Archive | May 11th, 2013

Hugo Chávez, 1954 – 2013

NOVANEWS

 

A great revolutionary life, lived in the service of humanity

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frias was born on 28 July 1954, the second of six sons of impoverished primary school teachers. Chávez enrolled in Venezuela’s military academy at the age of 17, graduating near the top of his class in 1975

After graduating, he was posted to a counter-insurgency unit charged with subduing an armed Maoist rebel group called Red Flag operating in a rural part of eastern Venezuela. There, in the late 1970s and early ’80s, as a result of contact with these fighters, Chávez came to question the inequality in Venezuelan society that Red Flag had hoped to eliminate, and opposed the brutal treatment meted out to the guerrillas. [Let us give some thought to the brave communist fighters, whose principled stand must have influenced the young army officer, even as they were being brutally tortured by the regime that he served.]

Failed coup attempt

In 1989, then-President Carlos Andrés Pérez won an election on a platform of standing up to the austerity being imposed via the IMF. He famously proclaimed that the IMF was “a neutron bomb that killed people, but left buildings standing“. But once elected on the basis of this popular demand, he did a 180 degree turn and imposed further austerity on the Venezuelans at the behest of the IMF and drowned the protests of the masses in blood.

This was the context in which in February 1992, Hugo Chávez and his army associates decided to rise up in rebellion, but their coup failed and Chávez was forced to surrender. His surrender was televised and he took the opportunity to announce on TV that though the rebellion had failed, this was only ‘por ahora’ – for now. ‘Por ahora’ became a catchword of the Venezuelan revolution.

He and his fellow rebel officers were court-martialled, and sent to prison but after two years Chávez was freed.

In 1998, he stood in presidential elections and was elected by a population tired of austerity. At first, he was supported by all the old guard, for they expected that a military man like himself would follow the traditions of military rulers wherever they are to be found: ie, to settle his fee and then carry on as before.

Chávez, however, broke the mould. He was determined to improve the situation of the poor, offering them land, education, health care and hope – and this notwithstanding the fact that he was a nationalist, not a communist. He was motivated by the belief that the wealth of Latin America belongs to the Latin Americans, not to foreign imperialists, and that it is Latin Americans who should profit from the exploitation of Latin America, not foreigners.

He knew that this policy put him on a collision course with imperialism and could only succeed to the extent that he could mobilise the masses against imperialism. Hence it was his priority to provide them with the basics they most need.

Attempted coup against Chávez

Chávez’s support for the poor was an anathema to the comprador ruling class of Venezuela and the various, mainly white, strata of society engaged in facilitating the imperialist looting of the country’s oil wealth. Hence plots were soon afoot to have him removed.

The enemy sector that caused most trouble to Chávez was to be found amongst those operating Venezuela’s oil industry. Pre-Chávez governments, who were tied hand and foot to the interests of US imperialism, had appointed its management personnel, and these cronies are said to have been siphoning off more than $40bn a year as their reward for delivering 13 percent of US oil needs at the ‘right price’. And it was not just management cronies, but also cronies in the leadership of the oil workers’ trade unions who benefited from this slush fund.

On 11 April 2002 a major coup attempt was mounted against Chávez and his government.

The military, businessmen, trade unionists and media were behind the coup, many of whom were funded by the US Department of State through the National Endowment for Democracy. A prominent businessman, Pedro Carmona, was installed as ‘President’.

Chávez’s supporters responded by massing in the streets. Neither the masses nor the Venezuelan army were willing to accept Carmona, as a result of which Chávez was restored to power within 48 hours.

Less than a year later, the comprador bourgeoisie was again attempting to mobilise in order to bring about Chávez’s downfall by means of an oil industry strike in the first week of December 2002. By closing down the crucial oil industry, which accounted for about half of total government revenues and one third of GDP, they hoped to cripple the economy, reverse the government’s plans to take back a controlling stake in the national oil monopoly, and force fresh presidential elections, otherwise not due to take place until 2007.

In this strike, around 30,000 technical and administrative staff stayed away from work though most of the shop-floor workers ignored the strike call. Banks added to the pressure by closing their doors, meaning that thousands of workers were unable to access their money. Anti-Chávez demonstrations were organised, and shops in the middle-class areas closed down, but the huge mobilisation the opposition hoped for never materialised.

By Christmas, most of the strikers had returned to work, and the shops, unable to take any more losses, were open again. In late December the strike was declared illegal by the Supreme Court. Again the counter-revolution had failed, and again this was principally because the masses took to the streets in vast numbers to show their support for the government and the majority of the military also sided with the government.

Following the failure of the coup, new managers and directors were installed into the Venezuelan state oil company, (PDVSA).

Land reform

In 2003, the situation in Venezuela was that 77 percent of farmland was owned by a mere 3 percent of the population. Despite the fact that Venezuela has vast tracts of fertile land, much of this was lying uncultivated, forcing the country at that time to import some 70 percent of its food, much of it supplied by US agribusiness.

Under Chávez’s presidency, a land act was passed prohibiting ownership of more than 5,000 hectares and allowing the expropriation of all unused land, of which there was rather a lot in Venezuela, much of it forming part of vast estates owned by the old aristocracy .

After 2005, the Venezuelan government has recovered more than 4m hectares (9.9m acres) out of the country’s total of around 30m hectares (74m acres) of agricultural land. This land has been either redistributed to smaller farmers, or retained by the state for use by farmers’ collectives. As a result agricultural production has expanded significantly in recent years, especially in dry grains.

In addition, local farmer-to-farmer programmes have been set up to exchange knowledge and skills, and special funds and support are provided to secure tractors, seeds, training and technical assistance to farming co-operatives.

The Venezuelan government has also set up 24 laboratories to develop biological pest control and fertilisers and to eliminate chemicals. The use of genetically-modified crops is also prohibited.

Many of the tractors being supplied to the collective farms are now being produced in Venezuela by a joint venture company set up with Iran – Veniran Tractors.

Venezuela has also launched satellite Miranda to monitor agricultural lands across the country. Satellite imagery will allow the government to oversee the use of around 15m hectares (37m acres) of agricultural land, and determine how land is being utilised.

As a result of all these measures, Venezuela has been able to cut food imports from 90 percent to 30 percent of its consumption. In terms of specific products, national production has since 1998 risen to include self-sufficiency in corn and rice production, and a rise in pork production by almost 77 percent, that now exceeds national demand and makes exports of surplus pork now possible.

There has also been significant increase in the production of beef (meeting 70 percent of national demand), chicken (85 percent), eggs (80 percent), and milk (55 percent) , black beans (143 percent), root vegetables (115 percent), and sunflowers for cooking oil (125 percent).

Urban food security measures

In the towns steps have been taken to provide home-cooked, nutritious meals both to the poor and to all school children who receive two free meals per school-day. In addition, employees in workplaces of more than 20 people are provided with a hot meal every day.

Chávez’s anti-imperialist measures

Chávez was never in any doubt that the main enemy of the Venezuelan masses is imperialism, US imperialism in particular. It was glaringly obvious to everybody that the Venezuelan masses had been subjected to hardships and harsh IMF austerity regimes, even while massive profits from the pumping of Venezuela’s oil were pouring into imperialist coffers, with barely any benefit to Venezuela at all.

He was also aware of the massive amounts of money being taken out of the Venezuelan economy by the servicing of loans – money owed to imperialist financiers. Furthermore, oil was not the only vital area of the Venezuelan economy controlled by imperialist concerns when Chávez took power – and, of course, wherever imperialist concerns were in charge, the interests of the Venezuelan people never figured at all.

He determined that core Venezuelan industries should all be renationalised, and also that the country’s debts to imperialism should be paid off – and that is what was done.

Renationalisation of the oil reserves, a priority of the Bolivarian revolution following the 2006 election, was completed on 2 May 2007, when the government took hold of the Orinoco oil installations and handed them over for management by the Venezuelan state oil company, PDVSA.

The overwhelming majority of the multinational companies who had stakes in Venezuelan oil – Total, Sincor, Chevron Texaco, ExxonMobil, BP and Veba oil, signed agreements with the state to allow them to continue to exploit a minority interest in the oil. A 2001 law cut foreign companies’ share of the sale price from 84 to 70 percent, and the royalties they had to pay increased to 16.6 percent on Orinoco basin heavy crude – they had formerly paid a mere 1 percent.

As a result, PDVSA came to account for about half of government revenues and three quarters of Venezuela’s exports. In May 2007, PDVSA also took over all the operations abandoned by ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total, as well as 46 oil rigs.

There were, however, problems, which Chávez sought to resolve by moving towards self-reliance. PDVSA’s 2007 plan had a target of 191 oil rigs to produce 3.3m barrels of oil per day (mbd), but in fact only 112 were then operational. This is partly because of a law in Venezuela that requires contract winners (including the providers of oil rigs) to put 10 percent of the contract value towards social programmes, and partly because of an international shortage of rigs, the cost of hire having doubled since the previous year to $400,000 a day.

In response to this problem, the Venezuelan government, besides having immediately acquired some rigs from Iran and China, arranged for Chinese rigs to be assembled in Venezuela. This graphically goes to show the incompatibility of socialism with a market economy. The shortage of oil rigs was directly related to the economic ‘inefficiency’ of undermining profitability by creating decent facilities for workers and their families!

Following Chávez’s death, virtually all the bourgeois media have taken the opportunity to bemoan his alleged ‘economic mismanagement’, resulting in sluggish economic growth compared to, say, Brazil. Yet they admit that:

” During Hugo Chávez’s time in office, from 1999 to the present day, income inequality in Venezuela gradually declined, as it did in most of the region.

The country now boasts the fairest income distribution in Latin America.” But this equality is not good enough, it is claimed:

So every Venezuelan now has a more equal slice of the cake. The trouble is, that cake has not been getting much bigger.

“Instead of investing in PDVSA to increase production, Mr Chávez treated it as a cash cow, milking its funds to finance his social spending on housing, health care and transport.”(‘Hugo Chávez leaves Venezuela in economic muddle’, 5 March 2013)

There could be no better demonstration of the incompatibility of capitalism and socialism! Under capitalism, using production for the benefit of the masses – “social spending on housing, health care and transport” – is to use it “as a cash cow“. Production cannot be for the benefit of the masses! That is entirely inappropriate! Its purpose is the generation of profit through the generation of economic growth, which is why, in the opinion of the BBC, Chávez ought instead to have invested everything “in PDVSA to increase production“.

Colombia therefore is – according to the BBC – a success story because it has increased production, even if its people are still languishing in poverty and misery, forcibly held down by a vicious US-backed authoritarian regime.

In order to break the hold of US imperialism over the Venezuelan economy, it was important for Venezuela to break its dependence on the US (Venezuela’s largest oil market), which it was able to do through strengthening trade relations with China and neighbouring Latin-American states.

Steps have also been taken under the aegis of ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) to move oil refineries currently situated in the US to Latin America.

With the majority renationalisation of the Venezuelan oil industry complete, other natural resources and basic industries were next in line, including the steel industry, private banks, electricity and telecommunications. The plan is to develop domestic industrial productive capacity to replace foreign-controlled private monopolies. The planned ‘social production enterprises’ will give workers partial ownership of the company.

It should be remembered that all those dispossessed were fully compensated, although none of the bourgeois media deigns to mention what effect these compensations have had on the national economy and its ‘growth’:

With regard to breaking financial ties with imperialism, on 13 April 2007, Chávez announced that Venezuela had paid off all monies owed to the IMF and World Bank and was now free of the heavy shackles of debt. ” We have transformed Venezuela, from an indebted and bound country that we were … to a modest but important country and financial centre that supports other countries and peoples .” (‘President Chávez announces World Bank debt has been paid off’, TeleSur/Prensa Web RNV, translated by Yoshie Furuhashi, 13 April 2007)

In place of heavy-strings-attached funding from imperialist banks, Venezuela now has the security of substantial reserves built up from oil revenues. (‘Venezuela: 20 percent minimum salary raise, withdrawal from World Bank and IMF’, Venezuelanalysis.com, 1 May 2007)

Chávez was also instrumental in setting up a Latin-American development bank, the Banco del Sur, which will enable countries in the region to borrow at low rates of interest and without conditions that damage the economy and the population.

On 26 September 2009, the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela signed an agreement establishing the Bank of the South with an initial capital of US$20bn. The bank is gearing up to commence operations this year and will constitute a lasting tribute to Chávez’s dream of a sovereign and independent Latin-American continent.

Economic achievements

In July 2007, the first Venezuelan-made car rolled off the production line. As with the tractors mentioned earlier, it was the product of a Venezuela/Iran joint venture, Venirauto, inaugurated in November 2006, and which is 51 percent Iranian and 49 percent Venezuelan. Production currently stands at 16,000 cars a year.

Chávez also inaugurated a programme called ‘Socialist Factory 2007’, to create 200 state-owned socialist companies whose purpose was to make Venezuela self-sufficient in all kinds of manufactured goods, including cement, glass, bicycles, paper, plastics, rubber products, kitchen appliances, oil pipelines, wheelchairs, etc. Added to the existing state-owned companies, it was hoped that these would be in a position to compete with the private sector in almost every area of the economy.

” Poverty is down from 71 percent in 1996 to 21 now, and extreme poverty is down from 40 percent to 7.3. The programmes, or misiones, have reached 20 million people, and 2.1 million have received senior citizens’ pensions, a sevenfold increase under Mr Chávez. … the country now has 58 doctors per 10,000 people (as against 18 in 1996). As many as 96 percent of the population now have access to clean water, and with school attendance at 85 percent, one in three Venezuelans is enrolled in free education up to and including university”. (Sazzad Hussain, ‘Adios ChavezCounter-currents.org, 7 March, 2013)

As already mentioned, Venezuela has made impressive advances whilst Chávez was at the helm in improving the lives of ordinary working-class and peasant people. For example,Proletarian carried an article in 2007 documenting progress to that date:

“In real (inflation-adjusted) terms, social spending per person increased by 170 percent during the period 1998-2006. But this did not include the state oil company PDVSA’s social spending, which was 7.3 percent of GDP in 2006. With this included, social spending was at least 314 percent more in 2006 than in 1998 (in terms of real social spending per person)… This has brought about significant gains for the poor in health care, subsidised food, and access to education …

“The official poverty rate, which measures only cash income and does not include such advances as increased access to health care and education, dropped by 31 percent from 1998 to the end of 2006 – from 43.9 percent of households to 30.6 percent. Measured unemployment dropped from 15 percent in June 1999 to 8.3 percent in June 2007.” (Center for Economic and Policy Research, ‘Venezuela’s economy during the Chávez years’, 26 July 2007)

And Owen Jones in the Independent, although he is no friend of anti-imperialism, brings us right up to date:

” The truth is that Chávez won democratic election after democratic election, despite the often vicious hostility of the media, because his policies transformed the lives of millions of previously ignored Venezuelans. Poverty has fallen from nearly half to 27.8 percent, while absolute poverty has been more than halved.

” Six million children receive free meals a day; near-universal free health care has been established; and education spending has doubled as a proportion of GDP. A housing programme launched in 2011 built over 350,000 homes, bringing hundreds of thousands of families out of sub-standard housing in the barrios. ” (‘Hugo Chávez was a democrat not a dictator’, The Independent, 6 March 2013).

Chávez’s internationalism

Just as Chávez understood the need for people within Venezuela, seeing that their main enemy was imperialism, to sink their differences in order to confront imperialism as one, he could also see that anti-imperialist unity was needed between oppressed countries. The Banco del Sur initiative was one anti-imperialist initiative of this kind.

From Simon Bolivar, Chávez, like many other Latin-American revolutionaries before him, had a great yearning to bring about Latin-American unification, and he was happy to put at the disposal of all the peoples of Latin America a part of Venezuela’s vast oil wealth to help the process of unification.

Chávez worked closely with Fidel Castro on this front. Castro was an encouragement to Venezuela in its ‘Petrocaribe’ initiative – a multi-lateral energy cooperation scheme led by Venezuela that has been signed by 14 Caribbean nations – the aim of which was to supply oil to Caribbean countries at an affordable cost. Under the terms of its deal with Venezuela, Jamaica, for example, paid just $40 per barrel of oil, at a time when the market rate was over $60.

Another initiative in which Venezuela has played a leading role is in ALBA.

The fifth ALBA summit (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), held in Venezuela in April 2007, was attended by leaders from Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Haiti, as well as by delegations from Ecuador, Uruguay, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The organisation had been set up by Chávez in opposition to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a neo-liberal economic project promoted by the US government in order to ‘remove trade barriers’ and thereby facilitate North-American imperialist exploitation of the continent. The objective of ALBA, by contrast, is to promote cooperation and collective development of the region with an emphasis on fighting poverty and social exclusion. Daniel Ortega, Nicaraguan president, explained that ” the objective is not necessarily to maintain high economic statistics or attract investment, but rather to benefit our populations, so that they have health care, education, jobs and so they can get out of poverty “. (‘Fifth ALBA summit in Venezuela strengthens regional integration’ by Chris Carlson,Venezuelaanalysis.com, 29 April 2007)

Key to the venture are agreements for the supply of oil from Venezuela and joint financing of social and industrial projects. The establishment of joint companies for the exploitation of natural resources – Cuban-Venezuelan stainless steel plant and nickel plants; a Nicaraguan-Venezuelan aluminium plant; joint plans for the extraction of Bolivian iron, alongside steel and cement plants – will strengthen regional industry and decrease dependence on the US and other imperialist states.

Similarly, Venezuelan health and education missions are to be extended to ALBA territories, to the mutual benefit of all.

Venezuela’s leading role in fomenting this increased cooperation, backed up by its willingness to invest its natural wealth in the project, has been instrumental in assisting neighbouring states to escape the debt trap. With Venezuelan assistance Nicaragua and Argentina have been able to pay back millions of dollars owed to the IMF so as to be free of its diktat over their economies.

Furthermore, Chávez, perhaps because he too was demonised by the imperialist communications media, was perfectly able to recognise a fellow anti-imperialist. Hence he unstintingly supported the anti-imperialist governments, for instance, of Gaddafi in Libya, Assad in Syria, Ahmadinejad in Iran, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un in the DPRK and Mugabe in Zimbabwe, without for one moment being taken in by the imperialist hate-speak against these towering figures of the world anti-imperialist resistance.

Empowerment of the oppressed and the fight for racial equality

It is not just that the poor are experiencing a much-enhanced quality of life in material terms. Even more important is that their voice, for so long suppressed, is now heard and they have real power to influence their own lives.

An important vehicle for this is through Bolivarian Circles, self-organised groups based along the lines of the Cuban CDRs (Committees to Defend the Revolution). Funded directly by the government, some 70,000 circles have when necessary been able to organise over a million workers and peasants outside the bourgeois state apparatus to defend by force of arms the gains won so far – and to push them further.

“These ‘Bolivarian Councils of Workers’ (workers’ councils) have been set up as ‘ political organisations of the working class, based on direct democracy and control over production’. Alongside these representative bodies, another source of community power is being encouraged through the formation of 19,000 Communal Councils, each made up of 200-400 families (smaller groups in rural areas). Discussions within these forums are progressing towards the setting up of federations of Communal Councils to tackle larger projects .” (‘Venezuela’s revolution accelerates’ by Federico Fuentes, Green Left Weekly, 25 April 2007)

Such self-organised, democratic organisations of peasants and workers can be the germ of an alternative working-class state power, and the fact that they have arms and are prepared to defend themselves means that the Bolivarian revolution will be no easy pushover. No wonder the Venezuelan bourgeoisie and their imperialist backers are terrified of what they have dubbed the “circles of terror“.

Furthermore, the Venezuelan masses enjoy a privilege that is certainly not available in this country, namely, access to the media.

Christian Science Monitor article in 2005 noted:

“Chávez has struck back against the established media through Vive TV, a state-sponsored station..

” According to its website, Vive TV promotes ‘the common citizen, Through Vive’s programming, claim the station’s managers, ‘it is possible to acquaint oneself with the reality, lives and struggle of people of African descent [and] indigenous peoples.’

” As Blanca Eekhout, the former manager of Vive explains, people of colour previously ‘have appeared in the media but in a stigmatised way; they are shown as marginal people, criminals. They are not shown building, constructing, which is part of the struggle for the development of the country. That’s one thing we are trying to change.’ …

” Chávez has also increased the visibility of Latin America’s indigenous peoples through the launching of the government-sponsored Televisora del Sur (Telesur).”

Since 2005, giant strides forward have been taken in the battle against racism and discrimination in the media.

“The new state-funded channels (and there are several of them too, plus innumerable community radio stations) are doing something completely different, and unusual in the competitive world of commercial television. Their programmes look as though they are taking place in Venezuela, and they display the cross-section of the population to be seen on cross-country buses or on the Caracas metro.

” As in every country in the world, not everyone in Venezuela is a natural beauty. Many are old, ugly and fat. Today they are given a voice and a face on the television channels of the state. Many are deaf or hard of hearing. Now they have sign language interpretation on every programme. Many are inarticulate peasants. They too have their moment on the screen. Their immediate and dangerous struggle for land is not just being observed by a documentary filmmaker from the city; they are being taught to make the films themselves.

“Blanca Eekhout … coined the slogan ‘Don’t watch television, make it’. Classes in filmmaking have been set up all over the country. Lil Rodriguez, an Afro-Venezuelan journalist and the boss of TVES, the channel that replaces RCTV, claims that it will become ‘a useful space for rescuing those values that other models of television always ignore, especially our Afro-heritage.’ With time, the excluded will find a voice within the mainstream.”(Richard Gott, ‘The battle over the media is about race as well as class’, The Guardian, 9June 2007)

Chávez and socialism

As Chávez fought for the equality, dignity and human rights of ordinary Venezuelan people of all colours, religious beliefs, and both genders, he built up a stronger and stronger understanding that capitalism is simply incompatible with these ideals:

Eleven years ago [when first elected] I was quite gullible. I even believed in a ‘third way’. I believed it was possible to put a human face on capitalism, but I was wrong. The only way to save the world is through socialism … Capitalism is destroying the world .” (BBC TV Hardtalkinterview with Hugo Chávez, 13 June 2010)

We have seen above that the harder Chávez fought for the ‘human rights’ so lauded by western imperialism, the more he was demonised as a dictator, a monster, a madman, an egomaniac, an ignoramus, and the like. We have seen how social programmes totally undermine the viability of a market economy, the beating heart of the capitalist system. Chávez was not too proud to learn as he fought for what he believed in, which is perhaps the most important quality of leadership.

Venezuela’s future

Chávez’s enthusiasm for giving himself body and soul to the service of the masses is poignantly demonstrated by this prayer of his that was overheard in April 2012 after he learnt of his illness: ” I ask God to give me life, however painful. I can carry 100 crosses, your crown of thorns, but don’t take me yet. I still have things to do.” (Quoted in ‘Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s anti US socialist leader, dies at 58’ by Charlie Devereux and Daniel Cancel, Bloomberg, 5 March 2013)

Certainly his leadership in Venezuela’s and Latin America’s struggle against western imperialist for independence and sovereignty will be sorely missed. Imperialism is hoping that with Chávez gone the fire will go out of the struggle.

Jonathan Watts, whose article was put on line within minutes of Comrade Chávez’s death, put the imperialist hopes into words:

“His death will … trigger a presidential election, to be held within 30 days, to decide who controls the world’s greatest untapped reserves of oil. ” (Guardian, 6 March 2013)

Western imperialists are hoping to have that oil back under their control within a very short time. We believe they will be disappointed.

The Venezuelan and Latin-American people will now have to carry on their struggle without Chávez. We are confident, however, that from the millions of inhabitants and militant workers of the region, his place will be taken by worthy successors who, inspired by his example, will complete the tasks that have been initiated under Chávez’s leadership.

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NHS: Clinical Commissioning Groups, a cruel 1 April ‘joke’

NOVANEWS

 

On April fool’s day this year the Government, with some minor criticism but certainly no obstruction from the Labour Party, placed the responsibility for ‘buying’ and running NHS services into the hands of the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). According to the official blurb the ” Clinical Commissioning Groups are groups of GPs that, from April 2013, will be responsible for planning and designing local health services in England. They will do this by ‘commissioning’ or buying health and care services including:

1) Planned hospital care

2) Urgent and emergency care

3) Rehabilitation care

4) Community health services

5) Mental health and learning disability services

6) To do this Clinical Commissioning Groups will work with patients and health and social care partners (e.g. local hospitals, local authorities, local community groups etc) to ensure services meet local needs. CCG boards are made up of GPs from the local area and at least one registered nurse and one secondary care specialist doctor .”

Just who are the health and social care partners mentioned above? They say “local hospitals, local authorities, local community groups etc” but that, especially the “etc” at the end, could cover a lot of things. Could these groups lurking in the ‘etc’ include the building companies that own many of the hospitals and rent them to the NHS through the PFI scheme? Health care is the modern gold-rush for many companies clamouring to diversify into this lucrative industry. Basically, GPs have been pulled into the drive towards privatisation and made accomplices whether they want to be or not as all GP practices have to belong to their appropriate CCG.

When these CCGs are ‘buying’ services, often they will have to ‘buy’ them from outside of the NHS as years of cuts and the deliberate running down of some services mean that these services virtually no longer exist in what most of us would consider to be the NHS. The blurring of lines between what is private and what is public healthcare that was evident in the expensive glossy booklets that were posted to everyone to announce the 1st April takeover of NHS services by the CCGs is another way that this scheme helps to carry on the privatisation of our publicly owned and run NHS.

Evidence of this can be seen from the Wakefield CCG which has set up a company called Novus Health. This company was set up ” in January 2007 following discussions between GPs and hospital specialists in the Wakefield District.” This company, which the CCG responsible would class as part of the NHS, is in fact a parasite. In the company’s own words it provides its services making use ” where possible, of existing health centre with appropriate facilities to provide care, taking advantage of easier access.” In other words it rides on the back of the NHS taking profits without sharing the costs. Its business address is Kings Medical Centre, Normanton (Normanton is a town within the Wakefield District). The Wakefield CCG has its meetings at Kings Medical Centre, Normanton, and one of the leading GPs on the CCG is Dr David Brown who is senior partner in a practice run from Kings Medical Centre, Normanton.

In a blog posted on the CCG/Kings Medical Centre website, Dr Brown tells his patients that ” the practice has just signed up to allow Novus Health to run a clinic in the surgery to provide hearing aids and assessment of patients with age related hearing loss. The service is for people over 55 years of age with uncomplicated age related hearing loss who would like to try a hearing aid. The service is completely free and fully funded by the NHS .” He further tells us that this service is also being held at 6 other NHS locations across the Wakefield District. So this service is ‘bought’ by the CCG (presumably using NHS money) from Novus Health to give us the service that was formerly provided by the real NHS, isn’t there a moral/legal dilemma here with the buyer and seller being the same persons? Novus Health also advertise on their site; Vasectomy, Carpal Tunnel, and Community Physiotherapy services.

NHS England

Official pamphlets, websites etc tell us that the ” Clinical Commissioning Groups will be overseen by the ‘NHS England’ at a national level. NHS England is a new body that will make sure that Clinical Commissioning groups have the capacity and capability to successfully commission services for their local population. NHS England will also ensure that the Clinical Commissioning Groups meet their financial responsibilities. ” And further that “As well as overseeing Clinical Commissioning Groups, the NHS England will commission some services itself. These are:

1) General Practice

2) Pharmacy

3) Dentists

4) Specialist services (i.e. those required by a limited number of people).”

And so the scam that is CCGs is also enlarged and controlled by a bigger, central scam!

This is only a very tiny part of what is happening and will continue to happen across the country as the builders of roads and houses vie with transport companies and optical chain-stores to grab the choicest cuts of the NHS and squeeze every last penny of profit from them.

Many will point to this latest and possibly last stage of privatisation of the NHS as the culmination of the plan started by the Thatcher Government in the 1980’s. This is an essentially correct but a one-sided conclusion to come to.

Although the privatisation of the NHS can be seen to begin with the privatising of cleaning services and re-grading battles of the 80’s, we must not forget the ‘Labour’ years when, far from turning back the attacks on the NHS of the Thatcher/Major administrations, under Blair and Brown we witnessed the ‘Foundation Trust’ scam which took the journey to privatisation onto the next level, and which, incidentally, is the main reason for the Mid Staffs hospital scandal in which around 400 patients are reckoned to have died needlessly (seeProletarian issue 52. ‘NHS-death by a thousand cuts’).

The Labour Governments also introduced the PFI scheme which saw hospitals, and many other public buildings, knocked down, with the land sold off while a private company built a new one to rent to the NHS at extortionate rates. This was just another way for the privateers to suck the financial lifeblood from the NHS, causing it to close services and wards and cut staff and/or lower their pay and pensions. That is what has paved the way to the present crisis where our publicly owned health service lies prostrate and the CCGs, willingly or otherwise, are poised to deliver the coup de grace.

So it is no use voting Labour to save the health service.

The only thing that will deliver a proper health service free at the point of delivery is to work for the revolutionary overthrow of the present political system and run it under the rule of the working class. It is only then that we will not only see the NHS return to its hey-day but go much further to become like the Soviet health service that it was only ever a pale replica of.

 

Posted in HealthComments Off on NHS: Clinical Commissioning Groups, a cruel 1 April ‘joke’

Ground the Drones

NOVANEWS

No cooperation with British war crimes!

Since Nato launched its illegal and unjustified invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, drones (aka Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) have gone from being an untried technology to one of the primary means of warfare.

The runaway leader in the field, the US, now operates 7,500 vehicles – more than 40 percent of all US defence aircraft – and trains more drone pilots each year (350 in 2011) than fighter and bomber pilots combined. Meanwhile, some 40 other countries, seeing the writing on the wall, are in the process of buying or developing their own unmanned vehicles.

Although information about British involvement in armed drone strikes is largely kept from the public, the MoD has recently admitted that British pilots have carried out thousands of drone missions in Afghanistan and Libya, flying US drones from US bases. As of 25 April, however, Britain’s first homegrown drone base became operational as airmen at RAF Waddington in Lincoln began piloting armed Reaper drones over Afghanistan.

As a mass hunger strike by inmates brings the US’s concentration camp at Guantanamo back into the media spotlight once again, it is instructive to note that the Nato imperialists’ chosen method of blanket terror and intimidation has shifted since Obama and Cameron replaced Bush and Blair from seizing and locking up a random selection of men of military age to murdering them – and very often their families as well – instead.

A new kind of terrorism

Imperialist politicians claim that drone strikes are aimed at ‘surgically removing’ ‘high-value’ ‘al-Qaeda operatives’ from the ‘field of battle’. In reality, while resistance fighters may sometimes be hit, it seems that anyone is considered ‘fair game’ by the joystick-wielding mercenaries who operate the guns from the safety of their suburban bases.

The truth is that drone strikes are terrorist attacks, killing at least 10 civilians (many of them women and children) for every one resistance fighter, according to a 2009 report by the Brookings Institution. Californian data agency Pitch Interactive, after recording every knowndrone strike in Pakistan since 2004, and recording every known casualty (3,115, but the true figure is certainly much higher), has concluded that a mere 1.5 percent of those killed had been previously identified as ‘high-profile’ targets by the US intelligence agencies. So much for ‘precision warfare’.

Some critics inside the establishment are said to be upset at the switch from detention to assassination as they regret losing opportunities to ‘interrogate’ prisoners, but Obama has certainly learned one lesson from his predecessor in the White House: the longer you keep innocent men locked up, the more likely it is that your lies about them being ‘dangerous terrorists’ will be exposed.

It is so much easier for the imperialists to order a kill, then slander their victims and move on. Particularly when they know that western journalists are not exactly queuing up to find out what really goes on in remote and inaccessible war zones, far from the comforts of their air-conditioned hotels and offices. Most ‘reporters’ for the capitalist press have been well trained in the art of rewriting military and government press releases as if they contained reliable and proven facts.

Journalists whose reports conflict with the interests of the ruling class soon find that their stories are not printed and their services are quickly dispensed with. To the extent that debate on any issue does make it into the pages of the corporate media, it is usually as a result of dissention within ruling-class circles – and confined to the limits of what is considered acceptable by the capitalists.

So who will listen to the protestations of a poor Aghan, Pakistani or Yemeni community that the latest ‘targeted killing’ has in fact only massacred farmers, village elders, school children or wedding guests?

We are told that drones have ‘pinpoint accuracy’ and are thus a ‘humane’ alternative to ground troops, whose fire just might (accidentally of course) kill civilians during the heat of a battle. But the truth is that remote-control operation simply allows the soldiers with their fingers on the button to kill with total impunity – without having to take the risk of being hit back.

According to US-based FightBack!, ” The US government takes serious measures to cover up and lie about the deaths of civilians from these brutal attacks. A ground-breaking 2012 report by the Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic calledLiving With Drones found that the Central Intelligence Agency classifies all military-age male casualties of drone strikes as ‘militants’ unless they find evidence to the contrary after their death – a kind of ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ that allows war-makers to hide their crimes against civilians.

” Further, the report found that US government officials have encouraged media outlets to call the victims of drone strikes ‘militants’ in order to build support for their horrifying pro-war agenda. ” (‘Commentary: Drones in the SunshineState will bring more war and poverty, not jobs’ by Dave Schneider, 23 March 2013)

Meanwhile, the people who are living under the shadow of these devastating weapons are subject to daily terror as they find themselves under constant surveillance, never knowing when a deadly Reaper or Predator drone will stop overhead or where it will fire next. Bitter experience has taught them that nowhere is off limits; no-one is safe.

Parents are powerless to protect their children, whose young minds are inevitably scarred by this insecurity, as well as by the sight of exploded bodies and destroyed homes and by the grief of losing loved ones. The whine of an approaching drone is all it takes to reawaken previous traumas, leading inevitably to psychological problems and recurring night terrors.

Joystick wars

Preparation for this kind of warfare takes place not in the forced hikes and assault courses that squaddies are supposed to endure in their quest to ‘Be the best’, but in the pornographically violent computer games and Hollywood blockbusters that glorify imperialist war, dehumanise the ‘enemy’ as some kind of insane and unknowable ‘other’ and prepare our young people to slaughter without mercy at the push of a button.

This was perfectly illustrated by Prince Harry’s revealing and apparently unembarrassed admission that he saw killing Afghans from an Apache helicopter as being similar to playing video games. Indeed, our fair prince even went so far as to call it “a joy” to have his finger on the trigger, since he was “one of those people that loves playing PlayStation … with my thumbs, I like to think that I’m quite useful”.

Full marks for honesty, if not for tact and diplomacy. But while it may be in the interest of Harry and his parasitic family to inflict collective punishment on peoples who are resisting imperialist aggression, it is not in the interest of most British workers, who have been sold a pack of lies about the dangers that our Afghan (or Pakistani or Iraqi or Libyan or Syrian or Yemeni or Somali) brothers and sisters pose to ‘us’, even as workers in uniform are being made into perpetrators and accomplices of vicious crimes against humanity.

Ironically, as the surveillance technology on board these drones improves, their pilots are starting to lose the disconnect that they previously felt when dropping payloads from 30,000ft in the air. Now, once more, they are having to look at their victims’ faces before they pull the trigger.

But, this small caveat aside, our rulers love drones because they allow them to kill without comeback and to avoid the politically dangerous business of having to justify British casualties.

The consequences of this new warfare are far-reaching indeed. As the imperialists continue to use drones to target anyone who they see as a threat, they are turning our whole world into a battlefield where nothing and no-one is off-limits.

As Chris Cole of Drone Wars UK has pointed out, ” drones are also expanding the battlefield even within conflict zones, as politicians and military commanders have such faith in the perceived accuracy of these unmanned systems that they are much more willing to use them in civilian areas. In short, drones are ‘normalising’ war and simply making war more likely .” (‘Why our leaders love drone warfare: the power of killing without political risk’,stopwar,org.uk, 15 April 2013)

Using drones against our own

And, of course, the logical development of all this unlawful shooting down of ‘foreigners’ is the emergence of a new trend among imperialist governments, who are now increasingly using armed drones to wipe out their own citizens without bothering to go through even the most cursory of judicial processes.

The first known case of this was the intentional assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki and the apparently accidental ‘collateral’ murder of Samir Khan, both of whom were born and grew up in the US but were killed in Yemen on 30 September 2011. A month later, Mr Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, also a US citizen, was ‘mistakenly’ cut down by another drone strike as he went in search of his missing father.

Despite the authorities’ attempts to keep these murders secret, details have slowly leaked out, causing some of the US’s more far-sighted citizens to wonder: if the president can order the assassination of Americans overseas, based on secret intelligence, what are the limits to his power? Moreover, by declining to specify what it means to be “engaged in combat”, the US attorney general has not ruled out the possible scenario of a military drone strike against a US citizen on American soil.

Meanwhile, the ConDems have ramped up a secret programme, initiated by the previous Labour government, whereby British ‘terror suspects’ are being quietly stripped of their citizenship before they are captured or assassinated by British ‘allies’ – a ploy that allows the authorities to ‘wash their hands’ of those to whom, at least in theory, they owe some duty of care and to sidestep the toxic issue of a state in which the death penalty has long been officially outlawed sanctioning the murder of its own subjects without even a token recourse to the courts.

At least five of the 21 people who have are known to have been deprived of their UK nationality so far were born in Britain, and one man had lived in the country for almost 50 years. Those affected have had their passports cancelled, and have lost their right to enter Britain – making it very difficult to appeal against the home secretary’s decision. In most cases, the government has kept its actions out of the public eye by acting when the victims were staying abroad – even, in two cases, while they were on holiday.

The case of 23-year-old Mahdi Hashi is a typical one. A former care worker from Camden in north London, Mr Hashi is now incarcerated in a high-security US prison having been secretly ‘rendered’ from the African state of Djibouti last year.

” Mr Hashi claims that before being sent to the US on charges of working with the terrorist group al-Shabaab he witnessed torture in an African prison, before being handed over to the CIA and forced to sign a confession.

” Despite Mr Hashi being brought up in the UK, the British government has washed its hands of him, having stripped him of his citizenship shortly before he disappeared in Somalia last summer.

” His UK family say that when they lost contact with their son they approached the Foreign Office for help. But they were told by officials that they could not provide assistance because the home secretary had issued an order depriving him of his British citizenship.

” It was only five months later, when he reappeared in the US, that they were able to contact him again. The family’s lawyer, Saghir Hussain, said at the time: ‘The UK government has a lot of explaining to do. What role did it play in getting him kidnapped, held in secret detention and renditioned to the US? 

” The case has led to allegations that Britain may have conspired with the US to strip Mr Hashi of his citizenship knowing he would be arrested in Africa. They have no further obligations towards him and can avoid potentially embarrassing questions about his treatment before his rendition.

The case is all the more bizarre as Mr Hashi gave an interview to The Independent in 2009 when he alleged that MI5 had attempted to recruit him. He claimed that on a previous trip to Africa he was held for 16 hours in a cell at Djibouti airport, and that when he was returned to the UK he was met by an MI5 agent who told him his terror-suspect status would remain until he agreed to work for the security service.

He alleges he was to be given the job of informing on his friends by encouraging them to talk about jihad.” (‘British terror suspects quietly stripped of citizenship … then killed by drones’ by Chris Woods, Alice K Ross and Oliver Wright, Independent, 28 February 2013)

At least two British men are known to have been murdered by US drones after the home secretary stripped them of citizenship – Bilal al-Berjawi, who came from Lebanon as a baby and grew up in London, and his London-born friend Mohamed Sakr. Following harassment by British ‘counter-terrorism’ agents, they left the country and headed for Somalia, where they are said to have become involved with the anti-imperialist al-Shabaab resistance movement.

Berjawi’s murder came just hours after he had called his wife in London to congratulate her on the birth of their first son, further fuelling assumptions that British authorities are actively assisting the US military in locating and killing these ‘former’ citizens. After his murder, an intelligence officer described Mr Sakr as “a very senior Egyptian”, clearly hoping that the reality of his British nationality would never be revealed.

Meanwhile, when it comes to surveillance, drones are becoming extremely attractive to police and secret services – as well as to the hosts of private security contractors and mercenary agencies that the ruling class likes to outsource its nastiest business to. According to Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law, “Drones drive down the cost of surveillance considerably. We worry that the incidence of surveillance will go up.” (See ‘Current laws may offer little shield against drones, senators are told’ by Matthew L Wald, New York Times, 20 March 2013)

As can be seen, where the US nazis lead, their British counterparts are never shy to follow. In the States, use of both surveillance and armed drones by police and other agencies is set to rise exponentially as the technology becomes cheaper and more reliable.

Here at home, having tested out their use during the Olympic games, it is not difficult to believe that police might soon be using armed drones to control demonstrators or strikers, while the cheapness of surveillance drones is bound to make them ubiquitous among allthe various ‘security’ operators – official and unofficial – who do our rulers’ dirty work.

StW jumps on the bandwagon

Meanwhile, the recent anti-drones protest outside RAF Waddington is a classic example of how not to disrupt the war machine – as well as of how the ‘anti-war’ leadership allows its agenda to be set by the ruling class.

Anti-drones protests have been going on for some time in Britain without any particular input from Stop the War (StW). The biggest protests have taken place in Bradford, where there is a large population of Pakistani origin, outraged at the illegal and undeclared war being waged by the CIA against civilian populations in areas of Pakistan that are considered by the US to be sympathetic to the Afghan resistance.

Recently, however, the issue has been receiving considerably more publicity in the corporate media, as members of the ruling class debate whether detention or assassination will serve them best in their wars for domination. With their unfailing nose for ‘respectable’ activity (ie, that which at least some parts of the ruling class will look kindly on), and keen to make itself look ‘relevant’ again, StW belatedly cranked into what passes these days for ‘action’, by calling for a ‘joint demonstration’ with CND, War on Want and Drone Wars.

What transpired was both farcical and instructive. Less than 200 people assembled by the side of a road on the outskirts of Lincoln on Saturday 27 April as a result of this ‘mobilisation’ – and very few of them (with the exception of a few leaders) were members of either StW or CND. In the main, those present were unaffiliated peace-loving people of various religious persuasions, along with some anti-drones campaigners. Despite the topicality and the depth of feeling among many workers on the issue, the entire ‘left’ was absent, with the single exception of the CPGB-ML, who had brought a sizeable contingent.

The march itself was less a display of working-class power than an amble down a deserted country lane. Setting off from a corner of a park on the outskirts of Lincoln town and ending up 3 miles later in a deserted field near to the RAF base, the whole event had been organised so as to have as little impact on the workings of capitalism or the consciousness of workers as possible. We passed no-one to whom we could give our leaflets and we disrupted neither the smooth running of the state nor the war machine that we were supposedly there to oppose.

Not one speaker on the platform called for any kind of direct action that might prevent the drones from operating out of Waddington. There was no suggestion that workers might be mobilised to blockade the gates to stop supplies getting in or to tear down the fences and destroy vital machinery inside. Just an amble to the top of the hill to hear the usual suspects tell us how marvellously we’d done by turning up and to advertise their other activities. The most ‘militant’-sounding speaker turned out to be a charity worker from War on Want whose ultimate vision appeared to be a scenario in which we were able to “ban the drones” by getting “Cameron to the table”!

British workers have got so used to such weekend (sh)ambles taking the place of real political action that they have forgotten that things can be done any differently. But the whole point of a demonstration is that it should be a show of strength.

Demonstrations that are effective in making the ruling class take notice are those that show some determination by workers to join together and put up a fight. That usually means that they take place on a weekday rather than a weekend, and are in the centre of big cities, so that people are pulled out of work (without notice to their employers!) and the daily business of running capitalism is severely disrupted. A demonstration should be a reminder to the ruling class that the workers have the power to disrupt and destroy profit-making; an ultimatum that concessions had better be made if the capitalists want to continue in place.

There is nothing revolutionary about the above proposition: such demonstrations are typical of many countries where the rule of capital is not remotely threatened, but where the working-class movement has retained its basic function of fighting for workers’ rights and interests within the capitalist system.

While the leaders told lies from the platform about their determination to ‘oppose’ the use of drones and about how the assembled marchers made up the “biggest anti-drones demonstration in Britain so far”, the journalists present were at equal pains to give credence to the event and present it as being much bigger and more significant than it was.

Instead of underreporting by a factor of 10 to 1 (the standard technique used by police and media to downplay events that can’t be ignored), the media has persistently reported a crowd that couldn’t have numbered more than 200 (and that’s being generous) as being three times larger, while most TV reports assiduously avoided mentioning numbers at all.

Anyone who has ever been on a massive demo that got little or no coverage on the TV or in the newspapers will be able to confirm that this is decidedly unusual. Only by understanding that the agenda had been set in advance could one account for reporting so sympathetic from the BBC (for example) that the producers went to extraordinary lengths to make sure that the screen always showed marchers during their two-and-a-half-minute film. To do this, they had to edit in footage from the beginning of the demo when the marchers had finished filing past their reporter, and to reposition him at the front for the final part of his presentation.

While StW will no doubt be happy to take the credit for the disproportionate media interest in such a tiny demonstration, the truth is that there is clearly a strong divide of opinion within the ruling class, which is allowing this issue to penetrate into the corporate media. But the limits of their debate “drones vs detention” cannot be the limits of ours!

No cooperation

It is clear that we need to free ourselves from the disabling influence of the capitalists’ propaganda and realise where our real interests lie. We are not ‘all in it together’; British society is split between exploiters and exploited, and if one benefits, the other will suffer.

The billionaires who order these incessant wars to be launched are not doing so to protectus, but to protect their profits. They are the same billionaires who want to stifle all political dissent at home, even as they are dismantling our education and health services and kicking us out of our homes. They want to save their rotten system by making us pay for the worst ever capitalist crisis – and they are doing their best to trick us into blaming each other for the problems their beloved system is creating for the mass of workers.

But if we continue to accept the assassination of those deemed to be ‘enemies’ abroad, how long will it be before British workers are asked to accept drone strikes against working-class leaders and activists at home as being necessary for our ‘security’?

Instead of falling for the capitalists’ lies, we need to unite with all those who are standing up against British imperialism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and elsewhere. We need to launch a mass campaign of non-cooperation with British imperialism’s war crimes. Together, we have the power to ground the drones and stop imperialism’s dirty wars, just as we have the power to resist the bedroom tax and hospital closures, for it is workers who ultimately have to carry out these anti-worker programmes.

If we refuse to fight in imperialist wars for profit or help with their logistics; if we refuse to broadcast imperialist propaganda in support of such wars; if we refuse to make or transport munitions or supplies, then the British war effort will collapse.

Moreover, taking such action would give workers a much-needed morale boost in the fight against capitalism here at home, helping us to see in practice that we really are on the same side as those fighting abroad, and that together we can defeat the bloodsuckers and build a new society!

 

Posted in USA, Campaigns, Afghanistan, Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Ground the Drones

The Boston bomb – more questions than answers

NOVANEWS

 

The internet is fairly buzzing with conspiracy theories concerning the Boston marathon bombing. There are clear pictures of the wrecked black backpack that one of the bombs was in with a distinctive white square on it and a picture of what looks like a security man prior to the explosion with a black backpack (with white square), pictures of both the ‘security’ man, without backpack and one of the suspected brothers, still carrying his backpack, after the explosions. There are much weirder theories as well as other pictures but even the mainstream American press did not dismiss a ‘false-flag’ operation at first. Once the FBI named the Tsarnaev brothers of course most of the media fell into the well-practised routine of giving only the official line. Although one or two journalists are still asking awkward questions and there are many questions surrounding the killing of one suspect and the maiming of the other (the second one said to be unarmed and uninjured when taken into police custody). The fact that so many conspiracy theories abound and are now mainly being ignored or dismissed by the ‘serious’ press does not mean that there was no conspiracy of course.

Certain strange things are still coming to light even in that well-trained press. The US authorities, after naming the ‘suspects’ spent a full day denying that they had any prior knowledge of them, but it is now admitted that the FBI were sent a request from Russian authorities to investigate Tamerlan Tsarnaev in March 2011. The concern of the Russians apparently was that Tamerlan was possibly involved with terrorist organizations active in Chechnya and the Caucasus region (which have received massive covert support from the USA over the years). The FBI monitored his past and present flights and told the Russians that they had no evidence of any link between Tamerlan and any Chechen/ Caucasian terrorist organisations. The Russians repeated the request in September 2011 but this time to the CIA. The CIA had Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s name put on the central US government’s database of alleged “international terrorists,” from which all other US intelligence databases are compiled, including the FBI’s. This should have meant that Tamerlan would not be able to fly in, out or within the USA, but in January 2012 he had no problem boarding a plane to Southern Russia and returning in July 2012.

There seems to be little knowledge of what Tamerlan did during that time out of the US but an NBC news report stated that a police official source in Makhachkala, Dagestan had said that ” During routine surveillance of an individual known to be involved in the militant Islamic underground movement, the police witnessed Tamerlan meet the latter at a Salafi mosque in Makhachkala ” The police official was also reported as saying that it was one of six times in total that surveillance officials witnessed Tsarnaev meeting this ‘militant’ at the same mosque. Before they could be picked up for questioning both the ‘militant’ and Tamerlan disappeared. This was reported to have been passed onto the FBI by the Dagestan Police but they were said to have never received a response.

There are investigations going on in Congress at the moment but the hearings are being held behind closed doors, well outside of the sight of the American people with only snippets getting out. Both the US government and their tame media are trying their best to contain much of what is being revealed or the significance of these revelations. Senator Richard Burr, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters that there were ” multiple contacts” between the US and Russia over Tsarnaev, including “at least once since October 2011” – i.e., after the request submitted to the CIA in September 2011 with the obvious inference that Tamerlan Tsarnaev should have been under watch and certainly not allowed to fly. If Tamerlan’s family are to be believed, and there seems to be no reason to disbelieve them, the FBI had regular contact with Tamerlan, visiting the family multiple times. Also, according to his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaev, Tamerlan was in her words “controlled by the FBI for three to five years.” There is only one reason that we can think of for these things being buried and that would be if Tamerlan, and possibly both brothers, were being ‘developed as assets’, to use the language of the American security services, to be used in US imperialism’s dirty intrigues and destabilising actions in Chechnya and Dagestan.

We have only to look at recent world history to see the hundreds of links and threads between US imperialism and what is now termed ‘militant Islam.’ Despite supposedly leading a war on terrorism, a claim that has looked rather shabby to the majority of people for a few years now, the US has carried on funding and supplying terrorists who claim to kill and maim in the name of Islam. It is the Al Qaeda groups and those linked with them who were imperialism’s ‘troops on the ground’ in Libya; and even then they couldn’t do anything without the combined airforce of NATO and extra military ‘advisors’ and regular troops from the imperialism’s puppet states in the Gulf. These same Al Qaeda groups have been the main part of the opposition forces in Syria, carrying out vicious murders and mutilations of captured Syrian soldiers and civilians.

It has been reported by Izvestia, a Russian newspaper, that Tsarnaev, while in the Caucasus, attended seminars organized by the Fund of the Caucasus, a group with strong links to the US-backed Jamestown Foundation. This Foundation, an open supporter of Chechen separatism, was formed by, or with the active support of, former CIA Director William Casey. Its board of directors includes General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, Bruce Riedel, of the Brookings Institute, Michelle Van Cleave, former National Counterintelligence Executive and Matthew Bryza, former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan.

The Jamestown Foundation is strongly linked to the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus (ACPC). The ACPC is chaired by Zbigniew Brzezinski, a National Security Adviser to Jimmy Carter while he was President. Brzezinski played a central role in developing the alliance of US imperialism with Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan beginning in the late 1970s, as part of the US proxy war against the Soviet-backed Government in Afghanistan. It was from this war that Al Qaeda first emerged.

If America is hated around the world and US citizens feel that they are considered a target wherever they go then they will have to realise that that is the fault of their own government, its foreign and domestic policy and its relentless wars against oppressed peoples.

the deeply flawed political system that is adhered to in their country. The crisis of overproduction is sharpening the contradictions between rich and poor in the US and is helping to open the eyes of the poor there to their real friends around the world and their real enemies ruling their lives at home.

 

Posted in USAComments Off on The Boston bomb – more questions than answers

Bangladesh factory collapse: not an accident, but a capitalist crime

NOVANEWS

 

Over 350 garment workers have lost their lives in the collapse of the factory where they were working in the Rana Plaza complex in Savar, just north of Dhaka. As this is written, around 900 are still listed as ‘missing’ and with every minute that passes the likelihood of them being added to the 350 becomes more certain.

The owner of the RanaPlaza, Sohel Rana, a man described as politically ‘connected’ is still being sought after it came to light that his building was knocked up on the cheap without having to abide by costly regulations. The owners of the factory which was on the higher floors of the 8 storey building have been arrested. The building developed huge cracks and vibrations were felt and creaking and bangs were heard the day before the collapse. The workforce were forced into work the day of the collapse by the factory owners under threat of the sack which in Bangladesh is very often a death sentence in itself.

Only last November 117 garment workers employed at the Tazreen fashions factory who were crowded into a chained and locked Bangladeshi factory died as a fire swept through the building. The disaster at the RanaPlaza shows clearly that nothing much has changed since the Tazreen fire.

Scott Nova, executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium, a monitoring group in Washington, correctly observed soon after the latest carnage that the textile industry in Bangladesh works under intense pressure from multinationals, with suppliers jostling for business. He added: ” The insanity of ordering workers to go back into the building was very much a product of a well-founded belief that if [factories] allow delivery to slip a day or prices to rise a penny, their western customers will leave “.

The export-orientated textile industry in Bangladesh is worth $19bn a year and offers huge opportunities for making vast sums of profits by imperialist corporations, who own various clothing brands. It can only make the fabulous profits by denying the 3.6 million workers in this industry the most basic of rights in terms of health provision, decent pay, safety regulations, building construction standards, collective bargaining and trade union rights. Last year, Aminul Islam, a young trade unionist who successfully led the fight for doubling wages in 2010, was murdered; his killers have thus far not been tracked down, and labour activists rightly believe that his murder was meant to serve as a warning to other would-be champions of workers’ rights.

In its search for maximum profit, there is no crime that monopoly capital will not commit. The deaths of masses of workers at the altar of capitalist profits is normal business, no matter what hypocritical statements about ethical business practices their representatives mouth, no matter how many crocodile tears they pretend to shed over such disasters as the one in Bangladesh.

Doubtless, in order to continue their criminal exploits, the imperialist enterprises need to recruit stooges from the local ruling class. This they easily do by disgorging a small portion of their super profits to these stooges. Thus, we find that ten per cent of the members of Bangladesh parliament are direct owners of the close to 5,000 garment factories in Bangladesh and therefore have direct pecuniary incentives for turning a blind eye toward violation of the rights of workers – forcing down wages to the minimum and surrounding them with squalor and a dangerous work environment.

When a disaster, such as the one at Rana Plaza, strikes, the public are treated to the usual spectacle of passing the buck, with the local capitalists accusing the multi-nationals of putting unbearable price and delivery deadline pressures on them, and the multinationals, adopting a holier than though attitude, blaming the local capitalists for ignoring the high standards and ethical practices set for them.

What gets lost in the blame game is that, in the never-ending chase for maximum profit, capital walks over the corpses of tens of thousands of workers every year all over the globe. Only through the overthrow of this criminal system – capitalism – can humanity acquire a decent life, free from exploitation, destitution and war.

Lalkar sends its heartfelt condolences to the victims of the RanaPlaza tragedy, and expresses the hope that the working class and the masses of Bangladesh would turn their grief into a torrent of anger, which will sweep away the imperialist brigands and their stooges alike.

Posted in South AsiaComments Off on Bangladesh factory collapse: not an accident, but a capitalist crime

Hail the struggle of the Guantanamo hunger strikers!

NOVANEWS

 

When Obama covered himself in glory by promising to close down the Guantanamo concentration camp [Gitmo] by the end of 2009, many on the petty-bourgeois left crowed loudly. The Neo Cons were dead, long live the new age! Yet four years on, the camp not only maintains its illegal squat on Cuban soil, but on 7 March the president issued an executive order, at a stroke “legalising” indefinite incarceration without trial within its walls. Now it was the turn of the Republican chair of the House Homeland Security Committee to crow, saying“I commend the Obama Administration for issuing this Executive Order. The bottom line is that it affirms the Bush Administration policy that our government has the right to detain dangerous terrorists until the cessation of hostilities.” Quite so. Let all who hailed the rise of Obama the peace prize winner now take heed.

The majority of the men illegally detained in the camp have been thrust into the limbo aptly described by Granma 11 April (‘Guantanamo: Endurance and Shame’): “They have not been accused of any crime which would require a trial, but neither have they been acknowledged as belonging to an enemy force, which would have guaranteed them recognition and rights reserved for prisoners of war.”

Of the 166 inmates held captive within ‘Gitmo’, under conditions which UN human rights chief Navi Piallay felt obliged to denounce as in “clear breach of international law”, only 9 have been convicted or even charged with any crime. According to Justice Department lawyers, 48 of the men “could not be prosecuted in military commissions or in federal court because evidentiary problems would hamper a trial”, or to put it in plain English: there’s no proof they did anything “wrong” other than “confessions” extorted through torture. Sooner than follow the principle of innocent till proven guilty, however, these kidnap victims of US imperialism have been summarily branded as a threat and told they can’t go home. As one of the defence team, Lt. Col Barry Wingard, summed it up: “Forty-eight men will be condemned to die never being given a trial or given an opportunity to defend themselves. They are essentially dead men who just happen to breathe” (Men live in Guantanamo animal cageswill never get trial’, Russia Today, 24March). Half the inmates have in theory been cleared for transfer or resettlement, but wait in vain for this to translate into reality.

The ‘lucky few’ who have the dubious privilege of actually facing prosecution by a kangaroo court are in reality faring no better. Cases are getting bogged down as numerous documents arguing the defence case are snooped on or deleted in an obvious sabotage of even this travesty of legal process. As Russia Today reported on 11 April, “Pre-trial hearings in the Guantanamo Bay war crimes tribunals have been delayed to address the disappearance of defence legal documents from Pentagon computers, military officials said … Defence lawyers representing inmates at the prison camp were ordered Wednesday to halt all computer transmission of sensitive material because of a security risk. The problem reportedly stems from a Pentagon-provided computer server that was supposed to transmit information from Washington to Guantanamo. Instead of transmitting files effectively, however, the system has been deleting documents since January of this year.” The lawyer for one defendant noted that officials had mishandled over half a million defence emails and were even trawling through the defence team’s internet searches.

Stripped of even the hope of a trial, let alone repatriation or justice, a growing number of the men have resorted to their sole remaining avenue of protest. In a last ditch attempt to force their plight before the world’s attention, as many as a hundred of them have joined a hunger strike initiated in the first week of February. The response has been brutal, including an assault with rubber bullets, ‘justified’ by the pretence that inmates had equipped themselves with improvised weapons. A lawyer for one of the defendants pointed out the extreme improbability of this assertion, given that the sharpest object prisoners are permitted are the refills from ballpoint pens, stripped of their plastic casing.

The rubber bullet assault occurred as prison authorities moved to separate the men from one another. In a vain effort to break the hunger strike, the men have now been cruelly separated into isolation cells. But these victims of imperialist brutality are made of sterner stuff, as is clear from the words of one such, Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel. This brave man was able to tell his story via a phone call to the legal charity Reprieve. His account, which was printed in the New York Times on 15 April under the headline “Gitmo Is Killing Me“. is in its essentials common to that of many of his fellow prisoners.

“ONE man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I weighed 132, but that was a month ago. I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity. I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial. I could have been home years ago – no one seriously thinks I am a threat – but still I am here. Years ago the military said I was a ‘guard’ for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either.

“When I was at home in Yemen, in 2000, a childhood friend told me that in Afghanistan I could do better than the $50 a month I earned in a factory, and support my family. I’d never really traveled, and knew nothing about Afghanistan, but I gave it a try. I was wrong to trust him. There was no work. I wanted to leave, but had no money to fly home. After the American invasion in 2001, I fled to Pakistan like everyone else. The Pakistanis arrested me when I asked to see someone from the Yemeni Embassy. I was then sent to Kandahar, and put on the first plane to Gitmo.”

After he joined the hunger strike, he was force fed, a supposedly humanitarian procedure which in reality is a particularly nasty form of torture.

“A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.

“I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.

“I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I’m sleeping. There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren’t enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up. During one force-feeding the nurse pushed the tube about 18 inches into my stomach, hurting me more than usual, because she was doing things so hastily. I called the interpreter to ask the doctor if the procedure was being done correctly or not. It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse refused to stop feeding me.”

He concludes: “The situation is desperate now. All of the detainees here are suffering deeply. At least 40 people here are on a hunger strike. People are fainting with exhaustion every day. I have vomited blood. And there is no end in sight to our imprisonment. Denying ourselves food and risking death every day is the choice we have made. I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late.”

These hunger strikers are resisting against imperialism with the only means they possess. Even as their religious faith is abused, even as they are locked away in isolation cells, beaten up and subjected to all the horrors of force feeding, even as they are routinely exposed to the thuggery of their captors and the chicanery of their prosecutors, they continue to resist and stand tall in the ranks of all those who struggle against imperialist oppression. In their resolute stand they will serve as an inspiration to all who resist oppression, broadening the axis of resistance ever wider. In particular their dignity and courage should inspire all workers in Britain who are struggling within the belly of the beast itself. Let us take courage from their example and sever the social democratic ties which cripple our unions and drag the workers’ movement along behind the imperialist war chariot.

No cooperation with imperialist oppression!

Shut down Guantanamo!

Free the captives!

Return Guantanamo to Cuban sovereignty!

Yankees go home!

Posted in USA, Human RightsComments Off on Hail the struggle of the Guantanamo hunger strikers!

Imperialism limbering up for a predatory war against Syria

NOVANEWS

 

Fundamentalist Jihadists unleashed by US imperialism and its junior partners, notably Britain and France, as well as their Turkish and Gulf Arab stooges, to topple the secular and popular Syrian regime headed by President Bashar al-Assad, have been wreaking havoc and committing one outrage after another for two years now. In the process, they have committed countless massacres of innocent people, destroyed city centres, attacked places of worship, educational institutions (1,500 schools have been destroyed) and hospitals, and murdered Syrian army personnel, of whom 15,000 have perished at the hands of these blood thirsty mercenary agents of imperialism. Here are just three examples of the latest outrages perpetrated by these beasts in human frame.

On Monday, 4 March, 40 Syrian soldiers, who had crossed into Iraq’s Nineveh province at the Yaarubiyeh border crossing to escape terrorists of the Syrian opposition, were murdered in cold blood as they were being returned by the Iraqi military in a bus heading for a different border post in Anbar province – partly to avoid the kind of hostilities the Syrians had fled. Obviously, there is close coordination between the Jihadists on both sides of the border; the Iraqi Jihadists seem to have known the timing and the precise location of the returning Syrian soldiers.

On Thursday, 21 March, a mosque bombing in Damascus claimed the lives of 49 people, including the highly-respected Sunni cleric Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti, for his courageous support for the Syrian government and armed forces and his unrelenting opposition to the various Jihadist outfits engaged by imperialism for the violent overthrow of the Syrian government. In an all too obvious attempt to spark sectarian strife along confessional lines, these hired guns attacked the resting place of Sayedda Zeinab bint-Ali, the 7th century Heroine of Karbala and the grand-daughter of Prophet Mohammad, near the village of Zoa, south of Damascus. Her shrine is visited each year by tens of thousands of pilgrims – not just Shias but also Sunnis and Christians.

But for all the mayhem, death and destruction visited by the bandist fraternity, acting at the behest of imperialism, on the Syrian people, it has got nowhere in its nefarious task of overthrowing the Syrian government, for the simple reason that President Assad’s government continues to enjoy the support of the majority of the Syrian people and command the loyalty of the Syrian armed forces, who are determined to do their patriotic duty in defence of the sovereignty of the Syrian state and the honour, dignity and self-respect of the Syrian people, and thus frustrate the attempts by imperialism and its flunkeys to subjugate the Syrian people as a stepping stone to waging war against the anti-imperialist Iranian regime and the Lebanese resistance movement headed by Hizbollah.

The realisation of this grim truth is forcing imperialism to increasingly switch from a covert and proxy war against the Syrian people to open and direct warfare and military intervention against Syria. The Washington Post of 26 February reported that the Obama administration was ” moving towards major policy shift on Syria that could provide the rebels with equipment such as body armor, armored vehicles and possible military training and could send humanitarian assistance directly to Syria’s opposition political coalition “.

The US has already sent communications equipment and night-vision goggles to its obscurantist hod-carriers busy attempting to topple Bashar al-Assad’s government.

We are examining and developing ways to accelerate the political transition that the Syrian people want and deserve“, said the allegedly dovish new US Secretary of State, John Kerry, on 13 February.

Simultaneously with US efforts to bring down the Syrian government, Britain and France have renewed calls for arming the Syrian opposition. On 22 March, William Hague, the execrable British Foreign Secretary, and his equally loathsome French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, called for lifting the EU arms embargo against Syria ahead of a EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Dublin – a move not favoured by Germany, Austria and Sweden. Since then the EU has gone on to amend its arms ban policy and opened the door to supplying the opposition with armoured vehicles and other ‘non-lethal’ equipment.

These open imperialist moves are the latest instalment of its support for its Syrian opposition surrogates, which supplement the war by proxy that has been going on for two years. There is a division of labour between imperialism and its revolting Gulf autocratic stooges, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar. While the former maintains, for reasons of public consumption, the hypocrisy of furnishing only ‘non-lethal’ and ‘humanitarian’ aid to its paid Syrian rebels, the latter get on with the business of supplying lethal aid to their Jihadist favourites. According to the New York Times, Saudi Arabia has started funnelling heavy weapons purchased from Croatia to the rebels through Jordan. Such an operation could obviously not have taken place without Washington’s consent, given the close relations between the US, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Croatia.

Besides, the US has had more than 150 military planners along the Jordanian-Syrian border since the summer of 2012 – precisely the location where the Croatian weaponry is supposed to have been handed over to the rebels. Simultaneously, the CIA is overseeing the transfer of weapons to the Syrian rebels from within Turkey.

Since the start of this imperialist-inspired and imperialist-organised strife in Syria, the US has channelled at least $365million to the opposition. On 28 February, the US administration announced its plan to provide food rations and medical supplies to the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), its first public commitment of direct ‘non-lethal’ support for the armed banditry in Syria. This decision was announced by Secretary Kerry at a meeting in Rome of the ‘Friends of Syria’, a counter-revolutionary tool of imperialism and its Arab minions, with the US promising $110 million worth of aid.

Even if the US assistance to the Syrian opposition is genuinely ‘humanitarian’ and ‘non-lethal’, which it most certainly is not, it is nevertheless of great assistance to the armed depredations of this banditry, for it frees resources for the purchase of weapons, which are in any case being supplied by its Gulf lickspittles from Saudi Arabia and Qatar through Turkey and Jordan.

The grim realisation of the truth that the Syrian rebels, being a creation of imperialism and lacking a meaningful social base among the Syrian people, will never on their own be able to bring the downfall of the Syrian regime, is forcing imperialism to resort to open foreign military intervention along the lines of the NATO-backed, Turkey-led military coalition invited by the Arab League to enter Syria and overthrow its legitimate government.. Such a plan, according to the thinking prevalent in the imperialist circles, would likely spur Russia into not opposing regime change in Damascus, as a preliminary to war against Iran and the Lebanese Hizbollah, for the greater glory of US imperialism and its chief client state in the region – Israel.

In this context, certain developments are worthy of note. US president Obama’s recently concluded visit to Israel coincided with the intensification of diplomatic efforts, and CIA operations to arm the opposition, for the purpose of ousting the Syrian regime. Clearly as a result of US diplomatic heft and through its mediation, Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called Turkish Prime Minister, Erdogan, and announced the restoration of normal diplomatic relations with Turkey. He apologised for the death of Turkish activists during the Israeli raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in 2010.

Imperialism is also working furiously behind the scenes to effect a reconciliation between the Turkish government and the PKK, which has led the Turkish Kurds for three decades in armed struggle against the Turkish state. Such a reconciliation is aimed, on the one hand, at getting the Syrian Kurds to fight on the side of the Syrian opposition and, on the other hand, to put pressure on the Iraqi government to distance itself from the Syrian and Iranian governments.

At the recent Arab League meeting in Qatar, Syria’s seat in this stooge organisation was allowed to be occupied by Moaz al-Khatib, the ‘leader’ of the Syrian opposition coalition cobbled together by imperialism, while at the same time Qatar handed over the Syrian Embassy in Doha to the opposition.

It can clearly be seen that the rapprochement between Turkey and Israel, two of the most powerful Middle Eastern allies of Washington, reconciliation between Turkey and the Kurds, and securing a semblance of legal legitimacy for the Syrian opposition, are the essential requirements for a possible imperialist predatory war against Syria, to begin with, before embarking on the much more dangerous war against Iran.

In connection with the preparations for a possible war, Secretary Kerry made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Sunday, 24 March, in order to exert pressure on the Iraqi government to block flights from Iran to Syria – flights which doubtless constitute an important measure of support for the Syrian government.

While all this goes on, imperialist attempts to destabilise Syria, and the flames of sectarianism set in train by imperialism’s hitherto proxy war against Syria, are spilling over into Lebanon, a country still recovering from the scars of the fifteen-year long civil war from 1975 to 1990. On 22 March, Najib Mitaki stepped down as Lebanese Prime Minister, and on 23 March, the Lebanese government stood down, with Mitaki calling for a “national salvation” government to rule the deeply divided country. Mitaki’s decision came in the wake of heavy fighting between the Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jamal Mohsen neighbourhoods in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest city. While the former Sunni majority neighbourhood supports the opposition in Syria, the latter, dominated by Lebanese Alawites, is a firm supporter of Hizbollah as well as the regime of President Assad of Syria.

Presently a fierce debate is taking place in the camp of imperialism in general, and within factions of the US ruling class in particular. While Britain and France are gung-ho about intervening more directly in the Syrian conflict, US imperialism is not so keen, at least for the moment, partly because it would, by bogging the US in the mire of the Syrian conflict, constitute a serious obstacle to its anti-China policy of pivot to Asia, not to speak of the serious damage that another costly war would do to the already rickety US economy and fiscal position.

However, the extremely hawkish right-wing sections of the US ruling class are busy trying to push the Obama administration into direct involvement in Syria. Their latest pretext for waging war against Syria is the alleged use of chemical weapons in Aleppo and Homs by the Syrian military, a case which, according to Obama, would be a “red line” and a “game changer” for the US. That, he said last August, ” would change my calculus, that would change my equation“.

The British, French and Israeli establishments along with the most fascistic elements of the US establishment, are shouting themselves hoarse on this question – all in an effort to force the hand of the Obama administration into waging war against Syria. We shall shortly know which side comes out on top.

Be that as it may, in its war against Syria, imperialism has reached a point where it faces this dilemma: without direct military intervention, it has no hope of effecting regime change in Syria, whereas military intervention, as has been all too clearly revealed by imperialism’s wars against the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan, has limits and could result in yet another exceptionally costly war, and humiliating defeat, for imperialism. Such a war, extremely destabilising, destructive and devastating in its extent and effects, may very well end up in wiping off the face of the earth the very regimes which today are the darlings of imperialism. The coming weeks and months alone will reveal whether imperialism will take this dangerous plunge. One thing is certain, however, the incurable crisis engulfing imperialism is making it more and more desperate and driving it to war as the only hoped for way out of it. Imperialism is doomed if it intervenes militarily, and it is doomed if it does not.

It is sad to have to remark, but it would be a crime against the proletariat not to admit, that while imperialism is busy making furious preparations for yet another major war in the Middle East, the so-called anti-war movement in Britain in the form of the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ is characterised by a total lack of activity on this front. Far from organising and mobilising public opposition to the war against Syria, it has maintained a deadly and deafening silence. And this for the sole reason that its leadership, being subservient to the Labour Party, the chief agent of the British bourgeoisie in the working-class movement, finds itself paralysed to do anything beyond that permitted by social democracy. Consequent upon this subservience to social democracy, the tiny clique of ‘left social democrats and their cretinous flunkeys – the revisionists and Trotskyites – that has usurped the leadership of the Stop the War Coalition, has effectively tied the anti-war movement to the war chariot of imperialism. The exposure, and removal, of this clique is the most important necessary precondition for building a genuinely anti-imperialist movement against war – a movement which extends proletarian internationalist solidarity to the victims of predatory wars waged by our ‘own’ imperialist bourgeoisie.

Death to imperialism!

Victory to the Syrian people, headed by President Assad!

Posted in Syria1 Comment

US imperialism threatens war in Korea and targets China

NOVANEWS

Tensions remained high on the Korean peninsula throughout April, due to the massive US-led military exercises, carried out together with their south Korean puppets, aimed at rehearsing a possible invasion and occupation of the socialist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north of the peninsula, as well as a possible nuclear conflict with both the DPRK and China.

The US deployed F-22 stealth war planes to south Korea on 31 March, following two weeks of massive demonstrations of US military firepower, which had included dummy bombing raids by nuclear capable B-52 bombers and B-2 stealth bombers, all this clearly indicating US preparedness to resort to the use of nuclear weapons in the event of any conflict in the region.

B-2 bombers carry 16 B83 nuclear bombs, each with a yield of 1.2 megatons – 75 times the power of the atomic bombs the United States dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. If two B-2 bombers dropped their payloads on north Korea, they would destroy all its large and medium-sized cities.

Furthermore, US B-1 bomber pilots at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas reportedly shifted their training programmes to training for trans-Pacific flights towards targets in East Asia, instead of flights to Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Washington also upgraded a shipment of 60 F-15 fighter planes to south Korea and also sent a large number of Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) trucks. The newspaperUSA Today indicated that these trucks, used to guard against roadside bombs in US-occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, would ” offer similar protection in north Korea, should US forces need to travel on its roads” – in other words, if US forces sought to invade and occupy the DPRK.

Missile defence targets China

At the same time, the US sent three guided missile destroyers to Korean waters and announced a 50 percent increase in its anti-ballistic missile interceptor systems in Guam and Alaska. Although ostensibly defensive in nature, such missile interceptor systems could, by removing the country’s ability to meaningfully retaliate, potentially leave China at the mercy of a US nuclear first strike.

A recent article entitled ‘War with China’, published in Survival, the magazine of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a think tank patronised by and serving the UK’s military and security establishment, sets out some of the calculations in leading US circles regarding the possibility of war with the DPRK or of ‘regime change’.

Written by James Dobbins, a former US assistant secretary of state who currently holds top positions at the RAND think tank, it cites “collapse” in the DPRK as the most likely cause of a war between China and the United States, followed by conflict over Taiwan, cyber war, conflict over control of the South China Sea, and conflicts with India.

Dobbins makes clear that aggressive military operations by the United States, sending forces into the DPRK, is at the heart of any response envisaged by Washington and that it would lead to the distinct possibility of a clash with Chinese forces stationed along the China-DPRK border.

He writes: “The immediate operational concerns for United States Forces-[south]Korea/Combined Forces Command would be to secure ballistic-missile-launch and WMD[“weapons of mass destruction”] sites. If any coherent north Korean army remained, it could be necessary to neutralise its long-range artillery; it could be necessary to neutralise its long-range artillery threatening Seoul as well… While south Korea would provide sizeable forces and capabilities for these missions, they would be inadequate to deal with the scope and complexity of a complete north Korean collapse. Substantial and extended commitments of US ground forces would be required to rapidly seize and secure numerous locations, some with vast perimeters .”

Dobbins adds: “The likelihood of confrontations, accidental or otherwise, between US and Chinese forces is high in this scenario.”

US imperialism goes by the playbook

Whilst all these aggressive moves by the US to ratchet up tensions in and around Korea are claimed to be in response to actions by the DPRK, including and following from its third nuclear test in February, on 4 April, mainstream US media, including CNN and the Wall Street Journal, revealed that the Pentagon has all along been following a step-by-step plan, dubbed “the playbook“, drawn up months in advance and approved by the Obama administration earlier in the year.

The flights to South Korea by nuclear capable B-52 bombers on 8 March and 26 March, by B-2 bombers on 28 March, and by advanced F-22 Raptor fighters on 31 March were all part of this pre-arranged script, designed to demonstrate, to the DPRK in the first instance, the ability of the US military to conduct nuclear strikes at will anywhere in North East Asia.

Contrary to lying imperialist propaganda, there is absolutely nothing defensive about any such moves by the US. According to CNN, the “playbook” was drawn up by former defence secretary Leon Panetta and “supported strongly” by his replacement, Chuck Hagel. The plan was based on US intelligence assessments that “there was a low probability of a north Korean military response” – in other words, that the DPRK posed no actual threat, the very opposite of what imperialist governments and mass media have been preaching daily and incessantly for the last several months.

US officials even cynically claimed that Washington would now, following this unprecedented display of US nuclear blackmail step back, due to supposed concerns that American actions and statements “could lead to miscalculations” by the DPRK.

Yet at the same time, Defence Secretary Hagel emphasised the supposed military threat posed by the DPRK, declaring that it presented ” a real and clear danger“. The choice of words was deliberate and menacing, being an echo of the phrase “a clear and present danger” habitually used to justify past US wars of aggression.

British imperialism hitched to the war chariot

British imperialism has also given its full political backing to US imperialism’s war drive in East Asia. Prime Minister David Cameron used a 4 April visit to Scotland to claim it to be a “fact” that the DPRK has the technology to attack both the United States and the United Kingdom with a nuclear missile.

Speaking to workers in the defence industry, Cameron said: “How concerned am I about north Korea? Very concerned, it has extremely dangerous technologies in terms of nuclear and its weapons [sic]… The fact is, as I wrote in a [Daily Telegraph] newspaper article this morning, north Korea does now have missile technology that is able to reach, as they put it, the whole of the United States and if they’re able to reach the whole of the United States they can reach Europe too. They can reach us too, so that is a real concern .”

Even ruling class pundits were quick to nail Cameron’s hyperbole as outrageous lies.

James Hardy, Asia Pacific Editor of Jane’s Defence Weekly, a prestigious establishment publication, commented: ” From what we know of its existing inventory, north Korea has short and medium range missiles that could complicate a situation on the Korean Peninsula (and perhaps reach Japan), but we have not seen any evidence that it has long-range missiles that could strike the continental US, Guam or Hawaii .”

If this seasoned military analyst is correct, then the entire basis on which US imperialism, along with its allies and lackeys, is presently targeting the DPRK is completely spurious.

Mark Fitzpatrick, Director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament at the IISS, and a former official in the George W Bush administration, bluntly told ITN News: “North Koreadoes not have any missile capabilities that could hit Britain, and it is difficult to envision circumstances when north Korea ever would want to attack the UK, even if they could .”

Clearly, besides a craven desire to crawl before Washington, Cameron’s major motivation for his Goebbelsian ‘big lie’ is his wish to preserve the ability of British imperialism to do precisely what he accused the DPRK of contemplating, namely delivering a nuclear strike against its enemies.

Cameron used the mythical threat from the DPRK to argue for maintaining and then replacing Britain’s Trident nuclear submarines. Here he was playing politics as the Conservatives are in favour of a Trident replacement system but are presently in conflict with their Liberal Democrat coalition partners as to whether to maintain a continuous at-sea nuclear “deterrent“, given the huge costs associated with commissioning a new generation of submarines.

Cameron told his audience during a visit to one of the Royal Navy’s Vanguard-class submarines: “I strongly believe we should replace [Trident] on a like-for-like basis. … There are nuclear states and one cannot be sure how they will develop.”

Expanding on his theme, he made clear that his broader political aim is to legitimise the ongoing US aggression against the DPRK, up to and including British support and participation in a possible war. A token British military contingent has in fact been participating in the current military exercises in Korea. Around 1,000 British military servicemen lost their lives in the Korean War of 1950-53.

The Prime Minister said: ” I think the question we need to ask ourselves in the context of this debate about a nuclear deterrent, is what will a country like north Korea be like in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years .” He added: ” To me, having that nuclear deterrent is quite simply the best insurance policy you can have that you will never be subject to nuclear blackmail.”

That, of course, is precisely the conclusion that the DPRK has itself rightly drawn from more than 60 years of constant US imperialist threats of nuclear attack, fully backed by British imperialism. But coming from the mouth of a UK prime minister it reverses black and white. The issue is not what the DPRK, or any other anti-imperialist state, might, completely hypothetically do, three decades from now, but rather the very real nuclear blackmail and warmongering practised by US and British imperialism in the here and now.

Once again, the British ruling class is happily helping to serve up the lies necessary to justify military aggression by US imperialism. The parallels with the claims made by the Labour government of Tony Blair in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003 are all too obvious – you only need to substitute Cameron for Blair, Kim Jong Un for Saddam Hussein and you have another ready-made ‘dodgy dossier’ designed to make the case for war.

The only difference is that any war on the Korean peninsula would be even more devastating and destructive than the genocidal war waged against Iraq, as it could very easily turn into a nuclear conflict involving not just the DPRK, but also China and quite possibly Russia, too.

Blackmailing Beijing

It is by playing on such very real fears that US imperialism is exerting enormous pressure on China with a view to weakening or severing its historic alliance with the DPRK.

The two major parties of US imperialism are predictably singing from the same hymn sheet in this regard.

On CBS, Republican Senator, and former presidential contender, John McCain of Arizona said: “China can cut off their [the DPRK’s] economy if they want to. Chinese behaviour has been very disappointing, whether it be on cyber security, whether it be on confrontation in the South China Sea, or whether it be their failure to rein in what could be a catastrophic situation .”

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York added: “The Chinese hold a lot of cards here. They’re by nature cautious, but they’re carrying it to an extreme. It’s about time they stepped up to the plate and put a little pressure on the north Korean regime.”

Making it crystal clear how the US build up of missile defence systems is intended to blackmail Beijing, US Deputy Defence Secretary Ashton Carter declared: “If north Korea is causing the US and others to take actions which they [the Chinese] find to be the sort of thing that they do not like to see, there is an easy way to address that.”

In fact, a major US upgrade of missile defence systems in California and Alaska, targeting China, was decided by the Obama administration months ago, long before the recent upsurge in tensions with the DPRK.

Nevertheless, this same message has now been carried to Beijing by a succession of high level US visitors, in the space of two weeks, starting with Secretary of State John Kerry. Speaking in the south Korean capital Seoul before arriving in Beijing, Kerry made clear that the US would continue to deploy anti-ballistic and other strategic weapons whose main target can only be China, unless Beijing “put some teeth” into forcing the DPRK to give up its tiny arsenal of nuclear weapons.

After meeting with Chinese leaders, Kerry said the discussion had included “why we have taken the steps that we have taken” in missile defence. ” Now obviously if the threat disappears – i.e. North Korea denuclearises – the same imperative does not exist at that point of time for us to have that kind of robust forward leaning posture of defence ,” he claimed.

The US is aware that China presently accounts for an absolute majority of the DPRK’s foreign trade and supplies nearly all the country’s oil and much of its food. So long as this state of affairs continues, US-led sanctions cannot have a decisive effect on the country.

It is therefore ardently to be hoped that, in their mutual interest, and that of the working and oppressed people of the whole world, both these socialist countries would resist imperialist blackmail and attempts at ‘divide-and-rule’, and would value and safeguard their historic alliance, which was created and nurtured by such outstanding revolutionaries as Comrades Kim Il Sung, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, and which has served both countries so well, and that neither of them would say or do anything that might undermine their traditional revolutionary friendship.

In Britain, the revolutionary working class movement must give its full support to the DPRK in its courageous struggle against nuclear blackmail and threats of US-led aggression and demand:

Hands off Korea!

Posted in USA, ChinaComments Off on US imperialism threatens war in Korea and targets China

The Boston bomb – more questions than answers

LALKARONLINE

The internet is fairly buzzing with conspiracy theories concerning the Boston marathon bombing. There are clear pictures of the wrecked black backpack that one of the bombs was in with a distinctive white square on it and a picture of what looks like a security man prior to the explosion with a black backpack (with white square), pictures of both the ‘security’ man, without backpack and one of the suspected brothers, still carrying his backpack, after the explosions. There are much weirder theories as well as other pictures but even the mainstream American press did not dismiss a ‘false-flag’ operation at first. Once the FBI named the Tsarnaev brothers of course most of the media fell into the well-practised routine of giving only the official line. Although one or two journalists are still asking awkward questions and there are many questions surrounding the killing of one suspect and the maiming of the other (the second one said to be unarmed and uninjured when taken into police custody). The fact that so many conspiracy theories abound and are now mainly being ignored or dismissed by the ‘serious’ press does not mean that there was no conspiracy of course.

Certain strange things are still coming to light even in that well-trained press. The US authorities, after naming the ‘suspects’ spent a full day denying that they had any prior knowledge of them, but it is now admitted that the FBI were sent a request from Russian authorities to investigate Tamerlan Tsarnaev in March 2011. The concern of the Russians apparently was that Tamerlan was possibly involved with terrorist organizations active in Chechnya and the Caucasus region (which have received massive covert support from the USA over the years). The FBI monitored his past and present flights and told the Russians that they had no evidence of any link between Tamerlan and any Chechen/ Caucasian terrorist organisations. The Russians repeated the request in September 2011 but this time to the CIA. The CIA had Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s name put on the central US government’s database of alleged “international terrorists,” from which all other US intelligence databases are compiled, including the FBI’s. This should have meant that Tamerlan would not be able to fly in, out or within the USA, but in January 2012 he had no problem boarding a plane to Southern Russia and returning in July 2012.

There seems to be little knowledge of what Tamerlan did during that time out of the US but an NBC news report stated that a police official source in Makhachkala, Dagestan had said that ” During routine surveillance of an individual known to be involved in the militant Islamic underground movement, the police witnessed Tamerlan meet the latter at a Salafi mosque in Makhachkala ” The police official was also reported as saying that it was one of six times in total that surveillance officials witnessed Tsarnaev meeting this ‘militant’ at the same mosque. Before they could be picked up for questioning both the ‘militant’ and Tamerlan disappeared. This was reported to have been passed onto the FBI by the Dagestan Police but they were said to have never received a response.

There are investigations going on in Congress at the moment but the hearings are being held behind closed doors, well outside of the sight of the American people with only snippets getting out. Both the US government and their tame media are trying their best to contain much of what is being revealed or the significance of these revelations. Senator Richard Burr, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters that there were ” multiple contacts” between the US and Russia over Tsarnaev, including “at least once since October 2011” – i.e., after the request submitted to the CIA in September 2011 with the obvious inference that Tamerlan Tsarnaev should have been under watch and certainly not allowed to fly. If Tamerlan’s family are to be believed, and there seems to be no reason to disbelieve them, the FBI had regular contact with Tamerlan, visiting the family multiple times. Also, according to his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaev, Tamerlan was in her words “controlled by the FBI for three to five years.” There is only one reason that we can think of for these things being buried and that would be if Tamerlan, and possibly both brothers, were being ‘developed as assets’, to use the language of the American security services, to be used in US imperialism’s dirty intrigues and destabilising actions in Chechnya and Dagestan.

We have only to look at recent world history to see the hundreds of links and threads between US imperialism and what is now termed ‘militant Islam.’ Despite supposedly leading a war on terrorism, a claim that has looked rather shabby to the majority of people for a few years now, the US has carried on funding and supplying terrorists who claim to kill and maim in the name of Islam. It is the Al Qaeda groups and those linked with them who were imperialism’s ‘troops on the ground’ in Libya; and even then they couldn’t do anything without the combined airforce of NATO and extra military ‘advisors’ and regular troops from the imperialism’s puppet states in the Gulf. These same Al Qaeda groups have been the main part of the opposition forces in Syria, carrying out vicious murders and mutilations of captured Syrian soldiers and civilians.

It has been reported by Izvestia, a Russian newspaper, that Tsarnaev, while in the Caucasus, attended seminars organized by the Fund of the Caucasus, a group with strong links to the US-backed Jamestown Foundation. This Foundation, an open supporter of Chechen separatism, was formed by, or with the active support of, former CIA Director William Casey. Its board of directors includes General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, Bruce Riedel, of the Brookings Institute, Michelle Van Cleave, former National Counterintelligence Executive and Matthew Bryza, former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan.

The Jamestown Foundation is strongly linked to the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus (ACPC). The ACPC is chaired by Zbigniew Brzezinski, a National Security Adviser to Jimmy Carter while he was President. Brzezinski played a central role in developing the alliance of US imperialism with Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan beginning in the late 1970s, as part of the US proxy war against the Soviet-backed Government in Afghanistan. It was from this war that Al Qaeda first emerged.

If America is hated around the world and US citizens feel that they are considered a target wherever they go then they will have to realise that that is the fault of their own government, its foreign and domestic policy and its relentless wars against oppressed peoples.

the deeply flawed political system that is adhered to in their country. The crisis of overproduction is sharpening the contradictions between rich and poor in the US and is helping to open the eyes of the poor there to their real friends around the world and their real enemies ruling their lives at home.

 

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Godfrey Andries Cremer: 11 May 1943 – 26 March 2012

NOVANEWS

Godfrey Cremer

It is with the greatest of sadness that CPGB-ML and Lalkarannounce the death of one of their staunchest comrades in the early hours of 26 March from pancreatic cancer and further complications arising therefrom.  Although he was diagnosed as suffering from this lethal disease only in February, it was already in a very advanced state.

These lines are written not only to mourn the death of Godfrey Cremer, but also to celebrate the life of a remarkable communist, an ardent anti-imperialist, and a thorough internationalist.

Godfrey, having always had a deep concern for other people’s problems and troubles, started his activities from very early on with a religious perspective.  He was a Methodist preacher in his youth, in which capacity he attempted to help people with their daily problems.  However, in the second half of the 1960s, as a postgraduate student, he became involved in the mighty anti-war movement spawned by US imperialism’s predatory war against the Vietnamese and other Indochinese people.  The Nazi-like devastation wreaked by the US forces in Vietnam touched Godfrey, as it did tens of millions of progressive people across the world, to the very core.  He participated in many of the anti-war protest movement in London.

This experience made him re-evaluate his whole philosophy and question the value of individual solutions to problems facing humanity – ranging from questions of war and peace to the relations between the exploiting few and the overwhelming majority of the exploited, as well as the relations between a tiny clique of exploiting nations and the vast majority of super-exploited and oppressed countries.  The problems of hunger, destitution, unemployment, homelessness, racism and oppression of women, Godfrey concluded, had no individual solution.

With this realisation, he came to look for a different solution to the problems of humanity. This realisation, this awareness, combined with his deep concern for ordinary people, brought him to communism – Marxism-Leninism – whose ideals he was to continue to espouse most passionately until his last breath.  Meeting in the early 1970s with Harpal Brar, Ella Rule, Kathy Sharp and a few other comrades, Godfrey Cremer and Iris Sloley (whom Godfrey married in October 1973) began seriously to devote themselves to the task of putting into practice – ideologically, politically and organisationally – their newly-adopted world outlook. They initially formed the Association of Communist Workers, an organisation which played a significant role in the anti-revisionist movement.  In particular, it organised lectures on ‘Trotskyism or Leninism?’ which subsequently became the basis of the book by Harpal Brar bearing the same name.

So strong was the comradeship and friendship to become between Harpal, Ella, Godfrey and Iris that many of the comrades in the CPGB-ML affectionately referred to them as the Gang of Four. It is a source of great sadness to the surviving members of the group that this term will lose its resonance.

From then on Godfrey worked tirelessly in the cause of the emancipation of the proletariat and the oppressed peoples of the world.  His name is indelibly connected with the movement for solidarity with the people of Vietnam, the people of Korea, Palestine, southern Africa (in particular Zimbabwe), Ireland, Libya, Syria and Iran.

He put politics before all other considerations.  It is a measure of his commitment to the struggle of the Palestinian people for national liberation, and a measure of his dedication, that on his wedding night in October 1973, he and Iris were busy writing a leaflet and preparing for a demonstration in connection with the Yom Kippur war, which doubtless made them very popular with their respective families!

Godfrey Cremer was an internationalist through and through, as he fully realised that the struggle of the proletariat in the imperialist countries for its emancipation from exploitation could never be accomplished without rendering unreserved support to the liberation struggles of the oppressed nations and people against imperialist oppression, war, brigandage and super-exploitation. From this stance he never wavered, treating with disdain and contempt the opportunist faint-hearts in the working-class movement who pursue a line of conciliation towards their own imperialist bourgeoisie.

It is a gauge of his stature, and the high regard in which he was held, that dozens of messages of condolence on his death have poured in from all over the world – from Cuba to the DPRK, from South Africa to America, Europe, Australia and Africa – all in recognition of Godfrey’s service in the cause of proletarian internationalism.

In a message of condolence from the DPRK embassy in London, Comrade Mun Myongsin, the third secretary at the embassy, expressed “profound deepest condolence to the bereaved family and comrades for the loss of our dear, precious and irreplaceable comrade, Godfrey” (full message printed elsewhere in this issue).  The Political Counsellor at the Cuban embassy, Carlos Camps Garcia, spoke to the CPGB-ML’s international secretary, Ella Rule, expressing great sorrow on the death of Godfrey.  He attended Godfrey’s funeral service and stayed afterwards for the reception at Saklatvala Hall, Southall.

Avtar Jouhl, General Secretary of the Indian Workers’ Association (Great Britain) expressed his sadness at the untimely death of Godfrey Cremer, adding that his “experience of friendship and comradeship is unforgettable”, that his contribution to Lalkar was “immense”, and that “Godfrey’s departure is big loss to CPGB-ML, IWA(GB) and to me and my family” (full message elsewhere in this issue).

Nearly 200 people, representing many organisations, and from varied backgrounds, attended Godfrey’s funeral with feelings of genuine sadness at the passing away of a warm-hearted friend and comrade and an intrepid fighter for the cause of socialism and national liberation.

He stood for the defence of the gains of the working class in socialist countries. His defence of the gains of the glorious Great October Socialist Revolution, the construction of socialism in the USSR under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin, and the mighty achievements of the Soviet Union, in fields ranging from the economic through to the cultural, scientific, diplomatic and military, knew no bounds. In the aftermath of the collapse of socialism in the former socialist countries, he refused to go along with the prevailing torrent of anti-communist propaganda unleashed by world imperialism – a propaganda that swept off their feet many weak elements in the working-class movement.

It is therefore right and proper that one of the messages of condolence on his death should have come from Jacob Jugashvili, great grandson of that legendary proletarian revolutionary, Joseph Vissarianovich Stalin.

Godfrey was also a leading figure, in his political and professional capacity, in the struggle against racism, realising fully that racism is an instrument used by the bourgeoisie to weaken the working class by undermining its class unity, and thus harming the struggle of the proletariat for its own social emancipation.

From 1992 to 2002, he worked as the head of Ealing Racial Equality Council.  His work on that body is remembered and cherished by a huge number of people.  Many people he had the occasion to work with were in tears on hearing of his death.  He worked closely with many organisations of ethnic minorities, especially with the Indian Workers’ Association (Great Britain).  Godfrey also served as a treasurer for the Campaign Against Racist Laws (CARL) during that organisation’s existence from 1977 to 1982.

It is a measure of his stature in the community that the Ealing and Southall Gazette of 6 April 2012 carried, on its front page, the news of Godfrey’s death, with a picture of him and the headline: “TRIBUTES TO GODFREY: shock at death of campaigner”. With the subtitle “He had an ardent desire to help ordinary people”, the Gazette went on to record some of Godfrey’s contribution and the tributes paid to him by many people, including the leader and deputy leader of Ealing Council, both of whom expressed their sadness at his passing and their appreciation of his many talents.  Julian Bell, the leader of Ealing Council, stated that Godfrey “made a significant contribution to the borough over many years.  It is a very sad loss but he made his mark and for that he will always be remembered”.

Considering that Godfrey never hid his Marxist-Leninist views, that he made withering criticisms of the Council’s policies on a host of issues, that he was an irreconcilable enemy of social democracy (the Labour Party) that he quite rightly regarded as an imperialist party which waged wars against oppressed peoples abroad and attacked the working class at home, it is a measure of the deep roots he had struck in the community through dedication, hard work and fidelity to principles, that he could inspire grudging respect even among circles that were in his life extremely hostile to his outlook.   Part of the explanation lies in the fact that this remarkable man – forever hardworking, dedicated and self-effacing – while he may have had many opponents, hardly had a single personal enemy.  His gentle manner, courteous behaviour, concern for others, and warm concern for humanity obliged even his opponents to hold him in high regard.

It had been the ardent desire of Godfrey Cremer to build a principled and truly revolutionary party of the British proletariat. He grasped with joy the opportunity that presented itself to form such a party when, along with a number of other comrades, he became a founding member and one of the leading lights of the CPGB-ML in 2004. He devoted his all to the defence, consolidation and development of this party, for through it, and in it, he could see his hopes and lifelong work beginning really to bear fruit.  He greeted with his characteristic youthful joy every step forward taken by the CPGB-ML.

In his ardent desire to serve the working class, no job was beneath him. He was a dedicated organiser, possessed of great ideological and technical competence, and a keen eye for detail. Without his work, it is doubtful whether Proletarian, the party’s newspaper, or the anti-imperialist bi-monthly Lalkar, would have ever got off the ground.

Godfrey was a scientist and a materialist and he defended to the last the materialist world outlook, as would be confirmed by people who had the opportunity to listen to his presentations  to the Stalin Society on Darwin and on the Soviet biologist, Lysenko.

As a materialist he understood that life, like everything else, is in a state of flux, coming into being and going out of existence.  He applied this understanding to his own situation after having been found to be suffering from pancreatic cancer, accepting his condition with great fortitude and calling upon his family and close comrades to do likewise.  All that mattered to him was that the party’s work would continue to be done and that the gap left by his impending demise would be filled by other comrades.  Literally up to a week before his death, a week marked by debilitation, he continued to perform his duties as the London Organiser of the Party, sending emails, telephoning comrades, and supervising the print room of the Party.

Death is not a misfortune for the one who dies but for the one that survives”, Karl Marx used to repeat after Epicurus.

Godfrey understood very well the truth contained in this observation.  His constant worry in the last two months of his life was, not concern for his own self, but how well Iris (his wife), Katt (his daughter) and all his comrades would cope with the work shortly to be transferred from his to their shoulders.

The CPGB-ML and Lalkar, nay, the British working-class movement, is poorer for the loss of this indefatigable protagonist of the cause of the emancipation of the proletariat and the liberation of humanity.

The great Soviet writer, Nikolai Ostrovsky wrote that: “Man’s dearest possession is life.  It is given to him but once, and he must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying, he might say: all my life, all my strength, were given to the finest cause in the world – the fight for the liberation of mankind.”

Without a shred of doubt, Godfrey had no regrets for wasted years and no burning shame for a mean and petty past; dying,  he could truly repeat after Ostrovsky: all my life,  all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world – the fight for the liberation of mankind.

The movement of the proletariat and to the work of the CPGB-ML, will continue, but we have lost a selfless and tireless foot soldier to whom we always turned whenever anything needed to be done urgently.

But we are not going to lose heart, if for no other reason than that Godfrey Andries Cremer would not approve of such behaviour.  We shall honour this “deceased, living friend”, to use the memorable words of Wilhelm Liebknecht on the death of Marx, by working as hard as he did, with the same persistence, perseverance, steadfastness and selflessness as he displayed in his service to the movement of the working class and the oppressed peoples over a period of more than four decades.

He was a great, warm-hearted comrade, a loyal friend, a loving husband, father and grandfather.

His dedication, cheerful disposition and wit, will be missed not only by comrades of the CPGB-ML but even by our opponents.

All those who had occasion to know him, or work with him, had their lives enriched by the experience.

He will be sorely missed.

With these words we say farewell to a very dear comrade, a friend and a brother.

Eternal Glory to Comrade Godfrey.

 

SEE ALSO

Poem for Godfrey

Some of the many messages of condolences received from organisations and individuals across the world

Poem: Frederick Engels (by Godfrey Cremer)

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