No 1582 2nd September 2020
Continuing counter-revolutionary provocations against Belarus' revisionist soviet nostalgia are a desperate diversion as the grotesquely racist Trumpite White House winds up the crisis-driven class war inside the US and trade war outside. The pretence that imperialism is concerned about protecting "freedom and democracy" is more gobsmackingly hypocritical than ever as black workers and demonstrators are gunned down, vigilante intimidation celebrated and as Donald Trump prepares to ignore the presidential vote if all the usual big money election manipulation, lies and trickery should fail. Staggeringly middle-class opinion swallows the deluge of "freedom" lies by the anti-Lukashenko media as does virtually all the fake-"left" clinging to "democracy" delusions. Thailand's monarchical military coup, Saudi butchering of Yemen and endless Zionist genocidal smiting of Palestine prove the opposite but revolutionary lessons are still ignored. Leninist science vital against irrationality of capitalist breakdown
The in-your-face lies, Nuremberg Nazi rally tones and demented anti-socialist fearmongering of the Trumpite republican election congress; the vigilante murder and racist police intimidation encouraged by the same in black killing incidents like Milwaukee, and Kenosha, Michigan; simultaneous Western fomented Nazi-nationalist provocations in Belarus, and non-stop anti-China hate campaigning all point to imperialism now going completely off the rails.
The astonishingly hysterical tone of the Republican election Congress and its demented backing for the fascist lies and crudities of Donald Trump’s White House, denouncing the mildest of reformism as “socialism” and even, astoundingly, painting ultra-establishment capitalist campaign of presidential rival Joe Biden as a “patsy for neo-Marxism”(!!!) is so far beyond the absurd it becomes surreal.
“Those whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad” could not be more apposite.
Never has the sane and scientific world historic perspective of Marxism been more urgently required to counter the demented madness and vicious irrationality of this corrupt and scabby system of ever intensifying inequality, antagonism, unfairness and relentless exploitation, now bankrupt morally, economically and politically.
It can only rapidly worsen.
Dialectical sharpening of the class war at the heart of the profit making system is unstoppable, pushed on by the greatest crisis in history inexorably deepening (see economics box), with a ruling class increasingly stepping up repression, terrified that if it gives an inch to the downtrodden and persecuted it will open the door to a tsunami of revolt and upheaval.
Such revolt is coming - but only when the crisis finally convinces the masses that the world cannot go on as it is.
No Gods exist, in other words, to end the increasingly demented and deadly insanity of this rotten US Empire and the Western order it dominates.
Only the masses themselves can do it by the overturn of this stinking arrogance through the most titanic class war revolution to defeat and stop this descent into barbarism once more and deliberate chaotic confusion, establishing workers states to end capitalism for good and build a rational socialist society (as begun by the USSR and still continuing in China, Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea despite their philosophical flaws and revisionist retreats).
They need the highest level of reason and objectivity, Marxist science, consciously and constantly polemically and openly fought for by a leadership party built for the purpose, to grasp the ever developing dialectical movement of contradictions in the real material world.
Not least that means challenging and exposing the thousand and one confusions and treacheries of liberalism, “left” reformism, single-issue PCisms of all kinds (feminism, black nationalism, eco-warrior-ism etc etc) and the poisonous Trotskyist and dunderheaded Stalinist revisionisms that mislead and hold back the working class.
Until then monopoly capitalism, dominated by the huge and mighty American Empire, armed to the teeth with nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry, will continue descending rapidly into the foulest degeneracy and destruction in history, as its crisis contradictions unfold into the greatest economic and political Catastrophe ever.
The bourgeoisie knows, if not in a Marxist way then through the low cunning and experience of centuries in charge, that its slump disaster is unstoppable.
As a way out the ruling class is capable only of dragging the world into destruction, environmental collapse, mass human misery and despair capped by World War Three horrors potentially far greater than all of WW1 and WW2 rolled together, with the great slaughter of Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Iran, Yemen, Congo and more, all added in as well.
Nothing else is possible in a contradiction-riddled system built on making profit for a tiny class of ever more ludicrously rich “owners” and speculators while the billions making up the rest of humanity at best sweat their lives away in wage slavery and hire-and-fire life-shattering uncertainty, and mostly live downtrodden under the tyranny of relentless poverty exploitation in the Third World.
In Depression times even such precarious existence as that is wiped out with unemployment, destitution, drug addled crime and disease on an unprecedented scale and ultimately mass slaughter in war (and plague too) as Marx and Lenin analysed (see Capital, Communist Manifesto, Imperialism and many more crucially important volumes).
Catastrophe is imminent.
So far twenty years of blitzing invasions, warcrime killing and horrific torture, and massacring barbarity in Serbia, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia, reactionary subversion to install fascists like Jair Bolsonaro in Latin America or General Sisi in Egypt, and the filthy nazi-mingled warmongering slaughter of 20,000 in Ukraine, have done nothing to stop the relentless development of the great breakdown of the capitalist system, nor to hide its ruthless brutality and simultaneous degeneracy and greed.
Instead, the failure to “shock and awe” the planet back into a New American Century of “easy” colonialist subservience with brutal blitzkrieg, genocidal civilian butchery, ruthless torture, and inhuman starvation siege (sanctions), has seen a world more in uproar and hatred for Washington’s dominance (and all imperialism) than ever, with “jihadist” and “terrorist” turmoil non-stop in the Middle East and Africa, while Latin America and Eastern Europe are containable only by turning back to fascist stoogery and coups (military, or judicial).
The rise and rise of China’s workers state and its economic challenges compounds the problems faced by the moribund American Empire already undermined by the relentless competition of its more efficient Japanese and European economic rivals.
And now the turmoil is erupting inside the US itself, inflamed by crisis cuts and deprivation accumulating over decades and particularly since the 2008 global bank collapse, by the agonies of the Covid pandemic, (callously and cynically allowed to run rampant – see recent EPSRseg 1576) and by the historic legacy of slavery and colonialist First Nations land-stealing genocide, still distorting society with the vile and overt racism that is one of the sharpest expressions of division and antagonism the cutthroat competitiveness of capitalism produces at all levels of society from the individual to the international (and will endlessly re-produce until it is overturned).
For the moment Washington (and all other bourgeoisies) are hiding behind the big lie that the “pandemic shutdown” is responsible for the economic crash, pretending that “things will get back to normal” once there is a vaccine etc.
Certainly the impact of the Covid virus has been severe – not least because of the greed and profiteering of capitalism in contrast to the efficiency and speedy humane damage limitation of collective societies like China and Cuba – but the ruling class knows, and every bourgeois press and institution analyst has been warning for a decade, that the great crash now developing into the biggest Slump disaster in history, was unstoppably coming anyway.
So it is whipping up the most demented frenzy of jingoism, irrationality, scapegoating and blamemongering around the intractable antagonisms and cutthroat trade war it is spiralling into (and has been on the edge of for decades) including now using the Covid issue itself as another scapegoating and blame target against China etc.
Trumpism is the personification of this “madness” installed and sustained by the most reactionary wing of the ruling class to ramp up trade war belligerence and aggressive threats in all directions while using every dirty trick in the book to keep its grip and ready for far worse yet.
International war is the end point, combined with civil war – class war – domestically, throwing all pretence of fairness, progress and justice out of the window, ready for the most ruthless measures.
The more desperate the historically defunct monopoly capitalist system becomes the more brittle and dangerous it is, despite its political weakness.
Even normally reactionary elements of the bourgeois media and intelligentsia are gobsmacked:
Like past charismatic leaders who paid lipservice to democracy, Trump understands political theatre, plays crowds like a fiddle and feeds off their energy.
Behind him was a row of American national flags and the magnificent south portico of the White House, traditionally a neutral space for governing, not political rallies. At each side were beaming members of the Trump dynasty and two giant Orwellian TV screens.
Before him, enveloped in gloom as the clock struck 11pm on a balmy summer night in Washington, were 1,500 people obediently standing, clapping, whooping, booing his foes and chanting “Four more years!”
...With people crammed together and wearing “Make America great again” hats rather than face masks, this was performance art that sent the message that the coronavirus pandemic is over, even though more people have died from it during this week’s Republican national convention than in the terror attacks of 11 September 2001.
The mood of exuberance and self-confidence also implied that, whatever the death toll, whatever the huge unemployment figures, whatever the polls say, the 2020 presidential election is far from over. Trump’s grand setting in the nation’s capital, culminating in fireworks at the Washington monument and opera singers, contrasted with opponent Joe Biden’s speech last week to a silent, largely empty auditorium in Wilmington, Delaware.
...It was a concrete demonstration that this time Trump has the levers of executive power at his disposal and will not hesitate to use full weight of the US government to retain power. And the crowd clearly have no intention of stopping him. Their complicity was juxtaposed with the noise of protesters and emergency sirens in nearby Lafayette Square.
“This November we must turn the page forever on this failed political class; the fact is I’m here,” said Trump, turning and gesturing to the executive mansion as supporters hollered and whistled. “What’s the name of that building? But I’ll say it differently. The fact is we’re here and they’re not.”
People rose to their feet and cheered this classic Trump notion that he is somehow at heart a blue collar billionaire, a champion of the forgotten people who led them into battle against the Washington elites.
This was the final night of a surprisingly diverse convention that has sought to animate Trump’s base, sanitise and soften his image among suburban voters and people of colour, and demonise his opponent Joe Biden as an avatar of radical socialism.
....Trump knows that if the election is a referendum on him, and his handling of the pandemic, he is likely to lose. But if he can turn the spotlight to Biden, he may yet raise doubts that keeps voters at home. He unleashed a cascade of bilious and often baseless attacks that portrayed the former vice-president, like Clinton before him, as a creature of the Washington swamp.
“Joe Biden is not the savior of America’s soul – he is the destroyer of America’s jobs, and if given the chance, he will be the destroyer of American greatness,” the president warned darkly.
“For 47 years, Joe Biden took the donations of blue collar workers, gave them hugs and even kisses” – laughter from the audience – “and told them he felt their pain – and then he flew back to Washington and voted to ship their jobs to China and many other distant lands. Joe Biden spent his entire career outsourcing the dreams of American workers, offshoring their jobs, opening their borders, and sending their sons and daughters to fight in endless foreign wars.”
Later, another framing: “We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years. Biden’s record is a shameful roll call of the most catastrophic betrayals and blunders in our lifetime … China would own our country if Joe Biden got elected. Unlike Biden, I will hold them fully accountable for the tragedy they caused.”
And then yet another: “Biden is a Trojan horse for socialism. If Joe Biden doesn’t have the strength to stand up to wild-eyed Marxists like Bernie Sanders and his fellow radicals... then how is he ever going to stand up for you? He’s not.”
Trump has struggled to define what his second term would look like other than more of the same. On Friday he threw out a few details: ending reliance on China, reducing taxes and regulations, creating 10m jobs in 10 months, hiring more police and increasing penalties for assaults on law enforcement and banning sanctuary cities.
The rest was afterthought. He pushed familiar buttons: the election is about saving the American dream rather than allowing a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny. He beat the drum of law and order and had little to say about racial injustice. He argued that Republicans believe in feelgood American greatness, Democrats in endless self-flagellation.
“How can the Democrat party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country? In the left’s backward view, they do not see America as the most free, just, and exceptional nation on earth. Instead, they see a wicked nation that must be punished for its sins.”
Even as he assaults Barack Obama’s health care law that protects people with pre-existing conditions, the president claimed: “We will always, and very strongly, protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and that is a pledge from the entire Republican party.”
But Trump will hope the substance matters far less than the spectacle of the White House, otherwise known as the people’s house, having been fully colonised by the Make America Great Again movement. And that the image of hundreds of people without face masks lingers longer than the cold statistic of 180,000 dead. It would be his greatest act of make believe yet.
The aggressive arrogance and contempt for all measures to improve ordinary lives delivered with smirking cynicism by the Trumpite spokespeople – knowingly aware of what fascist garbage the entire farrago comprises but delivering it with a straight face – reflects a ruling class ready to do anything to stay in power.
Despite its vague allusions to Hitler, what this bourgeois account cannot bring itself to say right out is that this Trumpism is fascism and even more importantly, that it is inseparably part of bourgeois rule itself, the dirty ruthless face of the dictatorship of capital deliberately inflaming civil war hatred when its crisis breaks as it unstoppably must do (unstoppable bar revolutionary overturn that is).
The monopoly owners and reactionary media make the picture clearer, virtually celebrating the barbaric vigilante killings and maiming in Kenosha, Michigan of protestors against the already monstrous police shooting in the back (seven times!!!) of black victim Jakob Blake:
The rightwing Fox News host Tucker Carlson has defended the actions of a 17-year-old who was arrested and charged with murder after two people were killed in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as white vigilante agitators shot at Black Lives Matter protesters.
Kyle Rittenhouse, from Antioch, Illinois, 20 miles south-west of Kenosha, had taken to the streets of Kenosha with a rifle after protesters marched demanding justice for Jacob Blake, a young Black father who was shot and gravely wounded by police on Sunday.
On his TV show Carlson – who has a long record of making racist and inflammatory statements, triggering an advertising boycott – said that Rittenhouse’s actions were understandable given the violence and property damage in the city.
“Kenosha has devolved into anarchy because the authorities in charge of the city abandoned it. People in charge from the governor of Wisconsin on down refused to enforce the law. They stood back and they watched Kenosha burn,” Carlson said.
He then added: “So are we really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder? How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?”
His words were met with instant condemnation on social media.
“An innocent black guy is killed by police and Tucker Carlson calls him a thug. A guilty white guy murders two people and Tucker Carlson calls him a patriot,” tweeted CNN commentator Keith Boykins.
“He just justified murder,” tweeted the New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.
“If they don’t take action after this, every one of Fox News’s executives, directors and advertisers is complicit in Tucker Carlson’s racist, murderous rants,” said Robert Reich, a former secretary of labor under Bill Clinton.
But “they” are not going to “take action” because “they” are the ruling class which wants to, and must, whip up just this backward frenzy, tapping the underlying fearfulness of a petty bourgeoisie (the small businessmen, self-employed tradesmen and the like who abound throughout the States) and some layers of a once-privileged working class which sense the great collapse which is coming (and which 2008’s bank meltdown gave sharp notice of).
The whole world is staring into an abyss of financial and economic implosion, almost certainly around a total collapse of the dollar itself and raging inflation (just watch the gold price climbing) as the EPSR has been constantly warning the working class and as Marxist science explains is inevitable (the very central point of Capital).
So “they”, far from trying to calm the explosive riots and States-wide upheaval, which a frustrated working class has erupted with since the racist police killing of George Floyd in May, are deliberately escalating the tensions and the racist confusions and divisions.
The Kenosha incident gave notice that any ideas that mass peaceful protest and marches for reforms will change anything is out of the window and that even the kind of limited civil rights reforms achieved in the past will be trampled over.
It was a staggering escalation, now made more overt by Trump’s inflammatory visit to the town and comments.
It underlines the degeneracy and moral degradation of a society reaching the end of its historic road - unable to stop itself from the most frenzied barbarities in its fear of the unstoppable transformation of the world to come.
But “stopping Trump” is no answer.
A Democrat alternative, even the “left” Bernie Sanders version would be no better.
A call to vote out Trumpism as at least a “first step” can only mislead the working class, if it leaves any illusions in the “democratic” mechanism, and the same for all “left” alternatives however radical they claim to be; only using elections as a means to expose the democracy racket and to build revolutionary perspectives has ever been advanced by Leninism as the way forwards with no illusions in “steady changes for the better”.
The anti-racist form of the struggle at present is perhaps inevitable given the specific double oppression faced historically by the black population in America (and elsewhere too, especially in Britain and Europe) but it will be hampered and held back if it insists on making “anti-racism” alone the agenda for struggle, with all the implications that carries of achieving equality and ending repression within capitalism.
The black working class will have to turn to full-on revolutionary politics, best fulfilled by grasping the class nature of this racist persecution and joining with the entire working class, or even, given the nature of the double persecution of the black proletariat, which forces it forwards, taking the lead in building revolutionary understanding to pull together the entire working class which all has the same interest in overturning this vile system (even if such understanding has to be fought for in the greatest debate and polemical struggle in history - at all levels, not by moralising but by the fight for scientific clarity).
There can be no successful anti-racism within capitalism other than for a tiny minority who might “make it”.
In fact a significant black middle class has been allowed to develop over decades by capitalism precisely to muddy the water, with much posturing about identity etc, to confuse the great majority of black (and all) proletarians who will always remain downtrodden until communism can be established.
That minority has repeatedly demonstrated that the real issues are those of class and the exploitation of the proletarian majority, proven not least by such “successes” as Bushite warmongers Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell, the “blacks for Trump” movement and even the supposed “progressive choice” for the Democrat presidential running mate, of the reactionary opportunist lawyer Senator Kamala Harris. The latter is a desperate attempt to play again the PC race card, already used to put in Barack Obama to rescue the presidency and bourgeois “democracy”, after it was shattered by the failure and setbacks of both the Afghan and Iraq wars and initial New American Century attempts to bully and blitz a way out of crisis.
Just as in 2008 the feminist card is played too, even more obviously than with establishment-serving Hillary Clinton’s support for Obama.
As the EPSR immediately warned the working class (eg issue 1341 11-11-08), Obamaism would be nothing but new management under a “progressive” label for continued Empire domination with only a few token reforms (if that) to hide the reactionary agenda, as the next eight years of continued warmongering (massively intensifying drone strikes for example and the NATO war on Libya), coup plotting (Honduras, Brazil, Paraguay, Ukraine and Egypt), and balkanising disruption and sabotage, as in Syria, have proven. And no serious measures for the working class emerged at all, or improvements to racist double persecution.
Some of the disillusioned black middle class are still fooling themselves, desperate to avoid revolutionary conclusions:
When activists criticized Barack Obama, we were scathingly reminded how hard it was for him to be a Black man in the White House. He had significant executive power and influence to shift resources, call for legislation, and even free people from prison (which his own administration seemingly neglected). We were told to wait. Then, after eight years, we were told that too much was at stake to organize for free college, universal healthcare, the end to police and prison violence, and a clean planet. Nina Simone’s song, Mississippi Goddam, calls this “Do It Slow:”
But that’s just the trouble, “Do it slow”
Desegregation, “Do it slow”
Mass participation, “Do it slow”
Reunification, ‘“Do it slow”
Do things gradually, “Do it slow”
But bring more tragedy, “Do it slow”
Fifty-six years since the song’s release, the time seems never to be right to push politicians towards progress. No more. No more imaginary ancestral, postmortem pleas on who died so that we can vote today. People fought and died for lots of reasons alongside voting, but most importantly, for the right of self-determination, which moderates defend for the right and dismiss for the left. No more.
This generational fatigue, from Nina Simone to Nina Turner, from Fannie Lou Hamer to Cori Bush, is compounded by the political fatigue of doing progressive work around a party that undermines progressive values. Biden and Harris will be determined to prove that their beloved party has not been hijacked by “the radical left,” as Vice-president Mike Pence described today. He continued: “So given their promises of higher taxes, open borders, socialized medicine, and abortion on demand, it’s no surprise that he chose Senator Harris.” This inaccurate characterization is an unfortunate tactic that will push the Biden-Harris ticket further to the right. Together, Biden and Harris might still reject universal healthcare during the deadliest pandemic in recent memory. Together, they might promise expensive common sense “police reform” to a movement against senseless police spending. And together, they will affirm the power of the Black vote, while daring, even asking, do you really have any other choice?
I am doubtful that Biden and Harris can be pushed. My hope of being wrong is greater than my fear of being right.
This reflects the continuing widespread delusion, fostered especially by petty bourgeois fearfulness, that capitalist “democracy” is real and that the high point of human existence is the pursuit of “freedom” to “be yourself” (whatever that is supposed to mean - mostly to indulge consumerist whims, fashions and fancies at the world’s expense alongside pursuit of endless variants of single-issue individualist “identity” ?) and that collective mutually supportive human action, guided by scientific understanding of reality and its necessities, is to be feared and dismissed as “monstrous totalitarianism”.
So deeply has such anti-communism been brainwashed into the world’s population, in what the EPSR long ago described as -
the 20th century’s second most remarkable historical phenomenon (after the workers states themselves), - the unprecedented worldwide brainwashing operation against the Soviet revolution and communism pursued through every ideological channel known to the bourgeois world through endless monstrous fictions, disinformation, and non-stop anti-communist provocation-stunts in every corner of the globe, ceaselessly militarily baiting or sabotaging the Workers states, and repeatedly threatening to take the planet to the brink of World War III and a nuclear holocaust (EPSR 1080 13-03-01)
- that the Trumpites themselves continue to use it as an ideological weapon (as Hitler did) even after 20 years of blitzing destruction of country after country in the Middle East, and still continuing in the mass famine savagery of the stooge Saudi thug feudals’ war on Yemen, in Syria, Libya and throughout Africa where secret US special forces now operate in over two dozen countries to suppress growing rebelliousness (as seen in the latest Mali army coup eruption against Western interference) as well as with sabotage and sanction siege savagery against Iran for example, all proving the utter depravity and ruthless tyranny of US imperialism on top of fifty years of wars, coups, CIA assassinations and interventions, overturns and installations of fascist stoogery (and three centuries of colonialist horrors, genocides, torture and slavery before that).
The latest Western provoked “populist” stunt against the former Soviet republic Belarus and its elements of re-established socialist state organisation, taps every bit of the blinkered “democracy” and “freedom” prejudice inculcated into addled brains and hoodwinking the sorely misled masses, to divert attention from the grossly fascist reality that Trumpism (and its pale sidekick the spivvy incompetent Boris Johnson government in Britain) are preparing.
The crudely reactionary nature of the White House (and all capitalism) would be far clearer, and would be easier to take on, if its “socialism” bogeyman propagandising were not given credence by the whole slew of class collaborating Labour and Trot “leftism” once more swallowing this monstrous provocation in Minsk, just as it has gulped down the laughable “freedom” protest shyte hyped up in Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang province and now Mongolia against China (EPSR 1580, 1575 eg); against the Cuban workers state, and the left-nationalism in Venezuela; against North Korea and against all workers states and national liberation movements for the last century, ever since Lenin’s Bolshevik party overthrew the Tsar and the bourgeois regime which replaced it in 1917 (including the counter-revolutionary attempts in East Germany in 1953, in Hungary in 1956 (see archive page below) in the Czech Republic in 1968 and then for ten years backing the bogus “trade union” Solidarnosc in Poland, the much hyped “popular” movement that was nothing but Vatican and CIA funded Catholic reaction and Pilsudski fascism, as made clear ever since the 1989-91 ending of East European and Soviet communism.
Their petty bourgeois fear of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and a shallow equation of firm state action with “totalitarianism and fascism” is being played like a violin by the Western intelligence organised campaign, dutifully amplified and propagandised by the Western media onslaught, pretending that the reactionary anti-socialist movement stirred up around the presidential election of Alexandar Lukashenko is something to do with a “fight for freedom and genuine democracy”.
But there is no such thing in the abstract, as the poor and put-upon in even the richest Western nations are learning, most of all currently in Portland, in Minnesota and in Michigan.
Either the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie prevails, the rule and will of the billionaire exploiters, hidden behind the elaborate charade of everyone “having a say by voting” when it can afford it, (and that always grotesquely manipulated in a thousand ways by advertising, gerrymandering, education, boundary fixing, “legal” manoeuvres and with no real “choice” available anyway) or openly imposed with as much violent repression as needed and can be got away with -- or the working class takes power, establishing rule for the great majority and taking command of the great productive resources for a planned socialist future.
That can only be done when the working class power is itself relentlessly firm in suppressing the minority bourgeoisie and its non-stop efforts to re-establish its domination.
Such counter-revolution is the purpose of the demonstrations in Belarus though the Western hype around them has been very careful not to make very much of their actual political purpose, pretending that it is all about “terrible repression” rather than opening up the country’s still largely state-owned economy, land and resources for Western privatised investment (ie plunder).
But the reactionary nature of this movement has rapidly become clearer and clearer as the provocations have continued, not least in its adoption of the old red and white nationalist flag, rather than the red and green Soviet era colours of the current republic.
The old flag is particularly associated with western Belarus and it came to prominence twice, first briefly in the imperialist war against the Bolshevik revolution after 1917 when collaborating with German forces who occupied the country for a year in 1918, and then variously afterwards in conjunction with a Polish occupation under the fascist leader general Josef Pilsudski, and during the Second World War under the German Nazi occupation.
But everything about this hyped up and grossly inflated “movement” reeks of petty bourgeois collusion with the West.
Like the similar Ukrainian “protestors” stirred up by some $5bn worth of US and EU subversion who carried out the “Orange” (counter) revolution in 2014, with threats of violence and secret sniper killings on the Maidan square, the petty bourgeois elements being stirred around in Minsk are utterly reactionary and would impose the foulest repression, if given a free hand.
The bourgeois press knows it too. Scattered among the lurid exaggerations and outright fabrications about “state violence”, it has been trying to play down the obvious nazism of these challenges with sly commentary such as:
“It’s hard to believe that all of this stuff can still happen in the 21st century, in the age of artificial intelligence, satellites, Tesla and iPhones,” Maria Kolesnikova, a convivial and fearless flautist who has become one of the figureheads of the opposition movement, told me. But maybe, in fact, access to those things makes it easier. Lukashenko has never had pretensions to be totalitarian, and so it was much less stressful to co-exist in parallel with his kind of system than with its Soviet predecessor: don’t watch state television, don’t become active in politics, buy yourself an iPhone and get on with your life.
The violence after the election changed this equation. It showed that living a parallel life was no longer possible - that anyone could get caught up in state repression. Over and over again, people told me they had never had much love for Lukashenko, but now realised it was time to turn their passive distaste into active resistance. There was a real sense of catharsis at huge, carnival-like rallies held in Minsk, a delight at finally being able to say something that had remained unsaid for so long.
It’s not only the “creative class” of young professionals who are protesting. It’s all kinds of people who just a few years ago may have been pro-Lukashenko: factory workers, rural grandmothers and even state employees. Early on in my trip, I mentioned I was a journalist to a middle-aged cashier in a shop, who I had presumed would be a Lukashenko fan. “What do you think, are we going to win? Are we finally going to kick that bastard out?” was her reply, to my surprise.
Lukashenko, living in a bubble surrounded by sycophants, has appeared genuinely surprised by the scale of the discontent. His PR team has wheeled out the same tropes the Kremlin used successfully in Ukraine six years ago, about neo-Nazi radicals trying to bring chaos and sow discord with Russia.
In Ukraine, there was a kernel of truth to expand and distort, as well as a divided country to play with, but in Belarus it just sounds ridiculous.
So life, it is admitted, was not bad.
And it is the Western subversion long versed in Goebbels techniques which plays the lying games with the “kernel of truth” – using deliberate provocations and violence on the ground to try and induce a firm state response that can be presented out of context as “repression” in the short video clips for the news along with the poisonous commentaries.
Barely mentioned anywhere is the throwing of Molotov cocktails and other violence by these crowds, just as the monstrous violence and destructiveness of the Hong Kong “peaceful” demonstrations was ignored or glossed over by the hypocritical “outrage” of the Western politicians and press commentaries.
There was nothing “distorted” about the accounts of actual fascist violence which accompanied the Ukrainian revolt - including the burning to death of trade unionists trapped in a building in Odessa, the rampaging terrorising of the population since by the openly Nazi gangs celebrating wartime collaborationists with German Nazism and the non-stop brutal war against the working class towns and districts of the eastern Ukraine and its much more pro-Soviet historical legacy.
And of course it is the “young professionals”, ie better off middle class, which have been stirred up here, though far fewer of them than the wildly overstated “tens of thousands” regularly declared by the BBC and the bourgeois press to encourage and inflame, such lurid lies slid through by all the sophisticated propaganda methods and carefully coached pre-planned “witness” accounts now well practiced by the intelligence agencies, with their tales of “agonised screams from other rooms” etc and alleged “beatings”, very rarely actually physically seen, and never with the proper context and sequence of events detailed.
Careful framing and staging of the video coverage and weasel phrasings like “unofficial estimates have suggested that” in the press reports, and the rapid transformation of wild unproven and unprovable accusations, equally weaselly worded about “what appears to be” vote rigging, into statements of “fact” is all used to bend minds in the West and to bolster the demonstrations (with even more sinister provocations on standby, as with the secret snipers discovered on a rooftop in the 2002 coup attempt against Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, the same in the bushes around the early, bogus “Arab Spring” demonstrations set going in Syria in 2011, to throw petrol on the flames against Assad (themselves manipulated) and precipitate an uprising, and the same again in the Maidan in Ukraine in 2014, all hoping to cause maximum outrage and confusion).
On schedule this conspiracy is then reinforced by the play-acting “outrage” of the EU for example, arrogantly declaring that it “does not recognise” the presidential vote, and the decision of the Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, to “impose sanctions”, a doubly disgusting piece of posturing from these three bankrupt little enclaves, whose post-1991 post-Soviet economies survive largely on handouts from development and infrastructure funds from Brussels (translation - bribes to prevent reversion to socialism) and the remits from their migrant workforces who fill multiple jobs in the richer Western European countries like Britain, often undercutting local wages and working conditions while sneering at those around them for “not wanting to work”.
Not all East European migrant workers are tainted with reactionary attitudes obviously, but enough to demonstrate what poison that capitalism’s use of migrant labour can produce in minds, and especially when combined with a long history of anti-sovietism.
The same applies to the backward and Catholic-reactionary Polish Law and Justice regime, also pitching in, and the increasingly reactionary Czech Republic, verging near to fascism itself, as the crisis deepens and the restored capitalism in East Europe grows increasingly repressive:
Thousands of people took part in anti-Lukashenko protests in other towns and cities. Crowds also gathered in Prague and Warsaw.
The Czech prime minister urged his EU counterparts to help, recalling the crushing of Czech protests by a military invasion led by Moscow in 1968 as well as the peaceful overthrow of communism in 1989.
“Belarus must not experience what we had in 1968,” Andrej Babis tweeted. “(The) EU must be active, support Belarusians (and) not to be afraid to stage a similar velvet revolution model (as in) 1989.”
It is no coincidence meanwhile that one of the three fragrantly feminist opposition candidates, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has chosen Vilnius in Lithuania as the place to “flee” to, following what amounts to an outright coup attempt against Lukashenko.
She should feel right at home with the annual celebration marches for the Lithuanian SS divisions which collaborated with the German Nazis during the Second World War.
And who should she meet there? Why the second in command to Mike Pompeo, the deranged fundamentalist right-hand man to Trump:
On Monday, in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, she met with US Deputy Secretary of State, Stephen Biegun in a move that will have raised concern in the Kremlin. Russia has been asking Western states to keep out of the situation in Belarus, which is Moscow’s chief military and political ally.
In a statement, the State Department said Biegun had discussed “strengthening democracy and human rights in the country” with Tikhanovskaya in Vilnius. The bulletin described her as “opposition leader” and continued by “affirming the US commitment to Belarus’ sovereignty and territorial integrity and to the sovereign right of its people to elect their own leaders and determine their own future.”
Biegun also met with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius, Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis, and other officials to “discuss the situation in Belarus, countering threats posed by Russia and China, and the promotion of human rights and democracy.”
Biegun is also due to visit Russia and Ukraine this week.
Belarus has been hit by mass protests, and sporadic violence, since the disputed August 9 presidential election. Protesters have challenged the outcome of the vote. During the first day of riots they clashed with police and over 6,000 people were detained, with dozens of police officers and protesters injured. According to the contested official result from the Central Election Commission, incumbent Lukashenko won 80% of the vote and Tikhanovskaya was second with 10%. She did not recognize the outcome and fled to Lithuania.
Meanwhile other figures in the country have been making clear that they want bloodshed and chaos, masked as always behind the pretence that they are “just making predictions”:
Authorities in Belarus have questioned the Nobel prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich as part of an investigation into an opposition council created to facilitate a political transition in the country.
Alexander Lukashenko, who has been president for 26 years and is under pressure from protesters to step down after a rigged election win this month, has described the council as an attempt to seize power, and prosecutors have opened a criminal case.
Alexievich, who won the 2015 Nobel prize for literature for her non-fiction works that documented the lives of people in the former Soviet Union, is part of a seven-person presidium overseeing the council, and was called to give evidence as a witness.
Svetlana Alexievich: ‘After communism we thought everything would be fine. But people don’t understand freedom’
“Our goal is to unite society and help overcome a political crisis,” she said as she arrived at the investigative committee building in central Minsk on Wednesday. “We must win with our spirit and the strength of our beliefs.”
She left shortly afterwards, saying she had refused to answer questions.
Last week the opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova said in an interview that Alexievich was taking part in sessions of the coordination council via telephone link rather than in person, owing to health issues.
In an interview with Radio Liberty this month, Alexievich called on Lukashenko to resign. “Leave before it’s too late, before you have plunged the people into a terrible abyss, into the abyss of civil war … Nobody wants blood. Only you want power. And it’s your desire for power that requires blood,” she said.
This prediction is inseparable from the intimidation and bullying by the West in moving NATO up troops around the Belarus border in Latvia and Poland looking for an excuse for an intervention.
The relative firmness against this vicious anti-communism now being shown by Lukashenko’s government is to the benefit of the working class throughout the world.
But it remains to be seen if his revisionist narrowness will be sufficient to hold the line.
His original - and popular – election in 1994 was a significant moment as a symptom of the dismay felt by the former Soviet masses at the carpet-bagging gangsterism and plundering that capitalist restoration immediately led to (creating the “oligarch” billionaires who stole the huge communal wealth of the Soviet Union built by the working class over 70 years of struggle and sacrifice) and as an indication that the new “freedom” was not the universal wish that the West painted it to be (and Trot theorising too).
Belarus has remained an extraordinary outpost of state owned industry and property, run by a former collective farm manager on more or less soviet economic principles, demonstrating a capacity to provide much better conditions for the population than any of the capitalist restorations in Eastern Europe, or even of Putin’s Russian bonapartist balancing act (reining in the oligarchs to a limited extent to provide some of the former public benefits from oil and mineral sales). It is obviously hated by the West.
In the light of the restorationism all around it is hard to give a Marxist characterisation to this dogged continuation of the Soviet legacy, and not least because there is no indication of a revolutionary perspective forthcoming from Lukashenko’s regime, about its own nature, and about the former Soviet Union, and especially the philosophical retreats and capitulations of revisionism from Stalin’s period onwards which eventually led to the liquidationism of Mikhail Gorbachev (see EPSR Book Vol 13 on Gorbachevism and Vol 21 Unanswered Polemics on Stalinism).
Nor is there any kind of perspective apparent of the onrushing imperialist Catastrophe and its worldwide revolutionary implications.
It is not even clear where it stands on Lenin, Marx and Engels and what might be taught in schools etc on their revolutionary philosophy.
In some ways it does behave like a workers state, albeit somewhat tardily properly cracking down on the latest “colour revolution” attempt, and maintains significant armed forces and readiness to defend itself (deploying troops to the border against the latest NATO moves for example).
But Belarus still leaves in place the bourgeois democratic electoral procedures that have opened the door to this latest counter-revolution, and without any indication of the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat to be fought for.
It seems right for the working class to defend it, rather than simply calling for the defeat of imperialism’s skulduggery without any support for the regime, as would be the case with many of imperialism’s victims and targets such as the erratic bourgeois nationalist regime of Assad in Syria, the thuggish Saddam Hussein during the Iraq war, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya or the Shia sharia Islamic state in Iran; all of which are in themselves no future for the working class and not to be trusted in themselves.
But any solidarity with Minsk needs to be very clear in its criticism of its revisionist shortcomings.
Even the left-nationalism of the Maduro regime in Venezuela, defiant of imperialism as it is, is not a workers state, and the principle of “strike together, but march separately” always making clear the working class understands the Marxist-Leninst position of the need to end the bourgeois state and establish the proletarian dictatorship prevails (following Lenin’s tactical understanding spelled out in August 1917, for the Bolshevik forces to fight alongside the treacherous bourgeois democracy of Alexander Kerensky against the monarchist-fascist restoration coup attempt by General Kornilov but without trusting him in the slightest, even during the course of the fighting).
Revisionist limitations still hampering the leadership even in the brilliant workers state in Cuba, further underline the lesson.
For itself Havana has correctly established the proletarian dictatorship at great and heroic cost, defying and resisting the huge US power less than 100km away, and its throttling siege blockade aggression, showing no intention of allowing back fraudulent bourgeois democracy.
It has delivered massive aid and support to other anti-imperialist struggles, both military and civil, including huge support across the world in medical aid for the anti-Covid struggle.
But its failure to see the importance of Leninist theory, and clarify this understanding for the struggles around it in Latin America, including Venezuela, has undoubtedly contributed to their vulnerability to the non-stop and vicious counter-revolution which has already toppled “left” regimes in Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Honduras, and Bolivia through varying degrees of bribed and CIA advised dirty dealing, “constitutional” coups, whipped-up middle-class street protest (usually violent) and outright violent overthrows.
Its advice, to use “peaceful” and parliamentary methods, to the FARC revolutionary fighters in Colombia, and elevation of the revisionist Salvador Allende to hero status, instead of criticising his opportunism and misleadership which opened the door to the 1973 Pinochet coup, along with characterising the left movement in Latin America as a “revolution” even though it has not overturned the bourgeoisie in any of the Bolivarian countries, all reflect such delusions and weaknesses and need to be criticised too, even as workers give unconditional solidarity to Cuba.
The same would apply to Minsk even if it is accepted as being a workers state.
Such revisionist weakness is also apparent in the few “left” groups who have not capitulated to the deluge of “democracy” garbage still pouring out over Belarus, notably the Lalkar/Proletarian CPGB-ML museum Stalinists, desperately trying to recover some “communist” credentials after years backing Brexit and helping whip up the British national jingoism and chauvinism which was its main purpose and which becomes more glaringly obvious by the day (still being fostered by their Workers Party of Britain alliance with the outright opportunist ex-Labourite, ex-Respect George Galloway whose “British patriotism” pronouncements sound more like Nigel Farage by the minute).
Soundly enough they point to the reactionary nature of the “protests” and the parallels to the Ukrainian reactionaries running Kiev.
But there is not a word about the “democracy” confusions that this whole stunt is partly about, alongside the straightforward attempt to overthrow the government. Just the opposite they simply refer to Lukashenko’s
“enduring popularity at the polls”
without a word of what would be supposed to happen if this popularity should be prove to be not so “enduring” or more to the point, the Western skulduggery could manipulate it so (as it has done hundreds of times over where it can infiltrate - as in Nicaragua for example after the Sandinistas’ revolutionary dictatorship capitulated to the pressure for “elections” after years of brutal contra disruption and killing).
So, if he “lost” the vote the working class should just quietly capitulate to rampant privatisation and the installation of NATO bases as the rest of East Europe has done??????
Just as dire is the advice to trust Putin’s Moscow -
Lukashenko is not the blundering despot he is portrayed to be in the imperialist media. On the contrary, he is a shrewd political leader with a strong grasp of the geopolitical realities that shape the choices Belarus must make if it is to survive and prosper. Russia, China and Turkey all broke ranks with the ‘international community’, congratulating the president on his re-election, with President Xi Jinping in particular pledging to carry on improving bilateral ties.
It will be remembered that last December the China Development Bank granted Belarus a loan of roughly $500m. It is clearly in Minsk’s interests to keep all its trading options open.
However, it is of great importance that Belarus should never lose sight of who its real friends are in an unstable world, given its strategic location. Unfortunately, even the level of political sophistication undoubtedly possessed by the current leadership may not be enough to avert the unpredictable consequences of trying to run with the hare and ride with the hounds.
One of the key economic relationships with Russia is to do with the oil industry. For a long time (and again this has Ukrainian echos) Belarus has enjoyed the supply from Russia of cheap oil, both for its own energy needs and also to be refined in Belarus and sold on. Recent changes in Russian taxation arrangements have reduced this effective subsidy, though Russian oil will still be supplied at below the world market rate.
Arguments about the price of oil triggered a temporary halt in deliveries in January. Although it all got sorted out by April, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo had paid an official state visit to Minsk in March, and in May he announced with a flourish the departure of the first shipment of US crude oil, amounting to 80,000 tons. He bragged: “This competitive deal, by US energy trader United Energy Trading, with the assistance of US firm Getka and their Polish partner Unimot, strengthens Belarusian sovereignty and independence.”
US imperialist respect for the sovereignty and independence of small countries is, of course, legendary. Belarus is also pressing on with building pipelines that will enable it to access crude oil from elsewhere, and is bringing in tankers with non-Russian cargoes, including a shipment from Saudi Arabia.
None of which necessarily need fundamentally undermine fraternal relations between Minsk and Moscow. Trade is trade, and Belarus must make its own mind up over which deals best serve the national interest.
As this says, trade deals need to be made where they can be, as Lenin made clear.
But not a clue in all this about the class nature of Belarus, Russia, Turkey or even China, and particularly whether they are workers states, the pivotal matter.
Why should Belarus trust Moscow and its restored oligarch capitalism??
Why should it trust Russian nationalism which in part has been behaving with the same expansionist ambitions as other capitalism, particularly in seeking “influence” in the Middle East (Syria, Libya, pacts with Saudi Arabia) and in the brute suppression of local nationalism, particularly in Chechnya (see EPSR 1248 14-09-04 eg).
The exact nature of post-Soviet Russia is complex - so far the EPSR has described Putinism as a form of Bonapartism, using the once workers-state forces to balance between the oligarch imperialism of restored capitalism and the restoration of at least some of the past social provision under the pressure of mass nostalgia for Soviet times (similar to but seemingly less effectual than the working class sentiment that put Lukashenko back).
That has not been out of any sympathy - Putin is completely hostile to communism - so much as to try and keep the lid on such stirrings, which could rapidly turn to more revolutionary sentiment (inevitable at some point).
But this unstable knife-edge restrained capitalist rule is dependent on continuing revenue from mineral and oil sales which are under huge threat as the world capitalist crisis deepens.
The Lalkarites are just as circumspect about the nature of China, refusing to call it a workers state, and simply criticising its notions of “market socialism”.
So is it capitalist then (as much Western philistine impressionism glibly and shallowly declares, including most of the petty bourgeois Trots that Lalkar routinely postures against, who are relentlessly defeatist and disbelieving deep down that socialism will ever work despite their professed Marxism)?
The Lalkarites will not say.
Beijing’s use of capitalist methods in part of the economy is not any indication, - Lenin’s post-revolutionary New Economic Policy recognised that it was impossible to jump immediately to the highest level of socialist planning and control in a backward and largely peasant economy, which was also the case for China after 1949 (as tragically demonstrated by the voluntarist effort to do so in the failed Great Leap Forward).
Capitalist motivation could fill the gap - if kept strictly under control politically and economically by the workers state.
China has let this process run further than might have been envisaged and the existence of billionaires – including some given communist party membership – remains a worry.
But the highly efficient state planned and directed response to the pandemic, was surely only possible where central authority was respected and on balance, wished for ie a workers state?
And the ideological battles launched by Xi Jinping - and hated by the West – indicate the same.
The suspicion is Lalkar evades this question because if China is still a workers state, and there has been no historic turmoil to indicate otherwise as there was in 1989-91 in the Soviet camp, despite endless imperialist attempts, then the confusions and mistakes Beijing does make, can only be explained by the retreat from Leninism, which is to say, into revisionism.
To challenge that is the issue - but that would mean diving deeper into the philosophical roots of revisionism in the Soviet Union, which the Stalin worshipping Lalkarites refuse to do.
Their usual “blame Kruschev” line is badly exposed. If his failing was to “smuggle in market mechanisms” (barely visible in the 1950s and 1960s), and thus eventually the counter-revolution, then China must by now be far beyond the pale.
But that would mean denouncing it as capitalist or counter-revolutionary which it clearly is not (and which would remove a nice little source of “solidarity visits” and the chummy hobnobbing banquets that the Lalkar loves to fill its pages with).
So - no clarity for the working class on Beijing.
And none either on Moscow or Minsk.
Here things are the other way round.
Declaring approval for Putin’s eventual agreement to help Belorus should it be attacked does not clarify much either, and in fact deceitfully evades a Marxist understanding of Putin’s Russia.
Its implication is that because some kind of solidarity is being offered, Moscow should be viewed as progressive, the same confused line that the Brarites have been clinging too for two decades in all their analyses, acting as if oligarch Russia is a progressive force in the world (see eg EPSR 1248 op cit).
It is restored capitalism and Putinism is still not showing itself ready to re-establish Soviet relations in its society and in the federation.
Just the opposite.
The willing participation in the “war on terror”, even with some cooperation with the US and other imperialist forces in Syria and Iraq against ISIS goes in entirely the wrong direction.
Recent spats and conflicts with Belarus, glossed over by the Lalkarites or even outrageously blamed on Lukashenko, only emphasise the point.
It is completely and deviously misleading to take sides with Moscow, pretending it is “generously helping” when the only side which has a claim, however woodenly revisionist, to defending socialist measures, is Belarus.
Nothing says that Moscow is helping or aiding Belarus because of its continuing socialist planning and control, and if anything the disputes cited (slid past) by Lalkar suggest some hostility, particularly the recent incident over Russian mercenaries transiting through Minsk.
Going where? And for what? Nothing indicates their purpose is fighting imperialism.
Russia remains tied to Minsk for strategic and economic reasons, recognising that if Belarus goes under, the belligerent wing of Western imperialism will be pushing NATO forces even closer to the border with Russia.
But that is no more than self-interested nationalist defensiveness against normal inter-imperialist aggression, intensifying particularly as the crisis deepens (just as Russia’s “occupation” of the Crimea was).
There is undoubtedly an extra edge to imperialism’s anti-Russian hostility for sections of the ruling class, because, firstly, capitalism needs bogeymen to blame for its problems and a deluge of lurid and unsubstantiated accusations pours out to that end almost constantly, (like the latest “Novichok” speciousness or wild “computer hacking” stories while pretending that butter would not melt in the mouth of the $billions imperialist cyberwar stations like the NSA and GCHQ) and, secondly, the more distrustful elements remain unconvinced that Putinism means Russia is soundly and solidly within the imperialist camp.
It may be that this aggression will finally wake up Moscow.
But even then the question remains of re-building Leninist perspectives for revolutionary defeat of imperialism, not the ineffectual “Hands off Belarus” pacifist sloganising the Lalkarites, limply conclude with.
A further aspect of Belarus is the gross “democracy and freedom” hypocrisy of the West’s bogus care for “human rights”.
So where are the non-stop heart-wrenching and agony filled news pages over say, Palestine, with its grossly mistreated and dispossessed people once again being bombed and terrorised for weeks in the Gaza strip for presuming to fight back against their siege incarceration in a concrete hellhole? The demands for the Zionist government to resign? etc etc.
Instead Washington boosts this oppression by lining up the stooge Gulf Arab sheikhs to end their always token conflict with the Zionist occupation, setting up diplomatic and economic cooperation, abandoning the Palestinians to their dispossessed and genocidally oppressed fate.
The same for Yemen, still on the edge of famine after four years of blitzing hell by the tribal feudal gangster Princes running Saudi Arabia, still being given massive arms deals, military aid and training and international support from Washington and the UK.
Or for Kashmir, overrun and occupied for the last year, and essentially annexed by India. Daily emotive stories about the missing and disappeareds, the incarcerated and the censorship (including months of Internet shutdown by Dehli)????? No.
Or daily news videos and spreads about the Thailand protests against the military dictatorship which toppled the government five years ago?: One buried away story in a blue moon to maintain alleged “balanced news” is your lot:
Every morning when the national anthem plays out in Thai schools, students are expected to stand still in deference as the country’s flag is raised. But last week some sent a defiant message, raising their hands in a three-fingered salute – a gesture borrowed from The Hunger Games that is used widely by Thailand’s growing pro-democracy movement. Others gathered on school grounds to hold up sheets of blank paper.
For more than a month there have been almost daily student-led rallies spreading across the country, including a demonstration in Bangkok last weekend attended by more than 10,000 people. Observers are astonished by how rapidly the protests have spread, by how young people are challenging traditional hierarchies, and by the boldness of their demands, some of which relate to the powerful royal family.
“Everybody in Thai society has been very surprised by what is happening right now,” said Kanokrat Lertchoosakul, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of political science: “We have never ever seen a phenomenon like this.” As well as university students, children as young as 13 or 14 were organising flash mobs, she said.
The protest movement is not centrally organised. Instead, different groups have used social media to coordinate rallies across the country, driven by anger at a military-backed government they accuse of eroding democracy and holding their country back.
Protesters are calling for the prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, who first came to power during a 2014 coup, to dissolve parliament, for an end to the harassment of activists and for reforms to the constitution, which was written under military rule and has entrenched the army’s power.
Some have also called for changes to curb the power of the monarchy, in speeches that until recently would have seemed unthinkable.
Such comments carry huge risks. Though the king has apparently requested no prosecutions for now under the country’s strict lese-majeste laws, at least 10 pro-democracy protesters have been arrested on other charges including sedition, which carries a sentence of up to seven years.
The group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights says it has documented 103 cases where students have been harassed or prevented from expressing their political views, including by making the three-fingered salute, wearing white ribbons or holding pieces of blank paper. Last week Unicef released a statement calling for “children and young people’s right to freedom of expression” to be upheld.
Kanokrat, who has interviewed dozens of young protesters, said that while students’ right to voice political opinions was protected in the constitution, most schools were trying to stop any form of protest. “In reality, in a very conservative and moralist society like Thailand, the controlling power inside the school is under the hand of the individual teachers,” she said.
At a rally outside the education ministry on Wednesday, Nataphol was jeered by students – a fair cry from the respectful treatment that students are usually expected to give their elders. Nataphol sat down with campaigners to discuss their concerns, stating later that “the government is always willing and ready to listen to all its citizens”.
A grade 11 student who was among those who protested at school and asked not to be named, said young people wanted freedom of expression. “We want a true democracy where you can speak however you want without being arrested,” she said.
She had followed protests on Twitter and decided to take part with friends. “At first when I thought about it I was afraid, but because a lot more people [took part], after, the feeling was that I want to fight,” she said. She had not faced any repercussions.
Kanokrat said social media was one of the factors that had led students to become emboldened in their protests. Online they had found a community of people with similar opinions who would rally to support one another.
“I interviewed a medical student and they said they have to work very hard studying, but that at night they have to work hard to promote the hashtag,” she said. Protesters are using everything from Tinder to TikTok to spread their message, often using symbols and satire.
Online and at rallies, yellow “missing” posters are shared, featuring the faces of disappeared activists. Students make subversive use of cultural references, from Harry Potter to Hamtaro, a Japanese cartoon hamster. In public places, young people sing an adapted version of the Hamtaro cartoon’s jingle while running in circles, as if in a hamster wheel. As they run, they sing: “The most delicious food is taxpayers’ money.”
There is a long tradition of Thai protesters using symbolism. “This happens when you grow up in dictatorship or highly repressive regime,” said Dr Aim Sinpeng, a lecturer at the University of Sydney. She said young people today produced references and satire that were “highly shareable and suited to social media”.
Speeches have become increasingly direct, with some speakers calling for the power of King Maha Vajiralongkorn to be curbed. Prayuth has told protesters not to involve the monarchy but said he will consider their concerns regarding the constitution.
Some have questioned why, if demands are being listened, peaceful activists are being arrested. “The government is trying to buy time by arresting activists one by one,” said Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, the secretary general of the protest group Free People Movement, who faces multiple charges. “They think that the protest will dissolve, but they are wrong.”
Even here the issue of “disappeareds” is only quickly referenced, a far cry from the confected ballyhoo raised over Lukashenko. Yet this repression is real and far worse, with disembowelled bodies washed up in rivers and other terrorising - not to mention a past history of massacres by military coups. But Thailand is in the Western camp.
Meanwhile the lying reality of Western “concern” to protect human rights has been further underlined by a new documentary on the brutal coup organised by the CIA and MI6 in 1953 to topple democratically elected Mohamed Mossadeq in Iran:
The account by the MI6 officer who ran the operation describes how it took British intelligence years to persuade the US to take part in the coup. Meanwhile, MI6 recruited agents and bribed members of Iran’s parliament with banknotes transported in biscuit tins.
Together the MI6 and CIA even recruited Shah Reza Pahlavi’s sister in an effort to persuade the reluctant monarch to back the coup to overthrow Mohammad Mossadegh.
“The plan would have involved seizure of key points in the city by what units we thought were loyal to the shah … seizure of the radio station etc … the classical plan,” recalled Norman Darbyshire, the head of MI6’s Persia station in Cyprus at the time of the coup.
Britain’s role in a pivotal moment in Iran’s history left an enduring mark on Iranian perceptions of Britain, but details of the role of its spies have remained obscure.
Darbyshire gave his version of events in an off-record interview with the makers of Granada TV’s 1985 film End of Empire: Iran. He refused to appear on camera, so the interview was not used directly in the programme.
The transcript was forgotten until it was rediscovered in the course of research for a new documentary, Coup 53, due to be released on Wednesday, the 67th anniversary of the coup. The role of Darbyshire, who died in 1993, will be dramatised by Ralph Fiennes.
Taghi Amirani, the director of Coup 53, said: “Even though it has been an open secret for decades, the UK government has not officially admitted its fundamental role in the coup. Finding the Darbyshire transcript is like finding the smoking gun. It is a historic discovery.”
The typewritten transcript was published on Monday morning by the National Security Archive at George Washington University in the US.
The shah appointed Mossadegh as prime minister in April 1951 after he won overwhelming support from the Majlis, Iran’s parliament. One of Mossadegh’s first acts was to nationalise the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (which later became BP), immediately creating a crisis in UK relations.
According to Darbyshire, however, the main reason MI6 wanted to get rid of Mossadegh was that Britain’s spies believed his government, although it contained only one member of the communist Tudeh party, would ultimately be overwhelmed by Soviet influence.
“I really do believe it because Mossadegh was a fairly weak character,” the British intelligence officer said. “[O]nce you get highly trained members of the communist party in, it doesn’t take long. We didn’t share the American view that he was acting as a bulwark against communism … we thought he would be pushed by the communists in the long run.”
In 1951 the UK’s deputy prime minister, Anthony Eden, without consulting his senior officials, dispatched an academic and wartime spy, Robert Zaehner, to try to oust Mossadegh by bribing members of the Majlis and other prominent Iranians.
“Vast sums of money were being spent,” Darbyshire said. “He used to carry biscuit tins with damn great notes. I think he spent well over a million and a half pounds.”
Zaehner’s attempt failed and he left the country, leaving Darbyshire to plot a more violent alternative, which he insisted ended up costing his government less. “The coup cost £700,000. I know because I spent it,” he claimed.
...The British spy also claimed credit for recruiting a pro-shah general, Fazlollah Zahedi, to lead the coup and ultimately take Mossadegh’s place as prime minister.
“A coup is necessarily predicated on the use of armed force,” Darbyshire said. “Zahedi was suitable as a candidate because he had good standing. We knew the shah trusted him.”
Darbyshire’s plotting was interrupted in October 1952 when Mossadegh severed relations with the UK and expelled its diplomats and spies. Darbyshire left with his coup plans in his pocket and presented them to the CIA in Beirut. But the CIA was not yet interested...
The US position only changed after Dwight Eisenhower took office in January 1953.
Darbyshire admitted he organised the abduction of Mossadegh’s chief of police, General Mahmoud Afshartous, in April 1953, but insisted it was never intended that he be killed – a murder that fuelled the instability leading up to the coup.
After a few false starts, the coup succeeded on 19 August 1953. Mossadegh was put on trial and kept under house arrest until his death 14 years later. According to Darbyshire, his fate was sealed from the moment he took office.
“They would have wanted to oust Mossadegh regardless of whether he would have signed an agreement favourable to the British,” he said “Eventually they would have been forced to have considered getting rid of him to prevent a Russian takeover.
Imperialism has always overturned regimes it does not like with total contempt.
There is only one actual democracy, that developed under the dictatorship of the proletariat when more and more of the ordinary masses will be drawn into running socialism.
Build Leninism. Don Hoskins
Back to the top
In the light of the Belarus provocations we repeat an early article from the forerunner of the EPSR, then known as the Workers Party (Workers Party Bulletin No 85 25-04-81). The piece by Royston Bull was written before the EPSR had worked through in full its understanding of Trotskyism and its counter-revolutionary nature, emerging in full polemical discussion as the Solidarnosc bogus trade-union was beginning its long anti-communist disruption in the then Polish workers state. A full account is available in EPSR books 3,4,5,6,7 and many issues of the paper since
Counter-revolution by CIA in Hungary
Growing evidence of CIA, Vatican, and other Western imperialist organisation and finance behind the Solidarity moves to restore bourgeois parliamentary rule in Poland has led to renewed interest in previous counter-revolutionary stunts in East Europe since capitalism was overthrown there together with all its bourgeois parliaments. Observations in the Western press and other anti-Moscow sources on the 1956 Hungarian events, for example, are interesting.
Allen Dulles, the then head of the American intelligence (CIA) and brother of the then US foreign minister (Secretary of State) John Foster Dulles, admitted publicly that he had prior knowledge of the anti-Soviet rising.
Dulles was in charge of the $100 million then allocated annually (worth more than $1,000 million today) by the US Mutual Security Act of October 10, 1951, for the purpose of forming armed detachments of individuals residing in socialist countries or of selected persons who left these countries.
The Le Monde of Paris reported on November 22 1956:
“The ‘Free Europe’ committee, headed by Allen Dulles, was created with two purposes in view: to take into its own hands the organisation and guidance of the post-war political emigres and to ensure them the leading role in the propaganda beamed to Eastern Europe.
“National Committees, whose members were picked by Americans, were set up in New York. The Americans gave them material support, thus enabling them to be the sole spokesmen of the emigres.
At the same time, a radio station was built in Holzkirchen near Munich.
“This radio station, which employed about a hundred Hungarians, broadcast all-day programmes for Hungary with the purpose of bolstering the spirit of resistance to the communist system among its listeners.
“The principal theme of these broadcasts was the might of America and its mission to help enslaved peoples.
“On the other hand, the ‘Crusade for Freedom’ organisation, a sister of the ‘Free Europe’ committee, from time to time used thousands of balloons to shower Hungary with leaflets which incited the population to resistance in the name of the non-existent Committee of Liberation.
“During the rising, probably many people responded to the calls of Radio Free Europe.…”
The Berliner Zeitung of November 20 wrote:
“The participation of trained Hungarian émigrés in the bloody events in Hungary is now an established fact. It has been learned in Munich that in Upper Bavaria near Trauenstein, there is an American-run camp in which officers from Franco Spain and members of Hungarian fascist organisations teach people partizan warfare. A large group of Swabians from Hungary, men who fled to West Germany in 1945 because they were members of Waffen-SS detachments, arrived in the camp after October 20..…
“On the 24, 25, and 26 of October, groups of guerrilla trainees were sent from the Trauenstein camp to Austria and from there smuggled into Hungary in Red Cross aeroplanes and trucks.”
The émigré newspaper Uj Hungaria (New Hungary) stated on November 2:
“The Hungarian emigration is in motion. Hungarians in the Walka camp, one of the main assembly points for Hungarian refugees in West Germany, are enthusiastically forming command battalions.
Their job, no matter what happens and irrespective of the stand taken by the First Secretary Janos Kadar West, is to penetrate into Hungary. In London too, volunteer battalions are being enrolled…
Hungarian youths and émigré soldiers living in France, Germany, Austria and other European countries are setting out on their own initiative for the Hungarian border, or have already crossed it…”
The Hamburg Welt am Sonntag of November 4, quoting a Hungarian woman, reported:
“It was on Saturday we received the first food. A foreigner who spoke fluent Hungarian delivered to us four wagons loaded with tin containers and said we should be very cautious when opening the tins. It was only later that we understood the meaning of these words. Two hundred of the tins were filled with hand grenades.”
That report did not appear in other editions of Welt am Sonntag, and copies of that edition quickly disappeared.
A report in the New York World Telegram and Sun in mid-November said that the West German espionage organisation, headed by the former NAZI General Gehlen, had played an active part in launching the rising. This American correspondent said that well-informed diplomatic circles had confirmed that the Gehlen network had played an important role in the rising. Like the CIA, Gehlen’s organisation had a special anti-communist fund.
In a public statement in 1957, an émigré leader Miklos Szabo, a former Smallholders Party deputy, declared his disillusionment with the treacherous activities of the emigre movement and returned to Hungary.
“Immediately before October 23 or on that day, a former Horthyite officer, who was then the agent of the Gehlen organisation, declared that the time had arrived to go into Hungary to provide military control. And he actually did this. Equipped with a radio transmitting and receiving set, presumably accompanied by others, he entered Hungary. He only returned to Vienna in December 1956.
“About this time they began to prepare the intelligence bureau under the name of Hungarian Refugee Service, which until then had operated in Salzburg. By that time it had been decided that a legitimist named Taubinger, who had for years been in the pay of the Americans, would be appointed to head it. This organisation had been set up by Radio Free Europe and was also subordinated to the Hungarian National Committee.”
Indian leader Nehru declared November 19: “I am convinced?that the arms for the fascist elements who took part in the Hungarian uprising were supplied from abroad.”
On October 31, Agence France Presse reported:
“It has now been confirmed that extremist military organisations are being formed with great haste in Western Hungary....
“These organisations have already established contact with former ‘Crusaders’
(the fascist ‘Arrow Cross’ organisation)
and ultra-nationalists in Austria.
“The events in Hungary are reminiscent of the Horthy putsch in 1919
(which drowned in blood the first Hungarian workers state set up in the wake of the October Revolution).
The Fleet Street Sunday newspaper Reynolds News reported:
“The Hungarian ‘revolutionaries’ are rightwing radicals…
‘Hungarian fascists have streamed into the country from abroad. It is quite possible that an extreme fascist regime will be set up under the successors of Admiral Horthy and Szalasi.”
The November issue of the Arrow-Cross Ut es Cel newspaper boasted about the fact that the Falangist movement of Franco’s fascist Spain
“regards the Hungarist movement as a fraternal movement and deems it necessary that close relations be established between the two movements. The Falange follows with great understanding and sympathy the work of the Hungarist movement aimed at the liberation of Hungary, and entertains sincere respect for the person and ideas of Ferenc Szalasi, the martyr National Leader.”
The Daily Mirror columnist Pearson pointed out:
“By some strange coincidence, practically every exiled satellite leader now living in Washington went back to Paris just before the Hungarian revolt.”
Among them were Mikolajszyk (Poland), Osusky (Czechoslovakia), Gemeto Dimitrov (Bulgaria), and Ferenc Nagy (Hungary).
“Maybe they had a premonition of events to come.”
The activities of the ‘Freedom Fighters’ inside Hungary is significant. The Dusseldorf Deutsche Volkszeiting described how:
“As soon as the Soviet troops left Budapest, there followed an appalling massacre, a veritable St Bartholemew’s Night.”
Sefton Delmer wrote in the Daily Express that the people who were lynched were hanging in windows, on trees, and on lamp-posts. Delmer went on to say that simple peaceful citizens were also hanged.
The Westdeutsches Tagblatt wrote as follows:
“Horrors that defy the imagination - that’s what the events led to.
Guilty and innocent alike were among the victims. Lynch law ruled the country, turning it into a blood-bath.”
The United Nations report on these same events, incidentally, described them as “isolated skirmishes”.
But the correspondent of the Belgrade Politika reported how the homes of Jews and Communists had been marked with black and white crosses respectively:
“There is no doubt any more, “that we are witnessing a classic example of Hungarian fascism and White Terror.”
In the New York Times in March 1957, Dr Richard Saunders wrote about the aftermath of the Soviet forces’ return to Budapest:
“It was a fallacy to believe that all of the Hungarian refugees were freedom fighters seeking political asylum.”
Saunders said only one fifth of the thousands who fled were Freedom Fighters. Another two-fifths, he said, were criminals and adventurers. And the remaining two-fifths
“people trying to escape their harsh, meagre life, of which Communism was only one aspect.”
On that ‘harsh, meagre life’, Die Welt of Hamburg was already writing by March 1957 an article on the “Dissipation of Hungarian Refugees Hopes and Expectations in the West”.
This reported that initial discontent was daily growing into bitterness against the West.
All that they had been told about the West when they were living in Hungary was now coming back to them. Many now believed that the facts tallied completely with what they had heard before.
Die Welt said the inconceivable was now coming to pass: - while Western newspapers were writing of horrors that were taking place in Hungary, of Stalinist restoration gathering strength daily, a growing number of refugees were saying that the Hungarian Government had promised them immunity, that they believed that government, and they wanted to go home.
Others were saying that even if they were put on trial, they would at least be back home. What could the West give them, they asked.
In Austria on June 21, 1957, a Salzburg conference of the social welfare institute heard Dr Folberth say:
“In spite of all their efforts, the Hungarian refugees who have had a thorough schooling in Communist life are unable to adapt themselves to living conditions in the capitalist countries, and regard most political and economic institutions here as antiquated and unjust. This, above all, is the reason why so many refugees, disappointed in their hopes and illusions, are determined to return to Hungary at all costs.”
The crimes and errors of the Rakosi-Gero Stalinist leadership in Hungary before the counter-revolution in 1956 are clear.
But it is equally clear what restoration of ‘parliamentary democracy’ and the old guard that went with it would have meant for Hungary, - and did mean for four days of White Terror.
The imperialist circles and capitalist media who had foreknowledge of and so eagerly welcomed the Hungarian events were exactly the same people who have exulted in savage counter-revolution since the war in Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Chile, and elsewhere, all CIA-run or influenced events.
And despite the continuing glaring Stalinist weaknesses, crimes, and errors of domestic and international policy in Hungary since 1956 - and throughout the entire Soviet bloc - which can never lead to enthusiastic support for the regimes there, what has happened to the so-called Hungarian “Revolution” since 1956?
Clearly it was just a CIA-manufactured stunt which fizzled out as soon as it was put down.
But that does not happen to genuinely revolutionary struggles despite infinitely more brutal and repressive treatment than has ever been dished out to its opponents by the Janos Kardar regime since 1956, as for example in South Africa.
The Black Revolution there is systematically butchered, bludgeoned, and tortured day in, day out, with particularly savage pass laws, censorship laws, and police-military surveillance.
But every day in South Africa, the revolutionary confrontations grow fiercer and fiercer.
For the past 24 years in Hungary by contrast, continuing discontent and difficulties, no doubt, but also much soundly-based social and economic progress, - and also no revolutionary struggle to remove a hated ruling class, for none exists.
The real revolutionary advance from the deformities and insoluble conflicts of Stalinism is still awaited in Hungary and throughout Eastern Europe, the form it will take as yet unknown.
What was defeated in Hungary in 1956 was beyond any doubt the dying Counter-Revolution.
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