Big Pharma’s drive for profit threatens ‘antibiotics apocalypse’

big pharma

Around 700,000 people globally, mainly in underdeveloped countries, die every year due to drug-resistant infections including tuberculosis, HIV and malaria. Public Health England (PHE) says a failure to address the problem of antibiotic or antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could result in an estimated 10 million people dying every year by 2050. Resistance has steadily increased since systemic antibiotics were introduced in the 1930s and 1940s. What is new is the breadth of AMR and the dearth of new antibiotics being licensed. No new classes of antibiotics have been developed since 1987, and none are in the pipeline across the world, except for a small number of new individual antibiotics. The pursuit of profit by Big Pharma and the corrupt politicians who let them get away with it are responsible for the deaths from AMR and the coming ‘antibiotics apocalypse’. Charles Chinweizu reports.

Antibiotic resistance

Around 5,000 patients a year in the UK are dying from bloodstream infections, half of them caused by drug-resistant organisms. There are 300,000 healthcare-acquired infections in England every year. Across Europe, especially in the Baltic states and parts of eastern Europe, around 25,000 people die each year as a result of hospital infections caused by resistant bacteria (Chief Medical Officer’s Report, 2011).

 

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Paradise Papers - The offshore magic circle

What a glittering array they are: Bono, the Queen, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, Jacob Rees-Mogg and his Old Etonian friend, the stars of BBC’s Mrs Brown’s Boys, the Barclay brothers (owners of The Daily Telegraph), Lord Ashcroft (former treasurer and deputy chair of the Conservative Party), Gary Lineker, a Shoreditch cocktail bar, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge endowment funds and Prince Charles – we could go on and on. What do they have in common? They have plenty of surplus cash and are revealed by the Paradise Papers to have used tax havens to stash it away from the reach of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Tax avoidance (legal) and tax evasion (illegal) are not aberrations; they are the norm among rich individuals and powerful organisations. According to Gabriel Zucman of the University of California: ‘In the UK, Spain, Germany and France, about 30-40% of the wealth of the richest 0.01% of households is held abroad’ (The Guardian 8 November 2017).

13.4 million documents, many originating with the law firm Appleby, were leaked to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which shared the data with the Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Appleby describes itself as an ‘offshore legal services provider’, with offices in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Mauritius and Seychelles, as well as the financial centres of Hong Kong and Shanghai. It is one of a group of law firms known as the ‘offshore magic circle’.

 

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The Marxian Theory of Crisis, Capital and the State

The Marxian Theory of Crisis, Capital and the State[1]

David Yaffe, 1972

Original source: Bulletin of the Conference of Socialist Economists, Winter 1972, pp5-58.

Also published on marxists.org here.


"The abandoning of the materialist basis leads inexorably from revolutionary socialism to reformism" – Henryk Grossman[2]

Contents:

 

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Brexit, imperialist rivalry and the split in the working class

boris may

The British ruling class is deeply divided on its future relations with the European Union (EU). The vote, by a small majority, in the EU referendum of 23 June 2016 to take Britain out of the EU was unexpected and no contingency planning by the then Cameron government or the Brexit camp was in hand to deal with it. Cameron resigned and Theresa May became Prime Minister on 13 July 2016. Soon after this, her monotonously intoned catchphrase ‘Brexit means Brexit’ was launched. Yet, more than a year later, after much toing and froing, we have little idea of what this means concretely. David Yaffe reports.

The divisions in the Conservative Party were most strikingly demonstrated on 22 September 2017 in Florence, the European city where Theresa May chose to deliver another, this time more conciliatory and less combative speech on what ‘Brexit means Brexit’ actually entails. Her aim was to break the deadlock in the ongoing talks with EU negotiators. Despite her speech being agreed at a two-and-a-half hour cabinet meeting the previous day, she felt it necessary to take along with her three cabinet ministers, the Chancellor Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and the Brexit Secretary David Davis, who disagree profoundly with each other on Brexit. In a charade of cabinet unity they were made to endure her speech, sitting in the front row under the gaze of most of the British media. On her return, further rows and disagreements among the three ministers were reported in the British media.

 

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Ruling class divided

maycorb5

The result of the 2017 general election, a hung parliament, is a nightmare for the ruling class. It follows the disastrous outcome of the 2016 Brexit referendum to which its dominant sections were completely opposed. Now Brexit negotiations will start on 19 June without any clear direction. Even though Prime Minister May has announced she has made a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in the north of Ireland to form a new government, its majority will be so slender that it cannot be the ‘strong and stable’ administration she promised. It will be government by the walking wounded, and even so, the result brings nothing positive for the working class. Robert Clough reports.

 

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Video: The decaying nature of capitalism poses only two possible futures – socialism or barbarism!

'Outside of socialism, there is no salvation for mankind from war, hunger and the further destruction of millions and millions of human beings.' Vladimir Lenin

The decaying nature of capitalism meant the periods of Keynesian social democracy (1945-73) and neoliberal globalisation (1974-2016) were always unsustainable, paving the way inevitably for austerity and a rising protectionist right-wing nationalism.

 

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Brexit: Britain could crash out of Europe with no Plan B

 brexit crisis web final

Britain’s political class is leading the country towards economic disaster after Prime Minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 on 29 March to trigger acrimonious Brexit negotiations with the EU. With a strong possibility that the two parties will split without reaching a trade deal, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis has said that the government has made no assessment of the effects of defaulting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) trading rules, other than to admit that expensive tariffs would be raised for trading with EU states. Motivated by the desire to abandon a sinking ship, Northern Ireland, Scotland and even Wales are now considering plans to leave and break up the United Kingdom. The crisis is a manifestation of extreme decay setting into the capitalist system – the need for the working classes throughout Britain and Ireland to unite and rebuild the socialist movement is increasingly clear. Barnaby Philips reports.

 

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Imperialism: draining trillions of dollars out of oppressed nations

tpp1

In Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism, Lenin wrote that ‘the world has become divided into a handful of usurer states and a vast majority of debtor states’. Since formal decolonisation in the 1960s, his work has been dismissed as antiquated, even among sections of the radical Left. Now in 2017, with the capitalist system sinking into its deepest crisis since Lenin’s day, a new study into global trade has shown his analysis to be as relevant as ever. It revealed that between 1980 and 2012, the net outflows of capital from ‘developing and emerging’ oppressed countries being funnelled into ‘developed’ imperialist nations totalled $16.3 trillion. The truth about our ostensibly post-colonial world is that poor nations are still developing rich nations, the opposite of what we are so often told. Barnaby Philips reports.

 

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Brexit: Desperation grows

David Davis now Brexist minister Britain taking control of our borders
David Davis, now Brexit minister: Britain 'taking control of our borders'.

On 17 January, Prime Minister Theresa May finally announced the government’s plan for taking Britain out of the European Union. It amounted to a fantasy vision of a ‘truly global’ and independent Britain. Having confirmed that Britain would leave the Single Market, May has been left to plead for tariff-free access to it from an EU that responded by saying a new trade deal ‘necessarily must be inferior to membership’. The contradictions thrown up by Brexit have put Britain and the EU on an inevitable collision course and both sides are likely to suffer dire economic consequences from the fallout. Barnaby Philips reports.

May set out the parameters for the exit plan in a televised speech that will come back to haunt her. Compelled by the split in the Conservative Party and the desire to placate the majority of its members, she confirmed Britain would ‘take back control of our borders’ by ending the free movement of EU labour. That was a red line for the EU which meant the Single Market would always have to be sacrificed, something the usurped pro-EU wing of the party still refuses to accept. Unsurprisingly, given her brutal record on deportations as Home Secretary, May has given no unilateral guarantee that EU nationals settled in the UK will be allowed to stay.

 

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Trump in power - Imperialist rivalries, trade wars and the threat of armed conflict

Donald Trump trade war

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on 17 January 2017, China’s President Xi Jinping warned that ‘no one will emerge as a winner from a trade war’. He was responding to the then President-elect Donald Trump’s threat to impose a 45% tariff on US imports from China and a 35% ‘border tax’ on Mexico’s exports to the US. Trump’s declaration of ‘America First’ signals a willingness to wreck the post-Second World War economic order imposed by a dominant US imperialism, and to unleash inter-imperialist rivalries not seen since the economic devastation of the 1930s, through which marched the forces that led to world war. Trevor Rayne reports.

‘But what the hell? I’ll wing it and things will work out.’ – Trump

In his inaugural address on 20 January President Trump said, ‘Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.’ Three days later Trump withdrew the US from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and said he intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada, signed in 1993. One Chinese economics professor said before the Davos summit, ‘The US is declining and China is rising. China will defend the international system as the US, under Trump, goes in the opposite direction.’ A section of the US ruling class believes that by turning to protectionism it can reverse the relative economic decline of the US in the world. This will not happen nor will manufacturing jobs return to an imperialist US. However, the US and China are the world’s two biggest economies and increasing tensions between them means peril: economically and militarily.

 

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Brexit, Trump and the populist right

Brexist - Trump

20 years ago ‘globalisation’ was the latest fashionable term to describe the all-pervasive forces of a rampant capitalism. It was said to be a new stage of capitalism in which multinational companies and financial institutions, attached to no particular nation state, moved their capital around the world in search of the highest returns, and in so doing created a truly global market and global capital. At the time FRFI explained that, far from being new, globalisation was a return to those unstable features of capitalism which characterised imperialism before the First World War. It had begun to recreate the very conditions which produced those dramatic shocks to the international capitalist system that led to the revolutionary developments in the first decades of the 20th century. It reflected a deep crisis of the capitalist system that would soon lead the most powerful capitalist countries into a renewed struggle over world markets and global spheres of interest, into brutal wars in less developed parts of the world, into a new process to redivide the world according to economic power.1

Until the late 2000s, Martin Wolf, chief economic commentator at the Financial Times, was an enthusiastic advocate of neo-liberal globalisation. In 2002, the deepening crisis of the capitalist system forced him to raise the question whether the global expansion of capitalism had come to a halt and was about to be reversed. Will the second era of global capitalist integration, he asked, end like the first, which went into reverse between 1914 and 1945, after inter-imperialist rivalries led to war and socialist revolution in Russia? Wolf’s answer was no. Conditions he assured us were very different this time.2 Today, 14 years on, he is no longer convinced.

 

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MSF and Pfizer: no such thing as a ‘free vaccine’

msf

On 11 November 2016, US multinational Pfizer agreed to lower the price of its pneumonia vaccine to $9.30 per child for all humanitarian organisations ‘working in emergency settings’. Although short of the $5 per child Médecins sans Frontières’s (MSF) campaign A Fair Shot has been demanding for seven years, it is a significant reduction compared to the $204.30 per child MSF paid to vaccinate refugee children in Greece earlier this year. Pfizer’s capitulation followed a principled rejection by MSF of one million ‘free vaccines’ it was offered by Pfizer in October 2016. As Jason Cone, the US Executive Director of MSF explained in an open letter to Pfizer: ‘there’s no such thing as “free” vaccines’. Earlier, in September, British pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) also agreed to lower the price of its pneumonia vaccine for humanitarian organisations to $9 per child. We salute MSF on this campaign milestone, but the generosity of Big Pharma is transient and its monopolistic, exploitative and criminal actions must be exposed and opposed. Charles Chinweizu reports.

 

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NATO: planning to win a nuclear war

The US and British military are planning for war with Russia, and the US Army has commissioned a report entitled ‘War with China: thinking through the unthinkable’. US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said the US must prepare for ‘a return to great power competition’ with a ‘high end enemy’, meaning Russia and China, ‘we must have – and be seen to have – the ability to impose unacceptable costs on an advanced aggressor that will either dissuade them from taking provocative action or make them deeply regret it if they do’. A NATO Review 2016 article calls for ‘increased inclusion of nuclear-capable aircraft in future NATO military exercises’ to sow doubt in Russian minds about when NATO might order a nuclear attack to counter any Russian breakthrough on NATO’s eastern front.

The British government has increased troop deployments in Central and Eastern Europe. The US has stationed missile defence systems in Poland and Romania and advanced stealth fighters in Germany. The intention is to make Russia a defenceless target.

 

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Basic principles of Marxism – Part Five: The bloody origins of capitalism

FRFI 90  October 1989

bloody origins

'The plains of North America and Russia are our corn fields; Chicago and Odessa our granaries; Canada and the Baltic are our timber forests; Australasia contains our sheep farms, and in Argentina and on the western prairies of North America are our herds of oxen; Peru sends her silver, and the gold of South Africa and Australia flows to London; the Hindus and the Chinese grow tea for us, and our coffee, sugar and spice plantations are in all the Indies. Spain and France are our vineyards and the Mediterranean our fruit garden; and our cotton grounds, which for long have occupied the Southern United States, are now being extended everywhere in the warm regions of the earth.' W S Jevons, economist of rising British capital writing in The Coal Question (1865)

 

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Imperialism and the split in the working class movement

Alexis Tsipras of the Greek socialist party Syriza

Members and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Group attended the conference celebrating 50 years since the First Tricontinental held in Havana, Cuba in 1966. The event, ‘Legacies of the Tricontinental: imperialism, resistance, law’, was held at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, on 22-24 September 2016. The 1966 Conference of the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America, or Tricontinental, was attended by over 500 representatives from national liberation movements and governments from some 82 countries. Among the delegates in 1966 were Fidel Castro, Salvador Allende and Amilcar Cabral.

 

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Crisis and the manipulations of high finance

Tricontinental 50

Members and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Group attended the conference celebrating 50 years since the First Tricontinental held in Havana, Cuba in 1966. The event, ‘Legacies of the Tricontinental: imperialism, resistance, law’, was held at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, on 22-24 September 2016. The 1966 Conference of the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America, or Tricontinental, was attended by over 500 representatives from national liberation movements and governments from some 82 countries. Among the delegates in 1966 were Fidel Castro, Salvador Allende and Amilcar Cabral.

 

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Brexit intensifies Britain’s crisis

after brexist

The vote by a small majority, 51.9% to 48.1%, to take Britain out of the European Union (EU) will have historic consequences for the trajectory of British imperialism, particularly if, as new Prime Minister, Theresa May, ruefully insists ‘Brexit means Brexit’. However, more than a month after the EU referendum vote it remains unclear what Brexit actually means and abundantly clear that next to no contingency planning by the Cameron government or the Brexit camp was in hand to deal with it. After the referendum result was announced, the leader of the Leave campaign, Boris Johnson, somewhat horrified by its totally unexpected outcome, said that there was ‘no need for haste’ to start exit negotiations with the EU. And May has made it clear that she will not invoke the EU’s Article 50 clause this year, which is the pre-condition for starting formal exit negotiations with the EU.1 David Yaffe reports.

 

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The Chilcot Inquiry: Imperialists waged illegal war

‘The most important questions – war, peace, diplomatic questions – are decided by a handful of capitalists, who deceive not only the masses, but very often parliament itself.’

VI Lenin, Ninth Congress of the Russian Communist Party, 1920

The Iraq Inquiry (Chilcot) report was published on 6 July 2016, seven years after it was commissioned by Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown.* The Financial Times concluded that the entire political, military and intelligence establishment are condemned by the Chilcot report (7 July 2016). However, no politician will be prosecuted, no general demoted and no spy chief stripped of their honours as a result.

Sir John Chilcot said of the Inquiry that:

‘Above all, the lesson is that all aspects of any intervention need to be calculated, debated and challenged with the utmost rigour. And, when decisions have been made, they need to be implemented fully. Sadly, neither was the case in relation to the UK government’s actions in Iraq.’

 

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The Brexit crisis

The depth of the crisis revealed by the EU referendum decision to leave the European Union is now clear. Nine days after the result, aftershocks are still rocking political and economic life. Sharp divisions have emerged in every aspect of public life. The Conservative and Labour Parties are fracturing under the pressure; the global stockmarkets are still registering shock; the ‘United Kingdom’ is breaking apart; ‘Remain’ supporters are demonstrating their horror at the result and calling for a second referendum; racist attacks on anyone perceived to be ‘foreign’ have escalated. Britain is split.

 

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EU referendum – The position of communists with a new introduction analysing the result

EU referendum

‘Independence Day’?

At 4am on 24 June, Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, could contain himself no longer, naming 23 June ‘Independence Day’, he issued a victory speech in advance of the result being declared that the British electorate had voted to leave the EU. ‘This is for the real people, for the ordinary people, for the decent people’, he claimed. Apart from insulting the 48% of voters who had opted to remain in the EU, nothing could have been further from the truth. The ordinary people in Britain, whether voting to remain in the EU or leave it, will gain nothing from the result. For the ranks of working class people whose living conditions have worsened under successive governments, they will continue to face relentless attacks on every aspect of their lives, from health, education and housing, to employment conditions and job security. This referendum was not about ameliorating the lives of working class Britons; it was exclusively driven by divisions in the ruling class on how to protect their wealth and power in the face of capitalist crisis and to defend the parasitic interests of the City of London, the financial arm of British imperialism, from European oversight and control. In or out of the EU, the working class in Britain and across Europe will continue to pay the price.

 

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Panama Papers: When cheating becomes necessary

panama papers

How fitting that London and the British Prime Minister David Cameron should host the world anti-corruption summit on 12 May 2016. Presumably in the 1920s no one told Al Capone that he should hold a conference in Chicago on combatting organised crime. The Panama Papers confirm what we already know from a string of scandals: that the City of London is at the heart of the world’s biggest network of tax avoidance, money laundering and market rigging. These are the means by which capitalists retain their profits. Pension funds, insurance companies and stock markets are all beneficiaries. If the intention of publishing the Panama Papers was to embarrass the Russian and Chinese governments, British ruling class divisions over European Union membership, combined with resentment at banking profligacy and growing inequality in the midst of enforced austerity, quickly deflected attention on to Cameron himself. Trevor Rayne reports.

Profit increasingly takes a parasitic form: interest, currency exchange deals and the manipulation of financial assets. Fraud is an extension of these methods of securing a share of surplus value and is invaluable to the British ruling class. When Cameron proclaimed, ‘I’m determined that the UK must not become a safe haven for corrupt money from around the world,’ we knew it already is.

 

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G4S: Private Armies

G4S

‘Britain is no longer what it was’. This is a common refrain in the corporate media whitewashing Britain’s profoundly virulent role in the world at large. Rather than ‘losing’ an empire, Britain has in fact adapted to a new order in which, admittedly, it is no longer top dog, but nevertheless still has the capacity to unleash mass terror and inflict misery. Private security companies provide the means for the British ruling class to do this without recourse to their own state military. This offers the advantage of being able to operate in areas more anonymously, and operating with even less oversight than a national force carries, which allows the wanton application of cruel and inhumane approaches.

Global private security is a £140bn industry and rising. It employs in excess of 15 million people. The British state has played a pivotal role in its expansion, according to The Guardian it is the ‘mercenary kingpin’ of the world[i] - 14 separate companies are based in Hereford, the SAS HQ, all the better to recruit British soldiers. There’s a lot of talk about our poor ex-servicemen, abandoned, living on the streets of Britain, losing out to undeserving recipients of British beneficence: asylum seekers. However, what of the vast numbers who go on to make a pretty penny as mercenaries, ‘dogs of war’, at the beck and call (now directly) of Big Capital. At the height of the occupation of Iraq about 80 British companies operated there. Hundreds operate globally with no democratic oversight. Last year there were contracts of £188m (to protect Basrah Gas Company) up for grabs and a five year £100m contract with the British embassy in Afghanistan. There’s big money to be had: the Labour government spent over £60m on such contracts between 2007 and 2009[ii]. And most of it goes to ArmorGroup. ArmorGroup is owned by G4S (bought in 2008 for $85m).

 

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Communists and national liberation movements: Same goal, different paths

The Battle of the Bogside - 1969

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 52 - September 1985

As communists in the world's oldest imperialist nation, the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) has consistently fought long and bitter struggles with the British left to establish the communist position of unconditional support for the struggle of national liberation movements against British imperialist domination and against national oppression. Our record on this, especially in relation to Ireland, is beyond serious challenge. In Britain, with its long tradition of imperialist exploitation, its strong and well entrenched labour aristocracy, communists have always had to emphasise the goal we have in common with the national liberation movements — the defeat of British imperialism.

 

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Why is Britain always at war? - speech by Trevor Rayne

Speech given by Trevor Rayne to an RCG meeting entitled 'Why is Britain always at War' in London on 19 January 2016

In February 2014 The Guardian newspaper published an article that said that since the start of the First World War in 1914, British armed forces have been at war somewhere in the world in every year since. In four centuries England and then Britain have unleashed over 230 wars to seize other lands and enslave and exploit other peoples.

 

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Panic hits global markets

The deepening crisis hitting China and other ‘emerging market’ economies continues to send shockwaves through world markets.1 In the first week of January, measures taken by the Chinese government to support share prices and the renminbi only reinforced fears over the global impact of the slowdown in China’s economic growth. Share trading in China had to be halted for the second time in four days, within 30 minutes of opening, when the size of the losses triggered ‘circuit-breakers’ in place to prevent panic selling. This new sell-off came after the offshore renminbi fell to its lowest level against the dollar since it was established in 2010. Oil prices dropped to an 11-year low and more than $3.2 trillion was wiped off global stock markets. The prospects for the global economy in 2016 are deteriorating. David Yaffe reports.

 

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139 British military interventions overseas since 1945

The Royal Air Force’s bombardment of Syria beginning on 3 December 2015 is the 139th separate British military intervention abroad since the end of the Second World War and the 50th British military intervention in the Middle East and North Africa in the same period. These are overseas interventions that the British state acknowledges. Not included in the 139 are covert excursions whose records are not available. 1968 was the only year since the end of the Second World War when British military personnel were not killed on active service.

 

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Osborne’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement - On with the show...

‘Mr Speaker, when I presented my first Spending Review in 2010 and set this country on the path of living within its means, our opponents claimed that growth would be choked off, a million jobs would be lost and that inequality would rise. Every single one of those predictions have proved to be completely wrong.’
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Autumn Statement, 25 November 2015

The British Parliament has always had an ambiguous relationship to lying. Calling a fellow MP ‘a liar’ leads to immediate eviction, but lying was simply frowned on. Today, lying is the tool of choice when it comes to any government statement. The most slavish sections of the British lackey press, like the Telegraph, greeted Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review with the headline ‘End of Austerity’. Nothing could be further from the truth: the Conservative Party is on course to move Britain from being, in their words, a ‘high welfare, low wage economy’ to a ‘lower welfare, higher wage economy’. The ‘higher wage economy’ is Osborne’s ‘Nirvana’ of the national living wage at a paltry £7.20 an hour from next year and the chimera of unbridled economic growth that is impossible.

 

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Imperialists foster climate of fear after Paris attacks

On the evening of Friday 13 November 2015 a series of co-ordinated bomb and machine-gun attacks ripped through Paris, resulting in 130 deaths; another 350 people were admitted to hospital, many with serious injuries. The main targets were a football match and a rock concert, with additional shootings in restaurants, cafes and the street. Seven perpetrators died at the scene, apparently by detonating suicide vests they were wearing. Others allegedly involved died or were arrested during a police raid in St Denis on 18 November. Responsibility for the attacks was claimed in a communiqué purportedly issued by Islamic State (IS). Nicki Jameson reports.

This was an overt act of terror against the people of Paris and there was an immediate outpouring of sympathy and solidarity from across the world. The day after the attack the General Command for the Kurdish People’s Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ), fighting against Islamic State in Rojava, Syria, sent condolences and solidarity to the ‘families of the victims and all French people’. On the same day, in northern France, migrants living in the Calais ‘jungle’ camp staged a solidarity vigil, holding a banner which read ‘The refugees are crying with the French people’.

 

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Fight the TTIP

A cluster of economic treaties is under negotiation between the leading imperialist countries and their satellites. Imperialist powers are faced with a serious problem of profitability. All these negotiations and wheeler-dealing are no coincidence. They include:

  • the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Europe and Canada, which awaits ratification;
  • the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between Europe and the USA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the US and a number of Asian countries;
  • the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) between some 51 countries in the World Trade Organisation, which is still being negotiated.

US companies are sitting on about $1.8 trillion of idle cash which would be invested, if only it could be invested profitably. The situation is similar elsewhere: in the UK, companies’ cash reserves total about £550bn ($850bn); in Europe the figure is about €900bn ($1.1 trillion); in Japan about ¥250trn ($2.1 trillion), a staggering 51% of GDP. These enormous sums are sitting idle, not because firms don’t want to invest, but because of the lack of profitability. This situation has been going on for several years. Now capitalism is trying to break out of this stagnation with the help of these treaties, which are intended to steamroller any obstacles to capitalist exploitation.

The US, as the leading imperialist power, is the main player in these talks, but all the leading imperialist powers of Europe and Asia are also trying to cut advantageous deals at each other’s expense.

 

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Third phase of the global economic crisis

On 18 September Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, warned that the global financial crisis is entering a third phase of turmoil. Speaking to the Portadown Chamber of Commerce, he particularly highlighted the risks to the global economy from China, where an economic downturn and sudden currency devaluations have accompanied dramatic falls in the stock market. Together with the mounting crisis in many other large ‘emerging market’ economies, these developments have sent shockwaves through the world’s financial markets. David Yaffe reports.

Haldane is keen to point out that these developments in the global economy should not be seen as independent events, as lightning bolts from the blue, but are part of a connected sequence of events that have affected the global economy over the past decade. He argues that: ‘Recent events form the latest leg of what might be called a three-part crisis trilogy.  Part one of that trilogy was the “Anglo-Saxon” crisis of 2008/09. Part two was the “euro-area” crisis of 2011/12. And we may now be entering the early stages of part three of the trilogy, the “emerging market” crisis of 2015 onwards.’1

 

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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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