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Women and oppression in class society

Movements against different aspects of womens oppression have been a feature in a


number of countries in recent years. They include the mass demonstrations against
rape in India and Turkey, the movement on abortion rights in Ireland, and the million
men and women back in 2011 who marched in Italy against the sexism of the then
Berlusconi.
As so many times before in history, we have seen working women start uprisings,
with the Mahalla textile district base for the Arab Spring being a case in point. The
female brigades in defence of Rojova have, during the last years constituted an
important contrast to their direct enemies in ISIS, whose state is conducting massive
trade in sex slaves.
Today we there is an increase in the struggle for womens right to their own bodies. In
the US a student-based movement has arisen against rape. In Latin America a number
of movements have taken place. The continuing womens and workers movements
have also produced progress, such as increased access to contraception in Africa and
growing questioning of female genital mutilation.
Fifteen years ago the Netherlands became the first country every to allow same-sex
marriage. Today it is legal in thirteen European countries although accompanies by
growing polarisation and backlashes, particularly in Eastern Europe.
All of these struggles reflect an increased confidence to fight against oppression
among broad sections of, particularly younger, women. In many countries capitalist
propaganda suggests that women have a right to expect equality. However, this is
contradicted by reality. Women have won greater rights in parts of the world in recent
decades. Nonetheless, the oppression of women continues to exist in every country.
The oppression of women developed alongside and intertwined with the development
of class society, linked to the development of the family which has, in different forms,
acted as an important agent of social control for all class societies. As Engels correctly
explained in the nineteenth century the bourgeois institution of the family had the
weakest hold over the working class and oppressed. Nonetheless even today, while
many peoples own experience of family is positive, often the people closest to them in
the world, the hierarchical nature of society is echoed in the structure of the traditional
family with the man as head of the household and women and children obedient to
him. This puts the primary responsibility on individual families to bring up the next
generation of workers. It acts to oppress women but also puts an enormous burden on
men to materially provide for their family.
However, while the family remains a vital institution for capitalism, at the same time
the capitalist system itself tends to undermine it. As women are drawn into the paid
workforce in large numbers their increased confidence and financial independence
mean that they are less willing to accept being treated badly in the home and in
personal relationships, and have more possibilities to leave. Nonetheless, the idea
remains deeply ingrained that women are possessions of men who need to be loyal
and obedient to their partners. The whole of society is permeated with propaganda

endlessly re-emphasising the proper role of women as home-makers, mothers,


sexual objects, peacemakers and so on.

Women and the workforce


The situation facing women varies considerably in different countries worldwide. In
some European countries women now make up more than half of the workforce
(although a much greater percentage of women than men work part-time). Globally
50% of women of working age are working, a small fall of around 2% since 1995.
The fall is accounted for by the huge increase in unemployment among young people
of all genders, particularly in Europe. But it also reflects a fall in womens
participation in the labour force in China and India where, between 1995 and 2013, it
declined from 72 to 64% and from 35 to 27% respectively. The UN puts the change in
China as a result of significantly fewer government-sponsored childcare facilities
with the proportion of more affordable state-owned and community-based childcare
centres decreasing from 86% in 1997 to 34% in 2009. This is a graphic illustration of
the negative consequences of the destruction of vestiges of the planned economy!
Even where women make up a smaller percentage of the workforce they have often
still played a central role in class struggle, just as it was women textile workers who
began the February revolution in Russia 1917. In Bangladesh in 2013 there were
massive strikes in the overwhelmingly female garment industry. In Nigeria, where just
under half of working age women work, women have been at the forefront of
successive general strikes. While the double oppression that women face can be a
major extra obstacle to becoming actively involved, when struggles erupt women
workers are often the most militant and determined.
The gender pay gap remains global. Even where there is a high level of participation
in the workforce by women only a tiny number at the top have closed the pay gap. In
some developed economies the pay gap has narrowed, but this is partially caused by
the fall in real terms of the pay of working class men as a result of the destruction of
manufacturing industry rather than by an increase in womens pay. In 2011, the World
Bank reported that women globally still earn between 10% and 30% less than men,
and the gap is no smaller in richer countries than in poor ones. Women remain
concentrated in the service sector. In Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Eastern
and Southern Europe, more than 70% of employed women work in the service sector.
This work often related to the domestic tasks of cooking, cleaning, caring and
catering is almost always low paid.
Nonetheless, overall, where women have been drawn into the labour force in
increasing numbers there have also been improvements in the general situation of
women in society. Even then sexism remains ingrained into the fabric of capitalism. It
is now less socially acceptable in many countries to openly state that women are the
possessions of men. But this idea and that it is acceptable to enforce it with violence
or the threat of violence remains deeply embedded and was enshrined in law until
relatively recently. Marital rape only became illegal in Britain in 1991, Spain in 1992,
and Germany in 1997. While no longer legal, or openly acceptable, marital rape is still
widespread and rarely punished. The same applies to rape in general. It is estimated
that in Britain only 15% of all rapes are reported to the police, and only 7% of those
result in conviction. According to the UN, of all the women killed globally in 2012

almost half were killed by their partners or family members. In contrast, only 6% of
killings with male victims were committed by intimate partners or family members.

Domestic labour
In many neo-colonial countries, the oppression of women is more brutal and severe
than in the economically developed countries. There has been a wave of propaganda
in Europe and the US attempting to link the brutal treatment of women to Islam,
particularly using the horrendous treatment of women by ISIS. However, while there
is no question about the barbaric practices carried out by ISIS in the name of Islam, it
is wrong to link the degradation of women to Islam in particular. Historically,
practices such as honour killings or FGM have been carried out by all religions. Even
today these horrendous practices and others - like enforced suicides of widows and
dowries for brides - are carried out under the banner of different religions. There are
many factors, including the degree of religious influence in society or in government,
and the level of class struggle, which affect the degree of womens oppression in
particular countries but in general it is the predominance of semi-feudal economic
relations rather than any particular religion which is central.
In all countries women continue to bear the brunt of domestic responsibilities, despite
increasingly also going out to work. In many cases women are still, as Trotsky put it,
the slaves of slaves. In countries where the working class and poor cannot afford the
labour-saving devices of modern capitalism washing machines, fridges, vacuum
cleaners and so on and often do not have an electricity supply to power them, the
domestic burden on women is back-breaking. In the economically developed
countries, the combination of labour-saving devices and an improvement in social
attitudes means that there has been some lessening in the domestic burden on women.
In Britain, for example, most studies show men accepting that they should do an equal
amount of domestic chores as women, although there is still a considerable gap
between intentions and reality. One survey about Britain showed that on average
women did 17 hours a week of domestic chores (excluding childcare) whereas men
did less than six.
The uneven division of domestic work contributes to women generally having lower
wages, less leisure time and worse health than men, but the main gain is for the
capitalists. By putting the main burden of domestic life, the bringing up of the next
generation, and caring for the sick and elderly on women, they are removed from the
responsibility of society as a whole.
While historically the development of capitalism has generally led to progress for
women in comparison to previous class societies, is now largely being exhausted.
Twenty-first century capitalism, far from taking steps towards lessening the domestic
burden on women, is heading in the opposite direction. The relentless cuts in public
services taking place across the economically developed countries are destroying the
childcare, care for the elderly and other social services which previously partially
relieved the burden on working class people, particularly women. Women are also
more likely to work in the public sector and therefore to lose their jobs as a result of
cuts. Rising housing costs and the closure of refuges in many countries make it more
difficult for women to leave violent partners.

At the same time the fall in real wages and cuts to social benefits means that there is
no prospect for most working class and many middle class women of choosing to
leave the workforce to concentrate on domestic tasks. To bring a family up on the
basis of one breadwinner is increasingly becoming impossible. On the contrary, both
parents often have to work in more than one job each. This is creating the basis for
huge social explosions over cuts to public services, housing and pay. Women will be
at the forefront of these, as they have been with the $15 an hour movement in the US.

Womens liberation and class struggle


We also have to be prepared for further mass movements relating to the specific
oppression of women. In general the capitalist class is divided on how to deal with the
question. A section would support a major offensive against womens rights, linked to
propaganda about the importance of the family, womens role in the home and so on.
However, there is a realisation from others that this would jar too sharply with social
attitudes and would provoke mass movements. This was the case with the huge
demonstrations in Spain against attempts to severely curtail the right to abortion,
which successfully defeated the proposed law. In fact the increased confidence of
woman globally means that we can also see offensive movements, such as in Ireland,
to improve womens rights. The demonstrations against rape in India are also an
indication of the kind of struggles that can develop in the neo-colonial world.
The struggle for womens liberation is, at root, part of the class struggle, in which the
struggles by women against their own specific oppression dovetail with those of the
working class in general for a fundamental restructuring of society to end all
inequality and oppression. We disagree with bourgeois and petit-bourgeois feminism
because it does not take a class approach to the struggle for womens liberation. This
does not mean, of course, that only working-class women are oppressed. Workingclass women are doubly-oppressed, both for their class and gender but women from
all sections of society suffer oppression as a result of their sex, including domestic
violence and sexual harassment.
However, at root, to win real sexual equality for women, including women from the
elite of society, a complete overturn of the existing order is necessary in every sphere:
economic, social, family and domestic. The necessary starting point for such an
overturn is ending capitalism. The working class is the only force capable of leading a
successful struggle to overthrow capitalism and therefore the struggle to end womens
oppression and the class struggle are intrinsically linked.
To say this is not to suggest that we take a dismissive attitude towards a new
generation of women who enter struggle initially around their rights as women and
who do not, as yet, have a class approach. Recognising that you are oppressed, and
that you can fight against your oppression through a common struggle with others
who share the same oppression, is an important step forward. In that sense what can
broadly be described as identity politics are an inevitable part of the political
awakening of many members of oppressed groups within society. However, the
history of struggle against oppression shows that, on the basis of experience, those
participating tend to go beyond identity politics as they recognise the root cause of
their oppression lies in the structure of society.

Our role has to be to intervene skilfully, in a transitional way, to link the struggle
against womens oppression to the struggle for socialism. This includes being
prepared, where necessary, to clearly oppose the ideas of bourgeois and pettybourgeois feminism, not least the idea held by many feminists that blame for the
oppression of women lies in the innate character of men rather than the structure of
society.
Of course, that does not mean we do not combat sexist behaviour in this society, not
least within the workers movement. In arguing that the working class is the only
force capable of fundamentally changing society, we are not in any way blind to the
prejudices, including racism, sexism and homophobia, which exist among all classes
including the working class, and which we have a proud record of combating.

Violence against women


If workers organisations in general and above all revolutionary parties are to succeed
in unifying the working class in the struggle to change society it is vital that they
champion the rights of women and all oppressed groups. We do not take the crude
position that has historically been adopted by some revolutionary organisations; for
example the IST. When the CWI in England and Wales initiated the Campaign
Against Domestic Violence, the IST (SWP) initially reacted by arguing that raising
male violence against women in the trade unions was divisive. This flowed from their
mistaken theoretical position on how the workers movement should deal with
womens oppression.
In his book Class struggle and Womens Liberation, Tony Cliff, founder of the SWP,
argued that the womens liberation movement was wrong to focus consistently on
areas where men and women are at odds rape, battered women, wages for
housework while ignoring or playing down the important struggles in which women
are more likely to win the support of men: strikes, opposition to welfare cuts, equal
pay, unionisation, abortion. We countered this narrow approach. Of course it is vital
for the workers movement to take up economic issues such as opposition to welfare
cuts and equal pay. In fact these issues are also central to a campaign against domestic
violence. The CADV campaigned, as the Socialist Party and other CWI sections do
today, in opposition to all cuts in sexual and domestic violence services, for a huge
expansion in the number of womens refuges, and for a mass council house building
programme in order to make it possible for women to live independently.
However, we fight for the maximum unity of the working class, not by trying to brush
issues relating to the specific oppression of women under the carpet, but by
campaigning to convince the whole workers movement that it is necessary to take
these issues seriously. The CADV played a vital role in convincing every major trade
union in Britain to adopt a national policy against domestic violence. This
demonstrates, contrary to Cliffs views that the big majority of working class men can
be won to a position of opposition to domestic violence.
Workers organisations exist within capitalism. They are not the model for a new
society, but tools to aid the struggle to create one. This is not an excuse for avoiding
dealing firmly with all cases of sexual harassment and abuse, but rather a recognition

that such cases will sometimes occur. It is utopian to imagine it is possible to create a
model of a socialist society within capitalism. Even the most thinking class-conscious
elements of the working class are products of capitalism, with all of the distortions of
the human personality which that creates. We cannot expect that our members
especially new members come into the party fully-formed with a complete
understanding of every issue, including of sexism. The aim of socialists in the
workers movement should be to raise understanding of all issues over time, including
the oppression of women and taking a position of confronting any instances of sexual
harassment and abuse.

The struggle for greater participation by women


We also have to fight for greater participation by women in both the CWI and the
workers movement as a whole. First and foremost this is a political issue. It is by
adopting and fighting for a programme that is in the interests of working class women
that the workers movement will attract more women to its ranks. We need to ensure
that our discussions on perspectives and programme include a socialist gender
perspective. This does not mean that a correct programme will in and of itself
overcome the problem.
In every country the double oppression that women face means that they have extra
obstacles to overcome in order to be active, especially in periods where there is not an
upsurge in struggle. If this is true for the workers movement as a whole it is even
more the case when it comes to women joining the CWI while we are still a relatively
small revolutionary minority in society. Particularly in societies where the oppression
of women is most brutal it is a major achievement to build a female cadre in the
organisation, even if they are at this stage a small minority of the party.
It can sometimes be necessary to hold separate party meetings for women, particularly
new members, but of course these should always be a transitional measure with the
aim of building branches that involve both men and women. We should strive towards
half or even a majority as with the current Executive Committee in England and
Wales of our leading bodies at local, national and international level being made up
of women. We also have to fight for women comrades to play a role as public
representatives for the CWI where they can often be extremely effective, as we can
see in the US and Ireland. However, these goals cannot be achieved artificially, but
have to be on the basis of developing a female cadre over time. It is crucial that we
put extra effort into developing the political understanding and particularly the
political confidence of female comrades. CWI sections should regularly assess and
discuss what measures can be taken to involve more women in the section and in the
leadership.
Womens self-organisation within left parties and the workers movement is very
important for combatting the idea that womens oppression is natural and to
strengthen the contribution of women to the class struggle and assist them to reach
their full potential. The can be done through organising womens commissions or
caucuses where women can meet to discuss and formulate policies specific as well
as general points from a womens perspective. This creates an environment for
women to feel more comfortable and strengthen their ability to intervene elsewhere.
These commissions are not decision-making bodies. (It is the branches, aggregates,

committees and congresses which make the decisions.) Women are half the working
class but are under-represented, especially on the leading bodies of parties and trade
unions. We do not believe we will solve this problem or overcome discrimination
against women by these measures alone, but they can be of great assistance in fully
involving women in the struggle.
While our scarce resources mean it will not always be possible to do everything
required; we have to strive to take practical measures to make it easier for women to
be active such as the provision of childcare, safe accessible venues and so on. At the
same time we have to fight for the workers movement to do the same.

Quotas
In some countries the workers movement has adopted quotas or reserved seats as a
means to ensure women are represented within the leadership. Such measures do not,
on their own, overcome the obstacles that the mass of women face in becoming active
in the workers movement and can even act as a hindrance. In some trade unions in
Britain, for example, token measures have been taken which increased the number of
women in their leadership bodies but are also used by the right wing of the union to
strengthen their grip on the leadership. As a result of the unions woeful failure to
fight, the mass of women are undoubtedly less likely to become active in the union,
despite having women in the leadership.
Nonetheless, because of the perception that they can act as a tool to increase womens
participation in the movement, we usually do not oppose quotas, especially where
they have already been introduced. In some instances, CWI sections have supported
the introduction of quotas in workers and left organisations, for example in PSOL in
Brazil, where today the leadership is made up of 50% women, and it has played some
role in increasing womens involvement. However, there can be occasions when we
do oppose particularly token measures. In all cases we have to make clear that quotas
will not solve the problem and that a fighting programme in the interests of working
class women, and practical measures to aid womens involvement such as childcare,
are central.
The CWI has a proud record of campaigning on issues relating to the specific
oppression of women and also of developing women into the leadership of the CWI.
However, what we have achieved so far is only a small beginning. By intervening
energetically, and with a clear programme, into the struggles that will erupt, including
those that relate to the specific oppression of women, we will be able to win many
thousands of working class women fighters to our ranks.

Refugee crisis
10/03/2016
Cruel capitalist regimes responsible
Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales)

As the European Union (EU) referendum campaign gears up, the issue of
migration has been put centre stage by the pro-big business campaigns on both
the remain and exit sides of the debate. Some of those who are rightly repelled by
the little Englander nationalism of the capitalist leave campaign will be tempted to
vote to remain in the EU in the hope this would mean a more humane attitude being
taken to refugeesfleeing war.
The truth is very different. As arguments over refugees threaten to tear the EU apart it
is highlighting how capitalist politicians - in or out of the EU - are incapable of
offering a solution to the refugee crisis. Instead they all attempt to offload the problem
onto other countries while leaving refugees living in appalling inhuman conditions.
Capitalist politicians continent-wide pose as being tough on migration and play on
workers genuine fears about the ability of public services to cope with an increase in
the number of refugees. Public services, of course, that have been cut to the bone by
those same capitalist politicians.
Contrary to the propaganda of capitalist governments most of those trying to reach
Europe are only doing so as a result of the truly desperate situation they face at home.
Of those who arrive first in Greece (currently more than half of the total) more than
85% have come from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.
All of these are countries where Western military intervention has helped to create the
nightmare situations from which people are now being forced to run. Most never
reach Europe - for example around six and a half million Syrian refugees are
displaced within the country.

Iraq war
Britains New Labour government took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, despite
massive opposition from the population, which was the beginning of the hell on earth
that has since engulfed large parts of the Middle East - above all Syria. Now the
current government has joined in the US-led bombing of Syria alongside France and
other countries. This will do nothing to bring peace to Syria, but will only increase the
death, misery and the number of refugees forced to flee for their lives.
And it costs a fortune - 438,000 per raid according to the Metro newspaper. Yet
while a fortune is being spent raining death on Syrians, hardly any are being granted
asylum. In the last quarter of 2015, after Cameron had been forced under public
pressure to promise to help Syrian asylums seekers, only a measly 339 were granted
refugee status by the UK government.
But nor is the EU a haven for refugees: it is not known as Fortress Europe for nothing.
The tragedy of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean has been caused by EU policy
over recent years.
The building of huge walls, guarded by armed soldiers, stopped people crossing into
Europe by land, so they took to the sea. The capitalist politicians of Europe, including
the British government, responded by cutting back the rescue boats. The barbaric

logic of the argument was that, if more refugees drowned, it would convince others
not to come.
This unbelievable cruelty didnt work of course. Instead the numbers drowning
increased exponentially. In April 2015 1,308 migrants are believed to have drowned
compared to 42 in the previous April when the Mare Nostrum rescue boats were still
in operation.
In the summer of last year capitalist politicians temporarily changed tack in the face
of the public outcry following photographs of a drowned Syrian toddler, Aylan Kurdi.
A number of countries - particularly Germany - relaxed the borders and allowed more
refugees to enter. That phase, however, did not last long.
Quickly the different countries of the EU started squabbling among themselves as
they tried to offload refugees onto others. The Schengen agreement, which previously
allowed free movement within large parts of the EU (but not Britain), has effectively
been suspended as country after country reintroduced national border checks.

Turkey
The latest ruse to emerge from an EU summit is to try and pay the Turkish
government to act as the border police holding back refugees trying to reach Europe.
In return they have promised 6 billion in aid to Turkey(although the previous pledge
for 3 billion has not actually been paid) and to speed up EU membership talks.
In addition, for every individual returned to Turkey the EU has agreed to take one
Syrian refugee from Turkey (where there are currently more than 600,000). This
desperate plan will be a logistical nightmare to try and implement.
Nor will it actually give Turkey an incentive to try and stop boats of refugees setting
off for Greece. On the contrary, the Turkish state may conclude that allowing the
boats to set off will force the EU to take more Syrians from them.
In their desperation to dump the refugee crisis on Turkey the EU has brushed aside the
highly undemocratic character of the Turkish regime and thewar it is conducting
against the Kurdish people. Yet just last Friday the Turkish government stepped in and
took over the largest circulation national newspaper because it had dared to criticise
them.
And the Turkish government has been carrying out a brutal civil war against the
Kurdish people in south-eastern Turkey, resulting in hundreds of deaths. It has also
been bombing Kurdish controlled villages within Syria - effectively aiding Isis. Yet
EU powers have done no more than gently chastise Erdogan, Turkeys president, for
this crime.
The EUs proposals also turn Greece into a giant holding pen - in reality a prison
camp - for refugees. There will soon be an estimated 70,000 refugees trapped in
Greece following the closure of Greeces border with Macedonia. This decision was

not taken by the Macedonian government alone, but as a result of a mini-summit of


Austria and central and eastern European states. Greece was not even invited.
The vast majority of refugees are not aiming to settle in Greece, but to travel through
to northern Europe. Now they are left - starving and homeless - on the streets of
Greece. Greece is already suffering vicious austerity at the hands of the EU - with
over 50% youth unemployment and average wages having fallen by more than a third
- now the country is being expected to somehow look after the bulk of the refugees
who manage to reach Europe.
Control of decisions whether to grant asylum cannot be left in the hands of the Tories,
or the equally callous governments of the rest of the EU. The workers movement
across Europe should demand that elected committees of ordinary working people,
including representatives of migrants organisations, have the right to review asylum
cases and grant asylum.
Many working class people - in Greece but also Britain and other countries - feel that,
while they sympathise with the suffering of the refugees - their countries public
services and housing supply cannot cope with the numbers that are looking for shelter.
This idea is whipped up by the right-wing politicians who are constantly telling
workers that the reason they are not paid enough, or cannot find decent housing, or a
job, is because of the migrants.

Poorest
At the same time it is usually the poorest sections of society whose communities are
expected to house refugees. In Britain, for example, the private companies onto which
the government has offloaded responsibility for housing refugees have a business
model reliant on housing refugees in the parts of Britain with the very lowest rents.
Meanwhile, in the richest boroughs of London there are an estimated 75,000 empty
residential properties, mostly owned by speculators interested only in making a fat
profit. If homes owned by speculators alone were requisitioned by the government it
would go a long way to providing housing both for the 68,000 households currently
registered as homeless in Britain, and to providing houses for refugees.
Refugees and migrants are not responsible for the endless austerity we have endured
both in Britain and across the EU. In Britain 80 billion was cut from public spending
under the Con-Dem government, coincidentally the same amount as the bankers have
received in bonuses since the economic crisis began.
If we allow the governments of Europe to falsely lay the blame for austerity with
migrants instead of with the crisis-ridden capitalist system and the bankers and
billionaires who benefit from it, then the capitalists will succeed in grinding our living
conditions into the dirt. It is vital that the workers movement offers a way forward,
otherwise the far right can make gains.
It is a condemnation of the capitalist EU - with a population of 500 million - that it is
facing an existential crisis over its inability to cope with the million or so refugees.

Yet, according to the Guardian, there are eleven million empty homes in the EU enough to solve the housing crisis of existing citizens as well as to house the refugees.
The wealth exists to provide help for refugees - but it should not come from those
already suffering austerity - but from enormous riches of the 1% - both in Britain and
internationally. It was left to Abdullah Kurdi, the bereaved father of the toddlers who
drowned in the summer, to point out that the regimes of the Middle East are doing
nothing to help refugees, not even recognising the right to asylum in their countries.

EU referendum
Vast sums owned by the billionaire elites of Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern
regimes are salted away in Britain and other European countries. Over 80% of
properties worth over 2 million in London are owned by overseas business people,
many from the Middle East. The Middle East elites wealth in Europe should be
seized to pay for looking after the refugees from their regimes and wars.
The Socialist urges its readers to vote for exit in the EU referendum on a socialist and
internationalist basis. The EU, as its treatment of refugees demonstrates, is not
internationalist.
In essence it is a coming together of big business across Europe in order to maximise
markets and profits. Far from resulting in European harmony, as the current refugee
crisis shows, any serious problem leads to an increase in nationalist tensions as the
different capitalist classes of Europe attempt to make sure they are not the ones to
carry the burden.
EU laws and treaties are designed to assist the capitalist classes of Europe at the
expense of the working class and poor. As a result the modest proposals in this
editorial to make the 1% pay for the crisis would be illegal under EU law. Of course
this would not prevent a determined socialist government implementing such policies,
but they are an extra difficulty to overcome.
At the same time any government which implemented socialist policies would not be
isolated. It would be enormously popular, not just at home, but internationally. It
would be able to make an international appeal for support from workers across
Europe and the world.
The only way to permanently end the refugee crisis is to fight for a democratic
socialist world. On the basis of capitalism, there will always be people forced to flee
their country, not by choice, but out of desperation as a result of war, environmental
catastrophe and starvation.
A socialist society would harness the wealth, science and technique created by
capitalism in order to meet the needs of the majority worldwide. Only on that basis
would it be possible to have a world where people are free to move if they wish to,
but are not forced to do so by the nightmare they face at home.

European Union

Alliance with Turkey to close borders


09/03/2016
Crises for refugees - and the EU continues
Per-ke Westerlund, from Offensiv - the weekly paper of Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna
(CWI in Sweden)
The European Union is now closing the doors to refugees. Those who make it to
Greece will be deported back to Turkey. The road along the western Balkans is
blocked. But the war and the suffering of all those who are forced to flee continues, as
does the EUs crisis.
Yesterdays EU summit (Monday, March 7) illustrates the EUs deep crisis. After a
night of negotiations before the summit, the EUs real leader, Germanys Angela
Merkel, presented a joint proposal with Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu.
For all other government leaders and heads of state it was a fait accompli:- Turkey is
the solution to the EUs refugee crisis. More than a million refugees - just over 0.2
percent of the EU population - was enough to create sharp national contradictions
between EU governments and the deepest crisis of the entire EU project.

Militarisation
The countries that have closed their borders including Austria and Sweden - have
forced a further militarisation of the EUs external borders. The new proposals - as
reported in the media on Tuesday morning - say that Turkey with the support of
NATO ships (from Germany, Canada, Greece, Turkey and the UK) should stop people
who are fleeing across the sea to Greece. Those who reach Greece are to be sent back
to Turkey. This means massive operations. In January and February alone, 132,000
refugees travelled across the Mediterranean to Europe.
European Council President, Donald Tusk, last week urged refugees not to come into
the EU. Now he and the EU add that Turkey is a "safe" country.
To carry out its side of the bargain, Turkey is demanding that financial support from
the EU should be doubled to 6 billion euros, that negotiations on EU membership
should restart and that Turkish citizens will not need visas to travel to the EU.
According to Angela Merkel, on the night of Tuesday, the EU accepted these demands
from the increasingly war-like and dictatorial regime in Ankara.

Desperation
Today there are over 30,000 refugees in Greece, of which close to 15,000 are in
difficult conditions in camps on the border with Macedonia at Idomeni. The Swedish
prime minister, Stefan Lfven, claimed that their right of asylum will be looked into,
but other EU leaders made it clear that deportations will take place. Everyone can

imagine the tragedies such mass expulsions would create. Already, the Macedonian
police have used tear gas against refugees.
Desperation will be on the increase, especially among all those refugees who do not
come from Syria. Moreover, women and children are over half of this years refugees,
many of whom hoped to be reunited with their men, who have already crossed the
border.

Where to go?
The EU says refugees from Syria, and Syria alone, will be able to travel directly from
Turkey to the EU. Previously there has been talk of 300,000 refugees over the period
of a year - a quarter of last years number. But whether governments are prepared to
receive them is extremely unclear. The EUs previous plan to spread the refugees
stands as a monument to the failure of the Union itself.
Of the 66,400 refugees who were supposed to be displaced from Greece, according to
the previous plan, 325 have been placed in another EU country. A total of 160,000
refugees were planned to be dispersed from Greece, Italy and Hungary. Even then,
governments in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania voted against
the decision. Since then they have been joined by the new Polish right-nationalist
government and almost all other governments have moved in the same direction.
In varying degrees, border controls have been tightened and controls introduced Sweden against Denmark, Norway against Sweden, Denmark against Germany,
Germany against Austria, Austria against Slovenia etc. There was even a conflict
when Belgium introduced border controls against France.
Just over a week ago, the Austrian government - a coalition of Social Democrats and
conservatives - called a conference in Vienna, with representatives of nine states in
the Balkans, but not Germany or Greece. Then Austria declared that no more than 80
refugees per day would be allowed to seek asylum in Austria and just 3,200 to go on
to Germany.
This crisis also shows up the weakness of the EU and of its member states in that it is
mainly NGOs that are taking care of the refugees. In Idomeni it is the Praksis
organisation that deals with food and MSF for health and welfare.

Crises to continue
Even if, as is usual with EU summits, the details of its decision remain to be seen, it is
possible to draw certain conclusions. The Swedish governments border controls and
the hardening of its approach actually spearheaded the EUs deterioration, contrary to
claims it would force other governments to accept refugees.
Past promises to refugees, especially from Syria, are being completely abandoned by
Angela Merkel and the German government. They are closing borders. This is being
done in an attempt to win back lost support.

The EU crisis is far from resolved. Nationalist parties have gained support and much
suspicion against refugees has been cultivated. This mood can also turn against the
EUs financial set-up and ultimately against the euro. The collapse that leading EU
politicians have warned against is still a real threat.
The new wall-building and mass expulsions will strengthen European racists and the
Nazi right wing. In Slovakia, the ruling Social Democratic party used propaganda
against refugees as their only election issue, but lost heavily anyway in last weekends
election, including giving ground to a Nazi party. This is in a country which last year
received just 350 asylum seekers, of which 8 were given asylum!
Solidarity and opposition to the EUs wall-building continues, and will increase. Even
the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says that the crisis is self-inflicted by the EU.
Amnesty International says that support for Turkey is absurd. In Greece, strong
solidarity with the refugees continues.
This crisis and the recent decisions again expose the real role of the EU. The refugee
crisis is a failure of capitalism. The action being taken against the refugees is part of
the same neo-liberal policies that have seen banks rescued, privatisation pushed
through of public enterprises and services, unemployment increasing, worsening
conditions in the workplaces and so on.
The alternative is the struggle against right wing policies and in favour of the right to
asylum, against the capitalist EU and against imperialist wars and exploitation
worldwide. For internationalism and a real struggle from below. Against capitalism for democratic socialism.

Germany

Between hatred and solidarity


08/03/2016
The situation in Germany
By Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany)
Since this article was written on 24 February, the first of this years elections
in Germany, local elections in the state of Hesse, have confirmed the general
trends and polarisation in Germany. While the biggest parties, Merkels CDU, its
SPD grand coalition partner and also the Greens, suffered losses the new rightwing AfD came third in terms of the state-wide vote. At the same time in a number
of cities like Gieen, Kassel and Marburg the vote for the left party DIE LINKE or
left alliances involving DIE LINKE significantly increased.
socialistworld.net

Dresden, Clausnitz, Bautzen these towns in Saxony have made headlines with racist
demonstrations, arson attacks on refugee accommodation and police brutality against
migrant children. Augsburg, Siegburg, Mnster these towns have made less
prominent headlines, but the protests there against the activities of the right-wing
populist Alternative for Germany party (AfD) activities are testament to the other
Germany.
The AfDs high opinion poll scores and the rightward shift of the government create
the impression of a society shifting to the right, but what is happening in reality is a
polarisation. Unfortunately, the trade unions and DIE LINKE (The Left Party) are
failing to give a sufficient expression to the left side of this polarisation.
2016 began with a dramatic drop in support for Chancellor Merkel and the
government and a sharp rise in support for the AfD, which reached 12% in national
opinion polls and up to 17% in the eastern states. At the time of writing (two weeks
before regional local elections), it seems quite certain that Frauke Petrys racist outfit
will be able to celebrate successes in the state elections in Rhineland-Palatinate,
Baden-Wrttemberg and Saxony-Anhalt on March 13 and in doing so increase the
pressure on the establishment parties.
There are four main reasons for this development: Firstly, the racist exploitation of the
attacks on women in Cologne on New Years Eve. This caused a further radicalisation
of racists and nationalists and influenced the mood towards refugees. Secondly, the
fact that Merkels strategy has, so far, not led to her being able to keep her promise of
decreasing the number of refugees coming to Germany. Thirdly, the open dispute
within the ruling national Grand Coalition of SPD and CDU/CSU, has increased
insecurity by creating the impression that the government has lost control of the
situation. And fourthly: the total failure by trade unions and DIE LINKE to counter
pose a convincing argument and strategy against the increase in racism and the
governments policies.
The dispute within the coalition allows the Merkel wing of the CDU and the SPD to
pass racist restrictions on the right to asylum while at the same time posing as
defenders of a humane immigration policy. This is mainly thanks to Horst Seehofers
Bavarian based CSU, who play the role of racist loudspeakers and try to push
government policy to the right with talk of upper limits for immigration and the need
for Germany to go it alone. In this, they have been successful. Merkels motto We
will manage this! has in the past months been replaced by We need to limit the
number of refugees! The only thing in dispute is the way to achieve this.

Government disunity
This disunity reflects underlying differences and interests within the German
bourgeoisie and represents a continuation of the controversy within the CDU/CSU
regarding Merkels European policy. Previously, the rejection of the falsely named
rescue packages for Greece by sections of the CDU and CSU were an indication
that some German capitalists whose profits depend less on exports, see the euro and
the EU more as a burden than as a source of power and profit. This is a minority, but it
is one which has begun to assert its voice. Indeed, the AfD was originally founded as

an anti-euro party by economics professor Bernd Lucke and the former head of the
BDI industrial employers association, Hans-Olaf Henkel an expression of this
dividing line amongst the rich and super-rich in the country. Merkel, on the other
hand, is expressing the interests of the major banks and companies, which have used
the euro and the free movement of goods within the EU to make even more money
than they had made before.
There is no real controversy over the question whether there should be immigration to
Germany. Even if they may not want to admit it, even the CDU/CSU has long since
recognised that immigration to Germany is a reality and has adapted its policies
accordingly. The refugee situation of the last years was even seen as an opportunity to
increase immigration the necessity of which was accepted and in particular to
attract a layer of well-educated people from Syria. There may be different opinions
about how many people should be allowed into the country, but first and foremost all
representatives of the established pro-capitalist parties want to see immigration
controlled and limited. The question they debate is how?
Merkel understood that the large number of refugees, the tense situation in Greece and
on the Balkan route threatened the existence of the Schengen agreement and the
European Union itself if there was no European solution. This was particularly in
light of the danger of right-wing populist and nationalist forces coming to power in an
increasing number of EU countries and steering an anti-EU course. A loss of control
over governments by the main sectors of the ruling classes would be much more
dangerous for European capitalists than the loss of control over immigration. But
there is a strong connection between both. This explains their willingness to shower
the war monger Erdogan with money and allow him a free hand against the Kurds, it
also explains the desperate attempts to scrape together more aid money for Syria, the
attempts to achieve a cease-fire there and is also the reason for Merkels push for a
European agreement on quotas for refugees per country.

Can Merkels plan succeed?


Until now, this strategy seems to have had little success. In late February, fighting
even intensified in Syria and Turkey engaged militarily in the conflict with artillery
fire against Kurdish positions. The flow of refugees from Syria to Turkey is not
slowing and in addition, newspapers report that there are an additional 200,000
refugees in Libya intent on trying to reach Europe across the Mediterranean. Austria,
Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are opting for unilateral measures
like setting upper limits on asylum numbers and erecting a border fence on Greeces
borders with Macedonia and Bulgaria. Even France is saying that it is not willing to
take more than the 30,000 it has already agreed to. Therefore it is no wonder that
Merkels future and that of the grand coalition is being openly debated in German
political talk shows. However, it is noticeable that hardly any journalist is actually
speaking of a crisis of government. And a closer look reveals that the events of the
next few months are far from clear.
The situation for Merkel is serious. Her previously very high approval ratings have
come down significantly, but are still at a level that many other heads of government
would be envious of and have recently shown tentative signs of recovery. In addition
to this, the government is only in crisis as regards asylum and immigration policy. On

all other issues, the grand coalition is in plain sailing whether as regards military
interventions abroad, or the fulfilling of employers wishes in regard to changing
labour contracts or the increase in licences granted for arms exports.
Paradoxically, the government is under pressure on an issue where according to all
opinion polls the majority of the population agrees with it. These surveys show that
most agree with the central tenet of Merkels policy that People who come to
Germany fleeing war and persecution must be offered protection. But the number of
refugees coming to Germany must be limited. Politically much depends on whether
Merkel can make the second part of the statement happen. And that can still not be
ruled out.
In saying this, it has to be clear that such success will come at the expense of
refugees. The combination of defeats of 2011 Middle East revolutions, the poisonous
legacies of different imperialist interventions, dictatorships, continued neoliberal
exploitation and record levels of German-made weapons being exported, all mean that
the numbers of refugees will not be reduced because the root causes are not tackled
and people will not be able to remain where they are or return home. As long as the
wars continue the only way less people will come to Germany would be if more have
to stay in the overflowing refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey or are turned
away at the borders of Turkey and Greece.
However, this is all far away, and if the number of refugees arriving goes down to
somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 per month, Merkel will be able to sell this as a
success of her policies, the situation may calm down temporarily and the AfD may at
least be checked. The latter has morphed from a single-issue protest party against the
euro, which allowed it to reach double figures in opinion polls at the end of 2014, into
a single-issue protest party against immigration. After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear
accident, the Green Party temporarily rose to 24% in the polls. The Pirate Party were
at 12% in April 2012 and have now almost faded from memory. Even if a lot points
towards the AfD establishing itself as the sixth party in the party system, it is not a
stable phenomenon, certainly not at the size it currently is. However, it can build on a
basic nationalist consensus and a racist residue in society, for which the capitalist
establishment parties, governments, media and institutions are responsible.
As of now, the economic situation is still playing into the hands of the government.
Growth is not particularly high, but 2015 was a new record year for exports and for
budget surpluses for national and state governments. The number of people in
employment increased by a further 700,000, though many of these are insecure, lowpaid jobs. But still, the economic situation is currently putting a little less pressure on
the government and on capital. However: this will not stay this way, and the change
has already begun with crises developing in the world economy. The decrease in sales
of German cars to China seen at the end of 2015 can be seen as a sign of things to
come in this respect.
If Merkels plan fails, a continuation of the policy of the last 6 months can hardly be
imagined. She may already be reckoning with impending defeats in state elections in
March. Paradoxically, the AfDs election successes could well bring the CDU back
into government in Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wrttemberg regions and prevent
a change of government in Saxony-Anhalt. A further effect will probably be a

comeback of the FDP (liberal party) in western Germany. This, together with the
rightward shift of the Greens in Baden-Wrttemberg, could further increase the
number of coalition options for the establishment parties. Therefore, the possibility of
Baden-Wrttemberg becoming the second state besides Hesse to have a CDU-Green
government cannot be ruled out. Bringing the FDP back into government at state level
would help to resuscitate the little party of big capital and bring it into position to
re-enter parliament at national level in the September 2017 general election.
But without a reduction of the number of refugees coming to Germany, the pressure
will continue to mount. In that scenario, a Swedish turn in refugee policy is
conceivable, including a closing of borders, a drastic increase in deportations and
some form of upper limits (probably under another name). The result of such a
development would, however, not be an automatic end to the weakening of Merkels
position and to the AfDs rise. Because this would, in the eyes of many, be a
vindication of the AfDs propaganda, in the same way that the far-right Sweden
Democrats were further strengthened by the Swedish governments change of course.

Polarisation
The increase in racist violence, the success of the AfD and the large number of farright demonstrations have left many people in fear. A frequently expressed thought on
social media is that it is now easy to understand the developments in society in the
early 1930s. Without a doubt, the situation is serious if even police spokespeople are
warning of the danger of pogrom-like situations in Saxony. Here, the fascists and
racists of the NPD and Pegida have been particularly successful in inciting hatred
among parts of the population and building a base for themselves. Furthermore, these
forces are aided by a state apparatus apparently infested with right-wingers and racists
which allows them a freer hand than elsewhere. But racist violence is not just a
problem in Saxony, it is simply more clearly expressed there. There were attacks on
refugees accommodation in every state, in eastern and in western Germany. The AfD
is gaining more strongly in the east than in the west, but will in all probability
comfortably pass the five percent threshold in the state elections in RhinelandPalatinate and Baden-Wrttemberg. At a superficial glance, the whole country is
shifting to the right.
It would be wrong, however, to speak of a general rightward shift in society. In fact,
social polarisation is becoming sharper on these questions. The potential for left and
class-based resistance was evident during last year on a number of occasions. This
was the case in various strikes, in many successful mobilisations and blockades
against far-right demonstrations, in the massive wave of aid and solidarity for arriving
refugees, in the huge 500,000 strong demonstration against the TTIP last October.
DIE LINKE and the trade unions are, however, failing to combine this potential and
give it a clear class-based expression. Therefore, DIE LINKE is stagnating in the polls
while the AfD makes gains. The end result of the polarisation at the moment is a shift
to the right in the policies of the government and a strengthening of right-populist and
neo-fascist forces.
Consciousness within the working class and within the population as a whole is, in
general, extremely varied, contradictory, and fluid. The feeling that the world is

getting more and more out of control and that people in Germany are feeling the
effects of this, has certainly increased in the last few months.
This invariably leads to defensive reactions in the thinking of those people who see
their livelihoods threatened in some non-specific way by these developments. At this
moment this is happening against a backdrop of a relatively stable economic and
budgetary situation. Class struggle, and situations in which workers, the unemployed
and parts of the middle class feel directly and strongly attacked by measures by the
ruling class are currently still relatively rare and mostly not generalised although they
are increasing.
This leads a section of these people to focus their thinking and their fears on the
refugee issue and the alleged threat of terrorism under the influence of the bourgeois
media, state racism and incitement to hatred by the AfD. At the same time the AfD
manages to portray itself as an anti-establishment force, despite its bourgeois policies.
It is benefitting from the fact that the governing parties offer no solution and DIE
LINKE is being increasingly seen as a party like any other.

DIE LINKE and the trade unions


When Die LINKE uses the slogan out of love for our homeland in its election
campaign in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, when its lead candidate in Saxony-Anhalt,
Wulf Gallert, is praised as one who understands women, when party leader Sahra
Wagenknecht speaks of immigrants abusing our hospitality and advocates deporting
asylum seekers who break the law, when former leader Oskar Lafontaine advocates
limiting the numbers of refugees and Bodo Ramelows LINKE-led government in
Thringen deports people, then it is hardly surprising DIE LINKE is perceived as the
left one among the [establishment] parties, but still as a party belonging to the
system and the establishment. Large sections of the LINKE leadership are looking
towards government coalitions with the SPD and the Greens instead of selfconfidently standing up for a genuinely different kind of politics in terms of style
and substance.
What is necessary is an active campaign to combine social questions, solidarity with
refugees and the fight against racism. To make clear that the party has nothing in
common with all of the parties who have for years and decades been responsible for
social cuts, deregulating employment conditions and pushing back workers rights.
For example, to raise the demand to confiscate residential and office space which is
lying empty for social use, to organise and to support occupations in order to fight for
affordable accommodation for everyone whether Germans in need of homes or
migrants or refugees.
The behaviour of the trade union leadership is even worse than that of DIE LINKE.
With their millions of members, they could launch an information campaign against
racism, against the AfD and co in the workplaces, which in itself would serve to
change the public debate. But most of all, they could organise a united struggle for the
interests of German and non-German workers and unemployed. This would be the
best way to combat racism and division. The upcoming wage negotiations for public
sector employees at federal and local level, for the metal and electrical industry, in the

construction industry, at Telekom, Volkswagen, in the printing sector and in the banks,
as well as the ongoing disputes at the Charit and other hospitals, at Amazon and the
Real supermarket chain could be combined into a movement across wider society for
a redistribution of wealth from top to bottom. This would change the situation in
society and push the social question to the fore.
If DIE LINKE and the trade unions also formed alliances with tenants associations,
immigrant organisations, anti-racist groups and social movements, combining the
struggle against the right with the struggle against spending restrictions, austerity, low
wages and housing shortages, it would quickly become clear that the nazis, racists,
AfD and Pegida are only a small minority.
Unfortunately, this is not happening. The leadership of the DGB (trade union
federation) has instead initiated an Alliance for cosmopolitanism together with the
employers association and other institutions like the Catholic and Protestant
Churches. It is a paper tiger, which employers association president Ingo Kramer
even used as a platform to call for deportations. Some forces within DIE LINKE such
as Marx21 (led by co-thinkers of the British SWP) and others, are working on an antiAfD alliance which declines to raise any social demands or to criticise stricter asylum
laws or deportations, so as not to scare away SPD and Green politicians.
However, the right cannot be stopped without presenting political alternatives. A
better example of how to go about this was presented by the Alliance for a social
Berlin against racism which has just been formed by activists of the GEW (teachers
union), ver.di youth (public sector and services union), GEW youth, tenants
associations, LINKE, SAV and others, which has called a Berlin-wide demonstration
on April 16th, which will combine the struggle against racism with the struggle for
affordable accommodation, public investment and a redistribution of wealth from top
to bottom.
The call to this demonstration says: Even people who have lived here for a long time
have trouble finding affordable homes. There is a shortage of tens of thousands of
housing units in Berlin, and every year only half as many as are needed are built,
Public services are underfunded and colleagues in local authority offices and hospitals
are chronically overworked. School students are often being taught in classes which
are far too large, and often in containers. There are already ten schools less than what
would be needed in Berlin. If planning doesnt begin immediately, it will be around
80 by the year 2030.
It doesnt matter whether you have been living in Berlin for 70 years or for three
months. It doesnt matter if you are from Wedding, from Dortmund or from Syria:
Anyone who cant afford an expensive apartment or private tuition is dependent on
the social infrastructure of the city. Destructive cutbacks have brought the citys
infrastructure to the limits of what it can take long before the arrival of an increased
number of refugees. We urgently need investment in education, homes and the social
sector! () instead of taking away the rights of refugees, keeping them in camps,
banning them from working and threatening to deport them back to where they face
war, poverty and discrimination, we need a genuine right to asylum and equal rights
for everyone who lives here! ()

The right wing claims that refugees are to blame for the housing crises, for the
requisition of sports halls and the lack of money for local authorities. They exploit the
underfunding of society for their propaganda. We confront them and refuse to let
ourselves be divided! The division is not between people of different origin, it is
between those above and those below!

history

February revolution 1917 - what lessons


for today?
16/03/2007
Ninety years ago, the working class of Russia, led by the immortal workers of
what is now St Petersburg, rose in a revolution that overthrew the 1,000-year
dictatorial rule of the Tsar.
Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party
23 February 1917 (8 March in the new style Gregorian calendar) marked the
beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia that sparked a revolutionary wave that
would travel around the world. Peter Taaffe analyses the lessons of February for the
working class today and how the leadership of the Bolshevik party, particularly Lenin
and Trotsky, was decisive in ensuring the victory of the revolution in October.

February revolution 1917 - what lessons


for today?
This began a process of revolution and counter-revolution over the next nine months
which in October 1917 resulted in the first democratic working-class, socialist
revolution in history.
The February revolution stands between the first Russian revolution of 1905-1907 and
the third and conclusive revolution of October 1917. The representatives of big
business today and their hirelings in the universities, the superficial professors of
history, either ignore this great event or seek to prove that February was the real
Russian revolution which went off the rails and ended in the putsch of October
1917.
Of course, Britain today is not Russia of 1917, an economically and culturally
deprived society, with the working class a minority in a sea of peasants. Yet, under the
whip of a serious economic crisis, a social rupture can develop in the most advanced
as well as the most backward societies. The recent upheaval on world stock exchanges
is a harbinger of a more disturbed economic and social situation for world capitalism,
which could produce in a different form the conditions of Russia 90 years ago.

Bolsheviks
One of the most vital lessons of the February revolution and its aftermath is that had
the leaders of the most conscious workers party at that stage, the Bolsheviks (the
majority), pursued the policies of the workers leaders today, no Russian revolution
would have taken place. In 1917, Russia was passing through the greatest social crisis
in its history. If there had been no Bolshevik party, led by Lenin and Trotsky, the
colossal revolutionary energy of the workers and the peasants would have been
fruitlessly spent in sporadic explosions. The class struggle is the prime mover in
history but it needs a correct programme, a firm party and a trustworthy and
courageous leadership ready to go to the end in the struggle against capitalism and
landlordism, as happened in Russia.
The honour of beginning the revolution fell to the working-class women of St
Petersburg. On 22 February (according to the old style Julian calendar, which is 13
days behind the Gregorian calendar used in the West), the major plant of the city, the
Putilov factory, announced a great strike. In the city at this stage there were roughly
390,000 factory workers, employed in huge industrial units such as the Putilov
factory. Approximately one-third of these workers were women and the working class
had been hit hardest by the massive inflation at the time.
On 23 February, the women textile workers, without prior agreement from any party,
went on strike in several factories, which led to mass demonstrations in the city. This
opened the floodgates of revolution, which unfolded over the next five days.

Role of the working class


One of the unmistakable features of a revolution is the direct intervention of the mass
of the working class and the poor - usually discontented but forced into submission by
capitalism in normal periods - in determining their own fate. This has been seen in
all revolutions, for instance in France in 1968, when ten million workers came out in
the greatest general strike against the wishes of their leaders; and occupied the
factories. The same happened in the marvellous Portuguese revolution, which began
in 1974.
In the testing of wills between the working class and tsarism on the streets of
Petrograd (St Petersburg), the repressive state apparatus of landlordism and capitalism
dissolved in the heat of the revolution. This was marked by the coming over to the
side of the workers, or a certain neutrality of the formerly most brutal tsarist forces
such as the Cossacks.
The First World War, with five million Russian victims killed or injured, undoubtedly
played a decisive role in speeding up enormously the subsequent phases of the
revolution until October 1917. Later revolutions, such as Spain 1931-37, evolved over
a more protracted period. The February revolution was achieved, largely from below,
by workers and soldiers - many of them peasants under arms - which struck a mortal
blow at tsarism.

But they themselves were not conscious of their own power. Many times in history,
the working masses have overthrown a regime but have not enjoyed the fruits of their
victory because they have not recognised their role. Therefore, in Russia power fell
into the hands of a coalition of capitalist liberals, Mensheviks (the original minority in
the Russian workers movement) and the Social Revolutionaries, a party of the middle
class of the towns and the rural areas.
The February revolution was, in effect, the beginning of the socialist revolution in
Russia and worldwide. But only Lenin, the leader of the Bolsheviks, in exile in
Switzerland, and Trotsky in New York recognised this. Even the Bolshevik leadership
in Petrograd, while they did not enter the government (which would have been
unacceptable to the ranks of the Bolshevik party and the working class of the city),
nevertheless gave support to the coalition government from the outside. This
government was similar to what became known later as the popular front, which
derailed the Spanish revolution of 1931-37 and was employed by the Stalinists in
France and elsewhere.

Provisional government
Initially, the Petrograd workers and the rank-and-file Bolsheviks were hostile to the
coalition, which had gathered power into its hands. But from the middle of March,
under the influence of Kamenev, a leader of the Bolsheviks, and Stalin, who had
arrived from exile, the Bolshevik party swung decisively to the right.
Stalin wrote and said: "The Provisional Government must be supported because..."
This is very similar to the position of Bertinotti and other leaders of Rifondazione
Comunista (RC) in Italy in relation to the first Olive Tree coalition which existed
between 1996-1998, which they initially supported from the outside.
The consequence was that the RC leaders were covered with the odium arising from
the attacks on the working class made by this coalition, which pursued neo-liberal
policies and paved the way for the Berlusconi government.
In opposition to such an approach, Lenin telegraphed from Switzerland to the
Bolshevik leaders in Petrograd: "Our tactic; absolute lack of confidence; no support to
the new government; suspect Kerensky especially; arming of the working class the
sole guarantee; immediate elections to the Petrograd Duma; no rapprochement with
other parties." Then he pointedly declared: "The least support for the Provisional
Government is a betrayal."

Capitalist coalitions
What would he have said of his alleged heirs in the RC and elsewhere today who
now support capitalist coalitions from the inside, serving as ministers and embracing
the neo-liberal programme as, unfortunately, the RC in Italy has done in propping up
the Prodi government? Bertinotti has shamefully taken the position of president of the
Chamber of Deputies, equivalent to the Speaker of the House of Commons in Britain.
He did this while commenting that this was a position that he could "no longer
refuse".

Why could he not refuse? When Lenin arrived at the Finland station in Petrograd in
April 1917, a young naval commander, speaking in the name of the service,
"expressed the hope that Lenin might become a member of the Provisional
Government". This was treated with scorn by Lenin who turned his back on the
coalition dignitaries and addressed the workers who had come to greet him, with the
words: "The Russian Revolution achieved by you has opened a new epoch. Long live
the world socialist revolution!"
Romano Prodi, the Italian prime minister, himself declared from the outset his
intention to carry through drastic attacks on the living standards of the Italian workers,
all in the cause of reforming the Italian state and renovating Italian capitalism.
Yet Bertinotti in April 2006, just after the elections, stated: "We will support a
government with Romano Prodi as prime minister and our party will take part in it. A
very important step has been made; we defeated Berlusconi. Now we intend to rule
Italy towards a change and to help the rise of a new political subject of the alternative
left in Italy, which is now stronger after this election outcome and commits us to
building an Italian European left section."

Independent policy
Events in Italy in the last period are a direct refutation of this and other arguments of
the RC leaders justifying entry into a capitalist coalition government. They have tried
to bolster this with the argument that they would be a "check on the right" and act in
the interests of the Italian working class. There is absolutely nothing new in these
arguments; Stalin and Kamenev supported the post-February coalition government
critically with very similar arguments.
This was directly contrary to the position adopted by Lenin and Trotsky in 1917.
Lenins policy led, nine months later, to the October revolution and the ten days that
shook the world, the reverberations of October amongst the working class
internationally.
Bertinottis policy - of acceding to Prodis attacks on the working class - has already
led to the disenchantment of broad sections of the workers and young people. It is
certain to lead to disaster, the return of Berlusconi or something worse, unless
checked by a revolt of the RC members, combined with mass action by the Italian
working class.
Unlike the workers leaders today who are seduced and corrupted by the lure of easy
popularity and ministerial careers, Lenin was not afraid of being in a minority. The
Bolsheviks had 1% or 2% share of the vote in the soviets in February, and only 4% by
the time he arrived in April. Yet at one stage prior to the First World War, the
Bolsheviks had had the support of four-fifths of the organised working class.
But a revolution like February is usually made by a courageous and conscious
minority with the broad support of the mass of workers. Once it is triumphant this
broad mass enters the political arena and, as in February 1917, following the example

of the 1905-07 revolution they created their own independent class organisation in the
form of soviets - workers, soldiers and peasants councils.
In fact, a double sovereignty was created in Russia in February 1917 that lasted right
up to the October revolution. This dual power or elements of it is visible in all
revolutionary upheavals. On the one side, the government still retains state forces
but it is challenged by the independent power and organisation of the working class.
The struggle between these forces constitutes the essence of the revolutionary and
counter-revolutionary processes between February and October 1917. Lenin and the
Bolsheviks under his leadership strove to maintain loyalty to the revolutionary
programme, irreconcilable hostility to the capitalists and a decisive rupture with those
who were not prepared to struggle to the end against capitalism and landlordism.

Revolutionary programme
But this earned the Bolsheviks the undying hatred of the capitalists and all those
parties who wanted to remain within the framework of the system. The entire press,
including the papers of the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionaries, carried on a
vicious campaign against the Bolsheviks, just as the British media and press did
against the miners in 1984-85, or against the Liverpool Militants in their heroic
struggle of 1983-87.
Thousands of tons of newsprint were filled with reports that the Bolsheviks were
linked to the tsarist police, that they received carloads of gold from Germany, that
Lenin was a German spy, etc. In the first months after the February revolution, this
abuse even affected the masses, with sailors and soldiers threatening to bayonet Lenin
and other Bolshevik leaders.
However, the Bolsheviks, under the direction of Lenin, ignored the parliamentary
babblers and directed all their attention to the mass of the working class and, in
particular, to the most oppressed tens of millions who were moving to the left in
disillusionment with the official coalition soviet parties.
It was this, the constant stressing of the independent approach of the working class
and its organisations; clear delineation of the revolutionary party and masses from the
reformist and semi-reformist opportunist parties, which led to the growth of the
Bolsheviks. The contrast between Lenin and the Bolsheviks, and the leaders and exleaders of the workers organisations today could not be clearer.
Of course, this was in a period of revolution, which is not the case in most countries
of the world today. However, the preparation for such a situation is carried out in the
period before such sharp and abrupt changes actually take place. This is the role of a
far-sighted Marxist leadership and organisation.
Throughout the world today, the working class is being led into a trap by the
philosophy of coalitionism or the lesser evil. This is merely a variation of the ideas
seen in February 1917. It means that the workers must always play second fiddle to
capitalist parties. They must tail-end the alternative bosses party in the US, the

Democrats. They are urged to give support by the likes of the RC to Prodi in the
mistaken belief that future concessions can be extracted. This is, of course, only if
they swallow the toxic medicine today in the form of cuts and privatisation.

Venezuela
The February revolution is also important in relation to the momentous events that are
unfolding in Latin America today. In Venezuela, following the victory of Hugo
Chvez in the presidential elections with more than two-thirds of the vote, the
workers movement has undoubtedly swung towards the left.
Hugo Chvez has praised Trotsky, claims to stand on Trotskys ideas of the
permanent revolution - which in Russia led directly from the February overturn to
the victory in October 1917 - and has proposed the nationalisation or partial
nationalisation of the energy and other industries.
We and the left internationally support these steps of the Venezuelan government and
people. However, Chvez says that his government will proceed by what can only be
perceived as instalments towards a break with capitalism at some unspecified future
date. George Galloway, commenting on this, mistakenly claimed in an article in the
guardian that this represents a greater advance - is more red - then even the Allende
government in Chile in the 1970s.
However, in Chile, 40% of industry had been taken over and the masses had created
basic rank-and-file organisations (cordones - committees). Serious land reform had
been undertaken and the masses were clamouring for arms and a section even had
them. Yet because power and ownership of industry had not been taken out of the
hands of the capitalists, Pinochet and the army generals were able to crush not just
Allende but the Chilean working class and usher in the dark night of his dictatorship.
This is a warning to Hugo Chvez and the Venezuelan workers and peasants.

Decisive measures
The Russian workers succeeded not by piecemeal policies between February and
October. In fact, the gains of the February revolution were systematically undermined
because the government coalition refused to break with landlordism and capitalism. It
took the experience of the next nine months, together with the agitation and work of
the Bolsheviks, to convince the Russian workers of the need for an abrupt overturn - a
social revolution - which then took place in October 1917.
Although Chvez has the support of the mass of the people today, Venezuelan
landlordism and capitalism has not been broken. In fact, the private sector, fuelled by
the sixfold increase in oil prices since Chvez came to power, is doing very well.
However, rampant inflation could in time alienate the middle class, as well as sections
of the poor, and undermine the enthusiasm of even the poor masses for the revolution,
driving them into the arms of reaction.

Ultimately, the only way to defeat the threat of counter-revolution is to follow the
policy of Lenin after February - intransigent opposition to capitalism and landlordism
and decisive measures to break the power of big business.
The great events of February 1917 are not dead history. We pay tribute to the
courageous working class of Petrograd in this great social overturn by learning the
real lessons of these events for today.
Special feature from The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, England and Wales.

ames Conolly

Labour in Irish History revisited


30/12/2010
Ireland convulsed by economic crisis and savage austerity cuts - Time to
reconnect with Connollys socialist ideas
Niall Mulholland (from Socialism Today)
James Connolly was a great Marxist thinker and workers leader in Ireland,
Scotland and the US. He was executed by the British state for his key role in
the 1916 Easter rising in Dublin. Since then, Connollys ideas of international,
working-class unity and socialism have been distorted by those wishing to link
him with their banner. 2010 marks the centenary of the publication of his
landmark book, Labour in Irish History. As Ireland today undergoes economic
crisis and savage austerity cuts, North and South, it is time to reconnect
Connolly to the ideas he put forward in this his most important book.
At a Sinn Fin-sponsored meeting in London, held in February 2010 and entitled,
Putting Irish Unity on the Agenda, the name of the Irish Marxist, James Connolly,
was referred to by several speakers, as was the general aspiration for socialism.
Even a representative from the nationalist, middle-class SDLP stated: "James
Connollys assertion that the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland, the cause of
Ireland is the cause of labour, can become the words on which a new Ireland is
borne".
Notwithstanding the passing references to Connolly, the main thrust of Sinn Fins
position is to argue: "Together with economic, demographic, social and political
trends, there is a strong argument that Irish unity is a realistic and feasible objective
within a meaningful timescale". The Sinn Fin leadership believes this can be
achieved by involving all parts of Irish society, including big business, by entering
coalition governments with right-wing parties, like Fine Gael or Fianna Fil or promarket Labour, and by appealing to the big powers of Britain and the US.

Already power-sharing in the North, Sinn Fein agreed a budget package in


December 2010, along with their partners in the Assembly Executive, the Democratic
Unionist Party, that will see a huge 4 billion worth of public spending cuts.
This approach is a million miles away from that of James Connolly, who was a
Marxist a revolutionary socialist and internationalist. All his adult life, Connolly
resisted imperialism and sectarianism. He fought for the unity of Catholic and
Protestant workers and for socialism. Following Connollys role in the 1916 Dublin
Easter rising, all shades of Irish nationalism and republicanism claim him as their
own, often distorting his ideas to justify their political positions. Yet Connolly was
withering towards the nationalists call for a pan-class struggle to end British
imperialist rule in Ireland, which is echoed today by Sinn Fin.
Labour in Irish History was Connollys single most-important publication. In it, he
applied the ideas of Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, whom he called "the greatest of
modern thinkers and first of scientific socialists", to Ireland, particularly their view
that class struggle is the locomotive of history. Without this understanding, Connolly
remarked, "Irish history is but a welter of unrelated facts, a hopeless chaos of sporadic
outbreaks, treacheries, intrigues, massacres, murders, and purposeless warfare".
Although a century old and not without weaknesses, Labour in Irish History can still
guide workers and youth today in the struggle to overthrow capitalism in Ireland and
internationally, particularly in the neo-colonial world.

Echoes of Trotsky
CONNOLLY POINTED OUT that Irish history had always been written by the
"master class" in the interests of that class. He aimed to attend to the neglect of social
issues by official historians. Labour in Irish History was also written to challenge the
nationalist myths about the Irish struggle for freedom from British rule. Connolly
showed how the Irish capitalist class was always prepared to abandon and betray the
struggle for liberation if its fundamental economic and social interests were
threatened. He warned radical nationalists that their policy of a union of classes
would lead to disaster. He argued that Irish independence would bring little real
freedom and progress for the majority of the Irish people unless it included a
fundamental change to the social system.
In his earlier pamphlet, Erins Hope (1897), Connolly drew the conclusion that the
Irish working class was "the only secure foundation on which a free nation can be
built". This view was amplified and developed in Labour in Irish History. "The
shifting of economic and political forces which accompanies the development of the
system of capitalist society leads inevitably to the increasing conservatism of the nonworking-class element, and to the revolutionary vigour and power of the working
class", the author asserts in his introduction. The Irish middle and propertied classes
"have a thousand economic strings in the shape of investments binding them to
English capitalism". Connolly concludes that "only the Irish working class remains as
the incorruptible inheritors of the fight for freedom in Ireland".

These words echoed the ideas of Leon Trotskys theory of the permanent revolution.
Trotsky explained that the native capitalist class in the less-developed countries and
colonial world came late on to the scene of history. It was too weak as a class to
follow the example of the bourgeoisie in the established capitalist countries and lead
movements to remove the remnants of feudalism and establish independent nation
states. These tasks fell to the working class which, in taking power, would carry
through the unfinished tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, going over
uninterrupted to carry through the tasks of the socialist revolution. Connolly and
Trotsky, therefore, shared the fundamental belief that it is the working class which
must achieve independence. In the process, it will pass on to the struggle to establish
socialism.
But there were important differences. Not least, Trotsky had the huge advantage of the
experience and lessons of the 1905-07 Russian revolution. This exposed the cowardly
and inconsistent role of the Russian bourgeoisie in the struggle against tsarist rule and
showed the high levels of militancy and self-organisation of the Russian workers. This
provided the basis for Trotskys book, Results and Prospects (which became known as
the Permanent Revolution), written in 1906.
Working in relative isolation from the other outstanding Marxist thinkers of his day,
such as Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg, and without direct access to Trotskys
writings, Connollys analysis did not attain the full scope and precision of Trotskys
permanent revolution. Nevertheless, on the basis of studying the ideas of Marx and
Engels, Connolly made an original contribution.
Labour in Irish History was an important counter argument to the mechanistic and
stages approach that was dominant in the socialist Second International. Its leaders,
such as Karl Kautsky, who were based on a one-sided reading of Marx, argued that
socialism would have to await the development of full economic conditions in each
individual country. The colonial world, therefore, would have to wait for socialist
revolution in the advanced capitalist countries. In Labour in Irish History, Connolly
departed from this prevailing orthodoxy and argued that the bourgeoisie in Ireland
was not willing or capable of leading a struggle for independence and the working
class would have to put itself in the leadership of the fight to remove British
imperialist rule.
Connollys achievement is all the more impressive when taking into account the very
difficult circumstances under which he produced Labour in Irish History. He
dedicated the small book with the words: "To that unconquered Irish working class
this book is dedicated by one of their number". Indeed, Connolly was born into
terrible poverty in Edinburgh, the son of unskilled Irish immigrants. At ten, Connolly
was forced to work in the printing trade. Aged 14, he joined the British army, serving
in Ireland for seven years before deserting. Connollys subsequent "full life", as a
socialist organiser, agitator, propagandist, orator and thinker, as well as an outstanding
union leader (in Britain, Ireland and the US), was carried out under conditions of great
privation for him and his family.
On Labour in Irish Historys publication, the Scottish socialist newspaper, Forward,
said it should be in every socialist library. Irish Freedom, the journal of the radical
Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), carried a favourable review, strongly

recommending the book. Even establishment newspapers, such as the Irish Times,
Freemans Journal and the Daily Herald acknowledged the power of Connollys work
on its publication in 1910. But the journal of Arthur Griffiths Sinn Fin party
dismissed the socialist interpretation of Irish history, attacking its "method lack of
perspective dogmatismand rhetoric". (Sinn Fin, 3 December 1910)

Early Irish history


AFTER CONNOLLYS LEADING role in the 1916 uprising and summary execution
by the British state, nationalists of all stripes were quick to place Connolly in the
pantheon of nationalist martyrs. At the same time, they sought to distort and rubbish
his Marxist ideas. They specifically objected to Connollys definition of early Celtic
society as a form of primitive communism before its demise at the hands of the
Anglo-Norman feudal system. In Labour in Irish History, Connolly anticipated the
opinion of these commentators: "Imbued with the conception of feudalistic or
capitalistic social order, the writers perpetually strove to explain [ancient] Irish
institutions in terms of an order of things to which those institutions were entirely
alien".
Connolly showed that the clan system was a system of what Marxists call primitive
communism. The basis of society rested upon communal ownership of land, with
production almost entirely for consumption by the producing community. It was a
society without private property or hereditary wealth. As Connolly knew from his
wide studies, this was the nature of pre-feudal society, not just in Ireland but across
Europe and the Americas. In 1869, Engels referred to the clan system in Ireland as a
"feudal-patriarchal system". Although, in 1884, after the publication of important new
research on ancient Ireland, he wrote that "the soil [Ireland] had been collective
property of gens of clans" (The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the
State)
Connolly pointed out: "Communal ownership of land would undoubtedly have given
way to the privately owned system of capitalist-landlordism, even if Ireland had
remained an independent country". But coming as it did "in obedience to the pressure
of armed force from without, instead of by the operation of economic forces within,
the change has been bitterly and justly resented by the vast mass of the Irish
people"
Connolly describes the start of modern Irish history with the close of the Williamite
wars in 1691. This was the struggle between William, Prince of Orange, and King
James of England for the English throne. Connolly rejected the opposing sectarian
green and orange historical versions of this period which resonate to this day. He
stated that "never, in all the history of Ireland, has there been a war in which the
people of Ireland had less reason to be interested either on one side or the other". The
Jacobite leaders were "Catholic gentlemen and nobles who were, one and all, men
who possessed considerable property to which they had no more right or title than the
merest Cromwellian or Williamite adventurer".
With the eventual victory of William. Connolly wrote: "The question of political
supremacy having been finally decided, the yoke of economic slavery was now laid

unsparingly upon the backs of the labouring people". By the end of the 17th century,
the conquest of Ireland was complete. English colonialism imposed a subservient and
largely toothless parliament based on a sectarian and class-biased franchise.

In revolt
IN A CHAPTER, Peasant Rebellions, Connolly notes that "before long the Protestant
and Catholic tenants were suffering one common oppression". This led to the creation
of rural secret societies across Ireland, such as the Whiteboys and Oakboys, and the
Steelboys, in Down and Antrim, who were made up mainly of Presbyterians and other
dissenters. The "dispossessed people strove by lawless acts and violent methods to
restrain the greed of their masters, and to enforce their own right to life", wrote
Connolly, but: "Government warred upon these poor wretches in the most vindictive
manner: hanging, shooting, transporting without mercy" Meanwhile, the Patriots
either ignored this social injustice or, in one infamous example in 1763, a member of
the Irish House of Commons, "fiercely denounced the government for not killing
enough of the Whiteboys".
Connolly goes on to make withering criticisms of nationalist heroes, such as Henry
Grattan, who is associated with winning an independent Irish parliament. Connolly
shows that Grattan was a representative of an emerging Irish capitalist class, "his
spirit was the spirit of the bourgeoisie incarnate", and he "dreaded the people more
than they feared the British government". Grattan opportunistically leaned on the
Volunteer militia (initially formed in response to a rumoured French invasion in 1778)
to win constitutional and free-trade reforms from the English parliament in 1782. Yet
the prosperity promised by the leaders was "purely capitalistic prosperity". When the
rank-and-file Volunteers called for popular representation in parliament, all the
"aristocrats, glib-tongued lawyers and professional patriots" betrayed them and
Grattan denounced the Volunteers as an "armed rabble".
In contrast, Connolly celebrates the 1798 revolution of the United Irishmen and the
1803 uprising led by Robert Emmet. The Society of United Irishmen was at first an
open organisation, campaigning amongst the masses for a republic inspired by the
1789 French revolution. Connolly commends the bold revolutionary, Theobold Wolfe
Tone, a Protestant, and other leaders of the United Irishmen, who fought as democrats
and internationalists, calling for full enfranchisement irrespective of religion, and who
sought "a successful prosecution of a class war" They fought for a social and
political revolution, and understood that the "Irish fight for liberty was but a part of
the worldwide march of the human race". Tone and other leaders allied themselves to
"the revolutionists of Great Britain as well as those of France".
British repression forced the United Irishmen underground and the movement forged
an alliance with France against aristocratic England. French ships and soldiers were
sent to Ireland to assist an uprising in 1798 but a number of factors, including the
betrayal by the "men of property", saw all attempts fail and the rebels suffered terrible
reprisals.
Connolly describes the 1803 uprising led by Emmet, another Protestant, as even more
democratic and internationalist than 1798 and, most importantly, more working class

in character. Indeed, the most important fighting on the night of the uprising,
Connolly noted, took place in an area of Dublin inhabited by shoemakers, tanners and
weavers.

Nineteenth century reaction


FOLLOWING THE DEFEATS of 1798 and 1803, Connolly describes Ireland and
Europe in the first part of the 19th century in thrall to a "period of political darkness,
or unbridled despotism and reaction". But in another chapter, The First Irish Socialist:
A forerunner of Marx, Connolly also sheds light on the largely forgotten but highly
influential early socialist, William Thompson, from County Cork. Thompson was "an
economist more thoroughly socialist in the modern sense than of his contemporary
Utopian Socialists". He anticipated Marxs economic analysis, in particular, Marxs
argument that the ultimate source of profit is the unpaid labour of the working class.
The Great Liberator, Daniel OConnell, the 19th century leader venerated by
nationalists, is lacerated by Connolly as a reactionary bourgeois. OConnell at first
relied on the organised trades in his campaign for the repeal of the Union but,
afterwards, he "ceased to play for the favour of organised labour and gradually
developed into the most bitter and unscrupulous enemy of trade unionism Ireland has
yet produced" Connolly cites OConnells opposition to legislation shortening the
hours of child labour in factories in 1838, as a supporter of the Whig government in
the Westminster House of Commons. As well as that, Connolly condemns
OConnells traducing of the revolutionary traditions of 1798, when he sowed
sectarian divisions by seeking to link the nationalist movement to the Catholic church.
Again boldly breaking with the received wisdom of nationalist Ireland, Connolly
assails the Young Irelanders, who he describes as a watered-down version of the 1848
revolutionary movement in Europe. One of the Young Irelander leaders, William
Smith OBrien, condemned land workers in revolt who cut down trees to make
barricades, in the middle of the great famine of 1847-48, because he was "rabidly
solicitous about the rights of the landlord as were the chiefs of the English
government".
The famine, which killed millions and led to the emigration of millions more, was
held to be the fault of a potato blight. Connolly pointed out: "There was food enough
in the country to feed double the population were the laws of capitalist society set
aside and human rights elevated to their proper position". Connolly believed that the
anger and desperation engendered by the famine meant that workers in town and
country were prepared to revolt, and would have been enjoined by the English
Chartists, who were arming. But the Young Ireland leaders were split between the
moderates like Smith OBrien and the militants, such as John Mitchell and James
Fintan Lalor, who understood that the revolution must have "social and political
aspects".
Connolly brings Labour in Irish History to a conclusion by placing the modern
working class centre stage. He describes the growth of trade unions and working-class
agitation. He noted that every great rebellion or attempted revolt was prefaced by "a
remarkable development of unrest, discontent, and class consciousness" amongst the

working masses. The Fenian Brotherhood, established in 1857, gained support from
workers in cities and towns during a period of rising prices of food and other
necessities.

On republicanism and Home Rule


NOT SURPRISINGLY, CONNOLLYS interpretation of Irish history has come under
criticism from all quarters. Professor David Howell (A Lost Left: Three Studies in
Socialism and Nationalism, 1986) and other commentators believe that Connolly
tended to be too uncritical of radical nationalism and republicanism. Howell makes
his criticisms in a somewhat abstract, one-sided manner, and without fully taking into
account the concrete conditions in which Connolly was attempting to develop a small
socialist movement in colonial Ireland in the 1890s. Nevertheless, some of Howells
criticisms hold a certain amount of truth.
Howell refers to Connolly glossing over attacks by the Irish radical nationalist, John
Mitchell, against the 1848 insurrection in Paris and his support for the slave-owning
confederacy during the American civil war. Howell also criticises Connolly for failing
to mention that, while James Fintan Lalor championed tenant farmers, he offered
nothing for the property-less.
Although Connolly does mention Mitchells reactionary positions in other writings, it
is the case that, in Labour in Irish History, he omits to bring the same clear materialist
analysis to his study of militant republicanism as he does to bourgeois and
constitutional nationalism.
While Connolly warns throughout Labour in Irish History about the disastrous
consequences of nationalisms tendency to seek a union of classes, there is some
ambiguity on his part about early Irish republicanism. Wolfe Tone is regarded,
correctly, as an outstanding revolutionary, bringing together Catholic and Protestant
poor. But he is not clearly characterised as a representative of the bourgeoisie, albeit
the most progressive wing. The relationship between Fenianism and the growth of
class agitation is investigated but Connolly does not put the politics and methods of
the Fenian movement itself to close scrutiny.
As well as struggling to build a strong independent workers movement, Connolly
sought to find common ground between socialists and radical nationalists. In doing so
he tended to emphasis the popular appeal of republicanism amongst the poor masses
while not adequately subjecting radical nationalisms origins and development to a
thorough Marxist criticism.
Howell also critcises Connolly for failing to discuss the Protestants in the north-east
and their opposition to Home Rule which, Howell claims, "indicated a substantial
difficulty for any Irish route to socialism".
It was not until after the publication of Labour in Irish History that the Home Rule
crisis was to reach a critical pitch, in 1912-14. At the time, the proposal by the
government in Westminster to grant limited Home Rule to Ireland led to huge
opposition among Unionists and from a section of the British ruling class, threatening

civil war. Nevertheless, neither in Labour in Irish History nor in his other writings did
Connolly adequately examine the reasons why big sections of the Protestant working
class adopted a strong anti-Home Rule position.
Connolly led important strikes in the north, courageously standing up against the
bosses and bigots on both sides of the sectarian divide. But he did not fully analyse
the outlook and consciousness of Protestant workers. The fears of Protestant workers
that a Home Rule parliament would work mainly in the interests of the smaller
businesses in the South, and that jobs in the heavily industrialised north-east would be
threatened by Home Rule protectionist measures, were very real and needed to be
answered with socialist policies.

The Easter rising


OCCASIONAL AMBIGUITY IN Connollys writings on the character of radical
nationalism was compounded by his role in 1916. Some on the left have used this to
argue that the national struggle for independence is a stage towards socialism and to
justify alliances with nationalists to achieve this. This was not at all Connollys real
position. Along with Lenin and Trotsky in Russia, Luxemburg in Germany, John
McClean in Scotland and a handful of other socialists internationally, Connolly
opposed the imperialist bloodbath of the first world war and stood for workers
internationalism.
Connolly correctly states In Labour and Irish History that "revolutions are not the
product of our brains, but of ripe material conditions". But in the lead up to Easter
1916, Connolly ignored his own good advice. His impatience was borne out of his
isolation, and the fear that a renewal of class struggle across Europe would take too
long and that the British authorities would introduce conscription in Ireland. Connolly
concluded that it was necessary to make an alliance between his Irish Citizens Army
(ICA initially formed as a workers defence force during the 1913 Dublin lock-out
which Connolly helped to lead) with the middle-class nationalist Irish Volunteers and
Irish Republican Brotherhood, and to push for an uprising against British rule. He
hoped that an uprising would "set the torch to a European conflagration that will not
burn out until the last throne and the last capitalist bond and debenture will be
shrivelled on the funeral pyre of the last war lord".
Connolly undoubtedly acted from the most noble and self-sacrificing of motives.
Nevertheless, he made serious mistakes in entering his alliance with the radical
nationalists in 1916. During Easter week, no appeal was made for a general strike.
The vast majority of workers were spectators on the events. Connolly also made too
many concessions to programme, as can be seen from the text of the rebels
Proclamation.
Connolly, however, was quite clear about the class character of the nationalists he
fought alongside, and also about their separate goals. He always stood for the building
of independent organisations of the working class and taught workers never to trust
the middle-class leaders of the nationalist movement. A few days before Easter week,
he told the ICA: "The odds are a thousand to one. But if we should win, hold onto

your rifles because the Volunteers may have a different goal. Remember, we are not
only for political liberty, but for economic liberty as well".
The ideas of both Connolly and Trotsky were to be vindicated by events: positively in
the case of Russia, negatively in Ireland. In Russia, as Trotsky had predicted in his
theory of the permanent revolution, the working class, led by the Bolsheviks,
overthrew the tsarist regime in October 1917. The shockwaves of socialist revolution
spread across Europe. Ireland, too, was convulsed by these events. A favourable
opportunity opened up for the working class to take power.
Tragically, Connolly was dead, executed by the British in 1916 cheered on by Irish
bosses. The Irish working class was without their outstanding leader. Connolly had
spent his life heroically trying to build socialist organisations but, unlike Lenin, he did
not construct a conscious revolutionary socialist organisation that could carry on and
develop his work and legacy.

Two repressive states


AFTER CONNOLLYs DEATH, Irish labour leaders submitted to Sinn Fins dictum
that "Labour must wait". They handed over the leadership of the anti-imperialist
struggle to middle-class nationalism. The potential for socialist revolution was lost
and movement ended in partition and defeat for the working class. "A carnival of
reaction both North and South", as Connolly had correctly predicted, that "set back
the Irish labour movement".
Two sectarian, repressive and impoverished states were created, North and South. The
last two decades or so of the peace process have not seen the underlying problems
solved. The truth is that the entire peace process has been mainly about cementing
sectarian division, to carve up power, not to genuinely share power. The political
parties on each side of the sectarian divide thrive on and maintain sectarian division.
Irish unity or a united Ireland is further away than ever before!
All the main parties in the Dil (the parliament in the Irish republic) and the assembly
(the government in Northern Ireland) are wedded to the dictates of big business. In
these times of capitalist crisis, working people face a future of rising unemployment,
huge social cuts and attacks on working conditions. The Northern Ireland Executive
has announced 4 billion worth of cuts, on top of drastic cuts already made in public
services. Sinn Fin ministers are responsible for privatising all new build at schools
in Belfast and have proposed privatising public transport. The ConDem coalition
British government is enforcing unprecedented cuts. Sinn Fein may verbally oppose
"British Tory cuts" but they have indicated they are quite willing, along with the DUP,
to carry them out. The resulting increased poverty and unemployment will only foster
sectarian divisions and instability.
Many decades ago, Connolly warned about the character of administrations that
accept governing within the confines of capitalism: "...governments in capitalist
society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class"
(Irish Worker, 29 August, 1915). He would have completely opposed the brutal antiworking class cuts policies practised by coalition governments today in Ireland, North

and South, including by nationalist and republican parties that seek to invoke his
name.
On 18 November 2010, as the IMF and European Central Bank arrived in Dublin to
set new draconian austerity cuts in exchange for a new huge loan to stop bank defaults
in Ireland spreading to European banks, the Irish Times, a journal of the Irish
bourgeoisie, wrung its hand and asked: is what the men of 1916 died for: a bailout
from the German chancellor with a few shillings of sympathy from the British
chancellor on the side. There is the shame of it all. Having obtained our political
independence from Britain to be the masters of our own affairs, we have now
surrendered our sovereignty to the European Commission, the European Central
Bank, and the International Monetary Fund
The same newspaper vociferously opposed the 1916 Easter Rising and demanded that
the British military authorities dealt with its leaders, including, of course, James
Connolly. Ironically, and from an opposite class standpoint, Connolly long ago
warned against the consequences of winning national independence without making
fundamental social and economic change:
If you remove the English army to-morrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin
Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts
would be in vain.
England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her
landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and
individualist institutions (J Connolly, Socialism and Nationalism, 1897).
We only need add that today it is not only a question of the economic influence of
banks and boardrooms of Britain but also of the big multinational companies and
financial institutions and banks of Europe and globally that reveal the limits of
independence on a capitalist basis for southern Ireland.
The only way to transform the lives of working people over all Ireland and to solve
the national question is as an integral part of the struggle for a fundamental change of
society, for a socialist society. In Labour in Irish History, Connolly traced the
instinctive urge for working people in Ireland to link their struggles with those of
working people in Britain and beyond and, in doing so, to cut across national and
religious division. For socialists today, that means calling for the working classes of
these islands to link up their struggles, to jointly resist governments cutbacks and to
fight for a voluntary and equal socialist federation of Ireland, Scotland, England and
Wales. To achieve this, the working class in Ireland, North and South, needs its own
political voice, as do workers in Scotland, England and Wales. This was also
Connollys position. He successfully moved the motion at the 1912 Irish Trades
Union Congress that marked the creation of the Irish Labour Party (which today is no
longer a workers party).
No other figure in Irish history is so distorted beyond recognition as Connolly. In
marking Labour in Irish History on its 100th anniversary, we must aim to rescue the
real socialist ideas of Connolly. These are the basis on which to build a mighty
working-class opposition to cuts, and to the capitalist system.

[The article above is an edited and extended version of an article first published in the
May 2010 issue of Socialism Today, monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI
England and Wales)]
llegory of the terrible betrayal of the Russian revolution
Andy Ford, from Socialism Today (Issue 192 October 2015)
A success almost from the start, Animal Farm was rated among the 100 greatest
novels of the 20th century by Time Magazine. It often features in the school
curriculum. Conversely it was banned in all the Stalinist countries right up until 1989,
and remains banned in Zimbabwe, Burma and even some conservative Gulf states.
The first thing that strikes you is how well-written it is. The action unfolds in clear
straightforward language, with the deceptive simplicity of a fairy tale. In fact its
original title was Animal Farm: A Fairy Story. Orwells craft as a novelist shows in
his introduction of the animals as they assemble for their first meeting in Chapter
One. He gives exactly the right amount of information to outline their characters for
later use. Also Orwells use of humour, as when the cat votes both ways at the
meeting (by voting both for and against the question Are rats comrades?), ensures
the book is enjoyable to read and also memorable afterwards.
Orwell had experienced the full depths of the Communist Party and Stalinists
despicable actions and repeated and monumental lying in the Spanish civil war where
he served with a political formation influenced by Trotsky, the POUM militia, and he
was determined to tell the truth about Stalinist Russia. To do so he chose the method
of an allegory, where almost every action in the novel has its parallel in Stalins
seizure of power and brutal mismanagement of the Soviet Union.
The narrative begins with Old Major, a kind of amalgam of Marx and Lenin,
explaining his idea of a society where the animals are no longer exploited by human
beings and enjoy the fruits of their labour. The idea is taken up enthusiastically by the
animals and sooner than they could have ever expected the incompetent rule of
Farmer Jones (the tsar) is overthrown. The farm is renamed Animal Farm, a new
flag of the hoof and horn is created, and leadership is assumed by the pigs, in
particular Napoleon (Stalin) and Snowball (Trotsky) but they seem never to agree.
An early forewarning of future problems is seen when Napoleon takes charge of the
farms milk, only for it to disappear, bringing to mind the recently unearthed
evidence that even early on after the revolution Stalin issued an order that officials
and bureaucrats were to get an extra ration of bread in this way cementing loyalty to
himself. But extra bread would be a pitiful inducement except in conditions of mass
hunger. This was Trotskys starting point for his important analysis of the
degeneration of the USSR. In an obscure article discussing the theoretical possibility
of revolution in a backward country, Marx had written where want is generalised all
the old crap [ie oppression] would revive, and Trotsky realised that want and hunger
had been the starting point for Stalins triumph.
A wave of rebellion sweeps the other farms as Animal Farm sends out pigeons with
the message of revolution, rather like the early Third International. The human beings

cannot tolerate this and invade the farm but are soundly beaten by the tremendous
efforts of the animals, led by Snowball. Napoleon takes little part in the Battle of the
Cowshed, just as Stalin played little part in the Russian civil war when the new
revolutionary state was invaded by just about every capitalist power on the planet.
Trotsky formed and led the Red Army which defeated the invaders.
Napoleon and Snowball next disagree on the building of a windmill on Animal Farm.
This mirrors the dispute between Stalin and Trotsky over industrialising the Soviet
Union. The dispute is settled when Napoleon appears with vicious dogs he has reared
in secret in the farmhouse and chases Snowball off the farm, in an allegory of Stalins
use of his secret police to exile Trotsky and frighten his supporters into silence. And
just as in the Soviet Union of the late 1920s, Napoleon steals Snowballs ideas and
presents them as his own. From that point on the weekly meetings to discuss and
agree Animal Farms next steps are turned into meetings for the animals to receive
their instructions, just as the initially democratic soviets were turned into transmission
belts for the instructions of the ruling clique.
The windmill is laboriously constructed by the animals, in particular Boxer, the farm
horse. Tremendously strong and self-sacrificing, Boxer throughout is the symbol of
the ordinary Soviet workers. Despite his efforts the windmill collapses, just like much
of Stalins first five-year plan was unsuccessful, leading to the tremendous famine of
the early 1930s. While the animals are close to starvation gullible human visitors are
shown a fake abundance of food, just as the Friends of the Soviet Union (a group
Orwell despised) were fooled by Stalins stage-managed tours. Despite its collapse
Napoleon orders Boxer and the animals to construct it all over again.
Meanwhile Napoleon begins negotiations with two neighbouring farms over trade
deals. The first, Foxwood, is declining and badly kept (Britain), another, Pinchfield, is
well kept with a farmer always involved in law suits (Nazi Germany). Napoleon
plays one against the other but eventually sells some timber to Pinchfield, despite the
horrific cruelty of its owner to his animals. Once the deal is done the animals are told
that the stories of torture and cruelty were very much exaggerated. And just like
Hitler, the deal is repaid with an invasion of Animal Farm from Pinchfield which the
animals only beat off with tremendous suffering and the destruction, again, of the
windmill.
One of the most terrible moments in the book is the death of Boxer. After all his
efforts to construct the windmill, he is getting old, and his hoof is slow to heal.
Napoleon says he will be sent to a veterinary surgeon, but when the van arrives to
collect him, the animals realise it is painted with the words Alfred Simmons. Horse
Slaughter and Glue Boiler. Boxer is being taken to the knackers yard. Just so were
the heroic Soviet workers repaid for their efforts by Stalin in the great purges of the
1930s.

All animals are equal but some are more equal than
others
The final betrayal comes when the guiding moral of Animal Form that All animals
are equal is altered to read: All animals are equal but some are more equal than

others. In just such a crude and hypocritical manner did Stalin and his acolytes
betray the founding principles of the USSR. In the famous scene at the end of the
book, based on the Tehran conference of 1943, the animals look from pig to man,
and man to pig, but it was impossible to say which was which.
So complete was the degeneration by 1943 that Orwell could see no difference, and in
fact Trotsky made the same point that in outward appearance and behaviour there
was indeed little to choose between the Stalin clique and the dictators and leaders of
capitalism. But Trotsky pointed out that the economic foundations of the USSR were
completely different to those of the capitalist states and it was this that enabled the
USSR to defeat the Nazi hordes.
The book has had a peculiar publishing history. Initially in 1945 Stalinist
sympathisers hindered its progress but its honesty and sheer quality shone through
leading to some good, then rave reviews, followed by world-wide sales, allowing
Orwell the time and the funds to work on his final book, 1984. Then the book was
taken up as a crude anti-Russian propaganda tool by the CIA, which funded an
animated film in 1954. The idea is still often propagated in schools that revolution is
futile as it just leads to dictatorship. But nothing could be further from Orwells views.
The book at all points defends the initial act of revolution and the true hero is Boxer,
who like working class people everywhere is the true source of any wealth and
success on the farm. The fact that he is tricked and duped out of that wealth, and even
to his cruel death, is more an indictment of Napoleon than of Boxer.
Orwell never found his way to a theoretical understanding of the degeneration of the
Soviet Union. But he was a principled and sincere democrat and socialist and Animal
Farm stands as an honest and superbly written allegory of the terrible betrayal of the
Russian revolution by a gang of self-seeking, unprincipled cut-throats.

The 1946 Bombay mutiny


The role of mass movements by workers, soldiers and peasants in the
struggle for Indian independence is downplayed or missed out altogether
in official history. Yet they were instrumental in breaking the hold of
British colonial rule. One of the most significant was the Bombay mutiny,
writes SAJITH ATTEPURAM on the 70th anniversary of this historic revolt.
Often, great struggles against oppression are buried deep by bourgeois
historians. The 1946 uprising by the Royal Indian Navy, also known as the
Bombay mutiny, is a remarkable example of such a struggle. The then
British Raj repressed the upsurge with the support of the privileged
sections of India. They are now a full-blown state establishment, the
strings pulled by big business, which continues the cover-up of that
spirited struggle. At the same time, the lack of a clear leadership meant
that the historic revolt did not take a revolutionary path, based on the
working class and aiming to gain political power and smash the shackles
of oppression forever.
The mutiny in Bombay (now Mumbai) was a watershed event in pre-

independence Indian history and was instrumental in the struggle for


national liberation. It also helped shape the concept of the modern Indian
state. Mutinies of its armed forces are nightmares for any ruling class, and
the Bombay mutiny was by no means the first on the subcontinent. In
1857, the sepoys (infantry privates) revolted against the East India
Company. The East India Company was originally set up as a joint-stock
firm to trade in the region, but it became a mega-corporation nearly
monopolising the governance of large areas of the subcontinent.
The direct consequence for the deprived masses under the company Raj
was naked super-exploitation. Great famines, discontented masses,
peasant uprisings, conflict with the dispossessed rulers of the princely
states, increased militarisation, colonial expeditions, the abuse of the
sepoys as cannon fodder, and many other factors, led to the first major
revolt across India. It sparked a great demonstration of unity among
Hindus and Muslims, and was hailed as the first war of independence.
The East India Company reported it as the sepoy mutiny.
The imperialist masters used terminology like mutiny, coup, riot, etc,
to dismiss such resistance as spontaneous events and, more importantly,
to mask the underlying class antagonisms. Interestingly, when Karl Marx
reported this anti-colonial struggle in the New York Daily Tribune, he
recognised and described the 1857 uprising as a national revolt.
Following the uprising, the administration of colonial India was taken up
by the British crown directly. Amid the growing anti-colonial sentiment,
there was a surge in national consciousness further unifying Hindus and
Muslims. Subsequently, the Raj institutionalised the policy of divide-andrule to weaken the resisting forces, although resistance flared up
nevertheless.
Meanwhile, the landlords and the weak Indian capitalist class were
actively securing their political interests. They held the leadership of the
Indian National Congress (set up in 1885), which was in the forefront of
the liberation struggle, rallying behind them millions of people on the
fertile terrain of want and deprivation. The struggle for national
independence galvanised the desperate masses to fight their wretched
conditions. This was exploited cynically by the emerging national
bourgeoisie, whose interests were intrinsically linked with the landlords
and, to some extent, with the colonial masters themselves.

Fighting against colonial rule


The need to link the struggle for national liberation, and against
landlordism and capitalism, with a socialist programme had long been a
key issue for socialists and revolutionaries. Vladimir Lenin, co-leader with
Leon Trotsky of the 1917 Russian revolution, led an unrelenting campaign
in the Second (Socialist) International against all kinds of opportunism,
including on the colonial question. He affirmed the importance of the

struggle for the liberation of oppressed nations. The theory of permanent


revolution, developed in 1906 by Trotsky, exposed the inability of the
capitalists in underdeveloped countries to overthrow imperialism, or to
lead the democratic revolution and end feudalism.
In An Open Letter to the Workers of India (1939), Trotsky wrote that this
was because, " an independent Indian republic is indissolubly linked up
with the agrarian revolution, with the nationalisation of banks and trusts,
with a number of other economic measures aiming to raise the living
standard of the country and to make the toiling masses the masters of
their own destiny. Only the proletariat in an alliance with the peasantry is
capable of executing these tasks".
Notwithstanding the heroic sacrifices of the rank and file in leading the
struggles of peasants and workers, the leadership of the Communist Party
of India (CPI) lost sight of the revolutionary role of the Indian working
class, under the influence of the Stalinised Comintern the Third
(Communist) International. Under Stalin, the Comintern had been turned
from an organisation for international socialist revolution to an instrument
of the Russian bureaucracys foreign policy.
The second world war further exposed the political bankruptcy of the
degenerated Comintern. Stalinist Russias shift to an alliance with Britain,
the US and France in the war against Nazi Germany compelled the CPI to
downplay the struggle against British imperialism. After the war, the CPI
effectively handed over the leadership of the independence struggle to
the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Muslim League parties.
Meanwhile, the INC, particularly its Gandhian leadership, restricted the
mass movements, ensuring they did not threaten landlordism and
capitalism.
Gandhian philosophy substituted pacifism instead of class struggle.
Advocating a truce with Indian capitalists, and underplaying the role of
the workers movement, the utopianism of Gandhi did not challenge
class-based exploitation and oppression. Gandhian methods were a
hindrance to the revolutionary struggle of the working class. In addition,
the ossified religious and social traditions, such as the caste system, gave
rise to various political offshoots. Hindu and Muslim establishment parties
and organisations consolidated their positions with the monstrous
consequences made evident during the partition of India, as its social
fabric was torn apart.
Amid the huge political upheavals of the Quit India Movement, launched
by Gandhi in 1942, the British ruling class organised the trials of the
officers of the Indian National Army (INA), led by Nethaji Subhas Chandra
Bose, a militant nationalist. Under his leadership, the INA tactic was to
fight British imperialism by appealing for support and getting it from
brutal Nazi Germany and Japan, on the basis that my enemys enemy is

my friend. It was a fatal mistake, of course, for any working-class or


oppressed peoples organisation to ally itself with the fascist regime in
Germany or with imperial Japan. After their defeat, more than 11,000 INA
soldiers were imprisoned for waging war against the British sovereign.
Nonetheless, the masses recognised the bravery of Bose and the INA, and
the trials shook the consciousness of hundreds and thousands of Indians.

Central strike committee


Even after the second world war, many thousands of British troops
remained stationed overseas in an attempt to secure Britains colonial
territories. Unrest among the troops was mounting, however, particularly
over the slow rate of demobilisation, at a time of increased radicalisation
in the armed forces. In January 1946, a mutiny in the Royal Air Force (RAF)
involved more than 50,000 men in over 60 RAF stations in India and
South Asia, showing the level of discontent.
The extreme brutality of war often forces soldiers to question the
established order. Indian troops had been thrust with bloody savagery
into battle in defence of the British empire. They endured the most
gruelling and dangerous conditions, especially on board ship. Between
March 1942 and April 1946 there were more than 15 mutinies in the Royal
Indian Navy alone.
Although the immediate issues were often the appalling conditions,
including the poor quality of food, the reasons behind those revolts were
deeply ingrained, flowing from the decades of systematic oppression they
had been subjected to. With over 20,000 sailors taking part, across 78
ships (out of 88) and 20 land bases, the naval revolt in February 1946
shook to the core the empire on which the sun never sets. If it was the
maggot-ridden meat and ruthless officers that triggered the great mutiny
on the battleship Potemkin, a prelude to the first Russian revolution of
1905, it was the watered down curry and racial abuse of the arrogant
British officers that sparked off this naval mutiny!
On 18 February 1946, 1,100 personnel on the signal training ship, HMIS
Talwar, declared a strike. A central strike committee was elected, with
leading signalman MS Khan as its president, and petty officer telegraphist
Madan Singh vice-president. Swift communication was established with
the rest of the naval command, and the committee brought the
operations under the complete control of its lower-deck democracy.
The strike committee got rid of the Royal prefix, renaming the force the
Indian National Navy. It framed a charter of demands, calling for the
release of all political prisoners, the withdrawal of Indian troops from
Indonesia and Egypt, for immediate improvements in their conditions, and
for the provision of equal status with British officers. The charter was
passed by the committee in the midst of huge support and cheers from

their fellow sailors.


In an interview to the Tribune (Chandigarh), Madan Singh recalled those
events: "We did this with the help of the wireless system under our
control. We were able to win over almost all the 70 ships and all the 20
seashore establishments. We had secured control over the civilian
telephone exchange, the cable network and, above all, over the
transmission centre at Kirkee manned by the navy, which was the
channel of communication between the Indian government and the
British on February 20 and 21, we gave a call for a general strike which
evoked a tremendous response. It was perceived as a challenge to the
governments authority".

Mutiny spreads
Raising the slogan of independence and hoisting the Indian tricolour flag
on the ships and naval establishments, the revolt inspired the rest of the
country, cutting across the Hindu-Muslim religious divide. From their posts
the sailors went round Mumbai in trucks and they were supported by the
ratings from the naval establishments in Karachi, Cochin and Vizag.
Trotskyists and radical activists organised with students to distribute
material supporting the mutiny to major factories in Mumbai.
Local police forces, along with many other striking workers from the
sloops and minesweepers, demonstrated in solidarity, including 1,000
Royal Indian Air Force personnel. When orders were given to contain and
confront the mutineers, the Gurkhas, whom the British state always
counted to be on its side, refused to fire on the striking sailors! This
reflects the fact that the states bodies of armed men and women are
drawn from the working class and the oppressed masses.
The newspapers of the day carried siren headline warnings for Clement
Attlees Labour government in London. The spectres of the October 1917
revolution in Russia and the 1919 revolution in Germany were evoked by
journalists to compare the political significance of this turnaround.
Although Attlees administration, under mass pressure, had introduced
welfare measures improving the lives of millions of people, it was
nonetheless overseeing the empire for British capitalism, betraying the
interests of the workers movement and the struggle against colonialism.
In desperation, the machinery of British imperialism sought the help of
the local political elites of the Indian National Congress and the Muslim
League to tackle the revolts which were getting out of hand. Attlee
ordered that the revolt be put down. The rebels were given an ultimatum
to surrender. Rear admiral JH Godfrey (apparently the inspiration for Ian
Flemings character M in his James Bond books) went on air to order:
"Submit or perish!" Armed attacks were organised against the sailors.

Sell-out and legacy


All through the upsurge the mutineers, who were from different
backgrounds and levels of political consciousness, showed their support
to their respective political parties by hoisting, at the onshore
establishments, the flags of Congress, the Muslim League and the CPI,
instead of the imperial White Ensign. Unfortunately, they were about to
face the political opportunism of their leaders, based as ever on selling
out the sacrifice of countless lives.
The popular heads of the Congress and Muslim League parties were
clearly aware of their role as inheritors of the state apparatus from the
British once independence was won. They did everything possible to
isolate the masses from the naval revolt. Although the CPI supported the
uprising and even called for a general strike, its Stalinist leadership was
indecisive in this most important phase of the national liberation struggle.
The betrayal by the main political parties and by the so-called national
leaders, the threat of further open confrontation from the British navy
command, and the absence of a revolutionary leadership to take the
struggle forward, all led to the isolation of the revolt. The central strike
committee accepted the proposal for surrender after an initial rejection
by committee members on 24 February 1946. Black flags were hoisted to
announce the surrender.
News of the naval revolt and subsequent arrests and trials spread like
wildfire around the country, including the tightly controlled ranks of the
army units. Within a couple of days, soldiers mutinied at the signals
training centre at Jabalpur, central India. Around 1,700 troops were
involved in this uprising which lasted two weeks before it was brutally
suppressed. Nevertheless, the British ruling class finally came round to
the conclusion that it could not pursue its open imperial rule in the
subcontinent. Attlee announced a cabinet mission to India, hastening the
process of independence.
The great naval revolt of 1946 advanced the movement for national
liberation. It promoted solidarity among the masses, side-lining communal
and caste divisions. Tragically, the ruling classes would sponsor the
partition-based independence of India and Pakistan, which saw over a
million people die in one of the largest and deadliest population
exchanges in history.
Hundreds of rebel sailors were dismissed, many detained and their units
disbanded. Their extraordinary tale of struggle was suppressed. Indian
and Pakistani administrations refused to let them back into the armed
forces. Much worse, decades after independence, millions of people in
India are still under the yoke of oppression and less than subsistence
wage slavery. Today, however, it is the big corporations and their cronies

who are the new masters.


Whether its the British Raj or the present corporate Raj, the lives of
ordinary people are a living hell. The ever increasing social inequality,
deprivation, extreme violence against women, farmers suicides and
many other miseries make the compelling case for a radical change in an
underdeveloped country like India. Nevertheless, with a 500-million
strong working-class base, the Indian capitalist establishment will be
confronted. The legacy of the Bombay mutiny will be a guiding light for
the colossal struggles to come. The heroic battles and the struggle and
sacrifice of those fighters for our class will not be in vain. They will be
enshrined, not in the lifeless pages of bourgeois historians, but in the
fighting traditions of the working class.

arxism and the environment


Marxism is often mistakenly accused of taking the environment for
granted in the pursuit of the economic growth needed to alleviate
poverty and want. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
Drawing on the works of Marx and Engels, and the experience of the
first years of the Russian revolution, PER KE WESTERLUND
(Rttvisepartiet Socialisterna CWI Sweden) sets the record
straight.
There are two common accusations against Marxism regarding the
environment, from right-wingers and some green activists, as well
as from part of the left. The first is that Karl Marx had an overly
positive view of industrialisation and saw nature as an unlimited
source to be exploited. The second is that Marxism bears the
responsibility for some of the worst ecological catastrophes, in the
Soviet Union.
Contrary to these claims, consciousness about and struggle for the
environment is nothing new for Marxists. In fact, Marx was a pioneer
in analysing and criticising the destructive effect of capitalist
industrialisation on nature as well as on society. Both Marx and
Friedrich Engels, authors of the Communist Manifesto in 1848,
closely studied and followed science in all fields.
Capitalist industrial production, and the working class (the
proletariat) and its labour, had only come into existence in the
preceding decades, but were immediately understood by Marx as
the key elements for the development of society. Stressing the
importance of the working class did not mean ignoring the
environment.

Interestingly, Marx viewed labour as "a process in which both man


and nature participate". This is underlined in Marxs Critique of the
Gotha Programme the programme adopted by the initial congress
of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in 1875. Marx
takes up the programmes assertion that, "labour is the source of all
wealth and all culture". "Labour is not the source of all wealth", Marx
wrote. "Nature is just as much the source of use values (and it is
surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labour, which itself
is only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labour power".
The wrong idea of labour as the sole source came from Ferdinand
Lassalle, not from Marx.
Marx warned of the effects of the disruption in the relationship
between humanity and nature. Therefore, he saw the alienation of
workers in capitalist production as part of the same process as
humanitys alienation from nature. In his time, this was particularly
obvious in the industrialisation of agriculture.
The working class was and is at the forefront of the effects of
capitalism on the environment. For example, energy companies
oil, coal, nuclear power pose a direct threat to workers in those
industries as well as to people and the natural environment in whole
regions or countries. Workers in those industries are often the most
conscious about those dangers. The struggle to improve the working
environment is an important part of environmental struggles.
In addition, Marxist philosophy (dialectical materialism) offers the
means to analyse and explain todays climate crisis. Marx and
Engels in the mid-19th century showed how both society and nature
develop through the build-up of contradictions leading to qualitative
leaps. Today, climate researchers echo this method in warning of
tipping points, the moment when the environment passes
irreversibly from one stage to another.
Many of those blaming Marx for neglecting the environment have
not studied his work, but that of his self-appointed followers in
social democracy or Stalinism. The societies they constructed, and
described as socialism, completely contradicted Marx in relation to
workers democracy, the role of the state, and also in their
treatment of the environment. In contrast, Marx had predicted that
"natural science will become the basis of human science, as it has
already become the basis of actual human life". (Economic and
Philosophical Manuscripts, 1844)

Marx on nature
To understand Marxism and the environment there is a need to
understand the method: that Marx always looked at the world and
its history in its totality, as the point of departure for his analysis

and programme. The fact that Marx regarded capitalism as a


historically progressive system has been misunderstood and
distorted by many. For example, Michael Lwy, from the United
Secretariat of the Fourth International, wrote that Marx had "a fairly
uncritical attitude toward industrial civilisation particularly its
destructive relationship to nature". Lwy also claimed that "Marx
does not possess an integrated ecological perspective". (For a
Critical Marxism, Against the Current, November-December 1997)
Firstly, the progressive side of capitalism, according to Marx, was in
comparison to feudalism and was, therefore, temporary. The main
achievement was that capitalism was the first society that created
the basis not only to eliminate itself, but class society altogether.
The working class taking power with the support of poor peasants
would mean the rule of the majority and the beginning of a process
towards a completely different society. Already in the Paris
Commune in 1871, where workers held power for two months,
Marxs perspective was proven right.
Understanding the role of capitalism does not correspond to a
defence of that system. Marx, before and more than anyone else,
understood capitalism as a system for producing profit out of
surplus labour. Science and natural forces are adapted and exploited
to this purpose. The health of workers is ignored, and so are the
effects on nature. Marx clearly saw and warned against steps to
form nature according to capitalism. Some critics claim that Marx
saw nature as something that was for free, and unlimited. But his
point was that nature under capitalism had no value. His own
conclusion was that unexploited nature also held use value: for
example, the air, forests and fish.
Marx studied in particular the non-mechanistic materialism of
Epicurus (341-270 BCE) and the dialectics of GWF Hegel (17701831) and developed his philosophy, dialectical materialism. It was
a brilliant view of the world, fitting perfectly into the period. The
major event of the epoch, the French revolution, was a result of both
the material basis capitalist economy and society overtaking
feudalism and the conscious action of the revolutionary masses.
Marxs ideas were the most developed of all the philosophies
breaking with the religious past. Instead of the Earth never changing
and being at the centre of everything, with mankind the centre of
the Earth, Marxism in line with classic materialism regards the world
as always changing, even mortal. Life was a product of Earth
(nature) and not of a god. Humanity was one with nature, not
outside. Likewise, Marx did not divide history into social or natural,
but saw them as one. Dialectical laws apply in both nature and
society, and their developments are interchanging, affecting each

other. Marx used the term metabolism: a chain of processes linked


to each other, as one body.
Marx showed that the increasing division between town and country
was a breach of this metabolism, summarised in the term metabolic
rift by John Bellamy Foster, author of the useful book, Marxs
Ecology. In the third volume of Capital, published in 1894 after
Marxs death (1883), Marx describes capitalism as a break with the
natural laws of life: "On the other hand, large landed property
reduces the agricultural population to a constantly falling minimum,
and confronts it with a constantly growing industrial population
crowded together in large cities. It thereby creates conditions which
cause an irreparable break in the coherence of social interchange
prescribed by the natural laws of life".
Based on a discussion about the long-term degradation of the soil
following the use of chemical fertilisers in agriculture, Marx wrote
that "all progress in capitalistic agriculture is a progress in the art,
not only of robbing the labourer, but of robbing the soil; all progress
in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time, is a progress
towards ruining the lasting sources of that fertility".
He explained: "Capitalist production, by collecting the population in
great centres... disturbs the circulation of matter between man and
the soil, ie, prevents the return to the soil of its elements consumed
by man in the form of food and clothing; it therefore violates the
conditions necessary to lasting fertility of the soil". And further:
"Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology, and the
combining together of various processes into a social whole, only by
sapping the original sources of all wealth the soil and the
labourer". (Capital, Volume I, 1867) In a farsighted prediction, Marx
warned that capitalisms constant modernisation would increase
"this process of destruction".
Engels summarised the dependence on, and need to learn from,
nature: "Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means
rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like
someone standing outside of nature but that we, with flesh, blood
and brain, belong to nature, exist in its midst, and that all our
mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage of all
other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them
correctly". (The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to
Man, 1876)

Marx on socialism
Marx is also accused by some for not giving a more exact plan for a
future socialist society. These critics believe that his socialism meant
the working class taking power while the economy, production and

the treatment of the environment would basically stay the same as


under capitalism. It is true that Marx and Engels differed from the
utopian socialists who made up detailed plans for the ideal society.
However, that does not mean their writings are empty of
descriptions of the difference between capitalism and socialism.
Marx and Engels recorded the huge cost for capitalist production,
paid by workers, peasants, nature and society. They stood for a
complete change of production, by replacing it with what Marx
called cooperative production. Capitalisms anarchic system would
be replaced by social control and ownership over production and
distribution. This would then be organised in a social plan.
What about Marxs predictions of socialism as a society with
increased production and an abundance of resources? Would that
mean further catastrophes for the environment? Firstly, in Marxs
day, as well as clearly today, there is an urgent need to offer
everyone a decent life. This will result in the increased production of
food, and provision of housing, healthcare, education, and a more
even spread of modern technique. In the 1800s, production of such
necessities would have been possible at the expense of the
production of arms, luxuries, etc. Today even more so, with
enormous resources squandered for military expenditure and the
luxury consumption of the 1%.
In his Critique of the Gotha Programme, and in Capital, Marx
discussed the need to balance resources between individual
consumption and the necessary increase of social consumption, as
well as setting aside resources for investment and as a social
reserve. That also included balance between work time, which
should be shortened, and free time. In such a society, everybody
would work, everyone could develop their own skills and
understanding, and everyone would have time to participate in the
running of society.
A socialist society would break alienation and allow everyone to
develop free from the constraints of wage labour and capital. It
would also mean "the complete unity of man with nature the true
resurrection of nature the consistent naturalism of man and the
consistent humanism of nature". (Marx, Economic and Philosophic
Manuscripts, 1844) A socialist revolution would not just liberate the
workers and mankind, but also nature. With social ownership of the
land, nature would no longer be a product to profit from.
In the programme proposed in the Communist Manifesto, some of
the key demands are as important today regarding the environment.
Demand no.1 says: "Abolition of property in land and application of
all rents of land to public purposes". This applies to protests against
dangerous mining, oil fields and fracking, for example. The second

part of the demand underlines that income from land should be


used by the public sector. Demand no.6 raises the need to deal with
transport: "Centralisation of the means of communication and
transport in the hands of the state".
Demand no.7 also has very important implications for the
environment: "Extension of factories and instruments of production
owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and
the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common
plan". A common plan based on common ownership instead of
private exploiters, in order to take care of and improve the land. To
summarise: to change the direction of society, including its
treatment of nature, is a question about ownership, power and
control.

Bolshevik pioneers
The working class in Russia and nations oppressed by the tsar took
power in October 1917. Contrary to todays slander against the
Bolshevik government, it revolutionised politics in all fields of
society. That included being the first country to ban racism and
antisemitism, and the first to legalise the right to abortion, divorce,
and homosexuality. In a similar way, the Bolsheviks under Lenin and
Leon Trotsky pioneered radical policies regarding the environment.
Before the revolution, Russia in this field as in so many others was
an economically backward country. "Scientists under the Romanov
dynasty failed to convince government officials, businesspeople,
and even their own colleagues to adopt modern scientific
management techniques to protect resources and ensure their
availability for present and future generations (conservation)
most of the projects had to wait until after the Russian revolution,
because the tsarist government regarded them as too expensive
and perhaps believed them to be unnecessary". (An Environmental
History of Russia [anthology], Cambridge University Press, 2013)
The working class under the leadership of the Bolsheviks came to
power in a country devastated by the first world war, only to find
themselves under military assault by invading armies and ex-tsarist
generals. Yet, the new government acted immediately on
environmental issues. Two days after taking power the decree, On
Land, nationalised all forests, minerals and water. Half a year later,
in May 1918, another decree, On Forests, took central control of
reforestation and protection. Forests were divided into two
categories, one of them protected from exploitation. This was an
important issue since many forests had been clear-cut under
tsarism. In a similar way, hunting was regulated and only allowed
during special seasons. "Surprisingly, the Russian revolution enabled

the establishment of modern oceanographic and inland fishery


research". (An Environmental History)
These were decisions taken in extremely turbulent times. "During
the turmoil of civil war and war communism, the Bolshevik
government managed to support scientists, including some working
on issues of environmental concern. And scientists, with this
support, expanded their environmental activities". In 1920, Lenin
was involved in establishing the first nature reserve in the world that
was state-funded and only for scientific use, the Ilmenskii. There
were four such reserves (zapovedniks) by 1924. Many new research
institutes were established, Russian scientists were seen as leading
ecologists, and ecology courses started at Moscow University. The
scientist Vladimir Vernadsky became world famous for the concept
noosphere: "a new state of biosphere in which humans play an
active role in change that is based on man and womans recognition
of the interconnectedness of nature". (An Environmental History)
The revolution opened up an explosion of environmental
organisations, a development that was encouraged and embraced
by the Bolsheviks. The TsBK (Central Bureau for Study of Local Lore)
had 70,000 members in 2,270 branches. As important was VOOP
(All-Russian Society for the Protection of Nature). The activists and
scientists produced magazines for example, Problems of Ecology
and Biocenology. They also held meetings and organised groups in
local studies to increase interest in science in rural areas. Leading
Bolsheviks, among them Nadezhda Krupskaya, discussed how to
improve the environment in cities and towns, leading to the greencity model with more parks and green areas.
These revolutionary ideas came to an abrupt end, however. The
social and political counter-revolution under Stalinism also included
an environmental counter-revolution. "After the Russian revolution,
nascent ecological science expanded rapidly during the social
upheaval and political experimentation of the 1920s. Officials,
scientists, and engineers worked out an ambitious national
electrification programme" Then, when Stalin took power, his
search for so-called wreckers "included some of the nations most
able biologists, forestry and fisheries specialists, agronomists, and
ecologists". (An Environmental History)

Stalinism vs nature
Some of the worlds worst environmental catastrophes occurred
under Stalinist rule: the destruction of the Aral Sea between
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl,
Ukraine, and several cities destroyed by pollution. How was this
possible, and was there any connection to the Bolsheviks and
socialism?

The connection was that Stalins regime murdered and destroyed


the Bolshevik Party that had led the revolution in 1917. This was
possible on the basis of defeated revolutions in all other countries
and the actual situation in Russia: economic and cultural
backwardness that was deepened by the destruction from the first
world war and civil war.
When Stalins regime had established itself, it had no ideology other
than to stay in power. In order to do so, Stalin had to retain one
fundamental achievement from the revolution, the nationalised
economy on which the whole Stalinist bureaucracy rested. The
brutal dictatorship could falsely claim thereby to be the inheritor of
the revolution. However, it was neither socialist nor communist.
Stalin made a 180-degree turn regarding environmental issues, as in
other areas. His regime used force to collectivise agriculture,
abolished the protection of the zapovedniks, and re-started clearcutting of forests.
The Stalinist methods against any opposition were brutal: "Arrests,
interrogations and torture to compel false confessions and false
testimony accompanied accusations of espionage, subversion, and
slander of the Soviet Union among those, including scientists, who
seemed to oppose Stalinist programmes". VOOP and TsBK were
purged into nonexistence. The dictatorship "made independent and
reasonable activities nearly impossible". (An Environmental History)
All independent organisations of workers and activists were banned,
which also opened up the way for the destruction of the
environment. Formally excellent regulations and laws were never
fully implemented. Waste and mismanagement took over. Science
lost its necessary freedom of ideas. Trotsky in the 1930s made the
point that the planned economy needed workers democracy just as
the body needs oxygen, otherwise it would degenerate and
eventually die. Trotskys leadership of the opposition against Stalin,
and his advocacy of a political revolution against the regime, show
the view of Marxists in relation to Stalinism, including the
environment.
Stalins parasitic regime used the massive slave labour camps, with
many political prisoners, for rapid industrial expansion. The Vorkuta
camp, where many Trotskyists were held, was founded in 1932 to
establish coal mining north of the Arctic circle. Millions of prisoners,
under the watchful eye of the secret police (NKVD), were used as
slave labour in construction, mining and lumbering. Most of the
huge projects under Stalinism followed central orders, without
consideration of different geographical circumstances.
After the second world war, instead of focusing on the enormous
devastation and even starvation in Russia, Stalins hubris led him to

launch a grandiose Plan for the Transformation of Nature. This


included altering the direction of rivers and reorganising forests into
industrial zones. The ideologist behind the plan, Trofim Lysenko, was
a charlatan pretending to have invented plantation techniques that,
in fact, led to the death of forests. Under Stalinism and Lysenkoism,
nature had no value in itself.
Stalinism as a system continued after the death of Stalin in 1953. A
few years later, the nuclear catastrophe in Kyshtym, in the Urals,
was kept secret by the regime, then under Nikita Khrushchev.
Pollution, grand projects and the total ban on any environmental
activism continued.
However, capitalist critics of Stalinism who invariably conflate
Stalinism and socialism in order to discredit the latter have little to
be proud of. "In many ways, the western democracies followed the
same paths of breakneck development and profligate use of natural
resources, of destroyed ecosystems, and tardily adopted laws and
regulations to remedy and limit future problems In the 1990s,
many observers argued that dismantling the centrally planned
economy would automatically deliver environmental improvement
The reality has proved dramatically different. There have been new
threats to sustainability, including the fire-sale of resources, the
restructuring of the economy that drastically reduced resources for
environmental protection, and president Putins decision ultimately
to disband the Russian Federations Environmental Protection
Agency in 2000". (An Environmental History)

Marxism today
Today, the climate and environment are engaging growing numbers
of activists. Around the world, there are numerous struggles against
the big oil companies, fracking, dangerous industrial waste, new
speculative motorway and mining projects, etc, as well as against
the empty promises of the politicians. Marxists are part of these
struggles: from protests against Shells drilling platform in Seattle to
the struggle that stopped the East-West tunnel in Melbourne, the
massive local movements against gold mines in Greece, and against
fracking in Ireland.
Anti-capitalism is growing among climate activists. In Naomi Kleins
book, This Changes Everything which, by no accident, has the
subtitle Capitalism Versus the Climate she reports how right-wing
Tea Party-type activists argue that climate change is an invention by
communists in order to implement a planned economy. In this
distorted way, they understand the inability of capitalism to solve
such a huge crisis. The system, in Kleins words, is at war with life
on earth, including human life.

Of course, the world has changed since the days of Marx and
Engels. Marx would undoubtedly have eagerly followed the reports
from todays environmental and climate change scientists. The rift
he found in the interdependent functions of Earth has expanded
enormously, with accelerating pace. Above all, Marxists can offer a
way forward today. Growing social and environmental crises are
caused by the same system, capitalism, and the struggle against
them is linked together.
Oil companies and their allies will never give up voluntarily. The only
force able to solve the environmental crisis is the strongest
collective force, the working class, in alliance with the growing
numbers already fighting for the environment, many of them
indigenous people and poor peasants and rural populations. Crises
and struggles are building up for a social revolution, abolishing
capitalism.
The climate and environmental crisis has developed very far,
underlining the need for urgent action. The only real alternative is a
democratic and sustainable planning of resources on a global basis.
Such a democratic socialist society will improve the living standards
for the vast majority of people, while regarding nature and humanity
as one interchanging body.

reen parties are not enough


Green parties often begin life as radical, campaigning movements
only to join coalitions with establishment parties when they achieve
electoral success. In so doing, they have helped push through
attacks on workers rights, as well as measures undermining
environmental safeguards. This flows, writes HANNAH SELL, from
their lack of a class-conscious viewpoint and raises the need for a
socialist alternative.
Last year a massive 400,000 people took part in the USs biggest
ever demonstration against global warming. The current ban on
demonstrations in France, following the Paris terror attacks, means
there are not likely to be such large demonstrations outside
Decembers summit. Globally, however, protests are becoming more
common that demand action on climate change as a whole, or
oppose specific assaults on their local environment. These include
the hundreds of thousands who demonstrated in Stuttgart,
Germany, against the Stuttgart 21 rail project. Other recent
struggles are the movements against gold mines in Greece, the antifracking protests in a whole number of countries including Britain, or
the demonstrations against nuclear power in Japan and other
countries following the Fukushima disaster of 2011.

For many of those who become active in environmental movements


it is natural to look for a political expression for their protests. Those
participating in the Greek protests against the gold mines initially
turned in the main to Syriza. One of the many results of the Syriza
leaderships capitulation to the demands of the troika and global
capitalism was a betrayal of these environmental protesters.
In many cases, however, environmental protestors look to the
Greens to give their views an electoral expression. Many Green
parties initially arose out of struggles in defence of the planet. The
German Greens (Die Grnen), for a long time the strongest Green
Party, emerged from the mass movements against nuclear power in
the 1970s and 1980s. The same is true of Swedens Green Party
(Miljpartiet de grna).
In some countries it is not only those motivated primarily by
environmental issues who are attracted to the Greens. In England
and Wales their membership quadrupled in 2015 and they received
over a million votes in the general election, primarily because they
were seen as more left wing and anti-austerity than the three major
parties. The election of anti-austerity Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the
Labour Party has now cut across this trend but, depending on the
outcome of the struggle between pro- and anti-austerity forces in
the Labour Party, the Greens could again become a major
beneficiary of the anti-austerity mood in society.

Ecological compromise
While Green parties may often be perceived as both the best
fighters in defence of the environment and as on the left on social
issues, their record in government tells a different tale. In Stuttgart,
for example, the Greens had a significant electoral surge as a result
of the movement and formed a coalition with the former social
democrats, the SPD, in 2009. However, the SPD was pro-Stuttgart
21 and so the net result of Green participation in the coalition was
only to win agreement on holding a referendum on whether it should
go ahead. Following a huge campaign from big business, the Greens
lost the referendum.
Stuttgart is just one local example of a general trend. From the early
1990s up to 2015, European Green parties have participated in
national government in 21 countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech
Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany,
Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland,
Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Ukraine. Many of these
were red-green coalitions with ex-social democratic parties, but by
no means all. In the Czech Republic, Latvia and Ireland, Greens
entered coalitions with right-wing capitalist parties. The Greens have

also taken part in government outside of Europe, including in Brazil,


Mauritius and Kenya.
On not a single occasion has such participation led to qualitative
improvements in government policy on the environment. The
German Greens, for example, were in government coalition with the
SPD for seven years from 1998 to 2005. In that time the number of
wind farms increased significantly but by 2005, according to the
World Wildlife Fund, nine of the 30 most harmful European coal
plants were found in Germany, five in the top ten. One was in
second place, just behind Greece. Having come to prominence in
the anti-nuclear power movement, the German Greens in
government signed up to a deal for nuclear power to be eliminated
over the following 20 to 30 years, effectively guaranteeing the
nuclear power industry a secure future for decades.
In France, the Greens (Europe cologie Les Verts) took part in a
coalition with the Parti Socialiste, along with others, from 1997 to
2002. Securing the environment ministry, the Greens effectively
abandoned their opposition to nuclear power. In Ireland, the Greens
joined a coalition with Fianna Fil and promptly acquiesced to Shell
Oil getting permission to develop the Corrib gas field off Irelands
west coast. There had been a mass campaign against this,
previously vocally supported by the Greens. While Shell got
permission to drill, environmental protestors who had campaigned
against them were left languishing in prison.

A woeful role
It is not only on environmental issues that Greens have played a
woeful role in government. The Irish Greens accepted other
measures that they had campaigned against in opposition, including
the use of Shannon airport by the US military for renditions the
forced removal of suspects to secret locations for interrogation.
Having opposed incinerators, they then oversaw the building of one
of the biggest in western Europe.
All of the governments the Greens have participated in have been in
the age of neoliberalism and have to a greater or lesser extent
overseen privatisation, deregulation and attacks on workers rights.
The red-green coalition in Germany presided over the introduction of
the Hartz IV laws and 1 jobs the biggest attack on welfare and
workers living standards since the second world war.
In Ireland, the Greens in government initially signed up to the
EU/IMF savage austerity, including the household charge, water
charges, VAT hikes and major public spending cuts, only belatedly
pulling out as their poll results reach vanishing point. In France, over
five years, the plural left government privatised more than

previous conservative governments. Air France and Air Inter were


privatised, and the national rail company, SNCF, was partly
dismantled.
In Italy, the Greens (Verdi) signed up in 2007 to the then prime
ministers programme for liberalisation (ie privatisation) of public
services, and immediate action to cut the public sector. Since the
Romano Prodi-led coalition collapsed, the Greens have disappeared
as an electoral force in Italian politics. Per Gahrton, the author of
Green Parties, Green Future: From Local Groups to the International
Stage, comments: "It is impossible to know if the electoral losses
and the eradication of the Greens as an independent force in Italian
politics is related to their participation in government, or rather an
effect of the chaotic political landscape in the country". In fact, it is
an iron law that Greens suffer electoral losses as a result of
government participations, as their largely left-wing electorate is
disillusioned by the grubby reality of Green representatives seeming
to sell their souls for a ministerial portfolio or two.

Mind the gap


Why is the gap so big between the radical aspirations of many
Green voters and members, and the reality of the Greens in
government? At root it is related to their attitude to capitalism.
Green parties central motivation is saving the planet. However,
generally, their leaderships do not conclude that ending
environmental degradation is linked to ending capitalism. Some do
not even define themselves as being on the left. The Brazilian
Greens (Partido Verde) clearly say: "PV does not accept the narrow
polarisation between left and right, we are in front". What does in
front mean?
As Per Gahrton expresses it: "Most Green parties explicitly accept
private ownership and the market economy less as a matter of
principle, more because such an economy is considered the least
bad system known". The net result of accepting what they believe is
the least bad system has been a preparedness to join capitalist
governments in the hope of getting a few concessions for the
environment, while ending up agreeing to policies that are in the
interests of capitalism but are a disaster for the environment,
humanity and the Green Party!
Many Green parties support some limited nationalisation. In the
2015 general election in Britain, for example, the Greens stood for
renationalisation of the railways although not the energy
companies, banks, or wider industry. Globally, however, their record
when in power has been to abandon these pledges and to acquiesce
to further privatisation of public services.

Rather than capitalism itself, Green parties lay the blame for climate
change with consumerism and economic growth. The Italian Greens
put it in their programme as follows: "A Green is someone who sees
in economic growth the original cause of the degradation of our
planet". However, they are not able to explain how they intend to
end economic growth without ending capitalism, which has the drive
for unplanned and wasteful growth written into its DNA.
Unsurprisingly, opposition to economic growth is held less firmly by
Green parties in the neo-colonial world. The Benin Greens say, for
example: "To be able to travel in all Africa, locally as well as
internationally, the Beninians should be able to dream about
bicycles, normal trains, express trains or airplanes, under
comfortable and secure conditions".

The need for economic planning


This sums up one of the difficulties of the Greens condemnation of
economic growth. For much of the worlds population, economic
growth is vitally needed. Worldwide, 1.3 billion people still do not
have access to electricity. More than 700 million have no access to
clean water. On a world scale, capitalism is not providing even the
basic elements of civilisation to billions. Workers not only in Benin
but throughout large parts of Africa and Asia dream of a modern
transport system, along with decent housing, electrification and so
on.
Equally, condemnation of consumerism in the economically
developed capitalist countries is one-sided. Of course it is true that
modern capitalism encourages people to buy ever more
unnecessary products. Nonetheless, many consumer goods
genuinely improve the lives of working-class people. Fridges,
vacuum cleaners and washing machines, all improve peoples lives,
particularly those of women who continue to shoulder most of the
burden of domestic work. They are part of the accumulated
standard of living of sections of the working class, won through the
struggles of previous decades.
But is it possible to support economic growth in order to meet the
needs of humanity, while at the same time preventing the
destruction of the planet? Not on the basis of capitalism.
Capitalisms relentless drive for profit and its inbuilt need for
economic growth have already wreaked havoc on our environment,
bringing the world close to catastrophe. The current Tory
government in Britain is systematically getting rid of the few
measures to encourage renewable power that previously existed.
This is no surprise given the character of British capitalism a third
of the current value of the London Stock Exchange is made up of
high-carbon energy and mining companies.

However, a democratic socialist planned economy based on


bringing the major corporations into democratic public ownership
would be able to plan economic growth in order to meet the needs
of humanity and also to protect the planet. With massive investment
into renewable energy, the link between economic growth and
environmental degradation could be broken. Moreover, a socialist
planned economy, organised to meet humanitys needs rather than
an insatiable thirst for private profit, would not have an inbuilt
need for continual economic expansion.
The tendency to put the onus on individuals to change their
behaviour, rather than fighting for systemic change, means that
Greens often support green taxes designed to encourage
individuals to modify their behaviour. However, these are often
regressive, hitting the poorest sections of society hardest. Motorway
toll charges, congestion charges and fuel taxes are not the most
effective means to stop people using their cars, for example, when
many people have no other means of getting from A to B. Fighting
for a high-quality free or very cheap public transport system would
have a far greater effect. This, however, means coming up against
the interests of big business.

Non-class approach
The Greens globally do not see society in class terms. Per Gahrton
writes: "Class or national solidarity is basically a kind of
egocentrism, demanding that people feel solidarity with other
people of their own type, social or national". In Britain, the Greens
have criticised the historic links between the Labour Party and the
trade unions, and have supported the right wing of the partys
destruction of these links. Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, praised the
Collins Review, which removed the last vestiges of the collective
voice of the unions within the Labour Party. She wrote: "To his credit,
Ed Miliband has inched towards some kind of reform. So too have
some union leaders, who perhaps see they would have more
influence if they were not so clearly tied to one party just like the
RSPB [Royal Society for the Protection of Birds] can campaign
effectively for birds, whoever is in power". (Honourable Friends:
Parliament and the Fight for Change)
No doubt Caroline Lucas would like more trade unionists to join the
Greens, but there is no room in the Green Party constitution for
organisations, including trade unions, to affiliate to it or have any
kind of collective voice. Ultimately, by opposing the existence of a
party that represents the collective interests of the working class,
the Greens are arguing that the choice should be between different
parties representing the interests of the capitalist class.

Socialists support for class solidarity is not egocentrism, but


science. It is a recognition that the working class is responsible for
the creation of the capitalists profits and that by collective action it
is capable of bringing capitalist society to a halt but also,
potentially, of building a new socialist, non-environment-degrading
society. The struggle for such a society can win solidarity from many
beyond the ranks of the working class, even from individuals from
very privileged backgrounds who recognise that only by fighting for
socialism will it be possible to save the planet.

Abstract internationalism
Recognising that the environmental crisis is a global crisis the
Greens correctly emphasise the need for global solutions. This
approach is their justification for promoting international
institutions such as the European Union (EU) and the Eurozone.
Following the nightmare imposed on the Greek people by the
institutions of the EU, most Greens emphasised the need to reform
the EU, but they have no concrete proposals on how it is possible to
reform the completely undemocratic big-business club that is the
EU. The Volkswagen emissions tests scandal shows in sharp relief
how the EU does not act to protect the environment, or the lungs of
its inhabitants, but the corporate interests of major European
companies.
Yet the Greens have a long history of not only supporting the EU but
of signing up to many of its neoliberal charters. The Greens in the
European parliament, for example, called for support for the 2007
Lisbon treaty which included a whole raft of privatisation,
deregulation and attacks on workers rights. They explained their
position by saying: "The Greens in the European parliament support
the treaty of Lisbon as a further step in the European constitutional
process It is a compromise, and in many ways an unsatisfactory
one, however it is indispensable and represents a step forward".
Probably, many Greens thought it was a necessary, internationalist
measure to support the Lisbon treaty. But, of course, by backing
attempts of big business to impose unity from above in their own
interests replete with privatisation and attacks on workers rights
the Greens have only helped to fuel the inevitable anger against the
EU which has developed in countries across Europe.

Socialist Greens
Per Gahrton may consider national solidarity to be a kind of
egocentrism, but that is not how Greek, Portuguese or Irish workers
would see it, facing the driving down of their living conditions in the
name of the EU, which acts almost as a colonial power. A genuine

internationalist approach means being prepared to break with


capitalism and to fight for a democratic, socialist Europe.
While the leadership of the Green parties worldwide have
consistently ended up supporting neoliberal measures when in
power, that does not mean that all their members agree. In many
countries, anti-capitalists and socialists have joined Green parties. In
England and Wales, where the electoral system means that the
Greens have not yet been tested on a national basis, Greens have
nonetheless shared power at local level with parties of all political
stripes. In Brighton council, the Greens formed a minority
administration for four years from 2011. Unfortunately, that council
consistently implemented the austerity policies demanded by the
national Tory-led government, resulting in their losing power in
2015. However, a minority of the Green councillors did take a
principled stand and refused to vote for further cuts in public
services.
This is a small indication of how forces inside Green parties can play
a role in forming part of the kind of real Green parties that are
needed. Such parties would have to stand unequivocally against the
capitalist system which is destroying the planet, and be parties of
the working class and oppressed worldwide. They would need to
fight for democratic socialism as the only means to both
permanently end austerity and halt the degradation of our
environment.

Why
cant
green?

capitalism

go

The colossal fraud by Volkswagen, the worlds second-biggest


vehicle manufacturer, sums up the capitalist systems approach to
the environment. VW rigged vehicle emissions tests worldwide to
boost short-term profit. And the EU took no action pressured by
governments backing their own automotive industries. No matter
that thousands of people die of diseases directly linked to this
pollution, or that pumping out greenhouse gases threatens life on
earth. PETE DICKENSON examines this systemic failure.
It is more than a quarter of a century since the ruling classes of the
world began serious discussions on global warming, in preparation
for the 1992 UN-sponsored Earth Summit in Rio. Yet no meaningful
steps have been taken to tackle the problem, even though the
majority of the capitalist establishment has come to understand that
something needs to be done. The Paris summit looks very unlikely to
break from this pattern. So how can the lack of action be explained?

Two examples in particular highlight the underlying issues


preventing agreement. Firstly, the failure of the permit trading
system that was supposed to be the mechanism to deliver cuts in
the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Secondly, the fate
of state subsidies for renewable energy such as solar and wind
power.
From the outset, permit trading was seen as a market friendly way
to reduce greenhouse gases. After years of argument, agreement
was reached in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, to introduce a carbon permit
trading system that included legally enforceable limits on carbon
dioxide emissions, a major greenhouse gas. Each country had its
own allowed level of emissions in the treaty. Within countries, firms
had their own target that could only be exceeded if a permit to
pollute was purchased. The cost of the permit was supposed to be
set at a sufficiently high level to deter corporations from going over
their quota.
From the start, pressure from countries with relatively high
emissions forced the drafters of the treaty to introduce a whole
series of loopholes. So the targets set were very modest, only a few
percentage points reduction in emissions, totally inadequate even
then to address the problem. Also, offsetting arrangements were
allowed, in which firms could sponsor green projects in poor nations
in return for permit exemptions. This option resulted in a whole
series of outrageous scams.
Even more serious was the ability of governments to issue as many
permits as they wished. It was estimated that the price of a permit
would have to be at least $35 per tonne of carbon to have a
deterrent effect on companies. In practice, the permit price hardly
ever got out of single figures and, in the end, after the economic
crisis of 2007/08, the permits became virtually worthless as
governments issued as many as firms asked them to.
The failure of the Kyoto treaty is a very significant example of
capitalisms inability to address the danger of global warming, but
probably not surprising, even to the capitalists. The aim was to
encourage the US, the worlds biggest polluter at the time, to take
part by making the permit system as pain free as possible initially.
The death blow to Kyoto was the refusal of the US government to
participate, putting the interests of US capitalism first.
Even if the Kyoto treaty had been successfully implemented, it is
still very doubtful it would have had the necessary impact. Although
not a carbon tax in the traditional sense, in a monopolised economy
the permit trading system would have resulted in firms passing on
the costs of permits to consumers. It would then have encountered
the same problem as an eco-tax: to what extent and how quickly

would a rise in energy prices lead to greener behaviour by


consumers?
Most consumers do not have the option of choosing a green energy
supplier and are locked into present polluting technology. Even if the
price of a permit were to go up very significantly, leading to a big
rise in energy prices, there would be little reduction in greenhouse
gases, certainly not in relation to the size of the cut and the
timescale necessary, which is a fall of 40% in emissions by 2020.
Although more price sensitive than the energy sector, the same
logic applies to public transport. A rise in fuel price would not lead to
a quick switch to an energy efficient system, because it would take
too long to restructure public transport on green lines.
For socialists, a related and very important issue in this context is
that of fair distribution. A carbon tax, which is what the permit
trading system would have amounted to, is regressive since the
poor spend a greater percentage of their income on energy. If the
price of a permit was to be high enough to have a chance of
impacting on the environment, it would exacerbate the already
uneven distribution. Also, if such a high permit price was
contemplated, it would hit the profits of big business and lead to
huge opposition from the multinationals.

Renewables rise and fall


More may have been expected from the subsidies for renewable
technologies that were introduced on a larger scale in the first
decade of the century, since they represented a more direct form of
state intervention. In fact, subsidies did have a small but significant
effect, with renewables taking 8.5% of the world energy generating
market by 2013 (United Nations Environment Programme [UNEP]
Global Trends in Energy Investment, 2014). Also, 43% of new
generating capacity in 2013 was renewable, on the face of it an
encouraging statistic, which led some green commentators to say
that the (capitalist) world had finally woken up to the global
warming problem.
To see if this could be true, it is necessary to break down the
investment data by country, and to look at the trends in spending
and what is driving them. The results then must be compared to the
overall level of investment needed to keep the global temperature
rise below 2C (compared to pre-industrial levels), a point above
which there could be runaway temperature rises, according to
climate science. Finally, and most importantly, the timescale
required to achieve this outcome has to be considered.
On a world scale, investment in renewables peaked at $257 billion in
2011, but has fallen 23% since. Austerity in Europe was a major

cause of this, with spending down 56% in Germany and 75% in Italy
(Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2014). The environmental
prospects are in fact much worse than the 23% decrease would
indicate due to special factors in the Japanese energy market,
following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. The UNEP report
also showed that the unit costs of solar cells had fallen, and
consequently their deployment had increased, significantly
contributing to the apparently impressive figure of 43% of all new
power capacity being renewable. But looking at the picture in more
detail shows that this outcome was largely accidental and is very
unlikely to be repeated.
The increase in solar manufacturing capacity was linked to several
issues. State support and subsidies, whether relatively open, as in
Europe, or hidden, as in China, played a very big role in driving solar
cell adoption. The slump after the 2007/08 economic crisis, followed
by austerity, also forced down solar cell prices as demand for
energy fell. Overcapacity in the massive solar industry in China
reinforced this trend. At the same time, the oil price stayed at a
historically high level, propped up by geopolitical instability and the
policy of the OPEC cartel. These factors made solar temporarily
more attractive.
Now, those favourable conditions have turned into their opposite.
The price of oil has fallen from a peak of $140 a barrel to $50, linked
to the economic slowdown in China, and subsidies are being slashed
in Europe due to austerity. In Britain, the new right-wing
Conservative government is pursuing a scorched-earth austerity
policy literally, in the case of the environment. Virtually all of the
small advances in environmental law of the last 25 years are due to
be repealed. Onshore wind farm subsidies have been cancelled and
support for solar slashed. All remaining environmental subsidies,
although tiny, are being reviewed in line to be axed. Although the
cost of subsidies is minor, the priority for the government is to
hammer the poor and the environment so that tax breaks can be
given to the big corporations, so helping to prop up their profits.
There is no sign of a significant global economic upturn that may
begin to recreate the conditions that would support renewables.
Austerity is factored in for many more years by European
governments and there is currently no sign that the Chinese
leadership will change course and turn on the spending taps again.
Even if favourable market conditions for renewables were to reemerge, this would not change the negative prospects for the
environment. The Stern report, commissioned in 2006 by the last
Labour government but never implemented, said that investment in
renewables worth 1% of total world economic output for 40 years
was necessary to tackle global warming. Even in the peak year of

2011, investment never approached this level. It is inconceivable


that sufficiently favourable market conditions could persist, without
a break for 40 years, to make Sterns requirement a reality.

Nation states in a globalised world


The key point that emerges from the history of renewable subsidies
and permit trading is the total failure of the two most serious
attempts by governments to fix global warming. Lying behind this is
their inability to reach international agreement and their total
refusal to take measures that could hit the profits, directly or
indirectly, of the multinational corporations they represent.
Historically, it was not always the case that bourgeois politicians
refused to take action to curb the polluting excesses of their
capitalists. Also, as the Stern report clearly demonstrated, the longterm costs of inaction on global warming far exceed the costs of
mitigation. So what is holding back the present day representatives
of the ruling classes?
For example, why cant our present day rulers copy their
predecessors in the 19th century who took action, including criminal
sanctions, against firms polluting the environment? Answering this
question goes a long way to explaining the present impasse. A
century and a half ago it was much easier for the capitalist class to
tackle environmental pollution because the problem was largely
restricted within national boundaries. Also, the clashes between
countries on trade, and the profits involved, are far greater today
than they were when Britain was the dominant world power and did
not feel so threatened by foreign rivals. Since the beginning of the
20th century, capitalism has become a world system defined initially
by a huge rise in the trade of goods and then by the export of
capital on a massive scale. This was followed, due to protectionist
pressures, by the export of production, as multinational companies
set up operations throughout the world.
Despite this globalisation of capital, the nation state became
important, as the defender, by force if necessary, of the
corporations that lay under its jurisdiction. As competition for profit
between firms became more intense, the importance of the state
grew further. The contradiction between the needs of individual
capitalists to push down national barriers in the search for profit and
their reliance on their own state to defend their interests still exists
in full force.
The 147 corporations that control 40% of the worlds wealth and
dominate the global economy from research by the Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology, October 2011 resist anything that restricts
their profits, even to a small extent, and rely on their home country
to help them. In doing this, they have repeatedly shown that they

are focused only on short-term advantage. In the blindness


generated by intense competition, they disregard longer-term
problems that even threaten their own existence, such as
environmental degradation.

Cold war capitalist cooperation


Apologists for the capitalist system will object that this analysis of
imperialism ignores the potential for cooperation that exists and
exaggerates the antagonisms between the major powers. They may
admit that, yes, mistakes were made before 1945, but the lessons
of that second world war catastrophe have been learned, and that
the post-war period was characterised by significant examples of
cooperation between the imperialist powers, such as the creation of
the United Nations, the European Union, and the World Trade
Organisation. They might also point to the example of the Montreal
Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987) as an
example of an international agreement to control a dangerous
environmental threat. So expecting an agreement on global
warming is not hopeless, they might say.
Leaving the discussion about Montreal to later, it is true that the
continual re-division of the world market by force of arms involving
the big powers, predicted by Lenin, the co-leader of the 1917
Russian revolution, that marked the period before the second world
war, seemed to be superseded by a new historical reality after 1945.
The balance of international relations was profoundly altered after
the war when the victors emerged as the US and the non-capitalist
Soviet Union. The national capitalist classes then had to cooperate,
through clenched teeth, in order to present a united front in the cold
war against the USSR, whose non-capitalist social system, although
a caricature of real socialism, was nevertheless a real threat to the
main imperialist powers.
Creating a united front was helped by two factors. The first was the
domination of the US over the other big capitalist nations, so it
could, to an extent, dictate the political agenda. The second was the
post-war economic upswing that helped mask the underlying
conflicts of interest between the powers. The European states were
also prepared to concede some degree of sovereignty to the EU, to
try to challenge the economic hegemony of the US.
Now, the special factors that forced the capitalists to cooperate,
albeit to a limited extent, are rapidly disappearing. Key turning
points were the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the great
recession of 2008, which marked the decisive end of the so-called
economic golden age of 1950-75. Confrontation between the main
powers, short of war, is increasingly dominating the agenda. The
multilateral institutions created after 1945 are collapsing or

moribund. The EU is facing disintegration at some point and the


WTO has been abandoned, to be replaced by bilateral stitch-ups
such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The UN is totally impotent to impose peace or order. The failure of
attempts to address climate change was a harbinger of the move
away from post-war cooperation. Although the costs of taking action
were relatively small, the rising tensions between the main powers
prevented agreement.

Global ozone agreement


That leaves the question of the Montreal protocol as an example of
international environmental cooperation. In the 1980s it became
clear that chemicals, called CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), released
from aerosol cans, were causing the breakdown of the ozone layer in
the atmosphere. This was causing a greatly increased incidence of
skin cancers. There was an agreement at Montreal, under UN
auspices, that significantly cut CFC levels by 77% between 1988 and
1994. Could this success be repeated for global warming?
There are some crucial differences between the two issues. Firstly,
the scale is completely different, because the cost of removing a
single chemical from the production process, when substitutes were
readily available, was insignificant compared to ultimately replacing
all the planets power generating capacity. Secondly, the cost of
removing the CFCs affected all the industrialised countries on a very
roughly equal basis, when GDP per capita is considered. It is
significant, though, that the US delayed for years before ratifying
the Montreal agreement, and only did so when a US chemical
corporation, DuPont Inc, made a technical breakthrough, letting it
dominate the CFC substitute market.
Compare the cost of repairing the ozone layer to global warming. In
the latter case, the US is one of the biggest culprits, accounting for
approximately 20% of emissions, with only 5% of the worlds
population. Its per capita share is four times the world average and
nearly twice the EU emissions per head. Therefore, if the polluter is
made to pay proportionately, as the USs rivals insist, then the US
will be the main loser in the case of action on global warming, unlike
the ozone layer. This has made international agreement impossible,
a situation made more intractable by Chinas emergence as the
biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.
China had always insisted that it was not responsible historically for
global warming and would not pay for it. The Chinese regimes
refusal to take part in a follow up to Kyoto gave the US Congress an
excuse to follow suit, and killed off the idea. As a result, what is on
the agenda at Paris are just proposals for voluntary cuts in
emissions with deadlines for implementation also voluntary.

Looking for some technological fix


The officials running the Paris summit will try to gloss up the
significance of this meaningless talking shop, with claims of
breakthroughs ringing out, but nothing will cover up the bankruptcy
of the ruling classes of the world on this question. Recognising this,
some of them are now falling back on a desperate last-resort
argument: that capitalisms genius for innovation will succeed in
pulling a technological rabbit out of the hat to fix the problem.
Orthodox right-wing economists see innovation, driven by market
competition, having the effect of raising the general level of
productivity so that energy use falls for a given level of
consumption. It is true that, until the 2008 crisis, productivity was
rising at about 2% per year in industrialised countries, leading to a
fall in the amount of natural resources needed for a given level of
consumption. However, there is no evidence that this led to a fall in
pollution. Also, since the 2008 crisis, productivity in the UK has
nosedived and shows no sign yet of regaining its former level.
Even if we accept, for the sake of argument, that this theory of the
ultra-free-market neoliberals was true, it would take many decades
to have a sufficient impact to cut pollution to the level needed, by
which time it would be too late to prevent total environmental
disaster. For the free-market theory to work, and with emissions
reductions set to address the needed global warming targets, there
would have to be innovation-led productivity gains to allow for rapid,
huge cuts in natural resource consumption at the same time as
accommodating economic growth. There is no prospect of this
happening under capitalism.
Seeing the bankruptcy of free-market ideas, some sections of the
bourgeois are now looking at more interventionist approaches in
environmental economics. These ideas are sometimes linked to socalled win-win theories, the core of which is that firms are unaware
of the possibilities that new technologies can give to both tackle
environmental problems and to make profits. It is the job of
governments, the theory goes, to foster institutions and introduce
regulations, containing elements of carrot and stick, to encourage
the bosses to pick this low hanging fruit.
The problem with this approach is that it will ultimately run up
against the logic of capitalism. The bourgeoisie is looking for the
holy grail of an innovation that will provide renewable energy
cheaper than oil and coal, but the market system has been unable
to produce the technological breakthroughs that are needed.

No more half-measures

Governments and firms are reluctant to invest because of the high


costs involved and the implications for profits. If in 1995 the US
government had put in the same relative resources and urgency into
nuclear fusion, which is a potential source of superabundant
renewable energy, as it did into the Manhattan Project for a nuclear
bomb during the second world war, there is a reasonable chance it
would have succeeded by now. The bomb project absorbed 10% of
the entire US power consumption. This commitment was made
because all the belligerent powers were fighting for their survival. It
is inconceivable that an equivalent effort will be made today
because the capitalists do not see fixing global warming as having
the same urgency, far from it.
In the final analysis, the lure of a quick profit is still the reason for
investment in new technology, whether by firms or by governments
acting on their behalf. In the context of the present intense rivalry
between the imperialist powers, short-term returns are demanded
on any investment, and this rules out taking projects like nuclear
fusion seriously. When in opposition, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown
were supporters of an interventionist approach, but soon dropped it
when they found it went against the grain of the profit system, even
to a small extent. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell undoubtedly
take interventionism more seriously, and any proposed measures
that really have an impact on global warming, such as subsidies,
would of course be welcome. The greater the level of intervention,
the more likely it is to succeed.
But the logic of imperialist capitalism is inescapable, particularly
when addressing an issue like climate change, where the time for
half-measures has long since passed. It will be impossible for a
future left government to take the urgent action needed while
remaining inside the framework of an antagonistic, predatory
economic system. That is why the campaign against global warming
and environmental degradation must go hand in hand with the
struggle for socialism. Transforming the social and economic base of
society is the only way forward, carried out on an international
basis, since global warming is no respecter of national borders.

A world of change
Human beings have radically altered the Earth, adapting nature in
the struggle to survive and thrive. The pace of change accelerated
rapidly with the development of agriculture and class-based society.
It hit breakneck speed in the industrial revolution, and with post-war
scientific and technological breakthroughs. Many now say that we
have entered a distinctive geological epoch a new human era, the
Anthropocene. JESS SPEAR, a member of Socialist Alternative in
Seattle, USA, reports.

Humans, arriving on the scene roughly a million years ago, and


building modern industrial society as we know it only about 50 years
ago, represent a blip in Earths 4.5 billion year history. Yet, at each
stage of humanitys development, we have modified nature and
therefore modified our own evolution, setting the course for
biological and social changes. From simple farming to unearthing
and burning fossil fuels, to unleashing atomic bombs, our interaction
with nature has gone from local to global. Humankind has, without a
doubt, left our mark on the planet.
We can discover what the Earth looked like, the shape and position
of the continents as they have drifted apart and recombined every
300-500 million years, what creatures roamed its seas and land, and
what plants covered the surface, by deciphering the chemical or
physical imprints of their existence left behind. And what weve
learned is that the planet is never static. The planet as we know it,
the Earth system comprised of rock, water and atmosphere in
constant interconnected cycles of energy exchange has always
had upheaval, mass extinctions, and climate change. Earths history
is full of radical change.
Nonetheless, scientists today are ringing the alarm bells over the
rate of change were witnessing compared to that which existed
prior to human society. Climate scientists are pointing to the rapid
shift in greenhouse gases, biologists to the rising number of species
extinctions, oceanographers to the increasing acidity of the ocean,
and soil scientists to the depletion of nutrients and degradation of
farmland, as evidence that humanitys productive activity is
overwhelming the Earth system. The rate of increase in carbon
dioxide (CO2) is unlike anything theyve seen in Earths history for at
least the past 800,000 years.
Climate change and economic depression, the dual crises of
capitalism, have produced a growing global revolt and a search for
ideas and strategy to end our misery and protect future generations.
Mass movements against austerity demonstrate that working people
refuse to accept a system that demands severe cuts to living
standards to satisfy the 1%. Not yet clear to the vast majority of
people rebelling against the ruling elite is with what to replace this
rotten system or how. With the window of opportunity to mitigate
the consequences of climate change and prevent further disruption
inching closer with each passing year, winning the working class to
a socialist alternative is ever more paramount. Only scientific
socialism can arm the working class with a programme and strategy
to unite and fight to end the rule of the 1%, transfer power to the
99%, and rapidly implement a plan to develop society along
sustainable lines.

More heat, more problems

We live relatively brief lives. With only a little less than a century for
our point of reference, our perspective on global changes is
correspondingly narrow. To add further obfuscation, the Earth is
rather large, so we dont notice the accumulated effects of
deforestation, glacier retreat, and massive piles of trash collecting in
the Pacific and Atlantic ocean gyres. The Earths temperature rising
nearly a degree Celsius has virtually no meaning to communities
who daily experience larger fluctuations.
That we have unearthed and burned so much carbon, chemically
changing the very air we breathe, that there are now 400 molecules
of CO2 for every million air molecules a level not seen in, perhaps,
the last 25 million years up from about 280, is generally
unnoticeable. Yet, regardless of our inability to perceive the radical
transformation of our atmosphere and the general out-of-sight-outof-mind privilege most in the developed countries have when it
comes to environmental destruction and pollution, we are
nonetheless reaching dangerous tipping points.
The consequences of burning fossil fuels have long been known. As
early as 1896, Svante Arrhenius published a paper detailing how
CO2 absorbs light reflected from Earths surface, preventing it from
escaping the Earth system (that is, the greenhouse effect). In the
late 1950s, Charles Keeling began measuring the CO2 concentration
in the atmosphere. Within just a few years he made the startling
discovery that not only are there are seasonal fluctuations in CO2
related to plants absorbing it, then decomposition returning it to the
atmosphere, but that the overall concentration was rapidly rising
every year. The Keeling Curve which continues to grow as
measurements are added to a continuous record from 1958 to today
is regarded as the first proof that industrial activity was
transforming the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.
Yet, it is the dramatic and speedy depletion in Earths ice inventory
that is the canary in the coalmine. The news last year that the west
Antarctic ice sheet has destabilised and is expected to disintegrate
over the coming centuries should have elicited an immediate
response from world leaders. The ice sheet holds enough water to
raise global sea level by about 3.3 meters! There is no way to
prevent its demise. We can only now adapt to the rising seas. Added
to this is the news that a section of the Greenland ice sheet, which
contains the equivalent of half a meter global sea level rise, is also
melting rapidly. Arctic sea ice has dramatically been reduced, as
well, and scientists expect the Arctic will be ice free in the summer
as early as 2020.
Earths glaciers and ice sheets act as a global air conditioner,
keeping the planet cooler than it would be otherwise by reflecting
sunlight. The loss of Earths ice (land-based ice that is) will not only

raise sea level, displacing the more than one billion people
inhabiting low-lying coastlines. It will also further disrupt climate,
acting as a positive feedback reinforcing global warming. As the ice
melts, the Earth absorbs more heat, more ice melts, and so on.
Still, for most people, climate change is about hotter summers and
extreme weather events. And, we are not just talking about our
future which will undoubtedly get hotter, with more intense
weather but our current state of affairs. 2015 is set to be the
hottest year on record. We have now hit the one degree mark
(above pre-industrial levels) for average global temperature rise (up
from 0.85 degrees). This added heat has produced heatwaves, flash
flooding, and deadly weather events that force us to acknowledge
that climate disruption is not merely something scientists debate
and discuss for future generations. Climate change is our present.
In 2003, an estimated 70,000 people died from the heatwave that
gripped Europe. Since the 1960s extreme weather events have
more than tripled, killing an estimated 60,000 people from mostly
underdeveloped countries. The World Health Organisation estimates
that without mitigation efforts we can expect an additional quarter
of a million people will be killed by climate change related effects
from 2030-50.
For what we can expect our future climate to look and feel like,
whats important to keep in mind is that the sheer scale of the
problem that is current global climate change stems from just a tiny
increase in global temperature. Just one degree Celsius. Imagine the
impacts on us, the environment that sustains us, and the Earth
system itself, when the Earth gets another degree warmer. That is
what scientists tell us we can expect by the end of the century, if we
dont stop business-as-usual.

Welcome to the Anthropocene


The alteration of our planet from human activity, from the top of the
atmosphere down to the bottom of the ocean, is so extensive that a
growing number of scientists who study Earths history and system
are now hotly debating whether we have entered a new geological
epoch, the Anthropocene (anthropo human, cene new), or maybe
we have been in it for centuries and just didnt know it.
Proposing a new geological epoch is not merely adding a date and
name to the geological time scale, which spans 4.5 billion years
from the formation of the solar system to the present day. In fact,
the geological time scale itself is not merely a list of dates and
names. Its also a tool a common measurement scientists use to
understand how changes on our planet from its birth until now
occurred. The eons, eras and epochs that comprise it are

distinguished by rapid shifts on the entire planet. Acceptance of the


Anthropocene as a new epoch is therefore a question of whether the
impact humanity has made is abrupt, discernible globally, and
undeniably different from the previous epoch, the Holocene (and
before that, the Pleistocene). In other words, has human activity
fundamentally disrupted the Earth system such that it can be seen
in the rocks, water, and atmosphere, and future scientists will see it?
Proponents of adding the new epoch to the geological time scale
disagree about when, exactly, the Anthropocene began. The three
dates currently being debated 8,000 years ago, the industrial
revolution, and 1945 represent markers along the road to
civilization as humanity discovered and applied new ways to modify
nature to satisfy our basic needs. Some argue it began roughly
8,000 years ago when humans began clear-cutting forests and rice
farming, which altered the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse
gases.
Others argue the Anthropocene really started at the beginning of
the industrial revolution when widespread use of fossil fuels began
disrupting the Earth system, leading to the effects we are witnessing
today and will experience in the future. The widespread atomic
bomb testing, beginning with the Trinity Test in 1945, is the latest
date proposed. It is supported not because atomic bomb testing
itself disrupted the Earth system though we should not forget that
scientists warned of the dangers of a nuclear-war-induced atomic
winter but because atom bombs leave a global fingerprint easily
seen and measured, and atom bomb testing marks the rise of
American capitalisms unprecedented period of expansion.
Unlike previous changes to the geological time scale, however, the
proposals have political and social implications. That scientists are
suggesting a new epoch marked by human-caused alterations has
correctly been seized by many environmentalists as concrete proof
that we are indeed radically altering the planet.
The response from the left has been a mixture of confusion and
conflation of the scientific debate and the predictable political
response. Some anti-capitalists call foul over the name of the epoch.
They argue that its focus on humans, and therefore insinuating all
humans are responsible, hides the real root of the rapid changes
taking place: namely, capitalism. To others, particularly deep green
ecologists, it is proof that humanity is largely sociopathic how dare
we name an epoch after humans! and that really civilization is the
problem, not humans.
These arguments stem from either a misunderstanding or a lack of
understanding of how humanity and human society developed over
the last million years. A historical materialist analysis of human

history and pre-history is in fact the key to unlocking the door to our
sustainable future.

Change is constant
"History can be viewed from two sides: it can be divided into the
history of nature and that of man. The two sides, however, are not
to be seen as independent entities. As long as man has existed,
nature and man have affected each other", wrote Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engels in The German Ideology (1846). Many in the
environmental movement, however, believe we cant interact in
nature without causing harm because we, humans, are separate
from nature. This argument is embodied in a book written by
environmental leader and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, The
End of Nature (1989).
Similar to Rachel Carsons Silent Spring (1962), McKibbens book is
seen as one of the first to warn humanity of the dangers of global
warming. In it McKibben doesnt just warn about carbon pollution, he
passionately argues that humanity has destroyed nature, that "we
have ended the thing that has, at least in modern times, defined
nature for us its separation from human society". We have altered
the chemistry of the atmosphere, he argues, therefore there is no
place on Earth one could travel that is untouched by humanity.
Yet, our separation from nature is a recent phenomenon, a product
of capitalism, which combined wage labour with social production
for private profit, separating humans from the Earth on which they
laboured for sustenance. For the vast majority of human existence
we were intimately connected to the Earth, learned and
accumulated knowledge of its seasonal changes, and experienced it
as part of our existence, even though we lacked understanding of its
driving forces. As Marx explained, "man lives from nature, ie, nature
is his body, and he must maintain a continuing dialogue with it if he
is not to die". So, the conception that we are separate from nature is
also recent, and is linked to the development of capitalism.
The notion that it is modern industrial society thats the problem,
and that a return to living directly from the Earth is the solution, is
both overly simplistic and ahistorical. It extracts civilization from the
history of humanity and measures its impact based on the
presumed better situation that existed previous to civilization for
the Earth, but clearly not for humans as we died from all sorts of
health issues now treatable and preventable.
Furthermore, it ignores that
the Earth. For as long as
people crossed the seas,
imperialist conquest and/or

pre-modern humans also greatly altered


weve had boats (10,000+ years) and
at first in search of food, then for
in search of religious freedom, we have

unknowingly (and many times knowingly) transported species from


one side of the Earth to the other, radically altering ecosystems,
causing some species to flourish in new environments and others to
go extinct. The proponents of the earliest start date for the
Anthropocene would argue the advent of agriculture at the end of
the last ice age even altered the chemistry of the atmosphere,
evidence that humans were radically changing the planet as early
as 8,000 years ago.
Indeed, we are not even the first species to transform the
atmosphere. To give an extreme example, around 2.7 billion years
ago, cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) appeared, becoming the first
organisms to photosynthesize and produce oxygen as a by-product.
Before they evolved and started pumping out oxygen, there was
practically no oxygen in the atmosphere. Without cyanobacteria we
would not exist.
Interaction with nature without altering it is impossible. Living
organisms must exchange material with the Earth to live, thereby
influencing their environment, affecting their evolution and others.
As Richard Levins and Richard Lewontin write in The Dialectical
Biologist (1985), "the environment and the organism codetermine
each other". But if all species impact nature in some way, are we,
with our increasing population and extensive industrial activity,
relegated to the role of natures perpetual destroyer?

Within or without?
Our ability to understand the impact we are having on the planet,
that it will have negative consequences for us both in the short and
long term, and the decisions we make to alter the course of history,
is what sets us apart from cyanobacteria and other organisms.
Labour is not just a source of wealth. It is also what created
humanity, conscious thought, conscious planning, and the
accumulation of knowledge.
The advent of tools, and with it the co-development of the mind, the
social activity of hunting and the creation of language, put us on a
path to producing food surpluses, the very basis of class society,
civilization and scientific understanding. In short, all of human
history can be distilled down to the organisation of labour and
technique, and the concurrent changes in culture, society, and our
environment.
When capitalism replaced feudalism, it started the long process of
drawing ever larger sections of the population away from farms and
into factories and cities, and changed our ideas about nature in
relation to ourselves. No longer did we see ourselves as part of
nature, but separate. For the capitalists, nature became a source of

free wealth which, when moulded by human labour, produced


enormous profits for them. For the new working class, alienated
from nature, the ripping apart of the Earth for raw materials, the
dumping of toxins into rivers, and the sooty skies above urban
centres, represented an assault on nature, a degradation of once
beautiful areas. At each moment, as humanity leapt from the
agricultural revolution to the industrial revolution, our ideas about
ourselves in relation to nature shifted.

Towards a socialist future


"We dont want merely an amelioration of the present society, but
the establishment of a new one". (Engels, quoted by John Green in A
Revolutionary Life, 2008) Capitalism has now outlived its usefulness
for humanity. It is destroying the environment, disrupting our
climate, and relegating a billion people to the slow death of
starvation and malnutrition. No one could argue that a system
based on the profit motive will solve a problem on which it depends
for existence. Capitalism cannot offer the means to restore
ecological balance because it places no value in nature. Yet, to
throw all of modern civilization, fostered by the tremendous wealth,
technology, and resources developed by capitalism, into the
dustbin, as some suggest we do, because it also produced
environmental destruction, is to ignore the potential, also created by
this system, to create a sustainable future.
When capitalism triumphed over feudalism, it unshackled science
from the confines of religion which sought to stifle discoveries that
challenged its rule. Further development of capitalist technique,
socialised production, division of labour, and machinery, required
major leaps in science. And though investment in scientific research
is primarily focused on how to further maximise profits, the ruling
class today also cannot hold back discoveries that ultimately
undermine its authority. Whether it is plastic made from banana
peels or solar roadways, science applied to environmental and social
problems is eroding the authority of those who say fossil fuels are
necessary.
Capitalism also developed the force which has the power to liberate
all of humanity: the working class. As capitalism forced people off
the land and into mainly urban wage labour, it created the force
which has the common interest and potential to overthrow it and
create a society that benefits the majority. All around you see
working people rising up and demanding change because, not only
does capitalism hold back the transition to renewable energy, it
refuses to invest in society.
The quest for profits has every major corporation and smaller
businesses seeking to compete for a market share, depressing

wages, cutting benefits, and threatening economic ruin for tax cuts.
No longer is capitalism able to grow enough reserves to offer the
working class a share of the profits. The ruling elite globally have no
idea how to both restore economic growth and ensure payment to
the major bondholders of sovereign debt.
Anti-austerity movements from Ireland to Spain to the heroic
working class in Greece have refused to accept their fate. Protests
against new trade deals the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership reveal that working
people understand that corporations are looking to cement their rule
into international law, ignoring the needs of people and the planet.
Overcoming a system that is based on the exploitation of us all, that
separated us from nature, and is driving us towards a completely
unsustainable future, starts first and foremost with a rejection of its
ideas. If we limit what humanity is, ignore what it was and,
importantly, do not understand how it changed from one to the
other, then we are effectively rejecting the idea that we have
evolved and, crucially, that we are still in the process of evolving.
The state of the planet during the Anthropocene, whether we accept
the earliest start date or the latest, is that of constant change. Our
evolution from hunter/gatherers to modern industrial society
involved constant interaction with our environment. It shaped us.
We shaped it. Through this process we developed ideas about what
we are, what our environment is, and our relation to each other.
Humanity, with all the accumulated knowledge and experience of
past generations, has over this time also developed the capacity to
finally move beyond merely surviving to actually living.
The vast resources, technology, wealth, and human ingenuity could
be harnessed and directed to ending the needless suffering, raising
living standards globally, and achieving ecological balance. If we
grasp this fact and use it to inform our actions, then we can take
control over the changes taking place today and which will occur in
the future. This vision has the potential to unite the working class in
its historical task of overthrowing capitalism. We are at a precipice
from which we can choose to either leap off, hoping that capitalism
will find a way to profit from building us a safety net, or we can
appropriate the tools, technology and resources to build a bridge to
a socialist future.

Climate talks: 25 years of hot


air

For 25 years, establishment politicians have talked about tackling


global warming since discussions held in the run-up to the Earth
summit of 1992. Most of them now agree that human action is
driving potentially catastrophic climate change. But, as BEN
ROBINSON reports, they have done nothing to deal with this threat,
bound as they are to the profit-driven capitalist system they
represent.
The United Nations climate change conference in Paris is the latest
in a series of talks that has gone on for 23 years. They have
thoroughly demonstrated how bankrupt capitalism is, in the face of
the coming climate catastrophe it has created. The rate at which
pollutants are spilled out has continued to grow, virtually unabated
by the discussions held by diplomats around the world.
This is not because the governments and non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) have simply failed to come up with the right
idea which will then force polluters to fall in line. It is instead
because of the contradiction that climate change presents them
with. It is an international threat, causing changes we are already
seeing in oceans and currents, forests and deserts, weather
patterns, soil fertility and polar caps. It is a global threat that
requires global action to resolve.
But the individual countries that are represented in these
negotiations also represent these countries ruling classes, many of
whom are directly responsible for huge amounts of greenhouse gas
emissions. Especially the big polluters the United States, the
European Union and, latterly, China enter into each round of
negotiations seeking first and foremost to defend their wealthy
elites.
Many fine statements have been passed at UN climate conferences
(known as COPs Conferences of the Parties). But these statements
and pledges have, by and large, been without legally binding
measures or repercussions, and have often remained toothless at
the insistence of the big polluter governments.

Rio and the rise of neoliberalism


In 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a UN conference recognised, in
words, the need for coordinated action on climate change. It
accepted the overwhelming scientific consensus that global
temperatures were increasing as a result of human activity. This was
primarily through the increase in concentration of carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere, which meant that a larger share of the suns heat is
trapped in the atmosphere. This causes knock-on effects on the
Earths climate, far beyond a simple temperature rise. Most
significantly perhaps for people, it threatens food production on a

global scale, rises in sea levels threatening coastal and low-lying


populations, drought, and increased extreme weather events.
Carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas, however. Methane is
far more potent in capturing the suns heat, and is produced by
agricultural practices as well as naturally occurring processes. But it
is carbon dioxide that human activity produces the most of, and the
volume produced is the definitive factor behind human-made global
warming. Other greenhouse gases released by human activity are
generally included in the measures, calculated as carbon dioxide
equivalents. The Rio conference first laid down the aim of avoiding
temperature increases of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial
levels.
Carbon dioxide is primarily produced through energy production and
industrial processes. The significant increase in its concentration in
the atmosphere is a by-product of the industrial revolution, and has
increased in proportion with the manufacturing and energy
revolutions that took place since then. The companies that had been
to the fore of industry historically, almost exclusively based in the
west, had reaped the rewards financially, while laying the basis for
climate change in the future to say nothing of the pollution,
destruction and exploitation involved in the process in the first
place.
This exploitation and destruction laid the basis for the wealth of the
western ruling classes today, and their dominant position as
greenhouse gas producers. In 2013, research published in the
Climatic Change journal stated that just 90 companies have
produced 63% of the cumulative global emissions of carbon dioxide
and methane between 1751 and 2010 and 30% of emissions come
from the top 20. These included BP, Chevron, Exxon, Royal Dutch
Shell, Gazprom, coal producing companies, etc. Rather than humanmade global warming, it is clear that it is big-business-created
climate warming.
The facts of climate change, and the need for action, were accepted
at the Rio conference. But the conference took place as the world
was adjusting to a new state of relations. The dissolution of the
Stalinist Soviet Union had left the US as the worlds sole
superpower, enjoying a wave of triumphalism at having won the
cold war. Not only was there triumphalism that capitalism had
outlasted the Stalinist planned economies, but more specifically the
neoliberal ideologies behind Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher,
and their respective successors, George Bush and John Major.
According to the pronouncements of the day, the free hand of the
market was unchallengeable as the key organising force in society,
and to challenge it was to risk trouble. US multinationals, and those

from across the west, relished the opportunities to profiteer that


were opened up by deregulation and privatisation in the wake of this
new world order.

The US drops out of Kyoto


These economic and political conditions shaped the agreements
that were hammered out at the first three COP conferences: in
Berlin (1995), Geneva (1996) and culminating in Kyoto in 1997. The
Kyoto protocol centred on reducing emissions through market
incentives. The limited scope ignored bigger collective action that
could have been taken, such as pooling resources to research green
technologies, or an ultimatum on fossil fuel extraction. Instead,
Kyoto set targets for states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by
2012.
These targets applied to the advanced capitalist countries, where
capitalism had historically gained from carbon dioxide production.
They proposed, on average, 6-8% reductions on the emissions
measured in 1990. The targets in themselves were a significant step
back from what the scientific projections demanded, which was
around a 20% reduction to avoid temperature increases beyond 2C.
The choice of 1990 as the baseline for emissions reductions was
perhaps the biggest loophole in the Kyoto protocol. That year was
just before the dramatic collapse of industry in the former Soviet
Union, where carbon emissions collapsed as a result of the chaotic
return to the market and the decimation of industry and living
standards, which did not halt until 1998. This meant that, globally,
before Kyoto had prompted the lifting of a single finger, on paper
there was already significant progress. This huge loophole was
further emphasised by the mechanisms included in Kyoto to reduce
emissions.
The Kyoto protocol introduced emission permits. These were permits
to produce one ton of carbon dioxide, which were allocated to
polluters on the basis of previous emissions. If companies produced
less than their allocation, they could sell permits to other companies
and profit from their reduced carbon output. These could then be
gradually reduced in supply thereby increasing the cost of polluting,
incentivising reductions in carbon dioxide output. However, the
permits given to Russia and the participating former Stalinist states
could easily be sold on, ensuring that the cost of permits never
reached a level where it was cheaper for companies to reduce
emissions rather than buy permits.
Clean development mechanisms (CDMs) are another major Kyoto
instrument. These allow big polluters to earn carbon credits by
sponsoring green projects in the developing world. For example,

sponsoring a forest to prevent it being chopped down, so that it


remains to absorb carbon. By giving money to maintain the status
quo, these companies are able to churn out more greenhouse
gasses into the environment. This is without even taking into
account the possibility of corruption and lack of oversight, rampant
in similar practices.
Further UN conferences hammered out the details of the Kyoto
protocol, which finally came into force at COP 11 at the conference
in Montreal, Canada, in 2005. Overall, the impact of Kyoto hardly
troubled the operations of the huge multinationals, or their profits.
Global emissions continued to increase, and new profit records
continued to be set. This did not stop major polluters, Australia and
the United States, withdrawing from Kyoto before it began.
The US governments attitude is perhaps the clearest illustration of
where priorities really lie. Although US capitalism was in an
unparalleled position of wealth and influence, it refused to
implement Kyoto. Reductions in emissions were proportional to the
scale of emissions meaning the US, responsible for around 35% of
the worlds emissions, was meant to take the bigger hit. This would
have put the USs dirty capitalists at a disadvantage when
competing against European capitalists. That triggered the US
dropout.
If any capitalist country was going to take decisive action on climate
change, the US was by far and away the best positioned in terms of
wealth and technology. But the craven drive for profit trumped. After
George W Bush ruled out ratifying Kyoto in 2001, he led the country
to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, with the aim in part of shoring up US
dominance of global oil supplies.

Disputing who pays the bill


It had taken 13 years between the UN agreeing that action was
necessary, and the first, fatally flawed fruits. In that time, emissions
had continued to grow apace, and capitalisms climate change had
continued to impact on the world. In 1998, UN refugee statistics
showed 25 million climate refugees for the first time in history,
more than the numbers fleeing war. In 2007, climate research
showed that the impact of changing weather patterns had
contributed to drought in Sudan and the Horn of Africa, which
contributed to the bloody Darfur conflict.
Even the advanced capitalist countries are not immune. Although it
is impossible to directly link an instance of extreme weather to
global warming, occurrences such as Hurricane Katrina which
devastated New Orleans, and especially its poor, black population
become increasingly likely as a result of climate change. The

question of who should pay for these crises, and for preparing to
respond to them, was raised with increasing urgency at COP
meetings, especially by developing countries where such
catastrophes would be exacerbated by poverty.
The developing countries, led by China and India, argued that the
wealthy big polluters should subsidise these costs for poorer
countries, with less developed infrastructure and means of
developing green technologies. China in particular made demands
for international assistance a central part of its negotiating stance in
many COP conferences, arguing reasonably that it was necessary to
receive the funding to be able to continue to develop, while
reducing emissions.
The COP 6 gathering in Bonn, Germany (2001), agreed on the need
for a fund to assist with adaptation for the impact of climate change.
COP 12 in Nairobi, Kenya (2006), agreed on the procedures for the
adaptation fund. COP 14 in Pozna, Poland (2008), agreed on the
outline of a fund to help those countries affected by climate change.
COP 16 in Cancn, Mexico (2010), agreed to a Green Climate Fund,
with a targeted income of $100 billion per annum. In 2013, it was
reported that the fund had reached $10 billion per annum. COP 18
in Doha, Qatar (2012), implemented the adaptation fund which all
Kyoto signatories were obliged to pay into. UN estimates put the
funds needed at $86 billion a year however, actual money paid in
only reached $300 million.

China gets to number one


The EU in general was able to meet its Kyoto targets. However, this
was through a mixture of factors. The aftermath of the collapse of
Stalinism meant that the EU had an in-built advantage emissionswise. Industry was decimated in the former East Germany, and a
major reorganisation of industrial production took place. Britain was
also able to meet its targets, partially as a result of Thatchers
vicious war on the militant National Union of Mineworkers, which led
to the virtual end of Britains coalmining industry.
Another factor was the race to the bottom internationally. Many of
the most carbon-intensive industries were exported to countries
with lower labour costs, most notably China. If Britains imports and
exports were included in the tally, emissions would then show to
have risen by around 100 million tonnes since 1990. Similar
examples can be given across the west, and have led to China
developing as one of the worlds industrial powerhouses, and
overtaking the US as the worlds number one source of carbon
emissions.

This rapid industrial development came at a colossal cost to the


environment in China. There has been a huge increase in
desertification, due to logging and the rerouting and damming of
rivers to serve industrial centres. Pollutants have been pumped into
rivers, meaning that an estimated 700 million Chinese drink polluted
water. Smog and dust clouds are factors of life in the big cities. Coal
powered much of Chinas industries, taking advantage of its natural
reserves. This is without going into the super exploitation of the
workforce that has driven Chinas growth, and who are most
susceptible to the immediate impact of environmental destruction.
The growth of developing countries as polluters further undermined
the impact of existing COP agreements, structured around reducing
western emissions. By 2010, emissions from the developing world
were almost equal with emissions from the developed countries, and
subsequently overtook them as the main source of emissions.
Although both India and China ratified the Kyoto treaty, they were
not included in any targets for emissions reduction. Those countries
with agreed Kyoto targets now included, significantly, less than 50%
of emissions, with the US and China absent.
US industry now faced a much increased array of international
competition, and although still globally in poll position, the potential
for undermining the US on the world stage was markedly greater. US
prestige had been knocked by the disastrous military adventures in
the Middle East, and it was the epicentre of the world economic
crisis in 2007-08. All of this served to undermine the US position at
the negotiating tables in climate change discussions, but also made
US big business much less willing to make concessions on
environmental questions.
The Chinese elite, dependent on huge growth economically and
politically, refuse to commit to any targets in emission reduction.
The heavy emphasis that Chinese negotiators put on funds to aid
green development and to compensate those countries affected by
climate change resulted in formal success, with the creation of the
adaptation fund and the Green Climate Fund. The woeful
underfunding of both of them, however, showed the level of
commitment to aiding green growth in China and elsewhere.

Post-Kyoto paralysis
The targets enshrined in Kyoto expired in 2012. The absence of a
follow-up agreement meant that at COP 18 in Doha, Qatar, a small
number of Kyoto signatories agreed to continue with the existing
reduction targets, until a new treaty was agreed. Those agreeing to
continue with Kyoto targets represented just 15% of the worlds
emissions not enough for the dramatic scale of carbon dioxide
cutbacks that science was by now reporting as necessary.

However, the continued growth in carbon emissions had made the


demand for action increasingly pressing. At the start of the process
of UN climate conferences, and repeatedly throughout, the stated
target had been to keep global temperature increases below 2C.
Although the cuts enshrined in Kyoto were inadequate, they
represented less ambitious targets than those predicted as
necessary by scientists. Scientific evidence presented to COP 17 in
Durban, South Africa (2011), showed that reductions of emissions by
40% were now necessary before 2021 in order to keep within this
target.
Instead of stepping up the urgency of action, COP conferences have
failed to reach the same level of agreement that Kyoto represented
in 1997. The initial timescale, which promised the Kyoto successor
would be ready at Paris 2015, has now been pushed back after
several utterly fruitless conferences. The present working timescale
before the coming COP conferences is to have a new treaty agreed
and ready to be implemented by 2020 just one year before the
40% cuts demanded by scientists are due!
The process taken as a whole is clearly farcical, or rather it would be
if the consequences for humanity and the planet were not so grave.
Exasperated by covering multiple climate conferences in 2006, BBC
reporter Richard Black described delegates to the Nairobi
conference as climate tourists, who attended "to see Africa, take
snaps of the wildlife, the poor, dying African children and women".
But beyond the individual characters of the delegates at the COP
conferences is the intransigence of big business to countenance any
threat to their immediate bottom line, and the slavishness of
governments who defend those vested interests at all costs.
Commissioned in 2006 to write a report on climate change for
Britains last Labour government, Nicholas Stern said that climate
change was "a result of the greatest market failure the world has
seen". In concrete terms, the high point of the UN process was the
Kyoto agreement, which only ever committed around 60% of the
worlds polluters to action action that was both less than what was
necessary and riddled with easy loopholes. Often conferences are
concluded with huge official optimism from participating
governments and NGOs, but this has just served to deceive, inveigle
and obfuscate.
Leaving the process to big business and their politicians is to
guarantee mutually assured destruction. But while the climate
politicians have endlessly discussed, there has been a growing
movement demanding radical action. The Copenhagen conference
in 2009 saw 100,000 take part in counter-protests. In New York City
in 2014, hundreds of thousands marched demanding climate action.
It is this movement, armed with a socialist programme and united

with workers and young people, which is the key to fighting global
warming.

Workshop Talks: Socialism Made Easy


Posted by admin
This pamphlet by James Connolly has introduced millions of workers to the basic
ideas of socialism. We are reprinting it so that workers and young people today can
continue to read it and learn from its arguments. It is also available from in hard copy
for only $2 from the SP National Office.
FOREWORD
In this work the author presents his own views in his own manner. Hence he employs
the first person singular in preference to the impersonal we of journalism or of
official production. The articles have been written at various times in Ireland and
America and have already attained a wide circulation through being reprinted in
various Socialist journals in both countries. Constant requests to the author to have
them collected and published in a more permanent and accessible form have induced
him to make this selection in the hope that they may be thought not unworthy of a
place in at least the fugitive literature of the Socialist movement.
A word as to the plan of the work may not be amiss here. Section 1 is light, satirical,
jesting and serious by turns, and follows the usual course of attack and defense,
argument and rebuttal, experienced by a Socialist workman in factory, workshop or
mine before he has destroyed the prejudices and won the serious consideration of his
fellow workers. Section 2 is serious throughout, and is an attempt to deduce from
actual every-day experiences and from historical facts the probable correct answer to
the question put by the worker when he realizes the necessity of a change, viz: How
must we act? How are we going to do it?
SECTION I WORKSHOP TALKS
[INTERNATIONALISM]
SOCIALISM IS A FOREIGN IMPORTATION!
I know it because I read it in the papers. I also know it to be the case because in every
country I have graced with my presence up to the present time, or have heard from,
the possessing classes through their organs in the press, and their spokesmen upon the
platform have been vociferous and insistent in declaring the foreign origin of
Socialism.
In Ireland Socialism is an English importation, in England they are convinced it was
made in Germany, in Germany it is a scheme of traitors in alliance with the French to
disrupt the Empire, in France it is an accursed conspiracy to discredit the army which
is destined to reconquer Alsace and Lorraine, in Russia it is an English plot to prevent
Russian extension towards Asia, in Asia it is known to have been set on foot by

American enemies of Chinese and Japanese industrial progress, and in America it is


one of the baneful fruits of unrestricted pauper and criminal immigration.
All nations today repudiate Socialism, yet Socialist ideas are conquering all nations.
When anything has to be done in a practical direction toward ameliorating the lot of
the helpless ones, or towards using the collective force of society in strengthening the
hands of the individual it is sure to be in the intellectual armory of Socialists the right
weapon is found for the work.
A case in point. There are tens of thousands of hungry children in New York today as
in every other large American city, and many well meant efforts have been made to
succor them. Free lunches have been opened in the poorest districts, bread lines have
been established and charitable organizations are busy visiting homes and schools to
find out the worst cases. But all this has only touched the fringe of the destitution,
with the additional aggravation that anything passing through the hands of these
charitable committees usually costs ten times as much for administration as it bestows
on the object of its charity.
Also that the investigation is usually more effectual in destroying the last vestiges of
self-respect in its victims than in succoring their needs.
In the midst of this difficulty Superintendent Maxwell of the New York Schools sends
a letter to a committee of thirteen charitable organizations which had met together to
consider the problem, and in this letter he advocates the method of relieving distress
long since initiated by the Socialist representatives in the Municipality of Paris. I
quote from the New York World:
A committee of seven was appointed to inquire more fully into the question of feeding
school children and to report at a subsequent meeting. School Superintendent
Maxwell sent a letter advocating the establishment in New York schools with city
money of lunch kitchens, these to sell food at actual cost and to give to needy children
tickets just like those paid for, to the end that no child might know that his fellow was
eating at the expense of the city by the color of his ticket. This is done in Paris.
Contrast this solicitude for the self-respect of the poor children, recognized by
Superintendent Maxwell in the plan of these foreign Socialists with the insulting
methods of the capitalist bread lines and charitable organizations in general.
But all the same it is too horrible to take practical examples in relieving the distress
caused by capitalist society from pestilent agitators who wish to destroy the society
whose victims they are succoring, and mere foreigners, too. The capitalist method of
parading mothers and children for an hour in the street before feeding them is more
calculated to build up the proper degree of pride in the embryo American citizens; and
make them appreciate the benefits their fathers and brothers are asked to vote for.
Read this telling how hungry children and mothers stood patiently waiting for a meal
on the sidewalk, and whoop it up for pure ecstasy of joy that you are permitted to live
in a system of society wherein a great metropolitan daily thought that the fact of five
hundred children getting a hearty luncheon was remarkable enough to deserve a
paragraph:

Five hundred ill-fed children who attend the schools on the lower east side got a
hearty luncheon yesterday when the first of the childrens lunchrooms was opened at
Canal and Forsyth streets. Long before noon there was a large gathering of children,
some of them accompanied by their mothers, awaiting the opening of the doors.
WELL, I AM NOT INTERESTED IN INTERNATIONALISM. THIS COUNTRY IS
GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME.
Is that so? Say: Are you taking a share in the Moscow-Windau-Rydinsk Railway?
No, where is that?
My dear friend, where that railway runs has nothing to do with you. What you have to
do is simply to take a share, and then go and have a good time whilst the Russian
railway workers, whom you do not know, working in a country you never saw,
speaking a language you dont understand, earn your dividends by the sweat of their
brows.
Curious, aint it?
We Socialists are always talking about the international solidarity of labor, about the
oneness of our interests all over the world, and ever and anon working off our heaving
chests a peroration on the bonds of fraternal sympathy which should unite the wage
slaves of the capitalist system.
But there is another kind of bond Russian railway bonds which join, not the
workers, but the idlers of the world in fraternal sympathy, and which creates among
the members of the capitalist class a feeling of identity of interest, of international
solidarity, which they dont perorate about but which is most potent and effective
notwithstanding.
You do not fully recognize the fact that the internationality of Socialism is at most but
a lame and halting attempt to create a counterpoise to the internationality of
capitalism. Yet so it is.
Here is a case in point. The Moscow-Windau-Rydinsk railway is, as its name
indicates, a railway running, or proposed to be run, from one part of Russia to another.
You would think that that concerned the Russian people only, and that our patriotic
capitalist class, always so ready to declare against working class Socialists with
international sympathies, would never look at it or touch it.
You would not think that Ireland, for example whose professional patriots are
forever telling the gullible working men that Ireland will be ruined for the lack of
capital and enterprise would be a good country to find money in to finance a
Russian railway.
Yet, observe the fact. All the Dublin papers of Monday, June 12, 1899, contained the
prospectus of this far away Russian railway, offered for the investment of Irish
capitalists, and offered by a firm of London stockbrokers who are astute enough not to

waste money in endeavoring to catch fish in waters where they were not in the habit
of biting freely.
And in the midst of the Russian revolution the agents of the Czar succeeded in
obtaining almost unlimited treasures in the United States to pay the expenses of
throttling the infant Liberty.
As the shares in Russian railways were sold in Ireland, as Russian bonds were sold in
America, so the shares in American mines, railroads and factories are bought and sold
on all the stock exchanges of Europe and Asia by men who never saw America in
their lifetime.
Now, let us examine the situation, keeping in mind the fact that this is but a type of
what prevails all round; you can satisfy yourself on that head by a daily glance at our
capitalist papers.
CAPITAL IS INTERNATIONAL
The shares of Russian railways, African mines, Nicaraguan canals, Chilian gas works,
Norwegian timber, Mexican water works, Canadian fur trappings, Australian kanaka
slave trade, Indian tea plantations, Japanese linen factories, Chinese cotton mills,
European national and municipal debts, United States bonanza farms are bought and
sold every day by investors, many of whom never saw any one of the countries in
which their money is invested, but who have, by virtue of so investing, a legal right to
a share of the plunder extracted under the capitalist system from the wage workers
whose bone and sinew earn the dividends upon the bonds they have purchased.
When our investing classes purchase a share in any capitalist concern, in any country
whatsoever, they do so, not in order to build up a useful industry, but because the act
of purchase endows them with a prospective share of the spoils it is proposed to wring
from labor.
Therefore, every member of the investing classes is interested to the extent of his
investments, present or prospective, in the subjection of Labor all over the world.
That is the internationality of Capital and Capitalism.
The wage worker is oppressed under this system in the interest of a class of capitalist
investors who may be living thousands of miles away and whose very names are
unknown to him.
He is, therefore, interested in every revolt of Labor all over the world, for the very
individuals against whom that revolt may be directed may by the wondrous
mechanism of the capitalist system through shares, bonds, national and municipal
debts be the parasites who are sucking his blood also. That is one of the underlying
facts inspiring the internationalism of Labor and Socialism.
[OLD AGE PENSIONS]

BUT THE SOCIALIST PROPOSALS, THEY SAY, WOULD DESTROY THE


INDIVIDUAL CHARACTER OF THE WORKER. HE WOULD LEAN ON THE
COMMUNITY, INSTEAD OF UPON HIS OWN EFFORTS.
Yes: Giving evidence before the Old Age Pensions Committee in England, Sir John
Dorrington, M.P., expressed the belief that the provision of Old Age Pensions by the
State, for instance, would do more harm than good. It was an objectionable principle,
and would lead to improvidence.
There now! You will always observe that it is some member of what an Irish
revolutionist called the canting, fed classes, who is anxious that nothing should be
done by the State to give the working class habits of improvidence, or to do us any
harm. Dear, kind souls!
To do them justice they are most consistent. For both in public and private their
efforts are most whole-heartedly bent in the same direction, viz., to prevent
improvidence ON OUR PART.
They lower our wages to prevent improvidence; they increase our rents to prevent
improvidence; they periodically suspend us from our employment to prevent
improvidence, and as soon as we are worn out in their service they send us to a semiconvict establishment, known as the Workhouse, where we are scientifically starved
to death to prevent improvidence.
Old Age Pensions might do us harm. Ah, yes! And yet, come to think of it, I know
quite a number of people who draw Old Age Pensions and it doesnt do them a bit of
harm. Strange, isnt it?
Then all the Royal Families have pensions, and they dont seem to do them any harm;
royal babies, in fact, begin to draw pensions and milk from a bottle at the same time.
Afterwards they drop the milk, but they never drop the pension nor the bottle.
Then all our judges get pensions, and are not corrupted thereby at least not more
than usual. In fact, all well-paid officials in governmental or municipal service get
pensions, and there are no fears expressed that the receipt of the same may do them
harm.
But the underpaid, overworked wage-slave. To give him a pension would ruin his
moral fibre, weaken his stamina, debase his manhood, sap his integrity, corrupt his
morals, check his prudence, emasculate his character, lower his aspirations, vitiate his
resolves, destroy his self-reliance, annihilate his rectitude, corrode his virility and
and other things.
[PRACTICAL POLITICS]
LET US BE PRACTICAL. WE WANT SOMETHING PR-R-RACTICAL.

Always the cry of hum-drum mediocrity, afraid to face the stern necessity for
uncompromising action. That saying has done more yeoman service in the cause of
oppression than all its avowed supporters.
The average man dislikes to be thought unpractical, and so, while frequently loathing
the principles or distrusting the leaders of the particular political party he is associated
with, declines to leave them, in the hope that their very lack of earnestness may be
more fruitful of practical results than the honest outspokenness of the party in whose
principles he does believe.
In the phraseology of politics, a party too indifferent to the sorrow and sufferings of
humanity to raise its voice in protest, is a moderate, practical party; whilst a party
totally indifferent to the personality of leaders, or questions of leadership, but hot to
enthusiasm on every question affecting the well-being of the toiling masses, is an
extreme, a dangerous party.
Yet, although it may seem a paradox to say so, there is no party so incapable of
achieving practical results as an orthodox political party; and there is no party so
certain of placing moderate reforms to its credit as an extreme a revolutionary party.
The possessing classes will and do laugh to scorn every scheme for the amelioration
of the workers so long as those responsible for the initiation of the scheme admit as
justifiable the rights of property; but when the public attention is directed towards
questioning the justifiable nature of those rights in themselves, then the master class,
alarmed for the safety of their booty, yield reform after reform in order to prevent
revolution.
Moral Dont be practical in politics. To be practical in that sense means that you
have schooled yourself to think along the lines, and in the grooves those who rob you
would desire you to think.
In any case it is time we got rid of all the cant about politics and constitutional
agitation in general. For there is really no meaning whatever in those phrases.
Every public question is a political question. The men who tell us that Labor
questions, for instance, have nothing to do with politics, understand neither the one
nor the other. The Labor question cannot be settled except by measures which
necessitate a revision of the whole system of society, which, of course, implies
political warfare to secure the power to effect such revision.
If by politics we understand the fight between the outs and ins, or the contest for party
leadership, then Labor is rightly supremely indifferent to such politics, but to the
politics which center round the question of property and the administration thereof
Labor is not, cannot be, indifferent.
To effect its emancipation Labor must reorganize society on the basis of labor; this
cannot be done while the forces of government are in the hands of the rich, therefore
the governing power must be wrested from the hands of the rich peaceably if possible,
forcibly if necessary.

In the phraseology of the master class and its pressmen the trade unionist who is not a
Socialist is more practical than he who is, and the worker who is neither one nor the
other but can resign himself to the state of slavery in which he was born, is the most
practical of all men.
The heroes and martyrs who in the past gave up their lives for the liberty of the race
were not practical, but they were heroes all the same.
The slavish multitude who refused to second their efforts from a craven fear lest their
skins might suffer were practical, but they were soulless serfs, nevertheless.
Revolution is never practical until the hour of the Revolution strikes. Then it alone
is practical, and all the efforts of the conservatives and compromisers become the
most futile and visionary of human imaginings.
For that hour let us work, think and hope; for that hour let us pawn our present ease in
hopes of a glorious redemption; for that hour let us prepare the hosts of Labor with
intelligence sufficient to laugh at the nostrums dubbed practical by our slave-lords,
practical for the perpetuation of our slavery; for that supreme crisis of human history
let us watch, like sentinels, with weapons ever ready, remembering always that there
can be no dignity in Labor until Labor knows no master.
[CONFISCATION]
WOULD YOU CONFISCATE THE PROPERTY OF THE CAPITALIST CLASS
AND ROB MEN OF THAT WHICH THEY HAVE, PERHAPS, WORKED A
WHOLE LIFETIME TO ACCUMULATE?
Yes, sir, and certainly not.
We would certainly confiscate the property of the capitalist class, but we do not
propose to rob anyone. On the contrary, we propose to establish honesty once and
forever as the basis of our social relations. This Socialist movement is indeed worthy
to be entitled The Great Anti-Theft Movement of the Twentieth Century.
You see, confiscation is one great certainty of the future for every business man
outside of the trust. It lies with him to say if it will be confiscation by the Trust in the
interest of the Trust, or confiscation by Socialism in the interest of All.
If he resolves to continue to support the capitalist order of society he will surely have
his property confiscated. After having, as you say, worked for a whole lifetime to
accumulate a fortune, to establish a business on what he imagined would be a sound
foundation, on some fine day the Trust will enter into competition with him, will
invade his market, use their enormous capital to undersell him at ruinous prices, take
his customers from him, ruin his business, and finally drive him into bankruptcy, and
perhaps to end his days as a pauper.
That is capitalist confiscation! It is going on all around us, and every time the business
man who is not a Trust Magnate votes for capitalism, he is working to prepare that
fate for himself.

On the other hand, if he works for Socialism it also will confiscate his property. But it
will only do so in order to acquire the industrial equipment necessary to establish a
system of society in which the whole human race will be secured against the fear of
want for all time, a System in which all men and women will be joint heirs and
owners of all the intellectual and material conquests made possible by associated
effort.
Socialism will confiscate the property of the capitalist and in return will secure the
individual against poverty and oppres- sion; it, in return for so confiscating, will
assure to all men and women a free, happy and unanxious human life. And that is
more than capitalism can assure anyone today.
So you see the average capitalist has to choose between two kinds of confiscation.
One or the other he must certainly endure. Confiscation by the Trust and consequently
bankruptcy, poverty and perhaps pauperism in his old age, or
Confiscation by Socialism and consequently security, plenty and a Care-Free Life to
him and his to the remotest generation.
Which will it be?
BUT IT IS THEIR PROPERTY. WHY SHOULD SOCIALISTS CONFISCATE IT?
Their property, eh? Let us see: Here is a cutting from the New York World giving a
synopsis of the Annual Report of the Coats Thread Company of Pawtucket, Rhode
Island, for 1907. Now, let us examine it, and bear in mind that this company is the
basis of the Thread Trust, with branches in Paisley, Scotland, and on the continent of
Europe.
Also bear in mind that it is not a horrible example, but simply a normal type of a
normally conducted industry, and therefore what applies to it will apply in a greater or
less degree to all others.
This report gives the dividend for the year at 20 per cent per annum. Twenty per cent
dividend means 20 cents on the dollar profit. Now, what is a profit?
According to Socialists, profit only exists when all other items of production are paid
for. The workers by their labor must create enough wealth to pay for certain items
before profit appears. They must pay for the cost of raw material, the wear and tear of
machinery, buildings, etc. (the depreciation of capital), the wages of superintendence,
their own wages, and a certain amount to be left aside as a reserve fund to meet all
possible contingencies. After, and only after, all these items have been paid for by
their labor, all that is left is profit.
With this company the profit amounted to 20 cents on every dollar invested.
What does this mean? It means that in the course of five years five times 20 cents
equals one dollar the workers in the industry had created enough profit to buy the
whole industry from its present owners. It means that after paying all the expenses of
the factory, including their own wages, they created enough profit to buy the whole

building, from the roof to the basement, all the offices and agencies, and everything in
the shape of capital. All this in five years.
And after they had so bought it from the capitalists it still belonged to the capitalists.
It means that if a capitalist had invested $1,000 in that industry, in the course of five
years he would draw out a thousand dollars, and still have a thousand dollars lying
there untouched; in the course of ten years, he would draw two thousand dollars, in
fifteen years he would draw three thousand dollars. And still his first thousand dollars
would be as virgin as ever.
You understand that this has been going on ever since the capitalist system came into
being; all the capital in the world has been paid for by the working class over and over
again, and we are still creating it, and recreating it. And the oftener we buy it the less
it belongs to us.
The capital of the master class is not their property; it is the unpaid labor of the
working class the hire of the laborer kept back by fraud.
[HOLIDAYS]
OH, THE CAPITALIST HAS HIS ANXIETIES, TOO. AND THE WORKER HAS
OFTEN A GOOD TIME.
Sure: Say, where were you for the holidays?
Were you tempted to go abroad? Did you visit Europe? Did you riot, in all the
abandonment of a wage slave let loose, among the pleasure haunts of the world?
Perhaps you went to the Riviera; perhaps you luxuriated in ecstatic worship of that
glorious bit of Natures handiwork where the blue waters of the Mediterranean roll in
all their entrancing splendor against the shores of classic Italy.
Perhaps you rambled among the vine clad hills of sunny France, and visited the spots
hallowed by the hand of that countrys glorious history.
Perhaps you sailed up the castellated Rhine, toasted the eyes of bewitching German
frauleins in frothy German beer, explored the recesses of the legend haunted Hartz
mountains, and established a nodding acquaintance with the Spirit of the Brocken.
Perhaps you traversed the lakes and fjords of Norway, sat down in awe before the
neglected magnificence of the Alhambra, had a cup of coffee with Menelik of
Abyssinia, smelt afar off the odors of the streets of Morocco, climbed the Pyramids of
Egypt, shared the hospitable tent of the Bedouin, visited Cyprus, looked in at
Constantinople, ogled the dark- eyed beauties of Circassia, rubbed up against the
Cossack in his Ural mountains, or
Perhaps you lay in bed all day in order to save a meal, and listened to your wife
wondering how she could make ends meet with a days pay short in the weekly
wages.

And whilst you thus squandered your substance in riotous living, did you ever stop to
think of your master your poor, dear, overworked, tired master?
Did you ever stop to reflect upon the pitiable condition of that individual who so
kindly provides you with employment, and does no useful work himself in order that
you may get plenty of it?
When you consider how hard a task it was for you to decide in what manner you
should spend your Holiday; where you should go for that ONE DAY, then you must
perceive how hard it is for your masters to find a way in which to spend the
practically perpetual holiday which you force upon them by your love for work.
Ah, yes, that large section of our masters who have realized that ideal of complete
idleness after which all our masters strive, those men who do not work, never did
work, and with the help of God and the ignorance of the people never intend to
work, how terrible must be their lot in life!
We, who toil from early morn till late at night, from January till December, from
childhood to old age, have no care or trouble or mental anxiety to cross our mind
except the landlord, the fear of loss of employment, the danger of sickness, the lack of
common necessities, to say nothing of luxuries, for our children, the insolence of our
superiors, the unhealthy condition of our homes, the exhausting nature of our toil, the
lack of all opportunities of mental cultivation, and the ever present question whether
we shall shuffle off this mortal coil in a miserable garret, be killed by hard work, or
die in the Poorhouse.
With these trifling exceptions we have nothing to bother us; but the boss, ah, the poor,
poor boss!
He has everything to bother him. Whilst we are amusing ourselves in the hold of a
ship shoveling coal, swinging a hammer in front of a forge, toiling up a ladder with
bricks, stitching until our eyes grow dim at the board, gaily riding up and down for
twelve hours per day, seven days per week, on a trolley car, riding around the city in
all weather with teams or swinging by the skin of our teeth on the iron framework of a
skyscraper, standing at our ease OUTSIDE the printing office door listening to the
musical click of the linotype as it performs the work we used to do INSIDE, telling
each other comforting stories about the new machinery which takes our places as
carpenters, harness-makers, tinplate-workers, laborers, etc., in short whilst we are
enjoying our- selves, free from all mental worry.
Our unselfish tired-out bosses are sitting at home, with their feet on the table, softly
patting the bottom button of their vests.
Working with their brains.
Poor bosses! Mighty brains!
Without our toil they would never get the education necessary to develop their brains;
if we were not defrauded by their class of the fruits of our toil we could provide for
education enough to develop the mental powers of all, and so deprive the ruling class

of the last vestige of an excuse for clinging to mastership, viz., their assumed
intellectual superiority.
I say assumed, because the greater part of the brain- work of industry today is
performed by men taken from the ranks of the workers, and paid high salaries in
proportion as they develop expertness as slave-drivers.
As education spreads among the people the workers will want to enjoy life more; they
will assert their right to the full fruits of their labor, and by that act of self-assertion
lay the foundation of that Socialist Republic in which the labor will be so easy, and
the reward so great, that life will seem a perpetual holiday.
BUT SOCIALISM IS AGAINST RELIGION. I CANT BE A SOCIALIST AND BE
A CHRISTIAN.
O, quit your fooling! That talk is all right for those who know nothing of the relations
between capital and labor, or are innocent of any knowledge of the processes of
modern industry, or imagine that men, in their daily struggles for bread or fortunes,
are governed by the Sermon on the Mount.
But between workingmen that talk is absurd. We know that Socialism bears upon our
daily life in the workshop, and that religion does not; we know that the man who
never set foot in a church in his lifetime will, if he is rich, be more honored by
Christian society than the poor man who goes to church every Sunday, and says his
prayers morning and evening; we know that the capitalists of all religions pay more
for the service of a good lawyer to keep them out of the clutches of the law than for
the services of a good priest to keep them out of the clutches of the devil; and we
never heard of a capitalist, who, in his business, respected the Sermon on the Mount
as much as he did the decisions of the Supreme Court.
These things we know. We also know that neither capitalist nor worker can practice
the moral precepts of religion, and without its moral precepts a religion is simply a
sham. If a religion cannot enforce its moral teachings upon its votaries it has as little
relation to actual life as the pre-election promises of a politician have to legislation.
We know that Christianity teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we also
know that if a capitalist attempted to run his business upon that plan his relatives
would have no difficulty in getting lawyers, judges and physicians to declare him
incompetent to conduct his affairs in the business world.
He would not be half as certain of reaching Heaven in the next world as he would be
of getting into the bughouse in this.
And, as for the worker. Well, in the fall of 1908, the New York World printed an
advertisement for a teamster in Brooklyn, wages to be $12 per week. Over 700
applicants responded. Now, could each of these men love their neighbors in that line
of hungry competitors for that pitiful wage?
As each man stood in line in that awful parade of misery could he pray for his
neighbor to get the job, and could he be expected to follow up his prayer by giving up

his chance, and so making certain the prolongation of the misery of his wife and little
ones?
No, my friend, Socialism is a bread and butter question. It is a question of the
stomach; it is going to be settled in the factories, mines and ballot boxes of this
country and is not going to be settled at the altar or in the church.
This is what our well-fed friends call a base, material standpoint, but remember that
beauty, and genius and art and poetry and all the finer efflorescences of the higher
nature of man can only be realized in all their completeness upon the material basis of
a healthy body, that not only an army but the whole human race marches upon its
stomach, and then you will grasp the full wisdom of our position.
That the question to be settled by Socialism is the effect of private ownership of the
means of production upon the well-being of the race; that we are determined to have a
straight fight upon the question between those who believe that such private
ownership is destructive of human well-being and those who believe it to be
beneficial, that as men of all religions and of none are in the ranks of the capitalists,
and men of all religions and of none are on the side of the workers the attempt to
make religion an issue in the question is an intrusion, an impertinence and an
absurdity.
Personally I am opposed to any system wherein the capitalist is more powerful than
God Almighty. You need not serve God unless you like, and may refuse to serve him
and grow fat, prosperous and universally respected. But if you refuse to serve the
capitalist your doom is sealed; misery and poverty and public odium await you.
No worker is compelled to enter a church and to serve God; every worker is
compelled to enter the employment of a capitalist and serve him.
As Socialists we are concerned to free mankind from the servitude forced upon them
as a necessity of their life; we propose to allow the question of all kinds of service
voluntarily rendered to be settled by the emancipated human race of the future.
I do not deny that Socialists often leave the church. But why do they do so? Is their
defection from the church a result of our attitude towards religion; or is it the result of
the attitude of the church and its ministers toward Socialism?
Let us take a case in point, one of those cases that are being paralleled every day in
our midst. An Irish Catholic joins the Socialist movement. He finds that as a rule the
Socialist men and women are better educated than their fellows; he finds that they are
immensely cleaner in speech and thought than are the adherents of capitalism in the
same class; that they are devoted husbands and loyal wives, loving and cheerful
fathers and mothers, skilful and industrious workers in the shops and office, and that
although poor and needy as a rule, yet that they continually bleed themselves to
support their cause, and give up for Socialism what many others spend in the saloon.
He finds that a drunken Socialist is as rare as a white black-bird, and that a Socialist
of criminal tendencies is such a rara avis that when one is found the public press
heralds it forth as a great discovery.

Democratic and republican jailbirds are so common that the public press do not regard
their existence as news to anybody, nor yet does the public press think it necessary
to say that certain criminals belong to the Protestant or Catholic religions. That is
nothing unusual, and therefore not worth printing. But a criminal Socialist that
would be news indeed!
Our Irish Catholic Socialist gradually begins to notice these things. He looks around
and he finds the press full of reports of crimes, murders, robberies, bank swindlers,
forgeries, debauches, gambling transactions, and midnight orgies in which the most
revolting indecencies are perpetrated. He investigates and he discovers that the
perpetrators of these crimes were respectable capitalists, pillars of society, and red-hot
enemies of Socialism, and that the dives in which the highest and the lowest meet
together in a saturnalia of vice contribute a large proportion of the campaign funds of
the capitalist political parties.
Some Sunday he goes to Mass as usual, and he finds that at Gospel the priest launches
out into a political speech and tells the congregation that the honest, self-sacrificing,
industrious, clean men and women, whom he calls comrades, are a wicked, impious,
dissolute sect, desiring to destroy the home, to distribute the earnings of the provident
among the idle and lazy of the world, and reveling in all sorts of impure thoughts
about women.
And as this Irish Catholic Socialist listens to this foul libel, what wonder if the hot
blood of anger rushes to his face, and he begins to believe that the temple of God has
itself been sold to the all desecrating grasp of the capitalist?
While he is yet wondering what to think of the matter, he hears that his immortal soul
will be lost if he fails to vote for capitalism, and he reflects that if he lined up with the
brothel keepers, gambling house proprietors, race track swindlers, and white slave
traders to vote the capitalist ticket, this same priest would tell him he was a good
Catholic and loyal son of the church.
At such a juncture the Irish Catholic Socialist often rises up, goes out of the church
and wipes its dust off his feet forever. Then we are told that Socialism took him away
from the church. But did it? Was it not rather the horrible spectacle of a priest of God
standing up in the Holy Presence lying about and slandering honest men and women,
and helping to support political parties whose campaign fund in every large city
represents more bestiality than ever Sodom and Gomorrah knew?
These are the things that drive Socialists from the church, and the responsibility for
every soul so lost lies upon those slanderers and not upon the Socialist movement.
[SOCIALISM AND NATIONALISM]
WELL, YOU WONT GET THE IRISH TO HELP YOU. OUR IRISH-AMERICAN
LEADERS TELL US THAT ALL WE IRISH IN THIS COUNTRY OUGHT TO
STAND TOGETHER AND USE OUR VOTES TO FREE IRELAND.
Sure, let us free Ireland!

Never mind such base, carnal thoughts as concern work and wages, healthy homes, or
lives unclouded by poverty.
Let us free Ireland!
The rackrenting landlord; is he not also an Irishman, and wherefore should we hate
him? Nay, let us not speak harshly of our brother yea, even when he raises our rent.
Let us free Ireland!
The profit-grinding capitalist, who robs us of three-fourths of the fruits of our labor,
who sucks the very marrow of our bones when we are young, and then throws us out
in the street, like a worn-out tool, when we are grown prematurely old in his service,
is he not an Irishman, and mayhap a patriot, and wherefore should we think harshly of
him?
Let us free Ireland!
The land that bred and bore us. And the landlord who makes us pay for permission
to live upon it.
Whoop it up for liberty!
Let us free Ireland, says the patriot who wont touch Socialism.
Let us all join together and cr-r-rush the br-r-rutal Saxon. Let us all join together, says
he, all classes and creeds.
And, says the town worker, after we have crushed the Saxon and freed Ireland, what
will we do?
Oh, then you can go back to your slums, same as before.
Whoop it up for liberty!
And, says the agricultural workers, after we have freed Ireland, what then?
Oh, then you can go scraping around for the landlords rent or the money-lenders
interest same as before.
Whoop it up for liberty!
After Ireland is free, says the patriot who wont touch Socialism, we will protect all
classes, and if you wont pay your rent you will be evicted same as now. But the
evicting party, under command of the sheriff, will wear green uniforms and the Harp
without the Crown, and the warrant turning you out on the roadside will be stamped
with the arms of the Irish Republic.
Now, isnt that worth fighting for?

And when you cannot find employment, and, giving up the struggle of life in despair,
enter the Poorhouse, the band of the nearest regiment of the Irish army will escort you
to the Poorhouse door to the tune of St. Patricks Day.
Oh, it will be nice to live in those days!
With the Green Flag floating oer us and an ever-increasing army of unemployed
workers walking about under the Green Flag, wishing they had something to eat.
Same as now!
Whoop it up for liberty!
Now, my friend, I also am Irish, but Im a bit more logical. The capitalist, I say, is a
parasite on industry; as useless in the present stage of our industrial development as
any other parasite in the animal or vegetable world is to the life of the animal or
vegetable upon which it feeds.
The working class is the victim of this parasite this human leech, and it is the duty
and interest of the working class to use every means in its power to oust this parasite
class from the position which enables it to thus prey upon the vitals of Labor.
Therefore, I say, let us organize as a class to meet our masters and destroy their
mastership; organize to drive them from their hold upon public life through their
political power; organize to wrench from their robber clutch the land and workshops
on and in which they enslave us; organize to cleanse our social life from the stain of
social cannibalism, from the preying of man upon his fellow man.
Organize for a full, free and happy life F0R ALL 0R F0R NONE.
SECTION II POLITICAL ACTION OF LABOR
The great strike of the shop employes on the Canadian Pacific Railway has been
declared off lost. While the shopmen were fighting desperately to maintain their
organization and decent working conditions, the engineers, firemen, conductors,
trainmen, etc., worked with scabs imported from the states and from Europe, and thus
by keeping trains moving aided to break the strike. It is only one more illustration of
what a vicious, not to say downright criminal, scheme craft autonomy actually is in
practice.
Heres another example: After four years of hard fighting from the Mississippi river to
the Pacific coast and from the Ohio river to the gulf, the machinists have been
compelled to abandon their strikes on the Santa Fe and the L. & N. railways. The
engines and cars built and repaired in the railway shops by strike-breakers were
hauled over the roads by members of the old brotherhoods without the slightest
objections. No wonder that onlookers become disgusted with such unionism. Some
union cards cover a multitude of sins.
MAX HAYES in International Socialist Review
INDUSTRIAL AND POLITICAL UNITY

At meetings throughout this country one frequently hears speakers laboring to arouse
the workers to their duty, exclaim- ing:
You unite industrially, why then do you divide politically? You unite against the
bosses in strikes and lock-outs, and then you foolishly divide when you go to the
ballot-box. Why not unite at the ballot-box as you unite in the workshop? Why not
show the same unity on the political field as you do on the industrial battlefield?
At first blush this looks to be an exceedingly apt and forcible form of appeal to our
fellow-workers, but when examined more attentively it will be seen that in view of the
facts of our industrial warfare this appeal is based upon a flagrant mis-statement of
facts. The real truth is that the workers do not unite industrially, but on the contrary
are most hopelessly divided on the industrial field, and that their division and
confusion on the political field are the direct result of their division and confusion on
the industrial field. It would be easy to prove that even our most loyal trade unionists
habitually play the game of the capitalist class on the industrial field just as surely as
the Republican and Democratic workers do it on the political field. Let us examine the
situation on the industrial field and see if it justifies the claim that economically the
workers are united, or if it justifies the contention I make that the division of the
workers on the political field is but the reflex of the confused ideas derived from the
practice of the workers in strikes and lock-outs.
Quite recently we had a great strike of the workers employed on the Subway and
Elevated Systems of street car service in New York. The men showed a splendid front
against the power of the mammoth capitalist company headed by August Belmont,
against which they were arrayed. Conductors, motormen, ticket-choppers, platform
men, repairers, permanent way men, ticket-sellers all went out together and for a
time paralyzed the entire traffic on their respective system. The company, on the other
hand, had the usual recourse to Jim Farley and his scabs and sought to man the trains
with those professional traitors to their class. The number of scabs was large, but
small in proportion to the men on strike, yet the strike was broken. It was not the
scabs, however, who turned the scale against the strikers in favor of the men. That
service to capital was performed by good union men with union cards in their pockets.
These men were the engineers in the power houses which supplied the electric power
to run the cars, and without whom all the scabs combined could not have run a single
trip. A scab is a vile creature, but what shall we say of the men who helped the scab to
commit his act of treason? The law says that an accessory before the fact is equally
guilty of a crime with the actual criminal. What, then, are the trade unionists who
supplied the power to scabs to help them break a strike?
They were unconsciously being compelled by their false system of organization to
betray their struggling brothers. Was this unity on the industrial field? And is it any
wonder that the men accustomed to so scab upon their fellow-workers in a lab or
struggle should also scab it upon their class in a political struggle? Is it not rather
common sense to expect that the recognition of the necessity for concerted common
action of all workers against the capitalist enemy in the industrial battle ground must
precede the realization of the wisdom of common action as a class on the political
battlefield? The men who are taught that it is all right to continue working for a
capitalist against whom their shop-mates of a different craft are on strike are not likely
to see any harm in continuing to vote for a capitalist nominee at the polls even when

he is opposed by the candidate of a Labor organization. Political scabbery is born of


industrial scabbery; it is its legitimate offspring.
Instances of this industrial disunion could be cited in- definitely. The Longshoremen
of the Port of New York went out on strike. They at first succeeded in tying up the
ships of the Shipping Trust, great as its wealth is, and in demonstrating the real power
of labor when unhampered by contracts with capital. The Shipping Trust was taken by
surprise, but quickly recovered, and as usual imported scabs from all over the country.
Then was seen what the unity of the working class on the industrial field amounts to
under present conditions. As scab longshoremen unloaded the ship, union teamsters
with union buttons in their hats received the goods from their hands, loaded them into
their wagons, and drove merrily away.
As scab longshoremen loaded a ship union men coaled it, and when the cargo was
safely on board union marine engineers set up steam, and union seamen and firemen
took it out of the dock on its voyage to its destination. Can men who are trained and
taught to believe that such a course of conduct is right and proper be expected to
realize the oneness of the interests of the working class as a whole against the
capitalist class as a whole, and vote and act accordingly? In short, can their field of
vision be so extensive that it can see the brotherhood of all men, and yet so restricted
that it can see no harm in a brother labor organization in their own industry being
beaten to death by capital?
Contrast this woeful picture of divided and disorganized unionism in America with
the following account from the New York Sun of the manner in which the Socialist
unionists of Scandinavia stand together in a fight against the common enemy,
irrespective of craft interests or craft contracts:
A short sojourn in Scandinavia, particularly in Copenhagen and the southern part of
Sweden, gives one an object lesson in socialism. In some way or other the socialists
have managed to capture all the trade unions in these parts and between them have
caused a reign of terror for everybody who is unfortunate enough to own a business of
any sort. Heaven help him if he fires one of his helps or tries to assert himself in any
way. He is immediately declared in blockade.
This socialist term means practically the same as a boycott. If the offending business
man happens to be a retail merchant all workmen are warned off his premises. The
drivers for the wholesale houses refuse to deliver goods at his store; the truckmen
refuse to cart anything to or from his place, and so on; in fact, he is a doomed man
unless he comes to terms with the union. It is worth mentioning that boycotting
bulletins and also the names and addresses of those who are bold enough to help the
man out are published in leaded type in all the socialistic newspapers. A law to
prevent the publication of such boycotting announcements was proposed in the
Swedish riksdag this year, but was defeated.
If the boycotted person be a wholesale dealer the proceedings are much the same, or,
rather, they are reversed. The retailers are threatened with the loss of the workmens
trade unless they cease dealing with such a firm; the truckmen refuse to haul for it. It
has even happened that the scavengers have refused to remove the refuse from the
premises. More often, however, the cans are accidentally dropped on the stairs.

These scavengers belong to the cities own forces, as a rule, and receive pensions after
a certain length of service, but they have all sworn allegiance to the socialistic cause.
In reading the foregoing it is well to remember that practically all the workingmen of
such cities that is, practically all Sweden and Denmark are union men, i.e.,
socialists, and are, therefore, able to carry out their threats.
Here we have a practical illustration of the power of Socialism when it rests upon an
economic Organization, and the effectiveness and far-reaching activity of unionism
when it is inspired by the Socialist ideal. Now as an equally valuable object lesson in
American unionism, an object lesson in how not to do it, let us picture a typical state
of affairs in the machine industry. The moulders contract with the boss expires and
they go out on strike. In a machine shop the moulder occupies a position intermediate
between the pattern-maker and the machinist, or, as they are called in Ireland, the
engineers. When the moulders go out the boss who has had all his plans laid for
months beforehand brings in a staff of scabs and installs them in the places of the
striking workers. Then the tragi-comedy begins. The union pattern-maker makes his
patterns and hands them over to the scab moulder; the scab moulder casts his moulds
and when they are done the union machinist takes them from him and placidly
finishes the job. Then having finished their days work, they go to their union
meetings and vote donations of a few hundred dollars to help the strikers to defeat the
boss, after they had worked all day to help the boss to defeat the strikers. Thus they
exemplify the solidarity of labor. When the moulders are beaten the machinists and
the pattemmakers, and the blacksmiths, and the electricians, and the engineers, and all
the rest take their turn of going up against the boss in separate bodies to be licked. As
each is taking its medicine its fellows of other crafts in the same shop sympathize
with it in the name of the solidarity of labor, and continue to work in the service of the
capitalist, against whom the strike is directed, in the name of the sacred contract of the
craft union.
When the coal miners of Pennsylvania had their famous strike in 1902 the railroad
brotherhoods hauled in scabs to take their places, and when the scabs had mined coal
the same railroad men hauled out this scab-mined coal.
Need I go on to prove the point that industrial division and discord is the order of the
day amongst the workers, and that this disunion and confusion on the economic field
cannot fail to perpetuate itself upon the political field? Those orators who reproach the
workers with being divided on the political field, although united on the industrial, are
simply mis-stating facts. The workers are divided on both, and as political parties are
the reflex of economic conditions, it follows that industrial union once established
will create the political unity of the working class. I feel that we cannot too strongly
insist upon this point. Political division is born of industrial division; political
scabbery is born of industrial craft scabbery; political weakness keeps even step with
industrial weakness. It is an axiom enforced by all the experience of the ages that they
who rule industrially will rule politically, and therefore they who are divided
industrially will remain impotent politically. The failure of Mr. Gompers to unite
politically the forces of the American Federation of Labor was the inevitable outcome
of his own policy of division on the industrial battle ground; he reversed the natural
process by trying to unite men on class lines whilst he opposed every effort, as in the
case of the Brewers, to unite them on industrial lines. The natural lines of thought and

action lead from the direct to the indirect, from the simple to the complex, from the
immediate to the ultimate. Mr. Gompers ignored this natural line of development and
preached the separation into craft organizations, with separate craft interests, of the
workers, and then expected them to heed his call to unity on the less direct and
immediate battleground of politics. He failed, as even the Socialists would fail if they
remained equally blind to the natural law of our evolution into class consciousness.
That natural law leads us as individuals to unite in our craft, as crafts to unite in our
industry, as industries in our class, and the finished expression of that evolution is, we
believe, the appearance of our class upon the political battle ground with all the
economic power behind it to enforce its mandates. Until that day dawns our political
parties of the working class are but propagandist agencies, John the Baptists of the
New Redemption, but when that day dawns our political party will be armed with all
the might of our class; will be revolutionary in fact as well as in thought.
To Irish men and women especially, I should not need to labour this point. The
historic example of their Land League bequeaths to us a precious legacy of wisdom,
both practical and revolutionary, outlining our proper course of action. During Land
League days in Ireland when a tenant was evicted from a farm, not only his fellowtenants but practically the whole country united to help him in his fight. When the
evicted farm was rented by another tenant, a land-grabber or scab, every person in
the countryside shunned him as a leper, and, still better, fought him as a traitor. Nor
did they make the mistake of fighting the traitor and yet working for his employer, the
landlord. No, they included both in the one common hostility.
At the command of the Land League every servant and laborer quit the service of the
landlord. In Ireland, it is well to remember, in order to appreciate this act of the
laborers, that the landlords were usually better paymasters and more generous
employers than the tenant farmers. The laborers, therefore, might reasonably have
argued that the fight of the tenant farmers was none of their business. But they
indulged in no such blindly selfish hair-splitting. When the landlord had declared war
upon the tenant by evicting him, the laborers responded by war upon the landlord.
Servant boy and servant girl at once quit his service, the carman refused to drive him,
the cook to cook for him, his linen remained unwashed, his harvest unreaped, his
cows unmilked, his house and fields deserted. The grocer and the butcher, the
physician and the schoolmaster were alike hostile to him; if the children of the landgrabber (scab) entered school all other children rose and left; if the land-grabber or his
landlord attended Mass everyone else at Mass walked out in a body. They found it
hard to get anyone to serve them or feed them in health, to attend them in sickness, or
to bury those dear to them in death. It was this relentless and implacable war upon the
landowning class and traitors among the tenant class which gave the word boycott to
the English language through its enforcement against an Irish landowner, Captain
Boycott. It was often horrible, it was always ugly in appearance to the superficial
observer, but it was marvelously effective. It put courage and hope and manhood into
a class long reckoned as the most enslaved in Europe. It broke the back of the
personal despotism of the Irish landlord and so crippled his social and economic
power that Irish landed estates from being a favorite form of investment for the
financial interests sank to such a position that even the most reckless moneylender
would for a time scarce accept a mortgage upon them. That it failed of attaining real
economic freedom for the Irish people was due not to any defect in its method of
fighting, but rather to the fact that economic questions are not susceptible of being

settled within the restricted radius of any one small nation, but are acted upon by
influences world-wide in their character.
But how great a lesson for the American worker is to be found in this record of a class
struggle in Ireland! The American worker was never yet so low in the social and
political scale as the Irish tenant. Yet the Irish tenant rose and by sheer force of his
unity on the economic field shattered the power of his master, whilst the American
worker remaining divided upon the economic field sinks day by day lower toward
serfdom. The Irish tenant had to contend against the overwhelming power of a foreign
empire backing up the economic power of a native tyranny, yet he conquered, whilst
the American worker able to become the political sovereign of the country remains
the sport of the political factions of his masters and the slave of their social power.
The Irish tenant uniting on the economic field felt his strength, and, carrying the fight
into politics, simply swept into oblivion every individual or party that refused to serve
his class interests, but the American toilers remain divided on the economic field, and
hence are divided and impotent upon the political, zealous servants of every interest
but their own.
Need I point the moral more? Every one who has the interests of the working class at
heart, every one who wishes to see the Socialist Party command the allegiance of the
political hosts of labor, should strive to realize industrial union as the solid foundation
upon which alone the political unity of the workers can be built up and directed
toward a revolutionary end. To this end all those who work for industrial unionism are
truly co-operating even when they least care for political activities.
INDUSTRIAL UNIONISM AND CONSTRUCTIVE SOCIALISM
There is not a socialist in the world today who can indicate with any degree of
clearness how we can bring about the co-operative commonwealth except along the
lines suggested by industrial organization of the workers.
Political institutions are not adapted to the administration of industry. Only industrial
organizations are adapted to the administration of a co-operative commonwealth that
we are working for. Only the industrial form of organization offers us even a
theoretical constructive socialist program. There is no constructive socialism except in
the industrial field.
The above extract from the speech of a delegate to the National Convention of the
Socialist Party, Delegate Stirton, Editor of the Wage Slave, of Hancock, Michigan, so
well embodies my ideas upon this matter that I have thought well to take them as a
text for an article in explanation of the structural form of Socialist Society. In a
previous chapter I have analyzed the weakness of the craft or trade union form of
organization alike as a weapon of defense against the capitalist class in the everyday
conflicts on the economic field, and as a generator of class consciousness on the
political field, and pointed out the greater effectiveness for both purposes of an
industrial form of organization. In the present article I desire to show how they who
are engaged in building up industrial organizations for the practical purposes of today
are at the same time preparing the framework of the society of the future. It is the
realization of that fact that indeed marks the emergence of Socialism as a

revolutionary force from the critical to the positive stage. Time was when Socialists, if
asked how society would be organized under Socialism replied invariably, and airily,
that such things would be left to the future to decide. The fact was that they had not
considered the matter, but the development of the Trust and Organized Capital in
general, making imperative the Industrial Organizations of Labor on similar lines has
provided us with an answer at once more complete to ourselves and more satisfying to
our questioners.
Now to analyze briefly the logical consequences of the position embodied in the
above quotation.
Political institutions are not adapted to the administration of industry.
Here is a statement that no Socialist with a clear knowledge of the essentials of his
doctrine can dispute. The political institutions of today are simply the coercive forces
of capitalist society, they have grown up out of and are based upon territorial divisions
of power in the hands of the ruling class in past ages, and were carried over into
capitalist society to suit the needs of the capitalist class when that class overthrew the
dominion of its predecessors. The delegation of the function of government into the
hands of representatives elected from certain districts, states, or territories represents
no real natural division suited to the requirements of modern society but is a survival
from a time when territorial influences were more potent in the world than industrial
influences, and for that reason is totally unsuited to the needs of the new social order
which must be based upon industry. The Socialist thinker when he paints the
structural form of the new social order does not imagine an industrial system directed
or ruled by a body of men or women elected from an indiscriminate mass of residents
within given districts, said residents working at a heterogeneous collection of trades
and industries. To give the ruling, controlling and directing of industry into the hands
of such a body would be too utterly foolish. What the Socialist does realize is that
under a Social Democratic form of Society the administration of affairs will be in the
hands of representatives of the various industries of the nation; that the workers in the
shops and factories will organize themselves into unions, each union comprising all
the workers at a given industry, that said union will democratically control the
workshop life of its own industry, electing all foremen, etc., and regulating the routine
of labor in that industry in subordination to the needs of society in general, to the
needs of its allied trades and to the department of industry to which it belongs. That
representatives elected from these various departments of industry will meet and form
the industrial administration or national government of the country. In short Social
Democracy, as its name implies, is the application to industry, or to the Social life of
the nation, of the fundamental principles of democracy. Such application will
necessarily have to begin in the workshop, and proceed logically and consecutively
upward through all the grades of industrial Organization until it reaches the
culminating point of national executive power and direction. In other words Social
Democracy must proceed from the bottom upward, whereas capitalist political society
is organized from above downward; Social Democracy will be administered by a
committee of experts elected from the industries and professions of the land; capitalist
society is governed by representatives elected from districts, and is based upon
territorial division. The local and national governing or rather administrative bodies of
Socialism will approach every question with impartial minds armed with the fullest
expert knowledge born of experience; the governing bodies of capitalist society have

to call in an expensive professional expert to instruct them on every technical


question, and know that the impartiality of said expert varies with and depends upon
the size of his fee.
It will be seen that this conception of Socialism destroys at one blow all the fears of a
bureaucratic state, ruling and ordering the lives of every individual from above, and
thus gives assurance that the social order of the future will be an extension of the
freedom of the individual, and not a suppression of it. In short it blends the fullest
democratic control with the most absolute expert supervision, something unthinkable
of any society built upon the political state. To focus the idea properly in your mind
you have but to realize how industry today transcends all limitations of territory and
leaps across rivers, mountains and continents, then you can understand how
impossible it would be to apply to such far reaching intricate enterprises the principle
of democratic control by the workers through the medium of political territorial
divisions.
Under Socialism states, territories or provinces will exist only as geographical
expressions, and have no existence as sources of governmental power, though they
may be seats of administrative bodies
Now having grasped the idea that the administrative force of the Socialist Republic of
the future will function through unions industrially organized, that the principle of
democratic control will operate through the workers correctly organized in such
Industrial Unions, and that the political, territorial state of capitalist society will have
no place or function under Socialism, you will at once grasp the full truth embodied in
the words of this member of the Socialist Party whom I have just quoted, that only
the industrial form of organization offers us even a theoretical constructive Socialist
program.
To some minds constructive Socialism is embodied in the work of our representatives
on the various public bodies to which they have been elected. The various measures
against the evils of capitalist property brought forward by, or as a result of the
agitation of Socialist representatives on legislative bodies are figured as being of the
nature of constructive Socialism. As we have shown the political state of capitalism
has no place under Socialism, therefore measures which aim to place industries in the
hands of or under the control of such a political state are in no sense steps towards
that ideal; they are but useful measures to restrict the greed of capitalism and to
familiarize the workers with the conception of common ownership. This latter is
indeed their chief function. But the enrollment of the workers in unions patterned
closely after the structure of modern industries, and following the organic lines of
industrial development is par excellence the swiftest, safest, and most peaceful form
of constructive work the Socialist can engage in. It prepares within the framework of
capitalist society the working forms of the Socialist Republic, and thus while
increasing the resisting power of the worker against present encroachments of the
capitalist class it familiarizes him with the idea that the union he is helping to build up
is destined to supplant that class in the control of the industry in which he is
employed.
The power of this idea to transform the dry detail work of trade union organization
into the constructive work of revolutionary Socialism, and thus to make of the

unimaginative trade unionist a potent factor in the launching of a new system of


society cannot be overestimated. It invests the sordid details of the daily incidents of
the class struggle with a new and beautiful meaning, and presents them in their true
light as skirmishes between the two opposing armies of light and darkness. In the light
of this principle of Industrial Unionism every fresh shop or factory organized under
its banner is a fort wrenched from the control of the capitalist class and manned with
the soldiers of the Revolution to be held by them for the workers. On the day that the
political and economic forces of labor finally break with capitalist society and
proclaim the Workers Republic these shops and factories so manned by Industrial
Unionists will be taken charge of by the workers there employed, and force and
effectiveness thus given to that proclamation. Then and thus the new society will
spring into existence ready equipped to perform all the useful functions of its
predecessor.
THE FUTURE OF LABOR
In choosing for the subject of this chapter such a title as The Future of Labor, I am
aware that I run the risk of arousing expectations that I shall not be able to satisfy. The
future of labor is a subject with which is bound up the future of civilization, and
therefore a comprehensive treatment of the subject might be interpreted as demanding
an analysis of all the forces and factors which will influence humanity in the future,
and also their resultant effect.
Needless to say, my theme is a less ambitious one. I propose simply to deal with the
problem of labor in the immediate future, with the marshalling of labor for the great
conflict that confronts us, and with a consideration of the steps to be taken in order
that the work of aiding the transition from Industrial Slavery to Industrial Freedom
might be, as far as possible, freed from all encumbering and needless obstacles and
expense of time, energy, and money.
But first and as an aid to a proper understanding of my position, let me place briefly
before you my reading of the history of the past struggles of mankind against social
subjection, my reading of the mental development undergone by each revolting class
in the different stages of their struggle, from the first period of their bondage to the
first dawn of their freedom. As I view it, such struggles had three well-marked mental
stages, corresponding to the inception, development, and decay of the oppressing
powers, and as I intend to attempt to apply this theory to the position of labor as a
subject class today, I hope you will honor me by at least giving me your earnest
attention to this conception, and aid by your discussion in determining at which of
these periods or stages, the working class, the subject class of today, has arrived. My
reading then briefly is this: That in the first period of bondage the eyes of the subject
class are always turned toward the past, and all its efforts in revolt are directed to the
end of destroying the social system in order that it might march backward and reestablish the social order of ancient times the good old days. That the goodness of
those days was largely hypothetical seldom enters the imagination of men on whose
limbs the fetters of oppression still sit awkwardly.
In the second period the subject class tends more and more to lose sight and
recollection of any pre-existent state of society, to believe that the social order in
which it finds itself always did exist, and to bend all its energies to obtaining such

ameliorations of its lot within existent society as will make that lot more bearable. At
this stage of society the subject class, as far as its own aspirations are concerned, may
be reckoned as a conservative force.
In the third period the subject class becomes revolutionary, recks little of the past for
inspiration, but, building itself upon the achievements of the present, confidently
addresses itself to the conquest of the future. It does so because the development of
the framework of society has revealed to it its relative importance, revealed to it the
fact that within its grasp has grown, unconsciously to itself, a power which, if
intelligently applied, is sufficient to overcome and master society at large.
As a classic illustration of this conception of the history of the mental development of
the revolt against social oppression, we might glance at the many peasant revolts
recorded in European history. As we are now aware, common ownership of land was
at one time the basis of society all over the world. Our fathers not only owned their
land in common, but in many ways practiced a common ownership of the things
produced. In short, tribal communism was at one time the universally existent order.
In such a state of society there existed a degree of freedom that no succeeding order
has been able to parallel, and that none will be able to, until the individualistic order
of today gives way to the Industrial Commonwealth, the Workers Republic, of the
future. How that ancient order broke up it is no part of my task to tell. What I do wish
to draw your attention to, is that for hundreds, for a thousand years after the break up
of that tribal communism, and the reduction to serfdom of the descendants of the
formerly free tribesmen, all the efforts of the revolting serfs were directed to a
destruction of the new order of things and to a rehabilitation of the old. Take as an
example the various peasant wars of Germany, the Jacquerie of France, or the revolt
of Wat Tyler and John Ball in England as being the best known; examine their rude
literature in such fragments as have been preserved, study their speeches as they have
been recorded even by their enemies, read the translations of their songs, and in all of
them you will find a passionate harking back to the past, a morbid idealizing of the
status of their fathers, and a continued exhortation to the suffering people to destroy
the present in order that, in some vague and undefined manner, they might
reconstitute the old.
The defeat of the peasantry left the stage clear for the emergence of the bourgeoisie as
the most important subject class and for the development of that second period of
which I have spoken. Did it develop? Well, in every account we read of the conflicts
between the nobility and the burghers in their guilds and cities we find that the
aggressive part was always taken by the former and that wherever a revolt took place,
the revolting guild merchants and artisans justified their act by an appeal to the past
privileges which had been abrogated and the restoration of which formed the basis of
their claims, and their only desire if successful in revolt. One of the most curious
illustrations of this mental condition is to be found in the History of the Rise of the
Dutch Republic by Motley [1], in which that painstaking historian tells how the
Netherlands in their revolt against the Spanish Emperor continued for a generation to
base their claims upon the political status of the provinces under a former Emperor,
made war upon the Empire with troops levied in the name of the Emperor, and led by
officers whose commissions were made out by the rebel provinces in the name of the
Sovereign they were fighting against. This mental condition lasted in England until
the great Civil War, which ended by leaving Charles I without a head, and the

bourgeoisie, incarnated in Cromwell, firmly fixed in the saddle; in France it lasted till
the Revolution. In both countries it was abandoned, not because of any a priori
reasoning upon its absurdity nor because some great thinker had evolved a better
scheme but because the growth of the industrial system had made the capitalist class
realize that they could at any moment stop the flow of its life-blood, so to speak, and
from so realizing it was but a short mental evolution to frame a theory of political
action which proclaimed that the capitalist class was the nation, and all its enemies the
enemies of the nation at large. The last period of that social evolution had been
reached, the last mental stage of the transition from feudal ownership to capitalist
property.
Now let me apply this reading of history to the development of the working class
under capitalism and find out what lessons it teaches us, of value in our present
struggle. Passing by the growth of the working class under nascent capitalism, as it
belongs more to the period I have just dealt with than to the present subject, and
taking up working class history from the point marked by the introduction of
machinery to supplant hand labor a perfectly correct standpoint for all practical
purposes we find in the then attitude of the workers an exemplification of the
historical fidelity of our conception. Suffering from the miseries attendant upon
machine labor, the displacement of those supplanted and the scandalous overworking
of those retained, the workers rioted and rebelled in a mad effort to abolish machinery
and restore the era of hand labor. In a word, they strove to revert to past conditions,
and their most popular orators and leaders were they who pictured in most glowing
terms the conditions prevalent in the days of their fathers.
They were thus on the same mental plane as those medieval peasants who, in their
revolt, were fired by the hope of restoring the primitive commune. And just as in the
previously cited case, the inevitable failure of this attempt to reconstruct the past was
followed in another generation by movements which accepted the social order of their
day as permanent, and looked upon their social status as wage-slaves as fixed and
immutable in the eternal order of things. To this category belongs the trade union
movement in all its history. As the struggles of the serfs and burghers in the middle
ages were directed to no higher aim than the establishing of better relations between
these struggling classes and their feudal overlords, as during those ages the division of
society into ruling classes of king, lords, and church resting upon a basis of the
serfdom of the producers, was accepted by all in spite of the perpetual recurrences of
civil wars between the various classes, so, in capitalist society, the trade unionists,
despite strikes, lock-outs, and black lists, accepted the employing class as part and
parcel of a system which was to last through all eternity.
The rise of Industrial Unionism is the first sign that that the second stage of the
mental evolution of our class is rapidly passing away. And the fact that it had its
inception amongst men actually engaged in the work of trade union organization, and
found its inspiration in a recognition of the necessities born of the struggles of the
workers, and not in the theories of any political party this fact is the most cheering
sign of the legitimacy of its birth and the most hopeful augury of its future. For we
must not forget that it is not the theorists who make history; it is history in its
evolution that makes the theorists. And the roots of history are to be found in the
workshops, fields, and factories. It has been remarked that Belgium was the cockpit of
Europe because within its boundaries have been fought out many of the battles

between the old dynasties; in like manner we can say that the workshop is the cockpit
of civilization because in the workshop has been and will be fought out those battles
between the new and the old methods of production, the issues of which change the
face and the history of the world.
I have said that the capitalist class became a revolutionary class when it realized that
it held control of the economic heart of the nation. I may add when the working class
is in the same position, it will also as a class become revolutionary, it will also give
effective political expression to its economic strength. The capitalist class grew into a
political party when it looked around and found itself in control of the things needed
for the life of the individual and the State, when it saw that the ships carrying the
commerce of the nation were its own, when it saw that the internal traffic of the nation
was in the hands of its agents, when it saw that the feeding, clothing and sheltering of
the ruling class depended upon the activities of the subject class, when it saw itself
applied to to furnish finance to equip the armies and fleets of the kings and nobles, in
short, when the capitalist class found that all the arteries of commerce, all the agencies
of production, all the mainsprings of life in fact, passed through their hands as blood
flows through the human heart then and only then did capital raise the banner of
political revolt and from a class battling for concessions became a class leading its
forces to the mastery of society at large.
This leads me to the last axiom of which I wish you to grasp the significance. It is
this, that the fight for the conquest of the political state is not the battle, it is only the
echo of the battle. The real battle is the battle being fought out every day for the
power to control industry and the gauge of the progress of that battle is not to be
found in the number of voters making a cross beneath the symbol of a political party,
but in the number of these workers who enrol themselves in an industrial organization
with the definite purpose of making themselves masters of the industrial equipment of
society in general.
That battle will have its political echo, that industrial organization will have its
political expression. If we accept the definition of working class political action as
that which brings the workers as a class into direct conflict with the possessing class
AS A CLASS, and keeps them there, then we must realize that NOTHING CAN DO
THAT SO READILY AS ACTION AT THE BALLOT BOX. Such action strips the
working class movement of all traces of such sectionalism as may, and indeed must,
cling to strikes and lock-outs, and emphasizes the class character of the Labor
Movement. IT IS THEREFORE ABSOLUTELY INDISPENSABLE FOR THE
EFFICIENT TRAINING OF THE WORKING CLASS ALONG CORRECT LINES
THAT ACTION AT THE BALLOT BOX SHOULD ACCOMPANY ACTION IN
THE WORKSHOP.
I am convinced that this will be the ultimate formation of the fighting hosts of Labor.
The workers will be industrially organized on the economic field and until that
organization is perfected, whilst the resultant feeling of class-consciousness is
permeating the minds of the workers, the Socialist Party will carry on an independent
campaign of education and attack upon the political field, and as a consequence will
remain the sole representative of the Socialist idea in politics. But as industrial
organization grows, feels its strength, and develops the revolutionary instincts of its
members there will grow also the desire for a closer union and identification of the

two wings of the army of Labor. Any attempt prematurely to force this identification
would only defeat its own purpose, and be fraught with danger alike to the economic
and the political wing. Yet it is certain that such attempts will be of continual
recurrence and multiply in proportion to the dissatisfaction felt at the waste of energy
involved in the division of forces. Statesmanship of the highest kind will be required
to see that this union shall take place only under the proper conditions and at the
proper moment for effective action. Two things must be kept in mind, viz., that a
Socialist Political Party not emanating from the ranks of organized Labor is, as Karl
Marx phrased it, simply a Socialist sect, ineffective for the final revolutionary act, but
that also the attempt of craft organized unions to create political unity before they
have laid the foundation of industrial unity in their own, the economic field, would be
an instance of putting the cart before the horse. But when that foundation of industrial
union is finally secured then nothing can prevent the union of the economic and
political forces of Labor. I look forward to the time when every economic
organization will have its Political Committee, just as it has its Organization
Committee or its Strike Committee, and when it will be counted to be as great a
crime, as much an act of scabbery to act against the former as against any of the latter.
When that time comes we will be able to count our effective vote before troubling the
official ballot-box, simply by counting our membership in the allied organizations; we
will be able to estimate our capacity for the revolutionary act of Social
Transformation simply by taking stock of the number of industries we control and
their importance relative to the whole social system, and when we find that we control
the strategic industries in society, then society must bend to our will or break. In our
organizations we will have Woman Suffrage, whether governments like it or not, we
will also have in our own organizations a pure and uncorrupted ballot, and if the
official ballot of capitalist society does not purify itself of its own accord, its
corruption can only serve to blind the eyes of our enemies, and not to hide our
strength from ourselves.
Compare the political action of such a body with that of any party we know. Political
parties are composed of men and women who meet together to formulate a policy and
programme to vote upon. They set up a political ticket in the hope of getting people,
most of whom they do not know, to vote for them, and when that vote is at last cast, it
is cast by men whom they have not organized, do not know, and cannot rely upon to
use in their own defense. We have proven that such a body can make propaganda, and
good propaganda, for socialist principles, but it can never function as the weapon of
an industrially organized working class. To it, such a party will always be an outside
body, a body not under its direct control, but the political weapon of the Industrially
Organized Working Class will be a weapon of its own forging and wielded by its own
hand. I believe it to be incumbent upon organized Labor to meet the capitalist class
upon every field where it can operate to our disadvantage. Therefore I favor direct
attacks upon the control of governmental powers through the ballot-box, but I wish to
see these attacks supported by the economic Organization. In short, I believe that
there is no function performed by a separate political party that the economic
organization cannot help it perform much better and with greater safety to working
class interests. Let us be clear as to the function of Industrial Unionism. That function
is to build up an industrial republic inside the shell of the political State, in order that
when that industrial republic is fully organized it may crack the shell of the political
State and step into its place in the scheme of the universe. But in the process of
upbuilding, during the period of maturing, the mechanism of the political State can be

utilized to assist in the formation of the embryo Industrial Republic. Or, to change the
analogy, we might liken the position of the Industrial Republic in its formative period
towards political society, to the position of the younger generation towards the
generation passing away. The younger accepts the achievements of the old, but
gradually acquires strength to usurp its functions until the new generation is able to
abandon the paternal household and erect its own. While doing so, it utilizes to the
fullest all the privileges of its position. So the Industrial Unionist will function in a
double capacity in capitalist society. In his position as a citizen in a given
geographical area, he will use his political voting power in attacks upon the political
system of capitalism, and in his position as a member of the Industrial Union he will
help in creating the economic power which in the fullness of time will overthrow that
political system, and replace it by the Industrial Republic.
My contentions along these lines do not imply by any means that I regard immediate
action at the ballot box by the economic organization as essential, although I may
regard it as advisable. As I have already indicated, the proletarian revolution will in
that respect most likely follow the lines of the capitalist revolutions in the past.
In Cromwellian England, in Colonial America, in Revolutionary France the real
political battle did not begin until after the bourgeoisie, the capitalist class, had
become the dominant class in the nation. Then they sought to conquer political power
in order to allow their economic power to function freely. It was no mere coincidence
but a circumstance born of the very nature of things, woven, so to speak, in the warp
and woof of fate, that in all the three countries the signal for the revolution was given
by the ruling class touching the bourgeoisie in the one part that was calculated to
arouse them as a class, and at the same time demonstrate their strength. That one
sensitive part was their finance, their ownership of the sinews of war. In England it
was over the question of taxes, of ship money, that Hampden first raised the standard
of revolt whose last blow was struck at Whitehall when the kings head rolled in the
gutter. In America it was over the question of taxes, and again the capitalist class were
united, until a new nation was born to give them power. In France it was the failure of
the king to raise taxes that led to the convocation of the States General, which
assembly first revealed to the French capitalists their power as a class and set their
feet upon the revolutionary path. In all three countries the political rebellion was but
the expression of the will of a class already in possession of economic power. This is
in conformity with the law of human evolution, that the new system can never
overthrow the old, until it itself is fully matured and able to assume all the useful
functions of the thing it is to dethrone.
In the light of such facts, and judging by such reasoning, we need not exercise our
souls over the question of the date of the appearance of the Industrial Organizations of
Labor upon the electoral field. Whether we believe, as I believe, that the electoral
field offers it opportunities it would be criminal to ignore, or believe, as some do, that
electoral action on the part of the economic organizations is at present premature, one
thing we can be agreed upon, if we accept the outline of history I have just sketched,
viz., that it is necessary to remember that at the present stage of development all
actions of our class at the ballot box are in the nature of mere preliminary skirmishes,
or educational campaigns and that the conquest of political power by the working
class waits upon the conquest of economic power, and must function through the
economic organization.

Hence, reader, if you belong to the working class your duty is clear. Your union must
be perfected until it embraces every one who toils in the service of your employer, or
as a unit in your industry. The fact that your employers find it necessary to secure the
services of any individual worker is or ought to be that individuals highest and best
title to be a member of your union. If the boss needs him you need him more. You
need the open union and the closed shop if you ever intend to control the means and
conditions of life. And, as the champion of your class upon the political field, as the
ever active propagandist of the idea of the Working Class, as the representative and
embodiment of the social principle of the future, you need the Socialist Party. The
Future of Labor is bound up with the harmonious development of those twin
expressions of the forces of progress; the Freedom of Labor will be born of their
happily consummated union.

he refugee crisis and the polarization of Europe


11 March 2016

Idomeni, Lesbos, Calais every day one sees pictures that for decades one could not
have imagined in Europe: refugees, including families with small children, living in
improvised tents and burrows, drowning in rain and mud, lacking medication and
food. And again and again: closed borders, barbed wire and heavily armed police who
attack desperate refugees with tear gas and batons.
Large sections of the population look on these brutal scenes with horror and disgust,
but the official political debate on the refugee crisis takes place within a narrow
spectrum ranging from the right to the ultra-right. In politics and in the media, the
only voices allowed are those arguing for unrestrained nationalism and the sealing-off
of Europes internal borders, or those who, in the name of a European solution,
support the militarization of the EUs external borders and a dirty deal with the
Turkish government.
Compassion for refugees, hospitality, aid, the right to protection and asylum are all
banished from the official discourse, which concentrates exclusively on the most
efficient way to deter, criminalise and get rid of refugees. The large majority of the
European population who, according to every poll conducted, sympathises with
refugees and the untold numbers who have donated their savings and their free time to
help them go unrepresented in newspaper columns and on talk shows.
In the German federal states holding elections on Sunday, the Greens, the Social
Democrats and, indirectly, the Left Party are promoting the policies of Angela Merkel,
who advocates hermetically sealing off the EUs external borders. The only
opposition comes from the right wing of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and
the extreme right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), which want to close off the
German borders.
The arguments in Germany resemble those in Great Britain, where voters in the Brexit
referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union, are faced with two
equally right-wing alternatives: to support the reactionary institutions of the European
Union or endorse a British independence that removes all obstacles to the

intensified exploitation of the working class and more ruthlessly chokes off
immigration into the country.
The restriction of the public debate to right-wing positions, adhered to by the entire
media and all established parties, serves a political purpose: to prevent the defence of
and support for refugees from joining up with the fight against the capitalist system,
which has nothing to offer to wide layers of the population but social misery,
repression and war. Those incensed by the racist agitation and arson attacks of the
ultra-right are to be directed into the political channels of a government policy that is
just as reactionary and which has provided fertile ground for the growth of the
extreme right.
The brutal mistreatment of refugees is the culmination of a rightward turn in
European politics that has developed over a period of years. The actions taken against
refugees are the sharpest expression of this shift to the right so far, but not its cause.
The real cause is the deepening crisis of international capitalism and the
accompanying sharp social polarization. As was the case in 1930s, the ruling elites
react to this crisis by stirring up nationalism and xenophobia, building up the state
apparatus and pursuing their international economic and political interests through the
means of war.
In 2008, when the criminal machinations of speculators brought the world financial
system to the brink of collapse, the governments of Europe, like those throughout the
world, pumped trillions in public funds into failing banks to rescue the fortunes of the
rich. When, as a consequence, some weaker European countries almost collapsed
under their debts, threatening the stability of the Euro, the EU and the German
government insisted that the working class bear the cost. They made an example of
Greece, forcing its population into bitter poverty.
In 2014, Germany and the EU supported the right-wing coup in Kiev and provoked a
confrontation with Russia which has continued to intensify. This coincided with the
escalation of the war in Syria. After the US and its European allies destroyed first
Afghanistan and then Iraq and Libya, the Syrian conflict has now developed into a
war involving great and regional powers, threatening to plunge the world into a third
world war.
The victims of these wars who attempt to escape certain death by fleeing to Europe
are treated worse than animals. One sees what the ruling elites of Europe are capable
of. What began with austerity dictates in Greece and other countries finds its
continuation in the inhumane treatment of refugees, and is a signal of what workers
and youth can expect in the future. Historical experience shows that agitation against
foreigners and members of different religions (then it was Jews, today Muslims)
serves as the prelude to the oppression of the entire working class.
Under these conditions, the defence of refugees, opposition to war and militarism and
the fight against capitalism are inseparable. Only an independent movement of the
working class, basing itself on an international socialist program, can prevent
Europes regression into nationalism, barbarism and war.

This requires not only opposition to the extreme right, but also, and above all, a
relentless political fight against the influence of pseudo-left tendencies that lull
workers and youth with left phrases to secure and support the social assaults, the
build-up of the state, and the war policies of the ruling elite.
The experience with Syriza in Greece has shown what such parties are capable of. The
Tsipras government was brought to power at the beginning of 2015 because it
promised an end to the brutal austerity measures of the EU. Since that time, Syriza
has drastically sharpened austerity policies and taken on the role of the border police
and prison guards for the EU.
The Left Party in Germany, Podemos in Spain and numerous other parties that
promoted Syriza and support it to this day play no other role. They do not speak for
the working class, but for affluent layers of the middle class who do not want to
overthrow capitalism, but rather seek to preserve it at any cost.
There is massive opposition in Europe to the devastating effects of austerity measures,
to the attacks on refugees and democratic rights and against militarism and war. But
this opposition lacks a perspective and a political leadership. The International
Committee of the Fourth International and its sections fight for the unification of the
European working class based on a socialist program, for the United Socialist States
of Europe.
Peter Schwarz

Growing concerns about Australias housing bubble


By
11 March 2016

Mike

Head

Recent weeks have demonstrated the increasing precariousness of Australian


capitalisms reliance on soaring property prices, particularly over the past two years,
to offset the implosion of the two-decade mining boom and the worsening fallout
from the 200809 global economic breakdown.
Investment in the mining sector is still plummeting because of collapsing demand for
raw materials in China and globally. Australias economy has so far avoided a
recession, unlike other export commodity-dependent countries. But that is largely
because of debt-fuelled household spending, undertaken on the basis of record low
interest rates and steep rises in housing values.
Last weeks national accounts illustrated this unstable situation. As a headline figure,
gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 0.6 percent, seasonally adjusted, in the
December quarter of 2015. That was a marked slowing of growth to an annualised 2.4
percent, down from the annualised 3.6 percent recorded during the first quarter of
2015.
Treasurer Scott Morrison seized on the headline result of 3 percent growth during
2015 as a whole, falsely claiming it as evidence the economy was successfully
shifting from dependence on resources to broader sources for growth. We are now

growing faster than every economy in the G7 and well above the OECD average, he
said.
In reality, most of the growth in the last three months of 2015 came from household
consumption expenditure, which contributed 0.4 percentage points to GDP, and public
fixed capital formation (government spending), which added 0.2 percentage points.
Without those two factors, the economy would have registered nil growth. Business
investment, which has been falling for two years, continued to plummetan indicator
of the underlying economic deterioration. Private business investment fell 3.3 percent
during the quarter, driven by a 12.3 percent drop in engineering construction.
Falling wages are making the housing bubble all the more unsustainable, and socially
explosive. Homes are being priced further and further out of the reach of millions of
young and working-class people. Since 2008, average house prices in the two most
populous cities, Sydney and Melbourne, have risen 80 and 50 percent, but real wages
have now been declining for three years.
The consumer price index (excluding volatile items) increased by 7.2 percent over the
three years from December 2012, while the wage price indexa measure of wages
per hour excluding bonusesrose by only 7 percent.
Average wage income per person continued to fall, by 0.6 percent, in the December
quarter, reflecting the ongoing attack on wage levels by employers and the elimination
of thousands of full-time jobs in the mining industry, car and steel plants, retail stores
and other basic industries.
Revealing the growing disarray in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbulls government.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton directly undercut Treasurer Morrisons effort to
shore up business and consumer confidence. Trying to discredit a Labor Party pledge
to confine negative gearing tax incentives to new houses, Dutton said the policy
would be a disaster because it would lower house prices and lessen the capacity of
property investors to take out margin loans to buy shares. I think the economy will
come to a shuddering halt and I think the stock market will crash, he declared.
Duttons remarks underscored the extent to which the economy now depends on this
speculative activity. Former Victorian Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett added to the sense
of crisis, denouncing Turnbull as a self-interested and cowardly leader who was
raising the possibility of calling an early federal election simply to cover up [the
governments] own failings.
The governments in-fighting and mounting criticisms by the corporate elite of its
failure to impose pro-business austerity measures are compounding nervousness about
the danger of a property crash. Westpac banks consumer confidence index dipped
below 100 for January, indicating that pessimists outnumber optimists. The share of
survey respondents who believed real estate to be the wisest place for their savings
plunged to 14.7 percent, from 23 percent in December.
Concerns that Australias housing market resembles that of the United States on the
eve of the 200708 sub-prime loan crash were aired in the Australian Financial

Review last month. Hedge fund Variant Perceptions released a report comparing the
dubious lending practices and sky-rocketing house prices in western Sydney to those
documented in the film The Big Short. The report described meetings with 20
mortgage brokers where prospective borrowers were coached on how to get things
through banks and told that banks did not check pay slips in assessing loan
applications.
There are signs that the bubble is due to burst. In the past two years, Australias
housing stock has surged $900 billion in value to $5.6 trillion, or 3.6 times Australias
GDPa larger ratio than either Japan or Ireland exhibited before their housing
markets crashed in 1989 and 2006.
Australian household debt as a share of GDP has surged to 120 percent, the highest
ratio in the industrialised world. Almost half of new loans are being written by third
parties, mostly mortgage brokers, who are paid on commission with little incentive to
ensure the loan is ultimately repaid.
More than 40 percent of loans (about 70 percent for investor loans) being issued are
interest onlythat is, the lenders are not required to pay the loan amount for
decades to comeall on the expectation of endlessly rising house prices.
Between 2011 and 2015, housing investment more than doubled, temporarily
offsetting the mining crash, but it began to drop last April, with the biggest fall-off in
apartments. Corporate economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel has warned of a very messy
end to the apartment boom, with all cities, except Sydney, expected to be in oversupply by 2017.
The acceleration of mortgage debt appears to have reached its limit. Both the value
and number of new housing loan approvals fell in January from December, by 3.4
percent and 3.9 percent respectively. Investors continued to withdraw, with the value
of their loans falling by 14.8 percent to $11.4 billion, compared with averages of
about $14 billion a month last year. Building approvals also dropped 7.5 percent in
Januarytwice the fall economists had expected.
Average rents are already falling in mining-dependent statesdown by 8.4 percent in
Perth, the capital of Western Australia, over the past yearand are predicted to start
dropping in Sydney and Melbourne in coming months. Average weekly Sydney rents
stand at $598, up just 1.5 percent over the past 12 months.
Australias big four banks have grown fat on the back of home lending. They are in
the top 25 banks globally by market capitalisation. They are also among the most
leveraged. From 1880 to 1940, Australias major banks had equity and retained
earnings of 15 to 25 percent of their assets, but today they have little more than 5
percent.
This week, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) deputy governor Philip Lowe sought to
hose down fears of a housing bubble but admitted that the rapid surge in house prices
was starting to slow. In a speech to the Urban Development Institute, Lowe insisted
that the central bank had a high degree of confidence that the Australian banking
system is resilient to house price fluctuations.

An RBA report last year argued that wealthiest 40 percent of households hold 80
percent of the mortgage debt and most could survive a 25 percent fall in house prices.
This only proves that it is the richest layers of society that have benefited from the
housing boom, at the expense of working class people unable to buy homes. In any
crash, however, as in the US, it would be the poorest and most vulnerable households
that would lose their jobs and homes.

hat do the electoral gains of the right-wing


Alternative for Germany signify?
By
Marianne
11 March 2016

Arens

and

Ulrich

Rippert

Normally, local elections receive little attention. But on Sunday evening when the
results of the Hesse municipal elections were announced it created headlines. The
strong performance of Alternative for Germany (AfD) was regarded as a political
sensation. The xenophobic party, which advocates extreme right-wing positions on
many issues, had won 13.2 percent of the vote on its first outing.
The other establishment partiesthe Social Democratic Party (SPD), Christian
Democratic Union (CDU) and Greensrecorded significant losses. The CDU slipped
from 33.7 to 28.2 percent and the SPD from 31.5 to 28.0 percent. The loss of votes by
the Greens was even more significant. In their Hesse stronghold they had won 18.3
percent five years ago. In the current vote their percentage fell to 11.6 percent, behind
the AfD.
Many editorials quickly spoke of a political shift to the right by the general
population. It was claimed that the election results show that many voters demand a
tougher approach on refugee policy and a stronger securing of the national borders.
The Hesse election was hyped as a political barometer for the upcoming regional
elections, which take place in three states on Sunday.
Under these conditions a closer look at the Hesse municipal election is called for.
First of all, only a trend result was announced on Sunday that relies on just sixty
percent of the ballots, and indeed on those on which a single party list had been
checked. But Hesse election law allows so-called cumulating and vote-splitting. This
means a voter can give a candidate more votes (cumulate) or vote for candidates from
different parties (vote-splitting). Since this was the first time the AfD participated in
the election, and their candidates were largely unknown, they did better than average
on the party list vote and their totals will be significantly lower in the final result.
According to an election analysis by Forsa, the proportion of right-wing voters in
relation to the number of eligible voters is not above average. In the past, the German
National Party (NPD), the Republicans, the German Peoples Union (DVU) and other
right-wing parties have achieved a similar number of votes to those of the AfD. Forsa
also ascribes the good performance of the AfD to the low turnout, which was less than
48 percent. More than 70 percent of voters went to the polls at the last general
election.

Secondly, one has to address the question: Who or what is the AfD? It is often referred
to as a right-wing citizens movement or a party of angry citizens. In truth, it is an
initiative stemming from right-wing CDU and Free Democratic Party (FDP) circles,
who, together with employers, economists and representatives of business
organizations, want to push the political establishment in a right-wing direction. Here,
its close relationship with the media plays an important role. In other words: The AfD
is a party created from above within the social elite, not a movement from below.
In Hesse, it was clearly evident how much the party is connected to the extreme rightwing of the CDU, which is closely linked to the person of Alfred Dreggers, who
headed the CDU in Hesse between 1967 and 1982 and because of his Nazi past was
also called the steel helmet faction of the CDU.
A typical AfD representative is Alexander Gauland, who during his 40 years CDU
membership was office manager and speechwriter for the CDU right-winger and later
Hesse state premier Walter Wallmann. Three years ago, he was one of the founding
members of the AfD. Today he is the deputy party leader and state chairman of the
AfD in Brandenburg.
The AfD leader in Hesse is Albrecht Glaser. He too was for decades a CDU local
politician and city treasurer in Frankfurt. During his studies in the early sixties he was
a leading member of the right-wing Allemannia Heidelberg fraternity and later
became national spokesman of these right-wing German student fraternities. After 42
years of CDU membership, he resigned in spring 2013 and became one of the first
members of the AfD.
Glasers deputy as AfD state leader is Peter Mnch, for many years a member of the
right-wing Republicans, and holder of a sizeable number of prominent positions
during this time, as the Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung reported.
Martin Hohmann, who sat in the Bundestag (federal parliament) for the Hesse CDU
since the late nineties, and delivered an anti-Semitic speech on the anniversary of
German reunification in October 2003, for which he was expelled from the CDU two
years later, headed the AfD slate in Fulda as a non-party candidate.
Although many AfD local and district associations are still being established, by their
own account, and therefore presented different demands, the broad outlines of the
AfD election campaign were quite clear. The party presented a repulsive mixture of
economic liberalism and calls for tax reductions, cutting bureaucracy and dismantling
state services along with racist slogans against foreign infiltration and refugees.
On one of its official posters could be seen: Black-Red-Gold is colourful enough!
(A reference to the colours of the German flag.) The party programme contains the
following: Immigration into the welfare system should be strictly prohibited.
While it calls generally for social protection for those on low incomes, it explicitly
states that a legally guaranteed, all-encompassing minimum wage cannot afford this
protection. Like all right-wing parties, the AfD claims to be strongly committed to
the defence of the family in the traditional sense.

At municipal elections, no detailed reports on voter backgrounds are provided.


Therefore, it is not easy to determine from where the votes for the AfD came. But it is
striking that in large cities like Wiesbaden, which is not among the social hot-spots,
but as a state capital has a large proportion of civil servants and a wide layer of
administrative officials, the AfD recorded above average support and achieved its best
result with 16.2 percent.
The percentage of votes for the AfD was also very high in the affluent suburbs of the
big cities, where the Greens have their strongholds. For example, they scored nearly
12 percent in Frankfurt and 12.2 percent in Kassel. In Giessen, the location of Hesses
initial reception centre for refugees, the AfD received more than fifteen percent of the
vote.
There are strong indications that the AfD explicitly planned to shift the mood in a
right-wing conservative direction in better-off middle class layers, and has found a
certain resonance there.
The media campaign presenting the events in Cologne on New Years Eve as robberies
and sexual assaults in order to produce a pogrom atmosphere against foreigners was
aimed in the same direction, strengthening the AfD.
All the establishment parties have moved sharply to the right on refugee policy,
supporting government policies or criticizing them from the right. During the Hesse
election campaign, the second asylum package was adopted by the Bundestag, largely
abolishing the fundamental right to asylum. In close cooperation with Turkey and
Greece, the EUs external borders are being hermetically sealed. At the same time the
accelerated deportation of refugees from so-called safe countries of origin was
decided, family reunification drastically reduced and support for refugees cut.
The Left Party also supports these anti-foreigner policies. Since the chair of the
partys parliamentary group, Sahra Wagenknecht, joined in the incitement against
refugees and the call for a strong state with the words, Those who abuse [our]
hospitality, have forfeited the right to hospitality, other leaders of the Left Party have
expressed similar views.
It is precisely these politics that strengthen the AfD. It is no coincidence that of all
people the deputy chairman of the right-wing party, Alexander Gauland, has
supported Wagenknecht. He said, Mrs Wagenknecht has brought the situation
beautifully to the point, and repeated her call: Those who come voluntarily to us,
must behave like a guest. If they do not want to or cannot do this, behaving violently
and disrespectfully towards their hosts, then they must immediately leave Germany.
This all-party coalition against refugees has strengthened the AfD. This is the secret of
the Hesse election.

Washington steps up threats over Iran missile tests


By
11 March 2016

Bill

Van

Auken

Washington has stepped up threats of new sanctions and retaliation against Iran after
its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps carried out a second day of missile tests
Wednesday.
The Obama administration has indicated that it will raise the missile tests before the
United Nations Security Council, while Vice President Joe Biden, on a state visit to
Israel, declared that Washington and Tel Aviv were united in the belief that a nucleararmed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, adding that the US would
act, not only if Iran broke the nuclear deal, but in response to their conventional
activity outside of the deal ... wherever we can find it.
Leading the denunciations, and demonstrating once again her determination to run to
the right of the Obama administration, particularly on foreign policy, Democratic
presidential front-runner and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton issued an
immediate call for the imposition of new sanctions against Iran.
Describing herself as deeply concerned by the tests, Clinton declared: Iran should
face sanctions for these activities and the international community must demonstrate
that Iran's threats toward Israel will not be tolerated.
Clinton has long taken a hard-line and militarist position in relation to Iran. During
her unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, she
threatened that as president she would totally obliterate Iran, a country of over 77
million people, if it attacked Israel.
Last year, speaking before the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank with
close ties to the Democratic Party, Clinton vowed that as president she would not
hesitate to take military action if Iran attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon and laid
out a detailed strategy for confronting Iran across the Middle East.
In her statement Wednesday, Clinton added, As president, I will continue to stand
with Israel against such threats. Her campaign has been the first to accept an
invitation to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the
right-wing Zionist lobby, later this month.
Clintons statement placed her in alliance with Congressional Republicans who
opposed the nuclear agreement and are now furiously demanding new sanctions over
the missile tests.
The reality is that the Iranian missile tests in no way violate the UN Security Council
resolution that was the basis for the nuclear deal reached between the P5+1 (the five
permanent members of the council: the US, Russia, China, Britain and France; plus
Germany) and Iran last July.
The agreement involves a curtailment of Irans nuclear programwhich the Iranian
government has always insisted was intended for peaceful purposesand an intrusive
inspections regime in return for the lifting of international sanctions.
UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which codifies the deal, states that Iran is
called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be

capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile
technology.
Irans position is that it is not now, nor was it ever, developing nuclear weapons, and
therefore has never designed ballistic missiles to deliver such weapons.
State Department spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday acknowledged that the missile
tests are not a violation of the Iran deal itself, but added that Washington would not
turn a blind eye to them and would employ both unilateral and multilateral tools
to address them.
Last January, just one day after the nuclear deal went into effect, the US Treasury
Department imposed a new set of unilateral US sanctions against Iran over a test
launch of a ballistic missile carried out on October 11.
Iranian officials have defended the ballistic missile tests as a defensive measure aimed
at deterring aggression by the US and its allies, principally nuclear-armed Israel,
together with Saudi Arabia and the other despotic Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms.
The US military has effectively encircled Iran, with large deployments of troops in
Afghanistan, on its eastern border, in Iraq on its western border and to the south in
Qatar and Bahrain. Meanwhile, the US Navys Fifth Fleet has been deployed within
sight of Irans coastline in the Persian Gulf.
We are always ready to defend the country against any aggressor. Iran will not turn
into Yemen, Iraq or Syria, said Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the
Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in response to
the Western denunciations of the missile tests.
Hajizadeh warned that the missile program was the target of infiltration and
sabotage, just as the nuclear programhit with the assassination of Iranian scientists
and the Stuxnet cyber attackbefore it. He added, that another danger was that the
enemy might influence political officials through ballyhoo.
The missile tests have underscored divisions within Irans bourgeois-clerical state
between so-called hardliners, who opposed the nuclear deal and are hostile to the
drive to open up Irans economy to Western capital, and forces around Irans current
President Hassan Rouhani, who are eager to cement commercial deals with Europe
and the transnational corporations, while seeking to reach a closer alignment with
Washington.
While the US ruling establishment sees the deal as means of deepening these
divisions, weakening the Iranian state and ultimately bringing about some form of
regime change, it continues to pursue more direct methods, with continuing US
military threats, the ongoing intervention in Iraq and Syria and the massive arming of
Israel and Saudi Arabia.
In the midst of the missile controversy, President Barack Obama signed an executive
order renewing for another year the state of National Emergency in relation to Iran.

Despite the historic deal to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear
program, certain actions and policies of the Government of Iran continue to pose an
unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy
of the United States, Obama wrote in a statement announcing the extension.
Meanwhile, citing unnamed US officials, CNN reported Thursday that the Obama
administration is preparing to publicly indict Iran for an alleged cyber attack against a
dam in New York in 2013. An indictment being prepared by the Justice Department
reportedly claims that Iranian hackers were responsible for the incident, which in no
way interfered with the dams operations, and that they worked for the Iranian
government.
The US government itself was directly responsible for far more serious cyber attacks
carried out in league with Israel. In 2009 and 2010, US and Israeli agents used a
malicious computer bug called Stuxnet to attack the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz,
causing high-speed centrifuges to spin out of control and self-destruct. According to a
2012 report in the New York Times, Obama personally authorized and oversaw these
attacks, meeting with the US intelligence officials who organized them in the White
House situation room.

Europes attack on refugees produces humanitarian


catastrophe
By
11 March 2016

Martin

Kreikenbaum

In the immediate aftermath of the special summit involving European Union (EU)
member states and Turkey last Monday in Brussels, a ruthless policy of sealing the
borders against refugees is being initiated. Since Wednesday, the Balkan route has
been completely shut to refugees, Hungary has declared a state of emergency and
deployed its army on the border, and Bulgaria has put its military on alert to use force
against refugees.
With the agreement between the EU and Turkey, the European powers are
energetically pressing ahead with the outsourcing of the deterrence of refugees,
trampling on fundamental rights enshrined in international law to protect refugees.
For years, the EU distanced itself from the concept of a fortress Europe. Now, the
protection of the external borders has been elevated to a moral principle, while
refugees are being treated like a hostile invading army and deterred by warships,
barbed wire fences and soldiers.
On Tuesday, the Slovenian government declared that it would only accept people with
valid travel documents. Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia followed suit, as a result of
which no refugee can any longer pass through the Balkan route. EU Council President
Donald Tusk noted on Wednesday on Twitter that the closure of the Balkan route was
by no means a decision taken solely by the government in Ljubljana, but had been
supported by all 28 EU member states.

Tusk referred to the summits concluding statement, which said, An end has been put
to the irregular flow of migrants along the west Balkan route. He thereby exposed
the false press reports claiming that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had
successfully fought against the closure of the Balkan route. This was supported by an
interview with Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner with Germanys Die
Welt, in which she declared, The closure of the Balkan route is taking place
according to plan, and the clock will not be turned back.
The closure of borders in the West Balkans will have catastrophic consequences for
refugees, who will now be confined to Greece. More than 14,000 refugees are now
waiting to continue their journey in temporary refugee camps at Idomeni on the
Greek-Macedonian border. Days of heavy rain have transformed their camp into a
swamp, and the small two-man tents, in which six-member families have to suffer, are
full of water. The hygienic conditions are horrific. Hundreds of refugees, including
many children, are suffering from colds and diarrhoea, doctors from a hospital near
Idomeni have reported.
According to the official count, 36,000 refugees are currently stuck in Greece. The
country, pushed to the economic and social breaking point due to the austerity dictates
of the EU, has capacity for only 25,000. According to Greeces crisis management
centre, around 7,300 refugees are in emergency camps on the Greek islands, around
9,400 in Athens and more than 18,000 in camps in northern Greece.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias expects that by the end of the month up to
150,000 refugees will be stranded in Greece. So far this year, 131,847 refugees have
been registered crossing the Aegean Sea, and at least 347 have drowned during the
crossing. The latest 25 died in a boat which sank practically at the same time as the
talks were taking place in Brussels.
However, the mounting humanitarian crisis has been met with utter indifference by
the political elite in the EU. Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz responded to a
question from the Sddeutsche Zeitung last week on whether the pictures from the
camps should act as a deterrent: I have said previously that we had to expect such
pictureseven though one cannot feel good about it when one sees such pictures.
But, he added, there are only two ways. We allow the people through, or we stop
them.
Deal with Turkey
The first place where they are to be stopped is in Turkey. This is at least the intention
of the dirty deal made by the EU heads of government with Ankara. The details are to
be finalised at another summit next week.
According to the agreement, Turkey will in the future accept the return of refugees
who make it across the Aegean Sea to Greece or across the land borders with Greece
or Bulgaria. In line with a one-to-one principle, the EU will accept a Syrian refugee
registered in a camp in Turkey under a resettlement programme for every Syrian
refugee deported. This will involve only hand-picked refugees, since it is the EU itself
who will choose them.

In addition, the EU will increase its financial aid to the Turkish government from 3
billion to 6 billion, which is to be paid by 2018. In addition, Turkey is pushing for
the elimination of visa requirements for its citizens to travel within the EU, as well as
the opening of further chapters in negotiations to join the bloc.
After hours of talks, Tusk and German Chancellor Merkel spoke of a breakthrough.
Merkel opined that it is a qualitatively new proposal which can help us move
forward on the issue of how we combat illegality. It had been, according to Merkel,
possible to map out a perspective to return to orderly relations.
Regardless of the fact that the alleged illegality of the flood of refugees is the result
solely of the EUs policy of sealing the borders, which declares refugees to be illegal
immigrants, the orderly relations will consist of the EU making Turkey the border
guard, assuming responsibility for the dirty work of deterring refugees.
Although there are some reservations within the EU about this cynical deceit, these
are related only to the question of whether the concessions demanded by Turkey are
too great. The French government has expressed reservations about visa-free travel,
and the Cyprus government has demanded the recognition by Turkey of the GreekCypriot government in Nicosia before negotiations on joining the EU can proceed.
But not a word was mentioned about how Turkey is trampling basic democratic rights
underfoot. Immediately prior to the summit, the government violently brought the
critical newspaper Zaman under its control, as well as the Cihan news agency. A
demonstration on the occasion of International Womens Day was brutally suppressed
by the police. In the countrys east, the government of President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan is conducting a bloody war against the suppressed Kurdish minority.
Already prior to the summit, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizire made
clear that the EU would overlook violations of human rights. We cannot be the
arbitrator on human rights for the entire world, de Maizire told the Passauer Neue
Presse. He was thus defending in advance the crimes and violations of law which will
be committed by the EU in its attacks on refugees.
As in a bad film, where a doorman with a dubious past is made to appear even more
threatening, the EU is outsourcing the deterrence of refugees to a state which employs
extreme brutality against refugees and pays no attention to international norms
concerning the protection of refugees.
The deputy director of the international charity Amnesty International, Gauri van
Gulik, protested against the agreement, stating, Using Turkey as a safe third
country is absurd. Many refugees still live in terrible conditions, some have been
deported back to Syria and security forces have even shot at Syrians trying to cross
the border.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made clear during his flight back from the
summit that Turkey would immediately deport the refugees taken back from Greece.
We will send non-Syrians intercepted in the Aegean Sea back to their home
countries, Davutoglu said. We will bring the Syrians to camps.

Turkey is currently negotiating repatriation agreements with 14 states. There can be


no doubt that Turkish authorities will ruthlessly deport Afghans, Iraqis, Yemenis,
Somalis and Eritreans. Refugees from the Kurdish regions of Syria and Iraq must
have the additional fear of being pursued by Turkish security forces as terrorists.
Turkey has to date only ratified the Geneva refugee convention with a geographical
reservation, so as to recognise only those refugees from Europe. By contrast, the 2.7
million refugees living in Turkey from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq are tolerated
merely as guests. Moreover, Syrian refugees are simply turned away at the border.
But since Turkey has neither fully implemented the Geneva refugee convention nor
the ban on repatriating people in search of protection, Turkey can, purely in legal
terms, not be declared a secure third country. This would not only violate the
European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), but even the European Unions own
lax asylum regulations. This is the conclusion reached by a number of legal reports
conducted by groups such as ProAsyl, Human Rights Watch and Statewatch.
But European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has simply ignored such
legal considerations. He was cited in Britains Guardian as saying that deporting
refugees to Turkey was legal because Greece had declared Turkey to be a safe third
country. The Greek government was compelled to take this action above all under
the pressure of the German interior minister, de Maizire.
According to Merkel, the 6 billion promised to Turkey is to be spent on supporting
the conditions of refugees. In fact, Turkey is focused on building deportation camps
with the assistance of the EU. Markus Ederer, the state secretary in Germanys foreign
affairs department, confirmed in response to a question from the Greens in parliament
that the EU was paying Turkey for the construction and equipping of centres for the
reception and repatriation of those from third countries. The EU is thus in practice
financing the deportation of refugees back into war zones.
There is no work for adults, no school for childrenthis is the daily norm for many
Syrian refugee families in Turkey, according to a report from Bavarian state radio
based on the findings of Turkish migration researcher Murat Erdogan. Some refugee
families send their children to work in order that there is enough money to survive.
And those who want to send their children to school often fail because of the
bureaucracy. In reality, only 70,000 Syrian children are integrated into the Turkish
education system, so only 8 percent, stated Erdogan.
According to a report by the British Independent, Syrian refugees are systematically
shot at by Turkish border police. The government in Ankara does not even deny such
crimes, but dismisses them as a necessity for self-defence. T he Independent cited a
senior government official as saying, In certain cases, the border patrol has no option
but to fire warning shots because they often come under attack from smugglers and
terrorist groups on the Syrian side.
Amnesty International reported in December that at the hospital in Azaz near the
Turkish border, an average of two refugees per day arrived with bullet wounds caused
by Turkish border guards. Among the arrivals were a ten-year-old girl and one-yearold baby who were essentially executed with head shots. Orthopaedic doctor Ali al-

Saloum from Azaz hospital confirmed this report to the Independent. It used to be
much rarer, he said. And when it did happen it was people being shot in the leg or
the arm. But people started dying.
By shutting the Balkan route and with the repatriation agreement with Turkey, the EU
has very consciously abandoned the remnants of the laws for the protection of
refugees. Migration researcher Olaf Kleist told the Schwbischer Tageblatt that the
EU had given Turkey a pay-off. This policy does not even aim in the most limited
way to protect the refugees, Kleist said.
Kleist added that he feared that many refugees would pay with their lives as they seek
alternative routes: The first alternative is probably the route across North Africa and
the Mediterranean to Italy. A very dangerous route, not only because of the sea, but
also the states in between, Egypt and Libya, a dictatorship and a failed state. In this
case there is not only the concern of many deaths, but also because the deal now
struck with Turkey will be the model for further migration prevention deals with
North African states.

uropean Central Bank cuts rates and pours more


money into financial markets
By
11 March 2016

Nick

Beams

The European Central Bank (ECB) yesterday unleashed a new series of measures
under its quantitative easing program, including expanded purchases of financial
assets, a further lowering of interest rates and increased financing for banks. The
moves amount to an increasingly desperate bid to counter the worsening outlook for
the euro zone and the global economy.
The ECB reduced its deposit rate to minus 0.4 percent from minus 0.3 percent and
increased its purchases of financial assets from the present level of 60 billion per
month to 80 billion and included for the first time the purchase of debt issued by
non-financial corporations. Previously the program, which is set to run to March 2017
or beyond if considered necessary, had only included government debt.
It also decided to extend further credit to banks under its so-called longer-term
refinancing operations, charging them interest rates as low as minus 0.4 percentin
effect paying them to borrow money.
However, the immediate effect of the measures was the opposite of what was
intended. European markets initially rose on the news because the expansion of the
asset-purchasing program by 20 billion was larger than had been expected, but then
ended the day sharply down. The euro at first fell against the dollar but then rose
rapidly in one of the largest one-day swings in the currencys history. On Wall Street
the Dow fell by as much as 178 points before rising to finish the day just 5 points
down.

The cause of the gyrations in the currency and equity markets appears to have been
remarks by ECB president Mario Draghi that there would be no further interest rate
cuts. He said that while interest rates will stay low, very low, for a long period of
time ... we dont anticipate that it will be necessary to reduce rates further.
He indicated the central bank could not go negative as far as it wanted without any
consequences for the banking system. Since the move by the Bank of Japan to
negatives rates at the end of January and the spread of the negative-rate regime to
countries comprising around a quarter of global gross domestic product, there has
been considerable concern that it has having an adverse impact on the business
models of banks, leading to significant falls in their share values.
In his prepared remarks Draghi gave a downbeat assessment of the euro zone
economy. Real GDP growth was 0.3 percent for the fourth quarter in 2015. While it
was supported by domestic demand, it was dampened by a negative contribution
from net exports with the most recent surveys pointing to weaker than expected
growth momentum at the beginning of the year.
His assessment on the immediate outlook was internally contradictory. He began by
saying that the ECB expected economic recovery to proceed at a moderate pace
the standard mantra of all the global financial institutions even as a world economic
outlook worsens.
However, he continued, the economic recovery in the euro area continues to be
dampened by subdued growth prospects in emerging markets, volatile financial
markets, the necessary balance sheet adjustments in a number of sectors [the need to
reduce high level of non-performing loans held by European banks] and the sluggish
pace of implementation of structural reforms.
The latter point is a reference to the long-held ECB demand that so-called labour
market flexibilitythe gutting of conditions of employmentmust be intensified
throughout the euro area.
Overall the risks in the euro area remained tilted to the downside relating to
heightened uncertainties in the global economy as well as geopolitical risks with the
ECB having revised down its estimates for growth from its December meeting.
The official rationale for the program of monetary stimulus is to bring the euro zone
rate of inflation towards but not above the level of 2 percent. However, prices are
moving in the opposite direction. The inflation rate for February was minus 0.2
percent, compared to 0.3 percent in January and would only reach 0.1 percent for
2016 as a whole, according to the ECBs own forecast.
During the question and answer session, Draghi sought to answer criticism that the
central banks policy was ineffective and it had had no ammunition left. He claimed
the new range of measures was very significant and it was foolish to think it was
possible to get back to 2 percent with an economy that had not recovered. But once
there was a solid recovery for the euro area there would be an upward movement on
wages and prices.

The claim that the program of the ECB and other central banks will eventually bring
about a recovery has been thoroughly exposed by economic reality. It is now more
than seven years since the meltdown of 2008 and euro zone output has still yet to
reach the levels it attained before the financial crisis.
Further remarks by Draghi pointed to the real nature of the so-called unconventional
measures adopted by financial authorities. Suppose we had not acted at all?
What would be the counterfactual? And of course we deem that the counterfactual
would have been a disastrous deflation, he said.
In other words, the actions of the ECB are not a program aimed at real economic
recoverytheir most significant effect has been to increase financial wealth and
widen social inequalitybut amount to a holding operation to prop up the financial
system and prevent a collapse like that of the 1930s. Moreover, the fact that the
program has had to be continually widened, signifies that, not only are the underlying
contradictions within the financial system still unresolved, they are intensifying.
On the eve of the ECB meeting, Bank of America chief investment strategist Michael
Hartnett noted that the policies of central banks over the past seven years had not
stimulated economic growth.
The seven-year glitch is that the underlying narrative of markets remains
deflationary, despite 619 global interest rate cuts, $10.4 trillion of financial asset
purchases by central banks, $9 trillion of global government debt yielding 0 percent
roughly equal to 23 percent of all government debt in the world, he said. There was
no sign of monetary stimulus bring an acceleration in GDP any time soon.
While the latest measures will do nothing to boost real economic growth, they will
have an impact. Despite Draghis strenuous avowals to the contrary, they represent a
stepping up of the currency wars in which countries try to improve their position in
global markets by lowering the value of their own currency at the expense of their
rivals.
In attempt to head off such criticism, Draghi pointed to the recent G-20 meeting in
Shanghai where all countries took a solemn agreement that basically they would
avoid such war but then acknowledged that some of the latest measures would have a
spillover on the foreign exchange market.
The other major impact will be on the bond markets. Further asset purchases will
increase the price of bonds and lower yields (the two move in an inverse relationship),
in some cases into negative territory. This means that investment in bonds is not
carried out to secure income from interest payments but with the aim of selling the
bond at a still higher price as interest rates fall.
As one analyst pointedly commented, with negative-yielding bonds you are
essentially in prayer mode for the opportunity to sell to essentially a bigger fool.
In other words, while the ECB measures are not going to boost the real economy, they
will further contribute to turning bond markets into a giant Ponzi scheme, dependent

on the continued inflow of cash, thereby creating the conditions for another financial
disaster.

Brexit referendum: Remain camp backs European


Union of austerity and militarism
By
Robert
10 March 2016

Stevens

and

Chris

Marsden

The Remain campaign in the June 23 referendum on Britains continued membership


in the European Union is led by the Conservative government of Prime Minister
David Cameron.
Support for a Remain vote, therefore, necessitates an endorsement of the renegotiation
of the UKs terms of EU membership secured by Cameron last month. These centre
on measures limiting in-work benefits for migrants and protecting the City of London
from financial regulation.
For the dominant sections of Britains financial and business elite, continued EU
membership is vital to maintaining trade links within the worlds largest single
market. Their campaign for membership of a reformed EU translates into support
for a Europe dominated by finance capital and dedicated to policies of austerity,
militarism and war.
Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE), likely to be the officially designated Remain
campaign group, stresses that EU membership is vital to the UKs economy. Some
three to four million jobs are linked to trade with Europe, with 44 percent of all
exportsworth 229 billion in 2014going to Europe. Foreign Direct Investment in
the UK from Europe averaged 24 billion a year over the last 10 years.
David Sainsbury, the Labour peer, supermarket heir and billionaire businessman,
provided BSEs start-up funding. The group is headed by former Marks & Spencer
boss Lord Stuart Rose, who currently chairs online grocery group Ocado. Cotreasurers are Roland Rudd, founder of public relations corporation Finsbury, and Sir
Michael Rake, chairman of BT Group, former president of the Confederation of
British Industry (CBI), and former chairman of KPMG International.
BSE has lined up the main international financial and economic institutions to warn
against a Brexit (British exit from the EU), with the G20 and the International
Monetary Fund issuing statements supporting EU membership. The United States and
the major European powers, which fear that a Brexit would precipitate the breakup of
the EU, have all lent their support.
The heads of GlaxoSmithKline, Siemens, Vodafone and Virgin Group have endorsed a
Remain vote, while the chairmen or chief executives of 36 FTSE 100 companies,
including Burberry, BAE Systems, BP, Shell and EasyJet, wrote to the Times calling
for support. The CBI, which represents 190,000 businesses across Britain, said that
the majority of its members want the UK to be in a reformed EU.

Other board members are drawn from all the main parliamentary parties, including
Lord Cooper, a former director of strategy at Downing Street under Cameron, and Sir
Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the treasury in the 2010-15
Conservative-led coalition.
The Tories and Lib-Dems are working hand-in-glove with the Blairite wing of the
Labour Party. Former Labour prime ministers Blair and Gordon Brown sit alongside
the only other surviving former Conservative prime minister, John Major. They are
joined by Lord Peter Mandelson, Blairs closest adviser, and Stephen Kinnock, son of
former Labour leader Neil Kinnock. The executive director of BSE is Will Straw, son
of former foreign secretary Jack Straw.
Caroline Lucas, the former leader of the Green Party and its only MP, has offered her
threadbare credentials as a political progressive to BSE.
The Remain campaigns propaganda also focuses on the importance of British
defence capabilities as a member of NATO with the worlds fifth largest military
budget. One of the key members of the BSEs board is General Sir Peter Wall, who
was chief of the general staff until September 2014.
Wall is a vocal advocate of confronting Russia and last year complained that UK
defence cuts, including the 2010 defence review, set a lower level of ambition for
UK involvement in global security than ever before. He warned of the state-on-state
confrontation in Europe initiated by Russia and urged sustained reinvestment in
the military.
A joint article by Tory MP Nicholas Soames and Mandelson, published in the Daily
Mail, stressed the need to confront Russia as a key argument in favour of EU
membership. Soames is the grandson of former prime minister Winston Churchill.
Mandelson is the grandson of Herbert Morrison, Labour home secretary in the
wartime coalition led by Churchill.
Invoking World War Two to appeal for national unity, they stated, Britain and our
allies emerged victorious, but to do so, everyone, including politicians from opposing
parties, had to pull in the same direction.
Calling on anti-communist sentiment, the two authors wrote of when the Russians
drew down the Iron Curtain on a broken and suffering Eastern Europe, and of how
When the Berlin Wall fell at the end of the 1980s, those countries and their great
capitalsWarsaw, Prague, Berlin, Bucharest and Sofiawere released from the grip
of a ruthless Soviet machine and stampeded to be a part of the European Union
A Remain vote is officially backed by the Labour Party and the Trades Union
Congress, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. But given the overtly Tory agenda
of Britain Stronger in Europe, they have not affiliated to it, fearing a repeat of the
political damage that uniting with the Tories in the 2014 referendum on Scottish
independence caused. Even so, Sir Brendan Barber, a former leader of the TUC from
2003 to 2012, who also served as a director on the Bank of England board, is a BSE
board member.

Corbyn has stated that he will not personally share a platform with the Conservatives
in the referendum campaign, which prompted denunciations from within the
parliamentary Labour Party. But whether he sits alongside Cameron or not, he shares
a common political platform thanks to his efforts to whitewash the EU and insist that
it can be reformed in the interests of the working class.
Corbyn attempts to strike an oppositional pose by calling for progressive reform in
Europe. But he endorses anti-immigrant measures by complaining of the
undercutting of wage rates and industry-wide agreements through the exploitation of
migrant workers. He echoes the criticism of the Tory right and UK Independence
Party that Camerons much-heralded emergency brake on in-work migrants
benefits will do nothing to cut inward migration to Britain.
No event more surely exposes the lie that the EU is either a progressive body or one
that can be made progressive than the fate of Greece, which was targeted by the EU
for austerity measures that destroyed the jobs, livelihoods and social conditions,
including access to health care, of millions of workers and their families.
As such, it is treated as radioactive political material by everyone aligning with the
Remain camp, especially Corbyn. Even when addressing the Party of European
Socialists in the European Parliament last month, he spoke only of a general need to
work in a common way to address the negatives of the European Union from a
progressive point of view before urging closer cooperation with the United Left
group. The latter formation includes Syriza, whose own pro-EU stance was integral to
its betrayal of the struggle of the Greek working class against the troika of the EU,
European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
As the Socialist Equality Partys statement For an active boycott of the Brexit
referendum! explains, The SEP is irreconcilably hostile to the European Union, but
our opposition is from the left, not the right. The EU is not an instrument for realising
the genuine and necessary unification of Europe. It is a mechanism for the subjugation
of the continent to the dictates of the financial markets and a forum in which
competing states fight amongst themselves and conspire against the working class.
We call for a rejection of the Remain campaign in defence of the EU and of the Leave
campaign dominated by far-right forces preaching nationalism and xenophobia, and
for the working class to take up the perspective of a common struggle with their
brothers and sisters across the continent for the United Socialist States of Europe.

altimore school police officers face felony charges for


assaulting student
By
10 March 2016

Nick

Barrickman

Baltimore City Schools police officers Anthony Spence, 44, and Saverna Bias, 53,
face felony assault charges after a cell phone video emerged last week showing them
assaulting a student on the stairs of REACH! Partnership Academy, where both

officers were on duty. The video, taken by a witness, shows Spence slapping and
kicking an unnamed youth as Bias stands by, not bothering to stop the attack.
School officials initially sought to play down the assault, alleging that the young
man, who is obviously school-aged, was not a student and had been trespassing on
the campus. According to Mike Davey, Spences attorney, an altercation ensued
between the officer and the youth which led to the slapping incident caught on film.
On Friday, after meetings with the boys family and attorneys, officials were forced to
admit that the youth, whose name has not been released, was believed to be a student
on the schools roster.
They were trying to find anything they could to point the finger at the victim, stated
Charles Gilman, an attorney for the boys family. According to attorney Lauren
Geisser, who spoke to the Baltimore Sun, injuries sustained to the youths face and
ribs required a trip to the hospital after the incident.
Eyewitness accounts cited in the court filings stated that Bias had encouraged
Spences violent actions, proclaiming you need to smack him [the student] because
hes got too much mouth. Spence has been charged with second-degree assault,
second-degree child abuse by a custodian as well as misconduct while in office, while
Bias received charges for second-degree assault and misconduct in office as well.
School Police Chief Marshall Goodwin and both of the officers involved have been
placed on leave due to the incident, while Spence and Bias face arraignment in early
April.
Baltimores municipal police department, which is separate from the school districts
officers, has announced that it will conduct a criminal investigation of the incident.
This has occurred while the municipal police force is under federal investigation for
its conduct relating to the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore man who
died after being given a rough ride in the back of a police wagon. Grays death
resulted in mass protests against police brutality in the city, which the states National
Guard was called in to suppress and during which a citywide curfew was declared.
Baltimore city officials immediately went into damage control after the latest assault
became public. Democratic Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declared the officers
actions were appalling, raising significant concerns. Schools CEO Gregory
Thornton said he was completely appalled and disappointed by the video. Baltimore
city schools spokeswoman Edie House Foster stated Spences behavior was
absolutely appalling and is not how our police interact with students,
administrators or anyone in our school communities.
Officer Spence had been involved in a number of violent altercations prior to the
March 1 assault at REACH!, including a tasering incident of a construction worker in
2003 which led to his being fired by the citys sheriffs department. In 2011, Spences
girlfriend at the time requested a restraining order against the officer after he
physically assaulted her during an argument.
The city of Baltimore is wracked by an epidemic of police brutality. According to the
Baltimore Sun, from 2011 to 2014 the city was forced to pay over $5.7 million in
restitution for cases stemming from police misconduct. In 2005, as a product of then-

Democratic Mayor Martin OMalleys zero tolerance policing policy, the city
reported over 108,000 people, roughly a sixth of Baltimores population, had been
arrested during the course of the year.
In October, Baltimore schools resource officer Lakisha Pulley pleaded guilty to three
charges of second-degree assault stemming from a 2014 attack in which an officer
clubbed three students with a baton, requiring one to receive stitches. In 2014,
Baltimore officials enacted a curfew law for youth under the age of 14, requiring
parents of children caught outside after 9:00 pm on weekdays to pay a fine of up to
$500. Since 2012, the city has cut over $6 million from after-school programs.
This is something that goes on far too much, the only thing different about this time
is that the beating was caught on camera, said Antoine Harris, a Baltimore parent
who spoke to the World Socialist Web Site about the incident. You can tell by the
officers behavior that he was very comfortable doing what he did, he didnt even
seem to mind being filmed.
Continuing, Harris stated, The one thing taught to kids in these schools [like
REACH! Partnership] is to obey authority, even more so than learning an education.
The only thing different about this time is that the political correctness police in the
media have picked up on the video, so now the city officials are making these
statements so that things will quiet down and go back to the status quo.
With more than 85,000 students, the Baltimore public school system is the states
largest. Eighty-four percent of students in the citys public schools are classified as
low income and eligible for free lunches according to city statistics. A 2014 study
released by Johns Hopkins University reports that, in contrast to groups of teenagers
from New Delhi, Johannesburg, Shanghai and Ibadan, Nigeria, youth in Baltimore
appear to experience the most severe health consequences stemming from poverty.
The police assault on an unnamed youth comes as the trials for the six Baltimore
police officers responsible for the death of Freddie Gray continue. On Tuesday,
Marylands Court of Appeals ruled that Baltimore police officer William G. Porter, the
only officer to have yet seen a trial, can be compelled to testify against all five other
officers in the case. In December, Porters case resulted in a mistrial, which forced
prosecutors to place the other trials on hold while Porter was compelled to turn states
witness. According to a Washington Post investigation released last year, out of the
police-involved killings which occurred from 2005 to 2015, only 54 officers have
ever been charged and even fewer have been found guilty.

altimore school police officers face felony charges for


assaulting student
By
10 March 2016

Nick

Barrickman

Baltimore City Schools police officers Anthony Spence, 44, and Saverna Bias, 53,
face felony assault charges after a cell phone video emerged last week showing them
assaulting a student on the stairs of REACH! Partnership Academy, where both

officers were on duty. The video, taken by a witness, shows Spence slapping and
kicking an unnamed youth as Bias stands by, not bothering to stop the attack.
School officials initially sought to play down the assault, alleging that the young
man, who is obviously school-aged, was not a student and had been trespassing on
the campus. According to Mike Davey, Spences attorney, an altercation ensued
between the officer and the youth which led to the slapping incident caught on film.
On Friday, after meetings with the boys family and attorneys, officials were forced to
admit that the youth, whose name has not been released, was believed to be a student
on the schools roster.
They were trying to find anything they could to point the finger at the victim, stated
Charles Gilman, an attorney for the boys family. According to attorney Lauren
Geisser, who spoke to the Baltimore Sun, injuries sustained to the youths face and
ribs required a trip to the hospital after the incident.
Eyewitness accounts cited in the court filings stated that Bias had encouraged
Spences violent actions, proclaiming you need to smack him [the student] because
hes got too much mouth. Spence has been charged with second-degree assault,
second-degree child abuse by a custodian as well as misconduct while in office, while
Bias received charges for second-degree assault and misconduct in office as well.
School Police Chief Marshall Goodwin and both of the officers involved have been
placed on leave due to the incident, while Spence and Bias face arraignment in early
April.
Baltimores municipal police department, which is separate from the school districts
officers, has announced that it will conduct a criminal investigation of the incident.
This has occurred while the municipal police force is under federal investigation for
its conduct relating to the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore man who
died after being given a rough ride in the back of a police wagon. Grays death
resulted in mass protests against police brutality in the city, which the states National
Guard was called in to suppress and during which a citywide curfew was declared.
Baltimore city officials immediately went into damage control after the latest assault
became public. Democratic Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declared the officers
actions were appalling, raising significant concerns. Schools CEO Gregory
Thornton said he was completely appalled and disappointed by the video. Baltimore
city schools spokeswoman Edie House Foster stated Spences behavior was
absolutely appalling and is not how our police interact with students,
administrators or anyone in our school communities.
Officer Spence had been involved in a number of violent altercations prior to the
March 1 assault at REACH!, including a tasering incident of a construction worker in
2003 which led to his being fired by the citys sheriffs department. In 2011, Spences
girlfriend at the time requested a restraining order against the officer after he
physically assaulted her during an argument.
The city of Baltimore is wracked by an epidemic of police brutality. According to the
Baltimore Sun, from 2011 to 2014 the city was forced to pay over $5.7 million in
restitution for cases stemming from police misconduct. In 2005, as a product of then-

Democratic Mayor Martin OMalleys zero tolerance policing policy, the city
reported over 108,000 people, roughly a sixth of Baltimores population, had been
arrested during the course of the year.
In October, Baltimore schools resource officer Lakisha Pulley pleaded guilty to three
charges of second-degree assault stemming from a 2014 attack in which an officer
clubbed three students with a baton, requiring one to receive stitches. In 2014,
Baltimore officials enacted a curfew law for youth under the age of 14, requiring
parents of children caught outside after 9:00 pm on weekdays to pay a fine of up to
$500. Since 2012, the city has cut over $6 million from after-school programs.
This is something that goes on far too much, the only thing different about this time
is that the beating was caught on camera, said Antoine Harris, a Baltimore parent
who spoke to the World Socialist Web Site about the incident. You can tell by the
officers behavior that he was very comfortable doing what he did, he didnt even
seem to mind being filmed.
Continuing, Harris stated, The one thing taught to kids in these schools [like
REACH! Partnership] is to obey authority, even more so than learning an education.
The only thing different about this time is that the political correctness police in the
media have picked up on the video, so now the city officials are making these
statements so that things will quiet down and go back to the status quo.
With more than 85,000 students, the Baltimore public school system is the states
largest. Eighty-four percent of students in the citys public schools are classified as
low income and eligible for free lunches according to city statistics. A 2014 study
released by Johns Hopkins University reports that, in contrast to groups of teenagers
from New Delhi, Johannesburg, Shanghai and Ibadan, Nigeria, youth in Baltimore
appear to experience the most severe health consequences stemming from poverty.
The police assault on an unnamed youth comes as the trials for the six Baltimore
police officers responsible for the death of Freddie Gray continue. On Tuesday,
Marylands Court of Appeals ruled that Baltimore police officer William G. Porter, the
only officer to have yet seen a trial, can be compelled to testify against all five other
officers in the case. In December, Porters case resulted in a mistrial, which forced
prosecutors to place the other trials on hold while Porter was compelled to turn states
witness. According to a Washington Post investigation released last year, out of the
police-involved killings which occurred from 2005 to 2015, only 54 officers have
ever been charged and even fewer have been found guilty.

Five years after Japans nuclear disaster, TEPCO


executives charged
By
10 March 2016

Ben

McGrath

In the lead up to the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, three former
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) executives were indicted late last month

over their role in the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear
Plant.
Tsunehisa Katsumata, TEPCO chairman during the accident, and Sakae Muto and
Ichiro Takekuro, both former heads of the companys nuclear division, have all been
charged with negligence. It is the first time anyone has been indicted over the nuclear
disaster. While the limited charges are largely to deflect continuing public anger, they
have been opposed by the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Three out of six nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant went into
meltdown after being hit by a tsunami caused by a magnitude-9 earthquake on March
11, 2011. From the outset there has been a conscious and ongoing effort to cover up
the gross negligence of the company and the government.
TEPCO only admitted last month that it had known that a meltdown had occurred but
waited two months before making the information public. Widespread confusion
marked the evacuation process in 2011 and is believed to have caused the deaths of at
least 44 people, mostly hospital patients or residents in nursing homes.
In 2008, three years before the disaster, an internal TEPCO document predicted that a
15.7-meter high tsunami could potentially strike the Fukushima plant. These warnings
were ignored. TEPCO, the fourth largest power company in the world, did nothing to
increase the height of its existing 10-meter seawall, which proved completely
inadequate when the 14-meter tsunami struck the plant in 2011.
The government has consistently attempted to protect TEPCO, which has a long
record history of covering up safety incidents.
Prosecutors initially declined to bring any charges against TEPCO officials making it
likely that the three executives will only receive a slap on the wrist if they are found
guilty at all. The three face up to five years jail or can pay a paltry fine of one million
yen ($8,800). The trial is not likely to start for at least six months.
Ruiko Muto of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Plaintiffs Group told the media, This
is a relief for the tens of thousands of victims who are still dealing with hardships and
anguish.
Mutos citizen group was formed to review the prosecutors decision after they
initially refused to press charges against the TEPCO officials. Under Japanese law,
citizen groups can demand such a review.
After the first groups demand for charges against TEPCO officials was rejected, a
second body, known as a Committee of Inquest for Prosecution, was formed. It
reached similar conclusions but once again no charges were filed. Another committee
was established to demand indictments and while rare, its decision is binding on
prosecutors.
The culpability of TEPCO and Japanese governments, present and past, is beyond
doubt. A report by the Japanese parliaments Nuclear Accident Independent
Investigation Commission (NAIIC) in 2012 stated that there was a cozy relationship

between the operators, regulators and academic scholars that prioritized the
interests of their organizations over the publics safety.
Over 15,000 people were killed in the earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan.
While no deaths have been directly linked to the release of radiation from the reactors,
there are widespread concerns that health problems may emerge in the future. It is
also unclear what impact the disaster will have on the environment. Greenpeace Japan
has stated in a recent report that it had found high concentrations of radiation in new
leaves and mutations in fir trees and butterflies.
Five years since the disaster, water continues to flow into the stricken TEPCO plant
where it becomes contaminated with radioactivity. The radioactive water is being
pumped into tanks with more than 1,000 tanks now full and the number growing.
TEPCO has stated that it may take 40 years to complete the complex
decommissioning of the reactors and clean-up.
More than 160,000 people were forced to evacuate the area following the Fukushima
meltdown and about 59,000 people continue to live in barrack-style temporary homes.
While the government has built some public housing, 7 percent of the homes built in
the three prefectures of Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi remain empty, highlighting the
refusal of the government to adequately meet the needs of the victims. High rents
have prevented some of those in temporary housing from moving.
Nuclear plants in Japan are being brought back online in defiance of public opinion
polls which regularly indicate that a majority of those surveyed oppose the use of
nuclear power.
Two reactors were restarted last August and October respectively at the Sendai
nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture by the Kyushu Electric Power Company. The
Sendai plant is just 50 kilometres from the Mount Sakurajima volcano, which erupted
on February 5. Kyushu Electric Power management said there was no impact from the
eruption and the company would not be taking any special precautions.
In January, Kansai Electric Power Company activated its No. 3 reactor, followed by
its No. 4 reactor in late February, at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture. The No.
4 reactor, however, has experienced operating problems on two occasions and has
been shut down. Contaminated water was found leaking during tests on February 20.
It was reactivated on February 26 but shut down suddenly three days later. The exact
cause is still not known.
While these issues continue to fuel popular hostility to nuclear power, the opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is attempting to capitalise on this by placing the
blame solely on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Naoto Kan, the DPJ prime minister at the time of the nuclear disaster, pleaded
ignorance during a recent interview with the Telegraph. There was so little precise
information coming in, he cynically told the British newspaper. It was very difficult
to make clear judgments. I dont consider myself a nuclear expert, but I did study
physics at university.

Kans immediate goal is to deflect criticism over the DPJ governments behavior
during the disaster ahead of this summers election for the upper house of the
Japanese Diet. He criticized Abes government for closing its eyes to the lessons of
the disaster, and warned of the potential for a second, claiming that his previous
support for nuclear power had changed 180 degrees.
The ongoing attempts of Japanese governments to protect TEPCO over the
Fukushima disaster are another demonstration that the drive for profits takes
precedence over the health and safety of millions of ordinary people.
As the World Socialist Web Site explained in Nuclear power, private ownership and
the profit system published on March 24 2011, The problem is not nuclear power
per se, but the social and economic order under which it is developed.
So long as nuclear power remains the province of private corporations and the
market, the health of the environment and the safety of humankind will be
subordinated to the drive for profit and enrichment of executives and big
shareholders. Only under public ownership and democratic control by the working
populationi.e., under socialismis the safe harnessing and development of nuclear
power conceivable.
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Canadas parliament endorses expanded role in


Mideast war
By
10 March 2016

Roger

Jordan

Canadas House of Commons voted Tuesday in favour of the Liberal governments


plan to expand the countrys role in the US-led war in Iraq and Syria.
A motion approving the Liberal plan for Canadas military to play a leading role in the
US-led war coalition for at least two more years passed by 178 votes to 147, with the
Liberals voting in favour and the opposition Conservatives, NDP and Bloc Quebecois
against.
Announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month, the new plan will see a
trebling of the number of Canadian Special Forces troops deployed in Iraq to more
than 200. These forces are to advise and assist Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in
northern Iraq.
The 69 fighters Canada has deployed in the region on the same mandate since late
2014 have been involved in frontline combat, including direct exchanges of fire with
Islamic State (ISIS) forces. Military officials this week confirmed four occasions
since the fall of 2014 in which Canadian forces engaged in firefights with ISIS
militants.

The plan also calls for additional financial support to Jordan and Lebanon to deal with
refugees and for six CF-18 fighter jets to be withdrawn from bombing targets in Iraq
and Syria. The surveillance and refueling aircraft that the previous Conservative
government deployed to the Mideast in the fall of 2014 are to continue assisting the
US-led bombing campaign.
The Liberal government is also increasing the total number of military personnel
seconded to the US war coalition from 650 to 830. This includes senior officers who
will provide additional support for the coalitions command and intelligence
structures, and potentially a team to advise the Iraqi Defence Ministry in Baghdad
modelled on a Canadian team of experts that operated for several years within the
Afghan government.
Making a mockery of the Liberals claims to have ended Canadas combat mission in
the Middle East, Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance told parliament
Tuesday that the Special Forces would be authorized to shoot first if they detected
hostile intent from Islamic State militants. The rules of engagementallow
Canadian forces to defend themselves, Vance told the House of Commons defence
committee, [to] anticipate their defence so they can engage a hostile actor an intent
before it materializes. In other wordswe can anticipate to protect ourselves.
A day earlier, Vance told the Senate defence committee that a key element of the
Canadian Armed Forces mission will be to help identify and form a battalion of
around 600 Kurdish fighters who are to be given more advanced training so as to
create a Kurdish special forces unit. This unit will ultimately be tasked with leading
major attacks, including potentially the long-discussed assault on Iraqs second-largest
city, Mosul, currently held by ISIS.
The Liberal governments expansion of Canadas Mideast war intervention exposes
the thoroughly fraudulent character of the anti-war pose it sought to strike in last
years federal election by calling for the withdrawal of the CF-18s.
In reality, the Liberalsand indeed the entire Canadian ruling classare fully on
board with Washingtons drive to consolidate US hegemony over the worlds most
important oil-producing region, as well as its strategic offensives against Russia and
China.
Washingtons reckless policy of never-ending war has thrown the entire Middle East
into chaos, forcing millions to flee their homes and costing the lives of millions more.
The current US-led intervention is only further exacerbating ethnic and regional
tensions. The Kurdish Peshmerga with whom the Canadian Special Forces are
operating are seeking to establish an independent Kurdistan through the partition of
Iraq and Syria along Sunni, Shia and Kurdish lines. In a report earlier this year,
Amnesty International accused the Peshmerga of war crimes, including burning down
Arab villages retaken from Islamic State forces so as to expel the local Arab
population.
In the month since Trudeau unveiled Canadas new Mideast war plan, his government
has deployed four CF-18 fighter jets to participate in a training mission in Romania, a

move clearly aimed at stepping up the US-led encirclement and isolation of Russia in
eastern Europe. Canada has been one of the staunchest supporters of the pro-Western
regime in Kiev, which was brought to power in a Western-sponsored coup two years
ago and is now waging war against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Ottawa
has also provided air, sea and land support to NATOs aggressive operations aimed at
Moscow in eastern Europe and the Baltic and Black Seas.
By pursuing aggressive militarist policies in the Middle East, eastern Europe, and the
Asia-Pacific as part of Washingtons pivot or rebalance to Asia, the Canadian
ruling elite is determined to strengthen its longstanding strategic collaboration with
US imperialism, so as to uphold its own predatory global interests.
The parliamentary vote on the Liberals Mideast war plan was held two days prior to
Trudeau travelling to Washington, where President Obama will host a state dinner for
him today. Intensified Canadian-US military and security cooperation, including in
the Arctic, is expected to be high on the agenda of the Obama-Trudeau summit.
Discussion is already well under way within Canadian ruling circles about further
military interventions. Last month, in the wake of talks with his NATO counterparts,
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan indicated that Canada is considering involvement in a
new military mission in Libya. The country was plunged into chaos following
NATOs air war in 2011 that toppled the Gaddafi regime. Recent reports have
revealed that US and French Special Forces are already operating in Libya, one of
Africas principal oil producers, under the pretext of combatting the Islamic State.
Yesterday, the Montreal daily Le Devoir reported that Ottawa is considering deploying
up to 2,000 army and police personnel to Haiti and assuming the leadership of the UN
peacekeeping force that has occupied that country since the US, with Canadas
military support, ousted the countrys elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in
2004.
Canada has longstanding economic and geo-political interests in Haiti and the broader
Caribbean. Recently Canada helped Haiti modernize its mining codethat is,
make it more amenable to Canadas mining companies.
There are also growing calls from Canadas national-security establishment and
corporate media for the government to substantially hike military spending. The
Liberals have promised a comprehensive defence review by the end of 2016,
prompting numerous journalists and think tanks to declare that more resources need to
be deployed in asserting Canadian strategic interests around the globe. Some of the
most significant proposals already being raised are an expansion of the militarys
presence the Arctic, joining the US ballistic missile defence shield and increasing
annual military spending to 2 percent of GDP.
Following his appearance in parliament Monday, Vance weighed into the debate,
supporting calls for the purchase of weaponized drones for Canadas military.
Referring to conflicts like those in Iraq, he declared that there is little point in
purchasing such vehicles if they cannot fire weapons.

The media has continued to be critical of the Liberals new Mideast war plan,
focusing above all on Trudeaus supposed failure to provide a rationale for the
withdrawal of the fighter jets.
None of the parties that voted against the Liberals motion to expand Canadas role in
the Mideast war have any disagreement with the Canadian elites aggressive, militarist
agenda. The Conservatives voted against the motion based on the demagogic and
bellicose claim that the withdrawal of the CF-18 fighter jets means Canada is shirking
its duty to lead the war on terrorism.
The Conservatives claims were echoed by the pro-Quebec-independence Bloc
Quebecois (BQ). During last years election campaign, the BQ joined with the
Conservatives in attacking the New Democratic Party (NDP) for being soft on
terrorism and whipping up a reactionary chauvinist campaign over Muslim women
wearing the niqab at citizenship ceremonies.
The social-democratic NDP took the government to task for its lack of clarity on
whether the new plan is for a combat mission and when it will end. Party leader
Thomas Mulcair insisted that the NDP is fully behind Canada remaining part of the
US-led war coalition, but argued it should focus on providing humanitarian support.
This exemplifies the lack of any principled opposition within the NDP to Canadian
imperialist operations in the Middle East and around the world.
The NDP in fact voted in favour of the 2011 NATO-led bombardment of Libya,
promoting the lie that it was aimed at providing humanitarian assistance to the
population. As part of its openly right-wing, Harper-lite election campaign last fall,
the NDP also vowed to increase military spending and equip Canadas armed forces
with better weapons so as to enable them to intervene more actively around the globe.

S generals push for more troops in Iraq, Syria


By
10 March 2016

Bill

Van

Auken

The US must escalate its intervention in Iraq and Syria with more troops on the
ground, both the outgoing commander of US military forces in the Middle East and
his designated replacement told Congress in hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Gen. Joseph Votel, the current head of the US Special Operations Command, who has
been tapped by President Barack Obama to lead US Central Command (CENTCOM),
which oversees both the ongoing intervention in Iraq and Syria and the continuing
American occupation of Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee
Wednesday that an offensive to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa and the Iraqi city of
Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will take more resources than
the Pentagon currently has deployed in the region.
His comments echoed those made the day before by the man he is succeeding, Gen.
Lloyd Austin, who also pointed to the need for additional capability to launch an
offensive against the two cities.

Clearly there are things that we will want to do to increase the capability a bit to be
able to increase the pace of operations, and that will require some additional
capability, Austin said.
We have gone through and done some analysis ... to see what types of things we need
to provide, he continued. And we have made some recommendations.
While refusing to tell the committee precisely what he had recommended to the
Obama administration, Austin indicated that it included the deployment of more US
military personnel in order to increase the number of advise and assist teams
deployed with Iraqi security forces, improve intelligence on the ground and intensify
logistical support.
We could increase some elements of the Special Operations footprint, he added.
Well over 4,000 US troops are already deployed in Iraq, while scores more have been
sent into Syria, in violation of international law.
The additional capability demanded by the Pentagon brass will almost certainly
entail thousands more American soldiers being sent into the two countries.
Austin also touched on the continuing US operation in Afghanistan, stressing that a
review was needed of existing plans to draw down the number of US troops
deployed there after the end of this year.
Referring to the defeats suffered at the hands of the Taliban by the security forces of
the US puppet regime in Kabul, Austin said, When the situation changes so that
those facts are no longer valid or the assumptions that you made are no longer
appropriate, then I think you have to go back and revisit your plan.
President Obama last October rescinded his previously announced plan to pull out
virtually all US forces from Afghanistan, adopting a plan dictated by the Pentagon to
keep the roughly 10,000 troops there, likely beyond the end of his presidency.
Austins demand to revisit that plan indicates that the military brass believes that
the current or even greater number of troops must remain in Afghanistan indefinitely.
Austin told the committee that the Pentagon currently has 84,000 US troops deployed
in CENTCOMs area of operations, along with an unmatched ability to provide rapid
reinforcement in response to unforeseen contingencies.
In his testimony Wednesday, General Votel argued against any reduction of this US
presence in the region on the grounds that it could provide opportunities that other
countries such as Russia or China could exploit.
While Votel described ISIS as the biggest near-term threat to US interests in the
region, he stressed that Iran and Russia, which are both combating ISIS, represented
the larger strategic challenge.
We should understand that Iran is not ambiguous in their activities and their focus is
on the United States, the general said.

In describing CENTCOMs mission, Votel placed the need to check Irans malign
influence above that of seeking to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL [ISIS].
The generals comments came as Washington responded to Irans test firing
Wednesday of two ballistic missiles. Speaking from Israel, where he was on a state
visit to reassure the Zionist state in the wake of last years nuclear deal with Iran, Vice
President Joe Biden vowed that the US will act if Iran violates the terms of the
agreement. He added that the US was closely following Irans non-nuclear military
activity, declaring we will and are attempting to act wherever we can find it.
Meanwhile, former secretary of state and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary
Clinton denounced the missile tests, declaring, Iran should face sanctions for these
activities and the international community must demonstrate that Irans threats toward
Israel will not be tolerated.
General Votel also echoed Austins testimony in calling for a revival of the Pentagons
aborted train and equip program for the purpose of creating an indigenous ground
force to further US operations in Syria.
A $500 million Pentagon program for arming and training so-called moderate rebels
ostensibly to fight against ISIS was terminated after General Austin admitted last
September that no more than four or five such rebels were on the ground in Syria a
year after the program was launched. Other US-trained elements sent into Syria
rapidly surrendered to the Al Nusra Front, the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda, handing
over their US-supplied armaments.
Votel faced questioning from the Senate panel over the composition of the so-called
Syrian Democratic Forces, which are being assisted by US Special Forces troops. He
acknowledged that the group is probably about 80 percent Kurdish.
These forces are comprised of the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish militia, which reported on
Monday that its fighters are facing continuous artillery fire from the Turkish military
in violation of a cessation of hostilities agreement brokered by the United Nations.
While Turkey is a NATO ally of the US, and Washington describes it as a key member
of the anti-ISIS coalition, the Islamist government in Ankara has concentrated its
fire on the Kurdish forces that the Pentagon is supporting, and there is extensive
evidence that it has funneled arms and funding to ISIS and other Al Qaeda-linked
forces in Syria.

Chinese finance minister calls for easier dismissals


under labour laws
By
10 March 2016

Peter

Symonds

Remarks by Chinas Finance Minister Lou Jiwei on Monday, criticising the countrys
labour laws, are a warning sign that the government is preparing savage attacks on the
jobs, pay and working conditions of the working class.

In televised comments on the sidelines of this weeks National Peoples Congress


(NPC) in Beijing, Lou complained that the legal system was tilted too much in favour
of employees. If an employee does not work hard it is difficult for a company to do
anything like dismissing them, he declared.
Lous statement could have been uttered by any CEO or big business politician
around the world. They repeatedly call for greater labour flexibility, especially
when it comes to hiring and firing workers. And his arguments were dressed up with
the same sham concern for employees.
The original purpose of the law is to protect workers, but in the end it harms the
interests of some workers and may lead to a rapid rise in wages, Lou explained,
saying that rising costs were leading firms to move their operations overseas.
Ultimately who is harmed? Its workers who are harmed.
According to National Bureau of Statistics, wages levels in China have doubled over
the past decade, leading to low-end manufacturing, in particular, moving to sources of
cheaper labour such as Vietnam and Bangladesh.
The answer of Lou and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime is the response of
capitalist governments internationally: to boost international competitiveness
through a never-ending drive to lower wages and drive up production by slashing
conditions.
In recent years, the increase in workers income is faster than the increase in
productivity. This is not sustainable, Lou bluntly declared.
The finance ministers remarks highlight the class character of the CCP, which speaks
for the tiny super-wealthy elite who have enriched themselves through the processes
of capitalist restoration in China over the past three decades.
Significantly, the official Xinhua news agency highlighted Lous statements to
demonstrate that the NPC was not just a stage-managed affair but an example of
spontaneous dissent and robust debate among the delegates.
The report noted that Lou was not alone in criticising the Labor Contract Lawother
NPC delegates, all business owners, joined the chorus.
Zeng Xiaohe, who runs the Anhui Tianfang Tea Group, declared that the law
weakens employers positions with respect to employees and does not cover their
diverse needs, for example temporary or hourly workers are not adequately dealt
with.
Gao Yafe, an entrepreneur, complained: An employer who wishes to discharge an
employee is under a number of obligations, but employees are not subject to similar
strictures if they wish to quit.
Zhang Yansen, another businessman and member of the National Committee of the
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference, said the spirit of the law was to
protect employees, but it had crossed the line and had to be amended.

These signs of dissent and debate are all from the standpoint of members of the
corporate elite, who are closely intertwined with the upper echelons of the CCP
apparatus. The congress delegates include many of the countrys wealthiest
billionaires and a long list of business people.
A businesswoman and NPC delegate from Shanghai, Fan Yun, used the opening
session of the congress to lambast market regulators for triggering last years share
price collapse. She declared: The ten years of stock market development since 2007
is a decade of tears for Chinese investors.
Under conditions of sharp economic slowdown, these social layers are demanding an
acceleration of pro-market liberalisation and restructuring that was set out in the latest
five-year plan and the work report presented by Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday.
For all of Finance Minister Lous protestations of concern about harming workers,
the CCP government is preparing to devastate the lives of millions of workers through
mass layoffs in heavy industry. In his work report, Premier Li announced the
governments intention to slash massive overcapacities and merge, reorganise or shut
down zombie state-owned enterprises that are being kept afloat through state
financing.
Before the congress, Employment Minister Yin Weimin announced plans to destroy
1.8 million jobs in the steel and coal industries. Glass, cement, shipbuilding,
aluminium and other heavy industries also face severe downsizing, with estimates of
up to 6 million jobs being axed.
On Tuesday, Zhang Qingwei, governor of the northern province of Hebei, announced
that 240 of the provinces 400 steel plants would be shut down by 2020. He also said
the provincial government would slash cement production capacity by two thirds and
impose heavy cuts to coal and glass. Zhang estimated that more than one million
workers would be laid off over the next two years.
These measures will have a severe impact on the working class in already
economically depressed areas. While Premier Li projected annual growth over the
next five years of 6.5 percent, the economy in large areas of China is stagnant or in
recession. That is particularly the case in the so-called rust bucket provinces in the
countrys northeast, including Hebei and Liaoning.
An article in last weekends Wall Street Journal, entitled Chinas Two-Speed
Economy, painted a bleak picture: Chinas slow lane is choked with state-owned
industrial firms in sectors linked to real estatesteel, cement, coal and construction
equipmentall suffering from massive overcapacity. Many get by on bank loans,
endlessly rolled over, and orders for boondoggle civil-works projects. They are
zombies in a phantom economy.
The article explained that Liaoning boomed after the 2008 global economic crisis on
the basis of the huge government stimulus spending and cheap credit that fuelled a
speculative housing bubble. The voice of American finance capital left no doubt that
if China keeps subsidising wasteful investment to keep industrial cities alive, its
financial system will eventually blow up.

Finance Minister Lou, along with the rest of the CCP bureaucracy, doubtless agrees.
That is why he is stridently advocating changes to labour laws to facilitate the
avalanche of job destruction being prepared. If the regime has held back until now, it
is only because of fears of the widespread social unrest that will result and for which a
build-up of the police-state apparatus has taken place.
The social devastation facing Chinese workers is part and parcel of what is
confronting the working class around the world. In every country, governments are
imposing the burden of the worsening global crisis onto the backs of workers,
insisting that pay, conditions and jobs must be sacrificed to make corporations
internationally competitive.
As Chinese exports plunge

IMF issues new warning on global economy


By
10 March 2016

Nick

Beams

The International Monetary Fund warned this week of a further weakening of the
global economy following the release of figures showing a significant decline in
Chinese and global trade.
In a major speech to the National Association for Business Economics in Washington
on Tuesday, the first deputy managing director of the IMF, David Lipton, said that it
was most disconcerting that the rise in risk aversion was leading to a sharp
retrenchment in global capital and trade flows.
He noted that emerging markets experienced a capital outflow of $200 billion last
year compared to a net inflow of $125 billion in 2014. Trade flows meanwhile are
being dragged down by weak export and import growth in large emerging markets
such as China, as well as Russia and Brazil, which have been under considerable
stress, he said.
Lipton made his remarks following the release of data showing that Chinese exports
experienced their biggest contraction since 2009. It was another sign that, far from the
world economy being on the road to recovery, global demand is continuing to fall.
Chinese exports in February were down by 25.4 percent in dollar terms from a year
earlier, after falling by 11.2 percent in January, while imports declined by 13.8
percent, after dropping by 18.8 percent in January. While the figures may have been
somewhat distorted because of issues related to the lunar New Year holiday, the
combined January and February falls add up to a marked decline over the previous
year, and no one is expecting the March data to show any improvement.
The Chinese results are the latest in a series of reports showing a decline in world
trade, especially over the past two years, as a result of intensifying recessionary
trends. In the years before the financial meltdown, world trade grew at about twice the
rate of growth for the world economy. Since 2011, it has been in line with or even
below that figure.

Last year, the value of global trade fell by 13.8 percent in dollar terms, the first
contraction since 2009. Figures released last week for the US, the worlds largest
economy, show the same trend as the second largest economy, China. US exports fell
by 2.1 percent, while imports were down by 1.3 percent. The value of goods exports
from the US was the lowest since February 2011.
Lipton concluded his speech by repeating the official mantra that global economic
recovery continues. However, everything that came before showed the opposite to be
the case.
The IMFs latest reading of the global economy shows once again a weakening
baseline, he said. Moreover, risks have increased further, with volatile financial
markets and low commodity prices creating fresh concerns about the health of the
global economy.
These concerns were being fed by the perception that in many economies
policymakers have run out of ammunition or lost the resolve to deploy it. Repeating
the call issued by the IMF prior to the recent G20 meeting in Shanghai, he said it was
imperative that advanced and developing countries dispel this dangerous notion by
reviving the bold spirit of action and cooperation that characterized the early years of
the recovery effort.
He claimed the G20 meeting had recognized that the global economy remained too
weak and had provided some reassurance that countries stand ready to act if
necessary. In fact, such are the divisions within the G20 that proposals for
cooperation did not even make it onto the agenda of the meeting. As a number of
media reports noted, the gathering was characterised by the efforts of every country to
blame every other country for the worsening situation.
Lipton pointed both to what he called unresolved legacies and the emergence of
new risks. In many parts of Europe, government and private debt remained high, as
well as banks non-performing loans. In the US, unfilled infrastructure needs
diminish economic prospects, while in Japan, deflation is putting the recovery at
risk.
On top of these legacies, new risks had developed. The global economic slowdown
is hurting bank balance sheets and financing conditions have tightened considerably,
he warned. In emerging markets, excess capacity is being unwound through sharp
declines in capital spending, while rising private debt, often denominated in foreign
currency, is increasing risks to banks and sovereign [government] balance sheets.
Lipton pointed out that the decline in stock market indices for this year implied a loss
of market capitalization of more than $6 trillion, equivalent to about half the total
losses incurred in the most acute phase of the 2008 financial crisis. While the decline
on a global scale was 6 percent, some markets had experienced losses of 20 percent.
He warned that protracted low global demand coupled with financial turbulence
created the risk of negative feedback loops between the real economy and markets,
generating deflation and secular stagnationa situation where the level of savings
permanently outstrips the demand for investment funds.

In other words, low global demand, in large measure the result of low investment,
leads to financial volatility, which in turn leads to reductions in investment, further
lowering demand.
Lipton said commodity exporters had to recognise that commodity prices may well
be permanently lower. This assessment has also been made by Goldman Sachs, one
of the largest banks operating in commodity markets. In a series of reports issued this
week, it said the recent spike in prices was likely to be temporary, and the 20-month
decline had further to run before supply was cut and markets rebalanced.
Lipton repeated the now obligatory statement from the worlds major economic
institutions that the lessons of history had to be learned and zero-sum policies, in
which one country attempts to alleviate its position at the expense of others, had to be
eschewed, because in the long run, they made all countries worse off.
One of the chief mechanisms of such zero-sum games is competitive currency
devaluation. But such measures are being intensified, not reduced. While all central
banks insist that their quantitative easing programs, through which they pump money
into the financial system, together with negative interest rates are not aimed at
lowering the value of their currency, this is their effect.
Following the decision by the Bank of Japan to introduce negative interest rates at the
end of January, a further step in this direction is expected today when the European
Central Bank governing council meets. It is widely forecast to extend its quantitative
easing program and take interest rates further into negative territory, exacerbating the
tensions in financial markets.

The death of Nancy Reagan


By
9 March 2016

David

Walsh

The American political and media establishment has responded in predictably fawning
and dishonest fashion to the demise on March 6 of Nancy Reagan, the widow of
former president Ronald Reagan, who died in 2004.
Nancy Reagan was heartily disliked by considerable sections of the American
population during her eight years in the White House because of her extravagant
spending on herself and her aristocratic tastes and lifestyle, which earned her the
nickname Queen Nancy. The Reagan presidency generally is associated with social
reaction and attacks on the working class, military aggression and political
conspiracy.
In the interests of continuing and deepening the decades-long, bipartisan policies of
social reaction and war, the American ruling elite feels obliged to perpetuate the
official mythology about the former president and extend it to his wife. This is no less
true for what purports to be the left wing of the political establishment, concentrated
in the Democratic Party, than for the Republican right. While the effusive and absurd
adoration of the former first lady does not come as a surprise, that does not make the
spectacle of intellectual cowardice and debasement less repulsive.

Every candidate for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations chimed
in with unstinting praise for the late Mrs. Reagan. The iconoclast Donald Trump
exclaimed on Twitter, Nancy Reagan, the wife of a truly great president, was an
amazing woman. She will be missed! His rivals, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida
Senator Marco Rubio commented publicly along the same lines. Ohio Governor John
Kasich asserted that the relationship between Ronald and Nancy Reagan was one of
our nations great love stories and a model of shared devotion to our country. The
nausea rises in ones gorge
Bill Clintons office released a statement on behalf of both Clintons paying tribute to
Reagan: Nancy was an extraordinary woman: a gracious First Lady, proud mother,
and devoted wife to President Reaganher Ronnie. The socialist Bernie Sanders
joined in, declaring, No matter your party or political ideology, this is a sad day for
America. Nancy Reagan was an exemplary first lady. A devoted partner, she was her
husbands most trusted adviser and, as such, served our country well Nancy Reagan
had a good heart, and she will be dearly missed. The Obama White House expressed
similar regrets.
This type of clichd drivel was repeated in hundreds of broadcasts and newspaper
editorials. A few typical headlines: Nancy Reagan earned the gratitude of a nation,
Nancy Reagan set standard for first ladies, President Reagans irreplaceable
partner, With grace and love: Nancy Reagan devoted to her husbands goals as
public figure, etc., etc.
On his program March 6, CNNs Wolf Blitzer gushed about what a very sad time
and really, really sensitive moment it was. Blitzer could not restrain himself,
referring to Mrs. Reagan as a wonderful, loving wife, this loving wife, a wonderful
woman, and further noting that she had led a wonderful life and that she and her
husband had a wonderful, wonderful marriage.
It would not be difficult to prove that the flattery of Nancy Reagan is absurd
nonsense. From all objective accounts, and even reading between the lines of some of
the more laudatory ones, one obtains a picture of an extremely limited young woman
who ultimately became something quite odious as the companion, from the early
1950s onward, of the politically ambitious Ronald Reagan.
Anne Frances Robbins was born in New York City in 1921, the daughter of an
itinerant actress and a car dealer, who left the family soon afterward. Nancy, as she
was always known, was shipped off to an aunt at the age of two and grew up in
unstable, not especially happy conditions. A bit of a female Clyde Griffiths (from
Dreisers An American Tragedy ), the girl apparently longed for security and social
status. Her mother married a conservative neurosurgeon, Loyal Davis, in 1929, and
Nancy subsequently campaigned to be legally adopted by him, although her father
was still alive. Thus Nancy Davis (as she eventually became) grew up in quite
privileged conditions in the Chicago area during the Depression. She never saw a
poor person, one observer notes, unless she went downtown.
After attending Smith College, Davis, using her mothers connections in the theater
and film world, made her way into acting. She made a dozen or so films in
Hollywood, and also appeared in a number of television programs.

Not a terrible actress, but never a dynamic or forceful one, Davis-Reagan played an
appropriately minor role in what was probably the most memorable film in which she
appeared: East Side, West Side (1949), directed by Mervyn LeRoy, with Barbara
Stanwyck, James Mason, Ava Gardner, Van Heflin, Cyd Charisse and the soon-to-beblacklisted Gale Sondergaard (wife of Herbert J. Biberman, director of Salt of the
Earth, 1954).
By the end of her film career in the mid-1950s, Nancy Davis was already wed to
Reagan (they married in 1952). The story goes, although it is disputed by some
sources, that Davis met Reagan, who was president of the Screen Actors Guild, in
1949 when she sought his assistance in having her name removed from the
Hollywood blacklist. She had apparently been confused with another Nancy Davis,
with more left-wing proclivities, and was fearful that her career would be harmed.
The union with Reagan at the height of the Cold War anticommunist witch hunt,
whatever its immediate origins, had a social significance. Reagan began political life
as a New Deal Democrat. Howard Fast, the left-wing novelist, insisted to Reagan
biographer Edmund Morris that the future president had applied to join the
Communist Party at one point, but was turned down as too much of a flake.
In the postwar period, Reagan, along with many others, shifted rapidly to the right,
testifying to his anticommunist beliefs before the House Un-American Activities
Committee in October 1947, at the time of the birth of the infamous blacklist. In his
testimony, speaking of Hollywoods Communists, Reagan explained, I detest, I abhor
their philosophy, but I detest more than that their tactics, which are those of the fifth
column [associated with internal clandestine attacks and treason].
Reagan and his wife moved even farther to the right in the 1950s and early 1960s,
associating and ingratiating themselves with an extremely wealthy and reactionary set
prominent in California Republican politics. Reagan was first elected governor of the
state in 1966.
Limited as the Reagans may have been as performers, there is no doubt their skills
and film industry experience came in handy when faced with their particular
challenge: disguising their ultra-right, antidemocratic views (Ronald Reagan allegedly
indulged in racist and anti-gay humor, even jokes about AIDS, in private) and
presenting, at least in his case, a folksy, populist visage to the public.
For her part, Nancy Reagan was obliged to pretend for years that she felt something
other than a profound antipathy for the mass of the population, from whom she had
been trying to separate herself, with considerable success, since her psychologically
stressful, economically unsteady childhood. The unceasing need to dissemble helps
explain the disingenuousness and artificiality of her public behavior.
In a piece for the Saturday Evening Post in June 1968 (Pretty Nancy), novelist Joan
Didion referred to Mrs. Reagan as having the smile of a good wife, a good mother, a
good hostess, the smile of someone who grew up in comfort and went to Smith
Collegethe smile of a woman who seems to be playing out some middle-class
American womans daydream, circa 1948. Didion suggested that Nancy Reagans
smile was a study in frozen insincerity.

As the wife of the president from 1981 to 1989, Mrs. Reagan, as noted above, made a
name for herself chiefly as a spender of money. In January 1981, she and White
House Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver staged, one commentator suggests, the
most extravagant inauguration since the Gilded Age. The New York Times noted in
August 1981 that Mrs. Reagan arrived here last January with a $25,000 [$68,500 in
2016 dollars] inaugural wardrobe that included a $10,000 dress and a $1,650 handbag.
Since then, such luxuries have become the First Ladys signature.
This was in the midst of a devastating recession and a historic wave of social
spending cuts carried out by the administration. The Los Angeles Times noted in its
obituary, Reagan was widely criticized for her extravagance during the economic
downturn, and she took her biggest drubbing for commissioning $200,000 worth of
china for the White House in 1981.
Nancy Reagan was also renowned for her famous Just say no line, a response in
1982 to a schoolgirls question as to what she should do if offered drugs. In the first
place, the reply callously suggested that drug abuse was purely a matter of personal
responsibility and had nothing to do with the social and economic blight that had
descended on the country. In that sense, Mrs. Reagans remark was an element of the
overall effort to deprecate and demonize the poor.
Furthermore, the war on drugs under the Reagan administration took on quite
sinister characteristics, both in terms of mass incarceration in the US (the number of
arrests for drug offense rose in the 1980s by 126 percent) and the justification for
American imperialist intervention in Latin America (in 1982, Vice President George
H. W. Bush began pushing for CIA and US military involvement in drug interdiction
efforts).
There is nothing to celebrate about this lifeand yet it is being widely celebrated. We
explained at the time of Ronald Reagans death in 2004 that the tributes being paid to
him were in essence, a celebration of the services he rendered to the rich. The
overriding goal of his administration was the removal of all legal restraints on the
accumulation of personal wealth.
The genuflection of every American politician before the supposed greatness of the
Reagans is an element of the political vetting process, and each figure who aspires to
the highest offices knows this.

Poor mental health care in England is ruining lives,


report finds
By
9 March 2016

Dennis

Moore

Mental health care in England is now so poor and underfunded that lives are being
ruined, a review says.
The report, The Five Year Forward View For Mental Health, from the Independent
Taskforce to the National Health Service (NHS) in England, found that many people

were getting no help or inadequate care, with patients, including young children,
being sent across the country for treatment.
The figures are stark considering the scale of the problem and the impact each year on
hundreds of thousands of people who are affected by mental illness.
Mental health still receives just 13 percent of NHS funding, despite accounting for
more than a fifth (23 percent) of the UKs disease burden. It is estimated that more
than 11 billion worth of extra funding for mental health would be required to bridge
this gap. Since 2010, there have been severe cuts to staff with 5,000 fewer mental
health nurses and 8 percent fewer mental health beds.
Mental health problems account for the single biggest cause of disability in the UK. In
any given year, one in four people will be affected by a mental health problem, yet 75
percent receive no help.
Mental health services for children and young people in England were cut by 35
million last year alone.
The impact of the lack of services for young people is significant, with 50 percent of
all mental health problems being established by the age of 14. One in 10 children
between the ages of 5 and 16 have a diagnosable problem, with children from lowincome families being at the highest risk, a figure two thirds higher than those from
the highest income bracket.
The impact on children in later life can be immense. Those suffering with conduct
disorder and persistent disobedient, disruptive behaviour are three times more likely
to become a teenage parent, twice as likely to leave school with no qualifications, and
20 times more likely to end up in prison.
Many people receive no support, and those who do receive support in the form of
psychological therapies are not seen immediately, with the average wait time 32
weeks.
There are a significant number of armed forces veterans struggling with mental health
problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Some 50 percent of those with
mental health problems seek help from the NHS. Many of those seeking help are
rarely referred for specialist care.
Older people are affected by high rates of depression, with 40 percent of older people
living in care homes being affected and one in five older people living in the
community.
The rate of suicide is rising, coming after years of decline. In 2014, 4,882 men
committed suicide in England, with a marked increase amongst middle-aged men.
Suicide is now the major cause of death in men between ages 15 and 49.
Two thirds of all people with mental health problems receive no support at all, and of
those helped, few have access to the full range of interventions that should be
available.

Some 90 percent of adults suffering with severe mental health problems are supported
by community services. However, there are long waiting times for some of the key
interventions recommended by NICE, including psychological therapy.
For those people who require crisis care, the Care Quality Commission found that
only 14 percent of those they had surveyed felt they had been provided with the right
response.
Only 50 percent of community mental health teams were able to offer help to people
on a 24/7 basis. Only a small number of Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments
in hospitals were able to offer help via a casualty liaison mental health service.
Those younger than 16 who presented at a casualty department would be referred
directly to children and young peoples services, but could only be seen when these
services were open during office hours. At weekends, this would mean a young
person having to wait. So run down is provision that the report points out many
people in crisis come into contact with mental health services via the police.
The issue of inpatient psychiatric care and the increased numbers of those being
detained under the mental health act place increased pressure on already overstretched
services. The number of inpatient beds has decreased by 39 percent overall between
1998 and 2012. This has led to bed occupancy rising for the fourth consecutive year to
94 percent.
Many acute wards are not always the safest and most therapeutic environment to be in
when trying to recover. The pressure exerted on bed spaces has been made worse by
the lack of crisis care and early intervention services. This in turn leads to a shortage
in psychiatric beds, with 2,000 acutely ill patients a month being sent out of area.
The report points to a number of recommendations that include being able to provide
a seven-day, 24-hour service, with the expansion of home treatment and crisis
resolution teams.
The Conservative government claims that it has invested up to 1 billion in mental
health services. However, this is not new money, but part of the 8.4 billion that
Chancellor George Osborne was forced to promise, before the last election, would be
made available to the NHS.
The running down of mental health services has continued alongside cuts to many of
the services in the community that have provided support for people with mental
health problems.
Drop-in centres, youth services, befriending projects and Sure Start childrens centres
have suffered funding cuts. At the same time, unwell welfare claimants are being
forced into finding work by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), via the
notorious Work Capability Test.
Money is no longer centrally allocated for health care, including mental health
services. Since the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, money is devolved to local Care

Commissioning Groups. These groups are usually led by general practitioners (GPs),
who have limited budgets and will likely spend it on contracting for existing services.
No more money is being provided to develop and improve mental health services, and
what money there is will be barely enough to support already struggling and
overstretched services.
Mental health services, as with all aspects of social welfare, are being cut and being
pushed to the breaking point, with those in need becoming increasingly unwell, as
they cannot access appropriate services when they need them. To compound this,
health care workers are not able to deliver quality care due to lack of resources.
The only way to prevent the total destruction of mental health care services, and to
improve them to a level that is needed, is through a massive investment programme to
fully fund and develop services.
This can only happen when the wealth generated in society is used for the common
good, and not for gratuitous accumulation for personal gain.

Slovakian parliamentary
rightward shift
By
9 March 2016

Markus

elections

marked

by

Salzmann

Slovakian prime minister Robert Fico of the social democratic Smer-SD focused the
entire campaign for parliamentary elections on the issue of refugees. Although only
333 asylum applications were made last year and just 8 acceptedin a country with a
population of 5.4 millionFico sought to divert attention away from the social crisis
by waging a sustained propaganda campaign against refugees and Muslims.
The result was a pronounced shift to the right. While Ficos party lost its absolute
majority, falling from 45 to 28 percent of the vote, a number of far-right parties,
including one openly fascist organisation, passed the 5 percent hurdle and will have
representation in parliament. Eight parties are now represented in parliament, making
the formation of a stable government virtually impossible. There will also be
consequences for the European Union (EU), since Slovakia assumes the EU
presidency for six months beginning in June.
Fico is likely to continue as prime minister, as Smer-SD remained the largest party
with 28 percent of the vote. But the party requires at least two coalition partners to
form a majority government.
The second-strongest party is the right-wing liberal SAS. SAS leader Richard Sulik is
a vehement critic of the EU and advocates radical measures against refugees. New
right-wing parties represented in parliament include Siet, led by former presidential
candidate Radoslav Prochazka, Sme rodina (We are one Family) of millionaire Boris
Koller, and the extremist Our Slovakia of provincial government leader Marian
Kotleba.

Kotlebas party, which won less than 2 percent of the vote four years ago, received 8
percent this time around. It is openly racist, functions on the verge of illegality and is
notorious for its attacks on Roma and refugees. The 36-year-old neo-Nazi Kotleba
most often appears in public wearing a black uniform, and his supporters refer to him
as fhrer. He has appeared in court on numerous occasions for spreading racist
propaganda, but has always been exonerated. Two previous parties led by him were
banned for violating the constitution.
Kotleba conducted his election campaign with propaganda tirades against Roma and
the EU. He denounced Roma as parasites, anti-social and murderers, who live off
state aid, and he demanded the withdrawal of all social benefits. He called for
withdrawal from the EU and NATO, which he described as a terrorist organisation,
as well as the reintroduction of the Krone as the currency.
The party Ordinary People (Olano) of Igor Matovic was also able to increase its
support. It was formed in a split from the SAS five years ago and also agitates against
refugees. With 11 percent support, it emerged as the third-strongest party.
Fico at first planned a coalition with the right-wing Slovakian National Party (SNS),
with which he formed a coalition government in 2006. But the SNS, which was not
represented in parliament in 2012, achieved just 9 percent of the vote, not enough to
establish a coalition.
Two Christian Democratic parties also suffered disastrous results: The SDKU, which
led the government three times prior to 2012 and provided two prime ministers
Nikulas Dzurinda and Iveta Radicovaobtained less than 1 percent of the vote and
will no longer be in parliament. In addition, the Christian Democratic KDH, led by
former EU commissioner Jan Figel, failed to make it into parliament for the first time
since the collapse of the Stalinist bureaucracies in Eastern Europe.
Prime Minister Ficos election campaign, focused entirely on agitating against
refugees, played directly into the hands of right-wing forces. Although Slovakia is
situated on the edge of the Balkan route and has been affected far less than some
neighbouring countries by refugees travelling through the country, Fico, together with
Hungarian prime minister Victor Orban and Polish prime minister Beata Szydo, are
among the leading anti-refugee agitators in the Vysegrad Group.
Slovakia challenged the implementation of obligatory quotas for the distribution of
refugees within the EU. In the election campaign, Fico vowed that he would not
permit even a single Muslim to be brought here via EU quotas. He also utilised the
Paris terrorist attacks and the alleged assaults in Cologne, Germany, over the New
Year as the basis for a repugnant anti-refugee campaign. He visited the GreeceMacedonia border, where thousands are suffering under unspeakable conditions. This
was not disgusting, he declared, but rather a danger.
Fico is targeting refugees to divert attention from the social problems in the country.
Due to the sharp rise in social inequality, a series of protests by teachers and nurses
took place in recent weeks, demanding better equipment for schools and health care
institutions as well as wage increases. At the end of January, thousands of teachers
began an unlimited strike.

Around 600 nurses have handed in their resignation to protest the unsustainable
conditions in Slovakian hospitals, and because hospital workers are forbidden by law
from striking. The average wage for a nurse is between 500 and 800. The protest
had a huge impact. In the cities Zilina and Preov, in particular, patients had to be
turned away and operations postponed.
Ficos anti-refugee campaign avoided dealing with the genuine concerns of ordinary
Slovakians. Despite the mass anger at the terrible conditions in the education and
health care systems, the government ignored the loud protests by teachers and nurses.
Around 11,000 teachers at 700 schools across the country took part in the strike. They
were supported by students and parents. The education sector has fallen victim to the
brutal austerity measures of recent years. On average, teachers wages are less than
1,000 per month. Hundreds of posts are vacant, and workloads are enormous. Even a
poll conducted by a government-linked institute found that 52 percent of the
population supported the teachers demands.
Above all, the widening wealth gap between the booming Bratislava region and the
impoverished east of the country was the main reason for Ficos declining popularity,
according to political scientist Marian Lesko. It demonstrates that after two terms in
office, voters have had enough of the social democrats and an all-powerful Prime
Minister,
Faced with the approaching presidency of the EU, talk is growing about the formation
of an independent government of experts in Bratislava or a coalition including SmerSD and a large percentage of the right-wing parties. There is broad-based unity among
all eight parties represented in parliament on the refugee issue. All are opposed to a
quota system that would compel the country to accept refugees.

Cuba denounces continued US enforcement of


embargo
By
9 March 2016

Alexander

Fangmann

On February 28, the United States Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets
Control announced it had reached settlements with several companies, including two
Cayman Islands-based subsidiaries of the giant US oilfield services company
Halliburton, over violations of the more than half-century-old US economic embargo
against Cuba.
Josefina Vidal, Director General of the United States in the Cuban Foreign Ministry,
took to Twitter to say that strict implementation of the blockade continues, US
imposes new fine, now vs Halliburton, later saying that the embargo continues to be
the principal violation of human rights of Cubans.
Under the agreement, Halliburton has agreed to pay $304,706 for actions undertaken
by its subsidiaries in Angola in 2011. Halliburton had provided goods and services for
oil and gas exploration and drilling to an Angolan oil and gas drilling consortium in

which Cubas state-owned oil company Cuba Petroleo maintains a miniscule 5


percent ownership stake.
Other companies receiving fines included the French-owned CGG Services and its
Venezuelan subsidiary, Veritas Geoservices. Despite both companies being non-US
companies, they agreed to pay $614,250 for having used spare parts, equipment and
other goods of US-origin while working on Cuban offshore oil projects. Cubas
Foreign Ministry complained that this confirmed the extraterritoriality of the
embargo which has a deterrent effect not only on foreign entities but also on U.S.
ones.
Although the violations named so far refer to activities undertaken before the
normalization of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba that went into effect
on December 17 of last year, the nearly 55-year embargo remains largely in effect.
The Cuban government has stated that the continued sanctions are incongruous in the
current context of relations between the two countries and corroborates that to move
forward toward normalization of bilateral ties it is essential to lift the blockade.
Embargo limitations remain in place despite a well-publicized easing of some
restrictions, such as the resumption of commercial airline flights. The Commerce
Department also issued new rules in January allowing certain kinds of exports in
cases where it says the Cuban people stand to benefit, but these still require
authorization on a case-by-case basis. Based on already loosened restrictions, the
Commerce Department issued 490 authorizations in 2015 for US companies to do
business in Cuba, worth up to $4.3 billion.
While there has been a major push for an end to the embargo from large US
corporations who are eager both to exploit Cubas educated and cheap labor force and
to sell into a market with deep needs for goods and infrastructural improvements of all
kinds, ending it would require legislative action from the US Congress, where the
Republican leadership is largely opposed to such a move.
The steady drumbeat towards an end to the embargo has been picking up, however,
with more and more corporate sectors salivating at the possibility of entering into an
economic space where sections of US businesses would have no real competition.
Some of the most vocal so far have been the largest agribusiness giants, including
ADM and Cargill, which have organized themselves as the US Agriculture Coalition
for Cuba (USACC).
Caterpillar recently named Rimco, a Puerto Rican company, as its dealer in Cuba in
anticipation of an end to the embargo. Philip Kelliher, vice president of the companys
Americas & Europe Distribution Services division said, Cuba needs access to the
types of products that Caterpillar makes and, upon easing of trade restrictions, we
look forward to providing the equipment needed to contribute to the building of
Cubas infrastructure.
For its part, Cuba is in a hurry to normalize relations with the United States due to its
own perilous financial situation and the crisis overtaking its main source of foreign
aid, Venezuela. Venezuela has for years been propping up the Cuban economy
through subsidized shipments of oil, but its ability to provide oil through this

relationship has been undermined severely by the fall in oil prices. A Barclays report
based on the tracking of oil tankers by Petrologistics estimated that shipments of oil
from Venezuela to Cuba have fallen from 99,000 barrels per day in 2012 to 55,000
barrels per day, though the Venezuelan government has denied that any substantial
drop has occurred.
Given its desire to lift the embargos restrictions on the penetration of the Cuban
economy by US capital, the government of President Raul Casto is prepared to defend
the actions of Halliburton, one of Yankee imperialisms most sordid actors.
Halliburton, whose CEO from 1995-2000 was former US Vice President Dick
Cheney, was intimately involved in the criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq from
2003 on. Halliburton was famously awarded a $7 billion dollar no-bid contract prior
to the start of the war, as part of the carving up of Iraqs oil industry.
Washingtons continued acts of enforcement make clear that the US government
intends to approach any further negotiations toward an end to the embargo with a
clear message that Cuba stands in a decidedly subservient relationship to its larger
neighbor.
For its part, the Castro government has decided that the only way it can continue its
privileged position in Cuban society is to turn to American imperialism and attempt to
transform Cubas economy along Chinese linesthat is, brutal capitalist exploitation
overseen by a Stalinist police-state infrastructure.

The arrest of former President Lula and the crisis of


rule in Brazil
9 March 2016

Last weeks detention and questioning of former president and Workers Party (Partido
dos TrabalhadoresPT) founder Luiz Incio Lula da Silva in connection with the
spiraling Petrobras scandal has dramatically intensified the crisis, not only of the
countrys ruling party, but of bourgeois rule as a whole in Brazil.
Lula is accused of being one of the main beneficiaries of the corruption at
Petrobras, allegedly receiving favors and kickbacks from Brazilian construction firms
in return for contracts with the energy conglomerate.
The PT has remained in power for more than a dozen years, emerging as the principal
party of Brazilian capitalism, defending the interests of a ruling financial and
corporate oligarchy both at home and abroad, while faithfully diverting hundreds of
billions of dollars in social resources to service the countrys debt to Wall Street.
The presidencies of first Lula and then his hand-picked successor, current President
Dilma Rousseff, coincided with an unprecedented commodities boom, largely fueled
by the industrialization of China and India, and the frenzy of foreign capital
investment in emerging markets, with Brazil one of those in the lead.

This temporary economic environment served as the foundation for the so-called
turn to the left in Latin America, which saw governments from Brazil to Venezuela,
Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador pursue limited social welfare programs aimed at
dampening class tensions, while adopting a left nationalist posture.
The commodities boom has run into a brick wall with the deceleration of Chinese
growth, while Brazil, the former darling of the financial markets, has been reduced to
junk status by the Wall Street ratings agencies.
The crisis of the PT in Brazil has run parallel to those of chavismo in Venezuela,
Peronism in Argentina and the Movement toward Socialism government of Evo
Morales in Bolivia, all of them driven by the same global crisis of the capitalist
system.
Of all of these political movements, the PT is the most consequential and enduring,
governing the largest country and economy in Latin America, with the majority of
Brazils population having lived their entire conscious lives under Workers Party
administrations.
Founded in 1980, in the wake of a militant wave of mass strikes that fatally
destabilized Brazils 20-year military dictatorship, the PT and the trade union
federation with which it is affiliated, the CUT, served as instruments for diverting the
revolutionary strivings of the Brazilian working class back under the domination of
the bourgeois state.
Along with union functionaries, Catholic activists and academics, the crucial role in
constructing the PT was played by a coterie of pseudo-left organizations, which
promoted the Workers Party as an alternative to the building of a mass revolutionary
party of the working class. Their counterparts in Europe, particularly the groups
aligned with the United Secretariat, the revisionist trend identified historically with
Ernest Mandel, promoted the PT as a model for the development of similar parties
internationally.
Some of these pseudo-left groups, including the Morenoite tendency now organized in
the PSTU (United Socialist Workers Party), were thrown out of the PT as it moved
ever further to the right. Others managed to remain inside, including the Mandelite
Democracia Socialista group, whose principal leader, Miguel Rosseto, became
minister of agrarian reform, and is today Rousseffs chief of staff and principal
spokesman.
The critical role played by these tendencies, both those who were expelled and those
who remained, was to provide a socialist veneer to a thoroughly reactionary and
corrupt capitalist party. They did so by promoting not only the PT, but the CUT trade
unions and various housebroken social movements, all of which served to
subordinate the struggles of the Brazilian working class to the profit interests of
Brazilian and international capital.
The historic betrayal of the revolutionary movement that was emerging in opposition
to Brazils military dictatorship some 35 years ago now finds its finished expression
in the deep-going crisis and disgrace of the PT, whose leading figures are all being

dragged into the morass of the $2 billion bribery and political payoff scandal
surrounding Petrobras.
The past week has seen reports that the PT leader in the Brazilian Senate, Delcidio
Amaral, who was arrested last November in connection with the Petrobras scandal,
has reached a plea bargain with federal prosecutors in which he has accused Lula of
attempting to silence witnesses in the investigation and Rousseff of having had full
knowledge of a deal in which Petrobras bought an aging refinery in Pasadena, Texas
at a vastly inflated price, with millions in proceeds funneled back to executives,
politicians and the coffers of the PT. Rousseff chaired the oil companys board at the
time.
These charges, along with the interrogation of Lula, have revived the drive by the
Brazilian right to impeach Rousseff. This Sunday, it has called for mass
demonstrations across the country to demand the PT presidents ouster. Rallies have
been called the same day by PT supporters in defense of Lula and Rousseff, and there
have been warnings of potential violent clashes.
For Brazilian workers, the present crisis, the worst since the Great Depression of the
1930s, is having catastrophic effects. Over 1 million jobs were wiped out in 2015,
many in auto and related industries. Millions of young people are graduating from
universities with no job prospects. An inflation rate of 10 percent has cut into real
wages, with household spending declining by 4 percent last year, further exacerbating
the slide into depression.
The Rousseff governments answer to the crisis is a set of austerity measures attacking
pensions and social spending, further worsening the conditions of the working class.
While the PTs right-wing opponents are blocking these measures as a political tactic
aimed at furthering impeachment, their prescription is the same or worse.
Bourgeois economists and capitalist think tanks have advanced the thesis that the real
challenge facing the Brazilian economy is that of stripping the Brazilian population of
the limited social rights contained in the 1988 constitution, which was enacted in the
aftermath of the military dictatorship, and opening up the country to the unfettered
domination of international capital.
Such measures cannot be implemented peacefully. Perhaps the most significant
development surrounding last weeks brief detention of Lula was reported by a pair of
columnists for the right-wing Brazilian daily O Globo.
Ricardo Noblat of O Globo reported that in the midst of the arrest, an army battalion
in Sao Paulo was placed on a state of alert in case protests got out of control.
Members of the Army High Command phoned governors of the states most subject
to conflicts between political militants and prepared them for the necessity of
maintaining social peace, according to Noblat. Writing in favor of impeachment, the
columnist affirmed that the generals do not want to be called upon to intervene to
guarantee law and order, as foreseen in the Constitution.

O Globo columnist Merval Pereira invoked this same constitutional mission of the
military, warning that if the right-wing parties opposing the PT did not unite in
search of a democratic way out of the crisis, we will face the threat of an institutional
retrogression. In other words, a return to military dictatorship.
The Workers Party and the various pseudo-left organizations that promoted it are
responsible for the dangerous impasse now confronting Brazilian workers. The
answer to this crisis must be found in the fight to build a new revolutionary leadership
in the working class, based on a socialist and internationalist perspective and forged in
a merciless struggle against the politics of the PT and its apologists.
Bill Van Auken

ank for International Settlements warns of build-up


of global debt
By
8 March 2016

Nick

Beams

The governing council of the European Central Bank (ECB) will meet this Thursday
where it is expected to expand its quantitative easing program through an extension of
its asset-purchasing program and possibly lower interest rates further into negative
territory.
But there are growing doubts about the efficacy of these policies amid ongoing euro
zone deflation and worries that they are dangerously backfiring.
Since ECB president Mario Draghi promised in 2012 to do whatever it takes, the
ECB has pumped billions of euros into the financial system without halting deflation
or stimulating the real economy. Its only impact has been to fuel further speculation in
financial markets.
In a note issued Monday, the chief economist at Socit Gnrale, Michala
Marcussen, summed up the general sentiment in financial markets. She expected a
further cut in the deposit rate and an extension of long-term refinancing operations
and added: Our main concern is that, whilst the bank will continue to signal its
willingness to do whatever it takes, its ability to provide further significant stimulus is
becoming more limited.
There are growing concerns that, not only is the policy ineffective, it is creating the
conditions for a further financial crisis. In its quarterly review issued on Sunday, the
Bank for International Settlements (BIS), sometimes referred to as the central
bankers bank but whose main role is an informational service, noted that the uneasy
calm, to which it had pointed in December, had given way to turbulence.
Introducing the review, Claudio Borio, the head of monetary and economic research,
said previously the BIS had highlighted that the tension between the markets
tranquillity and underlying economic vulnerabilities had to be resolved at some point.
In the recent quarter, we may have been witnessing the beginning of its resolution.

Borio then reviewed the two most significant developments of the past three months.
First, there was the stock market turbulence in January when equities experienced one
of their worst starts to the year in history. This was followed by the briefer but
perhaps more worrying episode in the first half of February which focused on the
health of global banks as their valuations plunged to new lows. The main source of
anxiety, especially after the Bank of Japans decision to shift to negative interest
rates at the end of January, was the vision of a future with even lower interest rates,
well beyond the horizon, that would cripple banks margins, profitability and
resilience.
A research paper published as part of the review warned it was difficult to predict how
individuals and financial institutions would operate if interest rates stayed below zero
for a long period of time and whether the mechanisms by which central bank moves
are transmitted to the rest of the economy would continue to operate as in the past.
So far the banks had not passed on the cost or negative interest rates, under which
they are charged for money deposited with the central bank, and it is by no means
certain what the long-term consequences would be. The viability of the banks
business model as financial intermediaries may be brought into question, the review
said.
Pointing to a certain composure that had returned to markets since the turbulence of
the first two months, Borio said it was necessary to look beyond the markets
oscillations between hope and fear to the deeper forces at work.
Once we do so, the clues are not hard to find. Against the backdrop of a long-term,
crisis-exacerbated decline in productivity growth, the stock of global debt has
continued to rise and the room for policy manoeuvre has continued to narrow, he
said.
In other words, while debt has continued to mount, the underlying economy has
grown very slowly and in some cases stagnated. In the euro zone, for example, output
is still yet to return to the levels reached prior to the 2008 crisis, while investment,
which is the driving force of real growth, remains at around 25 percent below its
previous trend.
According to Borio, debt was at the root of the events of 2008 and since then it had
continued to grow in relation to global gross domestic product. Dollar-denominated
debt to emerging market economies has played a prominent role, doubling from 2009
to some $3.3 trillion. Now there was evidence it was being reduced with the
emergence of a worrying vicious cycle between US dollar appreciation and
tightening financial conditions for firms or countries that have heavily borrowed in
dollars.
Summing up the significance of financial market turbulence, he said we may not be
seeing isolated bolts from the blue but the signs of a gathering storm that has been
building for a long time. The report indicated that central banks have been
overburdened for far too long and the confidence of financial institutions in central
banks healing powersprobably for the first timehas been faltering.

The latest analysis of the BIS, which has been a long-time critic of the rationale
behind quantitative easingthat problems resulting from the growth of debt can be
alleviated by creating still more debtunderscores the bankruptcy of all bourgeois
policy in the face of the deepening contradictions of the global capitalist order.
The quantitative easing program has done nothing to promote economic growth. Its
main consequence has been to transfer untold wealth into the hands of the parasitic
financial elites, worsening the social conditions of the working class and widening
social inequality, while at the same time creating the conditions for another financial
meltdown.
But the program advanced by its critics in the BISthe purging of debt and the
intensification of attacks on the working class through so-called structural
reformsamounts to nothing less than a prescription for a return to the conditions of
the 1930s.
This political and economic fact of life has far-reaching implications for the
international working class. It increasingly demonstrates that it is confronted not with
a conjunctural downturn, from which there will be some recovery, by one or
another means, but a breakdown of the entire capitalist economic order, for which it
must advance its own solution based on an active political struggle for an
international socialist program.

hatever happened to womens wage


equality?
Written by Fred Weston Tuesday, 08 March 2016

Working women have been struggling for complete equality in the workplace for over
a century. In fact, a common thread running through many countries throughout the
20th Century was the struggle for equal pay for work of equal value, which meant
irrespective of gender a worker should receive the same wage for the same kind of
work. We are still not there, and with the onset of the crisis in 2008 things have begun
to get worse.

According to a report published by The


Economist in November 2011, Back in the 1990s women in rich countries seemed to
be heading towards a golden era. It added that Almost all rich countries have laws,
passed mostly in the 1970s, that are meant to ensure equal pay for equal work, and the
gap did narrow noticeably for a while when women first started to flood into the
labour market. It points out that in the United States for example, the differential
between womens and mens wages has been reduced from 40% to 20% since the
1970s.
Significantly, however, it points out that most of this reduction came in the early
years, and since then the process has slowed down. This one statistic underlines one
important aspect Marxists have always maintained: class struggle, a generalised
movement of workers for better wages and working conditions, is enormously
beneficial for women workers.
The generalised rise in class struggle globally in the late 1960s and 1970s produced
many reforms to the benefit of women, and not only in terms of wages and conditions.
Other basic rights, such as the right to abortion or divorce, were won in many
countries where they had not been previously recognised.
In the 1980s the class struggle declined as a result of the defeats on the trade union
front, the British Miners Strike being one of the best examples of such defeats. With
that defeat came an onslaught on all the gains of the past, both on wages and
democratic rights, affecting male and female workers. But women, and working class
women in particular, were hurt the most.
Impact of 2008 crisis
Over the past decade, in fact, a male graduate has had expected earnings on average
20% higher than a female graduate, but the gap was even wider for nondegree
holders i.e. less qualified labour at 23% [source: http://gender.bitc.org.uk/].
The 2008 crisis, even The Economist admitted in its 2011 article, has thrown a
spanner in the works. This was a reference to the effects of the cuts in public
spending affecting public sector workers, which were beginning to hit female
employment disproportionately hard.
In Britain the impact of the crisis on wage differentials between working men and
women has been dramatic. Economists at the World Economic Forum in 2014 looked
at the gender wage differential. Ranked out of 136 countries for gender wage equality,

between 2006 and 2013, Britain went from 9th to 18th, but in one year alone, from
2013 to 2014, it dropped even more sharply to 26th.
Just in 2014 the average wage for women in the workplace fell by 2700 [3500,
$3800]. It is the first time ever that Britain has fallen out of the top 20 for gender
wage equality. In fact, in 2014 average annual wages for women fell from 18,000 to
15,400, while for men the figure was stagnant at 24,800. Thus, the overall average
annual wage differential increased from 6800 to 9400!
Situation even worse for young women workers
This big differential between female and male workers starts right at the beginning
when young people enter the labour market. According to a poll commissioned by
the Young Womens Trust [Source: the Evening Standard, 7 September 2015], wages
for male apprentices are 21 per cent higher than for their female equivalents. Young
women earn on average 4.82 an hour compared to 5.85 for young men. On an
annual basis, young women are 2000 worse off.
The Young Womens Trust represents women in low-paid jobs under the age of 30.
The reason for this situation is the same for women of all ages, i.e. women tend to
work more in low pay sectors, such as healthcare, childcare and retail.
Dr Carole Easton of the Trust explained: It is staggering that in the 21st century,
certain employment sectors are hardly welcoming any young women; less than two
per cent of construction apprentices are female and less than four per cent of
engineering apprentices. Women are funnelled very early into a narrow range of
opportunities, that are stereotypically gendered.
The significance of this is that jobs in construction and engineering come with higher
wages, which confirms the general point: there may well be gender equality in wages
in these sectors, but very few women are employed in those high wage sectors.
Dr Easton added that Womens concerns may also be different, perhaps needing
flexibility to look after children or for other caring responsibilities. This highlights
another discrimination women suffer from, the unspoken rule that they cannot have a
career in certain sectors because sooner or later most of them will have children. For
the capitalists, this is looked at in terms of cost. They would prefer not to have women
who will at some point need to take time out of work, either to have children or later
on to look after them. This channels women towards lower paid jobs.
It also explains another aspect which emerged from the same poll: close to one quarter
of the women interviewed complained about not receiving any other training outside
of work. The equivalent figure for young men was only 12%. This means that
basically these young women are being used as cheap labour legally. They are
employed to do work which often requires very little training, condemning them to a
life of low-wage jobs.
More women in low wage sectors

How can all this be so, when there are laws that govern wage equality? The answer is
clear when one looks at how the presence of women is not evenly spread across all
types of employment, although they make up 47% of the overall workforce. For
example, data from the Department for Education shows that in 2012 only two per
cent of the early years workforce was male. Much of early years childcare is provided
by private nurseries that pay most of their staff the minimum wage.
Women are also forced by family circumstances to take up low-pay part-time jobs.
While 2.11 million men are employed in part time jobs the number of women is 5.85
million.
Todays cleaning industry is another example. It has massively expanded since the
1970s and contributes annually over 8 billion to British GDP. It employs an
estimated 446,000 people. Of these, an estimated 79 per cent are female and 78 per
cent work part-time, and a large part is made up of immigrants. Most cleaning firms
apply the law by having equality policies, the point is that most of them also
respect the law by applying the National Minimum Wage! [Source] Those
employed illegally and on much lower wages are clearly not included in these
statistics.
The 2008 crisis has had a similar impact worldwide on male to female wage
differentials. According to an ILO report, a similar process has taken place to what we
have seen in Britain: Globally, gender gaps in unemployment and employment
trended towards convergence in the period 2002 to 2007, but then grew again with
the period of the crisis from 2008 to 2012 in many regions.
If we were to look at the real position of women globally, the picture would be even
worse: slave-like conditions exist in some countries, with no legal rights to fight back.
Women are often forced to sell themselves merely to survive day-to-day. The present
crisis for them is an utter nightmare.
However, there is good news for some women! The Economist, being what it is, the
mouthpiece of the British capitalist class, in its 2011 article dedicated a part of its
analysis to women who make it up the ladder, to the top of companies as CEOs, etc.
The good news here is that in 2014 there was a small increase in the percentage of
women in senior official and managerial positions up from 34% to 35%... [The
Independent, 28 October 2014].
Role of trade unions
Like in all questions, womens living conditions are determined by the class they
belong to, only the situation is far worse for them. As in the 1970s, it is only through
united working class struggle that womens rights in the workplace can be defended
and improved. The problem we have is that todays trade union leaders are not leading
the fight, either for men or for women. They are accepting rotten deal after rotten
deal. Left to them real wages for all workers will go down, and for women it will be
even worse!
However, in spite of the limitations of the trade union leaders in Britain, The wages
of women union members are on average 30% higher than those of non-unionised

women [Source]. This reveals how historically the trade unions have been essential
in raising womens wages. Although there remains much to be done, the trade unions
have played a key role in improving womens wage levels and working conditions.
This applies to workers in general, both men and women: The average hourly wage
for non-unionised workers in the private sector is 12.64. For union members, its
13.67. The union premium is even bigger for young workers from ages 16-24, who
earn 39% more than their non-unionised colleagues (thats 7.84 to 10.18) [Source].
The overall workforce in Britain is now over 29 million strong. Of these 6.4 million
are in a union - less than 25%. Working women are therefore around 15 million (47%
of the total). Up to the mid-1980s, trade union membership had been growing, having
reached around 45% of the overall workforce. Especially since the defeat of the
miners strike, however, membership has been in decline. This simple fact alone
reveals how a defeat for the miners (male workers) was also a defeat for women
workers in general, as the statistics for wage levels between union and non-union jobs
clearly demonstrate.
An interesting development on the trade union front is that now in Britain women
make up a majority, 55%, of the trade union membership. That means there are 3.5
million women in the unions, making the trade unions by far the largest womens
organisations in the country. The problem is of course that there are over ten million
women who are not organised.
These millions of downtrodden working women are forced to keep their heads down
for fear of losing their jobs. But all of history shows that once the working class as a
whole reawakens, women are at the forefront. In the coming period, millions of young
women will be forced to stand up for their rights and they will lead the struggle. They
have a lot to fight for, both in terms of defending what is left of the past gains and
fighting for real wage equality and for a living wage for all. Together with demands
on wages will also come demands such as good quality childcare available for all
parents, more flexible working hours, and the right to take time out of work for both
mothers and fathers without this endangering womens jobs and careers.
The women in the unions today and the millions who will come into them in the
future will also play a key role in transforming the unions and breaking with the
culture of moderation and collaboration with the bosses which many union leaders
had become accustomed to in the past. In the process of struggle they will also draw
the necessary conclusion that a system based on maximising profits is never going to
grant full equality, but will continue to use every means possible to divide workers not
just according to gender but also according to nationality, colour of skin, religion and
so on. The system itself needs to be uprooted and replaced with one based on the real
needs of men and women. That system can only be socialism.

Women and the Struggle for Socialism


Written by Alan Woods Wednesday, 18 July 2001

For Marxists, the root cause of all forms of oppression consists in the division of
society into classes. But oppression can take many forms. Alongside class oppression
we find the oppression of one nation over another, racial oppression, and the
oppression of women.

Marxists must fight against oppression and discrimination


in all its forms, while pointing out that only a radical transformation of society and the
abolition of class slavery can create the conditions for the abolition of slavery in all its
manifestations and the establishment of a truly human society based upon equality,
justice and freedom.
The oppression of women did not always exist. In fact, the family as we know it today
has not always existed but is a transient form. Marxism explains that it arose together
with class society, private property and the state. The oppression of women is only as
old as the division of society into classes. Its abolition is therefore dependent on the
abolition of classes, that is, on the socialist revolution.
This does not mean that the oppression of women will automatically vanish when the
proletariat takes power. The psychological heritage of class barbarism will finally be
overcome when the social conditions are created for the establishment of real human
relations between men and women. But unless and until the proletariat overthrows
capitalism and lays the conditions for the achievement of a classless society, no
genuine emancipation of women is possible.
Nor does it mean that women should wait for the socialist revolution to solve their
problems and in the meantime submit meekly to discrimination, humiliation and male
domination. On the contrary, without the day-to -day struggle for advance under the
present society, the social revolution would be unthinkable. It is precisely through the
struggle for partial gains and reforms that the working class as a whole learns,
develops its consciousness, acquires a sense of its own power, and raises itself to the
level demanded by great historical tasks.
Many young women first become aware of the need to change the existing society
through the struggle for womens rights. They are motivated by a burning sense of
injustice at the barbaric treatment of women in a society that hypocritically proclaims

its adherence to democracy and justice while relegating half of humanity to a position
of degrading inequality, discrimination and oppression of all kinds.
The need for revolution
There are many demands we can and must fight for right now: for the outlawing of all
forms of discrimination in society and the workplace; for equal pay for work of equal
value; for abortion and divorce rights; an end to discrimination against single parents;
for the protection of women against male violence; action against sexual harassment,
rape and domestic violence; a house and a job for everyone; free high quality child
care, and so on.
All this is absolutely necessary. However, the fight for the emancipation of women
can never be fully realized on the basis of a society where the immense majority are
dominated, controlled and exploited by the bankers and capitalists. In order to put an
end to the oppression of women, it is necessary to put an end to class oppression
itself. The struggle for the emancipation of women is therefore organically linked to
the struggle for socialism.
In order to bring about the socialist revolution, it is necessary to unite the working
class and its organizations, cutting across all lines of language, nationality, race,
religion and sex. This implies, on the one hand, that the working class must take upon
itself the task of fighting against all forms of oppression and exploitation, and place
itself at the head of all the oppressed layers of society, and on the other, must
decisively reject all attempts to divide iteven when these attempts are made by
sections of the oppressed themselves.
There is a fairly exact parallel between the Marxist position on women and the
Marxist position on the national question. We have an obligation to fight against all
forms of national oppression. But does this mean that we support nationalism? The
answer is no. Marxism is internationalism. Our aim is not to erect new frontiers but to
dissolve all frontiers in a socialist federation of the world.
The bourgeois and petty bourgeois nationalists play a pernicious role in dividing the
working class on nationalist lines, playing on the understandable feelings of
resentment caused by long years of discrimination and oppression at the hands of the
oppressor nationality. Lenin and the Russian Marxists waged an implacable struggle
on the one hand against all forms of national oppression, but also on the other hand
against the attempts of bourgeois and petit bourgeois nationalists to make use of the
national question for demagogic purposes. They insisted on the need to unite the
working class of all nationalities in the struggle against landordism and capitalism as
the only real guarantee for a lasting solution to the national question in a socialist
federation.
In other words, the Marxists approach the national question exclusively from a class
point of view. It is the same with the attitude of Marxists towards the oppression of
women. While fighting against all forms of discrimination and oppression, we must
decisively reject any attempt to present the problem as a conflict between men and
women, and not as a class question. Any division between different groups of
workers: women against men, blacks against whites, Catholics against Protestants,

Sunni against Shiia, can only harm the cause of the working class and help to
perpetuate class slavery.
Women and Revolution
Actually, the whole history of the movement shows that the class question is primary,
and that there has always been a sharp struggle between the women of the oppressed
classes, who stood for revolutionary change, and the well-to-do women
progressives who merely used the question of the oppression of women for their
own selfish purposes. At every stage, this class difference has manifested itself, and
moreover in the sharpest forms. A couple of examples will suffice to illustrate this
point.
As early as the 17th century, women began to advance the demand for their social and
political emancipation. The English Revolution saw an increasing participation of
women in the fight against the monarchy and for democracy and equal rights. In 1649
we had the Women's Petition of the City of London which states that: Since we are
assured of our creation in the image of God, and of an interest in Christ equal unto
men, as also of a proportional share in the freedoms of this Commonwealth, we
cannot but wonder and grieve that we should appear so despicable in your eyes, as to
be thought unworthy to petition or represent our grievances to this honorable House.
Have we not an equal interest with the men of this Nation, in those liberties and
securities contained in the Petition of Right, and the other good laws of the land?
(From J. O'Faolain and L Martines, Not in God's Image, pp. 266-7.)
Women were active in radical groups and religious sects on the left of the
revolutionary movement which held that women could be preachers and ministers.
Mary Cary, for example, was associated with the radical Fifth Monarchy
movement. In The New Jerusalem's Glory she wrote:
And if there be very few men that are thus furnished with the gift of the Spirit; how
few are the women! Not but that there are many godly women, many who have
indeed received the Spirit: but in how small a measure is it? how weak are they? and
how unable to prophesie? for it is that that I am speaking of, which this text says they
shall do; which yet we see not fulfilled... But the time is coming when this promise
shall be fulfilled, and the Saints shall be abundantly filled with the spirit; and not only
men, but women shall prophesie; not only aged men, but young men; not only
superiours, but inferiours; not only those that have University learning, but those that
have it not; even servants and handmaids.
Women in the French Revolution
By the time of the French Revolution, the situation was much changed. Class relations
had become clearer, sharper and so had consciousness. The Revolution no longer had
any need to clothe itself in Biblical garb. Instead, it spoke in the language of Reason
and the Rights of Man. But what of the rights of Woman?
The French Revolution can only be understood from a class point of view. The
different parties, clubs, tendencies and individuals, which appear in bewildering array,

rising and falling like waves on a troubled sea, were merely the expression of different
classes struggling for mastery of the situation, and the general law of every revolution
that the more radical always tends to displace the more moderate trend, until the
revolutionary momentum has exhausted itself and the film of revolution begins to
unwind and go into reverse. This is the inevitable destiny of every bourgeois
revolution, where the impulse that comes from the masses eventually founders upon
the contradiction between their illusions and the real class content of the movement.
The class divisions within the revolutionary movement were manifested from the very
beginning. The Girondins represented the bourgeois trend which wanted to halt the
revolution half-way and do a deal with the king to establish a Constitutional
Monarchy. This would have been fatal to the Revolution, which only acquired the
necessary sweep because the masses erupted onto the scene and began to settle
accounts with the reaction in revolutionary plebeian style. It was the eruption of the
massesso brilliantly described in Kropotkin's book on the subjectthat guaranteed
the victory of the French Revolution and so thoroughly dissolved the old order.
It is not generally realized that women played a leading role in both the French and
the Russian Revolutions. But we are not referring here to the educated middle-class
feminists, who did emerge in the course of the revolution, but to ordinary working
class and plebeian women, who rose in revolt against the oppression of their class.
The plebeian and semi-proletarian women of Paris who started the French Revolution
in 1789 rose up on the question of bread, not initially on the question of the
oppression of the female gender, although naturally this emerged in the course of the
Revolution itself.
Excluded from the vote, and from the majority of popular societies, women could,
and did, play a very significant role in insurrections, particularly those of October
1789, 10 August 1792, and, most prominently, the risings of the Spring of 1795
(known as the risings of Germinal and Prairial Year 3 according to the names of the
months of the Revolutionary Calendar introduced in 1792). Women, even the most
radical of them, rarely demanded the vote, conditioned as they had been by the
eighteenth-century gendered distinction which placed men in the 'public sphere' and
women in the 'private sphere'. They did set up women's popular societies, the most
famous of which was the Society of Revolutionary-Republican Citizens; but this club
would only last from May to October 1793. Nonetheless, as historians like Dominique
Godineau and Darlene Levy point out, this does not mean that women did not share
the men's political and economic programme. Women supported, even encouraged,
men to action. They sat in the galleries of the popular societies; they created their own
political space outside bread-shops, in the market-place, in the streets. (The French
Revolution, 1787-1799. The People and the French Revolution, by Professor Gwynne
Lewis.)
A revolution stirs up society to the depths, releasing feelings and aspirations long pent
up within the masses and every oppressed layer. The demand for the emancipation of
women therefore assumed a burning significance. But this demand was understood
differently by different tendencies which ultimately rested on different class interests.
It was no accident that the women of the poor Parisian proletariat and semi-proletariat
led the way. They were the most oppressed layer of society, those who had to bear the
brunt of the suffering of the masses. Also, they had no experience of political struggle

and organizations, and came onto the scene unencumbered by prejudices. By contrast,
the men were more cautious, more hesitant, more legalistic. This contrast has been
seen many times since. In numerous strikes, where women have been involved, they
have consistently shown far greater militancy, lan and courage than the men.
Significantly, it was on the class issuesthe question of breadthat these women
began to move. The same was true over 100 years later in Petrograd.
At every key turning-point of the French Revolutionat least in the early stagesthe
women of the lower classes gave a lead. In October 1789, while the gentlemen of the
Constituent Assembly talked endlessly about reform and constitutions, the poor
women of Paristhe fish-wives, washerwomen, seamstresses, shop girls, servants
and workers wives, rose up spontaneously. These female sans culottes organised a
demonstration and marched to the Paris Town Hall demanding cheaper bread. They
shamed the men to march on Versailles and bring back the king and queen (they made
no distinction between the twoif anything the Austrian woman was more hated
than her husband) under virtual house-arrest. The scene is well described by George
Rud:
By now, the women had begun to take a hand. The bread crisis was peculiarly their
own and, from this time on, it was they rather than the men that played the leading
role in the movement. On 16 September Hardy recorded that women had stopped five
carts laden with grain at Chaillot and brought them to the Htel de Ville in Paris. On
the 17th, at midday, the Htel de Ville was besieged by angry women complaining
about the conduct of the bakers; they were received by Bailly and the Municipal
Council. 'Ces femmes [wrote Hardy] disaient hautement que les hommes n'y
entendaient rien et qu'elles voulaient se mler des affaires [These women loudly
proclaimed that the men could understand nothing and that they were going to sort
things out themselves.] The next day the Htel de Ville was again besieged, and
promises were made. The same evening Hardy saw women hold up a cartload of grain
in the Place des Trois Maries and escort it to the local District headquarters. This
movement was to continue up to and beyond the political demonstration of 5
October. (George Rud, The Crowd in the French Revolution, p. 69.)
And again:
From these beginnings the women now converged on the Htel de Ville. Their first
object was bread, the second probably arms and ammunition for their men. A
merchant draper, passing by the old market hall at half past eight, saw groups of
women stopping strangers in the streets and compelling them to go with them to the
Town Hall, o lon devait aller pour se faire donner du pain[ where one should go
to get some bread ]. The guards were disarmed and their arms handed to the men who
followed behind the women and urged them on. Another eyewitness, a cashier in the
Htel de Ville, described how, about half past nine, large numbers of women, with
men amongst them, rushed up the stairs and broke into all the offices of the building.
One witness said they bore sticks and pikes, while another insisted they were armed
with axes, crowbars, bludgeons, and muskets. A cashier, who had the temerity to
remonstrate with the invaders, was told qu'ils taient les matres et les matresses de
l'Htel de Ville. In their search for arms and powder the demonstrators tore up
documents and ledgers, and a wad of a hundred 1,000-livres notes of the Caisse des
Comptes disappeared from a cabinet. But their object was neither money nor loot: the

City Treasurer later told the police that something over 3.5 million livres in cash and
notes were left untouched; and the missing banknotes were returned intact a few
weeks later. Having sounded the tocsin from the steeple, the demonstrators retired to
the Place de Grve outside at about 11 o'clock.
It was at this stage that Maillard and his volontaires arrived on the scene. According
to his account, the women were threatening the lives of Bailly and Lafayette. Whether
it was to avert such a disaster or merely to promote the political aims of the patriots,
Maillard let himself be persuaded to lead them on the twelve-miles march to
Versailles to petition the king and the Assembly to provide bread for Paris. As they set
out, in the early afternoon, they removed the cannon from the Chtelet and [wrote
Hardy] compelled every sort and condition of woman that they metmme des
femmes chapeauto join them. (George Rud, The Crowd in the French
Revolution, pp. 74-5)

Here we see perfectly the way in which the working class women of Paris understood
the struggle. Frustrated and impatient with the inaction of their menfolk, they
launched themselves into the struggle with tremendous lan that swept all before it.
But at no time did they see the struggle as one of women against men, but a struggle
of the whole class of poor and exploited people against the rich oppressors. Beginning
with economic demands (bread), they marched to the town hall, and in the process as we have already seen - another demand emerged almost of its own accord: the
demand of arms.. The objective was to shame the men into actionand in this the
women of Paris succeeded brilliantly and saved the Revolution.
The emergence of the masses on the scene of politics is the first and most fundamental
element in every revolution. This is particularly true of the women. In the French
Revolution, the women were by no means content to leave politics to the men. In
Paris we saw the establishment of the pro-Jacobin Citoyennes Rpublicaines
Rvolutionaires (Revolutionary Republican Women Citizens) who wore a uniform of
red and white striped pantaloons and red liberty bonnets and carried arms on their
demonstrations. They demanded votes for women and the right of women to hold the
highest civilian and military posts in the Republicthat is, the right of women to full
political equality with men, and the right to fight and die for the cause of the
Revolution.
However, the Revolution itself was characterised by a constant struggle of parties and
tendencies in which the more radical tendency constantly overtook and replaced the
more moderate trends, until the Revolution had finally exhausted its potential and
began to unwind in a downward spiral that led to Bonapartism and Waterloo. This
party strife at bottom reflected the struggle between different classes. The Girondin
faction represented that section of the bourgeoisie which feared the masses and was
striving for a deal with the king. These class antagonismswhich assumed a
particularly bitter form in the French Revolutionalso affected the woman question
in a fundamental way.
The Girondin women activistssome of whom held quite advanced positions on the
formal question of womens rightsposed the question in a different way to the sans

culottes womensarcastically baptized as the tricoteuses by hostile historians


because of the habit of doing their knitting while aristocratic heads fell into the
basket. The women of the poor classes of Paris were undoubtedly motivated by a
strong revolutionary spirit, class consciousness and an undying hatred of the rich. The
Girondin women, coming from privileged middle class and bourgeois families, did
not have the same immediate interests as the women of the poor Paris districts.
The Girondins passed a law on divorce which was undoubtedly an advance for
women. But the Girondin women laid heavy stress on womens property rights. At the
time of the French Revolution, such a demand was by no means a burning issue for
the majority of women, for the simple reason that neither they nor their husbands
possessed any property. The women sans culottes who had played such an outstanding
role in the Revolution were opposed to the sacred right to property because they
understood the revolution from their own class standpoint.
Hostile to the well-to-do bourgeois, even when they wore the red bonnet of
revolution, they instinctively strove for a Republic in which all men and women
would be truly equalnot just equal before the Lawthat is, they strove for a
classless society, a world without rich and poor. We now know that this was an
impossible aim at the time. The productive forces which are the material basis for
socialism had not yet achieved a sufficient level of development to permit this. The
class nature of the French Revolution was bourgeois of necessity. But this was by no
means clear to the masses who so enthusiastically rallied to the Revolution, and who
sealed its victory in their own blood. They were not fighting to hand power to the
bourgeoiswhether men or women, but to secure justice for their class.
Appeals to unite all women, irrespective of social class, got no echo at all among the
mass of working class women who fought alongside their men folk to win a more just
society.
Class divisions among the Suffragettes
The early years of the rise of the Labour Movement in Britain were also a period of
intense agitation among the working class and also among women. The New Trade
Unionism was born at the end of the 19th century in a series of militant strikes, which
aroused the unorganized workers, sections never previously involved. Some of them
involved working class women, such as the famous match girls strike. Marxs
daughter Eleanor played a very active role in this and other strikes at the time.
Among middle-class women, there was a growing agitation for the right to vote.
However, the middle-class suffragettes were only interested in obtaining formal
equalityand would have been quite contented to get votes for women property
ownersthat is, for women of their own class. Let us remember that at the time,
many men did not have the vote. However, events soon demonstrated the reactionary
nature of bourgeois feminism, which demonstrated its hostility to the cause of the
working peoplewhether men or women.
As Jen Pickard correctly points out in her article on Sylvia Pankhurst: The names of
the Pankhurst family are synonymous with the struggle to win the vote for women,
but what distinguished Sylvia Pankhurst's approach from that of her mother Emmeline

and her sister Christabel were class issues. It resulted in the 1920s, after nearly twenty
years of struggle, with Emmeline standing as Tory Parliamentary candidate and Sylvia
becoming a founder member of the British Communist Party.
The Womens Social and Political Union was set up in 1903 as a result of the
dithering of the Independent Labour Party on the issue of votes for women. The
WSPU grew rapidly and by 1907 had 3,000 branches, drawing in teachers, shopgirls,
clerks, dressmakers and textile workers. Their newspaper Votes for Women sold
40,000 copies a week. They were able to fill the Albert Hall and organise a
demonstration of 250,000 in Hyde Park.
In 1911, at the same time that the Liberal government of Asquith was promising
Home Rule for Ireland, it also held out the prospect of votes for (propertied) women.
But the Liberals betrayed both promises. When the suffragettes resorted to direct
action for their cause, they were met by the most brutal repression: beatings, arrest,
and the brutal torture of force-feeding. This campaign was mainly organised by
middle-class women. But the tactic of breaking windows, advocated by the bourgeois
wing of the suffragettes, led nowhere. The ruling class remained implacably opposed
to votes for women.
The real way forward for the movement for womens rights would have been to forge
links with the workers movement, which at that time was involved in a bitter struggle
with the capitalist class. This was a time of rising class struggle in Britain, with mass
strikes of the dockers and transport workers. The Liberal Asquith sent the troops to
break a miners strike in South Wales. One section of the womens movement
attempted to do this with some success. Sylvia Pankhurst chose to adopt the methods
of agitation and propaganda among working class women in Londons East End.
In Bermondsey, in South London, striking women from a food factory were joined by
15,000 others from local factories and workshops at a mass meeting in Southwark
Park. They demanded an increase in wagesand the vote. This was the way forward:
to use the weapon of the class struggle to link the fight for economic demands to
political demands, especially the demand for votes for women.
The different class approach resulted in a split in the suffragette movement on class
linesand also a split in the Pankhurst family. In January 1914, a few months before
the War, Sylvia was summoned to Paris for a meeting with her mother, Emmeline and
sister, Christabel. Sitting in comfortable exile in Paris, Christabel was a picture of
health, while Sylvia was worn out by prison and hunger strikes. In stark contrast to
the class position advocated by Sylvia Pankhurst, her sister Christabel stressed the
independence of the WSPU from all mens parties Christabel demanded the exclusion
of the East London Federation from the WSPU. That is to say, she demanded the
expulsion of the working class women from the suffragette movement.
This middle class snob argued that the East London Federation had a democratic
constitution and relied too heavily on working class women. It seems that their mother
attempted to compromise, but Christabel was adamant, demanding a clean cut.
Thus, in January 1914, the East London Federation was forced to break away from the
WSPU and form a separate organisationthe East London Federation of Suffragettes
(ELFS). This illustrates perfectly the attitude of middle-class feminism towards the

working class. Jen Pickard comments: This split in the WSPU reflected a general
polarization taking place in British society. Between 1911 and 1914 every key section
of workers (dockers, transport workers, railway workers, engineers) were involved in
strikes. Even amongst the members of the WSPU, who were imprisoned and forcefed, it was working-class women who suffered the worst conditions and treatment.
Here again, the class question was fundamental. The split in the suffragette movement
shows the real attitude of the bourgeois feminists to working class women, socialism
and the labour movement. Here we can see where the idea of men against women
can lead. Just a few months after the split, in 1914, the First World War cut across the
development of the class struggle in Britain. The Suffragette rebels Emmeline and
Christabel were soon transformed into the most rabid social chauvinists. The name of
the WSPU paper was changed from Votes to Women to Britannia. Its new motto was
King, Country, Freedom.
This was an abject and shameless betrayal of the cause of women. It exposed the real
class nature of bourgeois feminism, and the gulf that separates it from the working
class and socialism. For all their verbal radicalism and demagogy, in the last analysis,
they were prepared to unite with the men of their own classthe ruling class
against the men and women of the proletariat: the ones that had to do all the fighting,
dying and suffering while they waved the flag from the comfort and safety of their
middle class and bourgeois homes. It is always the same story.
Sylvia Pankhurst, to her credit, opposed the waralthough from a confused pacifist
standpointand waged a campaign in the factories to get equal pay for the women
who had been drafted into the arms and engineering industry to replace men at the
front. She published a paper called The Workers Dreadnaught and later joined the
Communist Party, where she held an ultra left position. Her understanding of
Marxism was very limited, but at least she attempted to adopt a class position. In
1918, British women over thirty got the right to vote. This was not the result of the
tactics of the suffragettes, but a by-product of the Russian Revolution and the
revolutionary ferment that followed the First World War which shook the British
ruling class and compelled them to make concessions. Here again, reform was shown
to be only a byproduct of revolution.
Women in the Russian Revolution
The role of working class women was again shown in Russia in February 1917. The
tsar was overthrown by a revolution that began on International Womens Day, when
the women workers of Petrograd decided to strike and demonstrate despite the advice
of the local Bolsheviks who feared there would be a massacre. Guided by their
proletarian class instincts, they swept aside all objections and began the revolution.
Women like Alexandra Kollontai played a leading role in the Bolshevik Revolution.
The October Revolution gave women rights they had never hadfar greater rights
than in any country in the world.
The Bolsheviks stood for liberation of women and transformation of the family. The
age-old patriarchal regime had existed in villages from time immemorial, and
servitude and oppression was the only life peasant women knew. Before the

Revolution it was legal for a husband to beat his wife. The Bolsheviks gave women an
equal legal status with men's through the Code on Marriage, the Family, and
Guardianship ratified in October 1918. Children born outside wedlock were given the
same rights as those born in married families.
Divorce was made available on demand and abortion was legalised. The principle
Equal pay for equal work was enshrined in law. Bolshevik womens detachments
spread the news of the revolution among women, set up political education and
literacy classes for working-class and peasant women and fought prostitution.
During the bloody Civil War following the October Revolution, large numbers of
women volunteered for the Red Army, although they were not required to do so. An
estimated 50,000 to 70,000 women had joined the Red Army by 1920. That alone
indicates the degree of support the Bolsheviks had gained among women.
Lenin, who attached great importance to the emancipation of women, stressed the
need to relieve women from housework so they could participate more fully in the
running of society. However, the Bolsheviks ability to solve the material problems of
life was severely limited by the extremely low level of development of the productive
forces. As Marx predicted: In any society where want is general all the old crap
revives.
The real emancipation of women is possible only when the world working class as a
whole emancipates itself. Socialism will permit the free development of the human
personality and the establishment of genuinely human relationships between women
and men, free of brutal external pressures, whether social, economic or religious.
However, such a society presupposes a level of economic and cultural development
that is on a higher level than the most developed capitalist nations.
In Russia in October 1917, such a basis did not exist, given the prevailing
backwardness. Therefore, despite the enormous advances made possible by the
Revolution, the position of women in Russia was thrown back, first by Stalinism, and
even more so by the re-establishment of capitalism. The position of women in Russia
and Eastern Europe is now worse than ever. This should surprise no one. On the basis
of capitalism, no way forward is possible in Russia or anywhere else.
We shall see many more examples like Russia 1917 in the future. Women will play an
essential role in the overthrow of capitalism and the building of socialism. But here
again it is above all a question of working class women, fighting for their own
emancipationand that of the whole class. Working class women and men develop
class consciousness and confidence through participation in the class struggle. In the
process of fighting to transform society, men and women will also transform
themselves. We can see how in every strike, the workers raise themselves to new
heights, casting aside the old servile mentality and displaying an assertiveness and a
creativity they never knew they possessed. How much more true will this be in the
case of a revolution!
This is the only way to achieve genuine liberationnot only of women, but of all
women and men. Indeed, one thing is not possible without the other. What we are
striving for is the liberation, not of this group or that, but of humanity itself. This does

not at all signify that women must set aside the struggle for immediate improvements.
We must fight for any measure, no matter how small, that serves to improve the
position of women and combat discrimination and prejudice of any kind. The labor
movement must put itself at the forefront of this struggle.
The emancipation of women and socialism
The bourgeois revolutions of the past proclaimed the rights of man yet in practice
never achieved the equality of woman. In fact, the advance of women under
capitalism has been partly a byproduct of the class struggle and in part a result of the
changed role of women in production. Certain political rights have been won in the
advanced capitalist countries (a minority of the world), but genuine emancipation has
not been achieved and can never be achieved on the basis of capitalism.
As early as 1848, Marx and Engels raised the demand for the abolition of the
bourgeois family. However, they understood that the family cannot be abolished at a
single stroke. This demand cannot be achieved unless there is a material basis for it. It
can only be achieved by the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a new
society based upon a harmonious and democratic plan of production, with the
involvement of the whole of society in the common tasks of administration.
Once the productive forces are freed from the straitjacket of private property and the
nation state, it will be possible rapidly to reach an undreamed-of level of economic
wellbeing. The old mentality of fear, greed, envy and covetousness will disappear to
the degree that the material conditions that give rise to it are removed.
The road will be open for a radical transformation of the conditions of life, and thus a
transformation of the relations between men and women, and of their entire way of
thinking and acting. Without such a giant leap, all talk of changing peoples character
and psychology will be just so much clap-trap and deception. Social being determines
consciousness.
The barbarism of class society, with its emphasis on selfishness, egotism and
indifference to human suffering, is a remnant of slavery. The working class itself is
not immune to the pressures of bourgeois society, its so-called morality, its hypocrisy
and general rottenness. Backward attitudes to women can be found in the ranks of the
labour movement and this poison must be combated tooth and nail.
We stand for a new society based upon complete equality between men and women,
and while it will never be possible to create this new society amidst conditions of
capitalist barbarism, we must at least strive for a genuinely proletarian morality and
strive to purge the movement of backward attitudes that hinder the unity of men and
women workers.
On the one hand, it is necessary to understand that under capitalism, any
improvements will possess a partial, distorted and unstable character, and will be
constantly threatened by the crisis of the system and the general deterioration of
condition and social, moral and cultural decay. On the other hand, it is necessary to
link the struggle against the oppression of women firmly with the struggle of the
working class against capitalism. That is the only possible road to victory.

The psychological scars of the old society with its selfish calculation, greed and
egotism will not disappear overnight, even after the overthrow of capitalism. A period
of time must inevitably elapse before all the old filth finally disappears. But from the
very beginning, relations between men and women will begin to improve. The terrible
economic pressures that blight lives and distort all human relations will be abolished
almost immediately with the introduction of decent jobs, housing and education for
all.
A democratic socialist plan of production will create the conditions for everyone to
participate in the running of society. This will, among other things, abolish the old
introverted family, and the atomized individual, and create the conditions for the
creation of an entirely different psychology, rooted in the new, free and human
relations.
The elimination of class societyand eventually of the slave mentality that flows
from the dirt of class societywill lead to the creation of a new man and a new
woman: free human beings, capable of living together in harmony, as truly liberated
persons, free of the old possessive slave psychology. Having freed men and women
from the humiliating pursuit of material things, which distorts and degrades human
life, it will be possible for the first time for people to relate to each other as humans.
Freed from any external coercion, egotistical calculation or humiliating dependence,
the relationship between men and women will be free to develop and flourish on the
basis of genuine equality.

Life
Inside
the
Ravensbrck
Concentration Camp for Women
14.1k
18
By Karen Iris Tucker

Women at Ravensbrck in 1939.


Photo from Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1985-0417-15/CC-BY-SA
Nestled alongside an idyllic lake, the Ravensbrck concentration camp, 50 miles
north of Berlin, was constructed in 1939 specifically to house women. By the end of
the war, 130,000 women from 20 European countries had been led through its
entrance, often unaware of the danger inside.
Most of the camps inhabitants werent Jewish; rather, they were considered inferior
because they were prostitutes, lesbians, political resisters, work-shy, or asocial.
Roma (Gypsies) and Jehovahs Witnessesthe latter had only to renounce their faith
to be freedwere also imprisoned there. All were considered useless mouths by the
Nazis, worthy of brutal treatment. More than 30,000some estimate as many as
90,000women perished there from starvation, disease, gassings, hanging, torture, or
execution by shooting.
They had what I would call dead eyes, said Sylvia Salvesen, a Norwegian survivor
of Ravensbrck, recalling her first impression of the bald, skeletal prisoners she saw
when she arrived at the camp in 1943. Author Sarah Helm chronicles Salvesens story,
and those of many others, in a new book, Ravensbrck: Life and Death in Hitlers
Concentration Camp for Women. Helms exhaustive research includes interviews with

numerous survivors. The youngest were in their mid-80s; many have since passed
away.
Helm, a British journalist, spoke to me by phone from her home in the United
Kingdom a few weeks before April 16, Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom
HaShoah), and the April 29 anniversary of the liberation of Ravensbrck. She said
that once a new prisoners initial shock at camp life subsided, she would struggle to
maintain a modicum of humanity: Being able to share a mattress with someone or to
share your soupthose things meant everything.
The camps day began before dawn with appell, German for roll call, which required
prisoners to stand in thin dresses for hours, even in snow. Female guards dressed in
black capes lashed inmates with whips. Many women froze to death where they stood;
those who collapsed from exhaustion were taken to their death. The prisoners fit for
labor would then move on to grueling, often impossible, tasks in work gangs. The
camps philosophy was deliberately counterintuitive: It allowed those capable of work
to live, then it worked them to death.
Helm discovered that a significant minority of Ravenbrcks camp guards were
lesbians, drawn to the job for the opportunity it afforded them to meet other women
during a time when lesbianism, like all homosexuality, was reviled. Lesbianism was
also common among the prisoners. Many took on mens names and wore mens
clothing when they could get away with it.
Some of these lesbians were openly gay upon entering the camp. During the previous
Weimar [Republic] period, lesbianism and other forms of liberal lifestyles had been
allowed and flourished, said Helm. When the Nazis came in, they cracked down on
them. Others, she said, were desperate for close friendships due to their daily
hardships. In many cases, those alliances became sexual, facilitated, in part, by the
tight sleeping quarters.
The women also sought refuge in different camp families. These included the
Russian Red Army POWs, led by the courageous Yevgenia Lazarevna Klemm, who
ordered her clan to march across the camp with heads held high and to reject the
guards offers of preferential treatment if they became their camp spies. Dont break
the circle, Klemm entreated of her girls, who sabotaged the military equipment
they were forced to make in a plant near the camp, because they knew it could be used
against Russian troops.
She had the strength of character to keep them together, said Helm, who was deeply
moved when she uncovered Klemms story. A beloved history teacher before the war,
Klemm survived the camp only to commit suicide in postwar Russia. The Stalinist
regime harassed her repeatedly and ultimately forbade her from teaching, her greatest
joy.

Helm also discovered details about prisoner Elsa Krug, a prostitute from Dsseldorf.
Even their fellow inmates wrote off the prostitutes as lost souls whom they never
took the time to get to know. Yet Krug held power as a kapoa prisoner who
supervised other inmates. She ran the work gang in the camps kitchen supplies cellar,
which afforded her the opportunity to smuggle out much-needed food for others. She
disobeyed orders by refusing to beat her fellow inmates and was gassed to death as a
result.
The stories of the camp prostitutes were only uncovered in the mid-90s, said Helm.
Nobody wrote about the tragic cases of these young women, who were taken off the
streets of Germany and killed or left to die in the camps. She pointed out that none of
the prostitutes were called to give evidence at the Hamburg War Crimes trials or at
any later trials.
Other heroines emerge in Helms narrative, including the brave Polish rabbits
women who were mutilated in medical experiments at the camps hospital. In some
operations, deep wounds were made to the womens legs, which were then
deliberately infected with bacteria. Drugs were then tested for their efficacy in healing
the swollen, pus-filled limbs.

One rabbit, Krysia Czyz, used urine as invisible ink in the margins of the censored
letters she sent to inform her family, and the Polish underground, of the unspeakable
suffering in the camp. Miraculously, a clandestine radio station operating from Britain
broadcast Czyzs reports. The International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva
also received the informationas it did other news about the campsbut the
organization refused to intervene. Helm found evidence of this in the files of a small
museum of the Polish underground located in Northwest London.
Asked how she was able to write about such atrocities, Helm said, It wasnt so much
the atrocity that was the problem, it was the sadness. She cites the babies born in the
camp and then deliberately starved to death. That was the most painful of all. The
extraordinary joy these women had when their babies were born and then how they
watched them die. That was almost unwrite-able, Helm said. In fact, I havent
written everything I read about.
Karen Iris Tucker is a freelance journalist who writes primarily about health, genetics,
and cultural politics. Her work can be seen at kareniristucker.com,
kareniristucker.contently.com, and on Twitter.

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Marxism and Feminism in the student


movement
Written by Marxist Student Federation - Britain Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The ideas of Feminism have traditionally found support in universities, and these
ideas are currently enjoying a surge in popularity amongst students. At a time when
the ideas of Marxism are also finding a growing echo in the student movement, what
attitude do Marxists take towards different feminist ideas? How far are these schools
of thought compatible? What are the points of contention between them? And what
does it mean to call yourself a Marxist-Feminist?

Marxists, like feminists, fight to end the


oppression of women, although we see this struggle as part of a struggle against all
forms of oppression. The utopian socialist Flora Tristan pointed out in the first half of
the 19th century that the struggle for the emancipation of women is inseparably bound
up with the class struggle. Marx and Engels included some of Tristans ideas in The
Communist Manifesto, and Engels went on to write Origins of the Family, Private
Property and the State, which uses anthropological evidence to explain the origins of
the oppression of women and how it can be overcome.
The founder of the German Social Democratic Party, August Bebel, further studied
the question of womens oppression in his book Women under Socialism and Leon
Trotsky developed this in his series of essays Women and the Family. Towering
figures in the socialist movement such as Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin and
Alexandra Kollontai proved in practice the power of socialist struggle to break down
sexist prejudice. The role of women workers in Petrograd in February 1917, the East
London matchgirls in 1888, and the miners wives in 1984-5 are some of the better
known out of countless examples of the key role that working women have played in

the class struggle. Most significantly, the achievements of the Bolsheviks in the first
years after the 1917 revolution demonstrate the possibilities that socialism presents
for ending the oppression of women.
Class struggle
These and other practical successes of Marxism on the question of the oppression of
women can be put down to the inseparable link between the labour movement and the
struggle for socialism. As Marx and Engels point out: [t]he history of all hitherto
existing society is the history of class struggle.
The battle between exploited and exploiter a relationship defined by each
individuals position in the economic process ultimately governs the ideology,
institutions and prejudices of any given society. It is therefore to the existence of class
society we must look for the origins of sexism, rather than to supposed inherent traits
in either men or women. For this reason Marxists intervene in this class war, on the
side of the exploited, to challenge the conditions of exploitation and the various forms
of oppression, including sexism, to which they give rise.
So how does the modern form of class society capitalism perpetuate sexist
prejudice and the oppression of women? Capitalism relies on the family as the
primary economic unit and therefore relies on the oppression of women in society to
provide free labour in the home. It also uses low-paid women to drive down wages
and conditions for the entire working class.
Marxists therefore argue for socialism, which would allow for the socialisation of
domestic labour and would put a stop to exploitation via wage labour as was proved
in Russia after 1917. In other words, the struggle for socialism removes the material
basis for the oppression of women. This struggle can only be carried out by the
working class as a whole, due to their position in production, and so Marxists
immerse themselves in the class struggle, intervening in the movements and mass
organisations of workers and youth, to end the exploitation of the proletariat and the
oppression of women.
Positive discrimination
This is not the attitude towards the trade unions, political parties, student unions and
other organisations of working class struggle is not shared by some feminists. For
example, Anna Coote and Beatrix Campbell, in their book Sweet Freedom: The
Struggle for Womens Liberation, describe trade unions as part of the patriarchal
system, calling strikes an outdated dispute practice. Instead of demanding that
workers as a whole take a larger share of the wealth in society, Coote and Campbell
argue simply for equality in wages between men and women. And rather than
challenging the union bureaucracy, which stifles workers attempts to win higher
wages, they simply call for more female bureaucrats.
Many of the leading bodies of these organisations are dominated by men, which is a
reflection of the oppression of women in society as a whole. Manyfeminists therefore
demand equal numbers of men and women at the top of these institutions as a means
by which to promote gender equality, a policy strongly backed by Harriet Harman,

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. The result is a drive for positive discrimination in
unions and parties, with a minimum number of elected positions and a certain amount
of speaking time in meetings reserved for women.
Such methods turn the problem on its head. It is not the male dominance of student
unions, trade unions, political parties or other mass organisations that fuels the
oppression of women it is the sexist prejudice inherent in class society that causes
male dominance of unions. The unions, by uniting the working class, can be used to
smash that class society and are therefore a means to the end of eliminating womens
oppression. Creating an ideal model union that is pure and free from prejudice is
not an end in itself in fact such a model union can never exist so long as society as a
whole is not fundamentally changed.
In reality these methods can actually be counter-productive. Unions and political
parties can only be effective weapons against the oppression of women and other
prejudices if they are led by staunch working-class activists and pursue bold socialist
policies qualities which are not exclusive either to men or to women.
To achieve this, leaders need to be elected on the basis of their politics not their
gender, and internal debates need to be determined by the political content of the
speeches not the gender of the person giving the speech. Margaret Thatchers politics
were not defined by her gender but by her class. The same goes for the German
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the head of the IMF Christine Lagarde. The ideas of
these people spell nothing but misery for all workers, particularly women, and in the
eyes of the working class they do not gain an ounce more validity simply because
they are espoused by a woman instead of a man.
As any activist will know, and as history has proved, winning the political struggle for
revolutionary ideas inside mass organisations of the working class, such as unions or
parties, is not easy. It requires consistent, patient work winning people over to clear
political ideas with a theoretical basis. Every step towards revolutionary socialist
ideas in working class organisations is a precious gain.
Those who advocate policies of positive discrimination threaten to undermine this
work by replacing socialist aims and the methods necessary to achieve them, with the
legalistic aims and methods of formal gender equality which, by their nature, lack
political clarity and a theoretical base. It is the difference between a political struggle
for ideas that can emancipate the working class as a whole, and a struggle for the
reorganisation of the bureaucracy inside unions and political parties. Quite clearly one
of these has the revolutionary potential to fundamentally change society while the
other one offers nothing but improved career prospects for a small layer of potential
bureaucrats. These struggles are entirely different and do not complement each other the latter can only detract from the former.
As Marxists we do not focus our attention on the organisational structure of union
bureaucracy. We are interested in winning the rank and file students and workers to
the ideas of socialism. Bureaucracy is, in fact, the very antithesis of the rank and file
of the working class. It acts as a brake on the movement, rendering the workers
organisations less responsive to the changing consciousness and needs of the workers
themselves by elevating officials away from the conditions of ordinary people.

We only need to look at the leadership of trade unions, and especially the Labour
Party, today to see this process taking place. That the bureaucracy plays this role is not
due to its majority male composition, and it would not cease to be a drag on the
movement simply by installing more female bureaucrats. Putting our energy into
campaigning for a better bureaucracy therefore actively undermines our fight for
the revolutionary ideas of socialism and the emancipation of female and all workers
that they offer.
Raising awareness
Few feminists claim that positive discrimination is all that is needed to achieve gender
equality. In fact many feminists, like columnist Laurie Penny, are likely to agree that a
fundamental change in society along class lines is indeed necessary to solve the
problem. However, Penny and many others also argue that attacking the symptoms of
the problem without attacking its root cause is still worthwhile because it raises
awareness of the oppression of women. Such is the argument behind the Everyday
Sexism project, the recent anti-Blurred Lines campaign and the No More Page 3
campaign they are not designed to solve the problem of the oppression and
objectification of women in society, but rather to raise awareness and win a small
victory for women in these particular battles.
The problem with such campaigns is that they often sow illusions in methods and
ideas which in fact offer no solution to the issues. Simply telling people that women
are oppressed is not enough to prevent that oppression from happening. Raising
awareness is only effective as part of a mass campaign to actually do something to
tackle the problem. While there is no shortage of feminist academics and journalists
raising awareness about womens issues and coming up with ideas for how to
eliminate the oppression of women, there are very few examples of mass campaigns
to tackle the root cause of these issues. Those campaigns which do exist are limited to
one instance of sexism in the media or in the music industry with no perspective of
how to fight oppression as a whole.
Such narrow demands can actually allow for the accommodation of extremely
reactionary points of view in these campaigns, such as the view of the founder of the
No More Page 3 campaign who describes The Sun as a newspaper of which she is
proud and that could be made even better with the removal of page three, despite
the racist, homophobic, sexist and anti-working class bile that fills all the other pages
of the newspaper. To have illusions in the power of these campaigns to solve the
problems can divert good activists from the work of fighting for a revolutionary
transformation of society.
Waiting for the revolution?
Does this mean that Marxists argue that women must simply wait for the socialist
revolution for sexism to be challenged? Of course not. It is through the unity of the
working class on the basis of a common class position, regardless of gender, race or
sexuality, and fighting for common socialist aims that prejudice is broken down. The
struggle for socialism is based on the power of workers - not male workers or female
workers, but all workers. If such a struggle is waged, every worker will play a vital
role and a victory of male workers will be impossible without an equal struggle on the

part of female workers. The socialist economic system will smash the material base
for the oppression of women, while the struggle to establish that economic system
will tear down sexist prejudice by proving in action the equality of men and women.
For example, during the miners strike in Britain, it was after hearing the fiery
speeches of the miners wives, witnessing their courage in the face of the Thatchers
brutality, and relying on their fundraising abilities, that the male dominated miners
organisations voted to remove sexist overtones from their union literature. Women
came to be seen by the workers as staunch proletarian activists who commanded
respect and were empowered to demand equal treatment. Such empowerment was not
achieved simply by talking about it, but by actively building an organisation of
working class men and women fighting for their rights.
Marxists are under no illusions that, come the revolution, we will immediately be
living in an oppression-free utopia. The traditions of past ages weigh like a mountain
on modern society. Class society and the oppression of women has existed for close to
10,000 years such traditions cant be shaken off in the blink of an eye. What is
needed is a fundamental change to the way society is structured not tinkering around
the edges but to turn the whole system upside down. Only by shaking society to its
roots can we hope to dislodge such an accumulation of rotten traditions. This is
precisely the definition of socialist revolution a permanent process that allows us to
build a world free from these old prejudices.
It is therefore the task of all those who want to tackle the oppression of women to
fight for socialist policies and mass campaigns in the labour and student movement.
Both proletarian emancipation and gender equality lie along the path of working class
unity and socialist revolution.
Intersectionality
Intersectionality is a school of thought stemming from feminism and which points out
that all oppression is connected and so each person will experience different forms of
oppression in different ways depending on how they are connected for that particular
individual. For example the oppression experienced by a black working class woman
is different to that experienced by a gay white man, which is different again to the
experience of a straight disabled person, and so on. This observation is patently
correct.
These ideas have existed for a long time, although they were significantly developed
by the work of Kimberle Crenshaw in the early 1990s and taken even further by the
sociologist Patricia Hill Collins. These people, and others who argue in favour of this
view of oppression, are therefore opposed to the sectioning off of certain groups from
the movement as a whole on the basis of gender, race, sexuality etc. They also
introduce the idea of class as an important tool in analysing society and so in general
appear to be closer to the ideas of Marxism than many traditional feminists; in fact
Collins describes herself as standing in the Marxist-Feminist tradition.
However, in actual fact, intersectionality reduces oppression to an individual
experience that can only be understood by the person suffering it. This is because
every person experiences oppression in a uniquely different way and so it is only that

individual who knows how best to fight it. This individualism serves to break apart
mass movements into atomised individuals all fighting their own unique battles to
which others can contribute little more than passive support. It is for this reason that
intersectionality appears in the student movement as little more than a method of
analysis. As a school of thought it is offers little towards building a mass movement
for practical change.
Intersectionality fails to appreciate the qualitative difference between the experience
of the working class (which obviously includes both men and women) and the
experience of all women. Workers are not just oppressed they are exploited as a
class for the economic gain of the bourgeoisie. Women are not economically exploited
as a class, because not all women belong to the same class. Women are oppressed by
capitalism in order to facilitate the greater exploitation of the working class.
Thus Marxists argue that intersectionality is wrong to view class and gender as
comparable factors in understanding societys problems. Capitalism is motivated by
the pursuit of profit via the exploitation of the workers society under capitalism
therefore moves in the grooves of the class struggle. The oppression of women is a
consequence of this exploitation and can only be combatted as part of the struggle for
the emancipation of the working class. While intersectionality offers isolated
individualism, Marxism offers working class unity.
Feminism and democratic demands
The early ideas of feminism arose around figures such as Mary Wollstonecraft and
demands for democratic rights: the right to vote, the right to abortion, the right to
work and the right to equal pay. While in many countries these rights are yet to be
won, in Britain there is almost no legislation that actively discriminates against
women. Equality before the law has, largely, been achieved.
And yet women still suffer discrimination and oppression in society despite these
democratic rights having been won. Thus modern feminists - from Harriet Harman to
Laurie Penny - demand measures that go beyond formal legal equality, such as
positive discrimination, or measures that dont seek to introduce new rights, but that
rather raise awareness about the rights that already formally exist.
The severe limitations of such policies have already been pointed out. What Marxists
explain is that the demands of such strands of feminism are democratic demands
and bourgeois democratic demands at that. Taken alone, their vision for the world is
one where men and women are oppressed and exploited equally under capitalism.
Not only is this gender equality an impossibility under capitalism, but even as an
utopian idea this is not particularly inspiring. While liberal feminists want more
women in the boardroom, Marxists want to get rid of the boardroom. Some feminists
simply want men and women to share the housework equally, while Marxists want to
socialise housework and ends its status as unpaid private labour.
As with all democratic demands, Marxists support feminist demands. However, we
must point out the limitations of simply fighting for democratic demands without
linking these to the question of socialist revolution. We must not let discussion on

particular issues divert from the wider question of the socialist transformation of
society.
For example, in her reminiscences, Clara Zetkin - the German communist and founder
of International Working Womens Day - recalls meeting Lenin in 1920 when they
discussed the womens question at length. Lenin congratulated her on her education of
the German communists on the issue of the emancipation of women. However he
pointed out that there had been a revolution in Russia that presented an opportunity to
build, in practice, the foundations for a society free from the oppression of women.
Given these circumstances, Lenin explained that the dedication of so much time and
energy to discussions on Freud and the sexual problem was a mistake. Why spend
time discussing the finer points of sexuality and the historical forms of marriage when
the worlds first proletarian revolution is fighting for survival?
This is an example of a Marxist understanding of feminism and its demands. The
issues facing working class women can be used to raise the consciousness of the
working class as a whole, by illustrating the oppression of women under capitalism
and the need for socialism to combat this. But we cannot let the fight for womens
liberation be an isolated movement that divides the working class. Marxists use the
compass of the unity of the working class and the need to advance the struggle for
socialism as our guide.
In countries like Britain, the bourgeois democratic demands of feminism have reached
their limits, and in the student and labour movement it is now common to find
discussions on organisational questions related to gender being used to distract from
the need for a discussion on political questions.
Faced with the biggest fall in living standards since the 1860s, students and workers
need to organise demonstrations, protests and strikes to defend their standard of
living. And yet, as many who have been present at student union or activist meetings
will know, a lot of time in such meetings is given over to discussions on safespaces, the appropriate use of pronouns (using he or she to refer to other people),
debates over the percentages of gender composition among elected officials, and
debates over which songs are sufficiently misogynistic to deserve a ban.
If these organisations and movements were instead discussing and committing to
building serious and militant campaigns to win people over to the ideas of socialism
and fight the atrocious austerity attacks (which, by the way, are hitting women
particularly hard), then they would be able to unite students and workers in that same
struggle, irrelevant of gender, race, sexuality or anything else. In this kind of struggle
every person plays a vital part and no particular physical attributes are more or less
preferable in the fight for socialism. It is in the heat of the class struggle that
prejudices are broken down.
Marxist-feminist
Many young people, as a reaction to what they correctly see as the sexism of some
political organisations including some on the Left - call themselves MarxistFeminists in order to emphasise their commitment to female emancipation as well as
working class emancipation. This is a phenomenon that has been particularly

prevalent in the USA since the late 1960s, spearheaded by such figures as Gloria
Martin and Susan Stern of the Radical Women organisation.
However, for any genuine Marxist, the addition of the word feminist to our
ideology adds nothing to our ideas. As has been explained above, it is not possible to
be a Marxist without fighting for the emancipation of working women and all
oppressed groups in society. One might as well call oneself "Marxist-feminist-antiracist", for the struggle against racism, along with the fight for women's emancipation,
also forms an integral part of the struggle for socialism. It is to the shame of some on
the Left that they seem to forget this basic tenet of Marxist theory.
For this reason the addition of the word feminist is unnecessary and unscientific. In
fact it can be counter-productive because, as illustrated above, some of the ideas of
certain feminists - such as positive discrimination - actually play a role in holding
back working class unity and the struggle for socialism. Introducing these conflicting
ideas into Marxist theory can serve only to confuse and disorientate. While there are
certainly Marxists who take particular interest in the womens question, just as there
are Marxists who take a particular interest in the environment or the national question,
it would be a mistake to elevate this interest to the extent of over-exaggerating its
importance relative to the rest of Marxist ideas.
Precision in language is important because that is the way in which we convey our
ideas to others. If we are not clear in our language then our ideas cannot be conveyed
clearly either. However, it is also vital not to attach undue weight to words and labels.
People can describe their ideology however they like, but it is their actions not their
words that will really define their political standpoint. This is the point of view of
Marxists who understand that workers do not see the world in terms of abstract
theories but in concrete action.
This stands in contrast to that strand of feminism, epitomised by the ideas of Judith
Butler, that argues that male-dominated language is, on some level, a cause of the
oppression of women. For example, when referring to an indeterminate person, many
writers will use the pronoun he. Some feminists argue that this oppresses women
and that if writers would only use a female or indeterminate pronoun more often that
would go some way to ending the oppression of women.
Again, this makes the mistake of turning the problem on its head. The use of so-called
male language is a reflection of the oppression of women in class society. Trying to
remove that reflection without removing the oppression itself is futile. The result of
such a pursuit is essays, books and lectures raising awareness about the need to
change the way we talk, which are almost invariably read only by other, like minded
academics and have no impact in popular consciousness. Rather than giving speeches
on how to speak, Marxists are engaged in a practical struggle to tear oppression out of
society by its roots. This is the difference between academic feminism and
revolutionary socialism.
Fight against womens oppression! Fight for socialism!
Young people, particularly at university, are often interested in exploring ideas and
concepts that they may be coming across for the first time in their lives. The current

crisis means that more young people than ever before are looking for ideas that
challenge the status quo. This is why the ideas of Marxism are becoming increasingly
popular among students at the moment. But this also goes some way to explaining the
attraction of feminism to some young people.
Marxists will struggle alongside everyone who wants to fight for a better world,
particularly those who are new to political ideas and activity. But Marxists also take a
firm approach on our attitude towards the bourgeois democratic demands of academic
feminists. Ours is a class position that has nothing in common with those feminists
who seek no more than equal exploitation under capitalism. We stand for the complete
unity of the working class and the struggle for socialism. This is the only way
prejudices can be broken down and the material foundation for a genuinely classless
and equal society can be built.

Loveable
dingbats
warmongers?

or

hateful

The Republican presidential primaries are a carnival of reaction--but that's not unique
to the 2016 election. Elizabeth Schulte looks back at the godfather of GOP fanaticism.
March 10, 2016

"SHE WAS always more than the sum of her adoring gaze, that dazzling look she
fixed on her husband like a pair of high beam headlights," reported Politico. "She was
the first and last voice in the ear of the leader of the free world, the trusted adviser
who did the worrying and scheming for both of them. It's just possible that without
her, Ronald Reagan would never have become the 40th president of the United
States."
The tributes to former first lady Nancy Reagan flooded in from every media outlet
and every corner of the political spectrum, even the darkest. George W. Bush, Barack
Obama, Jimmy Carter, Benjamin Netanyahu--all had something nice to say about the
Reagan legacy.

But if any of them were honest, they would be recalling the years that Nancy Reagan
stood by the man responsible for untold death and misery--from his administration's
all-out assault on programs for the poor, to support for right-wing death squads in
Latin America, to bringing the world to the precipice of nuclear Armageddon, to
allowing the AIDS epidemic to kill a generation of gay men without a word.
You wouldn't know any of that from opening up a newspaper following Nancy
Reagan's death. A war criminal has been transformed into a respectable elder
statesman--a couple who were filled with narrow-minded bigotry are now portrayed
as a sweet elderly couple who never meant any harm.
For her part, Nancy Reagan is probably best remembered for wild spending on
designer dresses and bric-a-brac that she decided was necessary to lift the White
House into a symbol of opulence and power befitting the most powerful household in
the world. She raised $822,000 from private contributors to give the White House the
Hollywood star treatment. One contributor gave Nancy $200,000 just for a set of
presidential china.
It was then, and is now, a symbol of what the Reagan administration actually
represented, beyond the myth--the historic centralization of wealth and power, and a
long, sickening party for the rich.
Besides the White House makeover, Nancy's other pet project during the 1980s was
the Reagan administration's failed campaign against drug and alcohol abuse. Using
the catchphrase "Just Say No," it combined simplistic moralizing with draconian
criminal justice policies that blamed the victims of drug abuse and persecuted them to
the fullest extend of the law.
But the issue that revealed the true character of Nancy Reagan was the AIDS crisis.
While thousands of people, the vast majority of them gay men, contracted the thenmysterious disease, the Reagan administration refused to even acknowledge its
existence, much less take any steps toward solving the crisis.
Nancy maintained that gross negligence into her personal life. When actor Rock
Hudson, who was in the desperate last stages of dying of AIDS, reached out to his
friends, the Reagans, to help get him a spot in a French hospital that might have saved
his life, they ignored him. "She did not feel this was something the White House
should get into," Reagan staffer Mark Weinberg said of Nancy.
That about sums up the Reagans' storybook romance. They were a hateful couple, full
of prejudice, who let nothing come in the way of their warped vision of America,
where the rich and powerful were celebrated and promoted at the expense of everyone
else.
---------------TODAY, WITH the Republican Party tottering under the weight of a presidential
primary race where billionaire wing-nut bigot Donald Trump is still leading the way,
there's a lot of talk about the "real" Republican Party. Is it the party of off-the-leash
bigots like Trump or of good ol' Ronald Reagan?

The answer, of course, is both. Reagan's victimization of the poor and casual racism
was just as vicious as anything Trump has dished out. While his policies can seem, at
first glance, to be moderate by comparison with today's GOP, that's the result of the
political mainstream being relentlessly dragged to the right over the past 30 years-and Reagan deserves a lot of the credit for getting ball rolling. Here a few of the
Reagan administration's "accomplishments" during its time in office in the 1980s:
-- Reversing the gains of the 1960s and 1970s: The Reagan Revolution represented,
above all else, a rejection of the legacy of the 1960s and '70s social movements and an
effort to turn back the clock: for women, Blacks, Latinos, workers--basically everyone
except Corporate America.
After serving as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and even being a Democrat in
the 1940s, Reagan decided to throw his support behind the anti-Communist witch
hunt of the 1950s and of the era of New Deal liberalism that came before.
During May 1969 protests by students in Berkeley, California, the heart of the
movement against the Vietnam War, then-California Gov. Reagan ordered the police
to "use whatever method they choose against the protesters." Dozens of students were
injured when police fired into the crowd, in what came to be called "Bloody
Thursday." At a press conference afterward, Reagan chastised the very students who
had been attacked.
The election of Reagan as president in 1980 represented a turning point for the U.S.
ruling class. It was a rejection of social reform and a vilification of the people who
benefited from them--and the beginning of unfettered prosperity for Corporate
America and for its real priorities for the U.S. government, namely an expanded
military.
-- The myth of the "welfare queen": All bigots need a scapegoat, and during
Reagan's failed campaign in 1976 to win the Republican presidential nomination, his
was the image of a woman bilking the government via welfare.
"In Chicago, they found a woman who holds the record," Reagan declared at a
campaign rally in January 1976. "She used 80 names, 30 addresses, 15 telephone
numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veterans' benefits for four
nonexistent deceased veteran husbands, as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income
alone has been running $150,000 a year."
Reagan's message was also that she was Black, though he didn't state it outright--this,
after all, was the era after the civil rights movement.
Like other politicians of the time, Reagan used coded racist language to create a
scapegoat who could be blamed for the economic crisis that developed through the
late 1970s, including high unemployment and an energy crisis that forced drivers to
wait in long lines for gas. Reagan had an answer, too: begin cutting away at social
spending.
And it succeeded. During his administration, Reagan shrank social spending, not just
for welfare, but other anti-poverty programs like food stamps and Social Security

disability benefits. The money that had been "wasted" on underserving poor people
could now be funneled to the "deserving"--through tax breaks for the rich and more
spending on the Pentagon.
-- Racism, racism, racism: Racism and scapegoating were necessary ingredients of
the Reagan Revolution. With the goal of peeling away racist white voters from the
Democratic Party in the South, the Reagan pandered to bigotry from the very start.
Advised by a local official who told the Republican National Committee that this was
the place to appeal to "George Wallace-inclined voters," Reagan launched his 1980
presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where civil rights
volunteers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were abducted
and murdered 16 years earlier.
During the campaign, Reagan criticized the food stamp program for helping "some
strapping young buck ahead of you to buy a T-bone steak" while "you were waiting in
line to buy hamburger." Later, according to Ian Haney Lopez's Dog Whistle Politics,
Reagan's handlers changed "strapping young buck" to "young fellow" because the
phrase was too racially changed even for them.
As president, Reagan launched his version of the "war on drugs" in 1982--a policy
that has been an unmitigated disaster for Black America. As Michelle Alexander
points out, at that time,
drug crime was declining, not rising. From the outset, the war had little to do with
drug crime and nearly everything to do with racial politics. The drug war was part of a
grand and highly successful Republican Party strategy of using racially coded
political appeals on issues of crime and welfare to attract poor and working-class
white voters who were resentful of, and threatened by desegregation, busing and
affirmative action. In the words of H.R. Haldeman, President Richard Nixon's White
House Chief of Staff: "[T]he whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise
a system that recognizes this while not appearing to."
Here was another "achievement" of the Reagan years: Anti-drug, tough-on-crime
policies disproportionately targeted Black people for arrest, and gave them the
harshest sentences, out of all relationship to the crime.
-- A four-star general in a one-sided class war: In Reagan's America, the priority
was corporate profits, no matter what the cost to workers' living standards. According
to Reagan's trickle-down economics, the rich would be freed from taxes and
regulations to do what they do best--make money--and the wealth would trickle down
to the rest of us.
The theory half-worked. The wealthy enjoyed tax cuts, and corporations were freed
from regulations. The top tax rate for the highest-income households dropped from
about 70 percent to just 28 percent.
As for the U.S. working class, Reaganomics led to factory closures and
unemployment rates that reached Depression-era levels for blue-collar workers.

Meanwhile, the social safety net was being destroyed--at exactly the time when
workers and their families needed it the most.
On the chopping block, too, were workers' organizations. One of Reagan's first acts as
president was to implement a plan put in place by the Carter administration--and fire
11,000 striking air traffic controllers in 1981. The assault on workers and their unions
continued from there.
-- His finger on the nuclear switch: While government spending for social programs
went into free fall, spending on the military headed in the opposite direction.
Pentagon spending would reach an estimated $34 million an hour during the Reagan
administration.
Central to Reagan's foreign policy rhetoric, which talked about returning the U.S.
military to its heyday before the defeat in Vietnam, was the "evil empire"--the Soviet
Union. Whipping up hysteria about the dangers of Communism, Ronnie Raygun, as
he was called, poured money into the Pentagon, including outlandish programs like
"Star Wars," where the U.S. was supposed to have missiles that would shoot down
other missiles.
On at least one occasion in 1983, the administration came close to nuclear war with
the Soviet Union, according to declassified documents published by the National
Security Archive and reported in the Atlantic.
After the USSR invaded Afghanistan, the CIA provided money and weapons to an
opposition that included Osama bin Laden. The networks that would later become alQaeda came into being there--but Reagan called them "freedom fighters."
-- Crushing revolutions and funding death squads: The Reagan rap sheet of
international war crimes extends around the world, including support for the racist
apartheid regime in South Africa. But the administration focused much of its attention
on the U.S. "backyard": Central America.
The Reagan administration backed military dictators in El Salvador and Guatemala,
but its most high-profile intervention was in Nicaragua, where the left-wing
Sandinistas had come to power after a mass struggle and armed conflict that
overthrew the dictator Somoza.
The response of the U.S.--after some years of disorientation and indecision--was to
organize an army of counterrevolution. The contras would wage a guerrilla war
against the Sandinistas.
Reports of contra human rights abuses forced the U.S. to cut off official aid, but that
didn't stop U.S. operatives from making a secret arrangement, where the U.S. supplied
weapons and supplies to Iran, in exchange for funds that would eventually fund the
contras. Iran, supposedly the U.S. government's arch-enemy, agreed to help get U.S.
hostages released in Lebanon.

When the whole arms-for-hostages scandal, or Contragate, was uncovered, a few


players were exposed like Lt. Col. Oliver North. But Reagan denied any knowledge of
the deal, and he got away with it, along with the inner circle of his administration.
In 1996, in a series called Dark Alliance, journalist Gary Webb revealed the U.S.
government's connection with the contras and the illegal cocaine trade. In other
words, Reagan's crimes had come full circle--from a secret war on the Sandinistas, to
hypocrisy with Iran, to the lie of a "drug war" on the streets of America.
The people behind Reagan's foreign policy would haunt us for decades. Paul
Wolfowitz, John Negroponte, Elliot Abrams, John Poindexter and Richard Perle--the
hawks responsible for the war in Iraq in the new century--all served Reagan first.
-- Sentencing people to death during the HIV/AIDS crisis: Thousands of people
died as a result of the AIDS epidemic in the first six years of the Reagan
administration, but the president refused to say even a word about it. The slogan of
AIDS activists at the time summed it up: "Silence = Death."
From the start, it was obvious that a national health emergency was in the making, but
because the victims were gay men, little was done by the Reagan administration.
Instead, the sufferers were vilified and scapegoated. For example, Reagan's
communications director, right-wing fanatic and Holocaust denier Pat Buchanan,
argued that AIDS is "nature's revenge on gay men."
"The sexual revolution has begun to devour its children. And among the revolutionary
vanguard, as gay rights activists, the morality rate is highest and climbing...The poor
homosexuals--they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is exacting an
awful retribution," Buchanan wrote in a 1983 op-ed for the New York Post.
By the time Reagan said anything about the epidemic in 1987, 36,058 people in the
U.S. had been diagnosed with AIDS, and 20,849 were dead in the U.S. There were
more than 50,000 cases around the world.
This is real Reagan legacy. So if Donald Trump wants to pick up the mantle, he's
already part way there. And if Democrats like Obama want to find common cause
with it, then they're revealing what side they're really on.

society where women are targets


March 10, 2016
On March 6, International Women's Day protests in Turkey were met with violent
repression, with Turkish police shoving protesters and then firing rubber bullets to
disperse a crowd of hundreds of women in central Istanbul. Protesters had gathered
despite a ban on the march by the governor of Istanbul, who had cited the pretext of
"security concerns."
The protesters were trying to draw attention to the dismal state of women's rights in
the country. As NBC News recently noted, "The government frequently faces

criticism for its handling of women's issues, including the failure to stem high rates of
violence and low female participation in the workforce." Since 2008, nearly 1,500
Turkish women have been killed by men. In 2015, 290 women were killed in Turkey
by men, whether fathers, brothers, partners or perfect strangers. Since the February
2015 murder of zgecan Aslan--a university student who was killed as she resisted an
attempted rape--a movement has erupted in Turkey to address the widespread problem
of violence against women. Hundreds of protests have been organized across the
country, and many grassroots initiatives have started to form, led principally by
Muslim women.
In an interview published at Marksist.org, Nebyie Ari, Betl Demir and Bahar Kilin
of the group Muslims Opposed to Violence Against Women spoke with Revolutionary
Socialist Workers Party members Meltem Oral and Yildiz nen about the campaign
and the issue of violence against women. Here, we print an edited translation by Tom
Gagn.

A protest by members of Muslims


Opposed to Violence Against Women
WHAT INITIATIVES are you pursuing and what type of pressures are you facing?
How do you evaluate sexism and the status of women in society, and what do you see
as the root of the problem?
Nebiye: The full name of our group is Muslims Opposed to Violence Against Women
[KKM, by its initials in Turkish]. I was part of the first meeting's delegation.
Every November 25, the group was putting together demonstrations involving dance.
At first, I thought this was kind of silly, but then thought to myself, "At least they are
doing something." We were also getting tired of our sisters being subjected to
violence. We talked together with our friends and we created an e-mail group.
Violence is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. This is the framework we tried to create
when we were encountering difficulties. When we met together in Istanbul, we
established this initiative.
Betl: Our lives were already at stake because we were women. The first forum we
organized was called "Harassment, Rape and Violence Concerning Islamic Men."

A great deal is spoken of by men about the role of women in the family, and that
Islam has reminded every woman of its place in the family. So we organized a second
forum called "Men and the Family." In doing this, we were able to talk about the role
of men within the family, as well as addressing more comprehensively the idea of the
family. But because of the difficulty in finding a speaker to talk about masculinity,
much of the conversation revolved around women. We could only really talk about
fatherhood.
Nebiye: Later, we put together a workshop for a Friday religious sermon. Our main
purpose in creating this workshop was to put front and center the issue of violence
against women on a much wider scale. We wanted to reach out to men, and we wanted
to say something to them. Thinking we were able to get in contact with the greatest
number of men during Friday prayers, we spoke with the office of the mufti together
about the sermon that we wrote.
Betl: As we were preparing for the Violence Against Women initiative, we posted a
video of this sermon to social media. Thinking that it wouldn't spread on social media,
we set up a stand in front of the skdar Mihrimah Mosque. One day, we delivered
our sermon to over 750 men. Women also visited our booth and we were greeted very
warmly. Right now, our sermon is being shared from our social media presence and
our blog.
Then we started a campaign called "Shelter" for a law requiring all municipalities in
Istanbul to open up women's shelters. Likewise, for the existing shelters' conditions-which are inadequate--to improve. We wanted to draw attention to this issue, and we
prepared a statement that explained the need for more shelters.
Later, we set up a booth, and some men responded, telling us that we're trying to
destroy the family. We also saw things like women together with their husbands trying
to come by our booth, only to have the women retreat from fear of their husbands.
And we felt again the importance of the work we're doing.
WOMEN'S ORGANIZATIONS that talk about violence generally appeal to women.
You are addressing men as the principal problem. Have you seen any positive results
from this?
Nebiye: For us, it's not the older generation, but our generation, and we can speak to
the younger men. At least they can start by saying, "I don't know if this is sexist,
but..."
This is really important. They are sometimes afraid to come to our meetings, but then
also from some of them, we'll hear them say things like "I'm a feminist." There are
also ones who have sense enough to say things like, "Don't hide that you're feminists."
Betl: After the Family and Men Forum and the Friday sermon actions, we thought to
ourselves, "Are we being too active?" So we turned our attention to some theoretical
studies and we started to study Islamic sources.
When we looked at the emergence of violence, we noticed that it focused on issues
such as stoning, the administration of women and the imamate, marriage and divorce.

So we did some research on these topics. We also debated briefly the fragility of
human nature and women. We researched the status of women during the time of the
Prophet Muhammed.
Historically, we know that sexism has existed since the beginning of civilization. We
saw that in the beginning, this type of sexism wasn't necessarily intrinsic to Islam, and
that sexist views existed in varying degrees. For example, Abdullah bin Umar's first
decrees: "In the time of the Prophet Muhammed, we behaved well towards women
because we were afraid of a revelation concerning us. After Muhammed, we behaved
as we wanted towards women." This tells us that there was a setback after
Muhammed.
WHAT ARE the causes of violence against women? How do we prevent it?
Betl: It's necessary for women to get stronger. We did that with the "Shelter"
campaign. More shelters can empower women. It's very important for women who
have no place to go or who are no longer welcome in their families. It's even
important for women coming from a better financial situation. Self-preservation
above everything else.
Nebiye: Man sees himself as the center; he wants to dominate everything himself. For
example, he won't reconcile with a woman who wants to divorce him. Instead of
talking to a woman, he expresses himself with violence. Because he's a man, he
doesn't need to convince her, women must obey men.
All of this is related to the perception of masculinity, and we need to change it.
Masculinity shouldn't shape oppression like this. We don't accept this as women. But
sometimes men represent themselves as the "lordship" and they want us to obey them.
They won't diplomatically accept women who think differently. In general, we need to
change this type of masculinity. We are trying to change this type of masculinity with
reference to the Islamic community and tradition. And we can both become equals in
reference to this history.
There's also the type of speech from our political leaders. [Turkish President] Tayyip
Erdoan and others, for example, have been making targets out of women. Such
rhetoric is being reflected in the streets. Women have become targets.
Betl: They define morality only in terms of women; this is sexist.
Nebiye: They're provoking harassment with stuff like this. And we've made a
campaign countering it...War is also fueling this type of violence in society. We have
to say that war is contributing to this violence. Our children are growing up with this
rhetoric around war and violence, and then it becomes violence against women.
Betl: The most effective way to stop violence today is to impose and apply some
type of punishment. In fact an appropriate law can be use to punish, but won't
necessarily be implemented. Because police, lawyers and judges are all like minded in
their sexism, men can go unpunished by using various reductions in sentences for
criminals and so on.

Bahar Kilin: Gender education is taught in municipal schools, but men don't take it
very seriously. I once attended a training session in Van, and it was a disaster. Should
we jail violent men as a means to an end? Should we encourage self-defense? Is this
also feeding a cycle of violence? I don't know.
Betl: We must work for the right of self-defense for women who kill their husbands
after suffering systematic violence. A court in Germany has ruled that the right of selfdefense is justified in this regard. The right to self-defense in response to women
subjected to violence must enter the legal system. We have to fight for it.
Nebiye: We had a letter writing campaign to Yasemin akal, who is an example of
this situation. She's on trial for killing her husband and she could face a life sentence,
while many men are getting less of a sentence in such cases. There are hearings in
February and we hope that there's a ruling of self-defense and for her release.

Resistance builds to Argentina's new


president
March 10, 2016
Claudio Katz, a long-time Argentine political activist, member of Economistas de
Izquierda and author of numerous books and articles, examines the first three months
of conservative President Mauricio Macri's tenure and argues that he will face
increasing mobilization against his austerity plans, especially in light of an escalating
economic crisis.
Meanwhile, now out of power, the center-left populist Peronists are adopting the cloak
of opposition through their still-powerful trade unions, community organizations and
various factions of the Justicialist Party. As Macri attempts to co-opt certain sectors of
the Peronist apparatus, others are organizing strikes and protests against cutbacks,
increased police repression and a pro-U.S. turn in foreign policy.
These actions have provoked a sharp debate among the revolutionary left over how to
relate to these oppositional Peronists, particularly supporters of termed-out President
Cristina Fernndez de Kircher. In this article translated from Spanish and abridged for
publication here by Todd Chretien, Katz implies that these forces cannot simply be
ignored by the revolutionary left, but must be understood in light of previous
developments inside Peronism as a precondition to developing an attitude toward their
role in resisting--or co-opting the resistance to--the right-wing government's
offensive.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri (Nahuel Padrevecchi)
MAURICIO MACRI, the newly elected conservative president of Argentina, is
attempting to push through brutal austerity measures while subordinating his
administration to the United States. The only question is: Will he succeed? He won
office by a small margin based on dishonest campaign pledges in a political climate

that will make gutting the rights of workers and the poor difficult. So which way is
the balance tipping at the end of his first three months in office?
A Limited Offensive

Soon after taking office, Macri was shocked by the anger displayed by laid-off
workers--20,000 in the state sector and another 30,000 in the private sector. Macri
aimed to used the fear of layoffs to force through wage cuts. Alfonso Prat-Gay,
Macri's Minister of the Economy, verbalized the implicit blackmail: Workers must
choose between accepting lower pay or losing their jobs.
Macri justifies his offensive by claiming public employees are lazy. But this
accusation is never backed up. First, they throw the workers out and only then do they
evaluate them.
Arbitrary mass firings are as common as political vendettas. Instead of stabilizing the
enormous mass of public employees brought in during the administrations of
President Nestor Kirchner [from 2003 to 2007; he died unexpectedly in office] and
Cristina Fernndez de Kirchner [from 2007 to 2015], Macri preyed on precarious job
security to ram through cuts.
Nestor and Cristina [she is often referred to by her initials CFK or her first name],
Argentina's presidential power couple, portrayed themselves as modern-day versions
of Juan and Evita Pern. They presented Kirchnerism as 21st century Peronsim-authoritarian populism with a social democratic and nationalist coloration. [For a brief
note on the history and nomenclature of Peronism, see the end of this article.]
A huge public employees' strike on February 24 initiated resistance to the
government's abuses. In fact, most workers would not be intimidated as they honored
picket lines and attended the strike-day march. Workers reacted similarly in the battle
against a government plan to impose a 25 percent ceiling on wage hikes.
Macri attempted to eliminate labor-management parity committees' right to adjust
wages according to market conditions [that is to keep up with galloping inflation,
which is currently running at nearly 30 percent per year], as had long been the
practice in all areas. For example, teachers forced Macri to back off. In the end,
teachers won salary increases below inflation, but they violated the wage caps put
forward by the government.
Macri also stumbled when it came to using repression to complement austerity cuts.
The PRO [Propuesta Republicana, or Republican Proposal, one of the conservative
governing parties in Macri's coalition] gave out clubs to the police to use against
protesters in Cresta Roja and allowed them to carry lethal weapons in order to
disperse pickets, as they said, "in five minutes."
Police measures such as these were not considered for similar marches in the past.
The police beat people who have been evicted or had their lights cuts off because
they've lost their jobs. The government's new police protocol was issued on the eve of

the February 24 strike and march, but it could not be put into effect, which set off
celebrations in the streets.
The detention of Milagros Salas has become another test of strength for the
government's campaign of repression and it has provoked large protests.
Salas emerged as a key leader in the Tupac Amaru neighborhood association in the
wake of the December 2001 Argentinazo [mass protests which forced the resignation
of four presidents in the wake of a financial crash]. Salas subsequently joined the
Argentine Workers Center (CTA in Spanish), whose leadership has tended to support
the Kirchners. After Salas was arrested for organizing an encampment, the Macri
administration pressured a judge to impose a stiff sentence in order to send a signal
criminalizing social protests.
Although seen as a heroic figure to many, Salas has come under fire from the left for
her authoritarian and clientalist methods, including charges that she functions as a
representative of Kirchnerism in the movements in exchange for significant state
funding. Be that as it may, she is an elected member of Parlasur (the South American
parliament) and these debates should be settled politically, not by imprisoning her.
Macri's plans for repression include the reintroduction of the army in domestic
security operations under the guise of fighting drug trafficking. Argentine Chief of the
Army Csar Milani first limited domestic military activity to intelligence matters, but
is now moving ahead with emergency measures that allow the army to reinforce
police operations in poor and working-class neighborhoods.
Macri is playing with fire by delegating such authority to a military that is riddled
with corruption. A recent jailbreak by prisoners in the Province of Buenos Aires only
goes to show the rot and raises the dangerous specter of a Mexican-type scenario
developing.
As Macri's administration has set its sites on a conservative restoration, his officials
have revived the theory of the "two devils"--that "both sides" were to blame for
political violence during the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, the Argentine military
overthrew the democratically elected president in 1976 in one of South America's
bloodiest coups.
Incredibly, the generals now claim that 30,000 people were not disappeared by the
military, they meet with organizations representing those who committed genocide,
and they even removed Laura Bonaparte's name from a health center. After three of
Bonaparte's children were disappeared by the military regime, she founded the
Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, one of the bravest and most widely recognized human
rights organizations in Argentina. The outpouring of indignation in response to these
reactionary changes forced Macri himself hesitate.
At the moment, the decisive confrontations are concentrated in the labor-management
parity committees--that's where we will see who wins a round with respect to the 25
percent wage ceiling. A very different balance of forces will emerge depending on
whether this restriction is successfully imposed, partially fractured, or completely
cracked open.

The other key fight in play is resistance to a proposed 300-500 percent utility rate
hike. The government argues that cheap service is unsustainable, but they are hiding
how the utility companies use multi-million dollar subsidies to increase their profits
without investing in service and technology upgrades.
The rate hikes, without public hearings or cost analysis and coming amid a wave of
cuts, only goes to reinforce opposition to this scam and the promise of future
improvements carries little credibility. There's no plan or official control over
investments, and many high-ranking officials are former company managers. Protests
by residents against power outages may be a harbinger of popular reactions to such
impunity.
The Storm Clouds Gather

Macri is running into difficulties with his allies in the unions. He is trying to close a
deal with the cream of the trade union bureaucracy in order to fragment working-class
resistance. He offered them a seat at the table in managing public works and also to
reduce taxes on the highest-paid workers. In return, he immediately received high
praise from Hugo Moyano, the leader of the CGT (General Confederation of
Workers), the largest union coalition Argentina.
But this romance is cracking under the (mis)management of the tax rates paid by
workers. During the campaign, Macri promised to cancel certain taxes, and his first
post-election pronouncements suggested he would make only neutral modifications,
including compensatory wage increases that would be matched with a rise in the tax
ceiling. He then repeated what CFK had offered in the past: a one-time, non-taxable
bonus which would not effect the tax brackets.
But Macri's small print is much worse. As the rise in the taxable wage floor is less
than inflation, meaning some 200,000 workers [including 100,000 retirees] who were
exempt from specific taxes in the past must now pay up because their [inflationadjusted] wages cross tax bracket thresholds. In addition, the preservation of old tax
scales ensnares all those affected by the 35 percent tax bracket [due to wage inflation],
while millionaires usually pay no more than 16 percent.
The PRO celebrated taking office with a festival of tax cuts for capitalists, but now
they are finding it difficult to repeat Kirchner's justification that employee tax rates
"affect only 10 percent of workers." The CEOs who prepared the government's
employee tax decree introduced a penalty disguised as a benefit. While protecting all
advantages granted to big companies, the administration has rushed to safeguard the
state treasury when it comes to taxing workers.
The government's lies didn't hold up long and the trade union higher-ups have
responded by offering a legislative counterproposal. They've distanced themselves
from Macri without involving themselves in any struggles.
The same sort of conflicts can be seen in the relationship between the old-line
Peronist oficialismo apparatus and the opportunist politicians who sometimes ally
themselves with it. Macri started out by eroding support for Peronism. For example,

he made agreements with oficialista Sergio Massa [CFK's ex-chief of staff and thirdplace finisher in last fall's presidential elections], various state governors, including
the governor of Salta, Juan Manuel Urtubey and Diego Bossio, director of the Social
Security Administration under CFK. Several other Peronist personalities drew close to
Macri as he went about trying to divide the Kirchnerist bloc in Congress.
But now he's paying a price for this operation. Political bosses in the provinces are
now demanding that he transfer funds promised to them in exchange for their support.
Massa may have accompanied Macri to the economic summit in Davos, Switzerland,
but he lent his support to the CGT's proposal on taxing profits. In other words,
Peronism is placing eggs in different baskets in preparation for its return to power.
The political tools Macri is using are really quite fragile. He can't even mobilize his
own base--instead, he is forced to rely on resentment against Kircnherism.
He's trying to close the legal circle around Cristina by emphasizing corruption among
Kirchnerist leaders. Every day, some friendly judge uncovers new charges against
Lzaro Bez, a wealthy businessman with close ties to Nestor Kirchner, or raises
questions about how the Kirchners became so wealthy, the Hotesur money-laundering
scandal, shady dealings by Cristina's ex-Chief of Staff Anbal Fernndez and ex-Vice
President Amado Boudou, or outright theft by Jaime Stiuso, the former Chief of
Intelligence. Loyalist judges are working overtime to expose old embezzlement cases
in order to cover up new misappropriations.
But this hypocritical campaign may rebound against the PRO's own management. It
will prove difficult to ignore a string of corruption charges, including those against
sportscaster and conservative candidate Fernando Niembro, dark business dealings
surrounding the mysterious Iron Mountain fire (when millions of Buenos Aires city
government documents -- led by then-Mayor Macri -- as well as filings from banks
like HSBC and JP Morgan, went up in smoke), or cases of illegal espionage linked to
Macri himself.
By bringing so much attention to corruptions scandals, Macri is taking a big risk.
After all, he has appointed financiers accused of laundering money to be in charge of
supervising banking operations.
These same figures have given millions of dollars to intermediaries who in turn sell
government bonds on commission. And all the CEOs he has appointed to run state
ministries have maintained tight relations with the firms they personally directed as
recently as late last year. This association typifies a structurally corrupt government.
Yet Macri has no other choice--he must follow this dangerous path. At first, he tried to
maintain an optimistic discourse of good vibes, hoping to make the situation
palatable. He has, however, stuck to the rules providing impunity for former
presidents like Menem and Fernando De la Rua.
However, unease generated by his actions pushed him to look for a scapegoat. Thus,
he has pointed to the "Kirchnerist heritage" of corruption and mismanagement in
order to justify the bitter austerity pill he wants society swallow each day. It's the only
tale he can tell.

The Economic Background

Macri has to confront a highly unstable economy. He began his administration by


making significantly regressive income transfers in favor of the capitalists. The
agricultural sector received the simultaneous gifts of currency devaluation and
reduced tax withholdings. The extractive mining bosses were rewarded with lower
taxes. The oil companies, which made fortunes during the period of high prices,
obtained compensation for today's low prices.
Bank profits swelled with the lifting of controls, and by transforming interstate debts
into private liabilities. Taxes on champagne and high-end cars were even trimmed to
add to the fun. But runaway inflation is ruining the party. Macri had to admit his
consternation, and he became upset with how his plans were working out.
It is true that the Kirchner administration engaged in deficit spending and floated the
peso during the last months of the election in order to postpone what everyone
expected would be a new round of post-election austerity, no matter who won. But
prices are today spiraling far higher than can be explained by delayed cutbacks.
Instead, they are the direct result of Macri's devaluation of the peso, utility rate hikes,
markups at supermarkets, and the destruction of a system of subsidized prices.
Exporters and large commercial and industrial groups are pocketing most of the loot
at workers' expense.
The only official response is a ridiculous online monitoring program that supposedly
exposes price gougers in real time. Instead of stopping runaway inflation, the
government offers webinars. Inflation has already force the ouster of the director of
INDEC (the National Institute of Statistics and Census of Argentina), who had been
presented as a statistics genius. Faced with various indices making the government
look bad, they tried to cook up some good news to influence public opinion.
Shortages are accentuating the recession and forcing families to spend all their income
on basic necessities. Yet Federico Sturzenegger, chair of the Central Bank, is only
reinforcing the downturn by raising interest rates and cutting money supply. With
consumption flat, investments frozen and exports stagnant, prospects for a rebound in
the second quarter are dim. Everything depends on Macri's promise that investment
dollars will now pour into a business friendly Argentina.
Without this investment, there is no way to stabilize the economic adjustment. So
Macri slashed taxes on the rich, hoping for a flood of investment that never
materialized. The immediate $25 billion in loans promised by Minister of the
Economy Prat-Gay did not materialize, nor did the expected large daily currency
surplus from exporters.
While a relentless demand for foreign currency continues, the administration could
not even sell its first batch of government bonds. And it has already had to spend half
the credit it has secured in order to sustain its exchange rate with the dollar. Private
companies are buying foreign currencies to turn a profit [essentially, they are
speculating on the price of the peso], and high-income individuals are doing the same
preserve their savings. For this reason, Argentina's foreign reserves are at the same

level or lower than the dangerous floor left by the outgoing government. This
vulnerability was front-page news, but it is now being carefully hidden.
The sort of spontaneous "confidence" that the PRO government might have hoped for
is being undermined by the very price and exchange rate merry-go-round unleashed
by its own policies. On top of this, financial stress in Europe, the slowdown in China
and recession in Brazil all make any sudden influx of foreign investment highly
unlikely into a country deep in the red.
Even the current low level of external debt will not ensure an inflow of credit. After
all, creditors carefully monitor a state's capacity to pay and Minister Prat-Gay
undermines this every day by lowering taxes and accentuating the recession.
Moreover, the government's designs to improve its fiscal position with regressive tax
policies, rate hikes, layoffs, and wage cuts have only worsened the slowdown and led
to a reduction in state revenue.
This is the context in which the government is negotiating with the so-called
vultures--the group of international investors who have demanded full payment on
defaulted government bonds left over from the 2001 crash. Some $15 billion in cash
will have to be set aside for payments, which is several times greater than the initial
value of the bonds. This negotiated release of funds is laughable and could open up
the state to demands for further payments by dissatisfied "holds outs" and "holds ins."
Diplomacy and the Press

Macri is hoping to create some breathing space in the international markets by making
a strong show of submitting to imperialism. Like all right-wing leaders, he hopes
favors can be exchanged, but he forgets that all great powers use up and then discard
their subordinates.
In Davos, Macri showed off his colonial posture for the first time, meeting with
British Prime Minister David Cameron without mentioning so much as a word about
the disputed Malvinas a.k.a. Falkland Islands. He did receive high praise from all the
assembled financial titans, but they simultaneously confirmed Argentina's total
irrelevancy in their list of priorities.
Trying another angle, Macri resumed his love affair with Israel, assuring Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that there are several good business opportunities to be
discussed in connection with the state of emergency in Argentina. And he stressed the
importance of connecting with Israel's intelligence agency, the Mossad, in order to
revive the investigation of state prosecutor Alberto Nisman's mysterious death.
Alongside ex-intelligence officer Jaime Stuiso and certain judges, Macri is promoting
the hypothesis that Iran was somehow responsible for Nisman's death and was aided
by CFK's administration in exchange for a trade deal. This story was concocted in the
United States by Republican Congressmen and the Zionist lobby in order to
undermine Obama's nuclear agreement with Tehran.

To top it all off, the resumption of intimate relations between Argentina and the
United States will be on full display with the arrival of President Obama on March 24.
The choice of that date is either an official act of stupidity or an unprecedented
display of diplomatic submission as it falls on the fortieth anniversary of the 1976
military coup. Surely the State Department claimed no other arrival date was possible,
so the Argentina Foreign Ministry approved it without question.
The sharpest provocation of all will be a scheduled visit by Obama, the representative
of the empire that supported General Jorge Rafael Videla and his bloody military
regime, to the Museum of Memory which honors the junta's hundreds of thousands of
victims. But this obsequiousness still faces resistance. In fact, Obama may face the
single largest outcry he has ever encountered abroad, and his presence will convert
this coming March 24 into a milestone of anti-imperialist mobilization.
Macri hopes to counteract all adversity by means of major media support and is taking
advantage of the same pact with the mainstream press upon which all presidents rely.
But no one has made so attacks in so little time. He dissolved the AFSCA (Federal
Authority for Information and Communications Technology), disregarding the norms
that govern this body. He ignored the principle of autonomy even with respect to the
Central Bank. He leaned heavily on DNUs (Necessity and Urgency Decrees, the
Argentine analog of Executive Orders) and has replaced the hypocrisy of dialogue
with rule by presidential decree.
Macri's administration is taking advantage of the disgust generated by state
manipulation of the media over the last decade as the reign of the market was
restored. Remember that Kirchner herself used media laws to forge sympathetic
private-government media groups, which operated in the same vein as outlets like
Clarn and La Nacin that opposed her. And bosses on both sides of this media divide
use similar methods to shutter news departments and lay off workers.
This sense of frustration with government interference is being used to revive all the
old myths about freedom of the press. Right-wing intellectuals hide the fact that
capitalism silences critical voices. They never mention the persecution of Julian
Assange, Chelsea Manning, or Edward Snowden. At best, they discuss the role of the
journalist, ignoring the question of who owns the media.
But Marcri's attempt to transform the media into a simple transmission belt for
conservative ideology and official information faces limits. There is a greater
awareness among the population about this threat and, at some point, the honeymoon
with the hegemonic press will end.
Menem and Alfonsn

Macri and Menem share numerous similarities. Remember Peronist President Menem
too embarked on a campaign of full-scale privatization in the 1990s with the
expectations that the free market would unleash Argentina's economic engine.

Like Menem before him, Macri, the leader of the conservative PRO, parrots the same
idolatry of the market, imagines comparable investments, disguises economic looting
with praise of corporate risk takers, and extols the sanctity of the external debt, which
simply serves to impoverish the country. He is also reestablishing a pro-imperial
foreign policy and military relations with the U.S. without taking into account the
consequences. And he is promoting free-trade agreements with the European Union
and the Pacific Alliance, repeating the opening to imports that began in the 1990s.
Macri is trying to calm society by trotting out union bureaucrats who themselves
participated in dismantling the state, even as he demonizes public employees. But he
forgets that the public sector is not large by international standards and it is made up
in its majority by police, teachers, and nurses, positions that will be hard to cut any
further. He talks just like Menem's Minister of the Economy Domingo Cavallo did in
the 1990s, when he wanted to ignore teachers' salaries, relegating them to the
provinces.
But the context is very different this time. Menem governed at the high tide of
neoliberalism and was aided by the recent memory of hyperinflation in the 1980s. He
took advantage of hopes placed in his huge wave of privatizations and the
disappointment with the first years of constitutional rule after the fall of the
dictatorship in 1983.
Macri enjoys no equivalent foundation. He is setting sail in the midst of a regional
turn to the right, but lacks any social base to sustain a new round of austerity; and he
must operate without the benefit of the formidable Peronist apparatus that backed
Menem. Worse, people still remember how Menem's massive privatization campaign
ended in the 1990s--with the crash of 2001.
Until now, Macri has not dared to embark on Thatcherite-type confrontations--unlike
Menem in the 1990s, whose neoliberalized Justicialist Party pushed unemployment up
to 18 percent while demolishing local industries and opening the country to imports.
Macri is acting with greater caution, but if he stumbles, he may resort to riskier cards
played by his predecessors.
If Menem took office over the ashes of Ral Alfonsn's centrist administration, then
Macri has a harder act to follow: the enigmatic Kirchners. Cristina left power (she
was termed out of office, but could run again in 2019) with a huge show of force,
leaving a network of supportive activists who filled plazas and organized marches.
However, as it has turned out, hopes are fading for a powerful Kircherist opposition
mounting resistance to Macri in Congress, the provincial governments, or the federal
state apparatus. CFK herself remains silent, while mass support for Peronism
continues to undermine the chances of building a progressive force independent of the
mainstream parties. There should be no doubt that the Peronist party is a pillar of the
conservative status quo.
Paradoxically, Kirchnerism shares a certain affinity with Alfonsn's trajectory. After
all, Alfonsn ruled alongside similar democratizing Latin American administrations,
he upheld comparable democratic gains in the wake of the military dictatorships

giving way to civilian elections, and he provoked tense internal disputes within the
traditional leadership of his party.
So when thinking about Kirchnerism, it is useful to remember how Alfonn's
particular sort of centrist movement was buffeted between two polls, nominally united
against the Peronsists. First, it was absorbed by the nominally social-democratic
Alliance for Work, Justice and Education, and then it was gobbled up by Cambiemos,
the core of Macri's conservative apparatus. If Kirchnerism follows that same path it
will be swallowed by the mainstream of the Peronist apparatus and politics.
Moreover, there are commonalities between the progressive intelligentsia who
sustained both of these political trends. Both the Socialist Club and the Open Letter
initiative included thinkers from the left, who each time--in the case of the former,
with Alfonsn and in the case of the latter, the Kirchners--visualized themselves as the
most advanced sector within each project.
The Socialist Club provided ideological justifications for Alfonsn's policies, based on
a supposedly Gramscian-social-democratic transition out of military dictatorship,
while the Open Letter intellectuals defended the Kirchners as a component of Latin
America's populist renewal, the so-called Pink Tide.
But the Socialist Club maintained its association with Alfonsn even after he
supported the 1987 Following Orders Act (Obediencia Debida in Spanish), which
declared that any crime committed by military personnel ranking lower than a colonel
could not be prosecuted. They considered themselves independent from the structures
of Alfonsn's UCR [Unin Cvica Radical--Argentina's oldest party, based in a centrist
social democratic tradition, and forming a core component of the his governing
Alliance], but operated in its orbit and ended up being finally dissolved into and
fragmented by it.
The Open Letter initiative was formed by left-leaning intellectuals and civil society
figures in support of CFK's government in 2008 when sectors of agribusiness
launched mass resistance against her plan to impose a new tax on cash crop exports.
Today, the Open Letter, despite its pretension of independence, follows the
vicissitudes of Kirchnerism. After quietly backing Daniel Scioli's failed campaign for
president last year, CFK's hand-chosen successor, they have issued no critical
assessment or explanation of the electoral defeat.
Nor did they object to reactionary measures carried out by the Kirchners that
facilitated the rise of right-wing demagoguery in the first place. And they haven't even
considered attempting to repeat the kind of left-wing challenges to Pern himself that
arose with the Justicialist Party in the 1970s. In other words, they have learned
nothing at all from the path taken by the Socialist Club.
Yet rarely has the Argentine political scene been so open to unpredictable directions.
The social battle against new austerity measures will condition all political
alternatives in the context of a debate over what has taken place during the last decade
of Kirchner rule.

A Note on Peronist History and Nomenclature

In 1945, Juan Pern founded Partido Justicialista, or the Justicialist Party. The terms
Peronist and Justicialist are used in a broad sense to refer to the party, its ideology and
its followers. In opposition to certain left-wing currents that grew in the 1970s, the
main apparatus of the party and its trade union leadership came to be known as
oficialistas, literally "officialists."
In contradistinction to Carlos Menem's disastrous neoliberal oficialista presidency
between 1989 and 1999, and in the wake of the 2001 economic meltdown, the
Kirchners advocated a left-leaning populist program that caused a rift within
justicialismo, giving rise to what is now known as kirchnerismo and is understood as a
left-populist ideology, movement and section of the party apparatus.
Translated by Todd Chretien

From Lenin to Chvez - socialist leadership since


1917

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Fidel Castro
By Brian Williams
The analysis of Marxism concludes that the interests of humanity as a whole coincide
with those of the working class i.e. the advance of the working class takes forward
the general interests of humanity, including all of its oppressed layers, while setbacks
for the working class roll back the interests of humanity. This therefore determines the
attitude to all political forces. Those who take forward the interests of the working
class take humanity forward, those who set back the working class set back the
general interests of humanity including its oppressed layers. Nothing more clearly
illustrates this reality than the history of the 20th century, above all the victory and
then defeat of the Russian revolution, and the events following this in the 21st
century.

The impact of the Russian Revolution

In the immediate aftermath of the October 1917 revolution in Russia there was no
doubt who led the international working class movement. The Bolshevik Party
established working class power on one sixth of the worlds surface. So great was the
power of this revolution that it largely determined the history of the 20th century and
beyond. Although the attempts to repeat such a revolution in Western Europe were
defeated, it stimulated a series of struggles in colonial and semi-colonial countries
initially in China, India and Indochina which culminated in the destruction of the
colonial empires created during the preceding four centuries.
After 1945, fear that the Russian Revolution would spread forced the West European
capitalist classes to create welfare states, making large scale social concessions to the
working class. The impact of this revolution, most directly via its impact in the
colonial countries, helped propel the civil rights movement in the US, as well as major
advances of women and other progressive movements in the imperialist countries.
The final overturn of the Russian Revolution in 1991, and the successful restoration of
capitalism, similarly unleashed a wave of reaction which includes the inauguration
of a more or less continuous series of imperialist wars (two Iraq wars, intervention in
Yugoslavia, military attack on Libya, intervention in Syria, attack on Mali and others)
which continue to the present day; deepening attempts to overturn the welfare states
in Western Europe; the increasing resurgence of overt racism in Europe, and attacks
on women and other reactionary trends.
The Russian Revolution, more clearly than almost any other event in human history,
confirmed that the progress or regression of humanity depends on the advance or
defeat of the working class, not on bourgeois democracy.
Alongside these immense objective achievements, the Bolshevik Party, particularly in
the concepts of its acknowledged leader Lenin, made a series of contributions to
Marxism that shape it to this day. The theories of imperialism, of the fundamental
distinction between oppressor and oppressed nations, of the united front, of utilising
tactics of participation in legislative and executive elections while understanding state
power cannot be taken through these means, of the understanding of social democracy
as working class in composition but bourgeois in terms of the class interests it
defends, of the necessity of a disciplined working class party, plus numerous other
contributions, took forward socialisms theory permanently. All significant
development of Marxism after this did not overturn but built on those gigantic
achievements. No political force which did not accept their fundamental approaches
has ever established socialist working class power. For both objective and subjective
reasons the Russian Revolution was therefore a defining fact of the 20th century.
However soon after illness ended Lenins active political career in 1923, and under
the pressure of the encirclement, isolation and bureaucratisation of the USSR, the
Bolshevik Party by then the Soviet Communist Party and the Third Communist
International which it led, began to make a series of fundamental political mistakes.
By 1926 in China it was unprepared for the turn of the bourgeois nationalist
Kuomintang against the Communist Party and the subsequent massacre of
communists that it carried out. In the period leading to 1933 the Communist
Internationals policies of the third period, the refusal to form a united front with the
German Social Democrats against fascism, permitted Hitler to come to power in

Germany without serious resistance the key event which allowed the unleashing of
World War II and the military attack on the USSR itself.
From these policies, and the failure of the Communist International to oppose them, in
1933 Trotsky the second most prominent leader of the 1917 revolution after Lenin,
and with whom Lenin had proposed a bloc to remove Stalin from the leadership of the
Soviet Communist Party formed the conclusion that both the Bolshevik Party and
the Communist International were dead as a revolutionary force. His conclusion was
therefore to call for the construction of a new Fourth International.

Trotskys analysis
It is crucial to accurately understand Trotskys analysis in 1933. Any presentation of
Trotsky as fundamentally an anti-Stalinist fighter is entirely false. Trotsky to the end
of his life saw the fundamental enemy as capitalism. Trotskys criticism of Stalinism
was not that it was undemocratic but that it did not have a line for the destruction of
capitalism. Consistent with this anti-capitalist framework Trotsky was unequivocal
that the removal of the Stalinist leadership of the USSR was subordinate to
maintaining state property in the USSR. As Trotsky wrote at the end of this life: We
must not lose sight for a single moment of the fact that the question of overthrowing
the Soviet bureaucracy is for us subordinate to the question of preserving state
property in the means of production in the USSR. (In Defence of Marxism p26)
This position determined Trotskys practical attitude to other forces. At all times
Trotsky refused to form an alliance against Stalin with the Right Opposition led by
Bukharin in the USSR as he analysed the latter as representing the interests of
capitalism an approach for which he was naturally condemned by those who
considered that the fundamental issue was to defend democracy against Stalin.
As Trotsky put it in 1931 in The Bloc of the Left and the Right: The Rights have
suddenly come to need democracy in order to have the possibility to conduct a
consistently opportunist policy a consistently Right wing policy, no matter what the
intentions of Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky may be, is the policy of Thermidor. Where
is the ground here for a bloc, or even the shadow of a bloc?
In contrast to rejecting an alliance with the Right, that is the pro-capitalist opposition,
Trotsky was prepared to enter into an alliance with the Soviet bureaucracy both to
defend the USSR itself and to defend the social bases created by the October
Revolution. As Trotsky wrote in 1938 in the Transitional Programme of the Fourth
International: If tomorrow the bourgeois-fascist grouping, the faction of Butenko
[a supporter of Stalin diplomat who went over to fascism], so to speak, should attempt
the conquest of power, the faction of Reiss [a supporter of Stalin in the Soviet
security service who came to support Trotsky] inevitably would align itself on the
opposite side of the barricades. Although it would find itself temporarily the ally of
Stalin, it would nevertheless defend not the Bonapartist clique but the social base of
the USSR, i.e., the property wrenched away from the capitalists and transformed into
state property. Should the faction of Butenko prove to be in alliance with Hitler,
then the faction of Reiss would defend the USSR from military intervention, inside
the country as well as on the world arena. Any other course would be a betrayal it is
thus impermissible to deny in advance the possibility, in strictly defined instances, of

a united front with the Thermidorian section of the bureaucracy against open attack
by capitalist counterrevolution.
Trotskys fundamental opposition to the Soviet bureaucracy was therefore clearly not
that it was anti-democratic but that it represented the pressure of capitalism in the
USSR. The objective role of this bureaucracy would finally be to restore capitalism.
Trotsky opposed the Soviet bureaucracy as it represented, in the final analysis, the
interests of capitalism within the USSR.
Trotsky also concluded in 1933 that parties following the line of this Soviet
bureaucracy could not wage a struggle against capitalism internationally this was
the rational of the call for new Fourth International in July 1933. As he wrote in To
Build Communist Parties and an International Anew, in that month: An organisation
which was not roused by the thunder of fascism and which submits docilely to such
outrageous acts of the bureaucracy demonstrates thereby that it is dead and that
nothing can ever revive it... In all our subsequent work it is necessary to take as our
point of departure the historical collapse of the official Communist International. This
remained Trotskys course until his assassination in August 1940. His condemnation
of the role of the leadership of the USSR was, as he put it in The Transitional
Programme of the Fourth International, because of the definite passing over of the
Comintern to the side of the bourgeois order.
Within the USSR itself, Trotskys analysis was proved correct if in a significantly
longer timescale than the one he had envisaged. In 1991 the leadership of the USSR,
under Gorbachev, achieved what Trotsky had seen as their trajectory to create the
conditions for the restoration of capitalism in the USSR.

China and Mao Zedong


What Trotsky never knew, indeed possibly no-one or at best a handful outside China
knew, was that in January 1935, only 18 months after Trotsky called for a new
international, Mao Zedong and his supporters at the Zunyi Conference of the
Communist Party (CCP), defeated the representatives of Stalin, including the direct
representative of the Communist International Otto Braun and party leader Bo Gu, to
take control of the Chinese CCP. Prior to 1935 Mao Zedong exercised intermittent
leadership and control of the CCP. From the Zunyi Conference until his death in 1976
Mao Zedong and his supporters led and determined the line of the CCP. Furthermore
they utilised this control of the CCP to wage a revolutionary struggle for power in the
most populous country in the world.
Mao Zedongs policies involved at times very close cooperation with the leadership of
the USSR. But never again did the Soviet bureaucracy control the CCP. When Mao
Zedongs policies and those of the Soviet leadership were in contradiction, as after
1945 when Stalin urged the CCP not to fight a war to the finish with Chiang Kai-shek
and the Kuomintang, it was Mao Zedongs line which was carried out. This was a
variant Trotsky had not foreseen in 1933: a Communist Party, in this case one of the
worlds largest Communist Parties, had broken with the control of the Soviet
bureaucracy.

Furthermore Mao Zedong, in first his periodic, and then after 1935 uninterrupted,
leadership of the CCP introduced a series of analyses, tactics and strategies which,
while they built on those of the Communist International nevertheless developed new
concepts on their bases. The idea that working class revolution could combine both a
proletarian struggle for power and the tasks of a bourgeois democratic revolution
(destruction of feudal landlordism, establishment of national unity, freeing of an
oppressed country from imperialism etc) was not new. In theoretical outline Marx and
Engels had already introduced it, and it was the central concept guiding both Lenin
and Trotsky in 1917. This concept had previously been that the working class would
be the main social motor force of this struggle, breaking the power of the bourgeoisie
and feudal ruling class in the cities, and that this decisive struggle would be supported
by the struggle of the peasantry. This struggle of the peasants to destroy feudalism and
its residues, and imperialist domination of the country, having as a decisive social
goal the destruction of landlordism and foreign control of the country, was objectively
bourgeois democratic in content. That is, in this strategy, the socialist revolution of the
working class in the cities, the leading social force of the combined socialist and
bourgeois revolutions, would be supported by the bourgeois democratic revolution of
the peasantry in the countryside.
Mao Zedong introduced a strategy not conceived by any previous revolutionary leader
and which recombined these elements of socialist and bourgeois revolution in a new
configuration. Mao Zedongs line was that the main social force of the revolution
would be the anti-feudal/anti-imperialist revolution of the peasantry which would be
led by a working class political force, the Communist Party which would destroy the
political power of both feudalism and the bourgeoisie. This in turn would allow these
bourgeois democratic tasks to be integrated with a socialist revolution that would not
only politically but economically overthrow the bourgeoisie. The strategy and tactics
that flowed from these concepts the countryside will surround the cities,
prolonged peoples war, the concept of the principal contradiction were
triumphant leading the CCP to power and overthrowing capitalism in the most
populous country in the world. The achievements that followed from this were among
the greatest in history the expulsion of foreign imperialism from China, the
destruction of landlordism, the prolongation of life expectancy by 20 years, the
establishment of universal literacy, eventually the most rapid economic growth ever
experienced by a major country in human history, the most rapid growth of
consumption in any major economy, and the lifting of 620 million people out of
absolute poverty, more than the entire population of the European Union or the Latin
American continent. So enormous were these achievements in creating the Peoples
Republic of China that right to the present, despite the later mistakes of Mao Zedong
the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution the overwhelming majority
of the left wing forces of the Chinese working class, now the largest and most
powerful in the world, define themselves as Maoist.
On the decisive issues which led to the victory of the Chinese revolution in 1949 Mao
Zedong was correct not only compared to the line of Stalin but also that of Trotsky.
Stalin had urged compromise with the Kuomintang, Trotsky had urged the CCP to
abandon its strategy based on the countryside and return to the cities both policies
rejected by Mao Zedong and his supporters. Mao Zedong enjoys to this day his
unique authority among the advanced political forces in Chinas working class for

achieving both the national liberation of China and a socialist revolution, because his
line was correct against all alternatives.
The result was an event which, together with November 1917, was the most important
in the history of the 20th century. In 1949, after emerging victorious from decades of
military conflict, culminating in full scale civil war with the Kuomintang, the CCP
came to power in the most populous country in the world and after one of the greatest
revolutions in human history. This was a variant Trotsky had not foreseen in 1933: a
Communist Party broke from the control and line of the Soviet leadership and
successfully oriented not just theoretically but in practice to the overthrow of
capitalism.

Yugoslavia
If in 1935 the CCP had broken with the organisational control of the Soviet
leadership, in 1941-45 a similar process unfolded with the Yugoslav Communist Party
(CPY). After the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Nazis in April 1941 an enormous
popular revolution unfolded in that country culminating in the creation of a partisan
army which at its peak numbered 800,000, or five percent of the entire population
equivalent to an army of over 3 million in contemporary Britain, 16 million in the
contemporary US, or 69 million in contemporary China. At least one million people
were killed in the war against the Nazis one in 15 of the population, equivalent to 4
million people in the contemporary UK, 20 million in the current US or 87 million
people in present day China.
A nucleus of this revolution was formed, under the instruction of CPY leader Tito, of
Proletarian Brigades established in direct opposition to the urging of the Soviet
leadership under Stalin. Apart from some secondary help by the Soviet army in the
final stages of the war Yugoslavia was liberated by Partisan forces led by the CPY.
This military and administrative control by the CPY meant that Stalins
excommunication of the CPY from the Cominform, and attempts to assassinate Tito
from 1948 onwards, failed entirely. The CPY after 1945 initially followed a more left
wing line than the Soviet bureaucracy, supporting the Greek Communist Party in the
civil war in Greece and shooting down US planes overflying Yugoslavia territory.
From the 1950s onwards the leadership of the CPY turned to the right, balancing
between the USSR and imperialism, but this does not alter the reality that in the
period after 1941 it led a mass popular revolution.

Vietnam
In September 1945 Ho Chi Minh, leader of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP),
proclaimed the independence of Vietnam. In December 1946, following unsuccessful
attempts to reach an agreement, Ho Chi Minh formally declared war against the
colonial power France. In collaboration with both the USSR and China, by 1954 the
VCP had militarily defeated the French, culminating in battle of Dien Bien Phu, and
secured the independence of North Vietnam.
After the US, the now dominant imperialist influence, refused to hold the promised
presidential election in Vietnam in 1956, struggle renewed in South Vietnam. In 1965,
after years of US support to the South Vietnamese government, US combat troops

began massive intervention in South Vietnam. This met resistance not only by the
National Liberation Front in South Vietnam but from the VCP leadership. In 1968 the
Tet Offensive destroyed the illusion the US could win the war. By 1975 the VCP
liberated South Vietnam, defeating the greatest imperialist power in the world.
The VCP did not find itself involved in overt struggle against the line of the Soviet
leadership. But it led one of the greatest class struggles and revolutionary wars in
history losses from US actions in Vietnam resulted in three million dead. As Che
Guevara wrote in April 1967:
In Vietnam fighting has been carried on almost uninterruptedly by the patriotic forces
of that country against three imperialist powers: Japan, whose power collapsed with
the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; France, which recovered its Indochinese
colonies from that defeated power, disregarding the promises made in time of duress;
and the United States, in the latest phase of the conflict
And what grandeur has been shown by this people! What stoicism and valor in this
people! And what a lesson for the world their struggle holds!
Any idea that this struggle, one of the greatest in world history, was carried out
against the line of the VCP is ridiculous it was led by the VCP. Instead of acting as a
bulwark of capitalism, the VCP defeated the greatest imperialist power in the world
and overthrew capitalism in Vietnam.

Cuba
The crucial leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, prior to the victory of that
revolution in 1959, did not proclaim himself a Marxist or Communist. Certainly key
leaders of the Cuban revolution, Raul Castro and Che Guevara, were Marxists and
probably c/Communists that is, with or without a capital c. But the Cuban
Revolution itself for most of its duration bypassed the leadership of the Cuban
Communist Party which joined it only its later stages.
However after the taking of power in 1959 Fidel Castro oriented the 26th of July
Movement, which led the Cuban Revolution, towards a merger with the Popular
Socialist Party the official name of the Cuban Communist Party. The Integrated
Revolutionary Organisations (ORI) in 1962 became the United Party of the Cuban
Socialist Revolution and then in 1965 the Cuban Communist Party. In short, Castros
movement integrated with the currents which came originally from the Third
International.
The Castro leadership of the Cuban Communist Party in turn carried out outstanding
acts of proletarian internationalism. It sent tens of thousands of troops to defeat the
military forces of the South African racist regime a critical moment in the defeat of
apartheid. It helped inspire, and formed the closest possible links, with the FSLN after
Nicaraguas revolution of 1979. It was the most important ally of Chvez in
Venezuela.

Venezuela

After 1917 for almost eighty years each successful revolution had followed in its
broad outline the path inaugurated by Mao Zedong and followed by Tito, Ho Chi
Minh, and Fidel Castro an essentially rural based revolutionary movement, led by a
socialist force, which conquered the cities in the last part of its struggle for power.
These forces led a combined bourgeois and socialist revolution but with the rural
petty bourgeoisie and rural working class as its main social driving force. This in turn
determined the forms of organisation of these revolutions. These struggles were
decisively military, necessarily requiring centralised military discipline, and without,
until the last stage, the mass urban working class participation which typically
acquires more democratic forms than those necessary to bind together more atomised
rural forces.
However in 1998 something unseen for 80 years occurred. In Venezuela, one of the
colonial worlds most urbanised countries, a leadership which pursued a course
oriented towards revolution came to power after a prolonged period of urban struggle.
In the 1960s and early 1970s Venezuela had also seen significant rural-based guerrilla
movements, including the Armed Forces of National Liberation and the Revolutionary
Left Movement. These had, however, ended their armed struggles after 1973. It was
the massive urban based Caracazo rebellion in 1989, met by large scale massacres by
the army, which was the decisive event leading to an attempted progressive coup led
by Hugo Chvez in 1992. After being pardoned in 1994 Chvez won the presidential
election of 1998.
Chvezs victory, as an electoral one, continued to confront a bourgeois state
apparatus. This led to the decisive confrontation in 2002 with a bourgeois military
coup against Chvez. Although it did not involve direct fighting, due to the enormous
scale of the popular mobilisation, what followed was in essence an urban insurrection
restoring Chvez to power and leading to the purging of the military. The victory of
the Chavistas was consolidated by defeat of the reactionary pro-capitalist strike by
Venezuelas oil company management in the winter of 2002-2003, which for the first
time consolidated the Chavistas control of the countrys decisive economic asset, and
then the defeat of a presidential recall referendum in 2004. Central political state
power in Venezuela passed into the hands of the working class although capitalist
forces continued to control local administrations, sections of the police etc. Capitalist
forces controlled powerful, indeed for a prolonged period dominant, sections of the
media.
The urban character of this struggle in Venezuela determined its different
organisational forms to those in China, Yugoslavia, Vietnam or Cuba. Its
organisational forms were significantly more democratic than those issuing from rural
based struggle. Chvez showed a repeated ability to win elections. But the key
international alliance of Chvez was clear. It was with the Cuban Communist Party.

The end of the Fourth International


Trotskys policy on the critical issue of the Chinese Revolution had been incorrect and
Mao Zedongs right. The leading of revolutions by Communist Parties in China,
Yugoslavia, and Vietnam, together with the emergence of the USSR victorious in
World War II, necessarily led to the Fourth International being a tiny minority force.
Only in a few places where the leaderships of the Communist Parties followed a

determinedly wrong course when confronted with mass struggles did Trotskyism
emerge as a mass force for example in Sri Lanka large scale workers struggles
against the British colonial power, which were opposed by pro-Moscow forces, led to
the Trotskyist Lanka Sama Samaja Party becoming a mass party. Trotskyism acquired
a significant following in one of two few Latin American countries for the same
reason. But overall Trotskys Fourth International acquired no mass following.
Nevertheless for five decades after the Fourth Internationals founding it remained on
the right side of the class divide. It played a creditable role in solidarity with the
colonial revolution particularly its international organisation of solidarity with the
Vietnamese and Algerian revolutions.
But this organisation subsequently degenerated. Confronted with the rise of
Gorbachev in the USSR the Fourth International discovered, and wrote in its
publications of a (classless) democratic revolution in Eastern Europe and the USSR
talk of democracy with no class content is an invariable sign of a revolutionary
organisation has lost its bearings. Yeltsin, the leader of the capitalist counterrevolution in the USSR, was identified as the most progressive force and those in the
ambit of the Fourth International dedicated books to the leader of the capitalist
counter-revolution. Trotsky had written: We must not lose sight for a single moment
of the fact that the question of overthrowing the Soviet bureaucracy is for us
subordinate to the question of preserving state property in the means of production in
the USSR. But for the Fourth International preservation of the state property in the
means of production in the USSR had become subordinate to the overthrow of the
Soviet bureaucracy.
Trotsky himself, despite being wrong on key issues, had always remained within the
framework of the defence of the working class. But the Fourth International broke
even with Trotskys ideas and placed itself outside of this framework. The Fourth
International as founded by Trotsky as a revolutionary force ceased to exist.

On what was Trotsky right and on what was he wrong?


What, therefore, is the balance sheet of the events after 1917 and of Trotskys decision
in 1933 to call for a new International due to: The definite passing over of the
Comintern to the side of the bourgeois order?
As regards the leadership of the USSR itself, as already seen, Trotsky was proved
correct in the last analysis. The Soviet bureaucracy did not represent any form of
stable social formation in historical terms unlike alternative analyses to Trotskys.
The Soviet bureaucracy restored capitalism. This took longer than Trotsky expected,
and it did not prevent the USSR emerging victorious from World War II. It took until
1991 for the Soviet bureaucracy to restore capitalism in the USSR, but that was its
final destination. Trotskys analysis of the fundamental dynamic of the Soviet
bureaucracy was therefore proved correct. Furthermore, internationally no party led
by, or under the control of, the Soviet bureaucracy took power in any country the
states in the rest of Eastern Europe outside Yugoslavia were created by the Soviet
army, not by popular revolution.

But as regards the whole of the Communist International Trotsky was proved wrong.
A small but decisive number of Communist Parties in China, Yugoslavia, and
Vietnam broke from the control of Moscow and oriented towards the conquest of
power and the destruction of capitalism. Any idea that these parties were forced to
take power, or were bad leaderships is nonsense. The revolutions in China,
Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Cuba and today Venezuela were with Russia the greatest and
most important revolutions of the 20th and 21st centuries. Tens of millions of people,
and millions of members of the parties involved in these struggles, died in them. The
political forces which led these struggles are matched only by the Bolshevik Party in
their capacity for revolutionary leadership. Some of these leaderships, as in China,
introduced major theoretical innovations in Marxism. Others, such as Fidel Castro and
the leadership of the Cuban Communist Party, undertook some of the most important
internationalist actions in history, and made the most balanced assessment of the
global relation of forces.
The leadership of the socialist revolutionary struggle after 1933 therefore did not pass
through the leadership of the USSR, but neither, for both objective and subjective
reasons, did it run through Trotskys Fourth International. It ran in a line through the
Chinese Communist Party, the World War II period of struggle of the Yugoslav
Communist Party, the Vietnamese Communist party, that is through the left wing of
the Communist International, through the Castro leadership of Cuba, and via Hugo
Chvez. Chvez led the most advanced urban-based struggle seen since 1917.
That is the objective balance sheet of the continuity of socialist struggle after 1917. It
is therefore the reality on which the struggle for the progressive interests of humanity
must also base itself.

Lenin on the dynamics of the struggle against


imperialism

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Photo: 3arabawy
By Alan Davies
Lenin emphasised that it is a fundamental error to conceive of the class struggle as
between the working class of one country and the capitalist class of that country of
the British working class against British capitalism, of the French working class
against the French capitalists, etc. Instead, Lenin noted: The socialist revolution will
not be solely or chiefly, a struggle of the revolutionary proletarians in each country

against their own bourgeoisie no, it will be a struggle of all the imperialistoppressed colonies and countries, of all dependent countries, against international
imperialism (Lenin V. I., 22 November 1919). Lenins point continually needs
understanding and emphasising, particularly in imperialist countries.1
The huge present events in the Arab world, in Latin America and in other regions
dominated by imperialism, also illustrates again another fundamental understanding
of Lenins that the outcome of the world struggle for socialism would be determined
by the struggle of those in the countries dominated by imperialism, i.e. of the colonial
revolution. In the last article Lenin was ever able to finish, Better Fewer, But Better,
completed on 2 March 1923 and written after his first stroke and only seven days
before the second attack which ended his political life, Lenin noted emphatically: a
number of countries of the East, India, China, etc., have been completed jolted out of
the rut... it is now clear to the whole world that they have been drawn into a process of
development that must lead to a crisis in the whole of world capitalism... precisely as
a result of the first imperialist war, the East has been definitely drawn into the
revolutionary movement, has been definitely drawn into the general maelstrom of the
world revolutionary movement... In the last analysis, the outcome of the struggle will
be determined by the fact that Russia, India, China, etc., account for the
overwhelming majority of the population of the globe (Lenin V. I., 2 March 1923, p.
499)
To give a small part of Lenins more detailed thinking on this issue we reproduce
below two fundamental documents on the struggle against imperialism. One is the
historically crucial Theses on the National and Colonial Question adopted by the
Second Congress of the Communist International on 28 July 1920. In contrast to the
previous reformist politics of the social democratic parties, this laid down a line for
the Communist Parties of uncompromising struggle against imperialism and outlined
a number of tasks within that. The second document is Lenins report to the Congress
on adopting the Theses.
There is a further reason for reproducing Lenins report. He was a person who aimed
at great precision. Therefore to see him sharpening up his own words is to have a
highly clarifying experience. Lenin had written an original Preliminary Draft Theses
on the National and Colonial Questions, which was published prior to the Congress,
but, as he explains, in light of the discussion he adopted a number of amendments.
Some of these were minor or merely clarified points. Two, however, were important.
In order to understand the passages Lenin refers to in his speech below, it is worth
outlining the changes he made to his own original draft.
Lenins amendments
Given the crucial importance Lenin gave to the struggle against imperialism, he
personally prepared the Theses on the National and Colonial Question for the
Communist International and reported on them to the Communist Internationals
Second Congress. Lenin published the Preliminary Draft Theses on the National and
Colonial Questions on 5 June 1920 and invited comment (Lenin V. I., 5 June 1920).
Lenins actual verbal report, which included motivating amendments to his original
draft, was given at the Second Congress of the Communist International on 26 July
1920 slightly over seven weeks later.

In this report, Lenin proposed no changes in the fundamental framework of the


analysis of the relation between the imperialist powers and the states oppressed by
imperialism. As he stated: what is the cardinal idea underlying our theses? It is the
distinction between oppressed and oppressor nations. Unlike the Second International
and bourgeois democracy, we emphasise this distinction. In this age of imperialism, it
is particularly important for the proletariat and the Communist International to
establish the concrete economic facts and to proceed from concrete realities, not from
abstract postulates, in all colonial and national problems.
The characteristic feature of imperialism consists in the whole world, as we now see,
being divided into a large number of oppressed nations and an insignificant number of
oppressor nations, the latter possessing colossal wealth and powerful armed forces...
This idea of distinction, of dividing the nations into oppressor and oppressed, runs
through the theses.
All amendments were within this framework, and there were no significant changes to
these paragraphs between the first and final drafts.
Regarding amendments that Lenin supported to his own draft, most were either minor,
for example to give more examples of reactionary ideologies to be struggled against,
or clarified points without altering their sense. Two points, however, were substantial.
The first was that in the original draft, in Theses 6 and 11, Lenin had referred to the
need to form alliances in the struggle against imperialism with the bourgeoisdemocratic liberation movement in countries dominated by imperialism. In the final
version this was changed to read the need to form alliances with the revolutionary
liberation movement. Lenin gives his reason for making this change in his report
below.
Therefore, textually, the original draft of the 6th thesis read: Consequently, one
cannot at present confine oneself to a bare recognition or proclamation of the need for
closer union between the working people of the various nations; a policy must be
pursued that will achieve the closest alliance, with Soviet Russia, of all the national
and colonial liberation movements. The form of this alliance should be determined by
the degree of development of the communist movement in the proletariat of each
country, or of the bourgeois-democratic liberation movement of the workers and
peasants in backward countries or among backward nationalities. As amended the
final sentence read: The forms of this alliance will be determined by the stage of
development of the communist movement among the proletariat of every country, or
of the revolutionary liberation movement in the backward countries.2
A parallel amendment was made in Thesis 11. The original draft by Lenin read: all
Communist parties must assist the bourgeois-democratic liberation movement in these
countries. (Lenin V. I., 5 June 1920, p. 149) This was replaced by All communist
parties must support by action the revolutionary liberation movement in these
countries. (Degras, 1919-1922, p. 143)
The second amendment was that Lenin clarified it was not necessary for colonial
countries to pass through a capitalist stage of revolution that is, countries dominated
by imperialism could achieve not only a bourgeois but a socialist revolution. Lenin,

therefore, outlined the possibilities which actually later unfolded in China, Vietnam
and Cuba.
It is also significant to point out, however, that Lenin outlined that in a country
dominated by imperialism achieving a socialist revolution was possible, but not that
this was the only possibility. It was also possible to have movements which would
represent progress against imperialism but would not involve passing to a socialist
revolution. Again, to take later events, the wave of decolonialisation following World
War Two, including in such cases as Algeria decolonialisation by revolutionary war,
but also without directly revolutionary struggles, as in India or in countries in Africa,
was also possible. Lenin, again, outlines his reason for the amendments in his speech
below. The result of the different outcomes, from the point of view of achieving the
tasks of decolonialisation and progress of the country, is beyond the scope of this
article.
The way Lenins change on this point was reflected in the document was to emphasise
further, compared to the original draft, the reactionary role of the colonial ruling
classes even in countries that were formally politically independent from imperialism.
The original draft by Lenin had called for: the need constantly to explain and expose
among the broadest masses of all countries, and particularly of the backward
countries, the deception practiced by the imperialist powers, which, under the guise of
politically independent states, set up states that are wholly dependent on them
economically, financially and militarily. (Lenin V. I., 5 June 1920, p. 150) The phrase
with the help of privileged classes was inserted so that after amendment it read: It is
necessary continually to lay bare and to explain among the broadest masses of all, but
in particular of the backward, countries the deception committed by the imperialist
powers with the help of the privileged classes in the oppressed countries when, under
the mask of politically independent states, they bring into being state structures that
are economically, financially and militarily completely dependent on them.3
Simultaneously, in the final Thesis 12, a sentence in the original which emphasised
limits on the struggle in colonial countries was dropped. Lenin had originally included
a sentence which read: On the other hand, the more backward the country, the
stronger is the hold of small-scale agricultural production, patriarchalism and
isolation, which inevitably lend particular strength and tenacity to the deepest of
petty-bourgeois prejudices, i.e. to national egoism and national narrow-mindedness.
(Lenin V. I., 5 June 1920, p. 150) This passage was deleted entirely in the final draft.
The revolutionary potential of the peasantry was strongly emphasised by adding as a
task: if possible to organise the peasants and all the victims of exploitation in
soviets. The original Preliminary Draft Theses by Lenin had argued for: the need,
in backward countries, to give special support to the peasant movement against the
landowners, against landed proprietorship, and against all manifestations or survivals
of feudalism, and to strive to lend the peasant movement the most revolutionary
character by establishing the closest possible alliance between the West-European
communist proletariat and the revolutionary peasant movement in the East. (Lenin V.
I., 5 June 1920, p. 149) This became in the final version: Support for the peasant
movement in the backward countries against the landowners and every form and
remnant of feudalism is particularly necessary. What must be striven for above all is
to give the peasant movement as revolutionary a character as possible and wherever

possible to organise the peasants and all victims of exploitation in soviets and thus
bring about as close a link as possible between the Western European communist
proletariat and the revolutionary movement of peasants in the East.
This concept of the possibility to organise the peasantry into soviets, or more
generally to develop the organisation of the revolutionary struggle based among the
peasants, was of course later taken up and hugely developed, in a different form, by
Mao Zedong in China, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, and Fidel Castro in Cuba.
The changes to the original draft theses in order to stress the reactionary role of the
ruling class in semi-colonial countries, the possibility of organising peasant soviets,
and that it was possible to achieve socialist revolution in the countries dominated by
imperialism without passing through a stage of bourgeois democratic revolution, of
course gave a more radical edge to the entire theses.
Naturally, the fact that they were written ninety years ago affects some of the
vocabulary of these documents no one in the Marxist movement today could
legitimately use the term backward country for example. But because of the total
break with the accommodation with imperialism carried out by the social democratic
parties, because of the determining role played by the colonial revolution after Lenins
death, an overall development he had foreseen, and because of the starting point they
gave for parties which overthrew capitalism and liberated their countries from
imperialism, these documents are among the most important in the history of the
Marxist movement. The texts, the discussions at the Congress of the Communist
International, and other relevant materials can be found at that enormously valuable
resource www.marxists.org.
***
Document 1: Lenin Report Of The Commission On The National and The
Colonial Questions (to the Second Congress of the Communist International) 26
July 1920
Comrades, I shall confine myself to a brief introduction, after which Comrade
Maring, who has been secretary to our commission, will give you a detailed account
of the changes we have made in the theses. He will be followed by Comrade Roy,
who has formulated the supplementary theses. Our commission have unanimously
adopted both the preliminary theses, as amended, and the supplementary theses. We
have thus reached complete unanimity on all major issues. I shall now make a few
brief remarks.
First, what is the cardinal idea underlying our theses? It is the distinction between
oppressed and oppressor nations. Unlike the Second International and bourgeois
democracy, we emphasise this distinction. In this age of imperialism, it is particularly
important for the proletariat and the Communist International to establish the concrete
economic facts and to proceed from concrete realities, not from abstract postulates, in
all colonial and national problems.
The characteristic feature of imperialism consists in the whole world, as we now see,
being divided into a large number of oppressed nations and an insignificant number of

oppressor nations, the latter possessing colossal wealth and powerful armed forces.
The vast majority of the worlds population, over a thousand million, perhaps even
1,250 million people, if we take the total population of the world as 1,750 million, in
other words, about 70 per cent of the worlds population, belong to the oppressed
nations, which are either in a state of direct colonial dependence or are semi-colonies,
as, for example, Persia, Turkey and China, or else, conquered by some big imperialist
power, have become greatly dependent on that power by virtue of peace treaties. This
idea of distinction, of dividing the nations into oppressor and oppressed, runs through
the theses, not only the first theses published earlier over my signature, but also those
submitted by Comrade Roy. The latter were framed chiefly from the standpoint of the
situation in India and other big Asian countries oppressed by Britain. Herein lies their
great importance to us.
The second basic idea in our theses is that, in the present world situation following
the imperialist war, reciprocal relations between peoples and the world political
system as a whole are determined by the struggle waged by a small group of
imperialist nations against the Soviet movement and the Soviet states headed by
Soviet Russia. Unless we bear that in mind, we shall not be able to pose a single
national or colonial problem correctly, even if it concerns a most outlying part of the
world. The Communist parties, in civilised and backward countries alike, can pose
and solve political problems correctly only if they make this postulate their startingpoint.
Third, I should like especially to emphasise the question of the bourgeois-democratic
movement in backward countries. This is a question that has given rise to certain
differences. We have discussed whether it would be right or wrong, in principle and in
theory, to state that the Communist International and the Communist parties must
support the bourgeois-democratic movement in backward countries. As a result of our
discussion, we have arrived at the unanimous decision to speak of the nationalrevolutionary movement rather than of the bourgeois-democratic movement. It is
beyond doubt that any national movement can only be a bourgeois-democratic
movement, since the overwhelming mass of the population in the backward countries
consist of peasants who represent bourgeois-capitalist relationships. It would be
utopian to believe that proletarian parties in these backward countries, if indeed they
can emerge in them, can pursue communist tactics and a communist policy, without
establishing definite relations with the peasant movement and without giving it
effective support. However, the objections have been raised that, if we speak of the
bourgeois-democratic movement, we shall be obliterating all distinctions between the
reformist and the revolutionary movements. Yet that distinction has been very clearly
revealed of late in the backward and colonial countries, since the imperialist
bourgeoisie is doing everything in its power to implant a reformist movement among
the oppressed nations too. There has been a certain rapprochement between the
bourgeoisie of the exploiting countries and that of the colonies, so that very often
perhaps even in most cases the bourgeoisie of the oppressed countries, while it does
support the national movement, is in full accord with the imperialist bourgeoisie, i.e.,
joins forces with it against all revolutionary movements and revolutionary classes.
This was irrefutably proved in the commission, and we decided that the only correct
attitude was to take this distinction into account and, in nearly all cases, substitute the
term national-revolutionary for the term bourgeois-democratic. The significance
of this change is that we, as Communists, should and will support bourgeois-liberation

movements in the colonies only when they are genuinely revolutionary, and when
their exponents do not hinder our work of educating and organising in a revolutionary
spirit the peasantry and the masses of the exploited. If these conditions do not exist,
the Communists in these countries must combat the reformist bourgeoisie, to whom
the heroes of the Second International also belong. Reformist parties already exist in
the colonial countries, and in some cases their spokesmen call themselves SocialDemocrats and socialists. The distinction I have referred to has been made in all the
theses with the result, I think, that our view is now formulated much more precisely.
Next, I would like to make a remark on the subject of peasants Soviets. The Russian
Communists practical activities in the former tsarist colonies, in such backward
countries as Turkestan, etc., have confronted us with the question of how to apply the
communist tactics and policy in pre-capitalist conditions. The preponderance of precapitalist relationships is still the main determining feature in these countries, so that
there can be no question of a purely proletarian movement in them. There is
practically no industrial proletariat in these counnries. Nevertheless, we have
assumed, we must assume, the role of leader even there. Experience has shown us that
tremendous difficulties have to be surmounted in these countries. However, the
practical results of our work have also shown that despite these difficulties we are in a
position to inspire in the masses an urge for independent political thinking and
independent political action, even where a proletariat is practically non-existent. This
work has been more difficult for us than it will be for comrades in the West-European
countries, because in Russia the proletariat is engrossed in the work of state
administration. It will readily be understood that peasants living in conditions of semifeudal dependence can easily assimilate and give effect to the idea of Soviet
organisation. It is also clear that the oppressed masses, those who are exploited, not
only by merchant capital but also by the feudalists, and by a state based on feudalism,
can apply this weapon, this type of organisation, in their conditions too. The idea of
Soviet organisation is a simple one, and is applicable, not only to proletarian, but also
to peasant feudal and semi-feudal relations. Our experience in this respect is not as yet
very considerable. However, the debate in the commission, in which several
representatives from colonial countries participated, demonstrated convincingly that
the Communist Internationals theses should point out that peasants Soviets, Soviets
of the exploited, are a weapon which can be employed, not only in capitalist countries
but also in countries with pre-capitalist relations, and that it is the absolute duty of
Communist parties and of elements prepared to form Communist parties, everywhere
to conduct propaganda in favour of peasants Soviets or of working peoples Soviets,
this to include backward and colonial countries. Wherever conditions permit, they
should at once make attempts to set up Soviets the working people.
This opens up a very interesting and very important field for our practical work. So
far our joint experience in this respect has not been extensive, but more and more data
will gradually accumulate. It is unquestionable that the proletariat of the advanced
countries can and should give help to the working masses of the backward countries,
and that the backward countries can emerge from their present stage of development
when the victorious proletariat of the Soviet Republics extends a helping hand to
these masses and is in a position to give them support.
There was quite a lively debate on this question in the commission, not only in
connection with the theses I signed, but still more in connection with Comrade Roys

theses, which he will defend here, and certain amendments to which were
unanimously adopted.
The question was posed as follows: are we to consider as correct the assertion that
the capitalist stage of economic development is inevitable for backward nations now
on the road to emancipation and among whom a certain advance towards progress is
to be seen since the war? We replied in the negative. If the victorious revolutionary
proletariat conducts systematic propaganda among them, and the Soviet governments
come to their aid with all the means at their disposal in that event it will be mistaken
to assume that the backward peoples must inevitably go through the capitalist stage of
development. Not only should we create independent contingents of fighters and party
organisations in the colonies and the backward countries, not only at once launch
propaganda for the organisation of peasants Soviets and strive to adapt them to the
pre-capitalist conditions, but the Communist International should advance the
proposition, with the appropriate theoretical grounding, that with the aid of the
proletariat of the advanced countries, backward countries can go over to the Soviet
system and, through certain stages of development, to communism, without having to
pass through the capitalist stage.
The necessary means for this cannot be indicated in advance. These will be prompted
by practical experience. It has, however, been definitely established that the idea of
the Soviets is understood by the mass of the working people in even the most remote
nations, that the Soviets should be adapted to the conditions of a pre-capitalist social
system, and that the Communist parties should immediately begin work in this
direction in all parts of the world.
I would also like to emphasise the importance of revolutionary work by the
Communist parties, not only in their own, but also in the colonial countries, and
particularly among the troops employed by the exploiting nations to keep the colonial
peoples in subjection.
Comrade Quelch of the British Socialist Party spoke of this in our commission. He
said that the rank-and-file British worker would consider it treasonable to help the
enslaved nations in their uprisings against British rule. True, the jingoist and
chauvinist-minded labour aristocrats of Britain and America present a very great
danger to socialism, and are a bulwark of the Second International. Here we are
confronted with the greatest treachery on the part of leaders and workers belonging to
this bourgeois International. The colonial question has been discussed in the Second
International as well. The Basle Manifesto is quite clear on this point, too. The parties
of the Second International have pledged themselves to revolutionary action, but they
have given no sign of genuine revolutionary work or of assistance to the exploited and
dependent nations in their revolt against the oppressor nations. This, I think, applies
also to most of the parties that have withdrawn from the Second International and
wish to join the Third International. We must proclaim this publicly for all to hear, and
it is irrefutable. We shall see if any attempt is made to deny it.
All these considerations have formed the basis of our resolutions, which undoubtedly
are too lengthy but will nevertheless, I am sure, prove of use and will promote the
development and organisation of genuine revolutionary work in connection with the
national and the colonial questions. And that is our principal task.

***
Theses on the national and colonial question adopted 28 July 1920 by the
Second Congress of the Communist International
1. An abstract or formal conception of the question of equality in general and national
equality in particular is characteristic of the bourgeoisie by its very nature. Under the
pretence of the equality of the human person in general, bourgeois democracy
proclaims the formal legal equality of the proprietor and the proletarian, of the
exploiter and the exploited, and thus deceives the oppressed classes in the highest
degree. The idea of equality, which is itself a reflection of the relations of commodity
production, is transformed by the bourgeoisie, under the pretext of the absolute
equality of the human person, into a tool in the struggle against the abolition of
classes. The true significance of the demand of equality lies only in the demand for
the abolition of classes.
2. As the conscious expression of the proletarian class struggle to throw off the yoke
of the bourgeoisie, and in accordance with its main task, which is the fight against
bourgeois democracy and the unmasking of its lies and hypocrisy, the Communist
Party should not place the main emphasis in the national question on abstract and
formal principles, but in the first place on an exact evaluation of the historically given
and above all economic milieu. Secondly it should emphasise the explicit separation
of the interests of the oppressed classes, of the toilers, of the exploited, from the
general concept of the national interest, which means the interests of the ruling class.
Thirdly it must emphasise the equally clear division of the oppressed, dependent
nations which do not enjoy equal rights from the oppressing, exploiting, privileged
nations, as a counter to the bourgeois democratic lie which covers over the colonial
and financial enslavement of the vast majority of the worlds total population, by a
tiny minority of the richest and most advanced capitalist countries, that is
characteristic of the epoch of finance capital and imperialism.
3. The imperialist war of 1914 has shown all the enslaved nations and oppressed
classes throughout the world with particular clarity the mendacity of bourgeoisdemocratic phraseology. justified on both sides by phraseology about peoples
liberation and the right of nations to self determination, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
and Bucharest on the one side and the Treaty of Versailles and St. Germain on the
other have shown that the victorious bourgeoisie determines even national frontiers
to suit its economic interests. Even national frontiers are merely objects of trade for
the bourgeoisie. The so-called League of Nations is merely the insurance policy by
which the victors in this war mutually guarantee their booty. The strivings to reestablish national unity, for reunification with ceded territories are for the
bourgeoisie nothing other than the attempts by the vanquished to gather strength for
new wars. The reunification of nations that have been artificially torn apart also
corresponds to the interests of the proletariat. The proletariat can however only
achieve real national freedom and unity by the path of revolutionary struggle and over
the body of the defeated bourgeoisie. The League of Nations and the whole post-war
policy of the imperialist states reveal this truth even more clearly and sharply,
everywhere strengthen the revolutionary fight not only of the proletariat of the
advanced countries but also of the toiling masses of the colonies and the dependent

countries, and hasten the collapse of petty-bourgeois illusions in the possibility of


peaceful coexistence and the equality of nations under capitalism.
4. From the principles set forth it follows that the whole policy of the Communist
International on the national and colonial question must be based mainly on the union
of the workers and toiling masses of all nations and countries in the common
revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of the landlords and of the bourgeoisie. For
only such a union can secure victory over capitalism, without which the destruction of
national oppression and inequality is impossible.
5. The international political situation has now placed the dictatorship of the
proletariat on the order of the day, and all the events in international politics are
concentrated inevitably around one single central point, around the struggle of the
international bourgeoisie against the Russian Soviet Republic. The latter rallies
around itself, on the one hand, the soviet movements of the vanguard of the working
class in every country and, on the other hand, all the national liberation movements of
the colonies and the oppressed nationalities who have been convinced by bitter
experience that for them there is no salvation outside an alliance with the
revolutionary proletariat and the victory of soviet power over world imperialism.
6. Consequently it is impermissible today to limit oneself to mere recognition or
proclamation of sympathy with the toilers of various nations, but it is necessary to
pursue a policy of bringing about the closest possible alliance between all the national
and colonial liberation movements with Soviet Russia. The forms of this alliance will
be determined by the stage of development of the communist movement among the
proletariat of every country, or of the revolutionary liberation movement in the
backward countries and among the backward nationalities.
7. Federation is a transitional form on the way to the complete unification of the
toilers of all nations. Federation has already showed its expediency in practice, not
only in the relations between the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic and the
other Soviet Republics (the Hungarian, Finnish and Latvian in the past, those of
Aserbaijan and the Ukraine at present), but also within the Russian Socialist
Federative Soviet Republic, even in relation to nationalities who possessed neither
political existence nor self-government (for example the Bashkir and Tartar Republics
in the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, which were set up in 1919 and
1920).
8. The task of the Communist International in this respect consists not only in the
further development of this federation based on the soviet order and the soviet
movement, but also in its study and the testing of our experiences with it. Recognising
that Federation is a form in the transition to complete unification, we must strive for
an ever closer federal link. What must be taken into consideration is first the
impossibility for the Soviet Republics, surrounded as they are by the militarily
significantly stronger imperialist states of the whole world, of continuing to exist
without closer links with other Soviet Republics; secondly the necessity of a close
economic alliance between the Soviet Republics, without which it is impossible to
restore the productive forces destroyed by capitalism and assure the welfare of the
toilers; and thirdly the efforts to create a unified world economy according to a
common plan regulated by the proletariat of all nations. This tendency has already

emerged quite openly under capitalism and insistently seeks its further development
and completion under socialism.
9. In the sphere of relations within states the national policy of the Communist
International cannot confine itself to the bare formal recognition of the equality of
nations, expressed only in words and entailing no practical obligations, to which the
bourgeois democracies confine themselves, even those that call themselves socialist.
It is not sufficient for the Communist Parties to expose unflinchingly in their
propaganda and agitation both on the parliamentary tribune and elsewhere the
continually repeated offences in every capitalist state, in spite of all the democratic
constitutions, against the equality of nations and the guaranteed rights of national
minorities. It is also necessary first to clarify constantly the point that only the soviet
order is capable of assuring nations true equality by uniting first the proletariat and
then the whole mass of the toilers in the fight against the bourgeoisie, and secondly to
give direct support to the revolutionary movements in dependent nations and those
deprived of their rights, through the Communist Parties of the countries in question.
Without the last particularly important condition the struggle against the oppression of
the dependent nations and the colonies and the recognition of their right to a separate
political existence remains the kind of mendacious hypocrisy that we see in the parties
of the Second International.
10. Recognising internationalism in words alone and watering it down in practice with
petty-bourgeois nationalism and pacifism is a common phenomenon not only among
the parties of the Second International but also among those that have left the
International. This phenomenon is frequently seen even in those parties that now call
themselves Communist. The fight against this evil, against the most deeply-rooted
petty-bourgeois nationalist prejudices, which appear in every possible form such as
racial hatred, the baiting of minorities and anti-semitism, must be brought all the more
into the foreground the more burning becomes the question of transforming the
dictatorship of the proletariat from a national dictatorship (i.e. a dictatorship existing
only in one country and incapable of pursuing an independent international policy)
into an international dictatorship of the proletariat in at least a few advanced countries
which is capable of exercising a decisive influence on international politics). What
petty-bourgeois nationalism means by internationalism is the mere recognition of the
equality of nations (irrespective of the fact that such recognition is granted in words
alone) which leaves national egoism untouched. Proletarian internationalism on the
other hand demands: 1) the subordination of the interests of the proletarian struggle of
the one country to the interests of this struggle on a world scale, and 2) the ability and
the readiness on the part of the nation that carries out its victory over the bourgeoisie
to make the greatest national sacrifice in order to overthrow international capitalism.
Therefore the first and most important task in those countries that are already
completely capitalist and have workers parties that really do represent a vanguard of
the proletariat, is to combat the petty-bourgeois pacifist distortions of the conceptions
and policies of internationalism.

11. In relation to those states that have a more backward, predominantly feudal,
patriarchal or peasant patriarchal character, special attention must be paid to the
following points:
a) All Communist Parties must support the revolutionary liberation movements in
these countries by their deeds. The form the support should take must be discussed
with the Communist Party of the country in question, should such a party exist. This
obligation to offer active assistance affects in the first place the workers of those
countries on which the backward countries are in a position of colonial or financial
dependence.
b) An unconditional struggle must be carried out against the reactionary and medieval
influence of the clergy, the Christian missions and similar elements.
c) A struggle is necessary against Panislamism, the Panasiatic movement and similar
currents which try to tie the liberation struggle against European and American
imperialism to the strengthening of the power of Turkish and Japanese imperialism,
the nobility, the big landlords, the clergy, etc.
d) Support for the peasant movement in the backward countries against the
landowners and every form and remnant of feudalism is particularly necessary. What
must be striven for above all is to give the peasant movement as revolutionary a
character as possible and wherever possible to organise the peasants and all victims of
exploitation in soviets and thus bring about as close a link as possible between the
Western European communist proletariat and the revolutionary movement of peasants
in the East, in the colonies and in the backward countries.
e) A determined fight is necessary against the attempt to put a communist cloak
around revolutionary liberation movements that are not really communist in the
backward countries. The Communist International has the duty to support the
revolutionary movement in the colonies only for the purpose of gathering the
components of the future proletarian parties communist in fact and not just in name
in all the backward countries and training them to be conscious of their special tasks,
the special tasks, that is to say, of fighting against the bourgeois-democratic
tendencies within their own nation. The Communist International should accompany
the revolutionary movement in the colonies and the backward countries for part of the
way, should even make an alliance with it; it may not, however, fuse with it, but must
unconditionally maintain the independent character of the proletarian movement, be it
only in embryo.
f) It is necessary continually to lay bare and to explain among the broadest masses of
all, but in particular of the backward, countries the deception committed by the
imperialist powers with the help of the privileged classes in the oppressed countries
when, under the mask of politically independent states, they bring into being state
structures that are economically, financially and militarily completely dependent on
them. The Zionists Palestine affair can be characterised as a gross example of the
deception of the working classes of that oppressed nation by Entente imperialism and
the bourgeoisie of the country in question pooling their efforts (in the same way that
Zionism in general actually delivers the Arab working population of Palestine, where
Jewish workers only form a minority, to exploitation by England, under the cloak of

the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine). In todays economic conditions there is no


salvation for the weak and dependent nations outside of an alliance with Soviet
Republics.
12. The centuries of enslavement that the weak and colonial nationalities have
suffered at the hands of the great imperialist powers has left in the toiling masses of
the enslaved countries not only a feeling of combativity, but also a feeling of mistrust
towards the nations that have exploited them in general, including the proletariat of
those nations. The base betrayal of socialism by the majority of the official leaders of
that Proletariat between 1914 and 1919, when the social patriots masked the defence
of their bourgeoisies rights to enslave and plunder the financially dependent
countries under defence of the Fatherland this betrayal could only strengthen that
completely justified mistrust. Since this mistrust and national prejudices can only be
rooted out after the destruction of imperialism in the advanced countries and the
radical transformation of the whole basis of economic life in the backward countries,
the removal of these prejudices will only be able to proceed very slowly. This means
that the class conscious communist proletariat of every country has the duty of giving
special care and attention to national feelings, in themselves outdated, in those longenslaved countries and nationalities, and at the same time the obligation to make
concessions in order to overcome this mistrust and these prejudices all the more
rapidly. Without the voluntary alliance of the proletariat and with them the toiling
masses of every country and nation in the world united as one, the victory over
capitalism cannot be drawn to a completely successful conclusion.
***
Appendix the amendments to the original Preliminary Draft Theses on the
National and Colonial Questions by Lenin which were motivated by Lenin
above.
The formal reading out of the amendments to the original Preliminary Draft Theses on
the National and Colonial Questions was carried out by Maring and may be found
here or in The Second Congress of the Communist International published in
Moscow and Hamburg in 1921 and translated into English by New Park in 1977.
(Archer, 1921, p. 114) This is still obtainable from Amazon.
Maring: Comrades, I am giving the report on the work of the Commission on the
National and Colonial Question. The Commission checked over Comrade Lenins
Theses and also Comrade Roys supplementary Theses. The following amendments
and additions to Comrade Lenins theses were accepted:
The end of Thesis I to read abolition of the classes instead of annihilation.
In the first sentence of the 3rd Thesis you can read: The imperialist war of 1914 has
shown all nations and all oppressed classes in the whole world with particular clarity,
etc. [Reads the text of the Thesis] This sentence has been changed as follows: [reads it
out].[This was a minor amendment. The original draft was The imperialist war of
1914-18 has very clearly revealed to all nations and to the oppressed classes of the
whole world the falseness of bourgeois-democratic phrases, by practically
demonstrating that the Treaty of Versailles of the celebrated Western Democracies

is an even more brutal and foul act of violence against weak nations than was the
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk of the German Junkers and the Kaiser. (Lenin V. I., 5 June
1920, p. 145) This was replaced by a revised section starting The imperialist war of
1914 has shown all the enslaved nations and oppressed classes throughout the world
with particular clarity the mendacity of bourgeois-democratic phraseology. (Archer,
1921, p. 178)
The 4th Thesis (German Edition p. 52, 3rd line from the bottom) is to read and
labouring masses of every nation and country.
5th Thesis (p. 52 line 16) strike out masses around itself and add and is to mass the
oppressed peoples around itself. The same Thesis (line 20): That there is no salvation
for them outside of their connection with the revolutionary proletariat and the victory
of Soviet power.'
6th Thesis, 10th line from the top: Instead of the bourgeois-democratic liberation
movement read the revolutionary liberation movement. In line 11 of this Thesis the
words workers and peasants are deleted.
In the 8th Thesis, 5th line from the top, for without any basis read on the basis.'
9th Thesis lines 7 to 11 are to read to which the bourgeois democrats limit
themselves, however much they call themselves socialist.'
Line 13 after the word prejudices add in brackets which appear in all possible
forms, such as racial hatred, nationalist propaganda, anti-semitism.
11th Thesis paragraph I should read all Communist Parties must etc.
Paragraph 2 should read: A struggle must necessarily be carried out against the
reactionary and medieval influence of the clergy, the Christian missions, and similar
elements.'
Paragraph 3 should read a fight is necessary against Panslavism, and the Panasiatic
movement, and similar currents.'
In paragraph 4 add after the words to give, if possible to organise the peasants and
all the victims of exploitation in Soviets.'
In paragraph 5, lines 2, 6 and 17 the words bourgeois-democratic are to be changed
to revolutionary.
Paragraph 6 line 5 should read the imperialist powers with the help of the privileged
classes.
In Thesis 12 delete the whole sentence from on the other hand to appear.

Notes

1 Tony Cliffs study of Lenin, for example, devotes a grand total of two pages (Cliff,
1979, p. 41) out of over one thousand to Lenins Theses on the National and Colonial
Questions and does not quote either the passage in this paragraph or those from from
Better Fewer but Better. Bluntly, not to deal with these views of Lenin is to
thoroughly distort his analysis and views.
2 Confusingly, and incorrectly, the book Theses Resolutions and Manifestos of the
First Four Congresses of the Third International (Adler, 1919-23) prints the
preliminary draft by Lenin but does not print the amended version that was actually
adopted of Theses 6 and 11. This is bad editing on such an important issue and given
Lenin made a specific report explaining his changes. In addition to reading the report
by Lenin, correct versions on this point in the final amended Theses 6 and 11 may be
found in (Degras, 1919-1922, p. 141) and in (Archer, 1921, p. 179).
3 Due to differences in translation, Lenin from Russian and the final Theses of the
Communist International from German, slight differences in phrasing exist in the
versions by the addition of the idea is clear.

References
Adler, A. (Ed.). (1919-23). Theses, Resolutions and Manifestos of the First Four
Congresses of the Communist International (Inkinks London 1980 ed.). (A. Holt, &
B. Holland, Trans.)
The Second Congress of the Communist International (New Park Publications Ltd.
1977 ed., Vol. 1). (1921). (R. A. Archer, Trans.) Moscow and Hamburg: Publishing
House of the Communist International.
Cliff, T. (1979). Lenin Vol 4: The Bolsheviks and World Revolution. London: Pluto
Press.
Degras, J. (Ed.). (1919-1922). The Communist International 1919-1943 Documents
(Vol. 1). Plymouth and London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd 1971.
Lenin, V. I. (22 November 1919). Address to the Second All-Russia Congress of
Communist Organisations of the People's of the East. In Collected Works (Progress
Publishers, Moscow 1965 ed., pp. 151-162).
Lenin, V. I. (2 March 1923). Better Fewer, But Better. In Collected Works (Vol. 33, pp.
487-502). Progress Publishers, Moscow 1966.
Lenin, V. I. (5 June 1920). Preliminary Draft Theses on the National and Colonial
Questions for the Second Congress of the Communist International. In Collected
Works (Progress Publishers, Moscow 1966 ed., Vol. 31, pp. 144-151).

Marxs Ecological Notebooks

Karl Marx has long been criticized for his so-called ecological Prometheanisman
extreme commitment to industrialism, irrespective of natural limits. This view,
supported even by a number of Marxists, has become increasingly hard to accept after
a series of careful and stimulating analyses of the ecological dimensions of Marxs
thought The Prometheanism debate is not a mere philological issue, but a highly
practical one, as capitalism faces environmental crises on a global scale, without any
concrete solutions. Now more than ever, therefore, the rediscovery of a Marxian
ecology is of great importance to the development of new forms of left strategy and
struggle against global capitalism.
Yet there is hardly unambiguous agreement among leftists about the extent to which
Marxs critique can provide a theoretical basis for these new ecological struggles.
First-stage ecosocialists, such as Andr Gorz, James OConnor, and Alain Lipietz,
recognize Marxs contributions on ecological issues to some extent, but at the same
time argue that his nineteenth-century analyses are too incomplete and dated to be of
real relevance today. In contrast, second-stage ecosocialists, such as Foster and
Burkett, emphasize the contemporary methodological significance of Marxs
ecological critique of capitalism, based on his theories of value and reification.1
Marxs natural-scientific notebooks, especially those of 1868, Marxs notebooks allow
us to see clearly his interests and preoccupations before and after the publication of
the first volume of Capital in 1867, and the directions he might have taken through
his intensive research into disciplines such as biology, chemistry, geology, and
mineralogy, much of which he was not able fully to integrate into Capital.3 While the
grand project of Capital would remain unfinished, in the final fifteen years of his life
Marx filled an enormous number of notebooks with fragments and excerpts. In fact, a
third of his notebooks date to this period, and almost one half of them deal with
natural sciences. The intensity and scope of Marxs scientific studies is astonishing.
Thus it is simply invalid to conclude, as some critics have, that Marxs powerful
ecological arguments in Capital and other writings were mere asides, while ignoring
the mass of contrary evidence to be found in his late natural-scientific researches.
Looking at the notebooks after 1868, one can immediately recognize the rapid
expansion of Marxs ecological interests. Marxs critique of political economy, if
completed, would have put a much stronger emphasis on the disturbance of the
metabolic interaction (Stoffwechsel) between humanity and nature as the
fundamental contradiction within capitalism. The centrality of ecology to Marxs late
writings remained hard to discern for a long time because he was never able to
complete his magnum opus.

Marx and Liebig in Different Editions of Capital


It is by now a well-known fact that Marxs critique of the irrationality of modern
agriculture in Capital is deeply informed by Justus von Liebigs Agricultural
Chemistry and James F. W. Johnstons Notes on North America, works which argue
that neglect of the natural laws of soils inevitably leads to their exhaustion.4 After
intensive study of these books in 186566, Marx integrated Liebigs central ideas into
volume one of Capital. In a section called Modern Industry and Agriculture, Marx
wrote that the capitalist mode of production

collects the population together in great centres, and causes the urban population to
achieve an ever-growing preponderance. [It] disturbs the metabolic interaction
between man and the earth, i.e., it prevents the return to the soil of its constituent
elements consumed by man in the form of food and clothing; hence it hinders the
operation of the eternal natural condition for the lasting fertility of the soil. Thus it
destroys at the same time the physical health of the urban worker, and the intellectual
life of the rural worker.5
This justly famous passage has become the cornerstone of recent metabolic rift
analyses.6 In a footnote to this section, Marx openly expresses his debt to the seventh
edition of Liebigs Agricultural Chemistry, published in 1862: To have developed
from the point of view of natural science the negative, i.e., destructive side of modern
agriculture, is one of Liebigs immortal merits. Such remarks are the reason the
metabolic rift approach has focused on Liebigs critique of modern agriculture as an
intellectual source for Marxs ecological critique of capitalism.
However, it is hardly known that in the first German edition of Capital (1867), which
is unfortunately not available in English, Marx went on to state that Liebigs brief
comments on the history of agriculture, although not free from gross errors, contain
more flashes of insight than all the works of modern political economists put together
[mehr Lichtblicke als die Schriften smmtlicher modernen politischen Oekonomen
zusammengenommen].7 A careful reader may immediately notice a difference
between this version and later editions, although it was pointed out only recently by a
German MEGA editor, Carl-Erich Vollgraf.8 Marx modified this sentence in the
second edition of Capital published in 187273. Consequently, we usually only read:
His brief commentsalthough not free from gross errors, contain flashes of
insight.9 Marx has deleted the statement that Liebig was more insightful than all the
works of modern political economists put together. Why did Marx soften his
endorsement of Liebigs contributions relative to classical political economy?
One might argue that this elimination is only a trivial change, meant to clarify
Liebigs original contributions in the field of agricultural chemistry and separate them
from political economy, where the great chemist made some gross errors. Also
Marx, as these pages show, was very enthusiastic about one particular political
economists understanding of the soil problem, namely James Anderson, who, unlike
other classical political economists, examined issues of the destruction of the soil. It
was Liebigs own recognition of the destructive side of modern agriculture, which
Marx characterized as one of Liebigs immortal merits. Hence, Marx might have
thought that his expression in the first edition of Capital was rather exaggerated.
Nonetheless, it should also be noted that Liebigs Agricultural Chemistry was eagerly
discussed by a number of political economists at the time, precisely because of his
alleged contributions to political economy, especially ground-rent theory and
population theory.10 For example, the German economist Wilhelm Roscher
recognized the relevance of Liebigs mineral theory to political economy even before
Marx, and added some passages and notes dedicated to Liebig in his fourth edition of
National Economy of Agriculture and the Related Branches of Natural Production
[Nationalkonomie des Ackerbaues und der verwandten Urproductionen] (1865), in
order to integrate Liebigs new agricultural findings into his own system of political
economy. Notably, Roscher praises Liebig in similar terms: Even if many of Liebigs

historical assertions are highly disputableeven if he misses some important facts of


national economy, the name of this great natural scientist will always maintain a place
of honor comparable to the name of Alexander Humboldt in the history of national
economy as well.11 In fact, it is very likely that Roschers book prompted Marx to
reread Liebigs Agricultural Chemistry in 186566. Both authors similar remarks
reflect a widespread opinion about Liebigs Agricultural Chemistry at the time.
Furthermore, it is reasonable to assume that Marx in the first edition of Capital was
intentionally comparing Liebig to those political economists who postulated a transhistorical and linear development of agriculture, whether from more productive to less
productive soils (Malthus, Ricardo, and J. S. Mill), or from less productive to more
productive (Carey and later Dhring). Liebigs critique of the robbery system of
cultivation instead denounces precisely the modern form of agriculture and its
decreasing productivity as a result of the irrational and destructive use of the soil. In
other words, Liebigs historicization of modern agriculture provides Marx with a
useful natural scientific basis for rejecting abstract and linear treatments of
agricultural development.
Yet as seen earlier, Marx somewhat relativizes Liebigs contribution to political
economy between 1867 and 187273. Could it be that Marx had doubts about
Liebigs chemistry as well as his economic errors? In this context, close study of
Marxs letters and notebooks helps us comprehend the larger aims and methods of his
research after 1868.

Debates on Liebigs Agricultural Chemistry


Looking at the letters and notebooks from this period, it seems more probable that the
change regarding Liebigs contribution in the second edition represented more than a
mere correction. Marx was well aware of the heated debates surrounding Liebigs
Agricultural Chemistry, so after the publication of the first volume of Capital, he
thought it necessary to follow up on the validity of Liebigs theory. In a letter to
Engels dated January 3, 1868, Marx asked him to seek some advice from a long-time
friend and chemist, Carl Schorlemmer:
I would like to know from Schorlemmer what is the latest and best book (German) on
agricultural chemistry. Furthermore, what is the present state of the argument between
the mineral-fertilizer people and the nitrogen-fertilizer people? (Since I last looked
into the subject, all sorts of new things have appeared in Germany.) Does he know
anything about the most recent Germans who have written against Liebigs soilexhaustion theory? Does he know about the alluvion theory of Munich agronomist
Fraas (Professor at Munich University)? For the chapter on ground rent I shall have to
be aware of the latest state of the question, at least to some extent.12
Marxs remarks in this letter clearly indicate his aim at the beginning of 1868 to study
books on agriculture. He is not just looking for the recent literature on agriculture in
general, but pays particular attention to debates and critiques of Liebigs Agricultural
Chemistry. It is important to note that in the manuscript for volume three of Capital,
Marx uncharacteristically points to the importance of Liebigs analysis while
essentially indicating that this needs to be filled-in in the future. That is, this was part

of the argument that he was continuing to researchand in such basic areas as the
declining productivity of the soil related to discussions of the falling rate of profit.13
Liebig, often called the father of organic chemistry, convincingly demonstrated that
the healthy growth of plants requires both organic and inorganic substances, such as
nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potassium. He claimed, against dominant theories
centered on humus (an organic component of soil made up of decayed plant and
animal matter) or nitrogen, that all necessary substances must be provided in more
than a minimum amount, a proposition known as Liebigs law of the minimum.14
Although Liebigs insight into the role of inorganic substances remains valid today,
two theses derived from it, the theories of mineral fertilization and of soil exhaustion,
sparked immediate controversy.
According to Liebig, the amount of inorganic substances in soils remains limited
without constant replenishment. It is thus necessary regularly to return to the soil
those inorganic substances that plants have absorbed if one is to grow crops
sustainably. (These can be returned in either inorganic forms or organic forms, which
are converted [mineralized] into inorganic forms.) Liebig calls this necessity the law
of replacement, and holds that the full replacement of inorganic substances is the
fundamental principle of sustainable agriculture. Since nature alone could not provide
enough inorganic material when such a large quantity of nutrients was being removed
annually, Liebig argued for the use of chemical mineral fertilizer. He maintained that
not only the humus theory of Albrecht Daniel Thaers Principles of Practical
Agriculture, but also the nitrogen theory of John Bennett Lawes and Joseph Henry
Gilbert were seriously flawed, because they gave no attention to the limited quantity
of available inorganic substances in soil.
Based on his theory, Liebig warned that violations of the law of replacement and
consequent soil exhaustion threatened the whole of European civilization. According
to Liebig, modern industrialization created a new division of labor between town and
countryside, so that foods consumed by the working class in large cities no longer
return to and restore the original soils, but instead flow out into the river through
water toilets without any further use. In addition, through the commodification of
agricultural products and fertilizer (bone and straw), the aim of agriculture diverges
from sustainability and becomes the mere maximization of profits, squeezing soil
nutrients into crops in the shortest possible period. Disturbed by these facts, Liebig
denounced modern agriculture as a robbery system, and warned that the disruption
of the natural metabolic interaction would ultimately cause the decay of civilization.
Shifting from his rather optimistic belief in the early to mid-1850s in the cure-all of
chemical fertilization, Liebigs 1862 edition of Agricultural Chemistry, especially its
new introduction, emphasized the destructive aspects of modern agriculture much
more fervently.
As Liebig strengthened his critique of this robbery system in 1862 and corrected his
earlier optimism, Marx understandably felt a need to review the debate on soil fertility
from a new perspective. At the same time, Liebigs critique of the robbery system and
soil exhaustion inspired a number of new arguments among scholars and agronomists.
Marxs letter to Engels makes clear that even after the publication of volume one of
Capital, he tried to examine the validity of Liebigs theory from a more critical
perspective.

Notably, various political economists other than Marx and Roscher also joined in this
debate. As described by Foster, Henry Charles Carey had already referred to wasteful
agricultural production in the United States and claimed that the irresponsible
robbery from the earth constituted a serious crime against future generations.15
Liebig was also interested in Carey and cited his work extensively, but Marx may not
have been entirely clear about their relationship when he read Agricultural Chemistry
in 186566. Marx had corresponded with Carey, who had sent him his book on
slavery, which contained some of his arguments about soil exhaustion, and Marx
studied Careys economic works.16 However, Careys role in the overall soil debate
likely became more apparent when Marx encountered Eugen Dhrings work. Marx
started studying Dhrings books in January 1868, after Louis Kugelmann sent him
Dhrings review of Capitalthe first review of the book anywherepublished in
December 1867.
Dhring, a lecturer at the University of Berlin, was an enthusiastic supporter of
Careys economic system. He also integrated Liebigs theory into his economic
analysis as further validation of Careys proposal to establish autarchic towncommunities in which producers and consumers live in harmony, without wasting
plant nutrients and thus without exhausting soils. Dhring maintained that Liebigs
theory of soil exhaustion builds a pillar on [Careys] system, and claimed that
soil exhaustion, which has already become quite threatening in North America, for
example, willbe halted in the long run only through a commercial policy built upon
the protection and education of domestic labor. For the harmonious development of
the various facilities of one nationpromotes the natural circulation of materials
[Kreislauf der Stoffe] and makes it possible for plant nutrients to be returned to the
soil from which they have been taken.17
In the manuscript for volume three of Capital, Marx envisioned a future society
beyond the antagonism between town and country in which the associated producers
rationally regulat[e] their metabolic interchange with nature. He must have been
surprised to learn that Dhring similarly demanded, as the only countermeasure
against wasteful production, the conscious regulation of material distribution by
overcoming the division between town and country.18 In other words, Marxs claim,
together with Dhrings, reflects a popular tendency of the Liebig school at the
time. In subsequent years Marxs view of Dhring grew more critical, as Dhring
began to promote his own system as the only true foundation of social democracy.
This likely reinforced Marxs suspicion of Dhrings interpretation of soil exhaustion
and its advocates, even if he continued to recognize the usefulness of Liebigs theory.
In any case, at the beginning of 1868, the discursive constellation already prompted
Marx to study books against Liebigs soil-exhaustion theory.

Liebigs Malthusianism?
Marx was particularly concerned that Liebigs warnings about soil exhaustion carried
a hint of Malthusianism. They rehabilitated, to borrow Dhrings expression,
Malthuss ghost, as Liebig appeared to provide a new scientific version of old
Malthusian themes of food scarcity and overpopulation.19 As noted above, the
general tone of Liebigs argument shifted from one of optimism in the 1840s up
through the mid-1850s to a quite pessimistic one in the late 1850s and 1860s. Sharply

critical of British industrial agriculture, he predicted a dark future for European


society, full of war and hunger, if the law of replacement continued to be ignored:
In a few years, the guano reserves will be depleted, and then no scientific nor, so to
speak, theoretical disputes will be necessary to prove the law of nature which
demands from man that he cares for the preservation of living conditions. For their
self-preservation, nations will be compelled to slaughter and annihilate each other in
never-ending wars in order to restore an equilibrium, and, God forbid, if two years of
famine such as 1816 and 1817 succeed each other again, those who survive will see
hundreds of thousands perish in the streets.20
Liebigs new pessimism appears quite distinct in this passage. While his view of
modern agriculture as a robbery system shows its superiority over the widespread
ahistorical law of diminishing returns of Malthus and Ricardo, his conclusion leaves
his relation to Malthusian ideas ambiguous. Indeed, Marx was particularly concerned
about Liebigs references to the Ricardian theory. Liebig in fact personally knew John
Stuart Mill and may have been directly influenced by the latter. Ironically, however, as
Marx points out, Ricardian rent theory originated not with Ricardo or even with
Malthusand certainly not with John Stuart Mill, as Liebig mistakenly supposes
but with James Anderson, who had given it a historical basis in the degradation of the
soil. What worried Marx, then, was the frequent linking in his day of Liebig with
Malthus and Ricardorepresenting a logic opposed to Marxs own analysis, and
which, in contrast to Malthus and Ricardo, emphasized the historical nature of the soil
problem.21
The question of Liebigs Malthusianism may seem like an arcane detail in the larger
debate over soil exhaustion, but it is one of the main reasons why his Agricultural
Chemistry became so popular in 1862.22 For Dhring, this Malthusianism was not so
problematic because he believed that Careys economic system had already dispelled
Malthuss ghost, showing that the development of society made it possible to
cultivate better soils.23 Of course, Marx could hardly accept this nave
presupposition, as he wrote to Engels in November 1869: Carey ignores even the
most familiar facts.24
Thus in 1868 Marx began reading the work of authors who took a more critical stance
toward Liebigs Agricultural Chemistry. He was already familiar with arguments such
as Roschers, which held that the robbery system should be criticized from the point
of view of natural science but could be justified from an economic standpoint
insofar as it was more profitable.25 According to Roscher, it was only necessary to
stop the robbery just before it became too expensive to recover the original fertility of
the soilbut market prices would take care of that. Adopting Roschers arguments,
Friedrich Albert Lange, a German philosopher, argued against Dhrings reception of
Liebig and Carey in his J. St. Mills Views of the Social Question [J. St. Mills
Ansichten ber die sociale Frage] published in 1866. Marx read Langes book at the
beginning of 1868, and it is no coincidence that his notebook focuses on its fourth
chapter, where Lange discusses the problems of rent theory and soil exhaustion.
Specifically, Marx noted Langes observation that Carey and Dhring denounced
trade with England as a cause of all evils and regarded a protective tariff as the
ultimate panacea, without Langes recognizing that industry possesses a
centralizing tendency, which creates not only the division of town and country but

also economic inequality.26 Similar to Roscher, Lange argued that despite the
natural scientific correctness of Liebigs theory, robbery cultivation can be justified
from a national economic perspective.27
Related ideas can be also found in the work of the German economist Julius Au. Marx
owned a copy of Aus Supplementary Fertilizers and their Meaning for National and
Private Economy [Hilfsdngermittel in ihrer volks- und privatwirtschaftlichen
Bedeutung] (1869), which he marked up with marginal notes and comments.28
Although he recognized the scientific value of Liebigs mineral theory, Au doubted
that the theory of soil exhaustion could be regarded as an absolute natural law. It
was instead, Au argued, a relative theory with little meaning for the economies of
Russia, Poland, or Asia Minor, because in these areas agriculture could be sustained,
presumably through extensive development, without following the law of
replacement.29 Yet Au seemingly forgot that Liebigs main concern was Western
European countries. Moreover, Au ended up uncritically accepting the priceregulation mechanisms of the market, which he, like Roscher, expected to hinder
excessive exploitation of soil power because it would simply cease to be profitable.
What remains of Liebigs theory for Lange and Au is the simple fact that soil could
not be improved infinitely. They were, after all, neo-Malthusian supporters of
overpopulation theory and the law of diminishing returns.
Reacting to all this, Marx comments Idiot! [Asinus!] and writes many incredulous
question marks in his copy of Aus book.30 His evaluation of Langes books is
similarly hostile, as he ironically comments on Langes Malthusian explanation of
history in his letter to Kugelmann dated July 27, 1870.31 In addition, it is safe to
assume that Marx was not attracted to the idea of realizing sustainable agriculture
through fluctuations in market prices. Since Marx was also unable to support Carey
and Dhring, he set out to study the problem of soil exhaustion more intensively in
order to articulate a sophisticated critique of the modern robbery system.
To sum up: Marx thought at first that Liebigs description of the destructive effects of
modern agriculture could be used as a powerful argument against Ricardo and
Malthuss abstract law of diminishing returns, but began to question Liebigs theory
after 1868, as the debates over soil exhaustion increasingly took on a Malthusian tone.
Marx therefore backed off from his somewhat uncritical and exaggerated claim that
Liebigs analyses contain more flashes of insight than all the works of modern
political economists put together, in preparation for the more extensive research into
the problem that he clearly intended for volumes two and three of Capital.

Marx and Fraass Theory of Metabolic Interaction


If Liebigs Malthusian tendencies constituted a negative reason for Marxs alteration
of the sentence on Liebig in the second edition of Capital, there was also a more
positive one: Marx encountered a number of authors who became as important as
Liebig to his ecological critique of political economy. Carl Fraas was one of them. In
a letter from January 1868, Marx asks Schorlemmer about Fraas, a German
agriculturist and professor at the University of Munich. Although Shorlemmer could
not offer any specific information about Fraass alluvion theory, Marx nevertheless
began reading several books by Fraas in the following months.

Fraass name first appears in Marxs notebook between December 1867 and January
1868, when he notes the title of Fraass 1866 book Agrarian Crises and Their
Solutions [Die Ackerbaukrisen und ihre Heilmittel], a polemic against Liebigs theory
of soil exhaustion.32 When Marx wrote in a letter to Engels in January 1868 that
since I last looked into the subject, all sorts of new things have appeared in
Germany, he was likely thinking of Fraass book.
Just as Fraass book was published, his relations with Liebig grew very strained, after
Liebig criticized the scientific ignorance of agricultural educators and practical
farmers in Munich, where Fraas taught as a professor for many years. In response,
Fraas defended the agrarian praxis in Munich, and argued that Liebigs theory had
been oversold and represented a retreat into Malthusian theoryone that ignored
various historical forms of agriculture that maintained and even increased productivity
without causing soil exhaustion. According to Fraas, Liebigs pessimism arose from
his tacit presupposition that humans must be able to return inorganic substances and
thus the soil demandedif the division between town and country is not to be
dissolvedthe introduction of artificial fertilizers, which, however, would turn out to
be too costly. In contrast, Fraas suggests a more affordable method, using the power
of nature itself in order to sustain the fertility of the soil, as represented in his theory
of alluvion.33
In Charles Lyells definition, alluvion is earth, sand, gravel, stones, and other
transported matter which has been washed away and thrown down by rivers, floods,
or other causes, upon land not permanently submerged beneath the waters of lakes or
seas.34 Alluvial materials contain large quantities of the mineral substances vital for
plant growth. Consequently, soils developed from regular deposition of such materials
usually adjacent to rivers in valleysproduce rich crops year after year without
fertilizer, as in the sandbanks of the Danube, the deltas of the Nile or the Po, or the
tongues of land of the Mississippi. The rejuvenating sediments in floodwater are
derived from erosion further up the watershed. Hence, the richness of the alluvial soil
is a result of the impoverishment of upriver soils, most likely from slopes of hills and
mountains. Inspired by these examples in nature, Fraas suggests constructing an
artificial alluvion by regulating river water through the building of temporary dams
over agrarian fields, cheaply and almost eternally providing them with essential
minerals. Marxs notebook confirms that he carefully studied Fraass arguments for
the practical merits of alluvion in agriculture.35
What interested Marx most about Fraas, however, was probably not the theory of
alluvion. After reading Fraas eagerly, documenting various passages in his notebooks,
Marx writes to Engels in a letter dated March 25, 1868, praising Fraass book Climate
and the Plant World Over Time [Klima und Pflanzenwelt in der Zeit]:
Very interesting is the book by Fraas (1847): Klima und Pflanzenwelt in der Zeit, eine
Geschichte beider [Climate and the Plant World Over Time], namely as proving that
climate and flora change in historical times. He claims that with cultivation
depending on its degreethe moisture so beloved by the peasants gets lost (hence
also the plants migrate from south to north), and finally steppe formation occurs. The
first effect of cultivation is useful, but finally devastating through deforestation, etc.
The conclusion is that cultivationwhen it proceeds in natural growth and is not
consciously controlled (as a bourgeois he naturally does not reach this point)leaves

deserts behind it, Persia, Mesopotamia, etc., Greece. So once again an unconscious
socialist tendency!36
It might seem surprising that Marx found even an unconscious socialist tendency in
Fraass book, despite Fraass harsh critique of Liebig. Climate and the Plant World
Over Time elaborated how ancient civilizations, especially ancient GreeceFraas had
spent seven years as an inspector of the court garden and professor of botany at the
University of Athenscollapsed after unregulated deforestation caused unsustainable
changes in the local environment. As indigenous plants could no longer adapt to the
new environment, steppe formation or, in the worst case, desertification set in.
(Although Fraass interpretation was influential, some would argue today that what
occurred was not desertification as such, but rather the growth of plants that
required less moisturebecause so much of the rainfall was lost as runoff instead of
infiltrating into soil.)
In our context, it is first of all interesting to note that Fraas emphasized the
significance of a natural climate for plant growth, because of its great influence on
the weathering process of soils. It is therefore not enough simply to analyze the
chemical composition of soil alone, because mechanical and chemical reactions in the
soil, which are essential for the weathering process, depend heavily on climatic
factors such as temperature, humidity, and precipitation. This is why Fraas
characterized his own research field and method as agricultural physics, in clear
contrast to Liebigs agricultural chemistry.37 According to Fraas, in certain areas
where climatic conditions are more favorable and the soils are adjacent to rivers and
flood regularly with water containing sediments, it is possible to produce large
amounts of crops without fear of soil exhaustion, as nature automatically fulfills the
law of replacement through alluvial deposits. This, of course, would apply to only
some of the soils in any particular country.
After reading Fraass books, Marx grew more interested in such agricultural
physics, as he told Engels: We must keep a close watch on the recent and very latest
in agriculture. The physical school is pitted against the chemical.38 Here it is
possible to discern a clear shift in Marxs interests. In January 1868, Marx was mainly
following debates within the chemical school, in terms of whether mineral or
nitrogen fertilizer was more effective. As he had already studied the issue in 1861, he
now thought it necessary to study recent developments to some extent. After two
and a half months and intensive examination of Fraass works, however, Marx
grouped both Liebig and Lawes into one and the same chemical school and treated
Fraass theory as an independent physical school. Notably, this categorization
reflects Fraass own judgment, for he complained that both Liebig and Lawes made
abstract, one-sided arguments about soil exhaustion by putting too much emphasis on
only the chemical component of plant growth.39 As a result, Marx came to believe
that he must study the newest developments in the field of agriculture much more
carefully.
Fraass uniqueness is also evident in his attention to the human impact on the process
of historical climate change. Indeed, Fraass book offers one of the earliest studies on
the topic, later praised by George Perkins Marsh in Man and Nature (1864).40
Drawing on ancient Greek texts, Fraas showed how plant species moved from south
to north, or from the plains to the mountains, as local climates gradually grow hotter

and dryer. According to Fraas, this climate change results from excessive
deforestation demanded by ancient civilizations. Such stories of the disintegration of
ancient societies also have obvious relevance for our contemporary situation.
Fraas likewise warned against the excessive use of timber by modern industry, a
process already well underway during his time that would have a huge impact on
European civilization. Marxs readings of Fraas introduced him to the problem of
Europes disappearing forests, as documented in his notebook: France has now no
more than one-twelfth of her earlier forest area, England only 4 big forests among 69
forests; in Italy and the southwestern European peninsula the stand of trees that was
also common on the plain in the past can be no longer found even in the
mountains.41 Fraas lamented that further technological development would enable
the cutting of trees at higher mountain elevations and only accelerate deforestation.
Reading Fraass book, Marx came to see a great tension between ecological
sustainability and the ever-increasing demand for wood to fuel capitalist production.
Marxs insight into the disturbance of metabolic interaction between human and
nature in capitalism goes beyond the problem of soil exhaustion in Liebigs sense and
extends to the issue of deforestation. Of course, as the second edition of Capital
indicates, this does not mean that Marx abandoned Liebigs theory. On the contrary,
he continued to honor Liebigs contribution as essential to his critique of modern
agriculture. Nonetheless, when Marx wrote of an unconscious socialist tendency in
Fraass work, it is clear that Marx now regarded the rehabilitation of the metabolism
between human and nature as a central project of socialism, with a much larger scope
than in the first edition of volume one of Capital.
Marxs interest in deforestation was not limited to reading Fraas. In the beginning of
1868, he also read John D. Tucketts History of the Past and Present State of the
Labouring Population, noting the numbers of important pages. On one of those few
pages Marx recorded, Tuckett argues:
the indolence of our forefathers appears a subject of regret, in neglecting the raising of
trees as well as in many instances causing the destruction of the forests without
sufficiently replacing them with young plants. This general waste appears to have
been greatest just before the use of sea coal [for smelting iron] was discovered when
the consumption for the use of forging Iron, was so great that it appeared as if it
would sweep down all the timber and woods in the country. However at the present
day the plantations of trees, not only add to the usefulness, but also tend to the
embellishment of the country, and produce screens to break the rapid currants of the
winds. The great advantage in planting a large body of wood in a naked country is
not at first perceived. Because there is nothing to resist the cold winds, cattle fed
thereon are stunted in growth and the vegetation has often the appearance of being
scorched with fire, or beat with a stick. Moreover by giving warmth and comfort to
cattle, half the fodder will satisfy them.42
Forests play an important economic role in agriculture and stock farming, and this is
clearly what interested Marx in 1868.
Although Marx does not directly mention either Fraass or Tucketts work after 1868,
the influence of their ideas is clearly visible in the second manuscript for volume two

of Capital, written between 1868 and 1870. Marx had already noted in the manuscript
for volume three that deforestation would not be sustainable under the system of
private property, even if it could be more or less sustainable when conducted under
state property.43 After 1868, Marx paid greater attention to the problem of the modern
robbery system, which he now expanded from crop production to include
deforestation. In this vein, Marx cites Friedrich Kirchhofs Manual of Agricultural
Business Operations [Handbuch der landwirthschaftlichen Betriebslehre] (1852), in
support of the incompatibility between the logic of capital and the material
characteristics of forestation.44 He points out that the long time required for
forestation imposes a natural limit, compelling capital to try to shorten the cycle of
deforestation and regrowth as much as possible. In the manuscript to volume two of
Capital, Marx comments on a passage from Kirchhofs book: The development of
culture and of industry in general has evinced itself in such energetic destruction of
forest that everything done by it conversely for their preservation and restoration
appears infinitesimal.45 Marx is certainly conscious of the danger that this
deforestation will cause not only a wood shortage but also a changing climate, which
is tied to a more existential crisis of human civilization.
A comparison with the writing of the young Marx illustrates this dramatic
development of his ecological thought. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels
write of the historic changes brought by the power of capital:
The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more
massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations
together. Subjection of Natures forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to
industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of
whole continents for cultivation, canalization of rivers, whole populations conjured
out of the ground.46
Michael Lwy has criticized this passage as a manifestation of Marx and Engelss
nave attitude toward modernization and ignorance of ecological destruction under
capitalist development: Paying homage to the bourgeoisie for its unprecedented
ability to develop the productive forces, he writes, Marx and Engels unreservedly
celebrated the Subjection of Natures forces to man and the clearing of whole
continents for cultivation by modern bourgeois production.47 Lwys reading of
Marxs alleged Prometheanism might seem hard to refute here, although Foster
provides another view.48 However, Lwys criticism, even if his interpretation
accurately reflects Marxs thinking at the time, can hardly be generalized across
Marxs entire career, since his critique of capitalism became steadily more ecological
with each passing year. As seen above, the evolution of his thought subsequent to
volume one of Capital shows that in his later years, Marx became seriously interested
in the problem of deforestation, and it is highly doubtful that the late Marx would
praise mass deforestation in the name of progress, without regard to the conscious and
sustainable regulation of the metabolic interaction between humanity and nature.

The Further Scope of Marxs Ecological Critique


Marxs ecological interests in this period also extended to stock farming. In 186566,
he had already read Lonce de Lavergnes Rural Economy of England, Scotland, and
Ireland, in which the French agricultural economist argued for the superiority of

English agriculture. Lavergne offered as an example the English breeding process


developed by Robert Bakewell, with its system of selection, enabling sheep to grow
faster and provide more meat, with only the bone mass necessary for their survival.49
Marxs reaction in his notebook to this improvement is suggestive: Characterized
by precocity, in entirety sickliness, want of bone, a lot of development of fat and flesh
etc. All these are artificial products. Disgusting!50 Such remarks belie any image of
Marx as an uncritical supporter of modern technological advances.
Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, Bakewells New Leicester sheep had
been brought into Ireland, where they were bred with indigenous sheep to yield a new
breed, Roscommon, meant to increase Irelands agricultural productivity.51 Marx was
fully aware of this artificial modification of regional ecosystems for the purposes of
capital accumulation, and rejected it despite its apparent improvement of
productivity: the health and well-being of animals were being subordinated to the
utility of capital. Thus Marx made clear in 1865 that this kind of progress was really
no progress at all, because it could only be achieved by annihilating the sustainable
metabolic interaction between humans and nature.
When Marx returned to the topic of capitalist stock farming in the second manuscript
for volume two of Capital, he found it unsustainable for the same reason that marked
capitalist forestation: The time of production is often simply too long for capital. Here
Marx refers to William Walter Goods Political, Agricultural and Commercial
Fallacies (1866):
For this reason, remembering that farming is governed by the principles of political
economy, the calves which used to come south from the dairying counties for rearing,
are now largely sacrificed at times at a week and ten days old, in the shambles of
Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and other large neighboring towns. What
these little men now say, in reply to recommendations to rear, is, We know very well
it would pay to rear on milk, but it would first require us to put our hands in our purse,
which we cannot do, and then we should have to wait a long time for a return, instead
of getting it at once by dairying.52
No matter how fast the growth of cattle becomes, thanks to Bakewell and other
breeders, it only shortens the time of premature slaughter in favor of a shorter
turnover for capital. According to Marx, this too does not count as development of
productive forces, precisely because it can only take place by sacrificing sustainability
for the sake of short-term profit.
All these are just examples found in the notebooks of 1868. Marx at the time was also
intrigued by William Stanley Jevonss Coal Question (1865), whose warning about
the coming exhaustion of Englands coal supply provoked intense discussion in the
Parliament.53 Without doubt, Marx was studying the books mentioned above as he
prepared the manuscripts of Capital, and continued to do so into the 1870s and 1880s.
So it is quite reasonable to conclude that Marx planned to use these new empirical
materials to elaborate on issues such as the turnover of capital, rent theory, and the
profit rate. In one passage, Marx actually writes that premature slaughter will
ultimately cause big damages to agricultural production.54 Or, as Marx discusses in
another section of the manuscript of 186768, the exhaustion of soils or mines could
also reach such an extent that the diminishing natural condition of productivity in

agriculture and extractive industry could no longer be counterbalanced by increasing


labor productivity.55
Not surprisingly, Marxs calculations of profit rates in the manuscript include those
cases where profit rates sink due to price increases in the floating parts of constant
capital, suggesting that the law of the falling profit rate should not be treated as a
mere mathematical formula. Its real dynamic is tightly linked to the material
components of capital and cannot be treated independently of them.56 In other words,
the valorization and accumulation of capital is not an abstract movement of value;
capital is necessarily incarnated in material components, inevitably taking on an
organic compositiona term taken from Liebigs Agricultural Chemistry
constrained by concrete material elements of the labor process. Despite its elasticity,
this organic structure of capital cannot be arbitrarily modified, or made to diverge too
far from the material character of each natural element of production. Capital
ultimately cannot ignore the natural world.
This does not mean that capitalism will inevitably collapse one day. Fully exploiting
the material elasticity, capital always tries to overcome limitations through scientific
and technological innovation. Capitalisms potential for adaptation is so great that it
can likely survive as a dominant social system until most parts of the earth become
unsuitable for human habitation.57 As Marxs notebooks on natural science
document, he was particularly interested in comprehending the rifts in the process of
metabolic interaction between humans and nature that result from endless
transformations of the material world for the sake of the efficient valorization of
capital. These metabolic rifts are all the more disastrous because they erode the
material conditions for sustainable human development.58
Marx understood these rifts as a manifestation of the fundamental contradictions of
capitalism, and thought it necessary to study them carefully as part of the building of a
radical socialist movement. As shown in this article, Marx was well aware that the
ecological critique of capitalism was not completed by Liebigs theory, and tried to
develop and extend it by drawing on new research from diverse areas of ecology,
agriculture, and botany. Marxs economic and ecological theory is not outdated at all,
but remains fully open to new possibilities for integrating natural scientific knowledge
with the critique of contemporary capitalism.

Notes
1. See John Bellamy Foster, preface to the new edition of Paul Burkett,Marx and
Nature (Chicago: Haymarket, 2014).
2. Funding and support for the MEGA project has now been extended for the
next 15 years. This article is based on my research as a visiting scholar at the
Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences in 2015. I am especially thankful to
Gerald Hubmann, who supported my project from the beginning.
3. Paul Burkett and John Bellamy Foster, The Podolinsky Myth,Historical
Materialism 16, no. 1 (2008): 11561.

4. Foster,Marxs Ecology (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000), chapter 4;


Kohei Saito, The Emergence of Marxs Critique of Modern
Agriculture,Monthly Review 66, no. 5 (October 2014): 2546.
5. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels,Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA) II,
vol. 6 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1975), 409.
6. John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York,The Ecological Rift (New
York: Monthly Review Press, 2010), 7.
7. MEGA II, vol. 5, 410.
8. Carl-Erich Vollgraf, Introduction to MEGA II, vol. 4.3, 461. It is important,
however, to note that Marx had said the same thing in a letter to Engels on
February 13, 1866. See Karl Marx and Frederick Engels,Collected Works
(New York: International Publishers, 1975), vol. 42, 227. There he wrote, I
had to plough through the new agricultural chemistry in Germany, in particular
Liebig and Schnbein, which is more important for this matter than all the
economists put together.
9. Karl Marx,Capital, vol. 1 (London: Penguin, 1976), 638; emphasis added.
10. Liebigs introduction includes a section called National Economy and
Agriculture; Marx begins his excerpts with this section, then returns to the
beginning of introduction.
11. Wilhelm Roscher,System der Volkswirthschaft, 4th ed., vol. 2 (Stuttgart:
Cottascher, 1865), 66.
12. Karl Marx and Friederick Engels,Collected Works, vol. 42, 5078.
13. See especially Karl Marx,Capital, vol. 3 (London: Penguin, 1981), 878.
14. For an introductory discussion of Liebigs theory, see William H. Brock,Justus
von Liebig: The Chemical Gatekeeper (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1997), chapter 6.
15. Foster,Marxs Ecology, 153.
16. Michael Perelman, The Comparative Sociology of Environmental Economics
in the Works of Henry Carey and Karl Marx,History of Economics Review 36
(2002): 85110.
17. Eugen Dhring,Careys Umwlzung der Volkswirthschaftslehre
Socialwissenschaft (Munich: Fleischmann, 1865), xiii.

und

18. Eugen Dhring,Kritische Grundlegung der Volkswirthschaftslehre (Berlin:


Eichhoff, 1866), 230.
19. Dhring,Careys Umwlzung, 67. Though Dhring does not use this
expression to characterize Liebigs theory, Karl Arnd claims that it is haunted
by a ghost of soil exhaustion. See Karl Arnd,Justus von Liebigs
Agrikulturchemie und sein Gespenst der Bodenerschpfung(Frankfurt am
Main: Brnner, 1864).

20. Liebig,Einleitung in die Naturgesetze des Feldbaues(Braunschweig: Friedrich


Vieweg, 1862), 125.
21. On the importance of Anderson to Marxs whole argument see Foster,Marxs
Ecology, 14247.
22. Liebig intentionally wrote in provocative terms in hopes of restoring his
professional fame, and in that sense the seventh edition was quite successful.
See Mark R. Finlay, The Rehabilitation of an Agricultural Chemist: Justus
von Liebig and the Seventh Edition,Ambix 38, no. 3 (1991): 15566.
23. Dhring,Careys Umwlzung, 67.
24. Marx and Engels,Collected Works, vol. 43, 384.
25. Roscher,Nationalkonomie des Ackerbaues, 65.
26. Marx-Engels Archive (MEA), International Institute of Social History, Sign. B
107, 3132. Albert Friedrich Lange,J. St. Mills Ansichten ber die sociale
Frage und die angebliche Umwlzung der Socialwissenschaft durch Carey
(Duisburg: Falk and Lange, 1866), 197.
27. Ibid., 203.
28. MEGA IV, vol. 32, 42.
29. Julius Au,Hilfsdngermittel in ihrer volks- und privatwirtschaftlichen
Bedeutung (Heidelberg: Verlagsbuchhandlung von Fr. Bassermann, 1869),
179.
30. MEGA IV, vol. 32, 42.
31. Marx and Engels,Collected Works, vol. 43, 527.
32. MEA, Sign. B 107, 13.
33. Carl Fraas,Die Ackerbaukrisen und ihre Heilmittel (Leipzig: Brockhaus,
1866), 151.
34. Charles Lyell,Principles of Geology, vol. 3 (London: John Murray, 1832), 61.
35. MEA, Sign. B 107, 94; Carl Fraas,Die Natur der Landwirthschaft, vol. 1
(Mnchen: Cottasche, 1857) 17.
36. Marx and Engels,Collected Works, vol. 42, 559.
37. Fraas,Natur der Landwirthschaft, vol. 1, 357.
38. Marx and Engels,Collected Works, vol. 42, 559.
39. Fraas,Die Ackerbaukrisen und ihre Heilmittel, 141.
40. George Perkins Marsh,Man and Nature (Seattle: University of Washington
Press, 2003), 14.

41. MEA, Sign. B 112, 45. Carl Fraas,Klima und Pflanzenwelt in der Zeit: Ein
Beitrag zur Geschichte beider(Landshut: J. G. Wlfle, 1847), 7.
42. MEA, Sign. B 111, 1. John Devell Tuckett,A History of the Past and Present
State of the Labouring Population (London: Longman, Brown, Green and
Longmans, 1846), vol. 2, 402.
43. MEGA II, vol. 4.2, 670.
44. Friedrich Kirchhof,Handbuch der landwirthschaftlichen Betriebslehre
(Dessau: Moriz Ratz, 1852). Marx owned a copy of this book (MEGA IV, vol.
32, 673).
45. MEGA II, vol. 11, 203; Karl Marx,Capital, vol. 2 (London: Penguin, 1978),
322.
46. Marx and Engels,Collected Works, vol. 6, 489.
47. Michael Lwy, Globalization and Internationalism: How Up-to-date is the
Communist Manifesto?Monthly Review 50, no. 6 (November 1998): 20.
48. John Bellamy Foster, The Ecological Revolution(New York: Monthly Review
Press, 2009), 21332.
49. Lonce de Lavergne,Rural Economy of England, Scotland, and Ireland
(Edinburgh: William Blackwood, 1855), 1920, 3739.
50. MEA, Sign. B 106, 209; William Walter Good,Political, Agricultural and
Commerical Fallacies (London: Edward Stanford, 1866), 1112.
51. Janet Vorwald Dohner, ed.,The Encyclopedia of Historic and Endangered
Livestock and Poultry Breeds (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001),
121.
52. MEGA II, vol. 11, 188.
53. MEA, Sign. B 128, 2.
54. MEGA II, vol. 11, 187.
55. MEGA II, vol. 4.3, 80.
56. For a more mathematical treatment of the law, see Michael Heinrich,An
Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marxs Capital(New York: Monthly
Review Press, 2012), chapter 7.
57. Burkett,Marx and Nature, 192.
58. John Bellamy Foster, The Great Capitalist Climacteric,Monthly Review 67,
no. 6 (November 2015): 9.