What’s Wrong with Extinction Rebellion?

Extinction Rebellion block traffic in Brisbane. Photo from http://www.newcastlestar.com.au

What’s Wrong with Extinction Rebellion?

04-08-2019 – Extinction Rebellion (XR) formed as an organisation in late 2018, and has since expanded into some 400 chapters around the globe. In April, XR burst onto the scene by blockading parts of London, with some participants in costumes, and topped off by a pink yacht.[1] Calling for urgent action to address the increasingly dire climate warnings, XR has drawn in many who are rightly fed up with the blatant inaction of politicians, and are willing to take action which disrupts “business as usual”. XR is correct about one thing: if immediate and drastic steps are not taken to eliminate carbon emissions and withdraw carbon already in the atmosphere within the next ten years, humanity itself will die a horrible death. However, XR display the wrong tactics, with the wrong strategy, which flows from wrong politics. So wayward is XR (the organisation – as distinct from XR members and supporters), we urge workers to stand clear and seek better methods of struggle, despite the critical importance of politically inspired climate action.

Anti-socialist action

Although one of XR’s slogans is “beyond politics”, they are very political – but not in a good way as far as working people are concerned. One of the core positions of XR is being against socialism – or at least their misunderstanding of it. Some XR organising sessions have warned participants against carrying placards saying “Down with Capitalism”, lest the action be interpreted as being organised by socialists!!  Explicit anti-socialism was on show with the now infamous XR training video, where a talk given by XR founder John Hallam identifies 20% of those who take part in political demonstrations as “obstructionists”, who have to be bypassed to get to those who are supposedly not as political. Hallam is referring to socialists who allegedly bring everyone down by denouncing capitalism. He states the solutions need to be a balance, “not socialism or anything”.[2]

From the off we can see what the XR leadership mean by “no politics”. They really mean “no socialism”. The most advanced workers would be aware that there is no other systemic alternative to capitalism other than socialism. It cannot be any other way in a society divided by the two major classes which are involved in production – capital and labour. In rejecting labour, the XR leadership consciously choose capital – no matter how radical they make themselves out to be. In choosing capital, they are choosing the very force responsible for impending human extinction, despite themselves.

It’s a contradiction, for some of those drawn into XR actions could easily view socialism quite favourably. But just a glance at the bios of two of the XR founders is revealing. Gail Bradbrook is one, who has reportedly spent the last 18 years in the pay of both NGOs, charities and some of the world’s largest corporations including Shell, BT, Microsoft, Panasonic, BAE Systems and Goldman Sachs.[3] Many of these roles has been as “advisor” – to the very governments she now implores people to lobby through XR “non-violent” action. Farhana Yamin has been an environmental lawyer and “advisor” on climate change “development policy” to the United Nations and the governments of other countries for 20 years.[4]  Ms Bradbrook and Ms Yamin, if nothing else, are clearly connected to the very capitalist governments and corporations which are responsible for the burning of the planet in the first place. We can scarcely believe that their new XR creation will therefore be anything other than another lobby group trying to get the ear of big capital and big parliaments. Far from rebellion, the XR leadership are after a seat at the table.

The 3.5% colour revolution

XR’s anti-socialism can only lead to open advocacy of capitalist imperialism, and their “theory” does likewise. The elite XR leadership state their agreement with the “3.5%” thesis – that only 3.5% of the population has to be mobilised in non-violent action to achieve fundamental change, even “revolution”. Which “revolutions” allegedly occurred this way? The 1986 “People Power” actions in the Philippines, which deposed President Marcos (but left the ruling class entirely intact), the “Rose Revolution” in 2003 in Georgia, the “Singing Revolution” in Estonia in the late 80s, and the “Velvet Revolution” in Czechoslovakia in 1989.[5] The last three were not “revolutions” in any progressive sense, but full-throated counter-revolutions against the distorted socialism which came through the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazified fascism in World War II. In the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, despite political power being monopolised by conservative bureaucratic castes, workers held state power which ensured basic economic security – jobs, healthcare, education – for all. For its part, Wall Street never wavered in its determination to bring down these admittedly imperfect workers’ states, yet decades later, the bishops of XR hail the restoration of free-market capitalism in Georgia, Estonia and Czechoslovakia as a “revolution” !!

The XR VIPs share the aim of US backed “colour revolutions”, which were not only used to bring down the Soviet bloc, but are now used to destabilise Russia itself and all of the countries it once had influence over.[6] This includes the relentless funding of imperialist fronts posing as NGOs in a vast network of countries throughout Eurasia. These deadly moves by Washington threaten to unleash a series of wars, or even a nuclear war, against Russia. XR has no objections though, not least because the leadership see themselves as a type of NGO. Tellingly, XR also says not one word against imperialist war in general – a major driver of climate collapse.

By attempting to ignore the working class, the elite XR leadership attempt to embrace all classes – and thus fall into the same nationalist fictions that imperialist governments constantly try to reinforce. That is, capitalist governments are “ours” and “we” are all a part of it. In fact, they insinuate that “we” are all responsible [!] for the climate crisis and therefore it is everyone’s [!] responsibility to do something about it. Such classless nonsense would be laughed out of even the most reformist Trade Union. Even if workers themselves are not yet class conscious in a Marxist sense, they know and feel instinctively that they are up against a force which is counterposed to their interests, and that collective action must be used in order to defend all those who labour for a living. Even if they do not yet see a way around it, workers see and feel, from their own experience, that highly paid managers, corporate executives and self-serving politicians are an obstacle to basic justice – and that includes urgent action on the climate crisis.

XR and the cops

By far the most dangerous approach of XR is its embrace of the police of the capitalist state as allies. In the UK, the blocking of intersections in London with a yacht and a truck for a week can only have been done through extensive consultation with the police,[7] which were likely carried out by the unaccountable leaders of XR, rather than those who attended the action. What is more, one of the core strategies of XR is actually to get people arrested, and there is evidence of the XR leadership actively assisting the cops to do just this.[8] It hardly needs emphasising that the police are the core security force of the capitalist state, which uses extreme violence against the working class and the poor in order to secure the wealth of private capital. Any organisation which advocates working directly with, or assisting, the cops, is plainly a deadly enemy of all working people. Directing workers to assist the cops in any task – not to speak of your own arrest! – is not only the most serious form of class treachery. It physically endangers workers, Aboriginal people, migrants, women, and all others who attempt exercise their political rights – which ultimately are very limited as long as capitalism remains economically stagnant.

The elite XR leadership’s willing embrace of the murderous core repressive forces of the capitalist state are a reflection of its political program. They are an example of the enraged petty-bourgeoisie, who cannot understand why big capital does not see its own extinction by continuing fossil fuel “business as usual”. The petty-bourgeoisie encompasses a whole range of political forces which stand between capital and labour by virtue of their class position. Their rejection of the working class and its aim – socialism – leads them into desperately tying themselves to big capital, but in the form of begging for reforms. Capital has no intention of granting them, which then drives the petty-bourgeois XR leadership further into a frenzy. It thus organises “radical” actions such as blockading traffic, and removing their clothes in parliamentary galleries, in a desperate attempt to shock the ruling class into change.

The ruling class, of course, cannot be changed. It must be overthrown, and by the only class which does not have a material interest in the maintenance of the profit system – the proletariat. As long as XR rejects the proletariat and its struggle for its own government and its own state power, it will be reduced to placing plaintive demands on the very forces responsible for the imminent climate collapse. And any political movement which simply asks its overlords for mercy cannot be described as “radical” in any way. This also explains why XR’s demands display a staggering combination of utopian liberalism and reformist populism. For example, XR demand that the government and the media “tell the truth” [!!] about climate change, while calling on the government of the capitalist profiteers to convene a “citizen’s assembly” [9] !! The petty-bourgeois democrats, materially and/or politically beholden to their class interests  (small scale capital), are incapable of a political course independent of the stock markets, the banks and the giant Western corporations, and therefore remain in thrall to the entire political state of the big bourgeoisie.

Bandwagon jumping left parties adapt

Some Australian left parties have simply adapted to the anti-socialist XR movement, by “temporarily” folding up their socialism and placing it in their back pocket. Never one to pass by a chance to jump on a bandwagon, the Socialist Alliance claim that some members of XR agree with an anti-capitalist approach, even if the XR platform does not.[10] Socialist Alternative avoid mentioning the XR platform, but claim that the major positive of XR is their focus on militant direct action, and urge these actions to grow.[11] Both these parties play out the fantasy that ANY movement can be “pushed to the left” if only socialists take part in it. They make the mistake that any movement can be a vehicle for progressive change. Even if XR has a pro-capitalist leadership, all that is supposedly needed is for the left to “relate” to left wing elements within them. Never tiring of tailing after the “left” wing of the ruling class, such tactics in fact tie workers to “their own” capitalist governments, for an indefinite period. Meanwhile, such waylaid left parties forever claim that they are only “working with” allegedly progressive bourgeois layers. Clearly, they are instead working for them, and by extension, for the bourgeoisie itself.

The XR leadership proffer the radically false theory that everyone, from a minimum wage earning seamstress right up to billionaire corporate magnates, are all affected by climate collapse so “everyone” has an interest in doing something about it. In reality, all strata of the capitalist class, right down to the small time business owner, would rather see the earth incinerated than be stripped of their “right” to exploit the labour power of the workers who produce their profits. Allowing for historical variations, this is just as true for the modern day capitalists as it was for the slave owners who pre-dated them, and the biblical kings before them. While the pre-capitalist ruling classes did not face civilisation ending threats, they also would have preferred to see the world burn rather than lose their social power over the toiling masses.

The only way for slaves and serfs to change their conditions of life was to band together to overthrow the slave-owners and medieval monarchs. This eventually occurred, but now the task falls to the modern day working class to liberate humanity from the tyrannical rule of capital. The issue of impending ecological collapse does not invalidate this historical task, but only makes it more urgent. The capitalists and their state, and their governments, cannot be made to “see reason”, no matter how much traffic or business as usual disruption is organised – though different forms of mass action will certainly be needed. What is required is the organisation of the most class-conscious into a Marxist vanguard party, which can lead the working class in a struggle for the seizure of the major means of production. Workers’ control of production, and society itself, will greatly increase the chances of humanity avoiding extinction through the rational application of science and technology. The crusade for a workers’ state and a workers’ government is, in the final analysis, the only real rebellion.

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E:workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012
www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/04/16/eco-protesters-armed-pots-pink-yacht-blockade-capital/ (29-07-2019)

[2] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/05/06/extinction-rebellion-training-or-how-to-control-radical-resistance-from-the-obstructive-left/ (31-07-2019)

[3] https://www.vigiliae.org/dr-gail-marie-bradbrook-compassionate-revolutionary-for-hire-by-un-extinction/ (31-07-2019)

[4] https://www.bond.org.uk/person/farhana-yamin (31-07-2019)

[5] http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190513-it-only-takes-35-of-people-to-change-the-world (03-08-2019)

[6] https://www.globalresearch.ca/coups-and-color-revolutions-us-wages-geopolitical-warfare-against-russia-in-central-asia-and-caucasus/5441969 (03-08-2019)

[7] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/04/24/extinction-rebellion-socialist-revolution/ (03-08-2019)

[8] https://libcom.org/blog/extinction-rebellion-not-struggle-we-need-pt-1-19072019?fbclid=IwAR1-PgvdDKz1NpAWnow8rkgtIzxfG5HC67gIw07ffmotFZ_xZThnfDuEwOg (03-08-2019)

[9] https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/demands/ (03-08-2019)

[10] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/what-kind-rebellion-will-it-take-save-humanity-extinction (04-08-2019)

[11] https://redflag.org.au/node/6812 (04-08-2019)

Xinjiang: The West’s Big Lie

Map highlighting the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), in western China. Image from Wikipedia

Xinjiang: The West’s Big Lie

24-07-2019 – A lie repeated a thousand times eventually becomes accepted as the truth. Such was the infamous advice of Josef Goebbles, Minister of Propaganda of fascist Germany from 1933 to 1945. The governments of the capitalist West have learned this lesson well, and apply it wherever they can. In recent times, the largest of lies they attempt to impose on workers as a supposed “truth” is the wild claim that one million Uyghurs have been detained in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). For this claim, Western governments and their compliant media offer not a shred of evidence – it is simply repeated over and over again. The Nazis themselves would have been suitably impressed.

The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) once had a reputation for ground breaking investigative journalism. Today it leads the charge in propagandising for a desperate US imperialism which enlists Canberra in its hybrid war against Red China. The Four Corners “documentary” program “Tell the World”, which aired on the 15th of July, compiles a litany of utterly fallacious claims about the political situation in Xinjiang, with the help of anti-socialist Uyghur emigres.[1] It is presented by Sophie McNeil, who is known for hailing ISIS and Al Qaeda linked death squads as “rebels” during the US led war for regime change against Syria.[2] Ms McNeil continues her backing of such barbarians through to Xinjiang – where a tiny minority of Uyghurs, infected with the Wahabist strand of Islam, also travelled to Syria to fight with ISIS linked cut-throats against the secular Syrian Arab Republic, from the early years of the proxy war.[3] If demented mercenaries, armed and funded by Western governments and the Saudi Arabian monarchy, should be hailed as brave fighters for “democracy” in Syria, why not in Xinjiang?

West’s anti-China drive dividing the UN

The Washington led drive against Red China drags all types of anti-worker governments behind it. The governments of 22 countries, most of them imperialist, signed a joint letter to the United Nations (UN) which condemned the “oppression” of Uyghurs and Muslims in Xinjiang. The US subordinates were: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK).[4] In response, a letter to the President of the Human Rights Council of the UN lauding the “remarkable achievements in the field of human rights” was signed by 37 countries. Among the defenders of the PRC were the governments of: Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Cuba, Algeria, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Nigeria, Angola, Togo, Tajikistan, Philippines and Belarus.[5]  Needless to say, the governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar play both sides of the coin, siding with Washington for some imperialist wars, while siding with the PRC in order to safeguard certain trade and investment opportunities. However, while the UN is no longer a body where Washington holds pre-eminent control, the UN is also not an arena which working people should revere.

Washington’s concern is economics, not “human rights”

The Pentagon’s invented “human rights” issues in Xinjiang are, as usual, a façade for the real reason Washington is concerned about the rise of Red China. The imperialist shop-fronts such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank both now rate the economy of China as world number one in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). Despite recent “slowing” the PRC’s economy is still growing at a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate of 7%, which is three times that of the US. The training and education of the Chinese working class is also expanding, with the PRC now spending 4% of GDP skilling up their own people.[6] For Washington, with its production for private profit system staggering along in near or actual recessionary terms, the booming Chinese economy represents a nightmare come to life. For them, socialism and collective ownership is not supposed to be able to compete against the West with their stock markets, “free” trade and “free enterprise”, let alone surpass it. Yet this is reality.

Washington’s concerns about Xinjiang are not its bluster about “human rights”. Their concerns are the staggering overall performance of the PRC – which is primarily due to predominantly state owned means of production and a planned economy. This is one reason why the US ruling class is hell bent on derailing, or at least disrupting, Red China’s trillion dollar “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) – a trade and infrastructure mega-project, which will spur on further economic integration between the PRC and Asia, Europe and Africa. Xinjiang is a central node of the BRI, with Xinjiang sitting in the middle of the ancient Silk Road. Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi, for example, now handles 3600 tonnes of cargo each day, much of it bound for other parts of Asia and Europe.[7] Each tonne of trade that the PRC conducts with countries not under the political domination of Wall Street is another nail in the coffin of US economic hegemony, and their privately owned corporations which trample on the living standards of both US and international workers.

While workers in Xinjiang and the rest of the PRC do not have political decision making power as a result of the fraudulent “Marxism” of the Communist Party of China (CPC), they nonetheless enjoy the fruits of the economic achievements of the PRC workers’ state – a precious gain of the 1949 socialist revolution. A genuine Leninist leadership in Beijing would seek to politicise and mobilise the Chinese proletariat in favour of economic integration with neighbouring socialist states such as Vietnam, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – “North Korea”) and Laos, as a means of politically combatting the capitalism wreaking havoc outside the largest country (by population) in the world. But this would mean severing the restrictions of the “Marxist-Leninist” theory of “socialism in one country”.

Despite this, workers in Australia and internationally have a vital interest in combatting and negating the anti-China hysteria emanating from Canberra, Washington and elsewhere. Australian workers cannot afford to buy into the liberal intelligentsia’s lies which foster disruption in Xinjiang – or Hong Kong, Tibet or Taiwan. On the contrary, workers need to strategically ally themselves with the PRC workers’ state against US imperialism as a lever of their own struggle for liberation from capitalist tyranny.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E:workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012
http://www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-15/uyghur-forced-labour-xinjiang-china/11298750 (17-07-2019)

[2] http://www.handsoffsyriasydney.com/articles/jeremy-salt-destroys-abc-war-propaganda-against-syria/ (17-07-2019)

[3] https://www.voltairenet.org/article179260.html  (17-07-2019)

[4] https://news.yahoo.com/22-countries-signed-unprecedented-letter-152800378.html (22-07-2019)

[5] https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-07-13/China-s-efforts-on-human-rights-protection-backed-by-37-countries-Ii2dQv67ni/index.html?fbclid=IwAR2vUu_dp9Oo_At24A1RlbeWSM6dau1eykK2ZlaV0a2ujIlJtu_qfWc3p_g (22-07-2019)

[6] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/12/the-world-s-top-economy-the-us-vs-china-in-five-charts/ (22-07-2019)

[7] http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-08/12/c_137384382.htm (22-07-2019)

Sudan: US Plots Further Balkanisation

Sudan: US Plots Further Balkanisation

19-06-2019 – Corporate media throughout the world is flush with news of a “democratic uprising” in Sudan. Apparent activists on the ground claim a “revolution” is on the verge of removing a “dictatorship”. Those with keener insight, however, can easily see that there are very sinister forces behind the demonstrations in Sudan, and that the chaos occurring once again across Africa can only be orchestrated by the forces of US imperialism. A new “Scramble for Africa” (of sorts) is taking place, but over one hundred years after the last one, this time the imperialist powers are not competing against each other, but uniting as a bloc against the non-imperialist powers. What is taking place in Sudan today is not a “revolution”, but a proxy hybrid war waged by Washington against Beijing and Moscow.

US drives the Balkanisation of Sudan

Little more than 18 months ago, now ousted President Omar Al-Bashir stated in an interview that the Sudanese government was informed that the US desire is to divide Sudan into five parts if they are unable to obtain protection.[1] As a result, at the time Sudan requested the advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile system, as well as SU-30 and SU-35 fighter jets to be purchased from Russia. The SU-35 is the fighter jet which, with its superior capabilities, was used to great effect by Russia in effectively eliminating ISIS from the ground in Syria, and defeating the US-led regime change war. The information about US government plans to further Balkanise Sudan are eminently believable, given the fact that the US government was the key player in the partition of Sudan,[2] which created a new state – South Sudan, but led to immense suffering and destructive conflict since its beginning in 2011.

While the long running conflict in Sudan seems intractable, in reality it is fueled not only by the US government, but also by the governments of Britain, France and the entire European Union (EU). It is these imperialist powers which are the main architects of the conflicts in South Sudan and Darfur, with the training, arming and financing of militias opposed to the Sudanese government.[3] When conflict erupts, they lay all blame for the resulting violence on Sudan’s forces, while moving in to secure energy resources for themselves – particularly oil. If anyone has any doubts about the participation of the US and EU governments in the current “democratic uprising” in Sudan, the visits by US and EU consular officials to the protesters’ sit-in in Khartoum should dispel them. None other than US Charge d’affaires Steven Koutsis personally dropped in to the sit-in outside the Defence Ministry.[4] When the US state department approves and assists your protest, it’s not hard to smell a rat.

Necessary alliances with China and Russia

Protesters in Sudan may have any number of legitimate grievances. And indeed, the actions of Omar Al-Bashir’s government in sending troops to aid the Saudi Arabian monarchy’s genocidal war on Yemen can only be condemned. However, Sudan under Bashir was at the same time strategically tilting towards Russia for military security, and towards China for economic development. Given the fact that the US Empire cannot offer either of these, Sudan has little choice. Washington knows this, and this is what is driving its plans for ongoing chaos and instability in Sudan, at any price. War, communal and ethnic conflict, destablisation – all of this devastation can only benefit the US ruling class. For one thing, it will make it extremely difficult for Red China to deliver any infrastructure to Sudan which can only assist its economic development. For example, Chinese companies are involved in a planned 7500 kilometre railway from Port Sudan on the Red Sea to Dakar in Senegal on the Atlantic, crossing Chad, Nigeria, Niger, Bamako and Mali.[5] Nothing disrupts railway construction like war and political unrest – something in which AFRICOM (Africa Command – the US military across the African continent) specialises.

China’s socialist economic power is the reason it is able to offer mutually beneficial trade and much needed infrastructure development to all African countries, including Sudan. While Russia is not socialist per se, it remains independent of the US, and it contains unrivalled superiority in military technology – partially as a hangover from the days of the Soviet Union. With Washington bent on fostering the expansion of ISIS throughout Africa, as in Syria, it is only Russia who can offer effective prevention.[6] Washington and its allies, including the Zionist Israeli state[7], will stop at nothing to prevent cooperation between Africa and Beijing and Moscow. This includes fomenting false “democracy movements”.

Regardless of the actions of the Sudanese government, or the current Transitional Military Council (TMC), working people in Sudan and internationally risk everything by being manipulated by the forces of a US Empire which is willing to gamble with global nuclear war (against China, Russia, Iran) to prevent losing the status of world’s only superpower. Left political forces in Africa need to demand the withdrawal of AFRICOM from their continent, while welcoming economic assistance offered by China, and the military protection offered by Russia. The presence of AFRICOM troops increases the chances of chaos – as that is their brief. Workers need to reject the constant threat of war and economic malaise which is virtually all the private profit system currently offers, in Africa or the West.  At the same time it is important to maintain political independence, and seek to forge genuine Marxist parties which safeguard the interests of the working people of Africa, Eurasia and beyond. AFRICOM: GET OUT OF AFRICA!

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.rt.com/news/410932-us-wants-divide-sudan/ (19-06-19)

[2] https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/07/us-played-key-role-in-southern-sudans-long-journey-to-independence/241660/ (19-06-19)

[3] https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-balkanization-of-sudan-the-redrawing-of-the-middle-east-and-north-africa/22736 (19-06-19)

[4] https://www.globalresearch.ca/military-opposition-forces-reach-agreement-sudan-tensions-persist/5677597 (19-06-19)

[5] https://schillerinstitute.com/blog/2017/12/04/china-investiert-einen-transkontinentalen-bahnkorridor-afrika/ (19-06-19)

[6] https://eurasiafuture.com/2019/06/08/daesh-is-spreading-all-throughout-africa-and-only-russia-can-stop-it/ (19-06-19)

[7] https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-africa-12987245/sudan-accuses-israel-over-port-sudan-air-strike (19-06-19)

No War on Iran! Lift the Sanctions!

Flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran

No War On Iran! Lift the Sanctions!

16-06-2019 – In a rehash of the lead up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a press conference on June 13 where he promptly blamed Iran for two alleged attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Pompeo provided not one shred of evidence, and did not take any questions from reporters.[1] This follows hot on the heels of similar attacks on four oil tankers in the region on May 12, which, not surprisingly, the US government also blamed on Iran. For its part, Iran has “categorically” rejected the accusations, for the June 12 incident,[2] as it did for the May 12 incident. It is not difficult to surmise that both incidents were false flags, designed to create a context for US strikes on the country it “lost” in 1979. Once again, with a pack of lies, the US ruling class is threatening the world with a catastrophic conflagration.

Days before the May 12 incident, the US government announced it was sending a strike force to the Middle East, ostensibly to respond to threats to US troops by Iran or their allies. The strike force includes the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, the guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and other destroyers. The USS John Stennis aircraft carrier and its strike force is already in the Persian Gulf.[3] When the Islamic Republic of Iran has publicly made no threats against any country for 40 years, US claims of their security being jeopardised are in reality yet more public relations preparing the public for a major war.

Major US provocations

US President Trump had already “withdrawn” the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on May 8, which was a deal to restrict Iran’s development of nuclear technology which could be used to develop nuclear weapons. The governments of Britain, France and Germany demurred, and declared they would stay within the treaty as a means to better achieve its goal of the prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.[4] In fact, the “withdrawal” is a violation of international law, as the JCPOA is a plan adopted by the United Nations Security Council. The US cannot simply withdraw without bringing into question their membership of the UN. Needless to say, however, this has not stopped them before.

The US “withdrawal” also came with even more sanctions in Iran than had been in place previously. The scale of these sanctions cannot be underestimated. They aim to shut down Iran’s oil industry entirely, something that Iran heavily relies on. Iran produces 3.8 million barrels of oil per day, which represents 3.9% of the world oil supply.[5] In addition, the US has applied financial sanctions on Iran which effectively cut Iran off from the international financial system. Last November saw US sanctions applied on most of Iran’s banks, including its central bank. Just one result of these combined measures is estimated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be a 4% economic contraction in 2018, which could be followed by a 6% economic contraction in 2019.[6]  Added to an estimated 50% inflation increase over that time, one can see how adversely affected the Iranian masses are as a result.

As if this wasn’t enough, in April US President Trump announced that the US was designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) a “terrorist” organisation.[7] In response, the Iranian government promptly labelled the US Central Command or CENTCOM (US troops in the Middle East) as terrorist. The action of the US is unprecedented in that it is possibly the first time that a nation state’s armed forces have been labelled in such a way. Usually the designation of “terrorist” is reserved for non-state actors and other armed groups. The US government is overtly throwing the worst invective against Iran it can muster – and the truth be damned.

Linked to US defeat in Syria

Although the US White House has sought the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran since it’s revolution in 1979 dispensed with the US backed monarchy, the recent moves against Iran are linked to the failed eight year long war for regime change against Syria, from 2011 to the present. Although US troops are still in parts of Syria, where they are enlisting reactionary Kurdish armed groups through its Orwellian named “Syrian Democratic Forces”, overall the US suffered a stinging defeat. It was not able to bring down the Syrian Arab Republic despite the arming and funding of tens of thousands of barbaric death squads, under various guises such as ISIS, Al Qaeda and Al Nusra. The Russian intervention, at the express invitation of the Syrian government, was decisive. Beginning in September 2015, superior Russian air power took out ISIS strongholds, and cut off ISIS supply lines. From this point, Washington’s proxy ISIS forces, which had been recklessly carrying out atrocities across Syria, barely stood a chance.

US defeat in Syria was arguably the first military defeat for US imperialism since the liberation of Saigon in Vietnam in 1975. Yet as decisive as the superior Russian air power was, air power alone cannot win a war. For this, troops on the ground are needed. And these were provided by the Syrian Arab Army, the Lebanese Hezbollah and armed forces from Iran. The Iranian government recognised that if Syria was taken down by the Pentagon, it would be next. Just as Russia saw that it had to draw a red line on US regime change wars after the destruction of Green Libya, Iran drew its red line also. Thankfully for humanity, the non-imperialist forces of Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Syria were able to “contain and roll back” US imperialism and its allies – Israel, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Qatar and so on. Turkey began the war on the side of the US Empire, but finished as an ally of Russia.

While the failed regime change war on Syria has burnt the Pentagon, its 2003 invasion of Iraq has left a string of US bases in that country, although the current Iraqi government is pushing hard to remove them. The US occupation of Afghanistan, in place since 2001, has furnished the US with a string of bases on another side of Iran. Iran is thus encircled with hostile US military bases, in the same way in which the US has encircled Russia and is attempting to do to China. As Brett Redmayne-Titley writes, however, a US ground invasion of Iran will need a stable and secure border.[8] That could have been Iraq in the past, but not now. Other bordering countries of Iran, such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Turkey and Pakistan can hardly allow the US to use their soil for an invasion of Iran either.

“Internal” Regime Change

US air strikes on Iran in isolation from a ground invasion are possible, but would hardly cause what the Pentagon seeks – regime change. Hence, Washington uses the military stick at the same time as using covert means to bring down independent Iran. Using familiar fake political themes as “human rights” and “democracy”, and even “workers’ rights”, the CIA constantly seeks pro-US allies inside Iran, and amongst liberals and deluded left parties internationally. This formula may have worked in Syria but for the assistance Syria received from Russia, Hezbollah and Iran. In Iran, the Zionist Israeli state and the Saudi Arabian monarchy, while outwardly appearing to be foes, would supply dangerous levels of succor to both an external and internal US led war on Iran.

The madness of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US National Security Adviser John Bolton make US war moves against Iran rather obvious. In the face of this, many Australian left parties swear blind that they oppose a US led war on Iran – while simultaneously calling for regime change in Iran!!  They don’t wish to acknowledge that Wall Street seeks regime change in Iran any which way it can; by external invasion OR by internal destabilisation. In practice, both are intertwined and cannot be separated. US imperialism fosters internal destablisation in lieu of an external invasion. Washington has been doing this since the CIA was created in the aftermath of World War II. Why would Iran be an exception?

If US imperialism somehow did not exist, it might be possible for those on the left to agitate for a socialist overthrow of the “capitalism” that currently operates in Iran. But we do not live in such a fantasy world. US imperialism has its agents ensconced in virtually every country in the world (with the exception of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK), as well as a layer of internal pro-US liberals who retain desperate illusions about “American freedom”. While working people can certainly have their criticisms of some of the actions of the Iranian government (as do Iranians themselves), the fact is that US control of Iran would plunge the Middle East into a hell previously unknown. The immediate task for workers internationally is to defend Iran against US imperialism, internally and externally.

Excuses offered for anti-government agitation

Some misguided left parties which backed the imperialist led war for regime change in Syria, repeat the dose in Iran. Only this time they offer what appear on the surface to be left justifications for their call to overthrow the government of Iran. However, these “left” justifications are grossly distorted, and no matter how much left rhetoric accompanies them, end up fanning the flames of imperialist war. For example, Socialist Alternative (SALT), reporting on the contrived January 2018 protests in Iran, claim that Hassan Rouhani’s government has “privatised numerous state-owned enterprises”.[9] But is this true? It is certainly not “privatisation” as we experience in the capitalist West, where a formerly state owned enterprise is handed over to private capital – whose only goal is profit for themselves. What has actually occurred is the transfer of some state assets to other state bodies, such as the IRGC, the mass organisation the Basij, or the bonyads (charities). As Ramin Mazaheri of Press TV has exhaustively argued, the Iranian government still controls the overwhelming majority of the economy, and would not politically be able to carry out privatisation as it has been known in the West for the last 40 years.[10]

The Spartacist League offers banner headlines opposing a US led war on Iran, but then undermine their claimed position by railing against the Iranian government for the oppression of “national minorities”.[11] They are joined on this imaginary bandwagon by the Socialist Alliance,[12] the Communist Party of Australia (CPA),[13] Solidarity,[14] and the Socialist Equality Party (SEP).[15] All of these left parties consciously or unconsciously ignore the extent to which violent separatists and jihadists are materially and politically aided by the imperialist powers, as well as the Saudi Arabian monarchy and the Zionist Israeli state, in their multi-faceted efforts to reverse Iran’s 1979 revolution. Baluchi Salafists in the southeast of Iran[16], Ahwaz separatists in the southwest, as well as some Kurdish reactionary parties such as PJAK (“Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan”)[17] – all carry out barbarous acts against innocent Iranians, while being materially aided by Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh. For example, in September last year, Ahwazi separatists, disguised in IRGC and Basij uniforms, opened fire at a military parade in Ahvaz, slaughtering at least 25 people, including women and children.[18] Yet the misinformed left parties would have us believe that it is the Iranian government which is “suppressing national minorities” !

Workers in Australia and internationally have a vital interest in undertaking all measures which can prevent yet another US led imperialist war in the Middle East. As in Syria, working people need to defend Iran against internal and external regime change, against the Pentagon and its allies, and against leftists who struggle to grasp geopolitics. While world socialism is the ultimate necessity, this goal will not be reached unless workers can prevent the imperialist annihilation of Iran today.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

 

PO Box 66  NUNDAH QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

 

[1] http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/51764.htm (15-06-2019)

[2] https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/world/2019/06/13/us-iran-oil-tanker-attack/ (15-06-2019)

[3] https://www.studentnewsdaily.com/daily-news-article/u-s-strike-force-heading-to-the-middle-east-to-counter-iran-threats/ (15-06-2019)

[4] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/08/donald-trump-announces-decision-iran-nuclear-deal-live-updates/ (15-06-2019)

[5] http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-07/17/c_137330922.htm (15-06-2019)

[6] https://iranprimer.usip.org/blog/2019/apr/23/impact-us-sanctions-iran-oil (15-06-2019)

[7] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/designates-iran-elite-irgc-terrorist-organisation-trump-190408141756166.html (15-06-2019)

[8] https://www.globalresearch.ca/geography-war-no-iraq-no-iran/5678358 (15-06-2019)

[9] https://redflag.org.au/node/6153 (16-06-2019)

[10] https://www.mintpressnews.com/what-privatization-irans-unique-socialist-economy/244887/ (16-06-2019)

[11] https://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1156/iran.html (16-06-2019

[12] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/iranian-workers-protests-confront-regime-crisis (16-06-2019)

[13] https://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2018/1852/06-rally.html (16-06-2019)

[14] https://www.solidarity.net.au/refugees/ahwazis-face-persecution-in-iran-detention-in-australia/ (16-06-2019)

[15] https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/11/26/irst-n26.html (16-06-2019)

[16] https://thesaker.is/foreign-backed-terrorism-in-iran-part-one-us-israeli-backed-salafists-in-iran/ (16-06-2019)

[17] https://thesaker.is/foreign-backed-terrorism-in-iran-part-two-us-israeli-backed-insurgency-and-separatism-in-western-iran/ (16-06-2019)

[18] https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/09/22/574848/Iran-Ahvaz-terrorist-attack (16-06-2019)

Philippines: Liberals Cry Foul After Crushing Defeat

Supporters of President Duterte rally in Manila. Image from http://www.channelnewsasia.com

Philippines: Liberals Cry Foul After Crushing Defeat

25-05-2019 – The May 13 midterm elections in the Philippines delivered an unprecedented victory for the overwhelmingly popular President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies. At the time of writing, it is likely that allies of President Duterte will sweep all 12 Senate seats which were up for election[1], which represents a history making effort. Virtually all mid-term elections in the Philippines run against the incumbent government – but not this one. President Duterte, first elected President in 2016, is by now the most popular President in Filipino history.

Elections in the Philippines use a unique mixed-member majoritarian system, where a part of the legislature is elected through proportional representation and another part are elected from local districts. Unusually, candidates for the Senate compete against each other for a spot, even if they are members of the same party. This can lead to a situation where Senators transfer their political loyalties according to political developments. This partially explains how many elected members switched their allegiance to President Duterte’s party PDP-Laban (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng-Bayan) in 2016, creating the so-called supermajority in the House of Representatives.[2]

Defeated parties claim “fraud”

In Australia, some left parties – in defiance of their usual strident defence of “democracy” – line up with particularly unsavoury political elements in order to oppose President Duterte. The Socialist Alliance (SA), in its newspaper Green Left Weekly, retailed the claims of electoral fraud by the Partido Lakas Ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses – PLM). In the wake of their defeat, the PLM called for the dissolution of the Philippine electoral commission COMELEC and its replacement with an “independent” body. Independent from whom? The overwhelmingly popular President !  They bleated that COMELEC should be replaced by a “genuinely independent” body which is accountable to the people, not the President, which includes representatives of “grassroots people’s organisations, not the elite”.[3]

It takes some chutzpah for SA in Australia and the PLM in the Philippines to accuse President Duterte as being part of the “elite”. President Duterte’s commanding popularity amongst Filipino workers and poor masses occurs precisely because he is NOT seen as part of the elite. Certainly he is not a “trapo” (traditional politician), who for generations have been involved in direct or indirect corruption, and have come from wealthy backgrounds. President Duterte is the first President to hail from southern Mindanao, what was a poorer region in comparison to the industrialised northern Luzon region. And he is decidedly not in any way linked by any relations to wealthy Manila families such as the Aquinos. President Duterte reportedly doesn’t wear socks, and doesn’t know how to tie a necktie. He doesn’t appear to covet material wealth, and lives in a modest house. These idiosyncrasies are only just a part of why poor and working class Filipinos see him as one of their own, and back him so strongly.

It is difficult to avoid a conclusion that parties such as the PLM are claiming fraud in the elections not due to fraud occurring, but because they lost. They claim all kinds of voting irregularities to do with the vote counting machines, but the Philippines changed from a manual voting system to an automated voting system in 2007 – more than ten years ago. All of a sudden, after an election in which they rail against the supposed “tyranny” of President Duterte, they suffer a huge electoral defeat – and promptly claim “fraud”. In reality, the vast majority of Filipinos endorse and support their President who has been elected with a huge majority, and do not regard him as a “tyrant” at all.

SA in Australia, and the PLM in the Philippines, despite their claims of advocating “socialism”, line up with the real elite bourgeois opposition to President Duterte. For example, the Otso Diretso electoral ticket openly fanned the flames of chauvinistic anti-communism against Red China. Otso Diretso tenders baseless claims of Chinese “imperialism” in the South China Sea, and ludicrous declarations of a Chinese “invasion” of the Philippines. They claim that President Duterte is a stooge of Beijing – for not being willing to go to war against China !!  During the election campaign Otso Diretso members attempted to sail to the Scarborough Shoal in order to plant a Philippine flag – an act of blind anti-communist ultra-nationalism. They were not able to do so, having not gained permission from the Philippine Coast Guard. Instead they brought their flag-waving bigotry to the coastal town of Masinloc in Zambales.[4]

Fascism?

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) join in with other left parties they usually criticise for reformism, such as SA, in denouncing President Duterte as “fascist” or using “fascistic” measures. In an article about the May 13 elections, the SEP incredibly compared the Duterte Youth to the Hitler Youth. They claim that the Duterte Youth declared in an election statement that they would “finish” those who worked with “rapist, criminal and terrorist comrades”.[5] The Duterte Youth are chasms away from being a fascist youth group who are targeting “communist” youth from a right-wing standpoint. They are certainly nationalist, and backers of President Duterte.[6] However, the armed “communist” groups in the Philippines are Maoists, rather than “communists”. This means they display no solidarity, and in fact engage in bitter enmity, with the Chinese workers’ state. In the context where it is the US state department which is provoking China in the South China Sea, and even attempting to use ISIS to destabilise President Duterte, it is the Maoists and the liberal “socialist” groups which form a right-wing bloc, rather than the Duterte Youth.

Liberals in the Philippines and internationally also use the label of “fascist” to describe President Duterte’s use of the police force in order to combat the drug problem in the Philippines. They use the universal “human rights” card in order to whip up a largely false scare campaign against President Duterte’s war on drugs. But this reeks of hypocrisy, especially when the campaign is backed by such fronts for US imperialism as Human Rights Watch (HRW).[7] HRW is the very same US state department backed organisation which prosecuted Washington and Riyadh’s barbaric war for regime change against Syria over the last 8 years. HRW repeatedly referred to Al Qaeda and ISIS elements as “rebels” fighting a supposedly just cause – when in fact they were death squads carrying out regular atrocities.

President Duterte’s war on drugs takes no prisoners, certainly. But it is a war against the drug dealers and the drug pushers, not those who become addicts as a result. And what the liberal opposition cannot dispute is that despite what seem to be harsh police measures, the majority of Filipinos recognise the problems hard drug prevalence was causing, and back Duterte’s stern measures to deal with the problem. Many Filipinos now recognise that the streets are safer at night, now that the heavy police measures have scared off many of those involved in the drug trade. Some employers are grateful, because some employees were telling them they didn’t want to go home late from work at night, for fear of being accosted by the drug pushers, some of whom were the tricycle drivers themselves.[8]

From any objective analysis, let alone a Marxist one, President Duterte’s administration cannot be described as “fascist”. Fascism means a precipitous environment where a capitalist ruling class has decided to dispense with the normal trappings of “democracy”, and forcibly disbands opposition – most especially trade Unions, socialist and left parties. Nothing of the sort is occurring in the Philippines. Liberals and fake left parties, combining with ruling class opposition to Duterte, are labeling something “fascist” out of desperation. This is because despite their hosannas to “democracy”, they are loathe to admit that in fact it is they who are in a minority, and the majority is behind the President. What is in fact occurring is that the domestic and international critics of President Duterte – such as the PLM in the Philippines, SA and SEP in Australia – oppose the Philippine government from the right.

Sinophobic and Russophobic opposition

Today’s New Cold War includes Sinophobia (fear of China) and Russophobia (fear of Russia). Both are forms of racism and anti-communism, even despite the overthrow of socialism in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) through capitalist counter-revolution in 1991-2. Reformist left parties in Australia, the Philippines and internationally are united with US backed NGOs and mainstream liberals in their bitter hostility to anything which approaches real socialism. Or, for that matter, political independence from Washington – which Moscow demonstrates in spades. This is why their political positions, despite denials, line up with the Pentagon and Wall Street. President Duterte, on the other hand, is immune from the illness of Sinophobia and Russophobia, and like many others, can see the declining economic and political power of the former “sole superpower”.

As a nationalist, Duterte is seeking what he sees as the best way forward for the Philippines. China’s gigantic socialist state backed economy is rising so rapidly that it is offering trade and investment partnerships to neighbouring and regional countries of mutual benefit. The US former hegemon is not in any position to offer anything remotely comparable, so its influence in the Pacific is waning. Duterte recognises this, and positions the Philippines to take advantage of it – and is denounced as a “Chinese agent” by the opposition. Worse than this, the liberal opposition castigate Duterte for taking measures to avoid a war with China! Hence, in the same way in which Obama and Clinton liberals in the US condemn US President Trump for avoiding a war with Russia, the liberal pro-US opposition condemn Duterte for avoiding a war with China. If there is any indicator that liberals (and fake “socialists”) in practice work for the opposite of the very values they claim, this is it.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the new parliament in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Duterte stated: “I am being criticised about the South China Sea. Am I prepared to go to war? I am not. Will we win the war? No. It will just create a massacre. I would lose my soldiers and policemen. If you attack China, its closest missile will hit Manila in seven minutes. Those fools want me to… We can’t do anything about it. That’s how it is. The United States will help???”[9] Not only is President Duterte determined to avoid a war with China (provoked by US imperialism); he is determined to ensure that the Philippines takes advantage of China’s economic largesse.

President Duterte has thus signed the Philippines up to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, or New Silk Road). At the recent Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, President Duterte inked a deal which would see China inject 12.2 billion US dollars into the Philippine economy.[10] Rather than conflict with China in the South China Sea, a deal was struck in which both the Philippines and China will cooperate to explore and utilise resources in the area. One can see how news of this would be received in Washington. In return, Washington politically and materially aids fronts posing as NGOs to in turn mount campaigns against the “tyranny” of President Duterte. Dutifully, reformist left parties follow suit.

If this wasn’t enough to cause consternation in the Oval Office of the White House, President Duterte has also tilted the Philippines towards Russia. Trade ties with Russia have been increased, with the Duterte administration actively enabling the Philippines-Russia Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation (JCTEC).[11] In addition, for the first time in history, the Philippines and Russia have engaged in military cooperation, in areas of international defence and security. Last month, Russian warships docked in Manila for a four-day friendly visit in what was the latest round of military cooperation.[12] This took place under President Duterte’s “friend to all, enemy to no one” approach to international relations. This means that while the Philippines will not ditch the traditional relationship with the US (somewhat fractious at times due to US colonial history in the Philippines); non-traditional allies will be sought and engaged. All of this sounds normal to rational people. Unfortunately, in an era of the decline of US economic and political power, Washington and their liberal allies are scarcely rational.

Defend Filipino sovereignty

There are other areas where the Duterte administration breaks new ground.  President Duterte seeks a Pan-Philippine federalism, where areas such as the Muslim south can take part as equals. To this end, the Bangsamoro region now has its regional parliament. He has sought to integrate Muslim Filipinos into the national dialogue, and win them away from extremism. President Duterte has also emphasised the freedom of religion which is guaranteed by Filipino law. The practical effect of this has somewhat undermined the authority of the Catholic Church in what has historically been a deeply Catholic country. To be able to confront the power and influence of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, without losing overall popularity, is a measure of the depth of support President Duterte commands.

Nevertheless, the aim of socialism is workers’ power in the Philippines, the Asia-Pacific and beyond. To this end, Marxists in the Philippines should remain in a temporary bloc with the Duterte Adminstration, while continuing to recruit to their own banner. This would take account of the popularity of the President, while seeking to forge the vanguard party needed to advance socialism internationally. Marxists internationally need to tread the line between defending Filipino sovereignty and striving for revolution.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/3010065/philippine-midterm-elections-unofficial-count-shows-all (25-05-2019)

[2] https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/05/13/1914710/fault-our-system-how-fix-elections-philippines (25-05-2019)

[3] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/philippines-election-dirtiest-decades (25-05-2019)

[4] https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/04/08/19/otso-diretso-bets-barred-from-scarborough-shoal (25-05-2019)

[5] https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/05/15/phil-m15.html (25-05-2019)

[6] https://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/03/06/17/voice-of-change-a-closer-look-at-the-duterte-youth (25-05-2019)

[7] https://www.hrw.org/tag/philippines-war-drugs (25-05-2019)

[8] https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2179753/his-silent-supporters-philippines-president-duterte-man-who-can (26-05-2019)

[9] https://eurasiafuture.com/2019/04/01/duterte-completely-rejects-war-against-china-and-calls-for-further-cooperation/ (26-05-2019)

[10] https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d3d774e79497a4d34457a6333566d54/share_p.html (26-05-2019)

[11] https://www.dti.gov.ph/exports/1071-main-content/moscow-news/11957-philippines-and-russia-follow-through-jctec-and-pv-initiatives (26-05-2019)

[12] http://www.arabnews.com/node/1478236/world (26-05-2019)

 

Palestine: Eurovision Marred by 71 Years of Al Nakba

Palestine: Eurovision Marred by 71 Years of Al Nakba

20-05-2019:  This year, the annual Eurovision song contest coincides with the 71st anniversary of Al Nakba (The Catastrophe), when 750 000 Palestinians were expelled from their lands in 1948 to enable the violent founding of the colonial setter state which became Israel. The awarding of Eurovision to Israel took place after the Israeli entrant Netta Barzilai won the contest in 2018. Yet the suffering of Palestinians living in the occupied territories of West Bank and Gaza continues.

Just a few weeks before the Eurovision song contest took place in Tel Aviv, the Western media dishonestly claimed that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) were carrying out missile strikes on Gaza “in response” to rocket attacks from Hamas, the Islamic Palestinian resistance organisation. In fact, the IDF has relentlessly been pounding Gaza for months without response from Hamas. IDF strikes have reportedly caused the death of 20 Palestinians so far this year, many while taking part in the weekly Friday protests against the suffocating blockade of Gaza.[1] In other words, the IDF repeatedly strikes Gaza, causing fatalities – and the Palestinians continue their protests regardless. When Hamas finally relents, and fires off rounds of rockets into Israel – most of which are shot down by the “Iron Dome” Israeli defence system – the Western media hypocritically paint Palestine as the aggressor. They routinely claim that the Israeli state is only “responding” to the rocket attacks,[2] when in fact it has goaded and provoked Palestine until they can take no more.

BDS calls for a boycott of Eurovision

For some time, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has called for a boycott of this year’s Eurovision song contest purely because it is taking place in Israel. While BDS campaigners are correct to highlight the grinding oppression of Palestinians carried out by the Israeli state, calling for a boycott of Israel with regards to Eurovision begs a few questions. For example, in which other European country should the Eurovision song contest take place? In the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands or Denmark?  Or how about Australia, now that Australia is a competitor in Eurovision? The governments of the UK, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia all took part in the criminal proxy imperialist war on Syria, carrying out air strikes “against” ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria.[3] In reality, they were aiding and abetting the barbaric death squads armed and funded by the US[4] and Israel.[5]

In an instant, it is plain to see that the Israeli state is not the only European state which carries out war crimes against innocent people. Yet many BDS advocates were virtually silent during the entire imperialist war on Syria, even when Israel’s role in it became known – and after Israel’s repeated missile strikes on Syria. As recently as April this year, the IDF reportedly struck the Syrian town of Masyaf in the province of Hama, wounding 6 soldiers.[6] For all of the bluster from BDS advocates, they tend to operate as if Palestine exists in a vortex, unrelated to the Middle East and world politics. No one is louder in their condemnation of “Israel”, and yet no one is more silent than when Israel bombs anyone else apart from Palestinians, e.g. next door neighbor Syria.

With a few exceptions, another glaring incongruity BDS advocates display is their hostility to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Zionist Israeli state regards Iran as a bitter enemy, and most BDS advocates echo this position, no matter how many times they throw up their hands in horror at “Israel”. Iran is also currently being threatened, yet again, by Washington without all out nuclear war. Despite Iran’s assistance to Palestinian resistance groups, many BDS advocates are the first ones to call for “regime change”, i.e. imperialist war by another name, in Iran. They don’t appear to be aware of a contradiction.

Imperialist backing of the Zionist Israeli state

BDS advocates are also largely silent on the real source of the Zionist Israeli state’s lifeline – US imperialism. Whole rallies and demonstrations can take place organised by BDS supporters, and not once is the Pentagon or the US state named. However, without military and financial backing from the US state, the Israeli state would arguably collapse within six months. Yet BDS does not call for a boycott of the US, only “Israel”. Before Marxists can advise workers to take part in any international campaign, it must first demonstrate that it stands in opposition to the interests of US imperialism. Unfortunately, BDS does not pass this first marker. Instead, BDS attempts to work with and alongside imperialist governments, by lobbying them to apply sanctions (the “S” in BDS) on Israel.

In practice, BDS attempts to paint “Israel” as a state which is wrong in a moral sense. However, there are no morals which workers and capitalists share in common, and certainly no morals which oppressed Palestinians share with the US state department. We do not at all deny that the state of Israel came into being through a murderous expulsion and ongoing occupation of the original inhabitants. Yet this is what also occurred for the colonial settler states of Australia, New Zealand and even the United States itself. If they were consistent, BDS advocates would call for a boycott of all colonial settler states.

While we would defend BDS advocates against repression from the right, at the same time we urge them to strive for consistency in a world threatened by US imperialism. We recognise that the suffering of the Palestinians is unbearable. But to defend Palestine, working people around the world must oppose the very real threat that the economic crisis of world capitalism produces – unending imperialist wars launched by Washington and all of its allies. To definitively defend Palestine, BDS advocates must also defend Iran, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Sudan, Russia, China and the DPRK against the nefarious ends of the Pentagon. International socialism, through a series of workers’ revolutions in the imperialist centres, is ultimately the only guarantee against world war. Likewise, Palestinian liberation is bound up with the overthrow of capitalism in its region, which necessitates the joint efforts of Israeli and Palestinian workers. Ridding workers of capitalism and imperialist war is a single task, in Palestine no less than in Australia. BDS advocates must decide where they stand.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E:workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

 

 

[1] https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/israel-continually-strikes-gaza-and-hamas-hasnt-fired-back/ (20-05-2019)

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-48160098 (20-05-2019)

[3] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161206-denmarks-decision-to-withdraw-from-airstrikes-on-syria-and-iraq/ (20-05-2019)

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/03/us-isis-syria-iraq (20-05-2019)

[5] https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-chief-acknowledges-long-claimed-weapons-supply-to-syrian-rebels/ (20-05-2019)

[6] https://www.israelhayom.com/2019/04/14/syria-says-israeli-airstrike-on-military-position-wounds-6/ (20-05-2019)

Federal Elections 2019: No Options for Working People

Ballot Boxes of the type used in Australian Federal Elections. Despite the appearance of “one person one vote” there can be no “democracy” across antagonistic classes. Image from http://www.riteon.org.au

Federal Elections 2019: No Options for Working People  –  For a Workers’ Government!

04-05-2019 – The Australian Federal Elections will take place on May 18. As was the case for previous elections, the cast of candidates are largely uninspiring from a working class point of view. In fact, of all the parties and candidates running, no one is taking a consistent and across-the-board position of defending the interests of working people, domestically and internationally. This goes for the mainstream parliamentary parties as much as for self-described left parties. It is another indicator that the system of private production and private profit, and its attendant political process, is a dead end for the working people of Australia and the region.

The fraud of “Change the Rules”

For two years, the conservative officials heading up the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) have pushed the “Change the Rules” mantra. From the off, this has always been code for “vote Labor”. Yet the very industrial relations laws that the “Change the Rules” campaign ostensibly seeks to change were largely installed by the Labor Party when they last sat on the government benches in Canberra. The Orwellian named “Fair Work Australia” was implemented by the Labor Party, which was essentially “Work Choices Lite”.[1] That is, the Labor Party has hardly bothered to “Change the Rules” from the first days of the John Howard Liberal Party government. They have no intention of doing so if elected this time. Vague promises from the Australian Labor Party (ALP) that they will restore penalty rates are a classical hot air election promise. It is put forward in order to entice workers to vote Labor, but once in government, they will give any old excuse as to why they are unable to carry it out.[2]

The ACTU are now, after 25 years of forcing Enterprise Bargaining on workers, saying that Enterprise Bargaining is not working, and we need to move back to industry wide agreements. Industry wide agreements would be an advance for workers, but the ACTU and their top officials were responsible for Enterprise Bargaining in the first place. The class-collaborationist Union officials also make a show about opposing the widespread casualisation of the workforce – when in practice the ALP as much as the Liberal Party has put this in place. The ALP has no real intention of changing any rules relating to the use of casual and temporary staff for private and public sector workplaces.

Conservative and nationalist Union officials are pushing “Change the Rules”, which, in the direct lead up to the election, has morphed into “Change the Government to Change the Rules”.[3] It’s a replay of the “Your Rights At Work –Worth Fighting For” campaign of 2006, which in the lead up to the Federal Election of 2007 became “Your Rights at Work – Worth Voting For”.[4] That is, vote for the Labor Party, put them in government, and they will change the rules for you. Little could be more false. The Labor Party is the alternate party of Australian capitalism, and the ALP is keenly aware of the difficulties of capital obtaining an adequate rate of return on profitable investment. This is why in all fundamentals the Labor Party is a struck match away from the Liberal Party (Liberal National Party in Queensland). Yet workers are being inveigled, despite the similarity, to just vote ALP and hope for the best. This is a deliberate deception.

Ruling class limits participation

Workers need to be aware that these elections are run for and by the Australian ruling class. As such, they are not “ours”, as much as the government is not filled with “our politicians”. Every attempt is made to prevent participation in the elections by pro-working class and/or small parties and independents. A new law was passed in March which doubled the deposit fee to $2000 just to run in the Lower House.[5]  The incumbent major parties obtain massive public funding for their campaigns, on top of six and seven figure donations from big business. These “donations” to the Liberal and Labor parties run into the millions of dollars, and some come from the largest corporations in the country. The officials of some Unions also divert Union member’s money into donations for the ALP.[6] Money politics may not be on the scale of what happens in the United States of America, but something very similar is happening here. Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer’s right-wing populist United Australia Party has spent $50 million on electoral advertising.[7] The parliamentary set up is set against working people – but this is its purpose.

It is not only the financial cost which benefits the two major capitalist parties. The very electoral process is designed to do this also. The size of the electorates often number up to 100 000 people. A meeting of this number of people is not possible, and thus cannot convene to keep their elected member accountable. Certainly a whole state – who Senators are elected to “represent” – cannot meet to discuss how their Senators have been performing. Moreover, there is no right to recall a politician once they have been elected. This, on top of the astronomical salaries paid to politicians, and permanent over-the-top superannuation payments once they leave parliament, ensures loyalty to the profit system. It is not so much a system of salaries as a form of “official” corruption.

The right to elect means little without the right to recall – which is why the ruling class does not allow it. The preferential voting system also benefits the major parties. It ensures that preferences which inevitably flow to the major parties inflate its overall count. To cast a valid vote, and to run in the elections, individuals and parties must allocate preferences – which means in practice your votes flow to the major parties which represent big capital against those who labour for a living. Dirty horse-trading occurs between the various political parties for each other’s preferences, and there are even some who charge “consultancy fees” to organise preferences to help minor parties get elected,[8] i.e., who profit from backdoor preference deals. Even if this did not occur, the main effect of the preference system is to advantage the twin parties (arguably one party) which administer the rule of the stock market.

“Official” politics is repellent

There are approximately 60 registered political parties in Australia, both inside and outside the state and federal parliaments.[9] Along with a number of independents, these parties will attempt to attract the votes of the Australian electorate. Marxists, however, recognise the working class as the only class in today’s society which has a material interest in raising the living standards of all on the basis of equality. This is due to the fact that the working class has no material interest in the system of private production for private profit. On the contrary, its interests are bound up with the social ownership and social use through labour, of the means of production – the land, banks, factories, mines and so on. Humanity steps forwards, or falls back, according to the living and working conditions of this class. Yet not one of the parties or independents running in the Australian Federal Election takes elementary and consistent positions, domestically and internationally, which defend the interests of working people.

The major parties – Labor and Liberal, are unquestionably parties of capital. Progressive minded people may suspect that the Australian Greens are not overtly pro-capitalist, but this view is mistaken. The Greens’ focus on parliament prevents them from offering a systemic alternative. Billionaire Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party uses populist rhetoric, such as raising the old age pension by $150 a week, but Mr Palmer also refuses to pay workers he sacked from his nickel refinery in Townsville their entitlements – despite swimming in cash. Katters Australian Party was forced to sack the racist Fraser Anning, who went on to form his own even more racist Conservative National Party. Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party correctly criticises the racism of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, but allies with them on “law and order”.

The bickering and fighting of the parliamentary parties and MPs are understandably a huge turn off for many working people and the downtrodden. They see it as irrelevant to their life outcomes – and to a large extent they are correct. For this is the field of bourgeois politics, i.e. the system which is set up to deceive working people into believing that they live in a (liberal) democracy, which is supposedly a huge achievement for humankind. In reality, the politicians and parliament are a stage on which the corporate magnates dangle willing marionettes. The real decisions about investment, what will be produced and how, are made in corporate boardrooms by CEOs and other managers on obscene salaries. The government’s “public service” is linked to private industry by a thousand threads.

Left parties inconsistent

Self-described left parties running in the Federal Election also do not live up to a basic standard which working people deserve. The Socialist Equality Party (SEP), which publishes the World Socialist Web Site, does highlight some urgent issues which need addressing, such as increasing poverty and unemployment. Yet the SEP are known as strike-breakers for their total opposition to Trade Unions. While it is true that the Unions are almost universally led by conservative pro-capitalist officials, Union members are nothing like that. Unions themselves need to be defended by all workers regardless of the sell-out officials. But the SEP dismiss Unions in toto, which places them on the side of the employers. In a like manner, the SEP dismiss workers’ states (e.g. China, Vietnam, the DPRK) in toto, which places them on the side of the US state department. This is despite the SEP holding nominal positions against the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria.

The Socialist Alliance and the Victorian Socialists are also running candidates, with the Socialist Alliance teaming up with the Socialist Alternative and a number of supporters. Domestically, the Socialist Alliance and the Victorian Socialists put forward positions which align with working class interests – such as the call for more public housing, better public transport, a rise in welfare payments, and the blocking of the environmental catastrophe of the Adani mega coal mine in Central Queensland. However, it is relatively easy to put forward left-wing positions on home soil. The test for the left comes as soon as the international sphere is broached.

Unfortunately, the Socialist Alliance and the Socialist Alternative (the mainstay of the Victorian Socialists) broke irrevocably with working class internationalism by being the loudest advocates of the US led imperialist wars on Libya and Syria. For close to ten years, both of these “left” parties openly called for regime change in Libya and Syria – which was precisely the aim of the US state department, aided by London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Canberra. Thankfully they were defeated in Syria by a combination of Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Russian armed forces – with lesser backing from China. These “state department socialists” were only continuing in Syria their hostility to the anti-imperialist and non-imperialist bloc – Russia, China, Iran, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and so on. More recently, these “left” parties have again demonstrated their fealty to the Pentagon by cheering on US backed regime change efforts in Sudan and Algeria. Needless to say, if a left party calls for free healthcare at home, but shills for imperialist war abroad, their left credentials are null and void.

In Queensland, some critical support could be offered to independent Senate candidate Wayne Wharton, a long-time militant Aboriginal activist. He is advocating a treaty with the Indigenous people, but also supportable positions on Aged Care, the Murray-Darling water crisis, and a livable income for welfare recipients. However the preferential voting system militates against backing progressive independents. This election, Senate voters have to number at least 6 parties above the line, and at least 12 parties below the line. This is a means of forcing preferences (or votes) towards the major parties. In the lower house, preferences are compulsory, meaning that some votes will necessarily flow towards right-wing and fascistic small parties. On principle, no votes or preferences should flow to anti-working class parties. A political break with all of them is a dire necessity.

There are a plethora of drastic political problems which urgently need addressing. Some of these include: unemployment, poverty, unaffordable housing, unaffordable education, failing public transport, and the imminent threat of catastrophic climate change. All parties should be loudly calling for the release of Julian Assange, a whistle-blowing journalist. The increasing surveillance of spy agencies online and elsewhere is a symptom of a system aware that its people are looking for urgent change. Then there is the growing threat of nuclear war against China and Russia, led by Washington but backed by Canberra. Yet none of these issues can be addressed through the “election” process carried out by the corporate elite. This is why the Workers League is calling on workers to fulfill their legal obligation on election day, but to cast a blank ballot in protest against the system which upholds their oppression. What is urgently needed is a workers’ party which fights for a workers’ government. Join us!

WORKERS  LEAGUE
www.redfireonline.com
E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

 

[1] http://directaction.org.au/issue13/fair_work_australia_is_work_choices_lite (04-05-2019)

[2] https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/bill-shorten-s-penalty-rates-pledge-under-threat-20190417-p51exr.html (04-05-2019)

[3] https://www.actu.org.au/actu-media/media-releases/2019/change-the-government-change-the-rules-nationwide-protests (04-05-2019)

[4] https://www.actu.org.au/actu-media/speeches-and-opinion/greg-combet-your-rights-at-work-worth-voting-for (04-05-2019)

[5] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-09/zali-steggall-helen-haines-independents-australian-politics/10786984 (04-05-2019)

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/ng-interactive/2019/feb/01/political-donations-2017-18-search-all-the-declarations-by-australian-parties (04-05-2019)

[7] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/clive-palmer-says-he-s-spent-50-million-on-election-ads (04-05-2019)

[8] https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/hire-me-and-get-into-parliament-the-preference-whisperer-s-message-20181214-p50mdh.html (05-05-2019)

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_parties_in_Australia (05-05-2019)

Free Julian Assange! Defend Basic Democratic Rights!

Free Julian Assange! Defend Basic Democratic Rights!

03-05-2019 – On April 11, Julian Assange – the founder of Wikileaks – was arrested inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London by British Police, and dragged away to Belmarsh Prison. He awaits likely extradition to the United States of America, where he is likely to face a kangaroo court which could imprison him for life. He has committed no crime whatsoever. On the contrary, as a whistleblowing journalist, he has only revealed crimes carried out by governments the world over, most especially the one headquartered in Washington – which administers US imperialism.

Even according to bourgeois law, which upholds the “rights” of a tiny exploiting capitalist class against the working people who create their obscene private wealth, Julian Assange’s arrest is a blatant violation. For one thing, Julian Assange is not a citizen of the US and has never travelled to the US. Even according to the “law”, the US cannot put on trial, let alone jail and likely torture, someone who has never been a citizen. How the Ecuadorian government can revoke the citizenship, overnight, of someone it has previously granted citizenship, is a mystery. And how the British government can enter the embassy of a foreign country, arrest one of the people inside, drag them out and then extradite them to a country to which they have never visited, is an abomination. The fact that this is happening exposes the high crimes of these governments – and reinforces the fact that Julian Assange is telling the truth.

Julian Assange is an Australian citizen, born and raised in Queensland. The fact that the Australian Federal Government barely lifted a finger to assist him over the past eight years sends a chilling message. If you hold an Australian passport, it may or may not protect you. You will only be offered genuine support and assistance if in need if you remain onside politically. That is, if you raise no questions about the imperialist wars waged around the world by the US Empire – with the assistance of the Australian regime. If you write or publish any information which exposes or otherwise criticises the actions of the US government, or any of its allies, your rights as a citizen could be extinguished.

Basic democratic rights at stake

There can be no more fundamental democratic right than the right to publish information, or write an article. Yet this right is precisely what is potentially abolished with the arrest and likely imprisonment of Julian Assange. US radio host Don Debar has stated that the arrest of Julian Assange has demonstrated that press freedom does not exist in the US or the EU (European Union).[1] US Democratic Party Presidential nominee Tulsi Gabbard tweeted that if we allow our governments to control us through fear, we are no longer free.[2] Speaking of Julian Assange, former British MP George Galloway wrote: “If we allow him to be incarcerated for publishing the truth, then we might as well check in behind those bars ourselves, for we will never be truly free again.”[3] Again and again, Julian Assange and Wikileaks has demonstrated that, in reality, there is no freedom under the rule of the US Empire. Chelsea Manning, another incredibly brave whistleblower, is currently again in prison for refusing to testify against Julian Assange.[4] That is, Ms Manning has volunteered to return to prison, in which solitary confinement may again be used against her, so that more blatantly illegal criminal charges may not be laid against another person. If anything, the values of Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, on their own, condemn the global rule of Wall Street.

Liberals abandon Wikileaks

Make no mistake, there would now be a mass movement to free Julian Assange if the entirety of the liberal political spectrum had not turned against Julian Assange and Wikileaks from around 2011. When Julian Assange was exposing the crimes of the US Empire during the time of the Republican George W Bush administration, he was lauded as an international hero. The moment he began exposing the Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton Democratic administration – for similar war crimes – he was dropped like a sack of spuds by most liberals throughout the Western world. In Australia, almost all ostensibly left parties washed their hands of Wikileaks when it exposed the US imperialist wars on Libya and Syria – which they backed. Their totally irrational Russophobia drove them into a right-wing critique of the Trump administration, one where they virtually demanded a nuclear war against Russia. Julian Assange, for his part, emphasised over and over that he was not a supporter of the Russian government or Donald Trump. Liberals and compromised “socialists”, therefore, bear heavy responsibility for not only the imprisonment of Julian Assange, but the current imperial overreach of Washington and Canberra.

This is the basis for the smear campaign by such liberals and self-proclaimed “socialists” against Julian Assange today. What they are attempting to do by smearing the character of Julian Assange is to excuse themselves for siding with the Pentagon against all of humanity. Australian journalist Caitlin Johnstone has performed an excellent debunking of all of the attempted smears against the character of Julian Assange, which essentially exposes the 29 of them as baseless slander.[5] Ms Johnstone demonstrates how the imprisonment of Julian Assange for the exercising of the most basic liberal democratic value – a supposedly free press – is, for liberals and the fair weather “left”, psychologically confronting.

The dark reality is that the further the capitalist system descends into economic crisis, the less can it allow the trappings of the extremely limited democratic rights previously tolerated. This economic crisis, afflicting the US, Europe and Australia, then drives the reckless imperialist war threats against Russia, China, Iran, the DPRK, Venezuela and so on. It will end only when the workers are able to erect their own state and their own government, as part of an international serious of revolutions across the globe. It is urgent that working people mobilise to free Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.

WORKERS  LEAGUE
www.redfireonline.com
E: workersleague@redfireonline.com
PO  Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.presstv.com/DetailFr/2019/04/11/593186/UK-arrest-Assange-press-freedom-expert-view (30-04-2019)

[2] https://defend.wikileaks.org/2019/04/13/press-freedom-human-rights-orgs-condemn-julian-assanges-arrest/ (30-04-2019)

[3] http://fmimalta.com/truth-itself-is-behind-bars-in-julian-assanges-cell-by-george-galloway/ (30-04-2019)

[4] https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/chelsea-manning-sent-to-jail-for-refusing-to-testify-in-wikileaks-case-20190309-p512wl.html (30-04-2019)

[5] https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/debunking-all-the-assange-smears-a549fd677cac  (30-04-2019)

 

Algeria: US Foments Destabilisation in Africa

Algeria: US Foments Destabilisation in Africa

17-04-2019 – Algeria was one of the foremost countries of the wave of anti-colonialist liberation struggles which followed the Second World War, winning its independence from France in 1962. Today, there are both hidden and barely hidden attempts to bring Algeria back within the vice-like grip of Western imperialism. The US Empire, desperate after being defeated in Syria, and following ham-fisted failed attempts at regime change in Venezuela, is responding by doubling their bets. Anywhere they can see even half a chance at fostering and fomenting internal regime change where an independent country exists, Wall Street in all probability has contingency plans ready to roll.

To the uninitiated, waves of protest in Algeria calling on an octogenarian leader to refrain from running in the Presidential election for a fifth time appear to be self-justified. Yet in Africa, and politics in general in 2019, things are not at all what they seem. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a joint press conference with Algerian Deputy Prime Minister Ramtane Lamamra last month. Lavrov pointedly warned of external interference and destabilisation in Algeria.[1] This was a veiled reference to the US state department, delivered with trademark Lavrov diplomacy. Russia and Algeria have been strong allies since the time of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and Algeria also signed a Strategic Partnership agreement with Russia in April 2001.[2] More recently, in 2014 Algeria rejected a US demand to set up a military base on their soil.[3] Since then, Algeria has been one of the very few Arab countries to vigorously defend the Syrian Arab Republic against the US/Israeli/Saudi backed jihadist death squads which besieged them, as Algeria itself is susceptible to similar attacks,[4] some as spillover from the NATO destruction of Green Libya in 2011.

Algeria tilts towards Russia, against NATO

Given the aftermath of NATO’s annihilation of Libya, in cahoots with Al Qaeda linked death squads they armed, Algeria has found it necessary to align itself with the Russia/Syria/Anti-NATO bloc. This is the real reason for the current round of staged protests calling for “regime change” in Algeria. There are always some domestic pro-US layers of society in all countries, from liberal students to agents of small or large business classes. In this case, such elements are betraying Algeria’s independence under a grossly distorted banner of “freedom and democracy”. To be sure, working people in Algeria have no stake per se in the capitalist system operated by the Algerian political leaders. However, allowing Algeria to be fully open to US/NATO plunder via US backed regime change would be consonant with a return to occupation by French imperialism, i.e. it would return Algeria to a situation before its independence in 1962. To that extent, workers in Algeria and internationally need to militarily side with Algeria/Russia/Syria against the US Empire, while retaining their own organisational and political independence.

Russia, in the form of the then USSR, has backed Algerian independence since the first hours of its declaration in 1962. Yet today the alliance between Algeria and Russia to a large extent hinges on Algeria’s backing of Russia’s actions in Syria, where it is still combatting the residues of the unhinged US backed ISIS death squads. Russia also appreciates the Algerian government’s role in what they term the “pacification” of Libya and Mali.[5] That is, Algeria taking measures to prevent the further spread of the remnants of the Al Qaeda elements used by Washington to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi in Libya. These actions by Algeria are in the interests of working people across North Africa despite the politics of the Algerian government.

Further, it is not just in a tactical security bloc against US backed jihadism in North Africa where Algerian-Russian co-operation is apparent. Energy supplies are vital also. Algeria and Russia are top gas exporters, with Algeria producing 130 billion cubic metres of gas annually. 14% of this amount is exported to Europe.[6] Russian gas exports to Europe are also extensive, so co-operation with Algeria in this sphere is mutually beneficial. Washington, of course, views such trade and co-operation with Europe as an obstruction, and political impertinence – despite the US not being able to supply gas itself.

Algeria signs onto the New Silk Road

As if to further underscore declining US economic power across the globe, in 2018 Algeria became one of the 90 countries to have signed onto Red China’s One Belt One Road (also known as the New Silk Road or the Belt and Road Initiative – BRI). Algeria signed onto the BRI in Beijing itself, while attending the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.[7] Under the BRI, China’s booming socialist economy commits billions of dollars to infrastructure development in countries along the old Silk Road. Algeria will be a part of the Maritime Silk Road, which connects China, Europe, India, East Africa and the Red Sea states. Washington is furious at this, but is unable to prevent it. What is more, the People’s Republic of China has remained Algeria’s largest trading partner since 2013. 2017 figures have China accounting for $8.3 billion of Algeria’s $45.95 billion worth of imports.[8]

The People’s Republic of China (PRC), like the USSR at that time (and now Russia), has extensive ties with Algeria due to its assistance for its struggle for national liberation. This is not lost on the current Algerian leadership, regardless of their politics. As Guy Burton wrote:

“China’s connections to Algeria go back even further. In 1958 China was the first non-Arab country to recognize the National Liberation Front and provide it with arms and funds in its struggle for independence. Following independence in 1962, China provided soft loans and other forms of assistance, including medical missions to the new government. When China eventually joined the UN in 1971, Algeria was one of the co-sponsors that proposed the resolution. Today, Algeria has one of the largest Chinese communities in Africa and the Middle East, at around 70,000.”[9]

Such ties, forged in bonds against colonialist and imperialist struggle decades ago, are not easily forgotten. The US can fume as much as it likes, but it cannot match anything like the camaraderie and mutual backing offered by both China and Russia – in political and economic terms. The economic crisis of the capitalist US economy, however, drives it further and further into reckless military adventures, and/or, constant preparation for them. This is why Africa today is subjected to US military intervention, the arming and funding of proxy jihadist death squads, and constant backing for compromised opposition groups within African states. The aim is chaos, destabilisation and disruption, and even open war, in order to undermine friendly relations with Russia and China. Washington will consider using any means, from using its own troops, to arming and funding Al Qaeda linked barbarians, to covert or overt backing of internal regime change “revolutions” – such as the one in Algeria today.

AFRICOM – footprint of the US Empire

AFRICOM (Africa Command) was established in 2007 as a counterpart to the US Empire’s CENTCOM (Central Command) and SOUTHCOM (Southern Command). It currently shares its headquarters with EUCOM (European Command) in Stuttgart, Germany. Some US Senators have recently openly questioned why, after 10 years of “operations”, the US does not have its AFRICOM headquarters stationed in Africa.[10] It takes some galling arrogance, even from the standards of US imperialism, to assume that they have a right to permanent bases in countries overseas, and base entire military commands based on sections of the globe. Yet this is the reality of Africa today.

Even some US citizens were surprised to learn, after US troops were ambushed in Niger in October 2017, that US troops are crawling over many countries in Africa.[11] The reaction was one of “what are they doing there?”. To put it bluntly, they are there as an imperial occupying force – albeit one that is not advertised as such. There is some evidence that the main task of US troops across Africa is the fostering and fomenting of coups against African countries which demonstrate even half a shred of independence from the US behemoth. Today Algeria and Sudan, tomorrow Cameroon and Nigeria, and on and on it goes.

Many African countries have baulked at allowing a permanent US military base to be set up on their soil. One of the core responsibilities of AFRICOM is supposedly “stability operations” – but what is meant by this is clearly demonstrated in Algeria and Sudan in recent times. That is, not stability, but thinly veiled destabilisation, to bring down any government or any ruler not willing to play by the rules of Washington. To facilitate this, the Pentagon operates what are euphemistically termed “Cooperative Security Locations” or “Lily Pads”. Lily Pads are weapons and vehicle depots which include airfields for military aircraft as well as drones. Lily Pads have been constructed in Algeria (despite its refusal to host a US base), Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cabo Verde, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe and Togo.[12] It doesn’t take too much understanding of geopolitics to realise that this is an imperial occupation, which can only serve Washington to the detriment of hundreds of millions of Africans.

Left parties toe Washington’s line

Seemingly oblivious to the US Empire’s troops across Africa, or perhaps because of it, some Australian left parties have been eager to put their hands up to man the megaphone for the US state department. First cab off the rank was the Socialist Alliance (SA), as an extension of its role of propagandist for US led regime change war against Syria. In Syria, SA pumped for US/Saudi/Israeli armed jihadists who were leading a mythical “revolution”, alongside secular forces which did not exist. Similarly in Algeria, SA falls for a corresponding assortment. Sam Wainwright in SA newspaper Green Left Weekly claims that the Algerian opposition marches have “included Islamists, people with a democratic secular outlook, the Kabylie independence movement (a Berber speaking part of the country) and the Algerian Socialist Workers Party (PST).”[13]

For a start, the PST is linked to the French NPA (New Anti-Capitalist Party). The NPA was notorious for calling on French imperialism to arm jihadist death squads to effect regime change in Libya and Syria. French imperialism certainly did this, and parties such as the NPA in France and SA in Australia, cheered on these atrociously dirty wars – arguably the dirtiest in history. Islamists were at the heart of the “uprisings” in Libya and Syria, and SA again hails their participation in regime change operations in Algeria. Some Berber independence groups also backed US led regime change in Syria, and “democratic and secular” opposition to the Syrian government was a fantasy.

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and its “World Socialist Web Site” (WSWS), to their credit, did not back US led regime change in Syria. However, in Algeria they switch sides and fall into line with Washington. The SEP loudly criticised parties such as SA for spruiking for US led regime change in Syria. Yet they don’t notice the irony of adopting the same position – regime change backed by imperialist powers – as SA in Algeria!  Will Morrow claims in the WSWS that the “…ongoing movement of the Algerian working class against the military backed regime is part of a renewed eruption of working class struggle around the world.”[14] One could only believe this if it was possible to ignore the swathe of US operated “Lily Pads” across Africa, US troops swarming across many African nations, Algeria’s alliance with Russia in security and gas exports, Algeria signing onto Beijing’s New Silk Road and major trade with Red China. One would have to have to be wearing blinkers to ignore Washington’s concern about all African countries’ dealings with both Russia and China. For all rational observers, Algeria’s “uprising” is anything but pure.

To be sure, to lift Algeria and Africa finally clear of the devastating legacy of Western colonialism, socialism – the class rule of the workers – will have to emerge victorious. The current Algerian government will ultimately stand in the way of such progress. However, right now, working people in Africa and internationally have a vital interest in militarily siding with Algeria, Syria, Russia and China against the nefarious ends of US imperialism. At the very least, workers should demand that the US withdraw AFRICOM and all US troops from African soil. The sovereignty of Algeria and all African countries must be guarded, and defended in a temporary bloc alongside the non-imperialist (and anti-NATO) states. US backed coups, in such a scenario, will have little or no chance of “success”.

Workers  League
E: workersleague@redfireonline.com
http://www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://dailynewssegypt.com/2019/03/19/russia-warns-of-external-interference-in-algeria-lavrov/ (10-04-19)

[2] https://jamestown.org/program/the-broader-regional-meaning-of-russian-foreign-minister-lavrovs-maghreb-tour/ (10-04-19)

[3] https://www.sott.net/article/278889-Defeat-for-the-empire-Algeria-rejects-US-demand-for-military-base (10-04-19)

[4] https://www.globalresearch.ca/algeria-on-the-edge-of-a-soft-coup/5528762 (10-04-19)

[5] https://africandailyvoice.com/en/2019/01/24/algeria-syria-and-yemen-at-the-heart-of-sergei-lavrovs-visit-to-algiers/ (13-04-19)

[6] http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-01/25/c_137771977.htm (13-04-19)

[7] https://africandailyvoice.com/en/2018/09/05/algeria-joins-the-new-silk-roads/ (13-04-19)

[8] http://northafricapost.com/25232-algeria-joins-belt-and-road-initiative.html (13-04-19)

[9] https://thediplomat.com/2019/03/what-protests-in-algeria-and-sudan-mean-for-china/ (13-04-19)

[10] https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2018/03/13/senators-consider-putting-africom-headquarters-staff-in-africa/ (13-04-19)

[11] https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/04/28/605662771/the-military-doesnt-advertise-it-but-u-s-troops-are-all-over-africa (13-04-19)

[12] https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/02/26/africom-giant-waste-money.html (13-04-19)

[13] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/algeria-turning-point-people-rise (13-04-19)

[14] https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/04/06/alge-a06.html (13-04-19)

US/EU/AUST: Hands Off Venezuela!

Flag of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

US/EU/AUST: Hands Off Venezuela!
For Workers’ Power in Latin America

23-02-2019 – Self-declared “President” of Venezuela, the right-wing Juan Guaido, has called on the actual President Nicolas Maduro to step down – or else. Or else what? The Venezuelan military remains on the side of the Venezuelan government, and the governments of Russia and China – the only powers with the material ability to counter US imperialism – have recognised Maduro as President, and have denounced what amounts to a brazen attempt at violent regime change. Juan Guaido at this stage appears to have little chance of his coup – more or less obviously in collaboration with Washington – doing anything but floundering.

Unfortunately, there are ways in which this barely concealed US led (yet another) Latin American coup can “succeed”. Juan Guaido has set a deadline of February 23 for the Maduro government to allow “humanitarian” aid into the country.[1] The arrival and stockpiling of aid packages on the Colombian border with Venezuela is a re-hash of a trick used many times by the US ruling class when attempting regime change in Latin America. Deliver the aid, entice people to collect it, and use the cover of “aid” for a stock standard invasion. This time, Juan Guaido is calling for one million of his right-wing supporters to act as chaperones for the aid,[2] who will likely act as human shields guarding the entry of US or Colombian troops. Even those with little political awareness can see the trap being laid.

Tripwire for World War III

Working people the world over must be aware that we can ill afford to allow the Venezuelan government to be overthrown by US imperialism, with its backing from the European Union (EU) and lackey medium sized imperialists such as Australia. Whatever its shortcomings, the “Bolivarian Revolution” in Venezuela over 20 years has built a form of resistance to the onslaught of Western led “globalisation”. Even though the forces of Western capital give scant regard to the sovereignty of a nation which retains a shred of independence, it is vital that this principle be defended by workers. What is more, if the US Empire is not staved off at this point, it could set off a wider war across the Americas, setting the scene for what many believed was impossible 20 years ago – World War III.

Workers must not be cowed, however. Out of crisis emerges great opportunity. And whatever military power the Venezuelan right-wing opposition can count on, it cannot be won with arms alone. A political struggle must ensue, and it is one in which Venezuelan and international workers must prevail.

US President Donald Trump in his recent State of the Union address won stormy applause from Republicans and Democrats when he claimed that “America will never be a socialist country”. With the US working class in desperation, enduring economic hardships seemingly without end, Mr Trump and the housebroken Democrats should not be so confident. All the prerequisites for a socialist revolution in the US are there – but what is missing is genuine leadership of US workers. Arguably the foremost working class leader in world history – V.I. Lenin – understood more than most that the working class will not struggle to overthrow capitalism except under the leadership of revolutionary Marxists. This applies not only to the US, but also in the EU and Australia – and it is also the case in Venezuela.

Chavismo has run its course

No matter how many times the US ruling class, and the right-wing Venezuelan opposition it collaborates with, decry “socialism” in Venezuela; the reality is that the first steps towards it have not been taken. “Chavismo” – the movement named after Hugo Chavez when elected in 1998 – was always a political project which explicitly rejected the key lessons of 20th century socialism. That is, it rejected the need for a Marxist vanguard party to lead the workers in a struggle for state power. From the distortions of Marxism which conservative and bureaucratic leadership of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe brought about, the Chavistas drew the wrong conclusion that, therefore, the need for “the dictatorship of the proletariat” – a workers’ republic representing the working class in power – is obsolete. But today reality is starkly demonstrating that what is obsolete is Chavismo itself, or “Socialism of the 21st Century”. This was always a liberal vulgarisation of socialism, and an overt break with the first tenets of Marxism.

Chavismo under Chavez, or now under Maduro, was never about confrontation, let alone a contest, with Venezuelan capitalists. It was always an attempt to placate and pacify them. Maduro has bent over backwards to keep on reasonable terms with the Venezuelan capitalists, and by extension, with US imperialism itself. One result of this was leaving the banks in the hands of their private owners, and hence an inability to control hyperinflation – now likely to be running at 1 000 000 %.[3]  Needless to say, this drives up prices, especially of vital goods like food, fuel and medicine, to a level which is unaffordable for most Venezuelans. There are many examples of Venezuelan businesses hoarding goods to make them scarce, which pushes up prices. This can then be blamed on the government. In 2017, President Maduro accused bakeries of refusing to make bread, hoarding the flour to make more profitable brownies and cookies.[4] The absence of bread hits the poor – the base of support for Maduro – the hardest.

Steve Ellner claims that the economic problems in Venezuela have a three-fold source.[5] Firstly, the nosediving oil prices, which have declined precipitously since 2014. Secondly, the impact of US sanctions on Venezuela – which have even included sanctions on Cilia Flores, the wife of President Maduro. And thirdly, the mistaken policies of the Maduro government. Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, and the oil prices never sank before 2014. US sanctions also inevitably take their toll. But it is not simply a case of the “mistaken policies” of the Maduro government. The whole approach and framework of the false theory of “Socialism of the 21st Century” is at fault. Capitalism cannot be reformed, even with the majority of electoral support, expressed many times over 20 years.

Unity of the “people” ?

So called “Socialism of the 21st Century”, as practiced by Chavez and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), is at best left-leaning social-democracy. It has never made a political break with capitalism, and hence its impending downfall – perhaps at the hands of the invading US Empire. It is not possible to “unite the people” in Venezuela, or in the US, or Australia, or any country where capitalism rules. Capitalism means the division of society into the two great classes involved in production – capital and labour. For labour to release itself from under the heel of capital, and thus liberate all of society, the working class must take power in its own name. This cannot be done in the name of Chavismo, or Bolivarianism, or “the people” – for all of these attempt to “unite” classes with irreconcilable interests. Socialism is above all the working class in power, and this can only be achieved by splitting, not uniting, with the middle and upper classes, and especially the ruling class.

Yet this is not the strategy of the PSUV in Venezuela, and nor can it be. Their approach is to mobilise their own supporters, while at the same time cutting deals and making concessions to the political right-wing and the Venezuelan capitalists. The political intent is that of a united front with the capitalist class. Not only is the bourgeoisie entirely uninterested in such an alliance, these attempts further confuse and disorient the working class, and drive them away from the most essential first step – a political break with private capital and the reformist illusions of the PSUV. A political unification with the ruling class is always a recipe for stagnation and demoralisation, as workers wait interminably for signs of things improving.

If “unity” of all people in Venezuela is a mistaken strategy, it is doubly so internationally, including here in Australia. The Socialist Alliance (SA) has largely organised political solidarity with the Venezuelan Bolivarian process for years. It is again doing so, but again with the politics of “unity”, and this time including unity with the Labor Party. In its newspaper Green Left Weekly, SA call for the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to oppose the US led coup in Venezuela. They write: “The Labor leadership must reverse its decision to recognise Juan Guaido. It must also demand the coalition government pressure the US to lift its sanctions on Venezuela and rule out any military intervention.”[6]

Here the strategy is one where SA seeks to improve the policy of the ALP, so it can work together with the ALP, supposedly against an imperialist war. Yet the ALP represents one wing of the Australian ruling class – the same ruling class represented by PM Morrison and the Liberal Party. By extension, it seeks to lead the Venezuelan solidarity movement into a united front with the very ruling class which has loyally served the US ruling class in war since Korea in the 1950s. Working people can only lose through being politically subordinated, once again, to the major political parties and thus to Australian imperialism.

The Communist Party of Australia (CPA), alongside SA, retails the line of the reformist government of Venezuela, in calling for a “peaceful political solution to the crisis based on the principles of self-determination and non-interference in the affairs of a sovereign nation.”[7] In other words, the CPA calls for “dialogue” and “negotiations”, when the actions of US imperialism have clearly indicated that it will only accept the abolition of the Venezuelan government. Workers can hardly be empowered by staid calls on their own governments, and the US government, to come to what could only be a temporary agreement.

Workers to Power

Workers in Australia should note that while joint work with SA on the question of the current defence of Venezuela can be carried out, such co-operation is NOT possible when it comes to the question of Syria, Iran or Sudan. SA calls for “Hands Off Venezuela”, but for eight years strongly opposed both the demand “Hands Off Syria” and the organisation Hands Off Syria – as they vociferously backed US led regime change against the Syrian Arab Republic[8]. Likewise for Iran[9] and Sudan[10], SA again loudly advocate US led regime change – while simultaneously opposing US led regime change in Venezuela!

The CPA, in addition, is also an organisation that working people CANNOT be allies with on the question of Iran – where they concur with the Tudeh Party of Iran that the Iranian government represents a medieval dictatorship!![11] The US state department would approve. Nor can the CPA be an ally on Sudan, where it joins with SA to once again call for political power to be usurped and handed to a US backed opposition.[12] When it comes to Venezuela today, the CPA and SA are also only half correct. Granted, they call for the defeat of the US backed coup attempt, the non-recognition of coup leader Juan Guaido, and the lifting of US sanctions on Venezuela. Yet they also politically defend President Maduro and the PSUV – a reformist (and still capitalist) government which in practice attempts to conciliate US imperialism. What is required is the mobilisation of workers in Venezuela and across Latin America to confront and defeat US imperialism – through efforts to organise workers to take state power into their own hands. A workers’ state is the key mechanism through which imperialism can be temporarily staved off until workers internationally are able to bring down “their own” capitalism.

Such an approach, however, is anathema to the PSUV in Venezuela, and also to SA and the CPA on these shores. While in Venezuela the PSUV practice a “united broad front” with the Venezuelan business class, in Australia SA and the CPA practice a “united broad front” with the ALP, i.e. the “liberal” wing of the ruling class. In both cases, workers are thus tied politically to a coalition with the bourgeoisie – a recipe for complete disaster. In order for workers to either defend themselves against capitalist austerity, or against a US led coup, workers must know exactly who their enemies are and who are their allies. To the extent that the Venezuelan government and military defend the country against US-led overthrow, workers should not stand in the way, and even assist. At the same time, not one bar of political support can be offered to the PSUV. In fact, workers in Venezuela desperately need to forge the Marxist vanguard party which can begin the task of winning the most class-conscious Chavistas to the perspective of uniting the workers, rather than the “people”.This is the missing link that workers internationally are crying out for.

WORKERS   LEAGUE
www.redfireonline.com       E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-guaido/venezuelas-guaido-says-humanitarian-aid-will-arrive-on-feb-23-idUSKCN1Q1277 (18-02-19)

[2] https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/02/18/world/social-issues-world/venezuelas-juan-guaido-calls-million-volunteers-aid-standoff-maduro/#.XGlwWbhx2Uk (18-02-19)

[3] https://www.newsweek.com/venezuela-inflation-hits-833997-course-1-million-2019-1207509 (20-02-19)

[4] https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/04/07/522912791/venezuelas-bread-wars-with-food-scarce-government-accuses-bakers-of-hoarding (20-02-19)

[5] https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/14334 (20-02-19)

[6] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/labor-must-oppose-trump-coup-venezuela (20-02-19)

[7] https://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2019/1857/02-editorial.html (20-02-19)

[8] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/idlib-not-end-story (21-02-19)

[9] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/iranian-workers-protests-confront-regime-crisis (21-02-19)

[10] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/sudan-uprising-peoples-revolution (21-02-19)

[11] https://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2017/1806/09-greetings-tudeh.html (21-02-19)

[12] http://cpa.org.au/guardian/2019/1856/14-sudans.html (21-02-19)