Is war possible – what can we do?

The possibility of war looks real.

Can the EU states restrain Trump and Netanyahu from going to war?

Is Trump restrainable?

Saner elements in the US Democratic Party establishment have been trying to get Trump out of office for months through legal action. A few Republicans have indicated they would revolt against Trump – initially saying they would do so after the tax cuts on the rich last autumn.

But the legal challenges to Trump drag on. The anti-Trump Republican revolt has yet to happen if it ever does.

I remember one of the ‘dissident’ Republican congressman explaining their strategy saying “of course, we will have to keep our fingers crossed that he doesn’t push the button”. He may have said “or launch a war”. Today that ‘dissident’ may regret depending on his ‘crossed fingers’.

What is going on in Trump’s head?

No matter what one’s view are about Trump’s psychological state at the start of his presidency, just think how he may have changed over the last few months.

What must it do to such a clear narcissist to be almost daily humiliated?

He can dream of long-term heroic stature as the ‘greatest US President ever’ but the truth will break through in momentary shudders.

Trump faces eventual impeachment and after that probably a lifelong notoriety worse than Nixon. He will become the most joked about and reviled President in history.

Every day he probably gets a briefing on the legal action being taken against those who were close to him at some time.

Each day, a briefing – each day a shudder followed by an arrogant shrug. ‘I survive, I survive, … I am invincible.’ And locked away from reasonable counsel this is the man taking decisions about war!

Meanwhile in Israel/ Palestine things look no safer. I have read a couple of reports about Hamas in Gaza. There has been growing dissent against them which the Israeli government knows all about. A sane Israeli government would see this as a suitable time to make concessions, if needs be over the heads of Hamas to the Gaza Palestinians: to reduce the appalling conditions they have to to endure because of the blockade. But no, in response to the ‘Great March of Return’ protests at the fence, without there being any breaches of it, the IDF have so far killed over 40 protestors!

This is hardly intended to promote peace or to encourage more Gazans towards any ‘peace process’ or negotiations for a two-states solution!

In fact the opposite. Aware of the fracturing of Hamas’s control in Gaza, Netanyahu is choosing to drive as many Palestinians either back toward Hamas or breaking away towards an even more militant force, hostile not only to Netanyahu but to all Israelis. A major war is what Netanyahu seems to be preparing for.

Netanyahu and Likud have scared and politically exploited the Israeli people with the prospect of a war with Iran for decades. Iranian militants might try to make the aim of a war the destruction of Israel. Every pronouncement made by them would get amplified by the Israeli government. “This is a war for Israel’s very survival”, Netanyahu will claim.

War will give a legitimacy to him despite his crimes.

Iran does not yet have nuclear weapons. But their control over Syrian territory is strong. Their ally Hezbollah in Lebanon has demonstrated its continuing near total dominance over Lebanese Shia in the recent elections.

The Iranian leader Rouhani is part of a tyrannical regime to his own people but on international issues he has been a comparative moderate. The likes of former President Ahmedinijad are still lurking within the ranks of the ruling elite. Like the failing demagogue Trump, they may also welcome a war to unite a sceptical, even hostile people behind them.

The Palestinians and the Kurds may see a wider war as an opportunity to get progress on their grievances: being continually militarily attacked and having a democratic homeland denied to them. But the belligerent role of the major actors, US, Iran and Israel will give a baptism in blood to any territories ‘liberated’ for the Kurds or the Palestinians. Both peoples need liberation from continuing horror but so do the Syrians. There can be no liberation of one if it means continuing or increased horrors for another.

US and Israeli bombings of Iran or Iranian forces and Hezbollah in Syria can only have significant human casualties. They will wreak havoc on the millions of displaced refugees. More people will be drawn towards variants of nationalism where internationalism and human solidarity are forgotten. More towards apocalyptic missions whether that be jihadist or for a Greater Israel.

A war will be a disaster. None of the main protagonists, the US, Iran, Israel can be supported. Anti-war sentiment will be widespread throughout the world. It must not only bring pressure to stop any war, it has to address the rights of the Palestinians to a viable homeland, a genuine two state settlement that can ensure long term peace. It has to address the rights of the Kurds and the Syrians to democracy and peace – an end to the Assad regime and the carving up of Syria by Iran, Russia, the US and Israel.

These things won’t be either initiated or carried through by governments. They can only start through growing dialogue between the peoples: starting off with internationalists, secularists and workers. Opposition to war can only be driven by such dialogue. The governments have to be forced to accept them.

Advertisements

The EU’s fear of Corbyn is why we should Remain

There was some talk on Twitter yesterday on the Times article in the picture. What does it prove?


Some are arguing that it shows yet again the coercive neoliberal nature of an EU that we are best out of.
Others have argued that the article is a malicious one-sided exaggeration, circulated by the Times to show how internationally unacceptable and catastrophic a Corbyn government would be. It is also thought to be intended by some to promote division in the Party.
For me, both arguments on this article miss the point.
Neoliberalism is strong. There are banks who are particularly powerful in the UK: right-wing neoliberal governments rule in most EU countries and of course the US. Yes, whilst the EU is so undemocratic and under the control of those right wing governments, they will try to impose an austerity agenda. But the strongest international bodies imposing austerity are the IMF and the WTO. Neither of them are EU bodies. They have always worked against anything radical in Labour governments of the past – they were responsible for the austerity forced on the Labour government of the late 70s.
All of these will fight against a radical anti-capitalist government in Britain. Unfortunately, few in the Labour Party, however, want to talk about how we stop these non-EU bodies undermining a future Labour government.
The Times article highlights that the current EU institutions can and will organise against us – EVEN IF BREXIT PROCEEDS!
A lot of pro-Brexit argument in the labour movement simply ignores this important fact. Capitalist is international – more now than ever. There can be no ‘Socialism in one country’. We have to organise and fight back against it internationally.
In or out of the EU, a radical Labour government would need to defy attempts to block pro-worker legislation by international neoliberal forces.
In or out, we would have call for international solidarity with such a government of ours – particularly from neighbouring countries.
Paul Mason pointed out only yesterday there is growing opposition to neoliberalism in many social democratic parties across the EU.


A great many EU states are in serious crisis. Austerity has dramatically failed to promote economic growth. It would be an ideal time for a radical government in the EU to defy any EU guidelines on austerity, whether from the Maastricht Treaty or elsewhere. Every worker in the EU would look on it and say ‘that looks a good policy for the UK, why not here? Why should we accept austerity?’.
They are less likely to be concerned with a battle between the international forces of neoliberalism and a country whose governance has little to do with them.
A good reason that Britain under a radical Labour government should stay in the EU if we possibly can.

There are rules for a democratic selection of General Secretary – we should use them!

The last two and a half years have seen the General Secretary of the Labour Party, Iain McNicol acting not only appallingly but without accountability to the NEC, the Party leader or Party conference.

McNicol allowed the notorious Compliance Unit to try and rig the leadership elections through mass exclusions during the 2015 contest. He tried to demoralise new members and drive them out of the Party by using Party finances to reverse the court’s ruling that they should be given a vote.

But even on the basic responsibility to build the party and make the most of its anti-austerity policies, his performance has been poor. There has been little campaigning or materials, particularly those that might appeal to poorer voters, on issues like £10 minimum wage, mass council house building, rights at work etc.

McNicol exploited the enhanced power he enjoyed as a result of the factional paralysis on Labour’s NEC. He openly acted to try and regain the Party for its former ruling Blairite clique.

So it is good that we have an opportunity for a new General Secretary and all the contenders currently known would be a serious improvement.

Do we want an elected GS?

Some argue that the GS is just a functionary who should do as he is told by the leader. Even if that were true and constitutionally the GS were the simple tool of the Party leader, would that be democratic? Would we have wanted the General Secretary to be the tool of Blair when he was leader?

No, the Labour Party should not be a rigidly centralised party behind the leader. There should be a pluralistic democracy in which the members decide genuinely. Not by plebiscites. Not on individuals whose policies are unknown and who are not accountable.

The General Secretary position is too important to be a de facto appointment.

The candidates

GenSecCandsThe favourite, at least the seeming choice of both John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn is Jennie Formby. Jennie is a long-standing left wing opponent of the Blairites and Iain McNicol. By all accounts and to her credit she is prepared to argue on policy issues and party matters bluntly. She is a strong advocate of union and workers rights in the Party.

Jon Lansman, who declared his candidacy after Formby, has made many enemies on the left. He closed down democracy in Momentum and made it very much his personal vehicle – handing out appointed positions and patronage to gather round him a politically mixed group of ambitious individuals.

Under his leadership Momentum has ducked and dived for perceived political gain. In its earlier months, it failed to get action on the EU referendum, trying to stay on the fence as long as possible. Lansman fairly unilaterally closed down Momentum’s democratic bodies and now Momentum actions and policies are pretty much whatever Jon decides they are.

Despite earlier occasional arguments by Lansman for mandatory selection, Momentum hasn’t argued or organised for it. Momentum closed down debate on the EU at last year’s party conference. That denied the Party the opportunity of coming to a position but it also gave the right wing of the Party the opportunity to claim, with some justification, that the Party hasn’t a democratically decided policy.

Now Jon Lansman argues that he wants an ‘open contest’ but It is unclear what sort of open contest Jon wants.

An Open Contest?

Momentum sent an email to members today (2nd March) inviting people to express interest in standing for the GS position. Some may wonder how sincere Jon’s desire for other candidates is. But it looks at least as if Lansman is hoping to stretch the timeline of the selection beyond any possible selection at the March NEC. If so, nothing wrong with that but the question that needs answering is ‘what after that’?

  1. Is it that there should be a proper selection from other than a shortlist of one on the NEC?
  2. Is it for a OMOV ballot?
  3. Is it for the operation of the rule that allows conference to vote for General Secretary but with an ‘open contest’?

Party members who want a democracy decision should go for the third option.

The problem with OMOV

As with the Corbyn’s election OMOV ballots can occasionally allow an alienated, unrecognised majority to be empowered to remove an arrogant, complacent and politically dominant tendency.

More normally in politics it is intended as a way by which a well-oiled machine with a database of volunteers with access to contact lists can ensure their candidate wins.

The right-wing Progress group supported the Collins proposal in its 2014 review as they thought the machine that would determine the result was their own, heavily entrenched in the Party structures.

Over the last two years Lansman has built an alternative machine in Momentum. He hasn’t shown much concern for abstract democratic principles in its operation but he has however shown a determination to get his way, believing his way was the only way.

If Lansman wants ‘member involvement’, I would guess he favours the OMOV option.
Under OMOV, selections in the Party, PPC and others have too often been apolitical contests – not run on the politics of candidates but on sponsorship, selfies with leading figures etc.

That model was  particularly promoted by the Blairites for their candidates. After all, they had few principled policies on which to garner support. It also made parachuting of the leader’s allies easier.

We need radically different selection methods for the Party GS and ultimately for PPCs.

Use the Rule Book – democratise the process

The Party’s rule book actually calls for an election by conference of the General Secretary (Chapter 4.II.4.a) although there is the proviso that the election is on the ’NEC’s recommendation’.

In the past conference has been a barely concealed rubber-stamp for an NEC decision remote from the Party membership. That has to change.

The Party need to hear answers from the candidates for GS and debate them in its branches, constituencies and affiliates up to conference

  • What will they do to make the Party an open and inclusive Party? Will they end the culture of bans and exclusions? How will they enable and promote active democratic debate?
  • What will the candidate advocate to increase the Party’s campaigning focus? Can we not do better than one campaign day every few months?
  • Our Party needs to be put on a war footing to win back the generations of poor workers primarily, who have drifted out of voting or been pulled into the wake of nationalist politics of the UKIP and Tory right. What will the GS candidates do to address that?

Of course the Labour Party needs someone to ‘fill in’ until that selection. That is not unusual, we have had acting leaders of the Party whilst awaiting a democratic decision.

But Party members should call now on the NEC to begin a meaningful selection. We need an organisationally and politically competent GS. Using Tony Benn’s 5 principles of accountability, we need to know not only what s/he can do – we have seen that negatively – we need to deal with Benn’s last two principles.

“To whom are you accountable?”
“How do we get rid of you?”

The General Secretary should not only be elected by an open contest at conference but they should be answerable to it as well.

I urge Party members and organisations to contact the NEC to call for such a democratic process in the election of our next General Secretary.


Draft letter calling for above downloadable from this link

Appeal against my expulsion and continuing ‘auto-exclusion’

To: Christine Shawcroft
Chair, The Labour Party Disputes Panel

Dear Christine

On Sept 10th 2016, I was told in an email, purportedly sent on behalf of the General Secretary Iain McNicol, that my membership of the Labour Party had been revoked and that I had been auto-excluded from future membership for at least 5 years. This was said despite my long record of service to the Party.

Somewhat strangely, given I was a long-standing member, the email was sent from supporter_applications@labour.org.uk.

I am asking again for my case to be heard by whichever body in the Party can reverse this decision.

The alleged reasons for my expulsion

The only explanation I have ever been given for my expulsion was in the letter I received from Iain McNicol when it said that it was because I was an ‘active supporter of the AWL’.

No explanation was given of what this meant or why this now rendered me invalid for membership, as my views had not changed for many years previously and were no secret. There had been no ban on having any relationship with the AWL that had been agreed by the Party or that I had been notified of.

I have been denied the right to see the evidence against me. The only possible evidence that I have seen was from an anonymous twitter account who claimed he had seen a submission made against me, possibly the person who submitted it. The screenshot of the ‘evidence’ he tweeted at me was a gross distortion of what I believe as a Marxist. I believe I have should have the right to review and respond to all the evidence against me.

When I have written to the General Secretary Iain McNicol to contest this exclusion on two occasions, I was told by email on both occasions (Sept 19, 2016 and Jan 19, 2017) that my request would be passed on to the appropriate panel. But I heard nothing subsequently.

My CLP opposes my expulsion

My CLP has repeatedly opposed my expulsion. It immediately decided by an overwhelming majority at all members meeting on 12th September 2016 to submit a contemporary motion to that year’s conference on the matter. The motion was not however allowed onto the agenda paper of conference.

The CLP repeated its support via a unanimously passed resolution in my support on 23rd  September 2016.

My CLP know of my work over many years for the Party. They know that I have been a member of the Party for over 35 years.

They knew in particular of my work in this CLP from 2010 until the date of my expulsion.

  • At the time of my expulsion I was the CLP Chair.
  • I had carried out the role of Constituency Secretary for over 2 and a half of the previous 6 years.
  • I had been Branch Secretary for two years.
  • I had submitted through my CLP a successful motion to Sept 2015 Conference on restoring the trade union rights taken away by the Thatcher government in the 1980s. I was involved in compiling the unique aspects of the motion with those of other unions and spoke to it at Conference, where it was passed unanimously.
  • I had been one of the first activists in my CLP and in the region to get moving in recognizing the possibilities of building the Party membership and involvement as a result of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
  • I had long been active in both getting the issue of Palestinian rights recognised, organised a public meeting of the Party during the 2014 Gaza conflict as well as written the CLP’s submission during the Chakrabarti enquiry on how we might combat the problem of anti-semitism on the left.

I have accounted for my activities in these areas in the blog post I wrote at the time of the notice of my expulsion https://beestonleftie.wordpress.com/2016/09/10/1794/

My political views

I consider myself a Marxist and have done so throughout almost all of my political life. I do not believe that is incompatible with Party membership or ever has been. I believe there should be freedom of speech in the Party. I believe that members should have the right to campaign for their beliefs with co-thinkers in the Party, as long as they are not racist or of other forms of hate crimes.

These rights to organise should apply universally whether they be of members holding views from the Progress right of the Party to the many campaigning and other groups on the left.

My activity with the Party since my exclusion

Since my unexplained exclusion I have continued to work as closely as I can with my local Party despite attempts by the Compliance Unit to restrict my contact with them. Officers of the CLP notified me that they had been told by the Compliance Unit that the CLP might face being closed down if I attended functions of the CLP. Although these functions were unspecified.

Nevertheless I continued to participate in Party activities where I could be of help, most importantly in last June’s General Election.

Work during the general election

During the election campaign I not only joined in most of the canvassing sessions. I also took the initiative in organising a number of other important election events.

In consultation with my comrade Greg Marshall the parliamentary candidate and his election team:

  1. 14th May 2017: I arranged for journalist Paul Mason to visit the constituency and address a well publicised and hundred strong, energetic campaign meeting in the constituency followed by a mass canvass.
  2. 3rd June 2017: I arranged the visit of the General Secretary of the PCS Mark Serwotka to the constituency and I organised and chaired the election campaign meeting when Mark spoke alongside my own Unite Regional Secretary AnnMarie Kilcline and our candidate Greg Marshall. The midday rally attracted 200 people most of whom took part in the canvassing on the day.
  3. 5th June 2017: I arranged for the President of the Bakers Union Ian Hodson and some of his union’s staff to join constituency campaigners in visiting many fast food and catering establishments in the constituency. We took the message of Labour’s commitment to end low pay, facilitate union rights to staff there as well as to customers and passers-by. We were joined later by our parliamentary candidate.
  4. 6th, 7th and 8th June 2017: On the final three days of the campaign I organised a team of comrades to hold static street demos at peak traffic times, holding up banners with Labour’s key and positive election manifesto such as those on £10/hr, housing provision, tuition fees, NHS etc on major commuting routes through the constituency. There were seven of these each involving eight and more members during every rush hour and will have been seen by many thousands on each occasion.

These above activities were thought by many party members and external participants to have significantly contributed to the energy of the campaign and the successful result we had in the constituency with the Tory MP Anna Soubry’s majority being slashed from 4,287 to 873.

  • 132 of my fellow CLP members have signed a statement calling for my reinstatement in which they reference my work. They include almost all the Party officers at constituency and branch level. See Appendix Item 1.
  • Paul Mason makes reference to this in his statement in my support.
  • Mark Serwotka gives his own comments on my work in his statement (in a separate attachment to this correspondence).
  • Greg Marshall, our Parliamentary candidate for Broxtowe, gives a statement in my support in Appendix, Item 3.

Work over the last year to strengthen the Party’s relation with unions

Also during the period of my exclusion, I have worked with senior Unison officials to strengthen the relationship between the Party and their School Support & Teaching Assistant members who had suffered a 25% pay cut as a result of the Derby Labour Council decision. I have a long-standing relationship with Derby Unison officials through joint work with them over many years whilst working at Derby.

I am attaching a testimony (Appendix Item 2) from Unison Branch Secretary NEC member and Labour Party members Nicole Berrisford to verify the contribution made to the credibility of the Party by my work there.

I am currently working with my union, Unite Community, to get a joint campaign going between them and the CLP on claimants’ rights, low pay and unionisation. This is a key element in winning back some of the disengaged poorer working class communities which was progressed well in the last June’s election. The East Midlands Unite Regional Secretary AnnMarie Kilcline and the Regional Coordinator for Unite Community Shaun Pender, whom I am copying into this correspondence, tell me that they will be happy to substantiate this fact should it be needed.

I believe both my activities over the last year, recorded in some detail here, and my work in the previous years, summarised more briefly further above, demonstrate that I am and have been through all the years of my Party membership, a loyal and committed worker for the success of the Party.

Conclusion

I ask you to give me what I believe is only fair and just, legally and morally. The right to be considered for immediate reinstatement; and the right to challenge what I can only believe must be dishonest or gross distortions of my views by those who must have presented evidence against me.

In solidarity

Pete Radcliff

Statements and letters of support for the reinstatement

Item 1 – joint letter by officers and members of Broxtowe CLP

Dear Iain

We, the undersigned members of Broxtowe CLP, call on the NEC to restore the membership of colleagues who have been expelled for allegedly being an active supporters of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, most specifically Pete Radcliff, the former elected chair of this CLP at the time of his expulsion, who was denied any hearing or any chance of answering the charge made against him. He is a long serving and dedicated supporter of the Party, including during the recent election campaign, and deserves to be reinstated without delay.

The same goes for Liam Conway and Vicky Morris from Nottingham East, who have also made major contributions to the recent election campaign in our constituency and over a great many years, and we are sure to other members of AWL in a similar position.

Signed by 132 officers and members of Broxtowe CLP

Item 2

Statement from Nicole Berrisford
Derby Unison Branch Secretary, member of Unison NEC and Labour Party member

Pete helped immensely during the Derby City school support staff dispute supporting UNISON members and raising awareness of their plight with the wider labour movement. He is a good ambassador for the Labour Party working proactively to retain and build confidence in UNISON members involved in a dispute with a Labour council to have faith and trust in the wider Labour Party.

He worked closely with me to encourage our members to become Labour Party members and his passion for the Party played a pivotal role in encouraging UNISON members to be active within the Party and make a difference to local politics.

Branch Secretary Derby City UNISON
UNISON NEC member and Labour Party

Letter from Greg Marshall, Broxtowe PPC in June 2017 and re-elected as PPC for next election

Dear Christine

I write in support of Pete Radcliff’s readmission to the Labour Party. I have known and worked closely with Pete for many years.

Firstly when we established Notts Stop the BNP to confront the racist and fascist threat on Broxtowe Council (subsequently expanding and campaigning across the far right in the East Midlands and nationally).

In addition, Pete has been at the forefront of trade union and community based campaigning against the most devastating of cuts to local communities.

Most recently Pete has been a consistent and committed activist both to me personally in my local and parliamentary election campaigns but far more importantly to help deliver the aims and objectives of the wider labour movement.

The policy of Broxtowe Labour Party is to support his reinstatement – I fully support this. It is both morally and principally the right thing to do.

Yours fraternally

Greg Marshall

(Broxtowe Labour Parliamentary Candidate)

Beeston West Borough Cllr

————————————————————————————–

Item 4

Statement of support from Paul Mason, Journalist and Labour Party member

I am writing in support of Pete Radcliff who was “auto-excluded’ from the Labour Party in Sept 2016.

Pete was Chair of Broxtowe CLP at the time of his exclusion, having been CLP secretary for many years before.

Pete is a Marxist and remains a dedicated worker for the Labour Party in Broxtowe and throughout the area despite his exclusion.

I was able to observe some of his tireless and innovative work for the Labour candidate Greg Marshall during the 2017 general election despite his exclusion.

There is nothing wrong in being a Marxist, our Party has always benefitted from wide ideological debate. There is nothing wrong about anyone in the Party promoting their views through journals and papers. The only question that should be asked is do they work for the much needed Labour victory.

Pete clearly does. He should be immediately readmitted.

Paul Mason

It is not going to be easy in Catalonia

I don’t think anyone can deny that the left did badly in the Catalonian elections. Regardless of their views on independence, organisations on the left did not do well.

The vote of the realignment of Podemos after its split, Catalunya en Comú Podem (CCP), went down slightly from 8.9% to 7.4%.

The CCP has a ‘third camp’ opposition to the 2 larger nationalist blocs and opposed both direct rule and independence prior to a full referendum. It advocated an anti-austerity government pulling in both parties from independence left (CUP and ERC) and from the anti-independence left the PSC (Socialist Party). The problem is that some of these parties (ERC and PSC) are not only weakly anti-austerity but also fiercely hostile to each other.

Many on the left with illusions in nationalism have looked with great hope on CUP – the pro-independence group to which the former Podemos leader Fachin recently defected. CUP has novel democratic structures and hostility to conventional politicians. It can claim with some justification to be the activist core of opposition to the police repression during and since the October 1st referendum. But the CUP lost even more votes – going down from 8.2% to 4.5%.

Other than the the Spanish government party the people’s Party (PP), the vote of all right wing parties increased.

Most notably the home grown, fiercely Spanish nationalist and right wing party, the Citizens Party, growing from 17% in 2015 to now be Catalonia’s largest party at 25.4%

The total vote of all independence parties was less than 50% – going down slightly from 48.8% to 48.5%.

The loss of  support of the Spanish government party, the PP, can only be celebrated. It will create difficulties for them invoking direct rule. But should the new pro-independence Catalan Government declare that their October declaration of Independence stands, the Citizens Party are likely to demand Rajoy re-establishes direct rule.

Direct rule will lead to continuing repression on pro-independence politicians and people.

But if the Catalan government redeclares independence, that  will lead to dissent in the urban areas of Barcelona and Tarragon. There are large numbers of migrants from elsewhere in Spain in those areas and in them independence parties polled well under 50%.

One might hope that the Catalan government will concede a proper legal referendum and start talking about class issues with non-Catalan speaking minorities, give guarantees of their rights should independence proceed etc. But that is unlikely.

The CCP’s hope that the leaders of the PSC, ERC even the CUP could be pulled into an anti-austerity bloc was fairly naive. But hopefully the voters of those parties may balk at possible aggressive nationalist rivalries that may grow.

But is not going to be easy over the next months.

Indonesia oppression – the Act of Killing

How can they bring themselves to do it? How can they live with themselves? Are they dead inside? We often ask ourselves that of those who commit atrocities, mass murder of civilians. Whether it be in war or for political ends. 

I have just watched The Act of Killing, a film by Joseph Oppenheimer. It is a partial re-enactment of the mass murder of communists, ethnic Chinese and anyone that the new regime of Suharto needed to be rid of after the military coup against Sukarno in 1965/6. At least half a million were murdered. Possibly as many as two million.

This film is like no other I have ever seen.

The ‘stars’ of it are the leaders of the gangs allied with the fascists that committed the mass murderers. They are actively involved in the making of the film, helping in the staging of some of the re-enactments.

In the film the main figure Anwar Congo admits to have personally murdered one thousand people. Not in bombing or the use of weapons of mass killing but in personal and brutal murders of the defenceless. He is still celebrated by the rulers in Indonesia, at least those in power at the release of the film in 2014. He is now a loving grandfather, ‘lovingly’ capable of showing the filmed enactments of his gruesome murders in front of his children.

The re-enactments leave nothing to the imagination. Only once do you see anyone expressing alarm, a government deputy minister supervising a reenactment of the burning of a village in 1965 populated by ethnic Chinese and the raping of children. He express concern that this shouldn’t be shown in the way it is, as it would be bad for their image. The minister is allied to the mass fascist Pancasila militia that is still powerful.

These mass fascist militias have continued to exist for over fifty years! As the director of the film, Oppenheimer says in an interview: it is as the Nazi regime and its SS murderers in the SS had never been defeated. Instead of being brought to justice they have celebrated both by the openly fascist regime of Suharto but also its nominally democratic replacement. Throughout the period they enjoyed the continuing fear of the communities in which they operate and almost a celebrity status.

So the gang mass killers are in the habit of thinking they have genuinely done no wrong although to the end of the film Anwar starts to display awareness of the horrors of what he has been involved in.

Made one year later, the accompanying film, The Look of Killing, includes NBC footage of the time. It  reports  coldly, almost approvingly, both the massacres and the convenience to companies like Goodyear of the use of the prisoners as slave labour. Part of the NBC clip I attach here is included in the film.

It is said in another approving NBC report shown in the film that the prisoners from the camps are offered the option of release. However release would be to certain death as fascist murdering gangs are outside the camp to dispose of more bodies.

Indonesia is the fourth largest country in the world, 261 million people. Similar to Bangladesh, it has become one of the greatest magnets for multinationals looking for cheap labour, ample resources and little or no workers rights.

This is imperialism – very much in its essence. Using compliant fascist forces, openly during Suharto’s rule but more covertly since then, to deny workers democratic rights. Ensuring through military and financial support that such regimes continue. And US companies, UK companies and those of many others reap the profits.

Indonesia workers have fought back and are continuing to fight back. There has been a long running dispute at Freeport for example.

Apparently these films have to some degree opened up critical reflection on the brutalities of the past. Hopefully workers there will feel more confident to confront the regime, the brutally oppressive companies and the fascist gangs that always lurked in the background.

I would recommend everyone watching and learning from these films. As well as watching and being ready to give support to the Indonesian workers whenever inevitably they rise in defiance of their regime.

Questions for American comrades

Isn’t Trump weaker now than ever? 

The neo-Nazi forces that he makes excuses for are frightening but in no way can they be considered an effective challenge to state power. But there is no other right wing force on the streets. Trump and Bannon always wanted support on the streets and they particularly need it now. But Trump fears discouraging it one moment, he fears identifying with it at another. So Trump wildly zig-zags and Bannon scowls in anger.

Although the President is Head of State, he isn’t the state. The ruling class of the US are linked to the state by ‘a thousand threads’ not just one. It does not easily accept centralised directives except under fear of their total loss of their power. And however we might wish it, capitalism isn’t under threat in the US. The American ruling class look at Trump and will be saying ‘we don’t need this shit’.

Another question for my American comrades. 

Do you not fear that Trump might never be as weak again?

His venality, his viciousness, his threat to peace; what he threatens must be clearer to the American worker now than ever, as well as to women, blacks and minorities. Trump’s team are at each other’s throats. It is questionable whether he has ‘a team’ at all.

The US media has been recently one of the tamest medias in the West. But to watch it last night, particularly CNN, was watching a Party of opposition, mercilessly attacking the President.

Whatever is possible to be done in order to damage him, should be done now. He can be brought down and it is the radical labour movement that can build up its democratic strength amongst the working class communities in bringing him down.