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What does it take to move from pseudo-democracy to real participation?

NOVANEWS
Democratic illusion

By Graham Peebles

Imagine a country run along truly democratic lines. In such a mythical land, what would be the role of the politician, and the nature of his or her relationship with that amorphous group paraded under the banner of “the people”?

Will of “the people”?

We in pseudo-democratic countries hear a lot about politicians serving and honouring the “will of the people” – in Britain this nauseating slogan of appeasement has been repeated ad infinitum since the disastrous European referendum vote – but from where does the supposed conviction of the masses arise? Does it evolve from independent minds tussling with questions of justice and freedom, debating and discussing pertinent issues over tea and cake, or is it the politicians who construct this perceived will, manipulating the people they claim to serve into believing what they, the politicians, want them to believe. And while on occasions there may be some degree of uncertainty in the success of the project of persuasion – “the people” can sometimes be an annoyingly unpredictable bunch – every avenue of propaganda and control is employed to ensure that the ideological intentions of the political class are reflected in the will of the people as and when they place their sacred X on the ballot paper, and exercise their long-fought-for democratic right, which (particularly in first-past-the-post systems) carries little authority and even less autonomy.

Mass manipulation

The principle tool of inducement is of course the mainstream media: television and radio stations, newspapers and magazines are used to flood the minds of the populous with a certain view of life, particular ideas, values and carefully edited “facts”. Political and economic slogans are repeated like mantras over the airwaves, until they infect the populous and are repeated parrot-like by apathetic, ill-informed voters. Education systems are designed to support the message, enabling the most malleable minds to be conditioned into, for example, competition and conformity. Organised religion reinforces the pervasive values and imposes its own, often cripplingly repressive doctrine on the faithful. Creative independent thinking – the principle quality of enquiry, analysis and response – is for the most part lost within the fogs of dogma and stereotype that are wrapped around the minds of the unsuspecting virtually from birth. The world is presented as hostile, competitive, full of pain and difficulties. Material satisfaction and pleasure is sold as happiness, desire constantly fed – creating agitated noisy minds, discontent and anxiety, all of which deny or greatly inhibit the possibility of that most democratic quality, free thinking.

Political and economic slogans are repeated like mantras over the airwaves, until they infect the populous and are repeated parrot-like by apathetic, ill-informed voters.

Individuality has been perverted, championed and denied. Within a conformist society where the pressure to think, act, and be a certain way is all-pervasive. True individuality – the natural flowering of innate potential within an environment of cooperation, understanding and tolerance, free from fear – is restricted and only realised through strength and often brings exclusion. And so the “will” of individuals, their ability to think beyond the rhetoric, to see the false as the false and the true as the true, becomes constrained at best, easily manipulated and/or non-existent.

Popular awakening

Many are awake to this; young and old see the injustices, the pretence and invasion for what they are. They are angry, and long for an alternative way of living. Huge numbers have been marching in cities throughout the world, demanding change and to be listened to. The response of the ruling elite has been fierce resistance, often violent. Ever more repressive policies, austerity and the like have been imposed, wages effectively lowered, costs increased, life made even more difficult, physically exhausting and emotionally draining, insecurity intensified, hope denied. Despite this assault, there is a global movement of solidarity evolving, and with the energy of the time flowing with increasing strength, the citadel of resistance cannot be sustained indefinitely. True democracy, a social construct that we have idealised but not lived, will win the day, greatly changing the role of the politician and the type of people who become public representatives.

… without a well educated, engaged population, democracy remains a fantastical construct of the elite, its principles periodically displayed for public appeasement and sustained self-deceit.

Democracy is participation, as are social responsibility, freedom of expression and social justice, tolerance and mutual understanding. All these are inherent in the democratic ideal and constitute its primary colours. Where these are absent, so too is democracy. Likewise,without a well educated, engaged population, democracy remains a fantastical construct of the elite, its principles periodically displayed for public appeasement and sustained self-deceit. In the absence of democracy, politicians, living in a suited bubble of complacency and privilege – two interwoven vices of self-deception – become ideological enforcers and persuaders. Divorced from the public at large, aligned with corporate interests and consistently duplicitous, trust in governments and politicians is at an all-time low. These men, and women, of power are rightly seen as cynical and ambitious, prepared to say anything to achieve positions of power and to hold on to them.

The truly democratic politician

If complacency is the poison of the political class, then apathy and ignorance are the Achilles heel of the people. Social responsibility and participation sit at the very heart of the matter – participation by well-informed people who recognise that we are all individually responsible for society, for the well-being of our neighbours at home and abroad, and the integrity of the natural environment, participation in how the place in which we live and work functions, participation founded on a sense of responsibility leading to and demanding, by dint of commitment and creative participation, influence.

Within such an environment the role of the politician changes dramatically. It becomes one of listening, facilitating, informing and enacting, of representing – making known – the “will of the people” to the business community and parliament – which is of course what they should do now but on the whole, don’t. In this democratic paradigm, self-interest and corporate power begin to weaken and the will of the people to evolve. Democratic decisions about policies and methods, the clarifying of aims, the nature of systems and structures in such a world would be reached through overwhelming consensus – not the paltry 51 per cent of perhaps a mere 45 per cent of the population, as is the case now.

When the nature of… the will of the people is based on the recognition of humankind’s essential unity, together with the acknowledgment that we are responsible for the world and all life within it, then all becomes possible.

Under the existing democratic paradigm the talk is of power and control, duplicitous politicians and leaders and disenfranchised citizens. The rhetoric of political debate is combative and dishonest, ideologies and ideals clash, the economy dominates and business largely dictates government policy. Socio-economic systems have been designed and developed to deny the manifestation of real democracy and to facilitate the perpetuation of the status quo: a state of affairs in which piece by piece the natural environment is being destroyed, half the world’s population is living on less than $5 a day, economic inequality is at unprecedented levels and 65 million people are displaced. That is to name but the most pressing issues facing humanity.

True democracy is an expression of human solidarity. For this to develop and reflect the proclaimed ideal, systemic change and a fundamental shift in attitudes is required, both by politicians and the people who they are supposed to represent. This will not come from the political class – they are quite happy with things the way they are and will fight to the last. It will, and must, come from the people. The worldwide protest movement contains within it the evolutionary seeds of lasting change, but as the reactionary forces resist with increasing force, the need for sustained engagement and collective participation grows stronger. As Maitreya has made clear, “nothing happens by itself, man must act and implement his will”. When the nature of that will the will of the people – is based on the recognition of humankind’s essential unity, together with the acknowledgment that we are responsible for the world and all life within it, then all becomes possible.

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A 21st-Century Marxism: The Revolutionary Possibilities of the “New Economy”

NOVANEWS

Photo by Ann Wuyts | CC BY 2.0

It should hardly be controversial anymore to say we’re embarking on the “end times” of…something. Maybe it’s corporate capitalism, maybe it’s civilization, maybe it’s humanity. Whatever it is, the unsustainability of the contemporary ancien régime, on the global level, has become obvious. Economically, socially, politically, and environmentally, the next fifty years will see major upheavals, which may end up dwarfing those even of the 1930s and 1940s—the Great Depression and World War II.

In this moment of crisis and uncertainty, as we wonder what might come next and if in the long run there is any hope for a positive resolution of the predicaments society finds itself in, we would do well to consider whether that old revolutionist Karl Marx has anything to say about our future. His intellectual fortunes, after all, have lately been on the upswing. As the greatest theorist ever of capitalism and revolution, it would be odd if his ideas couldn’t illuminate the prospects for social transformation in a time of acute crisis.

Marx was mainly an analyst of capitalism, not a prophet or planner of socialism or communism. He did, however, predict socialist revolution, even arguing that it was inevitable and would inevitably take the form of a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” This dictatorship, supposedly, would implement total economic and social reconstruction even in the face of massive opposition from the capitalist class, in effect drawing up blueprints to plan out a “new society” that would, somehow, on the basis of sheer political will, overcome the authoritarian and exploitative legacies of capitalism. Through necessarily coercive means, the government would somehow plan and establish economic democracy, in the long run creating the conditions for a “withering away of the state.” How such a withering away would actually happen was left a mystery; and none of Marx’s followers ever succeeded in clearing the matter up.

In my book Worker Cooperatives and Revolution: History and Possibilities in the United States, I have explained how this whole Marxian schema of revolution was always fundamentally flawed, and even, in some respects, blatantly anti-Marxist (i.e., contradictory with the basic premises of Marxism). No such revolutionary rupture—a sudden radical break with capitalism in the form of a politically planned, coercively administered flowering of workers’ democracy—could ever happen, and ever has happened. Marx misunderstood his own system when he predicted it.

Even the greatest thinkers make mistakes. What is unfortunate is that their followers persist in these mistakes, to the point that even today it seems virtually no one has grasped the contradictions between basic Marxian conceptions of social dynamics and classic revolutionary prognostications that Marx and Engels made in the Communist Manifesto and other writings. Further discussion of these matters can be found here.

If we drop the ideological baggage of the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” however, we will find that at a more fundamental level of Marxist theory there is a clue to how a transition out of corporate capitalism may occur—how, in fact, it will have to occur, if it is to happen at all. From a broad perspective, there is only one path to a post-capitalist society (leaving out the possibility of nuclear holocaust and total systemic collapse).

Transforming the “economic base”

The key to imagining a positive outcome of the decline of the contemporary order lies in the Marxian idea that production relations are the foundation of every society. That is, political, cultural, and ideological structures are grounded in class structures. The obvious corollary is that a post-capitalist society can evolve only on the basis of the evolution of new production relations, i.e., class (or rather, ‘no-class’) relations. Just as new economic relations emerged over centuries during Europe’s transition from feudalism to industrial capitalism—and it was on the ground of these structures that a new society developed—so new ways of organizing production will have to evolve in the coming generations in order for humanity to live to see a less crisis-ridden era than the present.

More precisely, inasmuch as the predatory regime of corporate capitalism is founded on the privatization of resources (of production, profit, the natural environment, etc.) and on authoritarian and antagonistic relations of production, a more just and stable society will have to be grounded in the public production and distribution of resources, and in relatively democratic and cooperative economic structures.

As such structures progressively emerge over the next fifty and a hundred years, a new kind of politics will, necessarily, evolve on their basis. The gradual, global “social revolution” will not, and cannot, be politically willed and imposed after a seizure of state power, as Lenin attempted and Friedrich Engels predicted. (“The proletariat seizes state power, and then transforms the means of production into state property.” What you have in this case is just state capitalism.) Rather, the long-drawn-out political revolutions will occur step-by-step as society, in particular the economy, gradually and organically evolves new, more democratic institutions, precisely to the degree that the old economy descends into crisis.

What will the new institutions look like? Marx was wisely reluctant to speculate in detail about the future. But we’re in a more fortunate position than him, because we can already see the seeds of a new economy being planted. They have yet to sprout in a very visible way, but on the grassroots level there are, nonetheless, glimmers of hope.

The new economy

Activism around the “solidarity economy” has in the last decade been garnering more and more attention. Worker cooperatives and public banking, for example, are two concepts that are gaining traction even in the United States, as their growing coverage by journalists and scholars testifies. A recent In These Times feature article on public banks describes the remarkable potential of these institutions, as well as challenges the movement faces. But Shelley Brown, an activist from Santa Rosa, is far-sighted in her optimism: “All it’ll take is the first domino to fall,” she says. “Towns and cities will turn in this direction [toward public banking] because there’s no other way to turn.” She might have added that sooner or later, if economic stagnation and crisis persists (which it’s bound to), states will do so as well, compelled by popular movements and widespread unrest to adopt institutional innovations like public banking.

Worker cooperatives have been more prominently featured in the media than public banking, in part because of their striking successes in both Europe and North America. In my above mentioned book I tell the story of how the cooperative New Era Windows was formed several years ago in Chicago, a few years after its worker-owners had, as employees of Republic Windows and Doors, made international headlines by occupying their factory. That was in the wake of the 2008 crash, when the factory was about to close and the workers were being denied severance pay and other benefits to which they were entitled. Five years later, with the help of their union (the United Electrical Workers) and a nonprofit called The Working World, they had turned the business into a co-op.

More such successes may emerge following the next economic collapse. Similarly, to bring back manufacturing jobs to the U.S., more unions may follow the lead of the United Steelworkers in building industrial cooperatives across the country. The cooperative movement is still in its early stages, so one cannot predict what its potential may be. What one can say with a fair amount of certainty is that public pressure will continue to build for measures like these to protect jobs and in so doing transform the economy.

It might seem that such “interstitial” institutions as public banks and worker cooperatives—or even the aggregate of all types of cooperatives, including in the housing, retail, agricultural, insurance, health, and credit sectors of the economy—have little or no revolutionary potential, being too marginal for that. And certainly, for now, this criticism has force. Whether it will still have force twenty or thirty years from now, after economic and environmental crises have savaged the dominant political economy and popular movements have had time to build substantial bases of power, is an open question. Given the unpredictability of history, it is myopic to arbitrarily declare that all “localized,” decentralized, municipal or regional attempts to build oppositional institutions will forever be condemned to marginality and cannot serve as nodes of national and international anti-capitalist movements.

The inevitable reaction against neoliberalism

In any case, the necessity of creating public forms of economic interaction to save society, in the long run, from the total destruction that will ensue if the privatization and marketization of everything continues unchecked implies that some form(s) of public banking and producer cooperativism will, sooner or later, have to become hegemonic. The hegemony of such institutions is precisely what the revolutionary goal has always been. “Cooperativism” is just another name for workers’ democracy, which is the ideal that has always guided Marxists and other radicals.

It may be that (as Marxists have traditionally argued) the nationalization of key industries will eventually prove necessary and possible; but the idea of national industries democratically run is, in effect, just the idea of worker cooperativism writ large and transposed to the political sphere. The more the idea of democratic administration and ownership—as in municipal enterprise, community land trusts, cooperatives, participatory budgeting, etc.—permeates the public consciousness, the more likely it is that assaults on the commanding heights of corporate capitalism will become feasible.

If dire prophecies of another economic collapse, one even more serious than that of 2008–2009, are borne out, the chaos that follows will surely, in the end, empower “radical reformers” agitating for a more democratic and cooperative political economy—in addition to more conventional progressives demanding a reversal of the international austerity regime. For it is hard to see how in such a scenario popular movements can continue to be suppressed indefinitely, everywhere. And insofar as activists press for a transformation of production relations (at the local, regional, national, and international levels)—in the direction of abolishing the private appropriation of profits and the authoritarian, exploitative structures of business—they will be laying the groundwork for truly revolutionary changes. The sorts of changes that will someday, perhaps, make possible a move away from the capitalist “growth economy” that cannot but devour nature, people, democracy, and society itself.

In short, while it’s necessary to abandon the old Marxian conception of proletarian revolution, the central insights of Marxism give us clues into how a gradualist revolution might proceed. We have to embrace the project of slowly building a new economy from the ground up, while continually agitating for changes in national policy that will facilitate such a project. This is what a twenty-first century Marxism looks like.

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SCO Summit: Fighting Terrorism is at Top of Agenda

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Fighting Terrorism is at the Top of the Agenda at the SCO Summit

by Sophie Mangal

In the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, a meeting of the defense ministers of the member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was held on June 7. At the meeting, the members of the delegations made a number of statements concerning both the situation in Syria and the fight international terrorism in general.

First of all, all the representatives agreed that Indian and Pakistani membership that will become true tomorrow will enhance SCO’s security capabilities.

Referring to international problems, the SCO participants concurred that the terrorism in a short time turned into the biggest threat to the global security. At the same time, all the members of the delegations noticed that the situation is aggravating with every passing day by numerous local conflicts in the world and by inability of the Western countries to overcome differences, to form a common and united front against this evil and to work together to build a bastion against terrorism.

In this regard, the Syrian issue has become a key topic of the agenda during the meeting. The SCO-countries gave the highest priority to the question. A detailed briefing session was held for new

Member States (India and Pakistan) on the common attitude of the participating countries to the key crisis in the Middle East. As it was noted at the meeting, it is in the Syrian Arab Republic the main forces of the Islamic State are concentrated. It was also stated that the Syrian Arab army coordinating its activities in order to ensure the success operations undermined in the end the potential of the IS fighters and Syria has been “at the forefront of fighting international terrorism” for a long time.

Special attention was paid to the creation of de-escalation areas in Syria, which could contribute to ending the civil war and thus intensifying efforts to combat ISIS and Al-Nusra.

The representatives of SCO-Member countries also noticed that practical steps are being taken to implement the agreements reached at the moment. The priority tasks, namely ensuring the monitoring of all the commitments undertaken, as well as creating conditions for the restoration of the destroyed infrastructure were also highlighted.

The countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization agreed to provide support to each other in Syria and to exchange military experience in conducting counter-terrorism operations.

Interaction within the SCO in the future was decided to focus on identifying and anticipating any terrorist activities.

Inside Syria Media Center‘ experts reasonably assume that the Member states will need to create joint effective managing tools to stop penetration of terrorism and radicalism into the SCO’s area of responsibility. A fair guess would be that the special attention would be paid to an operative exchange of the information available on the activities of terrorist groups.

Such a summit is clearly useful for Syria from the point of view of practicality. People in Syria hope the talks will equip the SCO-members better to meet the challenges of terrorism. Syria needs support to be able to tackle the difficulties and to take the steps necessary for a just and lasting peace.

Summary

To be noted is that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), or Shanghai Pact, is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organization which was founded in 1996 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. These countries, except Uzbekistan, had been members of the Shanghai Five, founded in 1996; after the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organization. On 10 July 2015, the SCO decided to admit India and Pakistan as full members. India and Pakistan signed the memorandum of obligations on 24 June 2016 at Tashkent, thereby starting the formal process of joining the SCO as the full members. Now in Astana the countries are going to become full members.

The meeting of the SCO-defense ministers takes place once a year and the heads of the military departments have the opportunity both to share their views on the events taking place in the world and to work out a common strategy. In addition it is possible to hold bilateral meetings to discuss in detail the plans of military cooperation on the margins of the meeting.

Follow the latest developments by reading Inside Syria Media Center.

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War, Martial Law, and the Economic Crisis

NOVANEWS
Excerpt from “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century”

The following text is an excerpt of a chapter by Peter Dale Scott from the book, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century“ Global Research Publishers, 2010. 

The U.S. Treasury’s Financial Bailout

The bailout measures of late 2008 may have consequences at least as grave for an open society as the response to 9/11 in 2001. Many members of Congress felt coerced at the time into voting against their inclinations, and the normal procedures for orderly consideration of a bill were dispensed with.

The excuse for bypassing normal legislative procedures was the existence of an emergency. But one of the most reprehensible features of the legislation, that allowed Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to permit bailed-out institutions to use public money for exorbitant salaries and bonuses, was inserted by Paulson after the immediate crisis had passed.

According to Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) the bailout bill originally called for a cap on executive salaries, but Paulson changed the requirement at the last minute. Welch and other members of Congress were enraged by “news that banks getting taxpayer-funded bailouts are still paying exorbitant salaries, bonuses, and other benefits.”[1] In addition, as the Associated Press reported in October 2008, “Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. questioned allowing banks that accept bailout bucks to continue paying dividends on their common stock. ‘There are far better uses of taxpayer dollars than continuing dividend payments to shareholders,’ he said.”[2]

Even more reprehensible is the fact that after the bailouts, Paulson and the Treasury Department refused to provide details of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) spending of hundreds of billions of dollars, while the New York Federal Reserve refused to provide information about its own bailout (using government-backed loans) that amounted to trillions. This lack of transparency was challenged by Fox TV in a FOIA suit against the Treasury Department, and a suit by Bloomberg News against the Fed.[3]

The financial bailout legislation of September 2008 was only passed after members of both Congressional houses were warned that failure to act would threaten civil unrest and the imposition of martial law.

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., both said U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson brought up a worst-case scenario as he pushed for the Wall Street bailout in September. Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO, said that might even require a declaration of martial law, the two noted.[4]

Here are the original remarks by Senator Inhofe:

Speaking on Tulsa Oklahoma’s 1170 KFAQ, when asked who was behind threats of martial law and civil unrest if the bailout bill failed, Senator James Inhofe named Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as the source. “Somebody in D.C. was feeding you guys quite a story prior to the bailout, a story that if we didn’t do this we were going to see something on the scale of the depression, there were people talking about martial law being instituted, civil unrest… who was feeding you guys this stuff?,” asked host Pat Campbell. “That’s Henry Paulson,” responded Inhofe. “We had a conference call early on, it was on a Friday I think – a week and half before the vote on Oct. 1. So it would have been the middle… what was it – the 19th of September, we had a conference call. In this conference call – and I guess there’s no reason for me not to repeat what he said, but he said – he painted this picture you just described. He said, ‘This is serious. This is the most serious thing that we faced.’”[5]

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA 27th District) reported the same threat on the Congressional floor:

The only way they can pass this bill is by creating a panic atmosphere… Many of us were told that the sky would fall… A few of us were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no. That’s what I call fear-mongering, unjustified, proven wrong.[6]

So it is clear that threats of martial law were used to get this reprehensible bailout legislation passed. It also seems clear that Congress was told of a threat of martial law, not itself threatened. It is still entirely appropriate to link such talk to the Army’s rapid moves at the time to redefine its role as one of controlling the American people, not just protecting them. In a constitutional polity based on balance of powers, we have seen the emergence of a radical new military power that is as yet completely unbalanced.


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Continuity of Operations (COOP)

The Army’s New Role in 2001: Not Protecting American Society, but Controlling It. This new role for the Army is not wholly unprecedented. The U.S. military had been training troops and police in “civil disturbance planning” for the last three decades. The master plan, Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, or “Operation Garden Plot,” was developed in 1968 in response to the major protests and disturbances of the 1960s.

But on January 19, 2001, on the last day of the Clinton administration, the U.S. Army promulgated a new and permanent Continuity of Operations (COOP) Program. It encapsulated its difference from the preceding, externally oriented Army Survival, Recovery, and Reconstitution System (ASRRS) as follows:

a. In 1985, the Chief of Staff of the Army established the Army Survival, Recovery, and Reconstitution System (ASRRS) to ensure the continuity of essential Army missions and functions.

ASRRS doctrine was focused primarily on a response to the worst case 1980’s threat of a massive nuclear laydown on CONUS as a result of a confrontation with the Soviet Union.

b. The end of the Cold War and the breakup of the former Soviet Union significantly reduced the probability of a major nuclear attack on CONUS but the probability of other threats has increased. Army organizations must be prepared for any contingency with a potential for interruption of normal operations.

To emphasize that Army continuity of operations planning is now focused on the full all-hazards threat spectrum, the name “ASRRS” has been replaced by the more generic title “Continuity of Operations (COOP) Program.[7]

This document embodied the secret Continuity of Government (COG) planning conducted secretly by Rumsfeld, Cheney and others through the 1980s and 1990s.[8] This planning was initially for continuity measures in the event of a nuclear attack, but soon called for suspension of the Constitution, not just “after a nuclear war” but for any “national security emergency”. This was defined in Reagan’s Executive Order 12656 of November 18, 1988, as “any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.” The effect was to impose on domestic civil society the extreme measures once planned for a response to a nuclear attack from abroad.[9] In like fashion, ARR 500-3 Regulation clarified that it was a plan for “the execution of mission-essential functions without unacceptable interruption during a national security or domestic emergency.”

Donald Rumsfeld, who as a private citizen had helped author the COG planning, promptly signed and implemented the revised ARR 500-3. Eight months later, on 9/11, Cheney and Rumsfeld implemented COG, a significant event of which we still know next to nothing.[10] What we do know is that plans began almost immediately – as foreseen by COG planning the 1980s – to implement warrantless surveillance and detention of large numbers of civilians, and that in January 2002 the Pentagon submitted a proposal for deploying troops on American streets.[11]

Then in April 2002, Defense officials implemented a plan for domestic U.S. military operations by creating a new U.S. Northern Command (CINC-USNORTHCOM) for the continental United States.[12] In short, what were being implemented were the most prominent features of the COG planning which Oliver North had worked on in the 1980s.

“Deep Events” and Changes of Party in the White House

Like so many other significant steps since World War Two towards a military-industrial state, the Army’s Regulation 500-3 surfaced in the last days of a departing administration (in this case the very last day). It is worth noticing that, ever since the 1950s, dubious events – of the unpublic variety I have called deep events – have marked the last months before a change of party in the White House. These deep events have tended to a) constrain the incoming president, if he is a Democrat or, alternatively, b) to pave the way for the incomer, if he is a Republican.

Consider, in the first category, the following (when a Republican was succeeded by a Democrat):

– In December 1960 the CIA secured approval for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, and escalated events in Laos into a crisis for which the Joint Chiefs proposed sending 60 000 troops. These events profoundly affected President Kennedy’s posture towards Cuba and Indochina.

– In 1976 CIA Director George H.W. Bush installed an outside Team B intelligence unit to enlarge drastically estimates of the Soviet threat to the United States, eventually frustrating and reversing presidential candidate Jimmy Carter’s campaign pledge to cut the U.S. defense budget.[13]

Equally important were events in the second category (when a Democrat was succeeded by a Republican):

– In late 1968 Kissinger, while advising the Johnson administration, gave secret information to the Nixon campaign that helped Nixon to obstruct the peace agreement in Vietnam that was about to be negotiated at the peace talks then taking place in Paris. (According to Seymour Hersh, “The Nixon campaign, alerted by Kissinger to the impending success of the peace talks, was able to get a series of messages to the Thieu government” in Saigon, making it clear that a Nixon presidency would offer a better deal. This was a major factor in securing the defeat of Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey.[14] Kissinger was not the kind of person to have betrayed his president on his own personal initiative. At the time Nixon’s campaign manager, John Mitchell (one of the very few in on the secret), told Hersh, “I thought Henry [Kissinger] was doing it because Nelson [Rockefeller] wanted him to. Nelson asked Henry to help and he did.”[15]

– In 1980 the so-called October Surprise, with the help of people inside the CIA, helped ensure that the Americans held hostage in Iran would not be returned before the inauguration of Reagan. This was a major factor in securing the defeat of incumbent Jimmy Carter.[16] Once again, the influence of the Rockefellers can be discerned. A CIA officer later reported hearing Joseph V. Reed, an aide to David Rockefeller, comment in 1981 to William Casey, the newly installed CIA Director, about their joint success in disrupting Carter’s plans to bring home the hostages.[17]

Both the financial bailout, extorted from Congress and the escalated preparations for martial law can be seen as transitional events of the first category. Whatever the explanations for their timing, they constrained Obama’s freedom to make his own policies. Moreover they have the consequence of easing this country into unforeseen escalations of the Afghan war.


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The Intensive Quiet Preparations for Martial Law

Let us deal first with the preparations for martial law. In late September 2008, at the height of the financial meltdown, The Army Times announced the redeployment of an active Brigade Army Team from Iraq to America, in a new mission that “may become a permanent part of the active Army”:

The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.

Now they’re training for the same mission – with a twist – at home.

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks… After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one… They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control.[18]

This announcement followed by two weeks the talk of civil unrest and martial law that was used to panic the Congress into passing Paulson’s bailout legislation. Not only that, the two unprecedented events mirror each other: the bailout debate anticipated civil unrest and martial law, while the announced positioning of an active Brigade Combat Team on U.S. soil anticipated civil unrest (such as might result from the bailout legislation).

Then on December 17, 2008, U.S. Northern Command chief General Renuart announced that “the US military plans to mobilize thousands of troops to protect Washington against potential terrorist attack during the inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama.”[19]

The U.S. Army War College also raised the possibility of the U.S. Army being used to control civil unrest, according to the Phoenix Business Journal:

A new report by the U.S. Army War College talks about the possibility of Pentagon resources and troops being used should the economic crisis lead to civil unrest, such as protests against businesses and government or runs on beleaguered banks.

“Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security,” said the War College report.

The study says economic collapse, terrorism and loss of legal order are among possible domestic shocks that might require military action within the U.S.[20]

It is clear that there has been a sustained move in the direction of martial law preparations, a trend that has been as continuous as it has been unheralded. Senator Leahy was thus right to draw our attention to it on September 29, 2006, in his objections to the final form of the Fiscal Year 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, which gave the president increased power to call up the National Guard for law enforcement:

It… should concern us all that the Conference agreement includes language that subverts solid, longstanding Posse Comitatus statutes that limit the military’s involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the President to declare martial law. There is good reason for the constructive friction in existing law when it comes to martial law declarations.[21]

This quiet agglomeration of military power has not “just growed”, like Topsy, through inadvertence. It shows sustained intention, even if no one has made a public case for it.


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NOTES

1. WCAX, Burlington, Vermont, http://www.wcax.com/Global/story.asp?S= 9567271, 22 December 2008; Cf. CNBC, http://www.cnbc.com/id/27423117, 30 October 2008: ” ‘You can get paid $30 million under this program’, says Michael Kesner, who heads Deloitte Consulting executive compensation practice, ‘There’s no limit on what you can get paid.’ “
2. John Dunbar, AP, http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/081025/meltdown_evolving_bailout.html, 25 October 2007.
3. David Hirst, “Fox Joins Battle cry for Details of US Bail-out”, BusinessDay, http://www.businessday.com.au/business/fox-joins-battle-cry-for-details-of-us-bailout-20081223-74eh.html?page=-1, 24 December 2008.
4. Mike Sunnucks, “Ariz. Police say they are Prepared as War College warns Military must prep for Unrest; IMF warns of Economic Riots”, Phoenix Business Journal, http://phoenix.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/12/15/daily34.html, 17 December 2008.
5. 1170 KFAQ, “Paulson Was Behind Bailout Martial Law Threat”, Blacklisted News, http://www.blacklistednews.com/news-2367-0-13-13–.html, 23 November 2008.
6. Rep. Brad Sherman, in the House, 8:07 EST PM, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaG9d_4zij8&NR=1, 2 October 2008; Rep. Sherman later issued the following clarification: “I have no reason to think that any of the leaders in Congress who were involved in negotiating with the Bush Administration regarding the bailout bill ever mentioned the possibility of martial law – again, that was just an example of extreme and deliberately hyperbolic comments being passed around by members not directly involved in the negotiations.” See Rep. Sherman, Alex Jones Show, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bH1mO8qhCs.
7. Army Regulation 500-3, “Emergency Employment of Army and Other Resources”, Army Continuity Of Operations (COOP) Program, http://www.wikileaks.org/leak/us-army-reg-500-3-continuity-2001.pdf, emphasis added; Tom Burghardt, “Militarizing the ‘Homeland’ in Response to the Economic and Political Crisis: NORTHCOM’s Joint Task Force-Civil Support”, Global Research, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10534, 11 October 2008.
8. Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2007, p. 183-87; James Mann, The Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet, New York, Viking, 2004, p. 138-45.
9. Peter Dale Scott, Road to 9/11, op. cit., p. 183-87.
10. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 9/11 Commission Report, p. 38, 326; 555, footnote 9; Peter Dale Scott, Road to 9/11, op. cit., p. 228-30.
11. Ritt Goldstein, “Foundations are in Place for Martial Law in the US”, Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/articles/ 2002/07/27/10274974183 39.html, 27 July 2002.
12. Peter Dale Scott, Road to 9/11, op. cit., p. 240-41.
13. Ibid., p. 60-61.
14. Robert Parry, “Henry Kissinger, Eminence Noire”, ConsortiumNews, http://www.consortiumnews.com/2008/122808.html, 28 December 2008: “Kissinger… – while serving as a peace-talk adviser to the Johnson administration – made obstruction of the peace talks possible by secretly contacting people working for Nixon, according to Seymour Hersh’s 1983 book, The Price of Power”, p. 21.
15. Seymour Hersh, The Price of Power, 1983, p. 18; Jim Hougan, Spooks: The Haunting of America, New York, William Morrow, 1978, p. 435: “Kissinger, married to a former Rockefeller aide, owner of a Georgetown mansion whose purchase was enabled only by Rockefeller gifts and loans, was always the protégé of his patron, Nelson R[ockefeller], even when he wasn’t directly employed by him.”
16. Peter Dale Scott, Road to 9/11, op. cit., p. 93-118.
17. Ibid. p. 82-87, 91, 104-05.
18. Gina Cavallaro, “Brigade Homeland Tours Start Oct. 1”, Army Times, http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/09/army_homeland _090708w/, 30 September 2008; Michel Chossudovsky, “Pre-election Militarization of the North American Homeland, US Combat Troops in Iraq Repatriated to ‘Help with Civil Unrest’”, Global Research, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php? context= va&aid=10341, 26 September 2008.
19. AFP, Agence France-Presse, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iTBOy3JF8pVAthIthq8C1NrMf4Cg, 17 De- cember 2008.
20. Mike Sunnucks, “Ariz. Police say they are Prepared as War College warns Military must prep for Unrest; IMF warns of Economic Riots”, Phoenix Business Journal, http://phoenix.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/12/ 15/daily34.html, 17 December 2008.
21. Remarks Of Sen. Patrick Leahy, “National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2007 Conference Report”, Congressional Record, http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200609/092906b.html, 29 September 2006.

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“A Liberated Area in the Middle East”?: Western Imperialism in Rojava

NOVANEWS

Part 1 of a 2 part series

Image result for Middle East MAP

By Leftist Critic | Dissident Voice 

Over 17.1 million live in a socially democratic, secular state, the Syrian Arab Republic, ravaged by overt and covert imperialist machinations supported by Turkey, the Gulf autocracies, and the Western capitalist states. Their government is led by the National Progressive Front (NPF), with its most foremost party the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party which is joined by numerous radical and socially progressive parties. The NPF’s majority in the Syrian’s People’s Council, the Syrian parliament, was reaffirmed in the April 2016 elections by the Syrian people, elections which were predictably boycotted by the Western-backed opposition and predictably declared “unfree” by Western capitalists. President Donald Trump dealt the rationally-minded Syrians a blow that goes beyond his ill-fated show of strength manifested in the cruise missile attacks last month: direct US support of the Syrian Kurds who consist and are related to Rojava, officially called the “Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria” (NSR), “Syrian Kurdistan” or “Western Kurdistan,” to give a few names.

It is part and parcel of those in the Western and even international “left” to declare that the Rojava Kurds are “revolutionary” or somehow “liberated.” Here is a sampling from their arguments in favor of such a group when challenged on a radical left-leaning subreddit: (1) the Kurds are “very prudent” to get support from the West, (2) they aren’t against the Syrian government, they have “liberated people under ISIS control,” (3) the national borders were drawn by imperialists so “Kurdistan should have been a country in the first place,” and (4) Rojava have stated that they believe “a federal system is ideal form of governance for Syria.”1 This article aims to prove that such pro-Rojava perspectives are an unfounded and dangerous form of international solidarity.

US imperialist support for the Kurdish cause

Only a few days ago, Trump approved a Pentagon plan which would “directly arm Kurdish forces fighting in Syria,” specifically the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) comprised of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC), all of which are elements of Rojava.2 The US plans to use these groups to “mount an assault on Raqqa,” the de facto capital of Daesh, called ISIS in the West, which sits in the heart of Syria. The arming of such forces is a reversal of Obama-era policy but only to an extent. The armed support, according to one account, would consist of “small arms, machine guns, ammunition, armored vehicles, trucks and engineering equipment.” Another account added that these fighters would receive “U.S.-manufactured night-vision goggles, rifles and advanced optics,” all of which are used by US special operations forces. As a result, YPG fighters would begin to “bear strong similarities to other American-trained foreign special forces.”This support may relate to possibly imminent “massive invasion of Syria” by US and Jordanian forces in an effort to support their Free Syrian Army (FSA) proxies and enter areas adjacent to those controlled by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

The US claimed it had been in “constant contact” with the Turks to assure them the Kurdish troops would not have “any role in stabilizing or ruling Raqqa after the operation,” with “local Arabs” (undoubtedly those chosen by the US and the West) governing the city afterwards. The Turks, who want the Western-backed FSA to lead the offensive, have been engaging in military strikes on PKK (Kurdish Worker’s Party) and YPG fighters within Iraq and Syria, which affects US special ops forces directly helping theses groups. The Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, which has a complicated but still imperial inter-relationship with the US, Nurettin Canikli, showed his anger on May 10 when he said that “the supply of arms to the YPG is unacceptable. Such a policy will benefit nobody.” This position isn’t a surprise since the Turks see the YPG as a branch of the PKK and are undoubtedly strongly anti-Kurd. Predictably the announcement of direct armament was received well by the Rojava forces. A SDF spokesman said that “the US decision to arm the YPG… is important and will hasten the defeat of terrorism” and Saleh Muslim, co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), another Rojava element, declared that “the Raqqah campaign is running in parallel with the international coalition against terrorism. It’s natural that they would provide weapons” to such Kurdish forces. Keep in mind this is the same person who called for the US to expand its military strikes on the Syrian government to other groups with purported chemical weapons, saying that Trump’s cruise missile attack will “yield positive results.”

Anyone with sense knows he is wrong. Arming of these Kurds will be cheered by the editorial boards of the bourgeois Chicago Tribune and Bloomberg News, former imperial diplomat Antony “Tony” John Blinken, and the president of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNAS), Sherkoh Abbas, among many others.3

The same day that the organs of US imperialism announced that these Kurds would get arms directly from the war machine, Trump declared a “national emergency” in regard to Syria.4 He called the country’s government an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States” saying that it supported terrorism, undermined US and international efforts to “stabilize” Iraq, brutalized the Syrian people, generated “instability throughout the region,” and called for regime change, saying that there should be a “political transition in Syria” that will benefit the US capitalist class. This declaration in particular, released the same day as similar reauthorizations of other Obama era “national emergency” orders for the Central African Republic and Yemen, buttressed a 2012 executive order which delineated sanctions on the state of Syria! All in all, the Western imperialists know that Syria does not constitute this “threat” but they choose to portray it that way in order to justify continued massive war spending, which comprises at least half of the US federal budget.

Beyond these declarations, the US support for the “good” Kurds (“Good” by Western standards) is nothing new, mainly since 2014. The bourgeois media has reported, especially since January, about the “U.S.-Kurdish alliance” consisting of the US support of the SDF and YPG as effective front forces to “fight ISIS,” angering the Turks who consider such forces to be utterly hostile since they see it as an extension of the PKK, but the US imperialists care little about this gripe.5 The US is supporting these forces with 500 US special ops forces (half of the 1000 US troops stationed in the country), armored vehicles, and warplanes as “air support” for their offensives, along with some arms, even prior to the recent announcement. Some call these forces, which have been attacked by Turkey in the past and “accidentally” by US bombs, as “the vanguard of U.S. proxy forces on the ground” in Syria, undoubtedly dismaying two deluded Marxists who thought they were fighting for an “egalitarian utopia.”6

Such individuals should not be surprised. After all, a top US commander has defended YPG actions, claiming that they did not attack into Turkey, almost serving as a de facto spokesperson of the group. Lest us forget a press conference just last month where US Colonel John Dorrian, spokesperson for the US-led coalition bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan, slyly admits that the YPG, Peshmerga, PKK, and SDF/SAC are partners in their “anti-Daesh” bombing efforts. Additionally, such Kurdish forces have gained other avenues of support from settler-colonist Canada (also see here) and from the Russian Federation, which has given them, according to reports, money, equipment, and a seat at the negotiating table. Russian support is interesting since they are also supporting the Syrian government in its fight against terrorism, making one possibly wonder if their support for these Kurds is for some unspoken reason.

It gets worse. “Good” Kurdish leaders have said behind the scenes that they are willing to cooperate with Israel, the apartheid and murderous Zionist state which has given limited military support to Iraqi Kurds and bought millions of barrels of their oil, in line with Mr. Netanyahu’s declaration that “we should … support the Kurdish aspiration for independence…[the Kurds are] a nation of fighters [who] have proved political commitment and are worthy of independence” and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked who also called for an independent Kurdistan. These feelings add to their cooperation with the NATO criminals. It is evident that with the “help of US airpower” the YPG, along with SDF, has been able to take “control of an estimated 26,000 sq km (10,000 sq miles) of Syria,” including a 250 mile “stretch of territory along the Turkish border,” all of which constitutes Rojava.7 It is even more suspicious that US soldiers are advising and assisting SDF and YPG soldiers. They are, according to one report, assisting them in “targeting ISIS positions with mortars and laser guided air strikes,” with the YPG’s media office even telling local journalists, initially, to “not take video footage of the U.S. Special Forces” so people won’t know they are backed by ruthless imperialist foot soldiers.8

Even so, local fighters of the YPG are reportedly “pleased with the American presence.” In 2016, the State Department openly admitted such cooperation. Mark Toner declared that “coordination continues” with the YPG and SDF against the “common enemy” of Daesh. Spokesperson John Kirby said that the US had “provided a measure of support, mostly through the air” for such groups, “and that support will continue,” adding that “we have said that these Kurdish fighters are successful against Daesh…and we’re going to continue to provide that support” and spoke of a “partnership with Kurdish fighters.” More than these blanket statements, Talal Silo, a former SAA colonel and official spokesperson of the SDF, said the following, which shows that they are deeply tied to US imperial objectives:

It’s forbidden to negotiate with the Russians because we seek for an alliance with the United States. It’s impossible to communicate with any other party and to not lose the credibility of the international coalition. Of course, we are free, but we can not attack if there is not signal from the Americans. We will not unite with the Syrian army against ISIS because our forces operate only with the forces of the international coalition led by the United States. We are partners of the United States and the coalition. They make decisions. There can’t be a coordination between the Russians and us. Because first of all we have a strategic partnership with the international coalition led by the United States.

That’s not all. The US has also provided support to the Peshmerga, militia of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, part of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and escorted a PKK senior leader, Ferhad Şahin or Şahin Cilo, with over a 1 million bounty on his head by the Turkish government, through a crowd.9 The support for the Peshmerga also increased dramatically in recent days. The US State Department approved the Pentagon sending $295.6 million “worth of weapons, vehicles and other equipment” which includes but is not limited to “4,400 rifles, 113 Humvees and 36 howitzers.”10 These armaments, which only need simple congressional approval, assured in this political climate, would be used to arm two brigades of Peshmerga light infantry and two artillery battalions to assist such units. While few governments are on the record as publicly supporting independent or autonomous states in Syria or Iraq, apart from hawkish John McCain, the Peshmerga have been armed by Western European countries such as France and Germany, along with the Turks, while British special forces reportedly lurk within Syria in an effort to achieve imperial objectives.11

Earlier this month, there was another development in this realm: a plan to link Rojava with the Mediterranean Sea. This action, for which they will ask the US to support them politically (and implied militarily), the SDF forces would “push west to liberate the city of Idlib” which Hediya Yousef, a high-ranking official in Rojava said is part of their “legal right” to have access to the Mediterranean, from which he claimed “everyone will benefit.”12 Such an action would possibly empower such “good” Kurds even more, even as it would outrage Turkey, and would require agreement with the Syrian government along with the Russian Federation, which is unlikely. If Rojava achieved access to the sea, they would be an even more “effective” imperial proxy group since Western capitalist states could bring their military supplies to the coastline, rolling in heavy machinery, tanks, and maybe even set up a base of some type. It would be chaos and disaster for Syria of the highest proportions, helping in the disintegration of the region into a divided mess that could be easily manipulated by Western imperialists.

Is Rojava revolutionary?

Many have claimed that Rojava is “revolutionary.” One article by Wes Enzinna, an editor at the White hipster/”dudebro”/trash website, Vice Media, is an example of this. He writes that neither the UN, NATO, or the Syrian government recognize the “autonomous status” of the area, but says that this area, with over 4.6 million people by his count, enacts “radical direct democracy” on the streets, in his perception.13  He goes on to say that the territory is a “utopia” that is governed by an affiliate of the PKK, which includes, but is not limited to, six political parties, including the PYD and Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (KDPS). Additionally, apart from the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the Self-Defense Forces (HXP), YPG and all-female protection units, YPJ, protect the region from threats, with the latter two organizations, along with the PYD, major allies for the US in the region. Most interesting is the presence of Abdullah Öcalan, one of the PKK’s founding leaders, with his philosophy used throughout Rojava where he, as Mr. Enzinna claims, “looms as a Wizard-of-Oz-like presence.” It is worth pointing out that Mr. Öcalan, who has been hounded by the Turkish government since 1998, “repudiated the armed struggle and… the independence of Kurdistan,” with the PKK dropping its demand for an independent Kurdistan when he went into jail. He also asked Kurds to lay down their arms and went even further by declaring that there should be a “democratic union between Turks and Kurds.”14 According to reports, he clearly favors anarchist and anti-Marxist Murray Bookchin, Michel Foucault, French historian Fernand Braudel, and US sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein (the only one of the four with credibility), among a litany of other authors he read in prison, which is troublesome. Hence, he called for “democratic confederalism” in 2005, a model used in Rojava.

Mr. Enzinna isn’t the only one who makes such claims. Reuters‘s Benedetta Argentieri declared that the region values “gender equality,” especially in its military forces and has its “ideological foundations…laid by Abdullah Öcalan,” while others have declared there was an “ecological society” in place.15 Many examples of such perspectives, showing that the perception of  Rojava is “radical” and “liberatory” is widespread. Articles favoring this approach are in publications such as the Financial Times, the New York Times, The GuardianOpen Democracy, Slate, Dissent, Roar MagazineDeutsche WelleAFP, CeaseFire magazine, Telesur English, and Quartz.16 Writers have gone on to dub the region “a thriving experiment in direct democracy,” “a precious experiment in direct democracy,” “a remarkable democratic experiment,” “a revolution in consciousness,” and “a Kurdish region… ruled by militant feminist anarchists.” Others echo the same sentiment, calling it “a liberated area in the Middle East” (which is used in the title of this article), “political and cultural revolution,” “a social and political revolution,” “a participatory alternative to the tyrannical states of the region,” “the safest place in Syria,” and “a new radical society.”

Beyond this, AK Press’s A Small Key Can Open A Large Door: The Rojava Revolution, if it is to be believed at all, argues that the PYD launched a plan for the economy of the region which levies no taxes on the populace and abolished “traditional” private property such as “buildings, land, and infrastructure” but this did not extend to commodities such as automobiles, machines, electronics, and furniture. Even this book admits that only about a third of the worker councils have been set up in the region and that there is vagueness on how this region will relate to “other economies inside and outside of Syria.” After all,  much of the economic activity in the region comes from, as the book argues, “black market oil… sold outside the region” and as a result there are looming questions about the mechanics “trading relationships between other governments” if the embargo levied on them by the Turks is lifted.

By saying all of this about Rojava, some supporters may be cheering, saying that they were right all along. In fact, they can’t be more wrong. For one, European Parliamentarians are chummy with the PYD, who says that Turkey still supports Daesh, even as they claim that their meeting with legislators of Western capitalist states is not a form of propaganda. This political party, the PYD, was even left out of Syrian peace talks originally, but later was allowed in, with the Russians, in their illegal and unconscionable draft for the Syrian constitution, decentralized powers, which could be seen as “a potential concession aimed to gain the favor of the de-facto autonomous Kurdish cantons of northern Syria.”17

This is only the tip of the iceberg. The co-chair of the PYD, Mr. Saleh Muslim, has spoken at the British Parliament and has met with the Catalan parliament, where he declared that they are mainly at “war” with Daesh, not dismissing hostile actions toward the Syrian government. He further declared that they do not want to continue “under the old model of nation-state,” which he claims exists in Iraq and Syria, and said “we want to be part of Syria, but part of a democratic Syria.” If this doesn’t sound in line with imperialist goals, then I don’t know what is. It is also worth pointing out that the PYD attended a conference in Western Europe, in Belgium, eight Rojava legislators had a six-day visit to Japan, high-ranking YPJ and PYD officials talked to the Italian parliament and met senior Italian officials. Additionally, Rojava representatives attended a “conference in Athens… to mark the 17th anniversary of the capture of Abdullah Ocalan” and met with French representatives (along with the YPJ). The latter is important to note since the French have supported these “good” Kurds on the battlefield, just like Albania, and even want to open a cultural center in Rihava.

Then there’s the undeniable fact that Rojava has representative offices in numerous Western capitalist countries: Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, and France. Other news notes that the PYD has an office in Russia and has received support from Finland, which has begun “financing projects with development funds allocated to non-governmental organizations to strengthen Syrian Kurdish Region governance.” The only country that has rescinded diplomatic ties with Rojava is the Czech Republic, where a representative office opened in April but was shut down by December even as a story the previous month said that other than Albania, “the Czech Republic is one of the main sources of weapons flowing to the YPG via the US-led coalition against IS.” The representative office, as a story reported, was shut down because “it failed to win the recognition of Czech politicians” and the office seems to have faced problems related to security threats and diplomacy. Also, the “Turkish embassy in Prague [tried]… to undermine the activities of the office” even as Czech politicians see support of Rojava as a way to support an independent, autonomous Kurdistan, undermining the status of this office within the country.

The relationship between the “good” Kurds and Turkey is complicated. In 2013 and 2014, Turkey favorably received the PYD. However, as it currently stands, Turkey has an economic blockade on Rojava, as they attempt to diplomatically isolate them, opposes US support of the YPG, and supports anti-Rojava terrorists including Daesh.18 Turkey has gone even farther than just these measures. They’ve reportedly shelled Rojava, such as the settlements of Zur Maghar and Afrin, which has led to numerous civilians being killed, as Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) expand their military operations within Syria.19 In response, their actions were condemned not only by Germany but by Russia and neocon McCain. If Turkey engaged in such actions, they likely have public support. While Selahattin Demirtas, an imprisoned Kurdish leader of the “Kurdish-dominated People’s Democratic Party” or HDP, who has met with the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, and the Russian and US governments, has argued for countries to recognize Rojava, the Turkish public may think differently.20 Conspiracy theories purportedly dominate the Turkish political discourse and the Kurds, more often than not, are seen as part of a plot against the Turkish nation, leading to support for never-ending war against the PKK and seeming stagnation of political discourse.

Notes

  1. Other arguments ranged from claims that (1) Rojava wants some “degree of autonomy” while not fighting the Syrian government, (2) an independent Kurdistan could be anti-imperialist, (3) Rojava aren’t “disintegrating the region” but are rather “liberating people” from Daesh and will “unify with the Syrian government in the future,” that (4) such people are fighting “a battle for a better life way of living” while using available resources at their disposal, that (5) they have no choice but to ally with the West, (6) claims that Russia is imperialist, (7) that accepting weapons from the West forms “a positive relationship, in the hope for protection from Turkey,” and (8) that “Syria is by no means anti-imperialist.” The claims of Russia being imperialist is clearly incorrect by any reasonable measure, while saying that Syria is not anti-imperialist is a sentiment that hurts international solidarity. The one argument that accepting weapons from the West forms a “positive relationship” says it all.
  2. Missy Ryan, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Karen DeYoung, “In blow to U.S.-Turkey ties, Trump administration approves plan to arm Syrian Kurds against Islamic State,” Washington Post, May 9, 2017.
  3. Editorial Board, “Fixing Syria, Step 1: Arm the Kurds,” Chicago Tribune, September 23, 2016; The Editors, “Arm the Kurds,” Bloomberg View, August 5, 2014; Antony J. Blinken, “To Defeat ISIS, Arm the Syrian Kurds,” New York Times op-ed, January 31, 2017; Ariel Ben Solomon, “Are Syrian Kurds the missing ingredient in the West’s recipe to defeat Islamic State?,” Jewish News Service (JNS), March 23, 2017. Also, the New Republic (“One Group Has Proven It Can Beat ISIS. So Why Isn’t the U.S. Doing More to Help Them?”), Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Ed Royce, The Telegraph (“Water is not enough, we must arm the Kurds”), New York Post (“It’s time to really arm the Kurds”), The Guardian (“Arming the Kurds may help break up Iraq – but the alternatives are worse”), National Review (“Recognize Kurdistan and Arm It, against ISIS in Northern Iraq”), among others, support arming the Kurds, specifically those who support US objectives, of course.
  4. Declaring a national emergency gives the President power to deal with “any unusual and extraordinary threat… to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.” Furthermore, such a declaration gives the President the power to “…investigate, regulate, or prohibit… any transactions… transfers of credit or payments… the importing or exporting of currency,” invalidate acquisitions by certain foreigners and even “confiscate any property” of foreigners coming from a country the US is at war with and are accused of planning, aiding, engaging, or authorizing hostilities against the United States.
  5. Louisa Loveluck and Karen DeYoung, “A Russian-backed deal on ‘safe zones’ for Syria leaves U.S. wary,” Washington Post, May 4, 2017; Associated Press, “Tensions rise after Turkish attack on Syrian Kurds,” Washington Post, April 26, 2017; Philip Issa, “Turkey threatens further strikes on US-allied Syrian Kurds,” Associated Press, April 30, 2017; Matthew Lee, “US criticizes Turkey for striking Kurds in Iraq, Syria,” Associated Press, April 25, 2017; Karen DeYoung and Dan Lamothe, “U.S.: Kurds will participate in some form in attack on Raqqa,” Washington Post, March 1, 2017; Matthew Lee, “US criticizes Turkey for striking Kurds in Iraq, Syria,” Associated Press, April 25, 2017; Karen DeYoung and Dan Lamothe, “U.S.: Kurds will participate in some form in attack on Raqqa,” Washington Post, March 1, 2017; Kareem Fahim and Adam Entous, “No decision yet on arming Kurds to fight Islamic State, Trump tells Turkish leader,” Washington Post, February 8, 2017.; Ishaan Tharoor, “The Russia-Turkey-U.S. tussle to save Syria will still get very messy,” Washington Post, May 4, 2017; Ishaan Tharoor, “What you need to know about Turkey and the Trump administration,” Washington Post, March 30, 2017;  Liz Sly, “Turkey’s Erdogan wants to establish a safe zone in the ISIS capital Raqqa,” Washington Post, February 13, 2017; Sarah El Deeb, “Turkey, Kurds, Russia, U.S. forces make up a confusing, violent pageant in Syria,” Chicago Tribune, March 11, 2017; Agence France-Presse, “Pentagon chief praises Kurdish fighters in Syria,” March 18, 2016.
  6. Liz Sly, “How two U.S. Marxists wound up on the front lines against ISIS,” Washington Post, April 1, 2017; Karen DeYoung and Kareem Fahim, “Turkey deports foreigners working with Syrian refugees,” Washington Post, April 26, 2017; Loveday Morris and Kareem Fahim, “Turkey expands strikes against Kurdish militants in Syria and Iraq,” Washington Post, April 25, 2017; Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Missy Ryan, “U.S.-led coalition accidentally bombs Syrian allies, killing 18,” Washington Post, April 13, 2017; Liz Sly, “With a show of Stars and Stripes, U.S. forces in Syria try to keep warring allies apart,” Washington Post, March 8, 2017; Karen DeYoung and Kareem Fahim, “As a new relationship is tested, Turkey keeps high hopes for Trump,” Washington Post, March 9, 2017; Orhan Coskun, Tulay Karadeniz and Tom Perry, “Turkey’s Syria plans face setbacks as Kurds see more U.S. support,” Reuters, March 9, 2017.
  7. BBC News, “Syria conflict: Kurds declare federal system,” March 17, 2016; Liz Sly and Karen DeYoung, “Ignoring Turkey, U.S. backs Kurds in drive against ISIS in Syria,” Washington Post, June 1, 2016.
  8. Nancy A. Youssef and Wladimir van Wilgenburg, “U.S. Troops 18 Miles From ISIS Capital,” The Daily Beast, May 26, 2016; Jiyar Gol, “Syria conflict: On the frontline in battle for IS-held Manbij,” BBC News, June 15, 2016.
  9. Suzan Fraser, “Turkey strikes Kurds in Iraq, Syria, drawing condemnation,” Associated Press, April 25, 2017; Martin Chulov and Fazel Hawramy, “Ever-closer ties between US and Kurds stoke Turkish border tensions,” The Guardian, May 1, 2017; Mahmoud Mourad and Ulf Laessing, “Iraq’s Shi’ite ruling coalition opposes Kurds’ independence referendum,” Reuters, April 20, 2017; Loveday Morris and Kareem Fahim, “Turkey expands strikes against Kurdish militants in Syria and Iraq,” Washington Post, April 25, 2017.
  10. Eric Walsh, “U.S. approves $295.6 million military equipment sale to Iraq: Pentagon,” Reuters, April 19, 2017; UPI, “US State Department approves arms sale for Peshmerga forces,” April 20, 2017; Tom O’Connor, “U.S. Military Set to Make $300 Million Deal to Arm Kurds Fighting ISIS in Iraq,” Newsweek, April 20, 2017.
  11. Karen Leigh, Noam Raydan, Asa Fitch, Margaret Coker, “Who Are The Kurds?,” Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2016; BBC News, “Germany to supply arms to Kurds fighting IS in Iraq,” September 1, 2014; Agence France-Presse, “Pentagon chief praises Kurdish fighters in Syria,” March 18, 2016.
  12. Mark Townsend, “Syria’s Kurds march on to Raqqa and the sea,” The Guardian, May 6, 2017.
  13. Wes Enzinna, “A Dream of Secular Utopia in ISIS’ Backyard,” New York Times Magazine, November 24, 2015.
  14. BBC News, “Kurdish rebel boss in truce plea,” September 28, 2006.
  15. Anna Lau, Erdelan Baran, and Melanie Sirinathsingh, “A Kurdish response to climate change,” OpenDemocracy, November 18, 2016; Benedetta Argentieri, “One group battling Islamic State has a secret weapon – female fighters,” Reuters blogs, February 3, 2015.
  16. Carrie Ross, “Power to the people: a Syrian experiment in democracy,” Financial Times, October 23, 2015; Carne Ross, “The Kurds’ Democratic Experiment,” The New York Times opinion, September 30, 2015. Ross is “a former British diplomat and the author of “The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century,” is working on a forthcoming documentary film, “The Accidental Anarchist.””; David Graeber, “Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria?,” The Guardian, October 8, 2014; Jo Magpie, “Regaining hope in Rojava,” Open Democracy, June 6, 2016; Michelle Goldberg, “American Leftists Need to Pay More Attention to Rojava,” Slate, November 25, 2015; Meredith Tax, “The Revolution in Rojava,” Dissent magazine, April 22, 2015; Evangelos Aretaios, “The Rojava revolution,” Open Democracy, March 15, 2015; New Compass, “Statement from the Academic Delegation to Rojava,” January 15, 2015; Jeff Miley and Johanna Riha, “Rojava: only chance for a just peace in the Middle East?,” Roar Magazine, March 3, 2015; Felix Gaedtke, “A Kurdish Spring in Syria,” Deutsche Welle, May 22, 2013; AFP, “Syrian Kurds give women equal rights, snubbing jihadists,” November 9, 2014; Margaret Owen, “Gender and justice in an emerging nation: My impressions of Rojava, Syrian Kurdistan,” CeaseFire magazine, February 11, 2014; Benedetta Argentieri, “These female Kurdish soldiers wear their femininity with pride,” Quartz, July 30, 2015; Marcel Cartier, “‘The Kurds’: Internationalists or Narrow Nationalists?,” Telesur English, April 20, 2017.
  17. John Irish, “Syrian Kurds point finger at Western-backed opposition,” Reuters, May 23, 2016.
  18. Meredith Tax, “The Rojava Model,” Foreign Affairs, Oct. 14, 2016; Graham A. Fuller, “How Can Turkey Overcome Its Foreign Policy Mess?,” LobeLog, February 19, 2016; David L. Phillips, “Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey Links,” Huffington Post, September 8, 2016; Natasha Bertrand, “Senior Western official: Links between Turkey and ISIS are now ‘undeniable’,” Business Insider, July 28, 2015.
  19. AFP, “Turkey accused of shelling Kurdish-held village in Syria,” The Guardian, July 27, 2015; Christopher Phillips, “Turkey’s Syria Intervention: A Sign of Weakness Not Strength,” Newsweek, September 22, 2016.
  20. Ishaan Tharoor, “The U.S. should accept a Syrian Kurdish region, says Turkish opposition leader,” Washington Post, May 2, 2016.

Leftist Critic is an independent radical, writer, and angry citizen and can be reached at leftistcritic@linuxmail.org or on twitter, @leftistcritic.

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on “A Liberated Area in the Middle East”?: Western Imperialism in Rojava

Message of Greetings from CPGB-ML to JVP May 1st Rally

NOVANEWS

CPGB-ML address May 1st demonstrations held by the JVP in Sri Lanka

At the invitation of the Peoples Liberation Front – Sri Lanka (JVP), the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) sent comrade Sammi Ibrahem to give a message of solidarity to the May 1st demonstrations in Jaffna and Colombo.

The CPGB-ML has a good working relationship with the JVP in Britain. It is the opinion of the CPGB-ML that all workers who reside in Britain constitute a part of the British working class, regardless of how long they have been in the country or how long they intend to remain. Whilst working in Britain it is incumbent upon revolutionaries and those who call themselves communist to be active in the revolutionary movement of the country they are resident in. For that reason, members of the JVP fulfil their internationalist duty as supporters and members of the CPGB-ML. They set an example to many others who for sectarian reasons continue to back the revisionists and their support for the imperialist Labour Party.

As the rot sets in ever deeper for the revisionists, it will come to pass that all sincere communists who reside in Britain, regardless of the affiliations which their organisations back home may have with aging revisionist groups here, will be faced with the choice of either undertaking no communist work, or working with the CPGB-ML. As the Trotskyites liquidate their organisations to infiltrate Labour, and the revisionists quietly fulfil the logic of their own discredited programmes of self-annihilation, only the CPGB-ML has an independent programme for the growth and development of a truly Marxist-Leninist organisation in Britain.

In Sri Lanka comrade Sammi addressed JVP rallies in both Jaffna and Colombo, along with international communist guests from PAME & the Communist Parties of Greece and Cuba. We reproduce below Sammi’s greeting to the May 1st rally in Colombo along with a few photographs of the inspiring work of the JVP this May Day 2017.

“Dear comrades,

I bring greetings from the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) – Happy 1st May!

Our Party is extremely proud to have good relations with the JVP – Peoples Liberation Front, and we can see from the banners today that the struggle against imperialism and for socialism is being waged by the comrades of the Peoples Liberation Front. Comrades, workers in Britain have a lot to learn from your example.  Red Salute to the JVP!

Comrades, the billionaires who control the world keep the masses in abject poverty. In the oppressed and economically backward countries the conditions for the working classes are especially hard. Value is created by human labour, but that which is produced through the blood and sweat of Sri Lankan workers is stolen by Sri Lankan capitalists and their friends, the imperialists, who channel billions back into their own pockets. Workers can only improve their lot through class struggle. There is nothing so hypocritical than the bourgeois class who assert the equality of rich and poor, the well fed and the hungry. Capitalism drives the workers to sell their labour power to the capitalist, workers have no other choice but wage slavery under capitalist conditions. The workers in Sri Lanka struggle bravely for a dignified life and set a great example to the working class of Britain, but struggle must be for socialism, for a revolutionary change. Leninism teaches that we cannot do this without leadership by genuine socialists, the Sri Lankan workers are fortunate to have the JVP leading them in their struggle.

Any proletarian Party which hopes to take state power and build socialism must understand how to adapt, how to change their method of struggle whilst continuing to advance on the road to Socialism. Sometimes it is necessary to fight with your fists and the Sri Lankan workers have heroic chapters written into their history when they were led in fearless armed struggle. As Marxists we understand that state power means more than capturing the parliamentary power, but when legal methods of struggle are open to revolutionaries, they must exploit them as best they can. The six members of the JVP inside the Sri Lankan parliament have won this opportunity to demonstrate to the masses the corruption of the ruling parties and can make use of the platform of parliament to inspire the people to make socialism their goal. Rather than claim that the JVP has “sold-out” because it stands in the election we sincerely hope that the JVP can build on the success of the 2015 Parliamentary elections whilst building up the struggle of the masses in the cause of socialism!

In Britain our struggle for socialism has been greatly retarded by the influence of Trotskyites and revisionists who work in the service of our ruling class. They are always quick to cry that revolutionaries have “sold out”. In Sri Lanka you are also cursed by the presence of Trotskyists who speak in revolutionary language to hide from the workers their counter-revolutionary aims. Trotskyists are everywhere the same, counter-revolution is in their blood. We must combat all attempts by Trotskyists to split the ranks of the revolutionary workers in Sri Lanka just as we must fight them at home in Britain. We must fight all attempts by enemies to split and damage the JVP whose historic mission it is to bring about the socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Today 100 years after the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, the example of the Bolsheviks is as valid as ever, the best weapon we have is the science of Marxism-Leninism, the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. This is the best defence against Trotskyists and splitters, and it is the blue print for making socialist revolution.

Long live the 1st of May!

Long live Marxism-Leninism!

Long live proletarian internationalism!”

Posted in Politics, UKComments Off on Message of Greetings from CPGB-ML to JVP May 1st Rally

Communists attend May Day, Labour Party shocked

NOVANEWS

John McDonnell is receiving a roasting this year for speaking at Trafalgar Square to our May Day Rally – as Corbyn did last year for speaking to a gathering in Clerkenwell green before the march set off from atop a double-decker bus!

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It never fails to amaze us that the attacks from the capitalists are so weak – and yet the pusillanimous social democrats reel under their blows, unable to fight them off!

Deep in their ill-fated election campaign, Labour struggle to dissociate themselves from any pretence of radicalism, by editing out our flags from their photos and videos, yet they are criticised for appearing in the same street with us anyway – even tainted with the alleged communist penchant for ‘air-brushing history.’image003

Precisely because there is not a radical bone in their body, these servants of imperialism are unable to deal with these pathetic criticisms. And yet the Labour Party false-promises to solve workers problems within capitalism are so deeply unpalatable to the imperialists, mired in financial crisis, that they will spare no efforts to scupper Corbyn and McDonnell’s electoral hopes.


In any case, 20 points behind in the polls, having totally failed to purge the Labour Party of the Blairite dominance in the PLP, and gain control of the labour party despite apparently being its ‘leaders’, and particularly in view of loosing Scotland to the SNP, it is desperately unlikely that the ‘left wing’ social democratic Labour party of Corbyn and McDonnell will be able to win this election – even with the momentous support of the dwindling bunch of CPB revisionists!

So sadly, we will not have the spectacle of Corbyn and McDonnell running British imperialism, perhaps also, like Trump, being forced by the logic of their position to send a few tomahawk cruise missiles raining down on the ‘barbarian lesser nations’ to prove themselves to imperialism, in order to finally shatter workers few remaining illusions in the Labour Party.

Despite this, we trust that the entire spectacle of Corbyn and McDonnell, ‘Momentum’ and their motley crew of Trotskyite and revisionist hangers on, ‘reclaiming’ (for whom?) the Labour Party is educational enough for British workers to desert the entire ill-fated Labour party project and build a real alternative.

Posted in Politics, UKComments Off on Communists attend May Day, Labour Party shocked

Right-Wing Communism in Britain

NOVANEWS

Much ado has been made in the revisionist camp about the necessity of supporting Labour, which means, in their view, to completely abandon all revolutionary communist slogans and positions, including minor details such as the dictatorship of the proletariat.

To them the most revolutionary act is to tell the working class that Corbyn and Labour are there to solve all our problems, and that all we need to do is to vote Labour on 8 June. To justify this they frantically dredge up quotes from Marx about the situation in 19th century Britain (before the bourgeois state apparatus had been fully developed and deployed in Britain), and very select quotes from Lenin’s “Left-Wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder.

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Unfortunately all this proves is that they are the most doctrinaire of class traitors. To paraphrase Lenin: “We want to support Corbyn in the same way as the rope supports a hanged man—that the impending establishment of a government of the Corbynites will prove that we are right, will bring the masses over to our side, and will hasten the political death of Labour.”

Let’s look at the context of that chapter. “Left-Wing” Communism in Great Britain was written in 1920, 4 years before the very first Labour government. It was written before a communist party was established in Britain. In their conferences in 1923 and 1924 the Labour Party would vote against CPGB affiliation, and bar communists from Labour Party membership and support.

Some comrades accuse us of not providing enough written or vocal support to the Labour Party. Surely the same charge must be levelled at Lenin then, on the Labour Party of the early ’20s:

“It is true that the Hendersons, the Clyneses, the MacDonalds and the Snowdens are hopelessly reactionary. It is equally true that they want to assume power (though they would prefer a coalition with the bourgeoisie), that they want to “rule” along the old bourgeois lines…”

What about the purpose of parliament, and the attitude of communists towards it?

“The writer of the letter fully realises that only workers’ Soviets, not parliament, can be the instrument enabling the proletariat to achieve its aims; those who have failed to understand this are, of course, out-and-out reactionaries, even if they are most highly educated people, most experienced politicians, most sincere socialists, most erudite Marxists, and most honest citizens and fathers of families. But the writer of the letter does not even ask—it does not occur to him to ask—whether it is possible to bring about the Soviets’ victory over parliament without getting pro-Soviet politicians into parliament, without disintegrating parliamentarianism from within, without working within parliament for the success of the Soviets in their forthcoming task of dispersing parliament.”

So do our revisionst comrades think Corbyn, or anyone else in the Labour Party, is secretly working to expose or disintegrate parliament? Is Corbyn secretly a communist, having worked within bourgeois democracy alone for decades to finally betray the true nature of Parliament and the Labour Party? If so, we must congratulate our comrades on such a convoluted long-term plan finally coming to fruition, although we are not sure they are fully prepared to take advantage of it.

“The British Communists should participate in parliamentary action, that they should, from within parliament, help the masses of the workers see the results of a Henderson and Snowden government in practice”

How many reactionary, imperialist Labour governments will it take to achieve class consciousness? We fully hope that Corbyn and the Labour Party will be able to form a government. We have already been able to use Corbyn as a fantastic example of the corruptness and bourgeois nature of the Labour Party, let’s hope he can do the same for us with parliamentarianism and social-democracy.

“The Communist Party should propose the following “compromise” election agreement to the Hendersons and Snowdens: let us jointly fight against the alliance between Lloyd George and the Conservatives; let us share parliamentary seats in proportion to the number of workers’ votes polled for the Labour Party and for the Communist Party (not in elections, but in a special ballot), and let us retain complete freedom of agitation, propaganda and political activity. Of course, without this latter condition, we cannot agree to a bloc, for that would be treachery; the British Communists must demand and get complete freedom to expose the Hendersons and the Snowdens in the same way as (for fifteen years—1903–17) the Russian Bolsheviks demanded and got it in respect of the Russian Hendersons and Snowdens, i.e., the Mensheviks.”

Of course the Labour party has rejected this, while the doctrinaire communists have fully embraced the idea of supporting the Labour Party without any of the sensible conditions set out by Lenin, and have ignored the past several decades – almost a century – of history since then.

“Let us retain complete freedom of agitation, propaganda and political activity…without this latter condition, we cannot agree to a bloc, for that would be treachery; the British Communists must demand and get complete freedom to expose the Hendersons and the Snowdens”

We treat socialism as a science, we develop theories, test them, and update them based on a dialectical and historical materialism understanding of the world. To repeat an experiment again and again, each time expecting a different result, is madness.

The CPGB worked under the revisionist British Road to Socialism for decades. The CPB and others still put forward the idea to their members and readers that the most important thing for them to do, still, is to support Labour. Perhaps buy the Morning Star on occasion, maybe even join the Communist Party if you really think you want to. But definitely vote Labour, definitely campaign for Labour, and definitely tell everyone else to vote Labour. This is the most sacred duty of a communist according to these wretched class traitors.

And what has it achieved? Anti-communist wars and social welfare sops, and now, thanks to revisionism, a historically weak working class movement with the bourgeoisie running rampant across the world.

Our party views Corbyn as an excellent tool to develop the class consciousness of workers. He has inspired tens of thousands of people, otherwise uninvolved in politics (while the ones involved in politics have been plotting to get rid of him), to start asking “what can we do?” and “what can make a change?” Unfortunately Corbyn and the Labour Party is not that change, and they will realise that, sooner or later.

When they come looking for answers, when conditions at home continue to deteriorate and the imperialists are still waging war on other countries, who will they turn to? The ‘socialists’ that told them Corbyn was the cure? The ‘communists’ who have been printing “Vote Labour!” for the past 60 years?

It is sheer fraud to claim you are educating the masses through class struggle without explaining the reality of the situation and the theory behind it, or, even worse, outright lying to them! Some comrades talk about the class struggle in vague, abstract terms, while maintaining that this concrete situation absolutely demands we work for the Labour Party, a thoroughly bourgeois, imperialist party, while retaining none of the lines or slogans that a revolutionary proletarian party requires at the present time.

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“But the Labour Party represents the British masses, we must work within them!” some cry. Perhaps these comrades may find our publication Class Society in Britain in the 21st Century of interest. “The terrible reality [is] that the well-paid skilled workers who make up the backbone of the trade-union movement and the Labour party are a potent source of opportunism, as their comfortable living conditions undermine the sense that it is necessary to overthrow capitalism.” Besides that, the Labour party consists of some half a million members (for now), or 1.24% of the 41.7 million workers in the UK.

We maintain that capitalist ministers must be forced, as much as is possible, to provide whatever they can to make the condition of the working class, in Britain and internationally, better, and steel the working class in theory and tactics via this struggle. However, under no circumstances should a communist party disguise the truth, that our real aim is revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, and that only this will deliver respite, and eventually prosperity, to the working class.

“Revolutionaries must always support and encourage struggles for reform, since they are committed to seeking better living conditions for all workers. When the working class is strong, inevitably the bourgeoisie will be forced to make concessions. When these concessions are made, it generally buys the bourgeoisie some time – and may even enable them to regain the upper hand. It is the role of revolutionaries to imbue the working class with the idea that the only way of ensuring these reforms are not withdrawn at the earliest opportunity is to get rid of the exploiting class that constantly seeks to reduce the wages and benefits available to the working class as much as is practicable in the given historical situation.”

  • A class analysis of British society at the start of the 21st century, CPGB-ML

The Labour Party does not need the communists to cheerlead for it – more than that we know that the social democrats do not bargain with communists, they bargain with capitalists. Rather than support those who would just as much have our head, and the entire welfare of the proletariat in Britain and internationally, on the chopping block as any other bourgeois party, we must recognise the present situation and take the correct course

Posted in Politics, UKComments Off on Right-Wing Communism in Britain

Zionist Christian Bigot Farron Sacks former MP David Ward

NOVANEWS
Zionist Christian Bigot Farron Sacks former MP David Ward for Calling the Jewish Nazi regime an Apartheid State – The Truth is Anti-Semitic
Liberal-Democrats Demonstrate that they are neither Liberal nor Democratic

Tim Farron is probably the most lightweight leader that the Liberals/Lib Dems have ever had, despite pretty strong competition.  He is also the most right-wing and again the competition is pretty stiff.

Over 4 years ago David Ward, the then MP for Bradford East had the whip withdrawn for 3 months for asking “Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid State of Israel last?”  Lib Dems withdraw party whip from MP David Ward over Israel comments   

 
 

people wanting Farron to be honest

Since Israel rules over 4.5 million Palestinians on the West Bank and operates two sets of laws and legal systems it is difficult to know how else to describe Israel other than an apartheid state.  In Israel itself the Arab minority is largely segregated from the Jewish population, for example there is a Jewish and an Arab education sector.  48% of Jewish Israelis want, according to the most recent Pew Research Centre Poll Israel’s Religiously Divided Society to physically expel Israel’s Arabs from the country.  Israel is a state which in January demolished a Bedouin village in the Negev, Umm Al-Hiran to make way for a Jewish town.  Quite how else would one describe that other than as apartheid?

 
David Ward – former MP deselected by bigot

Ward’s other offence was to have said that he was:

“saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps, be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

There is nothing anti-Semitic in this.  Israel calls itself a Jewish state so it’s not surprising that many people therefore ascribe its actions to Jews per se.  Of course David Ward should have said Zionist or Israeli Jews but there was nothing anti-Semitic in what he said.  It is a fact that most people confuse the actions of Israel with Jews and ask why it is that Jews who were one the victims of anti-Semitism are now the perpetrators of racism.  Their confusion is due to Zionist propaganda.

 
My letter defending David Ward when controversy broke – Guardian refused to publish similar letter this time around

However for Christian bigot and leader of the Lib Dems that was too much.  When another racist bigot, Eric Pickles the Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel asked what is known as a planted question in the House of Commons about David Ward’s selection as a Lib-Dem candidate, Theresa May insinuated that David Ward was anti-Semitic.

Tim Farron immediately jumped when May barked and David Ward was peremptorily sacked as a candidate despite having been democratically elected by members of the Bradford East CLP.  I am pleased to hear that he is now standing as an Independent and I wish him the best of luck.  Tim Farron sacks Lib Dem candidate for ‘offensive and antisemitic’ remarks

This has nothing to do with anti-Semitism and everything to do with a patently false and distorted definition of anti-Semitism, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which conflates anti-Zionism and opposition to the Israeli state with anti-Semitism and is therefore itself anti-Semitic.

 
Sue Perkins of Bakeoff calling out Farron’s weasel words

For a good explanation of why the IHRA definition of is bogus see the article by Sir Stephen Sedley, a former Court of Appeal Judge, in this months London Review of Books.  Stephen Sedley, former Judge at the Court of Appeal Criticises the IHRA Definition of anti-Semitism

For a good explanation of why Farron, despite attacking David Ward for fake anti-Semitism, is a bigot see Lib Dems’ Tim Farron regrets abstaining in gay marriage vote.  Still the Tory Telegraph came to his defence when Farron refused to answer a question on whether gay sex was a sin! Lib Dems’ Tim Farron regrets abstaining in gay marriage vote

I therefore decided to write a letter to Tim Farron and Naomi Wimborne-Iddrissi has penned a good article below and on the Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods site.  The Orwellian defenestration of David Ward

 
One hypocrite calling out another hypocrite

Dear Mr Farron,
I write, as someone who is Jewish, to protest your recent decision to prevent David Ward from standing as a Lib Dem candidate for Bradford East. I must confess that I don’t and never have supported the Lib Dems as they have always appeared to me to be a party without any principle.  Your coalition with the Conservatives when you presided over the reorganisation of the NHS, whose only purpose was to hasten its privatisation, is a case in point.  Your breaking of the promise not to raise tuition fees is another as was your collaboration in the cutting of benefits. David Ward is one of the few people in the Lib Dems who has stood up against the tide and given his support to the real victims in the Middle East, the Palestinians.  When Israel rules, as it has done for 50 years, over millions of people and refuses to accord them the same rights as its own Jewish citizens, whilst claiming their land as part of the biblical ‘Land of Israel’, then that is apartheid.  To stand up against that is not anti-Semitic, it is basic anti-racist solidarity. David Ward asked ‘“Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid State of Israel last?”  There is nothing in the least anti-Semitic in what David Ward said.  Israel is an apartheid state, even for its own Arab citizens.  Everyday legislation is passed which is targetted at Israel’s minority Palestinian population, a population which is considered a fifth column by Israel’s rulers.  A population that is considered a demographic threat to the majority Jewish population, a majority of whom favour the physical expulsion of Israel’s Arab citizens. You said in your response to other people when attempting to defend your decision that ‘I have been clear that I believe in a politics that is open, tolerant and united.’  Leaving aside your Christian Evangelical views on abortion and gays, which are anything but open and tolerant, your removal of David Ward as a candidate proves that you are a nasty and vicious McCarthyite, an insubstantial pipsqueak unfit to lead any political party, even one as reduced in circumstances as the Lib Dems Yours sincerely, Tony Greenstein

The Orwellian defenestration of David Ward

The moral panic about antisemitism rumbles on, crushing pro-Palestinian voices such as that of Malia Bouattia, former President of the National Union of Students, and taking its first general election scalp with the dumping of prospective parliamentary candidate David Ward by Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron. See below the full story originally published by Free Speech on Israel.

We would like to be able to share with you the refreshing viewpoint of Jewish Bath University politics student Joanna Phillips, but we have not yet managed to obtain her permission to republish her piece in full. Read it here on the Jewish News website.

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

The Orwellian defenestration of David Ward

It was inevitable that antisemitism smears would be deployed against supporters of Palestine at some point during #GE17. Even so it was a surprise to hear Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat party leader, cornered by pro-Israel lobbyist Eric Pickles in the House of Commons on Wednesday, appeasing the witch hunters by declaring that one of his own parliamentary candidates would be banned from standing.

The language used to denounce David Ward, former Lib Dem MP for Bradford East, as in so many of the cases we have seen in the Labour Party, the National Union of Students and elsewhere, takes us deep into Orwellian territory.

While Ward could probably sue the Jewish News for calling him “the Israel-hating, Jew-baiting former MP David Ward”, other media have been less hysterical but equally dishonest.

The Guardian’s coverage referred back to 2013 when it called Ward the “Liberal Democrat MP suspended by the party after questioning the continuing existence of the state of Israel”.

What had Ward actually written on his Twitter feed in July that year?

“Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid State of Israel last?”

It must be clear to all but the most partisan that Ward is talking here about the continuation of apartheid, not of Israel itself. It may be controversial to refer to Israel as an apartheid state, and it makes some people very cross, but it is decidedly not an expression of hatred of Jews.

Further yet, taking into account the legal opinion of Hugh Tomlinson QC on the definition of antisemitism adopted last December by Theresa May’s government, if Ward had in fact questioned the “continuing existence” of the state of Israel, that in itself could not be used to prove his antisemitism, since he has expressed no hostility to Jews as Jews.

This view has received a ringing endorsement in the pages of the London Review of Books from former Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Stephen Sedley (who happens to be Jewish).  Sedley wrote that the inadequacies of the definition so ardently embraced by Pickles and May allow “perceptions of Jews which fall short of expressions of racial hostility to be stigmatised as anti-Semitic.”

Exactly so.

The Lib Dem’s Farron said at a rally in St Albans on Wednesday that he found comments David Ward has made in the past “deeply offensive, wrong and antisemitic.”

So what has Ward said, apart from talking about apartheid Israel, that Farron might think fits this description?

According to LBC, “Mr Ward also caused controversy in 2013 when he wrote on his blog accusing ‘the Jews’ of atrocities against Palestinians. He was condemned by politicians, Jewish groups and Shoah survivors when he equated Jewish suffering in the Holocaust with Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.”

This is another example of Orwellian word games. What Ward actually said on his website – and credit is due to the Spectator for taking the trouble to quote him in full – was that he was “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps, be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

This is not “equating” Jewish suffering with Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, it is lamenting the fact that one has followed historically upon the other. It is not “accusing” the Jews of atrocities, it is regretting that those who have suffered injustice in the past are now inflicting it on others.

I have, in discussions about the Middle East where my Jewish heritage comes up, heard countless questions worded almost identically to David Ward’s statement. It is an almost constant refrain – “How is it possible that people who have suffered so much can cause so much suffering to others?”

I recognise these questions for what they are – expressions of sincere concern and bafflement at a seemingly inexplicable state of affairs. They are based on the understandable misapprehension that the Israeli state, which calls itself “the Jewish state”, represents all Jews. They usually lead to productive discussions about the history of Israel and Palestine, offering me the opportunity to explain that – despite the claims made by and on behalf of state of Israel – very many of us do not identify with Israel and resent the erroneous assumption that we all share its ideology.

Ward would have done better to avoid using the problematic pair of words “the” and “Jews”. As Oxford philosopher Brian Klug has explained, a negative stereotype of “the Jew” is at the heart of antisemitism, projecting an illusory malign and mysteriously powerful figure onto individual Jews and Jewish organisations.

Ward apologised as soon as he realised how his words might be misread. After being dumped by Farron, he offered a creditable account of himself on his Facebook page, indicating that he well understands what antisemitism truly is and realises that generalisations about all Jews are unacceptable.

But he is hardly alone in making unwarranted generalisations. They come most often from people claiming to speak for “the Jewish community” as if this was an undifferentiated mass with no individual opinions. Now that is antisemitic!

If people making comments like David Ward’s express any hostility to Jewish people or give any hint of harbouring hateful feelings against us, I have no hesitation in chastising them for their antisemitism. But there is nothing in Ward’s comments of themselves that even hints at hatred of Jews – and this, as Sir Stephen Sedley reminds us, is what antisemitism is.

I have written to Tim Farron asking him to explain why he has departed from Nick Clegg’s view in 2013 that what David Ward said then was neither racist or antisemitic.

Maybe part of the answer lies with the extreme Zionist Campaign Against Antisemitism,which claimed that it had “worked with outraged Liberal Democrats to raise the issue with Mr Farron when news of Mr Ward’s selection broke.”

The CAA continued gleefully:

“The knockout blow was delivered by Sir Eric Pickles and the Prime Minister during Prime Minister’s Questions. Sir Eric praised the Prime Minister for adopting the International Definition of Antisemitism on behalf of the government, and asked whether she felt that all parties should “not just pay lip service to it, but to actually do something about it”, before attacking Mr Ward’s views.”

Farron obligingly caved in.

I will await with interest the Lib Dem leader’s response to my personal letter, which concluded:

We are on dangerous ground when we allow proponents of a partisan political (in this case pro-Israeli) stance to determine what may and may not be spoken about. Freedom of expression is seriously at risk here and you, as a Liberal Democrat, should be defending it, not conniving in its demise.”

Posted in Politics, UKComments Off on Zionist Christian Bigot Farron Sacks former MP David Ward

Deceit, Betrayal and the Left: The ‘Traitor of the Year Award’

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Image result for Deceit, Betrayal and the Left CARTOON
By James Petras 

Introduction

While the Right faithfully supports the policies and interests of its ruling class supporters, the Left has systematically betrayed their political platform promises and deceived its working class, salaried employees, small business and regional supporters.

Historic reversals have happened in rapid succession by Leftist leaders, including greater oligarch control over the economy, more dictatorial political domination by imperial powers (US,EU), increasing inequalities and poverty, and ‘Leftist’ support for imperial wars.

In some cases leftist leaders have gone beyond their rightist opponents by passing even more extreme reactionary policies upon assuming power.

In this essay, we will identify some of the turncoat leftists: The ‘Champions of Betrayal’.

Secondly we will review their policy reversals and the consequences for their working class and rural supporters.

Thirdly, we will present a case study of the world’s worst ‘Left’ traitor today: Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece.

In the final section, we will discuss some of the possible explanations for the trend of political reversals by left leaders.

Turncoat ‘Leftists’ of the Early 21st Century

There are numerous examples of former guerrilla movements, leftist regimes and political leaders who gained mass popular support on the promise of radical structural transformations and who turn around to embrace the interests of their oligarchical and imperial adversaries.

An entire generation of radicals from the 1960’s and ’70’s started on the left and, by the ’80’s and 90’s ended up in ‘centrist’ and rightwing regimes – even becoming collaborators with the extreme right and the CIA.

Former guerrilla fighters, who turned centrist and rightwing, became Cabinet Ministers or Presidents in Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Chile.

El Salvadoran guerrilla commander, Joaquin Villalobos, later collaborated with the CIA and provided ‘advice’ to the ‘death squad’ President of Colombia.

The list of late 20th century traitors is long and dismal. Their policy betrayals have caused great hardship for their mass supporters who suffered socio-economic losses, political repression, arrests, torture, death and a profound distrust toward ‘left’ intellectuals, political leaders and their ‘promises’.

The 21st Century: Starting on the Left and Ending on the Right

The first decade of the 21st century witnessed a revival of left regimes and political parties in Europe and Latin America.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), led by the great peasant leader Manual Marulanda, had 20,000 fighters and millions of supporters. In 1999, it had advanced to the outskirts of the Capital, Bogota. The reality today is a dramatic reversal.

In France, the Socialist Party adopted a left program and elected Francois Hollande as President in 2012. He promised to raise taxes on the rich to 75% in order to finance a massive jobs program. He promised to extend progressive labor legislation and to defend national industries. Today his credibility is near zero.

Throughout Latin America, Leftists were elected to head governments, including Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and El Salvador. With the possible exception of Bolivia and Ecuador, they have been ousted by their rightwing partners or opponents.

In Spain, Portugal and Greece, new radical leftist parties emerged with promises to end the brutal European Union-imposed austerity programs, and launch profound, class-based, structural transformations. Here history is repeating itself with another series of betrayals.

The Revolutionary Armed of Forces of Colombia (FARC): From Revolution to Surrender

By June 2017, the FARC leadership had disarmed its fighters, abandoning millions of peasant supporters in regions formerly under their control. The FARC’s signing of the Peace Pact with the Santos regime led to neither peace nor a real pact. Dozens of activists are already being murdered and hundreds of leftists and peasants are fleeing for their lives from death squads connected to the Santos regime. Assassinations occurred throughout the negotiation process and afterwards. Guerrilla fighters, who turned in their arms, now face kangaroo trials, while peasants who apply for agrarian reform are driven from their farms. Rank and file FARC fighters and militants are abandoned with their families in the jungle without homes, jobs and security from the death squads. US military bases and advisers remain. The entire socio-economic system is unchanged. Only the Cuba-based guerrilla ‘leaders’ are guaranteed security, two comfortable seats in Parliament– which has been denied– and the praise of the US government!

FARC leaders and chief negotiators, Ivan Marquez and Timoleon Jimenez, are clear contenders for the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’.

France’s President Hollande: An Imperial Collaborator Flushed down the Toilet

President Francois Hollande’s tenure was not far behind the FARC’s betrayal. Elected President of France in 2012 under the Socialist Party, he promised to ‘tax the rich’ by 75%, extend and deepen workers’ rights, reduce unemployment, revive bankrupt industries, prevent capitalist flight and end France’s military intervention in Third World countries.

After a brief flirtation with his campaign rhetoric, President Hollande went on a pro-business and militarist rampage against his voters:

First, he deregulated business relations with labor, making it easier and quicker to fire workers.

Second, he reduced business taxes by $40 billion Euros.

Third, he imposed and then extended a draconian state of emergency following a terrorist incident. This included the banning of strikes by workers protesting his anti-labor legislation and the double-digit unemployment rate.

Fourth, Hollande launched or promoted a series of imperial wars in the Middle East and North and Central Africa.

France under Francois Hollande initiated the NATO bombing of Libya, the murder of President Gadhafi, the total destruction of that nation and the uprooting of millions of Libyans and sub-Saharan African workers. This led to a massive flood of terrified refugees across the Mediterranean and into Europe with tens of thousands drowning in the process.

President Holland’s neo-colonial project oversaw the expansion of French troops into Mali (destabilized by the destruction of Libya) and the Central African Republic.

A clear promoter of genocide, Hollande sold arms and sent ‘advisers’ to support Saudi Arabia’s grotesque war against impoverished Yemen.

President Hollande joined the US mercenary invasion of Syria, allowing some of France’s finest nascent jihadis to join in the slaughter. His colonial ambitions have resulted in the flight of millions of refugees into Europe and other regions.

By the end of his term of office in 2017, Holland’s popularity had declined to 4%, the lowest level of electoral approval of any President in French history! The only rational move he undertook in his entire regime was to not seek re-election.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: ‘Traitor of the Year’

Despite the stiff competition from other infamous leftist traitors around the world, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wins the ‘Global Traitor of the Year’ award.

Tsipras deserves the label of ‘Global Traitor’ because:

1) He made the quickest and most brutal turn from left to right than any of his venal competitors.

2) He supported Greece’s subjugation to the dictates of the Brussels oligarchs privatization demands, agreeing to sell its entire national patrimony, including its infrastructure, islands, mines, beaches, museums, ports and transports etc.

3) He decreed the sharpest reduction of pensions, salaries and minimum wages in European history, while drastically increasing the cost of health care, hospitalization and drugs. He increased VAT, (consumer taxes) and tax on island imports and farm income while ‘looking the other way’ with rich tax evaders.

4) Tsipras is the only elected leader to convoke a referendum on harsh EU conditions, receive a massive mandate to reject the EU plan and then turn around and betray the Greek voters in less than a week. He even accepted more severe conditions than the original EU demands!

5) Tsipras reversed his promises to oppose EU sanctions against Russia and withdrew Greece’s historic support for the Palestinians. He signed a billion-dollar oil and gas deal with Israel which grabbed oil fields off the Gaza and Lebanon coast. Tsipras refused to oppose the US -EU bombing of Syria, and Libya – both former allies of Greece.

Tsipras, as the leader of the supposedly ‘radical left’ SYRIZA Party, leaped from left to right in the wink of an eye.

The first and most revealing indication of his turn to the right was Tsipras’ support for Greece’s continued membership in the European Union (EU) and NATO during the formation of SYRIZA (2004).

SYRIZA’s ‘left’ mouthed the usual platitudes accompanying EU membership, raising vacuous ‘questions’ and ‘challenges’ while talking of ’struggles’. None of these ‘half pregnant’ phrases made sense to any observer who understood the power of the German-led oligarchs in Brussels and their strict adherence to ruling-class imposed austerity.

Secondly, SYRIZA had played a minor role, at best, in the numerous trade union general strikes and worker and student led direct action in the run-up to its electoral victory in 2015.

SYRIZA is an electoral party of the lower middle and middle class, led by upwardly mobile politicos who had few if any ties to shop-floor factory and agrarian struggles. Their biggest struggles seemed to revolve around internal factional wars over seats in Parliament!

SYRIZA was a loose collection of squabbling groups and factions, including, ‘ecology movements’, Marxist sects and traditional politicos who had floated over from the moribund, and corrupt PanHellenic Socialist Party (PASOK). SYRIZA expanded as a party at the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis when the Greek economy collapsed. From 2004 to 2007 SYRIZA increased its presence in Parliament from 3.5% to only 5%. Its lack of participation in the mass struggles and its internal squabbles led to a decline in the 2009 legislative elections to 4.6% of seats.

Tsipras ensured that SYRIZA would remain in the EU, even as its self-styled ‘left wing’, the Left Platform, led by ‘Marxist academic’ Panagiotis Lafazanis, promised to “keep an open door to leaving the EU”. Alexis Tsipras was first elected to the Athens city council, where he publicly attacked corrupt and demagogic rightwing colleagues while taking private lessons in power from the oligarchy.

In 2010, the rightwing PASOK and far right New Democracy agreed to an EU dictated debt bail-out leading to massive job losses and the slashing of wages and pensions. SYRIZA, while outside of power, denounced the austerity program and gave lip-service to the massive protests. This posturing allowed SYRIZA to quadruple its representation in parliament to 16% in the 2012 election.

Tsipras welcomed corrupt ex-PASOK members and financial advisers into SYRIZA, including Yanis Varoufakis, who spent more time motorcycling to upscale bars than supporting the unemployed workers in the streets.

EU ‘memorandums’ dictated the privatization of the economy, as well as deeper cuts in education and health. These measures were implemented in shock waves from 2010 through 2013. As an opposition party, SYRIZA increased its seats 27% in 2013 … a scant 3% behind the ruling rightwing New Democracy. In September 2014, SYRIZA approved the Thessalonika Program promising to reverse austerity, rebuild and extend the welfare state, restart the economy, defend public enterprises, promote tax justice, uphold democracy (direct democracy no less!) and implement a ‘national plan’ to increase employment.

The entire debate and all the resolutions turned out to be a theatrical farce! Once in power, Tsipras never implemented a single reform promised in the Program. To consolidate his power as head of SYRIZA, Tsipras dissolved all factions and tendencies in the name of a ‘unified party’ – hardly a step toward greater democracy!

Under ‘Dear Uncle Alexis’ control, SYRIZA became an authoritarian electoral machine despite its left posturing. Tsipras insisted that Greece would remain within the EU and approved a ‘balanced budget’ contradicting all his phony campaign promises of public investments to ‘extend the welfare state’!

A new EU bailout was followed by a jump in unemployment to over 50% among youth and 30% of the entire labor force. SYRIZA won the January 25, 2015 parliamentary elections with 36.3% of the electorate. Lacking a single vote to secure a majority in parliament, SYRIZA formed an alliance with the far-right ANEL party, to which Tsipras gave the Defense Ministry.

Immediately upon taking office, Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras announced his plans to renegotiate Greece’s bailout and ‘austerity program’ with the EU oligarchy and the IMF. This phony posturing could not hide his impotence: Since SYRIZA was committed to staying in the EU, austerity would continue and another onerous ‘bailout’ would follow. During ‘internal meetings’, members of SYRIZA’s ‘Left Platform’ in the Cabinet called for leaving the EU, reneging the debt and forging closer ties with Russia. Despite being totally ignored and isolated, they stayed on as impotent ‘token leftist’ Cabinet Ministers.

With Tsipras now free to impose neo-liberal market policies, billions of Euros flowed out of Greece and its own banks and businesses remained in crisis. Both Tsipras and the ‘Left Platform’ refused to mobilize SYRIZA’s mass base, which had voted for action and demanded an end to austerity. The media’s gadfly, Finance Minister Varoufakis, put on a sideshow with grand theatrical gestures of disapproval. These were openly dismissed by the EU-IMF oligarchy as the antics of an impotent Mediterranean clown.

Superficial as ever, the Canadian, US, European left-wing academics were largely unaware of SYRIZA’s political history, its opportunist composition, electoral demagogy and total absence from real class struggle. They continued to blather about SYRIZA as Greece’s ‘radical left’ government and attended its PR functions. When SYRIZA flagrantly embraced the EU’s most savage cutbacks against Greek workers and their living standards affecting everyday life, the highly paid, distinguished professors finally spoke of SYRIZA’s ‘mistakes’ and ladled the ‘radical left’ from this stew of opportunists! Their grand speaking tours to Greece were over and they flitted off to support other ’struggles’.

As the summer of 2015 approached, Prime Minister Tsipras moved ever closer to the entire EU austerity agenda. ‘Dear Alexis’ dumped Finance Minister Varoufakis, whose histrionics had irked Germany’s Finance Minister. Euclid Tsakalotos , another ‘radical’ leftist, took over as Finance Minister, but turned out to be a malleable lieutenant for Tsipras, willing to implement any and all EU-imposed austerity measures without the antics.

By July 2015, Tsipras and SYRIZA accepted a harsh austerity program dictated by the EU. This rejected SYRIZA’s entire Thessalonika Program proclaimed a year earlier. The entire population, and SYRIZA’s rank and file members grew angrier, demanding an end to austerity. While approving a ‘belt tightening’ austerity program for his electoral mass base throughout the summer of 2015, Tsipras and his family lived in luxury in a villa generously loaned by a Greek plutocrat, far from the soup lines and hovels of the unemployed and destitute.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras implemented policies earning him the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’. His was a duplicitous strategy: On July 5, 2015, he convoked a referendum on whether to accept the EU’s bailout conditions. Thinking his ‘pro-EU’ supporters would vote ‘Yes’, he intended to use the referendum as a mandate to impose new austerity measures. Tsipras misjudged the people: Their vote was an overwhelming repudiation of the harsh austerity program dictated by the oligarchs in Brussels.

Over 61% of the Greek people voted ‘no’ while merely 38%voted in favor of the bailout conditions. This was not limited to Athens: A majority in every region of the country rejected the EU dictates – an unprecedented outcome! Over 3.56 million Greeks demanded an end to austerity. Tsipras was ‘admittedly surprised’ . . . and disappointed! He secretly and stupidly thought the referendum would give him a free hand to impose austerity. He put on his usual grin as the voting results were announced.

Less than a week later, on July 13, Tsipras renounced the results of his own referendum and announced his government’s support for the EU bailout. Perhaps to punish the Greek voters, Tsipras backed an even harsher austerity scheme than the one rejected in his referendum! He drastically slashed public pensions, imposed massive regressive tax hikes and cut public services by $12 billion euros. Tsipras agreed to the infamous ‘Judas memorandum’ of July 2015, which increased the regressive general consumer tax (VAT) to 23%, a 13% food tax, a sharp increase in medical and pharmaceutical costs and tuition fees, and postponed the retirement age by five years to 67.

Tsipras continued on his ‘historic’ rampage over the suffering Greek people throughout 2016 and 2017. His regime privatized over 71,500 public properties, including the historic patrimony. Only the Acropolis was spared the auction block…. for now! The resulting unemployment drove over 300,000 skilled and educated Greeks to migrate. Pensions slashed to 400 Euros led to malnutrition and a three-fold rise in suicides.

Despite these grotesque social consequences the German bankers and the regime of Angela Merkel refused to reduce the debt payments. Prime Minister Tsipras’ groveling had no effect.

Sharp tax hikes on farm fuels and transport to tourist islands led to constant marches and strikes in cities, factories, fields and highways.

By January 2017 Tsipras had lost half of his electorate. He responded with repression: gassing and beating elderly Greeks protesting their poverty pensions. Three-dozen trade unionists, already acquitted by the courts, were re-tried by Tsipras’ prosecutors in a vicious ’show trial’. Tsipras supported the US-NATO attacks on Syria, the sanctions against Russia and the billion-dollar energy and military agreements with Israel.

Short of the Nazi occupation (1941-44) and Anglo-Greek civil war of (1945-49), the Greek people had not experienced such a precipitous decline of their living standards since the Ottomans. This catastrophe occurred under the Tsipras regime, vassal to the Brussels oligarchy.

European, Canadian and US leftist academic tourists had ‘advised’ SYRIZA to remain in the EU. When the disastrous consequences of their ‘policy advice’ became clear… they merely turned to advising other ’struggles’ with their phony ’socialist forums’.

Conclusions

The betrayals by ‘Leftist’ and ‘radical leftist’ leaders are partly due to their common practices as politicians making pragmatic deals in parliament. In other cases, former extra-parliamentary and guerrilla leaders were faced with isolation and pressure from neighboring ‘left’ regimes to submit to imperial ‘peace accords’, as in the case of the FARC. Confronting the massive build-up of the US supplied and advised armies of the oligarchs, they folded and betrayed their mass supporters.

The electoral framework within the EU encouraged leftist collaboration with class enemies – especially German bankers, NATO powers, the US military and the IMF.

From its origins SYRIZA refused to break with the EU and its authoritarian structure. From its first day of government, it accepted even the most demonstrably illegal private and public debts accumulated by the corrupt right-wing PASOK and New Democracy regimes. As a result SYRIZA was reduced to begging.

Early on SYRIZA could have declared its independence, saved its public resources, rejected its predecessors’ illegal debts, invested its savings in new jobs programs, redefined its trade relations, established a national currency and devalued the drachma to make Greece more flexible and competitive. In order to break the chains of vassalage and foreign oligarch imposed austerity, Greece would need to exit the EU, renounce its debt and launch a productive socialist economy based on self-managed co-operatives.

Despite his electoral mandate, the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras followed the destructive path of Soviet leader Michel Gorbachev, betraying his people in order to continue down the blind ally of submission and decay.

While several leaders offer stiff competition for the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’, Alexis Tsipras’ betrayal has been longer, more profound and continues to this day. He broke more promises and reversed more popular mandates (elections and referendums) more quickly than any other traitor. Moreover nothing short of a generation will allow the Greeks to recover left politics. The left has been devastated by the monstrous lies and complicity of Tsipras’ former ‘left critics’.

Greece’s accumulated debt obligations will require at least a century to play out – if the country can even survive. Without question, Alexis Tsipras is the ‘Traitor of the Year’ by unanimous vote!!!

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on Deceit, Betrayal and the Left: The ‘Traitor of the Year Award’

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