CAPITALISM VERSUS LIFE ON EARTH.

In 2020, the outbreak of the COVID19 Pandemic, forcibly demonstrated that the capitalist mode of production had not only created a world market in theory, but in practice had made its production, sales-distribution and pollution an integrated and interdependent whole. The whole globalised human life-support system in the 21st century, depended upon the ‘just-in-time’ arrival of components and raw materials in each nation or the system of production was in danger of grinding to a halt. Any delay or break-down in this interdependent supply chain and many people would not be able to eat, clothe themselves adequately, cook any food they managed to obtain, heat or cool their homes, acquire needed medicine’s and much else. For decades, capitalism had long outgrown the limitations of the nation state and had become fully global.

Prior to this 21st century demonstration of the fragile dependency of countries on long and expensive supply chains, it had at last been admitted, that the global climate, ecology, and resources were suffering exponentially, with lethal consequences from the same globalised industrial production and distribution. Moreover, problems; food shortages, financial melt downs, ecological destruction climatic changes and epidemics could no longer be combated locally or nationally. These facts indicate that the limits of capitalist production and distribution methods motivated by profits have been reached. Further expansion is neither physically possible or socially desirable. Any disruption or breakdown in its integrated system of production, distribution and consumption causes life threatening crises everywhere, not just in and around the location of the disruption.

Yet trying to keep this integrated system working, as most capitalists would like, invites further, pollution, ecological damage and climate change. The capitalist mode of production has plunged humanity into a socio-economic Catch 22. The contradiction between national based ruling elites trying to benefit most from controlling large sections of a global system of production, distribution and consumption, has long led to conflict between national elites resulting in two 20th century world wars. Yet this struggle is again manifesting itself everywhere in 2020. Elites, in China, Russia, US, Europe and UK, are currently seeking ways to gain economic, financial, military and political advantage over each other. Some by invasions others by one-sided economic of financial deals.

This problem of economic competition and the struggle of nations conducted by their elites, was partly understood by politicians of previous generations, some of whom came up with the idea of having planned economies on an international or global scale. It was felt that individual or oligarchical capitalists and capitalist countries should no longer be allowed to decide things for themselves and thus create international crises and essential supply breakdowns. The global capitalist system, they thought, needed discipline and planning.

The 20th century radical politicians who suggested solutions to the previous century of anarchy of  global competition fell into two authoritarian categories; Fascists and Communists. Both these political tendencies wanted a planned, integrated world economic and political system with themselves at the head of it. Hitler and Stalin tried for a time to achieve such a dream/nightmare before they were stopped after much killing and destruction. Yet their world government megalomania was not an isolated case. As we shall see, some notable characters of that 20th century generation even thought such a world system was an essential part of humanities historic ascent (!). For example, a Russian revolutionary intellectual, Leon Trotsky wrote;

Mankind is impelled in its historic ascent by the urge to attain the greatest possible quantity of goods with the least expenditure of labor. This material foundation of cultural growth provides also the most profound criterion by which we may appraise social régimes and political programs. The law of the productivity of labor is of the same significance in the sphere of human society as the law of gravitation in the sphere of mechanics.” (Essay on ‘Nationalism and Economic Life’. Leon Trotsky)

The first sentence reveals Trotsky as not only having abstract idealist formulations in his head at the time but essentially having the same view on production as modern neo-liberal capitalist economic experts – albeit minus the profit motive! According to Trotsky, the historic ascent of humanity involved creating “the greatest possible quantity of goods” for the least costs in labour – on a global scale. He even suggests that the bourgeois socially created phenomenon of productivity of labour is as significant to the sphere of social life as the natural phenomenon of gravity is to the sphere of mechanics.

Clearly Trotsky mistakenly thought that the real natural world, could be constructed so as to conform to the imaginary world constructed in his brain. Yet Trotsky obviously understood that this imaginary global economic scenario was also implicit in the general ambition of die-hard Fascists. He also endorsed the struggle that every ‘normal’ capitalist is engaged in; “...the struggle for the greatest productivity of labor.” Moreover, Trotsky also looked forward the;

“…progressive task of how to adapt the arena of economic and social relations to the new technology.” (ibid)

Yet, adapting “the arena of economic and social relations to the new technology” in the 20th century was done by all capitalist countries and by the authoritarians Lenin, Stalin and the later Bolsheviks in Soviet Industry, agriculture and warfare. Gulags, the unintended draining of the Aral Sea and the intentional killing millions of peasants and dissidents (including Trotsky) were the results of adapting economics to technology, during its Soviet implementation. Automation and artificial intelligence has now been adapted to the modern arena of economic and social relations and this adaptation is also killing people, animals and also damaging the planets air, seas and eco-systems.

Both the Fascist and Bolshevik ‘whole world in our hands’ ideas for the future of mass societies were based upon hierarchical control of economic and social production by ruthless sectarian political tendencies. The object of global control being to solve the anarchy spread by liberal versions of international capitalism. Such authoritarian control would be exercised regionally at first and then used militarily to conquer the world. Only then – after all the death and destruction done to accomplish it – the final task would be to feed the world according to the plans of an expert led, world economic forum. And, as Trotsky with his own whole world framework in mind, asserted;

“Only in the historic framework of world development can we assign fascism its proper place.” (ibid)

Really! The only way to assign a right-wing authoritarian form of world governance to its proper place, is to create a left-wing, authoritarian form of world governance? It is not hard to recognise that this notion of an historic ascent and world economic development based upon the greatest quantity of products – no matter who concocted it – was a bourgeois male fantasy to be imposed upon nature (ie. all life on earth) – if given the chance. It was the product of 20th century elite imagination freed of any regard for the holistic needs of human producers, and consumers.

It was also the product of an imagination lacking an evaluation of the already disastrous effects of industrial production upon other life forms, ecological resources, climatic change and air, sea and land pollution. Yes of course, humanity needs a revolutionary solution to the contradiction between production for mass societies, the current (and any future) disparities in wealth and the potential exhaustion of the resources used to achieve this production. But really! Simply by the greatest possible quantity of goods with the least expenditure of labor – under a different name?

In the future, complete self-sufficiency may not be achievable or even desirable for countries and people’s, but expensively transporting practically everything across oceans and skies and polluting everything as it moves is unsustainable. Indeed, more and more production of unnecessary self-indulgent stuff whether produced by clean (!) electrical or atomic (!!) energy is the opposite of what is needed for the future. A human species that wishes to be sustainable needs to get back to basics; ie. adequate individual, Nourishment, Rest, Growth and Reproduction, (N.R.G.R.) for all human beings (with the emphasis on adequate not ostentatious) and achieved at production levels which sustain the ecological and climatic conditions needed for the rest of ‘life on earth’ which supports us to adequately survive.

Roy Ratcliffe (June 2022)

Posted in Critique | 2 Comments

A GRAY DAY – BUT NOT FOR ALL!

CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 42.

The much delayed full report on Party Gate and Pandemic Restrictions by Sue Gray has finally been published and predictably it does not reveal much more than most people already knew or had already guessed. Yet, this mis-named full report is not actually a full report as the civil servant Sue Gray admits. For, she writes;

“….once the police investigation had commenced. The Metropolitan Police investigation had primacy. I have taken the view that it would not be necessary, appropriate or proportionate to undertake any further investigation work…” (Point 16 of the section ‘nature of investigations’ page 5. PDF version )

So Sue Grays investigation into Partygate antics throughout the pandemic was self terminated and what we have now has been admitted to be a less than full report. However, it is still worth making some comparisons between what has been revealed about how the ‘establishment’ conducted itself during the pandemic and how the bulk of British citizens responded to the restrictions placed by the government upon everyone in the UK. Sue Gray, a career civil servant was anxious to support the general contention that the government and senior politicians were doing their very best in unprecedented and difficult circumstances. She writes that;

In particular, No 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office were at the centre of the Government’s response to the pandemic. Tight knit groups of officials and advisers worked long hours under difficult conditions…” (section 27 ‘Context’. Page 7. PDF version.)

This statement on ‘context’ fails to address the fact that a government policy document existed on how to systematically handle a pandemic. A pandemic of the resulting Covid19 magnitude had been anticipated since the previous SARS outbreak years earlier. This emergency policy document had considered and anticipated the responses needed if a pandemic should arrive. This comprehensive document was ignored, while this “tight knit group of officials and advisers” made regulations and recommendations up as they drank and partied their way through the months of restrictions and lock downs. Meanwhile the front line essential workers, ill advised and under-protected also ‘worked long hours under difficult conditions’, but sensibly and responsibly did not get drunk in “tight knit groups” at their place of work. Indeed, in the very next paragraph the author of the report feels the need to state the obvious.

“Those challenges, however, also applied to key and front line workers across the country who were working under equally, if not more, demanding conditions, often at risk to their own health. It is important to remember the stringency of the public health regulations in force in England over the relevant periods and that criminal sanctions were applied to many found to be in breach of them.” (ibid point 28 page PDF version)

Yes indeed; front line workers in hospitals, care homes, schools, super markets, and those staffing sewage works, transport services and much else, were working in much more demanding and dangerous conditions. Furthermore, front line workers were being paid a fraction of the salaries that those living it up in Downing Street and elsewhere. Nor were essential workers looking forward to “lots of fun” (as was expressed in a number 10, 14 May 2020, Internal Events Team memo. Reproduced on page 10). And regular drinking and bringing your own booze, whilst at the workplace performing essential work, was not on their agenda. Moreover, these essential workers were agonisingly staying away from celebrating (or even consoling) loved ones at birthdays, weddings and deaths. For;

Gatherings of two or more persons indoors and more than six outdoors were prohibited. An exception permitted gatherings that are reasonably necessary for work purposes“…(page 13. PDF version.)

The ‘Leaving’ Events.

What follows are just six Partygate extracts from the Sue Gray report, there are of course 24 in all, but these few give the flavour of the rest.  

“The event itself began shortly before 18.00 on 20 May 2020. It has been difficult to ascertain exact numbers in attendance, but it is likely that there were approximately 30-40 people in the garden.” (page 12. PDF version.) 

“On 18 June 2020 over 25 people gathered for the first formal part of the leaving event with speeches which took place in the Cabinet Room, including No 10 official (1), Dominic Cummings and Simon Case, the Permanent Secretary for Covid and the Pandemic Response in No 10.”(page 15.PDF version.) 

On 27 November 2020; “There were approximately 15 to 20 people in attendance, some of whom were drinking alcohol. As well as some people from the Press Office, a number of senior officials, private office staff and special advisers attended the event.” (page 19. PDF version.) 

“Approximately 20-30 staff gathered in the canteen at around 17.00 on 10 December 2020. Staff had been invited to bring their own refreshments, including a suggestion in the invitation that those joining should bring their own bottle.” (page 21 PDF version.) 

“On 17 December 2020 a leaving event for two No 10 Officials (³No 10 Officials (1) and (2)´) took place in No 10 in the Pillared Room. There were speeches, including from the Prime Minister and senior officials, and alcohol. Approximately 20 people attended. “ (page 26. PDF version.)

 “On 17 December 2020 a leaving event took place for Kate Josephs, a Director General in the Covid Task force, and an official from No 10. The event took place in the Cabinet Office in 70 Whitehall and was attended by 20 to 30 officials, including senior officials, from No 10 and the Cabinet Office.” (page 27. PDF version.)

It is interesting and informative to note that at this senior governmental level, ‘leaving’ events for employees, at the height of the pandemic, allowed unrestricted numbers of colleagues to say goodbye to people – still alive – as they departed from their jobs. In other words for them leaving celebrations went on as pre-Covid ‘normal’. These leaving events were complete with lashings of booze, bonhomie and more. Whilst at the ordinary citizen level, family members whose ‘leaving’ or in many cases final ‘departure’ was from life itself, were restricted to how many could visit them (often none) and in what manner (some through a window) their last goodbyes could be allowed.

An All Night Party.

A further ‘leaving’ event took place on 16 April 2021 and then turned into an all-night party.

Shortly before 21.30, there were over 20 people present in the garden, with a number of bottles of alcohol……Some individuals remained in the building and carried on drinking alcohol until the early hours. Exit logs indicate that some left after midnight and others between 01.45-02.45. Two members of staff stayed later still, with one leaving at 03.11 and the last leaving at 0.430.” ( Page 35 PDF version)

[200 party invites; getting drunk; sick on the floor; wine on the wall, being rude; a damaged swing: Oh yes! I remember such ‘freshers’ nights at university! I didn’t realise you could run the country at the same time though. RR]

Sue Gray’s Conclusions.

Among her eight conclusions I highlight just three.

 “2……that a large number of individuals (83) who attended these events breached Covid regulations and therefore Covid guidance.” (page 36. PDF version.) “5. I found that some staff had witnessed or been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly. I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff.” (Page 36. PDF version.)

“5. I found that some staff had witnessed or been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly. I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff.” (Page 36. PDF version.) 

“8. Many will be dismayed that behaviour of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of Government. The public have a right to expect the very highest standards of behaviour in such places and clearly what happened fell well short of this. It is my firm belief, however, that these events did not reflect the prevailing culture in Government and the Civil Service at the time. Many thousands of people up and down the country worked tirelessly to deliver in unprecedented times. I remain immensely proud to be a civil servant and of the work of the service and the wider public sector during the pandemic.” (Page 37. PDF version.)”

Finally.

It is clear to anyone capable of and willing to join all the dots, that the picture of governance traced during the entire pandemic period has been one of political and bureaucratic self – serving indulgence. These elite characteristics have been combined with personal and institutional incompetence and matched with an inability to be honest and accountable for ones actions. Failures with PPE, failures with test and tracing, emergency cash doled out to business buddies, vaccine hoarding with false claims of its effectiveness, disrespect for ordinary working people, double standards with regard to Covid regulations, and when caught out – a denial of any transgressions.

The capitalist system is disintegrating and the ‘establishment’, (in politics, judiciary, police, civil service and military) have closed ranks and are in damage limitation mode – only admit what you have to and keep close to the money and perks. Occasionally saying sorry, pretending to be ‘humble’ whilst arrogantly staying in office – when exposed as the problem which is preventing community solutions – is the thick skinned reflex of the modern political and bureaucratic classes the world over. However, in or out of office, a political class, over reliant on alcohol, which is downed at every opportunity, seems to be a UK phenomenon.

But no one really needs to fake surprise at this litany of elite failure and arrogant privilege. It is merely par for the course. What the UK elite have exhibited this pandemic (and over decades) is no different in essence than what every elite has done in the global, mass society communities of the 20th and 21st centuries. It was the case pre-Covid, during Covid and will continue post – Covid. Indeed, this pattern of behavior has always been the case – in all hierarchical mass societies – both ancient and modern. Ever since these top-down mass societies began, there has been one rule for the rich (which includes the governing elite) and another for the poor and the working classes.
As long as we – the classes essential to the functioning of the modern world – put up with this system and continue blaming each other for our problems, this pattern will continue.

Roy Ratcliffe (May 2022)

For a copy of the full Sue Gray report see;
http://www.lbc.co.uk/politics/read-in-full-sue-gray-final-partygate-report/





Posted in Critique | Leave a comment

PUTIN TEACHES HISTORY.

The savage war ordered by Putin against the people of Ukraine has demonstrated that atrocities as barbaric as those perpetrated by all sides in the first and second World Wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45, are being repeated in 2022. Despite now a having a designated category of ‘crimes against humanity’, the 21st century world is as powerless as the ancient BCE populations to stop deranged individuals seizing control of political and military power and letting loose the dogs of war. This modern ability of elites to force a section of the populations under their control to seek, kill and destroy the citizens of another community, is a continuance of the actions of city states and empires dating back to the ancient middle and far east.

Since, the splitting of human communities into classes, several thousand years ago, the class that dominates and rules, has retained sufficient punitive power to ensure that all other classes obey them in all matters. This includes ensuring the obedience of decisions to forcibly conquer and control territory not under their immediate control. However, it is so much against nature in general and human nature in particular, for living beings to engage in mass murder of other living beings that even powerful elites are required to invent reasons to do so. However, unlike, Darius, Xerxes, Alexander, Solon, Nero, Hannibal etc., (his ancient counterparts), President Putin, was able to publish his reasons for territory grabbing in Ukraine on the Internet. And unlike the subservient slaves and peasants of those ancient empires we modern working class plebeians can actually read and understand them.

In his 18 page view of Ukraine and his justification for wanting control of it the President of Russia enlists his understanding of history and asserts that;

“Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole…Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus,….At the same time, both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory, as their homeland.” (page 2)

First of all it is ridiculous to claim that even Russians are one people, let alone Russians and Ukrainians. It is common knowledge that the whole area from the near east to the far east has, over thousands of years, been settled by people from India, Asia, Persia, Assyria Arabia, Mongolia etc. Migrations on that continent went to and fro during the early formation of the regions city states and empires. Furthermore, Ukrainians are not descendants of Ancient Rus either. Ancient Rus is a descriptive historical term not a biological lineage and so Rus does not have descendants. Indeed, there is no community comprising of a one people, or a single whole peoples – anywhere on the planet – let alone on the Asian hot-house plateaux of competing and inter – breeding ‘civilisations’. The one people concept he uses is simply a by product of the 20th century degenerate invention of racial categories.

However, Mr Putin obviously views people as belonging to a ruling dynasty which has previously conquered, exploited and oppressed the native people’s land. For he notes that; “..both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory, as their homeland.”. There is no evidence that the common people (the Kholopi or Smerdi) of ancient Rus perceived their existence in that way. The practice of powerful people privatising nature by conquest and then making the common people pay to use it and live on it, has been resented by local people since the practice began several thousand years ago. For example, during the 12th century the common people had to pay tribute to the representatives of the Tartar-Mongol invaders which was collected by Baskaks, the local Russian parasitic vassals. Peasants and serfs clearly did not consider Rus as a territory held in common or held for the common good.

Indeed, Russian history of that period (and later) is replete with “huge, widespread and fearsome revolts”. In the 17th century, 200,000 Cossacks, peasants and natives rebelled and “killed landowners and members of the prosperous middle class.” (Braudel, A History of Civilisations’. Penguin page 544.) there were literally thousands of peasant revolts over the following centuries. In a land where serfs were traded like cattle to the highest bidder at auctions, resentment against the elite was frequently boiling over. It was so bad that Czars of Russia were repeatedly assassinated and nobles killed by a severely discontented population. An attempted revolution in 1905 was followed by the Stolypin reaction and things got even worse. The novels of Tolstoy, Gogol, Chekhov, Pushkin and Dostoyevski merely scrape the surface of the brutalising experience of the ordinary people of Russia – but even these insights are ignored by the current President of Russia.

What President Putin is providing in this 2022 article is a view of history purely from the perspective of a ruling elite. Moreover, as is par for the course, it is an elite who only see what they want to see, hear only what they want to hear and read only what they want to read. His task and his supporters is to construct an historical narrative that ignores historical reality and serves to justify 21st century territorial land grabbing in Ukraine and the consequent atrocities.

His article continues with selecting a few items from the historical record of the 15th and 17th and 19th centuries, but nothing is selected which clashes with his view as an elite ruler who wishes to claim back people and territory which previous elites had lost – having stolen them from others in the first place. The fact that a Russian Czar, Peter the Great, tried to conquer Sweden and failed but managed to invade and conquer as far as Azov is conveniently ignored. Mr Putin then goes on to blame the Bolsheviks for allowing a degree of independence to soviet territories and for thus “robbing Russia” of historic territory. Clearly his words and actions indicate that territory and resources were (and are) high on his agenda and this is further revealed in a section on western interference. He writes;

“Along with that we are witnessing not just complete dependence but direct external control….This is also a disguise for the takeover of the rest of the Ukrainian economy and the exploitation of its natural resources. The sale of agricultural land is not far off, and it is obvious who will buy it up.” (page 15/16)

The author understands capitalism enough to realise that finance capital resources in North America, Europe and Britain are eager to snap up cheap sources of Ukraine’s fertile farm land and profitable industry and to obtain a crucial degree of “external control”, but he would prefer it was snapped up by Russian based capitalists for them to control. Incidentally this particular extract flags up a fundamental part of the economic basis of the decades of political and military stand off between capitalist Russia and the capitalist West. The question for both power blocs is how best to obtain control of these Ukrainian resources. Putin in his article also tries a bit of flattery. He wrote;

“We know how hard working and talented the people of Ukraine are. They can achieve success and outstanding results with perseverance and determination.” (Page 11.)

Now almost the entire world knows how accurate these two sentences are. By exhibiting determination and perseverance the talented people of Ukraine have achieved outstanding results and success in resisting the armed might of the Russian Federation. Not exactly the result the President of the Russian Federation hoped for. This next extract indicates that he can be wrong again as he clearly felt a Russian invasion force would be welcomed.

“….for many people in Ukraine, the anti-Russia project is simply unacceptable. And there are millions of such people. But they are not allowed to raise their heads. They have had their legal opportunity to defend their point of view in fact taken away from them. They are intimidated, driven underground. Not only are they persecuted for their convictions, for the spoken word, for the open expression of their position, but they are also killed. Murderers, as a rule, go unpunished.” (page 16.)

Mr Putin’s millions of pro – Russians Ukrainians – if they existed – did not raise their heads, but stayed underground to hide from Russian shelling and from possible rape and murder by Russian troops. And in fact the ones intimidated and persecuted for their convictions were actually Russian citizens who opposed Putin’s Special Operation in Ukraine. Furthermore, the mass murderers who so far have gone unpunished are now in fact many of the Russian troops. This whole Special Operation war with its mass graves and bombed out apartment blocks in many towns and cities will hardly have endeared Ukrainian people to Russia – even those Ukrainians who were originally supportive of Russia. What will the millions of people of Ukraine – now made homeless and displaced – make of Putin’s closing words in this article?

“I will say one thing – Russia has never been and will never be ”anti-Ukraine“. And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide”. (page 17.)

Incidentally, the political class of Ukraine may be no better than the hedonistic dilettantes presently damaging the economic and social fabric of Britain, Europe and America, but they have so far not invaded any other country nor tried to kill and maim defenseless citizens. In Ukraine there may be – as in every country in the world – a percentage of citizens who are sexist, racist, homophobic and even rabidly right wing, however, this fact cannot be used to justify what the Russian elite has perpetrated since February 2022 and before. From a revolutionary-humanist perspective even those among us who are mistaken and dangerous are still human beings and as such deserve to be treated humanely, not bombed out of existence, poisoned by Novichok or tortured, raped and shot in the back of the head.

Roy Ratcliffe (May 2022)

For Mr Putin’s full article visit: en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66181

Posted in Critique | 2 Comments

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY-2.

It has become clear to all those who are not blinded by bias, denial or propaganda that in Ukraine there have been serious and sustained ‘crimes against humanity’ perpetrated by the military forces of Russia. What is less recognised or admitted, is the fact that these acts and many more, are the product of all modern armed forces of which ever side we care to inspect. When NATO forces fought and bombed in Vietnam and Korea, unarmed citizens died from air force munitions and army atrocities as they did in the two World Wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45. In Ukraine in 2022, what is occurring again at the elite ‘official’ level (as occurred previously in Afghanistan and Syria) is yet another proxy war between two rival pro-capitalist powers contesting for regional domination. In this case (again) the West dominated by the US and Europe elites and the East dominated by the Russian elites.

Meanwhile, in the day to day fighting in Ukraine, two sets of mainly ordinary working class citizens, (conscripts or volunteers) are tragically killing each other. One set of mainly working class soldiers, under the nominal control of Putin et al, have been ordered to conquer Ukraine territory; the other set of mainly working class soldiers, under the nominal control of Zelensky et al, are doing their amazing best to prevent them. In this war the winners so far are the three sets of political and military elites, their joint economic system, their preferred arms manufacturers and investors – all of whom are safe at home or in military bunkers.

Meanwhile the losers – as in every war – are the working classes on all sides and not one of whom have anything to gain from killing each other to maintain an indigenous elite and a system, which even in peace time exploits them all mercilessly. Moreover, when at war, workers with guns and tanks – on both sides – are losing their lives and health. Their families, on both sides, are losing their husbands, sons and fathers.

Furthermore, the working class non-combatants in Ukraine, men, women and children who cannot get out of the way are also losing their homes, their health and their lives, whilst workers elsewhere are being taxed to pay for the munitions used for all this death and destruction. For working people war is always a case of lose, lose, lose.

Historically, what is happening in Ukraine is a repeating pattern of the invade and conquer model of community interactions instigated by the elites of all hierarchical mass societies. It has been so since the dawn of so – called ‘civilisation‘ in ancient Egypt and the middle east. So yet again at the instigation of a resource and power-hungry elite male, basic humanity has taken a back seat to elitist ideas of Nationalist superiority and its attendant power structures, profits and Jingoism. And not for the first time.

It is a matter of historical record that the more modern mass societies of the 18th and 19th century European colonial period witnessed its own litany of elite inspired outrages and inhuman treatment in Africa, Asia, North and South America and Oceania. Furthermore, the various 20th and 21st century invasions and proxy wars have their own high-tech versions of atrocities, torturers and crimes against humanity. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay detention centre along with Extra-ordinary Rendition and the secrecy around them all indicate these modern examples are far from humane, non-profit making enterprises. The evidence suggests that mass societies from ancient to modern, have an inbuilt tendency to bring out the worst kind of inhumanity and destructive attitudes and actions – particularly among the elites within them – and this tendency reveals itself particularly during periods of war, but also in periods of peace.

However, this has not always been the case. The material basis for a negative cultural and psychological change within some sections of humanity seems to have been triggered by the transition from egalitarian based co-operative modes of production to settled agricultural – and now industrial modes of production. Once researched, the difference between the basic humanity of hunter-gatherer communities, (both ancient and modern) compared to that of settled, class-ruled, competitive, hierarchical, economic structures, is quite startling.

A nomadic, hunter-gatherer group, living by a day to day subsistence gathering and hunting life-style has nothing worth pillaging that couldn’t be obtained by less effort and personal risk, in hunting and gathering than by violence. This is why recorded hunter-gatherer violence (before Colonial intervention) was relatively rare and where it did exist, it was/is small scale, overwhelmingly the result of personal revenge arising from individual physical or emotional harm or damage done. Moreover,  there is no suggestion anywhere, that hunter-gatherer groups, prior to the colonial period, tried to egularly wipe each other out, by killing men, women and children in large numbers. Genocide only begins when mass societies become established and  when elites have gained sufficient control  of them to create an obedient force of armed men. Indeed, there is much recorded evidence that any surplus resources derived from gathering and hunting was/is given away rather than allowing it to rot or attract vermin. In fact successful hunter-gatherer locations globally prompted a culture of routine egalitarian sharing not hierarchical accumulation and grasping.

Nevertheless, it would also seem from the historical record, that wherever and whenever hierarchical mass societies come into existence, there is an undeniable inevitability that their elites, sooner or later, will wish to expand their territorial control of natural mineral, vegetable, animal and human resources. If the desired territory already has a system of exploitation, oppression and abundant wealth in existence, like Ukraine, then this makes it an even more desirable target for invasion and resource acquisition. Furthermore, it becomes clear after a detailed study of hierarchical mass societies that the inevitability of this territorial and expansion for resources is also irrespective of any difference in elite ideology, individual personality traits or particular modes of production.

For example in the ancient agricultural based world, numerous Pagan, Despot, Oligarch, or Democrat controllers of mass societies (in Egypt, Assyria, Chaldea, Persia, Greece and Rome) have all used armed force to invade and conquer territory and people and their resources. In the early to middle ages, European agricultural and commercial based mass societies, led by Judaic, Christian and Islamic elites have simply replicated – on a higher technological basis – the previous Pagan-led forms of aggressive military expansion.

In the modern industrialised capitalist world Liberal, Reactionary, Democratic, Fascist and Communist-led mass societies have done exactly the same. It would seem therefore, that this trait of aggressive acquisition by elites is inevitable not because humanity is naturally genocidal, violent and aggressive, but because aggressive acquisitiveness flows from a logic which emanates from the socio-economic structure of mass societies when these are dominated by those various types of elites.

Furthermore, in mass societies, as far as I am aware, there is no recorded example from ancient times to modern times of wars of aggression for territorial acquisition and enslavement being initiated by the mass of ordinary citizens. Wars are clearly not started on the basis of  citizen referendums to agree to invade, kill and steal. All aggressive wars past and present, have been initiated by elites who have prevented – by various authoritarian means – their own and other ordinary citizens from effectively opposing them – as Putin and most other national elites have done.

In the modern era elites have also given themselves the power to forcibly conscript their citizens to fight in wars which they initiate. In the First and Second World Wars conscripted soldiers on all sides who refused to fight were punished severely including on occasion being shot in the 1st by firing squads. Therefore, the opinion expressed by many people that war and mass killing is inevitable and that this propensity is a character flaw exhibited by the human species – in general – have not arrived at that opinion by reference to detailed historical or contemporary evidence.

Indeed, practically every human community in history and modernity has the humanist principle embodied in law or community moral codes that human beings should not kill other human beings and indeed the vast majority of human beings do not kill other human beings. Since not killing each other is a universal human principle arising from the natural essence of normal humanity stretching over millions of years of our species evolution, mass killing over a few thousand years begs an explanation. There must be exceptional circumstances arising within mass societies for elites of any religious or secular persuasion, to be able to override this general principle among themselves. Thus allowing them to use their powers of control (and influence) to promote wars in full knowledge that such military invasions require or demand the mass killing of members of their own community and others of their own species.

If humanity manages to avoid destroying the planet and its life sustaining ecological balance, over the next century it will obviously desire to continue to live in various forms of socio-economic groupings. However, it would be wise of them (and us when we can) to also permanently remove the hierarchical structures and elite control over individual and collective humanity. That is if humanity is to avoid many more repetitions of the tragic events spread over the last several thousand years. Sadly, such inhumane actions and events are tragically being repeated not only ad nauseum in Ukraine, but routinely all over the planet.

Roy Ratcliffe (April 2022)

Posted in Critique | Leave a comment

CAPITALISM: A SYSTEM IN MELTDOWN.

With a medical/biological war still raging against a virus, an industrial mass production war currently operating against nature and various military wars by political and military elites against other human beings, the capitalist mode of production is clearly in a process of self-inflicted meltdown. Its intellectual elites, so extensively and intensively educated with full time supported research assistants have detailed knowledge of individual parts of the capitalist system but no clear understanding of why the system as a whole is in such an absolute meltdown crisis.

Some skilled elites are capable of organising and creating trips to the Moon, Mars etc., whilst others produce multiple detailed volumes upon the history of Egypt, Greece, Rome and Europe etc. Others produce detailed economics textbooks, medical and scientific journals but few, if any predicted or prevented economic and financial collapses, multiple pandemics, or continuous outbreaks of localised and regionalised warfare. Yet they have also allowed the super elites in all countries, to establish themselves at the top of an authoritarian system of governance with unlimited powers and have allowed it without any serious or sustained protest.

We now have the spectacle of yet another elite authorised military war in Ukraine coming after elite authorised wars in Vietnam, Korea, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Palestine. These were all wars of brutal and indiscriminate killing of civilians, yet not one of the victims or the perpetrators citizens voted for the decision to invade another country, kill its citizens or destroy its houses and buildings. They were all elite made decisions. Moreover, these mad brutalities came after a world war “to end all wars’ (the First) and a Second World War, initiated by another elite also headed by a male megalomaniac.

In all this time, not one among the elites has bothered to consider implementing or promoting a system of production and government which would prevent this from reoccurring. Despite all the above instances of horror (and more) they have not suggested any means by which a small handful of oligarchs could be prevented from controlling such decisions, nor allow for the vast majority of the citizens of each country to oppose and counter such decisions if by chance an elite group tried to do this. There is only one conclusion; the elites like the unhindered power to do as they wish so much, that even if it allows the numerous occurrences of above noted disaster and devastation to take place, then it is still worth having – for them!.

The problem for the non-elite citizens of all capitalist countries, is that when these elite controlled systems go into brutal control and exterminate mode it is the ordinary people who bear the brunt of the horrors being inflicted during them. It is not Putin’s Residence, property and life which is being destroyed, or his supporters, by his Blitzkrieg authored incursion, but those of the citizens of Ukraine. It is not the elites of the NATO west, whose residences, property and lives which were in danger when they bombed Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lybia, etc., or who now sit on their hands and watch as people in Ukraine are being cut off from the basics of civilisation such as water, food, shelter and medical attention.

Why are they not organising a Berlin style food and material airlift?

Note also, whilst most attention is focused upon Ukraine, other elites in other parts of the world have begun doing horrible things practically undetected. All this says so much about how the capitalist mode of production has corrupted the intelligence and basic humanity of the elite and those who willingly carry out their brutal orders, but it also reveals much more. It reveals the system-induced lethargy of non-elites in general; many of whom, when these things happen have just shrugged their shoulders. As long as it has not impinged upon their own particular lives far too many have just carried on as usual.

Whilst it is true, that there are impediments to ordinary people being more active at the moment, there are few obstacles in literate societies to read alternative views to the justification propaganda of their own and other elites. It is possible to emphatically say no in private if not in public. An increased understanding is an important first step in preventing half truths becoming mistaken for whole truths, and from preventing opinion being accepted as the ‘fact’. Really useful information is out there even though so too are the mis-informers and dis-informers. However, a really useful starting point is to look for rational explanations to the following composite question;

Why, given all the intelligence, ability and experience the human species has amassed over thousands of years, are we still allowing elites to initiate wars, ecological destruction, pollution, poverty, fragile supply chains and the destruction of our own and other species?’

Does that make any sense? And if it doesn’t; isnt it time we did something more than just moan about it?

Roy Ratcliffe (March 2022)

 

Posted in Critique | Leave a comment

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY- 1.

There are undoubtedly crimes being committed in Ukraine, against the civilian population, their homes and public buildings and everyone knows it. Eye witness accounts and photographic evidence clearly confirm this. By falsely classifying all those who oppose him in Ukraine, as Nazis, Putin and his supporters have tried to justify their own violent authoritarian practices by this inverted subterfuge. This method of justifying violence by dehumanising the victims, is a deliberate distortion of reality. In actual fact, Putins’ orders for this military attack on Ukraine, certainly falls into the same category as those leveled against the Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg in 1945 after the Second World War. Consequently, an analogy between the incursion into Ukraine this February/March 2022 and another in Czechoslovakia in 1938 is not stretching matters too far.

Back then, another hard man on the authoritarian side of politics, Adolf Hitler, had come into power in Germany and was absolutely determined to make Germany great again. His intention was to get more land and resources and so annexed Austria as steps in that expansionist ambition. Not wishing to start another world war, many diplomatic efforts were made by the elites in Britain and elsewhere to ‘appease’ Hitler. They agreed to allow him to annex certain territories, irrespective of the wishes and welfare of the people living in them. By doing so the elites hoped that this sanctioned territory grabbing would be enough to prevent further military expansion and bloodshed. The British Prime Minister at the time, Neville Chamberlain, visited Hitler in 1938 and convinced himself he had achieved ‘Peace For Our Time’.

But of course he hadn’t! Why? Because certain people elevated into positions of power and authority, with powerful expansionist backers and with a mentality of arrogant self-righteousness, are stubborn and devious enough, to carry out their intentions regardless of any rational or humane considerations. That is to say regardless of how many deaths they cause and whatever impediments and obstacles are put in their way. Hitler, was such a man. Even, when he had control of western Europe (France, etc) he wanted more and ordered his army, air force and navy to blitzkrieg their way to occupation success in the east as far as Moscow. He even refused to surrender when deep in his bunker, it was clear his armies, navies and air forces had been all but wiped out.

As in any school playground if you don’t stop the aggressive bully asap you just get more aggressive bullying. In the larger context of big men authoritarian politics, absolutely nothing convinces such men that they are wrong, that they are unjustified, that views opposed to theirs are just different and do not deserve to be violently silenced. Dogmatic certainty about somethings or about many things (such as great nation destiny) is clearly a culturally learned intellectual symptom. It is irritating enough when encountered in clerics, mystics, pedants and politicians, but it is dangerous to humanity when it takes hold of someone with immense power to do harm and damage. The question arises; is Vladimir Putin one of those men with arrogant, self-righteousness and dogmatically certainty who until stopped is sure his destiny is just to plow on regardless?

The interesting and troubling process and outcome of the above noted ‘Peace For Our Time’ appeasement strategy. It was devised by an elite group in 1938 Britain, which had years of armed invasions in their political DNA, who were negotiating with another elite group in Germany, also with years of armed invasions in its political DNA. In 1938, could one expansionary oligarchy with blood on its hands, really occupy the moral high ground in talking to another with blood on its hands? Of course not. And this is still the problem in 2022. Can an American led NATO, negotiating team, with their countries invasions of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan behind them and who turn a blind eye to Israeli invasions and slow genocide in Palestine, convincingly lecture Putin on moderation or policy reversal?

With all this history, could the western elites, really be convincing in suggesting that Putin stop his own particular invasions? All such opposed ‘great power’ elite sides can do now, (as in the past), is strike some deal with each other on how to divide the current and future spoils of invasion, occupation and control. They have no other logical position. Furthermore, are elites in the west, after accepting party political donations from Russian oligarchs, likely to bring charges of Crimes Against Humanity against Putin etc? This is unlikely given that many of their own elites have previously authorised similar invasions!

The only agency capable of assembling and processing the evidence of crimes against humanity by heads of states – without bias – are those citizens outside of official government circles. It is to be hoped that such detailed forensic work is continued by those who able to do so. It is needed for everything about the current situation of extreme citizen oppression in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Palestine and the ‘normal’ levels of oppression elsewhere, points to a world-sized critical problem.
Humanity is locked into a global capitalist based system which is profoundly destructive and systematically unfair at the local, national and international levels.

The intellectual and military stranglehold that powerful elites exert upon hierarchical societies everywhere means that the mass of ordinary peoples can only protest if crimes against humanity are perpetrated by their governing elites. Yet if ordinary citizens dare protest most elites are now prepared to harm and arrest those who do so. And those ordering arrests are the same elite oligarchies who have also enabled, tax avoidance, money laundering and given privileged status to their various regime cronies.

Furthermore, they are the same elites who have allowed the pollution, ecological destruction of the planet and the supply of weapons to continue as long as they could extract profits from such activities.

The only hope for the future of humanity lies with those who have seen through the nationalist illusions and delusions promoted by the capitalist and pro-capitalist elites and are prepared to become non-sectarian internationalist and community activists. The campaign for a different non-hierarchical world badly needs further recruits. Maybe Covid19 and the accumulating list of war-crimes will bring more people to such campaigns. Until a critical mass of non-sectarian activists begin to adopt approaches which openly criticise and publicise the full effects of current capitalist mode of production, then all efforts at positive changes will be dissipated.

Such critical masses will be necessary to adequately influence wider sections of all societies into fully questioning the bourgeois profit-based version of scientific progress. Humanity needs to shake off the hypnotic effect of capitalist commodity inspired technological progress and entitlement (the things that got us to this mess) before it is too late. Unless this happens, then those of our children who survive the next five or six decades, are likely to find themselves on land-fill islands of desolation – entirely of our own making.

Roy Ratcliffe (March 2022)

Posted in Critique | Leave a comment

WEST SIDE STORY.

This is not an article about the musical or the film of the same title, but it is about two gangs of aggressive male mobsters taunting and challenging each other for control of a disputed patch of territory. In this case, the two rival ‘firms’ are not the Jets and Sharks with plastic knives flashing and fake pistols in hand during an imaginary 1957 period. No, these two syndicated stand offs are occurring between the Russian political elite and the Anglo-Saxon political elite and the year is 2022. In this case the big-business mobsters‘ weapons are not fakes but sophisticated weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, the territory in dispute is not an imaginary street on a stage or film set, but a real stretch of territory – Ukraine! And the fights and the deaths are not staged but real and growing. However, to really understand what is currently taking place between the Russian Putin gang and the Western NATO gang, in this latest real life death and destruction, there is an important back-story to remember.

You may recall that a much earlier prequel to this real life West Side Story, commenced when maritime smash and grab mobsters from Europe and the UK decided to invade the lands of North and South America. They were looking for territory to conquer and wealth to steal. When these organised West Side Story funded gangs of Europeans began to colonise both North as South America it was already occupied by sophisticated darker skinned, hunter-gatherer people’s, whose objections were certainly heard – but not heeded. Native peoples were mostly greeted by organised West Side Story prejudice, land clearances and genocide. The West Side Story continued unfolding as venture capital funded settlers moved to the west and mobs of greedy capitalist plantation owners entered a period of intense agriculture using dark skinned human slaves stolen from the West Side of Africa.

This back-story also involves mentioning the intellectual supporters of the political leaders of this real non-fictional West Side Story, who had previously invented and promoted the idea of superior people’s and inferior peoples (racism) and the right of elites to forcibly control everything (authoritarianism). Pillage and annexation had been legalised! Eventually, the grand tour of the successful economic, political and military conquest by capitals West Side Story in the New World was followed by an extended tour in an easterly direction. The script was essentially the same but along with these later dramatic invasions and conquests came a new cast of performers to promote it throughout the middle and far east. To many people this particular  West Side Story also became a dazzling global phenomenon playing, and applauded, at any venue that could guarantee a profit. To many it still is. Those native peoples who objected to playing a bit part in this ongoing off screen epic – and there were millions – were dealt with violently – back stage – and out of sight.

And this is where the elite raiding bands and clans organised in Russian territories enter this truncated outline of capitalism’s real ‘uncut’ West Side Story. Russia is a huge territory with a long history of the people living there who were conquered by vicious leaders with followers bent on exploiting their labour and oppressed their lives. From the 10th century Rus, through Mongol invasions, the conquests by Ivan the Terrible, and Boris Godunov to the later cast of authoritarian Czars, the cliques and military gangs who led the Russian elites were always eager for land and subordinated people to work it. As with Europe, feudal agriculture during Russia’s medieval period, was the way all elites obtained their wealth. Gaining more land and more peasants meant more gross production which was needed to feed, house and keep the growing number of elites in the manner they had by then become accustomed to.

However, by the time this real West Side Story seriously encountered continental Russia its own economic mode of production had become based upon industry not agriculture. In any elite rival gang contest for further territory, superior weapons and industrial technology (with winter exceptions), was invariably more successful and effective than simply having more territory. During the first world war (1914-18), the general war losses and socio-economic situation in Russia got so bad that the aristocratic war mongering leaders of Czarist Russia at the time, were ousted by a ‘peace, bread and land’ peasant and worker led revolution. A new political sect calling themselves Bolsheviks became the new ruling elite. (This part of history is where Putin’s February rambling reference to Lenin was plucked from.)

The workers were told by the Bolsheviks that the capitalist form of exploitation and oppression would be ended by them, but of course it wasn’t. Indeed, this new elite gang on the block, the Bolsheviks, could not end all this as long as they had a model of society in their heads and in their planning documents which involved industrial mass production, worked by wage-labour, organised by an elite band whose power base was backed up by a special force of armed men and women. For such class segmented systems to work, the essential workers must be made to work hard and long at levels of pay decided by the state planners and made to do all the things which the specialists, the planners, the politicians, the military and entertainers no longer did for themselves.

Consequently, workers who resent these top down modes of alienated production must be forced to do so to keep the system going. The origins of Lenin and the Bolsheviks use of authoritarian force and punishment in practice, commenced as soon as they took control of production via the Orgplan type committees. The resentment of the workers and peasants started more or less at the same time and continued for many decades. Eventually, well after the death of the authoritarian Lenin and the gangster Stalin etc., the state capitalist mode of production in its Russian variant collapsed and the Communist Party elite leadership circle atrophied with it. The last act of one of the remaining Communist Party leaders, the unpredictable Boris Yeltsin, was the promotion of KGB trained Vladimir Putin as President of Russia.

I ask the reader to pause for a moment and dwell on that last sentence. In this East Side Story, one man (Yeltsin) gives another man (Putin) almost absolute control over an enormous nuclear armed war machine which can effectively control what millions of Russian people do. But pause again. Is it really any better in the west? In the West Side Story, it takes a small group of men, (an inner caucus) to put forward another man to be voted into almost absolute control of an enormous war machine which also effectively controls another mass of people. Does having one or a even a half-dozen backers – make any real difference? The reality is a capitalist oligarchic gang can ensure their chosen  leader can be given unlimited power to fulfill his (and their) ideas, desires or whims, whether he (or she) is just an indulgent egotist or a raving meglamaniac.

Organising  mass societies with such hierarchical structure’’s built into them is form of intellectual blindness bordering on congenital madness. It is clearly asking for trouble even if another Ivan the Terrible, Vlad the Impaler, Gengis Khan, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Trump, Putin or Biden does not get their gangs nomination to become a ‘great man’ leader. For many centuries, humanity has  needed to undermine and abolish these hierarchical social structures but now with Atomic, Biological and Chemical weapons of mass destruction and Industrial levels of pollution to match, the need has become even more important. Putin in reach of a nuclear detonator underlines this point in practice irrespective of any theoretical anticipations. Politics and positions of power are the equivalent of cancer within societies and need abolishing.

With regard to politics, an interesting phenomena arose around the previously noted East Side Bolsheviks gang story. It is one that has resurfaced in recent statements by some on the international left. A myth was perpetuated among some of the supposedly ’radical’ (!) left, that Leninist Soviet Russia was a considerable socio-economic advance over the West Side Story play book of capitalism and that it is therefore, the NATO ‘mob’ which are the real problem for struggling humanity. Therefore, for these particular lefts, holding the NATO crew in check trumps any other consideration – no matter who gets in the way. Of course they know that holding back the powerful NATO West Side Story mob isn’t simple, it needs a rival super power leader to do this and these ‘balance of power’ focussed lefts think Putin is just the ‘man’ to do it! NB! Left dualistic, ‘lesser evil’ or balance of power thinking people, can thus very easily become reactionary and still think they are progressive.

In addition, some loyal Communist Party members and other assorted Stalinist’s and Leninist’s also could not admit their heroes (Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin etc) were fatally flawed human beings who were (or became) authoritarians, terrorising, torturing, murdering workers and peasants and also making fundamental rookie errors in politics, economics and ecology. Therefore a few of these various ‘big power’ die-hards – who remain among the 21st century left – prefer to condemn the West Side Story, (Washington) gang and grant the current Russian East Side Story, (Moscow) gang the right to defend itself. Note also that the idea of changing the mode of production to get rid of all elite mob cultures has been abandoned by these lefts and the best they can now imagine to face the 21st century compound crisis of capitalism is a new cold war type stalemate between two rival, armed to the teeth, superpower cliques.

Although paraphrased, the above ‘left‘ positions are accurate enough to indicate that they myopically ignore a crucially important fact: Each elite authoritarian gang leaders (Russia’s and the West’s) are not defending humanity – or the planet for that matter. They are defending their own authoritarian power and not just from other pro-capitalist groups – but primarily from their own working populations! Moreover, they are doing so systematically and often brutally.

Typically in gang warfare, particularly on the stage or in films, the gang leaders and promoters of a ‘rumble’ in the urban ‘jungle’, prefer the audience to pick a side and in real life the same holds true. Hence in the current situation with regard to the invasion of Ukraine by the latest East Side Story mob, the rival NATO outfit would prefer us to deny the Putin narrative and regurgitate theirs. And most of the western media has done exactly what is desired and expected of them in this regard. However, I suggest in a contest between two blood-thirsty capitalist elite godfather type crews the main object of working class activists is to both deny and undermine the legitimacy of both. Our concern is not over the rights of these (or any other) big-power bullies, to defend themselves, but for the safety and support of those caught in the middle of such gang instigated violence.

Furthermore, the working classes of all ethnicities, genders and ages, have nothing at all to gain from picking sides between superpower authoritarian elites connected to any country – including their own gang of politician’s! The fact is that the members of these elite profit-based ‘outfits’ are all prepared to exploit and oppress all the rest of us whilst ruining the planets ecology and extinguishing any other organic life forms that get in their way. As representatives of humanity we need to use our energy and intelligence to educate, organise and defend all oppressed humanity against all forms of authoritarianism. The last thing we should do is allow ourselves to be duped by dualistic sophistry into supporting one form of authoritarian control over another. Humanity needs a different form of society and different forms of economic production; forms which will allow us to live ecologically and without the exploitation and oppression of our own species or the other species we live among.

Roy Ratcliffe (March 2022)

Posted in Critique | Leave a comment

RESISTING AUTHORITARIANISM.

The fact that a single person, surrounded by a few obedient acolytes can order the invasion of a country such as Ukraine and ready Nuclear weapons for use there, says a lot about the danger of social hierarchies and the elites in control of them. Putin is not uniquely authoritarian in this regard. Wars and invasions are invariably started by a few ruling class individuals with hierarchical control of countries as the Putin-less 20th century ones of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and the continuing Israeli ones in Palestine exemplify. This latest act of military aggression is also an indicator that the existing socio-economic system is in profound crisis – everywhere! It is to be expected, therefore, that the ideological and political expressions that have arisen within the capitalist system over the last 80 plus years are also thrown into question and confusion.

That net result of profound crisis (confusion, political turmoil and further invasions) was true in the past and it is every bit as true in the present. For example, the last two severe economic crises in the 20th century created not only two invasion-triggered world wars (1914-18 and 1939-45), but also for the first time introduced and linguistically entrenched two abstract and poorly understood political categories. The first political category was ‘Communism’ and the second was ‘Fascism’. These problematic political categorisations are still being used in the 21st century as if they can somehow help bring clarity to social and political issues, rather than continue to spread confusion.

An additional problem attached to the use of these categories – then and now – stems from their continued use within the dominant system of bourgeois dualistic thinking. The two 20th century socio-economic realities, represented by the abstract political terms ‘Communism’ and ‘Fascism’ were placed politically and ideologically at the opposite ends of a dualistic spectrum. By ignoring the social and economic content of the two systems, they were incorrectly and confusingly asserted to be socio-economic opposites. By the dualism, ‘you are either for us or again us’ many people were commanded to take sides on that basis. In fact as we shall see in the next few paragraphs, socio-economically these systems were essentially the same.

1: Soviet and Chinese Communist systems (etc). These were economic systems of mass production, based upon wage-labour with the direction and control of the means of production in the hands of a male- dominated political elite who used authoritarian means of legal and illegal force to dictate to workers their terms of work and remuneration. They killed and/or physically suppressed any opposition to their political rule, including any opposition among their own party members. They conscripted workers to fight wars and forced them to kill other workers designated by the political class (ie in this case the Bolsheviks  etc) as enemies of the nation.

2: German and Italian Fascist systems (etc). These were also economic systems of mass production, based upon wage-labour with the direction and control of the means of production in the hands of a male dominated political elite who used authoritarian means of legal and illegal force to dictate to workers their terms of work and remuneration. They killed and/or physically suppressed any opposition to their political rule – including opposition from their own party members. They conscripted workers to fight wars and forced them to kill other workers designated by the political class (ie in this case the Fascists) as enemies of the nation.

In other words, both these systems were not alternatives to capitalism, but ultra-authoritarian developments of the existing capitalist, wage-labour based mode of production. They were developments in which the capital accumulated nationally (ie the ‘means of production’) and national infrastructure were controlled by ruthless middle-class authoritarians. Their leading representatives merely differed politically with each other, we’re aggressive rivals for power and consequently hated each other.
Only those among the middle classes who emotionally chose to identify with the one political expression of ultra-authoritarianism over the other could convince themselves that state-organised and enforced industrial exploitation were not variant forms of capitalism. Since the middle classes dominate education, government and media many such class-derived false definitions have prevailed as commonly accepted ones.

However, the alternative experience of workers under these two versions of ultra-authoritarian capitalism was completely different to that of the middle class.
Based upon their own direct experience in fascist or communist led factories, mines, offices, fields, or war trenches, no rational worker under the punitive control of either system, would think the lives they lived were any better than those in the other mutated version or better than under ‘normal’ capitalism. In a Fascist concentration camp or Stalinist gulag the incarcerated knowledgeable worker, being punished for whatever infraction, would hardly wish to exchange it for the experience of his or her counterpart.

The fact that these two 20th century socio-economic systems have not been fully understood by most working people – as being almost identical in essence – has led to considerable confusion among them and among the middle classes. Few professors of economics or history have seriously attempted to fully analyse these systems or enlighten working people about their overwhelming similarity. Consequently, some people now think communism was bad, others that – on balance – it was worth having. Some think that Fascism was bad, others that – on balance – it was worth having. Continuing to use these confused and confusing political terms and applying them to whatever idea or action is disliked is what the right wing and left wing liberal elites are doing. Elites the world over benefit enormously from a poorly informed, confused and disorientated working class.

However, adding to this confusion, rather than clearing it up is not what the radical, non-sectarian anti-capitalist left should be doing. If the radical and revolutionary trend wishes to assist working people to resist the exploitation and oppression of all capitalist and authoritarian modes of production, particularly when this one is in existential crisis again, then radicals have to be educators at the same time (if not at the same moment) as being defenders of our working class communities. Workers along with the rest of us, do not automatically emerge from the experience of capitalist alienation, exploitation, oppression – and ruthless invasions – as fully fledged anti-sexist, anti-racist or anti-capitalist humanitarians. The reality is that everyone arriving at these oppositional understandings has needed considerable help to get there.

Therefore, the radical lefts revolutionary function is not to stand to one side and pejoratively categorise working people – as they appear now – and castigate them for any shortcomings. Our function is to help convince them whilst humanely challenging them to be otherwise. Our task is not only to accurately describe the world – but to intervene to change it. For example, genuinely anti – authoritarian workers or other citizens, may need time to be convinced to be both anti-fascist and anti-communist, for it may not be immediately obvious to them why they should be. People should be helped to realise the need to be against fascist totalitarian ideas and practices as well communist totalitarian ones and any others that exist .

Class wars perpetrated by elites nationally, as well as military wars internationally, are vicious struggles against ordinary humanity orchestrated primarily by male oligarchs of whatever political persuasion. In the long term humanity must find a way to dispense with elite control of societies or elites will continue to dispense with  those among humanity who get in their way. In the short term we need to campaign and organise to support those under attack from any form of authoritarian oppression and exploitation such as those in the Ukraine.

In order to attract and unify class conscious workers, whether manually or intellectually trained, it will be important amid all the present confusion, miss information and disinformation, to discuss any false dualistic opposites both in practice and theory. And importantly that includes any false opposites that remain within our own ranks – and they do! For this reason it is important that the radical, activist, non-sectarian left also educate themselves at every opportunity because the necessary self-critical, self-education process in many places has been woefully neglected for many decades.

For more than a century, sectarianism has been rife among the whole spectrum of the radical anti-capitalist left and this has hindered as well as compartmentalised anti-capitalist knowledge and understanding. Many among the few remaining 21st century anti-capitalists have often become protectors of fiercely defended traditions and stubbornly regurgitated dogmas. Any radical ‘left’ tradition of conserving practically everything they received from their past heroes needs to be criticised and its usefulness re-evaluated.

For it is a fact that over its 200 year of domination the capitalist economic system has radically altered it’s internal and external dynamic. Capital now needs less living labour and far more of earths organic and inorganic raw materials to produce its volumes of stuff. Its elites and their supporters are still prepared to invade and go to war to preserve and enhance their control of countries – against their own citizens wishes. Instead of just working citizens to death in factories and mines, capitalist inventive genius now also kills them with chemical and biological waste materials and weapons of mass destruction; instead of just using and abusing targeted planetary biota on land, sea and air, capitalist production now destroys it everywhere – wholesale.

Consequently many inherited ideas and practices based upon the reality of a century ago need to be openly evaluated and updated to reflect this new capitalist reality. Any shared solidarity experience of workers crammed by the hundreds and thousands in numerous factories, offices, mines, fields, shops and docks, has more often than not disappeared and replaced by computer programmed robots and millions of self-employed truckers, warehouse gatherers, Uber type economy workers and the unemployed.

This new reality is why I agree with the Anarchists of Ukraine and elsewhere, (see link below) who are currently opposing authoritarian tendencies there – that alternative perspectives such as the Kurdish and Zapatista initiatives need to be examined. I would further add that so too should the 20th century Revolutionary-Humanist understandings. Such alternative understandings and practices need to be circulated widely and used to inform and supplement any updated appraisal of what we are against and just as importantly – what we are for! For without such clarity we are in danger of becoming (or remaining) just another confused part of the problem.

Roy Ratcliffe. (www.critical-mass.net)

My thanks again to Randy Gould for links to an alternative anarchist view of the situation in Ukraine and the struggle against authoritarian trends. See,

crimethink.com/2022/02/15/war-and-the-anarchists-anti-authoritarian-perspectives-in-ukraine

See also; ‘Beginners Guide to Revolutionary-Humanism’ Download free from; [https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTgiCGN-50rGR9uOFKxOmWztx8_4v88kKMy3dHtlTGjZcC5wBQYKu3CXRlmUZcvtQegx-lzvWl83peo/pub ]

And Revolutionary-Humanism and the Anti-Capitalist Struggle. Volume 2 [ https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTIV1TanSiwdV9RWt1OwnWd5WcF32ed_6dd_fn2bCP1fA8Kc83V41znCMvjI7NQaWG34VDW2ZFTT8GY/pub ]

Volume 1 from; [ ]https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTw_bORxqh8Hhk9jmXWWZRzNdkRpLbLnrlo618g_04A9ssG8hhDken3LHQ4fxbiE2kwWfBoKHwdxtU1/pub

Posted in Critique | Leave a comment

PUTIN MIRRORS THE WEST.

The political and military class elites in control of Russia have this week copied the aggressive tactics of their western equivalents and invaded a territory occupied by an elite they do not like. And of course this is horrible and terribly wrong. But from the western alliance of capitalist countries and their mouthpieces in the media you would think what Putin and his oligarchical elite have committed is something the Nato Alliance countries of America, Britain, France, Italy and Germany have never done, or would never do. The whole history of the last 200 years of European colonial invasions and military incursions into country after country, has been and will be totally ignored now and in the coming weeks.

So too is the more recent history of western capitalist invasions in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Libya and twice in Iraq. All of the above, have left death, devastation and untold hardship on civilian communities the world over. Of course when is an invasion not an invasion is a debate for media sophists and there are many about on all sides. Being a paid (or otherwise rewarded) intellectual supporter of exploitative regimes means there are ample numbers of those in the media and elsewhere who are happy to park their memories and morals in the ‘not now’ filing cabinet or on the hard drive to be accessed later.

However, lets not follow this example of how to be a one-sided, biased media hack, and tell the story of the capitalist invasion tactic – as it actually is. There may be real economic, political or military reasons (or all three) why an elite in control of a country might decide to send it’s troops to gain temporary or permanent control of a foreign territory. Crucially important resources or lucrative markets; uncooperative governments or confiscated assets; or even covert military opposition. There may also be many reasons why such real motives would need to be shrouded by a blanket of ‘plausible’ or ‘invented’ justifications either because the real reasons must be kept secret or they would be just too embarrassing to reveal.

Because of real (or deliberate) current confusion about motives, it may be difficult to unpick what is really going on between the currently opposed sides. However, a few things are fairly clear; 1. very few ordinary people on any side would want to start a war or risk their lives in military confrontations just to gain territory or to gain control of more people. War is purely an elite thing! Populations world wide are still in the middle of a pandemic or at a point where coping with its effects are still of deep concern. 2. All the elites are nationalist parts of a crisis riddled international capitalist mode of production, which at the moment cannot suitably employ all their citizens – hence the mass emigrations everywhere. War is also a crisis thing!

The capitalist system everywhere is in severe economic, financial, social, economic, ecological, political and moral crisis. Making sense out of this chaos and confusion and imagining a solution to one or solutions to all these problems is clearly just as difficult for the elites as it is for ordinary citizens. However, gaining territory has always been a fall-back card played by elites in existential trouble. This is particularly so when a section of the population of the target country feels aggrieved and already identifies linguistically or nationalistically with the aggressor country. The latter can then pretend to be invading to support those who feel aggrieved.

Germany under the Nazis in 1938/39 did just that and it led to a second world war. Putin’s recent long – winded rant mentioning the former Bolshevik leader Lenin and outlining how the Soviet Union became so widespread, indicated he considered Ukraine and it’s Russian speakers ‘belonged’ historically to Russia, just as the Chinese leadership consider that Hong-Kong, Taiwan and their Chinese speakers ‘belong’ historically to China. The current economic weakness, social divisions and political ineptitude demonstrated by the former world powers of the UK and USA, have undoubtedly emboldened Putin; and the Chinese oligarchy may well pursue their own version of a mini blitzkrieg – to get back former territories.

Even if the economic gains from this Putin land grab (and any others) turn out to be marginal due to the decades of economic crisis, the political gains may be worth it to all the elite participants. People easily influenced by patriotic propaganda and feelings tend to fall in behind any leader and mute their criticism during a military crisis – whether real or manufactured. With a compound set of crises in most countries the distraction of military action may help Boris Johnson, Joe Biden and Putin to stem any current unpopularity and further any campaigns for re-election. Furthermore, running down existing military hardware inventory will always please the military industrial complex and navy, military and air-force brass are always happy to engage in war game planning and execution whether real or simulated. So they are all beneficiaries.

Any potential social unrest and class warfare in the post-Covid future are also more easily managed during emergency powers legislation passed during heightened tensions. And tensions are definitely being heightened as the crisis deepens and any military and non military action will compound it. And, ratcheting tensions up is precisely what the loyal pro-capitalist media are now doing. They are correctly designating the Putin invasion as a nasty authoritarian invasion, but have hypocritically stayed completely silent about the invasions by the USA and the UK into Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc., and the horrors attached to those.

The mainstream western media have conducted no examination of the parallel pattern followed by all capitalist countries (including their own) when they become powerful enough to impose their will on all and sundry. One UK pro-government media commentator this week had the temerity to draw attention to a discussion by Russia authorities to freeze the bank accounts of anyone in Russia who objected to Putin’s policy in the Ukraine, but failed to mention that Canada’s government had already discussed doing exactly the same to the vaccine mandate protesting truckers.

Working people and civil communities in all countries should resist this propaganda and demand that their leaders stop war preparations and military manoeuvres. The demand should be raised to commence peaceful, green reconstruction of all the social, infrastructure, ecological, financial, medical and employment problems faced in all countries. It is crucially important that people resist becoming pawns in the power games the pro-capitalist elites are playing internationally and begin organising a movement campaigning for peace, full employment and also an end to the exploitation of people and the environment by the capitalist mode of production.

Roy Ratcliffe (February 2022)

Posted in Critique | Leave a comment

CLASS STRUGGLES IN SPRING?

As the Covid 19 pandemic eases somewhat, the economic consequences of the decline of capitalism are again becoming clearer. Despite some key shortages in the labour market, businesses, jobs and incomes for the working classes, blue collar and white and lower middle-classes are being reduced drastically. Food and fuel price rises are again exposing increased instances of low pay related poverty along with homelessness. These tragedies are set to increase in Spring 2022, this time among privileged layers of the working and middle classes previously unaffected. As costs go up further and incomes stagnate or fall, more and more people will become desperate.

The growing class struggle between working people and the pro-capitalist elite in 2020, was suspended by Covid19 Pandemic isolation, but it is now resurfacing with a vengeance. The shake up of voting patterns and yellow vest and similar struggles motivated by the desire of working people to live at a reasonable level of comfort manifested in 2018 and 2019 are beginning again and will undoubtedly intensify. So too is the ‘establishments’ efforts to blame the working classes for the capitalist economic systems failures. To survive the worst which is to come, we will need to stop isolating in 2022 and begin building real solidarity within all our struggling communities

Something should be crystal clear to those who wish to see what is currently happening within politics and governance. It is the fact that ‘blaming the victims’ of the capitalist mode of production is a built in reflex of those in power. We need only recall that the Luddite victims of capitalist industry in the 19th century were branded in the UK as selfish and ‘enemies of society’, as we’re the suffragettes after them. The Triple Alliance of trade unionists also in the UK in 1919 and those in the later 1929 General Strike, we’re also labelled as self-centred ‘enemies of the people’.

Post war in the UK”s 1978/79 ‘Winter of Discontent’, the later Poll Tax riots, and the Council House Rent Strikes, participants were all painted by the establishments propaganda as enemies of society, rather than as people struggling to survive the effects of capitalist crisis. Similar reflexes of violence against working class victims were exhibited throughout Europe by the ruling elites in those countries.

In the Americas, (North and South) the working class struggle for reforms to their living and working conditions were also met with authoritarian violence and intimidation – activists simply ‘disappeared’. The indigenous Indians and the later disturbances by those enslaved in the US were all declared rebels, enemies and traitors as were US farmers rent striking in 1839. So too were more modern struggles in the era of McCarthyism and the 20th century ‘occupation’ movement. At each period of such national and international struggles the middle-classes and the media in each country sided with their pro-capitalist establishments in designating protesters, occupiers and strikers as selfish enemies of society.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the same pattern has occurred during the Covid 19 pandemic with regard to those choosing not to be vaccinated. Nor should it surprise us that it is the turn of the Canadian Truckers and others in Europe and elsewhere to be designated as selfish and enemies of society as a whole. The capitalist system is once again in an extreme existential crisis both in terms of the damage it is doing the the ecology of the planet and the damage it is doing to the welfare of the world’s working classes. Any action for change which does not meet with the approval of these ‘establishments’ will be vilified by them. False accusations will be invented and unconnected disturbances will be blamed upon those who actively campaign for change.

The full weight, power and resources of the capitalist states will be harnessed to demonise and destroy any movement aimed at undermining – however slightly – the economic, financial and political elites in control of the present system of exploitation. One can only imagine what venom and vilification would be heaped by the establishment on any revolutionary movement of people wishing to actually change the capitalist mode of production, when you see what the truckers are now receiving for wanting to end a vaccine mandate and state control of every aspect of their lives.

Solidarity among the poor, the disadvantaged, the working class, (blue collar and white), vaccinated and un-vaccinated is the last thing the incompetent international elite and their loyal leftist supporters want to face. So instead economic and political elites will combine to smear, distort and try to divide any opposition which begins to develop. Ruling class intolerance of intellectual opposition and working class activism is the new 21st century norm and it’s supporters are already emerging in the most unlikely of politically correct places.

When the normal pattern of living, coping and thinking is substantially disrupted, many people become confused and disorientated. Contradictions arise which do not conveniently fall into familiar dualistic categories. At such times previously self-chosen identity reflexes and thought patterns need to be replaced by careful study.

Just as the ruling elite (left, right and centre) condemn any struggle that doesn’t meet with their exacting approval, so too will the dogmatists of the left sectarians. They too will demand from the sidelines of any embryonic struggle (against authoritarianism) that the class struggle should adhere to their particular sectarian leadership and world view. This is because although they differ politically from the current pro-capitalist elites, they share the ruling class prejudice that ordinary working people are too uneducated or too stupid to emancipate themselves and build society anew.

Many on the self-styled left are still convinced that working people need to be guided and led – in all they do, say and think – by those from the upper and middle classes. Yet the Covid 19 Pandemic has shown how reliable and competent ordinary working people are and how incompetent and unreliable the upper and middle-class leaders’ are. So in direct opposition to the various ‘establishments’ condemnations of trucker activism, I say;

“Thank you truckers for your continued deliveries of all the ‘essentials’ I and others needed throughout this pandemic, and also for your timely demonstration of another important aspect of humane based solidarity – solidarity among vaccinated and un-vaccinated people!“

Roy Ratcliffe (February 2022)

[See also Jim Kavanagh at thepolemicist. net/2022/02/shallow-marxist-trashing-of-truckers ]

Posted in Critique | Leave a comment