Monday, 12 April 2010

Anti-Imperialist Struggle is Key to Liberation, Leon Trotsky-1938

Trotsky, likely spinning in his grave

Useful antidote to the vagaries of pseudo Trotskyism spewing forth on the British left at present. As the SWP/Workers Power/Socialist Resistance/ Socialist Party et al, call for a vote to the Imperialist, genocidal and thoroughly bankrupt Labour Party in the May 6th General Election, it can be useful to review how far away are these epigones from the class struggle method of the great Russian Revolutionary, Leon Trotsky, whose name they invoke, but whose method they abjure.Active link via clicking title

Fossa: In your opinion what will be the further development of the present situation in Europe?

Trotsky: It is possible that this time too diplomacy will succeed in reaching a rotten compromise. But it will not last long. War is inevitable and moreover in the very near future. One international crisis follows another. These convulsions are similar to the birth pangs of the approaching war. Each new paroxysm will bear a more severe and dangerous character. At present I do not see any force in the world that can stop the development of this process, that is, the birth of war. A horrible new slaughter is relentlessly drawing upon humanity.

Of course, timely revolutionary action by the international proletariat could paralyze the rapacious work of the imperialists. But we must look the truth straight in the face. The working masses of Europe in their overwhelming majority are under the leadership of the Second and Third Internationals. The leaders of the Amsterdam International of Trade Unions fully support the policy of the Second and the Third Internationals and enter together with them into so-called “People’s Fronts.”

The policy of the “People’s Front,” as is shown by the example of Spain, France, and other countries, consists in subordinating the proletariat to the left-wing of the bourgeoisie. But the entire bourgeoisie of the capitalist countries, the right as well as the “left” is permeated through and through with chauvinism and imperialism. The “People’s Front” serves to turn the workers into cannon fodder for their imperialist bourgeoisie. Only that and nothing more.

The Second, the Third, and the Amsterdam Internationals are at present counterrevolutionary organizations whose task it is to put brakes upon and paralyze the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat against “democratic” imperialism. So long as the criminal leadership of these Internationals is not overthrown, the workers will be powerless to oppose war. This is the bitter but inescapable truth. We must know how to face it and not console ourselves with illusions and pacifist babbling. War is inevitable!

Fossa: What will be its effect on the struggle in Spain and on the international working class movement?

Trotsky: In order to understand correctly the nature of the coming events we must first of all reject the false and thoroughly erroneous theory that the coming war will be a war between fascism and “democracy.” Nothing is more false and foolish than this idea. Imperialist “democracies” are divided by the contradictions of their interests in all parts of the world. Fascist Italy can easily find herself in one camp with Great Britain and France if she should lose faith in the victory of Hitler. Semifascist Poland may join one or the other of the camps depending upon the advantages offered. In the course of war the French bourgeoisie may substitute fascism for its “democracy” in order to keep its workers in submission and force them to fight “to the end.” Fascist France, like “democratic” France would equally defend its colonies with weapons in hand. The new war will have a much more openly rapacious imperialist character than the war of 1914-18. Imperialists do not fight for political principles but for markets, colonies, raw materials, for hegemony over the world and its wealth.

The victory of any one of the imperialist camps would mean the definite enslavement of all humanity, the clamping of double chains on present-day colonies, and all weak and backward peoples, among them the peoples of Latin America. The victory of any one of the imperialist camps would spell slavery, wretchedness, misery, the decline of human culture.

What is the way out, you ask? Personally, I do not doubt for a moment that a new war will provoke an international revolution against the rule of the rapacious capitalist cliques over humanity. In wartime all differences between imperialist “democracy” and fascism will disappear. In all countries a merciless military dictatorship will reign. The German workers and peasants will perish just like the French and English. The modern means of destruction are so monstrous that humanity will probably not be able to endure war even a few months. Despair, indignation, hatred will push the masses of all warring countries into an uprising with weapons in hand. Victory of the world proletariat will put an end to war and will also solve the Spanish problem as well as all the current problems of Europe and other parts of the world.

Those working class “leaders” who want to chain the proletariat to the war chariot of imperialism, covered by the mask of “democracy,” are now the worst enemies and the direct traitors of the toilers. We must teach the workers to hate and despise the agents of imperialism, since they poison the consciousness of the toilers; we must explain to the workers that fascism is only one of the forms of imperialism, that we must fight not against the external symptoms of the disease but against its organic causes, that is, against capitalism.

Fossa: What is the perspective for the Mexican revolution? How do you view the devaluation of money in connection with the expropriation of wealth in land and oil?

Trotsky: I cannot dwell on these questions in sufficient detail. The expropriation of land and of the natural wealth are for Mexico an absolutely indispensable measure of national self-defense. Without satisfying the daily needs of the peasantry none of the Latin American countries will retain their independence. The lowering of the purchasing power of money is only one of the results of the imperialist blockade against Mexico which has begun. Material privation is inevitable in struggle. Salvation is impossible without sacrifices. To capitulate before the imperialists would mean to deliver up the natural wealth of the country to despoliation, and the people—to decline and extinction. Of course, the working class organizations must see to it that the rise in the cost of living should not fall with its main weight upon the toilers.

Fossa: What can you say on the liberating struggle of the peoples of Latin America and of the problems of the future? What is your opinion of Aprismo?

Trotsky: I am not sufficiently acquainted with the life of the individual Latin American countries to permit myself a concrete answer on the questions you pose. It is clear to me at any rate that the internal tasks of these countries cannot be solved without a simultaneous revolutionary struggle against imperialism. The agents of the United States, England, France (Lewis, Jouhaux, Toledano, the Stalinists) try to substitute the struggle against fascism for the struggle against imperialism. We have observed their criminal efforts at the recent congress against war and fascism. In the countries of Latin America the agents of “democratic” imperialism are especially dangerous, since they are more capable of fooling the masses than the open agents of fascist bandits.

I will take the most simple and obvious example. In Brazil there now reigns a semifascist regime that every revolutionary can only view with hatred. Let us assume, however, that on the morrow England enters into a military conflict with Brazil. I ask you on whose side of the conflict will the working class be? I will answer for myself personally—in this case I will be on the side of “fascist” Brazil against “democratic” Great Britain. Why? Because in the conflict between them it will not be a question of democracy or fascism. If England should be victorious, she will put another fascist in Rio de Janeiro and will place double chains on Brazil. If Brazil on the contrary should be victorious, it will give a mighty impulse to national and democratic consciousness of the country and will lead to the overthrow of the Vargas dictatorship. The defeat of England will at the same time deliver a blow to British imperialism and will give an impulse to the revolutionary movement of the British proletariat. Truly, one must have an empty head to reduce world antagonisms and military conflicts to the struggle between fascism and democracy. Under all masks one must know how to distinguish exploiters, slave-owners, and robbers!

In all the Latin American countries the problems of the agrarian revolution are indissolubly connected with anti-imperialist struggle. The Stalinists are now treacherously paralyzing both one and the other. To the Kremlin the Latin American countries are just small change in its dealings with the imperialists. Stalin says to Washington, London, and Paris, “Recognize me as an equal partner and I will help you put down the revolutionary movement in the colonies and semicolonies; for this I have in my service hundreds of agents like Lombardo Toledano.” Stalinism has become the leprosy of the liberating movement.

I do not know Aprismo sufficiently to give a definite judgment. In Peru the activity of this party has an illegal character and is therefore hard to observe. The representatives of APRA at the September congress against war and fascism in Mexico have taken, so far as I can judge, a worthy and correct position together with the delegates from Puerto Rico. It remains only to hope that APRA does not fall prey to the Stalinists as this would paralyze the liberating struggle in Peru. I think that agreements with the Apristas for definite practical tasks are possible and desirable under the condition of full organizational independence.

Fossa: What consequences will the war have for the Latin American countries?

Trotsky: Doubtless both imperialist camps will strive to drag the Latin American countries into the whirlpool of war in order to enslave them completely afterwards. Empty “antifascist” noise only prepares the soil for agents of one of the imperialist camps. To meet the world war prepared, the revolutionary parties of Latin America must right now take an irreconcilable attitude toward all imperialist groupings. On the basis of the struggle for self-preservation the peoples of Latin America should rally closer to each other.

In the first period of war the position of the weak countries can prove very difficult. But the imperialist camps will become weaker and weaker with each passing month. Their mortal struggle with each other will permit the colonial and semicolonial countries to raise their heads. This refers, of course, also to the Latin American countries; they will be able to achieve their full liberation, if at the head of the masses stand truly revolutionary, anti-imperialist parties and trade unions. From tragic historic circumstances one cannot escape by trickery, hollow phrases, and petty lies. We must tell the masses the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Fossa: What in your opinion are the tasks and the methods facing the trade unions?

Trotsky: In order that the trade unions should be able to rally, educate, mobilize the proletariat for a liberating struggle they must be cleansed of the totalitarian methods of Stalinism. The trade unions should be open to workers of all political tendencies under the conditions of discipline in action. Whoever turns the trade unions into a weapon for outside aims (especially into a weapon of the Stalinist bureaucracy and “democratic” imperialism) inevitably splits the working class, weakens it, and opens the door to reaction. A full and honest democracy within the unions is the most important condition of democracy in the country.

In conclusion I ask you to transmit my fraternal greetings to the workers of Argentina. I don’t doubt that they do not believe for a moment those disgusting slanders that the Stalinist agencies have spread in the entire world against me and my friends. The struggle that the Fourth International carries on against the Stalinist bureaucracy is a continuation of the great historic struggle of the oppressed against the oppressors, of the exploited against the exploiters. The international revolution will free all the oppressed, including the workers of the USSR.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Socialist Party want to talk to the fascist English Defence League

The Socialist Party (CWI) have a long and to them proud tradition of giving a platform to fascists, coppers, screws, Ulster loyalist fascists, and all manner of far right opinion. This is couched in terms of 'winning the battle of ideas', and 'combating reactionary ideas within the working class'. This tradition is alive and kicking in the present battle against the fascist English Defence League. A recent article (click title for link) makes the case for not calling a spade a spade, or in this case ultra right wing racists ultra right wing racists, on basis that it alienates them! An SP hack manages the following in a report of an anti fascists meeting in Bristol in late March, where 15 or so fascists from the EDL gate crashed the event:

"While waiting for the police a trade unionist spoke to one of the EDL members and found they had no political argument to back up their attacks on Muslims. He couldn't explain what the EDL meant by Islamic fundamentalism.

They took offence at being called racists or fascists. One was a plumber who had been out of work since last May. It appeared to the trade unionist that they were being manipulated by racists for their own political aims and objectives.

This shows the complicated and confused nature of those attracted to the EDL. It is crucial that genuine and democratic discussion and debate takes place on how to challenge racism and the far-right."

So, a member of a fascist organisation which is currently rampaging across Britain attacking Asian people, and specifically Muslims, is OK and just a bit confused because he is an unemployed plumber. This rank economism-whitewashing racism and pro-bosses politics within the working class on basis that such politics are just confused forms of trade union/class politics-is at the heart of SP approaches to building a new Labour Party to better represent the skilled trade union working class, with the recruitment of screws union leader, Brian Caton, merely the lowest point in the recent trajectory of this minor party of British Imperialism.

The SP call for open and democratic debate is an invitation to the supporters of the EDL, not others on the so called British left. The intention is clear: talk to fascists; convince them that the sort of right wing reformism the SP trot out, with its anti immigrant and pro-war positions, is the real form of protest that trade unionists and lumpen scum should take, not openly fascist and racist groups.

The SP have always preferred not to refer to the BNP and other such groups as “fascist,” choosing instead to describe them as “far-right,” “racist,” “homophobic” or “sexist.” The SP’s reluctance derives from a desire not to alienate BNP supporters:

“...where people are voting to punish New Labour merely calling the BNP ‘fascists’ is counter-productive. It is the BNP leadership who are fascists, not the voters and even some members do not agree with these far-right ideas.

“During elections when Socialist Party activists have spoken to people with ‘Vote BNP’ window posters they have patiently explained and discussed with them. Some have swapped their posters over on the basis of seeing the need for a united working-class party.”
—Socialist, 10 July 2008

The SP has a history of cheer leading the forces of fascist reaction. In January 2008, when 20,000 coppers marched on Westminster to demanding more pay for more anti working class repression, the SP sought to give this reactionary mobilization a leftist platform:

“This is in many ways a momentous occasion, since the last time they took any action over pay was 1919....

“Socialist Party members got a mixed response but there was clearly a strong underlying anger at the government....

“Unusually compared to most demonstrations, the police did not talk the numbers down! And the Police Federation had to distance themselves from the presence of the BNP’s London Mayoral candidate on the march.”
—Socialist, 30 January 2008

The “BNP’s London Mayoral candidate,” Richard Barnbrook, the Greater London Assembly member, was not merely “present”—he marched right at the head of the demonstration. He “had been told by officers that he was welcome and said a number of the protesting police officers had agreed to be interviewed for BNP TV” (Guardian [London], 24 January 2008).

The SP clearly have a crush on Barnbrook, as six months later they had a cosy chat with him in London, asking him:

“what about the BNP councillors in Stoke or Kirklees who voted for cuts and privatisation and tax increases—or don’t even bother to turn up to the council chambers?

“Barnbrook handily didn’t know anything about that. So we explained it to him—the BNP pretend to be the party for the white working class but when they get in the council chamber they preside over cuts, the same as the three main parties.”
—Socialist, 14 May 2008

By going down this road the SP leadership teach their deluded younger members that fascism is merely a set of ideas suitable for discussion and debate. This is entirely wrong. The BNP poses a deadly danger to leftists and all the oppressed—the only way to “explain” anything to a fascist is through a baseball bat to the skull and a construction boot to the teeth.

The SP also travel North of the Border to snuggle with the fascists. When the BNP was trying to expand its activity in Glasgow’s heavily working-class Pollock area in September 1989, hundreds of energetic anti-fascist youths met to discuss how to respond. Militant, as the SP was then known, asked for a debate:

“We decided to challenge the fascists to an open debate—originally to be held in a local football ground. Some of the youth wanted to take matters into their own hands. But we said we should wait until we had this meeting. Although normally we wouldn’t have considered debating the fascists we realised we could thoroughly discredit them in the eyes of the youth—and thought they probably wouldn’t turn up anyway.”
—Militant, 22 September 1989

On 20 September 2008, 350 fascists held a rally in Stoke to commemorate a BNP thug, Keith Brown, who was killed a year earlier when his neighbor, Habib Khan, found Brown strangling his son. The SP, which participated in a “peace and unity vigil” held as a counter-rally to the BNP event, made the incredible claim that “Keith Brown was tragically stabbed to death by his Muslim neighbour over a year ago” (Socialist, 23 September 2008). The only tragedy of this righteous kill was that the heroic Habib Khan was sent down for 8 years! The slogan of 'self defence is no offence' becomes 'self defence is wrong as it alienates murderous fascists!

The SP long ago crossed the Rubicon of diseased socialism. It is time they fully embraced the logic of such politics and offered the BNP and the EDL a platform as part of their racist and anti immigrant Trade Union and Socialist Coalition.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Can't keep a good nation down.

US Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte on a tour of the death squad scarred battlefield.

The Iraqi elections have finally formally ended, 20 or more days after they began (click title for link). The result, with a US imposed dictator becoming an 'elected' Prime Minister, displays the utter cynicism which now defines colonial 'democracy' under the Obama stewardship of US Imperialism. Iyal Allawi won a two seat majority in the national Parliament, ahead of former PM Nouri al-Maliki, with both claiming mass electoral fraud and intimidation against the other side. Massive fraud is the bread and butter of elections in US dependencies, witnessed recently in Afghanistan and Honduras, but the crux issue has been who is allowed to stand and who is not. This election took place at a time when the US media and state were ramping up attacks against the Cuban and Venezuelan revolutions for alleged undemocratic forms, yes, Obama and company have literally no shame, as it takes quite a leap of hagiography to ignore the 7 years of occupation in Iraq as the backdrop to this coronation. The justice and accountability commission – the organisation charged with pursuing the de-Ba'athification process set in train by the Americans in 2003 – has issued edicts seeking to ban 511 individual candidates and 14 party lists from the elections. On the eve of the vote the commission banned a further 50 candidates. Meanwhile, Ali Faisal al-Lami, the head of the justice and accountability commission, also ran as a parliamentary candidate, in a blatant conflict of interest indicative of a system where governmental institutions have been colonised by political parties and run as private fiefdoms. This follows mass banning of all opponents of the occupation in 2005 and 2007. It also follows the banning of anti-occupation trade unions, especially in the crucial oil sector which has been parcelled out to US and UK oil transnationals. Most chillingly of all it follows the work of John Negroponte as Ambassador to Iraq and his well worn policy of death squad warfare to silence anti Imperialist and pro-democracy opposition, a method he honed in Latin America under the Reaganite counter revolution of the 1980s. On April 20, 2004, Bush nominated Negroponte as ambassador to Iraq, stating that, "he has done a really good job of speaking for the United States to the world about our intentions to spread freedom and peace." Calling him "a man of enormous experience and skill"-in organising the rape and murder of men and women across the globe! (see this article for a review of this fascists work- Negroponte oversaw the build up of Kurdish and Shiite Militias which were then used to murder Sunni resistance fighters, as well as other resistance forces. This strategy proved succesful, with former anti occupation forces around Moqtada al-Sadr joining the fray and taking a place within the US security fold, all in return for legitimacy and offices of state of course. As Major General Muhammad Abdallah al-Shahwani SAID IN 2005 "The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists," he said. "From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation." Threatening everyone in a village with torture and death, if the village is deemed a potential base insurgent operations can be a very effective technique, whether the perpetrators are the Nazi SS in occupied Czechoslovakia, the death squads in El Salvador, or the new forces created under Negropontes watch in Iraq, such as the "Saraya Iraqna," which began offering big wads of American cash for insurgent scalps--up to $50,000, the Iraqi paper Al Ittihad reported. "Our activity will not be selective," the group promised. This strategy of tactical terror aimed to sever an insurgency from it's potential base of support. In the case of 40% refusing to vote in the Iraqi elections this approach would seem to have paid off.

Here we have it, Imperialist democracy, death squads and ballot boxes fiddled and stolen. Yet despite this fraud and repression, and despite the 100k plus US Troops still occupying Iraq, the resistance still fights and with no sign of capitulation. Al Sadr and other satraps trade offices for resistance, as many national liberation forces have done before, but the root cause of the resistance-US Imperialist occupation-means that new forces, new methods, and new fighters constantly emerge and renew the ranks, just as they have always done in the war against Imperialism.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Defend the right to protest! Defend the Gaza Demonstrators!

Below is an article from the Revolutionary Communist Group. Click title for link to original.

The British state has moved to marginalise those who want to resist imperialism in this country, and especially to criminalise those who take a militant stance against Zionism. In the course of 2009, 119 mostly young and predominantly Muslim people were arrested in connection with the demonstrations outside the London Israeli embassy in December 2008- January 2009 against Israel's murderous attack on the people of Gaza. 78 of them were charged; so far around 30 have received prison sentences and court cases continue. FRFI is participating in the campaign to defend and support all those facing the racist vengeance of the British state and joined the demonstration outside Isleworth Crown Court on 26 March, when the latest sentences were passed.
At least 1,400 Palestinians died in Israel’s Operation 'Cast Lead'; 5,500 were injured and tens of thousands left homeless. There was worldwide outrage and thousands took to the streets to voice their opposition and disgust. London was the scene of daily militant demonstrations around the Israeli Embassy.

The British police retaliated brutally, ‘kettling’ and batonning demonstrators. Since then dozens of protestors have been arrested. Most of the arrests took place six months after the demonstrations, following dawn raids during which the police handcuffed entire families and confiscated electronic material.

Most of those arrested were aged 16-20 years old, but some were just 15, and the youngest 12. The vast majority have been charged with violent disorder, which can carry a prison sentence of up to five years. At court almost all the defendants were required to surrender their passports and, despite the fact that they are overwhelmingly British citizens, all were served with immigration notices which stated that they could be deported depending on the outcome of criminal proceedings.

Judge Denniss, who is presiding over the vast majority of the cases, has made it clear that he is deliberately using harsh sentences as a deterrent to others in the future. These are political sentences; they are intended to criminalise protest and they are specifically aimed at the Muslim community in an attempt to frighten people away from public protests.

Two women, aged 18 and 19 were sentenced to 15 months imprisonment. One was subsequently released following an appeal against the length of her sentence. A Palestinian man, who days before had seen images in the press of the dead bodies of two of his cousins in Gaza, has been gaoled for two years for violent disorder. A humanities student, who is the father of a five-month old baby also received two years. A dental student who threw a plastic bottle in the direction of the Israeli embassy has received a 12-month sentence. So far all those imprisoned have accepted legal advice to plead guilty. The trials of those maintaining not guilty pleas have recently begun. On 24 March the case against Jake Smith was dropped, when it became apparent that the police had selectively edited video footage.

For more details of the campaign to support the Gaza protesters, go to

Friday, 26 March 2010

The Latin American disease is Imperialist capitalism.

"ITS economies may have improved recently, but much of Latin America has performed poorly over the past two generations. The gap in income per head between the region and developed countries has widened since 1960, while many east Asian countries that were poorer have leapfrogged ahead. The root cause has been Latin America’s slow—or even negative—growth in productivity."(1)

And so begins a new report attempting to place the mal-development of Latin America within the discourse of productivity growth. The report fails on this 'productivity growth is the holy grail of development' foundation, it is not. But what does productivity growth mean? Well, simply put it means—gains in the efficiency with which capital, labour and technology are used in an economy. During the apparent heyday of productivity growth in the nations of advanced(Imperialist)capitalism, say from 1950-1975, productivity growth was averaging 4% per annum, due to high rates of investment in capital goods; infrastructure projects et al. The report makes much play of this comparison with Latin America, where:

"the short answer is that the typical Latin American firm is a small, inefficient service business and may well be operating in the informal economy. Productivity growth tends to be higher in manufacturing and agriculture than in services (see chart 2). It also tends to be higher in large firms which benefit from economies of scale. And it is much higher in formal businesses, which can invest in innovation.

However, Latin American manufacturers are also much less productive than they might be. This is partly because clogged, inefficiently run ports, airports and other transport systems make freight costs unduly high—for example, it shockingly costs more to get goods to the United States from most Latin American countries than it does from distant China or Europe.

But 60% of Latin Americans work in service firms. Many of these businesses are held back by lack of credit and by public policies that give them little or no incentive to become bigger or to operate legally. Latin American tax codes are inordinately complicated: it takes an average of 320 hours per year for a firm in the region to file its tax paperwork, compared with 177 hours in rich countries. The IDB found that a disproportionate share of tax is paid by big companies. Simplified tax regimes for small companies have been set up in 13 of the 17 countries the bank studied. Perversely, that encourages them to remain small."

For those not dominated intellectually and politically by pro-capitalist development ideology, such sweeping statements and half formed data sets provide little more than an example of the capacity of social scientists to pawn themselves to Imperialist capitalism. It is impossible to speak of Latin America in general. Mexico is massively different than Honduras, and Cuba is massively different to every other Latin American state. It is this comparative method-not comparing like with like-which allows a technically correct conclusion of low productivity growth. If we in fact break the region down into its constituent parts then we can come to find states with very impressive growth in productivity. For example, Cuba has managed to become a leading bio-tech state and make enormous strides in development the productivity of agriculture and industry, despite the US imposed blockade and constant subversion. It has managed all of this due to an internalisation of the concept developed by Che Guevara that capitalism had become impossible in the dependent countries by the 1950s. Similar recognition has been accepted in Venezuela and Bolivia, where socialist Presidents and mass movements have taken huge steps towards breaking the shackles of landlord-ism and capitalism, although the failure as yet to fully de-link from the Imperialist world system has meant the revolutionary processes are very much still in danger.(2)

The report reads less like an attempt to understand the true causes of development decay, and more like a snap shot, a literal stitch in time, of a region which has a rich and varied history, born of collosal struggles for the very development the reports authors make clear are the basis for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. No mention is made of the 5%growth of the Argentinian and Brazilian economies in the period from the late 1930s to the 1960s; no mention is made of the growth under nationalist regimes throughout the entire hemisphere, including Mexico. Such uncomfortable truths are omitted so as not to spoil the discourse flowing like swine effluent from the heartland of Imperialism-Washington and Wall Street. The conclusion, at odds with history, must always be: the state should get out of development, should reduce taxes, privatise and export raw materials and finished goods. This is how Brazil can be taken as a model. The report states: "Productivity growth in Brazil has surged recently: after being negative in the late 1990s, it rose to over 2% in 2007 and 2008 according to the Central Bank." This in a country the size of the USA, and yet with an economy smaller than Italy's, and in which the income gap is the highest of anywhere in the world, and where the status of women, children and the rural poor is akin to the time of the rampaging Slavocracy.(3) Brazil's government, whether under the conservative Cardosa, or the 'socialist' Lula, has consistently championed the rural latifundia ranchers and their genocidal model of development based upon cattle, biofuels and soya export, a model implicated in both the extreme hunger of the increasingly landless workers in the enormous Brazilian hinterlands, but also the direct murder of landless workers who resist heroically the logical outcome of 'increasing capitalist productivity'.(4)

The 800 pound gorilla in the room, as with all of the guff produced by 'elite' institutions in the West and North, is the refusal to place human development at the heart of an approach to development. It would be quite possible for Latin America to grow by 10% per year for 30 yrs and see very little in the way of social and human index progress. The experience of the restoration of capitalism in China, with its attendant destruction of the welfare state, family agriculture, the rights of workers etc should be a warning to anybody who is taken in by the narrow focus on productivity growth.(5) Human development placed front and centre has allowed the Venezuelan revolution to reduce poverty from 70% to less than 20%, whilst all but eliminating extreme poverty. All this whilst facing the threat of constant counter-revolution and external invasion. These poverty rates measure only cash income; they do not include non-cash benefits to the poor such as access to health care or education. If Venezuela were almost any other country, such a large reduction
of poverty in a relatively short time would be noticed as a significant achievement. However, since the Venezuelan government, and especially its president, Hugo Chávez Frías, are consistently disparaged in major media, government, and most policy and intellectual circles, this has not happened. Instead, the reduction in poverty
was for quite some time denied, although it acts as a beacon for the masses in the dominated countries of the global South and East.(6)

The problem of growth and development is political, not primarily economic, and social, not cultural. Latin America is a region richer in raw materials and productive workers and small farmers than any reasonable level of social development could require. The basis is there for a rich continental economy united and integrated on a firm anti Imperialist and socialist basis, using the pioneering example of Cuba as both guide and goal. The obstacle is the vampire of the North, sucking the lifeblood and the wealth from the South via policies based on the report reviewed here; demanding and securing access to cash crop exports and dollar earnings for debt; demanding access to national firms for purchase and incorporation; demanding that capitalist classes toe the line with the US Empire, and of course receiving such fealty. Resistance was met in the 50s, 60s and 70s by fascist coups and military dictatorships, which goes a long way to explain why the develop-mentalist strategies which proved so successful in the past broke down and became discredited. This is where Guevara's legacy is so important. Not for him was capitalism in the dependent countries simply obsolete in the abstract, no, for Guevara it had become obsolete because the small window of opportunity for a national capitalism had closed with the end of WW2 and the emergence of the US as the global counter revolutionary force. Faced with a revolutionary struggle against Imperialism, mobilising the workers and farmers for land reforms and pro worker economic and social policies, the capitalist classes of the dependent countries baulked and capitulated. In that sense only is capitalism obsolete in Latin America. The fact that moderately reformist governments such as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela have become radicalised and anti-capitalist merely proves that point, as the Cuban revolution did before it. The ALBA alliance of the Americas, incorporating Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and several smaller nations-based on non capitalist, non market exchanges-points towards the sort of social and economic exchange required to liberate Latin America and the Caribbean from the nightmare of Imperialist capitalism. The movements of the last decade must settle accounts with domestic and regional capitalist classes. The US will not be bogged down in West Asia forever. The Columbian option of renewed counter revolutionary warfare and subversion will move back centre stage, assisted by domestic capitalists.(7)

(1) The Age of Productivity: Transforming Economies from the Bottom Up, edited by Carmen Pagés, Inter-American Development Bank and Palgrave Macmillan.
(2)Helen Yaffe, Che Guevara: The Economics of Revolution, MacMillan, 2009
(3)James Petras, Empire with Imperialism: The Globalizing Dynamics of Neoliberal Capitalism, Luciano Vasapollo, Zed Books, 2006
(4)Wright and Wolford. To Inherit the Earth: The Landless Movement and the Struggle for a New Brazil, Food First Books, 2003.
(6)Mark Weisbrot, Poverty Reduction in Venezuela: A Reality-Based View, ReVista, Harvard Review of Latin America, Fall 2008

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Yet more pseudo lefts are calling on people to vote Labour.

The above article, by Seamus Milne, alleges that the budget heralds a return to Old Labour'-how very convenient that this can then justify a vote for Labour. I wonder which Old Labour? Is it the one which presided over the dispossession of the colonial masses; the poorest sections of the working class here; the 1970s Monetarism; the post WW2 unprecedented theft of colonial resources and ramped up colonial genocide under Major Clement Attlee. Which Old Labour does he mean? And no surprise that the bloated journalists who herald a return to Old Labour based upon a few crumbs of reforms for the poorest in Britain ignore the increased funding for the military, that is, for increased murder and theft of wealth from poor people in West Asia, occupied Ireland et al. Imperialist socialism may be revived a wee bit under darling and Brown; it is still Imperialism. The economism of the left, an economism which excludes migrant workers, refugees, those locked up in the increasingly privatised jail system, those who are not trade union members etc is alive and kicking with this election and the sort of journalism we see above. The likes of Woolas/Blunkett/Hodge/Frank Filed et al are omitted because it does tarnish the view somewhat, it being hard to call for a vote to a government and party in which out and out racists and in the case of Woolas and Blunkett-fascists- play leading and state sanctioned roles.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The rise of British fascism? nowt to do with Labour, guv',2325,0,0,1,0

Above is a link to a report of the recent fascist and anti fascist demos in Bolton. The report, by Trotskyist group Workers Power, makes much of the size of the contending forces, and shrieks a great deal about the fight against fascism being the key struggle of today. The reality is sadly different. The same day that a small gang of racists demonstrated against the tabloid and state created 'Islamic extremism' (anti Imperialist resistance) also witnessed the Labour Party in government deporting refugees to terror regimes; locking kids up in prisons; sexually assaulting male and female migrants and refugees detained by the 'worker in uniform' immigration cops. What do the Trots have to say about this? nowt, they actively collaborate with the state racists and social fascists of the Labour Party to cover it up! The Nazi bogeyman discourse was an invention of the Labour Party and the Socialist Workers Party in the 1970s as a way of derailing opposition to the racist and Imperialist Labour Party and trade union movement. The shadow Trots of Workers Power and their ilk merely talk this script left, whilst being careful not to mention the unmentionable reality of a labour movement so compromised by its actions and history as to be completely unsupportable. Fascism IS a growing threat in working class communities, especially the multi ethnic communities of the North and Midlands, not to mention London. Communists and anti Imperialists should be to the fore in that fight-focused as it must be against the true perpetrators of racist scapegoating of Muslims and those resisting Imperialism-the state and the main bosses parties, including the party which has been in the vanguard of this one sided war for 13 years-the Labour Party! This is rejected by the self styled vanguard of Workers Power/SWP etc who have come out once again in a 'Vote Labour and fight for socialism' frenzy. If Trotsky had not been cremated then this blogger is sure he would be turning in his grave.