50 years on: remembering the Indonesian massacres

It is now 50 years since the massacre of around one million communists, trade unionists and sympathisers in Indonesia in 1965. The killings were carried out by the Indonesian army, and other forces of reaction, with the direct support of British and US imperialism. The powerful Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) was entirely destroyed, paving the way for the savage military regime of General Suharto to facilitate the subjugation of the country to imperialist capital. The story of these events has been largely buried by those who have profited from them. Exposing the Indonesian massacres, and the extent of British and US involvement, is essential for new movements to understand the lengths that the imperialists are willing to go to destroy any opposition. Toby Harbertson reports.

 

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No to British strikes on Syria! - Imperialism out of the Middle East!

Following the massacre of 38 people – 30 of them British – in the Tunisian city of Sousse on 26 June, Prime Minister David Cameron seized the opportunity to announce plans to expand air-strikes against the Islamic State (IS) into Syria as well as Iraq. This would overturn a 2013 parliamentary vote against British strikes on Syria. Days later, Chancellor George Osborne announced in the Budget that British military spending would increase every year for the next five years. With Labour expected to support the government in a new vote to extend strikes to Syria, it is likely that soon British planes will be bombing yet another country in the Middle East. The lack of any coherent strategy is clear. Bombing IS in Syria will not stop terrorist attacks elsewhere. Continuing to support forces fighting the Syrian government will only strengthen IS. The only sure result of imperialist strategy is continued war in the region for decades, and a continued justification for a huge military budget.

 

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Hiroshima

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 126 August/September 1995

‘The historic fact remains that the decision whether or not the use the atomic bomb to compel the surrender of Japan was never an issue.’ Winston Churchill

‘The greatest thing in history’ US President Truman

On 6 August 1945 the US Air Force dropped ‘Little Boy’, named after President Roosevelt, on Hiroshima. 140,000 people were killed, they are dying still. Three days later ‘Fat Man’, named after Churchill, killed 110,000 in Nagasaki. This terrifying force was unsheathed not primarily to bring Japan to its knees, but to announce US imperialism as the dominant world power. The bomb would guarantee dominance.

 

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A naked act of class war

George Osborne

The Conservative government’s July Budget was a naked act of class war. Its intention to slash spending on benefits by £12bn a year will bring destitution to large sections of the working class. It showed that capitalism is no longer able or prepared to provide an adequate system of state welfare for the working class. It was also an arrogant demonstration of power: the ruling class is confident that it is free to drive the working class into the ground without facing meaningful opposition. Labour leadership candidates Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper agree that the benefit system is too generous to the working class. Acting leader Harriet Harman concurred and announced that the Labour Party would not oppose the welfare bill implementing the Budget’s benefit cuts. Three quarters of Labour MPs duly followed her lead including Kendall, Burnham and Cooper. Only 48, including the fourth leadership candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, voted against. Robert Clough reports.

 

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Capitalism in crisis: stagnant, predatory and corrupt

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ),1 the business newspaper of the large US corporations, argues that the glut of capital and labour throughout the global economy represents a major challenge to policy makers. The global economy, it said, ‘is awash as never before with commodities like oil, cotton and iron ore, but also with capital and labour’ – an oversupply which is creating serious difficulties for policy makers attempting to boost economic demand. As a result, we are experiencing ‘a low-growth, low-inflation, low-[interest] rate environment’ which could take a decade for the global economy to surmount.

 

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General Election: break with Labour now

After weeks of electioneering, following an outcome that surprised even the pollsters and that left three party leaders dead in the water, working class people in Britain are now confronted by exactly the same questions about the future that they faced at the start. Regardless of who has topped the polls and whose career has ended, none of the leading parties was willing or able to represent the interests of the working class and the poor. The electoral game was fashioned to provide only one outcome: a government to serve the interests of British imperialism while perpetuating the illusion that we live in a democracy which is capable of benefiting the working class. No political party would be allowed to take power that did not defend the interests of British imperialism and the City of London. The media set the parameters of debate, and ensured that they governed all the hours of phoney interviews with politicians on radio and television. That is why we called for no vote at this pantomime election.

 

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Imperialist massacre in the Mediterranean

On 23 April David Cameron and other EU leaders met at an emergency summit in Brussels to cobble together their response to the ‘crisis in the Mediterranean’. This followed the death by drowning of 800 people in the worst disaster to date involving refugees attempting to cross from Africa to Europe. During the weekend of 2/3 May Italian and French ships rescued nearly 6,000 migrants off the coast of Libya and retrieved ten dead bodies. So far in 2015 some 1,500 people have died while attempting the crossing in unseaworthy overcrowded boats. These deaths are not due to some natural disaster; they are entirely the result of the wars, occupation and poverty created by imperialist foreign policy, together with the immigration laws of ‘Fortress Europe’.

 

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General Election General Fraud

The purpose of a general election is to allow the ruling class to select the government that will best represent its interests, and at the same time to perpetuate the illusion that we live in a democracy which is capable of benefitting the working class. Yet it is evident that the major parties, the Tories, the LibDems, Labour and the SNP, will run the economy in the interests of British imperialism and the City of London, and that whatever combination forms the next government, it will ensure the working class continues to pay for the crisis. Those who claim to stand on an anti-austerity platform are lending credibility to a fraudulent process. There is no possibility of a positive outcome for the working class: the election is a distraction from the real task of defeating the ruling class offensive. Robert Clough reports.

 

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Fantasy economics for a decaying economy

George Osborne

Britain is ‘walking tall again’ claimed the Conservative Chancellor, George Osborne, in opening what was a blatantly political Budget speech.1 It was aimed at blunting the Labour Party’s attack on the coalition government’s economic and social policies in the few weeks left before the 7 May general election. Britain, he said, ‘is growing, creating jobs and paying its way. We took difficult decisions in the teeth of opposition and it worked’. He taunted Labour throughout the speech: ‘The sun is starting to shine – and we are fixing the roof’; ‘Out of the red and into the black – Britain is back paying its way in the world’; and ‘Living standards on the rise. Britain on the rise … The Comeback Country’. The speech was littered with election slogans interspersed with carefully selected economic data. David Yaffe reports.

 

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Marx Emasculated

Karl Marx

Michael Heinrich An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital (Monthly Review Press, New York, 2012)

This book has gone through nine editions and is widely used in German universities. It has the stamp of approval of academic Marxists: the back cover is peppered with effusive praise: ‘a “must-read” in our time of crisis’, ‘The best introduction to Capital I have read’, ‘A brilliant presentation of Marx’s Capital’, ‘the best short introduction to Marx’s Capital to ever appear in English’, ‘The best and most comprehensive introduction to Marx’s Capital there is’.

 

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HSBC: rotten ripe and ready to fall

Britain’s biggest bank, HSBC, plays a pivotal role in the world drug and arms trades, in bribery, embezzlement and tax avoidance. Herve Falciani worked as an IT engineer for HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary in Geneva. In 2008 he stole information on 30,000 accounts. Falciani described the secret stash: ‘This money comes from mafia, drug traffickers, blood diamonds and tax evasion. Once known, no one, and I’m talking about governments, were motivated to do anything, even when it was possible. We had over $500bn in assets that were not supposed to be there.’ Falciani was arrested in France in January 2009 and handed the files to the French finance minister, now head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde. On the ‘Lagarde list’, as it has become known, royalty mingled with sports stars, East European bankers with cycling dopers, Conservative Party donors with Middle Eastern defence ministers; all manner of wealthy customers of the world’s local bank - and all with something to hide. Identities were disguised: names include Captain Kirk, Painter, Captain Haddock and a Mr Shaw.

 

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Imperialism targets Russia

The US and European Union (EU) attempt to subordinate Russia continues. In this context the collapse in world oil prices is being used to try to bring Russia to its knees; it may also accelerate the descent into war. Russia is largely dependent on oil and gas exports. Oil sold at $115 a barrel in June 2014 but on 26 January 2015 it was selling at under $50 a barrel, a fall of over 55%. As oil prices dropped so the Russian rouble has fallen by 42% against the US dollar. Russian President Putin reacted: ‘We all see the lowering of oil prices. There’s a lot of talk about what’s causing it. Could it be an agreement between the US and Saudi Arabia to punish Iran and affect the economies of Russia and Venezuela? It could.’ Trevor Rayne reports.

 

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Unending economic crisis sharpens class divisions

The international agents of the dominant imperialist powers are eager to declare an end to the Great Recession precipitated by the financial crisis of 2008. They desperately want to announce the success of the austerity programmes imposed on millions of working class people throughout the world. Reality will not conform. Their policies have not only failed, but are being challenged ideologically and politically as mounting opposition starts to confront the centres of capitalist power. David Yaffe reports.

 

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Red warning lights for global economy - Class war to intensify in Britain

Full of self-importance after his jaunt to the G20 meeting of world leaders in Brisbane Australia, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, declared in an article in The Guardian (17 November 2014) that ‘red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy’. He pointed to the eurozone on the brink of a third recession, the slowing of growth in the emerging market economies, the stalling of global trade talks, the Ebola epidemic and the escalating conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East as ‘all adding a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty’. He contrasted this to the British economy which, he said, is the fastest growing in the G7 major capitalist countries, with record numbers of new businesses and the largest ever annual fall in unemployment. But Cameron, preparing his excuses well in advance of the coming General Election, warned that ‘in our interconnected world’ these wider problems in the global economy ‘pose a real risk to our recovery at home’. David Yaffe reports.

 

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Luxembourg: tax avoidance with friends in high places

Luxembourg Ville

The craving for money yields fantastic devices invented by the best minds capitalism can hire. What is one to make of this: if you earn Britain’s average annual income of £26,500 you will pay the basic rate of 20% income tax, but if your income is £6bn you can get away with less than 1% tax, and it’s all perfectly legal? Tax avoidance, money laundering, rigging money markets – these are the chosen means of enhancing profits used by many of Britain’s biggest companies. Receive child tax credits that are later ruled to have been mistakenly paid and you are relentlessly pursued for every penny, even into the courts, by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs; make the most minor infraction of the Job Centre’s commands and you are sanctioned and denied benefits; head a company with a household name, shift fortunes abroad, out of the government’s reach, and you are knighted for services to the country. Trevor Rayne reports.

 

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Unending global crisis reinforces divisions over Europe

In a document prepared for the 20-21 September 2014 meeting of the G20 group of finance ministers and central bank governors in Cairns, Australia, the IMF warned that global economic recovery from the 2008 crisis is precarious. Rising ‘geopolitical tensions’, excessive risk taking and the prospects of tighter monetary policy in the US pose new threats to what is already an unbalanced and weaker than expected recovery. The IMF pointed to lower growth rates in the developed capitalist and emerging economies, continuing high public and private debt and growing risks associated with low inflation despite the stimulative monetary policies in place for over five years. Escalating conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East will further undermine prospects for the global economy. This is the context in which the growing economic crisis is reinforcing divisions within Europe. David Yaffe reports.

 

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British state suffers setbacks in its war on migrants

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 240 August/September 2014

Since passing the Immigration Act in May, state attacks on migrants have suffered a number of significant setbacks. Although limited, they demonstrate that resistance is possible.

In June the Home Office launched Operation Centurion, a high-profile campaign of immigration raids on businesses and homes. Documents leaked to the Anti-Raids Network exposed Home Office claims that the operation was ‘intelligence-led’ as nothing more than racial profiling: targets included ‘Vietnamese nail bars in the Manchester area’, Nigerian security guards in Sussex, and phone stalls in the North of Ireland. Networks of activists across Britain and the North of Ireland mobilised to warn as many as possible of those being targeted, and to inform people of their rights. Reports suggest the operation resulted in only 20 arrests, and the Home Office was unable to claim it as a victory.

 

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Imperialists responsible for South Sudan collapse

In July 2014, South Sudan’s elites ‘celebrated’ the third anniversary of the world’s newest nation. However, a civil war that began last December has displaced 1.5 million people (a third are children) out of a total population of over 9 million; a predicted famine as early as August 2014 looms which could affect 4 million people; nearly 400,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring countries; the UN states that 5 million people desperately need humanitarian assistance. There exists a scarcity of basic goods, hyperinflation, outbreaks of preventable diseases such as cholera, mass hunger and homelessness. Several of South Sudan’s largest towns are deserted with homes, churches, medical facilities (patients shot in their beds, wards burned down) and even UN bases attacked, looted or destroyed. There is nothing in this catastrophe for the majority of South Sudanese people to ‘celebrate’.

 

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First World War - Ominous portents for today

One hundred years ago, Austria declared war on Serbia on 28 July 1914. The following day the British Grand Fleet sailed to war stations in the North Sea. The slide to war was rapid; Russia mobilised its armed forces on 31 July, Germany and France mobilised on 1 August. Britain declared war on 4 August. The first imperialist world war had been long in preparation. Over 70 million military combatants fought. Leading the Allies were Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, Serbia and, from 1917, the United States. Against them were the Central Powers including Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. Nearly ten million combatants were killed, 21 million wounded and eight million went missing. Barbarism, the age of mass murder, was upon us. The same forces that drove humanity into the conflagration of 1914-18 drove us into the Second World War and impel humanity towards Armageddon today. Trevor Rayne reports.

 

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BRICS summit creates New Development Bank, challenges US and EU economic domination

At the 6th BRICS summit held on 15-16 July 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil, the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) announced the creation of a New Development Bank and multilateral reserve fund. This is a direct alternative to the dominance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank and represents a significant challenge to the US and EU. The new bank gives countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, which are explicitly building and working towards socialism, access to trade, credit and investment without having to accept the dictates of US and EU imperialism.

 

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British imperialism – investing in hunger

On 22 April 2014 the Economist Intelligence Unit issued grim news: food security has fallen in almost 70% of countries since the beginning of the year, as the global price of grains, sugar and other farm commodities rose at their fastest pace in 18 months. Food prices have doubled on average since 2000 and keep some 842.3 million people – 12% of the world’s population – in a state of perpetual undernourishment. Misery for the many is good business for the few, and the prospect of easy money is encouraging a new wave of land grabs by British companies, with the enthusiastic support of Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID).

 

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The collapse of CAR and South Sudan

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 237 February/March 2014

Continued instability in the Middle East and the putative threat from emerging powers have forced imperialism to increase its military presence in Africa, to ensure control of a continent rich in strategic raw materials. Britain’s Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, says that after Afghanistan emphasis will ‘certainly’ shift to ‘conflict prevention in Africa’. France’s Finance Minister, Pierre Moscovici, said that ‘French companies...must go on the offensive and fight’ the presence of China. France remains a major player in economic and military terms, with recent interventions in several African states, as CHARLES CHINWEIZU reports.

 

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When corporations rule the world

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 237 February/March 2014

Multinational corporations intend to enforce their will as law. Sovereign states and democratically elected legislatures will be little more than empty phrases if the US-European Union Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the US and 11 other countries, are brought into force. These partnerships are vehicles through which multinational companies will remove health and safety protection, end environmental safeguards, abolish legislation providing minimum conditions for labour, scrap food safety laws, abandon efforts to slow climate change, stop campaigns against fracking and forbid attempts to rescue the National Health Service from the predations of private companies – indeed, sweep away any barrier to the unfettered pursuit of maximum profits. If you are unaware of these proposed partnerships that is deliberate because it is intended that the public remains ignorant until they are signed. TREVOR RAYNE reports.

 

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Economic recovery on rotten foundations

Immediately after the preliminary growth figures for the last quarter of 2013 had been released, Tory Chancellor George Osborne smugly announced that ‘our long-term plan is delivering a brighter economic future.’ The British economy grew 1.9% in 2013, the fastest rate since 2007. The Tories were jubilant, impervious to the Labour Party’s fake concerns about a cost of living crisis hitting the vast majority of workers throughout the country. All the main political parties are steadfastly committed to neo-liberal austerity programmes to slash public spending and cut the public sector deficit. They differ only in the opportunist slant they give to their reactionary policies. David Yaffe reports.

 

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Global economic recovery falters

Much as politicians try to put an optimistic gloss on the economic recovery from what is now called the Great Recession of 2007-08, they come up against the harsh reality of faltering growth and chronically weak demand, despite near zero interest rates in the dominant capitalist countries. This was driven home by none other than Larry Summers, former top economic adviser to US President Obama, in a speech to the IMF annual research conference on 8 November. There he spoke of the possibility of ‘secular stagnation’ in the major capitalist countries, a near permanent low growth deflationary crisis similar to that which Japan endured during the 1990s. David Yaffe reports.

 

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China Enter the dragon

In October 2013 the Chancellor George Osborne announced that two Chinese state-owned companies would take a 30-40% stake in the £16bn Hinkley Point nuclear power plant to be built in Somerset by France’s EDF. Osborne also said that the British government would make it easier for Chinese banks to operate in the City of London by reducing their capital requirements. US financiers accused Britain of seeking to attract Chinese banks by recklessly removing regulations. To emphasise the welcome being extended to China, visa procedures for Chinese tourists wishing to visit Europe will be simplified. The City and the British government intend to benefit from China’s increasing international presence. Trevor Rayne reports.

 

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Repartitioning Africa

The main imperialist powers, Britain, France and the US, are increasing their military presence in Africa, a region endowed with significant deposits of strategic raw materials which they are determined to control. African military capabilities are being upgraded via training missions, but direct military intervention is also increasing. France is sending 1,000 more troops to the Central African Republic. There is an expansion of US drone bases in Africa, already a key battleground in the fight to push out rivals, like Russia and China, and cripple their access to resources. The ‘war on terror’ is subterfuge. General Houghton, Chief of the Defence Staff, says British troops, will ‘certainly focus on Africa’ by January 2015. Britain is determined not to lose its privileged parasitic position as exploiter in chief. Charles Chinweizu reports.

 

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Remembering Susan May

Those who battle against injustice have lost a dear friend and comrade with the death of Susan May, who died of cancer aged 68 on 30 October.

In March 1992 Susan was wrongly convicted of the murder of her aunt, 87-year-old Hilda Marchbank. Susan was her aunt’s carer and found her body in bed, where she had been beaten and suffocated. The police believed it was a robbery gone wrong - the house had been ransacked. But suspicion fell on Susan after she denied being in a relationship with a local man. Susan said she lied because: ‘It was none of their business and nothing to do with auntie’s death’.

 

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Chemical weapons: truth and lies

The Convention for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CWC), which the Syrian government has now ratified, was established in Paris on 12 January 1993 and prohibits the production, storage, use and export of chemical armaments. The CWC calls for the destruction of existing stocks and aimed for the total destruction of the world’s chemical weapons by 2007. Following Syria’s decision, the only nations not to have signed or ratified the treaty are Israel, Egypt, South Sudan, North Korea, Angola and Burma. Joey Simons reports.

 

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British capitalism: a recovery built on sand

Despite spirited attempts to talk up the recovery of the British economy, the hard, cold economic reality continues to deflate such claims. Five years after the bankruptcy of the financial services multinational Lehman Brothers, widely seen as precipitating the global financial crisis, British economic growth still remains some 3.3% below its pre-recession peak. Britain’s workers are enduring the most protracted squeeze on incomes since the long depression of the 1870s: over four years of falling real wages with more to come. Investment and productivity are stagnant and whatever growth is occurring is driven by debt-fuelled consumer spending and inflated house prices. Government claims that it is ‘rebalancing’ the British economy, away from consumption towards exports and investment, are mere empty rhetoric. David Yaffe reports.

 

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The British economy - Spinning a recovery

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne

In introducing the government’s Spending Review on 26 June 2013, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, began the process of spinning a recovery of the UK economy, his eyes firmly focused on the 2015 general election. He told us that Britain is moving out of intensive care and ‘from rescue to recovery’. The action the government has taken, he said, has reduced the public sector deficit by a third, has helped a record number of people into work, and has taken the economy back from the brink of bankruptcy. He then went on to claim that the government acts on behalf of everyone ‘who knows that Britain has got to live within its means’. David Yaffe reports.

 

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