Lizzie Phelan On Libya, Syria In New York Times Interview [Transcript]

New York Times interview with Lizzie Phelan

Black Star News

“Earlier today I was video interviewed over Skype by New York Times journalist Robert Mackey about my coverage of events in Libya and Syria and my criticisms of the mainstream western and GCC media in relation to events in those countries.

This was my first interview by a mainstream western media organisation and I have been told that the video will be published in full tomorrow.

Prior to the interview I was sent three questions outlining the general topics that would be covered in the interview. In some ways the interview veered away from these topics and so here I will publish the questions that were outlined prior to the interview and publish my full answers to them, just because I feel like it is important that full responses are given to these questions in particular, and while I made most of these points in the interview, there are some points that I omitted.”

— Lizzie Phelan

ROBERT MACKEY: Since your impressions of what is happening in Syria seem to be strikingly different from those of many foreign reporters who have worked there recently, I wanted to ask you about how you found your sources and what you think accounts for the different picture painted of the conflict by other journalists.

LIZZIE PHELAN: First of all I hope that you will give me the opportunity to answer all of your questions in full, so that the context which is always lacking can be provided. I also hope that you will ask all the questions that you proposed when I agreed to do this interview. If not I will myself publish the full questions and my full answers.

This question is flawed, because what you really mean is that my impressions of what is happening in Syria seem to be strikingly different from those reporters from the NATO and GCC countries which have a vested interest in destabilising Syria. Of course my impressions are actually shared by the majority people of this world, from those countries outside of NATO and the GCC and particularly those which are victims of these powers. But because they do not own a powerful media their voices are drowned out by the impressions of the minority reflected in the mainstream media of the NATO and GCC countries.

So in relation to my sources, I find my sources through a number of different means, but my main means is I talk to ordinary people every where I go and in Syria this is not difficult because people are really keen to speak about the crisis in their country, especially to foreigners who they feel strongly have a false impression about their country and current events. This was overwhelmingly, but of course not exclusively, the point of view that I encountered. And this is reflected in my reporting.

In fact, like in Libya, I was so overwhelmed by the volume of people that wanted to talk about their anger at the fabrications in the media of the NATO and GCC countries that my colleague Mostafa Afzalzadeh and I decided to make a documentary so that we could reflect what ordinary Syrian people are really saying. This documentary will actually expose how if it was not for such media the crisis in Syria would have been over before it started and the people of Syria would be living in peace now.

The difference with journalists from mainstream media in NATO and GCC countries is that they come with an agenda, and that agenda is to cover what they call is a “revolution” happening inside Syria and to give substance to the false claims that the Syrian government is a threat to the Syrian people. So if for example they walk down the street and they have 10 people telling them there is no revolution happening in Syria and actually the people want the army to protect them from the terrorists that are flooding the country, and then they have one person who tells them that there is no democracy in Syria, they will discard the 10 as government spies and run with the one person who said something different, I witnessed this myself.

If they were to do the reverse and reflect the majority view on the street, then this would undermine the coverage of their media organisations over the previous 10 months that have painted a picture of a government hated by its people, and in turn it would undermine their own credibility as journalists working for those organisations.

But in time they will not be able to supress the truth. However, like in Libya the danger is that the truth only comes out when it is too late, when a country has been successfully destroyed by the NATO and GCC countries, with the vital help of their media. Then the western media can afford to be more honest, although never entirely, because the aims, for example of regime change, of their paymasters have been achieved.

I on the other hand am not concerned about towing a line in order to “make it” as a journalist working for one of the world’s most respected media organisations, I became a journalist in order to reflect the truth at whatever cost that may come. The only thing I am loyal to is my conscience.

RM: Since you have appeared on Press TV and Russia Today, as well as Syria state television, do you have any concern that you might seem to be endorsing the governments that finance those channels, or do you see your role more as that of an activist, opposing the policies of the US and UK, than as a neutral reporter?

LP: This question in itself is a very deceitful and loaded question, and it is taken out of all context. It implies that BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera etc and the journalists who work for those organisations are independent from their financiers. If I worked for BBC does that mean that I am endorsing the British government which funds it and that government’s centuries long and present abuses across the world?

Why is the NYT concerned about my work for Russia Today and Press TV? I challenge you to find me specific examples of journalists that work for these organisations that have engaged in bad journalistic practise. Why are you not concerned about journalists who work for Al Jazeera that is funded by and reflects the foreign policy of the Qatari emir and royal family. Al Jazeera has been proven many times over in the past few months to have published false reports about events in the region, not least Libya.

How can their journalists be neutral when their employer hosts the largest US military base in the region, and has been responsible for sending thousands of fighters, weapons and a lot of money to kill and destroy in Libya and is now doing the same in Syria in addition to having called for Arab troops to invade the country. Likewise, I have yet to hear the NYT question the “neutrality” of journalists who work with the British state funded BBC, or journalists who work for the Murdoch Press which is well documented to have strong connections with all the major western powers which are responsible for the greatest violations of international law.

So the question should start from the premise that no news organisations are neutral, and each represent a certain ideology. So if you ask me if I feel more at peace working for news channels whichreflect the ideology of states that are defending themselves from constant attack by the west, that is an ideology that opposes foreign interference in their affairs and promotes their own independence, or would I feel more comfortable working for media organisations that reflect the arrogant ideology that western civilisation is superior and should be imposed across the world by any means necessary, then I think any person with the slightest understanding of global politics and at least recent history would say the former.

An additional deception in this question is that there is such a thing as neutrality and that journalists are able to separate their own beliefs in what they choose to cover and how they cover it, or indeed the pretence that journalists do not hold an opinion.

As I said, I am not concerned about others perceptions of these things, because anyone who perceives that because I have worked for Russia Today or Press TV it means that I am in someone’s pocket, whereas if I was working for a western organisation I would be “neutral,” is deceiving themselves and choosing to look at a tiny portion of a whole picture.

Incidentally, when I was stuck in the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli with those 35 other journalists, one of the days, two New York Times journalists rushed into the hotel and swiftly exited when they realised that the hotel was being defended by Gaddafi supporters. Actually one of the two in particular was worried about the Gaddafi supporters harming him, but they requested that they just leave. Why was he so worried? Because he said he was related to somebody senior in the NTC no less. I have never seen his neutrality being called into question by the mainstream media.

Finally, what is an activist? If it means that the role you play has the effect of agitating events, then I would say that we are all in some shape or form activists. For anyone to think that their actions are benign and have no repercussions, is at best naïve. This is particularly true for all journalists, whose actions as reporters have greater repercussions than other ordinary citizens of this world. And this is of course because their voice is afforded a special platform, and when you study journalism you are taught that a reporter should act as the eyes and ears of the general public, and thus you have greater influence than the ordinary citizen.

So you either use that platform to promote justice and the principles of international law which are fundamental for everyone’s well being, or you bury your head in the sand about the responsibility that comes with that platform and you use it to promote your own personal career or interests.

RM: I also wanted to find out more about your reporting from Libya, and ask how you respond to allegations that you supported the government of Col. Qaddafi? All in all, I’m trying to get a better understanding of what drives you to speak out against Western governments but apparently lend your support to governments, like those in Iran, Russia and Syria now, that have been accused of serious human rights abuses.

LP: Again this is another deceitful question and epitomises the manipulative approach of the world’s powerful media, such as newspapers like the NYT.

Here you are asking me this question because the west’s major powers and media criminalised Muammar Gaddafi, Iran etc by accusing them of abusing human rights.

So you are trying to put me into this trap by saying that if I support Muammar Gaddafi, and Iran I also support abuses against human rights.

But first of all this question of human rights is an absolute fallacy and is at present the number one stick used to bash leaders of independent developing countries in order to provide a moral justification for the imposition of the western system upon those countries.

My colleague Dan Glazebrook did an interview on Russia Today last week following the decision by Doctors Without Borders to stop their work in Libya in despair at the appalling torture against tens of thousands of pro-Gaddafi Libyans by those rebels who have been cheered on for the past year by the western media. He reminded the public that according to HRW reports from the past 5 years, there were three possible cases of deaths in custody in Libya over 5 years, which is really exemplary, but in Britain there were 4 cases last month alone. So I would be far more concerned about being associated with the British government and thus its appalling human rights record. And that is just Britain – the rest of the NATO countries, particularly the US and also Israel and the GCC countries fare no better.

Factually speaking Libya was a paradise for human rights and Muammar Gaddafi was due to receive a human rights award prior to the NATO onslaught. And of course Libya had the highest standard of living in Africa and much of the region, including a much higher standard of living than Saudi Arabia which hardly ever is in the spotlight in the mainstream western press.

Nonetheless, you wouldn’t dream of implying that a journalist who works for the Sun or the Guardian in Britain, both of which take a position of supporting one way or another the Conservative party or the Labour Party, of supporting abuses on human rights because they work for papers which support parties that have committed some of the greatest injustices known to man throughout history all across the world and up until this present day. Injustices which far outstrip any injustices that have occurred at the hands of any leader of a developing country.

So why the two-faces? This is all part of the prejudice in western media that western civilisation is superior to anything else and therefore those responsible for the injustices committed by the west need not be held accountable, and anyone who speaks out against that should have their name dragged through the mud.

Malcolm X famously said “if you are not careful, the media will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the oppressor”, and that quote rings true more than ever today most recently in the way that the western and GCC media has covered events in Libya and Syria.

But to respond to your question directly, as I have stated, what I support is respect for international law, and the most important principle in international law, and one of the main stated aims for the body that was set up to uphold international law, the now redundant UN, is respect for the sovereignty of nations and non-interference in the internal affairs of states. Recent history shows that the root of the greatest injustices known to man is the violation of these principles and so anyone who violates these principles is a criminal and should be treated as such, and anyone who is a victim of such violations should be defended.

Now not only these principles, but all relevant international laws and norms were violated in the case of Libya and the west’s treatment of Muammar Gaddafi, and this has been well documented. The same violations are playing out against the Syrian government.

How is it that one can moralise about human rights, but not give a second’s thought to the fact that a senior member of the US government, Hilary Clinton called for the death of another head of state, Muammar Gaddafi, just two days before he was assassinated. I hope I don’t need to tell you that that was entirely illegal and abhorrent.

I am wholly against such violations, just as anybody who believes in international law and justice would be, and therefore I will support the right of anyone to defend themselves against this violation by any means necessary.

I have been accused by some of being a mouthpiece for the Libyan government but now the truth is coming out, we know that the essence of the former Libyan government’s analysis has been proved correct, whilst almost everything reported by the mainstream Western media has been proved wrong:

– The rebellion WAS indeed armed from the very first day of the uprising (this was confirmed in Amnesty’s in-depth report from late last year) – not a peaceful movement.

– The rebels WERE working hand in glove with Western intelligence agencies to facilitate a NATO blitzkrieg.

– The NTC ARE disunited and incapable of governing the country.

– The rebels DO have a racist, even genocidal, policy towards sub-Saharan African migrants and the third of the Libyan population is dark skinned

– Gaddafi’s government WERE NOT conducting aerial attacks against protesters or mass rape (or indeed ANY rape, according to Amnesty)

– There HAD NOT been 10,000 people killed in Benghazi by Gaddafi’s government during the uprising (as the NTC claimed), but 110 (Amnesty figures again) killed on both sides prior to NATO’s attack
etc., etc…

On every major issue, the Gaddafi government’s analysis and figures have been proven far far closer to the truth than the NTC’s and the western media’s initial and unequivocal position. So ANY journalist telling the truth about these issues would have “sounded like a mouthpiece of the regime”, because the government’s analysis was essentially correct, and has now been proven correct.

“Speaking Truth To Empower.”

Proxy War in Syria Threatens Catastrophe for the Middle East

by Shamus Cooke
Global Research
January 30, 2012

In an effort to undermine Iran by overthrowing its strategic ally, Syria, western nations are using their Middle East client states to conduct a multi-pronged attack against Syria through the media, the Arab League, the United Nations and now through military proxy forces. This fact is widely recognized by many mainstream western media sources. For example, the well-connected pro-western magazine, the Economist, casually states:

“Iran and Russia aide the [Syrian government] regime; Saudi Arabia and Turkey favor the rebels… Left alone, the rival camps will fuel a worsening conflict that could destabilize the entire region.” (January 28, 2012).

Of course Saudi Arabia and Turkey are key U.S. allies. Saudi Arabia doesn’t sneeze until first consulting its U.S. ambassador.

A grouping of U.S. client states known as the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain — recently dealt a death blow to the Arab League’s monitoring mission in Syria and are now demanding that the UN Security Council take all “necessary measures” — presumably including an invasion — to ensure regime change in Syria, the same diplomatic maneuver that the U.S. and its European partners in NATO used to justify its mass bombing campaign of Libya.

The Gulf Cooperation Council — a grouping of nations with totalitarian monarchies — appears to be pursuing a serious campaign to overthrow the Syrian government. According to The Times of London:

“Saudi Arabia and Qatar have agreed to fund the Syrian opposition, which is struggling to afford weapons in its fight against President Bashar al-Assad, a Syrian dissident has told The Times… [Syrian] opposition figures held a secret meeting with Saudi and Qatar officials after an Arab League meeting in Cairo last weekend. All the Gulf countries [Cooperation Council] decided then to pull their observers from a monitoring mission that has been widely criticized for being toothless.” (January 27, 2012).

When it comes to the so-called Syrian Free Army — the various armed groups inside Syria attacking the Syrian government — U.S. allies are instrumental in arming, funding, and shielding the fighters. It is no coincidence that the Syrian Free Army is strongest on the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Northern Lebanon, and Jordan — areas with strong U.S. alliances. The Asian Times reports:

“In spite of Turkish denials of support, FSA [Free Syrian Army] fighters are exploiting the relative safety they enjoy in southern Turkey to mount attacks against Syrian forces. The FSA is also alleged to have established bases in northern Lebanon and northern Jordan, regions that have similarly witnessed an influx in Syrian refugees.” (December 20, 2011).

In fact, Turkey hosted the initial meetings of the pro-western, anti-Syria government opposition group, The Syrian National Council, which enjoys tremendous support by the United States but very little inside of Syria.

Another military proxy force was flown in from the U.S.’ new ally, Libya, as reported by the London Telegraph:

“At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians [opposition] requested “assistance” from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms, and potentially volunteers.”

“There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,” said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.” (January 29, 2012).

Indeed we have seen!

This is confirmed by the Wall Street Journal: “… [It is] estimated that 300 to 400 Libyans have based themselves in southern Turkey and crossed the border to join Syrians in skirmishes against government forces… Once inside Syria, they [Libyan fighters] fought in two separate skirmishes in an area they said they believed was in Idlib.” (December 20, 2011).

It is widely rumored that the Libyan fighters are the same Islamic extremists that NATO admits it used to attack the Libyan government.

U.S. allies are enlisting the help of Islamic extremists who fight either for cash or for Jihad. Sunni extremists are enlisted in this fight because the Syrian government relies on Shia Muslim support domestically and also externally, since Iran’s regime is largely Shia Muslim and is a key Syrian Ally.

The majority of Muslims in the world care very little about the small differences between Shia and Sunni Islam; only small groups of extremist sects are willing to kill for their unique vision of Islam. But it is precisely these sects that the U.S. and its Middle Eastern allies rely upon as a military and political force in the region. These sects are powerful only because of years of immense financial and military support by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

Dating back before the U.S.’ support of Islamic extremists later known as the Taliban against the USSR in Afghanistan, the U.S. and its ally, Saudi Arabia (a Sunni Islam extremist dictatorship), have used extremist proxy forces all over the Middle East as pawns in their geo-political chessboard (Vijay Prashad documents Saudi Arabia’s exporting of Sunni extremism in a chapter of his excellent book, The Darker Nations).

One recent example of U.S. backed Sunni extremism is in Iraq, where the United States armed and funded the now-powerful Sunni extremist “Awakening Council” in order to hunt down any Iraqi opposition to the U.S.’ military presence. Now the Awakening Council is being discarded by the Shia majority in Iraq, but the 80,000 plus armed members will not go silently; many of them are rumored to have gone into Syria to further serve their Saudi and U.S. masters.

The New York Times reported about the recent Sunni extremist trend in Syria:

“In interviews last week, some residents of Homs, including several Christians and Alawites [Shia Muslims], expressed fears that hard-line Sunnis known as Salafis were forming armed groups and stoking violence. Those fears… reflected mounting concerns among secular activists that as the conflict drags on, an Islamist [extremist] presence in some militias was giving the uprising an increasingly sectarian character. The tensions played out this week between secular and Islamist activists, with the Islamists pushing to name the weekly Friday protests “Al Jihad,” …” (January 28, 2012).

The article also explains that much of the violence in Syria is not due to the Syrian government gunning down un-armed protesters, but responding instead to the violent attacks from these armed groups.

The above Asian Times article also commented on the Sunni extremist trend mounting against the Syrian government from northern Lebanon, a country which contains some key U.S. allies:

“Prominent radical Salafist [Sunni] clerics in Tripoli [Lebanon], including Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal, have called on Syrian Sunnis to join the uprising against the Ba’athist [Syrian] regime… Lebanon’s US- and Saudi-aligned “March 14 Alliance” (which includes former Lebanese Prime Minster Saad Hariri’s Sunni-dominated Future Movement) is in the forefront of organizing anti-Syrian [government] activities in Lebanon.”

Fanning sectarian flames in Syria is especially dangerous. Like Iraq, Syria has a complex make-up of ethnic and religious groups that, if armed and manipulated, could easily lead to another Iraqi-style humanitarian tragedy. But the U.S. and its allies know no other form of intervention; divide and rule is a very effective way to overthrow a government. What the U.S. and its allies have not fully considered is whether they can confine the potential devastation to Syria.

Iran and Russia have a huge stake in the Syrian government’s survival; Russia has freely admitted to recently sending $550 million worth of fighter jets to Syria, while also sending Russian battle ships as a deterrent to a foreign invasion. As the proxy war lumbers on, further foreign intervention — money and arms — on both sides will increase; the interfering nations will thus become more “invested” in the conflict, increasing the urge to protect their investments, possibly pulling them directly into the war.

Tensions in the Middle East have already reached explosive levels. The U.S. and its allies careless attitude in provoking a possible regional war seems more than a little mad. But this insanity has a logical basis; the declining economic power of the United States has forced it to rely on its military might as it battles China and Russia for global economic/political supremacy. The U.S.’ activity in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya is pushing Russia and Iran to take a more confrontational stance in stopping the spread of U.S. client states in the region. Syria is thus a global proxy battleground in a larger series of events that now directly threatens the entire Middle East, and possibly beyond.

Shamus Cooke is a social worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org)

Also see:
Crimson Satellite Syria News

Syria’s Tribes And Clans: United Against Destabilization Efforts

Participants in Tribes and Clans Assembly Affirm Solidarity with All Syrians in Defense of the Country
January 29, 2012

H. Sabbagh
SANA English Bulletin

RAQQA, (SANA) – Participants in the tribes and clans assembly which will be held in Raqqa governorate on Monday affirmed that clansmen and tribesmen – along with all Syrians – will defend their country and confront the conspiracy targeting Syria.

Sheikh Saleh al-Nuemi, organizer of the assembly, said in an interview with the Syrian TV on Sunday that the awareness of clansmen and tribesman in Syria played a role in foiling the conspiracy targeting Syria’s national unity.

He pointed out that the assembly in Raqqa was not the first of its kind, as a similar assembly was organized in Daraa back in March 2011, saying that clans played a role in calming and reconciliation as they always have in the past.

For his part, elder of al-Hleisat clan, sheikh Shaaban Hammoud, stressed that Syria will remain immune to conspirators and will always be the beating heart of the Arab nation, and that Syria will never accept any imposed solution that excludes the restoration of Palestine and Golan.

In turn, director of Raqqa Endowments (Awqaf) sheikh Abdullah Saleh pointed out that the entire Arab and Islamic nation is being targeted through the attack on Syria which is using unprecedented media instigation based on lies and falsehoods, with some channels that claim to be religious issuing Fatwas calling for shedding Syrian blood.

For her part, writer Najah Ibrahim said that Syria never knew division, racism or sectarianism throughout its history, and that Syria’s intellectuals must play their role in confronting this crisis which was manufactured by foreign forces.

Egypt: Military and Islamists Target Women, Copts, Workers

For a Workers and Peasants Government!

Workers Vanguard

JANUARY 14—As the beginning of parliamentary elections approached in November, almost a year after the overthrow of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, mass protests demanding an end to military rule broke out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and across urban Egypt. Police and the army attacked demonstrators with whips, tasers, truncheons and live ammunition, killing dozens. With more rounds of elections scheduled, it is far from clear that the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has any intention of allowing a civilian government to be established. Ominously, Islamists, the largest organized opposition, have swept the polls, with the reactionary Muslim Brotherhood and the even more hardline Salafists winning some 70 percent of the vote between them.

Last winter’s uprising toppled Mubarak’s hated, military-backed regime, only to result in an even more open dictatorship of the armed forces. At the time, the bourgeois media and almost the entire left internationally hailed this as the Egyptian “revolution.” Since taking power, the SCAF has strengthened the police powers of the capitalist state and cracked down on social unrest. This is precisely what we warned about at the time, in opposition to widespread illusions that “the army and the people are one hand.”

The military’s repressive measures have been aimed centrally at the restive working class. Within months of Mubarak’s ouster, the regime banned strikes and demonstrations. In September, the SCAF expanded the hated emergency law to ban damaging state property, disrupting work and blocking roads with demonstrations. Between February and September, at least 12,000 civilians were tried in military courts, more than under Mubarak’s 30-year rule. With the first anniversary of the outbreak of mass protests approaching, the regime postponed the verdict in the trial of Mubarak for ordering the killing of protesters.

The oppressive conditions of life in neocolonial Egypt have generated enormous popular anger. In a country where 40 percent of the population lives on $2 a day or less, many families spend more than half their income on food. In 2008, when the prices of basic foods doubled, riots broke out across the country. Today the military regime is threatening to slash the bread subsidy. Unemployment is pervasive, affecting a quarter of youth and 60 percent of the rural population. The peasantry, more than 30 percent of Egypt’s population, toils in conditions that have scarcely changed from the time of the pharaohs. Malnutrition and anemia are rampant. Most peasants are either smallholders with less than one acre, tenants or migrant rural laborers. The terrible impoverishment continues to be enforced through police-state repression. As one striking worker explained, there are no jobs, no money, no food, and those who complain about it are thrown in prison.

The leadership of last spring’s protests offered nothing to alleviate the material conditions of life for the majority of the population, instead subordinating everything to the question of electoral democracy and preaching the nationalist lie that Egyptians of all classes had common interests. As we emphasized shortly before Mubarak’s ouster, “What is urgently posed in Egypt today is that the powerful proletariat—the only class with the social power to overturn the brutal and decrepit capitalist order—emerge as the leader of all the oppressed masses” (“Egypt: Mass Upheaval Challenges Dictatorship,” WV No. 973, 4 February 2011).

The industrial working class has amply demonstrated its social power and militancy, particularly in the textile industry. Strike waves continue to sweep the country. Bus drivers, textile workers, government employees and others have fought in defense of their unions and their livelihoods. But for the proletariat to emerge as a contender for power in its own right will require a tremendous leap in political consciousness. It must be broken from nationalist illusions and religious reaction and be won to the defense of all those oppressed in capitalist society. This requires the leadership of a vanguard workers party that opposes all bourgeois forces—from the military and the liberal opposition to reactionary political Islam—in the fight for proletarian revolution.

The Military and the Islamists

In the absence of a revolutionary proletarian alternative capable of addressing the felt needs of the mass of the population, the election returns are giving a measure of the grip that politically organized religion has on the downtrodden. The Muslim Brotherhood’s reactionary purpose is expressed in the slogan “the Koran is our constitution.” Promoting itself as a civilian alternative to military rule, it would dominate any government elected today. Its self-proclaimed “tolerance” for Coptic Christians is belied by its long history of organized terror. The Brotherhood’s historic aim of establishing an Islamic state has often brought it into violent conflict with the Egyptian government; nonetheless, successive regimes have encouraged the Islamists in countless ways and used them as a battering ram against workers, leftists, women and minorities.

The military, police and Islamists have all joined in recent attacks on women and on the Coptic Christian minority, which constitutes some 10 percent of the population. On October 9, protesters rallying against the burning of Coptic churches outside the Maspero state television studio in Cairo were attacked by uniformed military forces and Islamist mobs. In collusion with the army and riot police, armed thugs roamed the streets seeking out Christians, including women and children, killing more than 20 and maiming hundreds.

Women were targeted soon after the military takeover. Thugs who were mobilized around slogans such as “the people want women to step down” and “the Koran is our ruler” violently attacked a March 8 International Women’s Day demonstration in Cairo. In an act of calculated humiliation, women arrested at a protest the next day were forced to undergo “virginity” tests. Now, the image of a young woman, some of her clothing torn off, being dragged through the streets by military thugs in a December protest has become symbolic of the public degradation of women. This earned the regime a slap on the wrist from its U.S. patron, with Hillary Clinton commenting that such conduct “dishonors the revolution.”

Dead-End Reformism

In December, the Islamists launched a vicious campaign against the Revolutionary Socialists (RS) that was seized on by state security forces and propagated in much of the bourgeois media. The Muslim Brotherhood’s newspaper ran a front-page article baiting the RS as violent while the Salafist Al-Nour Party accused the organization of “anarchy” and of being funded by the CIA, setting it up for state repression. It is in the interests of the whole working class to defend the RS and to defeat such slanderous attacks, which are meant to send a message to all leftists and the workers movement as a whole.

Along with its cothinkers of the international tendency founded by the late Tony Cliff, the RS countered the attack by organizing a public defense campaign. At the same time, they were taken aback that the Muslim Brotherhood had joined in the witchhunt against them: “The attack on the Revolutionary Socialists by prominent Brotherhood members sparked outrage because the RS played such a central role in defending the Brotherhood at the height of Mubarak’s campaign against the Islamists” (socialistworker.co.uk, 26 December). In the mass protests last year, the RS embraced the Brotherhood as allies in the struggle against dictatorship, even posting on the RS Web site a statement by the Brotherhood, complete with the Brotherhood’s emblem of crossed swords cradling the Koran. Even when the RS itself is the target, these inveterate tailists have continued to pursue an alliance with the forces of religious reaction.

In March, the military government issued a law regulating the formation of parties. With the pretense of defending secularism against the Islamists, the law targets organizations of the working class as well as those that seek to represent women and oppressed minorities. It reasserts a reactionary 1977 ban on parties that are based on “religion, class, sect, profession or geography” or are established “on account of gender, language, religion or creed” (“The Main Features of the Amended Law on Political Parties 2011,” http://www.sis.gov.eg).

As we wrote last year in a polemic against the RS and its international cothinkers, we reject the “bankrupt reformist framework, which posits that the only two ‘choices’ for the working class in Egypt are to capitulate either to the ‘secular,’ military-backed bourgeois-nationalist regime or to political Islam. In fact, these are alternative ways of propping up capitalist class rule, the system which ensures vast wealth for its rulers and dire poverty for the urban and rural masses” (“Pandering to Reactionary Muslim Brotherhood,” WV No. 974, 18 February 2011).

The three major electoral blocs—those representing the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafists and the bourgeois liberals—have all taken aim at the working class in their election campaigns, explicitly condemning strikes. While the widespread strikes and protests of the last year have given leftist organizations an opening to operate more publicly, the situation has also made clear how the reformist organizations act as an obstacle to the fight to build a revolutionary party that champions the working class, poor peasants and all the oppressed.

The Democratic Workers Party (DWP), which is associated with the RS, promotes itself as representing the interests of the working class. Along with other left organizations and prominent figures like feminist author Nawal El-Saadawi, the DWP has called to boycott the elections in protest against the military regime’s brutality. The DWP’s program makes no pretense of socialism, instead demanding “the establishment of a parliamentary republic” (International Socialism, 28 June 2011). This is simply a call for a species of bourgeois government.

In promoting the call for a parliamentary republic, the reformists falsely tie the democratic aspirations of the population to the class rule of the Egyptian bourgeoisie. In Egypt, where successive parliaments have served as fig leaves for military dictatorship, the desires of the masses for political democracy, including freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, are just and deeply felt. However, the burning needs of the Egyptian masses—from fundamental democratic rights to women’s emancipation and eradicating the desperate urban and rural poverty—cannot be addressed except by uprooting the capitalist order and establishing a workers and peasants government. As Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin wrote:

“The dictatorship of the proletariat alone can emancipate humanity from the oppression of capital, from the lies, falsehood and hypocrisy of bourgeois democracy—democracy for the rich—and establish democracy for the poor, that is, make the blessings of democracy really accessible to the workers and poor peasants, whereas now (even in the most democratic—bourgeois—republic) the blessings of democracy are, in fact, inaccessible to the vast majority of working people.

—V.I. Lenin, “‘Democracy’ and Dictatorship” (December 1918)

Imperialism and the Mask of “Human Rights”

The imperialist rulers are past masters at cloaking their bloody depredations in the rhetoric of “human rights” and “democracy.” Bourgeois liberals, the supposedly “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) and the reformist left have done their bit to embellish this image. In Libya, the imperialists carried out the terror bombing that led to the ouster and assassination of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi under a “humanitarian” banner, with the authorization of the United Nations. Cheerleading for the “Arab revolution” against dictatorship, much of the reformist left internationally fell into line with the imperialists’ campaign, hailing the Libyan “rebels” who were willing tools for the NATO attack. The RS enthused over rebel-controlled “liberated Libya,” where “all the institutions, including the courts, military forces, police and prisons, are under the popular democratic control” (Center for Socialist Studies, 4 March 2011).

The Libyan “rebels” comprised a collection of defectors from the Qaddafi regime, monarchists, Islamic fundamentalists, former CIA assets, tribal chiefs and others. They gave a pretext for the imperialist bombing, acted as the ground troops for the imperialists and carried out pogroms against black African immigrants in the territories they had seized. In a statement issued the day after the imperialist bombing began, the International Communist League put forward a perspective of proletarian internationalism, giving no political support to Qaddafi but calling on “workers around the world to take a stand for military defense of semicolonial Libya.” We added: “From Indochina and the Korean peninsula to the U.S.-led occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan today, the ‘democratic’ imperialist rulers wade in the blood of millions upon millions of their victims” (“Defend Libya Against Imperialist Attack!” WV No. 977, 1 April 2011).

Egypt was and remains a top recipient of U.S. military aid, to the tune of $1.3 billion a year. At the same time, provoking bitter complaints from the SCAF, the imperialists have also cultivated “democratic” opposition groups to give a humanitarian guise to their operations and to influence protest movements. And now that the Islamists are riding high on their electoral victory, the Obama administration has held high-level meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood in an attempt to forge closer ties.

Since Mubarak’s overthrow, the U.S. has given more than $40 million to Egyptian “human rights” groups. In December, Britain announced plans to double the amount of aid it gives to NGOs in the Near East. A major sponsor of NGOs around the world is the United Nations, which itself was set up to give a humanitarian veneer to the depredations of imperialism, particularly American imperialism. The NGOs, sanctioned by and receiving funding from the imperialists, are hardly independent from their bourgeois sponsors.

Showing how little tolerance it has for political activity even when it is backed by its own imperialist patrons, Egypt’s military regime raided the offices of 17 NGOs on December 29. These included the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, linked to German chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic party, as well as the notorious CIA conduit Freedom House. After the U.S. State Department announced it was “deeply concerned” and threatened to cut military aid to Egypt, the regime promised to return all of the seized materials and allow the NGOs to return to normal operations.

A 14 April 2011 article on the “Arab Spring” in the New York Times reported that “the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans.” One vehicle for this is the Center for Applied NonViolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), which has advised “pro-democracy” activists on overthrowing regimes that are in the imperialists’ crosshairs, from Zimbabwe to Iran to Venezuela. In Egypt, the role of organizations such as CANVAS is to steer mass protests in directions acceptable to the imperialists.

CANVAS describes itself in the vaguest of terms, stating that it does not receive funding from any government and that “our agenda is educational, not political” (www.canvasopedia.org). But CANVAS’s purpose is amply illustrated by its history. It was founded by Slobodan Djinovic, the head of Serbia’s largest private Internet and phone company, and Srdja Popovic, a former member of parliament. Both were leaders of the Serbian student opposition group Otpor, which received funds from imperialist conduits such as the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA front, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, another CIA conduit. Otpor spearheaded the protests that toppled Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic in the fall of 2000. These protests amounted to a continuation by other means of the 1999 NATO “human rights” bombing campaign against Serbia, carried out under the pretense of defending the Kosovar Albanians. The April 6 Youth Movement, hailed in the bourgeois media for its role in the Egyptian “revolution,” modeled its logo on Otpor’s and used CANVAS’s materials to train its membership.

April 6 is part of the Revolution Youth Council (RYC), a bloc that formed last winter and claimed to speak on behalf of protesters in Tahrir Square. The RYC also includes representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of “democratic” oppositionist Mohamed ElBaradei. The U.S. International Socialist Organization, former affiliates of the Cliff tendency, hailed them as “Egypt’s young revolutionaries.” Both April 6 and the RYC have demanded that the SCAF hand power to a “national salvation government” headed by ElBaradei, who announced today that he was withdrawing from the presidential race, saying that the military was not about to hand power to elected rulers. ElBaradei has proved his usefulness to the imperialists: While head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, he led the charge to investigate Iraq’s supposed “weapons of mass destruction” in the run-up to the U.S. invasion in 2003.

For Trade Unions Independent of the Capitalist State!

In the decade leading to Mubarak’s ouster, the Egyptian proletariat engaged in a wave of struggle that included over two million workers participating in over 3,000 strikes, sit-ins and other actions. These were carried out in defiance of the corrupt leadership of the state-run Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), the only legally recognized union body, whose predecessor was established by Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1957. For over two decades, it was customary for the federation’s president to serve as the Minister of Labor. Acting as the Egyptian dictatorship’s lieutenants within the labor movement, the ETUF leadership refused to approve strikes, sabotaged workers struggles and informed on militants, setting them up for repression.

Since Mubarak’s fall, a number of new trade unions have flourished. According to historian Joel Beinin, “Some independent unions—like the Cairo Joint Transport Authority union of bus drivers and garage workers and the RETA [Real Estate Tax Authority] workers’ union—are quite large and command the loyalty of a great majority of the potential bargaining unit. Others have only fifty to one hundred members in factories employing hundreds or thousands” (“What Have Workers Gained from Egypt’s Revolution?” Foreign Policy, 20 July 2011). The Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU), founded last January, has been feted by the tops of the AFL-CIO and the British Trades Union Congress, labor bureaucrats who act as the agents of their imperialist ruling classes, as well as by reformist “socialists.”

Although the EFITU is not directly run by the Egyptian state, it is not politically independent from the capitalist rulers. Beinin approvingly reports that the EFITU and other organizations filed a court suit calling on the military regime to dissolve the ETUF and seize its assets, which the military did. This was an open invitation for the bosses’ state to attack not only the ETUF unions but the workers movement more broadly, serving to renew labor’s ties to the state. The development of a new, class-struggle leadership in the unions—one that would fight for strong industrial unions independent of the capitalist state—is a crucial part of the struggle to build the revolutionary workers party that is urgently needed.

Bankrupt Nationalism Breeds Religious Reaction

Born of a history of imperialist subjugation, Egyptian nationalism has long served the country’s capitalist rulers by obscuring the class divide between the tiny layer of filthy rich at the top and the brutally exploited and impoverished working class. Rather than struggling to break the working class from these illusions, left organizations including the RS have bolstered them. Harking back to the 1950s-60s, when the left-nationalist strongman Nasser wielded substantial influence in the Near East, the RS proclaimed, “Revolution must restore Egypt’s independence, dignity and leadership in the region” (see “Egypt: Military Takeover Props Up Capitalist Rule,” WV No. 974, 18 February 2011).

Nasser’s bourgeois regime, which continues to be idealized by the Egyptian left today, came to power in a military coup during a period of mass protests and strikes that followed World War II. Military forces led by Colonel Nasser overthrew the monarchy of King Farouk in 1952, followed shortly afterward by the departure of British troops. While Nasser won wide recognition as an “anti-imperialist,” especially with the nationalization of the Suez Canal, Egypt remained an impoverished country ultimately subordinated to imperialism.

Nasser succeeded in stabilizing the rule of the capitalist class, in part through concessions—such as a partial land redistribution, raising wages and expanding access to health care and education—but most characteristically through brutal repression. To consolidate his rule, Nasser suppressed the Communists, imprisoning, torturing and killing them. But even as he brutalized them, the Stalinist Communist Party continued its class-collaborationist support to Nasser, liquidating into his Arab Socialist Union in 1965. The Soviet Union provided economic and military aid to Nasser’s regime, allowing him a degree of independence from imperialist control that would not be possible today.

The bankruptcy of both secular nationalism and Stalinism, forces that were once dominant among the poor and oppressed in the region, fed the dramatic rise of political Islam. Generously funded by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, the Islamists, even while nominally banned, built a mass base in large part by providing charity and social services to masses of people to whom the bourgeois state has nothing to offer except abject poverty and police repression. American journalist Mary Anne Weaver described her experience in Cairo’s Imbaba slum:

“The Islamists, led by the Brotherhood, had built their own social and welfare system here, rivalling that of the state. [The hardline Islamist] Gama’a-controlled ‘popular’ mosques had set up discount health clinics and schools, day-care centers, and furniture factories to employ the unemployed, and they provided meat, at wholesale prices, to the poor. Despite an aggressive $10 million social program launched by the government at the end of 1994, the Islamists’ institutions remained generally far more efficient and far superior to run-down government facilities.”

A Portrait of Egypt (1999)

Today the Islamists are once again trying to establish a base among the organized working class, where they historically have had little support. In 1946, when they did have a hearing among a layer of industrial workers, they played a strikebreaking role. The Muslim Brotherhood opposed major strikes in the Shubra al-Khayama textile plant while its newspaper spread anti-Communist and anti-Semitic poison. When the strike leaders were arrested during a strike in January of that year, the Brotherhood condemned them, saying they were “members of communist cells headed by Jews.” During a June strike in the same plant, the Brotherhood “informed the police of the names and addresses of the strike committee” (Joel Beinin and Zachary Lockman, Workers on the Nile [1998]).

Cliffites and Islam: Feeding the Hand That Bites Them

The RS and its cothinkers in the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) have gone out of their way to bolster illusions in the Muslim Brotherhood, promoting it as a potential ally of the working class in the fight against imperialism and capitalist oppression. In an article titled “Comrades and Brothers” published in Middle East Report (Spring 2007), RS spokesman Hossam El-Hamalawy boasted that his organization “pushed for close coordination” with the Brotherhood and praised its “brotherly spirit.” Half a year ago, in an article printed in the SWP’s Socialist Review (June 2011) titled “The Islamists and the Egyptian Revolution,” Egyptian Cliffite Sameh Naguib complained about the “state of hysteria” among the left and liberals over the resurgent Islamist movement. Naguib went so far as to denounce those “lured into debates over Article 2 of the constitution, which enshrines Islam as ‘the religion of the state…and Islamic law as the principal source of legislation’.”

Long before that, in the seminal International Socialism (Autumn 1994) article “The Prophet and the Proletariat,” SWP leader Chris Harman went to some lengths to present political Islam favorably for seeking “to transform society, not to conserve it in the old way” and for “anti-imperialist slogans and some anti-imperialist actions which have embarrassed very important national and international capitalist interests.” This was the criminal line taken by the bulk of the left internationally in supporting Ayatollah Khomeini’s forces in the mass upsurge in Iran in the late 1970s against the bloody, U.S.-backed Shah. The result was the beheading of the militant working class, as Communists and other leftists were butchered, women were further enslaved, and national and other minorities were brutally repressed by the new Islamic regime.

While the SWP can fill reams of paper with nonsense about the Brotherhood’s “anti-imperialist stance,” Islamists, including the Brotherhood, have historically been the willing tool of imperialism against Communists, modernizing nationalists and secular liberals. Following World War II, U.S. imperialism promoted and funded the Brotherhood as part of its Cold War drive against Communism. This was one expression of the policy described in 1950 by John Foster Dulles, who would later serve as Eisenhower’s Secretary of State:

“The religions of the East are deeply rooted and have many precious values. Their spiritual beliefs cannot be reconciled with Communist atheism and materialism. That creates a common bond between us, and our task is to find it and develop it.”

The Cliff tendency has a long history of siding with the forces of Islamic reaction, including cheering the mujahedin—anti-Soviet “holy warriors”—in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The imperialists funneled vast quantities of arms and money to these Islamist terrorists in the largest CIA operation in history. The Muslim Brotherhood provided a major contingent of the mujahedin, whose jihad against a Soviet-backed, modernizing nationalist government was sparked when the regime introduced such reforms as lowering the bride price. In the first war in modern history in which the status of women was a central issue, the Soviet Red Army battled Islamic fundamentalists who threw acid in the faces of unveiled women and killed teachers who taught young girls to read.

We hailed the Red Army in Afghanistan. Its presence opened the possibility of extending the gains of the 1917 Russian Revolution to Afghanistan, just as those parts of Central Asia that were incorporated into the Soviet Union progressed centuries beyond the medieval conditions that prevailed in Afghanistan. The withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1988-89 was a betrayal by the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy that left the country mired in backwardness and internecine bloodletting. The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan was the precursor to the collapse of the Soviet Union itself.

Although deformed by the parasitic rule of a bureaucratic caste, the Soviet Union represented the dictatorship of the working class. When the USSR was destroyed through capitalist counterrevolution in 1991-92, the SWP welcomed this, proclaiming “Communism has collapsed” and adding “It is a fact that should have every socialist rejoicing” (Socialist Worker [Britain], 31 August 1991). A grave defeat for working people and the oppressed internationally, the end of the Soviet Union has meant a more dangerous world, where U.S. imperialism has a free hand and forces of religious and social reaction have grown stronger.

Permanent Revolution

The Bolshevik Revolution was a defining event of the 20th century. The working class took state power, leading the peasantry, national minorities and all of the oppressed in overthrowing bourgeois rule, sweeping away as well the tsarist autocracy and the state church. It established the dictatorship of the proletariat, liberating the working people from capitalist exploitation. The Revolution confirmed the theory of permanent revolution developed by Leon Trotsky in 1904-1906. Trotsky had projected that, despite its economic and social backwardness, Russia was already part of a world capitalist economy that was ripe for socialist transformation, requiring proletarian revolution not only in backward countries like Russia but especially in the advanced capitalist states. The workers in Russia, who were small in number but strategically concentrated in large industry, could come to power before the country had undergone an extended period of capitalist development. Moreover, the workers in Russia would have to come to power if Russia was to be liberated from the yoke of its feudal past.

As Trotsky wrote in 1929 in The Permanent Revolution:

“With regard to countries with a belated bourgeois development, especially the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the theory of the permanent revolution signifies that the complete and genuine solution of their tasks of achieving democracy and national emancipation is conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat as the leader of the subjugated nation, above all of its peasant masses….

“The dictatorship of the proletariat which has risen to power as the leader of the democratic revolution is inevitably and very quickly confronted with tasks, the fulfillment of which is bound up with deep inroads into the rights of bourgeois property.”

In the same work, Trotsky stressed that

“the socialist revolution begins on the national arena, it unfolds on the international arena, and is completed on the world arena. Thus, the socialist revolution becomes a permanent revolution in a newer and broader sense of the word; it attains completion only in the final victory of the new society on our entire planet.”

In articles on the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt a year ago, we raised the call for a revolutionary constituent assembly along with a series of democratic demands while centrally stressing the need for the working class to establish factory committees and other organs of dual power. As a result of subsequent discussion, the ICL rejected on principle the call for a constituent assembly, which can be nothing other than a form of bourgeois state. As we wrote in “Tunisian Elections: Victory for Islamic Reactionaries” (WV No. 993, 6 January): “Our understanding of the reactionary character of the bourgeoisie, in the semicolonial countries as well as the advanced capitalist states, means that there can be no revolutionary bourgeois parliament. The call for a constituent assembly consequently runs counter to the permanent revolution.”

Permanent revolution provides the only program for resolving the fundamental questions posed in Egypt and throughout the Near East today. The region is marked by abject poverty, benighted enslavement of women, the dispossession of the Palestinian people by Israel and the oppression of numerous other national and religious minorities by the Arab-nationalist and Islamist regimes. This legacy of social backwardness and oppression is reinforced by domination by the imperialist powers, whose overriding concern is control of the supply of oil. Egypt, the most populous Arab nation and site of the strategically important Suez Canal, is ruled by a venal bourgeoisie that has been a willing pawn of U.S. imperialism and, since 1979, a stalwart ally of Israel. In recent years, Egypt’s capitalist rulers have aided in the starvation blockade of the Palestinians in Gaza, including by sealing the border in Sinai.

Today, almost 60 years after the withdrawal of the last British colonial troops, Egypt is mired in some $35 billion of foreign debt. Over the past ten years, $24 billion in debt servicing payments has been bled from the country, while its debt burden has increased by 15 percent. Under the “structural adjustment programs” imposed by the International Monetary Fund, Nasser-era state control of industry has been progressively rolled back and factories sold off below cost to Mubarak’s cronies and foreign investors. At the same time, the military has retained extensive holdings, although their extent is kept secret. Journalist Joshua Hammer described them: “The military controls a labyrinth of companies that manufacture everything from medical equipment to laptops to television sets, as well as vast tracts of real estate…with command of as much as 40 percent of the Egyptian economy” (New York Review of Books, 18 August 2011).

The neoliberal “reforms” that led the World Bank to declare Egyptian agriculture a “fully privatized sector” by 2001 have vastly increased the misery of the rural population. Since the mid ’90s, tenant farmers’ rents have shot up from an equivalent of about $4 an acre annually to as high as $60, the equivalent of three months’ earnings. Some five million peasants and their families have been forced into penury after having been evicted because they were unable to pay their rent or because of state-sanctioned land grabs. Dispossessed peasants were driven into the slums and shantytowns of major cities, where they became a fertile recruiting ground for the Islamic reactionaries. Resistance to the land “reform” has continued over the years: peasants have marched in demonstrations, blocked main roads, set landlords’ houses on fire and attacked government offices. The government has responded with severe repression, with police and armed gangs attacking peasants, seizing crops and occupying fields by force.

The end of legal protections on land tenure opened the way for foreign companies to purchase huge tracts. The past two decades saw a tenfold rise in agricultural exports as production shifted away from staples for domestic consumption to high-cash produce for sale in Europe. Once capable of producing enough food to feed its population, Egypt is now the world’s biggest importer of wheat, leaving the impoverished population at the mercy of the world market, which is dominated by U.S. agribusiness.

In a country where more than 90 percent of women, both Muslim and Christian, are subjected to genital mutilation, courts run under Islamic law adjudicate family disputes and “honor killing” runs rampant. For Marxists, the question of women’s liberation cannot be separated from the struggle to emancipate the whole of the working class. Women workers are a vital part of the Egyptian proletariat. They have been prominent in the wave of strikes that has swept Egypt over the past decade, especially in the textile industry. Won to a revolutionary program, they will have a leading role to play in breaking the chains of social backwardness and religious obscurantism. As Trotsky stressed in his 1924 speech “Perspectives and Tasks in the East,” “There will be no better communist in the East, no better fighter for the ideas of the revolution and for the ideas of communism than the awakened woman worker.”

For Proletarian Internationalism!

The liberation of the Egyptian masses requires the overthrow not simply of the military but of the capitalists, landlords, Islamic clergy and imperialists who profit from the grinding oppression of the populace. The power to do this lies in the hands of the working class, whose consciousness must be transformed from that of a class in itself, fighting to improve its status within the framework of capitalism, to a class for itself, realizing its historic potential to lead all the oppressed in a revolutionary struggle against the capitalist system. Crucially, this includes the mobilization of the working class in the imperialist centers to overthrow their “own” exploiters. The capitalist economic crisis that has ravaged the lives and livelihoods of working people from North Africa and the Near East to Europe, North America and Japan only further underscores the necessity for a perspective that is at once revolutionary, proletarian and internationalist.

In Egypt, the struggle of the proletariat must be welded to the defense of the many oppressed layers in the society, including women, youth and Coptic Christians as well as Bedouins, Nubians and other minority groups. A workers and peasants government would expropriate the capitalist class, including the landlords, and establish a planned, collectivized economy. A planned economy on an international scale would open the way to develop industry at the highest level, providing jobs for the impoverished urban masses and applying the most advanced technology to agriculture.

The struggle against imperialist domination and the oppressive rule of the sheiks, kings, colonels, ayatollahs, nationalist and Zionist rulers throughout the region cannot be resolved under capitalism. There will be no end to ethnic and national oppression, no emancipation of women, no end to the exploitation of working people short of a thoroughgoing proletarian revolution that opens the road to the establishment of a socialist federation of the Near East, as part of the struggle for world proletarian revolution. To bring this perspective to the working class requires the construction of a Leninist vanguard party, which will be forged in combat against the reformist “socialists” and others who seek to subordinate the working class to the imperialists, nationalists and forces of Islamic reaction. The International Communist League is dedicated to forging such parties.

Libya’s new election law: NATO rebels consolidate political dictatorship

Gadaffi government beneficiaries excluded from office

By Derek Ford
Party for Socialism and Liberation

January 16, 2011

National Transitional Council leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has warned against Gaddafi's children raising an insurrection.

A recent draft election law in Libya is causing outrage among varying sectors of Libyan society. The content of the legislation, posted online by the NATO-installed National Transition Council, focuses on the rules for the national assembly elections to be held in August.

Under the draft law, anyone with ties to Muammar Gaddafi or the previous sovereign Libyan government will be banned from running in the elections, including those who“benefited monetarily” from the government. The provision also bars from participation academics who wrote and published about Gaddafi’s “Green Book.”

The vague legislation is based on the myth that only a small section of Libyans supported the Gadaffi government. It is worth recalling that in fact the largest demonstrations during the eight-month NATO assault on Libya were in support of the government, not the rebels. In other words, in the new “democratic” Libya, only politicians acceptable to the NATO rebels will be eligible to run for political office.

The legislation is also problematic because it eliminates any non-violent avenues for supporters of the former sovereign government and the Green Resistance to participate in reconciliation after the devastating war. Resistance organizations have been regrouping in the southern Sahel region, which provides easy access to several neighboring countries.

Journalist Franklin Lamb, who is currently in Libya, wrote recently, “There is clear and growing pro-Gadhafi political and military activity here and it is why NTC leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the other day warned against the Gadhafi children raising an insurrection.” (Counterpunch, Jan. 13-15)

The Libyan Liberation Front had previously been planning on running in the August elections.

The draft legislation also appears to continue the NTC’s attack on women’s rights in Libya. The draft law may set a quota of 10 percent on women’s representation in the national assembly. This would mean women would be limited to 20 seats out of 200, and has been strongly condemned by women’s and human rights organizations in Libya. It is possible that the language in the draft law needs to be clarified and that the intent is to reserve (but not limit) women to 10 percent of seats. However, it is telling that women in Libya have protested the language, interpreting it as a limitation.

Under the Gaddafi government, there were no restrictions on women’s participation in social, economic or political life.

Chavez Gives Annual Speech to the Nation, Announces New Security Mission

(psuv.org.ve)

Rachael Boothroyd
Venezuelanalysis.com

Caracas, January 17th 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Thousands of Venezuelans gathered outside the country’s National Assembly (AN) on Saturday to hear President Chavez give his annual speech to the nation. Each year the Venezuelan president is obliged to give an “annual report” to the legislative body accounting for the management of his government and detailing its setbacks and achievements throughout the past year.

According to the Venezuelan constitution, the president must address the assembly within 10 days following the resuming of sessions for the year, on the 5th of January 2012. This year’s speech comes at a critical political juncture in Venezuela, which will hold its presidential elections in October this year.

Achievements in 2011

During the speech, which was broadcast live on state television channel VTV, the president highlighted the advances of the revolution in 2011, paying particular attention to the government’s investment in social programmes.

An unemployment rate of 6.2% and a 1800% increase in funding for higher education were some of the figures mentioned by President Chavez. The Venezuelan mandate also made reference to organisations such as the United Nations (UN) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), which confirmed Venezuela as the least unequal country in Latin America, and reported a 26.8 point reduction in poverty and a 19.7 point decrease in extreme poverty in the past 12 years. University enrolment in Venezuela was also recorded as the second highest on the continent, after socialist Cuba, and the fifth highest in the world, said Chavez.

In terms of community organisation, the president confirmed that 5 billion bolivars($US 1.6 billion) had been given to grassroots organisations in 2011, including to cooperatives and to the emerging commune movement.

“This isn’t populism… this is justice,” added the president.

Healthy economy

As well as noting a massive increase in the nation’s GDP, from US$91 million in 1998 to $US328 billion in 2011, Chavez also made reference to Venezuela’s level of public debt as evidence of the government’s successful economic policy.

“There are countries in the world whose debt is one and a half times their GDP, starting with those champions of democracy and the world economy, the United States,” he stated.

In comparison, Venezuela’s public debt is currently equal to 23.6% of the nation’s GDP, marking a reduction of 43.2% since 1989.

“Now this is a normal, acceptable indicator, and we are going to keep managing it with good economic and political discretion,” he said.

Although inflation has continued to fluctuate at around 22.2% from 1999 to the present day, this represents a historic low in Venezuela, and a decrease from the 1996 spike when inflation reached 103.2% under the administration of Rafael Caldera.

New security mission will tackle “culture of violence”

Despite having made serious advances within the realm of social security, such as in access to healthcare and education, personal security continues to be the biggest worry facing the Venezuelan population, said Chavez.

The president went on to describe the need to tackle the problem of violent crime in Venezuela from a “comprehensive” perspective, and announced his intention to create an extensive new security mission throughout the country.

The new mission will complement the other security initiatives undertaken by the government during the past 2 years, including the creation of the Bolivarian National Police and the recently created Criminal Investigation Service in the Capital District and Miranda state. According to comments made by Vice-president Elias Jaua, the new security mission will address the social elements of crime, such as changing the “culture of violence” which continues to affect some parts of Venezuela.

“Beyond the measures related to police reform, disarmament and the destruction of firearms, the cultural element is key. We have to keep deepening the promotion of values for life and peace, as opposed to a culture of violence, where a person ends up killing another in order to achieve social standing, that’s why the role of the media is fundamental,” said Jaua.

Similarly, President Chavez also criticised the Venezuelan media for sensationalising violence in the news, citing a 2008 study by Latinobarometro which highlights a large disparity between the population’s perception of crime levels and the levels of crime actually being committed.

Political lessons for the opposition

One of the opposition candidates for their presidential primaries in February, Maria Corina Machado, caused a furor in the AN towards the end of the president’s speech when she stood up and accused Chavez of “robbing” private property and demanding that the president engage in a debate with her.

Speaking on behalf of Venezuelan “women and mothers”, Corina spoke of the “decent Venezuela” which did not want to “advance towards communism”.

“We want respect for private property…how can you talk about respect for the private sector in Venezuela, when you have dedicated yourself to expropriating, which is robbing… the property of businessmen…Your time is over…It’s time for a new Venezuela,” said Corina.

Chavez responded by recommending that Corina gain more political experience and dedicate her efforts to winning the opposition primaries.

“First of all, I suggest that you win the primaries, right? Win the primaries, this is the first thing you have to do, because you are out of your league debating with me…I’m very sorry, I really am, but it’s the truth…You even called me a thief in front of the whole country. I am not going to offend you – the eagle doesn’t hunt flies, legislator,” replied Chavez.

According to a poll carried out by GISXXI in December, Chavez currently has approval ratings of 57% whilst Machado has 1%. Opposition candidate Capriles Radonski currently leads the opposition camp with 11% and is seen as a favourite to win the opposition primaries.

Obama Ramps Up “War on Terror” at Home

Law Enshrines Indefinite Military Detention

Signing away your basic human rights: a bipartisan effort.

Workers Vanguard

Capping a year of full-bore assaults on the livelihoods and rights of working people, on New Year’s Eve President Barack Obama signed a law sanctioning the indefinite military detention of any persons, including U.S. citizens, accused of supporting “terrorism.” The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) gives the military legal authority to abduct and imprison indefinitely without charge anyone deemed a member of Al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces.” The elastic provisions of the law—a bipartisan effort that overwhelmingly passed Congress—extend to American citizens who have committed or supported a “belligerent act” against the U.S., whether they are apprehended outside the country or on domestic soil.

There could hardly be a clearer illustration of how the capitalist rulers’ imperialist marauding abroad is packaged with attacks on the most fundamental rights of the population at home. The NDAA is the annual military appropriations bill, funding the operations of the Pentagon as well as some 1,000 U.S. bases around the world. It reaffirms detention practices under the September 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution that gave the president carte blanche to carry out the “war on terror,” the pretext for the neocolonial wars against Afghanistan and Iraq and for the massive attacks on immigrants and democratic rights generally in the U.S. This year’s NDAA allots billions more to the occupation of Afghanistan and imposes additional punitive sanctions against Iran for its purported nuclear weapons program.

Obama had threatened to veto earlier versions of the bill, which he thought constrained “the President’s critical authorities”—i.e., Congress was overstepping by telling the chief executive how to conduct the “war on terror.” Obama explained when he signed the amended bill that he objected to “a rigid across-the-board requirement for military detention” when that is just one among many weapons—from assassination to prosecution in civilian courts—in his arsenal. He also did not want to invite “legal uncertainty” over detainees since the courts have rubber-stamped virtually every application of executive authority in this regard.

Obama also piously intoned on December 31, “My Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.” Whether or not that particular provision is used by Obama, who before reaching the White House promised to close down the Guantánamo detention/torture center, the law codifies prerogatives already claimed and exercised by both the Bush and Obama administrations under the 2001 Military Force resolution. The U.S. Commander-in-Chief is now legally licensed to disappear citizens, a hallmark of police-state dictatorships.

A direct precedent for this body blow to citizenship rights was set by the Bush administration in the case of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who was seized by the military at Chicago’s O’Hare airport in May 2002, declared an “enemy combatant” and disappeared into a Navy brig in South Carolina. Forbidden to meet with attorneys or family, Padilla was subjected to a variety of torture techniques and incurred brain damage. Only at the end of 2005 were charges finally brought against him. Although the government had repeatedly accused Padilla of planning to set off a radioactive bomb inside the U.S., the indictment made no mention of this or of any other concrete terrorist attack or plot. Instead, the government filed empty “conspiracy” charges—a vehicle historically used against labor militants, political dissidents and others when the state can find no evidence of criminal activity. After a show trial, Padilla was sentenced in 2007 to more than 17 years in prison.

The Spartacist League and Partisan Defense Committee filed amici curiae (friends of the court) briefs against Padilla’s indefinite detention, challenging the entire construct of the “war on terror”—a “war” without end, waged against an undefined enemy, that has put unprecedented powers in the hands of the presidency. Our briefs noted that the “Executive’s declaration that its ‘war against terrorism’ forfeits constitutional protections for designated individuals” amounts to the government “proclaiming the right to disappear citizens of its choosing.” We stated:

“The case of Jose Padilla tests the very existence of the fundamental rights of due process—liberty of the individual from the arbitrary, discriminatory power of the state—and the freedoms protected by the First Amendment. It poses the evisceration of the rights and privileges of citizenship embodied in the first ten Amendments to the Constitution and secured on the battlefield of the Civil War and in class and social struggle over the past hundred and more years. If the imperial President is upheld, Padilla’s detention threatens to become the Dred Scott case of our time, a declaration that ‘Citizens have no rights that the government is bound to respect’.”

Now, under Obama, the NDAA further guts habeas corpus, due process and the Bill of Rights. This is not to mention the direct violation of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits military forces from engaging in domestic law enforcement.

Former officials of the Bush regime have lavished Obama with praise for extending his predecessor’s key policies: detention of “enemy combatants” at Guantánamo, Bagram and elsewhere; kangaroo-court military commissions for accused terrorists; torture and extraordinary rendition; expansion of domestic wiretapping and other surveillance. Obama has put his own stamp on the “war on terror,” from persecuting record numbers of government whistle-blowers in the name of protecting “state secrets” to the assassination of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen in September by a drone missile strike. The White House ceaselessly trumpets the assassination of Osama bin Laden last May as demonstrating this administration’s prowess as the world’s top cop.

This did not deter the reformist Workers World Party (WWP) from supporting calls by sundry liberal groups on Obama to veto the NDAA (Workers World, 23 December 2011). The WWP was among the loudest voices on the reformist left that cheered the election of Democrat Obama in 2008, declaring it “a triumphant step forward” from the George W. Bush regime. But Obama’s interest in cleaning up after the Bush gang always was to wage a more effective “war on terror.” The rapturous reception attending his election gave Obama political capital to implement repressive measures that go well beyond what Bush accomplished. And today there is barely a squeak of protest from the liberals and reformist left over his trampling on basic rights. So-called socialists who seek to pressure the Democratic Party to “do right” are an obstacle to mobilizing the working class and the oppressed in defense of their rights, against the class enemy. The capitalist-imperialist system has been and will continue to be enforced by repression and war until it is swept away through proletarian revolution.

“War on Terror” Means War on Working People

For the capitalist class, “democracy” has always served as the velvet glove hiding the iron fist of its class dictatorship over the working class, minorities and the poor. The yawning abyss between the tiny class of capitalists—the owners of industry and the banks—and the working people they exploit for profit has been made even wider by three years of global economic crisis. Well aware that galloping inequality is increasing social tensions that sow the seeds of class struggle, the rulers are eager to use the panoply of “anti-terror” measures and laws to strengthen the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state against the working class and oppressed. Ultimately, the only rights the capitalists are committed to maintaining are their rights to hold property and exploit labor.

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, we warned: “The rapidity with which the government rammed through the new laws and executive orders was made possible by the illusion that they were intended for a specific small and vulnerable sector of the population—immigrants from Muslim countries. In the government’s gun sights, however, is just about everyone perceived as an opponent by the capitalist rulers” (WV No. 770, 7 December 2001). At the same time, we stressed that what the government ultimately gets away with will be determined by class and social struggle.

We also warned that black people and the labor movement would be particular targets of “anti-terror” repression. There is a history to the capitalists going after unions and the left by broadening the scope of laws adopted ostensibly to go after much different forces. For example, the RICO “anti-racketeering” law, enacted in 1970 on the pretext of battling gangland crime, was the main lever by which the government assumed sweeping control over the Teamsters and other unions in the 1980s and ’90s. RICO also has been repeatedly invoked in lawsuits against striking unions for confronting scabs and defending picket lines.

Among the first “anti-terror” measures enacted by Bush were the USA Patriot Act and the Maritime Transportation Security Act, a direct threat to port and transportation workers. In response, the Bay Area Labor Black League for Social Defense, which is fraternally allied with the Spartacist League, and the PDC issued a call for a labor-centered, united-front protest. At the core of the 300-strong demonstration in Oakland on 9 February 2002 were black longshoremen who were members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10, which endorsed the protest. The protest call, reprinted in WV No. 773 (25 January 2002), urged “the powerful multiracial unions in the Bay Area to mobilize against the government’s war on America’s integrated working class, on black people and on immigrants. Every bombing raid and missile attack on Afghanistan came together with new deadly assaults on the democratic rights of all of us.”

The West Coast ILWU was an early target of the government’s campaign for “national unity” against “terrorism.” During contentious contract negotiations in 2002, the Homeland Security chief phoned the ILWU International president to warn that a strike would “threaten national security.” The White House set up a special task force to manage its intervention into the contract battle, with Bush explicitly threatening to bring in federal troops in the event of a strike.

Nationwide, port authorities have spent at least $2.6 billion ramping up security over the last decade to meet federal guidelines. In 2008, the Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) program was first rolled out, vastly increasing the government’s ability to police port workers. Longshoremen, port truckers and others were forced to submit to extensive criminal background and immigration status checks. Tens of thousands were officially turned down. Many port truckers, a mostly immigrant workforce, opted not to apply out of fear of deportation or worse. Among the offenses that would permanently bar workers from the waterfront is involvement in a “transportation security incident.” This category includes “transportation system disruption or economic disruption in a specific area,” i.e., strikes and other labor actions.

The union-busting threat of these “port security” measures can be seen at the Port of Longview, Washington. The ILWU has been locked in a battle with the giant EGT grain consortium, which is out to break the union’s decades-long control of all loading and unloading of grain in the Pacific Northwest. Behind EGT stands the capitalist state. In response to militant labor actions by the ILWU and its allies that had stopped grain shipments into the EGT terminal, ILWU members and their supporters have been brutally assaulted by riot cops, subjected to over 200 arrests and more than $300,000 in fines levied against the union by the courts (see “ILWU Fights Deadly Threat,” WV No. 986, 16 September 2011, and “Defend Longview ILWU Against Bosses’ Cops and Courts!” WV No. 987, 30 September 2011). Right-wing pundits joined the chorus condemning longshoremen in this small port town as “terrorists.”

Now the grain in the EGT terminal, which has been worked by scabs from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 701, is due to be shipped out. Over the past few months, Coast Guard officials have shown up at the Longview ILWU Local 21 hall threatening to revoke union members’ TWIC cards if there are any union protests that interfere with the loading of the first outbound ship. According to reports, the whole operation is to be overseen by the Department of Homeland Security. Here is the union-busting domestic face of the government’s “war on terror.”

It is in the direct interest of the working class to fight against the wars, occupations and domestic repressive measures carried out in the name of combating “terrorism.” But this runs straight up against the class collaborationism of the trade-union bureaucracy, which openly embraces the “national security” interests of the capitalist exploiters as its own and chains workers to the Democratic Party. If the unions are to be revived and transformed into bastions of the class struggle that is so desperately needed, they must act in defense not only of themselves but also immigrants, black people and all those in the crosshairs of the capitalist state. Advancing the class consciousness and solidarity of the proletariat begins with fighting for its independence from the Democratic Party of U.S. imperialism. A new labor leadership must be forged as part of the struggle for a workers party that fights for a workers government.

Fight Criminalization of Political Dissent!

The NDAA signed by Obama opens the door to the military detention of those who provide legal or medical services or donate money to—or even interview—someone the government has branded a “terrorist.” This is no abstract matter. Obama’s Justice Department has sought to pin charges of “material support to terrorism” on leftist supporters of Latin American guerrillas and oppressed Palestinians, following FBI raids on the homes of Midwest activists in September 2010. Earlier that year, leftist attorney Lynne Stewart was hauled off to prison and resentenced to a much longer term of ten years for her vigorous defense of her client, an Islamic fundamentalist cleric. This is effectively a death sentence for the 72-year-old Stewart, who suffers from cancer.

Last month, in the pretrial hearing for the court-martial of Army Private Bradley Manning, the military prosecutors tried to make an amalgam between Manning, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and Al Qaeda. Manning faces 22 charges, including “aiding the enemy”—an offense punishable by death—for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of government and military documents, which WikiLeaks began disseminating in early 2010. The material cast a modest but welcome light on the machinations of the U.S. imperialists and other capitalist governments. Locked up for over a year and a half by the military after video of a U.S. war crime in Baghdad was posted online, Manning has endured solitary confinement, forced nakedness, sleep deprivation and other torturous conditions.

In a taste of what Manning faces if the court-martial proceeds, the presiding officer at the hearing refused to hear 46 of the 48 witnesses for the defense while granting the prosecution all its witnesses. The officer repeatedly denied defense requests, including one that he recuse himself on the grounds that he also works for the Department of Justice, which has convened a grand jury to investigate WikiLeaks. Presenting no evidence of actual “aid” provided by Manning, the lead prosecutor pressed the case by claiming that Manning “had actual knowledge” that “foreign adversaries like Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula would use WikiLeaks to their advantage.”

As Marjorie Cohn observed in CounterPunch (26 December 2011): “If Manning had committed war crimes instead of exposing them, he would be a free man today. If he had murdered civilians and skinned them alive, he would not be facing the death penalty.” The Obama administration also has its sights set on Assange, who currently is fighting extradition to Sweden on trumped-up sex charges. If he loses his appeal, he could face extradition to the U.S. In trying to take down Manning and WikiLeaks, the military and the White House are sending the message that any exposure or even reporting of the imperialists’ many and varied crimes could bring the harshest punishment. Free Bradley Manning! Hands off Julian Assange!

What the capitalist government deems “material support to terrorism” and even the “terrorist” designation itself are determined by its own military/political purposes. In the 1980s, when Islamic reactionaries of the Al Qaeda and Taliban ilk were throwing acid in the faces of unveiled women in Afghanistan, they were hailed by Washington as “freedom fighters” against the Soviet Union and showered with billions in aid to kill Red Army soldiers. At the same time, the African National Congress, then fighting apartheid rule in South Africa, was officially classified as a terrorist group. Today in Libya, former Al Qaeda associates are embraced as part of the opposition that served as the ground troops for NATO in overthrowing the regime of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi.

The Spartacist League has strenuously fought attempts by the government to criminalize political dissent, not least the branding of Marxists as “terrorists.” In 1981, we discovered that the office of California attorney general George Deukmejian had listed us as “left-wing terrorists” in a “Report on Organized Crime.” Lumping the Spartacist League together with the Manson family, the Hell’s Angels and prison gangs, the report portrayed us as some sort of outlaws, to be blown away in the dead of night. We noted at the time that if the report had been issued ten years earlier, it would have included the Black Panther Party, which saw 38 of its members assassinated and hundreds more locked away in America’s dungeons in the Feds’ infamous COINTELPRO operation.

We waged a legal battle that forced California authorities to retract the terrorist smear and distribute a statement to that effect to police and FBI offices nationwide. At a protest outside Deukmejian’s San Francisco offices, an SL spokesman remarked: “The efforts of the Spartacist League in California and elsewhere are to organize a workers party to struggle for the immediate and ultimate interests of the working class. The working class and its party have the right to organize” (WV No. 286, 31 July 1981). Subsequently, we filed a lawsuit against the FBI’s 1983 Domestic Security/Terrorism guidelines equating left-wing political activity with terrorism and organized crime. As a result of our challenge, the government conceded on this issue and changed its definition of the SL to what we are: a Marxist political organization.

Terror by Drone

A distinguishing feature of the Obama administration’s “war on terror” is its reliance on targeted assassinations, as detailed in a Washington Post (27 December 2011) article headlined “Under Obama, an Emerging Global Apparatus for Drone Killing.” This apparatus consists of “dozens of secret facilities, including two operational hubs on the East Coast, virtual Air Force cockpits in the Southwest and clandestine bases in at least six countries on two continents.” Not including its RQ-170 stealth drones, one of which recently crashed while spying in Iran, the U.S. fleet counts at least 775 Predators, Reapers and other models. Under Obama, the number of drone strikes in Pakistan alone has soared to 240, with at least 1,600 dead, among them innumerable “unintended” victims. Two weeks after four drones were deployed in the mission to assassinate al-Awlaki, the imperialist butchers killed his son in Yemen in a separate drone strike.

With the explosive growth in drone technology and the erosion of Fourth Amendment safeguards against warrantless searches, all the elements are aligning for the introduction of routine aerial surveillance of the American population. Already the U.S. Border Patrol operates Predator B drones along the border with Mexico. The Los Angeles Times (10 December 2011) reported that local police departments have secretly made use of these drones for law enforcement operations. Meanwhile, the Miami police department and others have received permission from the federal government to test aerial drones. Some of these vehicles, such as an unmanned helicopter acquired in October by a sheriff’s department outside Houston, are designed to carry weapons like tasers and beanbag guns. Even without drones, police already have access to powerful tools of spycraft, from ubiquitous video cameras to GPS tracking devices and satellite images.

In this way, too, measures first used against “terrorists” redound against the working people at home, even as the president declares that Al Qaeda is “on the path to defeat.” Continuing to build up the forces of domestic repression is an essential task for the bourgeoisie as it takes the ax to jobs, wages and social services in an attempt to restore its profits. These are hallmarks of the capitalist system in its epoch of decay.

As V.I. Lenin observed in his seminal pamphlet Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916): “Imperialism is the epoch of finance capital and of monopolies, which introduce everywhere the striving for domination, not for freedom. Whatever the political system the result of these tendencies is everywhere reaction.” Lenin’s Bolshevik Party showed how to defeat this reaction, leading the working class of Russia to power in the October Revolution of 1917. Only the victory of proletarian revolutions in the U.S. and around the world can end the wars and occupations, the exploitation and racist oppression of capitalist class rule and its barbaric state repression.