Patriots’ Day 2018 History Lesson: Washington Bemoans Poor Quality of Many Soldiers In Revolutionary Army One Year After Lexington & Concord

Happy Patriots’ Day!  We salute the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord this year by publishing a letter from George Washington to John Hancock dated September 25 1776 – about a year and a half after the opening shots of the US Revolution were fired.  In this letter, Washington graphically describes the poor quality of a significant portion of the Revolutionary forces, gives an account of some astounding acts of insubordination and describes many soldiers’ “easy come, easy go” attitude towards service in the Revolution.  Today many people who haven’t got an ounce of revolutionary spirit in their entire bodies and who can only wave the flag and praise the reactionary status quo, like to pretend that if they had lived back in 1775, they’d have been out there on Lexington Green ready to kick Redcoat ass.  They are for the most part full of shit; they are cowards who today wrap themselves in the flag and rail against revolutionaries who want to organize a new revolution to overthrow the dictatorship of the bankster US government, under which 15% of the population holds 85% of the national wealth.  These flag-wavers think we live in a free country – the mountains of evidence to the contrary doesn’t even give them reason to pause between bellowings of the Star Spangled Banner.  In 1775 the vast majority of these kinds of people were pro-British and took up arms AGAINST the revolution; then and now all these kinds of people have the courage to do is to take sides with whichever party seems to be the stronger and to loudly bellow patriotic anthems to the status quo.  And even among those who pretended to take sides with the Revolution did so only because it served their own pecuniary interests – as Washington complains of in his letter.  They signed on for six month’s duty – often only after the harvest was in – and “served” through the winter months, when the likelihood of any major warfare taking place was next to nil.  Then, as soon as the spring came and the roads improved to the point where troops could be moved into battle positions, these “winter patriots” took their six months’ pay and headed back to their farms, leaving Washington and the Army high and dry.

This letter is just one of many thousands you can read on the excellent online resource “Founders Online“.  We hope you enjoy it.

The struggle to emancipate today’s flag-waving wage-and-debt-slaves from bondage to our capitalist class masters is being waged by a tiny handful of active revolutionary workers – just as it was in the days of the Revolution.  We are always looking for those few good women and men who want to fight against the tyranny of capitalist wage- and debt-slavery and who have faith in the ability of a revolutionary socialist working class to run this country and the entire world without the “help” of the capitalists.   Back in 1775, it was common for narrow-minded fools to ridicule the notion that a government could be created without Kings and Aristocrats.  Today it is common for boot-licking worker-slaves to ridicule the ideas of revoltuionary socialists who say we can have a much more civilized and egalitarian society only once we overthrow the greedhead capitalist class – we simply do not need that parasitic, swindling, money-grubbing ruling capitalist class at all!  If you agree with us, get in touch so we can start building in earnest the revolutionary socialist workers party that is absolutely necessary if we ever want to see a future for our children and grandchildren in which war, poverty, homelessness, racism and misogyny no longer exist.

— IWPCHI

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From_George Washington to John Hancock, 25 September 1776

Colo. Morris’s on the Heights of Harlem
Septr 2[5]th 1776.

Sir,

From the hours allotted to Sleep, I will borrow a few moments to convey my thoughts on sundry important matters to Congress.  I shall offer them with that sincerety which ought to characterize a Man of candour; and with the freedom which may be used in giving useful information, without incurring the imputation of presumption.

We are now as it were, upon the eve of another dissolution of our Army—the remembrance of the difficulties wch happened upon that occasion last year—the consequences which might have followed the change, if proper advantages had been taken by the Enemy—added to a knowledge of the present temper and Situation of the Troops, reflect but a very gloomy prospect upon the appearance of things now and satisfie me, beyond the possibility of doubt, that unless some speedy, and effectual measures are adopted by Congress; our cause will be lost.

It is in vain to expect that any (or more than a trifling) part of this Army will again engage in the Service on the encouragement offered by Congress—When Men find that their Townsmen & Companions are receiving 20, 30, and more Dollars for a few Months Service (which is truely the case) it cannot be expected; without using compulsion; & to force them into the Service would answer no valuable purpose. When Men are irritated, & the Passions inflamed, they fly hastily, and chearfully to Arms, but after the first emotions are over to expect, among such People as compose the bulk of an Army, that they are influenced by any other principles than those of Interest, is to look for what never did, & I fear never will happen; the Congress will deceive themselves therefore if they expect it.

A Soldier reasoned with upon the goodness of the cause he is engaged in and the inestimable rights he is contending for, hears you with patience, & acknowledges the truth of your observations; but adds, that it is of no more Importance to him than others—The Officer makes you the same reply, with this further remark, that his pay will not support him, and he cannot ruin himself and Family to serve his Country, when every member of the community is equally Interested and benefitted by his Labours—The few therefore, who act upon Principles of disinterestedness, are, comparitively speaking—no more than a drop in the Ocean. It becomes evidently clear then, that as this contest is not likely to be the Work of a day—as the War must be carried on systematically—and to do it, you must have good Officers, there are, in my judgment, no other possible means to obtain them but by establishing your Army upon a permanent footing; and giving your Officers good pay. this will induce Gentlemen, and Men of Character to engage; and till the bulk of your Officers are composed of Such persons as are actuated by Principles of honour, and a spirit of enterprize, you have little to expect from them. They ought to have such allowances as will enable them to live like, and support the Characters of Gentlemen; and not be driven by a scanty pittance to the low, & dirty arts which many of them practice to filch the Public of more than the difference of pay would amount to upon an ample allowe—besides, something is due to the Man who puts his life in his hand—hazards his health—& forsakes the Sweets of domestic enjoyments—Why a Captn in the Continental Service should receive no more than 5/. Curry per day for performing the same duties that an Officer of the same Rank in the British Service receives 10/. Sterlg for, I never could conceive; especially when the latter is provided with every necessary he requires upon the best terms, and the former can scarce procure them at any Rate. There is nothing that gives a Man consequence, & renders him fit for Command, like a support that renders him Independant of every body but the State he Serves.

With respect to the Men, nothing but a good bounty can obtain them upon a permanent establishment; and for no shorter time than the continuance of the War, ought they to be engaged; as Facts incontestibly prove, that the difficulty, and Cost of Inlistments, increase with time. When the Army was first raised at Cambridge, I am perswaded the Men might have been got without a bounty for the War—after this, they began to see that the contest was not likely to end so speedily as was immagined, & to feel their consequence, by remarking, that to get the Militia In, in the course of last year, many Towns were induced to give them a bounty—Foreseeing the Evils resulting from this and the destructive consequences which unavoidably would follow short Inlistments, I took the liberty in a long Letter written by myself (date not now recollected, as my Letter Book is not here) to recommend the Inlistments for and during the War, Assigning such Reasons for it, as experience has since convinced me were well founded1—At that time Twenty Dollars would, I am perswaded, have engaged the Men for this term. But it will not do to look back, and if the present opportunity is slip’d, I am perswaded that twelve months more will Increase our difficulties four fold—I shall therefore take the freedom of givg it as my opinion, that a good Bounty be immediately offered, aided by the proffer of at least 100 or 150 Acres of Land and a Suit of Cloaths & Blankt to each Non Comd Officer & Soldier, as I have good Authority for saying, that however high the Mens pay may appear, it is barely sufficient in the present scarcity & dearness of all kinds of goods, to keep them in Cloaths, much less afford support to their Families—If this encouragement then is given to the Men, and such Pay allowed the Officers as will induce Gentlemen of Character & liberal Sentiments to engage, and proper care & precaution used in the nomination (having more regard to the Characters of Persons, than the number of Men they can Inlist) we should in a little time have an Army able to cope with any that can be opposed to it; as there are excellent Materials to form one out of: but while the only merit an Officer possesses is his ability to raise Men—while those Men consider, and treat him as an equal; & (in the Character of an Officer) regard him no more than a broomstick, being mixed together as one common herd, no order, nor no discipline can prevail—nor will the Officer ever meet with that respect which is essensially necessary to due subordination.

To place any dependance upon Militia, is, assuredly, resting upon a broken staff. Men just dragged from the tender Scenes of domestick life—unaccustomed to the din of Arms—totally unacquainted with every kind of Military skill, which being followed by a want of Confidence in themselves when opposed to Troops regularly traind—disciplined, and appointed—superior in knowledge, & superior in Arms, makes them timid, and ready to fly from their own Shadows. Besides, the sudden change in their manner of living (particularly in the lodging) brings on sickness in many; impatience in all; & such an unconquerable desire of returning to their respective homes that it not only produces shameful, & scandalous Desertions among themselves, but infuses the like spirit in others—Again, Men accustomed to unbounded freedom, and no controul, cannot brooke the Restraint which is indispensably necessary to the good Order and Government of an Army; without which Licentiousness, & every kind of disorder triumphantly reign. To bring men to a proper degree of Subordination is not the work of a day—a Month— or even a year—and unhappily for us, and the cause we are Ingaged in, the little discipline I have been labouring to establish in the Army under my immediate Command, is in a manner done away by having such a mixture of Troops as have been called together within these few Months.

Relaxed, and as unfit as our Rules & Regulations of War are for the Government of an Army, the Militia (those properly so called, for of these we have two sorts, the Six Months Men and those sent in as a temporary aid) do not think themselves subject to ’em, and therefore take liberties which the Soldier is punished for—this creates jealousy—jealousy begets dissatisfactions—and these by degrees ripen into Mutiny; keeping the whole Army in a confused, and disordered State; rendering the time of those who wish to see regularity & good Order prevail more unhappy than Words can describe—Besides this, such repeated changes take place, that all arrangement is set at nought, & the constant fluctuation of things deranges every plan, as fast as adopted.

These Sir, Congress may be assured, are but a small part of the Inconveniences which might be enumerated, & attributed to Militia—but there is one that merits particular attention, & that is the expence. Certain I am that it would be cheaper to keep 50 or 100,000 Men in constant pay than to depend upon half the number, and supply the other half occasionally by Militia—The time the latter is in pay before and after they are in Camp, Assembling & Marching—the waste of Ammunition—the consumption of Stores, which in spite of every Resolution, & requisition of Congress they must be furnished with, or sent home—added to other incidental expences consequent upon their coming, and conduct in Camp, surpasses all Idea; and destroys every kind of regularity & œconomy which you could establish amg fixed and Settled Troops; and will in my opinion prove (if the scheme is adhered to) the Ruin of our Cause.

The Jealousies of a standing Army, and the Evils to be apprehended from one, are remote; and in my judgment, situated & circumstanced as we are, not at all to be dreaded; but the consequence of wanting one, according to my Ideas; formed from the present view of things, is certain, and inevitable Ruin; for if I was called upon to declare upon Oath, whether the Militia have been most Serviceable or hurtful upon the whole I should subscribe to the latter. I do not mean by this however to arraign the Conduct of Congress, in so doing I should equally condemn my own measures (if I did not my judgment) but experience, which is the best criterion to work by, so fully, clearly, and decisively reprobates the practice of trusting to Militia, that no Man who regards order, regularity, & Œconomy; or who has any regard for his own honour, character, or peace of Mind, will risk them upon this Issue.

No less Attention should be paid to the choice of Surgeons than other Officers of the Army. they should undergo a regular examination; and if not appointed by the Director Genl & Surgeons of the Hospital, they ought to be subordinate to, and governed by his directions—the Regimental Surgeons I am speaking of—many of whom are very great Rascals, countenancing the Men in sham Complaints to exempt them from duty, and often receiving Bribes to Certifie Indispositions with a view to procure discharges or Furloughs; but independant of these practices, while they are considered as unconnected with the Genl Hospital there will be nothing but continual Complaints of each other—The director of the Hospital charging them with enormity in their drafts for the Sick; & they him, for denying such things as are necessary—In short there is a constant bickering among them, which tends greatly to the Injury of the Sick; and will always subsist till the Regimental Surgeons are made to look up to the Director Genl of the Hospital as a Superior—whether this is the case in regular Armies, or not, I cannot undertake to say; but certain I am there is a necessity for it in this, or the Sick will suffer. the Regimental Surgeons are aiming, I am perswaded, to break up the Genl Hospital, & have, in numberless Instances, drawn for Medicines—Stores—&ca in the most profuse and extravagent manner, for private purposes.

Another matter highly worthy of attention, is, that other Rules and Regulation’s may be adopted for the Government of the Army than those now in existence, otherwise the Army, but for the name, might as well be disbanded—For the most atrocious offences (one or two Instances only excepted) a Man receives no more than 39 Lashes, and these perhaps (thro the collusion of the Officer who is to see it inflicted) are given in such a manner as to become rather a matter of sport than punishment; but when inflicted as they ought, many hardend fellows who have been the Subjects, have declared that for a bottle of Rum they would undergo a Second operation—it is evident therefore that this punishment is inadequate to many Crimes it is assigned to—as a proof of it, thirty and 40 Soldiers will desert at a time; and of late, a practice prevails (as you will see by my Letter of the 22d) of the most alarming nature; and which will, if it cannot be checked, prove fatal both to the Country and Army—I mean the infamous practice of Plundering, for under the Idea of Tory property—or property which may fall into the hands of the Enemy, no Man is secure in his effects, & scarcely in his Person; for in order to get at them, we have several Instances of People being frieghtned out of their Houses under pretence of those Houses being ordered to be burnt, & this is done with a view of siezing the Goods; nay, in order that the Villainy may be more effectually concealed, some Houses have actually been burnt to cover the theft.

I have with some others used my utmost endeavours to stop this horrid practice, but under the present lust after plunder, and want of Laws to punish Offenders, I might almost as well attempt to remove Mount Atlas—I have ordered instant corporal Punishment upon every Man who passes our Lines, or is seen with Plunder that the Offender might be punished for disobedience of Orders; and Inclose you the proceedings of a Court Martial held upon an Officer, who with a Party of Men had robbd a House a little beyond our Lines of a number of valuable Goods; among which (to shew that nothing escapes) were four large Peer looking Glasses—Womens Cloaths, and other Articles which one would think, could be of no Earthly use to him—He was met by a Major of Brigade who ordered him to return the Goods as taken contrary to Genl Orders, which he not only peremptorily refused to do, but drew up his Party and swore he would defend them at the hazard of his Life; on which I orderd him to be Arrested, and tryed for Plundering, Disobedience of Orders, and Mutiny; for the Result, I refer to the Proceedings of the Court; whose judgment appeared so exceedingly extraordinary, that I ordered a Reconsideration of the matter, upon which, and with the assistance of a fresh evidence, they made Shift to Cashier him.2

I adduce this Instance to give some Idea to Congress of the Currt Sentimts & general run of the Officers which compose the present Army; & to shew how exceedingly necessary it is to be careful in the choice of the New sett even if it should take double the time to compleat the Levies—An Army formed of good Officers moves like Clock work; but there is no Situation upon Earth less enviable, nor more distressing, than that Person’s who is at the head of Troops, who are regardless of Order and discipline; and who are unprovided with almost every necessary—In a word, the difficulties which have forever surrounded me since I have been in the Service, and kept my Mind constantly upon the stretch—The Wounds which my Feelings as an Officer have received by a thousand things which have happened, contrary to my expectation and Wishes—the effect of my own conduct, and present appearance of things, so little pleasing to myself, as to render it a matter of no Surprize (to me) if I should stand capitally censured by Congress—added to a consciousness of my inability to govern an Army composed of such discordant parts, and under such a variety of intricate and perplexing circumstances, induces not only a belief, but a thorough conviction in my Mind, that it will be impossible unless there is a thorough change in our Military System for me to conduct matters in such a manner as to give Satisfaction to the Publick, which is all the recompense I aim at, or ever wished for.

Before I conclude I must appologize for the liberties taken in this Letter and for the blots and scratchings therein—not having time to give it more correctly. With truth I can add, that with every Sentiment of respect & esteem I am Yrs & the Congresses Most Obedt & Most H. Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Although GW dated this letter 24 Sept., he refers to it in his succeeding letter to Hancock of 25 Sept. as having been written “this morning.” GW’s remark at the beginning of this letter about borrowing time “from the hours allotted to Sleep” indicates that he wrote it very early on the morning of 25 September. Congress read this letter on 27 Sept. and referred it and its enclosures to a committee consisting of George Wythe, Francis Hopkinson, Edward Rutledge, John Adams, and Thomas Stone (JCC, 5:830).

2. Ens. Matthew Macomber’s principal accuser at his initial trial on 19 Sept. was Brigade Maj. Daniel Box, who testified that two days earlier on Harlem Plains, he met Macomber and “a party of upwards of twenty all loaded with plunder, such as House furniture, Table Linen and Kitchen Utensils, China & Delph Ware. I ordered him to lay it down, or carry it back to the place he took it from, he said he had his Colonels order for what he had done and that he would defend the plunder as long as he had life.” When Box tried to force Macomber to surrender the goods at pistol point, the ensign ordered his men to prepare to fire, and Box wisely withdrew to get reinforcements. A sergeant and three soldiers who were with Box during the incident supported his story, but two soldiers from Macomber’s party testified that Macomber had given explicit orders against plundering. The court acquitted Macomber on the charges of plundering and robbery and only convicted him of “offering Violence to and disobeying Major Box his superior Officer.” Macomber was sentenced to ask Box’s pardon and to be severely reprimanded by his colonel. At the bottom of the enclosed copy of the court-martial proceedings for 19 Sept., GW wrote: “Note, It is to be observed that the Men who were to share the Plunder became the Evidences for the Prisoner[.] G.W.” (DNA:PCC, item 152). The court convened again on 21 Sept. to reconsider the case, and after hearing testimony from Capt. Nathaniel Ramsay of Maryland about the confrontation between Box and Macomber, it found Macomber guilty of plundering and mutiny and ordered him to be cashiered (see the copy of the court-martial proceedings for that date in DNA:PCC, item 58, and General Orders, 22 Sept.).

Congress on 30 Sept. directed GW to call on the members of the court-martial who “concurred in the acquittal of Ensign Macumber, to assign their reasons for their first judgment” and send the names of those officers and their reasons to Congress (JCC, 5:836). For the officers’ refusal to comply with that demand, see GW to Hancock, 8–9 Oct., and note 7.

SOURCE:  “From George Washington to John Hancock, 25 September 1776,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified April 12, 2018, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-06-02-0305. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 6, 13 August 1776 – 20 October 1776, ed. Philander D. Chase and Frank E. Grizzard, Jr. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994, pp. 393–401.]

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Physicist Stephen Hawking Defended “Socialized” Health Care Over US-style For-Profit System

Prof. Stephen Hawking presenting keynote address before an audience at the Royal Society of Medicine’s “Talk NHS” forum, London, England, 19 August 2017. (Screenshot from RSM video by IWPCHI)

Astrophysicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking was globally renowned as a brilliant scientist and tremendously courageous and heroic human being; and these attributes were expressed through his life-long political activism as well.   A citizen of the UK, he was a supporter of the bourgeois-reformist Labour Party.

His Wikipedia entry lists his political interests as encompassing everything from nuclear disarmament and environmentalism (he supported Al Gore in 2000) to opposing the Gulf War to supporting the academic boycott of Israel.   During the 2016 presidential elections in the US he opposed Donald Trump.  And in the final year of his life he was preparing to participate in a legal case in which he planned to defend the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) against moves by the Tory government of Theresa May to privatize it.

Last August, Hawking gave the keynote address at London’s Royal Society of Medicine  as part of a symposium called “Talk NHS: A Public Debate on the Past, Present and Future of the NHS”.   In it he described the long, debilitating progression of the disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS) which robbed him first of his ability to walk, then to feed himself and eventually almost completely paralyzed him and left him unable to talk – and how, thanks to the UK’s NHS, he was able not just to survive but to take a leading role in making the many tremendous discoveries in cosmology that made him famous.

We publish here our own transcription of the last third of his 19 August 2017 Royal Society of Medicine keynote address in which he defends the NHS and states his principled opposition to the privatized health care system of the United States.  (In the video we linked to above, this part of his speech starts at approximately 22:22).

In an effort to “prove” to US workers in favor of it that “socialized medicine doesn’t work”, the US capitalist “Investor’s Business Daily” published an article claiming that Stephen Hawking had denounced the NHS.  The IBD’s plan misfired when Hawking responded angrily and publicly against this falsification of his actual political stand in favor of univesral health care.

At the time of his death he was preparing to defend the NHS against Tory health minister (and serial Hawking nemesis) Jeremy Hunt in a court hearing.

As socialists, we agree with Professor Hawking that a for-profit health care system is inherently less efficient and cost-effective than a “socialized” state-run system, due to the fact that, as he says, “the more profit is extracted from the system, the more private monopolies grow, and the more expensive health care becomes.”  Under a truly socialist system, even greater efficiencies can be obtained as all large-scale enterprises would be democratically run for the benefit of the entire working class, rather than for the financial benefit of a tiny minority of capitalists.  Not only the hospitals need to be “socialized” but the pharmaceutical industry as well as all the companies that manufacture everything needed for patient care, from syringes to MRI machines.  “Universal health care” programs must always exist under capitalism at the mercy of the willingness of the capitalist class to fund them; only while the working class can maintain sufficient political pressure to force the capitalists to do so will those programs remain in existence.  As capitalism goes through its inevitable “boom-and-bust” cycles, workers will be forced by the capitalists to suffer cuts to the health care programs and other vital social programs  in “bad” economic times, and must then fight like hell in “good” economic times to have the cuts restored.  This pointless back-and-forth toying with the vital needs of the working class will continue until it is resolved permanently in favor of the working class majority through a socialist revolution that places the working class permanently in power.

— IWPCHI

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Professor Stephen Hawking – ‘Talk NHS’ Keynote Lecture

Transcript starts at 22:22

[…]

So you see that I have had a lot of experience of the NHS; and the care I received has enabled me to live my life as I want, and to contribute to major advances in our understanding of the Universe.

Sometimes I have had to challenge medical opinion to get the care I need; but the important thing is that the principles of the NHS mean that there is good care available and that it is provided at the point of need to everyone without regard for personal circumstance or ability to pay. These are the principles of universal and comprehensive provision on which the NHS was founded.

It is important that care is available without any of the added burdens for people that come with private health insurance. To be able to access that care from doctors in hospitals without having to go through an intermediary in the form of an insurance company, or deal with massive amounts of paperwork – before and after – is crucial to good health. [Applause]

My team and I have had experience of dealing with health insurance companies in the U.S.; and that experience shows that a health insurance company will try its best not to pay.

As well as my direct experiences, I have medically-trained nursing staff in my care team; and so I hear about changes in the NHS through them. I am aware of the increase in private provision of care – and the inefficiency that causes. The huge increase in the use of private agency staff, for example, inevitably means that money is extracted from the system as profit for the agency, and increases costs for the whole country.

Personally, I have had an unhappy experience with an American-owned, profit-driven nursing agency. They were eager for my custom, but made a number of errors and withdrew their service at short notice after eight months.

In September 2016, together with Professor Robert Winston and Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, I co-signed a letter to the Guardian newspaper calling for health care policy to be based on peer-reviewed research and proper evidence. [Applause]

The specific issue on which the letter was based was the so-called “weekend effect”. Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt had claimed that thousands of patients die unnecessarily because of poor hospital care at the weekend. He used this as an argument that we need to implement a “seven-day-a-week NHS”.

I had mixed feelings about the issue. Having spent a lot of time in the hospital, I would like there to be more services available in hospitals at weekends. It has been frustrating for me personally when everything slows down at the weekend in hospital. Also, it seems possible that some patients spend more time in hospital than is necessary because certain diagnostic tests can only be done on weekdays. So, in principle, a seven-day service could be of benefit to patients, and to the NHS as a whole.

However, any change like this must be properly researched, its benefits over the current system must be argued for and evidence for them presented, and the implementation properly planned, costed, and the necessary resources provided. If there are no more doctors and nurses, for example, then a seven-day NHS will necessarily mean fewer staff and a worse service on weekdays.

There has been no proper due diligence done in the case of the so-called “seven-day NHS” – and that was the whole point of our letter and the reason I signed it. Let me quote from the letter, as it illustrates a further point I want to make.  We wrote:

“The evidence for these claims is not supported by reliable research. Of the eight papers cited by Hunt, only four are peer-reviewed […]  Three use data from the same population and are not independent, with just two from the last decade. The remainder are not peer-reviewed medical literature, [and are only] opinion pieces […] Critically, when his claims began, at least 13 independent, peer-reviewed papers were available to the Secretary of State that refute his definition of a ‘weekend effect’.

“Hunt has ‘cherry-picked’ research…”

Speaking as a scientist, “cherry-picking” evidence is unacceptable. [Applause] When public figures abuse scientific argument – citing some studies but suppressing others to justify policies that they want to implement for other reasons – it debases scientific culture. One consequence of this sort of behavior is that it leads ordinary people to not trust science at a time when scientific research and progress is more important than ever given the challenges that we face as a human race.

There are two ways to think about a national health care system: one is that the most humane and civilized system is one in which all people are provided for equally based only on their needs no matter who they are, rich or poor, young or old. I believe this and have made public statements that we must prevent the establishment of a “two-tier” system with the best medicine for the wealthy and an inferior service for the rest.

The other way to think is that a health care system needs to be organized in the most efficient way, so that there is as little waste of labor and resources as possible.

International comparisons indicate that the most efficient way to provide good health care is for services to be publicly-funded and publicly-run. [Applause] The more profit is extracted from the system, the more private monopolies grow, and the more expensive health care becomes. For that reason I have also made public statements that the NHS must be preserved from commercial interests and protected from those who want to privatise it.

So, these two things coincide: the most humane system is the most efficient system. This means that when politicians and private health care industry lobbyists claim that “we can not afford the NHS”, this is the exact inversion of the truth. [Applause] We can not afford not to have the NHS. A publicly-provided, publicly-run system is the most efficient and therefore a more cost-effective way to provide good health care for all.

What is to be done? A physicist like me analyses a system in terms of levels of approximation. The NHS and the question of how to provide good-quality health care to everyone is hugely complex; that doesn’t mean that we can not understand it in broad terms.

To a first approximation, then, one can see the situation facing health care in this country in terms of forces with different interests. The future will be determined by the relative strength of those forces. On the one hand there is the force of the multi-national corporations which are driven by their profit motive. In the U.S., where they are dominant in the health care system, the corporations make enormous profits, health care is not universal, and is hugely more expensive for the outcomes than in the UK. We see that the direction in the UK is towards the U.S.-style insurance system, run by the private companies – and that is because the balance of power right now is with the private companies.

On the other hand, there is the force of the public and of democracy. Opinion polls consistently show that the majority of the public agrees with me and is in favor of a publicly-provided NHS, and opposes privatisation and a “two-tier” system. So the public already supports the core principles of the NHS as the fairest system; and so what the public needs is the knowledge that this is also the most efficient and cost-effective system.

As I understand, many here today – including a group called “Bring Back the NHS” – are part of a growing movement to empower the public with exactly that knowledge as the NHS reaches its seventieth birthday next year.

Thank you for listening.

[Applause. Standing ovation.]

Twitter Censorship hits @IWPCHI and @FoWLChi

Twitter’s automated algorithm-based “quality control” system lays another egg.

Since 10 March 2018 our @IWPCHI Twitter account has been blocked by Twitter.  They claim that it is because our account has exhibited “automated behavior” – which is absolutely not true.  As anyone knows who has ever engaged us in conversation via our Twitter account, whenever we are online on Twitter we are “live” and have engaged commenters on our Tweets in sometimes quite extensive conversations.  There is simply no basis for their assertion that we have used some kind of automated program on Twitter.

Here is our latest reply to the Twitter machine:

Twitter’s censors seem to focus on excluding opponents of the US capitalist state. They seek to punish their customers for their own failure to effectively combat fake bot accounts which they have allowed to proliferate in the hundreds of millions on Twitter – thereby making their service seem far more popular than it is.

This censorship is also being experienced by our sister organization “Friends of WikiLeaks – Chicago” who are also locked out of their account – for the third time – by the Twitter censorbots.

Twitter has built its Internet empire on fake accounts, which it has allowed to proliferate on its network since day 1; and recently, when the New York Times exposed the existence of perhaps hundreds of millions of fake Twitter accounts created by the “follower fraud” company “Devumi”, Twitter pretended to be “shocked, shocked!” that such things were going on in their little Internet Disneyland.

But, of course this is precisely how Twitter became the social media juggernaut it now is.

Now, to “rectify” their self-made crisis of confidence in their fraudulent follower base among their valued corporate customers, Twitter is seeking to “verify” the accounts of obviously legitimate customers by demanding that they divulge their phone numbers – or be locked out of Twitter forever.  For political activists, the prospect of having to reveal their identity to Twitter is tantamount to revealing it to the US government (which can obtain the information from Twitter simply by demanding it) and, potentially, to all those who oppose their activism in the event that Twitter – like far more “secure” organizations before them – gets hacked.  By forcing political activists living under repressive governments to divulge their personal phone numbers, Twitter is placing those people at risk of severe repercussions – including death – should those governments ever obtain Twitter’s database of personal customer information.  To say that the new Twitter policy of requiring every customer to provide a phone number is reckless is to make an extreme understatement of the issue.

Of course, Twitter is hiding the true reason for its new censorship campaign behind the absurd claim of the US capitalist class that their chosen candidate Hillary Clinton was soundly beaten in 2016 and Donald Trump elected President solely due to “Russian meddling” in social media – particularly Twitter.  They want us to believe that the flag-waving pro-US right-wing anticommunist (and in many cases outright US nativist fascist) supporters of Trump were all actually “Manchurian Candidate” voters under the spell of Vladimir Putin and a handful of pro-Putin trolls pushing Trump as the lesser evil candidate.  They expect us to believe that everyone who voted for Trump is a “traitor” in thrall to Putin!  What a load of crap!  And Twitter’s new campaign of rampant censorship is, we are supposed to believe, simply a reaction to this Russian “meddling” on Twitter. Twitter pretends that it can’t tell the difference between Russian bot Twitter accounts created in 2016 from legitimate Twitter accounts created long before Trump was even considering a run for the Presidency.  They can’t distinguish – they have no reliable method to tell the difference between Russian botnets and, say, the @IWPCHI or @FoWLChi accounts!  The “Russian bot crisis” – caused by Twitter’s own incompetence at monitoring its own network thus becomes an excuse for rampant censorship of their network.  Hillary Clinton was reported to have employed hundreds of thousands of fake Twitter accounts during the 2016 campaign… has she had her account locked out? No.  Donald Trump is a serial violator of the Twitter “Terms of Service”: has he had his Twitter account locked out?  No.  Only the accounts of working-class opponents of the Democratic Party – right and left – seem to be worthy of the automated Twitter censor’s hammer.  What a surprise!

This whole debacle only underscores how impossible it is to expect the capitalist class to create Internet services that provide a forum for democratic debate of issues of vital importance to the working class.  It is simply not in the class interests of the bourgeoisie to provide their wage-slaves opportunities to organize the overthrow of the capitalist system.  Twitter, like Google and Facebook, have rapidly evolved to become virtual extensions of the US government and its intelligence services’ data-mining operations.  That these quasi-governmental capitalist behemoths should engage in rampant censorship of working-class opponents of the capitalist system does not surprise us in the least.

—- IWPCHI

Has Julian Assange Been Appointed A Member of the Diplomatic Corps of Ecuador?

It appears that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has finally found a way to escape from his imprisonment at the Ecuadorean embassy in London: he has apparently been made a member of Ecuador’s diplomatic corps, which, if true, will provide him with legally unassailable diplomatic immunity.  If this is the case he will soon be free to leave the Ecuadorean embassy in London and leave England, free to travel to and live in any country where Ecuador maintains an embassy – or to simply establish a new home in Ecuador!

The revelation seems to have been completely missed by all of the world’s press.  We have been following developments in the case via the @wikileaks and @JulianAssange Twitter accounts and we missed the story ourselves.  This past week, as Assange was observing a strange period of Twitter silence, he sent out a series of cryptic messages that had us guessing along with most of the other WikiLeaks supporters as to what was going on.  We found out that Assange had been granted Ecuadorean citizenship on the 10th, but we had no idea what was actually going on until 13 January, when we saw a Twitter reference to  an article published in the British newspaper “The Guardian”: “Julian Assange’s Bid for Diplomatic Status Rejected by UK Government

The article revealed that “The [British – IWPCHI] Foreign Office has turned down a request from the Ecuadorian government to grant the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, diplomatic status as a means of breaking the stalemate over his continued presence in the UK […] An FCO spokesperson, confirming the latest attempt to resolve the impasse, said on Wednesday night: ‘The government of Ecuador recently requested diplomatic status for Mr Assange here in the UK. The UK did not grant that request, nor are we in talks with Ecuador on this matter. Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice.'”

It is not clear if the Guardian’s reporter or editors even understood the meaning hidden in plain sight in their own article; the only reason the Ecuadoreans would have made this approach to the British Foreign Office in the first place would have been if they had, in fact, already made Assange a member of their diplomatic corps.  This is because, under international law, there is no requirement for any nation to request permission from any host country’s government  in order to be allowed to make any person whom they choose to be made a member of their diplomatic corps!  The Foreign Office was asserting – falsely – that it alone had the right to grant, or not to grant Ecuador “permission” to make Julian Assange a member of their diplomatic corps.

Former British Ambassador Craig Murray pointed this out in commentary on his own website:

“It is for the government of Ecuador, not the UK, to determine who is an Ecuadorian citizen. It is for the government of Ecuador, not the UK, to determine who is an Ecuadorian diplomat […] [t]he Foreign and Commonwealth Office appears to be putting out a story that it has refused to accredit Assange as an Ecuadorian diplomat […] [b]ut [Ecuador] has every right to appoint Assange, now an Ecuadorian citizen, as an Ecuadorian diplomat if it so chooses. Ecuador cannot tell the UK who may or may not be a British diplomat, and the converse applies. ”  [Source: craigmurray.org.uk “Ecuador and Assange”, 12 January 2018]

Murray goes on to explain:

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations – to which the UK and Ecuador are both party – is the governing international law and determines the obligations to respect diplomatic immunity. It is crystal clear (Article 4,1) that the need to obtain agreement in advance of the receiving state only applies to the Head of Mission – ie the Ecuadorian Ambassador. For other staff of the mission the sending state (in this case, Ecuador) “may freely appoint” the other members of the mission, (Article 7), subject to provisos in Articles 5,8,9 and 11. Plainly the only one of these which applies in the Assange case is Article 9. Julian Assange is persona non grata – unwelcome -to the UK government. That is a legitimate reply to notification, but comes following the appointment; it does not pre-empt the appointment.

“Here is the key point. A member of staff below head of mission can already have entered the country before appointment, and their diplomatic immunity starts from the moment their appointment is notified, and NOT from the moment it is accepted. Article 39 (i) could not be plainer:

1.Every person entitled to privileges and immunities shall enjoy them from the moment he enters
the territory of the receiving State on proceeding to take up his post or, if already in its territory, from
the moment when his appointment is notified to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or such other ministry
as may be agreed.”

[Source: ibid]

If all of this is true, and if Ecuador has indeed already appointed Assange to its diplomatic corps, then he enjoys full immunity from prosecution as a member of the diplomatic corps and all the UK can do if he leaves the embassy is to declare him “persona non grata” and order him to leave the country!

Of course, as socialists we know full well that when the vital interests of the capitalist classes of imperialist nations are at stake, the capitalists will trample all over the laws of their own nation-states as well as international law.  The United States Government has quite pointedly declared its own personnel to be above international law and not subject to any sanctions under it.  So will the US – or their imperialist pet poodles in the UK government – respect international law in this instance?  We have no idea; we think it is unlikely that they will.  If they were to trample on Ecuador’s rights under the Vienna Convention – ratified by all three countries – they would be creating a major international diplomatic incident quite possibly unparalleled in modern times.

It is clear to us that the Assange case is about to take a very interesting turn, and  sooner than most people seem to think.  We say: US/UK hands off Julian Assange and WikiLeaks!

We have not been able to obtain a clarification from Julian Assange as to his apparent newly granted status as a member of the Ecuadorean diplomatic corps as of the time of publication of this article.

— IWPCHI

 

EXCLUSIVE: Translation of French womens’ collective’s rebuttal to excesses of the #metoo movement

We republish here our (rather poor) machine translation (supplemented (?) by our own additions) of the recent declaration of French women, led by Catherine Deneuve, in opposition to the reactionary aspects of the anti-sexual-harassment #metoo movement launched in the US in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

This article originally appeared in the French newspaper “Le Monde” [http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2018/01/09/nous-defendons-une-liberte-d-importuner-indispensable-a-la-liberte-sexuelle_5239134_3232.html].  Our translation was done primarily by the Microsoft/Bing Translator and was then improved (we hope) by our own additional interpretations of the meanings of difficult-to-translate French vernacular.  Our additions are in brackets.

We agree substantially that the direction in which the #metoo movement is heading is fundamentally reactionary and seeks to do away with the rights of the accused while simultaneously mandating that every investigation into a sexual assault allegation should “start by believing” the accuser.  This medieval concept of “justice” has already claimed the careers and even the lives of several people who have been convicted in the press on the basis of mere accusations of having committed “sexual assault”.  There are also moves afoot by facile politicians to capitalize on the #metoo hysteria by promulgating reactionary laws that will raise the age of consent – to 18 or 20! – and to broaden the definition of “rape” to include all kinds of what have long been considered to be mere sexual misdemeanors.  Also their is a movement afoot to make unsolicited comments to women an illegal act!  Truly, the USA is becoming the world’s largest open insane asylum; and the malicious tentacles of its anti-sex witch-hunters are crossing borders and influencing similar movements around the world.  The French women who published this declaration are responding to not just the US #metoo movement but to attacks on the rights of artists and writers being launched by right-wing politicians in France who are seeking to advance their careers on this wave of anti-sex puritanism sweeping the globe.

Sexual harassment and sexual violence is all too real – and it is far too serious to be trifled with by cheap political hacks of the left and right who seek to further their careers by launching a campaign to straightjacket normal human sexual behavior under the pretense of defending women from sexual assault.  While the new determination of women to aggressively fight sexual harassment in the workplace and on the streets is a very positive development, this goal can not be successfully pursued by criminalizing normal human sexual behavior, even if that behavior can be often annoying and obnoxious.  Criminalizing such things as clumsy street pick-up attempts or “unwanted touching” as “sexual assaults” or “sexual harassment” will make life more miserable for everyone and will only fill our already overcrowded prisons with more innocent people.  Normal human sexual behavior, though often awkward, messy and obnoxious, must never be criminalized.  We agree with the French women’s collective and their declaration: “We defend the freedom to annoy, indispensable to sexual freedom”!

— IWPCHI

Note: If we find a better translation, we’ll print it here; if you find one please send it to us.

*************************

“We defend a freedom of annoyance, indispensable to sexual freedom”

Rape is a crime. But the insistent or clumsy [pick-up move] is not a misdemeanor, nor gallantry a macho aggression.

In the aftermath of the Weinstein case, there was a legitimate awareness of sexual violence against women, particularly in the professional context, where some men abused their power. It was necessary. But this liberation turns today [in]to its opposite: if one wishes to be intimate one must speak the right way; those who annoy us must be silenced; and those who refuse to bow to such injunctions are regarded as treacherous accomplices!

But it is pure puritanism to borrow, in the name of a so-called general good, the arguments of the protection of women and their emancipation to better chain them to the status of eternal victims, poor little things under the influence of phallocratic demons, like [in] the good old days of witchcraft.

Denunciations and indictments

In fact, #metoo has brought [to] the press and social networks a campaign of public denunciations and indictments of individuals who, without being given the opportunity to answer or defend themselves, have been placed exactly on the same plane as sexual aggressors. This hasty justice already has its victims, men sanctioned in the exercise of their profession, forced to resign, etc., when their only wrong was to have touched a knee, tried to steal a kiss, talked about “intimate” things at a business dinner or to have sent messages with sexual [connotations] to a woman in whom the attraction was not reciprocal.

This fever to send the “pigs” to the slaughterhouse, far from helping women to empower themselves, actually serves the interests of the enemies of sexual freedom: religious extremists, the worst reactionaries and those who believe, in the name of a substantially Victorian value and the morality that goes with it, that women are “[special]” beings, children with adult faces, [needing] to be protected.

Now, men are summoned to [rack] their brains and to find, in the depths of their retrospective consciousness, an “inappropriate behaviour” that they might have had […] ten, twenty or thirty years ago, and of which they should repent. The public confession, the incursion of self-proclaimed prosecutors into the private sphere, is setting up a totalitarian climate of society.

The cleansing wave does not seem to know any limits. There, a nude of Egon Schiele is censored on a poster; Here there are calls for the removal of a painting of Balthus from a museum on the grounds that it would be an apology of paedophilia; In the confusion of the man and of the work, one asks for the ban of the retrospective on Roman Polanski at the film library and we get the postponement of that devoted to Jean-Claude Brisseau. One academic judges the film Blow-Up, by Michelangelo Antonioni, “misogynist” and “unacceptable”. In the light of this revisionism, John Ford (The Prisoner of the desert) and even Nicolas Poussin (the abduction of the Sabines) are not far away.

Already, some publishers are asking some of us to make our male characters less “sexist”, to talk about sexuality and love with less of an imbalance or to make sure that the “traumas suffered by the female characters” are rendered More obvious! On the brink of the ridiculous, a proposed bill in Sweden wants to impose a consent expressly notified to any candidate for sexual intercourse! One more effort and two adults who will want to have sex together must first check through an “app” of their phone a document in which the practices they accept and those they refuse will be duly listed.

Indispensable Freedom to offend

The philosopher Ruwen Ogien defended a freedom to offend indispensable to artistic creation. Similarly, we are defending a freedom of annoyance, indispensable to sexual freedom. We are now sufficiently warned to admit that sexual impulse is by nature offensive and Savage, but we are also sufficiently perceptive to not confuse an awkward pass and sexual assault.

Above all, we are aware that the human person is not a monolith: A woman can, on the same day, lead a professional team and enjoy being the sexual object of a man, without being a “slut” or a vile accomplice of patriarchy. She can ensure that her salary is equal to that of a man, but does not feel traumatized forever by a [lecher] in the subway, even if this is considered a misdemeanor. [She] can even consider it as the expression of a great sexual misery, even as a non-event.

As women, we do not recognize ourselves in this feminism which, beyond the denunciation of abuse of power, takes the appearance of a hatred of men and [male] sexuality. We believe that the freedom to say no to a sexual proposition does not [exist] without the freedom to annoy. And we consider that it is necessary to be able to respond to this freedom of annoyance other than by locking ourselves in the role of prey.

For those of us who have chosen to have children, we feel that it makes more sense to raise our daughters so that they are sufficiently informed and aware to be able to live their lives fully without being intimidated or [racked with guilt].

Accidents that may affect a woman’s body do not necessarily [impugn] her dignity and must not […] necessarily make her a perpetual victim. Because we are not reducible to our bodies. Our inner freedom is inviolable. And this freedom that we cherish is not without risk or without responsibility.

The editors of this text are: Sarah Chiche (writer, clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst), Catherine Millet (art critic, writer), Catherine Robbe-Grillet (actress and writer), Peggy Sastre (author, journalist and translator), Abnousse Shalmani (writer and journalist).

[Co-signers to this declaration]: Kathy Alliou (curator), Marie-Laure Bernadac (honorary general curator), Stéphanie Blake (author of children’s books), Ingrid Caven (actress and singer), Catherine Deneuve (actress), Gloria Friedmann ( visual artist), Cécile Guilbert (writer), Brigitte Jaques-Wajeman (director), Claudine Junien (geneticist), Brigitte Lahaie (actress and radio presenter), Elisabeth Lévy (Director of the writing of the Causer), Joëlle Losfeld ( Editor), Sophie de Menthon (President of the Mouvement ETHIC), Marie Sellier (author, president of the Society of the people of letters).

[Full list of signers of the declaration:]  Les-signataires-de-La-tribune (PDF)

 

 

 

Why Socialism? Didn’t the Collapse of the USSR “Prove” that Socialism Can’t Work?

Why socialism? Didn’t the collapse of the Soviet Union prove that “socialism doesn’t work”?

Lots of people ask us “why socialism”? Haven’t the idea and the ideals of socialism been so corrupted by the crimes of Stalin and Mao and by the sterility and oppression of workers lives under the Stalinist or Maoist or the Juche-inspired North Korean regime as to be utterly discredited and useless as a practical and desirable political programme for any future society?

We’ve discussed this in bits and pieces on Twitter with a handful of individuals and groups of people but have never written anything that explains why we are for socialism and why we are so opposed to capitalism. This essay will attempt to explain where we’re coming from in a more comprehensive way.

We do not want to re-create the horrors of Stalinist Russia or Mao’s China!

First of all we want to make it completely clear that we do not worship or seek to reproduce the horrors of the Stalinist or Maoist or Kim Il-Sung-ist versions of “socialism” at all. This is not only because history shows that those regimes have been led by extremely repressive bureaucratic dictatorships but also because they have proven to lead not to the development of socialism but to a return to capitalism and the brutal capitalist exploitation of the working class. Stalinism and Maoism brutalize the working class into submission to the will of the bureaucracy and betray the workers by ultimately leading them inexorably backwards to the status of capitalist wage-slaves, which is the opposite of what they are supposed to do.

There is also no way that we can deny that – to say the least – the development of post-revolution socialist societies have not “gone according to plan” in the classical Marxist sense. However: it is clear to us that there are pretty obvious and compelling reasons why the Stalinist and Maoist-led revolutionary governments developed in the way that they did; reasons that we trace back to the incredibly oppressive regimes that they emerged from and from the fact that they had no ready-made template of how a socialist society must be built. The Stalinist and Maoist workers states were the first socialist governments that came into being, and they came into being under very difficult circumstances, emerging as they did from the horrible political and economic societies that preceded them. This does not absolve them of their crimes against the working class but it does place their development back into the historical context which pro-capitalist historians like to censor completely from their analysis of the development of the socialist movement. The reason why the pro-capitalist historians do this is obvious: their intention is not to simply tell the truth about how and why these regimes developed in the way that they did; their intention is to convince workers that socialism is a bad idea and that anyone who proposes a socialist alternative to the capitalist system must want to reproduce the horrors of the Stalinist gulags or the Maoist disaster of the Cultural Revolution. The capitalists want their historians to teach you that you live in “the best of all possible worlds” and that if workers try to overthrow the capitalist system you will wind up inevitably worse off than you are now. Basically they want you to believe that the human race has reached the highest possible stage of development possible and that the horrors of human misery we see all over the capitalist world are regrettable but, sadly, unavoidable. This is true: the horrors you see human beings suffering are unavoidable – so long as we stick with the capitalist system. This is the best they can do. We know – and the history of even the bureaucratically deformed workers states created by Mao and Stalin prove to us that socialism does work and it can be made to work way better once it is freed from the straitjacket of repressive and stifling Stalinist/Maoist leadership through a socialist workers political revolution.

Why did the revolutions in Russia and China turn out the way they did?

None of the revolutionary Marxists prior to 1917 expected that a revolutionary socialist workers state would emerge first in the most backward countries; they all believed that they would emerge first in the most advanced capitalist states like Great Britain, Germany or the USA. Instead, the chain of oppressive capitalist regimes broke at its weakest links – Russia and China. This now surprises no one in retrospect, but in 1917 it was quite a shock that the first successful workers revolution occurred not in a modern proletarian capitalist state with long traditions of relatively democratic rule but in Russia, of all places: a hideously backward country with absolutely no history of democratic rule, where the economy was about 80% peasant-based agriculture that functioned at the technical level of the 18th century. If it was possible for the revolutionary Marxists of the time to have been able to select a nation in which to attempt to create the first revolutionary socialist workers state, no one – and we mean absolutely no one! – would have selected Tsarist Russia as their first choice or even as one of their top ten choices. But that is what happened; and if we are to be honest in our analysis of any revolution we must analyze its development as it actually happened and not as we wish it had happened. This requires a lot of specialized study of original historical documents and periodicals that were produced by the leading revolutionaries and their political parties rather than the typically superficial survey of anti-communist “histories” written by pro-capitalist historians which you get if you study these revolutionary movements in pro-capitalist universities. Written history is not politically neutral at all; every historian of the socialist movement (including ourselves) has their own political bias for or against the ideals of the revolutionary socialist movement and the revolutions that were led by revolutionary socialist leaders and their parties. As workers you must decide if you think that it is better for 5% of the world’s population to own all the wealth and run the planet or if it would be better for the future of the world to be determined democratically by the vast majority of the world’s population: you, the workers. There is no tenable position to take in some imaginary middle ground between these two options.

We do not believe that there is any divine metaphysical force directing human destiny; but it is difficult not to get the feeling when studying the history of the Russian Revolution that in 1917 fate dealt the revolutionary socialist movement an extremely tough hand to play when it arranged that the most optimal conditions for the first socialist workers revolution in history would occur, of all places, in the ruins of Tsarist Russia. In our opinion it is proof of the incredible bravery and daring of what stands to this day as the greatest revolutionary socialist party that has yet existed – the Bolshevik Party, led by one of the most honest and brilliant men in human history, Lenin – that they dared to make the attempt to build socialism under what almost all historians agree were the most adverse conditions imaginable. That the Bolsheviks managed to succeed in so many ways despite having made some very serious and costly mistakes – especially in terms of human lives lost – is an enduring testimony to their determination to succeed in building socialism at any cost and to prove that firm foundations for a socialist society could be laid down even under the most adverse conditions. Lenin’s Bolsheviks achieved great successes at the cost of tremendous self-sacrifice among the Bolsheviks and their supporters: thousands of young and idealistic communist workers were slaughtered by the counterrevolutionary Tsarist armies that attempted to restore the monarchy after the revolution. On top of that, the birth pangs of this life-or-death struggle between the remnants of the overthrown Tsarist regime and the peasants and workers government led by the Bolsheviks led to the deaths of several million people. Just as in the American and French revolutions, millions of revolutionary workers and peasants were killed in the fighting to bring a new type of government into existence. And as in the American and French revolutions, the new Bolshevik revolutionary government made some serious errors that added to the human cost; there is no denying this fact. So if in spite of this we still honor and defend the Russian Revolution to this day it is not out of ignorance or because we deny that millions of human beings suffered and died perhaps needlessly due to the inevitable difficulties and struggles that always occur in every revolution – whether it is a bourgeois capitalist revolution like the American and French revolutions or a communist-led one like the Bolshevik revolution – what we must do – and what we as Trotskyists have been doing since the founding of our movement in the late 1920s – is to make a cold, hard, pro-working-class analysis of the reality of what was and was not achieved and what was and was not avoidable during this heroic attempt of the Bolsheviks to create a completely new, modern, democratic socialist workers government under extremely difficult conditions. We study the history of the development of the USSR in all its many-sided aspects both good and bad and draw our honest conclusions from there, regardless of whether or not it “makes the Bolsheviks look bad”. Only through hard work and truthful analysis made always with the historical interests of the working class in mind can we create an intelligent revolutionary socialist programme to create a much better development of human civilization than is possible under the present capitalist system. That is our one and only goal.

Trotskyists defended and still defend the gains of the Russian, Chinese and all the other socialist revolutions; we did not and do not defend everything done by Stalin, Mao, their ideological heirs or their respective repressive regimes.

In spite of the oppressive nature and pro-capitalist betrayals of the Maoist “capitalist roaders” in the so-called “Communist Party” of China, these numbers prove that planned socialist economies can work quite well compared to capitalist economies.

So what are our conclusions? First of all as Trotskyists we know as well as any of Stalin’s many victims what life was like under Stalinism. Members of Trotsky’s Left Opposition were among the first to stand up and vehemently oppose and then to be brutally crushed by the Stalinist bureaucratic apparatus; we have no illusions in respect to the true, monstrous nature of the Stalin regime. The development of Stalinist ideology has at its very foundations the abandonment of the fundamental revolutionary Marxist principle of adherence to revolutionary internationalism. The Stalinists, after having proven conclusively that they were incapable of leading the revolutionary Communist International (“Comintern”) which they inherited, to any successes (due to their undemocratic, bureaucratic schematism which they attempted with massive failure to apply in Germany, China and Spain) concluded, erroneously, that since the workers in other countries were incapable of overthrowing their respective capitalist states, they should abandon the Marxist/Leninist programme of revolutionary internationalism entirely. Instead, the Stalinists decided that the task ahead for the USSR was not to fight for workers revolutions worldwide but to retreat inside the borders of the USSR and to build “socialism in one country” – Russia. They set about to degrade the role of the Comintern from being a powerful engine of world-wide workers revolution to that of forcibly subordinating the communist parties all over the world to defend the right of the USSR to exist in its own limited political and economic sphere independent of the capitalist world. This thoroughly counterrevolutionary about-face led to a series of moves being taken by the Stalinists which ultimately led to the complete dismantling of the Comintern as a “peace offering” to the capitalist world. The Stalinists abandoned that prospect in favor of feathering their own nests and making “peace” with the capitalist world. They sought peace with the Nazis, and when that, too failed, the Stalinists sought to make peace with the “democratic West”: Communist parties around the world subordinated themselves to the “democratic” or “progressive” bourgeoisies of their respective capitalist nation-states and sought to become a nationalistic, reformist political parties just a shade to the left of the parties of the Second International. The Stalinists, in a manner very similar to that of the Second Internationalist political parties who abandoned Marxism to defend “their own” bourgeoisies in WWI, ordered the communist parties of the world to defend “their own” bourgeoisies in the global war to re-divide the world amongst the competing capitalist nation-states in WWII. After the war ended this series of betrayals of the Stalinists led ultimately to the “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude of the late-Stalinist regimes under Gorbachev (a parallel development can be seen in China under Mao with his disgusting rapprochement with the Nixon regime even as US bombs were raining down on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). The Maoists, who were nothing more than a Chinese version of the Stalinists have followed a similar path, with Mao first drinking toasts to the health of Richard Nixon and US imperialism to his cretinous follower Deng Xiaoping’s declaration that “to be rich is glorious”, which is the motto of today’s thoroughly reactionary and increasingly pro-capitalist Chinese Communist Party. The “Juche Ideal”, promoted by the Stalinists of the DPRK, is just a North Korean version of “building socialism in one country”, only made even more utopian and unattainable due to the tiny size and political and economic isolation of the DPRK from the rest of the world.

What “failed” in the USSR was not the revolutionary socialism of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky but its degenerated, bureaucratized and ultimately counterrevolutionary antipode: Stalinism.

Our analysis of the development and degeneration of the Russian Revolution – from its promising revolutionary Marxist beginnings under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky to its slow and brutal destruction first under Stalin and then under his ideological heirs all the way to the restoration of capitalism in the USSR without so much as a shot being fired by the working class in its defense – is that what we saw with the collapse of the USSR was the complete and total failure – not of socialism – but of Stalinism, which revealed itself to be utterly counterrevolutionary in the final analysis – precisely as Trotsky had analyzed it way back in the 1930s.

The very last thing we intend to do is to follow the paths laid out by Stalin, Mao or any of their epigones: we seek to learn all of the hard-fought and won lessons of all of these revolutions and to incorporate all of the best elements of them into our political program to bring modern socialist workers democracies into being throughout the world that are far more democratic than any bourgeois democracy could ever be. We repudiate and condemn the disgusting show trials conducted by the Stalinists in which innocent people were forced to “confess” to monstrous crimes and were then either executed or sent to a Siberian exile just as brutal as that suffered by the revolutionary workers under the Tsar’s regime. We completely oppose and denounce any attempt to reproduce today the hideous and anti-Marxist Stalinist and Maoist police-state bureaucracies as they existed in the USSR and in China under Mao, for example. We have seen absolute proof of the fundamentally reactionary nature of Stalinist and Maoist political ideology: the Stalinist and Maoist political roads lead, ultimately, back to capitalism.

What about Cuba, Vietnam and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK aka North Korea)?

All of the regimes leading most of the “communist” states in the world: Castroist Cuba, Maoist China, Stalinist Vietnam and (to a lesser extent so far) the Kim Il Sung-ist DPRK– are essentially Stalinist regimes in which the leading “Communist Parties” are thoroughly nationalist and reactionary and are moving the country away from the ideals of socialism and towards the restoration of capitalism. This is a monstrous betrayal of the workers of those countries and a betrayal of the workers of the entire world. Still, we defend the gains of these workers socialist revolutions; and in any war between the capitalist, imperialist powers and these bureaucratically deformed workers states we will defend the workers states and intransigently oppose the imperialist capitalist powers – including the greatest enemy of the US working class, the US capitalist class and their imperialist government. We call on the workers of Cuba, China, Vietnam and the DPRK to begin organizing revolutionary Trotskyist parties so that they can prepare to lead a political revolution that overthrows the Stalinist/Maoist betrayers and places the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat in power. We call on them to simultaneously defend what is left of the socialist economic foundations of those countries and to honor the heroic, revolutionary socialist roots of their respective revolutions. If Stalinism is not overthrown and replaced by a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat then capitalism will be eventually restored in every one of these countries by the counterrevolutionary and corrupt Stalinist/Maoist communist party bureaucrats; it is just a matter of time before they consummate their betrayals of the workers.

North Korea presents a somewhat different case: it alone in the world continues to fight to defend the socialist property forms created as a result of the Korean workers socialist revolution and has also refused to allow any major incursion of capitalism into the DPRK (though even there the leadership has allowed the capitalists of South Korea to make their first tentative inroads towards capitalist development). Only the murderous belligerence of the US Government, which seeks to place the DPRK on the capitalist road a la China and Vietnam, keeps the North Korean Stalinists from consummating a Gorbachevite betrayal of the workers of the DPRK. By abandoning revolutionary Marxist/Leninist internationalism in favor of the nationalist “Juche Ideals” of Kim Il Sung, the bureaucrats of the DPRK are clearly, if only semi-consciously, laying the groundwork for eventual capitalist restoration in the DPRK.

The capitalist system has long outlived its usefulness and has become the primary obstacle to the future progress of the human race.

We believe that the capitalist system has long outlived its usefulness and can now only lead the world through an endless series of boom-and-bust cycles punctuated by small and large wars, culminating most likely in another global conflagration: a nuclear world war. Preventing the capitalist system’s wanton destruction of hundreds of millions of workers’ lives and the global environment is impossible under a capitalist system that is based on competing capitalist nation-states. So long as the capitalist system exists there will continue to be racism, environmental destruction, poverty, starvation, unemployment, religious bigotry, the oppression of women, discrimination against national minorities and war. Only the organization of the entire world into co-operative socialist workers states can begin to unite the workers of the entire world in the global efforts that are absolutely necessary if we are to stop the destruction of the lives of our working-class brothers and sisters all over the world and the continued destruction of the planet’s environmental treasures. Only under a rationally planned global socialist economic system can we undertake the enormously expensive necessary steps to reverse the ravages our planet has suffered under the destructive anarchy of capitalist exploitation of the world’s natural resources.

The capitalists care about one thing and one thing only: money. Human beings are worth nothing to them; in their money-mad minds the natural resources of our planet exist simply to enable them to get even more money. They pursue the acquisition of wealth with a vicious, pathological persistence that places their own selfish personal interests above that of the entire population of the world and even above what is necessary to maintain the continued existence of human beings on this planet. We are not exaggerating one bit when we say: “Capitalism must die so that the planet and the working class may live”.

Fortunately we do not have to invent an entirely new political philosophy to find our way forward in this critically important juncture of the development of human civilization; the program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky will serve us well as the basis of our own modern revolutionary socialist programme. We base our party on our firm belief that all workers all over the world are our sisters and brothers; we want to unite all workers to work together internationally to make life easier for human beings to live and thrive while we simultaneously protect our shared planet, its environment and all our fellow creatures who live on it. All the capitalists are promising us today is that our lives are going to get harder and harder; there is literally no future worth living for the working class under the capitalist system.

The main problem with capitalism is that it is fundamentally anarchic and purely profit-driven: there is no way under capitalism to develop a rational plan for the protection and restoration of the global environment, for example, because it is more profitable for the capitalists to invest in projects that exploit natural resources by destroying the environment than it is to develop them while simultaneously protecting the environment. Only after the insane supremacy of the profit motive is overthrown once and for all can we even begin to undertake scientific studies to determine how bad the damage has been which the capitalists have done to our planet: their pathological love for money over all else drives them to poison the scientific wells with bogus scientific studies that make science-based inquiry practically impossible. We have seen this with their creation of the global-warming-denialist movement. The human race can not move forward an inch until we rid ourselves of these noxious, murderous capitalist pests who subordinate the interests of the entire planet to their own personal lust for more and more money!

How would life under socialism be better for the workers?

A socialist world would make possible for the first time the ability of the human race to seize control of human destiny by overthrowing the lust for profits and replacing it with a rationally planned economic system in which all production is subordinated to the needs of the entire human race as well as the environment which sustains us. Under socialism we would be able to do something the capitalist world has never been able to do and which it is impossible to do under capitalism: to not just merely reduce but to eliminate the scourges of starvation, homelessness and disease that are crippling the creative potential of the entire human race. In socialist countries they have always been able to begin to end homelessness on the very first day after the overthrow of capitalism simply by making it illegal to deny people the right to housing. They did this by immediately placing homeless people in unoccupied apartments, houses and hotel rooms! That is impossible under capitalism, where housing is not a right but a privilege granted (or denied) to workers at the whim of the capitalist landlords and bankers. In the “democratic” USA, we have the “right to the pursuit of happiness” – but we do not have the right to actually achieve it by guaranteeing to everyone access to all the things that enable a person to be happy, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, sexuality or ability to pay… “little things” like jobs, food, clothing, shelter and health care! Under socialism all those things that are necessary to create human happiness will be guaranteed to all.

We can free the working people from the debasing need to endlessly pursue money for basic survival and to guarantee all the necessities of life to each and every human being on this planet, so that every human being on Earth can enjoy their lives to the fullest, not just the wealthiest 10%. Under capitalism, workers are forced to endlessly chase after dollar bills, like a horde of desperate idiots. The constant struggle for basic human needs which workers are faced to suffer through is an enormous waste of human creative potential. Instead of “pursuing happiness” we must pursue the money for food, clothing, shelter and medical care, competing like animals against all the other workers for jobs while the capitalist class sits there in luxury, laughing at us all the way to the bank. Under socialism we can put an end to the struggle for survival for the first time for the entire human race through a rationally planned economy.

What would rational planning be? For example: a socialist workers government would guarantee all able-bodied workers a job so they could contribute to the building of a prosperous society for everyone. If, for some reason you were laid off, you would receive 100% of the pay you received while you were working, so your standard of living would not suffer. Since housing and health care would be guaranteed as a fundamental right, the loss of your job would not mean the loss of health care for you and your family; nor would it mean that you would be facing eviction from your home! This is impossible to do under the capitalist system! These goals are not utopian, they are eminently reasonable and realizable with the technology and the productive capacity we have at hand today.

Capitalism IS the problem!

The only thing stopping us from achieving these goals is the capitalist system that will not and can not end the scourges of unemployment, homelessness, starvation and disease because – it is not “profitable” for the capitalists to do so! Every day we continue to allow the numerically tiny, greed-maddened capitalist class to dominate our lives is another day in which thousands of workers will be thrown out of their jobs for no fault of their own; it is another day in which thousands of children will suffer hunger and chronic illness and die of starvation and preventable disease; it is another day where tens of thousands of our sisters and brothers will die for lack of basic medical services; it is another day in which millions of our children will not have the opportunity to attend a school, see a doctor, or get anything to eat at all. As workers of the world we have it in our power right now to put an end to all this needless suffering endemic to the capitalist system!

What can we as workers do to put an end to the misery we suffer under capitalism and start fighting for socialism?

We can put an end to it only by organizing revolutionary socialist workers parties dedicated to the overthrowing of the capitalist system and to replacing it with egalitarian democratic socialist workers governments. Every day we wait brings us one day closer to environmental catastrophe and very likely it brings us one day closer to the next global world war. We must snap ourselves out of the dull-minded, passive stupor we’ve had drilled into our minds by the capitalist entertainment and infotainment propaganda that has convinced too many of us that the capitalist world is “the best of all possible worlds”! If we want our children to live better, more fulfilling lives we must fight for that future, because it will not be given to us by a capitalist class that seeks only to figure out how they can put more of our hard-earned money into their bank accounts! The working class makes up the vast majority of the world’s population and has the right to determine how and by whom this planet will be governed. Why do we allow the top 5% of the world’s population to run the planet and to seize more than half of the world’s wealth? Workers of the world, it is time to wake up and unite to fight for your rights and to shatter the chains that bind us to a system that robs us blind, destroys the planet we live on and promises our children a future of wars over water, land and natural resources! The revolution will not happen on the Internet; it must be brought into existence by organizing revolutionary socialist workers parties to fight to bring a much better future into existence. It is time to shake off your passivity and join in this work before it is too late, for the sake of your own and your children’s and grand-children’s futures! We can’t do it for you or without you!

Capitalism must die so that the planet and the working class may live!”

IWPCHI

Workers: Stop Wasting Your Time Trying to Convince Rich People that Socialism is a Good Idea

We are always running across anti-communist diatribes on Twitter and throughout the bourgeois press in their “comments” sections. It seems as if there are thousands of people who spend a large part of their lives constantly denigrating the very idea of socialism and trying to make the fundamental assertion that “socialism has been tried; it didn’t work; it never has and never can work” etc., etc. ad nauseam. Some of these “people” are paid by the capitalists to denigrate socialist ideals wherever and whenever workers say something positive about socialism; they may even be working for the US or some other capitalist government. They could also be a Twitter-bot – a computer program that spams its Twitter “followers” with anti-socialist memes. They do exist and there are more than a few of them, apparently. But a lot of them don’t fit into that “paid anti-communist advertisement” category.

This presents a simple question: who are these people and why do they hate socialism so much? And as usual, by using the analytical tools of dialectical materialist philosophy, we can cut straight to the heart of this question without much difficulty.

When we run across one of these actual human anti-communist folks in the course of the day (usually on Twitter), we try to engage them in conversation. One of the first questions we ask them is: “are you a worker or are you a capitalist (or person of wealth)?” We do that because once you determine the class background of the typical “hater of Marxism/Leninism/Trotskyism” you will almost always find out that they are in fact rich folks – or the son or daughter of rich folks – who stand to lose a lot in the event that a socialist revolution should take place in their respective countries. And we enjoy “baiting” them with this simple and straightforward question and then watching them squirm when they are faced with the choice of either lying or telling the truth about where they are coming from.

Not surprisingly, many of these people flat-out refuse to answer the question of “what is your class background” when we put it to them. They pretend that they refuse to answer the question on privacy grounds, or some other curious excuse. That is because by openly stating the fact that they are wealthy and therefore are naturally opposed to a philosophy dedicated to the radical redistribution of wealth – their wealth! – they would expose themselves to be the terminally self-interested cretins that they usually are. And it is true: all of their working-class Twitter followers would see their conservatism in a brand new light once they understood that it was a rich capitalist – or the trust fund baby of a capitalist – who is always out there on Twitter/Facebook/newspaper comments sections crapping on socialism. Of course the rich hate socialism! They have every right to hate socialism, and we don’t blame them at all for hating it.

The fact of the matter is that the socialist movement has little to offer the capitalists and their sons, daughters and their myriads of paid and/or bribed boot-licking apologists. If a workers revolution was to take place anywhere in the capitalist world, all of the capitalist private property of the big capitalists in that country – that is, their manufacturing, distribution, mining, refining and banking operations for example – would be immediately placed in the possession of the working class and gradually incorporated into a rationally-planned socialist economic system. The capitalists would not be reimbursed for their losses at all. They would lose everything and they know it (although since under socialism housing would be a right we would not take all of their mansions and vacation homes from them so long as they behaved themselves – they could keep one of each – the others – like Mar-A-Lago or Trump Tower for instance – would be used to house the homeless or elderly). They don’t give a damn that by nationalizing all that capitalist private property the standard of living for a third or more of the population would rise significantly, saving the lives of tens of thousands of workers and poor who die every year due to the poverty that is forced upon them by the capitalist system. The rich don’t give a rat’s ass about how the poor workers live – or if we live at all: “that’s not our problem” they tell us endlessly. Yes, we accept that the poverty endemic to the capitalist system is indeed “our” (that is, the workers’) “problem” and that it is the responsibility of the organized revolutionary socialist working class to solve “our problems” ourselves – no one else can or will do it for us – and we fully understand that “our problems” – the vast majority of which are endemic to the capitalist mode of production – can only be “solved” once and for all by expropriating the capitalist private property of the top 10% of the population, so that the “bottom 90%” can enjoy their lives to the fullest.

So the next time you see or hear someone heaping abuse on the ideas of socialism, like “socialized medicine”, “welfare payments to the poor”, anti-fascism, higher minimum wages, immigrant and refugee rights, unemployment insurance, the “ridiculously high cost of union labor” or socialism in general as a viable alternative to capitalism, ask yourself: “is this a worker speaking, or is it a capitalist?” If it’s a capitalist, you can put their yammering in the box marked “pro-capitalist bullshit” and stop wasting your time trying to convince them they are wrong.

— IWPCHI

The Origins of the Korean War As Revealed in US and N. Korean Documents: Vol. I

We are pleased to be able to bring to our readers a selection of key declassified US “intelligence” agency documents relating to the early years of the US involvement in the partitioning of the Korean peninsula and the setting up of a vicious fascist dictatorship in South Korea composed of former Korean traitors who collaborated with the Japanese occupation forces from 1910 to 1945.

Our first offering is a 1947 US “Central Intelligence Group” document that lays out the naked truth about why the US interposed itself in Korean affairs at the end of WWII.  The opening three paragraphs of this document comprise one of the most astoundingly frank and hypocritical statements of purpose ever elucidated by any government ever.  They completely expose the self-serving criminality that existed from the very beginning of US capitalist class involvement in Korea, which ultimately led to the murders of approximately 3 million Koreans and a state of war that has existed since 1950 – in order to “save face” for the US capitalist class.

We hope to locate and publish a collection of US and North Korean documents that demonstrate the deep cynicism and criminality of the US intervention in Korea along with the North Korean responses to it.  If you have any access to documents from the 1945-1950 era relating to the Korean War we would be happy to add them to our collection and to publish them if possible.  We hope that you find these documents to be as enlightening as we have.

We are deeply indebted to Professor Bruce Cumings of the University of Chicago for his excellent series of books on North Korea and for the bibliographies and references included in his books; thanks to his careful and diligent scholarship we were able to search for and find copies of these vitally important documents pertaining to the origins of the Korean War.

DEFEND NORTH KOREA!  US OUT OF ASIA NOW!

— IWPCHI

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Document 1:  Korea SR-2 1947_CIA-RDP78-01617A001400030001-2

Document 2: Kim Il-Sung: Expose and destroy ‘anti-trusteeship’ plot of US and S Korea_00000301_1Jan1946