Welcome... / FRFI 180 Aug / Sep 2004

FRFI 180 August / September 2004

In early July, two years after Israel began the construction of its Separation Wall, the International Court of Justice (IJC) finally declared it to be totally illegal. The wall aims to encircle the Palestinian people, trapping them in a concentration camp on their own land. Eight metres high, built of concrete, electric fencing and razor wire, with trenches, cameras and armed checkpoints, the apartheid wall will run for over 400 miles within the West Bank territory. The people of the Palestinian Intifada (uprising) will not be subdued, despite the vacillation of the corrupt Palestinian Authority (see page 7).

The US has said it will veto any decision to enforce measures against Israel over the wall in the UN Security Council. The British Labour government opposed the IJC investigation in the first place. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ is the slogan of the warmongering imperialists as they kick over piles of international treaties which at other times they stack high to justify imperialist interventions throughout the world.

Every day the US and Britain are violating the Geneva Conventions and Human Rights laws. They use illegal detention and torture, any means necessary, to intimate those who may stand between them and their imperialist privileges and superprofits. The US has been quite open about this, claiming that the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners do not apply to the ‘new paradigm’ of the war on terrorism and redefining torture as ‘the intention to deliberately inflict serious harm over prolonged periods’. Recently three US Supreme Court rulings challenged the legality of the detention of ‘enemy combatants’ without trial. But like the IJC condemnation of Israel’s apartheid wall, the decision means little, and the prisoners remain in solitary confinement, with no fair trial in sight (see pages 8 and 9).

The British Labour government has had an easy time. Although it was a whitewash, the Butler Report clarifies that the government used phoney intelligence to justify the brutal bombing of Iraq. The government lied to Parliament about investigations into the inhumane treatment of Iraqis in British army detention. Prime Minister Blair admitted that British intelligence knew about torture of detainees back in June 2003. British detainees remain illegally held by the US in Guantanamo (see pages 8 and 9). But in the Mother of Parliaments, all is quiet and Blair keeps grinning as he climbs over another mound of twisted corpses and ripped up international treaties.

It is up to us, the people in the streets, to confront these imperialist war criminals. In the case of Israel we can start by a simple boycott of Israeli goods, taking direct action to expose Israel’s allies in Britain. This does a great deal more than just writing to MPs. This is the aim of the regular boycott pickets of Marks and Spencer, the biggest British corporate sponsor of the Zionist project.
The aggressive reaction from right-wing Zionists in Britain is testimony to the success of the pickets. It is a sign of their desperation. In London despite six months of counter-demonstrations by Likud fascists, the pickets are going strong after nearly four years. In Manchester, attacks by Zionists have swelled the ranks of the pro-Palestinian protesters (see page 14). M&S has been in the news a lot recently, not for its immoral support for Israel, but because it symbolises all that is absurd and disgusting about capitalist high finance (see page 4).

Despite a tribute in George Galloway’s recent book (see page 5), sadly the left social democrats in Britain, have not joined the boycott pickets. The pickets are open to all anti- racists and yet we have never had support from the leadership of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Socialist Alliance, Stop the War Coalition, Galloway’s own Respect coalition, the Socialist Workers’ Party or any of their campaigns. Why is this? Perhaps they do believe that writing to MPs is more effective than real campaign work. Or perhaps they are far too busy trying to become MPs themselves? The European and local elections this summer became a substitute for campaigning by the British left. Judged by their own declared aims, Galloway and the SWP’s electoral project has been a failure. The cost for the anti-war movement has been high. It now barely exists (see page 5).

Real mobilisation and political awakening would have moved the masses to directly challenge the racist Labour government and, via that, the pro-imperialist Labour Party. This is avoided by the British left, because it would undermine its own political strategy in Britain which is based on using the trade unions as a left-wing pressure group on the Labour Party to win concessions for privileged workers. This is the basis for the SWP’s opposition to the Cuban Revolution (see page 11). This also explains why the Respect coalition could agree to drop opposition to asylum legislation from its platform. For them, the official labour movement is the most important agent of social change in Britain.

We in the Revolutionary Communist Group, however, believe that the most oppressed sections of British society are potentially the most revolutionary. They have no illusions about writing to MPs or the parliamentary road to socialism. In Britain these people include the youth, who after losing their recreation facilities are criminalised by anti-social behaviour orders for hanging out in their own streets and the council tenants who are bullied into voting for privatisation of their homes (see article on this page), asylum seekers forced into destitution by the social fascist policies of the Labour government, the slave labourers, immigrants in Britain who face racist attacks and obscene exploitation (see page 16), and the thousands locked up in prisons whose incarceration coincides with the needs of the capitalist system (see page 13).

And the RCG stands with the most oppressed around the world. In Bolivia where the poor are struggling to keep control of their own natural resources (see page 10), in Nepal where the People’s Army stands on the threshold of revolution (see page 6) and in Venezuela, where the Bolivarian revolution prepares to defend itself against the fascist ruling class and its friends in the US. And in Cuba, where the Revolution continues to make its indelible contribution to revolutionary Marxism, an inspiration throughout the world (see page 11).
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