Dont blame coal
I could not disagree more with Simon Wells (‘The problem is capitalism’, October 3). Not on capitalism being the problem, but on the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report. First of all, Simon sexes up the document by claiming: “The scientists tell us they are 95% confident that global warming is caused by human-made pollution.” They didn’t say that at all; they said they were 95% confident that 50% of global warming is human-made.
Other claims made either by Simon or the IPCC (I haven’t read the entire 2,000-word document; I don’t know if he has) are also just wrong. For instance, “warming of the climate system since the 1950s [is] unprecedented”. No, it isn’t. Humans have been on this planet scarcely one million years out of the four billion of Earth’s existence and changes in climate have been huge and dramatic - from molten lava to a total snowball of the globe.
Even during man’s existence, the climate has fluctuated massively, from tropics to ice ages. There are long and short waves of hotter and colder climates. As Simon admits, it was hotter in the 1850s. But the predicted rise of global temperatures, even if you rig where you do the counting from - since the 1950s to today - hasn’t happened. The truth is that the IPCC has form on manipulating - inventing might be better word - ‘evidence’.
In November 2010 the leaking of emails from the climatic research unit of the University of East Anglia showed that many of the world’s top climate scientists were conspiring to sack sceptics, hide data and cover up errors.
Just as damning was the admission by IPCC lead author Kevin Trenberth that the world isn’t warming, as the IPCC said: “We cannot account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” In July 2013 the UN’s World Weather Organisation informed us that the “first 10 years of this century” recorded the hottest weather temperature since records began and that is the way the media reported it in screaming headlines. Further investigation of this report actually went on to explain, firstly, that records have only been kept for 170-odd years - in terms of the earth not a drop in the ocean. Secondly, and more importantly, this wasn’t an overall temperature rise, but a rise recorded in two of the hottest climatic areas of desert on earth. The earth’s overall global temperature remained unchanged and the cause of the higher recorded spot temperature could not be identified.
The world climate conference in Africa cobbled out some emission limits to be implemented within the next 20 years, but the desperate need for development in the third world and the desperate search for profit in the west means that only time will tell whether they stick to the limits. The effects of these limits on climate change are in any case entirely speculative.
Quoting the IPCC as an authority on global warming, claiming it’s a group of ‘guys in white coats’ who ‘just measure things’ is naive. The IPCC also just makes things up. They claim in a 2007 report: “Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate.”
In fact, we now know this bizarre claim was first made by a little-known Indian scientist in an interview for an online magazine, and then copied into a report by a green group. From there, the IPCC lifted it almost word for word for its own 2007 report, without checking if it was true. It wasn’t, of course, as the IPCC conceded.
But why did the IPCC run this mad claim in the first place? The IPCC’s Dr Murari Lal, the coordinating lead author responsible, says he knew all along there was no peer-reviewed research to back it up. But “we thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact on policy-makers and politicians …”
Syed Hasnain, the scientist who first made the false claim, turned out to be employed by the Energy Research Institute. The ERI has won up to $500,000 from the Carnegie Corporation to investigate such bogus claims. It has created a global business network and its recent donors include Deutsche Bank, Toyota, Yale University. Meanwhile, green socialists try to convince us this climate anti-industry campaign is somehow anti-capitalist.
The IPCC’s 2007 report also cites a non-scientific, non-peer-reviewed paper from another activist body, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, as its sole proof that global warming could devastate African agriculture.
The IPCC 2007 report claimed the world had “suffered rapidly rising costs due to extreme weather-related events since the 1970s”, thanks to global warming. In fact, the claim was picked out of an unpublished report by a London risk consultant, who later changed his mind and said “the idea that catastrophes are rising in cost because of climate change is completely misleading”.
At least four new papers by top scientists cast doubt on the IPCC claim that our carbon dioxide emissions are strongly linked to global warming. One, published in Nature, shows the world had ice age activity even when atmospheric CO2 was four times the level of pre-industrial times. In other words, during the time of mass human population but before the industrial revolution, emissions were four times lower than during the ice age - there was global freezing, not global warming. This poses the question of where that CO2 came from - it clearly wasn’t the miners.
In fact the world hasn’t warmed since 2001, even though we pump out more emissions than ever. Even professional alarmist Tim Flannery, author of The weather makers, admits that “we haven’t seen a continuation of that [warming] trend” and “the computer modelling and the real world data disagree”. Yet the hysteria regarding ‘climate deniers’ verges on accusations of blasphemy, so passionately and fundamentally do the believers believe. It causes normally staid and conservative scientists to start tarting up and falsifying evidence to silence the body of data which contradicts them.
The well trailed tale is that global warming is causing the Arctic ice sheet to melt. But the evidence shows the opposite! Global temperatures have been cooling for the past 10 years and, although Arctic sea ice has been shrinking, mainly because the ice age is actually over and we are in a cycle taking us closer to the sun, in Antarctica (which holds 90% of all the world’s ice) the opposite is happening and it is holding its own and spreading!
In September 2013 the long awaited second UN report on global warming was released by the IPCC. The problem is that it can find no evidence of global warming over the last 17 years. None of the predictions of where we would be by now have in fact happened. They had actually predicted in 2007 that by the end of 2013 the Arctic ice would have completely melted. In fact the summer of 2013 saw the smallest ice melt for nine years and the global extent of polar sea ice is equal to the average of the past 34 years.
So to explain this we have the entirely speculative theory that the world’s oceans have absorbed the extra heat they were anticipating. But why should the ocean suddenly learn to do that now, and not when the first rises since the 50s were noted? In other words, why when the ocean was colder didn’t it absorb the rise in temperature, but now it’s warmer it absorbs the entire added rise in temperature? But why is there more Antarctic ice now than any time in the last nine years? And this when the global emissions of CO2 have doubled, along with coal consumption.
What has happened is that a worldwide scare has been let loose, based on the word of ‘experts’, which has wrecked incomes, energy policy, closed down industry, driven many working people into fuel poverty and wrecked environments into the bargain. But we are still waiting to see evidence of ongoing global warming, as against 20-year cycles of rises and falls. The last 65 years have demonstrated a longer overall rise against middling periods of stable temperatures. What isn’t happening is a relentless rise in global temperatures, as is demonstrated by the last 17 years of stability. Another five or 10 years of this stability, or even a decline, will kill the whole theory of man-made global warming dead.
I am not, of course, saying human beings contribute nothing to climate and environmental change - how could that ever be so with billions of us occupying every corner of the planet and the mark of our existence everywhere to be seen? What I am saying is that our tiny contribution to the wealth of factors impacting on climate and weather is minimal compared to long-term, natural, cyclical trends.
The fact is, global warming, CO2, coal mining, etc are rapidly becoming acts of faith, which no reasonable person is allowed to challenge. This has opened up new areas of profit-making and capitalist expansion - the ‘green agenda’, despite its progressive advocates and passionate hippy followers, is firmly in the hands of big corporate business.
Neither am I saying that it is fine just to burn coal in a cavalier fashion, as we currently do, with emissions going up the chimney destroying the health of populations, vegetation and the atmosphere. I and the National Union of Mineworkers have argued for decades that coal is a rich resource which should be valued and used in the most efficient, environmentally responsible way, through the utility of carbon capture and storage and other modern, clean, coal-burn technologies, which have so far been spiked because of the rush to non-carbon fuel sources. I am also convinced that the war against coal is a war against the miners’ unions worldwide and part of a class strategy as much as a new scheme for making money from new energy systems and world paranoia.
The above letter is based upon my observations in Clean coal technology, climate change and the miners, available from my good self (£5 post paid).
Dont blame coal
Dont blame coal
Unfortunately it is Mike Macnair, not Lenin, who is talking nonsense about imperialism, though Lenin’s dating of the phenomenon - at the turn of the 20th century - was probably 20 years later than it should have been (‘Rethinking imperialism’, October 3). There was still a consolidation of imperialist capitalism somewhat analogous to what Marx said about capitalism as a developed mode of production having its real starting point with large-scale industry and factory production - the era of manufacturing being merely a pre-history and a preparation.
But Lenin, unfortunately, never had time to write an elaboration of his position - other things got in the way. I do think there is a contradiction between Mike’s attempt to ascribe Lenin’s position in some way to Kautsky’s influence, and yet his noting that Kautsky was the originator of ‘ultra-imperialism’, which was 180 degrees the opposite of the early Third International’s basically correct (at the time) view of imperialism. Mike seems to want to have it both ways here.
In no sense is the class-collaboration of the Stalinised Comintern - the ‘anti-monopoly alliance’, etc - a product of Lenin’s theory of imperialism. To argue this is another form of the argument that Bolshevism led to Stalinism. It does not explain that, as Stalin’s regime consolidated its final destruction of the workers’ state in the great purges of the 1930s, it had to exterminate virtually the entire old Bolshevik generation. If such a political continuity had existed, this would not have been necessary or rational. Yet in counterrevolutionary terms, Stalin’s terror was indeed rational, if barbaric - as rational as the massacre that followed the fall of the Commune in Paris in 1871.
Incidentally, for Trotsky, the early Comintern’s ‘anti-imperialist united front’, which was a political alliance, not merely a military matter, was superseded by the generalisation of permanent revolution in the light of the experience of the failed Chinese revolution of 1926-27. But concrete defence of the right to self-determination of, say, China - under Chiang or Mao, for that matter - was still a principled question for the Trotskyists. In this regard, they were right, and this position represented a firm barrier against centrism. Neutrality over such matters is a centrist position.
This might seem like a digression but it’s not really. Mike’s views are linked to third-campism, which I think is a centrist error, even though it is not synonymous with a rejection of the supposedly proletarian nature of the consolidated, Stalinised USSR, which is correct (but a complex thing to explain in a few sentences).
Paul Demarty accuses me of an “obsequious” essay on Stuart Hall’s and Alan O’Shea’s recent piece on progressive common sense (‘Politics for dummies’, October 3). It is only “obsequious” in so far that I agree with Hall and O’Shea on the need for a progressive common sense; Paul doesn’t. And less of the “former” Eurocommunist, if you don’t mind. I remain one, unrepentantly.
Paul really does have a habit of mixing up facts and fiction. The issue with the poll tax protests of some 23 years ago is precisely how central they were to the defeat of the poll tax. They were certainly important, but the Tories were suffering a drubbing in by-election after by-election. This and staring at electoral wipe-out were what forced Thatcher out and the poll tax’s demise.
As for Blairism, if you read almost anything I have written since 1997, and a bit before that too, you will find line after line of critique, and opposition to both Blairite New Labour and the Brownite aftermath. Yes, there was and remains a need to understand Blairism’s project of conservative modernisation; hence I edited two books: the best-selling The Blair agenda and The moderniser’s dilemma. But support Blairism? You’ll not find a single instance of that on my part.
What Paul and the fake CPGB seem incapable of recognising is that, after some 30 years of spirited activism, first inside the real CPGB, then outside, they have never once mustered much more than 50 members, not one base in a single community, zero influence outside their own ranks. Explaining that spectacular failure would be an article worth reading.
Lies and distortion masquerading as half-baked polemic is instead what Paul treats us to. What’s new?
In response to Pete McLaren’s letter about Tory divide-and-rule tactics (October 3), I’d point out that the working class have always been divided between the better-off members of our class who aspire to join the middle/upper classes and who look down at the ‘chavvier’ members. That has always been the case and needs no encouragement from the Tories.
But a question to those that think the Tories are happy with high levels of unemployment or are somehow responsible for the large numbers of unemployed. Why would the Tories, the party of capitalism, want high unemployment? People on the dole/benefits are costing the capitalist class, as it’s their taxes that are paying for the benefits. The more people in work, the more exploitation takes place and the more money the capitalists make! It’s win-win for the capitalists when unemployment is low. Does anyone believe they (the capitalists) are too stupid to see this?
As for the myth that you can spend your way out of depression and that, by raising taxes, the government can create jobs, that idea died years ago! Where does Pete think the money is going to come from for the reverse of the cuts? By raising taxes you don’t increase the amount of money in the economy - only the share the government gets increases. The total amount of money in the economy remains the same. Does he think the government should borrow it from the city or merchant bankers?
If governments really were in control of the economy, what went wrong in 2008? Why didn’t they see the global financial crisis? Why, after years of high government spending between the years 1964 and 1970, was the rate of unemployment higher in 1970 than it was in 1964, despite the Labour government doing exactly what the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition are calling for now? Higher spending and a massive house-building programme didn’t work then and it won’t work now.
On October 18 1933, the Daily Mail published an interview with “His Excellency, the Reich chancellor, Adolf Hitler”. For the most part, the journalist was concerned with Germany leaving the League of Nations, asking the chancellor to address concerns that he was in the process of preparing Germany for war. The Nazi leader skilfully refuted these silly misgivings.
However, I am particularly impressed with the bit where he elaborated on some of his immediate economic measures, seeing as they shine a light on how governments might cut red tape and more efficiently stimulate an economy in crisis:
“For one, we will relieve the economy from the strain of unbearable taxes, restore trust and eradicate a vast amount of more or less Marxist-inspired laws that inhibit the economy. Besides, we are running a very big work provision campaign …
“In order to help the youth in particular, we will bring them together in our work camps and deploy them in exchange for very small salaries but sufficient food provisions. They do not have families yet and can therefore be easily housed in barracks and similar accommodation close to their workplace.”
Seeing as Hitler held such responsible and commonsensical economic views, it is perhaps no surprise that the paper remained supportive of the charismatic leader for years after.
Smash the fash
Most readers will be familiar with the notorious Hitler quote that is regularly presented by antifa types to ‘prove’ that their frozen ‘principle’ of physically smashing the fascists is correct: “Only one thing could have stopped our movement - if our adversaries had understood its principle and from the first day smashed with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our new movement.”
The first time I personally heard these words was in ‘Bash the fash’, a 1994 song by the anarcho-punk band, Oi Polloi. The last time I was confronted with them was at an International Bolshevik Tendency fringe meeting at Marxism 2013, where the CPGB was criticised for its alleged quietism vis-à-vis the fascist threat. On that day, I responded that Hitler may have been a crafty politician, but he was certainly no great historian.
Anyway, the fact that the quote only ever appears in anti-fascist agitprop, and that no exact source is ever provided, made me wonder. Some websites claim that Hitler “wrote” these words in 1934, but they do not specify where. Others attribute them to a speech given at the August 1939 party rally in Nuremberg, yet no available documents of that event - which was largely dedicated to revving up the armed forces for the imminent war - contain them.
For some time, the earliest instance I could find where the quote appeared was David Edgar’s 1976 play about the National Front, Destiny. At the end of the play, a voice meant to be Hitler’s is heard delivering it in English language. After a slight pause, the same voice states: “Hitler, Nuremberg, September 3 1933.”
Finally, I found a scan of Die Reden Hitlers am Reichsparteitag 1933, a 1934 Nazi book that contains complete transcriptions of all the speeches Hitler made at Nuremberg the year before. It turned out he had employed a variation of the infamous phrase.
Find below my rough translation and marvel at the Führer’s social-Darwinist wisdom:
“And so I established in 1919 a programme and a tendency which was a conscious slap in the face to the democratic-pacifist world … [We knew] it might take five or 10 or 20 years, yet gradually a state of authority arose within the democratic state, and a nucleus of fanatical devotion and audacious determination formed in a wretched world that lacked basic convictions.
“Only one danger could have jeopardised this development - if our adversaries had understood its principle, established a clear understanding of our ideas and not offered any resistance. Or, alternatively, if they had from the first day annihilated with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our new movement.
“Neither was done. The times were such that our adversaries were no longer capable of resolving or accomplishing our annihilation, nor did they have the nerve - and, arguably, they lacked the understanding to assume a wholly appropriate and adequate attitude. Instead, they began to tyrannise our young movement by bourgeois means, and, by doing so, they assisted the process of natural selection in a very fortunate manner. It was then only a question of time until the leadership of the nation would fall to this hardened human material …
“The more our adversaries believe they can obstruct our development by employing terror to a degree that is characteristic of their nature, the more they encourage it. Nietzsche said that a blow which does not kill a strong man only makes him stronger, and his words are confirmed a thousand times. Every blow strengthens our defiance, every persecution reinforces our single-minded determination ...”
I’m not aware what source David Edgar used for his play, but it’s interesting that his variation did not contain the first part of Hitler’s statement: ie, the view that the Nazi movement would have stayed marginal and weak had it been completely ignored by its opponents. I say ‘interesting’ because that is the very tactic adopted, for instance, by Austrian Social Democracy in the face of early fascist assemblies and disturbances in 1919. Evidently, it did not work then.
For obvious reasons, militant anti-fascists like to quote Hitler’s second point, which is why the first has been selectively dropped somewhere along the way. But the two have to be read together and in context. Hitler’s ‘advice’ merely reflects his convictions that the fittest warriors are inspired to great deeds through battle, that the weak must fall by the wayside, and that the biggest thugs inevitably emerge on top. It does not offer any profound strategic or historical insight.
The ‘original’ quote found on countless German leftwing websites appears to be a translation of David Edgar’s version into German. It even contains the verb stoppen - an Anglicism that Hitler would have scarcely used in a formal speech.
Whatever the case, I would argue that anti-fascists ought to base tactics on a materialist analysis of history, and a concrete assessment of the situation at hand - not advocate a static ‘principle’ based on an incomplete Hitler quote.
Hitler’s was not the only militant völkisch movement in Germany at the time. Even if a group of militant anti-fascists had succeeded in smashing the nucleus of the Nazi Party, they would have still been up against the massive cesspit that had been forming on the back of a failed revolution. For all his self-assurance, the Führer had no idea how lucky he was to emerge from that cesspit as the main contender.
Smash the fash
Smash the fash
I am saddened (though not surprised) to hear from our correspondent in Germany, A Holberg, that the Socialist Workers Party have sided with the most reactionary current of Islam to support the wearing of the full-face niqab in NHS hospitals (Letters, October 3). The SWP can now be relied upon to support medievalist jihadism against pluralism and secularism in Egypt, Libya, Syria and here. In Turkey and Egypt they would find themselves in opposition to the mainly youthful resistance who are determined to maintain a secular society and not be forced under the veil and off the streets. People who are by tradition themselves Muslim, though pluralist inhabitants of the 21st century and not seekers of an archaic, repressive theocracy.
While I would be the first to defend the right of anyone to wear any daft get-up they feel like, from a Mickey Mouse head to those ridiculous Guy Fawkes masks some anarchists wear, to the niqab, these are not appropriate to many situations. Neither would I endorse the wearer’s absurdity by engaging in conversation with someone so attired - talking is more than mumbled words from behind a plastic mask or cloth screen. I don’t want my infant in nursery or child in school to have a so-called carer dressed up in a black gown which covers her from head to toe, including her face. I don’t want my sick mother in hospital to be cared for by someone all covered up like a ghoul. When you’re vulnerable and in need of emotional support, a smile, face-to-face contact and a personal conversation, you can’t possibly get that from behind a body shroud and face veil.
I suppose if this blind-in-one-eye state ever starts to crack down on the widespread barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, the SWP will be on the street defending this ‘culture’ from Islamophobia. No wonder they have not the slightest resonance with the working class at large and simply inhabit a small knitting circle of a political sect which is entirely internally referenced. No wonder they are useless in supporting progressive pluralist and socialist trends among people of Muslim traditions.
Last Friday was a weird one for me. In the morning, I had a phone call from my brother. He seemed agitated. The previous night he had watched BBC’s Question time where it was mentioned that Ed Miliband’s dad was a Marxist. My brother demanded to know what a Marxist was. All my brother knew about Marx was from Wikipedia, which explained that Marx was a German guy who spent much of his life in the reading room of the British Library.
I mentioned something about Marx believing in democracy and human liberation, but my brother was unimpressed. All I could mutter was that, just as there are Christians and Christians, there are Marxists and Marxists.
In the evening, I attended my first public meeting in many years. The Communication Workers Union had organised a meeting at a community centre in Wisbech specialising in teaching migrant workers English, to discuss the franchising out and closure of the crown post office. There were about 12 members of the public present, including the three UK Independence Party county councillors for Wisbech, one of whom being the husband of Victoria Gillick, the ‘pro-life’ campaigner. There were no Conservatives present - Steve Barclay, the local Tory MP, had been invited, but didn’t turn up. The only Labour Party member present was a Unite full-timer.
Before the meeting, I chatted with the three Ukip councillors. They seemed like enthusiastic amateurs who just happened to have stumbled into the corridors of power at county hall. They were definitely not bomber command types. However, they were a bit intense, SWP-style. They were at the meeting to save the post office, not as official Ukip representatives.
Afterwards, I had a discussion with the Unite full-timer. As a community member of Unite, I discussed the problems associated with recruiting the 6,000 migrant workers who now live in Wisbech to the union - some work on the land, but most are in the food-processing factories. We also discussed how to recruit the 750 workers employed by the four big supermarkets in Wisbech, many of whom are employed on zero-hours contracts. We discussed the qualitative change in British politics that has occurred following Ed Miliband’s speech to Labour’s conference and the ensuing attacks on Ed by the Daily Mail.