In Brief

Selections from social media

The following is a selection of postings from the IBT Facebook page published since the last edition of 1917.

7 February 2021 | Ernie Tate (1934–2021)

Longtime socialist, Ernie Tate, died this weekend. Tate, who was born in Northern Ireland, was a well-known and well-respected figure on the far left in Toronto, Canada. Ernie, and his partner Jess, could regularly be seen at any number of Toronto protests, political meetings, annual Labour Day marches and International Women’s Day rallies, etc. Always comradely and willing to discuss politics, agreements and disagreements alike, Ernie lived a life dedicated to bringing about revolutionary change. In 2014, he published a very valuable two-volume political memoir, Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 1960s, detailing his involvement in the Trotskyist far left in Canada (Volume 1) and Britain (Volume 2). Ernie Tate will be missed.

28 March 2021 | Women and Covid-19

Working-class women are among those hardest hit by the year-long Covid-19 pandemic: globally they are paid much less than men (“gender pay gap”), comprise 70 percent of the healthcare workers and are more likely to be frontline workers (nurses, midwives, community health workers) with greater exposure to Covid, spend three times as many hours as men performing unpaid care and domestic work, and are more likely to experience gender-based violence now heightened by cramped and confined living conditions under imposed lockdown restrictions. The Marxist solution to women’s oppression is workers’ power based on collectivized property and central planning. As we noted in “Marxism, Feminism & #MeToo” (1917 No.41):

“The only way that full human potential can be realised is through the creation of a rationally-planned socialist economy that can provide secure access to the essentials of existence for all. Once the material basis for social egalitarianism is achieved the daily brutalities experienced by women at every social level, but particularly by those on the lower rungs of the social ladder, will gradually become a thing of the past.”

5 April 2021 | AOC covers for US/Mexico border crisis

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is once again providing left-wing cover for the Democrats and the crimes of American imperialism. In a number of recent videos addressing the issue of immigration, AOC uses a combination of radical-sounding “woke” buzzwords and deliberate obfuscation to deflect criticism of Biden and the Democrats’ handling of the ongoing migrant crisis at the US/Mexico border. In fact, it was under Obama/Biden that 2.5 million immigrants were deported—more than under all other presidents combined. We denounce the deplorable conditions at the US/Mexico border where thousands of migrants (many unaccompanied children) are being detained, demand full citizenship rights for all immigrants, and call for workers’ action to stop the deportations by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agencies primarily responsible for the border crisis. The IBT fights to break the political stranglehold of the Democrats (and pseudo-socialists like AOC) and build a revolutionary workers’ party beholden to the American working class, not the financial parasites running Wall St. and the prison-industrial complex. See “Democrats in Power: ‘Woke’ Liberalism in the Service of Imperialism.”

7 April 2021 | France: No ‘anti-separatism’ law! No hijab bans!

French President Emmanuel Macron has introduced an “anti-separatism” bill primarily targeting France’s Muslim population in the name of “liberty, equality and fraternity.” Ostensibly intended to strengthen secularism and combat extremism in France, the law (if passed) is a thinly-veiled attack on the democratic rights of the country’s 5 million Muslims: it requires community groups (mosques) to sign a “charter of principles” that backs the country’s “republican values”; gives the state the ability to shut down those groups that receive funding from abroad and preach “extremism”; and includes proposed amendments that ban both minors from wearing religious attire (hijabs) in public and parents (Muslim women) on school trips and activities. Marxists oppose the assault on civil liberties in the false name of secularism and denounce the “anti-separatism” bill. Not long after France banned students from wearing hijabs in schools in 2004 we wrote in “No to the Hijab Ban!” (1917 No.27):

“The socialist position on religious freedom was spelled out a century ago by V.I. Lenin: ‘Discrimination among citizens on account of their religious convictions is wholly intolerable.. Complete separation of Church and State is what the socialist proletariat demands of the modern state and the modern church’ (Socialism and Religion, 1905).
“Religion is strictly a matter of individual conscience—while defending the right of everyone to adhere to any superstition, or none, we adamantly oppose state subsidies, tax exemptions and all other forms of special treatment for religious institutions.…
“Religion, like other forms of false consciousness, can only be eradicated through the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed to transform the hellish conditions of life in class society that predispose so many to seek solace in fantasies of an afterlife, divine retribution, reincarnation and similar nonsense. Only through the expropriation of the means of production and the creation of a new, egalitarian social order on a global scale will it be possible to eliminate all forms of social oppression and the reactionary ideologies they give rise to. The role of Marxists is to organize resistance to capitalist exploitation and all derivative forms of injustice, and to consistently hold high the banner of the communist future—a future without want, without hatred and without fear.”

10 April 2021 | Amazon: Organize the unorganized!

The unsuccessful campaign by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) to organize Amazon workers at the Bessemer, Alabama warehouse is a significant defeat for the US labor movement. While Amazon and Jeff Bezos (one of the richest men in the world) have profited immensely during the Covid-19 pandemic, their workers have been subjected to heightened risk of exposure to the virus, long hours, poor working conditions, low pay, and the constant threat of arbitrary dismissal to those that fightback. Had the workers in Alabama been victorious, it might have inspired tens of thousands more to follow their example. Leon Trotsky’s Transitional Program outlined the approach revolutionaries take towards organizing the unorganized and the struggle for workers’ power.

19 April 2021 | PCSC bill: ‘Inconvenience’ capitalism!

The International Bolshevik Tendency in Oxford has been involved in initiating and building two demonstrations against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill going through the British parliament. On both 3 and 17 April, hundreds of mainly young people mobilised in Bonn Square for speeches, chants and music and then marched to the central police station. The protests were supported by a broad coalition of groups representing trade unions, climate activists, anti-fascists, queer and trans rights activists, opponents of the oppression of black people and other ethnic minorities, among others. The demonstrations included socialists, anarchists, syndicalists, Labour Party supporters, environmentalists, Black Lives Matter and national liberation movements.

Speaking from the platform at Bonn Square [video], an IBT supporter highlighted the class nature of the police as a core part of the capitalist state and defenders of private property, and opposed the idea that police “trade unions” should be part of the workers’ movement. She argued for a revolutionary workers’ party that would mobilise the working class and all oppressed groups to not only defeat capitalist state repression but capitalism itself.

24 April 2021 | Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Today is the 67th birthday of Mumia Abu-Jamal, America’s most prominent political prisoner who has been in jail for close to 40 years for a crime he did not commit. As a former Black Panther, radio host, journalist, and outspoken critic of US imperialism, Mumia has dedicated much of his life to exposing the racism and violence that defines daily life for people of color in the “land of the free.” On Mumia’s birthday we celebrate his life of struggle as the “Voice of the Voiceless,” his unbreakable resolve, and demand: free Mumia!

See The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal for a detailed analysis of the frame-up of Mumia.

4 May 2021 | British local elections: No vote to Labour!

Voters in Britain go to the polls on Thursday to elect local councillors, members of the London Assembly, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd, 13 directly elected mayors and the member of parliament for Hartlepool. The allegedly “progressive” bourgeois parties—Scottish and Welsh nationalists and the Greens—have nothing to offer the working class, and it is clear that Keir Starmer’s Labour Party does not either. To pretend otherwise is to distract from working-class organisation to fight for jobs, wages and working conditions, against racism and state repression, and for the formation of a revolutionary workers’ party. We no longer extend critical support to Labour as we did under Corbyn—no vote to Labour!

In January, the speaker at an IBT online public meeting on “The Corbyn Project” (1917 No.43) outlined this perspective:

“Individual Labour councillors cover the spectrum from the far left to the far right of the party and some on the left are doing useful work on the local level, such as supporting food banks and helping to house the homeless, in an effort to address the effects of the double hit of austerity and the pandemic—but all are working within the constraints of the national party without much hope it will move left in the near future. Even Corbyn told them not to rock the boat. Being better than Boris Johnson’s Tories is no basis for an electoral strategy. Labour under Starmer will make no attempt at fundamental change. Unlike Corbyn, he will not even pretend he can.…
“The Covid pandemic has shown beyond all doubt that the capitalist system is broken. Waiting for Labourite saviours will only delay what is really necessary—a society run by the working class in which wealth is used for the good of all—in good times and in bad times.”

9 May 2021 | Cliff Slaughter (1928–2021)

Cliff Slaughter, largely associated with Gerry Healy’s Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP), died earlier this week. Slaughter was one of a significant layer of talented Stalinist cadres attracted to Trotskyism in the wake of the Khrushchev revelations and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. He went on to join Healy’s “The Club,” the British section of the anti-Pabloite International Committee of the Fourth International, then affiliated with James P. Cannon’s American SWP and the Internationalist Communist Party in France of Pierre Lambert. During the 1960s and 1970s, Slaughter cynically went along with the degeneration of Healy’s group into political banditry. In 1985, he played a key role in the long-belated purging of Gerry Healy from the by-then thoroughly degenerate WRP for sexual abuse and manipulation. Slaughter would later go on to significantly drift away from even a formal commitment to Leninism. While primarily remembered for defiling the reputation of Trotskyism, he at one time was capable of producing valuable analysis that emphasised the need for independent revolutionary organization as opposed to Pabloite liquidation into Stalinism and social democracy. “What is Revolutionary Leadership?” (originally published in 1961) is one such example.

10 May 2021 | Zionist provocations in East Jerusalem

Hundreds of Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem have been arrested or injured in ongoing clashes with Israeli police, after security forces stormed the al-Aqsa mosque over the weekend during Ramadan. Palestinians are also outraged over the forced eviction of families from Sheikh Jarrah, the largely Palestinian neighbourhood just north of the Old City, to make more room for the 200,000 Jews already in East Jerusalem. The ongoing campaign of Judaization of East Jerusalem, like that of much of the West Bank, is designed to expel Palestinians from the land, steal their resources and deny their right to self-determination. The situation demands a joint Arab-Jewish working-class response to beat back the Zionist provocations and put forward a perspective of class-struggle unity. As we note in “Israel-Palestine: Apartheid, Imperialism & Class”:

“The only historically progressive solution to this seemingly intractable problem lies through joint Arab/Jewish working-class struggle to smash Zionism from within while seeking to establish a bi-national workers’ state as part of a larger socialist federation of the Middle East. A voluntary socialist federation, led by a class-conscious proletariat rooted in the region’s diverse national, ethnic and religious communities, is the only political framework capable of equitably resolving the competing territorial and national claims.”

11 May 2021 | Twilight Capitalism

Marxist professor, political-economist, and labor value theorist Murray E.G. Smith is releasing a new co-authored book, Twilight Capitalism: Karl Marx and the Decay of the Profit System (Fernwood Publishing). Smith’s work focuses on Marx’s capitalist law of value as essential to understanding the operations of the world economy and the built-in contradictions of a system that measures wealth in terms of abstract social labour, money and profit. His analysis of the tendency of the average rate of profit to fall (i.e., the fundamental metric of a capitalist economy) is discussed in “Whither America?” (1917 No.43).

15 May 2021 | No to Zionist Terror! Defend the Palestinians!

The IBT condemns Israel’s military assault on Gaza that has already killed over 120 Palestinians and led to hundreds of casualties, many of them children, leveled residential buildings, destroyed homes and schools, and now threatens to escalate into a full-scale IDF ground invasion. The Zionist ruling class has deployed warplanes, tanks and artillery and carried out airstrikes to mete out “collective punishment” on the civilian population of Gaza, ostensibly to put an end to the largely primitive and ineffective rockets coming from Hamas militants. Meanwhile, inter-communal violence in East Jerusalem and mixed Jewish/Palestinian towns within the state of Israel could widen into sectarian civil war. The brutal attack on the Gaza Strip, Zionist provocations in the Occupied Territories and the apartheid regime run by Tel Aviv are the inevitable results of the Zionist project to establish an ethno-religious state for the “Jewish nation” that led to the Nakba over 70 years ago (the violent expulsion of some 750,000 Palestinians and the confiscation of over 90 percent of their land). The current IDF assault on Gaza is a direct continuation of that unfinished campaign of ethnic cleansing. Hundreds of thousands throughout the world will be taking part today in an international day of protest to oppose Israel’s war on Gaza and stand in solidarity with the Palestinians.

For a Marxist analysis of the conflict, see “Israel-Palestine: Apartheid, Imperialism & Class.”.

25 May 2021 | Remembering George Floyd

One year ago today, the brutal and racist murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin sparked international outrage and mass protests that drew in wide layers of working people angered by racism, police violence and social inequality. The cop killing of Floyd, like other African American victims of police terror (e.g., Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Daunte Wright, etc.) exposes the repressive functions of the bourgeois state (cops, army, courts) and the racist nature of capitalism in the “world’s greatest democracy,” where people of color are essentially second-class citizens. Marxists seek to fight against police brutality by highlighting the need for action by working people to overthrow capitalism as the only way to end cop violence and racism.

5 June 2021 | Oakland blocks Israeli apartheid ship!

On Friday, 4 June, a community picket initiated by pro-Palestinian and labor militants successfully prevented the unloading of the Israeli Zim Lines container ship Volans at the Port of Oakland in the San Francisco Bay Area—so far the only successful labor action carried out to protest the recent assault on Gaza by Israeli apartheid. Over 1,000 community/labor activists protested the unloading of Israeli apartheid cargo at six gates at the port, over the course of two shifts, before the container ship finally left unloaded. While the “Block the Boat” boycott was initiated by activists outside the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU)—the dockers primarily responsible for working the port—the action was successful because of the active support and solidarity from the longshoremen, ship clerks and port truckers who refused to cross the community picket lines. The labor action, prompted by outrage at the most recent Israeli assault on Gaza, is an inspiring example of the social power working people possess when they unite around common class interests, and part of a proud tradition within the ILWU of opposing apartheid and solidarizing with the oppressed.

11 June 2021 | Expropriate the oligarchs!

The recent revelation by non-profit newsroom ProPublica that the US ultra-rich legally pay almost no federal income tax, while their personal wealth soars to unheard of heights, is a powerful confirmation of two Marxist propositions about the nature of capitalist society: (1) vast accumulation of wealth by the bourgeoisie; and (2) the capitalist state as an instrument in the hands of the ruling class for the exploitation of the oppressed. While Marxists are certainly not opposed to demands that the uppermost echelon of the ruling class pay more taxes, the various tax reforms being proposed are incapable of fundamentally addressing the laws of capitalist society. Instead, the grotesque concentration of wealth in the hands of a few social parasites (e.g., Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Elon Musk), backed by the armed fist of the state, requires the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system. Expropriate the expropriators!

15 June 2021 | New Israeli government: Apartheid continues

Israeli’s newly installed “change government,” ousting ex-PM Benjamin Netanyahu, is deeply committed to the ongoing Zionist project of Jewish supremacy and Palestinian oppression. The coalition, which has a razor thin majority in the Knesset (parliament), is led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, who will alternate roles as acting prime minister. Bennett, Israel’s newest prime minister and ideologically to the right of Netanyahu, is an ultra-nationalist, outspoken advocate of settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and virulent opponent of Palestinian statehood. Despite relief among wide sectors of the Jewish-Israeli ruling class at having avoided the prospect of a fifth election in just over two years, this so-called “change government” is anything but—Israeli apartheid, Palestinian oppression, and attacks on working people will continue.

Read our analysis of the situation in “Israel-Palestine: Apartheid, Imperialism & Class.”

16 June 2021 | Biden/Putin: Great power rivals face-to-face

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet today in Geneva, Switzerland, amid increasing rivalry between the two imperialist powers over a range of issues (cyber security, climate change, control of the Arctic, etc.). Top of the agenda for Putin will be US/NATO military encirclement of Moscow, installation of NATO missile defense systems on Russia’s western border, and the role of Western imperialism in fomenting the ongoing civil war in Ukraine. Despite the US advantage over Russia in being able to project its interests globally, revolutionaries are nonetheless opposed to both imperialist powers and their competing (and sometimes common) interests over “spheres of influence.” As we recently wrote about the conflict for imperialist control of Ukraine:

“Marxists should take no side in the Ukrainian civil war or in the imperialist squabbles between NATO and Russia over control of Ukraine. We oppose the presence of all imperialist forces in Ukraine—whether they are Russian or Western. In any armed conflict between Washington/Berlin/Paris (an alliance beset with its own tensions) and Moscow, revolutionaries should take a position of dual defeatism, actively favoring the defeat of both sides. Although Russia is a weaker and economically more backward rival to the US-led alliance, its triumph is not preferable to a Western imperialist victory.”

Read our analysis of the Ukrainian flashpoint in US/Russia inter-imperialist rivalry in “Ukraine in Imperialist Vise: Nationalism & great power rivalries.”

26 June 2021 | Derek Chauvin: Jail the killer cops!

The prosecution, conviction and now sentencing (22.5 years) of police officer Derek Chauvin for the brutal and racist murder of George Floyd is an exception in the so-called “land of the free.” The capitalists love their killer cops and rarely are the state-sanctioned killers ever charged, let alone convicted. Approximately a thousand people (disproportionately black) are murdered by US cops every year, while one in a thousand black men in America can expect to die at the hands of police. The jailing of Chauvin (and his accomplices still awaiting trial) is a gauge of the concern within the US ruling class over the explosive consequences an acquittal or light sentence might have provoked and is an attempt by them to quell any potential social unrest. While Marxists call to jail the killer cops, the fight against police brutality requires action by the multi-racial working class to overthrow capitalism as the only way to end cop violence and racism once and for all. See “Racist Cop Violence Triggers Mass Outrage” (1917 No.42).

28 June 2021 | US airstrikes in Syria/Iraq: Imperialists out!

US imperialism has carried out airstrikes in Syria and Iraq against Iranian-backed militias in response to alleged drone attacks against American forces in Iraq. Despite the Biden administration’s perceived conciliatory attitude towards Tehran and its willingness to re-engage in a renewed JCPOA (aka, Iran nuclear deal), US forces continue to occupy both Syria and Iraq and threaten “regime change” (i.e., imperialist assault) on Iran. Revolutionaries oppose the current US drive to an all-out regional, and possibly global, conflagration, call for all imperialist troops out of the Middle East, and defend Iran—and all neocolonies—against imperialist aggression. When then-President Donald Trump ordered drone strikes that killed top Iranian military commander Qassim Suleimani in Baghdad in January 2020, we wrote:

“Marxists call for all imperialist powers to be driven out of the Middle East. We side with Iran (and Iraq or any other neocolonial country under imperialist attack) and favor the defeat of all imperialist forces. We defend Iran’s right to retaliate against imperialist military targets, as it has just done in Iraq. This does not entail any political support to the likes of Suleimani and the ruthless regimes in Iran and Iraq. Our perspective is for the working classes of the region, organized in communist parties and allied with revolutionary workers in the imperialist powers, to overthrow these despots and bring about a Socialist Federation of the Middle East. In the U.S., we call for workers’ strikes against the imperialist war machine—a step that could aid in the struggle to build a revolutionary party to bring down capitalism and the imperialist system.”
—“Defend Iran! Imperialists Out!” 1917 No.42