Archive | April 1st, 2013

On The Warning Track Broadcast

On The Warning Track Broadcast March 31, 2013

by crescentandcross

This week OTWT presents an in-depth analysis of Pastor John Hagee’s recent “Coming 4 Blood Moons” Jewish propaganda message that he delivered to his congregation and to the world. Has the so-called “Dooms Day” clock moved even closer to the stroke of midnight?

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UN finds ‘state involvement’ in Myanmar disturbances

NOVANEWS
  • 1364561967125804300.jpg

    Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims living in squalid, flood-prone camps in western Myanmar after fleeing communal unrest face “imminent danger” from looming monsoon rains, the UN warned on Friday. (AFP)

GENEVA: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar human rights said Thursday he had received reports of “state involvement” in some of the recent violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the former army-ruled nation.

At least 40 people have been killed and mosques burned in several towns in central Myanmar since fresh sectarian strife erupted on March 20, prompting the government to impose emergency rule and curfews in some areas.

“I have received reports of State involvement in some of the acts of violence,” Tomas Ojea Quintana said in a statement.

He also pointed to “instances where the military, police and other civilian law enforcement forces have been standing by while atrocities have been committed before their very eyes, including by well-organized ultra-nationalist Buddhist mobs.

“This may indicate direct involvement by some sections of the State or implicit collusion and support for such actions.”

According to the statement, Quintana also received information indicating that the military and police may be arbitrarily detaining people based on religious and ethnic profiling.
“The military and police must now be held to account for human rights violations committed against ethnic and religious minorities,” he said.

Quintana also called on the government to take “immediate action to stop the violence from spreading to other parts of the country and undermining the reform process.”
“This includes stemming campaigns of discrimination and hate speech which are fuelling racist and, in particular, anti-Muslim feeling in the country,” he said.
His comments come after Myanmar President Thein Sein vowed a tough response to religious extremists in a national address.

According to the United Nations, the recent clashes, which were apparently triggered by an argument in a gold shop that turned into a riot, have seen some 12,000 people displaced.
It is the worst sectarian strife since violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Rakhine last year left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.
Myanmar’s Muslims — largely of Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi descent — account for an estimated four percent of the population of roughly 60 million.

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Breakthrough: Mennonites divest from ‘companies that support Israel’s occupation’

NOVANEWS
Mennonite Central Committee logo

Yesterday the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) United States announced that its board of directors had voted unanimously on March 16 to divest the organization’s direct holdings in “companies that support Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.”

The global relief and service agency, which represents 15 Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Amish bodies in North America, will also “choose to invest in mutual funds that limit exposure to companies on the[American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)’s Israel-Palestine Investment Screen] list and will join efforts to encourage the mutual funds that it holds to adopt similar screens,” a statement by Cheryl Zehr Walker, its director of communications, said.

“Staff also will aim to align MCC U.S.’s purchasing patterns with these investment principles.”

The MCC’s executive director, J. Ron Byler, said that his organization, consisting of pacifist churches, is opposed in principle to profiting from any acts of violence, but he alluded to the double standard in operation here: existing laws already prevent the MCC and other Western investors from funding armed struggle against Israel.

“We will take action if we become aware of offenders against Israel, but our government ensures we do no harm to Israel, while there is no such care for Palestinians,” he said.

The AFSC, whose Investment Screen the MCC will use, says that it bars investments only in contractors with Israel because US:

[R]egulations and similar laws in Europe make it illegal for any company or financial institution that falls under US or European legal jurisdiction, including all publically traded companies, to provide goods or services to Palestinian individuals and groups engaged in acts of violence.

The structure of these laws reflects the imbalance of power that exists in the international arena between state and non-state actors and which gives legitimacy to state sponsored violence while criminalizing violence by non-state groups. Within the Palestinian-Israeli context this contributes to the power imbalance that exists between the state of Israel and the various Palestinian factions, allowing violence by the Israeli government while criminalizing violence by Palestinian groups. The lack of balance that exists in AFSC’s list results from this structural imbalance.

Walker said that the MCC’s “investments traditionally have mirrored the organization’s core Christian values, using vehicles such as socially responsible funds.”

Its divestment vote will steer reported net assets of $68.3 million away from the AFSC list of 29 companies identified by the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Coalition of Women for Peace‘s “Who Profits” project.

They include prominent targets of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement like Caterpillar Inc., the Hewlett-Packard Company, Motorola Solutions, and Veolia Environment.

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‘The Feeling You Get in Rohingya Refugee Camps’

NOVANEWS
Photo Gallery by Zoriah
This image and all images included in this article are by Zoriah. (Zoriah.net)
This image and all images included in this article are by Zoriah. (Zoriah.net)

By Zoriah – Zoriah.net

Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh are sad place to be in. People are stuck in impossible situations, having fled their homes and their lives only to end up in one of the worlds most impoverished and over populated countries.  They live in camps where they are not allowed to work and have few options, few resources and little hope.

Getting access to photograph the Rohingya refugee camps in is nearly impossible. The government is not interested in the Rohingya’s stories being told and does not give access to journalists.

As a photojournalist I have seen a lot of things others would never even want to imagine.  Oddly enough what really gets to me, what gives me nightmares more than anything else, are situations in which people are trapped and have no options.  I had nightmares for years after my first trip to Gaza, thinking about what it would be like to live my life in a place I could never leave with few options and few choices that were truly mine to make.

This is the feeling you get in the Rohingya refugee camps.  They are not places you would want to be in and they are not places that anyone else should have to be in either. There are tens of thousands of people stuck in limbo, unable to move forwards and unable to go back.   They are dying of disease, malnutrition, old age, child birth and I would have to imagine some die from plain hopelessness. They are trapped…hoping that at some point the world begins to pay attention to them.

Here is a brief look at some of those I saw struggling in the camps in Bangladesh. (See more of Zoriah’s work here)

For information about the struggle and the plight of the Rohinya people, read Ramzy Baroud’s articles:

 

Ignoring Genocide: Rohingya People Deserve to Live

 

Democracy and Slaughter in Burma: Gold Rush Overrides Human Rights

 

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The Victory Hour

The Victory Hour March 30, 2013

by crescentandcross

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Losing my religion for equality

NOVANEWS
By Jimmy Carter

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

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Blaming the poor for poverty

 

When the Bedroom Tax comes into force on 1 April, 14 percent will be cut from housing benefit for households with one ‘spare’ bedroom and 25 percent from those with two or more.

An estimated 660,000 working-age social tenants across the country will be hit, losing an average of £14-16 per week, and facing the stark choice of moving home or being forced into even deeper poverty. Evictions and debt levels will skyrocket.

In order to justify this move, politicians and journalists have been spinning a fairy tale of housing ‘shortages’, but it is actually one- and two-bed flats that are in short supply, so where are people supposed to ‘downsize’ to?

If our rulers really want to do something about the affordable housing shortage, why not set rent controls in the private sector, build lots of new social homes and requisition all those empty ‘deluxe’ flats?

It’s a classic privatisation strategy — first reduce the amount and quality of a service, then blame the service users for the problem and use it to justify the next privatisation move! How many times have we been told that our NHS is under threat because poor people are suffering from diet- or smoking-related ailments, or that burdensome pensioners are ‘bed-blocking’?

The answer? Instead of creating new hospital wards and putting more nurses and doctors into them, moreoutsourcing to dodgy profiteers and more cuts in bed and frontline staff numbers to pay more PFI debts!

In reality, this tax has nothing to do with ‘freeing up social housing’; it is a callous scapegoating of Britain’s poorest people — after all, only those who are claiming benefits will have to pay, even though many of them are already impoverished to the point of malnutrition.

Disabled people, single parents who are not designated as the ‘main carer’ for their children, couples sleeping apart owing to medical conditions … all will be hit. Children of the same sex will be required to share a room until they reach 16, and of the opposite sex until the age of 10.

 

Labour party hypocrisy

Grassroots campaigns to oppose the tax have been launched by workers all over Britain. But a dangerous pattern is emerging as these campaigns take shape — their hijackingby Labour’s so-called ‘left’ wing and the exclusion and silencing of all non-Labour-affiliated organisations and individuals.

Many supposedly ‘non-aligned’ events have been seized and monopolised by a ‘committee’ that has censored anyone who tries to tell the truth about Labour’s support for and implementation of the capitalists’ cuts. Non-Labour people have been systematically blocked from Facebook event and campaign pages all over the country.

The hypocrisy is staggering. Labour, far from building new homes, recently oversaw 13 years of sell-offs and privatisation that massively accelerated the ghettoisation of Britain’s remaining social tenants, while ‘Red Ed’ Miliband, in whom we are asked to put our hopes of a ‘worker-friendly’ capitalist government next time around, has actuallyendorsed the bedroom tax.

When it comes to cuts, privatisation, and all other attacks on working people’s living standards, the Tories, Labour and LibDems are all as bad as each other, because they all serve the same capitalist interests. The ‘debate’ that they distract us with is only about how soon or how fast to make the cuts that capitalists demand — or who to blame, and where to wield the knife first.

What they are all agreed on is that British imperialism must at all costs be saved from the current crisis, which is the deepest ever seen — even worse than the fabled Great Depression of the 1930s, which led to WW2 and the deaths of millions of poor people all over the world.

Let us recall that the $20bn cuts ‘required’ to be made to our health service were first announced by the Labourgovernment — and that all the parties agreed with them. They also all agreed that £1bn on bombing Libya’s hard-won infrastructure — health, education, housing, industry, electricity and water — into the dust was money well spent.

Desperate to stop workers drawing the obvious conclusion that no capitalist party can serve their interests, Labour has been working hard to rebrand itself as the ‘anti-cuts’ opposition. Glossy leaflets and online campaigns abound, but the concerted effort to remove all other voices from the bedroom tax campaign is proof that the party is not interested in uniting the opposition and defeating the tax, but only in getting a bit of free advertising. Labour’s fake ‘opposition’ to cuts is just a cynical PR exercise.

If more proof is still needed of this, let us look at the case of Newcastle’s Michael McDonald. As an anti-cuts organiser, he must be a thorn in the side of the Labour-led council that is busy implementing drastic cuts in the city.

Following an anti-cuts demo in February, where Mr McDonald told council-leader Nick Forbes what he thought about these attacks on Newcastle’s poorest, this Labour scoundrel sent police to drag McDonald out of his bed and charge him with a ‘public order’ offence!

The Labour party’s true role as policeman of the workers’ movement could not have been more clearly illustrated!

 

To injure one is to injure us all

We need to understand that no representative of a capitalist party is on the side of the workers, however much (s)he may pretend to be. Nor is anyone who tries to incite us to blame each other for the poverty in which we find ourselves.

It is not immigrants, fat people, poor people, smokers, benefit claimers, council-house tenants, hoodies or pensioners who are ‘bleeding the country dry’ but the free-market-fundamentalist gangsters who rampage all over the globe in search of profit, profit and more profit.

Today, our forces are divided, not only by the racism and scapegoating that we are encouraged to indulge in, but by the pigeon-holing of struggles as ‘separate’ issues, each one of which is presented as being relevant only to a small minority of people.

We have lost sight of the fact that ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’, and so our forces are dispersed and our attention is diverted by every new media-created distraction.

If we unite, however, we can use our collective power to sabotage all attempts to make us pay for the capitalists’ crisis. A real tenants’ movement, instead of Almo-led eviction organisations, is needed to defend our homes.

If we join together we can refuse to be resettled or moved. We can patrol our estates and stop bailiffs from evicting our fellow tenants. We must defend ourselves — and our neighbours — from the thugs and hired servants of the rich.

And we must refuse to let our campaign groups be hijacked by Labour politicians who do nothing to defend the working class from the assaults of capitalist bloodsuckers. They are helping the state to rob the poor to pay the rich — kick them out of our communities!

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YOUTH UPRISING SUPPLEMENT: Rage against capitalism

Proletarian issue 43 
The working class fights back.

 

The riots that broke out in Tottenham, north London, on the night of Saturday 6 August, and again over subsequent nights, spreading first to communities across London, and then to cities around the country, represent the spontaneous anger of broad sections of working people, particularly the poorest and most oppressed, at police violence, racism and the increasingly intolerable burden of the capitalist crisis that they are being forced to carry, not only through cuts but also through high unemployment and dead-end jobs.

Until now the British working class had been relatively quiescent in the face of increasing police repression and worsening living conditions and social provision, but the events of the past few days have changed all that and shown once more the fighting spirit of the British proletariat. Young working-class people in particular have shown that they are not prepared to lie down indefinitely while they are kicked like a dog by the lickspittles of the British ruling class.

The immediate catalyst for the riots was the police shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old father of three, who was killed by police in the early evening of Thursday 4 August in the Tottenham Hale area as he was on his way home to the nearby Broadwater Farm estate by minicab.

Mark’s killing was reportedly part of a planned police operation, forming part of Operation Trident, which is supposedly directed at ‘gun crime’ in the African Caribbean community, and was carried out by CO19, a specialist firearms unit.

As is generally the case in instances where a member of the public is killed by the police, initial reports emanating from the police are contradictory and untrustworthy. The police will naturally seek to cover their tracks and, in best mafia style, cover for one another. The bourgeois press can also be expected to play its part. The ongoing News International scandal has shone a light on the corrupt relationship between the police and the media, who are both, at the end of the day, servants of the same billionaire masters.

We have seen such police lies and cover-ups again and again, from Blair Peach through to more recent cases, such as those of Jean Charles de Menezes, Ian Tomlinson, Kingsley Burrel and Smiley Culture.

As a result, families of the bereaved in particular, and working-class communities in general, know that they cannot rely on the police for truth or for justice. They are learning that they need to organise and fight back.

In the case of Mark Duggan, the police initially claimed that one of their officers only escaped serious injury because his radio got in the way of a bullet. However, on 8 August, the Guardian reported that initial ballistics tests have shown that this bullet was police issue. Far from there having been an exchange of fire, latest reports suggest that the only non-police issue firearm found anywhere near the scene was concealed in a sock and therefore not in any way ready for use.

Equally importantly, no non-police issue firearm has as yet actually been produced at all. Independent eyewitness accounts refer to Mark being pulled from his cab by police, held down and shot in the face more than once at point-blank range with a Heckler & Koch MP5 sub-machine gun.

In response, Mark’s family and friends called a peaceful vigil outside the local police station on Saturday 6 August. Whole families and young children joined the protest, with homemade placards, shouting, “No justice, no peace.”

Frustration mounted as police continued to refuse any dialogue with protestors or to provide Mark’s family with any explanation as to how he came to be killed. Stafford Scott, a long-time community organiser in the area, commented:

“If a senior police officer had come to speak to us, we would have left. We arrived at 5pm; we had planned a one-hour silent protest. We were there until 9pm. Police were absolutely culpable. Had they been more responsive when we arrived at the police station, asking for a senior officer to talk with the family, we would have left the vicinity before the unrest started. It is unforgivable [that] police refused dialogue.”

It further appears that the first night of rioting was sparked by the brutal police beating, with shields and batons, of a 16-year-old girl taking part in the protest. The Guardian reported:

‘They beat her with a baton, and then the crowd started shouting “run, run”, and there was a hail of missiles,’ said Anthony Johnson, 39. ‘She had been saying: “We want answers, come and speak to us.”’

Laurence Bailey, who was in a nearby church, described seeing the girl throw a leaflet and what may have been a stone at police.

Bailey said the girl was then ‘pounded by 15 riot shields’. ‘She went down on the floor but once she managed to get up she was hit again before being half-dragged away by her friend,’ he said.

It was following this vicious assault on a teenage girl that groups of young men reportedly started to attack police cars.

The Guardian described the composition of the rioters on the first night in Tottenham as follows:

The make-up of the rioters was racially mixed. Most were men or boys, some apparently as young as 10.

But families and other local residents, including some from Tottenham’s hasidic jewish community, also gathered to watch and jeer at police.

A teenage woman who had been a friend of Mark Duggan’s told a reporter from Socialist Worker:

“When I saw jewish people out tonight too I was happy. I thought, ‘It’s not just us’. They gave bread out to us. It isn’t just kids out tonight. It’s everyone.”

Whilst the shooting of Mark Duggan provoked the initial protests in Tottenham, the subsequent riots reflect the hatred felt towards the police in black, working-class and poor communities throughout London and up and down the country, as well as the anger and despair engendered by grinding poverty.

They are a spontaneous protest against deaths at the hands of the police, stop and search, which is running at record levels, poor educational and health provision, poor and overcrowded housing, lack of amenities (in the borough of Haringey where Tottenham is located, eight out of a total of 13 youth clubs were closed just last week) and unemployment (Haringey has one vacancy for every 54 jobseekers).

Predictably, much is made of the acts of looting that are an inevitable feature of such spontaneous outbursts. However, they should not be allowed to detract from the main character of the events, namely a justified revolt against police killings and repression, racism and poverty.

Moreover, it is capitalist society itself that flaunts its luxury goods at the poor, sending out a message that you are scarcely human if you don’t possess a flatscreen plasma TV and the latest designer labels, while at the same time depriving masses of people of jobs, or paying wages too miserly to enable these goods to be bought.

Meanwhile, some ‘looters’ have been reported as making off with such essentials as toilet rolls and disposable nappies. Others have kept their focus clearly on symbols of state repression. The Guardianreported:

A group of young men emerged from Haringey and Enfield magistrates court wielding hammers.

They had shunned the temptation of the looted stores to break seven windows in the courthouse. It is a place some rioters presumably visited in the past; others are likely to be summoned in the near future.

Of course, politicians from all the bourgeois parties have rushed to condemn the protestors as criminals and have promised nothing but increased and more brutal repression. Hundreds have already been arrested. Yet it is the worthies of the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties who, in the service of the British capitalist class, are the real criminals, presiding over class war at home and imperialist war abroad.

It is important to note that the black Labour MPs have been no less vociferous than any others in branding their constituents as criminals and calling for increased police repression, including not only Tottenham MP David Lammy but also Hackney’s Diane Abbott, darling of much of the ‘left’ and erstwhile heroine of the opportunist ‘Black Section’ movement in the Labour party.

These parasitic scoundrels owe their petty positions and place precisely to the earlier struggles of the black communities they now openly despise. This is a salient reminder that what is at issue is not a race-based struggle that can in the end only benefit a thin layer of opportunists who seek to jump aboard the bandwagon, but a struggle against racism and capitalism in which all working people, whatever their skin colour, have a stake and should play their part.

Another darling of the left, Ken Livingstone, has made much of his own record of increasing police numbers while he was in office as Mayor of London, and has no doubt endeared himself greatly to senior Met officers by using the unrest in London as an excuse to demand that the government ditch its planned cuts to the police force.

Events of recent days have shown once again that poor working-class communities know fully well that the police are not a neutral or benign body dedicated to serving the community and helping old ladies across the street, but a ruthless gang of thugs dedicated to violently upholding the rule of the rich. To put it in Marxist terms, they are a special body of (increasingly) armed men, whose job is to enforce the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

The young people on the streets are also learning a lesson that the capitalist class would very much rather they quickly forget. Namely, that if enough people rise up simultaneously and in enough places, there is not much the ruling class can do to stop them, since the police and others who make up the forces of the state are actually very few in numbers compared to the masses of the working class.

The crucial lesson that the working class urgently needs to learn is that the real source of their misery and frustration is the capitalist system of production. This system is kept in place by the hirelings of a handful of billionaires, who grow richer by the hour while pressing down hard on those who work to create those riches. As economic crisis threatens the billionaires’ profits, they are pressing even harder, reducing to a minimum and below not only workers’ wages, but also the social benefits they need, while being quite unable to provide work for millions more people who need a decent job.

Communists support and defend the oppressed when they rise up, but we have seen massive uprisings before, generally in the same communities as current events, for example in 1981 and 1985. But so long as capitalism remains in place, it continues inexorably to impoverish the working class; and overthrowing capitalism is impossible without conscious organisation for that purpose. So long as capitalism remains in place, the real gains of workers’ struggles, however magnificent, are transient and reversible – precisely why the events of previous years are being repeated today.

Communities certainly need to form themselves into self-defensive bodies to resist the police and other agents of bourgeois repression. But above all the working class needs its own general staff, which can lead not only in defensive struggles but also in the struggle to overthrow the increasingly criminal rule of the bourgeois class of heartless billionaires whose system treats the millions of working-class people as vermin.

This general staff can only be a communist party, guided by the science of Marxism Leninism: the accumulated wisdom of more than a century and a half of struggle by the working people of the whole world. The CPGB-ML is fighting to build such a party and welcomes class-conscious people to join its ranks. With your help, we can organise to enable the working class to seize power and build a new society where it is the interests of working-class people that will determine what we build and how we live, rather than the requirements of the rich to make profits.

YOUTH UPRISING SUPPLEMENT August 2011:
> Revolt is an example to emulate
> Bourgeois ideologues battle for control of the working-class movement

> Uprisings terrify the ruling class – October 2011
> Mr Morley and Mr Rahman – October 2011

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Who stole our future?

NOVANEWS

Issued by: Red Youth

 

Who stole our future?

Why aren’t there any decent jobs? Why is it getting so expensive to go to college or university? Why is the future looking so bleak for young people? It’s natural to start asking these kinds of questions and to start getting angry with the usual answers.

Whatever part of the country you live in, the problems are the same. Unemployment and poverty appear to be the future for the poor, while the children of the rich get to live a life of luxury. Britain is the sixth wealthiest country in the world, so why is it that only a small section of the population has all the money, all the good jobs, all the advantages?

Class system

Our society is a capitalist society. A tiny number of people own all the wealth, while the rest of us have to work for them to make ends meet. In capitalist society, it’s okay for the rich to rob the poor – to give us bad wages and poor housing, to take away our education and benefits – but it’s illegal for the poor to take from the rich.

There are two main classes in capitalist society: the working class and the ruling class. Working-class youth have to find a job in order to have a life. If we don’t get into education or work we don’t have a future. We don’t have houses we can rent to other people, we don’t own factories or shops, and we can’t invest our millions on the stock exchange in London like the wealthy sons and daughters of the rich.

It doesn’t matter what Alan Sugar says on The Apprentice, it’s not possible for us to become multimillionaires – we just don’t have those opportunities. Our ‘choice’ is more likely to be between a life of poverty and a life of crime. But there is an alternative to this system; there is a change we can make. The change we need to make is called socialism, and Red Youth wants to organise working-class youth to make it happen.

Unemployment

Not only is the capitalist system inherently unfair, it has a catastrophic flaw built into it: economic crisis. Capitalism runs on profits – essentially, nothing gets made or done unless someone can make a profit out of it. So here’s the problem: the only way to keep making profits is to sell more and more goods to the masses, but the best way to keep production costs down is to employ fewer people on lower wages.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that if people’s wages are reduced and the numbers employed go down, there will be fewer people who are actually able to buy the stuff that the capitalists are trying to sell. And since capitalism went global, we now have a global economy, so the crisis isn’t just here, it’s everywhere. Vast masses of people are being pushed out of work because they can’t afford to buy all the stuff theymade and the capitalists are trying to sell back to them!

This leads to a vicious downward spiral, where people aren’t buying enough goods, so capitalists go out of business, leading to more job losses and fewer people able to buy – which leads to more job losses, and so on. In this crazy situation, food and essential goods of all kinds sit uselessly in warehouses or are destroyed, while the people who need them starve and go without.

There are well over 2 million unemployed in Britain today, even by official counting methods. Young people are the worst-hit section, accounting for nearly half of all those on Jobseekers Allowance. And that’s not counting the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of young people who don’t sign on the dole for various reasons.

Any day down at the job centre it’s the usual rubbish; it’s even getting hard to get a job in Asda or Tesco. The entire experience makes thousands of young people ill and depressed every year. How often have you applied for a job but not even been given an interview? It’s not because you’re not good enough, or your application was bad; it’s because there were probably hundreds of other applicants, and yours, at the bottom of the pile, got put in the bin.

Don’t get depressed about it, get angry!

Education

For millions of us, education offers the only way to a better future. But education doesn’t come cheap. Just as the government was scrapping the £30 a week EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) they decided to give the banks £850bn! The ruling class believes that propping up a dying system is far more important than giving hundreds of thousands of working-class youth the chance to continue their education.

Not content with denying us the right to further education at college, the ruling class has now decided to shut the doors to higher education too. New degree students in England and Wales will need to find £9,000 every year for fees – and that’s on top of living expenses! The result is that even if you manage to stay in college, and even if you manage to get good grades, the chances of affording a university education are extremely slim.

It’s clear that the ruling class is cutting off our access to work and education – we’re being trapped in a cycle of endless poverty, desperation and degradation. No wonder that in these circumstances so many young people are driven to join the British army.

War

It seems that the ruling class gets all the benefits from war, while workers get nothing but injury or death. Films, TV and games glorify war and make it seem exciting, but the reality is different.

When you join the army you don’t get to learn a skill or do any of the really exciting stuff like fly a helicopter – that’s too important for the likes of us. All those cushy jobs go to the rich kids like Prince William, who are automatically put in charge. They’re the ‘officers’ whilst we (the ‘squaddies’) are expected just to take orders and do all the fighting – and dying.

They make us fight our foreign working-class brothers and sisters so that they and their ruling circles can plunder and steal all the wealth and natural resources (like oil) of the countries we attack. But why should we do their dirty work for them? Why should we steal and plunder other people’s wealth? If the rich want to steal the oil, let the prime minister and the bankers send their children to get killed while we stay here and look after our own interests.

In fact, if you think about it, we have more in common with the working-class youth of foreign countries than we do with the rich youth in Britain. When our foreign brothers resist our ruling class they are teaching us by example. We need to unite with our class brothers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere in order to defeat our common enemy – the British ruling class – and build a happy, prosperous and cultured existence, free from endless poverty and war.

Divide and rule

It’s obvious that this system isn’t in the interests of the vast majority of people, so how has it survived for so long?

On top of having a huge state machinery of coercion – police, courts, prisons etc – to keep people in line, the capitalists also control the media. From school textbooks to BBC and Sky news to the Sun and theGuardian, their ideas are pushed onto us every day: a way of looking at the world that teaches us that this system is inevitable and logical, and that cuts and wars are necessary to defend ‘our way of life’, as opposed to protecting their profit margins.

One of the biggest lies we are told is that the problems we face – lack of jobs, cuts in public services, no access to education or housing and so on – are caused by immigrants putting a ‘strain’ on Britain’s resources. But long before there were large numbers of immigrants in Britain there was mass unemployment and capitalist crisis!

Groups like EDL and the BNP pretend to be addressing workers’ problems, but by reinforcing the lies about immigration being the root cause of those problems, what they actually do is help the capitalists stay in power and keep the working class divided and weak.

What is to be done?

The fact is that the ruling class stays in power by encouraging those it rules over to fight each other – instead of getting together to fight the capitalists! The one thing that would really threaten our rulers’ grip on power is if the workers of Britain united and got organised. The police and the army combined couldn’t do much in the face of the masses of people once we decided to stop obeying their orders and believing their lies!

An understanding of society (theory) and a way of uniting to change it (organisation) are the two things that we need to make a socialist revolution. Young people have everything to gain by getting involved in this process sooner rather than later. This world isn’t working for us and we deserve better!

Not only do we need to campaign against the bad conditions and lack of prospects for the youth in Britain today, but we need to work for a completely different type of society – one where people’s needs decide everything.

So many problems face this world: environmental catastrophe, poverty, disease, racism and war. They’ll never be solved while capitalism remains, but they could all be sorted if society was set up for the benefit of the majority rather than the private gain of a few billionaires.

Studying Marxism, organising the young people in your area and learning about how we fight for socialism is the only way we can defeat the ruling class.

Get involved with Red Youth to find out more!

read: redyouth.org
watch: youtube.com/proletariancpgbml
discuss: red youth fb group

Posted in UKComments Off on Who stole our future?

Forget the jubilee, join the revolution!

Proletarian issue 48 

 

The Queen is not ‘ours’, but theirs. She is of and for that tiny handful of ruthless exploiters who keep the world’s people in poverty and servitude, and we must not be fooled by sentimental hogwash into imagining that she has any interest in seeing our children taken care of.

 

As jubilee fever grips Britain’s media, and union-jack bunting decks the window of every high-street chain, you would be forgiven for thinking that the British monarchy had never been more popular.

Whether it’s a trailer for Britain’s Got Talent featuring the programme’s loathsome panel of judges attending an audience with ‘Her Maj’, or presenters of BBC Breakfast falling over themselves to gush about how simply wonderful ‘Kate’ looks, or newsreaders coyly stifling a giggle at Charles’ considered buffoonery and Philip’s casual racism, it seems we are surrounded by increasingly brazen and increasingly crass royalist propaganda.

The non-stop fawning coverage of Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations is only the latest example of all this. In a cringingly obsequious newspaper article written shortly after last year’s royal wedding, journalist Dominic Sandbrook breathlessly noted that “the … striking thing [about the wedding was] … the almost total absence of anti-monarchical sentiment”. This was in the supposedly ‘left-liberal’ Guardian. But as one astute online commenter put it: “How would we know? The only sentiment allowed to be expressed in the media was pro-monarchical. 

And not only in the media. On the streets, too, every expression of republican or anti-army sentiment was firmly suppressed.

The reality of just how far basic liberties have been eroded since the British ruling class put the country onto a perpetual war footing was brought home shortly before the royal wedding, when scores of people in and around London (including one 68-year-old retired anthropology professor engaging in a piece of anti-royalist street theatre) were ‘pre-emptively arrested’ on suspicion of ‘conspiracy to cause a breach of the peace’. That is, they were arrested merely for planning to use the occasion of the wedding to peacefully protest against the monarchy.

In the words of Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens: “We won’t let anybody disrupt this exciting day for the royal family and the country.” So planning to get in the way of a rich person’s ‘exciting day’ is now an arrestable offence.

Not quite so beloved

Despite the impression given by the media, however, love and respect for the ‘dear old Queen’ and her family is not quite so universal as our rulers would have us believe.

Opinion polls repeatedly show that a substantial minority – around 20 percent – of the British public would favour the abolition of the monarchy. And, given that poor people generally do not get to take part in opinion polls, this is bound to be a gross underestimate – which might explain the government’s refusal to comply with a UN suggestion in 2008 that it put the issue to a referendum.

Those whose opinion is never asked include the many young working-class men and women who are daily stopped and searched by Her Majesty’s constabulary, and it will not have escaped their attention justwhose coat-of-arms Plod wears on his helmet, and just whose coat of arms bedecks the oak-panelled wall behind the sadistic judge or magistrate who callously sends them down.

Indeed, a deep vein of antipathy towards the royals is occasionally, if unintentionally, revealed, as when two working-class girls told a clearly dismayed John Prescott that they “hate the Queen” during BBC Three’s Class, or when milling bystanders were heard telling Prince Harry to “Get back to yer big ‘ouse!” when he made an ‘impromptu’ visit to inner-city Salford soon after last August’s youth uprisings.

At a time of savage cuts in services and benefits, with rising unemployment and increasing levels of overcrowded and slum housing, the sight of the Windsor mob cavorting around on our TV screens bedecked in clothes and jewellery costing millions and paid for by the taxpayer is not calculated to endear them to those who are branded scroungers by the media while living hand-to-mouth and suffering the brunt of the economic crisis.

Add to that the royals’ status as super-landowners and financiers and you have a recipe for simmering resentment amongst a growing section of Britain’s poorest.

Tellingly, the Land Registry will still not publish records of just how much land the royal family owns or where, presumably because of fears over the scale of any potential public outcry if its true holdings were to be revealed. Moreover, while most of us are forced to pay extortionate rates of council tax for occupying postage-stamp-sized plots of land, the royals not only don’t pay tax on their land, but, like other big landowners, actually attract massive agricultural subsidies.

Even amongst better-off workers, the prevailing attitude towards the monarchy is often a profound indifference, tinged with irritation at the half-rate intellects of a ‘representative’ family who can’t scrape a decent degree between them, despite having had access to the best education money and privilege can buy. So much for our much-touted ‘meritocracy’!

Look closely at television pictures of the ‘well-wishers’ who are supposed to have enthusiastically gathered wherever the royals go, and you will see that the crowds these days consist of senior managers of whatever NHS Trust or charity the royals happen to be visiting, local primary-school children bussed in for the occasion, and perhaps a sprinkling of young women frantically waving Union Jacks supplied by Hello!magazine and squealing as they would for any other similarly-endorsed celebrity. But when was the last time any of us saw a bona fide adult male member of the public in one of these scenes?

Who are they and what do they do?

While the royals are not nearly as popular as the media would have us believe, their exact status and function is still widely misunderstood.

Since the days of the English revolution, when Oliver Cromwell executed the last of Britain’s absolute monarchs (Charles I) on behalf of a triumphant bourgeoisie, no king or queen has exercised direct power in Britain. The ‘restoration’ of the dead king’s son (Charles II) was not, as is often portrayed, a reversal of that hard-fought revolution (during which a massive 12 percent of the English population died to bring the feudal system in Britain to an end), but rather the acceptance by the nobility that if it wanted to survive at all, it would have to do so on the capitalists’ terms.

And indeed, those aristocratic families that did make it through the next 200 years of capitalist industrialisation did so by merging themselves into the new class of bourgeois rulers, letting go of their old snobbish attitudes towards ‘trade’ and investing profits from their land holdings into thriving capitalist enterprises. Today, so far from the old aristocratic ideas about what was appropriate to their station have the royals moved that Prince Charles has no compunction about using the ‘brand recognition’ of his name to sell biscuits.

So, despite the odd archaic privilege and arcane ritual that have been preserved for the look of the thing, the modern-day royal family has very little in common with the monarchs of feudal Britain. But while they may not be the venerated overlords of bygone days, neither are the royal family a mere tourist attraction, a bunch of highly-paid charity workers, or merely a complete irrelevance, as some assert.

In fact, with the carefully nurtured mystique of its ‘ancient rituals’ and extensively documented family tree, the monarchy under capitalism is a valuable institution for our rulers. We are taught to see the history of the nation as being synonymous with the history of the royal family; to feel that their history is ours – that kings and queens, rather than class forces, have been the motive force in British history. Everything is done to persuade us to invest a level of sombre dignity into the office of the bourgeois head of state, and to become imbued with a sense of superstitious reverence for the hereditary holders of that office.

How often are we told that ‘our’ Queen has so much more ‘dignity’, ‘grace’ etc than any mere elected head of state could ever have? All our lives, we have been learning carefully-selected ‘facts’ about her and her relations. We would recognise many of them from their baby pictures, and we are encouraged to think about and discuss the details of their lives as if they were members of our own families.

And so the hope is that, no matter how angry we might become with other representatives of bourgeois rule – governments, police, judiciary etc – we will continue to believe that the state as represented by the Queen and the armed forces is still essentially benevolent; that it is above politics and there to ‘serve allthe people’. Hence the non-stop guff about the Queen’s ‘unifying’ presence in our lives.

Indeed, the strong and visible connection between the royals and the forces is one very important aspect of what the monarchy in Britain does today. Although largely ceremonial, the pomp and ceremony of the various military parades the Queen attends, along with the high-profile military careers of her sons and grandsons, serve to gloss over the real, aggressive nature of the armed wing of British imperialism and help to promote the myth of Britain’s army as a ‘defensive’, ‘patriotic’ force. In fact, the Queen’s role as commander in chief of the forces and professional prettifyer of imperialist brigandage makes her as much a war criminal as Tony Blair or David Cameron.

Moreover, while she may not exercise power over governments or armies for herself, the Queen does have a real role to play on behalf of her class. It is not merely symbolic that a new prime minister has to ask the Queen for permission to form a government – that is the ruling class’s veto in case of an unacceptable election result. As is the Queen’s power to call a state of emergency and mobilise the armed forces. While she may not do either of these things on her own whim, these powers are retained by the class she serves in case of emergency, and she would have no compunction in using them on their behalf if they deemed it necessary.

So much for the dreams of the cretins who imagine that we could achieve socialism in Britain by simply winning a majority in a parliamentary election!

Meanwhile, the Queen’s weekly private meeting with the prime minister and daily inspection of briefing papers ensures that, as the executive officer of the ruling class, she is fully apprised of what is going on in Whitehall and Westminster, while the whole process simultaneously serves to remind those in government just whose interests it is that they are really being paid to look after. And the oath of fealty sworn by every serving officer is to the Queen alone – just so there’s no confusion in case a conflict between the ruling class and parliament should arise!

A ‘unifying force’

The advantage of having a long-serving head of state is felt by the ruling class most particularly in times of crisis, as now. As society is becoming more and more fractured, it is crucial for the maintenance of capitalist rule that ways should be found to paper over the divisions.

Hence the relentless media propaganda aimed at lining us up behind the twin symbols of the British imperialist state: the monarchy and the armed forces. And hence the tabloid press respectfully agreeing in recent years to no longer ‘interfere with’ the private lives of the royal family – though everyone else’s private life apparently remains fair game.

To even question the idea of the monarchy, or the ‘basic benevolence’ of UK foreign policy, has now become unthinkable within the mainstream. Instead, we are asked to forget about exploiters and exploited and buy into the myth of ‘one Britain’. When the Queen and her various scions ‘go amongst the people’, they, like Cameron and Osborne, are asking us to believe that we are ‘all in it together’.

And, of course, there is the good old distraction trick of ‘bread and circuses’ for the rowdy masses. The jubilee, like the royal wedding, is in essence a jolly big show, whose saturation coverage is, like talent shows, soap operas and celebrity-gossip magazines, aimed at keeping us inoculated and pacified while our rulers get on with turning the screws and tightening the rack.

The diamond jubilee has become the latest excuse for reinforcing anachronistic habits of deference towards a clique whose family tree happens to have been written down, bringing with it a host of brainwashing and bribery, from jubilee gifts and coronation pageants for schoolchildren to neighbourhood street parties and souvenir mementoes – all served up with red, white and blue bunting, coronation chicken sandwiches, Victoria sponges and Anzac cakes.

Meanwhile, shop windows present us with floor-to-ceiling displays of ‘patriotic’, flag-themed merchandise, but not all the plethora of new and attractive ways that the marketeers have found to repackage the union jack can whitewash its dirty history. The Irish were a thousand times right when they dubbed that imperial symbol the ‘butcher’s apron’ – as will be attested to by all those who, from India to Kenya to Iraq, have seen their countries looted and their people starved and massacred in order to provide superprofits to British businesses.

Times have not changed since the days of the imperialist-engineered genocides of the 19th century in India and Ireland. Iraq and Libya (to name just two recent examples) stand as a chilling testament to the fact that British imperialism is as ruthless and violent as it ever was. No amount of rebranding or kitsch design can alter the fact that the flag of our rulers is a symbol of war crimes and ruthless exploitation with which we should have nothing to do.

Capitalism must go

It is clear that, for all the insidious role that they play in helping to maintain capitalist rule, it is not the monarchy per se that is the problem, but the monopoly-capitalist system that the modern monarchy represents.

After all, they may live off our backs in a more direct and conspicuous way than most, but discussion about the Queen’s tax status and land holdings should never lead us to forget that all large-scale capitalist enterprises are leeching off the blood and sweat of others, and that all the super-rich of Britain vie with each other in creating tax avoidance scams.

She may be a particularly blatant example, but the monarch is really just one of the many capitalist parasites whose obscene wealth needs to be seized and used for the common good if we are to escape from the downward spiral of imperialist war and economic crisis and start to build a truly civilised life for ourselves.

As communists, we wish to see the end of the monarchy not because we have some burning desire to replace it with an elected man in a suit while the whole rotten system of bloodthirsty warmongering and ruthless exploitation remains intact, but because we are opposed to anything that perpetuates ordinary people’s faith in the status quo or helps to whitewash the crimes of the ruling class.

Moreover, we hold to the simple belief that for one person or family to own wealth running into the billions of pounds while millions starve and millions more go without homes, jobs, basic health care, education, and security in old age – is nothing short of a moral outrage. And that doesn’t just go for the Queen, but for the whole class of privileged multibillionaires whom she serves and helps to keep in place.

The Queen is not ‘ours’, but theirs. She is of and for that tiny handful of ruthless exploiters who keep the world’s people in poverty and servitude, and we must not be fooled by sentimental hogwash into imagining that she has any interest in seeing our children taken care of. If we want a fitting future for them, it is going to have to be one without kings, queens or privileged exploiters of any kind.

We call on all British workers who have had enough of the human, environmental and material carnage that imperialism creates on a daily basis to forget the jubilee and instead put their energies into building a world in which dignity and cooperation will replace exploitation and greed.

It is time to leave behind the blood-stained red, white and blue of our decadent, parasitic, imperial rulers and join the rising workers of the world under the red banner of the people’s hammer and sickle!

Leaflet:Forget the Jubilee Join the Revolution

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