Thursday, October 31, 2019

War Crimes in Afghanistan

Afghan security units backed by the CIA have carried out extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, indiscriminate air strikes and other human rights abuses and should be dissolved, says Human Rights Watch.

"In case after case, these forces have simply shot people in their custody and consigned entire communities to the terror of abusive night raids and indiscriminate airstrikes," said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director and author of the report.

They largely have been recruited, trained, equipped, and overseen by the CIA," Human Rights Watch said. "They often have US Special forces personnel deployed alongside them during kill-or-capture operations; these US forces, primarily Army Rangers, have been seconded to the CIA."

  • Strike forces killed civilians because of mistaken identity and poor intelligence during unlawful night raids;
  • Detainees were forcibly disappeared;
  • Healthcare centers treating alleged insurgents were attacked;
  • Civilian casualties have increased dramatically in the last two years.

Rojava and Nationalism

From our Facebook page

"In 2016 RedStarCommando wrote the following:

Since then the Kurdish proto state has been ever more drawn into the logic of capitalist realpolitic, acting as willing proxy for Russian, American and Assadist interests. Despite their willingness to prostitute their ‘revolution’ they have found themselves betrayed on all sides.

An island of Socialism cannot survive within a Capitalist world.

“Amid the horror of the Syrian civil war/ revolution it seemed that there was one shining beacon of hope; in the far North Kurdish militants inspired by the political thought of imprisoned PKK leader abdullah Ocalan, had swept the Assadist butchers out of most of the Kurdish regions and were combatting and defeating the seemingly unstoppable Islamic State (Daesh).

The nature of the new regime being created under the protection of the YPG/PYG was greatly attractive to leftists and anarchists.

Ocalan in prison had been influenced by the writing of Murray Bookchin and other anarchist inspired writers and this had shifted the PKK and its allied Kurdish parties away from a rigid and military Stalinism towards a polity which stressed mutualism/ participatory democracy.

The vision of this communitarian experiment becoming flesh in the villages and towns of Syrian Kurdistan in the teeth of Islamist obscurantism and Turkish militarist assault galvanised solidarity,and even recruits, to embattled Rojava from across the world.

At the time voices urging a certain caution tended to be drowned out or were silenced by the sheer enormity and barbarity of the opposition that the Kurdish forces faced.

For socialists, as long as Capitalism exists as a world system, there can be no islands of socialism. No matter what the wishes or intentions or, no matter how sincere the participants are, eventually the logic and demands of the capitalist state system will prevail.

Rojava, trapped within a spider web of competing Great powers and local powers either faced extinction or acceded to this logic and took itself place as a junior partner to one or other of the great military powers.

With America's uncomfortable ally Turkey threatening it very existence, and the central thrust of Assad and his allies directed elsewhere. It is unsurprising that the nascent state of Rojava would fall to the siren call of Putin's Russia.

Nationalism, however it is ideologically justified, will always be first and foremost a movement for the establishment and defence of a nation state within a capitalist world system. all Kurdish Rojava's principles would always take second place to this.”

Nov 2016

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Discontent in the Middle East

The respected foreign correspondent Patrick Cockburn had this to say:
The sectarian and ethnic civil wars that have ravaged a large part of the Middle East over the past 40 years are coming to an end. Replacing them is a new type of conflict in which protests akin to popular uprisings rock kleptocratic elites that justify their power by claiming to be the defenders of communities menaced by extreme violence or extinction.”

His equally respected colleague, Robert Fisk, concurs:
tens of thousands of largely young protesters demanding a non-sectarian Lebanon were joyful, filled with happiness, determined that this time they would change the wretched confessional nature of their state forever...The young men and women in the street shouted as one: 'The government is corrupt, the sectarian leaders are corrupt, all members of parliament are thieves — thieves, thieves, thieves.' ”

Fisk goes on to explain: “The bolder street demonstrations become, the greater their demands. And the cry for an entirely new constitution that will utterly abandon the sectarian system of government in Lebanon has grown stronger and stronger. There are many in the Arab and Muslim world who will wish them to fail. Bashar al-Assad for one, Sisi of Egypt for another. Certainly Iran. And the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, whose petty “reforms” are now utterly overshadowed by the real shout for freedom in Lebanon.You can see why all the Arab dictators and kings fear this. If Lebanon’s people – especially its young people – succeed in their vast undertaking, then the millions of suppressed and poorly educated men and women across the Arab world will ask why they too cannot have these same freedoms.”

Our Attitude to Elections

Barring accidents the General Election will be held in a matter of weeks on the 12th December. Elections are important because the party—and the class—that wins them thereby controls political power. It is a sad fact that ever since workers have had the vote the vast majority of them have chosen to support capitalist political parties and so helped to keep in being the system which exploits them and deprives them of liberty, abundance and security. t the moment the majority are expressing their preference—for capitalism. They vote for representatives of capitalism who go to the various legislative bodies throughout the world to run society in the interests of the capitalist class, to protect their property rights and to administer the state machine to maintain their privileges. The workers have one of the essential tools for their own liberation—they have the vote. The capitalists fully recognise the importance of elections; that is why they at first opposed universal suffrage and why they now spend vast sums of money in hoodwinking the voters. If we take a look at elections today, we find that the candidates of other political parties pander to a variety of tastes and requirements, and play off one group of people against another. “Something for everybody” might well be their motto. Since the majority of workers think along capitalist lines, it is quite simple for the other candidates to come along with plenty of promises – promises that they can in no way fulfil.

Once again you are called upon to register your vote in a General Election. Before you vote this time think very seriously about what you are doing. Pay no attention to glib pledges about a prosperous future. The well-intentioned, the knave and the fool will all give you wishful promises. You must look to the facts. Why are you voting? Because you want to better your standard of living and the conditions of your life. You and your ancestors have been voting for this purpose for a hundred years and how much better off are you? Apart from some niggardly and hard won reforms you are still as your fathers and grand-fathers were, forced to work for a wage that at best does little more than keep you and your families going from day to day. For many of you misery has been a constant feature of your lives.

In order to survive you must get a job. It does not matter what work you do, whether you have to wear overalls, a uniform, or a pin-striped suit, you must still get a job in order to live. That is why you are called the working class. You are the class that works, that depends for a living upon selling their ability to toil either physically or mentally for wages. These are the facts. Do you want to live under a free social system, owning your own means of production and using them for the equal benefit of all, or are you content to remain a human beast of burden, fettered to the insecurity of life as a wage worker? The choice is before you and your vote will register it. The politicians are at it again. Over the coming weeks, urged on by the media, they will bombard us with promises, polemics and their own puffed-up personalities. We are supposed to be impressed and to vote for one or other of them. Despite the competing candidates, there will be no real choice in the election. The main parties all stand for the same thing. They all support the minority ownership of the means of production, whether through stocks and shares or through state control. They all agree that the aim of production should be sale with a view to profit. They all insist that the majority of us should get a living by working for an employer and that we should have to buy rather than have access as of right to the things we need to live. In short, they all stand for capitalism.

All governments, whatever their original intentions, inevitably end up administering the system on its terms, giving priority to profits, restraining wages and salaries and cutting benefits and services, and generally presiding over the economy as it staggers through its boom-slump cycle. Governments dance to the tune of capitalism, not the other way round.

We in the Socialist Party decisively reject this approach to politics. An election in which the issue is which particular gang of politicians is to preside over the operation of capitalism is a meaningless irrelevancy. What is required is a fundamental change in the basis of society.

Climate change will change England

Agriculture accounts for 72 per cent of land use in the UK and employs around 1 million people. Arable farming is generally more profitable than livestock farming, but poor soils and steep slopes in the north mean that it is currently often not a viable option. 
If emissions continue at current rates, Britain will be 5C warmer by the end of the century, and would experience up to 140mm less rainfall during the growing season between April and September, according to the paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Lead researcher Professor Tim Lenton, from the University of Exeter, said this level of climate change would result in a transformation of the country’s landscape.
He told The Independent: “We’re moving towards a more French or Spanish summer climate. The east and southeast will be a parched grassland in the summer and, if there is livestock on it, it will be low stocking level. The lowland grassland plains will be much drier than we’re used to and probably won’t sustain wheat production because they will just be too dry. This is unlike the lush grasslands that can support high stocking densities in the UK at the moment.”
Climate change could turn the Garden of England into a “parched grassland” that is unable to support crops, according to a new study. 
Currently, cows and sheep are typically grazed in the north and west of Britain but, by 2100, warmer temperatures could force farmers to switch to more profitable arable farming. 
Without significant irrigation, large swathes of the south and east of the country could become too dry for crops and, instead, be better suited to low-density livestock farming, according to new research. 
Dr Paul Ritchie, from the University of Exeter, said: “Britain is relatively cool and damp, so a warmer and drier growing season is generally expected to increase arable production. Crops could still be grown with the aid of irrigation, but this would involve either storing large quantities of winter rainfall or transporting water from wetter parts of the country. The amount of water required would be vast, representing a major challenge for UK agriculture.”

12th December General Election

It now looks fairly certain that a general election will take place on the 12th of December.

Once more the propertied class are calling upon the workers of this country to return to power a government pledged to maintain the private ownership and control of the means of life and the social system based on capitalism. The only solution for the problems of the working class is socialism. It is our task to expose the evil effects of capitalism. Will BREXIT do anything to solve the problems people in this country are suffering from – job insecurity, inequality, poverty, crime, poor healthcare? Will Scottish or Welsh nationalism? The answer has to be ‘no’. And the reason is that these problems don’t come from particular constitutional arrangements. They come from the way society is organised – production for profit and ownership of the vast majority of the wealth by a tiny minority of people: the global system of capitalism. No matter how well-meaning politicians may be they can’t control that system – it controls them. The best any government can do is try to ride out its storms.

To sum up:
If you’re fed up with the way so many people are forced to live – hanging on desperately to a job that gives little satisfaction and doing it just for the money
If you are sick of seeing grinding poverty alongside obscene wealth

If you are sick of the planet being abused by corporations who don’t care about the future or the environment. It was on the 12th December in 2015 that the climate change summit in Paris reaches a deal between 195 countries to limit the rise in the global average temperature to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels

If you think the root cause of most problems is the market system and the governments that maintain that system
. . . then you’re beginning to think like we are.

Ask any of the other political party candidates about a world without the capitalist system and they will cry in chorus, ‘no! it’s Utopian! not possible! not now! maybe in another hundred or so years! we need to work within the system! we can change and improve it from within!’ Capitalist politicians of all shades have been telling you for generations how their “practical” policies will solve your problems. They have been saying this since working people got the vote and, not surprisingly, this profit system still remains, with all the same problems it has always generated. We therefore have to laugh at them all with the derision they deserve and take steps to organise for a better future. Time and time again, experience of disappointment of their electoral pledges and promises has shown that the only practical solution is in the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism.

A vote, even for a candidate of the Socialist Party, is of no value unless it expresses a socialist consciousness. Understanding must precede action, for socialism is impossible until the workers become class-conscious socialists. The new society is one without leaders just as it is one without owners and wage-slaves. It is a wholly democratic society, one which can only be achieved when you – and enough like-minded people – join together to bring it about peacefully and democratically. Do not vote for capitalist parties but join and work with us to end this system and help build of a new society.

As most likely there will be no Socialist Party candidate standing in your constituency go to the polling booth, nevertheless, and write “Socialism” across your ballot paper. It will at least indicate to our opponents that there is a revolutionary sentiment which will in time sweep away their rotten system with all its parasites and hangers-on. What have you to lose? 

Threat of Sea Level Rises

Land that is currently home to 300 million people will flood at least once a year by 2050 unless carbon emissions are cut significantly and coastal defences strengthened, says the study, published in Nature Communications

This is far above the previous estimate of 80 million.

The authors say the calculations could still underestimate the dangers because they are based on standard projections of sea level rise in a scenario known as RCP2.6, which assumes emissions cuts in line with the promises made under the Paris agreement. Countries are currently not on course to meet these pledges. In a worst-case scenario with greater instability of the Antarctic ice sheet, as many as 640 million people could be threatened by 2100

“These assessments show the potential of climate change to reshape cities, economies, coastlines and entire global regions within our lifetimes,” said Scott Kulp, the lead author of the study and a senior scientist at Climate Central. “As the tideline rises higher than the ground people call home, nations will increasingly confront questions about whether, how much and how long coastal defences can protect them.”
The biggest change in estimates was in Asia, which is home to the majority of the world’s population. The numbers at risk of an annual flood by 2050 increased more than eightfold in Bangladesh, sevenfold in India, twelvefold in India and threefold in China.
The threat is already being felt in Indonesia, where the government recently announced plans to move the capital city from Jakarta, which is subsiding and increasingly vulnerable to flooding. The new figures show 23 million people are at risk in Indonesia, up from the previous estimate of 5 million.
Benjamin Strauss, Climate Central’s chief scientist and CEO, said more countries may need to follow Indonesia’s lead unless sea defences were strengthened or carbon emissions were cut. “An incredible, disproportionate amount of human development is on flat, low-lying land near the sea. We are really set up to suffer,” he said.

Greta Spurns Award

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has refused to accept an environmental award by the Nordic Council, a regional body for inter-parliamentary cooperation saying:
“The climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science.”
She also the prize sum of 350,000 Danish kroner (about $52,000 or €46,800).
While thanking the Nordic Council for the “huge honour”, she also criticised Nordic countries for not living up to their “great reputation” on climate issues.
“There is no lack of bragging about this. There is no lack of beautiful words. But when it comes to our actual emissions and our ecological footprints per capita … then it’s a whole other story,” Thunberg said.
The environment has become the great discovery of the past decade. "Climate change" and "global warming" have now become a household terms. "ecology" and "sustainability" are fashionable words. We are being told that the end of the world is at hand unless we do something urgently about the environment. Yet the Socialist Party insists that nothing can be done about the looming environmental crises until we change the economic nature of our social system. The Socialist Party maintains as long as we have the market economy, that is, the pro­duction of commodities to be sold for a profit — then the environment be damned, profits come first.
Our criticism of Greta is that she focuses on all the visible effects of the climate emergency but she continues to be blithely unaware of root causes and persists upon appealing to politicians and governments to do something, chastising them for their inaction and inertia. The prime purpose of a government is to prop up its economy and its businessmen. The foremost concern of an enterprise  is to keep the costs of production as low as possible. Profits have to be of paramount priority.
Our case boils down to this simple premise: Let us eliminate the rela­tionships of commodity production — let us produce goods to serve the needs of humanity instead of producing in order to make profits — let us organise our world on a democratically planned base instead of working for the benefit of the stockholders. We are convinced, based on the facts available to anyone, that in our enlightened, technological age, almost all our problems can be solved. All of the solutions of the environment problems would then fall into place.
The Socialist Party is convinced that we can halt the rise in carbon emissions by eliminating waste. The waste of war and the arms industry. The waste of dupli­cation on the part of many competing companies. The waste of countless unnecessary industries such as finance and retail
We contend that potentially the problem of production has already been solved. We can produce enough food and in abundance. We can build as many homes as may be needed. We can manufacture products to satisfy the desires and needs of all the people. Any industrial process that despoils nature and endangers humanity obviously will be discontinued.  And all without increasing our carbon footprint substantially and spewing out toxic greenhouse gases. Many resources are considered in short (sometimes dangerously low) supply due only to the fact that they cannot be brought to the market profitably.  Every assessment of wealth is judged in this way. It would not be judged in this way in a socialist society.  Socialists are not interested in a system of production and distribution that ignores the basic purpose of satisfying social and human needs in favour of profits.
There is a theory that comes up over and over again. It states that population, if not checked, would always increase faster than the available food supply. And further, this Malthusian theory argues that the way na­ture checks this imbalance is through war, poverty, and pestilence. Actually, the theory is false. It assumes a premise that does not hold true. Overpopulation does not breed poverty but rather poverty breeds overpopulation. Hunger is usually not caused by the insufficient production of food in the world but by social factors that prevent the required distribution of food. The issue is clear. Improvisation within the limits of the capitalist mode of production cannot solve the problem of over-population. Only the sanity of socialism can offer the answer to this fearful problem. The fact is that today, not in the future, mankind has reached a potential super-abundance of all of the requirements to sustain life. Famine in 2019 is inexcusable. We are not facing some final exhaustion of the world’s sources of food.
 A planet fit for human beings to inhabit has indeed become the question of ultimate survival.