Saturday, December 07, 2019

Upon The 50th Anniversary Of The Death Of "King Of The Beats" Jack Kerouac-*A Nod From The Be-Bop To The Hip-Hop Generation- Tupac Shakur's-"Rebel Of The Underground"

Rebel Of The Underground lyrics
Tupac Shakur

Rebel.. rebel.. REBEL
Rebel.. rebel..

They just can't stand the reign, or the occasional pain
from a man like me, who goes against the grain
Sometimes I do it in vain, so with a little bass and treble
Hey Mister! It's time for me to explain that I'm the rebel
Cold as the devil
Straight from the underground, the rebel, a lower level
They came to see the maniac psychopath
The critics heard of me, and the aftermath
I don't give a damn and it shows
And when I do a stage show I wear street clothes
So they all know me
The lyrical lunatic, the maniac emcee
I give a shout out to your homies
And maybe then, the critics'll leave your boy alone, G
On the streets or on TV
It just don't pay to be, a truth tellin MC
They won't be happy till I'm banned
The most dangerous weapon: an educated black man
So point blank in your face, pump up the bass
and join the human race
I throw peace to the Bay
Cause from the Jungle to Oaktown, they backin me up all the way
You know you gotta love the sound
It's from the rebel -- the rebel of the underground

Rebel he's a rebel, rebel of the underground [4X]

Now I'm face to face with the devils
Cause they breedin more rebels than the whole damn ghetto
And police brutality
shit it put you in the nip and call it technicality
So you reap what you sow
So reap the wrath of the rebel, jackin em up once mo'
Now the fox is in the henhouse, creepin up on your daughter
While you sleep I got her sneakin out
Tupac ain't nuttin nice
I'll be nuttin how I wanna, and doin what I'm gonna
Now I'm up to no good
The mastermind of mischief movin more than most could
So sit and slip into the sound
Peep the rebel -- the rebel of the underground

Rebel he's a rebel, rebel of the underground [4X]

They say they hate me, they wanna hold me down
I guess they scared of the rebel -- the rebel of the underground
But I never let it get me
I just make another record bout the punks tryin to sweat me
In fact, they tryin to keep me out
Try to censor what I say
cause they don't like what I'm talkin bout
So what's wrong with the media today?
Got brothers sellin out cause they greedy to get paid
But me, I'm comin from the soul
And if it don't go gold, my story still gettin told
And that way they can't stop me
And if it sells a couple of copies, the punks'll try to copy
It's sloppy, don't even try to
I'm a slave to the rhythm, and I'm about to fly through
So yo to the people in the ghetto
When ya hear the bass flow, go ahead and let go
Now everybody wanna gangbang
They talkin street slang, but the punks still can't hang
They makin records bout violence
But when it comes to the real, some brothers go silent
It kinda make you wanna think about
that ya gotta do some sellin out, just to get your record out
But 2Pacalpyse is straight down
So feel the wrath of the rebel -- the rebel of the underground

Tupac is a rebel, rebel of the underground [8X]

From The Marxist Archives On The 100th Anniversary Year Of Their Deaths-For the Communism of Lenin, Liebknecht and Luxemburg

From The Marxist Archives On The 100th Anniversary Year Of Their Deaths-For the Communism of Lenin, Liebknecht and Luxemburg

Workers Vanguard No. 1147
18 January 2019
For the Communism of Lenin, Liebknecht and Luxemburg
(Quote of the Week)
One hundred years ago, on 15 January 1919, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were murdered in Germany at the behest of the capitalist government run by the Social Democrats, which unleashed the fascistic Freikorps to crush a workers uprising. After receiving news of the assassinations, V.I. Lenin, leader of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, heaped further scathing condemnation on the social-democratic betrayers of the proletariat, including the wing led by Karl Kautsky, in the letter excerpted below. Upholding the revolutionary tradition of the early Communist International, this month we commemorate the “Three L’s”—Liebknecht, Luxemburg and Lenin himself, who died in January 1924.
The foundation of a genuinely proletarian, genuinely internationalist, genuinely revolutionary Third International, the Communist International, became a fact when the German Spartacus League, with such world-known and world-famous leaders, with such staunch working-class champions as Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin and Franz Mehring, made a clean break with socialists like Scheidemann and Südekum, social-chauvinists (socialists in words, but chauvinists in deeds) who have earned eternal shame by their alliance with the predatory, imperialist German bourgeoisie and Wilhelm II. It became a fact when the Spartacus League changed its name to the Communist Party of Germany. Though it has not yet been officially inaugurated, the Third International actually exists....
Against Liebknecht are the Scheidemanns, the Südekums and the whole gang of despicable lackeys of the Kaiser and the bourgeoisie. They are just as much traitors to socialism as the Gomperses and Victor Bergers, the Hendersons and Webbs, the Renaudels and Vanderveldes. They represent that top section of workers who have been bribed by the bourgeoisie, those whom we Bolsheviks called (applying the name to the Russian Südekums, the Mensheviks) “agents of the bourgeoisie in the working-class movement,” and to whom the best socialists in America gave the magnificently expressive and very fitting title: “labour lieutenants of the capitalist class.”...
The foregoing lines were written before the brutal and dastardly murder of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg by the Ebert and Scheidemann government. Those butchers, in their servility to the bourgeoisie, allowed the German whiteguards, the watchdogs of sacred capitalist property, to lynch Rosa Luxemburg, to murder Karl Liebknecht by shooting him in the back on the patently false plea that he “attempted to escape” (Russian tsarism often used that excuse to murder prisoners during its bloody suppression of the 1905 Revolution). At the same time those butchers protected the whiteguards with the authority of the government, which claims to be quite innocent and to stand above classes! No words can describe the foul and abominable character of the butchery perpetrated by alleged socialists. Evidently, history has chosen a path on which the role of “labour lieutenants of the capitalist class” must be played to the “last degree” of brutality, baseness and meanness. Let those simpletons, the Kautskyites, talk in their newspaper Freiheit about a “court” of representatives of “all” “socialist” parties (those servile souls insist that the Scheidemann executioners are socialists)! Those heroes of philistine stupidity and petty-bourgeois cowardice even fail to understand that the courts are organs of state power, and that the issue in the struggle and civil war now being waged in Germany is precisely one of who is to hold this power—the bourgeoisie, “served” by the Scheidemanns as executioners and instigators of pogroms, and by the Kautskys as glorifiers of “pure democracy,” or the proletariat, which will overthrow the capitalist exploiters and crush their resistance.
The blood of the best representatives of the world proletarian International, of the unforgettable leaders of the world socialist revolution, will steel ever new masses of workers for the life-and-death struggle. And this struggle will lead to victory.
—V.I. Lenin, “Letter to the Workers of Europe and America” (21 January 1919)

Searching For The American Songbook-In The Time Of The 1960s Folk Minute- With Tom Rush’s No Regrets In Mind

Searching For The American Songbook-In The Time Of The 1960s Folk Minute- With Tom Rush’s No Regrets In Mind 

DVD Review

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman 

No Regrets, narrated by Tom Rush and whoever else he could corral from the old Boston/Cambridge folk scene minute still around, 2014  

I know your leavin's too long overdue
For far too long I've had nothing new to show to you
Goodbye dry eyes I watched your plane fade off west of the moon
It felt so strange to walk away alone

No regrets
No tears goodbye
Don't want you back
We'd only cry again
Say goodbye again

The hours that were yours echo like empty rooms
Thoughts we used to share I now keep alone
I woke last night and spoke to you
Not thinkin' you were gone
It felt so strange to lie awake alone

No regrets
No tears goodbye
Don't want you back
We'd only cry again
Say goodbye again

Our friends have tried to turn my nights to day
Strange faces in your place can't keep the ghosts away
Just beyond the darkest hour, just behind the dawn
It feels so strange to lead my life alone

No regrets
No tears goodbye
Don't want you back
We'd only cry again
Say goodbye again

A few years ago in an earlier 1960s folk minute nostalgia fit I did a series of reviews of male folk-singers entitled Not Bob Dylan. That series asked two central questions-why did those folk singers not challenge Dylan whom the media of the day had crowned king of the folk minute for supremacy in the smoky (then) coffeehouse night and, if they had not passed on, were they still working the smoke-free church basement, homemade cookies and coffee circuit that constitutes the remnant of that folk minute even in the old hotbeds like Cambridge and Boston. Were they still singing and song-writing, that pairing of singer and writer having been becoming more prevalent, especially in the folk milieu in the wake of Bob Dylan’s word explosions back then. The ground was shifting under the Tin Pan Alley kingdom.   

Here is the general format for asking and answering those two questions which still apply today if one is hell-bent on figuring out the characters who rose and fell during that time: 

“If I were to ask someone, in the year 2010 as I have done periodically, to name a male folk singer from the 1960s I would assume that if I were to get an answer to that question that the name would be Bob Dylan. And that would be a good and appropriate choice. One can endlessly dispute whether or not Dylan was (or wanted to be) the voice of the Generation of ’68 (so named for the fateful events of that watershed year when those who tried to turn the world upside down to make it more livable began to feel that the movement was reaching some ebb tide) but in terms of longevity and productivity, the never-ending touring until this day and releasing of X amount of bootleg recordings, he fits the bill as a known quality. However, there were a slew of other male folk singers who tried to find their niche in the folk milieu and who, like Dylan, today continue to produce work and to perform. The artist under review, Tom Rush, is one such singer/songwriter.

The following is a question that I have been posing in reviewing the work of a number of male folk singers from the 1960’s and it is certainly an appropriate question to ask of Tom Rush as well. I do not know if Tom Rush, like his contemporary Bob Dylan, started out wanting to be the king of the hill among male folk singers but he certainly had some things going for him. A decent acoustic guitar but a very interesting (and strong baritone) voice to fit the lyrics of love, hope, and longing that he was singing about at the time. During much of this period along with his own songs he was covering other artists, particularly Joni Mitchell, so it is not clear to me that he had that same Dylan drive by let’s say 1968.

As for the songs themselves I mentioned that he covered Joni Mitchell in this period. A very nice version of Urge For Going that captures the wintry, got to get out of here, imaginary that Joni was trying to evoke about things back in her Canadian homeland. And the timelessness and great lyrical sense of his No Regrets, as the Generation of ’68 sees another generational cycle starting, as is apparent now if it was not then. The covers of fellow Cambridge folk scene fixture Eric Von Schmidt on Joshua Gone Barbados and Galveston Flood are well done. As is the cover of Bukka White’s Panama Limited (although you really have to see or hear old Bukka flailing away on his old beat up National guitar to get the real thing on YouTube).”

Whether Tom Rush had the fire back then is a mute question now although in watching the documentary under review, No Regrets, in which he tells us about his life from childhood to the very recent past at some point he did lose the flaming burn down the building fire, just got tired of the road like many, many other performers and became a top-notch record producer, a “gentleman farmer,” and returned to the stage, most dramatically with his annual show Tom Rush-The Club 47 Tradition Continues held at Symphony Hall in Boston each winter. And in this documentary appropriately done under the sign of “no regrets” in which tells Tom’s take on much that happened then he takes a turn, an important oral tradition turn, as folk historian. 

He takes us, even those of us who were in the whirl of some of it back then to those key moments when we were looking for something rooted, something that would make us pop in the red scare Cold War night of the early 1960s. Needless to say the legendary Club 47 in Cambridge gets plenty of attention as does his own fitful start in getting his material recorded, the continuing struggle from what he said. Other coffeehouses and other performers of the time, especially Eric Von Schmidt get a nod of recognition and does the role of key folk FJ Dick Summer in show-casing new work (and the show where I started to pick up my life-long folk “habit”). So if you want to remember those days when you sought refuse in the coffeehouses and church basements, sought a “cheap” date night or, ouch, want to know why your parents are still playing Joshua’s Gone Barbados on the record player as you go out the door Saturday night watch this film.   

70th Anniversary of Chinese Revolution Defend China! Down With Reactionary Hong Kong Protests! For Workers Political Revolution! Part One We print below the first part of a forum, edited for publication, given on October 5 in Vancouver by Angela Swanson, editor of Workers Tribune, English-language press of the Trotskyist League in Quebec and Canada. Forums were also held in Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles and Oakland.

Workers Vanguard No. 1163
18 October 2019
70th Anniversary of Chinese Revolution
Defend China! Down With Reactionary Hong Kong Protests!
For Workers Political Revolution!
Part One
We print below the first part of a forum, edited for publication, given on October 5 in Vancouver by Angela Swanson, editor of Workers Tribune, English-language press of the Trotskyist League in Quebec and Canada. Forums were also held in Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles and Oakland.
Seventy years ago, a social revolution in China smashed capitalist class rule and liberated the country from subservience to Western and Japanese imperialism. The 1949 Revolution, carried out by a peasant-guerrilla army under the leadership of Mao Zedong’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP), created a workers state and built an economy that to this day remains centrally based on collectivized property forms. The revolution fundamentally transformed society, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of dire poverty and laying the basis for significant advances in industry.
After years of civil war, the CCP came to power as the imperialist-backed nationalist Guomindang forces fell apart. The capitalists and large landowners fled to Taiwan, where they have been protected by U.S. imperialism, as well as to Hong Kong and elsewhere. Mainland China, which had been divided and plundered by the imperialists, was unified. In the first several years after the revolution, land was distributed to the peasants, key industries were expropriated and a significant component of state-owned industry was established.
The revolution swept away much of the age-old social backwardness. For China’s hideously oppressed women, this included ending the barbaric practices of arranged marriages and the selling of peasant women into concubinage. Education levels and health care were greatly expanded and improved. All of this shows the immense advantages of an economy whose motor force is not production for profit. China has gone from a backward, overwhelmingly rural country to a majority-urban one capable of landing a lunar rover.
While the reconstruction of China as a workers state was a huge leap forward, that state was bureaucratically deformed from the outset. The proletariat played no independent role in the revolution, and the ruling CCP has politically suppressed the working class. From Mao to Xi Jinping, the bureaucracy has been fundamentally similar to the one that came to power in the Soviet Union in a political counterrevolution led by Joseph Stalin beginning in 1923-24.
Unlike the Chinese Revolution, the October 1917 Russian Revolution was based on a program of proletarian internationalism. A class-conscious proletariat took power under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party of V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky. The Bolsheviks knew that Russia’s social and economic backwardness could not be decisively overcome without the extension of proletarian revolution to the advanced industrial countries. This was all the more the case for China, which at the time of the 1949 Revolution was even poorer and more economically backward than Russia in 1917.
Following the Bolshevik Revolution and the end of World War I, there was a series of revolutionary uprisings that ended in defeat. This was in the main due to a crisis of leadership, as the working class was betrayed by the pro-capitalist social democrats. Fledgling Communist parties outside of Russia proved too weak, politically or otherwise, to provide alternative leadership. In the wake of these defeats, especially that of the German Revolution of 1923, a conservative, nationalist bureaucracy took political power in the Soviet Union. While Stalin did not restore capitalism, he betrayed the liberating and internationalist goals of the Russian Revolution.
It is crucial to understand the class nature of the Chinese state, so I will speak a bit on this. For Marxists, the state is composed of the armed bodies of men (the police, prison guards, army, courts) that are charged with defending and protecting the ruling class and its interests against the dominated classes. In Canada and the U.S., we live under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, where the rule of rich financiers and industrialists is masked by the facade of parliamentary democracy. A workers state is the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is necessary after the overthrow of capitalism to reorganize society and suppress counterrevolutionary machinations by bourgeois forces. Karl Marx explained this in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program, writing: “Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”
The state administered by the CCP is based on the revolution that expelled the Chinese bourgeoisie and created a collectivized economy, a precondition for socialist development. It is on this basis that we Trotskyists have always called for the unconditional military defense of the Chinese deformed workers state against capitalist forces. At the same time, a proletarian political revolution is needed to remove the parasitic, nationalist ruling caste. Standing as an obstacle to the achievement of socialism, the Beijing Stalinist bureaucracy defends the status quo of the imperialist-dominated world order.
Hong Kong Counterrevolutionary Protests
The 1949 Revolution was a historic gain for the working class internationally and a huge defeat for the U.S. and other imperialist powers. Ever since, the imperialists’ strategic goal has been the overthrow of the revolution and the return of China to capitalist enslavement. These bandits have wielded a combination of approaches, including military provocations and economic penetration aimed at strengthening the internal forces of counterrevolution.
The recent protests in Hong Kong are an expression of this counterrevolutionary drive. Before I get into that, let me make a few points on the nature of Hong Kong. Hong Kong was transferred to the sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China in 1997 after a century and a half of British colonial rule. The CCP made a deal to maintain capitalism, under Beijing’s political rule, and Hong Kong was integrated into the workers state as a Special Administrative Region.
At the time, we joined in cheering as the British Empire finally lost its last major colonial holding with the lowering of the bloody Union Jack and the raising of the red flag of the People’s Republic. But we also warned that “in the hands of the venal Stalinist bureaucracy, which has pledged to maintain Hong Kong’s capitalist system, the takeover of the territory is a dagger aimed at the remaining gains of the 1949 Chinese Revolution” (“Beijing Stalinists Embrace Hong Kong Financiers,” WV No. 671, 11 July 1997). The policies of the Stalinist misleaders have allowed Hong Kong to remain a capitalist enclave within China, a bridgehead for counterrevolutionary forces. To advance the interests of working people throughout China, we call to expropriate the filthy rich Hong Kong tycoons.
The pro-imperialist aims of the current movement were on clear display at the September 8 rally near Hong Kong’s U.S. consulate. In an open appeal for American intervention, protesters sang the Star-Spangled Banner, waved U.S. flags and held up a large blue-and-white banner that read: “President Trump, Please Liberate Hong Kong.” The rally urged the U.S. government to pass legislation called the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. This bill, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, is a declaration that the U.S. imperialists will intervene in the sovereign affairs of China. The counterrevolutionary forces see it as a wedge for restoring capitalist rule on the mainland.
The U.S. State Department and British and Canadian foreign offices have declared support for the Hong Kong protests, while Washington has funded, advised and helped to organize their leaders. The U.S. rulers’ National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has poured millions of dollars into groups behind the demonstrations, from the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor and the parties of the “pan-democratic” camp to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, an affiliate of the anti-Communist International Trade Union Confederation. Such organizations are the main components of the Civil Human Rights Front, the chief organizer of the rallies. Based among the petty bourgeoisie, the protests are hostile to the working class. Workers were attacked during the airport occupation in August, and the offices of pro-Beijing trade unions have been vandalized.
The anti-China rampage is a litmus test for groups that claim the mantle of Trotskyism. As I will show later, the majority of fake Marxists have joined the camp of capitalist reaction. As authentic Trotskyists, we wrote in WV No. 1160 (6 September):
“Today in Hong Kong, we have a military side with the forces of the Chinese deformed workers state, including the police, against the anti-Communist mobilizations. This position stems from our unconditional military defense of China against imperialism and domestic counterrevolution. Such defense does not imply the least political support to the Beijing bureaucracy, whose backing of capitalism in Hong Kong under its ‘one country, two systems’ rubric bears no small responsibility for the current crisis.”
As Trotskyists who seek to make the proletariat conscious of its historic task of bringing about a socialist future, our perspective is the mobilization of the working people of Hong Kong and mainland China to stop the forces of counterrevolution.
The toilers of Hong Kong should be natural allies of the powerful and combative proletariat on the mainland. Decades of land speculation, endorsed by the CCP, have fueled a housing crisis. This has produced sky-high rents that are out of reach for many working adults. Hong Kong’s wealth gap is said to be the highest among all developed countries and regions. Office employees commonly work 12 hours for eight hours pay in this white-collar sweatshop. A fifth of the population falls below the official poverty line. Among the most oppressed are domestic workers, overwhelmingly from Indonesia and the Philippines. Those considered “immigrants” from mainland China also suffer chauvinist abuse.
Under pressure to respond to the housing crisis, the Beijing government has backed a proposal to buy up land owned by developers that has lain empty for years. This is framed as a delicate “rebalancing act” between private property rights and the public interest. Our call to expropriate the tycoons in Hong Kong is directly linked to the need to replace the CCP regime with a government that supports the interests of workers and the oppressed.
Stalinism and “Socialism in One Country”
So this raises the question: Why is the CCP reluctant to do away with the tycoons? From the bureaucracy’s perspective, the preservation of capitalism in Hong Kong is necessary to maintain China’s world trade and ensure foreign investment in the country. The CCP bureaucrats act as a transmission belt for the pressures of the capitalist world market into the workers state. As in the former Soviet Union, the Stalinist bureaucracy in China is not a class, a social stratum with its own unique relation to the means of production. Unlike a capitalist class, it does not own these means of production. Rather, the bureaucracy’s power stems from a political monopoly of the government apparatus. Occupying an unstable position atop the workers state, it is beset by enormous contradictions. Many CCP officials take advantage of their administrative positions for private enrichment. Yet the bureaucracy is at times compelled to defend the workers state in its own way, whether out of concern to maintain its privileges or due to pressure from the working class.
Leon Trotsky, who led the fight against the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet Union, explained the material roots of the Soviet Stalinist regime in his 1936 book The Revolution Betrayed:
“The basis of bureaucratic rule is the poverty of society in objects of consumption, with the resulting struggle of each against all. When there is enough goods in a store, the purchasers can come whenever they want to. When there is little goods, the purchasers are compelled to stand in line. When the lines are very long, it is necessary to appoint a policeman to keep order. Such is the starting point of the power of the Soviet bureaucracy. It ‘knows’ who is to get something and who has to wait.”
This analysis is fully applicable to China today.
Stalin’s dogma of “socialism in one country” was a nationalist and anti-Marxist schema which expressed the material interests of the bureaucratic caste that had usurped political power. This would lead to pursuing “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism and the betrayal of revolutions internationally. For Lenin’s Bolsheviks, in contrast, the proletarian dictatorship was a bridge to international revolutions. Lenin wrote of “the creation of a single world economy, regulated by the proletariat of all nations as an integral whole and according to a common plan,” adding: “This tendency has already revealed itself quite clearly under capitalism and is bound to be further developed and consummated under socialism” (“Theses on National and Colonial Questions” [1920]).
Capitalism itself shows that the current level of world productive forces is incompatible with national boundaries. Even in a workers state developing from an advanced capitalist society, it would be impossible to build socialism—a classless society based on equality and without material want—in isolation. While economic construction in a single workers state is immensely important, it will be limited and contradictory outside of a global planned economy. The social growth rates and economic abundance that are the necessary foundation for socialism can only be achieved through the most advanced levels of production.
Despite its massive growth, China’s economy remains backward relative to even the lesser capitalist-imperialist powers. Though labor productivity is increasing, it is far lower than that in the major imperialist countries: the U.S., Germany and Japan. China still has a large peasantry, and more than a third of the labor force consists of migrant workers from rural regions. There is a burning need to further bridge the gap between city and countryside, but that requires a huge development of resources based on the most advanced technology.
In stark contrast to Lenin’s revolutionary internationalism, the CCP’s national narrowness, which is at the root of “socialism in one country,” bore its bitter fruit in the betrayals of revolutions internationally. A key example is the CCP’s backing the Indonesian Communist Party’s policy of support to the capitalist Sukarno government. This disastrous class-collaborationist policy paved the way for the 1965 massacre of over a million Communists, workers, peasants and ethnic Chinese by the Indonesian military.
It is in the nature of Stalinist bureaucracies to pursue their own alliances with imperialist powers, including at the expense of other workers states. This was blatantly shown when Mao struck a criminal alliance with U.S. imperialism against the Soviet Union following the split between the Soviet and Chinese bureaucracies in the 1960s. Such appeasement of the imperialists has continued under all subsequent CCP regimes, from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping.

Workers Vanguard No. 1164
1 November 2019
70th Anniversary of Chinese Revolution
Defend China! Down With Reactionary Hong Kong Protests!
For Workers Political Revolution!
Part Two
We print below the conclusion of a forum, edited for publication, given on October 5 in Vancouver by Angela Swanson, editor of Workers Tribune, English-language press of the Trotskyist League in Quebec and Canada. Part One appeared in WV No. 1163 (18 October).
Today, a lot of bourgeois ideologues and most leftists claim that China has become capitalist. This is completely false. The “market reforms” introduced in 1978 by Deng Xiaoping were a bureaucratic response to economic stagnation and an attempt to use the whip of the market to spur modernization and growth. Deng and his followers argued that such reforms were necessary to carry out the “four modernizations” of industry, agriculture, science and technology, and military defense.
Under the market-oriented measures, China privatized many non-strategic state-owned companies and replaced the state monopoly of foreign trade with a hodgepodge of ad hoc state controls. A key goal of the reforms was obtaining foreign investment, including in the form of joint ventures with state-owned enterprises (SOEs). This led to a more rapid and broad development of the economy relative to the earlier period under Mao, when bureaucratic commandism defined the operation of the planned economy. Under conditions of material scarcity, when a Stalinist bureaucracy administers a planned economy, there are necessarily imbalances and much incompetence. With the workers excluded from control over the functioning of the economy, the only means the bureaucracy has to correct for imbalances and incompetence is the introduction of market forces.
It is clearly evident that the market reforms have resulted in economic growth, including by bringing hundreds of millions of former peasants into the proletariat—which represents historical progress from our Marxist vantage point. But this rapid growth has created huge contradictions. Daily life for many millions of Chinese has improved, but the gap between rich and poor, between city and countryside, has widened. In the early period of the reforms, there was an enormous increase in productivity, but the real wages of Chinese workers hardly increased at all. The productivity gains were largely a result of the transfer of laborers from rural farms to urban factories.
The policies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have led to the development of an indigenous capitalist class, tied to the imperialists by economic interest and to many CCP leaders through family ties. However, these capitalists remain politically atomized as the CCP retains a tight grip on political power. There are even capitalist entrepreneurs inside the party, but this has not changed the overall social composition of the bureaucracy or its functional ideology. According to an official survey conducted in 2002, some 600,000 of China’s two million private business owners were party members and had been for some time. The overwhelming majority were longtime CCP managerial cadre who took over the small state-owned enterprises they were running when these were privatized.
A result of the market reforms is that there are enclaves of capitalism within the workers state, the Special Economic Zones. However, the core of the economy remains collectivized, with state-owned industry maintaining exclusive ownership or absolute control in strategic sectors such as heavy industry (power generation and distribution, civil aviation, shipping), the bulk of the high-tech sector, telecommunications and the defense industry. It is state-owned industry that has enabled China to build an arsenal of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles to ward off the imperialists’ military threats.
China’s economy continues to grow by 6 to 7 percent a year, a level that no advanced capitalist country today could even hope to attain. A large part of this has come from government investment in infrastructure. While China is not immune to the effects of downturns in the global economy, it has been able to navigate through them more effectively than have capitalist countries. This was true in the 1997-98 East Asian financial/economic crisis and then again during the global financial crisis of 2008-09, when state-driven investment kept the Chinese economy growing while the capitalist world was staggering.
Especially since the 2008 crisis, there has been a concerted push by Beijing to reinforce the SOEs and reassert state dominance over the economy. SOEs are increasingly taking over private companies or forcing them into joint ventures. More broadly, the Chinese Communist Party has made it clear that it expects to exert control over private companies as well as joint ventures with foreign partners. A key component in the expansion of the state sector is government control of the financial system. The vast bulk of major banks in China is state-owned, and the restricted convertibility of the yuan has kept China insulated from the financial volatility that periodically wreaks havoc on neocolonial capitalist countries.
It is precisely these core collectivized elements of China’s economy that the forces of world imperialism want to eliminate. Their ultimate goal is to reduce China to a giant sweatshop under neocolonial subjugation. We are not indifferent to the need for China to have economic relations with and foreign investment from imperialist countries. Any isolated workers state would need such agreements. Under revolutionary leadership, they would be worked out under the democratic control of the working class organized in soviets (councils), supported in countries like China by peasants councils.
A revolutionary workers and peasants government in China would renegotiate the terms of foreign investment in the interests of working people. The domestic capitalists, on the other hand, would simply be expropriated and their property used in the interests of society as a whole. Such a regime would strengthen central economic planning and re-establish a state monopoly of foreign trade. This perspective is linked directly to the struggle for socialist revolution in the imperialist heartlands, particularly the U.S., Japan and Germany (as well as in the lesser imperialist countries like Canada), which would end global imperialist domination and lay the basis for a world socialist order.
Imperialism, China and the Trade/Tech War
The political crisis in Hong Kong comes in the context of ramped-up provocations against China, in particular by the U.S. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has waged a wide-ranging anti-China offensive centered on an aggressive trade and tech war combined with military provocations. These policies are broadly in line with the previous Democratic Party administration of Barack Obama, and many so-called “progressive” Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, have long demanded more stringent tariffs against China. The tariffs now imposed on Chinese exports have been paired with U.S. demands that the CCP government relinquish state control of the economy. (For more, see “U.S. Imperialists Ramp Up Trade/Tech War,” WV No. 1157, 21 June.)
Advanced computer and communications technologies are critical to China’s defense against imperialism. The “Made in China 2025” program, adopted by the Xi Jinping regime four years ago, aims to make China a global leader in cutting-edge technology through state-sponsored development. China’s rapid development of these industries has raised the ire of the imperialists, who are intent on stopping such advances. This is seen in the drive against Huawei, spearheaded by the U.S. and assisted by its Canadian junior partner. Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is still fighting extradition to the U.S. while under house arrest in Vancouver. We say: Free Meng Wanzhou! No extradition!
The trumped-up charges against Huawei include “theft of intellectual property,” which is a central pillar in the hysteria over “Chinese spying.” The anti-Communist dragnet by the U.S. and Canadian governments has also spread to university campuses, where Chinese nationals are being targeted.
Aggressive military operations in the South China Sea and elsewhere near China’s east coast, which started under Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” have escalated under Trump. U.S. destroyers have repeatedly entered the waters around the Spratly Islands, as have British, French and Canadian warships at times. U.S. B-52 long-range bombers have conducted overflights of the region, including joint drills with Japanese fighter jets. U.S. Navy and Marine forces have staged “live-fire” drills in the area.
Over the last year, the U.S. Navy has also ramped up its operations in the Taiwan Strait, and the U.S. State Department recently approved a massive weapons sale to Taiwan. The bourgeoisie in Taiwan, operating under Washington’s direct military protection, has ruled over the island since fleeing Mao’s CCP forces. Control of the Taiwan Strait would be crucial in the event of war between China and the U.S. over Taiwan, which since the late 17th century has been part of China. The Beijing Stalinists have long promoted reunification with Taiwan under the “one country, two systems” formula that has been applied to Hong Kong. We Trotskyists of the International Communist League call to reunify China through socialist revolution in Taiwan and political revolution on the mainland.
We seek to win the working class in the U.S., Canada and internationally to the understanding that they have a side in this conflict—with China against imperialism. Thus, it is crucial that the working class stand for the defense of China in any military conflict with the imperialists or forces acting on their behalf. The trade-union bureaucracy, which acts as a transmission belt for anti-Communist poison, promotes the lie that the workers in the U.S. and Canada have a common interest with their own capitalist ruling classes. In pushing for more protectionism against China, the labor bureaucrats serve as foot soldiers in the imperialist drive to restore capitalist rule in China.
For Proletarian Democracy!
In their drive to destroy the Soviet Union and the bureaucratically deformed workers states of East and Central Europe, the imperialists promoted all manner of reactionary forces, including those who waved the banner of “democracy” against Stalinist “totalitarianism.” Similarly, the question posed by the crisis in Hong Kong today is not “dictatorship or democracy?” but “which class will rule?” A key demand of the Hong Kong protesters is for free elections. This is their way to unseat Beijing’s rule in Hong Kong. It is a call for bourgeois democracy, which is a call for counterrevolution. We are for proletarian democracy: a government of elected workers, peasants and soldiers councils that would make decisions about the development of the economy and the organization of society.
Capitalist democracy is, in reality, a political form of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. In such a system, the working class is reduced to atomized individuals. Parliamentary democracy, which is mainly the preserve of the wealthy imperialist countries, gives the mass of the population the right to decide every few years which representative of the ruling class is to repress them. As Lenin wrote in his 1918 polemic The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky:
“The working people are barred from participation in bourgeois parliaments (they never decide important questions under bourgeois democracy, which are decided by the stock exchange and the banks) by thousands of obstacles, and the workers know and feel, see and realise perfectly well that the bourgeois parliaments are institutions alien to them, instruments for the oppression of the workers by the bourgeoisie, institutions of a hostile class, of the exploiting minority.”
The capitalist media in the West and counterrevolutionaries in Hong Kong try to equate the current rampages with the mass protests centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 30 years ago. They falsely present the Tiananmen events as a student movement for Western “democracy.” In fact, while triggered by protests initiated by students in Beijing, this social explosion increasingly drew in layers of workers and spread throughout the country. The entry of masses of workers into the protests signaled an incipient proletarian political revolution against the ruling CCP bureaucracy.
On 17 April 1989, a group of students laid a wreath in the square in honor of the recently deceased Hu Yaobang, whom they regarded as one of the rare CCP officials not to be corrupt. By the time of Hu’s funeral a week later, a mass student protest had assembled. Organized workers’ contingents started to participate in the marches, and the threat of a general strike led to an order of martial law in mid May. This was met with an outpouring of hundreds of thousands of working people into the streets, stymieing the attempted crackdown. Residents of working-class neighborhoods effectively blocked the initial military units that were converging on Tiananmen.
Eventually, the Deng regime was able to use loyal army units to suppress the mass protests. The 3-4 June 1989 slaughter brought China to the brink of civil war. Contrary to imperialist propaganda, the main victims of the bloodbath were not the student activists, most of whom were able to withdraw unscathed. It was working people in the surrounding areas of Beijing who received the brunt of the repression. Even then, the uprising continued to spread across China, as millions of workers staged mass strikes and protests. We wrote at the time:
“While pro-regime military forces still occupy the center of Beijing, the rest of the city is in the hands of insurgent workers and students…. In the great industrial metropolis of Shanghai, student activists and militant workers have set up barricades using buses, trucks and cars. And a de facto general strike has brought economic activity to a standstill. In the central industrial city of Wuhan workers and students occupy a strategic bridge over the Yangtze River, a crucial transport link between northern and southern China.”
—“ Beijing Massacre—Civil War Looms,” WV No. 479, 9 June 1989
In suppressing the upsurge, the bureaucracy executed dozens of working-class militants.
The working masses of China were driven by anger against the corrupt and despised Stalinist bureaucracy and the effects of its market reforms, like rising inequalities and inflation. They were not looking to overturn the 1949 Revolution. If anything, they wanted a return to the “iron rice bowl” of guaranteed jobs and benefits, not a return to capitalist slavery. Even while many of the students in 1989 displayed illusions in Western-style “democracy,” they repeatedly sang the “Internationale,” the historic anthem of the socialist working class. This underlines that the aims and class character of the Tiananmen uprising were fundamentally different from the current protests in Hong Kong.
The events of May-June 1989 also decisively demonstrated that the Stalinist bureaucracy was not a new type of possessing class but rather a brittle and contradictory caste parasitically resting atop the collectivized economy. While a capitalist ruling class faced with a proletarian challenge to its rule inevitably unites around a program of counterrevolution, the Stalinist bureaucracy, including the officer corps, began to fracture under the impact of the workers’ revolt.
The central lesson of the Beijing spring was the need for an authentic communist party in China, an internationalist vanguard rooted in the working class. Such a party would have the task of winning the toiling masses to a program and understanding of the need to form workers, soldiers and peasants soviets (or similar organs) that could become the basis for political power in the workers state. It would seek to coordinate and lead the spontaneous and localized workers struggles, linking the fight against the bureaucracy’s corruption and privileges to the struggle of comrades in capitalist countries fighting for socialist revolutions. This requires political combat against the Stalinist fraud of building socialism “in one country” or “with capitalist methods,” and the dangerous illusions in “peaceful coexistence” with the imperialist countries. As Trotsky wrote in The Revolution Betrayed (1936), the question is: “Will the bureaucrat devour the workers’ state, or will the working class clean up the bureaucrat?”
ICL Trotskyism vs. Reformist Betrayal
As I mentioned, our Marxist stance in defense of China against counterrevolution despite the betrayals of the CCP bureaucracy flows directly from Trotsky’s stance regarding Stalin’s Soviet Union. I’d like to briefly contrast this to the positions of our reformist political opponents, starting with the group known as Socialist Alternative (SAlt). These people are on the wrong side of the political barricades. They falsely claim that China is capitalist and even a rising imperialist power. And their cothinkers on the ground in Hong Kong are cheering on the counterrevolutionary forces in the name of “democracy.”
This group has put out leaflets calling for “united mass struggle of Hong Kong and China people against the CCP dictatorship.” They would sell out the workers to their most direct class enemies: the Hong Kong bourgeoisie and its imperialist patrons. This counterrevolutionary position is completely in line with SAlt’s practice at home. In the U.S., they support the imperialist Democratic Party via its supposedly “progressive” wing around Bernie Sanders. In Canada, they back the pro-capitalist social democrats of the New Democratic Party.
Perhaps stung by our recent article on Hong Kong (WV No. 1160, 6 September), which exposed their support to the counterrevolutionaries, SAlt has produced a new article titled “Is the U.S. Behind Hong Kong’s Protest Movement?” (, 16 September). Trying to wish away the mass of protesters waving American flags and singing the “Star-Spangled Banner,” they call the idea that this movement is backed by and looks to the imperialists a “political hoax.” In fact, Socialist Alternative is uniting with people who demand that Hong Kong become a protectorate of U.S. imperialism, or perhaps return to the days of British rule. This is an utterly scandalous position for self-styled “socialists.”
Another reformist outfit, the Fightback group in Canada and its cothinkers in the International Marxist Tendency, has also cheered on the Hong Kong protests. In several articles over the summer, they chided protest leaders for being too timid, calling, like SAlt’s Hong Kong cothinkers, for the protests to be extended to a general strike and onto the Chinese mainland. But following the huge pro-U.S. rally on September 8, Fightback is engaging in a shoddy cover-up. Their latest article, titled “The USA Is No Friend of Hong Kong” (, 12 September), warns that the protests are going in the wrong direction. But this cynical whitewash hasn’t changed their fundamental line. They, too, claim that China has become capitalist, even writing that it is “behaving like an imperialist power.”
The stance of these groups toward China is squarely in line with their history of supporting imperialist campaigns against the Soviet degenerated workers state. Back in 1991, they were in a common political tendency, the Committee for a Workers’ International. In this capacity, they literally joined the capitalist-restorationist rabble on Boris Yeltsin’s barricades in Moscow. In contrast, our Trotskyist international tendency fought in defense of the Soviet workers state. Our comrades in Moscow mass distributed a leaflet titled “Soviet Workers: Defeat Yeltsin-Bush Counterrevolution!”
Earlier, starting in late 1989, a political crisis had developed in East Germany. Amid the disintegration of the ruling Stalinist party, we mobilized the forces of our international organization to intervene. The potential for a workers political revolution was shown on 3 January 1990 in the pro-socialist united-front rally against the fascist desecration of a Soviet war memorial in Berlin’s Treptow Park and in defense of the East German and Soviet workers states, a rally that we initiated and that was taken up by the Stalinist SED-PDS (Socialist Unity Party-Party of Democratic Socialism).
In front of more than 250,000 demonstrators, our speaker called for proletarian political power based on the formation of workers and soldiers councils, and warned against the social-democratic West German SPD as the Trojan horse for counterrevolution. Against illusions that the SED-PDS could be reformed, we fought to build a new, egalitarian Leninist party. Our call for the revolutionary reunification of Germany was a call for political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucracy in the East and social revolution in West Germany to overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie—for a red Germany of workers councils. Our comrade’s speech showed concretely the clash, marked by a disproportion of forces, between the ICL’s revolutionary program and the Stalinist program of capitulation and bolstering the forces of counterrevolution. Thanks in no small part to the Stalinists’ treachery, the counterrevolutionary forces prevailed.
Over a quarter century after capitalist counterrevolution in East Germany, the Soviet Union and East Europe, China is the largest of the remaining countries where capitalist rule has been overthrown (the others are Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and Laos). If the 1949 Revolution were to be overturned, China’s toiling masses would face even worse conditions than those seen today in the former Soviet bloc, where living standards have been massively thrown back and such “democracy” as exists is merely a veneer for brutal capitalist rule. Counterrevolution in China would be a further massive victory for world imperialism and a defeat for the workers and the oppressed across the globe.
There is an enormous divide within China today. On the one side are corrupt government officials, capitalist entrepreneurs and privileged petty bourgeois; on the other, hundreds of millions of proletarians in both state-owned and private enterprises, along with poor peasants. The consequences of bureaucratic misrule have led to a high level of strikes and social protest. This ferment points to the potential to sweep away the Stalinist regime and replace it with a revolutionary workers and peasants government.
There is a need for a worldwide party based on the program of Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks. Forging such a party is a daunting and difficult task, but the workings of the capitalist world order compel it. To defend and extend the gains of the Chinese Revolution, it is imperative to link the fight against the Stalinist bureaucracy with the class struggles of militant workers throughout Asia and beyond against their capitalist rulers, including in Japan, the U.S. and other imperialist centers. Only through socialist revolutions in these countries will the threat of capitalist re-enslavement of China be eliminated once and for all and the basis laid for its all-sided development in a socialist Asia.
The working class in the capitalist countries must be won to defense of the Chinese bureaucratically deformed workers state against all imperialist threats. Only by understanding the historic significance of the gains of the Chinese Revolution will workers understand the importance of making a revolution against their own exploiters and oppressors.

Corbyn: EU Running Dog British Elections: No Choice for Workers Brexit Now!

Workers Vanguard No. 1166
29 November 2019
Corbyn: EU Running Dog
British Elections: No Choice for Workers
Brexit Now!
We print below a November 21 leaflet issued by our comrades of the Spartacist League/Britain.
There is no party to vote for in December’s election—no party is standing for even a deformed expression of the interests of working people. Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour Party is attempting to throw out the June 2016 Brexit vote and force the EU [European Union] bankers’ and bosses’ cartel on the party’s working-class supporters. By abandoning his decades-long opposition to the EU, Corbyn opened the way for Tory demagogue Boris Johnson to present his chauvinist Oxford Union cronies as the “party of the people.” Grotesquely, they claim to speak for Brexit voters in the former industrial strongholds in the Midlands and north of England, Scotland and Wales, which were laid waste during Thatcher’s war on the unions and kept down by subsequent Labour and Tory regimes. Such is the anger at Labour’s betrayal that lifelong Labour supporters are considering casting a vote for the hated Tories. Enough of Labour’s betrayals—we need a different kind of party, one that will stand up for working people and the oppressed!
The EU is an inherently unstable alliance between capitalist countries, dominated by German imperialism, designed to increase the exploitation of labour across Europe and to bleed oppressed countries such as Ireland, Greece and Poland. The EU’s exploitative treaties have enriched the bourgeoisies of Britain and the other imperialist powers, including the U.S., by spearheading anti-union attacks, privatisations and public services cuts. For the European imperialists, the EU is a means to increase their competitiveness against their rivals, the U.S. and Japan. At the same time the EU, together with NATO, is an integral part of the U.S.-dominated world order. (And Corbyn’s election manifesto upholds NATO too.)
The 2016 Brexit vote delivered a stinging defeat to the City of London, its senior partners in Wall Street and the capitalist exploiters across Europe. Theresa May’s government failed to deliver a “Brexit in name only” deal that would allow the British imperialists continued access to the single market and the rest of the EU’s spoils. Now Labour, the bourgeois SNP [Scottish National Party] and an alliance of capitalist parties—the Lib Dems [Liberal Democrats], Greens and Plaid Cymru [Party of Wales]—are campaigning to scrap Brexit while absurdly promoting the EU as a defender of workers and immigrants. In contrast, Boris Johnson represents a wing of the ruling class, encouraged by U.S. president Donald Trump, willing to break with the European alliance and pursue other means of plunder.
We of the Spartacist League, British section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist), support Brexit because the break-up of the imperialist-dominated EU would advance the interests of workers and the oppressed against the capitalist exploiters. This position flows from our perspective of sweeping away the decaying capitalist system through a series of proletarian revolutions internationally. For a Socialist United States of Europe, united on a voluntary basis!
As we explained in advocating a leave vote in the 2016 referendum: “A British exit would deal a real blow to this imperialist-dominated conglomerate, further destabilising it and creating more favourable conditions for working-class struggle across Europe—including against a weakened and discredited Tory government in Britain” (Workers Hammer No. 234, Spring 2016). The three years of government crisis since the Brexit vote have created favourable conditions for working-class struggle, which could also drive Britain out of the EU.
The union bureaucrats have spent decades isolating and containing strikes while diverting workers’ anger into illusions in the EU and the losing strategy of electing a Labour government. But union members fed up with the capitalists’ one-sided class war have shown an appetite to fight. Postal workers, rail workers, university lecturers, and nurses and hospital workers in Northern Ireland have voted for strike action. The anti-union laws have been invoked against strikes by postal workers and London Underground cleaners. Successful strike action could make the anti-union laws worthless scraps of paper.
Rebuilding the fighting strength of the unions is tied to forging a new, class-struggle union leadership, one that understands that the workers can prevail only through their own mass strength and solidarity. Working-class struggle is confronted at every turn by the capitalist government, its anti-union laws and strike-breaking cops and courts. Building a new leadership in the unions cannot be separated from building a revolutionary party that unites all the oppressed behind the social power of the multiethnic working class in a struggle to sweep away the repressive apparatus of capitalist class rule.
Labour Lieutenants of the Capitalist Class
Brexit is the main issue in this election. But the Labour Party is frantically trying to change the channel. Labour’s election promises are intended to speak to the felt needs of the population: rescuing the NHS [National Health Service]; building new council housing; free university tuition; renationalising Royal Mail, rail and other infrastructure; and expanding social services. But Labour’s campaign promises are empty, contradicted by the party’s support to the EU, which was founded on the commitments to privatise nationalised industries and to reduce government spending on social services.
The Labour Party is a bourgeois workers party with a working-class base but a bourgeois programme and pro-capitalist leadership. It provides an invaluable service to Britain’s ruling class by subordinating the needs of the working class to the interests of the bourgeoisie and by diverting struggle into parliamentary channels. Because of Corbyn’s commitment to the EU, analysts at some major investment banks view him as a lesser evil than Johnson despite Labour’s campaign promises. The Labour Party’s leaders have always gone to bat for the imperialist rulers when it mattered.
The slave trade, the bloody subjugation of Asia and Africa and the genocidal expropriation of the indigenous populations in the Americas largely financed the rise of British capitalism. Racial oppression in Britain today is the product of this history, with black and Asian people treated as second-class citizens, facing discrimination in jobs and housing, deprived of social services and subjected to brutal cop repression. It is in the interests of the working class as a whole to combat the oppression of the black and Asian minorities, as well as to fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants. No deportations! Minority and immigrant workers—who have the fewest illusions in capitalism and the most to gain from its overthrow—will play a role in the fight for socialist revolution out of proportion with their weight in the society.
The Labour Party is saturated with the prejudices of bourgeois society. During the post-World War II labour shortage—the Windrush era—workers from the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent were recruited to do the hardest and dirtiest jobs in Britain. Harold Wilson’s Labour government subsequently extended racist legislation to slam the door on black and Asian people while encouraging white immigration. Today, with its support for the anti-Muslim “war on terror” and its calls for more cops and border guards, Labour’s commitment to increasing the forces of state repression is bad news for the working class as a whole, and for black and Asian people in particular.
The Labour Party has always been unambiguously loyal to the “United” Kingdom, an unequal union based on the oppression of the Irish, Scottish and Welsh nations and on the reactionary institutions of the monarchy, the House of Lords and the established churches. In Scotland, formerly a Labour stronghold, the party has been on life support since campaigning together with the Tories against Scottish independence in 2014. Corbyn stands on Labour’s record of English chauvinism, demonstrated repeatedly with his arrogant proclamation: “We will not countenance an early referendum in Scotland.”
Corbyn’s Unionism and his Brexit betrayal left the nearly 40 per cent of Scottish leave voters without any working-class political representation and was a gift to the SNP, who aspire to become the capitalist rulers in Scotland. Contrary to the illusions pushed by the SNP, the EU is an enemy of oppressed nations! Just look at the EU’s participation in the vicious persecution of Catalan nationalists for the “crime” of holding an independence referendum.
The precondition for advancing the unity of the workers of England, Scotland and Wales is opposing English chauvinism. Unity requires championing the equality of nations and the democratic right of self-determination, which includes both the right to separate and the right not to, as the Scottish population chose in the 2014 referendum. In Northern Ireland, where the oppressed Irish Catholic nation is interpenetrated with the distinct Protestant population, under capitalism the self-determination of one community can only be achieved at the expense of the other. An equitable solution to the conflicting national aspirations requires overthrowing capitalist property relations.
The starting point must be the withdrawal of all British troops and bases, a demand that cuts against the Labour Party’s history of administering bloody anti-Catholic repression. Wilson’s Labour government sent troops into Northern Ireland in 1969 to crush the Catholics’ struggles for social equality. Corbyn remains a supporter of the British military occupation of Northern Ireland (despite members of the Guards Parachute Platoon using his picture for target practice). Corbyn has always supported the Good Friday “peace” deal, which is premised on the oppression of the Irish Catholics and the continued presence of British troops—and hasn’t done Protestant workers any good, either. Down with the “United” Kingdom! For a voluntary federation of workers republics in the British Isles!
Those Who Labour Must Rule!
Despite their paper position of supporting Brexit, Peter Taaffe’s Socialist Party (SP) are over the moon campaigning for a Corbyn government, which would be committed to the EU. The SP advise: “If Corbyn comes out with a fighting, socialist manifesto he could transform the situation and win the general election” (Socialist, 31 October). What kind of socialist manifesto upholds the EU bosses’ club? For their part, Alan Woods’s International Marxist Tendency (IMT)—who could never bring themselves to oppose the EU—fantastically claim that a Corbyn government “will need to take control of the economy out of the hands of the billionaires” (Socialist Appeal, 6 November). A Labour Party government can only be a capitalist government!
The pseudo-Marxists of the SP and IMT inherited the parliamentary reformist programme of their forebears in the Militant tendency, who spent decades buried inside the Labour Party and adapted to their host. Their illusory “road to socialism” is to elect a Labour government which, supposedly, would pass an act in the bourgeoisie’s Parliament nationalising what they describe as “the commanding heights of the economy.” Of course, this pipe-dream has nothing to do with the Labour Party’s real programme or practice. But it does contain the political bacillus of reformism: the lie that you can get socialism without revolution.
The SP and IMT endlessly misuse Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky—who are dead and can’t defend themselves—while rejecting the key lesson of the Paris Commune. As Marx and Engels explained in their 1872 preface to the Communist Manifesto: “One thing especially was proved by the Commune, viz., that ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes’.”
The illusion that electing a Labour government could meet the needs of working people constitutes a major obstacle to the fight for socialism in Britain. The parliamentary system is a democratic facade for the dictatorship of the capitalist class, who own the means of production and make their profits from the exploitation of labour. To put the productive wealth of society at the service of the population as a whole requires breaking the power of the bourgeoisie. It requires proletarian revolution to sweep away the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state and establish a workers state.
The IMT and SP often present the post-World War II Labour government of Clement Attlee as proof that it is possible to advance towards socialism through elections. In fact, the Attlee government shows the contrary: that gains for working people and the oppressed are won through hard-fought struggle, not by putting a Labour government in Westminster. When Attlee’s government took office in 1945, the Soviet Red Army, having smashed Hitlerite fascism, occupied half of Europe. Despite the Stalinist degeneration of the Soviet workers state, its victory inspired working people. A wave of working-class militancy was sweeping the continent, and in Britain workers and soldiers were determined not to return to the desperate poverty that had followed World War I. As Tory MP [Member of Parliament] Quintin Hogg had put it in 1943: “If you don’t give the people social reform, they will give you social revolution.”
This was the context for genuine gains for working people: the establishment of the NHS and the large-scale construction of council housing. It was also the context for nationalisation of British industries including coal and rail, which amounted to a gigantic bailout of their bourgeois owners. What was and is necessary is not the piecemeal nationalisation of capitalist losers but the expropriation of the bourgeoisie as a class.
Attlee’s government was a capitalist government. In 1945, it called out troops against dockers on strike—as any other capitalist government would. A willing servant of British imperialism, it helped to found NATO, sent troops to fight against the North Korean and Chinese deformed workers states, fought a brutal colonial war in Malaya and presided over the bloody partition of India. Attacks on the benefits provided by the NHS began in 1952 when charges for prescriptions and spectacles were introduced to help finance the war in Korea.
Corbyn’s fealty to the EU stands in the long tradition of Labour’s betrayals. Winning Labour’s working-class base away from illusions in parliamentarism is strategic for building a party that can lead the working class to power. The model for such a party was provided by Lenin’s Bolsheviks, who led the multinational working class to power in Russia in the October Revolution of 1917. Following in their footsteps, we are dedicated to building a combat party of the working class, part of a reforged Fourth International, committed to socialist revolutions around the world that will finally lay the basis for an egalitarian society of abundance based on an international planned economy.