In this small article Lenin discusses the role of Russia and other European powers in China Lenin – “The War in China”. Changing what has to be changed, for example, bringing democracy rather than bringing Christianity, fighting insurgents and terrorists rather than rebels Lenin's article could today have been written by him about the involvement of the US and Uk in Iraq. His article also discusses the effect such actions have on the working classes of the countries involved in ways that are again familiar today. For example, he discusses the restrictions placed on workers similar to the way the "War on Terror" has been used to restrict Civil Liberties etc., he talks of the use of press stories attacking Chinese people, in the same way that the press today attack Muslims.
Arthur Bough's blog
Financial Markets around the world continued to tumble again today, following sizeable drops last week. There are several reasons for the falls. They centre on China, Japan and the US. In addition, capitalism has attempted, in recent decades, to provide itself with insurance against its own chaos, against the causes of periodic crises. Whilst these have succeeded in part, – though only really for the truly big capitalists – they have not resolved the basic contradictions of capitalism, but simply pushed those contradictions to a new height.
How on Earth would today's ultralefts react to this document by Trotsky. He advises a Bonapartist regime in Mexico how to best go about creating state capitalism! He argues for a toned down version of their proposals. He argues for the government to establish compromises with international capital, to establish joint ventures, not to cancel the Public Debt for fear of frighening of capitalist investors in the country, argues for compensation for expropraited capitalists on the same basis and so on.
In an interview just aired on CNN Wolf Blitzer spoke to the respected US columnist Seymour Hersh of the "New Yorker". Hersh says that the US is already launching attacks on Iran from across the Iraqi border by Special Forces. Hersh also claims that the US has now changed tack in relation to Iran. Where previously the focus was on taking out Iranian nuclear facilities, the US is now looking to take out those Iranian facilities providing support for Shia groups inside Iraq.
I blogged in a post a week or so ago, about the celebrity culture that Britain has adopted following on yet again from the US. The idea that people live their lives vicariously through those of others, and that the attitude promoted is that we all have to be like these “celebrities”, one of the reasons that consumer debt has gone through the roof as people attempt to buy the latest piece of ephemera. The whole thing is egged on by Blairism, that encourages people from the earliest age to go into debt on the basis of a gamble that such speculation in Education will result in big bucks later on. It follows on from their encouragement to people to believe that their problems can all be solved by buying a Lottery ticket, or scratch card, and now that is being taken further with the introduction of super casinos. Of course, the chances of solving your problems by any of these means are non-existent, and it is the poorest in society, the people nost desperate, and with the least alternative methods of getting out of their situation that end up throwing away the largest amounts of money in these schemes. It is the same culture that leads to the profusion of shyster lawyer adverts on the telly just after the take out more debt adverts, that advertise all kinds of ambulance chasing opportunities by making money from suing somebody for something.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the return on capital for non-financial corporations hit 15.2% in the autumn of 2006,an all-time record.
Meanwhile, the Chief Economist at Morgan Stanley, Stephen Roach commented recently,
The News has been full of stories today about the extent of personal debt in Britain. In one report from Manchester on News 24 there was an interview with a former Headteacher who has now been funded by the Financial Services Authority to go into schools and give lessons in Personal Finance. That is good perhaps the kids could then explain it to their parents. What is unlikely is that as part of these lessons the role of the Government in encouraging the level of burgeoning personal debt will be explained - not least as the result of the scrapping of Student Grants, and their replacement by loans, and the introduction of top-up fees.
It used to be that the Financial Times was said to be read only by Capitalists and Communists. The Internet now provides a wider opportunity to see what is going on in the capitalists’ minds. In this piece by Dr. Marc Faber an investment analyst based in Hong Kong he looks at potential problems in the world markets due to liquidity. But his illustration of the unequal effects of this, and how the rich benefit is interesting, and fairly honest.
In determining a political analysis it is important to look at what people do not say as well as what they do say. It is easy to paint a picture if you are selective about the story you tell. Take Venezuela for instance. A cursory glance at the political system is very confusing. On the one hand there are elections, freedom of speech, an extensive free press and media. All the things that one would attribute to a bourgeois democracy. On the other there is a President who is a former military man, the leader of a failed coup, and whose connections to the military are out in the open, moreover a military that is itself integrated into the everyday life of the country. In short some of the features we would expect from a Bonapartist or even military dictatorship. Throw in some references to this or that action that appears authoritarian, and you can swing the picture clearly in that direction.
Lenin used to say that the most important job of Bolsheviks was to patiently explain to the working class. What a balls aching task that really is! But of course he was right. It was also Marx and Engels approach to. Its why Marx and Engels were prepared to work even in openly bourgeois parties like the German Democratic Party just so that they could stick with the workers, and be able to fulfil that task of patiently explaining. Much later its why Trotsky argued that the Opposition had been right to stick with the workers in the Russian Communist Party, despite all the changes in rules and structures, the physical abuse etc. that the Stalinists subjected them to.
In his post here Paul Hampton accuses me of being hostile to the AWL. In my reply I show why that is simply silly. But Paul’s reaction reminded me of something I read recently – unfortunately I can’t remember where or I would post a link to it – about Leninist organisations, and why changes of line only come from the leadership of such organisations.
On Newsnight last night they reported on Charles Clarke's call for the NHS to be no longer free at the point of use in all cases. Clarke's argument is complete and utter bollocks.
His argument is that the NHS is expensive to run. The general trend will be for patients to want more treatment as medical science means that more kinds of treatments are available. The argument is basically that demand for health is unlimited, and that means icnreasing cost that cannot be met. So other means of meeting the cost have to be found. Clarke's argument is that the other means of raising the funds to meet this cost is for individuals in some cases to meet the cost themselves for various treatments in certain circumstances.
I saw on the TV a couple of days ago in the review of the next days papers that the Daily Express had a headline in large letters forecasting 7 inches of snow. Straight away I came to the conclusion that this was unlikely to be true, as truth and the Daily Express are incompatible. Sure enough here there was very little snow. Some parts of the country did have more snow, but nothing like the 7 inches the Express forecast. Nevertheless, yesterday the TV was full of stories about the shocking weather, and so on as the sky had fallen in rather than just a few flakes of snow from it.
A month ago our dog was diagnosed as having lymphatic cancer. For the last few weeks I've had to take him to the vets once a week for chemo.
I was asking the vet about the treatment, given that chemo normally has some pretty bad side effects on humans. He told me that they treat animals differently to humans. With humans the attempt is to kill the cancer so the chemo is more agressive which is what makes the patients often ill, and even sometimes kills them rather than the cancer. He said that ethically they can't give any treatment to animals which causes them dsitress or discomfort, so the chemo is less agressive, its intention is to control the cancer, and to make the animal as comfortable as possible. Fortuntaely, it seems to be working.
Just before xmas, the US retail monopolist Wal-Mart, that also owns ASDA in the UK, did a deal with India's leading telecoms company Bharti Enterprises Ltd.to open hundreds of stores in India over the next several years. According to Investor.com, "Under the deal, Wal-Mart and Bharti Enterprises will set up a joint venture to manage procurement, inventories and logistics, while stores will be set up under a franchise agreement, said Sunil Bharti Mittal, the chief executive of the Indian company."
The developing Civil War in Gaza comes on top of incipient Civil War in Iraq, and a potential Civil War in Lebanon, as well as increasing militarization by the US threatening an attack on Iran. The fighting between Israel and Lebanon last year was accepted by most observers as a proxy war, already, between the US and Iran, with the US backing Israel, and Iran and Syria backing, supplying and arming Hezbollah. According to BBC reports, the US is now backing Fatah in Gaza, as are its Sunni client states, who are promising arms and finance to Fatah, to be supplied with the consent of Israel. As with the promises made to Sunnis in Iraq by the Gulf States large amounts of finance are being offered to Fatah. Similarly, Iran, and probably Syria, are reported to be backing Hamas with similar supplies of arms if not finance.
The Brisbane Workers Liberty leaflet here: Support the Workers Not Chavez makes the case that Chavez is a Bonapartist dictator. Part of the argument is that he has been backed by business leaders. If that was the primary condition for being a Bonapartist then almost every political leader in the West would be similarly described. Another part is that he has concentrated power in his hands. I will examine that below.
This was a very interesting document by Bruce.
This is not intended at all as a critique of that document, but simply a comment.
In the middle of the night, a day or so ago, I had to get up to let the dog out into the garden. When I got back into bed, I couldn't sleep straight away, and thinking about different discussions I'd been having with people I thought about this analogy. It may or may not be useful when talking to people who don't know much about economics or socialism.
Having just watched the "Did we land on the Moon" documentary - the one narrated by Mitch Pilleggi to distinguish it from all the others. I thought as its xmas or Saturnalia, or Winterfest or whatever how about a simple poll. Who thinks the US actually landed on the Moon, or was it just faked in Area 51 as part of the Cold War being as America at that stage was getting screwed by the superior technology of a deformed workers state - sorry couldn't avoid that bit - and used the one thing its good at, telling stories and advertising.
Russia is taking back energy resources into state control. The latest move is to take back control of the Sakhalin 2 project from Shell. It has used similar methods to that used against Khodorkovsky, the Russian oligarch, to take back control of Yukos. The state now owns the majority of energy resources in Russia through the medium of the state owned Gazprom. It has also used the huige financial resources of Gazprom to extend state control of other industries totally unrelated. For example, the majority of the media is now back in state hands with Gazprom recently acquiring further media interests.
CNN had a story this morning that in a few years time 28% of UK citizens will be dollar millionaires. I was just searching the CNN website to try to find more details, but without success. Of course, if the dollar keeps falling as it has the last few days being a dollar millionaire might not amount to much. But the pundit on the programme talking about it said that it reflected a growing "democratisation of wealth". I was going to say this is bollocks - which in the main it is - but there is an elemet of truth.
The Bureaucratic Collectivist/State Capitalist theory says that a new ruling class emerged in the Soviet Union. This class ruled not by ownership, but by control of the meansof production. If this theory were true then by the time the USSR collapsed such a class should have consolidated itself like all such classes and castes by passing on this control to its children. If true then the Godfather of this class should have been the child of some high ranking bureuacrat. What in fact was Mikhail Gorbachev's background.
I watched the Dispatches programme on Channel 4 last night, "Women only Jihad", about Muslim Women and MPAC campaigning for the right of women to pray in Mosques, with interest. For some time I have thought that young Muslim women were likely to be the most likely modernising force within Muslim communities, and watching the trailers for the programme I was interested to see how much this was coming about. Having watched the programme I'm not sure.
Is it any wonder that humanity seems to be screwing up the environment when so many members of the species seem to be just a bunch of dirty bastards, with absolutely no consideration for anyone or anything? In many ways my dog has more civilised habits than those of many human beings. Okay some of it can be blamed on capitalism, but by no means all. The devil made me do it is not a convincing defence in most cases.
Last night Channel 4 held a Dispatches debate chaired by Jon Snow on the question of whether Free speech is under threat from Muslims. The format was the same as that employed in the past to debate the Iraq War etc. In other words a prosecution and defence calling witnesses for their case, who are then cross examined by the opposing side. For a debate it is in my opinion a flawed format, especially given the very limited time for questioning and cross examining the witnesses. More significant, however, was the fact that yet again the British liberal media effectively copped out on an important issue of defence of free speech, despite the title of the programme.
Workers at Volkswagen in Germany face a longer working week. In a deal with the union IG Metall bosses have secured an increase of 15% extra hours without pay. The deal comes as car makers throughout the world are udner pressure with a global overproduction in cars, and increasing production coming from low cost producers in China, Asia, and Eastern Europe.
The following article "Uniting Three Parties in Maryland" (at bottom of page in hyperlink) shows the bizarre nature of US politics.
According to the FT at the weekend concern is mounting at the rising deficit in BA's pension scheme. Concern that is in the City. BA's workers should also be concerned as BA proposes making changes to the scheme that would raise retirment ages for Pilots and Cabin Crew.
I found reading the latest edition of Solidarity a bit confusing, like one of those Dot to Dot puzzles, where the picture only emerges if you connect the dots in the right order.
On Page 2 there is an article about the strike at NHS, Logistics, on Page 3/4 a lengthy article on “Can the Labour Party be Reclaimed?”, on Page 5 an article on the Left at Labour’s Conference, and another on Unions (and actually CLP’s) voting down Blair at Conference, on Page 8 an article attacking Brown’s hypocrisy, on Page 12 an article on the Cuban Revolution, on Page 14 a strange article entitled “Democracy and the Workers Movement”, on Page 18 an article attacking Socialist Action for their failure to attack Livingstone’s privatisation proposals, and finally on the back page a call for support for John McDonnell. All of these constituted the dots, but instead of looking at them and seeing a clear picture what came across to me was confusion and in some cases contradiction.