TheDaily Worker had a shameful record of justifying or denying the Stalinist show trials of the 1930s and the systematic denial of basic human rights in the USSR and Eastern Europe after the war. It had nothing to say against Stalin’s mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars and other peoples during World War 2, or against China’s treatment of the people of Tibet.
You could argue, however, that it never sunk so low as to attempt to justify or deny genocide. Its successor, the Morning Star, is doing just that.
On Friday 26 February, the Morning Star carried three articles about China. Inevitably, the “complete victory” over poverty was hailed and President Xi Jinping’s claim of a “miracle” reported without mentioning that the threshold set by China to define extreme poverty amounts to $1.69 a day at current exchange rates, compared to the World Bank’s global threshold of $1.90, or that some of the most extreme income inequalities in the world continue to exist in China.
Then there is a piece reporting on the Uyghur “genocide” (quotes are the Morning Star’s) in which “Communist Party of Britain (CPB) general secretary Robert Griffiths told the party’s political committee on Wednesday evening [24th] that the charges of ‘genocide’ are ideologically motivated, lack independent evidence and form part of a ‘new cold war’ being waged against China.
“The committee urged labour movement organisations in Britain to send fact-finding missions to Xinjiang and other parts of China rather than repeat fictitious propaganda”.
We can guess that such “fact-finding missions” will be along the lines of the closely supervised delegations to the USSR, organised by the British-Soviet Friendship Society and the World Peace Council, which “saw” that talk of Stalinist terror was “fictitious” and happy Soviet workers were dancing in the fields, singing patriotic songs, and driving luxury cars.
It might also be noted that Comrade Griffiths appears to have avoided the simple question: is the charge of genocide true? An accusation might be “ideologically motivated”, but still be true. He claimed there is little “independent” evidence — but was he saying the claims are false?
Time and time again the CPB and the Morning Star skirt round the crucial question, relying upon innuendo and evasive formulations: they claim the evidence is entirely “based on reports by one person, Adrian Zenz” and simply refuse to acknowledge the evidence of eye witnesses like Gulbahar Haitiwaji, the aerial photographs of detentions camps, and the footage of Uyghurs being loaded onto trains destined for those camps.
Perhaps more interesting is what promises to be the first instalment of “a new series” by Carlos Martinez, in which he “will explore the weaknesses of latter-day ‘third campism’ in relation to the emerging new cold war on China”. The title is “‘Neither Washington nor Beijing’ means objective support for Washington.”
Martinez is an inveterate apologist for the Chinese state and Communist Party, and his writing turns out to be an edited version of a much longer piece he wrote for the blog he edits, Invent the future, which includes in its stated aims, support for “socialist states, e.g. Cuba, China, Vietnam (and) DPR Korea” (i.e. North Korea).
Martinez states in his Morning Star piece that his series will “not address the question of whether China is a socialist country”, but will concentrate on why it’s not “imperialist”. Spoiler alert: based on his blog post, he will conclude that it isn’t, but in doing so this keen Leninist will be forced to admit that “Lenin’s five features of imperialism [including ‘export of capital’] can’t simply be used as a checklist for answering the question of whether any given country is imperialist.”
The increasing stridency and incoherence of the Morning Star’s defence of China (not to mention their use of such a blatant apologist as Mr Martinez) smacks of desperation. The mainstream left in Britain is keen on democracy and human rights. Attempts to white-wash China’s abuses are not going down well in the labour movement.
The time may have come when, at long last, unions like Unite and the RMT start questioning why they continue to subsidise a publication that seeks to justify and/or deny something that looks very much like genocide.