Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The Tories are the purveyors of poverty

Tories have a deep love of poverty. Not their own of course but other peoples'. How do I know? Because their policies always make the rich richer and the poor poorer. We have now had 30 years of Thatcherism in the UK. In the early days of the Thatcher government the Tories cynically exploited public concern about industrial action and introduced anti-trade union laws designed to hobble the unions and undermine the ability of working class people to defend themselves. We were told that the trade unions were over-mighty and a threat to our democracy. Tory cuts in the early eighties meant that unemployment rose to over three million. But the real motive was making workers poorer and capitalists richer. Along with this came attacks on the welfare state. Benefits for the unemployed were cut.

Now we find ourselves in an even worse situation. - not that New Labour haven't continued the Thatcherite policies of privatisation and reductions in the pay and conditions of workers - but we are facing an election of a Tory government determined to make us pay for the capitalist economic crisis. The costs of bailing out the banks will be passed onto us. Privatise the profits and nationalise the losses. We are facing the biggest rip-off in British history. The cuts and debt agenda which has taken over the media in recent weeks is a smokescreen designed to obscure that rip-off. Yes there is a crisis, but it is a crisis of capitalism and unemployment. Debt is not the problem, capitalism is.

Eric Pickles - good comedy name that; crap comedy routine, not funny at all, not one bit - was interviewed on Today yesterday. Pickles is a Thatcherite, who like David Cameron is being 'nice' ahead of a general election claiming that the Tories have 'progressive' values. But the Tories are still the nasty party. Behind poster boy Cameron we have not only Pickles but all the other monsters from the crypt of Thatcherism like William Hague. So unpopular are New Labour that the country is sleepwalking into a disaster. As if the Tories offer any hope after thirteen years of New Labour misrule. It is worth following the link to Pickles. If you do nothing else read about his comments of the death of Ian Tomlinson. That reveals the sort of man Pickles is. A man, who like his colleagues has contempt for any kind of social justice and fairness in society.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Time to rebuild the Berlin Wall?

Remember when the Berlin wall came down? It was the end of communist repression in eastern Europe and the subject of much rejoicing. I was amongst the rejoicers but unlike many I was skeptical about what would happen next. Of course the theory was that East Germany, the former GDP, would join West Germany in an age of prosperity after unification. It hasn't happened. Not only that but the 'East Germans' are voting with their feet and leaving in droves.
According to an article in Guardian online by Kate Connolly:

"About 90,000 people a year are leaving to find work elsewhere, typically to the western states, Switzerland or Scandinavia. Some communities are preparing to close down altogether."

Hang on... capitalism is meant to bring prosperity, isn't it? Surely the East should now be as prosperous as the West or getting there? But is isn't, nowhere near it in fact. So why has this happened? Its because when the wall came down and the capitalists moved in - they asset stripped the place and closed down the factories. They were interested in making money, not rebuilding the country. So East Germany has made almost no economic progress in 20 years and there is no sign of it making any. In the GDP there was virtually no unemployment. Now there are no jobs.

So perhaps its about time they rebuilt the Berlin wall to stop all those people escaping from the East. The lesson to be learnt here is that capitalists are only interested in creating wealth for themselves, not for society as a whole. Capitalism creates great wealth for capitalists but poverty for the majority. Thats how capitalist economies work.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Tories plan public services lite

We know that if the Tories get into power there will be swinging cuts in public services. The Taxpayers Alliance, a bunch of Tories who claim that they represent taxpayers, and the Institute of Directors (IOD), are pressing for cuts of £50 billion according to an article in the Guardian today. The simple question is who will benefit from these cuts? The answer is the better off, including no doubt company directors. This is just another example of making the poor poorer and the rich better off. But its not just the poor who will suffer. The vast majority of us rely on public services and we will all lose out as a result if these cuts are implemented.

Of course the cuts are being demanded because of government debt which has soared because taxpayers have been asked to stump £1.4 trillion up to bail out the banks. Who caused this problem? Capitalists. Who is being expected to pay to prop up the bankers and their bonuses? We are. I wonder how many of these bankers are members of the IOD?

But just think about this. The bankers cause a crisis. We pay to bail them out by er.. borrowing money from them and getting into debt. That's nice work if you can get it. They must be laughing all the way to the er... bank.

In addition we are told that the Tory wunderkinds in local government have come up with a number of wizard wheezes to help meet our debt problems by giving us public 'services' lite. Cunning plans to save money include allowing people to jump queues for things like planning permission if they pay more for the privilege. But the whole point of public services is that we all pay taxes and we all get equal access to those services. Who benefits? The better off. Beginning to see a pattern? Cuts mean that the costs of the bankers recession will be dumped onto the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.

The Tories are the party of the rich. Always have been and always will be. When in power they look after their own. If only the Labour party could do the same. Well actually New Labour are also the party of the rich and have been doing a pretty good job of looking after their own so far. It is madness for ordinary people to vote for the very people who are exploiting them. But that looks like what is likely to happen next May. Its high time the left fought back. John Cruddas called upon the Labour Party to re-discover itself. Personally I don't trust him. But if he can help to get Labour back to social democracy that will be a step in the right direction. In the meantime the only party with policies to defend public services and help anyone but the rich is the Green Party.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Stalin and Hitler and the Second World War

There's been a lot of controversy about Josef Stalin recently. In Eastern Europe, as they commemorate the beginning of the Second World War 70 years ago, there has been a right royal row going on about how Stalin was as bad as Hitler, and therefore the Soviet Union must have been as bad as Nazi Germany. The Poles have been trading verbal blows with the Russians. The zealots of the right would have us all believe that the Soviet Union was equably to blame with Nazi Germany for the war. But it wasn't, and Soviet communism was in no way equivalent to the Nazism.

Stalin was a brutal dictator who did immense damage to the Soviet Union. On the eve of the war he authorised a secret non-aggression pact with the Nazis - the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact . Its worth quoting from the Encyclopaedia Britannica article about the pact:

"The Soviet Union had been unable to reach a collective-security agreement with Britain and France against Nazi Germany, most notably at the time of the Munich Conference in September 1938. By early 1939 the Soviets faced the prospect of resisting German military expansion in eastern Europe virtually alone, and so they began searching about for a change of policy"

The pact was a pragmatic, if cynical, piece of diplomacy
on the part of the USSR because it divided eastern Europe into spheres of influence, including the division of Poland. But at the time there must have been doubts that the USSR could resist a German invasion. Following the outbreak of war the USSR carried out a massacre of Polish army leaders and intellectuals at Katyn. Non of this is forgivable but it does not mean that Soviet communism was as bad as Nazism.

Some people would have us believe that a simple body count is all you need to decide if one regime was as brutal and corrupt as another. But nothing in politics or history is that simple. Stalin was responsible for the deaths of millions in the Soviet Union. Many of those people were good communists who had supported the revolution. In the 1930s leading Bolsheviks such as Zinoviev were eliminated by Stalin in a series of show trials. Zinoviev and the others confessed in open court that they were counter revolutionaries. They undoubtedly did this because of torture but also, I believe, because they wanted to preserve the revolution and believed that in the longer term they would be exonerated.

After Stalin's death the new Soviet leader Khrushchev denounced Stalin and exonerated those who had been executed. Lenin in his last Testament said that Stalin should have been removed as general Secretary of the Communist Party. Stalin was condemned by Soviet communists.

So where does that leave us with Hitler and Stalin? Hitler embodied Nazism. He was the only leader of the Nazis and responsible for policies which lead to the murder of six million Jews, and many hundreds of thousands more socialists, communists, homosexuals and Roma. The total has been estimated at somewhere between eleven and seventeen million. He was the undoubted aggressor in the Second World War. He has never been denounced by any of the the Nazi leaders or their successors. In fact he is revered by them.

Twenty million Russians died in the Second World War. That is very hard for us to begin to imagine. That is why they call it the Great Patriotic War, and that is why Stalin is still seen by some in Russia as a great leader. Winston Churchill was a fervent supporter of the British Empire - how many people died because of the Empire? In fact there was no doubt that as Prime Minister during the Second World War one of his main aims was to preserve the Empire. He also deployed troops against striking miners in 1910. He is still regarded with respect in Britain as a great war leader.