No 1542 20th Sep 2018
World economic stagnation, poverty “austerity” and vicious trade war just the beginning of Slump and War disaster for the whole world from failed out of time capitalism. Far worse to come once temporary “upturn” (!) from endless money printing runs out. It is due soon as panicky sections of bourgeois analysis and petty bourgeois class-collaboration frantically warn. The only path out is capitalist World War degeneracy (already well underway in the Middle East etc) or revolutionary overturn of the entire stinking greed ridden system to allow planned socialism to be built. But the “left” leadership for the working class refuses to grasp the nettle of revolutionary necessity imposed by Catastrophic crisis, still floundering behind bankrupt “democracy” illusions and “left” pressure leaving a giant vacuum as “old politics” collapses into chauvinism and xenophobia and fascism poised to fill the gap. Latin America coups and violence shows the consequence of this slippery fake-“left” misleadership. Museum-Stalinist revisionism covers its mistakes with sophistry instead of polemic fight for Leninism
The greatest Slump in all history is about to resume after ten years of endless economic stagnation and the savage and intensifying “austerity” reality (for most) of the bogus credit-fed “recovery”.
Ten years of deepening “austerity” impositions, ever growing inequality, environmental collapse and over twenty years of world threatening war are just the beginning.
The ruling class itself is everywhere paralysed by unprecedented splits, vicious infighting, recrimination and incompetence, without the remotest idea how to take the world forwards or control the growing worldwide anti-imperialist turmoil (“terrorism”, “jihadism” and mass street revolt) its barbaric butchery is causing.
Its only answer is to escalate decades-long festering international antagonism and “competition” into scapegoating nastiness and belligerent full-on trade war, with this inter-imperialist cutthroat conflict for “top dog” plundering rights to be followed by extension of non-stop blitzkrieg devastation in the Middle East into all-out World War, accompanied by as much domestic repression as needed to prevent revolt (all the way to outright fascism).
The pretences of “democracy”, international “humanitarian standards”, anti-torture and “war-crime” conventions and the “rule of law” - always a giant hoodwinking fraud anyway which is more and more despised by the working class – are being torn up (by existing imperialism, not some special “Nazism”).
It is about to get a thousand times worse as only Leninist theory has been constantly alerting the working class, against the “anti-Catastrophist” hesitation, hostility and complacent mockery from the entire fake-“left” circus (Corbyinist “revived” Labourism, anarchism, Trotskyism and “purist” Stalin-worship revisionism).
Their continuing dogged refusal to grasp or explain the cataclysmic and irreversible nature of capitalism’s breakdown, and draw the obvious revolutionary conclusions as the centre of theory and leadership, is now the greatest weapon the bankrupt ruling class has for continuing its grotesque rule of tyrannical exploitation, deepening slump cuts, ever growing inequality, ecological devastation and world threatening war destruction and mass slaughter.
Even the lying warmaking opportunism of Blairite fatcat stoogery (which rescued capitalist “democracy” in the 1990s by lulling the working class back behind hollow reformism) is now being forced to guiltily confirm that the international banking collapse of 2008, hours away from being an “economic nuclear winter” across the planet, and salvaged temporarily only by printing trillions of valueless dollars, was just the opening shot:
A leaderless world is sleepwalking towards a repeat of its near meltdown in late 2008 and early 2009 because it has failed to remedy the causes of the financial crash of a decade ago, former prime minister Gordon Brown has warned.
Britain’s leader during the period when the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers put every major bank at risk, said that after a decade of stagnation the global economy was now moving into a decade of vulnerability.
Speaking to the Guardian at his home in Scotland, Brown delivered a scathing analysis of how the big problems of 2009 remained unresolved and said that much tougher action was needed to prevent wrongdoing by bankers.
Brown was instrumental in creating the G20 – a body made of the world’s leading developed and developing nations – but said the cooperation that helped avoid a second Great Depression had been replaced by a world in which countries had retreated into nationalist silos.
“We are in danger of sleepwalking into a future crisis,” Brown said when asked to assess the risks of a repeat of 2008. “There is going to have to be a severe awakening to the escalation of risks, but we are in a leaderless world.”
The former prime minister, who lost the 2010 election following Britain’s longest and deepest recession of the post-war era, said there was less scope to reduce interest rates than was the case a decade ago, no evidence that finance ministries would be allowed to cut taxes or increase public spending, and no guarantee that China would be as active in providing stimulus.
“The cooperation that was seen in 2008 would not be possible in a post-2018 crisis both in terms of central banks and governments working together. We would have a blame-sharing exercise rather than solving the problem.
In the light of the trade war launched against Beijing by the US, Brown doubted that China would be as cooperative a second time. “Trump’s protectionism is the biggest barrier to building international cooperation,” he said.
After taking over from Tony Blair as prime minister in June 2007, Brown had only a short honeymoon before the first signs of trouble emerged later in the summer. He said the global economy still lacked an early warning system and a system for monitoring financial flows so that it was possible to tell what had been lent to whom and on what terms. “We have dealt with the small things but not the big things,” he said.
Brown admitted that Labour should have been tougher on the City in the boom years leading up to the crisis. “Yes, we did not know what was going on in some of the institutions, some of it illegal, and which was being covered up.”
But he insisted that the mood at the time was for even greater deregulation of the City. “I was being criticised for being too tough in terms of regulation and tax.”
Since the crisis, banks have been forced to hold more capital to protect them against possible losses, and a system of bonus clawbacks has been introduced to dissuade bankers from taking too many risks.
But Brown said action against financial malpractice had not been tough enough and that banks would expect to be bailed out again in the event of a future crisis.
“The penalties for wrong-doing have not been increased sufficiently. The fear that bankers will be imprisoned for bad behaviour is not there. There has not been a strong enough message sent out that government won’t rescue institutions that haven’t put their houses in order.”
The crisis of 2008 had its roots in the US housing market, with the losses sustained on subprime mortgages cascading through the global financial system in the months leading up to the collapse of Lehmans. Brown said there would be a different cause next time.
“It is very difficult to say what will trigger it [the next crisis] but we are at the latter end of the economic cycle where people take greater risks. There are problems in emerging markets.”
Brown said one area of concern should be heavy commercial and industrial lending by lightly or unregulated shadow banks at a time when US interest rates are rising. “It could arise in Asia because of the amount of lending through the shadow banking system.”
He added: “In an interconnected world there is an escalation of risks. We have had a decade of stagnation and we are now about to have a decade of vulnerability.”
“Countries have retreated into nationalist silos and that has brought us protectionism and populism. Problems that are global as well as national and local are not being addressed. Countries are at war with each other on trade, climate change and nuclear proliferation.”
And more from the Blairite guru Will Hutton:
Suddenly, the proud buccaneers of high finance were exposed as “sapient nincompoops”, as the great economic commentator Walter Bagehot described the senior executives of Overend, Gurney & Co in the wake of its collapse 150 years earlier. All the assumptions made by a generation of free-market economists, conservative politicians and the financial establishment were shown to be ideological tosh propagated by today’s nincompoops.
The bill for all these mistakes would be picked up by wider society, with perpetrators suffering nothing – nationalising losses and privatising gain. The whole effect was to transmute capitalism into a system of value extraction rather than value creation, with knock-on effects that depressed wages and contractualised work into short-term and zero-hour contracts. The financial system, based in London and New York, had become damnable – the nightmare of our times.
The cumulative costs of this have become so large they can scarcely be comprehended. The total cost across the west of recapitalising bust banks, offering guarantees and making good disappeared liquidity is estimated at $14tn. The recession that followed was the deepest since the 1930s, with the slowest subsequent recovery. Worse, conservative politicians – most successfully in Britain – succeeded in pinning the blame not on the architects and operators of modern finance but on the excesses of the state, the rationale for “austerity”.
High government spending, alleged chancellor George Osborne and prime minister David Cameron, had caused the government budget deficit to balloon. Wrong. Rather, the deficit was caused by collapsing tax revenues during a monumental recession. The same nincompoopery that had created modern finance now proclaimed that the stock of public debt – despite it being proportionally higher for most of the previous three centuries and at times of higher interest rates – represented an existential threat. In the UK, public spending per head on services will have fallen by a quarter by 2020 as a result of the consequent spending cuts – tax increases could not be countenanced – with what remains of Britain’s social contract ripped apart. The distress and disaffection helped to fuel the margin that won the referendum for Leave.
As profound was the rupturing of the Faustian bargain between finance and society that had defined the 30 years up to 2008. The bankers made their fortunes, but wider society was offered boundless credit and booming property prices. Companies did not have to create value through innovation, investment and export; instead, they could ride the credit boom. The result: an overblown, featherbedded service sector delivering ungrounded productivity growth.
...Too little has been learned; too little has changed. Even the limited reforms set in train since 2010 have not been fully implemented. Worse, the essential amoral bargain remains in place. Finance can do more or less what it likes, with pay beyond the dreams of avarice for what Lord Adair Turner, former chair of the Financial Services Authority, calls activity that is no better than a system of wealth transference. It is zero-sum: nothing worthwhile is taking place. Yet, if it collapses, be sure that governments will be asked to step in again.
The risks are downplayed. Surely it could not happen again when regulators are more alert and bankers have been required to provide more of their own capital as a cushion against mistakes? Yet just a cursory glance at the markets shows how febrile they are, how exposed to violent movements, how illusory is their much-vaunted liquidity – and how rich the pickings remain for those prepared to take the risks.
[...]All that is required is for, say, Turkey or Italy to default on their debts, an ETF to become distressed, or a sequence of Chinese banks to fail (all too imaginable) and the impact would radiate across the network as it did in 2008. Banks carry far too little capital to insulate themselves from the shocks.
Capitalism as it is could not survive. Trump’s America would not collaborate in underwriting a global bailout as the US did in 2008. The trend towards deglobalisation and trade protection would accelerate. Brexit Britain, outside the EU and with a huge financial sector, would be devastated.
[...]For the economic mirage offered by the City, our political classes happily threw other industries and regions aside. Towns and cities that had had their guts pulled out by Margaret Thatcher were lectured by Tony Blair about luring in finance firms and “high value” services. Even after the crash, Cameron declared finance to be “the national interest” and flounced out of a Brussels summit to try to save the industry from any further regulation. But a steel town such as Redcar? It could die.
Today’s politics and economics cannot escape the long shadow cast by the crash. You can draw a straight line from Lehman to Donald Trump, or from RBS to austerity and Brexit. Yet whatever rotten tomatoes and Daily Mail headlines are thrown at the financiers, they still command the centre of our politics.
The finance sector stumped up over half the cash for Cameron’s party when it gained power in 2010. One in four Tory MPs elected in 2015 came from finance backgrounds – more than all who worked in schools, universities, health, the armed forces and agriculture put together. All the government reports on banking after the crash are dominated by bankers, and the Bank of England’s Mark Carney celebrates the prospect of a finance industry becoming 20 times the size of our GDP.
The central task of our time is to build an economy where the finance sector is smaller, serves the needs of other industries, and is less voracious for fast and high returns. Ten years on from the crash, Britain has barely begun that task.
All this petty bourgeois thinking runs only on old tramlines seeing specific technical problems or “regulation” issues, and desperately looking to rescue the system, fearful it “will not survive” (!!).
So it wants to reform “capitalism as it is” with Lala Land modifications – unable and unwilling to comprehend the complete and utter breakdown that the entire capitalist period has reached.
The Corbynite mantra that “austerity is just a policy choice” is another expression of the same woolpulling half-complacency, half petty bourgeois fear.
But the contradictions of the class-rule, anarchic, private profit-hunting production system can only deepen, with every change simply adding to the problems, as Karl Marx discovered and explained in his epic analysis Capital (and Lenin’s Bolsheviks further developed).
The mind-bending reality is total unsolvability; this path in the maze of human historical advance has a blank end, out of time and with a class based profit rationale ever more irrational for general humanity.
Once its competitive drive, piratically brutal as it was, drove the world forwards from feudal stagnation as the Communist Manifesto explains; now it is a “fetter” on human progress, dragging the world into cutthroat trade war and horrifying human destruction, finishing in consciously and deliberately imposed all-out world war, led by the biggest and most bankrupt power of all, the United States.
There is no way out, no “re-shaping”, “reduction of the finance sector”, “minimising risk”, “regulation” or “serving needs” to “end austerity” that will change things within the existing capitalist order.
Least of all can there be “less voracious” capitalism, by persuasion or by force; voraciousness is its ethos, the very foundation of its drive, a dog-eat-dog vicious competitiveness that will always chew through any “nicer” way of doing things when the boom times have gone.
Not “capitalism as it is” needs to be ended but capitalism, full stop.
Only defeat of this venal degenerate and barbarically murderous imperialist-Zionist ruling class, already two decades into endless destruction and massacre in Serbia, the Middle East, Ukraine and threatening far greater butchery yet in all directions, can stop it.
Capitalism needs to be overturned completely and replaced by workers states, everywhere, using the firmest possible authority (dictatorship of the proletariat) to take over, dispossess and suppress this ever more fascist bourgeoisie and open up the way to build planned socialism, capable of developing rational communist society.
But the fake-“left” is a million miles from such a perspective, its petty bourgeois class character hating the “authoritarianism” (meaning working class discipline to suppress ever reviving counter-revolution) required to drag the world forwards from this corrupt and degenerate mess.
So there is a giant vacuum in the centre of crisis wracked capitalist society reminiscent of the pre-Hitler Weimar republic paralysis of the 1930s.
Then, as now, it was crying out for the only understanding which can change things, that of the class war to end this stinking festering system.
But instead of taking up the challenge to fill this philosophical and political void the fake-“left” doggedly refuses to abandon its opportunism and complacency, built on craven awe at the supposed endless rule of monopoly capitalism, delusions in “democracy” and petty bourgeois fear of communism.
Instead they drag the working class back behind bankrupted “parliamentary” reformism, waste their time with endless diversionary “identity” wrangles over Political Correctness (feminism, LBGTQ, anti-racism etc), foster chauvinist illusions playing into the war atmosphere (Brexit etc) and in many cases (Labour, Trots) join in with the deluge of anti-communist lies and propaganda which have poured out of capitalist media and education, ever since the titanic 1917 revolution, against a century of brilliant Soviet achievements and then those of Cuba, China, North Korea etc.
The fear of communism and the endless black propaganda against it (and even against Putin’s distinctly anti-communist pale bonapartist balancing act between the Russian oligarch-gangster capitalist restoration and a few remnants of Soviet period social provision and cultural expectation) is a major obstacle requiring a huge discussion in the working class to sort out the great historic move forwards that the USSR represented (building an equitable new society without any capitalist bossism, making huge cultural, scientific and social steps forwards), and the nature of its revisionist leadership failings, leading eventually to the 1989 liquidation.
Trot poison throws the baby out with the bathwater declaring everything was rotten and helping the bourgeois brainwashing to demoralise and fool workers.
The “pro-Soviet” revisionists are no more helpful,refusing to examine or tackle and expose the errors, crimes and philosophical retreats of the revisionist leadership from Stalin onwards, covering up the ever-deepening errors which eventually led to the abandoning of the Soviet planned economy and the liquidation of the workers state (proletarian dictatorship) in favour of the “free market” and “democracy” illusions (see Unanswered Polemics EPSR book 21).
The disastrous effect of all this retreat from revolutionary understanding to positions of “left” pressure for “step-by-step” advances, “No to War” social-pacifism and total capitulation to the nonsensical “war on terror” demonisation of Third World upheaval now declared by the fake-“left” to be a new source of reaction in the world (completely against all Marxist understanding, which says imperialism is the cause of all reaction), is glaringly illuminated by the non-stop imperialist counter-revolutionary skulduggery in Central and Latin America from Venezuela to Argentina and Brazil.
More than a decade of supposed “democratic” progress is now being torn up by dirty dealing and violent counter-revolution.
US imperialist domination has arrogantly declared this to be its “backyard” for more than a century, to be plundered and exploited at will.
The utmost barbaric brutality has been used to maintain its “rights” including some of the most degenerate and vile torture, massacres and slaughter imposed anywhere – notably by the grotesque rightwing US stooges in Guatemala and El Salvador in the 1980s, against the Chiapas rebels in Mexico, the Papa and Baby Doc Tonton Macoute death squad terror in Haiti, the US trained eyeball-scooping Contra terrorising of the Nicaraguan revolution, torturing death-squad military dictatorships in Brazil and Argentina, and the viciously dirty war waged against the FARC revolutionaries in Colombia, butchering tens of thousands of both “rebels” and the urban civilians and peasantry that supported them – to name but some.
And of course there is the 1973 General Pinochet coup against Salvador Allende’s “democratic” socialism drowning its advances in blood and torture terror.
But across a slew of countries from top to bottom of the continent the masses have been pushing back.
It has been a major symptom of imperialism’s steadily increasing and now crisis-wracked weakness and loss of influence that major left reformist nationalist popular movements were able to make headway, particularly at first in the Hugo Chávez led Venezuela and then Bolivia, and then in various usually less radical forms in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Peru, and even some extent in Chile and, recently, Mexico.
The overwhelming difficulties facing dominant US power, of oncoming world economic breakdown already clear to the ruling class at the turn of the century and driving their New American Century “shock and awe” blitzing of Afghanistan and Iraq (behind the idiotic and meaningless excuse of a post-9/11 “war on terror”), and the subsequent costly failure of this turn to overt fascist bullying to intimidate all world revolt and rival imperialist challenges, gave space to this renewed South/Central American anti-imperialism.
But it also allowed disastrous illusions to persist that progress could be made through “democracy” and “peaceful” electoral gains, the dream of petty bourgeois thinking everywhere and especially revisionist brainrot.
Washington was so preoccupied by the giant revolts it had stirred up in the Middle East with its savage blitzkrieging, costly hundred of billions in dollars and hundreds of US military lives, and then by the 2008 crash, and eventual eruption of mass street revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, threatening to push it and its fascist-Zionist local thugs out entirely, that it could not devote its full subversion and sabotage machinery (CIA, School of the Americas trained savagery) to try toppling these developments.
It is also increasingly hesitant of pushing things too far back to the gross savagery of the twentieth century, not out of “more civilised standards” – one look at the butchery of millions imposed in the Congo, in East Ukraine, on Yemen, or still in Afghanistan, shooting down unarmed Palestinians, or wiping out whole cities in Iraq, makes that clear – but out of fear of triggering more full-on revolutionary developments among a mass population which has learned bitter lessons before.
But capitalism has no other way out if it is to survive and must go all the way down a path of subversion, sabotage and counter-revolutionary violence and ultimately all the way to outright genocidal massacres again, as incident after incident has made clear.
So far it has used outrageously lying legal and “constitutional” manoeuvres, provoked bourgeois “street revolt” violence, economic sabotage and local bourgeois “supply strikes” to force artificial shortages, along with trade “sanction” siege strangulation and the international manipulation of currency and credit, to impose the world crisis burdens on smaller nations.
Despite the failure of that attempt to topple Chávez it was clear then, that his left reformism would be constantly subject to increasing disruption (as Corbyinism will be too):
If the ‘left’ ever did win enough parliamentary influence to bring in ‘socialist’ measures, the imperialist system’s world-wide power of military domination,- acting behind the local permanent bourgeois-monopoly dictatorship in economic, propaganda, social, and state-office influence, would forever relentlessly escalate its counter-revolutionary coup preparations until it eventually DID succeed in bringing down or totally undermining in one way or another the offending ‘socialist’ development.
Despite the CIA’s failure this time, the Chávez regime is now in greater danger than ever before. The most cretinous lesson of all to draw from this coup debacle would be the idiot conclusion that some fake-’lefts’ will come to that “the strength of democracy and the power of people’s democratic protests proved mightier than the CIA’s big business and military plotters”.
This was exactly the mistake made by the ‘left’ about Allende in Chile, who also survived some initial coup-attempts against him during his ‘socialist’ government of 1970-73, only to be bloodily wiped out when the CIA decided to further escalate its coup preparations regardless of the ever-greater risk of public international exposure.
If the counter-revolutionary process has taken longer to unfold than implied at that point, it points only to the grand scale of the world crisis problems facing Washington, (including the headway made by other left reformism inspired by the Venezuelan advances, reinforcing a continent wide movement under the general umbrella of the “Bolivarian Revolution”).
But that it has unfolded and is still unfolding is tragically undeniable and not simply in the increasingly vicious economic and world propaganda campaign against Caracas and its current leadership around Nicolás Maduro, (following on from the early death (!?) of Chávez) and the deliberately provoked attempts at similar – not to say identical – violent street revolt just repeated in Nicaragua against the Daniel Ortega “left” government (See Socialist Review below).
Since 2009 a cascade of plotting, corruption and subversion has toppled one after another “left” reformist government.
First came the Washington colluded kidnap-coup against president Manuel Zelaya in Honduras (under the new “liberal” Obama/Clinton White House) to install a brutal rightwing repression, killing hundreds of journalists, left, environmentalist and indigenous activists since, and the 2012 laughable “impeachment” by the reactionary landowning establishment in Paraguay of liberation-theologist president Fernando Lugo, reestablishing the decades-long rightwing interests of the oligarchy.
Then the toppling of left nationalist Christina Kirchner in Argentina through a series of stitched-up corruption allegations and dirty unproven innuendo campaigns, most notably that around the suicide of a state intelligence agent allegedly about to implicate the government in a 1990s massacre.
Again the rightwing has been reinstalled immediately imposing austerity and cutbacks.
Whatever the specifics, they all have the imprint of CIA or wider Western skulduggery and dirty propaganda all over them. They are “slow or legal coups”.
Unsurprisingly they crop up in almost the same format in Brazil with the outrageous illegal 2016 impeachment (!!) firstly of “left” president Dilma Roussef and her replacement by the corrupt Michel Temer (up to his neck in bribes and kickbacks like the entire establishment) and secondly in the imprisonment of former “left” president Lula, also accused of “corruption” by the actually and utterly corrupt and reactionary Brazilian Senate, and its bourgeois court system.
The stitched-up, evidence-free charges conveniently block his Workers Party candidacy for the October presidential election for which he was way out in front in popularity (for the left reforms made in the last decade).
And worse will follow if the replacement WP candidate Fernándo Haddad comes near to winning, let alone if his “left” reformism should actually try to push through any of the further promised measures to favour the poor and the working class, particularly in the post-2008 world stagnation conditions in which the Brazilian economy has been hammered as much as any of the medium and smaller capitalist powers, forced to take the brunt of the collapse by Washington and a few of the other bigger rivals’s banking and currency manoeuvres.
Just like Turkey, Putin’s Russia, Iran, South Africa and Venezuela among others, the international finance manipulations against Brazil may well be compounded by international “sanctions” under the lying hypocrisy of “suppressing or punishing rogue states”.
If Haddad wins there is also the threat of an ultra-right hard coup (as opposed to the “soft” legal coup) by the fascist-military, being dementedly canvassed by the ex-paratrooper Bolsanaro.
But still the fake-“left” refuses to draw the lessons.
Shouting loudly that democracy is being trampled on, and “needs to be defended” is to wilfully ignore one hundred years of class experience.
What did they expect?
“Fighting for democracy” (within capitalism) leads the working class back up the garden path.
But mocking the “soft” fake-“left” swamp for these illusions is no better if the core questions of crisis and the dictatorship of the proletariat are not addressed, as in this “bold” declaration of “solidarity” by the Brarite Proletarian (August-September):
In Britain, various opportunist elements in the working-class movement were full of praise for Venezuela because they thought it constituted proof that socialism could come through the ballot box. As it becomes clearer by the day that the Venezuelan people are going to have to fight tooth and nail, and with arms, to defend their interests, notwithstanding their invariable victories at the ballot box, we find these opportunists backing down, claiming that they supported Chávez but don’t now support Maduro, whom they claim somehow to be ‘different’.
Comrades of Venezuela, let us assure you that we will never join the ranks of these renegades. We will always be with you; we will always do whatever we can to support your just cause.
Fine. And by all means “wish them victory”.
But if -
Venezuela has been going onto the offensive with the nationalisation of industries and confiscation of uncultivated land, besides organising people’s militias to defend the revolution.
- it still amounts to little more than a more militant version of “defending” “democratic” gains made so far.
It remains a million miles from the revolutionary perspective of the need to take over all bourgeois property and establish a workers state, class dictatorship.
Militias trained against the kind of possible invasion Donald Trump’s wilder bluster has been threatening, are an excellent advance (though that work should have been at the forefront since 1998).
But the arming of the working class with Marxist revolutionary perspectives and theory, giving them a grasp of the world wide crisis which they are confronting (and which alone causes their economic difficulties for example – not the socialist “mismanagement” Venezuela is insultingly and lyingly accused of, but the imperialist “mismanagement” of another magnitude altogether, that brought the entire world to bankruptcy ten years ago) is by far the more critical question, unmentioned by the Brarites.
And where were these warnings in the last decade and a half, as the EPSR has fought for, about democratic illusions? They permeated not just some middling British “left” fakery but the entire “Bolivarian Revolution” and its reliance on step-by-step electoral gains across Latin America.
Shooting fish-in-a-barrel fake-“left” mistakes after the event is one thing but where is the constant exposure of errors and opportunism that Lenin demanded?
In this situation particularly, where is the challenge to the far more significant revisionist influence of Havana, which has not only fed the illusions in this “democracy” path but encouraged the end of armed struggle in Colombia etc.?
To declare uncritically that a sweep of “left” reformism (and much of it demagoguery) constitutes a “revolution” is to abandon basic Marxism and the understanding of the dispossession and suppression of the bourgeoisie as the critical issue.
Cuba’s influence dominates the region (and impacts the world working class) precisely because it made a revolution which did overturn the bourgeoisie and its US backing, and established a workers state which has defied all subversion and counter-revolution since with the firmest class-rule.
Its heroic determination and sacrifice has proved that it can not only survive but make gigantic achievements for and by its own people, and provide advanced internationalist educational, medical and military help for many others, (Angola, Pakistan, Africa, most of Latin America) even under the appalling siege conditions of a 60 year long blockade, and even when the 1989-91 revisionist liquidation in Moscow had removed the Soviet trade and aid that helped it previously.
And slowly, within its workers dictatorship, more and more of the people are drawn into political decision making, the only true democracy there can be.
So all the more reason to take up the mistakes and errors resulting from the dire influence of revisionist thinking - learned originally from Moscow and still dominating Havana’s advice.
That is not to “tell others what to do” with their own fight but to clarify the entire worldwide struggle, including that in Britain which has fifteen years of fake-“left” advice coming in the opposite direction that “Latin America is setting an example for all to follow”.
The sharpest expression of those errors in the immediate situation is the long-running pressure on the dogged revolutionary struggle of the FARC in Colombia, persuaded by Cuban criticism and disapproval to abandon its 50-year long armed struggle in favour of a “peaceful” political struggle by parliamentary means.
Long running talks over five years with the Colombian bourgeois government, hosted by the Cubans in Havana and with “neutral” Norwegian mediation, have seen the FARC largely disarm and turn instead solely to the electoral struggle.
And the result?:
Since the beginning of 2016 – the year that a peace agreement was signed with Colombia’s largest leftist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or Farc) – some 311 activists, community leaders, and human rights defenders have been murdered, according to the national human rights office.
At least 123 of those killings took place in the first six months of this year, in what the country’s human rights ombudsman described as “an extermination”.
The 2016 deal was supposed to close a chapter in a civil war that had taken over 220,000 lives and left 7 million displaced, but while military casualties have dropped dramatically, activists and “social leaders” – those who are trying to implement peace at the grassroots level – are living in constant fear.
President Iván Duque, who took office on 7 August, has promised to ramp up protection efforts for activists. But given his close political alliance with former president Álvaro Uribe – who is under investigation for crimes relating to death squads formed in the late 90s – leaders in Cauca are sceptical.
More leaders have been threatened or killed in this rugged Andean province than any other part of Colombia. Many of them are from the indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities which make up 50% of the province’s population.
Cauca’s fertile soil and untapped gold deposits have often led to fierce conflicts over land. But conditions in the province are also perfect for growing coca – the base ingredient in cocaine – making it a prized territory for criminal groups.
Now the province is the setting for a new set of interlocking conflicts between dissident Farc fighters who refused to disarm, smaller rebel groups and criminal gangs which grew out of rightwing paramilitary militias. And civilians are caught in the middle.
Enrique Fernández cannot remember the last night he slept peacefully.
He is tall and heavyset, and does not look like someone who scares easily, but as he sits in his humble rented home in western Colombia, his eyes dart nervously from left to right, scanning for any threat.
Any moment could be his last, he says.
When a teenaged ice-cream vendor approaches the front door Fernández scurries anxiously to a back room, convinced the youth is helping set up an attempt on his life.
It is not paranoia. Fernández – a leader of the Nasa indigenous tribe and an outspoken defender of the environment – has had a price on his head for months.
In February a bomb was left outside his family home. The explosive was disarmed by the army, but the message was clear: he had to move.
Last month a volley of phone calls and text messages threatened him again. “We will not rest until Colombia is free from communists like you,” the messages read. “Condolences to your family.”
“This is what we are living with,” said Ana Lucía Velasco, Fernández’s wife. “We are being killed slowly.”
After the failed bombing, Fernández and his family fled to Toéz, an indigenous reservation nestled in the mountains, where he now lives under the protection of a cadre of indigenous bodyguards. When he leaves the reservation, state-provided bodyguards are always at his side.
“There’s a price on my head,” said Fernández. “And every day it gets higher.”
Outside the house, Jesús Bacca, a member of northern Cauca’s Indigenous Guard, stands watch. Bacca is armed only with a cane and a radio, but says he is well trained in disarming better-equipped opponents. “We’ve stopped men before, disarmed them, and handed them over to the authorities,” he said. “If people put their lives on the line to fight for our rights, we must keep them safe.”
The recent text message threats against Fernández came from the Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (or AGC), one of a myriad criminal gangs now muscling into territory left by the Farc when its 10,000 combatants laid down arms.
“The Farc may have left the battlefield but other groups have stepped into their place,” said Eduin Marcelo Capaz, the human rights coordinator for Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca. “And those groups have no political ideology.”
The AGC, like many other groups across the country, trace their origins to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (or AUC), a federation of paramilitary groups set up to weed out guerrilla members using brutal tactics the state could not.
The AUC disbanded between 2006 and 2008, but many of its gunmen continue to terrorize the countryside, making money from extortion, drug-trafficking and illegal mining.
“Their names may change but it’s the same people we’ve been living with all our lives,” said Capaz. “It’s the same people that carried out massacres years ago.”
Fernández survived one of those massacres in April 2001, when AUC fighters arrived in his village along the river Naya in north-western Cauca. The paramilitaries accused the villagers of collaborating with the guerrillas, and butchered 10 of them with machetes and chainsaws. Two more were shot. One was decapitated and his head never found.
Victims of Colombia’s war had hoped that kind of terror would be relegated to the past, but the killings continue apace. One social leader is murdered every three days in Colombia. Some are kidnapped and tortured before being executed. Others are shot down by assassins on motorbikes. Very few cases are investigated.
“We thought that with the peace deal the mood would change... we are still ready to forgive those that hurt us in the war,” he went on to say. “But everything went the other way. Some people don’t want peace.”
Capaz argues that peace might have stood a better chance in Cauca had community leaders been more involved. “We know this land best,” he said. “So when the Farc left, why didn’t the government ask us to help them take control?”
Now, those community leaders are focusing their efforts on staying alive.
About 25 miles west of Toéz, the village of Suárez sits between the mountains and the winding Cauca river. On a recent afternoon, a convoy of armoured 4x4s had drawn up outside a nondescript wooden house. A group of bodyguards in jeans and T-shirts kept watch out front, their pistols in concealed holsters.
Inside, the region’s most prominent activists had called an emergency meeting after Ibes Trujillo – a local activist who had campaigned against a local hydroelectric dam – was kidnapped and killed.
Héctor Marino, a close friend and fellow activist, was distraught. “They have killed my brother,” he said, his voice charged with grief and rage. “The one who taught me the way of struggling, of resisting, and of perseverance.”
“The only crime we’ve committed is to defend our land and our rights,” Marino said, adding that he has lost count of the death threats he has received. “We were ‘military targets’ during the conflict, and we still are today.
“In other countries we would be respected and protected,” Marino added. “In Colombia we are left to die.”
Elsewhere it is reported that disarmed guerrilla fighters have faced kangaroo trials, and peasants applying for the agrarian reforms in the deal are being driven from their farms. And:
In their book Extrajudicial Executions in Colombia, 2002-2010 – Blind Obedience in Fictitious Battlefields, the authors describe how Colombia’s army systematically killed civilians to boost their body counts.
[The] new study co-authored by a former police colonel alleges that the practice was far more widespread than previously reported: according to authors Omar Rojas Bolaños and Fabian Leonardo Benavides, approximately 10,000 civilians were executed by the army between 2002 and 2010 – more than three times the number tallied by human rights groups.
“We can call them ‘false positives’ or ‘extrajudicial executions’, but really these were cold-blooded murders,” said Rojas, who previously served 31 years as a police officer. “They were meticulously planned and carried by all ranks.” Rojas said disabled boys were specifically targeted because of their vulnerability as well as a handful of military men who were suspected of whistleblowing.
“This isn’t just something that happened in the past: we are still finding ‘false positive’ cases today,” Rojas said. “It’s not with the same intensity as before, and now they call them ‘military errors’.”
Colombia’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), signed a peace deal with the government in November 2016, formally ending 52 years of civil war that left 220,000 dead and over seven million displaced, mostly civilians. State-aligned paramilitaries and other leftwing groups contributed to the bloodshed, with atrocities committed by all sides.
[Current] President Juan Manuel Santos – who was awarded the Nobel peace prize for shepherding through the deal – served as defense minister from 2006 until 2009, at the height of the “false positive” killings.
Activists say neither Santos nor his predecessor Álvaro Uribe have been called to account over the scandal, though Uribe faces several separate investigations over alleged war crimes. A key witness in one case was murdered in Medellín last month.
Colombia’s government has often brushed off the scandal as the actions of a few rogue individuals.
“‘False positives’ were not just a problem of a few bad apples,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “These apparently widespread and systematic extrajudicial killings were committed by troops attached to virtually all brigades in every single army division across Colombia.”
The soldier who recruited Daniel is currently serving a 39-year sentence, along with many other middle and low ranking officers. But not a single general has been convicted.
The peace process was supposed to “create a stable and lasting peace in Colombia” and “consolidate Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace” according to Cuba’s revisionism-saturated leadership.
So what does Lalkar/Proletarian say now? Was this Cuban strategy also the opinion of “opportunist elements” as they declare their easy UK targets to be?
Or will they stay silent or make excuses as they have done multiple times before? Or perhaps “justify” this disastrous permanent peaceful coexistence line, which originate from the same philosophical weakness as that informing the Stalin-worshipping Brarites, as they have many times before with “tactical” considerations:
The “tactical explanation” excuse for Lalkar fudges is the nastiest opportunism of all. Castro’s weakness in Marxist-Leninist science is always being excused in similar ways as ‘wise tactics under the threat of instant US imperialist obliteration if he says too much’, etc. This meant going along with the catastrophic defence of Gorbachevism by Castro, the ANC/SACP, and others, as it unfolded from 1984 to 1991. It meant going along with Havana’s zero-useful advice to the Sandinista Revolution, helping its downfall to a CIA electoral sucker-punch because of an absence of any understanding historically about imperialist boom and crisis, Soviet revisionist retreat, and the neglect of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It meant the criminal destruction of the Grenada Revolution without a fight because of Castro’s friendship with the anti-Leninist populist Maurice Bishop. It meant watching Cuba lending tragic support to the anti-Leninist delusions of Allende in Chile, culminating in predictable counter-revolutionary disaster.
Castro’s heroic Cuba remains the greatest practical revolutionary example to mankind that could be imagined, worth a thousand communist programmes. But the rest of the international working class desperately needs programmed communist perspectives as well. It is still getting no such leadership (EPSR 1044 16-05-00).
And lo and behold exactly the same excuses are now rolled out, ironically to justify the hesitancy against these counter-revolutionary stunts of the Daniel Ortega’s left reformist government in Nicaragua, which took control once more in 2009 after being lifted to an electoral victory by the Bolivarian left nationalist mood (though with some significant compromising with the Catholic Church).
The same dirty US CIA-local bourgeoisie sabotage techniques of provoking street violence that were used to try to disrupt and undermine Venezuela in 2015 (and echoed in assorted “colour revolutions” and Middle East interventions like Libya and Syria) produced the out-of-the-blue “peaceful demonstrations” (no such thing) against Managua earlier this summer.
These violent and disruptive stunts by paid provocateurs and reactionary petty bourgeois masked “student” elements have now been broken up by relatively firm action to unlock the road blocks that were threatening the country’s economy, though not before mass casualties had been caused by their violence as this sour and exaggerated bourgeois press story reports in a desperate effort to hype up the faltering sabotage:
Shops, banks and businesses across Nicaragua stayed closed on Friday in the latest 24-hour strike called by opposition leaders since protests against the government of Daniel Ortega broke out in April.
In the Centro Comercial, an upscale shopping center in downtown Managua, the usually bustling avenues were empty, save for the watchmen outside shuttered storefronts and a short line of men waiting to use the ATM outside a closed bank.
Friday’s strike was called by the opposition Civic Alliance to demand the release of activists including student leaders Edwin Carcache and Alejandro Centeno, who were imprisoned this week on charges of terrorism.
“With 200 political prisoners and [new] murders every day, this strike is just one more sign that nothing is normal here in Nicaragua,” said Ana Margarita Vigil, a 40-year-old national director of the outlawed opposition Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS).
After security forces and paramilitaries retook rebel strongholds in July, Ortega’s government has attempted to draw a line under the crisis, but protests have continued, and negotiations brokered by the Catholic church have stalled.
Most shops and small businesses in the capital were closed on Friday, while in the nearby city of Boaco, local media reported only 7% of businesses were open.
Earlier this week, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told the UN security council that Nicaragua risks becoming another Venezuela or Syria if it continues to stifle dissent.
Last week, Ortega expelled a UN human rights mission after it published a report denouncing government repression and describing a “climate of fear” in the Central American country.
The government, however, describes the protesters as terrorists and fake agitators paid by foreign organizations.
“The majority in Nicaragua want work and peace,” Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife and vice-president, said on Monday. “[But] there are still blind people out there … these small groups [are] of bitter, blind, low-lifers, souls full of misery.”
Some larger businesses remained open and, in one of the hemisphere’s poorest countries, many people said they had to keep working to avoid destitution.
“Upscale market” strike support (i.e by the rich bourgeoisie but not the working class), denunciations by an obviously Langley created “opposition” and by viciously reactionary Trump UN appointee Nikki Haley, and the hostile opinion of the increasingly Goebbels-level lying “investigations” of the rest of the UN stoogery, (increasingly bent to the will of US money and the remainder of the big imperialist countries), all make clear to anyone with a serious approach, just what a vile stunt this whole racket is.
And it is an interesting sign that the street support for the government finally pushed it into action to suppress this reactionary violence, arresting the provocateurs and firmly breaking up their disruption, indicating that the revolutionary spirit remains in Nicaragua despite the setbacks of past decades (including the original retreat by the Ortega led Sandinista revolution after its victory in the 1980s was equally sabotaged by US pressure and it gave into the reaction).
But instead of arguing for greater Leninist grasp the Lalkar was already excusing the hesitancy shown this summer as “tactically sound”, sneering again at supposed “left” opposition in its July/August issue. As usual with revisionist confusion and avoidance of polemic, these remain unidentified, making debate about their alleged views impossible, and therefore stifling any clarification:
Finally, we note that among the opponents of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua there are reputedly former left-wingers who have been disappointed by the failure of the government to abolish capitalism, and by its compromises with imperialism. It is unfortunate that too many advanced workers who have reached the realisation that only proletarian revolution and the establishment of a socialist economy can solve the pressing problems of our era nevertheless fail to see that sometimes compromise with the enemy is unavoidable in the short term – a short term that may last a few years! If Lenin was prepared to surrender vast swathes of territory to the Germans at Brest Litovsk, it was not because he was betraying the revolution but because, at the time, it was the only way to preserve the strength of the revolutionary movement. The Russian masses were sick and tired of war, they needed a respite – hence the absolute necessity for the compromise. The Nicaraguan people too were sick and tired of the civil war waged in their country by the Contras with strong US backing, and, to bring peace to the country, the Sandinistas were prepared to lay down their arms and submit to electoral politics, even after on one occasion they lost the election. The point is always to live to fight another day. We are not in a position to judge whether or not compromise was absolutely necessary, though we suspect that it was, nor whether better terms might have been reached and, latterly, more resistance mounted to imperialism’s outrageous demands, but of one thing we are absolutely sure and that is that nothing good will come from supposed left-wingers backing the cause of imperialism and the comprador class to bring down the Sandinista government. The Nicaraguan government is clearly seen by imperialism as an obstacle to its expansion and must therefore be firmly and reliably supported against imperialism, while continually reminding the masses that the depredations of imperialism cannot in the long term be avoided unless capitalism too is overthrown and replaced by a socialist planned economy. When the masses are ready (and imperialist atrocity is certainly helping to mould their consciousness in this direction) then they will follow the revolutionary leadership to achieve exactly that.
This is laden with so much slyness and misrepresentation, not least by invoking Lenin to back a totally revisionist retreat, that it is difficult to know where to start.
But first consider the alleged “left disappointment” at the failure to abolish capitalism which Lalkar tilts its lance at.
Without seeing the identity of these “former left-wingers” or the words they use, it is not just difficult but impossible to see quite what their position really is.
But on face value, raising the question of the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat to be fought for is hardly a flawed position. And of course it is right to say that the masses would best be armed with Marxist-Leninist grasp and theory (as already spelled out).
If such understanding were being openly struggled for, yet actually taking power and fully abolishing capitalism in practice was not yet achieved because of the strength and overwhelming influence of imperialism, then it would be nonsensical to denounce them for not yet succeeding (as it is implied later these “lefts” do).
That is the kind of “perfect revolution” idealist moralising that only the most extreme and deranged Trotskyism would put forwards.
If such failings in the struggle were at least partly due to flaws in the leadership then it would still be wrong to stand against it and effectively line up with imperialism.
If it was nevertheless consciously struggling towards the need for proletarian dictatorship then surely the Marxist position would be unconditional support, just as it would be for a workers state, while taking up and polemicising on what are thought to be its mistakes and errors – precisely as the revisionist shortfalls of Havana, Beijing and Pyongyang should be treated in order to strengthen and clarify the working class understanding everywhere.
It would be equally nonsensical, not to say reactionary, to denounce or takes sides against the Ortega government for waging no more than a left-nationalist anti-imperialist reformist struggle as it is, (if the accusation is true that these “supposed left-wingers” (presumably the same ones) are “backing the cause of imperialism and the comprador class”).
But do they say as much or is this more revisionist sophistry anyway, stung because they have been exposed in their retreat from the issue of the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat?????
If the accusation is made only because outright support is not offered to Ortega etc (as opposed to wishing defeat of the attacks against them) then it is more revisionist nonsense.
It is nothing to do with Leninism or Marxism to support such erratic anti-imperialism with whatever degree of “firmness and reliability” is demanded by Lalkar’s theatrical posturing.
As many times explained, every blow against imperialism is a vital part of pushing it back and defeating it, wherever such setbacks come from (including the great wave of largely anti-imperialist jihadism and Islamic street revolts such as Cairo, which these mountebanks and poseurs treacherously write-off as “headbanging reaction and mercenaries”).
But it is not only sufficient to be solely for the defeat of imperialism in such cases but crucially important not to go any further in order to avoid giving the working class an iota of confidence or faith in any regime which is not going to help develop the clearest scientific Marxist perspective as the path forwards.
That applies to Saddam, Gaddafi, Milosevic and Assad and a clutch of other “rogue state” victims targeted by imperialism (Myanmar lately) – which this posturing bravado equally declares must be “supported”.
If Leninism is to be quoted let it be “strike together but march separately” making clear that Leninist retain total independence.
Raising Lenin’s argument over Brest Litovsk around this issue is pure sophistry.
He was dealing with a situation six months after the October revolution when the proletariat had already taken power and the question was one of defence for a workers state and by definition one struggling for the deepest possible Leninist clarity.
The issue was to keep the core of that new state and all its Leninist struggle for theory alive however much it was reduced; if that meant giving way to the rapacious demands of overwhelmingly powerful German imperialism (taking huge chunks of the newly overthrown Russian empire territory from Bolshevik hands) in order to keep something intact, then that was what had to be swallowed. It was even envisaged retreating to Siberia.
But the compromise did not mean one iota of compromise on principles and still would not have done even if the entire newly won Soviet state was overrun as Lenin makes clear - as with the Peace of Tilsit imposed by Napoleon on north Germany, the point would be to keep the struggle alive and the revolutionary understanding and its party intact to take up the fight as soon as possible.
But this sly posing tries to defend exactly the opposite, citing Lenin in order to twist away from revolutionary politics and excuse revisionist retreat by Ortega .
“Submitting” to electoral politics, is 100% opportunism and abandonment of revolutionary perspectives.
Marxist-Leninist tactics never rule out the use of the bourgeois elections, in fact insist that it would be a criminal waste not to take advantage of the platform that the “democracy” pretence forces the ruling class to make available, but it is only ever to be used in order to expose and denounce the total lie that is being put over on the working class that anything can really be changed that way.
In other words use parliament to warn the working class what a racket parliament is, and to warn them how it will be torn up and overriden by as much violence as needed if it starts to change things.
In other words, developing a full revolutionary perspective.
Which brings things full circle to Chile’s Allende (still hailed as a “hero” by revisionist thinking instead of being denounced for the anti-Leninist “democracy” illusions he fostered), and the wave of coups and disruption now underway.
All this disgusting misuse of Lenin is a vile cover-up of the complete lack of faith the Brarites have in revolutionary politics and their complacency about the crisis.
It is expressed most of all at the end when they declare that
“the depredations of imperialism cannot in the long term be avoided” (emphasis added).
“In the meantime” therefore....just reforms????
This is the slippery evasion that every stinking variation of “left” opportunism has always deployed.
But there is no “meantime” because the greatest Crash collapse in all history is already unrolling and only the most titanic revolutionary class war ever can save mankind from the utmost barbarism.
The haunting picture should never be forgotten of Fidel Castro, foully mis-educated by Moscow Revisionism, parading in Chile not just alongside Allende to celebrate the utterly illusory “victory for the peaceful road to socialism”, but actually parading alongside Pinochet himself, who was deliberately brought into government while biding his time just waiting for the CIA’s signal to launch the counter-revolution and massacre the cream of Chile’s revolutionary working class (EPSR 1012 15-09-99)
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