Following a headlong confrontation over the Governor of Wisconsin, the reactionary Scott Walker, and his direct assaults on the public sector unions and their legislative achievements, much of the US left is now abuzz with the resounding failure of the campaign to recall him. In what had been seen as one of the last great revivals of the labor movement in the United States, workers officially and unofficially organized against Walker, even going so far as to occupy the Capitol building and to make the functioning of the Wisconsin legislature impossible. There were massive campaigns for opposition against the anti-union onslaught, and it was seen by many in organized labor as a decisive battle on whether the fight for union rights could be won in America. Laws undermining the public sector unions had already passed without much difficulty in Indiana and Missouri, but were defeated in Ohio. In this way, Wisconsin became something of a battleground, befitting a state which has a reputation for supplying leading politicians of both the left wing and the right wing, relative to American standards. But the Democratic Party took the leadership of the campaign together with the unions, and supplied a weak centrist called Tom Barrett against Walker – a candidate who, as mayor of Milwaukee, failed to even endorse unequivocally the union position, and who had lost the election against Walker in the first place. In the end, Barrett added about 150.000 extra votes, but Walker added 200.000 extra votes, and therefore won by a larger margin than before. For all the union efforts, the Democratic Party nationally put in no real support for the campaign, and President Obama could not be bothered to do more than post a Tweet about it. This despite his pledge, during his own campaigning, that in case of an attack on union organizing he’d “put on a pair of comfortable shoes and join them on the picket line”. Continue reading “Unions and the West: The Scott Walker Affair”
Lord Ahmed’s Bounty
The news today in London is that the Labour Party is considering expelling their notorious peer, Lord Ahmed, for allegedly having put a bounty on the head of some war criminals.(1) This is a practice hardly unheard of – just recently, the United States set a $10 million bounty on the head of the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-i-Toiba, and they had previously done the same with Osama Bin Laden, various Iraqi figures, and so forth. This corsair approach to political operations stands the Party of Order in good stead, no doubt. But they had not counted on the wily Lord Ahmed, who is reported to have responded to this in the Pakistani Express Tribune by putting an equal sum of money on the heads of… Presidents Obama and G.W. Bush.
Lord Ahmed denies having done so, and claims his statement was merely an expression of opposition to the adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. This may be so. But the substance of the claim is interesting. Firstly, it seems fair to say that if the wholesale murder of civilians is to be deplored – which it surely is – on the part of Lashkar-e-Toiba, who are held responsible for the assassinations in Mumbai in recent times, then the same should surely apply to the orchestrators of several wars of a nature most devastating to civilians in the Middle East. Secondly, the immediate response on the part of the “Labour” Party to prepare to expel Lord Ahmed is telling. From its very origins onwards, this so-called “Labour” Party has failed every challenge set before it in the domain of chauvinism and expansionism abroad. It joined the Asquith government in the imperialist butchery that was World War I. It supported the campaigns against the ‘tribes’ in Iraq, the ‘neutrality’ policy in Spain, the rejection of a Soviet alliance in 1939; it supported colonization and imperialism in the Empire and worked as vigorously to maintain these possessions as one would expect of a society of shareholders in rubber futures. It supported the Suez adventure, the wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the adventures in Iran; it supported the two Gulf Wars and the occupation of Afghanistan, the fourth such by the United Kingdom. It has, in other words, appeared as the agent of the labour aristocracy in foreign affairs, the ‘left foot of imperialism’.
In a time when the International Criminal Court expresses the universal aspiration of mankind to a justice that is more than just partial, national, and one-sided, and when due to the forces of global ‘free trade’ the various nations and peoples are made ever more immediately aware of each other’s circumstances, such institutions as the ICC and the UN nonetheless manifest themselves as the Kantian-universalist banner under which imperialism is now forced to march. This makes their real functioning all the more despicable and all the more transparent. The ICC has only prosecuted and imprisoned those defeated or isolated by the great powers, it has been totally unable to challenge the militarism of these powers themselves. This despite the fact the Nürnberg precedent clearly indicates that “waging aggressive warfare” is a hanging offense. Under these circumstances, then, to clearly outline the hypocrisy on the part of the US government and its lackeys abroad is an important political step. To identify the American rulers as not being above reproach and not to be taken in by their sanctimonious aura of “good will to all men” is of great significance for any critical political understanding.
Militarism and chauvinism pervert the judgement of the citizen, lead to pointless hatred and slaughter, and achieve only division where their should be unity between working people. Active support for imperialism is tantamount to support for those classes in whose interest it is undertaken. Choosing the cause of the white labour aristocracy in the West over the cause of internationalism and the cause of the global working people is a political and strategic blunder, as great as that of 1914. For those reasons, whether or not Lord Ahmed actually said what is alleged, we say that he should have said it. And if push does come to shove on this matter, we say it is not the Labour Party that should expel Lord Ahmed, but it is Lord Ahmed that should expel the Labour Party, which has betrayed the interests of working people worldwide.
“My deeds upon my head! I crave the law,
The penalty and forfeit of my bond.”
1) “Peer suspended after bounty claim”. BBC News (April 15, 2012). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17723890
War With Iran Is Not Inevitable
There have been many theories of imperial overstretch in the past, but surely none of them would have expected any empire or its allies to be so foolish as to attack three immediately bordering targets in a row. As the sophisticated statesmen and -women of the West once again steer us all towards an unnecessary and artificial conflict, one would do well to reflect on the nature and consequences of a war zone stretching from Iraq through Iran to Afghanistan and the western regions of Pakistan. None of these areas are known for their good governance, their stable political and economic structures, or their previous history of allowing easy conquest and rule. Yet this does not appear to restrain the dogs of war from once again throwing themselves at another country of the greater Middle East, this time under the pretext of the imminent danger of nuclear weapons. Continue reading “War With Iran Is Not Inevitable”
Israel’s fascist turn speeds up
Although by this point it is difficult to believe such a thing is possible, recent months have seen a further worsening of Israeli politics and policies both within the country and vis-á-vis the Arab population. A proposal by the fascistoid Yisrael Beitenu to implement a ‘loyalty oath’ for Israel citizens was rejected by the Netanyahu cabinet as recently as May last year(1), but now has actually been approved as a new law for those seeking to be naturalized to Israeli citizenship. Although this affects only a small number of people each year, it shows how slowly, step by step, Israel further and further moves the Overton window of political possibility towards an outright warlike fascism.(2) Prime Minister Netanyahu himself explicitly supported the proposal, adding:
As the cabinet began its deliberations Sunday, Netanyahu reiterated his support for the amendment. “The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people and it is a democratic state for all its citizenship,” he said. “Jews and non-Jews enjoy equality and full rights.”
“Unfortunately, there are many today who tried to blur not only the unique connection of the Jewish people to its homeland, but also the connection of the Jewish people to its state,” Netanyahu added.
This indeed is the clue: the connection of the Jewish people to ‘its state’ and ‘its homeland’. As we have described before, it is in the nature of settler states, set up against the will of a hostile local population, to rally around ethnic-racial standards and to pursue a policy of aggression and ultimately so-called ‘ethnic cleansing’ against that original population, since these methods are the only ones which can ensure that the settler state can exist qua settler state. Israel calls itself the “only democracy in the Middle East”, a refrain endlessly repeated ad lib. by its politicians of the ‘left’ and right – but it is a democracy that refuses to extend its citizenship to the hundreds of thousands it has driven out out of their land since its creation and their descendants, none of whom are even allowed anywhere near its hallowed lands. The falsehood of the idea of a ‘Jewish connection to the land’ is revealed when Israeli law allows any Jew according to its regulations to settle freely anywhere within Israel and obtain its citizenship, regardless of whether they and their ancestors have lived in Australia or Germany or Canada for generations on end, yet the Palestinians who still have the keys to the houses they were driven out of are not allowed to approach the border. Continue reading “Israel’s fascist turn speeds up”
Boycotting Israel: What Is To Be Done
Electronic Intifada has run an excellent article outlining the historical background of the divestment and boycott campaign against Israel. When the regime of the NP in South Africa implemented the ‘apartheid’ policy of racial segregation, total disenfranchisement of non-whites and open and concealed warfare against left wing forces, the head of the African National Congress openly called for a campaign to boycott South Africa. This campaign was extraordinarily succesful on the part of the common people as well as intellectuals in Europe and America, despite ongoing support for the reactionary dictatorship in South Africa by the US government and some right-wing European parties. From the early 1960s on, the boycott first and foremost took the form of a campaign to ‘divest’ from South Africa, that is to say to withdraw any capitalist investment in that country on the part of pension funds, city boards, and individual corporations in order to economically undermine the basis of the South African regime. The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in 1961 to the effect of calling for economic sanctions against South Africa for the apartheid crime, but predictably, rather than taking economic action against a ‘friendly country’, the Western countries decided to boycott the GA meeting instead. Because of the persistent refusal to implement divestment or sanctions on the part of Western governments, whether of the right or ‘left’ (such as Harold Wilson), it took until the early 1980s for the international campaign for boycotting South Africa to reach the necessary critical mass. Eventually the strength of the anti-apartheid movement was so great that a Republican US Congress passed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986, overriding their own President Reagan’s veto. Continue reading “Boycotting Israel: What Is To Be Done”