No 1350 21st May 2009
The contemptible scurrying mess of arrogant self-seeking and opportunism revealed on the Thames has always been the truth of “parliamentary democracy” – which disguises the actual dictatorship of capital and the bourgeois ruling class. It comes to scandalous light now because the catastrophic failure of the profit making system is undermining all aspects of historically outmoded imperialist world dominance and rule. Only one “restructuring” makes any sense for this foul corruption – breaking its rot into pieces and replacing it by the rule of the working class and the building of socialism. That demands (re)building Leninist leadership for revolutionary overturn of capitalism.
The savage sacrificial lynching of hapless Parliamentary Speaker Michael Martin by the House of Commons MPs salvages nothing for the ruling class as its lying fraud of Parliament is revealed to be an even smellier festering heap of lies, fraud, pocket-lining and rank hypocrisy than already suspected.
Quite the opposite: the spectacle of the desperate (dis)-”honourable” members tearing one of their own apart like a wounded, blooded shark in a sea full of predators, in a frantic effort to save their own skins, only exposes even further the sheer depths of degenerate self-interest and cynical manipulation which is the heart of the Parliamentary “democracy” lie.
That applies as much to the “clean handed” “lefts” and “principled” MPs, and the queues of “not me guv, I was always against it” pious protesters waiting to get into the TV studios, as it does to the ones caught up to the elbows in the expenses cookie jar when the light went on.
Frugal or not, they all built “careers” and “reputations” by constantly telling the working class for decades, and decades, and decades that Parliament is the “proper way to do things” and the only way forwards for the working class to “legally” win new rights and gradually improve their lot.
Most of all they consciously lie by declaring that there is no alternative to living in a capitalist world and its monstrous exploitation, unfairness, inequalities, brutalities and alienation, and the suppression of the human talents and capacities of the majority kept permanently in wage slave labour and enforced ignorance.
None of that is spoken of at all. Instead the “Western way of life” is presented as a potential realm of sweetness and light which only the intransigence of “foreigners” and the fecklessness of “layabout scroungers” (the unemployed!) needs to be dealt with (and perhaps the odd “downturn”) before the uplands of glorious prosperity and harmony are achieved.
Perhaps there is “excessive greed” of “some” bosses it is sometimes conceded, which just has to be “kept under control”.It is all a total and utter LIE.
And parliament is its biggest purveyor.
But that is now being exposed to the core by the rampaging crisis of the capitalist system which is hurricaning through, and undermining, all the institutions and elaborate structures of capitalist rule.
Economic implosion in the heartlands and slow inexorable defeat of its control over the Third World (and its brutal exploitation by the West) is bringing the imperialist order to a point of total paralysis.
The collapse of the “Mother of Parliaments” in a mess of arrogant, self-justifying, small-minded greed is a symptom and reflection of the complete historic bankruptcy of the entire capitalist class system.
The gob smacking cheek of claims for moat cleaning, multiple homes, (including one for ducks!!!) mock Tudor timbers, and surround sound super TVs (new every year) on the one hand and the pettifogging miserliness of claims for cups of tea and the wife’s tampons on the other, has angered ordinary people not just for its self-seeking but for the contempt it expresses for the supposed work MPs do representing them and fighting for change (always a cynical lie as far as the working class is concerned).
It parallels the grotesque “rewards” for the bankers etc, and adds to the growing unreal detachment of the ruling class from the unfolding of history which echoes the eventual out-of-touch indolence of the decrepit ancienne regime when its time was up, expressed as declarations of “divine right” of kings to do what they wanted and “let them eat cake” indifference to the masses, or in the petty diary obsessions of the Russian Tsar about his lunch even as the First World War horrors were unfolding and the masses rising in rebellion.
Staggeringly, even after being bailed out by the working class and its tax money for the next twenty years (courtesy of parliament), the arrogance and greed of the banks continues not only unabated but even stepped up:
Some injustices are easy to spot: paying for someone else’s moat to be cleaned, for example, or watching a disgraced knight of the realm walk away with a £700,000 state pension. Others smoulder quietly in the background until it is too late to do anything about them. Right now, just such a silent scandal is being perpetrated in our name – the restoration of the bankers’ bet.
This one-way wager works like this: in the good times, the high-rollers of finance had a licence to print money. Investment bankers, hedge-fund traders and private equity managers were highly incentivised to take big risks with a lucrative form of capital known as OPM, or other peoples’ money. When it went well, it went very, very well. When it wrong, it was our problem.
But unlike the bank collapses of last autumn, the reconstruction of this system is a hidden process. They whisper it quietly now, yet in London and New York the remaining independent banks such as Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital are coining it. A bounce in the market and unprecedented support from central banks means it has rarely been this easy to turn a profit.
The spoils are simple to disguise because so much of the economy is still reeling from the last misadventure. The Bank of England is worried that state-supported lenders such as RBS and Lloyds are not out of the woods yet, fearing a lack of loans to ordinary businesses will drag us all down yet again.
... A newly emboldened City is already pushing back at attempts at reform. Headhunters are beginning to poach star traders with telephone-number pay packages again. The Financial Services Authority has concluded it is too difficult to separate out the risky parts of banking from the bits we cannot afford to do without. Instead, the banks remain too big to fail. Next time we will have to pick up the pieces just the same.
This week’s Economist magazine strikes a defeatist note about the “monstrous bargain that bankers have extracted from the state”, concluding that, despite losses of $3tn, “the price of saving finance has been to create a system that is more vulnerable and more dangerous than ever before”. When the house journal of liberal economics concedes there is nothing we can do to stop such a colossal injustice, it is time to wonder if all capacity for outrage has been saturated.
the heads of Britain’s biggest banks are enjoying salaries far in excess of other leading chief executives - in spite of the recession. In fact, according to new research, the annual take-home pay of some senior bankers is larger now than it was before the credit crunch.
A report last week by the treasury select committee claimed that the bonus culture among banks had encouraged a “lethal combination of reckless and excessive risk-taking”. But according to a Channel 4 Dispatches programme to be screened tomorrow night, the basic pay of leading bankers has defied the economic downturn.
...average salaries of leading bankers continued to rise between 2006-07 and 2007-08 - just when the banking sector was plunged into turmoil. In 2006 the basic pay of Sir Fred Goodwin, the Royal Bank of Scotland’s chief executive, was £1.19m, rising to £1.29m in 2007 and £1.297m last year. The bank’s new chief executive, Stephen Hester, earns a basic salary of £1.2m.
Andy Hornby, the former chief executive of HBOS, took home a basic salary of £787,000 in 2006, rising to £940,000 in 2007 and £1.025m last year.
Remuneration of the banks’ non-executive directors - who were paid to safeguard shareholders’ interests and rein in the banks’ executives - has also soared. Non-executives at HBOS were paid £30,000 a year in 2001, rising to £70,000 a year in 2008. The pay of RBS’s non-executives almost tripled, from £25,000 a year in 2000 to £73,000 in 2008. Northern Rock’s non-executive salaries rose by 33% to £60,000 last year - after the bank was nationalised.
Dispatches has also obtained the contracts of several leading bankers who have earned infamy for their part in the banking crisis. It has emerged that, in 2004, Goodwin was guaranteed a bonus of 200% of his £900,000 salary and was entitled to 365 days of paid sick leave.
Lloyds Bank’s CEO, Eric Daniels, who is American, was entitled to £33,000 a year for his son’s school fees, £100,000 a year in housing costs for the first three years he was in the UK and a £75,000 fee to cover his relocation costs.
The programme also makes the extraordinary claim that the former Northern Rock chief executive, Adam Applegarth, had a member of staff stand behind his Aston Martin in the car park to prevent others walking behind it.
Dispatches identifies 21 former executives at banks that failed, or almost failed, who each have pension pots worth more than £1m. Larry Fish, who used to run RBS’s American operations, has a pension of more than £18m, paying out £1.5m-plus a year. According to the programme, Goodwin’s widely condemned £16m pension may actually be worth £28m.
The once puritanical bourgeoisie which overturned the rotten feudal order by violent revolution to build thriving capitalism, has itself reached the end of the road, its system clogged with contradictions and “surplus” value exactly as Marx and Engels analysed and understood was inevitable.
Its always piratical expansionism has degenerated into world disaster and World War destruction.
At the same time the coherence and sophistication of the working class that will replace it, has increased constantly, made savvy by the very demands of capitalism for trained workers to carry out its production and technology, to the point where it can no longer tolerate the forelock tugging life of wage slavery and deprivation.
Worldwide the masses of the Third World have given notice of seething rebellion, that despite some bizarre forms and backward notions, just continues to unroll and spread, from the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan to the chaos in Pakistan, piracy in Somalia, dogged Palestinian resistance, and now in outbursts in the heartlands of the West as riots erupt in Athens and France, factories are occupied and “bossnapping” spreads.
But they remained hampered by the philosophical failures of revisionism and the deluge of anti-communist brainwashing which floods from every pore of the capitalist system.
The lie of “democracy” has been a crucial weapon of the ruling class to keep them in their place.
“Parliamentary democracy” is a nothing but the biggest confidence trick in history, designed to reign in the revolutionary instincts of the working class which are driven constantly close to the surface by its bitter class struggle for survival, (the reality of existence in even rich countries like Britain, and especially as catastrophic Slump disaster returns).
Such spontaneous instincts can never get beyond protest and trade unionism defensiveness, to coalesce into coherent revolutionary action, without revolutionary consciousness and theory, deliberately fought for and argued, in and with the working class, by a revolutionary party, dedicated to forging and building such scientific leadership.
The “lefts” help prevent it.
The Tony Benn’s, John Cruddaces, Vince Cables, and the Ken Livingstones, more pompously concerned about “parliamentary procedure” and the “rule of law” than the ruling class’s own Tory grandees, are as much a part of the parliament racket as the ones clustered round the trough.
In fact they serve a crucial function to keep the whole pigsty smelling sweet with a “left” or “honest” cover and the promise of “change tomorrow” to keep the working class well away from revolutionary arguments and perspective.
The silence and complicity of these “left” Labourites and “independents” (and the backing they get at elections and in meetings from all shades of the pretend “revolutionary” Trots and revisionists, and militant “Trade Unionism” (even now backing the European election fraud with the reactionary “No2EU - yes to democracy” petty nationalist campaign)) have helped keep in place a system which has always been utterly corrupt.
Not a word have they ever said at election times about the scandalous and dishonest reality of lying “votes” and “representation” which are constantly, and have always been, a foul manipulated opportunist racket of vested interests, bribery, string-pulling and trickery, ever since the seventeenth century (beginning with the lie of the “Glorious Revolution” to replace Cromwell’s harder bourgeois Protectorate revolutionary reality after a brief monarchist restoration).
Parliament has ever been totally in thrall to the ruling class and its big money capital.
It does not make any really important decisions anyway.
It is money power and its ruling class representatives which decides everything of significance, through its elaborately evolved network of clubs, freemasonries, press and TV, the Stock Exchange, banks, the military, the police, the MI5 and the rest of the networks of hidden state machinery, committees, influence and control. (Even the few notional government powers have been diminished: Gordon Brown even formally handed over control of the interest rate, to the Bank of England, for example).
Even less is said to expose the democracy lie now by the “left” twisters even as the stone is turned over by the disastrous crisis of the whole Western order, to reveal the scurrying mass of duplicity and rot beneath.
The atmosphere has never been more ready, and the evidence more compelling, for revolutionary Marxist understanding to be built, to turn this degenerate system over once and for all, by raw class struggle, to establish the rule of the working class, the dictatorship of the proletariat, to build and defend socialism and the interests of the great majority.
It needs to end capitalism for good and seize hold of the wealth and production resources of society from private hands and bring them under the control of ordinary people.
There is no other way to get there, except by revolutionary struggle.
Either there can be the dictatorship of the majority to organise the world rationally for human need, or the hidden (and increasingly not-so-hidden police state) dictatorship rule of the bourgeoisie continues with a spiralling crisis collapse, once again, into desperate Depression and eventual World War destruction.
But none of that will be heard from the great mass of the Labourites and the “official Labour movement” (whose Trade Union leaders, “researchers” and officials are paid just as well as any of the MPs, for example).
Just the opposite: they are all desperately peddling to put the whole thing back together again, like Humpty-Dumpty.
So there is plenty of noise about “revolutionary change” being bandied about suddenly by the entire establishment, desperate to keep themselves upright and ahead of the red-hot public anger.
But this means precisely the opposite of revolution, being a great show of meaningless “reorganisation” and new “rules” for Parliament, to keep it in place just when it has been seen right through.
It is no better than the cosmetic trickery of “restructuring of the 'City'” and “regulating” the “banking system” (all over again).
The only “reform” for the whole stinking system should be, and can be, to kick it to pieces for the rotten trick it is, and Parliament most of all.
The liars and shysters should be given their just deserts.
But that will never happen inside the capitalist system.
The great rush for parliamentary reform (after the event) is a all bit rich anyway coming from the Labourites, who were elected in 1997 precisely because the stench of “money for questions” and general sleaze from the Tories had become so overpowering that only promises of “radical reorganisation” and even “disbanding the House of Lords and its privileges” could fend off rising discontent (which was exploding in the Poll Tax riots and so forth).
What did it produce? - two Labour Lords being done for pushing legislative amendments in exchange for money and the new art of “house flipping”!!!!
We have had reforms and “new brooms” and cosmetic reorganisation over and over again.
It changes nothing, because the bourgeois class and its money remain in charge.
But they fear losing their grip as the crisis tears the old complacent rackets to pieces.
Parliament and “democracy” is by far the best way they have ever discovered to rule “fooling most of the people most of the time”; direct open (fascist) dictatorship is too obvious and gives the masses too many lessons in the reality of class domination.
But it is all becoming too expensive as the slump crisis bites.
The sacrifice of the Speaker, is a sign of panic in the ruling class, vindictive superstition barely beyond trying to placate the non-existent Gods with slaughtered goats.
But the protests against it are meaningless too. More, they expose as well, some of the supposed “radical” alternatives like this from the “new” Respect party of “Gorgeous” George Galloway:
English snobbery can do a morris dance of delight at the political demise of the Speaker, Michael Martin. The bigots have put the taigs back in their place. Above all the MPs desperately seeking solace from the evisceration of the expenses scandal hope this will be enough to staunch the haemorrhage in public confidence.
...It was Martin’s bad luck to have been caught up in a maelstrom of crises and public odium. He did not invent the discredited system of parliamentary allowances – that came largely under the “distinguished” speakership of Lord Weatherill and became especially lucrative during the golden era of Betty Boothroyd. Under both, MPs believed that allowances were but a supplementary salary, their receipts notional and in any case highly secret. The consistent deferment of recommended salary increases, the tearoom mafia would nod and wink, justified this deceit.
But caught in the white heat of this unprecedented focus, the former sheet-metal worker melted. He might have avoided the complete destruction had he decided to leave over the Damian Green affair where policemen were allowed to trample through the parliamentary estate on a political witchhunt of an opposition politician merely doing his job. If Martin didn’t know they needed a warrant to be there he was too stupid to be Speaker; if he knew but turned a blind eye then he was too wicked.
...Martin’s fall from grace is necessary but not sufficient. The election of a new Speaker in this parliament will be effected by the same people who brought it into disrepute...Only a new parliament where the public have cast judgement on those who have disgraced our political life can be trusted to set in place the new dispensation.
We need a revolution in public life, halving the size of the lower house, and directly electing the revising chamber – all by proportional representation.
We need transparent and contemporary disclosure of all financial details – publish the income tax returns and all details of perks, outside jobs and jollies. Party funding and election spending decisions must be part and parcel of the reform. None of this can be done by the current discredited House of Commons.
Galloway has been telling workers that voting is the way to go for his entire career and sneering at and belittling revolutionary politics, for all his embrace of radical causes like the genocidally oppressed Palestinians or opposition to the criminal Iraq war.
His posturing now about “radical re-organisation” is rampant opportunism.
It is some “revolution” that simply re-establishes the same fraud as before!!!
Of course there will be an election in between, in which we suppose George’s gang might benefit at the expense of the old collection of arrogant and contemptuous opportunists and shysters.
But it will make no difference to the rot of capitalist degeneration – which Galloway is not going to deal with.
The only good these or any other technical changes would do, would be if they gave a better chance for revolutionaries to use elections in the only way Marxism has ever advocated using parliament and running for seats – as a platform, (since capitalism is obliged to give a voice, albeit at great expense, to the candidates if the “democracy” fraud is to be kept alive at all), from which to denounce the entire racket loud and clear, and to argue for revolutionary perspectives.
Changing the old gang of shysters for a new gang of supposedly “better” types is just another part of the Big Lie.
Parliament as a front for capitalism, not “this House of Commons” in particular, is discredited.
The problem is no more some recent degeneration of a “bad lot” or a “system of expenses that got out of control” any more than the giant meltdown of the credit system was caused by “excessive bonuses”, “too much testosterone”, at the banks or “failure of regulation” of the markets, or police killing of demonstrators and violent handling of protesters and demonstrators is due to “a few bad apples” or “inadequate supervision”.
These are systemic expressions of a degenerate historic class system.
Personal frauds and hucksterism are generated because that is the complete ethos of an entire framework which is a much bigger fraud and lie.
And as long as the BIG lie remains, the petty corruption will be endemic.
The time has never been more ripe to build revolutionary scientific understanding.
Historically the working class has been growing more and more discontent with the old game. The lies and broken pledges of government after government (and especially the Labour and reformist politicians) have created a deep running and entirely correct cynicism, usually expressed in the phrase “they are all the same anyway”. Turnouts in general elections have dropped decade by decade to the point where the last of the three Blairite elections was a total farce (and it was already bad enough during the supposedly hugely popular “landslide” of the late 1990s) with a minority of the adult population participating, (many not bothering, or even remaining completely unregistered – a significant figure always ignored in the percentages given by the capitalist press, and thus boosting the supposed vote) and even tinier numbers (in the 10-15% range) actually voting for any of the particular “choices”, and minute numbers doing so with any conviction, enthusiasm or will; many of them were simply voting tactically to keep out something even worse.
So dismayingly bad was the last election for the ruling class that when the disastrous slow motion defeat of Iraq and Afghanistan finally dragged down and destroyed Bush, his sidekick Blair and the entire Blairite government, the replacement Brownite team did not dare put it to the test and a new prime minister was imposed by behind the scenes manoeuvring and slippery diktat.
Disillusionment has penetrated deep into even the petty bourgeoisie (the bulk of those still believing in “voting”) as the lies and twists of the Iraq war “justification” were exposed etc. Now it is clear to most naïve or slow witted that they have been taken for a long historical ride.
As one of the justifiably incensed street interviewees said to TV news “there is absolutely no-one honest and straightforward for the working class.”
The only problem was that his view lags half a century behind the more perceptive of the working class who distrusted not just the empty Blairite spin from the beginning, but the fraud of even the supposed great Attlee government, already running brutal imperialist suppression of the anti-colonialist and post-war communist movements by the late 1940s.
Every Labour government since has proved its class collaborating anti-socialist, anti-working class credentials, from the anti-unionism of the Wilson years to the strike breaking treachery of Callaghan and the disgusting - failed - opportunism of Kinnock.
The depth of the rottenness of the Blairite advertising glitz (a last ditch attempt anyway by the ruling class to keep Parliament going with some “new” trickery), is constantly further revealed in the bourgeois press:
Inequality at levels not seen under Macmillan, Heath, Thatcher or Major. Real cuts in the incomes for those at the bottom of the pile. No progress in reducing child or pensioner poverty. A record number of working-age adults without children living below the breadline. For the government, the release today of the annual Households Below Average Income data from the Department of Work and Pensions made desperately depressing reading.
It’s not that difficult to analyse what has happened. Labour inherited one of the west’s most unequal societies from the Conservatives in 1997 and, far from reversing the trend, it has allowed the gulf between rich and poor to widen.
A deregulated and de-unionised economy meant the sky was the limit for those at the top, but downward pressure on wages for those at the bottom.
During Labour’s first two terms, there was at least some positive gloss that could be put on the inequality figures. It wasn’t that the incomes of the poor were going down, merely that the incomes of the rich were going up more rapidly.
But that no longer holds good. According to the figures, the real incomes of the poor are lower than they were in 2005, with a cleaner, a security guard or a care assistant stuck in the bottom 10% of earners getting by on £9 a week less than they were three years earlier.
The reason Labour has haemorrhaged support among its traditional working-class base may be there in the DWP data.
At the other end of the scale, of course, the years after 2005 were sweet.
(A) narrowing of income inequality in the first three years of this decade...coincided with the collapse of the dotcom bubble and a prolonged fall in share prices...even more savage shake-out in the financial markets (may) lead to a similar drop in inequality. But..low-skilled, low-educated and young workers are seeing a bigger deterioration in their job prospects during the recession, countering the idea of a “white collar” downturn.
With out-of-work benefits becoming stingier, rising unemployment is likely to have a more marked impact on those losing their jobs than in previous recessions.
...billions of pounds were put behind the anti-poverty programme. Gordon Brown, as chancellor, won some important cabinet battles with colleagues who would have preferred the money to be spent on health and education. But during Labour’s third term, the money dried up and the increases in pro-poor spending became far less generous.
Britain under Gordon Brown is a more unequal country than at any time since modern records began in the early 1960s, after the incomes of the poor fell and those of the rich rose in the three years after the 2005 general election.
Deprivation and inequality in the UK rose for a third successive year in 2007-08, according to data from the Department for Work and Pensions that prompted strong criticism from campaign groups for the government’s backsliding on its anti-poverty goals.
In a further blow, the government failed to make a dent in the number of children or pensioners living in poverty after big increases the previous year. Almost 17,000 more children in England are on free school meals this year compared with last, according to government data also published yesterday.
About 15% of pupils in state schools are now entitled to free school meals because their parents receive welfare payments or earn below £15,575 a year, the figures show. Last year, 14.5% of pupils were eligible.
Even before the onset of the UK’s deepest recession in a generation, official figures showed that only the better-off families were spared from a squeeze on living standards that saw median income virtually unchanged and fresh cuts in real pay for those on the lowest salaries.
Even this foul betrayal is as nothing to the oncoming burdens to be faced by the working class as capitalist Depression crisis wreaks its full devastation (already with unemployment climbing to unprecedented levels etc).
And even the “poverty alleviation” impact there was, early on, was a complete lie, achieved only on the sheer fraud of world credit saturation driven by endless dollar printing by the American ruling class which has gone on constantly in the post-WW2 period to prop up the entire unstable global exploitation dominance of imperialism, and which was massively stepped up under Bush to head off unfolding economic downturn and collapse.
Only the rapacious plundering of state owned institutions, mortgaged for years into the future by across-the-board privatisation from National Health Service hospitals to schools, utilities, transport etc, the deliberate state encouragement of mass over-stretched private credit consumerism, (now turned round to blame the working class for the crisis, and justify cutbacks – “we all have to accept a share of responsibility” etc) and the reliance on this international credit surge via the City etc (let free ever further from any kind of regulation) produced even the semblance of “policies to help workers” before the exposures now made, that it was one giant lie.
But much bigger than these specific reformist black-is-white spin tricks, is the sick pretence that capitalism was doing well, repeated over and over by Gordon Brown’s “an end to boom and bust” in the shallowest sense, and much deeper by all the parliamentary rats in their pretence that the only argument is in whether or not things are being “run properly”.
This is an even bigger lie which deliberately leaves out any understanding that capitalism itself is failing, teachers of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) would say that this is a misleading concept. There are even people today who run cbt courses in London who would still argue this point. It is a conscious game of misleading the working class.
Even now as the greatest catastrophe in history is unfolding, the pretence continues that it is all part of “normal business” caused by “problems from abroad” (which therefore are supposedly excusable because “who could have known” it is lied) .
And anyway it will all “be over by Christmas” as Chancellor Alistair Darling keeps asserting in a sick parody of the promises made at the beginning of the First World War (where all crisis finally must end).
The more serious sections of the bourgeoisie think otherwise:
The Bank of England is concerned that the UK’s banking system is heading for a third wave of crisis that could snuff out fragile signs of recovery in the economy.
On Thursday the Bank surprised the City by announcing that it would pump an extra £50bn of new money into the economy despite recent stockmarket rallies.
Now the Guardian has learned that this increase in quantitative easing was driven by fears in Threadneedle Street that the credit crunch is still sucking the life out of the British economy and the banking sector remains in deep trouble.
The new mood of caution chimes with comments from business leaders yesterday, who warned that apparent green shoots in the economy had shallow roots.
...The governor, Mervyn King, and several other members of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee are said to be unconvinced by talk of green shoots that has helped propel the FTSE 100 share index up by more than 20% over the last month.
Fears of a false dawn echo the mood at the beginning of the year, when apparent recovery in financial markets was wiped out by a second wave of crisis led by RBS and Lloyds...The Bank of England is also worried that continued stresses in the global financial system will suck money out of the UK as cash-starved international banks bring money back home. Foreign banks are thought to be withdrawing funds from Britain once loans expire, rather than roll them over.
...Few share the chancellor’s belief that the economy will recover strongly in 2009, and nor does the Bank of England
Releasing a quarterly inflation report likely to cement expectations that interest rates could stay at record lows for a long time, the monetary policy committee forecast that inflation would probably remain below its 2% target for at least two years even if it kept rates at 0.5% and flooded the economy with £125bn of “quantitative easing”.
“The economy will eventually heal but the process may be slow,” said Bank governor Mervyn King.
“A number of indicators have clearly picked up,” he said, adding that the economy would be helped by the big monetary and fiscal stimulus, the sharp drop in the pound’s value, which would boost exports, and the process of companies rebuilding stocks that they ran down at the turn of the year.
“All of this will lead to a recovery. But there are solid reasons to believe that spending will take a long time to return to more normal levels. This is not like the typical business cycle of the post-war period,” said King. “It is likely that the supply of credit will continue to be restricted for some while, with banks being risk-averse and aiming to raise capital ratios.”
The Bank’s inflation report sees consumer price inflation (CPI) tumbling to just 0.5% later this year, from the current 2.9%, as the effect of the big oil price falls of the past year feed through.
The Bank said it thought the bottom of the growth fall had now been reached, with a drop of 4.5% from a year ago.
...Analysts were surprised by the downbeat nature of the report. “The Bank of England is not buying the ‘it’s all over’ mood that seems to be sweeping over investors and market pundits,” said Rob Carnell, economist at ING Financial Markets.
Separate figures from the eurozone showed that the recession there seems to be deepening. Industrial production in the 16 countries fell by a worse-than-expected 2% in March from February, leaving it a record 20% down from a year earlier.
“March’s sharp decline in eurozone industrial production confirms that the recession deepened in Q1. Indeed, last quarter’s economic contraction is likely to have been even greater than that seen in the US and UK,” said Ben May at Capital Economics.
“Given the dismal start to 2009, we expect the eurozone economy to contract by about 5% this year and by a further 0.5% or so in 2010.”
The Office for National Statistics said that inflation as measured by the Retail Prices Index – the benchmark used for most pay negotiations – stood at -1.2% in April, down from -0.4% in March and the lowest level since 1948.
Many firms have already announced pay freezes or cuts in response to the UK’s slide into deep recession ever since last Autumn but the TUC warned yesterday that further cuts in wages would make it more difficult for the economy to recover.
Its general secretary, Brendan Barber, said: “Entrenched deflation would be a real threat to economic recovery. There are no green shoots here.
...John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development said: “With 8 in 10 employers using RPI inflation as a cost of living benchmark when setting pay, and unemployment rising faster than at any time for a generation, the ongoing squeeze on pay is set to continue, particularly in the private sector. It is now almost certain that growth in average earnings will moderate to an annual rate of 2% or less by the end of the year.”
The RPI a measure of inflation that includes a basket of goods and services, including mortgage payments, is almost 50% lower than a year ago as a result of the Bank of England’s emergency cuts in bank rate to an historic low of 0.5%.
An alternative measure of the cost of living – the Consumer Prices Index – is used by the government to assess progress in hitting its 2% inflation target, but this does not include housing costs.
..the City expects further falls in RPI and CPI inflation over the coming months.
Colin Ellis, of Daiwa Securities, said: There is little doubt that sterling’s fall last year has kept CPI inflation above target, and has helped to limit the immediate risk of deflation, at least as measured by the CPI.
“But underlying inflationary pressure is still extremely weak, and is likely to remain so, particularly given the rapid and ongoing deterioration in the labour market. As such, the MPC may end up needing yet another sharp fall in sterling to get CPI inflation near 2% next year.
The International Monetary Fund today urged tougher action in the next parliament to cut Britain’s record budget deficit as it warned that recovery from the recession would be subdued and gradual.
..the IMF said in its Article 1V consultation that the economy would shrink by 4.1% this year and a further 0.4% in 2010.
Taking a more downbeat view of the economy’s prospects than the Treasury, the Fund said that despite recent signs of stability the UK remained susceptible to shocks.
“The sharp increase in public sector borrowing and contingent government liabilities, together with continued financial sector fragility, are significant vulnerabilities. In these circumstances, a severe shock has the potential to disrupt domestic and external stability,” the IMF said in its annual health check of the UK economy.
The Fund urged the UK to speed up plans announced in last month’s budget to reduce the UK’s budget deficit by 6.5% of GDP over the next eight years.
Even all this is itself a massive understatement of the real depths of the crisis facing capitalism and especially the hugely vulnerable, debt-ridden economy of the burnt out post-Empire British ruling class, potentially the weakest link of all among the “advanced” imperialist economies.
The “few signs of things picking up” only come because of the staggering printing of yet more billions, including now another £50bn!!! reported above, which still failed to stop deflation.
And the risks are growing again of complete currency collapse, returning conditions to the gut-churning blind panic of near bank meltdown in October last year:
Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s today downgraded its outlook for the British economy, saying it had grown increasingly worried about the country’s ballooning budget deficit. It also warned there was a “one-in-three chance” that Britain’s credit rating may be cut.
The surprise news pushed shares in London down sharply and caused gilt yields to soar on renewed fears about the recession-hit UK economy. S&P’s move caught most City experts on the hop.
“This is exactly what the UK really did not need,” said Manus Cranny, senior market commentator of MF Global Spreads. “The Treasury will now be hamstrung as its delicate attempts to flood the market with gilts to fund the deficit could literally be in tatters if S&P is followed by other agencies.”
Colin Ellis, European economist at Daiwa Securities SMBC, said that with the “cherished” triple-A rating now under threat, the S&P move puts the spotlight on public finances. “Whoever wins the next election, tax hikes and sharp spending cuts will be the order of the day – but today’s announcement by S&P puts that much more pressure on the next government to act quickly.”
Although S&P said it was retaining the “AAA” long-term and “A-1+” short-term ratings for Britain’s sovereign debt, the vast bulk of which is in gilts, Beers warned there was “a one-in-three chance” that it will be cut.
...the agency believed the overall ratings on the UK continued to be supported by its wealthy, diversified economy, a high degree of fiscal and monetary policy flexibility, and its relatively flexible product and labour markets.
“However, last month’s budget announcements underscored that UK public finances are deteriorating rapidly – at a faster rate than S&P had previously assumed.”
Without teams of Marxist economists, all with Karl Marx’s own analytical capacity, and massive data input, it is impossible to predict exactly when these factors will come together in a complete Depression disintegration, and whether the frantic money printing (with its terrifying “wheelbarrow” inflationary dangers) will produce a very short term economic boost in the meantime.
But massive jumps in unemployment, plundering and collapse of pension funds, and vicious demands for wage cuts and benefit reductions already signal harsh times for the working class.
All historical experience, and volumes of Marx, Engels and Lenin’s analysis all agree that there is no simple path back to “economic growth”.
Just the opposite. The only way out ever discovered by capitalism from its disasters has been the complete destruction of the mountains of surplus capital (in unsellable produced goods and in investment capital itself) which it relentlessly accumulates, but then cannot put to “work” (though no capitalist knows the meaning of the term) making profit.
The iron laws of capitalism dictate that there is too much capital and product. Only destroying it, and rival monopoly capitalist blocs challenging for the world markets, will “solve” the problem.
The slaughter and ruthless destruction of two world wars, wiping out cities, factories, resources and workers, and eventually entire countries of imperialist rivals, is the end point.
But the world capitalist exploitation is far more widespread and far more deeply embedded across the world than in the early twentieth century or the 1930s. Technology and weaponry is a magnitude greater in scale of destructiveness.
The Third World war has the potential, if revolution does not intervene first, to be on a scale that will far outstrip the shattering hell of the First World War trenches and the ten times worse blitzkrieging destruction (from all sides of imperialism) of the Second World War.
The swamping “quantitative easing” is all part of the bitter finance and trade war now hotting up between the great powers to try and survive a bit longer while pushing the worst of the now unstoppable slump disaster onto others.
The tensions are building:
Japan’s economy shrank at record pace in the last quarter amid a collapse in exports and spending cuts by businesses and consumers.
Its gross domestic product shrank at an annual pace of 15.2% in the January-March period, the cabinet office said today, the steepest fall since records began in 1955 and the fourth straight quarter of decline.
The data may force the prime minister, Taro Aso, to delay a general election until the autumn after a series of stimulus packages showed little sign of boosting domestic demand.
Aso conceded that poor corporate spending had now been joined by belt-tightening among households, forced to behave cautiously by cuts in wages and overtime, and rising unemployment.
“This is a very serious situation and we need to respond accordingly,” he told reporters.
Although Japan has often boasted it will be the first developed nation to emerge from recession, today’s figures show its economy is performing badly compared with those of the eurozone, which shrank by 2.5% in the last quarter, and the US, where the contraction was 1.6%.
Japan is being disproportionately punished for its huge industrial base, the driving force behind an export-led economy that has been battered by a collapse in demand in the US, Europe and China. Exports fell a record 26% in the first three months of the year compared with the previous quarter, the government said.
Notable in this piece is the preparation of the Japanese to “suspend” democracy, the last desperate resort of every bourgeoisie as its crisis deepens, giving away the real nature of bourgeois dictatorship.
The Labourites are deeply entangled with all the preparations for state surveillance, stepped up police violence, restriction of “human rights” and sinister torture, rendition and arbitrary arrest that the British bourgeoisie is making just like every other, in case, or rather, when it becomes necessary to impose open class discipline (all under the fraudulent guise of the ludicrous “war on terror” including the continued Afghanistan war excuse to train counter-insurgency troops and keep the atmosphere of “war is normal” on the boil).
But for the moment the lie is to pretend that capitalist crisis is reverting to normal “growth” again.
It is all part of the same “parliamentary democracy” trickery.
Why? Because of course any other perspective would immediately raise questions of ending capitalism – which would lead quickly to widespread take up of revolutionary understanding.
It will not come from the fake-“left” swamp.
It is a major lesson for the working class that not one of the Trotskyist and revisionist grouplets made any warnings of such a disastrous failure of the international imperialist finance and trading order for the long post-Second World War decades.
The reality of the petty bourgeois class position which motivates and drive all these sects, is that it is secretly in thrall to the power and influence of the bourgeoisie and unable to contemplate for real that it will ever be ended (least of all by revolution actually happening rather than being an academic exercise for armchair poseurs and long-winded ivory tower articles).
So not only did they not warn the working class of catastrophic crisis collapse, but constantly have derided and attacked such warnings which the EPSR has made the heart of its understanding and analysis since its formation 30 years ago.
Exposing this failure needs repeating constantly, not to “big up” the EPSR in any way but to expose the falsity and political opportunism of the whole 57 varieties, now pouring out articles to catch up in which they pretend to understand “crisis” and Marxism.
But none of them, even now, really grasp – nor want to – the catastrophic disintegration, and still hedge their bets about whether it is really happening, substituting as ever plenty of old style “resistance” talk but no revolutionary perspectives.
None of them tie it to the American imperialist war rampaging of the last decade, which is completely intertwined with the historic demise of the capitalist system and its slide into catastrophe, preparing the world for war and attempting to intimidate both growing rebelliousness on the ground and, more importantly, all other capitalist rivals.
None of them tie together the understanding of the world with an overall revolutionary perspective to see the depth and significance of the MP scandals.
The bourgeoisie get it.
The desperate fear of the “spectre of communism” is almost manifest in the latest scandals with a public atmosphere of anger deep enough for some bourgeois commentators to observe “is bringing to mind the tumbrils rumbling through the streets” or demands that MPs should be “swinging from the lampposts”.
All supposedly metaphorical of course, but the reality is also stated clearly in the frenzy to re-build the shattered parliamentary façade:
John Bercow, a former hard-right Tory student activist, last night emerged as the early frontrunner to become the Speaker of the Commons when he pledged to champion reforms to Britain’s “broken” parliament.
With support from more than 100 MPs, Bercow announced his intention to stand and warned that British politics was entering “deeply dangerous territory” which was boosting extremists.
In a lengthy manifesto, Bercow pledged to become a “forthright advocate for parliamentary democracy” which would see him break with tradition as Speaker by making regular appearances on television to speak up for MPs.
“We must make no mistake, parliament is broken,” Bercow said. “Disengagement from politics and indifference to what we do have given way to outright public ridicule and contempt. This is not just sad, it is deeply dangerous, because it provides fertile ground on which extremists feed."
For “extremist” of course read communist, for “feed” read, “finally are able to have the truth listened to”, and for “dangerous” read, only to the bourgeois class, its arrogance, power and privileges.
The bourgeoisie has no problem however with “extremism” when it is right wing reaction, for all its polite distancing murmurs while it keeps the “democracy” racket in place, and has long kept the fascist-minded racist nationalism of groups like the BNP, and its “polite” upper middle class equivalent UKIP, in reserve should things go really sour.
So disastrous now is the unravelling of the parliamentary illusion that this is being given an extra boost with Thatcherite Tory grandee Normal Tebbit suddenly appearing on radio to hint at voting for these groups, part of the counter-revolutionary armoury it is building up.
His sinister intervention was couched in supposedly “reasonable” terms of “punishing the major parties” by not voting for them but the message was clear – conscious bolstering of the backward racists.
So too is the funding that will be passed to the BNP by the European bourgeoisie.
But this will not be stopped by “campaigning” against the BNP. In fact as the EPSR has warned in the past, such “anti-fascism” and “anti-racism” is itself part of the problem, by suggesting that the danger of imperialist racist scapegoating, chauvinism and drive to war is due to such “extremism” and can be “contained” or ameliorated by “stopping the BNP”.
It helps sustain the entire “voting for change” parliamentary racket and thereby diverts attention from the real cause of war, torture, conflict and destruction, the entire capitalist system and all its parliamentary “representatives”:
And most interesting of all, the one great thing which society can actually DO to eliminate circumstances and conditions which breed racism and to help eradicate this primitive backwardness from civilisation completely, is, oddly enough, just to get rid of capitalism.
What would seem to be so vast an undertaking as to be absolutely impossible, is, in fact, the only thing that IS possible in this whole, menacing, racist-crisis mess that society is now facing (Le Pen & BNP votes; racist and ultra-right parties mushrooming all over Europe; etc).
It is an infinitely EASIER perspective to use the slump crisis disaster (capitalism is collapsing into) to overthrow this monstrous class-divided system (and therefore race-divided and nation-divided) than to merely bemoan all the unpleasant social problems that capitalist competitive culture throws up and self-righteously inflict ‘moral’ blame on the many areas of rat-race living which lend themselves to race-prejudice, - sermonising them to stop it (which is obviously something which cannot possibly happen because of mere preaching).
And it is precisely in this ‘religious’ approach by the fake-’left’ that the stinkingest hypocrisy (and the nastiest damage of all, around this whole rotten ‘racism’ question) centres.
Raising the ‘Stop the BNP; Stop Le Pen’ slogans amounts to nothing less than the most sinister counter-revolutionary diversion that the class ideology of the petty-bourgeoisie, - REFORMISM, - has ever come up with.
Capitalist society is in crisis, with racism, fascist-revanchism, and warmongering-bullying spewing out all over the place.
Capitalism could never be more ripe for REVOLUTIONARY overthrow.
And what do the fake-’left’ do??? Try to take everyone’s mind off such a prize via the lunatic agitation that “capitalism’s crisis will be so much less unpleasant provided that the BNP and Le Pen do not get elected.”
In reality, the capitalist crisis must inevitably proceed through to economic collapse, slump, trade-war, and eventually shooting war, in some sort of repeat of inter-imperialist World Wars I and II.
Extreme chauvinist warmongering and racist hysteria is going to get stronger and stronger anyway. The votes for parties like the BNP and Le Pen will grow inexorably.
So what is being achieved by the fake-’left’?
It makes sure that no one thinks about revolution to overthrow the rotten racism creating system but that everyone should concentrate on these mere symptomatic pimples (BNP and Le Pen) to “deny them support” (impossible anyway); and to what end? Only to guarantee that capitalism’s insoluble crisis rages on, ensuring that in time, major fascist warmongering regimes really DO start taking over the capitalist states again, just as happened all over Europe, - in the crisis leading to WWII.
And why? To make sure that the bourgeoisie’s ludicrous illusion of “democracy” is preserved.
The Trot-tinged ‘politically correct’ Guardian-stance against the BNP and Le Pen sums up exactly why the capitalist system’s “democracy” and “anti-racist” liberalism create the problem of far-right voting cynicism and despair rather than provide any ‘solution’.
“When British politicians talk about immigration, they are really talking about race,” thunders this fake-’left’ self-righteousness.
“Immigration is a heavily racially connoted term, just as immigration legislation is racially biased and motivated.
“When they refer to immigrants, they do not mean Australians or Americans; they mean Caribbeans and Asians” etc, etc, etc.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Guardian, another fundamental strand of ‘liberty’ is spelled out: ‘Free markets mean more openness and more social change.’
“If people are encouraged to seek higher pay and living standards, then people will seek them wherever they can.
“What right has any nation state to deny people the opportunity to seek a better life?
“The more liberalised economies become, the greater the desire to move to find better working and living conditions.
“Immigrants are welcome in Britain.”
Every other ‘respectable’ area of politics and press in Britain worthily repeats these indisputably ‘liberal’ sentiments (although usually with some calculating conditions added, such as welcoming ‘qualified immigrants with a real commitment to Britain’ particularly when they have ‘specially needed skills’, etc., etc.)
What a monstrous confidence trick this all adds up to.
“Capitalism is capitalism; and racism is racism. And never the twain shall meet”, seems to be the infantile content of this sick fraud, pretending that the ‘rational world’ (of bourgeois ideology, Guardian, etc.) cannot see what anyone with half a brain can now grasp clearly, - that it is precisely the alleged “freedom to thrive” and the alleged “freedom for all to avoid being caught up in race prejudice” which sum up the lies at the heart of the capitalist system.
What astonishing Trotskyite hypocrisy (Gary Younge) to ‘reveal’ that it is capitalist politicians who conceal the real connections they want people to make when “the immigration problems” are mentioned, but to then keep silent about the capitalist Guardian’s own foul hypocrisy in pretending that racism’s existence is a question of ‘moral choice’ rather than an inevitable product of the cut-throat competitive rat-race which the ‘free market’ really is in essence. [EPSR 1135 07-05-2002]
This was written seven years ago, when the warnings of the great Crash capitalism was heading for were ignored or denied by every fake-“left” group. But, even as the disaster unfolds in the economy and parliament, the lefts of all shades are still falling into the same trap as these letters to the bourgeois press indicate:
Decent voters do not want to see a BNP breakthrough in the European elections, but there is no inherent conflict between the views of Ian Austin that “the BNP are not a mainstream political party and we won’t beat them by saying how many seats they could win” and Peter Hain’s national warning about their possible gains (BNP could get £2m EU funds, Hain warns, 29 April).
This is because those of us who campaign regularly against the BNP know that localised grassroots campaigning in key areas is now vital. This is crucial particularly in local elections. However, the European elections are unique in having a proportional representation system, with low turnouts in English regions, Scotland and Wales allowing small and extremist parties to make gains. Every vote counts.
So the message is clear for progressives and anyone who wants to deny the BNP a breakthrough on 4 June: get out and vote. The higher the turnout for mainstream political parties, the less likely it is that the BNP will succeed, as they did with their first assembly member elected in London last year. We must also ensure that our progressive base understand how motivated Eurosceptic and rightwing activists will be in this election. If the BNP elect one or more MEPs on 4 June, we cannot say we weren’t warned.
Claude Moraes MEP
Peter Hain (We need to wake up and tackle BNP poison head on, 29 April) baldly states that “with unemployment and job insecurity rising, some major construction sites appearing to bar local unionised labour, and affordable housing in short supply” we have the classic conditions to feed support for the BNP, seemingly without feeling a pang of guilt about the role his party has played in government in creating these conditions.
Surely if jobs, workers’ rights and decent homes are what concern ordinary people then the best way to counter the BNP would be to offer an alternative to vote for that supported these things. After over a decade of New Labour in power, Thatcher’s anti-union laws are still in place, there has been a freezing of new council house stock and their participation in the EU includes support of the posted workers directive, which makes it legal to effectively “bar local unionised labour”. So clearly a workers’ alternative will not come from Labour on 4 June! That’s why the RMT-initiated No2EU - Yes to Democracy slate is so important; with this pro-trade union, anti-privatisation, non-nationalist alternative to the establishment parties and the BNP, working people can cast a positive vote rather than being told by Hain and his like to hold their noses one more time and vote Labour.
Campaign for a New Workers’ Party
We should not be at all complacent about the BNP, and of course their views are odious. But I fear that the Labour party’s focus on the challenge they present - of which Peter Hain’s article is just the latest manifestation - will just serve to inflate their prospects.
In a recent local council by-election for two seats, in Downham ward in Lewisham, Labour put out a polling day leaflet suggesting the BNP could win. This was presumably designed to motivate their own activists and voters. In fact the Liberal Democrats comfortably held both seats. And the BNP score? Just 6%.
The best service all mainstream parties can do for democracy is to compete vigorously against each other, preferably leaving no seat “safe” and uncontested. The danger from the BNP takes life principally in “rotten borough” circumstances where voters feel that one party has both staked a monopoly claim to a seat and failed to deliver responsive representation.
We should not, even inadvertently, hype up credibility of the BNP. Instead we must show how spurious it is by showing that there is plenty of competitive choice.
Sarah Ludford MEP
Lib Dem, London
There is an old saying, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Ian Austin and Searchlight would do well to heed this advice. Attacking Peter Hain for warning of the real dangers of the BNP winning seats in the Euro elections and uniting with fascists across Europe is a folly. This is not hype or hyperbole; he is only using polling data that has been in the public domain for the last four years!
The BNP can be defeated on 4 June, but only if the danger is made clear. Hain isn’t an armchair commentator, he is urging all of us to build a united campaign based on the model of the Anti Nazi League. The movement against the extreme right has a duty to make sure we don’t sleepwalk into an electoral disaster.
Co-ordinator, Love Music Hate Racism
Peter Hain refers to the BNP using white working-class alienation from Westminster politics. This is caused by the failure of his government to provide ideas and actions that engage people who should be core Labour voters. In repeating the line used famously by Gordon Brown, “British jobs for British workers”, he highlights how the prime minister has encouraged the BNP message. The BNP is likely to win seats in upcoming elections, because it has policies which resonate with some of the electorate, and accordingly will gain votes. That should be a wake-up call for the UK. If we ignore the wake-up call then we deserve no better than the BNP!
It would be depressing as well as ironic if the BNP were to make a significant breakthrough in the European elections. In many ways the EU was born as a response to fascism, following the devastation caused by two world wars. By bringing together nations to work jointly in specific areas, the EU has helped to replace conflict with co-operation. One of the greatest compliments one can pay to the EU is that the BNP has an anti-EU stance. It is a good opponent to have.
Chairman, Business for New Europe
Peter Hain’s “warning” was the most obscene cynicism of course; playing the anti-BNP card as a desperate last move to bully the working class back into Labour votes as a couple of the letters note.
Every sinister racist scapegoating ploy has been used by the Labourites in Government from the deliberate “British jobs to British workers” from Brown to the restrictions of “immigration”.
But they all go along with the much deeper fraud of parliament itself.
Unfortunately so too does the long retreat of Stalinist revisionism from Leninist revolutionary perspectives, still unable clearly to challenge the continuing fraud of “freedom and democracy” pumped out by the West to justify every continuing neo-colonialist provocation and anti- working class media stunt it tries to pull-off, from backing the petty bourgeois provocateur Aung San Suu Kyi – still described as “Burma’s pro-democracy leader” – to reviving the Goebbels media onslaught over the non-existent “Tian an Men square massacre” as the 20th anniversary comes up of the reactionary student “democracy” campaign.
As the bourgeois press admitted during the event, (when carefully analysed to disentangle the wilder innuendos and lies from what, it is admitted, actually happened - see EPSR (ILWP) Book 16), the skirmishing which broke out at the end in the streets around the square, (not in “cold blood” in the square), was deliberately provoked by the petty bourgeois minded anti-communist demonstrators who attacked and brutally killed dozens of Chinese state forces and police before being stopped by long-overdue firmness by the workers state.
Even then the numbers were no more than a few hundred who died – tragic, but hardly the “genocidal tyranny” alleged.
But all this is going to backfire badly as the reality of the sick degeneracy of Western “democracy” unfolds. For how much longer will it be possible to fix up stunts like quoting supposedly “secret tape recordings" of the “deposed Chinese leader” which have conveniently appeared?
In tapes secretly recorded during his 16 years under house arrest, Zhao Ziyang, the former head of the Communist party, denounced the killing of protesters as a “tragedy”, and challenged the party’s subsequent rejection of democratic reforms.
The tapes were smuggled out of China and will be published in English and Chinese this month – as Prisoner of the State: The secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang – days before the 20th anniversary of the massacre.
In them, he praised western-style democracy and insisted that the activists were not attempting to overthrow the system, according to extracts obtained by Reuters.
Economic and political reforms had led to increasing struggles between hardliners and reformists in the party leadership. The 1989 demonstrations raised the stakes and pushed the arguments to their climax.
When Deng Xiaoping, who held power behind the scenes, backed hardliners and the leadership agreed to impose martial law, only Zhao dissented.
“I told myself that no matter what, I refused to become the [Communist party] general secretary who mobilised the military to crack down on students,” he said in the memoirs.
He also looked to the future in his recordings, praising western parliamentary democracy, and warning: “If we don’t move toward this goal, it will be impossible to resolve the abnormal conditions in China’s market economy.”
“It is the western parliamentary system that has demonstrated the most vitality. This system is currently the best one available. It is able to manifest the spirit of democracy and meet the demands of a modern society.”
China’s workers state ultimately understood the provocation it was under and stood firm in practice – but would do the world a thousandfold favours if it showed the working class with Leninist clarity of understanding just why the “hardliners” were right instead of constantly capitulating to notions of peaceful coexistence.
Tragically the mind-rot of Stalinist revisionism continues to avoid the arguments and evade its responsibility for the temporary rejection of communism by the world’s masses which has hampered and slowed the struggle to end this foul exploitation.
But imperialism is teaching harsh lessons and will teach more as slump deepens.
The terrifying blitzing destruction of 100 civilian women and children recently in Afghanistan – yet again – was carried out by the thoroughly “democratic” escalation of the “war on terror” by newly elected “reasonable” president Barrack Obama.
The same “democratic” administration pushed the “democratically” elected Pakistan government (totally corrupt and incapable and anyway a sick joke after years of Western support for Musharraf’s military dictatorship – and Zia before that) into the indiscriminate Swat valley onslaught to suppress the rising anti-imperialist tide.
Dominant US imperialism has been driving the return to war and destruction for ten years because the entire capitalist order is collapsing into the greatest failure in history and knows no other way out.
It is time that the struggle for Leninist understanding of the class war reality of human existence under capitalism was revived. Jim Wright
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