Posts Tagged ‘Cold War’

Stop the War Coalition on their Protests Planned for this Saturday

June 21, 2022

I got this email from the Stop the War Coalition about a number of protests they’ve organised for this Saturday, 25th June 2022.

We have groups up and down the country – from Glasgow to Southampton – organising for the International Day of Action this Saturday. 

In London we are holding a protest outside the Ministry of Defence.

We will be there from 2:00-4:00 pm. Do get along if you can.

We have a great line-up of speakers including: Mohammad Asif, Director of Afghan Human Rights Foundation; Alex Gordon, President of RMT; Lindsey German, Convenor StW; Roger McKenzie, Liberation general secretary; Kate Hudson, CND general secretary; George Solomou, former British soldier who resigned over the Iraq War; and musician Sean Taylor.

The war in Ukraine is ongoing and on the brink of escalation. It is fast developing into a proxy war between Russia and NATO and it is the Ukrainian people who are suffering the consequences.

Rather than sending extra missiles to Ukraine, the British government should be urging for a ceasefire and getting both sides around the negotiating table in peace talks. From the beginning of the war we demanded that Russian troops withdraw from Ukraine and that the British government stop fuelling the conflict.

Join the Protest

There are protests organised in DorsetLondonManchester, Sheffield, BrightonGlasgowSouthampton and Cardiff plus other events in NottinghamYork,  Hull and Shrewsbury.

If you’ve got a protest or event organised let us know

I’m Organising An Event on 25 June

I strongly support Ukraine’s right to exist as a free, independent sovereign state and utterly condemn Putin”s invasion. As for Putin, he’s a monster. Since he came to power Putin has demonstrated over and over again that he’s an authoritarian butcher with nothing but contempt for democracy and the rule of law. He’s done everything he can to all but outlaw public protest, has banned those parties that look like beating him in elections, and the journalists that dare to criticise him have had visits from his thugs to show them the error of their ways. And twenty years later, the murder of the Russian dissident Politovskaya, who was a very trenchant critic of the arkhiplut, still looks very suspicious. He started a murderous war in Chechnya at the beginning of this century, which included horrific massacres of the civilian population, such as in the city of Grozny. And his wretched long arm has stretch out over here to assassinate his critics and foes who’ve taken refuge in our great nation.

But Stop the War’s analysis of the situation is right. There is a profound danger of the war escalating. We had a general only the other day telling us that British troops should be prepared to fight in Europe. This is terrifying. I think the Coalition are correct in saying that NATO should not have expanded up to the Russian border, so that the Russians felt threatened. This was the original agreement signed after the Fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War. But it was violated and as a consequence this terrible, evil war has broken out.

We desperately need peace, and far more jaw-jaw not war-war. As John Lennon said, ‘Give peace a chance’.

Glasgow Council Report Criticises Statues of Livingstone, Peel and Gladstone for Slavery Links

April 5, 2022

GB News and the Heil carried reports a few days ago attacking Glasgow council for a report compiled by a highly respected Scottish historian about the city’s historic involvement in the slave trade and its statues commemorating figures connected with it. The council felt that, unlike Liverpool and Bristol, and the city had not faced up to its history as one of the other major British centres of the slave trade. It compiled a list of seven statues that were particularly questionable because of their subjects’ links to the trade. These included the missionary and abolitionist, David Livingstone, Robert Peel and William Ewart Gladstone. The reports concentrated on the criticism of Livingstone, as the man was a fervent abolitionist and it demonstrates how ridiculousness the iconoclasm by the anti-slavery activists is. According to reports by GB News, the Heil and the Glasgow Herald, it’s partly because Livingstone started work at age 10 in factory weaving and processing slave-produced cotton from the West Indies. They make the point that as a child worker, Livingstone had absolutely no control over what the factory did. I doubt very much that he had much control, as someone who could be called a ‘factory slave’, over his choice of employment either. Later videos from GB News and further down in the articles from the Herald and the Heil is the statement that he also defend the cotton masters, believing that they were paternalistic. He may well have done so, but this hardly discredits him because of his life’s work in Africa.

Livingstone had a genuine, deep hatred, as many British Christians had at the time, of slavery. He travelled to Africa to spread Christianity and to combat slavery as its sources. He was also a doctor, and had worked hard after work to educate himself. One of the guests on the GB News debate about it was a right-wing historian of Africa. He pointed out that Livingstone is still very much loved in Africa, and there are plaques to him in Malawi, Zambia, Tanganyika and three other African countries. I have no doubt this is absolutely true. A few years ago I took out of Bristol’s central library a history of Malawi. The book was even-handed and objective. It did not play down massacres by the British army committed when we annexed the area during fighting with the slaving tribes. It described how, under imperialism, White Malawians tended to look down on the indigenous peoples and the dissatisfaction with imperial rule that resulted from the use of forced labour. But neither did it omit or play down the enslavement of indigenous Africans by the other native peoples. These included the Yao, Marganja, Swahili and Arabs, who preyed on the other tribes for the Arab slave trade, sending their captives to Zanziba, Kilwa and across the Indian ocean. To gain their victims’ trust, they’d settle down with them for a year, working alongside them as friends before finally turning on them. They also set up a series of forts to defend the slave routes. One of these, set up by Zarafi, one of the most infamous slavers, had a palisade on which were impaled 100 severed heads. As for the akapolo slaves used in the local economy, they were made very much aware of their status. They had to work with broken tools, and eat their meals off the floor. The chiefs, meanwhile, seemed to have spent much of their time relaxing and having their hair done.

Livingstone, whatever his faults, hated all this and his settlement became a refuge for runaway slaves. As did many of the other settlements he or his followers founded for this purpose. These settlements have since expanded to form some of Malawi’s towns.

William Ewart Gladstone was the leader of Britain’s Liberal party, serving as prime minister, in the latter half of the 19th century. The scandal here is that Gladstone’s family got its money from slave estates in the West Indies. I know Conservatives who genuine hate slavery, who despise Gladstone because of this. So it isn’t just ‘leftists’ that have issues with the Grand Old Man, as Gladstone’s supporters dubbed him. But Gladstone is immensely important because of the social legislation he enacted. He was an Anglican, who, in the words of one historian, ‘became the voice of the Nonconformist conscience’. He wanted the disestablishment of the Anglican church at a time when Christian Nonconformists were still required to pay it tithes and other duties that left them disadvantaged. He also wanted to give Ireland home rule. Of course this faced immense opposition, and I think it was one reason why he failed to win elections as the century wore on. But it seems to me that if he had been able to enact this policy, then perhaps Ireland’s subsequent history may not have been quite so bloody. One of the surprising facts about Irish history is that there was in the 18th century an alliance between Roman Catholics and Protestant Nonconformists. This was before Roman Catholic emancipation, which legalised it and granted Roman Catholics civil rights. At the same time Protestant Nonconformists were tolerated, but still suffered deep political disabilities. As a result, one of Ulster’s historic Roman Catholic churches was build with donations and subscriptions from Ulster nonconformist Protestants. This surprising fact was included in a BBC Radio 4 series, Mapping the Town, which traced the history of British and UK towns through their maps.

I don’t know much about Robert Peel, except that he introduced free trade as a policy for the Conservatives, or a section of the Conservatives. But what he is primarily known for is founding the metropolitan police force. I’ve got a feeling he might also have been responsible for reducing the 100-odd crimes that carried the death penalty to three. These included murder and treason. It might be because of Peel that we’re no longer hanging people for stealing a loaf of bread or impersonating a Chelsea pensioner. But long before Glasgow council decided he was problematic, there was also a demonstration by masked protesters in London demanding that his statue should be removed. And last year the right were also getting in a tizzy because one of Liverpool’s universities was removing him as the name of one of their halls. The student union replaced him with a Black woman, who was a Communist and teacher. She is, no doubt, perfectly worthy of commemoration, but hardly in Gladstone’s league.

Part of the problem is that iconoclasts want to judge everything by a very strict, modern morality. Slavery and the slave trade was an abomination and was rightly abolished. Good people have been continuing the struggle against global slavery since then. But not everybody, who was connected to the trade, is such a monster that they should be blotted out of history in the same way Stalin’s historians removed all mention of his opponents.

One of the things you are taught, or at least were taught, in history at university level is not to play ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ with historical figures. There is no set outcome to the historical process. If events had been different in the past, then modern society would also be different. If, horribly, Wilberforce and the abolitionists had lost, then slavery would still be unchallenged today. At the same time, you need to use the historical imagination to understand why people in the past behaved as they did, and why good people by the standard of their times were capable of attitudes that are deeply morally repugnant to us.

The great British philosopher, Sir Isaiah Berlin, was an admirer of the 17th-18th century Italian historian Vico. Vico believed, as Berlin later did, that there were no objective moral values. He noted how they changed over time, and that to properly understand a past epoch, you needed to understand also its art and culture. I don’t think he was a cultural relativist, however. Berlin certainly wasn’t – he believed that while there were no objective moral values, there were certainly those which acted as if they were. He was fiercely anti-Communist, partly because his family were Lithuanian Jews, who had seen their logging business seized by the Bolsheviks and had fled the Russian Revolution. He was a major figure during the Cold War in establishing western contacts with Soviet dissidents like Nadezhda Mandelstam, who wrote moving accounts of her experience of the gulags under Stalin.

I don’t share Berlin’s Conservatism and strongly believe in the existence of objective moral values. But I strongly recommend Berlin’s books. He wrote a series of potted intellectual biographies, including on the early Russian revolutionaries like the 19th century anarchist, Bakunin. Even though he hated what they stood for, his books are notable for his attempts to see things from his subjects’ point of view. So much so that some people, according to Berlin, though he was pro-Communist. They’re fascinating and highly readable, even if you don’t agree that someone like the French utopian socialist Saint-Simon was ‘an enemy of freedom’.

There are statues of slavers and the people connected with the trade that deserve to be torn down. There had been calls for Colston’s statue to be removed since the 1980s. It was highly controversial all those decades ago, though many Bristolians would have defended it because he gave away most of his money to charity. But other historical figures deserve to be still commemorated despite their connections to the ‘abominable trade’ because of their immense work that has benefited both Britain and nations like Malawi. And I believe that some of those, who find figures like Gladstone objectionable, could also benefit from reading Vico and Berlin. In the meantime, it should be noted that Glasgow council has no plans to tear any statues down.

Slavery is a great moral evil. But historic slavery should not considered so grave and unforgivable, that it is used to blot out the memory of figures like Livingstone, Gladstone and Peel, whose work has so helped shape modern Britain for the better.

Jeremy Corbyn on Putin and the Invasion of Ukraine

March 17, 2022

I’m posting this for Trev, one of the great commenters on this blog. He posted a comment a few days ago stating that some nutter elsewhere on the web had accused him and Jeremy Corbyn of being pro-Putin. This is absolute nonsense, as this video from Double Down News put up on YouTube on the 28th February shows.

In it, Corbyn makes it very clear that he utterly condemns the Russian invasion and its horrifying loss of human life and has every sympathy with the Ukrainians. He states that all wars end with a political solution, so let’s cut out the fighting and go directly there. He feels that we should go back to the agreements made at the end of the Cold War, particularly that in Minsk. Starmer has denounced the Stop the War Coalition as a Russian stooge, for which there’s no evidence. All governments try to make sure it’s only their line that’s heard during a war, and truth is the first casualty. It’s very easy for political leaders to send other people’s children to die. He states that he has been accused of being pro-Putin, but he has a record of standing up against tyrants and for human rights both in the Soviet Union and in democratic Russia. As Putin, he was helped into power by various world leaders – here the video shows Putin meeting and greeting Blair, the Queen and, I think, George Dubya. This was at the same time Putin invaded Chechnya to persecute and murder its people. He talks about the palpable racism in Moscow towards Chechens, complete with footage of Russian Nazi scum goose stepping about with their wretched right-arm salute. He was part of a parliamentary human rights delegation that met Russian officials complaining about the abuse of human rights, and was part of a demonstration in London with Tony Benn against the violations and the war in Chechnya. And when the terrible events in Salisbury took place, Corbyn said it was a consequence of Russian money in Britain, which needed to be examined. This is followed by a clip of his speech in parliament attacking this dirty money, and noting that the Tories had received £800,000 in donations from Russian oligarchs. We now have the Magnitsky rules and other legislation. But there have been people on the left who have been quite consistent in their support for human rights and the rights of journalists.

He says that when the Iraq war broke out in 2003 he was completely opposed to it, but didn’t want to go to war with the US or anybody else. He wanted peace for the people of Iraq. Similarly an attack on Russia in Ukraine will just produce another war and more bitterness and hatred. It would mean more of the world’s precious resources being used to manufacture weapons rather than dealing with the environmental crisis that threatens everyone. He states that it often seems that the people who have absolute unity are more prescient, so it’s good to stand out sometimes. As for wars being won or lost, he says that after they’re over and the media circus has moved on, the person who has lost a son is forever left with that, wondering on their birthday what they would have done and that goes on for all their life. Nobody ever wins a war, and having a war is a defeat for all of us. The best option is to halt the war as quickly as possible and move on to peace, recognition and understanding. In the case of Ukraine, the country could be occupied with massive destruction,, leading to resistance fighting and a civil war that could go on for a very long time. And worse is the possibility of a conflict between NATO and Russia with their nuclear armaments.

Being anti-war isn’t a weakness. It’s looking at the current conflict and seeing that it needs to be resolved and we need peace. We need more voices for peace and anti-war activists around the world to speak and oppose what their governments are doing. He was inspired to see so many young people on the streets of Moscow protesting against the war and that it was not being done in their name. It was the same language many people used against the Iraq War, and which Americans used against the Vietnam War. It is the voices for peace around the world we should be listening to at the present time.

There you have it from the man himself: he’s made it clear that he condemns the invasion, as he condemns all wars, and has protested against Putin when others in the West embraced the tyrant. He wants the war to stop not just because of the carnage that all wars cause, but of the dangers of this escalating into nuclear war. And he admires, respects and supports anti-war campaigners in Russia and around the world.

Jeremy Corbyn: the prime minister this country should have had.

Sting Reprises 80s Anti-Nuclear Song against War in Ukraine

March 14, 2022

A few days ago I put up the YouTube video of Punk legends Toyah Wilcox’s and Robert Fripp’s song of support for Ukraine against Putin’s invasion. Sting has also posted on YouTube a version of his 80s hit ‘Russians’ as a protest against Putin’s bloody invasion of ‘a peaceful and unthreatening neighbour’. It’s dedicated not just to the Ukrainians but also to the many Russians protesting against the war, and is once again a plea for our children and our common humanity.

Sting released ‘Russians’ right in the middle of the new Cold War under Thatcher and Reagan, when it seemed all too possible that a nuclear war would erupt to end humanity and destroy our lovely and beautiful planet. It was partly based on a theme from Prokofiev and urged everyone to protect their children against the nuclear threat. One of its lines is ‘How can I protect my little boy/ From Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?’ with the refrain ‘Believe me when I say to you, do the Russians love their children too?’ It also reminded both sides that ‘We share the same biology regardless of ideology’. It was a powerful, heartfelt song that reflected the deep fears and hopes of millions across the world at the time.

Sting states that he hasn’t really played it since because it wasn’t really relevant. Horrifically, it is now, with Putin threatening to launch nukes if NATO gets involved. I find Sting’s piece profoundly moving, but I’m also furious with the way geopolitics has gone in eastern Europe in the forty or so years since this was written. Reagan was an arch-reactionary who supported every bloody Fascist dictator that disgraced Latin America in his campaign against Communism. But together he and Mikhail Gorbachev ended the Cold War. Communism fell and the former Soviet satellites went their own way. And in the former Soviet Union, Gorbachev did his best to transform the Stalinist Communism of the Soviet state into something genuinely good and progressive. He wanted to introduce democracy and multiparty elections, ended the persecution of religion, and wished to create a mixed economy in which state and private enterprise existed alongside each other. But he also wished to create a new class of genuine cooperatives, where the workers would hire and fire management. He wanted Russia to join the rest of the world in the Green movement and tackling environmental issues as well fully support human rights. And as the Berlin Wall came down, thousands of people from the former eastern bloc came over here to work and run businesses.

Terrible things were still being done across the world, including the first Gulf War, which was also really about oil rather than freeing Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. But the Fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War made it that bit better. For all the claims that socialism was dead and that free market capitalism would now reign unchallenged at the ‘end of history’, it was still an optimistic time. It looked like the world had finally put that part of the nuclear threat behind us and that we could look forward to a future without any more fears of another Cuban missile crisis or similar armaggeddon.

And now I feel that all that hope and promise has been squandered through great power interference and Putin’s warmongering. Well, damn this! I want the world to go back to how it was before all this erupted.

Bring back Gorbachev!

Love and peace to everyone protesting against the war, and especially to those in Russia. May peace come soon.

Solidarity with Russian Peace Protesters

February 25, 2022

I understand from the news that there have been peace protests against Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine in many cities in Russia. They have my absolute support, just as I condemn the warmongering by NATO and our government led by Boris Johnson. Russians interviewed on demonstrations over here against the invasion of Ukraine have said that this is Putin acting against the wishes of the majority of the Russian people. While the older generation are misled by his propaganda on television, the young folks are much more aware of what’s really going on through the interwebs. This reminds me of Putin’s invasion of Chechnya at the beginning of this century and the horrific massacre of its people by Russian forces. I was reading a book about Russia after the end of the Cold War by an American author. He covered the war in Chechnya and managed to interview a senior Russian officer. The man was desperately trying to get his own son away from the war, and told the author that no-one wanted it. It was just Putin. To which you could probably add in this conflict Johnson and Biden, but no-one else.

I admire the immense courage of the Russian peace protesters. Protesting against any decision by Putin and his followers will get you arrested in Russia, let alone demonstrating against more militarism. As for the press, writing something that Putin disapproves of will get you beaten, or thrown down stairs. And in this country Johnson and Priti Patel are doing their best to make the demonstrations they don’t like impossible.

I heartily support all the protesters everywhere against this war, in Britain, Russia and wherever, and hope their voices will be heard against the warmongers. May there be a speedy ceasefire before this war consumes us all.

Love and peace – Mir i lyubov’.

Statement from Stop the War Coalition Against Russian Invasion and NATO and Government Warmongering

February 25, 2022

I got this statement yesterday from the Stop the War Coalition. It condemns the Russian invasion and calls for the withdrawal of Russian troops. But it also argues that NATO is an aggressive imperialistic organisation that itself has caused wars. It rejects economic sanctions against Russia as a form of warfare, and points out that the government expects to have increased funding for the armed forces while at the same time increasing repayments on student loans and cutting expenditure on the NHS. The statement reads as follows

‘The Russian invasion of Ukraine overnight is a massive escalation in the conflict there. Stop the War is calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops and for an immediate ceasefire. Our statement is here and our resolution for union branches/CLPs here.

The danger of war involving nuclear weapons is more real than previously and must be opposed. The real losers will be the ordinary people of Ukraine, Russia, and the rest of Europe.

We should, however, take no lessons in peacemaking from our own government and its allies. They have brought us decades of escalating wars, each of which has been a failure. They have encouraged a growing arms race internationally. And they have set on a path of Nato expansion which has brought the military alliance to the borders of Russia, in contravention of agreements made at the end of the Cold War.

Nato is not a defensive alliance but an aggressive one, centrally involved in wars in Afghanistan, Libya and Yugoslavia, and engaged in more and more ‘out of area operations’ including in the Indo-Pacific.

Our government wants to hide its domestic problems behind its belligerent statements, and we can be certain that this will continue, at the same time that it will provide unlimited money for war but increase student loan repayments and cut the NHS.

There is a surge or argument in favour of greater sanctions, including from those who purport to be anti war. But sanctions are not an alternative to war – they are economic warfare and therefore a prelude to war. We have seen this in Iraq where all they did was bring war closer, at the same time as bringing real suffering to the people of Iraq.

As an anti-war and peace movement, our first priority is to stop war. This conflict has not developed in the last few weeks alone, but reflects a society where war is being turned to increasingly to solve other problems. However, we are also aware that this is a different situation from previous wars where our government has been directly involved in military action, and we need to do as much as we can to explain and discuss the issues with those around us.

We are asking our members, supporters, groups and affiliates to do the following:

  1. Make sure our statement and resolution are disseminated as widely as possible.
  2.  Do everything to publicise and support our international meeting on Saturday 26th February and our in person rally on Wednesday 2nd March in Conway Hall, London.
  3. Hold urgent meetings in all localities – in person where possible – calling for withdrawal of Russian troops, ceasefire now and against Nato expansion.
  4. Attend the demos and actions in support of the NHS with placards linking cuts in public spending with money for war- you can download and print our new placard design from our website.
  5. Prepare for a day of action (tba) where we hold protests and vigils against the war.

Please contact the office for materials and more information, and for speakers.

Due to the high volume of traffic we are currently experiencing, we apologise for any difficulties you may encounter whilst trying to access our website today; please keep refreshing or try again later.

Best wishes,

Lindsey German

Convenor’

I also noticed that the Depress was ranting about Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott against because they had both condemned NATO, and one of the other Tory rags had reported that Starmer was under pressure to discipline 14 other Labour MPs who’d done likewise.

Which means that Corbyn, Abbott and the other 14 are the only people talking sense in all this.

Stop the War Coalition’s Latest Statement on the War in Ukraine

February 22, 2022

I’ve just got this email from Stop the War Coalition, protesting against the escalation of the conflict. It condemns not only Russia, but also NATO for seeking to expand eastward and the thirty years of failed policies that have resulted in the present situation. It states that only diplomacy and a return to the Minsk-2 agreement at the end of the Cold War can end this crisis. It has my complete support, and I am therefore posting it here. I am not a member of the Coalition, but I’m leaving the invitation to join them for anyone who might be interested.

‘Our latest statement on Ukraine
22/02/22

Stop the War condemns the movement of Russian forces into eastern Ukraine and urges that they immediately withdraw, alongside the resumption of diplomatic negotiations to resolve the crisis.

This dispute could and should be resolved peacefully, and that remains the only basis for a lasting settlement, rather than the imposition of military solutions.  That it has not been resolved is not, however, the responsibility of the Russian or Ukrainian governments alone.  

The conflict is the product of thirty years of failed policies, including the expansion of NATO and US hegemony at the expense of other countries as well as major wars of aggression by the USA, Britain and other NATO powers which have undermined international law and the United Nations.  

The British government has played a provocative role in the present crisis, talking up war, decrying diplomacy as appeasement and escalating arms supplies and military deployments to Eastern Europe.  

If there is to be a return to diplomacy, as there should be, the British government should pledge to oppose any further eastward expansion of NATO and should encourage a return to the Minsk-2 agreement, already signed by both sides, by all parties as a basis for ending the crisis in relations between Ukraine and Russia.  

Beyond that, there now needs to be a unified effort to develop pan-European security arrangements which meet the needs of all states, something that should have been done when the Warsaw Pact was wound up at the end of the Cold War.  The alternative is endless great power conflict with all the attendant waste of resources and danger of bloodshed and destruction.  

We send our solidarity to all those campaigning for an end to the war, often under very difficult conditions, in Russia and Ukraine.  Stop the War can best support them by demanding a change in Britain’s own policy, which can be seen to have failed. 

Read & Share Now

If you agree with our statement and want to help us stop escalation in Ukraine you can do so by becoming a member of Stop the War today (if you’re not one already) or affiliating your local group or trade union branch.

Join Now

Explanation for the Survival of Marxism after the Fall of Communism

October 8, 2021

I think there’s a lot of confusion among people over the reappearance of Marxism in recent social activism. People are wondering how it has managed to survive and revive now after Communism fell so spectacularly around the world in the ’80s and ’90s. I found this interesting explanation in Simon Tormey’s Anti-Capitalism (London: Oneworld Revised Edition 2014). The answer is that there are any number of competing strands of Marxism and Marxist organisations, and the groups that survived had nothing to do with the official communism of the Soviet bloc. In fact they were opposed to it. Tormey writes

‘It may come as a surprise after all we have said about the death of Marxism or communism in chapter 2 to begin a consideration of the radical wing of anti-capitalism with Marxist groups. If Marxism is ‘dead’, then why are we looking at it? Attentive readers of the relevant chapter will have noted that one of the key distinctions drawn in the exposition was between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ politics, that is between national politics , the politics of electioneering, political parties and voting, and the subterranean politics that began to proliferate after 1968. What we noted there was that official Marxism – the Marxism of the Communist Bloc – went into decline after that point and eventually succumbed in all but a handful of countries after the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. China, the most powerful of the remaining communist regimes, appears increasingly embarrassed about its Marxist-Leninist heritage , and rightly so given its enthusiasm for capitalism. On the other hand, unofficial Marxism -the Marxism that vehemently criticised the Soviet Union, the Communist Bloc as well as the West – has never gone away. Indeed as is evident, Marxist groups have been amongst the most important and most visible at anti-capitalist protests, particularly in Europe. Marxist writers such as Alex Callinicos, Slavoj Zizek, David Harvey and John Holloway have offered compelling analysis of contemporary society as well as prescribing programmes and strategies for an anti-capitalist resistance. Many Marxist groups are well organised and well-furnished with the means of making their presence felt, whether it be in the preparation of banners and placards, in the printing of posters, leaflets and newspapers, or in organising carnivals, festivals, summer schools and teach-ins. Marxists have been prominent in organising anti-capitalist protests and initiatives’. (p. 103).

The following passages also explain that Marxism’s survival isn’t just due to these groups’ organisational abilities, but to Marxism’s considerable intellectual power as a system of thought explaining and opposing capitalism.

There seems to be a suspicion on the right that the appearance of radical ideologies, such as that supporting Black Lives Matter and the trans movement, are somehow a foreign plot to weaken the West in preparation for an invasion. The right-wing YouTuber Ex-Army Paz 49 says in one of his videos that the trans ideology is being promoted precisely as such a strategy, but we don’t know by whom. China, as one of the last remaining Communist nations and rising global superpower, is a frequent target of some of these suspicions.

But I doubt this is true for the above reason. The Marxism that has survived would be as opposed to China’s weird mixture of Maoism and capitalism and the other former communist regimes as it is to western capitalism. And while Putin certainly has no qualms about funding and encouraging other political movements, even including domestic Fascists, if it will advance his aims, I doubt he would want to encourage the trans ideology. Post-Communist society in eastern Europe is very traditional regarding gender roles, despite the official insistence on sexual equality under Communism. The problem for anyone like Putin or the Chinese using the trans and gay movement to weaken their enemies’ masculinity and military strength, is that these ideologies cross political borders. And as Putin’s government has for decades been very intolerant towards gays, Hungary has passed increasingly stringent legislation against the teaching of homosexuality and the other week the Chinese government ruled that they didn’t want ‘sissy’ men on television, it would be dangerous for these regimes to encourage it in the West. Quite apart from the fact that gay rights and the transgender ideology can be shown to be homegrown western intellectual products, with no input, as far as I’m aware, from the former Soviet bloc and the regimes which have succeeded it.

The fear about foreign powers conspiring to bring about a Communist revolution or foreign takeover of the West is just Cold War paranoia, persisting long after the Cold War should have gone.

Were the Gaitskellites Willing Collaborators with the CIA During the Cold War?

October 5, 2021

Over the years Lobster has published a series of well-researched, properly sourced pieces on the infiltration of the trade unions and western socialist parties by the CIA during the Cold War in order to combat any communist influence. There is ample evidence that the deep state and the intelligence agencies were very much engaged in a covert war on the left. The magazine has described the propaganda put out by IRD, a department of the British government linked to the intelligence agencies. This smeared left-wing Labour MPs, like Tony Benn, as communists, Soviet stooges and IRA sympathisers. In his ‘View from the Bridge’ column, main man Robin Ramsay has put up a piece suggesting that Rita Hinden, the founder of the Fabian Society’s Colonial Bureau and the editor of Socialist Commentary, a Gaitskellite magazine, was connect to the CIA. She may have been tasked to give a bad review to a piece by George Padmore, who was suspected of still having communist sympathies. The piece runs

“The CIA and the Labour Party
In Susan Williams’ majestic White Mischief there is a little snippet about Rita Hinden, founder of the Fabian Society’s Colonial Bureau in 1940 and later editor of the Gaitskellite magazine Socialist Commentary.
‘Criticism of [George] Padmore had appeared in Encounter long before his death. A scathing review of his 1956 book Pan-Africanism or Communism? described it as “infuriating”; it classified Padmore among
those “who have revolted against Communist conduct and cynicism, but can never free themselves from Communist ideology”. The review was written by Rita Hinden, who was carefully selected for the task. Michael Josselson, the CIA agent who had set up the Congress for Cultural Freedom, had told Irving Kristol, the coeditor of Encounter, that he should run a review “by one of ‘our’ people”; elsewhere, Josselson described Hinden as “one of us”.’ (Williams, p. 147)
Which looks awfully like Hinden was CIA and is another little piece of support for the thesis that the Gaitskellites were, in effect, a CIA operation within the Labour Party.”

See: https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster82/lob82-view-from-the-bridge.pdf?cache=3

The book, White Mischief, which is reviewed elsewhere in that issue of Lobster, describes the extensive covert CIA operations in Africa around the time the former colonies were gaining their independence in what Williams’ describes as a colonisation.

Hugh Gaitskell was the right-wing leader of the Labour party, who decades before Tony Blair tried to have Clause IV dropped from the party’s constitution. There’s rumour and speculation that Keef Stalin is in league with British intelligence to destroy the Labour party, or socialism within the Labour party. Stalin’s very establishment career, his membership of the elite Trilateral Commission and the history of such deep state operations by US and British intelligence against the Labour left, make this all too plausible.

Afghanistan Withdrawal – the Conspiracy Theories Start

September 2, 2021

For some the catastrophic departure of the western armed forces from Afghanistan has been almost unimaginable. This is not surprising, as successive governments have been telling us for years that the Taliban had been successfully contained and victory was only a few months away. They find it particularly incomprehensible that the US and western armed forces were so unprepared for the Taliban’s reconquest of the country, that President Biden has left 73 military planes and $80 billion worth of kit behind in the scramble to get out. One of these is the mad right-wing YouTuber and internet radio host, Alex Belfield. In the video below, Belfield wonders if all that military equipment has been deliberately left behind to be taken and used by the Taliban, in order to provide the pretext for more wars. He sees this as part of an overall strategy by out governments to keep us afraid. One of these ruses has been, so he argues, the Coronavirus. He seems to follow here the line of some of the sceptics that Covid doesn’t present a real threat, but has just been used by the government in order to justify a totalitarian seizure of power through the lockdown.

Belfield’s been sceptical about the Coronavirus and the lockdown almost from the beginning. His argument is usually that the lockdown is doing more harm than good to the economy and to the health, mental and physical, of the British people. He’s right in that clearly people’s businesses and wellbeing is suffering, but is completely and utterly wrong about lifting the lockdown and letting the disease take its course and carry off whoever it may.

But I can’t say that his paranoia about the US leaving behind so much military equipment is unwarranted. The American and British public were miss-sold the wars in the Middle East. We were told we were freeing Afghanistan from a brutal theocratic tyranny and defending America and ourselves from future terrorist attacks. We weren’t. The troops were sent in to secure the country so that an oil pipeline could be built, one which Bush’s administration had been in talks with the Taliban to build. The Taliban had pulled out, and so the NeoCons were looking for an excuse to invade. This came along in the shape of 9/11.

Ditto Iraq. We were informed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that he was in league with Osama bin Laden. He wasn’t. Hussein had led a largely secular regime, which was cordially hated by bin Laden and his Islamist fanatics. We were told that the invasion would liberate the Iraqi people from Hussein, who really was a tyrant. But the invasion wasn’t about granting a grateful Iraqi people democracy. It was about Aramco, the joint Saudi-American oil company seizing the country’s oil reserves and the western oil companies grabbing its oil industry. Other multinationals, such as Haliburton, which employed various members of Bush’s family and cabinet colleagues, seized its state industries. Meanwhile the country descended into sectarian violence and chaos, the secular state and the feminism it promoted vanished, and the private military contractors – read: mercenaries – hired as part of the peacekeeping forces ran amok with drug and prostitution rings. They also amused themselves by shooting ordinary Iraqis for sport.

It’s been said that America is a ‘warfare state’. That is, its military-industrial complex is so pervasive and powerful that its entire economy is geared to and depends on war. It was suggested years ago in one of the publications of the old Left Book Club, as I recall, that this is deliberate. American political ideology rejects Keynsianism, the economic doctrine that maintains that the state should interfere in the economy through welfare spending, public works and so on to stimulate it. American political culture, on the other hand, rejects this in favour of laissez-faire. But the American economy still needs government intervention, and the only way the American state can do this is through war and military spending. Hence the continual need to find new wars to fight. First it was the Cold War, then the War on Terror.

I tend to believe in ‘cock-up’ rather than conspiracy – that the world is the way it is because of the incompetence of the authorities, rather than that there is some overwhelming and all-pervasive conspiracy against us. This does not rule out the fact that real conspiracies by the intelligence agencies, big business and various covert political groups really do occur. My guess is that the armaments left behind in Afghanistan are there as a result of incompetence rather than a deliberate plot to produce more war and international instability for the benefit of the war profiteers.

But after the lies that have sustained two decades and more of war and occupation in the Middle East, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was true.