No 1507 28th February 2017
Fake-“left” anti-Trump outrage over PCist single issues like feminism still fails to grasp or warn the working class of the deadly slide of the capitalist crisis towards devastating Slump, trade war collapses and ultimate all-out world war. The response of the “lefts” is not serious and certainly not “revolutionary”. Despite posturing about “Marxism” they avoid the critical questions and the ever growing need for debate and polemic to sort out an agreed and scientifically established revolutionary understanding – the only possible truth against capitalism’s endless “fake-news” (which includes Trumpism too and its lying pretence to expose lies and the establishment) . Fake-”left” continued condemnation of Third World revolt and jihadism no better than Second International “fatherland” betrayals in the First World War failing to ask where is “terrorism” coming from and why, and helping sustain the monstrous extension of the Iraq war pulverising Mosul, and Yemen barbarity, all setting the mood for greater war devastation. Defeat for imperialism is the only valid call. Leninism is the great necessity.
Barbaric Western destruction of Iraq’s million strong city of Mosul, the devastation of Yemen, bizarre and ludicrous “assassination” war provocations against North Korea, anti-foreigner demonisation around the self-lacerating Brexit “policy” and the apocalyptic outpourings of the bizarre Donald Trump presidential circus, are all facets of a sick and degenerate capitalist system desperate to escape and evade its own calamitous failure and incompetence.
Newly escalated efforts to drive the world into an hysterical war atmosphere of xenophobic hatred and scapegoating hostility (Trump, Farage,European right nationalist groups etc) indicate a ruling class turning to fascist desperation to escape this system’s historic breakdown into crisis economic failure.
But still the working class is getting no real grasp, from the fake-“left”, of the gigantic historical collapse unfolding because of imperialism’s Great Catastrophe and the urgent revolutionary challenges it poses for them.
Vicious trade war and bitter rivalries for collapsing markets are escalating massively as the contradictions built into the production for private profit system produce ever greater stagnation and bankruptcy.
The tensions can only erupt into outright cutthroat conflict as they have in the past, with devastating world war and destruction, while discontent and social breakdown escalate.
Already over two decades, the epochally worked-out capitalist system has been using ever more openly repressive, brutal, and outright fascistic expressions of its class rule, (the mostly hidden dictatorship of the bourgeoisie) in order to try and suppress rising rebelliousness everywhere and to prepare the world for international conflict all the way to open world war.
But initial efforts by dominant power US imperialism to “shock and awe” blitzkrieg and torture the world into cowed submission with its neocon George W Bush Middle East wars (to show its ruthlessness) were a disaster.
Far from re-asserting its topdog status and neo-colonial authority for continuing trouble-free near slavery exploitation of plantations and sweatshops worldwide, the US has run into constantly growing Third World resistance (labelled “terrorism”) forcing partial retreats from Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya etc., and stimulating mass upheavals like the Arab Spring.
And meanwhile the greatest economic collapse in history has broken into the open, escalating inter-imperialist antagonisms and bitter trade and political rivalries.
For a few years the empire has bought time with money-printing Quantitative Easing, a massively inflationary boost of credit on top of previous decades of dollar printing to try and spin the economic wheels again.
The aim was to stimulate otherwise bankrupt US industry and finance, pursue commercial and currency war against rivals like Europe and bully smaller economies like Greece to take the brunt of oncoming Slump.
At the same time the working class could be lulled and misled that “nothing really serious” was happening and “upturn would come”.
But value cannot be created from thin air, printing presses or even sophisticated computers and robots, and the “smoke and mirrors” QE trick will soon implode completely again into the Great Catastrophe.
Return of the pants-wetting 2008 “global meltdown” in some form or other (be it bank failures, rampaging inflation or something else), will be ten times more severe and so too the threat of anarchic breakdown as ATM’s and other money sources are shut down everywhere, as only narrowly averted before.
So warmongering must continue; monopoly capitalism has no other mechanism to escape the relentless buildup of “surplus” production clogging the pores of its economic system, other than to destroy most of it (to free up the space for new investment, able to make a profit again).
With QE, world aggression was on the back burner; but while Obama-ism was forced to turn away from the neocon disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan and make troop withdrawals, it made sure to keep the warmongering simmering with non-stop drone terror in the Middle East and Pakistan etc, CIA subversion, the “small” nazi-NATO invasion of Libya, Syria’s provoked civil war and continuing war in Iraq.
Now the ante is being upped with a new turn to “fact free” trampling over logic and truth by the Trumpites, deliberately ignoring rationality to stampede xenophobia and chauvinism and whip up in-your-face belligerence.
Finger pointing recriminations and blaming of others for “dumping” and “stealing jobs” etc., aim to drive the masses into an unthinking frenzy, ready for the hot war conflicts to come, and to head them off from the revolutionary struggles that are the only way this disaster can be stopped.
It echoes all the techniques of the past, and notably the pseudo-iconoclasm of Mussolini’s fascisti and Hitler’s Nazis.
The working class is being led down a disastrous path.
It needs to take up the revolutionary struggle for socialism if it is to survive, and end forever this stinking system of grotesque inequality, corruption, profiteering and barbaric warmongering.
There is no choice; always the butt of history and the victim of grotesque exploitation and repression, it now faces utter devastation and penury as the Slump is pushed onto its back.
Complete collapse of an entire 800 year old civilisation and all its supposed certainties, principles, ways of existence and “values” (which the cynical hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie laughably pretends to uphold) is now unravelling.
The fight can only be to turn over the whole foetid mess, in a conscious struggle for socialism seizing everything from the billionaires and fatcats and taking it into common ownership under the firmest possible control of the working class.
It needs a deliberately built party of Marxist understanding and leadership, engaging in constant polemical debate against allcomers, internal and external, to develop revolutionary theory, advancing the great achievements of Marx, Engels and Lenin, work begun by the EPSR.
The urgent need is to grasp of the gigantic historical scale of events now unfolding into total disintegration and breakdown and to build a leadership which can challenge the disastrous populism and ignorant chauvinism now being fostered and manipulated.
Yet even as worldwide mass ferment grows deeper, opening up the masses to the greatest and widest debate ever of vital revolutionary arguments, the response by the “left” of all shades (from “official” trade unionism and Labourism (Blairites and “left) all through to the assorted “revolutionaries” and pretend “Marxists” remains beyond useless.
All that has been on offer from every variety of fake-“left” has been warmed over, and utterly useless, outdated reformist nostrums “opposing austerity”, constant and equally pointless pacifist declarations “against war”, and the endless distractions of pompous and moralising PC single-issue posturing by assorted feminists, LBGTers, environmentalists, and “anti-racists”.
While in some cases such campaigns address and even correct specific partial injustices in society (though that is highly contentious in itself for much of the feminist, “gay rights” and other posturing), focusing on these issues is to either divert class attention from the central and overriding matter, that of the vital need to bring down this entire capitalist system by class war revolution or, worse, to positively feed hostility to such communist revolutionary argument and theory.
Without ending capitalism altogether all single-issue injustices, backwardness and divisiveness will always be regenerated anyway – antagonism and conflict at all levels from the personal to the international being the essence of capitalist society.
Many of these issues simply mask the real nature of these groups, covering over that they are anti-communist to the core, and even helping foster hostility against Western hate targets, like Third World revolt and its often adapted Islamic form, or rivals like Russia.
The “left” failure to warn the working class of the real challenges it faces, stems from philistine hostility to revolutionary theory and the resulting inability of these dilettantes to comprehend the seriousness of the oncoming disaster, or even to see it at all.
Their “appalled” reaction to the crudities, bullying and trampling over “accepted” “PC” norms by the Trumpites, is no better than the fluttering of handkerchiefs by offended little old ladies, their anti-austerity whingeing as effective as cardboard roof in a monsoon, and their “no to war” pacifism not only useless but a complete disarming of the class.
Worse still they capitulate completely to the “war on terror” fearmongering, all “condemning terror” and denouncing jihadism, putting them squarely alongside the Trumpites’ “kill-them-all” propaganda, however much they protest their “anti-war” credentials.
What they don’t do is explain the real cause and nature of the rising turmoil, – anti-Western hatred everywhere against centuries of oppression and blitzkrieging horrors – of which jihadism is one facet among many (as further explained below).
Nor do they explain or grasp the imperialism’s real purpose for its anti-Islamist scapegoating and blitzkrieg onslaught, which has nothing to do with “protecting our peaceful (!!!) civilised way of life from the barbarian hordes” and “stopping terrorism” (which is a relatively small matter anyway, even when considering such as ISIS,) deliberately painted as a terrifying bogeyman by constant “warnings from the head of security” or “police alerts” etc etc etc and endless alleged “foiled plots” to keep everyone on edge).
It has everything to do with preparing the world for all-out war which is caused and generated by, and required by, capitalism itself (which has already wiped out, tortured, terrorised, bombed, missiled, and butchered hundreds of thousands – in fact millions–– just in its latest fifteen year round of Middle East invasions and occupations, on top of the multiple millions massacred and slaughtered since the end of the Second World War (2 million in North Korea, four million in Vietnam, one million minimum in Indonesia just as a starting point among some 400 interventions, coups, overturns, suppressions, provoked civil wars, and death squad activities).
But despite occasional long-winded academic articles “explaining” Marx’s great discoveries of the inevitable collapse of private profit production into slump (see EPSR joining box and the Communist Manifesto eg), the “left” still has no real comprehension of the plunge into all-out war that the crisis is driving to.
Sneers that such views are “all a bit apocalyptic” and that revolutionary conditions caused by worsening conditions are “a long way off yet” still emerge from the academic cloisters and Islington front rooms of “left theoretician” posturers like the Weekly Worker CPGBers.
The ruling class and many of the bourgeois commentators show fewer doubts where things are going:
In an interview before two critical global meetings this week in Bonn and Munich, [new UN secretary general, António] Guterres warned of the advent of a particularly dangerous moment in history, drawing a parallel with the run-up to the first world war. Only a renewed commitment to multilateral cooperation could head off the gathering danger, he said.
“It’s no longer a bipolar world, a unipolar world, but it’s not yet a multipolar world. It’s largely a chaotic world in many aspects,” Guterres said in a wide-ranging interview with the Guardian and three other European papers.
“Impunity and unpredictability tend to prevail and not only are conflicts becoming more and more interconnected but they are also interconnected with this threat ... of global terrorism.”
Guterres was referring to a precarious world order in which American pre-eminence has given way to challenges from both China and Russia, and in which multilateral institutions are arguably weaker than at any point since 1945.
Guterres, who served as UN high commissioner for refugees for a decade, has inherited the secretary general’s mantle at a particularly fraught time for global security.
The Syrian and Yemeni conflicts are still raging, four famines are looming in parts of the developing world, and the rise of a white nationalist backlash to immigration and globalisation has upended political cultures in Europe and the US.
Guterres warned against surrendering democratic values to win votes and an embracing of “alternative truths” – an echo of “alternative facts”, which has become a buzzphrase of the Trump White House. The new US administration loudly opposes many of Guterres’s core principles, like multilateral governance and a generous approach to the world’s refugees.
With other powers rising, he said, a more multipolar world was inevitable but not necessarily less antagonistic than the unipolar world we are leaving behind.
“It might also increase the dangers of confrontation,” he said, in his first interview with a British newspaper since taking office on January 1. “The point is, in my opinion, the multipolar world without strong multilateral institutions is not necessarily a peaceful one.”
“Europe before the first world war was a multipolar Europe but there was no multilateral governance mechanism and the result was the first world war.”
Europe’s ability to keep faith in its unity and cohesion could be a key stabilising factor at a perilous time, he suggested. “I think to move into a functional multipolar world, the role of Europe is absolutely essential,” Guterres said, declaring himself “a strong believer in a united Europe” on the world stage, playing a positive role politically and in terms of development and humanitarian aid.
Even this underplays matters.
Guterres gets nine out of ten for grasping the world scale of the disaster and a little for seeing the squabbling inter-imperialist breakdowns underway as the danger in a system built on antagonism and competition, but only 2/10 for his grasp of the inevitable breakdown of the crisis which cannot be stopped by any amount of EU idealism and “multilateral” cooperation.
Unifying (or re-unifying) Europe solves nothing at all either and if it is possible to hold any kind of alliance together at all against the centrifugal forces of monopoly capitalist rivalries within and between the European nations (notably between Germany and France) it will only be to re-focus the conflict externally onto the even greater antagonisms between larger monopoly capitalist blocs, who must battle literally to the death to survive.
Nor is the question one simply of “new rising challengers” though they undoubtedly add to the tensions and contradictions driving the world to the edge of the precipice.
This is what a number of the liberal and fake-“left” focus on too warning that the build up of US forces etc against, say, China, or the NATO encirclement of Russia, are signs of oncoming war.
But for all their partially correct observations, principled “left” liberal journalists like John Pilger or some of the Stalinist revisionists, still see things in terms of a specific war carried out by an “aggressive” imperialism to maintain its dominance and expand its world exploitation, or to “get the oil” etc.
They miss the greater point of a whole historic system which is failing and collapsing, locked into unsolvable contradiction, swamped with “over” production, and needing war in all directions (see Trump) to resolve it.
The rapacious and predatory nature of imperialism is part of the story, and all kinds of battles and struggles for various resources and specific strategic positions can be involved.
But to focus on “oil” or other such issues is to miss the general issue of the capitalist system’s intractable crisis.
War in 1914-18 was the culmination of two decades battles of international skirmishing and jostling for world colonial plundering “rights”, with each bourgeois power desperate to “solve” its growing domestic overproduction troubles by finding new areas to exploit and, as the capitalist system made the transition into the imperialist phase of monopoly capitalism, to export capital to, as well (see Lenin’s Imperialism - the highest stage of capitalism).
Colonial war elbowing and jostling became a full on war eventually when all the “untaken” territories had gone and redivision was the only way to expand, at the expense of the rival powers, forcing a long brewing and planned world conflict to erupt.
Hence the brutal conflict “between robbers for the spoils”, as Lenin’s Bolsheviks explained was the true nature of the war rather than revenge for a student nationalist assassination of an Austrian Archduke in Serbia, or “defending plucky little Belgium” - (a double cynicism given that Germany wanted to annex it, but that Belgium itself was a brutal colonial exploiter which had already terrorised, enslaved and slaughtered millions, in the Congo particularly).
The battle to sort out the international pecking order for the gangster imperialist powers and their “right” to a “share” of worldwide exploitation continued onto the Second World War, effectively part two of the Great War, and even more destructive, both of physical capital and human beings.
The hatred of the new Soviet Union complicated matters but, for all that the whole of imperialism colluded and plotted against the hated new communist Soviet Union in the 1930s, egging on the deliberately fostered aggression of Nazi Germany to attack and destroy it, it was war between the major powers which eventually erupted first, reflecting that the deepest contradictions lay precisely not with the workers state, hated as it was, but in the competition for markets among the capitalist powers, (as is now expressed again in Trump’s increasingly open hostility to the European Union for example).
In WW1 much of the fake-“left” ended up on the wrong side, treacherously capitulating to the “defence of the fatherland” or the national interest and “national sovereignty” as it would currently be phrased, most obviously the treacherous Second International “socialists” who voted to support their national “own side” and therefore their own ruling class.
Only the Bolsheviks stood aside calling for the defeat of their own ruling class as the only answer to the imperialists, taking advantage of the chaos to bring down the entire system as happened in October 1917.
“Left” treachery was seen again in the Second World War, with the “left” Labourites and even most of the revisionist Communist Party supporting the ruling class under the cover of joining a “war on fascism” instead of calling for defeat of their own ruling class.
The eventual attack on the USSR changed the situation, when participation in the fight against the Nazis became not an inter-imperialist fight but an issue of defending the USSR’s workers state.
The same capitulation has been visible once more across the board by the class collaborating “lefts” over the “war on terror”, the demented hate campaigning whipped up by capitalism in order to get into war itself, by blaming the world’s troubles on jihadists and Muslims.
By failing to challenge this nonsense, all the “lefts” find themselves alongside Trump-ist ultra-right reaction which has taken up and escalated this demonisation into a central part of its belligerent scapegoating agenda, playing on public fears to stir up hatred.
But however confused, contradictory and sometimes self-defeating this great upheaval, (notably in its ISIS form) the great upheaval throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia is part of an enormous rebellion.
It may currently take an Islamic form, in many areas with that cultural tradition, but whatever ideas fill their heads, its material basis is the great disintegration of capitalism and its tyrannical domination of everyone, and the anti-imperialist fight against it.
Tens of millions are seething particularly in the Third World but also in Ukraine, Thailand, Nepal and Latin America, which have no such Islamic tradition.
It is increasingly stirring in the poorer sections of the “advanced” countries too.
The real driving force is to get imperialism off their backs, whatever temporary ideological expressions this may take in notions of establishing Caliphates and “fighting apocalyptic wars against infidels” etc.
Such fanatical notions provide some kind of ideological expression for the desperation and self-sacrificing suicidal methods of fighting that have been adopted in the absence of a more rational scientific Marxist revolutionary perspective of what is needed, namely the development of mass movements for the overthrow of the capitalist system.
And these are not the methods that Marxism would advocate first, nor sometimes well targeted in their sectarian narrowness, or even counter productive, particularly against such victims as the Yazidi.
That ideology cannot go far in the modern historical period of interconnected world trade and production and will eventually be superseded by more rational scientific leadership.
But the need for better understanding and leadership for the great upheaval has nothing to do with capitalism’s pretence that the ruthless terrorising methods adopted by this fightback are some kind of new “evil” which has to be “dealt with” and suppressed in order that “ordinary decent people can live their lives free of fear”.
Such condemnation is to cave in to total Goebbels propaganda.
The terrorising ruthlessness has all been learned from imperialism and however crude, is a response to the endless destruction that is most people under 30 years old in Iraq, in Palestine, and other areas of the Middle East have ever known.
Nothing they have done, even including publicised beheadings etc is any different to the horrors imposed on the world by three centuries of imperialist colonialist rape, slavery, genocide, torture and gratuitous brutality, two world wars, and its post-war anti-colonialism and now two decades of war in the Middle East dragging the world into total agony.
It is far less. They have not yet got round to most depraved methods of destruction used by the West’s “war on terror” such as the use of bone burning white phosphorus by the Jewish Zionist land-theft occupation of Palestine on the hapless entrapped population of the Gaza strip or by the Americans’ onslaught on Falluja in the early days of the Iraq war, nor the millions dead scale of imperialist destruction.
But every one of the left groups has gone along with this monstrous scapegoating, ever since 9/11 especially, denouncing all such upheaval as beyond the pale and “unacceptable”.
Either Islamic fundamentalism is declared “reactionary” or even to be “Islamofascism” (Trots and crypto-Trots like the CPGB), or it is declared to be really part of imperialism “created by” and “controlled” by Washington (Pilger, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange), or sometimes both at once as with the Stalinist Proletarian/Lalkarites’ description of “headbanging mercenaries for imperialism”.
Of course imperialism has “created” this phenomenon, but only in the same sense it “creates” all revolutionary resistance because of its endless tyranny, exploitation and oppression, which drives the masses everywhere into revolt.
And the blitzkrieg barbarities imposed since post-9/11 on Afghanistan, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq have massively multiplied this revolt, driving tens of thousands into the “jihadist” ranks as every rational commentator predicted would be the case when the Bush-ites imposed their New American Century intimidation plans on the world, slipped in behind the fantastical lies of “Saddam’s WMD threatening us all”.
The “left” does not see this giant upheaval as a revolt at all, because of its inability to grasp the nature of the epoch, as one of total breakdown of the capitalist world order.
Or rather it has a complete petty bourgeois class-induced blindspot for this early sign of the great breakdown in world affairs, the paralysing contradiction caused by the inability of capitalism to move forwards at all any more.
They do not want the total disintegration of capitalism’s world, just a shift towards a slightly more comfortable life for the middle class and better off workers - “left reformism”.
The shattering reality of actual revolutionary change dismays these mountebanks.
Hence their evasions and capitulation, and condemnations.
They have been able to hide them partly by through the complications of the Arab Spring in which Washington has tried to use its full range of manipulative tricks and skulduggery to stir up sectarian divisions and head off the impact of shattering 2011 mass revolt in Egypt by provoking artificial “rebellion” in Syria and Libya (bogusly declared to be “more of the Arab Spring”).
For a while there have been out and out reactionary elements among the jihadists.
But the historic period is wrong; many of the armed and trained groups funded by Washington (or through the ultra-reactionary Gulf sheikhdoms) have “blown back”, most notably the Islamic State, merging into the long running anti-American anti-occupation resistance in Iraq.
And meanwhile the jihadist revolt has spread worldwide from Boko Haram in Nigeria, to Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Islamic movement in the Philippines, and above all continuing struggle in Palestine, the most brutally and tyrannically oppressed nation on the planet.
This has thrown all the “left” into a tangle of contradictions, desperately trying to hold onto their pretend “anti-imperialist” credentials but in fact siding with the imperialist interventions, be it the French troops in Mali, British and American troops operating out of Chad and the Niger to help the corrupt Nigerian bourgeois brutally suppress Boko Haram (amid indiscriminate destruction of civilian areas), or the stooge Kenyan government troops crossing the border to butcher the Al-Shabaab.
Nothing exposes their confusion more than the current onslaught on Mosul.
This is obviously the same continuing anti-imperialist revolt which coalesced after the 2003 Iraq occupation and which has been rising and falling ever since.
And the bloody mayhem being imposed now by imperialism is an extension of that occupation, ostensibly waged by the army of the “independent Iraqi government army” but in fact under the control and tutelage of the American forces and its Western allies (who chose the stooge Shia regime in Baghdad).
Two major cities have been utterly destroyed already.
In this already devastated central Iraq some 9000 Western imperialist troops, (US, British, French etc), armed to the teeth with hi-tech weaponry, backed by dozens of advanced fighter bomber planes, Hellfire drones, and with thousands of military from the stooge Iraqi regime, and out-of-control fanatical sectarian Shia Islamic militia forces, are currently pulverising Mosul.
Housing and streets are being blown to pieces and infrastructure destroyed, with mass civilian casualties, summary execution and torture rampant by the Western controlled forces as very occasional reports grudgingly admit in the Western media, among the also infrequent pro-Western propaganda reports by “embedded” journalists :
Government forces retook the eastern side of Mosul, the last major Isis stronghold in Iraq, last month. But military officials say the western side, with its narrow, winding streets, may prove a bigger challenge.
According to Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir Yarallah the latest attack began well, with the rapid response units capturing the villages of Athbah and Al-Lazzagah near Mosul airport.
However, the launch of the new offensive was overshadowed by graphic videos of men in Iraqi security force uniforms carrying out beatings and summary executions on the streets of Mosul.
One of the disturbing images showing beatings by men in Iraqi federal police uniforms
The violent scenes, posted on social media pages supporting Iraqi government forces, are reminiscent of Isis’s own propaganda and have been condemned by the UN and human rights groups.
The videos threaten not only to tarnish the image of security forces, but potentially to undermine public support for the Mosul offensive, human rights activists said.
“While this operation has seen so few incidents of abuse compared with earlier operations, it is vital that prime minister Haider al-Abadi takes them seriously when they do come up,” said Belkis Wille, who has documented human rights abuses in Iraq for Human Rights Watch. “We often see the authorities creating investigative committees – we rarely see results. Let’s hope it is different this time.”
Security forces have been broadly welcomed by residents weary of Isis’s brutal rule, and praised for their restraint through months of gruelling urban warfare, defying fears that the assault by Shia-dominated forces on a Sunni-majority city could spark a sectarian bloodbath.
But the videos appear to undermine that image and highlight underlying tensions within Mosul where many remain wary of Baghdad and the Shia militias that bolster its power.
In one of the bloodiest films, a man behind the camera urges on a group in Iraqi federal police uniforms as he films them clubbing four men in civilian clothes. “Well done – you did a good job,” he says, before the attackers drag the men down an asphalt road, and summarily execute three with machine guns.
Another of the images appears to show the men in police uniforms with whips. In other videos circulated on Facebook young men are beaten, or forced to imitate animals – one a dog, another made to bleat like a goat.
The men abusing the prisoners appear to wear the insignia of various security forces including federal police, the regular army, the counter-terrorism service and militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces.
The prime minister’s office has launched an investigation into the videos as a precaution, although it insisted it considers them a fabricated slur. “If it is proven that there were abuses, the perpetrators will be handed over to the courts. In other operations there were individuals who committed abuses and … some were sentenced,” spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said.
Most of the videos and pictures were posted online after the second phase of the Mosul operation started in late December. They stand in stark contrast to matching posts on the official special forces Facebook page, which shows them posing for selfies with newly liberated residents, handing out food and water, and even feeding animals.
But though they show abuse, the images appear to have been posted by government supporters rather than whistleblowers, garnering thousands of likes and shares. The Facebook pages they appear on unofficially document the progress of the campaign.
The UN has voiced concern about civilians trapped Mosul, amid reports that they could number up to 650,000. Leaflets warning residents of an imminent offensive were earlier dropped over the west of the city.
As usual with such exposés, they are immediately talked down and declared “exceptions” or “just one rotten apple in the barrel” – only via such sources as Wikileaks and other whistle-blowing has the true extent of violent and systematic torturing abuse and depravity ever emerged (with further cover up underway now as the Tories shut down any further investigation of claims from Iraq or Afghanistan against British troops etc.)
But the stoogery and corruption of the Baghdad government has been well testified, and other accounts make it clear between the lines at least, that this huge one million strong city will almost certainly end up totally flattened, notwithstanding ridiculous claims by the American military public relations officers, that everything is being done “in the best possible taste”.
Grovelling “interviewers” on the BBC Today programme made no serious efforts to challenge recent assertions by a US spokesman that there were “almost no civilians being killed” and that all the munitions being dropped on the city were “precision” targeted.
That would be like the “precision weapons” which wiped out hundreds of thousands of civilians in the initial Iraq war, Afghanistan, Libya and other “theatres”????????
Or the vast quantity of munitions supplied and operated by British imperialism to the primitive backward feudalism in Saudi Arabia that have “precisely” destroyed the infrastructure and tradition of Yemen, causing the now horrifying conditions of famine threatening two million people, again under the excuse of “fighting terrorism” (with the usual charity appeals already underway to salve the consciences of the Western petty bourgeoisie)?
Or maybe it is the “precisely” targeted drone-carried Hellfire missiles which routinely wipe out whole wedding parties, groups of bystanders, men, women and children in the mountains of Pakistan, the Somalian countryside, Afghanistan and elsewhere when attacking alleged insurgents (usually on no better “evidence” than the fingering of informers)?
The BBC interviewers, who behave like terriers when rudely cutting across trade union leaders, or other “lefts” to ask “hard hitting” questions, said nothing as the colonel “explained” that the Western planes were dropping bombs from 10lbs to 2000lbs.
How about asking whether these bombs are similar to the 500lb bombs dropped by the Zionists on the Palestinian civilians of the Gaza strip during the recent genocidal mass punishment, Operation Cast Lead, (“operation bone burning white phosphorus” would be a better name) which take out an entire housing block at a time and create massive shock wave terror and death indiscriminately nearby – and how a 2000lb bomb, which can take out one or more entire streets, can therefore be “precision” targeted to avoid civilians?
This is supposed to be the final suppression of the meaninglessly named “war on terror”.
It is supposed to “make the world safe again for ordinary decent people” and the “Western way of life”.
And will it do any such thing?
Of course not, just the opposite.
The huge wave of anti-western hatred and rebelliousness which led to the insurgency, jihadism and revolt in the Middle East and across the Third World will get even deeper whatever happens to these early expressions.
There could be a long way to go before this turmoil finds a conscious expression as the fight for socialism but it will not be helped to get there by the fake-“left”, declaring all such upheaval to be “reactionary”.
Mosul is clearly a major US led, trained and coordinated extension of the original Iraq war.
All the excuses and tangled theories that ISIS etc are “just mercenaries of imperialism” or “reactionary” are so much sophistry – why would the US now utterly destroy its own creation if that is what it were?
Revolutionary Marxism does not support the ideology of the jihadists.
But it stands very clearly for the defeat of all imperialist barbarity.
This is a sharp dividing line between fake-“left” posturing and Leninism.
Twisted Western propaganda has deluged out also at present over the alleged “assassination” of the North Korean leader’s brother in Malaysia.
No one yet knows precisely what happened but did not stop the Western media and politicians, fed with stories from the intelligence agencies, from declaring the “guilt” of the workers state from the first moment of the “event” in lurid headlines.
Kim Jong Un “wanted his brother out of the way to consolidate his rule”, alleges the West, painting a picture of a supposed monstrous “tyrant”.
What – after five years with his brother living quietly abroad and not a murmur of an entire counter-revolution (which is what would be required to install such a figurehead) he suddenly decides to carry out such a move?
Everything about the story reeks of disinformation and big lie assertion from the laughable “political motivation” to the sudden changing of the alleged incident from a “heart attack” to supposedly an assault with “deadly FX nerve agent”, allegedly detected on the body, which has been examined only by pro-US Malaysian authorities (without the North Koreans being given access to check anything).
This most deadly of all poisons, the media confidently report, is absorbed through the skin and able to kill just by breathing in a few whiffs, all to paint as lurid a picture as possible of the supposed ruthlessness of Pyongyang.
And the attack was done by two or three women smearing it on his face?
Presumably they held their breath and have asbestos skin? And the passengers surrounding the event nearby were equally immune???
Or no such thing happened just like a dozen other nonsensical allegations as even the bourgeois press concedes in quieter moments:
Now, with Kim’s son Kim Jong-un in charge, the rumour business is booming. In the past three years, we’ve learned that Kim 2.0 executed a Pyongyang traffic lady for sneezing (false); was voted 2012’s “sexiest man alive” (false); poisoned his aunt Kim Kyong-hui (false); assassinated his pop-singer girlfriend Hyon Song-wol for making porn (false); and oversaw the Sony Pictures hack in retaliation for the Kim Jong-un assassination spoof, The Interview (debatable).
When he disappeared for a month in 2014, there was speculation he had been ousted by a coup (false); killed by his generals (false); contracted gout (who knows?); or broken his ankle after growing fat from eating cheese (he does appear to have gained weight).
The malleability of digital media, and the speed with which consumers can embed and reframe North Korean content before passing it on, means even truthful accounts of Kim Jong-un’s ruthless moves to shore up his inherited power are frequently embellished. When Kim executed his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, in late 2013 for insubordination, mainstream news feeds reported Jang and five aides had been stripped naked and fed to 120 starving dogs. The story went viral, before it was traced back to a Chinese satirist’s blog on Tencent Weibo.
Only this month, South Korea’s national intelligence agency reported Kim had publicly obliterated another insider, general Hyon Yong-chol, with an anti-aircraft gun. The story was widely circulated before the agency adjusted its claim: Hyon had been “purged” for “dozing off” at official events, but might still be alive.
“Critical thinking just goes out the window on North Korea,” observed Chad O’Carroll, founder of the NK News website. David Straub of Stanford University identifies “an exponential increase” in the number of people circulating anything “even remotely plausible about North Korea” – and in established media passing it on. And with consumers happy to buy entertainment as news, “kooky North Korea” stories do a roaring trade.
KCNA’s 2012 announcement that archaeologists had discovered a unicorn lair in Pyongyang was gleefully circulated by western feeds, complete with a photoshopped horse. In 2014, the ABC on-sold Radio Free Asia’s claim that Kim Jong-un’s haircut is compulsory for Pyongyang university students; a year later, the blogosphere exploded with a recycled BBC report that long hair is banned in North Korea because it “saps brain energy”. The Toronto Sun’s craziest rumours about North Korea post alleges that North Korean Olympians who fail to win a medal are sent to the gulags, and Pyongyang officials supported Scottish independence “for the Scotch alone”.
Stories that discredit these rumours are rarely given the same fanfare or weight. The revelation that the YouTube documentary about the Pyongyang traffic lady is fake is buried in the comments page; Kim Jong-un’s pop-singer girlfriend’s appearance on KCNA a year later failed to reach the same million consumers who believed her dead; North Korean gulag survivor Shin Dong-hyuk’s recent admission that parts of his bestselling memoir are false did little to dampen belief in its credibility; and in May, Seoul’s Daily NK ran a discreet post contradicting CNN’s widely publicised story about Kim Jong-un’s poisoned aunt, stating Kyong-hui is alive in Pyongyang.
The truth about North Korea is also a casualty when politics come into play. On 30 December 2014, when independent cyber analysts announced that disgruntled employees, not Kim Jong-un, were behind the Sony hack, the FBI had already found North Korea guilty. Senator John McCain labeled the hack an “act of war”; Sony released The Interview with President Obama’s blessing; North Korea’s limited internet capabilities were mysteriously “blacked out” in an unattributed strike; and, by 2 January 2015, the US had imposed new sanctions on North Korea and was considering reinstating it as a “state sponsor of terrorism”.
Why does all this matter? Because if you have been to North Korea and spent time with the people who live and work there, the media’s relentlessly recycled picture of North Koreans as brainwashed automatons, robotically enslaved to the despotic Kims, is simplistic, dehumanising and cruel.
I went to North Korea twice in 2012: the only westerner granted total access to the country’s powerful propaganda film industry. Despite being closely monitored by five North Koreans on my crew, I can dispel some crazier rumours doing the rounds.
Men are not forced to cut their hair like Kim Jong-un. Women can wear pants. It is safe to be a tourist, if you don’t hand out bibles. It is forbidden to film portraits of the Kims soft-focus or cropped. People like to dance in public, not just when told to by the state. The country is poor, but not everyone is starving or in chains: an estimated 100,000 North Koreans are imprisoned, with a further 8.3m lacking adequate food and shelter. The remaining 16.6m rely on a growing black market economy and lead “normal” enough lives to go to the movies.
Vice’s popular claim that North Korea no longer makes films is false: Pyongyang’s five studios produce 20 to 30 rom-coms, thrillers, dramas, animations and documentaries a year. The film stars, directors and writers I met had never heard of Stanley Kubrick, but loved Bend it Like Beckham, The Sound of Music and Avatar. Like their southern cousins, they were resilient, warm and loved telling jokes, mostly about the Russians and Chinese. Resentment towards Kim Jong-un was evident but concealed: criticising him can lead to the gulags.
The Director is the Commander by Anna Broinowski is published by Penguin Australia
What has happened recently however is a missile test by North Korea demonstrating its defiance of Western imperialism and threats, and to its south the near collapse of the reactionary Seoul regime, embroiled in a devastating corruption scandal which has seen weekly mass demonstrations and the collapse of its pro-American presidency:
January: Prosecutors investigating a corruption scandal that has plunged South Korea into its biggest political crisis in decades are seeking a warrant for the arrest of the acting head of Samsung, the country’s most powerful conglomerate, on bribery charges.
Special prosecutors alleged that Jay Y Lee, heir apparent to the Samsung group, had paid bribes totalling more than $36m (£30m) to Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend of the country’s impeached president, Park Geun-hye, in return for business favours.
“The special prosecutor’s office, in making this decision to seek an arrest warrant, determined that while the country’s economic conditions are important, upholding justice takes precedence,” Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesman for the office, told reporters on Monday.
The involvement of the third-generation leader of South Korea’s richest chaebol – or family-run conglomerate – comes days after Park denied any wrongdoing over allegations that Choi fraudulently received tens of millions of dollars from South Korean companies, including Samsung, for two foundations she operated.
Lee, 48, who became the de facto head of the Samsung group after his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014, was also accused of embezzlement and perjury in the prosecution’s application for an arrest warrant.
Lee is suspected of paying millions of dollars in bribes to a business and two foundations run by Choi, whose alleged secretive role at the apex of the South Korean administration has brought Park’s unpopular presidency to the brink of collapse.
Park was impeached in early December, with the country’s constitutional court due to rule on the impeachment vote’s validity by June. If it upholds the vote, Park will immediately leave office and new presidential elections will be held within two months.
Coincidence? Of course not.
This “story” is entirely in line with the pattern of drip-drip big lie allegations used by the West to rubbish the remaining workers states and even against the Bonarpartist Russian regime, which part of the Western establishment remains hostile to, fearing the lingering influence of past communist expectations
Putin is an anti-communist prat and shallow backward Great Russian nationalist but is forced to tread a tightrope path between the still extant legacy of 70 years of communist expectations, with some continuing social provision, and the counter-revolutionary carpet-bagging gangster influence of outright oligarch capitalist exploitation which threatens total anarchic plundering disruption of the state.
The Korean provocations have as much credibility as another lurid assertion by a “British inquiry” that Putin was to blame for the alleged assassination of Alexander Litvinenko with polonium poisoning, a “conclusion” based entirely on British intelligence assertions (who, not by chance, Litvinenko was working for (!)) and specious conclusions drawn from highly questionable circumstantial evidence.
Equally, claims that Putin ordered the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who exposed many of the gross Russian atrocities carried out in the war against the valid Chechen self-determination struggle are totally specious; whatever the truth, it is not demonstrated by the stream of allegations from the West.
And equally the constant stream of accusations about “cyber-attacks” and “fixing the American election” which are unproven and actually unprovable; as computer experts repeatedly say it is impossible to trace the origin of such attacks which could have come from a dozen sources.
But that does not stop Western “intelligence”, from MI6 to the CIA from declaring this to be fact, the “proof” being merely that they say so, and the Western intelligence colluding “journalists” reporting it as “fact”.
Repeat a lie often enough and it will be absorbed as the truth is the Goebbels mantra they work to.
Though mingled with some truth, (to keep credibility) the Western media is saturated with a constant flood of lying propaganda about supposed atrocities and massacres, from the non-existent “slaughter in Tian an Men” square by the Chinese workers state (see EPSR book on Tian an Men vol 16); the upside down lies about the Rwanda “genocide” of the Tutsis by the Hutu (a much more complex event in which many more Hutu were slaughtered than Tutsis, provoked by an assassination of the Hutu president and pivoting around a military invasion/coup led by US-trained Paul Kagame - see the excellent Politics of Genocide by Herman and Peterson); endless sniping against hated anti-Western figures like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe; the non-existent “deliberate genocide” allegedly done in Srebrenitsa in Yugoslavia, and further lies against the Serbs over a “massacre” in Recak to justify the monstrous nazi-NATO bombing in 1998; the lies about the Serbs bombing Kosovan refugees; the infamous lies about “babies thrown from incubators” used to inflame the first Gulf War; the most notorious of all, the great Bush-Blair lie about “weapons of mass destruction” threatening us all “within just 45 minutes” to set up the second Iraq war; and finally the lies poured out against Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya alleging that there was a “genocide” threatened against Benghazi “to equal Srebrenitsa” (a lie, about an alleged threat (which had not happened) built on the foundation of another total lie).
The liberal media wants to mock Trump because he alleges “fake-news, folks”????
It is tempting to exclaim “you couldn’t make it up” - but they do.
Trump’s denunciations play on the growing contempt and distrust of ordinary people, who may not know exactly what lies they are told but have developed a deep unease about everything.
But he needs to be careful.
The “anti-establishment” iconoclasm he and other populist right figures play to, is itself a giant lie of course, as already clear from the stream of billionaire and corporate funded figures appointed to the White House and the removal of even the limited reformist restrictions on big money corporations already started.
And this will eventually backfire too as the relentless slide of the capitalist crisis continues.
Some of the ruling class are already worrying on how soon breakdown is coming, as bourgeois commentators report:
a senior Tory surprised me by making the unprompted declaration: “I worry there will be serious public disorder in the next two years.” He didn’t start singing the Kaiser Chiefs’ I Predict a Riot, but he was not far off. In his eyes, people were underestimating how extremely rocky things could become over the next 24 months.
Yet the lack of a functioning official opposition is more of a mixed blessing for the government than it may at first appear. One of the safety valves of democracy is that it offers the aggrieved the possibility that their rulers can be changed, which provides hope to those who might otherwise succumb to despair or rage. Absent a realistic chance of the government being thrown out through the ballot box, opposition may take to the streets.
One major reason is austerity. It hasn’t gone away. When Mrs May arrived at Number 10, one of the early ways she advertised herself as a change of regime was to ditch George Osborne’s plan to hammer his way to a budget surplus by the end of this parliament. If that fooled anyone into thinking that cuts to public spending are over, they are going to be disabused of that illusion.
The government’s fiscal position has been deteriorating over the past 12 months. After six years of austerity, the deficit is still higher than it was for 80% of the time in the 60 years before the financial crisis. As the Institute for Fiscal Studies recently pointed out, the real level of total spend on day-to-day public services has fallen only modestly in the past three years. It may not have felt like that to many people on the sharp end, but that is what the numbers say.
The rate of reduction is now set to speed up. Spending cuts will continue for the rest of this parliament and into the next one at the same time as demographic pressures from an ageing population profile continue to raise the cost of big-ticket items such as health, social care and pensions.
A lot of the punishment was soaked up by local councils in the last parliament, as central government shoved cuts down the line. That is now visibly blowing back into areas for which ministers cannot shuffle off responsibility. This is notably true of the National Health Service. The dashboard is flashing with red lights, from escalating hospital deficits to corridors crowded with folk on trolleys. Sir Robert Francis, the QC who investigated the terrible failings in Mid Staffordshire, declares that the NHS is facing an “existential crisis”. Even the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, admits that the service is under “extraordinary pressure”.
There is now little dispute that cuts to social care are a significant cause of the mounting strain on hospitals.
The government is trying the old trick of passing responsibility back down the line to local authorities by telling them to raise more cash through increases to council tax. But a lot of councillors don’t like this suggestion and especially not when there are elections for county councils in England coming up in May. It is a fairly safe prediction about the budget that the chancellor will have to find some extra cash to alleviate the crisis in the health service. I think it another reasonably sure forecast that the additional funding will prove to be insufficient to ease the long-term pressures. He will be reluctant to splash the cash because the kitty is so bare and there is such a long queue of other services lobbying for a softening of the cuts to their budgets. There is a rising volume of complaint about hits to the funding of schools, while the outgoing commissioner of the Metropolitan police has given a valedictory interview warning that the force can’t take any more manpower reductions without compromising the safety of Londoners.
At the same time as cuts are set to get sharper, the tax burden is becoming heavier. The country will be paying more to its government in return for fewer services, a nasty double whammy. According to the sages at the IFS, the tax take is on a trajectory to reach its highest level as a proportion of national income in 30 years.
On top of spending cuts and tax rises, a third shoe is about to drop. That is a renewed squeeze on living standards. Disposable incomes had been improving for a while thanks to a combination of falling inflation and improving wages. Most observers reckon that trend is now reversing. Inflation is rising again, not least because of the plunge in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote. For certain groups of society, notably the “just about managing” that Mrs May likes to talk about so much, the squeeze on their living standards is going to be even more painful because of scheduled reductions to in-work benefits.
The picture could be (even) blacker. The Treasury can’t rule out a downturn making a nonsense of all its assumptions. The potential for a botched Brexit to unleash mayhem is just one of several perils ahead. Another risk is blowing in from across the Atlantic. Wall Street is being powered to record highs by a rosy view among investors of what Donald Trump means for growth and corporate profits. Shrewd observers think this Trump Bump will very likely be a precursor to a Trump Dump, which could then turn into a Trump Slump.
When that senior Tory confided his anxiety, my first response was to think him hyperbolic. Then I considered it further. More and deeper spending cuts for as far as the eye can see. Accompanied by rising taxes. Plus another crunch on living standards. With the risk that an economic shock could turn an extremely challenging outlook into a really grisly one. I now think it not at all unreasonable to worry that there will be blood on the streets.
Europe is imploding too:
The prospect of fresh austerity — not least a reduction in the tax-free threshold and further pension cuts — comes at a time of worsening social conditions for many Greeks. For the first time since the debt crisis erupted, 53% of those asked in a recent Alco poll said they believed the euro was “wrong” for their country, with a third calling for the return of the drachma.
Greece’s embattled government has three weeks to break the deadlock in increasingly difficult talks with creditors or risk the country’s debt crisis resurfacing with renewed vigour.
Faced with the dilemma of agreeing to additional austerity or calling fresh elections, prime minister Alexis Tsipras was weighing his options at the weekend. Fears of further uncertainty in Europe’s weakest member state mounted as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that Greece’s debt load could become “explosive” by 2030.
“It is critical that a compromise is found,” said Aristides Hatzis, professor of law and economics at the university of Athens, noting that a slew of elections across Europe would only make Greece’s predicament worse.
“If these negotiations are not wrapped up by 20 February [when eurozone finance ministers next meet] we could be looking at potentially disastrous political turmoil, which would bring back the scenario of Grexit with a vengeance.”
Central to the impasse is the enduring argument among lenders over Athens’ ability to achieve fiscal targets once its latest bailout programme expires in 2018. Without legislation of further pension cuts and tax increases, the IMF does not believe it can attain a primary budget surplus of 3.5%. At a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Thursday, Athens found itself out in the cold with even the normally supportive European commission failing to rally to its defence.
Tsipras’ two-party coalition marked two years in office last week with the leftist leader declaring he was not prepared to take an “extra euro” in measures beyond those the country has committed to under its current €86bn (£73.3bn) bailout. Passage of some of the harshest cuts yet has seen the government’s popularity nosedive in polls. To ask for more measures when by dint of retrenchment Greece’s state revenues were better than expected was not only “extreme” but “absurd,” Tsipras’ office said.
The spat has delayed a second compliance review of reforms and economic progress that the government had hoped to complete by December. Conclusion of the review is vital to unlocking further loans from the bailout, the third since Athens revealed the extent of its financial woes in late 2009.
With €10.5bn in debt repayments lined up this summer, a rerun of the debt crisis looms if disbursements aren’t made.
Either way Greece’s economic future looks grim. In a devastating assessment that may well dominate the course of events, the IMF warned that even if reforms are religiously implemented — and agreed short–term debt relief imposed — Athens’ debt load is doomed to become “explosive”.
“Greece cannot grow out of its debt problem,” the Washington-based body wrote in a confidential report leaked to the media last week. “Greece requires substantial debt relief from its European partners to restore debt sustainability.”
Are we on the brink of an era of de-globalisation? With Donald Trump barking about tariffs and the EU threatening punishment for Brexit, it’s easy to worry about the risk of a terrible trade war.
This might seem like a theoretical threat at the moment, but there is, in fact, one sector underlying the whole global trading system that has now been de-globalising for the better part of a decade: finance.
Global financial integration has been in decline since 2009. But recent political developments, from Brexit to Trump and strains in the euro area, now raise the risk that this process could speed up. So far, financial protectionism has largely been a side effect of regulations intended to shore up national financial stability. But in Europe, it could soon become an explicit policy aim.
But de-globalisation can also go too far. Like carmakers or consumer goods producers, financial firms have complex international supply chains that allow knowledge to be shared across borders and improve efficiency for everyone. If financial companies are not allowed to deploy capital, people or operations internationally, it throws grit into the wheels of the international credit system. In turn, that makes all sorts of useful financing, from infrastructure funding to trade finance and commodity hedging, more expensive. Locking pools of capital inside national boundaries can also hothouse economies that have high savings rates, restraining the ability to lend those surpluses across borders to economies that need investment.
Bank capital regulations discourage building up liabilities or derivative positions in foreign currencies and encourage banks to hold the bonds issued by their own national governments. There is a rising fashion for ring-fencing pools of capital in various ways. This started with US rules forcing American banks to create national holding companies that are required to keep certain amounts of their capital at home and was followed by similar UK rules focused specifically on banks’ retail businesses. The fad has now spread to the EU.
The decline in financial integration has been stark. Cross-border capital flows fell from $11.8 trillion in 2008 to $4.6 trillion in 2012, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Having grown fast alongside global trade, the world’s stock of gross foreign assets has been flat since the financial crisis.
The de-integration is particularly damaging in the euro area. The portion of Eurozone financial institutions’ assets made up of domestic sovereign bonds has nearly doubled since 2008, exacerbating the unhealthily close credit link between governments and banks.
No one will gain from an unravelling of the global financial system. In trying to secure advantageous deals for their own financial industries, Western governments could find themselves unwittingly destroying many of the international business practices that underlie modern trade.
Protectionism that starts with the financial sector will not necessarily stop there. Instead, it risks signalling the start of a global trade war.
And the tensions are ratcheting up everywhere:
in January 1996 the country was still reeling from the effects of the 1994-95 peso crisis and public safety was still a major problem in the capital. The ink on the Nafta treaty was still fresh and trade between Mexico and its northern neighbour was about to expand exponentially after the economic recession. Mexicans still had deeply held suspicions about the United States, often manifested through a fear that it wanted to steal their oil wealth. Mexicans felt the US could not be trusted and “anti-yanquismo” was still prevalent.
Over the next 21 years, Mexicans came to redefine their feelings towards the US and the two economies and societies have become deeply entwined. The US has become more Mexican, with nearly 36 million people of Mexican origin living there, and more than a million US citizens living in Mexico. The two cultures have come to understand each other at a level of intimacy that would have been considered fantastical two decades ago, as TV events, music and festivals have become commonly shared icons.
Mexico and the US became friends and partners and were moving enticingly towards becoming allies. Mexicans felt favourably towards the US, particularly during the Obama years, and a sense of being part of North America emerged. Anti-yanquismo, it seemed, had been vanquished.
There were many challenges. The events of 9/11 drew an initially confused reaction from Mexico City and the US military action in Iraq forced Mexico to announce that it could not support the US in the UN. Corruption scandals in Mexico and repeated human rights concerns caused tension. And the constant irritants of drugs, violence, border security and illegal immigration have prevented a wholehearted acceptance of Mexican partnership in Washington. But the overall trajectory has been one of rapprochement. Beyond trade, the Merida Initiative brought the countries to an understanding on security affairs and they work closely intelligence sharing and military relations and the fight against organised crime. In 2014, Mexico began to collaborate on stemming migration by implementing a border plan on its frontier with Guatemala. We have gone from enemies to economic partners and friends in a breathtakingly short period.
How fragile that progress appears now. As Mexico’s foreign and economy ministers were engaged in talks at the White House, President Trump threw the relationship into disarray, insisting that Mexico must pay for a new border wall and threatening a 20% tariff on Mexican imports, forcing President Enrique Peña Nieto to cancel his planned visit to Washington on Tuesday.
The Mexican government and its people are in shock, but the week’s events have forged a sense of national unity. Normally taciturn billionaire Carlos Slim gave an extraordinary press conference on Friday in which he urged Mexico to bolster its internal market to gain more independence and historian Lorenzo Meyer wrote that a break with Trump would grant a “second independence”.
Former presidents Calderon, Fox and Zedillo have supported Peña Nieto. Their message is simple: the time for a conciliatory tone has passed. A new, more strident nationalism has emerged. Strength and determination, a willingness to sacrifice Nafta if need be, to withdraw security and migration co-operation with the US and the urgency of finding new friends are the primary elements of the emerging strategy. Mexico is not short of friends. There has been an outpouring of support from media in the US, Europe, Latin America and Asia. The US business community depends upon a binational production platform to maintain its competitiveness in domestic and global markets. Perhaps most significant were the comments of the Chinese ambassador to Mexico, Qiu Xiaoqi. On Friday, he offered his country’s support and interest in injecting new energy into the countries’ relationship, emphasising that this was not directed “against any third country”.
On Thursday, I lunched with a Mexican government representative. After briefly staring at each other in disbelief at what had transpired, he said: “We knew it was coming, but we didn’t know how bad it would be.” Then he told me something more important. Mexican nationalism, and anti-yanqui sentiment, he claimed, never disappeared.
Distrust of all bourgeois “fake” propaganda will backfire on the Trumpites too and on the entire fake-“left”, all part of the same disinformation and confusion racket.
Cynicism alone will not suffice: the working class needs to get clear on the great questions, particularly the huge achievements of the USSR and its revisionist retreats, hammering out an agreed and true understanding of the world, Leninist theory.
A great debate is needed and Leninism to be built.
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