No 1446 4th June 2014
Stay-away contempt for Euro elections across every country demonstrates breakdown of the bourgeoisie’s greatest trick, the “parliamentary democracy” fraud – the hoodwinking cover-up of the actual dictatorship rule of big money capital. Foul and bloodily violent coups in Ukraine Egypt, and now Thailand, exposing the brutal reality of the “democracy” lie, further confirm the correctness of spontaneous mass rejection. But the giant vacuum of discontent remains unfilled by the only possible answer to capitalist crisis, revolutionary class war to establish proletarian dictatorship to build planned socialism, because of the continuing opportunism, retreats and confusion of the swamp of fake-“left” Trotskyist anti-communists and museum Stalinists alike. Leninism needs to be built.
The new Nazism installed by military coup in Ukraine, in Egypt, now Thailand and, by manipulated populism, in India: the collapse of the “democratic vote” across the whole of Europe in the Euro-elections; and the unstoppable escalation of insurgency and anti-imperialist rebellion (labelled “Islamic” and other “terrorism”) in the Third World, all underline the desperate problems facing imperialism’s world control system as its crisis catastrophe inexorably deepens.
The West’s “freedom and democracy” fraud, its main weapon for ruling class rule over centuries, hoodwinking the masses with never-fulfilled or violently overthrown promises of change “peacefully achieved”, “within the rules” (!!) is now almost totally discredited everywhere.
The desperate ruling class is being forced to reveal more and more openly its true brutal bourgeois dictatorship face in the ever cruder clampdowns in the Third World and former soviet states, while stepping up its surveillance, torture and repression domestically in even the richest metropolitan countries (dominant US topdog included).
But the giant political vacuum now opening up as “democracy” is increasingly seen through (because of lessons learned deeply after more than a century of working class experience of opportunism, betrayals and cynical CIA overthrows), remains unfilled.
If imperialism’s true fascist nature is increasing exposed by ever more blatant takeovers and coups, and the ever deepening war drive it is pushing as the “solution” to its epochal economic and political meltdown, so too is the opportunism and class-collaboration of the fake-“lefts” of all shades also more sharply shown up by unfolding crisis events, for the millstone it is around the revolutionary spirit of the working class.
The vital open struggle for revolutionary understanding that alone can lead the working class forwards out of the greatest slump disaster ever to hit humanity (still unrolling and due to break back into the open again at any moment as fantasy-money printing Quantitative Easing implodes into worse collapse than 2008’s “credit crunch”) is avoided by all of them.
After all their decades of “revolutionary” posturing pretences, they still cling on to their social-pacifist “Stop the War” ineffectualities and the old parliamentary games of “Stop the Nazis by voting ‘left’” opportunist theatricalities, all rolled out for the euro-election farce.
Far from seizing the opportunity clearly shown by the giant raspberry the entire European working class has just blown at “official” politics, to build the revolutionary party to stimulate, raise up and guide the gigantic discussion now opening up everywhere, about capitalism’s ever increasing grotesque unfairness and inequality, and its pending total bankrupt failure, they continue to suppress discussion and demand adherence to their own narrow petty bourgeois moralising diversions, mostly across a raft of single-issue distractions like feminism, environmentalism, “gay rights”, black nationalism and anti-racism, or by a wooden refusal to re-examine the history of the workers states to see how and why the first great socialist experiments ran into difficulties.
Entirely absent is the need to develop and educate the working class in a world perspective, explaining the intractable crisis of the capitalist system which is driving all the devastation, chaos, sectarian conflict and Slump disasters facing the whole world – and all the chaotic rebellion against it.
Monopoly capitalism is entering an epochal meltdown of its centuries long rule and dragging the entire planet back into devastating world war destruction (already underway for nearly fifteen years since the nazi-NATO blitzing of Serbia and on through Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria etc - and now Ukraine).
The need has never been sharper to end that system by revolutionary overturn of the ruling class, seizing the wealth and productive resources created by the labour of billions but being concentrated in ever fewer hands (67 individuals “owning” more than the poorest 50% of the world population!!!!) and establishing the common ownership of production under the dictatorship of the proletariat (the great majority) to build planned rational socialism.
Right now this great swamp of play-acting petty bourgeois worthies, including such “radical” forces as the Trot and fake-“left” Syriza anti-Soviet grouping in Greece, the semi-anarchist Podemos in Spain and the Beppe Grillo movement in Italy, just tie the working class back into the old reformist games and parliament, even as it is collapsing on a historically unprecedented scale.
“We have to stop the fascists and racists” they declare, recruiting the working class to vote against the Front Nationals and Geert Wilders.
But thereby they sustain the parliamentary racket.
Thereby they sustain the real cause of all racism and fascist chauvinism, capitalist rule and the hoodwinking democracy fraud which keeps it in place.
It is the capitalist system which is the generator and cause of fascism, chauvinism and scapegoating viciousness, not only spawning all the petty nationalist and anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim groupings themselves (tolerated by the ruling class and even funded in the background during the boom - as Hitler was - and boosted when needed), but increasingly taking a direct role in the Nazi belligerence too, as the John Kerry’s and William Hague’s Hitlerite-level anti-Russian rants are demonstrating over the Ukraine, (and Syria and Libya before (and the Bush presidency did before them)) .
Petty anti-EU populism will make some headway (not least because half the “left” swamp feeds out the same narrow nationalism) and the working class needs to be headed away from the shallow diversion that it is “European bosses” which are the problem rather than capitalism itself. As the suspended, but only dormant, Astra Zeneca takeover demonstrates, rapacious capitalism from any quarter – and especially big US capital – is an unstoppable threat, and leaving Europe would not only not stop that but make workers at least as vulnerable – ditto the Balkanising Scottish nationalist arguments which can only fragment British working class strength (as well as filling the air with endless distractions from the real issue).
Right now it is the break with parliament that is the great event.
There is nowhere else to go then but towards a revolutionary grasp.
But such is the disastrous narrowness of the fake-“left” thinking that they cannot even see the huge opportunities suddenly opening up for revolutionary development (and their petty bourgeois instincts don’t want to see them either).
One party, the Scargillite trade union bureaucracy-bound Socialist Labour Party, long since revealed as just a class collaborating “second Labour Party” expelling any hint of Marxism, and as reactionary as any UKIP with its Little Englander anti-EU perspectives and “British jobs” chauvinism, even went so far as to bewail the voting collapse, declaring:
EU turnout overall in Britain was about 34%- a disgrace!
Disgrace!!!!! It is this kind of wooden bureaucratic class-collaboration which is a disgrace and a shameful grovelling to bourgeois rule.
The working class is not “apathetic” as some “lefts” and pacifists say (largely to justify their own defeatism and confusion) – but it is blocked by the paralysing difficulties that 24 hour brainwashing LIES about “communism not working” and “democracy” create.
Any genuine revolutionary could only celebrate the Euro vote collapse as a giant step in political maturity for the working class.
It has never been a revolutionary tactic to support parliament at all as such; even 100 years ago when the working class still had some illusions in what it might achieve via “voting for reforms” (having never had its own party in power) the Marxist approach to elections was to use them only to expose the giant fraud of “democracy and representation” as nothing but a cosmetic cover for the actual rule of big capital, and the billionaires and corporations who wield its power.
As Lenin’s brilliant Left-Wing Communism - an infantile disorder set out, of course Marxists should use any avenue possible to reach the working class, including participating in reactionary trade unions, and standing in elections or other mechanisms that the bourgeoisie has been forced to concede in order to maintain the pretence of “democracy” and “free speech”.
But they should stand only to put the revolutionary perspective, not to feed illusions that permanent improvements can be won this way.
If workers had illusions in Labourism for example, the Leninist approach was to go along with it for the moment in order to expose what a fraud it was, “supporting it as a rope supports a hanging man” in Lenin’s famous phrase.
But that was then, and workers have long since learned profound lessons after a dozen Labour government betrayals.
The last few elections in even the most “advanced” countries (the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy etc) have made clear that only a tiny fraction of the working class now has any trust at all in voting; and even those who still make the effort, do so primarily to kick the most hated of the corrupt bourgeois party representatives, not to vote for anybody (as the Liberals are finding out after their craven betrayal of the anti-Tory and anti-Labour protest vote last time).
Parliamentary democracy is a worked-out seam and has been increasingly obviously so for decades, from the class-collaborating sellouts of the “left” 1945 Attlee imperialism-running Labour government onwards, and particularly since the sleazy collapse of Thatcherite Toryism, in turn salvaged only by the empty-barrel “spin” trickery of the lying Blairites, full of meaningless soundbites and petty bourgeois moralising, “disciplining” and credit fuelled petty “reform” re-organisations of this and that which change nothing at all (such as the deliberate and pointless diversion of “Scottish” devolution it introduced).
The upside down lies of the Coalition (“protecting the NHS” while actually selling it off, and “all in it together” while imposing Victorian workhouse discipline on the poor, handsomely paying off the corrupt incompetent banks and boosting the ultra-rich in every possible way) have extended the same cynical crap to astonishing black-is-white levels of in-your-face arrogance and contempt.
The “Coalition” stunt itself was already a new low in parliamentary desperation, lyingly claiming legitimacy for a government when the 2010 election demonstrated more complete mass disgust with the pocket-lining sleaze, duplicity, and incompetence of “parliament” than ever before, even on the bourgeoisie’s own terms.
The European election is another qualitative leap and dramatic history-shattering shift as an eruption of discussion has demonstrated.
Far from being a supposed mass “turn to fascism”, “anti-immigration” or revived reactionary nationalism in Britain, France, Germany, Denmark and Holland (and various other assorted countries from Finland to Hungary) as hyped up by the capitalist press, (and deliberately pushed by the ruling class) it shows a more complete breakdown of illusions among the working class than ever before.
So glaring is the result this time, that even some of the more thoughtful intellectuals around the bourgeois press (and even some politicians) instead of just picking over the details of the cast votes in the parliamentary racket as if it still matters (the endless media pretence that all these vote details have any significance is all part of the hoodwinking racket) – have been commenting on the absence of a vote:
I can, with some confidence, tell you who represents the majority of people in this week’s elections. No one. Most people will not vote. For all the headlines and hoo-ha of the political/media class, the big story is not Ukip and whether Farage worships Satan in a smoking jacket. The real issue is that people neither know what they are supposed to be voting for, nor see any point in doing so.
The rise of Ukip, gaffe-heavy and policy-free, is but a symptom of this wider malaise. As a protest, people are prepared to vote in MEPs who won’t turn up and seek to demolish the institution within which they are meant to represent us. A strange double bluff is happening here that outfoxes the so-called democratic deficit.
It is happening for two reasons. Firstly, the political/media class knows that there is a problem but scarcely acknowledges it, continuing to centre mainly on Westminster and on processes mysterious to most people (who is your MEP? What does he or she do all day?). Secondly, since the crash, distrust has massively inflated. This is happening right across Europe, where Eurosceptic parties will be voted in on turnouts of less than 40%. UK turnout is predicted to be about 36%. Each of these parties promises to shield its voters from the effects of globalisation, job losses and other changes in communities that are routinely blamed on immigration. These parties range from the out-and-out fascists of Golden Dawn in Greece, who openly admire Hitler, to Hungary’s ultra-nationalist Jobbik to France’s “sanitised” Front National, which is expected to do very well and align itself with the Netherlands’ Islamophobic Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders.
That the right should rise in a recession, and at a time when democracy feels so broken, is not a shock. What is dispiriting is how slow the political establishment has been to react to this. It’s almost as if Ukip didn’t exist until six weeks ago. Screaming “racist” at its members, usually via Twitter, hasn’t really worked as a strategy. It has simply further embedded already alienated people who may well be racist in some of their views, but not in all of them. It further embeds racism as an individual property rather than the institutional structure in which all of us operate, all the time.
Some on the left are consoling themselves with a hint of green. It’s a bit like that fashion for paint that was basically white, but had some subtle shade in it that most people could barely detect. Others are saying that Farage has peaked, which may well be so. (His voters are the group most likely to peg it, with many over 70 years old.) Whatever he says in his wall-to-wall interviews, it is highly unlikely his party will win the 20 or so seats he would need to hold any balance of power. For Farage this is probably as good as it gets. Then there are those still waiting for Ed Miliband to rise like the Iron Giant and make it all better. It feels like Waiting for Godot.
For all the alienated folk who are clinging to the wreckage of Ukip, the majority simply can’t be arsed. This has been the political reality for a long time, and one that we remain in absolute denial about. Apathy does not explain the anger and ennui that existed across Europe long before Russell Brand had his big revolutionary idea of not voting. He gave voice to the pre-existing disconnect and is now making a bizarre series of YouTube clips featuring truth-tellers with exceedingly odd notions of the truth.
Meanwhile, Farage is hoovering up support from people who feel that no one speaks for them. He has used the media so effectively, precisely because, instead of seeing him as an insurgent, they understand both his message and his method to be traditional. He is absolutely part of the establishment, a character who does not want to change the system but to shrink it into a manageable enterprise.
If he were to align with other rightwing parties in Europe, he would be more dangerous but that is far too “European” for him. Nonetheless, he has pushed political discourse to the right just as many social attitudes shift to the left. Our institutions so often lag behind our culture and this applies to Westminster, with its archaic and shameful carrying-on, most of all. Right now we have a ghost parliament: our elected representatives have given themselves an extra week’s holiday.
The culture wars that happen between liberals and conservatives continue to occur largely outside of the arena that is deemed “politics”. Yet politics continues to be reported as supreme. Economics and culture are spoken of as side issues rather than things that determine the way we live.
The supremacy of Westminster and its lackeys, however, is surely challenged by such low voter turnout. How low does it have to be before we say that these people do not have any kind of mandate?
The arch feminist Suzanne Moore is not about talk about the real answer, the fight to overturn capitalism and still talks of UKIP as a “threat” (as if the other parties were not part of the same system but just incompetent against UKIP) but at least this reveals a growing awareness of a giant vacuum and enormous discontent driven by the ever more rampant unfairness and inequality of system which has only just started its greatest catastrophe yet.
Her feminist subjectivism is part of the problem not the answer and certainly when wielded by the fake-“left” groups is a major weapon to head attention away from the crucial issue of building the revolutionary understanding.
These issue are wide open to all kinds of challenge in themselves on issues such as alleged “homophobia” and “sexism” anyway (on which rational discussion is also censored).
But anyone entering the debate to raise particulars and the need for the broadest world perspective, necessarily challenging the tablet-of-stone sanctimonious self-righteousness of the fake-“lefts”, is immediately declared beyond the pale and blocked from the discussion, ejected from meetings, (as also by the Stalinists desperate to maintain studious silence about their multiple mistakes and errors – cover-up being the hallmark of museum-Stalinist groups (inherited from the “great man” himself) brushing every disastrous misanalysis under the carpet).
Only the “pure in heart” as measured by petty bourgeois “left” PC dictate, can participate in the struggle.
That rules out most of the working class, brought up with the distorting and damaging climate set by capitalist culture who may well turn to revolution – because the crisis leaves no choice – even while laden with all kinds of old prejudices.
Marx and Engels, and Lenin too were very clear that the revolution can only be made with the humanity that exists, distorted as it is by capitalist culture and conditioning, and that one reason it will be forced to make the revolution is to change its own condition and its own self.
And the only way it can change its own condition is by making the revolution.
None of these single-issues, even where they are truly expressions of additional or double exploitation (constant racial harassment eg, unequal pay for women, etc etc etc) can find a solution within capitalism anyway as they are all part of capitalist inequality constantly regenerated and its deliberately fostered divisiveness.
Only by reorganising society from top to bottom on a fair, planned socialist basis and removing the endless inequality, antagonisms and exploitational conflicts engendered by capitalism (organically by its inherently divisive nature and deliberately by ruling class action to split workers’ unity) can all these questions be settled.
Which brings it back to the need for a revolutionary perspective in the first place.
But the single-issuism serves the reactionary purpose of censoring and blocking off the revolutionary central questions, either tacitly or even by policy as with the “safe space” censorship mechanism of the latest cobbled together Trot assemblage in the “Left Unity” (whose aim at yet another rerun of the Labour Party “only without sellouts this time”(!!!) is neither particularly “left” - certainly not revolutionary – nor particularly “uniting” of its disparate and permanently squabbling “left” sects.)
The greatest emerging opportunity for revolutionary discussion since the Second World War which the election vacuum reveals, remains blocked off by the Labourites, Trotskyists and revisionists alike just when the world is thirsting for the understanding that it is the purpose and function of the revolutionary party to develop and fight for.
They are none of them really anything to do with revolution and their academic posturing and squabbling avoid genuine open polemic and discussion, which is what has left the working class vulnerable and disarmed of the most important weapon it can have – a sharp clear class-war perspective, understanding the crisis and revolutionary philosophy.
Least of all do they either raise or attempt to answer the great questions which still holds back the working class worldwide – first among them being did the “failure” of communism in the USSR prove that socialism and communism “do not work”??
The “lefts” deal with this either by simply joining in the capitalist anti-communist claque like virtually all the Trotskyists, denouncing the Soviet Union as a “totalitarian hellhole” that “no-one would ever want to repeat” – the sickest of petty bourgeois capitulation to Western propaganda imaginable – or they ignore the obvious difficulties that ended this first great 70 year long experiment in working class rule.
It did after all come to a halt, not failing because of its socialist state form, which was still growing to the end, if in a somewhat uninspired way under revisionist complacent leadership, but liquidated by the revisionist errors which gradually rotted all revolutionary spirit and understanding over decades in Moscow, and once Lenin died.
But instead of encouraging and educating this vital debate – helping investigate the philosophical roots of revisionist weakness and the eventual idiot Gorbachevite capitulation to illusions in market forces (as the EPSR has constantly battled to do - see for example the Perspectives 2001 document) and investigating and challenging the petty bourgeois Trotskyite attempts to counter it, which early on slipped over into total hostility to the workers state and counter-revolutionary hatred (underneath its academic pretences of “criticising Stalin’s errors”) – the “lefts” stifle the rising argument.
Meanwhile even the ruling class has got more to say than some of these “lefts”.
When it is organising special conferences to discuss “inclusive capitalism” mobilising Prince Charles, Christine Lagarde of the IMF and Mark Carney chairman of the Bank of England to handwringingly “deplore” the ever growing unfairness of the system, then it is clear something is deeply troubling them.
It is not “lack of fairness” as such of course which is agitating them – they could after all easily give up their wealth and privileges and that of their great entourages (as could the new public relations friendly Catholic Pontiff if he was really “the poor man’s Pope” – liquidating the fabulous wealth of the Catholic Church would solve all the world’s problems of poverty).
Their growing panic comes from seeing what the “left” blindly miss, the enormous revolutionary stirrings that are being created everywhere.
They also know (by deep ruling class cunning and historic experience if not actual Marxist conscious grasp), that this can only grow more and more intensive as the huge differences within capitalism widen ever further, which as the latest bourgeois economic analysis from Frenchman Thomas Pikety concedes*, is built into the nature of capitalism.
[*Workers would still be far better off reading the original Capital by Karl Marx (Pikety’s is also called Capital) which already explained all this and much more, and far from being “discredited” as the petty bourgeois like to pretend, is in fact being confirmed by the unrolling crisis like never before ( a crisis which Leninist understanding, based on such Marxist and Leninist works, alone predicted and fought to warn about for the last three decades against all fake-“leftist” dismissals of “old hat Marxist dogma”).]
The fuss around Pikety is another sign of the tinder-dry readiness of the world’s masses.
Giant upheavals have already exploded throughout the Third World in now non-stop insurgency, “terrorism”, and riots in even the major capitals like New York, London and Paris, culminating in the dramatic spontaneous mass demonstrations of the initial “Arab Spring” in Cairo in 2011 which brought down the stooge gangster dictator Hosni Mubarak (and which are now sweeping one African country after another, Yemen and elsewhere).
Though the Cairo events have been temporarily intimidated and headed-off, – by Western-stirred additional and totally bogus “rebellions” in anti-imperialist Syria and Libya (which unlike Egypt did not have pro-Western regimes), both to provoke the foulest civil war, barbaric assassination (Gaddafi buggered to death with an iron bayonet to the great televised delight of Hilary Clinton) and NATO nazi destruction, – the sudden “out-of-the-blue” eruption still shook the imperialist ruling class to the core.
Subsequent CIA manipulation of the Egyptian middle class has stirred enough chaos to ease the Washington-funded generals back into power via a bloody massacring coup, to reverse the events in Cairo too, using anti-Muslimism and made possible by petty bourgeois “democracy” illusions in the rebellion, (secular and Muslim Brotherhood sides) all fostered and encouraged partly by the fake-“lefts” and anti-leadership anarchism (all taken in by capitulation to western “anti-terror” and anti-Islam demonisation) (see past EPSRs).
It is a very fragile victory, for the West as the mass boycott of the even-more-fraudulent-than-usual General Sisi presidential election makes clear, but underlines yet further the crucial need for revolutionary leadership, inspiration, discipline and morale building.
The developing political vacuum in bankrupt Europe is ten or a hundred times as significant, potentially shaking out the revolutionary potential of the second richest capitalist economy in the world, the historic centre of the capitalist order itself dating from its roots in the city states of Italy 800 years ago, the Dutch and Portuguese imperialist expansions, the giant Industrial Revolution in Britain and the French bourgeois revolution of the 18th century and their subsequent colonialist dominations as well as the latecoming rise of the most powerful of all, Germany, dominating the centre.
Staggeringly, in the teeth of this huge transformation, the petty bourgeois Trots still demonstrate their complete incapacity to even see the world clearly, with the figures like Stop the War chair and Counterfire (Trotskyist SWP breakaway) leader Lindsay German airily declaring recently that although she “was a revolutionary in principle” (!?!) that the prospect of it remained a “long distant possibility” and in the meantime the “left” should “look for what is possible”.
Try telling that to the workers in Donetsk taking on the fascist Kiev government as it brutally sweeps in to gun down civilians and separatists (with none of the usual Western condemnations that they are “killing their own people” as routinely poured out against Gaddafi and Assad’s forces in Syria and Libya, etc).
No surprise she was speaking at a Venezuela support meeting at the time, which spent a day lauding the addle-brained “socialism by democracy” illusions of the Latin American “Bolivarian revolution” with not one supposed “revolutionary” from a collection of assorted “left” groups warning of the disastrous disarming of the working class such “21st century socialism” anti-Leninism could be leading to.
Failure to put the dictatorship of the proletariat at the centre of understanding, and feeding of illusions in “democracy” has seen tens of thousands of workers and peasants slaughtered and tortured in Latin America, particularly sharply shown by disastrous Salvador Allende “democratic socialism” misleadership of 1970-73 and the subsequent General Pinochet fascist coup, which its revisionist mush opened the door to.
What the East Ukrainians (and actually the western Ukraine working class too) require is the deepest revolutionary perspective to guide their rebellion.
Their referendum actions already have a hint about them of the spontaneous self-government moves made by the revolutionary Russian working class in 1905 and 1917 in the formation of Soviets – which would have been sneered at as “illegal elections” too if the modern bourgeois press had been in existence.
But it by far the nearest to true democracy of all the elections in the world precisely because it is revolutionary in spirit and action, not under the manipulative control of the “approved Western observers” and the 1001 ways in which bourgeois elections are twisted and controlled by hype, gerrymandered boundaries, advertising, PR lie image building, bribery, lack of real options, and intimidation (among other things).
What the “separatists” need most of all is to see the imperialist stunt in Kiev defeated – any way possible including, if it happens, by Russian intervention, though without putting any faith whatsoever in the appalling oligarch-favouring anti-communist Bonapartist Putin (who is already demonstrating his weakness in cravenly recognising the Ukraine presidential election, just as much of a grotesque racket as the Cairo one). And they need to re-assess Stalin too.
Trotskyist academic posturing about supporting “only the workers” in Donetsk but “neither Washington nor Moscow” is a sophistic distortion of the Leninist understanding meanwhile, which sells out the Ukrainian workers with its academic “self-determination” and pretence of being “against all capitalism”.
There is no comparison between the overwhelming dominance of the US and its warmongering provocations and Russia oligarch capitalism, degenerate though it is.
It is American monopoly capitalist and arms race might which is the topdog that needs to be hammered in this situation as the root of all the world’s troubles.
Taking this academic “principled” even-handed position is completely wrong, drawing attention from the only outcome that matters, and rejecting one of the possible weapons against it.
Only Lenin’s position of “defeat for the enemy by whatever means but no faith in anything but the Bolshevik leadership” as first expressed in the August 1917 anti-Kornilov fight (and as has applied in one imperialist intervention after another like Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Syria) is correct.
That is the wish to see each and every onslaught by nazi-NATOism (or Tsarist monarchist reaction in Lenin’s case) fall flat on its face, diplomatically, financially, militarily, and every other way too however that occurs.
Defeat for imperialism overrides everything, but implies absolutely no support for Milosevic, Saddam, Assad, or Gaddafi, nor even any illusions in the barmy ideologies of the militancies which nevertheless are currently heroically fighting Zionism and Washington. Their weaknesses will be dealt with when possible, overturned if needed (Putin), or in better cases simply bypassed by the increased working class strength, consciousness and shifted balance of forces that massive defeats for the real enemy (capitalism) would generate.
German’s Trotskyist “no revolution today” comments are the typical opportunist excuse for not raising revolutionary issues and instead restricting “leadership” to reformist demands – the true measure of all the swamp “left” groups who simultaneously posture and preen their self-declared “revolutionary” credentials (arguing incessantly with each other over supposed fine points of revolutionary principle like medieval theologians debating angels and pinheads) while in practice absolutely avoiding giving a revolutionary lead or analysis, and worse, leading workers back to the reformist path.
Even the bourgeois press can now at least hint at better as in the Moore piece above and this latest (edited) item in the Guardian, quoted along with some even more interesting comments added on the website:
Back in the 90s...there was a series of assumptions everybody had to accept in order even to be allowed to enter serious public debate. They were presented like a series of self-evident equations. “The market” was equivalent to capitalism. Capitalism meant exorbitant wealth at the top, but it also meant rapid technological progress and economic growth. Growth meant increased prosperity and the rise of a middle class. The rise of a prosperous middle class, in turn, would always ultimately equal stable democratic governance. A generation later, we have learned that not one of these assumptions can any longer be assumed to be correct.
The real importance of Thomas Piketty’s blockbuster, Capital in the 21st Century, is that it demonstrates, in excruciating detail (and this remains true despite some predictable petty squabbling) that..capitalism does not contain an inherent tendency to civilise itself. Left to its own devices, it can be expected to create rates of return on investment so much higher than overall rates of economic growth that the only possible result will be to transfer more and more wealth into the hands of a hereditary elite of investors, to the comparative impoverishment of everybody else.
In other words, what happened in western Europe and North America between roughly 1917 and 1975 – when capitalism did indeed create high growth and lower inequality – was something of a historical anomaly. There is a growing realisation among economic historians that this was indeed the case. There are many theories as to why. Adair Turner, former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, suggests it was the particular nature of mid-century industrial technology that allowed both high growth rates and a mass trade union movement. Piketty himself points to the destruction of capital during the world wars, and the high rates of taxation and regulation that war mobilisation allowed. Others have different explanations.
No doubt many factors were involved, but almost everyone seems to be ignoring the most obvious. The period when capitalism seemed capable of providing broad and spreading prosperity was also, precisely, the period when capitalists felt they were not the only game in town: when they faced a global rival in the Soviet bloc, revolutionary anti-capitalist movements from Uruguay to China, and at least the possibility of workers’ uprisings at home. In other words, rather than high rates of growth allowing greater wealth for capitalists to spread around, the fact that capitalists felt the need to buy off at least some portion of the working classes placed more money in ordinary people’s hands, creating increasing consumer demand that was itself largely responsible for the remarkable rates of economic growth that marked capitalism’s “golden age”.
Since the 1970s, as any significant political threat has receded, things have gone back to their normal state: that is, to savage inequalities, with a miserly 1% presiding over a social order marked by increasing social, economic and even technological stagnation. It was precisely the fact that people such as my Russian friend believed capitalism would inevitably civilise itself that guaranteed it no longer had to do so.
Piketty, in contrast, begins his book by denouncing “the lazy rhetoric of anti-capitalism”. He has nothing against capitalism itself – or even, for that matter, inequality. He just wishes to provide a check on capitalism’s tendency to create a useless class of parasitical rentiers. As a result, he argues that the left should focus on electing governments dedicated to creating international mechanisms to tax and regulate concentrated wealth. Some of his suggestions – an 80% income tax! – may seem radical, but we are still talking about a man who, having demonstrated capitalism is a gigantic vacuum cleaner sucking wealth into the hands of a tiny elite, insists that we do not simply unplug the machine, but try to build a slightly smaller vacuum cleaner sucking in the opposite direction.
What’s more, he doesn’t seem to understand that it doesn’t matter how many books he sells, or summits he holds with financial luminaries or members of the policy elite, the sheer fact that in 2014 a left-leaning French intellectual can safely declare that he does not want to overthrow the capitalist system but only to save it from itself is the reason such reforms will never happen. The 1% are not about to expropriate themselves, even if asked nicely. And they have spent the past 30 years creating a lock on media and politics to ensure no one will do so through electoral means.
Since no one in their right mind would wish to revive anything like the Soviet Union, we are not going to see anything like the mid-century social democracy created to combat it either. If we want an alternative to stagnation, impoverishment and ecological devastation, we’re just going to have to figure out a way to unplug the machine and start again.
COMMENT: bullingdonmorons : You really do have to be an utter moron to support this system.
Decades from now, history books will record these years of Neo-Liberalism as the dumbest period in human history. They will tell of a system that created vast wealth for a handful of people whilst leaving millions struggling to survive, a system designed to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich, a system that promoted a Malthusian hatred of the poor and a complete indifference to the plight of others whilst extolling the virtues of greed and ignorance.
The last 10 years spanned the worst financial crisis in history, a crisis caused by the sheer greed and criminal behaviour of the richest people on the planet aided by the very deregulation and free market ideology that the right wing so craves, and was only solved by using billions of taxpayers money.
But who has paid the price? In 2004, you needed £700 million to be in Britain’s 50 wealthiest people. 10 years later, that figure is now £1.7 billion. In 2004, the richest 1,000 people owned assets worth £200 billion, today they are worth £519 billion. The 5 richest families now own more wealth than the bottom 20% combined. The average salary for a FTSE 100 CEO is now £84,000 A WEEK.
Meanwhile, for the rest of us? 20% of the population, 13 million people, are now classed as living in poverty, of which over 8 million come from families who are IN WORK. In 2004, the median weekly wage was £462. Today, it is £427 a week. The cost of living has risen by 34% since 2004, meaning that the average disposable income per household is now almost £1,200 a year lower.
In addition, 913,138 people used food-banks in 2013/14, compared to 346,992 in 2012/13 and 26,000 in 2008/09. There has been a 74% increase in the number of malnutrition-related hospital admissions since 2009, whilst cases of rickets have risen by 25% in 4 years. Public health experts have warned that the rise of malnutrition in the UK “has all the signs of a public health emergency.”
And this is happening right now, IN ONE OF THE RICHEST COUNTRY ON EARTH.
The ruling elite already own all our land, gas, electricity, railways, water and media. They are now coming for our pensions, our NHS, our roads, our schools and our green spaces. They have systematically destroyed the unions, dismantled our protections, created mass unemployment and are dismembering the welfare state. They make it easier to sack us, make us work longer hours for less pay, force our kids to work for nothing, raise the retirement age whilst cutting our pensions and weaken our health and safety laws. Yet executives of blue-chip companies enjoyed a median pay rise of 32% in the last year alone.
We are being shafted.
So, It’s time to get angry, and we need someone to express that anger, because none of our politicians are going to do it. Someone to speak for the millions of hard working people who only want a decent life for themselves and for their kids to have a secure future. Someone that speaks up for all of us, not just a privileged few. Someone that tells us that our worth is not measured by our wealth, but our value as human beings. Someone that tells us that compassion and empathy are not bullshit. Someone that tells us that ordinary people can expect to have a decent job, a decent house and decent healthcare. Someone that tells us our elderly can live out their final years in a degree of comfort. Someone that tells us our sick and disabled should be allowed to exist with a shred of dignity. Someone that tells us that the most disadvantaged will not be looked down upon as scum.
Someone that tells us that our kids can still have hopes and dreams.
To paraphrase Lloyd George whilst talking about the Great War: “If the people really knew the truth about what was happening, it would be ended tomorrow, but they must never know.”
Well, it is time we did know, and time we all stood up and said, enough is enough.
COMMENT: It is time indeed...it is time for people to put their gameboys down to put their daily newspapers down , and to read ....be it Stiglitz , Pikkerty who ever....some of the major world economic strategic concepts eg globalisation could work MUCH BETTER if organised DIFFERENTLY. That the people who most benefit today also have the clout to get laws passed, and to craft our perceptions through 24/24 media misrepresentations, that are favorable to themselves only yet peddled as favorable even vital to us all...
...In France ...a basically unpublished number is highly significant here: - all the MEDIA talk is about the ‘earthquake’ caused by a right leaning party.
But hey! what percentage of those registered to vote is the press blowing up into an European nay World Class political force to be reckoned with ? SIX percent of the registered voters in France . Yes that’s right SIX percent. Such is the power of the so-called 1% financial and business elite such is their control of the the press such is their ability to craft perceptions ...
All interesting stuff and striking a nerve, with the first comment receiving an astounding 1500 recommendations on the website – a telling indication of the problems facing the ruling class as consciousness shifts and a growing hunger for answers develops.
It is a refutation of the fake-“left” sophistry which excuses its own failures and complacency with the eternal “the working class is not ready yet for revolution” and “in the meantime we have to fight for reforms”.
No Marxist would say that the working class is “heading for the barricades this minute” as the petty bourgeois smugs in the Trotskyist and revisionist groups like to mock (though the anti-Kiev-fascist upheavals in eastern Ukraine are beginning to undermine even that long standing anti-Leninist sneer) but the political demand is leaping forwards.
It will multiply even further once the crisis really bites (as the leading figures of the ruling class all know it will at any point) and the great mass of “hard working families” find that even with their best efforts they cannot “get by” any more, forcing a still largely silent working class preoccupied with daily survival, into action.
They have nothing to lose but their chains, as the man said.
Reforms and “anti-austerity” will (and can) change nothing but just disarm the working class.
Capitalism is heading much deeper into the Depression collapse and the world war mayhem deliberately being created to get it out of disaster.
As the article says, part the twentieth century “boom” (for the richer nations) was the result of the staggering destruction of WW1 and WW2 which temporarily cleared away “surplus” capital clogging the system, leaving the topdog victor the US to fill the space, and the ruling class aim is to do the same all over again, wiping out or suppressing rival imperialists too (like Germany and Japan, smaller but growing forces like the BRIC nations and in some respects the revisionist workers state of China in as far as it uses capitalist mechanisms for economic growth) and wiping out “surplus” workers, while they sit in safe havens (they think).
But even a reinforced upwelling of anti-capitalist spontaneity is still a thousand miles away from the clear scientific understanding of the world needed to overcome capitalism and build socialism.
It can only be built with a deliberate conscious will and effort to hammer out an agreed political and philosophical grasp of objective truth (or as near as collective human wisdom can achieve in keeping up with the ever unfolding complexity of reality and the class struggle).
That demands a process of polemic and deliberate open struggle to work through and discard, reject and expose all the wrong theories and deliberate anti-communist lies which saturate Western brainwashing culture to an extraordinary and unprecedented extent, including most confusingly of all, virtually the entire alleged “left”, poisoned with petty bourgeois class collaboration, confusion, opportunism and capitulation to the swamping tide of bourgeois ideological pressure (all “denouncing” the great Third World revolt as “unacceptable terror” for example instead of seeing it as the early, if confused and sometimes self-damaging, beginnings of a giant anti-imperialist rebellion that cannot disappear or be suppressed).
Read the bourgeois commentaries like Pikety by all means, and especially the data, but these are still part of bourgeois ideology, and publicised precisely as part of its endlessly subtle “control”. They avoid the big questions that need to be addressed and evade or twist in variously sophisticated ways, the full answers.
Why not read the original Capital, and its developments by Engels and Lenin??? Why not the original Communist Manifesto or the other 100 volumes of their collected works ???
These say far more about the underlying processes of capitalism than any concessions the bourgeois media and academia are forced to make.
Even further, why not read the modern struggle to take Leninism forwards, analysing the constant further unfolding balance of class forces and the crisis, as the EPSR has fought to do for the last 35 years and, however limitedly, continues to do?
Better still join in with and help develop that understanding by building the instrument that can do it, the revolutionary party.
The biggest question to be addressed is that which the article signs off with, its obligatory swipe at the Soviet Union and its titanic 70 years history, airily dismissed with the phrase “no one in their right mind would wish to revive anything like the Soviet Union”.
So why did the influence of the Soviet Union have such a giant effect on twentieth century history, as the article itself declares to be the case, its revolutionary achievements being the underlying reason for all the welfare state concessions and improvements in workers’ living standards gained over the great period of Soviet Union existence?????
If it was such a nightmare why would its example have been so attractive to the working class everywhere??
Because, of course, far from being something “noone would want to emulate” its huge strides in social provision, low-cost housing for all, free education (including developing specialist talents of numerous kinds like science, music, ballet, sport, etc), free medical health, sound working conditions, the elimination of unemployment and hunger, general community cooperation and removal of the daily antagonisms and nastiness of capitalist life, brilliant cultural and technological achievements - the first man in space for example implying an enormous technological and industrial infrastructure – development of women’s education and role in society, and so on) was what everyone except the rich wanted, in even the metropolitan countries but especially in the among bleak sweatshop-exploited poverty-stricken, uneducated and tyrannised masses of the colonial or neo-colonial Third World (the bulk of the “99%”).
The achievements of the USSR (and the subsequent revolutions it inspired - still Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea and particularly China, and a huge wave of anti-colonialism) – for all the revisionist flaws, are gigantic.
As the piece concedes the threat of revolution that was always in the air, despite the dire effects of revisionist complacency in Moscow and other workers states later on like China, was the driving force for reforms everywhere, which are now being dismantled with its ending.
The disastrous capitulation to capitalist “free market” nonsense of the revisionist bureaucratic complacency which swamped Moscow’s leadership eventually (even as continuing practical aid and overall inspiration was made to anti-imperialist struggle worldwide for much of the post-war period (training tens of thousands of scientists and engineers from the Third World, aiding Cuba, arming the Vietnamese, attempting to defend the Afghanistan socialist revolution etc) gave capitalism an additional propaganda victory temporarily with the notion that workers were “desperate to get out and have western ‘freedom’”.
But this too is looking sicker and sicker as the now non-communist world slides into ever greater massacre, blitzkreig and horrors from the hundreds of thousands killed, made homeless or ruined in Iraq and Afghanistan to the destruction of Libya and Syria, all without a “communist threat” in sight.
Though various other alternative ‘bogeymen’ are invoked, (the ludicrous “war on terror”) the truth that it is capitalism which is the cause of all the barbarism in the world gets clearer and clearer.
And the recent events in Ukraine (and in former Yugoslavia) where the working class is calling for the return to Soviet conditions means this propaganda lie about the Soviet Union is now backfiring on capitalism in a way which will have deep going ramifications.
It makes a mockery of the Guardian article’s final sentence, that “really you have no choice but capitalism” because “communism was such a nightmare” gratuitously added-on, and cravenly echoed by the petty bourgeois “lefts” and particularly the Trotskyist shades, which is the essence of bourgeois ideology, and around which its propaganda continues to pivot despite all the “admissions” about capitalist inequality.
It is rolled up with all the petty bourgeois fearfulness and dislike of the reality of the workers states and particularly the firm and sharp methods they used to defend themselves against the constant subversion. As the EPSR Perspectives 2001 put it:
Another clue to the real issues which strike fear into the very heart of the bourgeoisie’s long rule on earth, and thereby instruct workers on what is the crucial essence of the whole class struggle question, is capitalist propaganda’s relentless campaigning on the matter of so-called ‘workers state violence’, (meaning the revolution’s audacity in establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat to replace the existing ‘capitalist democracy’ world of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (and there is no alternative replacement)); but dressed up by the philosophical individualism of the imperialists as questions of ‘human rights’. This complete fraud of supposed ‘totalitarianism’ versus supposed ‘humanitarianism’ has been used as a get-out clause by more millions of petty bourgeois minded people than anything else for escaping into anti-communism from the pressures in the West against loyalty to the workers states and to the socialist revolution. Serious scientific research may one day be able to sort out the actual record of any mistakes, disasters, or wrong-headedness which workers states might have been responsible for, but a bloodcurdling worldwide torrent of lies, distortions, and rumours has been pouring out against the dictatorship of the proletariat from day 1 in 1917 and continues to this moment against China, Cuba, Korea, etc, and unceasing in retrospect against the USSR, constantly alleging ‘millions’ of deaths here, there, and everywhere.
If that same research were also to count up the totals allegedly killed by the revolution since October 1917, in all the newspaper, magazine, book, and broadcast hysteria of the whole bourgeois world, it would come to many, many hundreds of millions of dead bodies. Populations would have been decimated. As it happens, the population of Tsarist Russia/USSR went from 140 million in 1917 to nearly 280 million by 1989, despite having almost an entire generation of young men killed liberating Russia and Europe from imperialist war aggression in 1941-45 which killed more than 20 million Soviet citizens, a dramatic population increase for a European state. Over the same 72 years, the population of France, for example, which lost very few people in World War II, went from 50 million to 52 million. And the positive stability making possible that huge Soviet population increase, has disappeared completely following the destruction of the dictatorship of the proletariat in 1990, and life expectancy, plus population totals and projections, are now in serious decline.
What Western brainwashing has also never bothered to explain is why would any workers state regime, such as the USSR, which never had an unemployment problem, only labour shortages because of its planned economy, and which only became an ever greater power with its ever expanding highly educated and scientifically skilled mass population, ever want to just start killing all its own people for no reason?
The defence of the workers states against non-stop counter-revolutionary attempts or provocations by surrounding imperialism since 1917 is obviously a different subject entirely. After armies from 14 of the leading capitalist countries staged a counter-revolutionary invasion of the Soviet Union after 1917 and destroyed virtually the whole territory with bombing and scorched-earth terror, and then financed and armed a further two years devastating civil war, followed by endless sabotage against the young workers state, the tension in the USSR was enormous within the rush to build the country up before the next terrifying invasion threat from vastly stronger imperialism materialised just 12 years later when Nazi Germany began its colossal master-race rearmament programme, financed by Western bankers and politically turned a blind eye to, by the other Great Powers (despite its obvious fascist aggressive dangers, and despite being forbidden by the Versailles Treaty) because of Hitler’s determination to find more Lebensraum for a Greater Germany to the East, meaning the Soviet workers state would soon be invaded and put to the sword again. The notorious ‘Fifth Column’ of fascist traitors had already helped in the German financed destruction of the soft-left Spanish Republic from 1936-39. Bureaucratic paranoia in Moscow was regrettably high. The Stalinist Revisionist degeneration from the higher scientific grasp of international class struggle of Marxism-Leninism laid the rest of the USSR’s existence up to 1990 open to many mistakes of all kinds.
The same can be said of all the other workers states, in different ways and for different reasons. But with what conclusion? That workers revolutions should never attempt to build their own states because they may have to use the power of the dictatorship of the proletariat to survive, and that these new regimes in different countries (usually previously backward) might not always be able to run things perfectly, or avoid mistakes or wrong-headedness?? This is not a serious approach to history. Such philosophical idealist irrelevance can only fill the minds of the most academic ‘revolutionary’ posturers in the West, without exception, all in the anti-communist counter-revolutionary camp in reality.
The bourgeois press is filled this week with the Goebbels lies about Tian an Men again, on the “25th anniversary” of the Chinese “democracy” demonstrations (allegedly) which were part of the great wave of 1989 anti-Soviet CIA stunts like the bogus “trade union” Solidarnosc in Europe (eagerly supported by the whole slew of Trots) and the toppling of the Berlin Wall, which finally pushed Gorbachevism over the edge.
That wave of “popular revolt” and the previous Prague Spring and “Hungarian Uprising” are confirmed, with hindsight from the Kiev fascist coup stunt in Ukraine, and last year’s July Cairo anti-Morsi revolt killings, for what they really were, counter-revolution and the same is true of the Beijing events which an optimistic capitalism hoped would topple China’s leadership as well as the Soviets.
That has not stopped a stream of lying garbage pouring out (led by the Trotskyist filled “liberal” Guardian), still implying there was “a massacre” of thousands when such vicious garbage has long been debunked by the facts, and still declaring this was a “peaceful demonstration for democracy”.
It was neither and, like the Ukrainian events, deliberately provocatively violent, initiating attacks on the Chinese police and arming state forces, which led unfortunately to a few hundred deaths (less than 400 and none in the square as dementedly lied about and still left hanging as the supposed “Tian an Men massacre”). Around half the casualties were Chinese state forces trying to maintain order.
The Stature of Liberty the reactionaries built and worshipped like some Golden Calf, was no more democratic than the Hitler lovers in Kiev and a symbol of the American imperialism which was their true ambition.
But the democracy fraud the anniversary pieces are trying to pump up, is failing.
Revolutionary consciousness will rapidly gain ground despite continuing revisionist deadening influence from Beijing and elsewhere.
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