After all, if groups as essentially harmless as the likes of London Greenpeace, the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army or Earth First can wobble the world view of some undercover coppers, think of the damage that Marxism’s inspiring vision of the future can do – when we Marxists clean up our act.
I beg to differ in Mark calling these organisations “essentially harmless”.
London Greenpeace produced a leaflet against McDonald’s who sued two of their members (Helen Steel and Dave Morris, who volunteered due to them having virtually no assets) for libel, launching the infamous (from that massively unethical corporation’s point of view) “McLibel” trial, which (largely due to use of the internet by the defendants) was a massive own goal in terms of their reputation by McDonald’s. If you do a web search for McLibel, you even find a film (directed by Franny Armstrong and Ken Loach) of the trial.
The original case lasted ten years, making it the longest-running case in English history. McDonald’s announced that it did not plan to collect the £40,000 that it was awarded by the courts. Following the decision, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in Steel & Morris v United Kingdom that the pair had been denied a fair trial, in breach of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a fair trial) and that their conduct should have been protected by Article 10 of the Convention (right to freedom of expression). The court awarded a judgment of £57,000 against the UK government.
What is important about that case, from an infiltration point of view, is (as revealed in “Undercover”) the fact that a Special Demonstration Squad infiltrator helped write the leaflet!
I was in the audience for the BBC TV programme The Big Questions (produced by the private company Mentorn Scotland), that has debates from a moral/religious viewpoint, often but not always on political issues, last Sunday in Salford for a pre-recorded special on the subject of “Is war ever just?”
It will be shown tomorrow (Sunday 26 January at 10am) – probably on BBC1 (possibly switched to BBC2). Nicky Campbell didn’t select me from the audience to make a point (or ask a question to the panel on the front row who dominated the show) but I’m writing this blog post to make some points I could have raised (and I will tweet links to this blog entry when the programme is aired).
My newly founded party, Left Unity (which I admitted to being a member of when asked by a woman who rang me before inviting me onto the show, perhaps influencing me not being picked to speak), has a position of opposition to glorification of war (throughout 2014 which is the 100th anniversary, i.e. centenary, of the start of what was then called “The Great War” and “The war to end all wars”, and is now known as “The First World War” or “World War I”).
Doesn’t Gove look a nasty piece of work?
The extremely annoying and incompetent Tory toff and ConDem Education Secretary Michael Gove has argued against teachers in school showing “Oh! What a Lovely War”, “The Monocled Mutineer” and “Blackadder Goes Forth” because they put across left-wing viewpoints, in an article in the Daily Mail. That “newspaper” (very right-wing rag) incidentally supported the fascist Blackshirts in Britain and the Nazis in Germany before the World War II – see my blog post Ed & Ralph Miliband v Daily Mail (who said “Hurrah for Blackshirts”) – David Cameron’s father Ian was a tax dodger!
The extrajudicial killing by a police officer of yet another black man Mark Duggan has caused massive outrage in Tottenham (London) where the shooting took place and across the UK. The jury came to the conclusion that Duggan had a gun (hidden in a sock without fingerprints or DNA evidence and with two witnesses testifying that it was planted by police) but threw it an unfeasibly long distance away before being shot by a police officer – even if true, that officer would have noticed he was unarmed at that point! Yet somehow the jury came to the conclusion that the killing was “lawful”.
[I will post the entire letter that I submitted to that paper as a comment, since the Communist Party of Great Britain (PCC) that produces the Weekly Worker does edit my letters (usually quite considerably), not just due to reasons of space but due to their particular political agenda – most noticeably in opposing proportional representation under socialism (although I have won them round to supporting PR under capitalism with several letters over the years on that subject). It is an aside that I included at the end of the letter, but an important aside if a mass revolutionary movement in South Africa is not going to repeat the dreadful mistake of the Bolsheviks in Russia of implementing “the dictatorship of the proletariat” (power only in the hands of the working class). If majority support cannot be achieved for a socialist society then the revolution would not last anyway and it is much better to run society in the interests of “the 99%” rather than disenfranchising the middle class. Amandla!]
Nelson Mandela was a very inspirational and courageous figure. He suffered so much in jail on Robben Island, enduring decades of hard labour, but refused to be broken by the evil apartheid regime. He did so much to force the regime to introduce democracy in South Africa.
The regime didn’t concede defeat out of the goodness of their hearts – it cannot be denied (whatever the mainstream media will say) that it was due to the actions of ordinary (mainly working class) people in South Africa and their allies around the world.
Obvious factors were the extremely courageous actions of black youths in Sharpeville and Soweto, brutally massacred by the regime, and the effect those massacres had on mobilising international opinion into boycotting South African goods and companies like Barclays Bank, which were propping up apartheid.
Less obvious, except perhaps to people in South Africa itself, was black, white and ‘coloured’ workers uniting in trade unions, with perhaps the possibility of general strikes (via ‘dual power’) leading to socialist revolution, forcing the regime to release Mandela and end apartheid. Their prime motive was to preserve capitalism and their own wealth, and so far that has been successful.
The revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden of the (previously) top secret PRISM programme, run by the National Security Agency in the USA, gathering and analysing massive amounts of data gathered about everyone on the planet (except for US citizens) including the contents of phone calls, emails, Facebook activities, web searches (using all the major search engines including Google, Microsoft Bing and Yahoo!), and their collaboration with “national security” centres like GCHQ in Britain is unsurprisingly causing a huge storm amongst people concerned about civil liberties.
[And yes, the companies involved have denied knowledge of PRISM, saying they only cooperate with law enforcement/security services when there are court orders, so I perhaps should qualify the above with “allegedly”, but there has been a lot of circumstantial evidence in my life that a high level of surveillance (to model the world to a high degree of accuracy, predict what is likely to happen, and interfere in subtle and not so subtle ways to try to ensure events go their way) has been going on for over a decade, and that the PRISM software is far more sophisticated than checking for keywords but uses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to understand our communications. And I’m an AI expert by profession, who has developed an AI/simulation language called SDML capable in a much more limited way of doing the same sort of modelling, so I should know roughly what’s possible.]
The usual excuse is that if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear. The capitalist ruling class tries to justify programmes like PRISM as the most effective way of stopping terrorism (but of course attacks on civil liberties like PRISM and Guantánamo Bay are a cause of anger amongst potential terrorists).
So what should we be worried about? Unfortunately, most commentators on civil liberties make general points without mentioning the fact that programmes like PRISM can be used to try to stop a genuine democratic socialist society (probably in one country at first, quickly spreading around the world, rather than simultaneously) from taking place. This is not wild speculation – PRISM (and possibly less sophisticated predecessors) has been used to try to thwart me in my revolutionary activities.
There is a crying need for the divide-and-rule strategies of capitalist ruling classes across the world, aided and abetted by extreme right-wing forces – such as the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), British National Party (BNP) and English Defence League (EDL), as well as religious extremists who also have right-wing agendas (who objectively play into the hands of the very capitalist states they often claim to oppose if they carry out terrorist acts) – to be effectively opposed by left-wing arguments.
Some of the right-wing arguments are easy to oppose. Blaming immigrants for the current economic malaise is obviously nonsense, since the world economic crisis started with “sub-prime” mortgages in the USA. Instead of our ruling classes bailing out the banks, they should all have been nationalised, only compensating pension schemes, and turned into building societies – focusing on lending to individuals (mainly for mortgages) and small businesses, funded by deposits by individuals and small businesses. All big businesses should also have been nationalised, only compensating pension schemes, in a socialist transformation of society. [Arguing what should have been done is incidental, since capitalist governments obviously wouldn’t do it; such a socialist transformation of society (revolution) can only take place by a mass movement from below.]
The argument for “no borders” (i.e. no limits on immigration) is harder to make, especially considering the propaganda from the likes of the Daily Mail, Daily Express and Sun, reflecting the arguments not just made by UKIP and the BNP but mainstream capitalist parties. They whip up hatred towards asylum seekers (utterly heartless to try to inflict further suffering on those fleeing persecution elsewhere in the world) and other refugees (don’t those dying of hunger warrant our help if they can get here?), as well as people in poorer countries in the European Union (with UKIP targeting Romanians and Bulgarians as part of their argument to get the UK to leave the EU).
Let me put forward (what I think is) a convincing argument for “no borders”:
It wouldn’t be implemented until after a socialist revolution, so demanding that our racist ruling classes, kept in power mainly by their use of divide-and-rule implement it, is pointless. However, after such a revolution, we should welcome anybody who wants to come and experience life in a wonderful, vibrant, joyful socialist country, and many of them would go back to their own countries and spread the ideas of socialist revolution there.
For a revolutionary socialist (Trotskyist) account of the unfolding Turkish uprising, including specific suggestions for the way forward and demands for activists to put forward towards the government, written by activists in Turkey – linked to other Trotskyist organisations around the world via the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) – go to http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/6337.
The following blog entry is well worth reading, for an unbiased and deeply moving report of the start of the unfolding uprising in Turkey (although it has been widely circulated so you may have read it already) from a participant in the movement:
An article from the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) newspaper, the Morning Star, is appropriate today, on the revolutionary movement engulfing Turkey. My grandmother, who was an avid reader of that newspaper (and member of the CPB and its predecessor, the Communist Party of Great Britain, CPGB, before the split) since the time of the Spanish Civil War (in the late 1930s, she told me in our final conversation that she joined at a meeting on Munich) died today.
After 3 years in prison (during his first year of incarceration the conditions Bradley was kept in amounted to torture and were condemned by the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez), WikiLeaks whistleblower finally comes to trial on Monday (3 June).
In any sane society, Bradley’s revelations about the misdeeds of the US military should make him a hero – and indeed, he is a hero to socialists and anti-war activists – but the US state wants to keep him incarcerated for the rest of his life (and some nasty pieces of work want him to face the death penalty).
Despite Brutal Crackdown, Uprising in Turkey Continues
by Steven Argue
Photo: Tens of thousands of people crossing the Bosphorus Bridge this morning (June 1) to get to Istanbul’s Taskim Square, starting another day of protests that are engulfing Turkey. Protesters have been attacked once again this morning already with police tear gas and water cannons. There are reports in the corporate media of a woman being killed in last night’s clashes and of an elected Kurdish MP being brutally assaulted by police along with many others. True casualties appear to be much higher, estimated by protesters at 27-30 people dead.
[NOTE BY ME (STEVE WALLIS, ThatcheroftheLeft): Steven Argue was writing his article from the United States and his report is consequently all second (or third) hand. There were all sorts of contradictory figures banded about regarding casualties, and this was clearly a wild overestimate (possibly propaganda he’d fallen for).]
Just received the following urgent request from a Facebook friend:
Hi Steve. Please can you share this? My friend is in amongst the chaos in Taksim Square right now. 60,000 people are in the square. The police are firing chemical gas – worse than tear gas. 4 people have died. 1000 police have resigned and joined the demonstration. Twitter has been shut down. The demonstrators want the world to know what’s happening. http://occupygezipics.tumblr.com/
The timing could hardly have been worse: The Boston bombings occurred the day after an Independent on Sunday exposé of “President Obama’s shame” in not releasing 86 prisoners at Guantánamo Bay cleared for release (that itself was the day after most prisoners clashed with guards) which has led to a mass hunger strike – never mind the plight of others stuck there deemed “too dangerous to release”. It is too early to jump to conclusions about the instigator(s) of the Boston atrocities but Chechens are being blamed in some of the US media. As the IoS article says:
“Today, 166 inmates remain. Three have been convicted, while a further 30 will face trial. Fifty or so are in a legal no-man’s-land, deemed by the authorities too dangerous to release but against whom there is not enough evidence to prosecute. And then there are 86 who have been cleared for release, but who instead rot in a hell from which there is no escape. No wonder yesterday more than 160 of them were involved in clashes with guards that led to what the US said were “less than lethal” rounds being fired.”