws to ban industrial action in more and more areas of the public and private sector.
    If this new legislation gets off the ground it could easily be used to crush all independent union action by allowing employers to sack strikers out of hand if they walk out and take unions to court for compensation if they do. Reducing unions to impotent staff associations that existed in some sections of the old, and now long gone, public sector or the “company unions” set up by employers specifically to keep independent unions out of their factories has always been the dream of some in the Tory camp. It is after-all what the “Victorian values” the Tories used to drone on and on about actually means.
    But we’re not going back to the days when workers eked out a miserable existence working round the clock on pittance pay while kids crawled up chimneys for pennies to stave off starvation.
    We get the usual weasel words from Labour’s leaders vowing to repeal any new anti-union legislation. We see the TUC called on its members to come together to agree on a collective response to the new threat to their existence. But what we need is total defiance – enough to kill this proposal stone dead.

On the unity of the movement

It is amusing to note that calls for a new Communist International often come from the most sectarian elements of the world movement. But world-wide contacts between communist parties can only strengthen the communist cause.
    Nevertheless a new international can only succeed, firstly if it includes and has the agreement of the ruling parties of People's China, Cuba, Democratic Korea, Laos and Vietnam. It should be based on Marxism-Leninism and the principle of equality between big parties and small parties. It must recognise the principle of a collective secretariat which reflects the views of the co-operating parties and not that of one big party. And it must recognise that in countries where there is more than one communist party -- the case in most countries these days -- the differences between them are a matter for those parties alone to resolve.
    The New Communist Party has supported many of the efforts taken since the collapse of the Soviet Union to encourage co-operation and the exchange of views between communist and workers parties throughout the world. Though the Brussels May Day festival and seminar programme organised by the Belgian Workers Party (PTB) has been dissolved the annual Solidnet conferences that began in 1998 are still going – but even that forum is now being undermined by sectarians who refuse to recognise the principled stand of the Russian, Donbas and Ukrainian communists and equates the prime mover – US-led imperialism – with the major victims; the Russians and the people of the Donbas.
    Now, more than ever, is the time for a clear call from the world communist movement 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 rights of the Donbas republics and the Crimea to join the Russian Federation and equal rights for all the people of the regions of the Ukraine.

Life in the Balance

by John Maryon

Biodiversity refers to the total variety of all different life forms found in one location. Animals, aquatic life, plants, fungi and microorganisms flourishing together where conditions are suitable. Species may have a mutual dependence upon each other. It could be a simple relationship such as squirrels burying nuts for food which are forgotten and grow into trees. It could be a symbiotic association in which one species could live within another. It could also take the form a predatory relationship.
    A good healthy environment is essential for nature to survive. Human activity that includes over fishing, forest clearance, pollution of water sources, causing climate change and intensive farming is having a negative impact on biodiversity round the world. A result has been that global populations of birds, fish, animals, reptiles and amphibians have declined by an average of 70 per cent over the past 50 years.
    I would like to examine some of the most serious threats and also to highlight a number of successful projects to restore habits . A crucial factor is the vast increase in the human population. However a major driving force to destruction is the desire for greater profits which has caused many species to disappear and led to bleak barren landscapes replacing once lush areas of vegetation. Many conferences have been held over the years at which grand promises are made to save the planet. Leaders have posed for photos and then returned home and nothing changes.
    The vibrant Amazon ecosystem, regarded by some as the lungs of the planet, is home to over three million different species. It is estimated that over 100 billion tons of carbon are stored in the Amazon basin which is is an important source of oxygen. Between August 2018 and July 2019 alone over 3800 square miles of forest were destroyed. Newly elected President Lula da Silva of Brazil has named Marina Silva as the new minister to protect the forest and reverse the disastrous policies of right wing President Bolsonaro. Trees were felled for timber or to clear the land for agricultural use with the risk of pesticides leaking into the environment. Mines were developed with the inherent danger of toxic contamination. The beautiful Blue Macaw is just one of many beautiful birds facing extinction. Indigenous communities who had lived in harmony with their environment for thousands of years were displaced.
    In another part of the world the tropical forests of Borneo and Sumatra faced the same fate. Oil palm plantations are a serious cause of deforestation in Borneo. The large island was once covered with dense rain-forest. Today only half of that primeval forest remains. Te4bn primate species, found nowhere else in the world, live in upland regions of the island. The orangutans are critically endangered due to degradation and fragmentation of their home environment. Monkeys and apes are in peril in many countries. I once saw a video of a a terrified baby orangutan clinging on to its mother as she held tightly to the last standing tree in an area that was being cleared.
    The cruel barbaric practice of hunting, egg stealing and overfishing all have a negative impact on biodiversity. It is not only those creatures themselves that are affected but also other species that coexist with them that may suffer. Overfishing for profit led to the collapse of herring stocks in the North Sea; they have never fully recovered. As fish stocks fall sea birds will be unable to find enough food. Over a third of the world's oceans are currently over-fished.
    Man made disasters due to ignorance, greed or careless action are serious matters. Oil spills can be fatal. The introduction of alien species can have a tragic impact on indigenous creatures. In New Zealand many creatures were wiped out when European settlers brought cats and dogs to the islands. Unintended introduction of non native plants to the British Isles has occurred when seeds have blown off lorries. leaving ports. Creatures may hide in containers or even suitcases to leap out and start a new life when they arrive.
    Today there is at last a growing acceptance that we have a problem. In Britain many keen volunteers, in the absence of much direct government involvement, have become involved in protecting wildlife. Organisations such as the Wildlife and Woodland trusts, the RSPB, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and many more are playing a vital role.
    At a government level the socialist countries now have a keen commitment to conservation and environmental protection. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, in spite of crippling sanctions, threats, blockades, and a destructive war unleashed by US imperialism managed to establish a network of national parks and protected areas rich in biodiversity. Severe tree loss is being addressed with government supported tree planting events. The national bird of the DPRK is the northern goshawk. On the west coast the Mundox Migratory Bird Reserve is a vital stopover for hundreds of species. Land reclamation projects are developed so as to allow for the needs of the birds.
    Laos is a small land locked Asian country that is still relatively underdeveloped. It is home to Asian elephants, pot-bellied pigs, tigers, rhinos and over 10,000 plant species. The socialist government is working to overcome centuries of poverty and is encouraging industrial production which could put pressure on the environment. However a national protected area system is being established to counter any threats. These areas, which are expanding, are of great beauty and inspire those who visit them. Much of the country is still covered in its natural forest. Laos faces challenges typical of developing countries and I feel that the developed world has a responsibility to support protection efforts.
    Vietnam is rich in wildlife and has the highest number of marine species in Asia. It faces challenges as the population increases and the country develops. The difficulties are, as in Laos, made more acute by unexploded bombs and the after-effects of the deadly toxin 'Agent Orange' following its use during the brutal aggression of US imperialism. The government is not complacent and has adopted a National Biodiversity Action Plan. During the period 1990-2006 ten per cent of forest area was restored.
    In spite of crippling sanctions Cuba is determined to protect its biodiversity. The archipelago of over 4000 islands has a vast range of habitats. The UN 2016 Human Development Report revealed that Cuba was one of a few countries able to improve the well-being of its people while developing in a sustainable manner. Cuba's position owes much to Fidel Castro who amended the constitution to include environmental protection
    The People's Republic of China has become a world leader in protecting the environment and encouraging biodiversity. It has overcome the pollution problems associated with its rapid industrial development to set new standards . At the recent COP 15 (15th International conference on Biodiversity) China chaired the meeting and was able to inject vitality into the proceedings. President Xi Jinping called upon the international community to jointly respond to climate change and biodiversity loss.
    Xi said China will do its best to assist and support developing countries through the Belt and Road Initiative. He announced an initiative to invest 1.5 billion yuan to support biodiversity in developing countries.
    China's progress in recent years has been remarkable. Large canals have been built to carry water to create vast lakes in desert regions. The people’s government has established a number of national parks and protection areas including Hainan Tropical Rainforest Park and Giant Panda Park. In the past 40 years the number of giant pandas living in the wild has increased from 1,114 to1,864.
    Conservation efforts have seen the number of crested ibises increase from only 7 to over 5,000 while the world's rarest and most endangered primate, the Hainan gibbon, has risen to at least 36 from under 10.
    Last year a herd of, now famous, elephants set out from the rain forests of Yunnan province moving through valleys, field, hills, crossed rivers and walked through villages. For 124 days they progressed some1400 km. They won the hearts of millions who watched their progress. The event highlighted the responsibility of living with wildlife, the care of ordinary people and the need for wildlife corridors.
    Biodiversity is an essential foundation of nature. The amazing variety of life ranging from colourful fish, beautiful flowers, bright butterflies, tall majestic trees and herds of graceful animals is simply fantastic . Let us protect our wonderful natural heritage for future generations to enjoy.

Sunday, January 08, 2023

Class struggle at a new level

As the new year arrives the class struggle has sharpened and intensified in Britain to a level unseen for many years. Nurses, railway and postal workers, paramedics, bus drivers, border agency staff and many more are taking a stand for fair wages and also on other issues. The years of austerity that have followed the global financial crisis that started in 2008 have achieved nothing. Now workers are starting to say 'enough is enough'. The falling value of wages, rampant inflation and inadequate public spending have combined to ensure that as usual it is the workers who are made to suffer from the failings of capitalism.
    The Labour Party should be organising, campaigning and calling for action. Where is the reassuring solidarity, the mobilisation for mass rallies and concrete support that is needed now?
    A number of Labour MPs have defied the leadership and joined picket lines but apart from a few words of muted sympathy the Starmer leadership seems more interested in issues of little importance. As workers stand up to defend their rights the New Communist Party fully supports them.
    The NCP campaigns for substantial wage awards, improved pensions and a reduction in working hours A reduction in arms spending and ending the support for corrupt regimes along with making the rich pay more tax could easily fund the benefits. We demand that all restrictive legislation against trade unions should be abolished. We also seek renationalisation of the utilities and public transport with a complete reversal of NHS privatisation and outsourcing. Our policies are bold and include a campaign for nuclear disarmament, an active policy for peace and diplomacy, and the closure of all foreign military bases.
    Our progressive policies are dramatically different from those of the mainstream political parties. They possess dynamic qualities that could promote a lively and stimulating debate. Our essential message needs to be presented to a far wider audience. This means gaining an increased readership for the New Worker and producing more pamphlets and leaflets.
    The working class has to be imbued with enthusiasm for building socialism and given the confidence that with united effort things can and will change. Progress requires an acceptance by the workers of the relevance of socialism and also the fact that capitalism is in terminal crisis.
    Unemployment, poverty and soaring inflation plagues the imperialist heartlands of Europe and the United States. But another world is being built in the people’s democracies in Asia and the Caribbean.
    People’s China is once again the workshop of the world with an economy second only to that of the United States. The people of Cuba, Democratic Korea, Laos and Vietnam are taking giant strides to raise the living standards of working people. And at an international level, from Palestine to south Korea and Brazil to the Donbas the masses are stepping up the struggle as they fight for their freedom against US hegemony.
    We all want to make 2023 a better year. And a good way to make it one is to join the NCP. Our party stands for advancing the material interests of the working class at home and in the rest of the world. We seek to build our vanguard party to ensure that workers have the knowledge, resolve and essential vision to challenge the establishment. And in doing so lay the foundations for a beautiful new society.