"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in"
(Leonard Cohen)
"Ignore all proffered rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say"
(Michael Moorcock)
"Look for your own. Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. Do not say, do not write what someone else could say, could write as well as you. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings."
(Andre Gide)
"I want my place, my own place, my true place in the world, my proper sphere, my thing which Nature intended me to perform when she fashioned me thus awry, and which I have vainly sought all my life-time."
(Nathaniel Hawthorne)
"Beyond a certain point there is no return. This point has to be reached."
(Franz Kafka)
"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated"
(John Donne)
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
(Robert J. Hanlon)
"Life is beautiful, but the world is hell"
(Harold Pinter)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Debating out Differences

Camilla Power: communism is our nature
EXTRACTStill on the theme of war, CU stalwart Hillel Ticktin gave three talks on World War I, whose impact is still felt today. After all, it led to the collapse of three empires (Austro-Hungary, Ottoman Turkey, tsarist Russia) and produced the Russian Revolution. The ultimate cause of the war, in the opinion of the comrade, arose from the fact that Britain was the world’s imperial overlord, but was in a state of relative decline - in the period leading up to the war its share of global production had slipped from 32% to about half that; France was also slipping down the ranks. The US and Germany were eager to muscle in.
Slightly more controversially and revealing his “pathological anti-Stalinism” - as he cheerfully put it - comrade Ticktin dismissed Stalin almost from the day he was born as a “criminal” and “incompetent” who never amounted to anything, and reiterated the idea that Trotsky should have seized power and become a “revolutionary Napoleon”. Some comrades were not convinced, emphasising the objective factors facing a desperately backward country like the Soviet Union - a better explanation than Stalin’s original sin. Comrade John Bridge spoke of how Stalin to a very large degree was forced to do certain things, it is the very nature of freak societies to throw up weird leaders - Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim il-Sung, etc.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dynamic Towards Full-Scale Confrontation

Will they fight?
But, ratcheting up the tensions regardless, Nato’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, stated that there was a “high probability” of Russian attack “under the guise of a humanitarian operation” - surely this was a descent into cold war-style paranoia. On August 12, French president François Hollande told Putin in a phone call that he had “grave concerns” about Russia’s ongoing “unilateral” mission in Ukraine. Barack Obama and Angela Merkel issued a joint statement saying that Russia would face “additional consequences” if it went ahead with its convoy without explicit permission from the Kiev government.

What does the west want Kiev to do - block the convoy? Maybe, seeing how Arsen Avakov, Kiev’s minister of internal affairs, posted a Facebook message on August 13 saying that “no Putin ‘humanitarian convoy’” will be allowed across the territory of Kharkiv, describing it as a “provocation by a cynical aggressor”. Western hypocrisy is astounding. It is now intervening militarily in northern Iraq to supposedly prevent the ‘genocide’ of Yazidis, Christian and other minorities trapped on the mountains. But if they spoke Russian they would probably be allowed to starve - if not get fired upon by US fighter jets.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Imperialism: Judge it by Results

Killed by Anglo-French militia
EXTRACT: Libya is rapidly becoming another failed state, with ‘Made in the west’ stamped all over it. Imperialist representatives may have promised freedom and democracy, but they are no longer willing even to remain in the country. A real vote of confidence. If privileged embassy officials felt they had to get out quick, just imagine what life must be like for ordinary civilians - pure hell on earth. Just like Iraq, oddly.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

BNP: From the sewer and back

A great victory?
EXTRACTWe should not forget, however, the other big factor in the BNP’s seeming demise - BBC’s Question time show in October 2009. Or more accurately, Let’s do Griffin Time, when a peak audience of 8.2 million saw Griffin totally humiliated by the BBC bosses’ deliberate decision to platform him - exposing the BNP leader as a thoroughly incompetent and bumbling politician with no real answers to anything. An emperor with no clothes. Yet, at the time, the UAF stupidly campaigned to prevent him appearing. 

Particularly disastrous on that evening was Griffin’s refusal to answer a direct question about the Nazi genocide on the feeble basis that “European law” prevented him elaborating upon his views - making him look cowardly, shifty and decidedly suspect. Not something you really want in your populist leader. Unsurprisingly, many of the BNP’s own members were mortified by Griffin’s performance - immediately attacking him, and the BBC, on the BNP’s website. Nor has the BBC been forgiven. In the readers’ comments on the Daily Mail website, discussing an article about the BNP leadership change, ‘George W’ from London reminds us of the BBC’s nefarious role: “[Griffin] never recovered from his ill-advised appearance on Question time. Remember it? The whole structure of the normal programme changed and he was attacked by the other four on the panel, as well as 99% of the audience. The BBC called it fair and balanced. It was modern bear-baiting.”

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

West's Propaganda War

Right Sector: explanation for Russian separatism
EXTRACT: What has essentially taken place in the Ukraine is a western power grab - with both the EU/Nato and the US attempting to expand their sphere of influence considerably to the east. The sudden and forced removal of the elected president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, represented a direct threat to Moscow’s interests - which were already threatened by the growing western presence in the former Soviet republics to its south. Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Peter Hitchins - brother to the deceased socialist-cum-neocon, Christopher - argued that the “aggressor” in the current war was the EU, “backed by the USA”, as they “sought to bring Ukraine into its orbit” through “violence and illegality”, “an armed mob” and the “overthrow of an elected president” (July 20). Hitchens may be a reactionary British nationalist, but here he does have a point.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Balkanising the Web

Keep it uncensored
EXTRACT: Of course, there is a certain truth to this - the internet is essentially free and a form of ‘real-time’ communication, obviously representing a marvellous technological advance. A tool to use. Communists would be the very last people to shun or belittle new technology, especially when it comes to the means of communication: we embrace anything which facilitates a freer and greater circulation of ideas. Alex Callinicos (‘Stalinicos’) of the Socialist Workers Party may mutter about the “dark side” of the internet, but that was just the instinctive reaction of a bureaucratic control-freak when confronted by a seemingly unstoppable flow of dissent. His equivalents throughout history have made similar complaints, whether it was about the seditious Caxton printing press, trains, paperbacks, radios or (in the case of the North Korean dictatorship) photocopiers.

Having said that, what needs to be realised is that the internet is not an astral force that floats above our base and fallen world - gloriously disconnected from the global capitalist system or governments. It is not necessarily indestructible, let alone a magical technology that bypasses the need for ‘old-fashioned’ forms of political organisation. The same old problems of class society and the cash nexus remain. There are various agents that want to tame and subvert the internet’s emancipatory potential - even start closing the gates if it comes to the crunch.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Protected by the Establishment

You scratch my back
EXTRACT: Here is the crucial point, of course. Savile had friends in high places - lots of them (maybe Harris did too, albeit on a much smaller scale). He ruthlessly milked and exploited his seemingly endless connections at the top of society. Who invited our Jimmy round for Christmas dinner year after year? Margaret Thatcher. Unbelievably, when the arranged marriage between Charles Windsor and Diana Spencer inevitably hit the rocks, Savile was called in as an intermediary - a sort of informal marriage guidance counsellor. Unsurprisingly, not even Jim could fix that farce of a marriage. Not that this prevented our future king from also asking him to help keep Sarah Ferguson (then married to Prince Andrew) “out of trouble”.

Such behaviour is not so much a condemnation of Savile himself - he was clearly a sociopath - but rather of the institutions that lauded and protected him for so long. Charles, after all, led the tributes to Savile when he died. The obituaries were fulsome. The establishments and its agents (government ministers, senior police officials, top BBC managers, etc) had determinedly refused to see the obvious: that Savile was a sexual predator of the most grotesquely immoral kind. Nobody would investigate. Everybody was in denial. Jimmy Savile was the establishment’s dirty little secret for decades.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

David Cameron and his nemesis
EXTRACTIn which case, what will happen in 2017, assuming the Tories are still in office? Ed Miliband has repeatedly asked Cameron - if you only get what suspiciously looks like European crumbs, or less, then how exactly are you going to vote in the referendum? Showing the confusion that is Cameron’s approach to Europe, Downing Street in recent days has hinted that Cameron is prepared to threaten EU leaders that he will recommend a ‘no’ vote in 2017 if Juncker gets elected or if they fail to embrace wide-ranging reforms. A No10 spokeswoman on June 23 Delphically stated that the national leaders of the European council “need to think about the fact” that if David Cameron is re-elected “clearly the decisions” taken by the EU in that period from now until the referendum “will affect British voters’ views of the EU” and is “likely to affect the way they vote in any such referendum”. 

But suddenly advocating a ‘no’ vote runs even greater dangers than his present ‘yes, but’ approach - the least of which will be White House disapproval. Hillary Clinton has made her views clear, telling the BBC on June 13 that “Europe needs Britain” and the UK “brings a perspective and an experience that is very important to Europe, especially post-economic crisis” - which you can more or less interpret as a call for a ‘yes’ vote in 2017.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Permitted Shades of Grey

Freedom of speech, freedom of the press
EXTRACT: In fact, Marx’s heroic battles as a journalist and subsequently editor of Rheinische Zeitung against the Prussian state and its iniquitous censorship laws reverberate more than ever with contemporary relevance. The first obligation of a truth-seeker, declared Marx, is to “make directly for the truth without looking right or left ... Won’t I forget the heart of the matter if it is more important that I speak in the prescribed form?” Of course, not being an idiot, Marx stressed that freedom of the press is “not a perfect thing itself” - it is not the “all-in-all” of the matter. In other words, an open and free press cannot guarantee ‘freedom’ - ie, freedom from all inaccuracies, mistakes and distortions. But the long-term interests of the workers’ movement, and human liberation, demand nothing less. “You could not enjoy the advantages of a free press without tolerating its inconveniences,” noted Marx - just as “you could not pluck the rose without its thorns!” He went on to argue: “And what do you lose in losing a free press? A free press is the omnipresent open eye of the popular spirit ... It is the merciless confessional that a people make to itself, and it is well known that confession has the power to redeem. It is the intellectual mirror in which a people beholds itself, and self-examination is the first condition of wisdom.”

Just as importantly, as Marx put it, openness activates and enhances the “public mind”. The role of the communist press is, or at least it should be, precisely to hold a mirror up to the debates within LU and everything else on the left - to make them accountable for their words and deeds, or misdeeds in this particular case. Expose the political free riders. Get people thinking. That is the Weekly Worker.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Both Campaigns are US Allies and Friends

Whatever the outcome, still US pawns.
EXTRACTFor us in the CPGB, it is naive in the extreme to think that the question on the ballot paper is the only one that needs answering - in that sense it is not an honest question, which is nearly always the case when it comes to referendums. The bourgeoisie and its bureaucrats get to decide the question, after all. In reality, there will be two questions confronting you on that ballot paper: ‘Do you want Scotland to be an independent country?’; and (implied by the ‘no’ option): ‘Do you want a continuation of the status quo, with ‘devo-max’ bolted on?’  #

The answer to both questions should be a resounding ‘no’. Scottish nationalism weakens the working class - but so does the monarchist-unionist status quo: that is surely obvious. Yes, we may have a historically constituted British working class, but, alas, we do not have a united working class. In fact, the rotten status quo continually sows disunity. Under these conditions, communists must develop tactics and strategies to positively overcome division and all forms of backwardness.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Our men in Kiev and Donetsk

Don't provide redwash
EXTRACT: What we do know though is that the left in Britain, for the most part, has taken a disastrous approach - backing one or the other side in the conflict. Either Kiev or Moscow. One side looks enviously at the protests in Independence Square and imagines it is a progressive revolution, or uprising, against an oligarch - therefore we have to support it. After all, anything that draws a crowd must be progressive - right? Such comrades, like Socialist Resistance, believe that out of this spontaneity will come the royal road to socialism. All you need to do is nudge the masses in the right direction with your transitional programme, and everything will be fine - they will eventually flock to your leadership.

What a delusion, downplaying and ignoring the active role of far-right and fascist forces in the Maidan ‘revolution’ - including the ones who hold senior government posts. This is surely beyond question now, there being an abundance of material concerning the likes of Right Sector and Svoboda before, during and after the Independence Square protests. We in the CPGB would call such forces fascistic not mainly because of any professed ideological orientation - or that they like to carry portraits of Nazi collaborators - but rather because of what they actually do: ie, organise street gangs to attack minorities and the left.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

BNP: Death Bed Performance

Time for an autopsy

EXTRACT: However, the reason why the BNP is facing extinction is obvious - it was targeted by the establishment. As we in the CPGB argued at the time, Nick Griffin was fatally holed by his disastrous October 2009 appearance on the BBC’s Question time, which is still popular viewing on YouTube and elsewhere.7 On that day the show ditched its normal deadly dull format to become a far more entertaining Let’s do Griffin time - and it certainly did. Before an audience which peaked at 8.2 million people - more than half of all those watching television at the time and around four times the number who usually tune in to Question time - Griffin was outed as a bumbling would-be ‘fuhrer’. For instance, he defended David Duke, the “totally non-violent” former Ku Klux Klan leader and, far worse, refused to answer a direct question concerning his views on the Nazi genocide (or “holo-hoax”, as he once called it) on the pathetic grounds that “European law” prevented him elaborating upon his position. Obviously a man of principle and courage. The BBC had turned him into a laughing stock.

Griffin himself later admitted that he had been the victim of a “lynch mob”, bitterly complaining that the way the programme had been produced was “unfair”, because it had been “altered” to concentrate on him and his policies - with all but one question focused on the BNP. Poor thing. Showing how dreadful Griffin’s performance really was, many BNP members gave vent to their dismay and embarrassment. Lee Barnes, the party’s legal officer at the time, raged on his blog about how Griffin should have stood up to these “whining, middle class hypocrites” that use the “race card for self-enrichment” and “thrown the truth right back into their fat, sanctimonious, hypocritical, self-serving faces”. From that day, Griffin was a dead man walking.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

We are the 0.00001%

Asking for fairness will get nowhere

EXTRACT: One of the major revelations, apart from the fact that the queen is a relative pauper these days (at £330 million she is now ranked 285th), is that the top 1,000 own a third of all the country’s wealth, with a combined fortune of almost £520 billion - an extraordinary development. Occupy used to talk how “we are the 99%”, as opposed to the 1%, but they got their maths seriously wrong - in reality the super-rich only constitute about 0.00001% of the population. Another cheerful thought is that their wealth has doubled since the financial crisis, whilst hundreds of thousands have to rely on food banks to feed their families.

An even more staggering statistic, if anything, is that last year alone the total wealth of the very richest jumped by 15.4% - they have never had it so good. No wonder that Philip Beresford, who compiled the list, had never seen such a “phenomenal” rise in personal wealth before - the super-rich people in Britain had had an “astonishing year”, he said. Naturally though, he thoroughly approved of this fact, as many of these people are apparently at the “heart of the economy” and “their success brings more jobs and more wealth for the country”. We should be grateful for their “success”.