February 28, 2011
William Ash’s Pickaxe and Rifle: the Story of the Albanian People is a comprehensive, diversified, in-depth study and explanation of the experiences and the social system of the tiny, formerly Marxist-Leninist Balkan country. Ash was invited to travel to the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania in 1969. He visited again in 1971. He was given the opportunity of visiting the country during the Albanian Party of Labor’s Sixth Party Congress and of checking the draft typescript of his work with historians and state and party leaders, and most important of all, with workers in the factories and on the collective farms.
The 270-page book is divided up into twenty-one chapters, covering just about every aspect of Albanian life, from health, education and the status of women, to the party, state, and mass organizations to the state of the country’s economic development. An entire chapter is also dedicated to expressing the leisure time of the workers and the activities and resorts that are available to them. While examining the situation and lifestyle of socialist Albania’s workers, farmers, and intelligentsia, Ash dedicates the first eight chapters to the history of tiny Albania and the historical struggles for freedom and independence that have been characteristic of the country ever since the days of the Ottoman Empire.
First and foremost, William Ash is a Marxist-Leninist, and as an advocate of scientific socialism and proletarian revolution, Ash never skips a beat in providing a fluid and correct Marxist analysis based. For one example in chapter fifteen, he exposes the Khruschevite coup and the bureaucratic stagnation of the Soviet Union:
“One of the first indications that an entirely different line was being adopted by the Soviet leadership came in May, 1955, when Khrushchev unilaterally rejected the decisions of the Information Bureau and other communist and workers’ parties in respect to Tito’s betrayal of socialism and heading a delegation to Belgrade for the purpose of rehabilitating, without consultation, the Yugoslav leader. Two days before the delegation left Moscow the Albanian Party of Labour was informed of the visit and asked to approve a statement which Khrushchev had drawn up in the name of the Information Bureau without bothering to convene it. This the Albanian Party refused to do on the grounds that there had been no change in the line of the Yugoslav leadership since it has been condemned by the 1948 resolution of communist and workers’ parties represented on the Bureau” (Ash 182).
“The conference of the four great powers, the Soviet Union, the United States, Britain and France, at Geneva in July, 1955, was acclaimed by Khrushchev as ‘a new stage in the relations between nations’ and he described the leaders of the imperialist powers as ‘reasonable people who were trying to ensure peace’ – this on the eve of the Angle-French-Israeli attack on Suez!” (183).
“Instead of challenging the policy of nuclear blackmail which the United States government had used ever since the war to keep the world safe for the operations of monopoly capitalism, Khrushchev was going to use the Soviet Union’s nuclear capacity to get in on the act. This was the case as demonstrated later on when Albania’s opposition to the Khrushchev line prompted the threat from Kozlov, a member of the Central Committee of the Soviet Party, that ‘either the Albanians will accept peaceful co-existence or an atom bomb from the imperialists will turn Albania into a head of ashes and leave no Albanian alive’” (184).
“Class struggle does not cease even after the liquidation of the exploiting classes. It simply takes different forms as the battle between the ideas, customs and habits of the old exploitative society and the ideals and aspirations of the new socialist man is fought out in every sphere of social activity” (101).
These are but a few passages that Ash provides on the topic of the split in the world communist movement. The author pulls no punches in calling out revisionism and injustice, defending the contributions of Joseph Stalin and the resolute fighting spirit of the Albanian Party of Labor. Ash wastes no time getting down to business in the examination of the socialist state structure that existed within Albania. He provides a short history of the first constitution drafted under the surveillance of the people’s democratic government. By providing a comprehensive list of sources from both inside and outside the small Balkan republic, the author describes:
“The whole document of fewer than a hundred articles takes up only 40 pages of a very small book. This conciseness and simplicity stem from the fact that, unlike most constitutions, there are no ruling class interests to be concealed in elaborate verbiage, no complicated divisions of power to the state’s interference in business and finance, no pseudo-democratic formulations designed to give people the illusion of governing themselves” (98).
“All the major democratic organizations which enable the Albanian working masses to exercise state power originated and developed in the heat of national struggle. As they came into being in answer to the national need they were tested in the fires of the liberation war involving the whole people. Out of the National Liberation General Council grew the People’s Assembly; and the National Liberation Committee appointed by the Council became the Government, Prime Minister and Cabinet, elected by the Assembly. The National Liberation Councils at village, district, and city levels developed in the People’s Councils which are the local organs of state power” (99).
“Every citizens having completed eighteen years of age, regardless of sex, economic status, social position, religious belief or any other consideration, enjoys the right to elect and be elected to any elective body in the state. Electors vote directly for their representatives whether as members of a village council, as people’s judges or as deputies of the People’s Assembly itself. Polling is done secretly by sealed ballot in special booths and is under the supervision of electoral committees appointed by the mass organizations of the Democratic Front – trade unions, youth and women’s associations and the working collectives of industrial enterprises, agricultural co-operatives, government ministries, army units and so on. These same mass organizations of workers have the right to present any of their members as candidates” (103).
Throughout the section entitled “Albania’s Socialist Society,” it becomes clear that Ash went to great lengths to study and expound on the social organization of Albania. The author describes the socialist and democratic nature of the whole society, from the mass organizations such as the Democratic Front, the trade unions, the Labor Youth Union, the Albanian Women’s Union and the Union of Artists and Writers to the organization of the Albanian Party of Labor and the structure of the state as a whole. There is vast description of all parts of Albanian life.
In the last section of the book, William Ash describes the quality of life in socialist Albania. Although a relatively poor and tiny country, the sheer amount of progress made since the book was written in 1976 is astounding to say the least. The author provides an objective analysis combined with facts and statistics to show the outside world just how powerful a nation can become once it adopts a Marxist-Leninist political and economic line. In terms of describing the educational system and the consciousness of the youth and women of socialist Albania, Pickaxe and Rifle: the Story of the Albanian People offers insight into how the youth took the reigns of their own future and denounced the feudal practices that were once widespread throughout the country. To offer an example:
“Organizations of youth and women and the trade unions were mobilized in this campaign under the slogan: ‘In order to build we must acquire knowledge and in order to acquire knowledge we must be able to study and learn.’ Tens of thousands of those previously illiterate were enrolled in night schools without giving up production work, graduating first from elementary classes, then from seven grade schools and even completing secondary and higher school courses. By 1955 illiteracy among all those under 40 had been wiped out and not long afterward it was abolished among older people too. The night schools were maintained to consolidate this achievement and to keep people, particularly in the rural areas, from slipping back again” (223).
Compare this type of system, this amount of democracy and freedom of action, this style of liberation to modern-day capitalist Albania or any Western capitalist country. The incredible amount of self-initiative in terms of building relationships and developing the mind is unheard of in any country today, where women are still subjected to the domination of the man and where the youth are constantly being subordinated to the institutionalized curriculum, whether it is productive and popular with those actually doing the learning or not.
“In his great speech to the Fifth Party Congress on November 1, 1966, he stressed the need of linking teaching and education much more closely to life and labour. Speaking not only as a Marxist-Leninist but as one who had been a teacher himself, at the Korca academy before his dismissal on political grounds, he explained the political necessity of an ‘unceasing development of education to meet the demands of socialist society;’ and pointed out that ‘Our schools, for all the improvement in teaching and education, have not yet rid themselves of bourgeois pedagogy and revisionist influences…It is indispensable to revolutionize further the educational system…It is particularly necessary to take radical measures for the improvement of ideological and political education and for educating youth through labour…There is still too much formalism and verbalism, passivity on the part of pupils and stifling the personality of the young on the part of the teachers, too much officialdom in the relations between teachers and pupils resulting in conservative and patriarchal methods of education…There can be no talk of revolutionizing our schools without revolutionizing the great army of teachers who must set the example of a communist attitude toward labour and life’” (225).
The above passage, quoting Enver Hoxha himself, sheds light on what education would look like under a socialist system: the youth and the teachers acting coming together as respectable equals to build and revolutionize a truly democratic and progressive school system. Offering constructive criticism on the subject of socialist education, Comrade Hoxha does not exhibit narrow-mindedness and pessimism on the role of the youth in building and shaping the society that will belong to them. Instead, he encourages them to open their minds and explore their creative will and natural compassion to rebel against reactionary, subordinating teaching methods. How many other heads of state would have said such things in the open?
“In the schools and in the University teachers and professors had to adopt new methods and learn to accept the criticism of students as part of their own socialist rehabilitation. A few found the extension of democratic centralism to the educational system, with students taking an active role in organizing school life, too much of a break with the old academic traditions they had hoped to see re-established. They were released to go into production work, perhaps, to return to teaching when they have learned from workers the socialist ideology of the working class. And students, too, had to learn more thoroughly that socialist education has nothing to do with getting a degree in order to become ‘a man of authority’ or to ‘secure a comfortable post with a fat salary’” (227).
“A student is judged not on the marks he gets in competition with his fellows but on the help he gives others in mastering subjects. So successful has the approach proved that in such places as the Tirana Secondary school of Culture students through mutual aid in lessons have realized a hundred percent promotion rate and earned commendation for the exemplary tidiness and protection of socialist property” (227).
“Courses in Marxism-Leninism were made a living part of the curriculum and not just a routine subject to be got through in a mechanical way. Texts and lectures on dialectical and historical materialism were related to Albania’s own revolutionary history and students and teachers learned to apply the principles of scientific socialism to their own problems and those of their society. And since practice is the essence of Marxism-Leninism, students and teachers began to participate more actively in the political and economic life of the country, leaving their books and laboratories to study the application of theory on the production and social front” (227).
A strong initiative towards learning, acquiring knowledge and conscious discipline on behalf of the students themselves, combined with the life experiences and teaching expertise of the educators must be the bedrock of socialist education.
The social status of women has always been an important topic for those studying Albania’s application of Marxism-Leninism. Before liberation, women were required to be completely subordinate to the demands and wishes of the male. The Code of Lek was the set of rules and guidelines that governed the family in feudal times. Passages such as “the husband is entitled to beat his wife and to tie her up in chains when she defies his word and orders”, and “The father is entitled to beat, tie in chains, imprison or kill his son or daughter…The wife is obliged to kneel in obeisance to her husband” indicate the shear hostility and oppression towards women. Fortunately, these enslaving principles began to be sharply criticized during the liberation war, as men and women stood shoulder-to-shoulder to free themselves of the fascist invaders. As such, Pickaxe and Rifle dedicates a chapter to the role of women in the socialist family by comparing the gains and progress of the national liberation war to the binding feudal culture beforehand.
“In 1938 there were 668 women workers in all Albania, mostly girls of 14 or 16 working a ten hour day for appallingly low wages. By 1967 over 248,000 women, which is 42% of rural and urban workers, were engaged in production work on exactly the same terms as men” (235).
“’Women workers,’ Stalin has said, ‘urban and rural workers are the greatest reserve of the working class. This reserve represents half the population. On whether this reserve of women is with or against the working class depends the destiny of the proletarian movement, the triumph or defeat of the proletarian revolution and the triumph or defeat of proletarian state power’” (235).
In addition to the major gains made towards women’s rights during the years immediately following liberation, the author also carefully documents the continuous progression and enhancement of the status of females in socialist society. Approved in June 1965 and put into action in 1966, a new family code was adopted, which reaffirmed certain rights guaranteed in the Constitution of socialist Albania. This new family code is as follows:
“• Marriage is contracted with the free will of husband and wife and rests on solid feelings of love, equality and mutual respect. Only monogamous marriages are recognized.
• Partners in marriage can choose as their surname that of husband or wife or each may keep his or her original name or add them together.
• A wife can choose her work or profession without her husband’s permission and the handling of the family income is managed by mutual agreement.
• Personal property held by either before marriage remains his or hers and anything acquired afterwards is joint property. All children regardless of sex are entitled to equal shares in the inheritance of joint personal property and the wife is the heir of first rank.
• Divorce is allowed when a marriage has lost all meaning and cohabitation has become intolerable. Causes for divorce are continuous quarrels, maltreatment, breach of conjugal faith, permanent mental illness or punishment for serious crimes. There is no distinction between husband or wife in the right to sue for divorce and the rearing of children is confided to that parent who in the court’s opinion is better qualified to bring them up.
• All parental rights belong to both parents equally and disagreements are settled by tutelage committees or by the courts.
• Single mothers enjoy all due respect and the state guarantees their economic security and protection. Children born outside marriage are equal in every way to those born within.
• Abortions are allowed after consultation with a committee of doctors. Birth control is a matter of personal choice. There is no family planning in the sense of national campaigns to limit births because Albania is an underpopulated country in which all births are welcomed” (238-239).
These progressive family guidelines, set in law, are a happy example of solving family issues the right way in the right social context. It could be claimed that law does not necessarily solve every issue and serve as the final and complete solution, but the fact that such great strides forward have been made in terms of equality of the sexes is definitely a solid indication of the Party and the state’s attitudes towards the role of women in everyday life.
Lastly, Ash focuses a section on what there is to do in Albanian workers’ leisure time. As a generally warm country with multiple beaches and resorts, the author uses the example of the Durres bathing resort to show that workers do in fact have time to relax or take a vacation. Durres stands out in this sense, however, in that it is Albania’s top beach resort and that it is only open to trade union workers, which was comprised of 99% of Albania’s workers. As confirmed not only in Pickaxe and Rifle but in Albania Defiant (1976) by Jan Myrdal and Gun Kessle and translated by Paul Britten, Durres is not open for bureaucrats or tourists. It is exclusive in the sense that the best beach in the entire country belongs to the workers and the workers alone.
Aside from bathing resorts and vacations, there are a number of activities or festivities going on in the streets after the work day is over. Cultural centers, cafes, gymnasiums, and folk centers are open for all Albanians.
“At the end of the day’s work the whole population comes out into the broad boulevards, to stroll about greeting friends, to have coffee or something to eat in one of the many open-air cafes or restaurants in this warm country – whole families to three generations taking the fragrant summer air together or young couples walking hand in hand or, perhaps, happy bands of children weaving in and out of the crowds in some extemporized game” (217-218).
“There is something strange to the visitor from the West in seeing children running about through the streets in such abandon without any surveillance. In his towns they would soon be decimated by traffic. In Albania, after the end of the working day, there are no lorries nor motor cars to be seen and the streets and avenues belong entirely to the people for their communal perambulation which gives each wide thoroughfare the appearance of a fair ground” (218).
“In the sight of so many family groups of grandparents, parents, children and even children’s children walking, talking and taking refreshment together raises the question of why family relationships are so strong and satisfactory, the answer every one gives is that there is no economic restraint whatsoever compelling families to stay together. The only bond is that of mutual love and respect” (219).
“Or the evening crowds may seek various forms of entertainment in the local palace of culture where there are recitals, concerts, pageants or plays. They may go to cinemas where a growing number of the films shown are Albanian. They may enjoy the presentation in some large auditorium of that ever popular form, Estrada, which is the Albanian equivalent of the music hall – with acts by singers, musicians and acrobats, with dramatic sketches and comic turns. And in all these amusements and cultural activities the audiences are not merely passive in their enjoyment. Not only do they participate in the sense that every performance of any kind has developed collectively under the guidance of constructive criticism which everyone feels free to give but also because a large proportion of any gathering will belong themselves to some cultural group which no factory, school, office, co-operative farm or institution of any kind is without” (219).
Constructive criticism is a large part of socialist society, constantly reviewing and keeping what is progressive in the eyes of the people and renewing or doing away with what is not. What makes it especially notable is the fact that this is carried over to cultural and artistic life.
“National holidays celebrating the founding of the People’s Republic, historical anniversaries, victories, in the liberation war or in socialist construction raise to a higher degree the festive feeling to be encountered in the streets of the major towns. The broad tree-lined avenue leading from the statue of Scanderbeg in the centre of Tirana to the University on the outskirts of the city will be filled with representatives of the Democratic Front organizations, of factories and farms, of the armed services and young pioneers, marching past the reviewing stand near the Dajti Hotel under billowing red banners, shouting revolutionary slogans and paying their respects to Party and state leaders and guests from abroad” (219).
“All around the grove are bulletin boards with pictures of the activities of the co-operatives in the area and the achievements of the rural electrification programme. Strung overhead are banners inscribed with such slogans as Rroftë Partie e Punës e Shqipërisë – Long live the Albanian Party of Labor, Shqipëri, ‘land of the eagles’, is the Albanians’ name for their country; and among the dances performed by the men in the course of the merrymaking will be the famous eagle dance. Other banners wish a long life to Enver Hoxha or set out the main themes to be taken up in a brief political meeting by a representative of the Central Committee, perhaps the veteran partisan Birro Kondi whose brother also a great partisan fighter died in an accident after the war – ‘Without unmasking revisionism one cannot defeat imperialism’ and ‘the people of Albania and China’s millions are more than a match for any enemy’” (220).
“Then the vast crowed, more than 20,000, move to the long tables under the trees which are piled high with roast chickens and slabs of lamb, homemade bread, cream cheese, boiled eggs, tomatoes and corn on the cob. Vast quantities of very good cold beer are drunk during and after the feast to the sound of the constantly repeated toast Gezuer! – Good health! There is much moving about and groups at the tables are broken up and reform as old comrades are discovered and greeted affectionately. One of the good survivals of feudal customs, along with the open-handed hospitality one encounters all over Albania, deepened and given a new fraternal significance by socialism, is the close demonstrative friendship between men. Partisans seeing each other after an interval embrace and kiss warmly. Moving about as freely and greeted as affectionately are the Party and State leaders who have come from Tirana to join in the celebrations – the Foreign Minister who is also a deputy from this region, an ambassador, several members of the Political Bureau and Enver Hoxha’s younger sister” (220).
It’s very interesting to take note of the amount of simple pleasures there are to indulge in, and one of the most common joys in Albania involves the simple enjoyment of each other’s company. The workers are disciplined and hardworking, but they are neither puritanical nor austere. The embracing of the dialectical method can have far-reaching progressive consequences when applied to social practice, whether the practice pertains to culture, economics or the political system, or if it is used in simple social interaction.
In conclusion, Pickaxe and Rifle is an excellent, comprehensive account of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania through the eyes of an eyewitness who has visited the country on more than one occasion. William Ash provides in his work a very well-put-together and very sincere study of the socialist system in Albania by covering nearly every aspect of Albanian life and the amount of freedom and organization the working class gains under proper Marxism-Leninism. Ash’s book, from examining the political and economic system of Albania to the social, artistic and cultural life, Pickaxe and Rifle is a breath of fresh air in a society plagued by lies and misinformation about communist theory and practice.
Ash, William. Pickaxe and Rifle: the Story of the Albanian People. London: H. Baker, 1974.
Today, like other times in history, we face an economy on the verge of collapse. Recession, depression and military defeats are being incurred by the leading imperialist power; it is clear that events are not going according to plan as far as the United States and other states with economic bonds to it are concerned. Additionally, we see a reactionary and violent political current emerging in the United States in response to this—one that speaks of reversing the "socialism" of those to their left politically via "Second Amendment solutions" if necessary. This reactionary turn in the political mainstream has been dismissed by many bourgeois liberals as merely the result of the lamentations of an ignorant bloc of semi-literate rightist destined to fade into irrelevance within the next few election cycles. Yet, as it appears that capitalism's crisis will only worsen, the potential for an increasingly militant and violent movement to "restore America's place in the world" grows by leaps and bounds. In order to understand, undermine and defeat such a movement before it gains sufficient power to crush working people is a topic of the utmost importance. In order to achieve this end, one must understand the ideology, history and tactics for resisting fascism.
Fascism emerged in the early twentieth century as the brainchild of Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator whose Partito Nazionale Fascista (National Fascist Party) acquired power in 1922 and wielded an iron fist against those groups it saw as being subversive and undesirable. Once it had butchered its population of trade-unionists, communists and objectors, it turned its violence outward, embarking on an imperialist program uninhibited by an international community more concerned with an emerging socialist Soviet Union. Within the same decade, Hitler's Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party) emerged and, by 1933, found itself in power in Germany.
Other regimes emerged in Europe and found themselves within a camp of fascist powers bent on expanding their imperial possessions and influence over the whole of the Western world, and once the appetites of fascism's expansions could no longer be contained, an inter-imperialist struggle emerged that would cost the lives of some 56 - 60 million people. Had it not been for an alliance between the Soviet Union and the Western European "democracies," Europe would have been dominated by fascism for decades.
The last remnants of fascist reaction did not die with the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and others. In fact, in the aftermath of the Second World War, fascist organizations and officials went from being hunted down to being recruited by the West during the Cold War. From the Balkans to Latin America, fascists and other nationalists were commissioned with the task of butchering resistance to American imperialism, providing intelligence on Soviet efforts abroad through think-tanks and fomenting counter-revolution in Soviet republics and Latin American states trying to shrug off domination by foreign capital.
This lead to the legitimization of political parties and figures by the West with discernable ties to the campaigns of genocide in World War II. In addition to such parties, who participate in the governments of the former Warsaw Pact, there are a litany of organizations in the US and abroad who uphold the politics and crimes of the fascist regimes of old. In the United States, there are active National Socialist parties and groups who merge the symbol of the Nazi swastika with an American flag. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, who publish monthly reports about racist, nationalist and homophobic groups operating within the US and host an interactive map of such groups on their site, there are numerous White Nationalist movements with a presence in all 50 states. Such groups have been active in intimidation and violence towards immigrant groups, the Jewish community, homosexuals and others who they view as being "inferior beings" and "trespassers in their white nation." While these groups are considered to be on the political fringe and most are inclined to dismiss their existence as a threat to overall society due to their small numbers and discredited ideology, their presence and continued activity is still cause for alarm.
Today, as one economic crisis shifts into the next, as many find their futures and livelihoods in jeopardy thanks to the machinations of capitalism's crisis, extreme reaction rears its ugly head as a "solution" to the problems of contemporary capitalism. With emotionalist rhetoric, nationalist statements, convenient scapegoats and militant ideology, the fascist menace is able to find a niche with those dissatisfied with the current state of affairs. Even now, blatant fascists are working closely within the anti-immigration movement, slipping tidbits of their racist doctrine and hyper-nationalism among crowds of people with already reactionary leanings. The result of such a merging of a fascistic "fringe" with a coordinated reactionary movement trying to capitalize on the new depression has the potential of pushing larger sectors of the disenfranchised white community into their camp, resulting in more frequent acts of fascistic terror like the attempted bombing of the Martin Luther King Jr. parade in Washington this year, or the bombing of the Oklahoma City building in 1995. Even worse, if we are not wary of fascism and its ability to seduce society with its violence and convenience, we may repeat history and see our once "democratic" society fall into fascism in earnest.
To help us understand fascism, three books will be taken into consideration: Fascism and Social Revolution by R. Palme Dutt, Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Corporate Power in America by Bertram Gross and The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich. These works will be rated in three ways: their definition of fascism, how they account for the successes of fascism in the 20th century and their method for resisting fascism. Each author comes from a different background, both in ideology and methodology, which is also important to consider in regards to the viability and the accessibility of the perspective they put forward. Such details will also be included as they are prudent to our understanding of the author’s perspective, though complete biographies of each author will be absent in this work. Once we have assessed the works for each criterion, this work will conclude with which of these works represents the strongest understanding of fascism and is of the greatest use to contemporary students of and partisans against fascism.
The first work up for consideration is Rajani Palme Dutt’s 1934 work entitled Fascism and Social Revolution. Dutt was a British Marxist-Leninist revolutionary who worked as a theoretician and journalist for the Communist Party of Great Britain and who was particularly active in the Marxist-Leninist and anti-imperialist movement in India in the early 20th century (Bose). Like his party at the time, he held to the Third International’s ideological line and, as such, upheld the anti-fascist stance of the Soviet Union. Having done practical work on behalf of the worker’s movement internationally, as well as experiencing the bestial nature of imperialism first hand as an activist in Indian resistance to British colonialism, Dutt’s life’s work revolved around resisting the very structures which necessitate the rise of fascism in its defense. As well, having been an active communist revolutionary during the epoch of fascism’s rise in Europe, his perspective was formed at the time of active fascist regimes and affords him an insight only a contemporary to fascism’s rise can provide.
Dutt’s Marxist-Leninist perspective implements dialectical materialism, allowing him to assess the material conditions within social phenomena and understand the origins and directions of social movement beyond mere assessments of culture. This is a useful perspective for assessing fascism because fascism as an ideological and political force adapts itself to the ideological and political currents of the social circumstances in which it manifests. As such, to merely categorize fascism based on one incidence of fascism, to merely cite one manifestation of fascism for its cultural and political peculiarities in one’s defining of fascism, is to miss the larger picture and the larger forces at work.
In defining fascism, Dutt cites the 1928 Programme of the Communist International which describes fascism thusly:
“The fascist system is a system of direct dictatorship, ideologically masked by the ‘national idea and representing of the ‘professions’ (in reality, representation of the various groups of the ruling class). It is a system that resorts to a peculiar form of social demagogy (anti-semitism, occasional sorties against usurer’s capital and gestures of impatience with the parliamentary ‘talking shop’) in order to utilize the discontent of the petit-bourgeoisie, the intellectual and other strata of society; and to corruption through the building up of a compact and well-paid hierarchy of fascist units, a party apparatus and a bureaucracy. At the Same time, Fascism strives to permeate the working class by recruiting the most backward strata of the workers to its ranks, by playing on their discontent, by taking advantage of the inaction of social democracy, etc.” (Dutt 109).
The Communist International’s definition, which sees fascism as an attempt to defend and restore capitalism from communist revolution, cuts through fascism’s deceptive left-sounding proclamations and outlines its purpose thusly:
“The principle aim of Fascism is to destroy the revolutionary labor vanguard, i.e., the Communist sections and leading units of the proletariat. The combination of social demagogy, corruption and active White terror, in conjunction with extreme imperialist aggression in foreign politics, are the characteristic features of Fascism. In periods of acute crisis for the bourgeoisie, Fascism resorts to anti-capitalist phraseology, but, after it has established itself at the helm of the State, it casts aside its anti-capitalist rattle, and discloses itself as a terrorist dictatorship of big capital” (Dutt 109).
It is essential to understand that while fascism is a reactionary force which seeks to defend capitalism from proletarian revolution, it is prone to adopt slogans and names whose stated pro-working class position is pigeonholed by their reactionary ideology and militant anti-communism. The butchery of fascist regimes carried out against communists, trade-unionists and other opponents to the agenda of capital can be said to be similar in spirit to the mayhem in which the White Army intended to inflict on the Bolsheviks to abort the Russian Revolution. General Lavr Kornilov’s proclamation, “We must save Russia! Even if we have to set fire to half of it and shed the blood of three-fourths of all the Russians!” (Lincoln 86) demonstrates in a similar vein the will to butchery that the defenders of capital have towards the worker’s movement; a will to butchery that invading fascist armies would visit upon Russia’s workers decades later.
Throughout the text, Dutt uses this understanding to assess the rise and development of fascism in Italy, Germany and Austria after laying out the political and economic circumstances giving rise to fascism. We are made to see fascism as a force arising out of a failure of liberal capitalism and social democracy in the wake of capitalist crisis naturally arising from its moribund imperialist form. In this analysis, Dutt directs our focus towards social democracy as a force that is ultimately complicit in fascism through sabotaging the workers’ movement:
“The distinction of Social Democracy and Fascism is no less important to understand than the parallelism.
Both are instruments of the rule of monopoly capital. Both fight the working-class revolution. Both weaken and disrupt the class organizations of the workers. But their methods differ.
Fascism shatters the class organizations of the workers from without, opposing their whole basis, and putting forward and alternative “national” ideology.
Social Democracy undermines the class organizations of the workers from within, building on the basis of the previous independent movement and “Marxist” ideology, which still holds the workers’ traditions and discipline, in order more effectively to carry through the policy of capital and smash all militant struggle” (Dutt 175).
Dutt later goes on to describe how social democracy has within it the “germs of fascism,” being that it’s non-Marxist perceptions and pursuit of “socialism” trends towards a “socialism” along nationalist lines which is, in principle, similar to the concept of “national socialism” and eventually allies itself with fascism through its opposition to communist revolution (Dutt 177, 185).
Stemming from his understanding of fascism as being the natural end result of moribund capitalism, as well as considering the failure and inevitable complicity of social democracy in fascism’s war to subdue the proletariat and defend the position of capital, the only true solution to the threat posed by fascism is communist revolution. He ends the book with the following passage:
“Whatever the black hells of suffering and destruction that have still to be passed through, we face the future with the certainty and confidence of approaching power, with contempt for the barbarous antics of the doomed and decaying parasite-class enemy and its final misshapen progeny of fascism, with singing hearts and glowing confidence in the future. ‘The last fight let us face. The Internationale unites the human race’” (Dutt 309).
These inspiring words are not without a historical precedent to back up the viability of Dutt’s proposed solution. In the instance of the revolution in Albania, communist revolutionaries were able to organize an anti-fascist resistance force to expel armies of invading Italian and German fascist forces as well as root-out and eliminate fascist and monarchist forces within Albania who collaborated with the invaders, and in the midst of this struggle laid the foundations of a socialist society which lasted for several decades. Faced with the prospect of annihilation, Albanian workers waged a tireless revolutionary struggle against fascism, securing their survival and the victory of socialism against fascism and capitalism. If fascism is to be defeated in the future, one had best heed the lessons of revolution’s success and social democracy’s failure in regards to anti-fascist resistance.
This perspective would likely get a good deal of flak from that asserted by Bertram Gross, who puts forward a more conventional left perspective in his work Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Corporate Power in America. In stark contrast to the perspective put forward by a communist revolutionary like Dutt, Gross would seem to hold a perspective more in line with the liberalism of F.D.R. Gross, a political scientist and legislative author for several New Deal policies (and, later on in life, the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act) followed a Keynesian economics perspective and spent his career advocating for reform in both an academic role and as a policy writer. Considering this background, it comes as no surprise that his methods aren’t of the Marxist variety as Dutt’s were.
While the first chapter of his book catalogues the rise of fascism in Germany, Japan and Italy, Gross’ work is not a study of traditional fascism. Rather, the focus of his book is on an assertion that there is a newer fascist model. In his introduction, he states:
“From the right, we are warned against the danger of state capitalism or state socialism, in which Big Business is dominated by Big Government. From the left, we hear that the future danger (or present reality) is monopoly capitalism, with finance capitalists dominating the state. I am prepared to offer a cheer and a half for each view; together, they make enough sense for a full three cheers. Big Business and Big Government have been learning how to live in bed together and despite arguments between them, enjoy the cohabitation. Who may be on top at any particular moment is a minor matter-and in any case can be determined only by those with privileged access to a well-positioned keyhole” (Gross 2).
This trend towards increasing cohesion between capitalist enterprise and government institutions is what he calls “friendly fascism” and asserts that this is the new danger to “democracy” as it exists in the West. He cites the post-WWII era as being a time of transition towards greater partnership between arms producers and other industries vital to the Cold War efforts; an economic model which looks for solutions in this partnership and subverts constitutional democracy rather than make reforms along the lines of Gross’ preferred Keynesian model. He goes on to outline how the economic trends of increased corporate welfare, a blurring of the differences between the leading political parties (and their increasing tendency to conform to a corporate-friendly line), an authoritarian educational system, an increased fetish for “professionalism” and a general deterioration of culture and mental health are indicators of a new form of repressive system seeking to subvert democratic machinery for the purposes of aiding this new synthesis of corporate and government power. He concludes his work saying that, while “friendly fascism” has not established itself yet, there is a clear danger posed for its emergence in coming years.
Rather than implement a method grounded in materialist dialectics, Gross’ method ultimately stems from socio-cultural assessments of Cold War capitalism under the stewardship of Cold Warrior presidents, ultimately being consummated in the Reagan Administration’s all-out assault on social policy going back to F.D.R. If we consider that this 1980 work comes at a the high point of this trend (and considering the author’s own opposition to such trends), what we have here is less of a sober analysis of an emerging evolved form of the fascism of old and more of a Keynesian polemic against Reagan-era policy.
While this is a worthwhile topic for exploring, ultimately it isn’t germane to the topic of fascism as it is of concern to our purposes here. Beyond expressing alarm at the cultural expressions of late capitalism, to a Marxist, he’s making a moot point. This “friendly fascism” is less a new, emerging threat to an established order than a natural evolution of capitalism in its final imperialist stage. Fascism played a different role in history, serving to defend decaying capitalism from the toiling masses and wield reactionary ideology for the purposes of upholding an open terrorist dictatorship over workers. Neo-liberalism’s agenda is different, allowing those in the capitalist class who desire immediate profits and utilize government machinery for that purpose. “Friendly fascism” is nothing new; merely a trending of imperial capitalism towards more open and sincere centralization of power in practice balanced with an increase of ideological and political barriers towards parliamentary challenges of this order.
In addition to making a moot point, Gross’ solutions to the problem of “friendly fascism” are about as toothless as social democracy’s solution to the fascism of old: reform and parliamentary bargaining stemming from peaceful social movement. He even goes as far as to say that there is a possibility of “defectors” from the friendly fascist camp (Gross 380). Here one is reminded of Dutt’s analysis of the role of social democracy in the resistance to capitalism. With the liberal, non-solution that Gross proposes (one which is thoroughly grounded within the confines of the system which bore this “friendly fascism”) one wonders how Gross would fare organizing resistance to actual fascism.
The final work up for consideration is Wilhelm Reich’s The Mass Psychology of Fascism. Reich was an Austrian-born psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who wrote this work the very year that Adolf Hitler became Chancellor while still living in Germany. It is also worth noting that he had before joined the German Communist Party and was an activist on their behalf from 1930 to 1933. When one of his psychological texts was attacked and his identity of being on the progressive end of politics revealed, Reich was forced to flee the country in order to escape fascist repression.
Reich’s theory stems from an attempt to reconcile Freudian psychoanalysis with Marxism. Reich argued against the typical Freudian perspective justifying that neurosis develops within a social context which is physical, sexual and economic. This “mass psychology” represents a social-psychological theoretical perspective; one that differs greatly from both a purely psychological and purely social perspective. For this and other theoretical and methodological reasons, Reich was and remains an incredibly controversial figure in the field of psychology. His perspective, while paying homage to Marxism within the first chapter, quickly moves beyond Marxism and a materialist perspective asserting that there must be more to understanding fascism than its political economy. He argues that fascist ideology exists as an extent of society and social actor’s repression of sexuality. Fear of sexuality and of sexual emancipation has aided fascism in putting forward an ideology which was authoritarian and repressive in regards to sexuality. He analyzes this “authoritarian ideology” in chapter five as stemming from the basic family unit in society:
“The father's economic position as well as his position in the state are reflected in his patriarchal relationship with the other members of the family. The authoritarian state has a representative in every family, the father; in this way he becomes the state's most valuable tool. The father's authoritarian position reflects his political role and discloses the relationship of family and authoritarian state. The same position which the boss holds in the production process, the father maintains in the family. He in turn reproduces submissiveness to authority in his children, especially his sons. This is the basis of the passive, submissive attitude of middle class individuals toward Führer figures” (Reich 53).
His psycho-sexual analysis continues with an assessment of the Nazis’ race theory as having the latent function of limiting sexual freedom which threatens the ruling class through the use of organized mysticism (Reich 88-89). This “organized mysticism” can be understood to be, in effect, a resistance to materialism (so-called “Cultural Bolshevism”) through nationalism and organized religion. (Reich 120-121) Reich even analyzes the symbol of the swastika itself being used as a symbol of sexuality and work, implying that there is an unconscious message communicated in fascist propaganda by the very symbol itself (Reich 98-103).
Stemming from this psycho-analytic base, he moves forward to an overall criticism of “authoritarianism” and, throughout the remainder of the book, condemns both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. His perspective here is highly anti-political, as is his solution to fascism and “authoritarian ideology,” so-called work-democracy:
“Work-democracy is not an ideological system. Nor is it a “political” system, which could be imposed upon human society by the propaganda of a party, individual politicians, or any group sharing a common ideology. Natural work-democracy is the sum total of all functions of life goverend by the rational interpersonal relations that have come into being, grown and developed in a natural way... Work -democratic ‘politics’ is distinguished by the fact that it rejects all politics and demagogism” (Reich xxxi).
What we are left with at the end of Reich’s mass-psychoanalysis is a rejection of both of the previous methods at resisting fascism for a method which, purposefully, has no method. This Utopian construction, along with the impracticality of his mass-psychological perspective in anything beyond the most academic of debates, makes Reich’s work little more than a rejection of resistance to fascism beyond one’s own psycho-analytic perspective. While his work was an interesting read, we feel that there is little to gain from utilizing his perspective.
These three texts represent differing theoretical methods for understanding and resisting fascism. All three recognize fascism as a repressive and reactionary system which threatens the lives and well-being of workers. Yet, due to differing ideologies and understandings of fascism, the solutions offered vary. On the one hand, we have Dutt, who proposes communist revolution in the face of fascistic counter-revolution. Then we have Gross, who sees the new fascism as emerging from neo-liberalism and argues for the same solutions that failed in resisting the fascism of old. Finally, we have Reich, who rejects politics and ideology as a means of resisting fascism’s mass-psychology and asserts a Utopian model with neither a plan of action nor an ideological or material base in its stead. If we are to have an understanding of fascism coupled with an understanding of resistance to fascism, it is clear that the latter two perspectives must be scrapped, for their failure in providing a coherent plan of action stems from their failure to understand fascism’s essential base in capitalism’s economic and political structure, as well as an understanding that the only means of combating fascism is a political, ideological and material assault on the very structure of modern capitalism.
Bose, Dilip. Rajani Palme Dutt—Great Son of the Indian People. Unity Publishers, 1975.
Dutt, Palme. Fascism and Social Revolution. 2009. Wild Side Press.
Gross, Bertram. Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America. South End Press, 1999.
Lincoln, W. Bruce. Red Victory: a History of the Russian Civil War.
Reich, Wilhelm. The Mass Psychology of Fascism. 3rd. edition. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980.
Globalization has become a subject of the utmost interest in recent decades. With the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the rise of capitalist hegemony in its most sincere form, some have argued for an “end of history” in which international capitalism reigns supreme, lead by the the United States, the chief victor of the Cold War. Others have articulated this differently. William I. Robinson argues that the theoretical understanding of imperialism asserted by V.I. Lenin and upheld by other 20th century Marxists is insufficient for understanding the current state of affairs in modern global capitalist society. Rather, he asserts that a new theory which takes into account a negation of the nation-state as the main vehicle for advancing the cause of capital and fulfilling the profit ends of regional capitalists. He argues that the contradictions within capitalism are being globalized; that nation-states and national capitalists are being integrated into a larger transnational class and state.
It must be noted, however, that Robinson is not the first to make such an argument. Other theorists have made similar arguments in which the old notions of imperialism are replaced with more “global” perspectives which perceive the contradictions within capitalist nation-states taking place globally. These hypotheses would later lead those theorists and their adherents to anti-Marxist, anti-scientific conclusions which would render their theories less useful for a concrete understanding of capitalism on the world stage. There are problems which arise in trying to haphazardly apply intra-national contradictions in an international way. We will examine Robinson’s theory of global capitalism and using similar attempts at assessing capitalism internationally we will argue that the concepts of a “transnational capitalist class” and transnational state are problematic.
In his book, A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class, and State in a Transnational World, Robinson argues that an epochal shift is occurring in capitalism in which the rise of transnational production is leading to the construction of a transnational capitalist class (TCC) and a transnational state (TNS). This theoretical understanding would, at first blush, seem eerily similar to one put forward by Karl Kautsky at the beginning of the century. Kautsky, on the eve of the First World War, argued “From the purely economic standpoint... there is nothing further to prevent this violent explosion finally replacing imperialism by a holy alliance of the imperialists” (Kautsky, 1914). This state of affairs is what he referred to as “Ultra Imperialism.”
Vladimir Lenin puts forward a different view in his work Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism:
“The capitalists divide the world, not out of any particular malice, but because the degree of concentration which has been reached forces them to adopt this method in order to obtain profits. And they divide it ‘in proportion to capital’, ‘in proportion to strength’, because there cannot be any other method of division under commodity production and capitalism. But strength varies with the degree of economic and political development. In order to understand what is taking place, it is necessary to know what questions are settled by the changes in strength. The question as to whether these changes are ‘purely’ economic or non-economic (e.g., military) is a secondary one, which cannot in the least affect fundamental views on the latest epoch of capitalism. To substitute the question of the form of the struggle and agreements (today peaceful, tomorrow warlike, the next day warlike again) for the question of the substance of the struggle and agreements between capitalist associations is to sink to the role of a sophist” (Lenin 1916).
Given the continuation of inter-imperialist conflicts throughout the 20th century, Kautsky’s theory has ultimately ended up in history’s dustbin. It is for this reason that Robinson took the time to briefly mention Kautsky and to separate his theory from “Ultra Imperialism” by saying, “My theory differs sharply from Kautsky’s in a number of ways that I cannot take up here except to note that competition has driven capitalist dynamics and will continue to do so” (Robinson 61). He then goes on to describe how competition on an international scale has lead to mergers and acquisitions across state lines. Nevertheless this is insufficient, because Robinson ignores the issue of inter-imperialist warfare. Has capitalism evolved beyond wars between imperialist powers? Kautsky’s theory would seem to answer in the affirmative and, in a sense, Robinson’s does as well.
Another theoretical outlook which deserves to be examined in comparison to Robinson's is Lin Biao's. In his pamphlet “Long live the Victory of People’s War!” the Chinese politician Lin Biao wrote:
“Taking the entire globe, if North America and Western Europe can be called ‘the cities of the world’, then Asia, Africa and Latin America constitute ‘the rural areas of the world’. Since World War II, the proletarian revolutionary movement has for various reasons been temporarily held back in the North American and West European capitalist countries, while the people’s revolutionary movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America has been growing vigorously. In a sense, the contemporary world revolution also presents a picture of the encirclement of cities by the rural areas” (Lin Biao 1965).
Lin Biao, in an attempt to apply the Maoist concept of people’s war to the international struggle between the proletariat and bourgeoisie, pioneered a version of Mao’s “theory of three worlds” which perceives the world as being a global countryside surrounding a global city, paving the way for later adherents to his theory to apply class labels to entire nations, saying that the “first world” represents a global bourgeoisie and making such claims as “the first world proletariat is a myth.” At this juncture it is important to note that Robinson does not share Lin Biao or his modern-day followers’ understandings of a global countryside or global city, and indeed argues against the sort of assessments which fuel the line taken up by contemporary third-worldists. We do not seek to label Robinson as a Lin-Biaoist or a Kautskyian. Rather, what we’d like to point out is the common failing of all three of these theories. What these theories demonstrate is that there are problems when one is too quick to apply phenomenon which can be empirically understood at the national level to phenomena occurring internationally.
The chief problem with Robinson's theory of a “transnational capitalist” class is that Robinson underestimates contradictions among the bourgeoisie internationally, seeing a "bourgeois internationalism" that is not there. Uneven development among nations means that capitalists internationally frequently have different interests and not all of these interests can be met by full integration of their economic activity within the global marketplace. Any alliance, any “unity” within the capitalist camp is subject to how it benefits the profits of the individual capitalists within such an alliance. Unlike workers, who are able to reap benefits from the struggles of workers all over the world, a capitalist isn’t necessarily benefitted by the success of other capitalists. As capitalists are forced to compete for what they perceive to be a limited number of material and market resources, the bonds which have formerly bound them begin to deteriorate. Within nations, compromise among capitalists is more possible and prudent... after all, they both have access to the mechanisms of state power and both have a vested interest in keeping the local proletariat in bondage. Yet internationally, inter-imperialist competition and warfare are a viable solution when unity and compromise become too much of a burden. The capitalist often has little to gain and much to lose when the capitalists of other nations are able to seize upon material and markets he desires and potentially has much to gain from their destruction.
Following with this error, Robinson's theory of a transnational state is equally problematic, in that by concluding that, “[e]conomic globalization has its counterpart in transnational class formation and in the emergence of a TNS, which has been brought into existence to function as the collective authority for a global ruling class" (Robinson, 88), he underestimates special functions of the state which this new transnational state has no mechanism to fulfill. These special functions include the reinforcement of a common ideology, the maintenance of a military and police apparatus for the defense of private property relations and (to varying degrees between advanced industrialized capitalist countries) some assurance of social welfare. These functions are essential to the maintenance of an economic system built upon class antagonism, for any state to exist and to perpetuate itself, nationally or transnationally, these specific functions need to be effectively managed in a centralized manner. Instead, these important functions are still carried out at the level of the nation-state. The consequence is that the nation-state is itself still an invaluable asset to those capitalists who exert control over it locally. It cannot be abandoned, nor can it necessarily be compromised by the needs of integrating the nation state into a broader transnational state apparatus if the cost of such an integration infringes on the national bourgeoisie maintaining their grips on the local proletariat.
In Robinson's understanding of a transnational state, Robinson would seem to think of inter-imperialist conflict as a "thing of the past," when in actuality, the distinct possibility of a clash of powers exists as Western hegemony begins to wane. Sure, Robinson allows for competition between capitalists in his theory, yet any conception of a transnational state would require that competition be limited insofar as it becomes a threat to this state apparatus. There are no guarantees in the current world situation that inter-state rivalries would manifest themselves militarily. Every attempt to build an international body that would prevent such violence has failed and will fail so long as different nation-states have interests which lie outside of a possible collective interest.
As the world situation evolves and new material realities emerge, many are lead to try and perceive what will be capitalism’s “next greatest leap.” From the time of Marx to the time of Lenin we have seen capitalism evolve into a system of imperial capitalism. Now, with the United States emerging as victor in the Cold War and with the evolution of communications technology and international commerce, theorists are tempted to call this the dawn of a “new world order.” The reality is that the rules haven’t changed since the days of rival imperialist powers. Capitalists still thirst for profit and still face differing conditions for the exploitation of the world’s laborers. To say that the world’s exploiters are coming together as a “transnational capitalist class” and are building a “transnational state” to advance the ends of their mutual exploitation is to ignore one facet of capitalism’s character which is most vital: the capitalist is in it for himself, and to defend that self-interest the capitalist is still willing to go to war with other capitalists. When nations are forced to compete for resources, when empire is forced to challenge empire, international relations can and will be placed second to the needs of the national bourgeoisie.
This reality, this inevitability of inter-imperialist struggle, has ensured that attempts at building lasting unity among capitalists abroad are but a mere pipe-dream in the long run. The facade of unity presented after the cessation of another inter-imperialist conflict will ultimately break in favor of the next one. As the leading imperialist power falls into decline in a matter quite reminiscent to the events leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union (economic crisis, ten-year-long occupations of Afghanistan, et al.) other powers will try to assert their dominance. The hope of some sort of unity among the “transnational capitalist class” in the wake of such a shift in powers is meager.
Given the essential problems in William I. Robinson’s conceptions of an emerging “transnational capitalist class” and “transnational state,” we argue that the Leninist model is still the best model for understanding the machinations of the capitalist system internationally -- even in this moment where the words “globalization” and “transnational corporation” are on everyone’s lips. While Robinson deserves credit for attempting to assert a new theoretical model for understanding contemporary capitalism on the world stage, his theory is not a suitable replacement for the Leninist model.
Biao, Lin. Long Live the Victory of People’s War! Foreign Languages Press, 2003.
Kautsky, Karl. Ultra-Imperialism. 1914. Print.
Lenin, V.I. Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. 1916.
Robinson, William. A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class, and State in a Transnational World. John Hopkins University Press, 2004.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 581
"No private person may legitimately make a penny of profit out of this system of state and cooperative industry and trade, banking and transport. There are no individual shareholders in the state industrial enterprises; and the financial columns of the Russian newspapers are restricted to brief quotations of the rates of the state loans. All the normal means of acquiring large personal fortunes are thus pretty effectively blocked up in Russia; and if there are some Nepmen, or private traders who have become ruble millionaires through lucky dealings in commerce or speculation, they are certainly neither a numerous nor a conspicuous class."
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 131
"The new class of state managers, or "red directors" of factories, who have replaced the former capitalist owners, are mostly Communists and former workers. But by the very nature of their position they must look at industrial life from a rather different angle from that of the workers. Although they make no personal profit out of the enterprises which they manage, they are supposed to turn in a profit for the state."
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 174
"But the general view of the Social Democratic and Anarchist critics of the Soviet regime, that there is a deep rift between a few Communist officeholders at the top and the working masses at the bottom, is, in my opinion, distorted, exaggerated, and quite at variance with the actual facts of the Russian situation."
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 177
"The difference in the standard of life is only determined by the ability of the single man. The external glamour of life, enjoyed in all other countries by a few big businessmen or rich heirs, has been sacrificed to a feeling of security guaranteed by no other state to its citizens. In order to remove the fear of the vacuum endured by 90% of the citizens, the enjoyment of the other 10% must be curtailed. Then the worker will not be filled any more by hate and jealousy, nor the owner by hate and fear of revolts.
Such a state without classes must necessarily be a state without races. Privileges for any race or color are explicitly denied by the Constitution. "
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam's sons, 1942, p. 167
"On the whole the men who remain in top leadership are the ablest of the 12 million government employees. Although shouldering more responsibility they do not receive salaries anywhere near as large as those of corporation presidents in the United States. They do receive decorations and they may have cities named after them. They are all provided with automobiles, expense accounts and good houses or apartments."
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers' Press, Inc., 1946, p. 39
"Even more important than these liberties is the fact that they labor not for the private profit of employers (save for the small proportion employed in private industry), but for the profit of the whole community. State industries, like private, must show a profit to keep going, but the public use of that profit robs it of the driving force of exploitation.
The liberties enjoyed by workers in Russia, whether or not in unions (less than 10 percent are outside), go far beyond those of workers in other countries, not only in their participation in controlling working conditions and wages, but in the privileges they get as a class. The eight-hour day is universal in practice, alone of all countries in the world, with a six-hour day in dangerous occupations like mining. Reduction of the eight-hour day to seven hours is already planned for all industries. Every worker gets a two-week vacation with pay, while office workers and workers in dangerous trades, get a month. No worker can be dismissed from his job without the consent of his union. His rent, his admission to places of entertainment or education, his transportation- -all these he gets at lower prices than others. When unemployed he gets a small allowance from his union, free rent, free transportation, and free admission to places of entertainment and instruction. Education and medical aid are free to all workers--or for small fees--extensive services being especially organized for and by them.
...There is in Russia no privileged class based on wealth. Practically all rents for land or buildings are paid to the state or to cooperatives; only a little of it goes to line private pockets. Money may be loaned at simple interest, the rate being limited. Money deposited with the state earns a rate of interest even higher than in capitalist countries. But nobody is getting rich off the interest on his savings and loans, for all incomes are both limited at their source, and, when much above the average, are heavily taxed. Persons with higher incomes are also obliged to pay higher prices for some necessities- -especially rent. Inheritance of property is now theoretically unlimited, but so heavily taxed as in effect to destroy all above a moderate amount.
The new bourgeoisie, which has grown-up with the new economic policy--private traders, richer peasants...- -is too small to constitute a noteworthy exception to the general absence of a wealthy class. And they are being increasingly restricted, despite the assertions to the contrary by the Communist Opposition and others. The statistics of private versus public enterprises show it. Earnings and incomes throughout Soviet Russia vary from the minimum of bare subsistence, 15 or 20 rubles a month, to 10 or 15 times that amount. Few incomes run above that figure (300 rubles a month, $150), the highest in all Russia being those of a few concessionaires and foreign specialists on salaries ($5000-$10,000) . Even the few traders and concessionaires who have gotten rich are unable to invest money productively in Russia, except in state loans. None can be invested for exploitation. There is practically no chance for anyone to get rich under the Soviet system except a comparatively few traders, concessionaires, or the winners of some of the big state lotteries--and it is hard for any of them to stay rich under the heavy taxation."
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 29-30
"...Even to tourists in Russia the absence of any moneyed class is at once apparent.... No fine shops, no gay restaurants, no private motors--none of the trappings of wealth that lend color and variety to the life of bourgeois countries. Instead, a somewhat monotonous drabness and shabbiness, more than compensated for by the thought of its significance to the masses."
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 30
"And to anyone who accepts the view of social action as a struggle of classes, the political democracy of capitalist countries is only an instrument for the rule in the last analysis of a comparatively small class--the big property owners. ...Tested by it, the Soviet system clearly represents the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population-- the workers and peasants--as opposed to propertied classes,..."
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 35
"One should keep in mind, however, that big incomes are still extremely rare. Earning power may vary in the Soviet Union, according to artistic or technical proficiency, but the extremes, as Louis Fisher has pointed out, are very close. No such "spread" is conceivable in the USSR as exists in Britain or America between say, a clerk in a factory and its owner. Among all the 165 million Russians, there are probably not ten men who earn $25,000 per year."
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 567
"Yes, you're right, we have not yet built communist society. It is not so easy to build such a society. You are probably aware of the difference between socialist society and communist society. In socialist society certain inequalities in property still exist. But in socialist society there is no longer unemployment, no exploitation, no oppression of nationalities. In socialist society everyone is obliged to work, although he does not in return for his labor receive according to his requirements, but according to the quantity and quality of the work he has performed. That is why wages, and, moreover, unequal, differentiated wages, still exist. Only when we have succeeded in creating a system under which in return for their labor people will receive from society, not according to the quantity and quality of the labor they perform, but according to their requirements, will it be possible to say that we have built communist society."
Stalin, J. The Stalin-Howard Interview. New York: International Publishers, 1936, p. 11
"The railways, the length of whose permanent ways, in 1913, on the territory now administered by the USSR, was about 36,500 miles, had increased to about 48,200 miles. For the whole of the former territory of Russia the mean increase in the workers wages was 16.9% over pre-war figures. (Figures arrived at by taking purchasing-power into account)"
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 155
"Now the 1928 Five-Year Plan, supported by colossal figures, ended in four years by an achievement of 93 percent of its objectives. As regards heavy industry, the achievement in four years amounted to 108 percent. National production trebled between 1928 and 1934. Pre-war production was quadrupled by the end of 1933.
From 1928 to 1932 the number of workmen employed increased from 9,500,000 to 13,800,000 (an increase in important industries of 1,800,000, in agriculture of 1,100,000, and in commercial employees of 450,000) and, naturally, unemployment has become a thing of the past there. The part played by industry in total production, that is to say in relation to agricultural production, was 42 percent in 1913, 48 percent in 1928, and 70 percent in 1932. The part played by the socialist industry in total industry at the end of four years was 99.93%. The national revenue has increased during the four years by 85 percent. At the end of the Plan, it was more than 45 billion rubles. A year later 49 billion (1/2% being capitalist and foreign elements).
The amount of the workers' and employees' wages rose from 8 billion to 30 billion rubles.
The number of persons able to read and to write has risen, for the whole of the USSR, from 67 percent at the end of 1930, to 90 percent at the end of 1933.
Pause a moment and compare these figures, which testify to a progress unique in the annals of the human race, with the virtuous prophecies which figure above--Insolvency, Deadlock, Catastrophe, Breakdown--all of which were uttered at a time when the Plan was almost realized already--in spite of universal opposition."
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 194-195
"When he says that there are inequalities of wages and privileges comparable with those under Tsarism he lies. You all know it. No man has a sum of privileges in excess of any other. And wages vary, but the worst-paid worker is not much less well-off than the best paid. Remember, this is a transitional stage. We are on the way to our Communist goal. Trotsky offers instead years of fruitless waiting for political revolutions whose opportunity may well not be seizable. He offers the workers of the world an abstraction. "
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 136-148
Alliance Marxist-Leninist Volume 1, Issue 4; April-May 2003
Museum Ravaged – USA Incites Looting
Who are the Barbarians? Ask the American Council on Cultural Policy (the ACCP). The celebrated Indian writer Arundhati Roy wrote these following words to open a condemnation of USA and UK imperialism:
“Mesopotamia. Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates. How many children, in how many classrooms, over how many centuries, have hang-glided through the past, transported on the wings of these words? And now the bombs are falling, incinerating and humiliating that ancient civilization.” Arundhati Roy; "The Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire"; 4.11.03; http://inthesetimes.com/print.php?id=156_0_1_0
She could not have known how accurate she was to be. For she had stressed both the bomb damage, but also the humiliation. That humiliation came only to be too true, as the deliberate USA policy of humiliation of the peoples of Iraq, was made clear to the world. Before we write any more on this topic, we should be unequivocally clear that the abomination of this war lies primarily in the needless killing and endless suffering the Iraqis have endured in this shameless war of imperialist aggression. However – we must also state the view that destruction of national pride is a key part of imperialist designs - to reduce a peoples, to servility and to lose faith in their own powers. It is a strategy from time immemorial, and can be found in ancient texts.
But – what happened with the pillaging of the Baghdad museum? In the first place, yet another USA and UK state violation of the Geneva Convention has occurred:
“The Pentagon is culpable, says Ed Keall.. head of the Royal Ontario Museum’s Near Eastern and Asian Civilisations…. They were warned … and are in breach of the Geneva Convention, which state that invaders must protect the national heritage" Ray Conologue, "Fighting over the Spoils"; Globe and Mail, April 19, 2003, p.R1.
Long before the "War of Shame" actually occurred, the War-Mongers had been alerted already that the land of Iraq was home to some of the world’s most important heritage sites – it was after all, the land where the first recorded writing had taken place in history. Several USA based archaeologists had briefed the War-Mongers where these sites were – and that they would be subject to damage and potential looting. But nothing was done and on April 10th, the inevitable - happened:
"On Jan. 24 at the Pentagon, a small group of accomplished archeologists and art curators met with Joseph Collins, who reports directly to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and four other Pentagon officials to talk about how the U.S. military could protect Iraq's cultural and archeological sites from damage and destruction during impending the war in that country. McGuire Gibson, a professor at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, gave the officials a list of 5,000 cultural and archeological sites. First on the list: the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. Gibson recalls he talked to the group about the importance of safeguarding the museum from damage from bombs -- and from looting after the military conflict ended. "I pointed to the museum's location on a map of Baghdad and said: 'It's right here,'" he recalled in an interview. "I asked them to make assurances that they'd make efforts to prevent looting and they said they would. I thought we had assurances, but they didn't pan out." On April 10, a day after the Saddam Hussein's regime collapsed and Baghdad was in the hands of the U.S. military forces, the National Museum of Iraq was ransacked. And American troops did virtually nothing to prevent an historic cultural disaster. "
L. Witt, "The End of Civilization. The Sacking of Iraq's Museums Is Like a 'Lobotomy' of an Entire Culture, Say Art Experts. And They Warned the Pentagon Repeatedly of This Potential Catastrophe Months Before the War," in Salon.com, April 17, 2003:
On April 5th, a briefing in Kuwait of the assembled embedded "in-bed-with-the-military-fascists" journalists were told by US Major Christopher Varhola that: "The USA military would protect Iraq’s museums from looting, in particular the National Museum of Baghdad". Ray Conologue, Ibid; p.11.
And what has happened? A whole priceless museum of culture has been pillaged. The scene must be almost indescribable, yet Robert Fisk does a fine job:
"They lie across the floor in tens of thousands of pieces, the priceless antiquities of Iraq's history. The looters had gone from shelf to shelf, systematically pulling down the statues and pots and amphorae of the Assyrians and the Babylonians, the Sumerians, the Medes, the Persians and the Greeks and hurling them on to the concrete. Our feet crunched on the wreckage of 5,000-year-old marble plinths and stone statuary and pots that had endured every siege of Baghdad, every invasion of Iraq throughout history - only to be destroyed when America came to "liberate" the city…….. No one knows what happened to the Assyrian reliefs from the royal palace of Khorsabad, nor the 5,000-year-old seals nor the 4,500-year-old gold leaf earrings once buried with Sumerian princesses."
Fisk, Robert: "A civilisation torn to pieces", The Independent, 13 April 2003; http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=396743
Fisk also recalls the people associated to the museum, like the Director of State Board of Antiquity:
"Only a few weeks ago, Jabir Khalil Ibrahim, the director of Iraq's State Board of Antiquities, referred to the museum's contents as "the heritage of the nation". They were, he said, "not just things to see and enjoy - we get strength from them to look to the future. They represent the glory of Iraq". Mr. Ibrahim has vanished, like so many government employees in Baghdad, and Mr. Abdul-Jaber and his colleagues are now trying to defend what is left of the country's history with a collection of Kalashnikov rifles. "We don't want to have guns, but everyone must have them now," he told me. "We have to defend ourselves because the Americans have let this happen. They made a war against one man - so why do they abandon us to this war and these criminals?"
Fisk, Robert: "A civilisation torn to pieces", Ibid.
Although Fisk is not a communist, he is a rare commodity – an honest journalist working for the "Western press" in the Middle East. It is therefore sad to see his incorrect assertion that: "The Iraqis did it. They did it to their own history, physically destroying the evidence of their own nation's thousands of years of civilization." Fisk, Ibid.
Fisk is quite wrong in this assessment. We can be so categorical because it is clearly emerging that the USA ruling classes had decided to wreak havoc on the culture of the country – no doubt hoping to destroy its potential to build an anti-imperialist movement. Destroy the pride of a people and you have destroyed its will to live – as a nation. But, more than one imperialist power has found to its cost that this does not happen.
Could it have been Prevented?
The tone and content of many of the Western media reports, has been that the looting taking place in Iraq is a spontaneous reaction to the poverty and deprivation of the Saddam Hussein years. However this benign view, is in sharp contradiction to both objective reports, and to some obvious facts.
For instance, the enormous military presence and fire-power of the USA and the UK in the cities was simply not deployed as a guard and protection for key sites – hospitals, water and electric utilities, markets, etc. Leave aside the museum, where it is also clear that the USA army refused to intervene to protect the cultural heritage of museums and repositories of ancient manuscripts in the libraries. It seems obvious that if they could protect the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Oil, that it was purely for their own strategic reasons that they have allowed the looting to proceed unabated. As Irwin Finkel, curator at the British Museum says:
"Anybody with any intelligence would have posted guards. It’s too obvious for words".
Globe & Mail; 19 April, 2003; p. R1.
All this puts the Rumsfeld comments that the looting has "been exaggerated", and "freedom is messy" – into a perspective of deliberate and wanton destruction of the Iraqi dignity, human rights, and cultural heritage. We will try to answer the critical question: "Why?" shortly.
The following eye-witness account, tells a very different story from the slavish American media. It comes from a Swedish paper, which reports the comments of Mr.Khaled Baroumi, a student in Sweden who went home to Iraq on a humanitarian mission:
"Khaled Bayomi looks a bit surprised when he looks at the American officer on TV regret that they don't have any resources to stop the looting in Baghdad. "I happened to be there just as the US forces told people to commence looting. … I had visited a few friends that live in a worn-down area just beyond the Haifa Avenue, on the west bank of the Tigris River. It was April 8 and the fighting was so heavy I couldn't make it over to the other side of the river. On the afternoon it became perfectly quit, and four American tanks pulled up in position on the outskirts of the slum area. From these tanks we heard anxious calls in Arabic, which told the population to come closer. During the morning everybody that tried to cross the streets had been fired upon. But during this strange silence people eventually became curious. After three-quarters of an hour the first Baghdad citizens dared to come forward. At that moment the US solders shot two Sudanese guards, who were posted in front of a local administrative building, on the other side of the Haifa Avenue. I was just 300 meters away when the guards where murdered. Then they shot the building entrance to pieces, and their Arabic translators in the tanks told people to run for grabs inside the building. Rumours spread rapidly and the house was cleaned out. Moments later tanks broke down the doors to the Justice Department, residing in the neighbouring building, and the looting was carried on to there. I was standing in a big crowd of civilians that saw all this together with me. They did not take any part in the looting, but were to afraid to take any action against it. Many of them had tears of shame in their eyes. The next morning looting spread to the Museum of Modern Art, which lies another 500 meters to the north. There was also two crowds in place, one that was looting and another one that disgracefully saw it happen."
Question: ‘Do you mean to say that it was the US troops that initiated the looting?’
Answer: "Absolutely. The lack of scenes of joy had the US forces in need of images on Iraqi's who in different ways demonstrated their disgust with Saddam's regime."
Question: "But people in Baghdad tore down a big statue of Saddam?"
Answer: "They did? It was a US tank that did this, close to the hotel where all the journalists live. Until noon on the 9th of April, I didn't see a single torn picture of Saddam anywhere. If people had wanted to turn over statues they could have gone for some of the many smaller ones, without the help of an American tank. Had this been a political uproar then people would have turned over statues first and looted afterwards."
"US FORCES ENCOURAGE LOOTING", By Ole Rothenborg Sweden's largest circulation daily, Dagens Nyheter, Friday, April 11, 2003 http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=1435&a=129852&previousRenderType=1
What Materially was Lost?
There were 170,000 separate objects, These ranged form skeletal remains of Neanderthal man (45,000 years ago); to alabaster figures from Tell Es-Sawwan (6th Millenium); painted pottery from Eridu (4000 BC); impressive early Islamic manuscripts and handcarts form the Abbasid, Seljuk, Ottoman eras; more than 3,000 tablets of inscribed clay on mathematics, literature, administration and legal tables; a Sumerian bison headed harp in gold and precious stones, the so-called Mona Lisa of Nimrud (750 BC); gigantic statues of ancient times, etc.
The illustrations we show, are detailed in a very comprehensive (although in black & white) web-site, that we recommend at: Of TheArtNewspaper.com – which can be found at: http://www.theartnewspaper.com/iraqmus/index.html
TheArtNewspaper says this:
"All the illustrations are from the only detailed catalogue of the museum, Treasures of the Iraq Museum by Dr Faraj Basmachi, published in Baghdad in 1975/6. Nevertheless, the images in the Treasures of the Iraq Museum represent many of the most important objects from the collection, which numbers some 170,000 pieces."
Why Did The USA and the UK "close its eyes?”
The primary reason is undoubtedly imperialist arrogance, with its goal to degrade the pride of the Iraqi peoples. But a close second reason, is that old answer to so many questions concerning the historical "Whys" concerning imperialism? Avarice.
The American Council on Cultural Policy (the ACCP) has openly stated it wants the right to obtain these Iraqi treasures by import legally:
"It would satisfy the hunger for this material" ACCP President Ashton Hawkins, former general counsel for the Metropolitan Museum in New York. (p.R11 Globe and Mail 13 April); and another member of the ACCP - Professor John Merryman of Stanford says: "The best solution was to prevent the museum being plundered.. But now that’s happened, and it was predictable, there is a possibility of picking up the pieces".
(Ray Conologue Ibid).
The New York Metropolitan has long been vexed at the British Museum’s collection of Iraqi treasures pillaged by the British archeologists such as Leonard Wooley. Ironically, an older vintage British adventurer-imperialist – Gertrude Bell was kinder to Iraqi and Arab views. She is credited with founding the National Museum, and passing an export ban on treasures. It is a ban that apparently, the New York Met has chafed about.
Eleanor Robson, a cuneiform expert at Oxford University Museum also refers to the "hidden agenda" of the ACCP:
"If you are interested in Biblical history, you will find that most of the written Biblical record comes not form Israel, but form Iraq. So people are really interested in this material. Sadly, they don’t see it as belonging to the Iraqi nation".
Ray Conologue, Ibid.
She points out that the ACCP has many members who belong to the right-wing fundamentalist Christian agenda, saying:
"they think the objects belong to them because they’re connected with the Biblical past. Such attitudes, "are not mainstream in Europe, but in America they influence the government".
Ray Conologue, Ibid.
It seems inescapable that the imperialists have justified their historic designation as Robber Barons. Most probably some items were "commissioned" by rich art connoisseurs. It is significant for example, that certain key items were looted. Duplicates were simply ignored, and the "looters-professional thieves" opened museum vaults with keys, and used glass cutters with great skill.
Undoubtedly, in the short term UNESCO will not succeed in its stated goals, of preventing these treasures from being spirited to the West. In the long term, this will not crush the Iraqi [peoples quest for national liberation. The working classes of a future Marxist-Leninist governments in the West, will have to confront the legacies of cultural pillaging.
Iraqi War – Virtually Inevitable
In its continuing aggression against the peoples of Iraq, the USA is only following the imperialist dictum "Eat or be eaten". That war is a virtual inevitability – is not just the opinion of those whose information is limited to the bourgeois press, but is also the opinion of policy-makers. Richard Perle, Chairman of the Defence Advisory Board said to the NYT that war was inevitable – if only to ‘save face’ of the President:
"The failure to take on Saddam after what the President said would produce such a collapse of confidence in the president that he would set back the war on terrorism";
Cited Rivers Pitt W: "War on Iraq – What Team Bush Doesn’t Want you To Know"; Context books, New York 2002; p.8 (www.ww_on_iraq.com).
If this analysis was true in August 2002, it is even more so now in January 2003 since:
1) Donald Rumsfeld is now revealed as a key arms merchant of the USA who bestowed despicable weaponry on Saddam in the beginning;
2) The USA has impounded and potentially sanitised the list of weapons that was sent by the Iraqi Government to the UN in response to demands;
3) The US & the UN have intimidated Hans Blix of the U.N. Arms Inspectorate, into "appealing" for the "aid" of the USA and British governments to obtain information to help "assist’" in the detection of "Weapons of Mass Destruction".
It looks increasingly inevitable that the question is not "Whether"? But "When"? It is necessary to ask why is war virtually inevitable? We suggest that for those who retain some degree of skepticism about the USA and UN "honour", the following is convincing. The short answer to the question is two-fold: The declining power of the USA economy; and the strategic importance of the geographical arena of the Middle East. The link between these two factors is of course, oil.
1) Declining Power of the USA Economy.
Over the last 2 years several chickens have come home to roost in the American economy. Firstly, the collapse of the markets - the greatest "bubble" ever - has led to three successive falls in as many years in the international exchanges such as the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) or the Dow Jones etc.
"Cumulative losses of the FTSE World Index since the start of the 2002 after the bursting of the technology media and telecoms bubble, total 43%";
(31.12.2002 Financial Times, London UK, p.1).
This was the worst 3-year period since the Great Depression years – when in 1929-31 world markets fell 58.5%. These figures that have so depressed the capitalist profits are world wide. This had long been predicted. At the end of 1996, Federal reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan had already:
"Famously questioned whether ‘irrational exuberance’ was inflating share values";
Wall St Journal 31.12.2002-1.1.2003; p.M1) .
In addition the value of the US dollar has begun to slide dramatically. We pointed out in 1993, that the US $ was ‘set high’ by US imperialists in order to ‘recruit’ the world’s money reserves (See Alliance 3). However, with the systemic problems of the US economy, the dollar has been falling since the mid-90’s, with a corresponding "investor flight" from the US dollar.
The conclusion is inescapable: The USA economy is in deep trouble.
Even in its "own backyard" of South America, the USA has faced recent challenges to its hegemony has been a minor set-back. As the bourgeois nationalists - in Ecuador (Lucio Gutierrez), Venezuela (Hugo Chavez), Brazil (Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva), lead challenges to the USA, they have not only are rattled the OPEC sword, but also have obstructed a Free Trade Agreement for the "Americas". For example Lula's "price" is dropping of trade barriers against citrus fruits and juices (WSJ "Latin Issues Put Bush on Tightrope"; By Michael M. Phillips; p. A3; WSJ 31.12.2002-1.1.2003). However the American Sugar Alliance and the Florida Citrus Mutual (representing some 11,5000 citrus growers in Florida alone) are hardly likely to easily allow this. So in South America, the USA has some current difficulties.
Even more so, must the USA now urgently suppress other areas of drift away from its hegemony. The Middle East is the Gateway to another large market and raw resources region. It has already been the focus for European interests in the past. The USA cannot afford it slip from under its thumb as well.
3) The Oil Link
If the USA cannot in effect control the money markets as well as they did (see the falling $); nor can they effectively control world industrial production (witness the need to erect Steel Tariff barriers in 2002); - then as much as it can, it will try to control a key raw material – Oil.
Oil is still the major lubricant that keeps industrial wheels spinning. In the last decade the USA has launched 4 major wars to ensure its’ domination over this raw material: 1991 Desert Storm, 1993 Desert Storm pt 2; 1998 Kosova; 2002 Afghanistan. Naturally all these wars had camouflaged motives, the most recent being the "War Against Terror". In various articles we have shown the underlying links to oil. The two parts of Desert Storm are self-evident. The links of the Kosovan war and the Afghanistan war are via the new oil pipelines from Central Asia across to the Balkans.
Why have we used the term "virtually inevitable" – rather than "inevitable"? Because there are two major unknowns. Firstly there is the inter-imperialist rivalry between Europe and the USA. Of the three largest power-brokers in the EU – apart from the toadyism of Blair’s government in Britain, the governments of both France and Germany are quite unwilling to allow the USA total sway. To what extent they will be able to stop the drive to total Middle Eastern domination of the USA – remains unclear.
The second factor of importance is the ability of the progressives and the representatives of the working class and toilers of the world to counter the barrage of imperialist propaganda sprayed over the world. To this end a United Front of all progressives MUST be formed. There are indications that this is happening. When in 2002 we put out a general alert asking for a Marxist-Leninist United Front – it led to little response. But the class and peoples are in reality ahead of the small sects and groupings. This is evidenced by such movements as in autumn Florence 2002. But – it remains the case that without a determined Marxist-Leninist vanguard, these movements will inevitably lead – at best – short term solutions only. In the interim, we believe Marxist-Leninists should participate actively in the current anti-imperialist movements.
STOP WAR AGAINST IRAQI PEOPLE! DOWN WITH USA IMPERIALISM!
Sanctions are killing Iraqi children!
By Tom Wakely
As London gears up for what is likely to be one of the largest demonstrations the capital has ever seen with more than half a million people voicing their opposition to war on Iraq this weekend (15th February), opinion polls now show that the majority of those questioned believe the USA is the major threat to world peace. There remains widespread scepticism about government claims that Iraq represents an imminent threat to Britain, that Iraq and al Qaeda are hand in glove, or that there is concrete proof of hidden weapons of mass destruction. On top of that comes the crisis in NATO with the French and German imperialists refusing to fall in behind American policy.
What better time to suggest a “September 11th” type attack is about to hit London and put 1500 troops and anti-terrorist police on display at Heathrow airport?
Meanwhile, the suffering of innocent civilians as a result of Western sanctions within Iraq goes on as usual, and as always it is the most vulnerable who pay the heaviest price. Sanctions were imposed on Iraq in 1990, since which time infant mortality has gone up fivefold. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation concluded that by 1995 deaths of more than 560 000 children could be attributed to sanctions. Increasing mortality rates relate directly to economic collapse, plummeting wages, soaring food prices, poor sanitation, lack of safe water, and inadequate provision of health care.
The rate of low birth weight babies (infants born malnourished) has increased from 9% in the 1980’s to 21% in 1994. A survey in 1995 of children in Baghdad found almost a third were stunted, that is to say much shorter than would expected meaning prolonged malnutrition. Nutritional disorders among children including night blindness from vitamin A deficiency, rickets and thyroid disease have all increased as has diarrheal disease, with a 60% increase in typhoid and 500% increase in cholera cases.
Since the Gulf war a threefold increase in childhood leukemia (cancer of the bone marrow) has been seen in southern provinces. The World Health Organisation has linked this to products (now incorporated into the food chain) that were derived from depleted uranium used in armour piercing shells. UN sanctions also prevented the import of cancer treatment drugs, and more than half of all diagnostic and therapeutic hospital equipment has ceased to work because of lack of spare parts. Iraqi doctors wishing to go abroad to learn from scientific research meetings face travel restrictions such as denial of visas to European countries or the USA, and the delivery of the main medical journals containing up to date medical information ceased in 1990.
When the leaders of the imperialist nations claim to have the welfare of ordinary Iraqis to heart, we can see that their actions belie their words. War is fought for economic reasons however much propagandists exert themselves to dress the wolf in sheepskin.