I would like to comment on Mike Macnair’s ‘Hegemon in decline’ (Weekly Worker June 4).
The first part of this article is, I believe, a very clear and succinct account of the problems of US policy -which cuts through the lies and strategy babble. I might add that those problems seem more or less insuperable to me - but then I am not advised by clever think-tanks.
However, I have a few reservations about the last part of the article, which emphasises that Russia is seen as the great threat to US hegemony. Yet the total GNP or GDP (take your pick) of China is far greater than Russia’s, even if the Russian income per head is about double that of the Chinese (all figures from the CIA website). The Chinese economy, moreover, is growing much faster. Of course, the Russians have a lot more nuclear warheads, but these horrible devices cannot really be used, while a minimum number is quite enough to scare off any potential foe. I cannot believe that the security state people in the ‘beltway’ think Russia is the greater threat, even if it is true that the Chinese are more vulnerable than the Russians as far as energy goes and controlling the oil taps will be of great use to the state department.
I sense there are considerable irrationalities in US policy and, just as generals are always supposed to be fighting the last war, so cold war ‘experts’ may still be fighting the last cold war - or, alternatively, their policies are thundering on as if on a railway line, unable to veer in a different direction. Who among the bureaucrats will risk preferment by breaking ranks? Of course, I exaggerate. There is a ‘China first’ faction as well as a ‘Russia first’ one, but, as Mike suggests, the anti-Russki one may be more powerful.
Finally on Halford Mackinder, whom I have never read. Surely Mackinder’s whole thesis is posited on the growth of railway lines which could knit together the ‘world island’? This had actually happened on a more minor scale in the 19th century, as the ‘iron horse’ by its growth had gradually welded countries and perhaps continents together. In 2015, with huge fleets of large airliners, massive road transport and the growing importance of very highly skilled labour, together with the worldwide web, Mackinder seems somewhat less relevant.
The Left Unity London aggregate on Tuesday June 9 was beyond parody. The meeting overwhelmingly rejected any joint list for the Greater London Assembly with the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, with this sectarian position getting the full support of our national secretary, Kate Hudson, our treasurer, Andrew Burgin, Socialist Resistance, the CPGB and assorted ex-SWPers like Tom Walker.
Quite a number of these people recognised that it was unlikely that Left Unity had the financial resources, the number of activists or the popular following to mount a viable campaign that would enable ourselves alone to reach the 5% threshold and elect one GLA member, who could act as the tribune of the working class and oppressed and get a great deal (by our standards) of media coverage for socialism. However, getting somebody elected was not the main point - perhaps not the point at all. The main enemy, it seemed, was not the Tories, not the increasingly anti-working class and neo-Blairite Labour Party (whose leader, Harriet Harman, was relieved by the Tory victory), not the bankers, not the major monopolies, not the UK Independence Party, not the fascists, but, of course, Tusc!
The two figures singled out for denunciation were Dave Nellist and Hugo Pierre - one for not sharing his miniscule slot on a television politics programme with us and the other for placing himself in the centre of a photograph taken in Bethnal Green: clearly crimes the working class will recall for generations to come, when the impact of Osborne’s austerity and Cameron’s further anti-union laws will be long forgotten.
Of course, Ken Loach was, as so often is the case, a voice of sanity and explicitly referred to The life of Brian and how the working class would perceive this squabble between competing left candidates, and, as somebody with more experience of press work than any of us, told Tom Walker to do his job properly and fight his corner against Dave Nellist, instead of complaining to a London aggregate. However, Ken’s intervention was ignored and two of the comrades from Ken’s own, Camden, branch made some of the most sectarian speeches of the night.
As I would have pointed out, had I been called to speak, the recent victories in the local elections in Barcelona and Madrid were achieved by the left burying their differences and standing a joint list; where Podemos and Izquierda Unida stood alone and in competition, they did not do anything like as well.
Daniel Harvey’s report of the discussions at the recent Hands Off the People of Iran day school is to be commended, as, unlike in other Weekly Worker reports on these hotly disputed issues (for instance after the heresy hunt over the Jewish question last year), comrade Harvey at least tried to be objective (‘Islamism, Israel and imperialism’, June 4). His report is complemented by the one on the Communist Explorations website, particularly in refuting the allegations of untruth by Moshé Machover.
However, on one key thing he is wrong. I am not an opponent of the CPGB per se. I am in favour of building a Marxist party, in which free, public exchanges of views on disputed questions are the norm. This is what the CPGB claims to stand for. I am only an opponent of the third camp, Draper-influenced trend that is currently, through its actual practice, destroying what it claims to stand for with suppression of debates for reasons of opportunism toward chauvinist elements that do not support its objectives in any way. Two pieces of evidence for this are: the very strange article on Rabina Khan’s election campaign (‘Tower Hamlets: vote Rabina Khan’, June 4); and Toby Abse’s letter (also June 4).
Regarding the former, it is completely contradictory to endorse the ousting of the twice-elected mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, by a judge who was obviously following a racist, anti-Muslim agenda laid down by the ruling class, while at the same time calling for a vote for Rabina Khan, who is standing in his place in the rerun in an attempt to defeat the anti-democratic removal of the original mayor politically.
I am not going to repeat arguments I have already made several times as to why Rahman’s ousting was anti-democratic and racist. People can read this on Communist Explorations, particularly in my leaflet, ‘Blindness to oppression, taking a dive on democracy’, which was distributed at the Hopi day school. But the fact is that two different political lines have been argued by different elements of the CPGB over the Rabina Khan campaign.
One was the sympathetic position argued by Simon Wells in his letter of May 7, saying that “The mayoral election will be the ‘real’ judgement of Pickles’ interference, not that of an unelected and unaccountable judge”, implying support for Rabina Khan on democratic grounds. The other was argued in the CPGB Notes for Action email bulletin (also May 7), which lamented: “Many leftists are queuing up to defend poor Rahman, regrettably now including Left Unity, whose leadership has now decided to support Rabina Khan, Rahman’s anointed successor, in June’s election.” The article supporting Khan’s campaign last week, while not defending Rahman and indeed endorsing the judge’s actions, is a wretched composite.
It is an example of a practice once associated with the Trotskyist group, Workers Power, which, because the public expression of disagreements was forbidden according to their rules, where strong disagreement existed, repeatedly came up with self-contradictory theses and articles that tried to encompass political lines that were counterposed to each other in principle.
Since the CPGB began forbidding the expression of ‘inconvenient’ Marxist political views in and around its ‘party’ project last year, with the proscription of my views, no-one in the CPGB can be sure that they will not be treated the same way by the leading clique. Despite the theoretical existence of the right to disagree within the framework of Marxism, this has been breached. This means dissenters are now under pressure to ‘compromise’ their views, and hence WP-style, self-contradictory gibberish is likely to occur more and more.
The letter of Toby Abse, with his virulent hostility to LU’s support for Rabina Khan and his long-standing, extreme antipathy to George Galloway and Respect, and now those who in LU who either support or have in the past supported Respect, is indicative. If anyone had used the kind of horror-film imagery comrade Abse uses, about ‘flesh-eating zombies’, about someone associated with Jewish causes, they would be accused of anti-Semitism.
But a Jewish comrade like comrade Abse who holds such views of Galloway, and implicitly anyone else who saw something positive in Respect’s real achievements in striking political blows against imperialist wars such as Iraq, is the object of deference despite this highly specific form of ‘left’ chauvinism. Despite the fact that he does not support the CPGB project and never even endorsed the Communist Platform, the CPGB and the latter body endorsed him even ahead of some of their own comrades in the Left Unity elections.
Thus we really see the opportunism and conciliation of a specifically Jewish form of anti-Muslim chauvinism that drove the purge last year, whose logic is the destruction of the party project. This was also illustrated by the failure of the CPGB to condemn the concurrent assault on comrade Galloway by a Jewish extremist.
I support the party project. Though, just as there is more than one way to skin a cat, so a genuine Marxist party with an ethos of open programmatic debate in the Bolshevik tradition will most likely need to be built by other forces. Current CPGB comrades should also be involved.
Comrades writing in the Weekly Worker have explained workers’ support for immigration controls as “deflected class-consciousness”. The term could be useful, the implication being that support for immigration controls is fundamentally different from racism, whose mission - sowing division between workers - in no way expresses class-consciousness. But missing from the analysis is a categorisation of the controls themselves, which would call for programmatic change against the open-borderism of the moralist ‘anti-racists’.
False consciousness doesn’t become deflected class-consciousness for purely subjective reasons. The insight immanent in the term “deflected class-consciousness” is that the demand for immigration controls has a dialectically contradictory character.
Immigration controls, then, belong to what category? Why, ultimately, they are concessions! Augmenting the industrial reserve army by quasi-open immigration is the non-concessionary capitalist policy. The capitalist state admits fewer immigrants when the ‘free’ labour market creates economic inequalities so severe that they threaten the system with revolutionary unrest (see data provided by the academician, Peter Turchin). The relative freedom from immigration controls, characteristic of neoliberalism, fits today’s weakness of the working class and quiescence of the class struggle. This is why an element of class-consciousness perdures when workers demand immigration controls.
Since it implicates them in the executive functioning of the capitalist state and supporting its militarisation, communists shouldn’t support border controls, but that negative argument against the demand for immigration controls isn’t an affirmative argument for their abolition.
The relaxation of immigration controls is the programme of the plutocrats. Principled programmatic measures to address wage-undercutting are ignored or opposed by open-borderists. Thus, the neglect of the classic Marxist demand to prohibit employers from underpaying foreign workers. Or, in the United States, failure to demand abolition of the guest worker programmes.
These abstentions are the result of open borderism. Consistent open-borderists oppose penalising employers for employing undercutters as, in practice, enforcement would amount to a ban.
Like many on the left, I wonder when it is all going to end - more cuts, banks fined for fixing rates, Mrs Windsor knighting her grandson (blimey, he is already a prince!), the MPs’ pay rise, strike rules, UK and USA proxy war in Yemen (come on, the UK is in cahoots with Saudis) and on and on the Tories march.
I believe that the left, although in the doldrums, will reach a point and the revolution will start when the people will say enough is enough. Look at the poll tax riots, the million-plus people who marched against war in Iraq. The Tories will go too far one time and the Winter Palace will be stormed.
On April 2, the fascist AKP government regime in Turkey illegally raided the İdil Culture Centre (İdil Kültür Merkezi) in Turkey. İdil Culture Centre workers and Grup Yorum members have been arrested, then detained after being dragged from the premises and later tortured. British national Steve Shaw Kaczynski was detained at this time and remains without charge held in severe isolation conditions.
This follows major and continued unrest in Turkey, where the US-backed AKP fascist government continue to arrest and detain without charge any person who does not agree with their ideology and policies. Those who differ from the AKP are labelled ‘terrorists’, where any dissent is not tolerated and where brutal and violent force is often used. Furthermore, under the AKP government, workers that are unemployed, students that are protesting for free education, traders that cannot obtain enough work, journalists and independent press often have little or no rights and are continually arrested as criminals and terrorists.
Who is Stephen Shaw Kaczynski and what is his crime? He was born on July 5 1963 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He attended Linlithgow Academy and then went on to study Russian and German at the University of Edinburgh in the 1980s. He is currently and has always been a British national. Stephen worked for several years for the BBC World Service, based in Reading, and has also worked as a subeditor for various newspapers. Stephen is a kind and gentle man who abhors violence and has long campaigned for human rights and political freedom. He is a much-loved son, brother and uncle.
In 1996, when Stephen was working for the BBC, he began to learn and understand the struggles against Turkish government oppression, forming friendships and supporting individuals from the Turkish left who were involved in ongoing death fasts in Turkey. Being a man with deep concerns for human rights abuses around the world and also a socialist who has a longstanding affiliation and connection with Turkish culture, he speaks fluent Turkish and has for many years supported the Turkish community living in England, through, for example, translation of official documents, help with employment matters, immigration issues and other general support where needed. Stephen has helped to defend people’s rights in many different ways over the years and has participated in symposiums, seminars and panels, especially in relation to the continuation of Turkey’s death fast resistance, where 122 individuals have been killed in F-type prisons.
The fascist AKP government wants to frighten people at all levels of society through the continual slander of innocent people to discourage their ideas, with the systematic goal of trying to pressure people to forget their political identity. The AKP label foreign individuals like Stephen as ‘agents’ when they try to discredit them. Stephen was in Turkey for the purpose of international solidarity against fascism and was arrested on unsubstantiated claims by the AKP police. Media channels and newspapers commissioned by the AKP informed people that Stephen was an ‘agent’ and, whilst there is no evidence of this, the court and prosecutors have still not asked Stephen about it. After the raids, the media claimed that Stephen was a ‘British agent’. There is categorically no truth in this accusation. Whilst Stephen has been under police custody, the AKP-backed media have portrayed him as a traitor to his activist friends and to the beliefs he has always stood for.
How can we help and support Steve? We, as a committee for Steve Kaczynski’s freedom, are supporting our comrade with letters and cards ensuring that Steve feels our love, our solidarity and our respect for him. We do not believe the lies that have been said against him. We will oppose his illegal arrest and will be his voice in this, his country, and in Turkey. We invite all human rights defenders, our friends and our people to support Steve by writing letters and sending cards to him. We are repeating the slogan that Steve had shouted during his arrest: ‘Pressures cannot intimidate us!’
Pressures cannot intimidate. Stephen Kaczynski is our honour. Long live international solidarity. Long live the brotherhood of the people. Freedom for Stephen Kaczynski! You can help by sending a fax to the ministry of justice in Ankara and phoning to ask why Stephen Kaczynski has been unfairly arrested. Telephone: 90 (0312) 417 77 70; fax: 90 (0312) 419 33 70; email: ınfo@adalet.gov.tr; address: 06659 Kizilay/Ankara. Please also support Steve by writing letters and cards to: Maltepe 3 No.lu Hapishanesi, Yabancılar bölümü Büyük Bakkal Köy Mah, Yakacık Yolu Üzeri, No 13 Maltepe - Istanbul.
In the United Kingdom, please contact the following to ask for their support and help with the immediate release of Stephen: Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Prisoners Abroad; Reprieve; Fair Trials International; and Amnesty International.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Committee for Steve Kaczynski’s freedom