Sunday, 21 September 2008

Socialism For The Rich

One of the anchors, for CNBC's US Squawk Box programme, that covers the opeing of the US Stock Markets, Mark Haynes, frequently refers disdainfully to French socialism. The fact that Productivity per man hour in France is higher than even in the US's most productive state, California, is just one of those facts which the upholders of Free Mrket Capitalism in the US, such as Haynes, care not to know about, or when their attention is brought to it, to believe. Of course, what they refer to in France, or Europe in general, as socialism is nothing of the kind. It is nothing more than state intervention by the Capitalist state, an intervention, which is rather more open than that of the US Capitalist State. That is until last week.

Of course, all the bullshit about Neo-Liberalism was just that. The Imperialist/Capitalist leopard had not changed its spots no matter how much those on the Right, or their dupes within sections of the left might have tried to convince us that this was the case. The fact is that the Capitalist State has intervened more into the economy over the last 30 years than it has done before in its history. Indeed, the extent of that intervention in pumping trillions of Dollars, Pounds, and Yen into the world economy over that period in order to ameliorate the consequences of the Long Wave decline, and to smooth the transition of the world economy into one in which the locus of economic activity has moved steadily Eastwards, is the cause of the current Credit Crunch, which is the necessary corrollary of that previous excess. But, what Neo-Liberalism was about was giving the impression that something had changed that the days of overt State intervention, of welfarism in its most developed form had ended. Western Capitalism needed that impression in order to further impress on workers that they were on their own as individuals, that the State would not step in to prevent mass unemployment and so on, and thereby to press wages and conditions ever lower in ordr that the gap between Western wages and conditions and eastern wages and conditions could the more easily be reduced. And more, in an era of globalisation in which the US strode the wrold like a collossus, the return to the original ideas of Capitalism in its progressive, dynamic phase - on paper at least - the ideas, of Freedom, Democracy and so on, provided the cover under which the US and its allies could fulfill their dreams of global expansion, drawing wider regions of the globe within their orbit and control, and establishing outposts and quiescent regimes in regions of strategic importance in the new rush for resources and markets. Now intervention in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and so on was nothing to do with imperialist expansion you see, but solely for the purpose of extending democracy and Liberty. It was a very powerful and enticing vision, even sections of the left like the AWL were suckered into it.

But, the dialectic reasserted itself with a vengeance last week. I had suggested it was coming some weeks ago when I warned that a severe financial crisis appeared to be about to break. I suggested last week that the consequences of that crisis would be that the US Governmetn would be forced to intervene in a way that was unprecedented not just to save Capitalismn in the short term, but more importantly to save the ideology that stands on the back of the Capitalist system. Within days that forecast proved correct beyond what I could have imagined. I only hope that thousands of French viewers of CNBC have e-mailed Mark Haynes to welcome him to the socialist club, as Haynes along with all the other financial pundits in the US have had to admit that the State had to act to save Capitalism. They are left like Haynes last week confused and left with the only relevant question as Haynes put it "Why is it that in such situations its the little guy who ends up picking up the tab?"

Why indeed? For a Marxist the answer to that question is obvious. The State is the state of a ruling social class, in this case the Capitalist class. Whatever, the illusions of Liberals or those on the left such as the AWL, that State acts in the interests of that ruling class. Its actions are not motivated by some moral or other concerns. For the last 30 years the State has not intevened by taking over companies etc. because it was not in the interests of Capitalism for it to do so. Rather it intervned on behald of the Capitalist class through monetary policy. Now, as the consequence of that is the Credit Crunch, and the potential collapse of the fianncial system which stands at the heart of modern capitalism it is forced to go back to the methods of overt state capitalism.

The latest nationalisations - this time of the mortgage debt on the books of US based fianncial institutions - is reckoned to amount to some $700 billion. Added to the other bailout packages already committed the total is now calculated to be around $2 trillion. This is an enormnous sum. Already last week the US Government was running out of money, even before this latest splurge. It was forced to line up new credit from European and other states. It will inevitably mean the issuance of an even more massive amount of money tokens into the US economy and thereby into the world economy. That is on top of the hundreds of billions of dollars of liquidity that the US, Britian, Europe, Japan and other central banks pumped into the system last week. In the short term the dollar as risen on the back of the fact that tghe State has acted to prevent - for now - the collapse of the US financial system, but the commitment to such a vast expansion of the money supply implied by the atet developements means that in the not too distant future, the dollar is likely to suffer a severe fall if not collapse. Already, last week Gold - real money - rose $80 an ounce in one session alone, the biggest rise ever, equivalent to 10%. Oil too has begun to rise again.

The fact is that the current package - unprecedented as it is - is unlikely to resolve the problem. The fact is that all the State has agreed to do is to take mortgage debt off the books of these institutions - including in its commoditised form as CD's and other derivatives. But, morgtage debt comprsis only one part of the problem. Many of the people who have prime mortgages also have huge amnounts of other debt; credit card debt, overdrafts, debt to sub-prime lenders and loan sharks. Just look in Britain. Even now you see on TV and hear on radion adverts from these sub-prime lenders offering to clear your debts, by some new debt-busting - in reality debt increasing - loan, fronted by people like Carol Vorderman. You see the prudnetial and other companies encouraging older people to give up the security they have in their home, and to take out some equity-release scam. All of this debt is provided on the back of money-market funds, funds now charging igh rates of interest, and to the very people who are unlikely to be able to pay it back. When this avalanche of debt begins to slide the present Credit Crunch will look like a temporary glitch.

Its likely that in order to deal with this problem the Capitalist State in the West will have to reort to methods of the past. For one thing a huge rise in inflation. But, already some signs of the future course of events can be seen. As I suggested some time ago there would be winners as well as losers. The winners would be those, such as the Sovereign Wealth Funds, which had huge amounts of Capital to invest, whereas the losers would be those that had built up a massive amount of leveraged debt. We have seen Barclays snap up Lehman Brothers, or atleast the most profitable bits, Bank of America has taken over Merrill-Lynch, HBOS has been snapped up by Lloyds, whilst Middle eastern and Chinese SWF's have taken large stakes in US banks when their share prices were decimated. Only the latest package prevented Goldman-Sach, Washingtomn Mutual and other huge US institutions being swallowed up.

But, this demonstrates the point. It is typical of the way Capitalism works. Out of this chaos there will be some very, very big winners. Even now, trillions of dollars remains in cash in the hands of investors waiting for the ultimate climactic sell-off - not to mention the trillions sitting on the Balance DSheets of non-financial corporations around the globe - ready to seize huge amounts of Capital on the cheap. The world's greatest financial meltdown yet to come could spell the end of Capitalism as we know it, could spark World War III in a despearate attempt to secure markets and sources of cheap raw materials, or it could spark the greatest investment boom and period of economic growth the world has ever seen. For now, I still favour the latter scenario as most likely.

I beleive its most likely because apart from all of the froth that the furore over the financial crisis represents we still see a world economy whose fundamental are robust. In the last quarter the US economy grew at more than 3%. That is likely toreverse sharply in the curent quarter. Growth in Europe has slowed sharply too, and in Britain and Japan. But China continues to grow at over 10%, as do many other devloping and dynamic economies. Inflation in China has slowed tremendously on the back of a rising RMB, and that has allowed the Chinese State to cut interest rates, as well as introducing a stimulus package - in an economy already growing at 10%! But, even in periods of the Long Boom like the present one there can be serious recessions.

Having said all that Mark Haynes need not worry. This state intervention is not socialism. If it is then it is socialism for the rich. It demonstrates once again the unMarxist nature of the demands of some on the left for the Capitalist State to introduce nationalisation pretending to the working class that such nationalisation represents some form of "socialisation". It is of course nothing of the kind and could not possibly amount to "socialisation" unless that State belonged to "society". It doesn't it belongs to the capitalist class, nationalisation does not amount to "socialisation", it amounts to nothing more than "State Capitalisation". Marxists should oppose it and expose it to the workers for the fraud that it is. Let the Capitalists go bust, and instead of the workers paying for tehir rescue let the workers take over their assets for themselves and run them for themselves as Co-operatives as Marx and Engels suggested.


This is probably the last blog for a while. For the next 5 weeks I'm going to be in the midst of the Spanish countryside with no internet connection.

Monday, 15 September 2008

After the Big Bang, The Big Bust

This is just a brief comment. I've had difficulty finding hot spots the last few days.

A Few blogs back I warned of the possibility of a severe financial crisis in the Banking sector. That concern was flagged not just by the on going Credit Crunch, but from the fact that Oil Prices had fallen sharply. Oil Prices have fallen even further now to below $100 a barrel. The reason given for this is fears of a global slowdown reducing demand for oil. There is no doubt some truth oin that, but it is a partial truth.

Back when I posted my initial warning there had been rulours that the cause of the sharp sell-off in oil prices was that a number of Banks and other Financial insitutions were facing a severe liquidity shortage, and were having to sell-off profitable positions in oil and other asset classes, aprticularly commodity futures in order to raise cash. Last week on CNBC a similar poijnt was made by a Financial Analyst from Axa Framlington, Chris Tinker, who said that a number of Hedge Funds and other institutions had been caught in a short squeeze. Over the last year Banks, and Building and Construction company shares have been declining hit by the Credit Crunch and Housing slump, whilst shares in Oil Companies, and other commodity producers such as Miners have been rising sharply as strong world economic growth meant that supply could not keep up with demand. So finance companies have gone long the latter, whilst shorting the former i.e. they have sold shares in them they do not have in the belief that they can buy the shares needed to complete the deal at a later, lower price.

However, in recent weeks shares in Banks and builders have risen as fears over the Credit Crunch receded, whilst oil prices and commodity prices came off their highs as concern over an world economic slow down grew, and as economic actvity in China was deliberately slowed during the Olympics. This meant these companies were caught in a short squeeze i.e. their gamble that prices would fall tuned bad, and they had to scramble to buy shares in Banks and Builders before prices rose further, and this pushed those prices even higher. In order to raise the Capital to cover their short positions they had to resort to forced sales of profitable assets, Oil Futures, and other Commodity Futures which most analysts believe will recover again soon as world economic growth resumes, and as China kicks its production back up after the Olympics.

It was no surprise then that last week the US Government had to intervene to nationalise the two huge mortgage houses Freddie Mac, and Fannie May. Nor was it a surprise that other US Financial institutions soon came into the firing line of the market which looked for the next company to go bust. Lehman Brothers had been touted for some time, and whilst it could possibly have done a deal with A Korean Bank it refused to acept the terms, and then went bust the following day. Barclays also had looked at picking up the Company, and now looks likely to pick up some bits at rock bottom prices as part of the liquidation of the Company. At around the same time after pressure from the US Government and the Fed, the other large US Investment Bank Merril Lynch sold itself to Bank of America. BUt, the contagion is spreading. Analysts now believe that Investment Banks like Merrill cannot survive separate from a large Bank. Other companies such as Morgan Stanley are likely to be next. In the meantime UBS in Switzerland looks to have similar problems, but the bigger risk is AIG the huge US insurer, with a Balance Sheet of over £1 trillion. Its shares have fallen by more than 90%, and although it is receiving financial support from New York State and other sources in a $75 billion package, Bond Traders have signalled that they beleive it is bust by effectively pricing its debt as junk. In similar vein Standard and Poor's has graded the Credit of Washington Mutual another large US finance house as junk too.

The irony is that there is a vast reservoir of cash sitting on the sidelines. Some companies with strong Balance Sheets that have not been so burned by the Credit Crunch - like bank of America are picking up cheap assets. Even today a $3billion taveover of Ciba by BASF took place. As yet, there still seems only marginal carry over of the fianncial crisis to the real economy,and with China cutting interest rates as its inflation rate has fallen in line with the rising RMB the economic downturn still looks to be fairly muted and short lived. However, if the financial crisis does get out of hand that could change. Today even companies such as GE in the US are in the firing line, because in recent years they and companies like General Motors have also diversified into finance. The US Government today made it clear that it saw no reason to save Lehman Brothers. It is watching nervously what happens with AIG, hoping that a Warren Buffett or some other private sector solution will come along. But, in times like these it is sometimes better to do what Barclays is likely to do with Lehman's, wait for liquidation, then buy up what is profitable at a knock down price. The problem with that for the capitalist state is that it could bring trhe whole edifice tumbling down. Not so much in terms of simply the economic crisis that could be much more severe than it would otherwise have been, but the ideological consequence of what it will say to ordianry workers and the middle class about the desirability of free market capitalism. UNder those circumstances they may find that a slight corruption of the free market in terms of a return to the more overt State intervention of the past as opposed to the more subtle state intervention through Monetary policy of the last 30 years is a price worth paying.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The End of the World is Nigh

The Big Bang Machine

Some people think that tomorrow might be the end of the world. In the early hours of tomorrow the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland will be turned on. The LHT accelerates particles to within a fraction of the speed of light in order to collide them together at immense energies with the intention of creating new particles. It is hoped that the results of these experiments will either confirm or repudiate the basic assumptions of physics that have operated for some decades now through what is known as the Standard Model. In particular, it is hoped that the experiments will produce if only for a fraction of a second the elusive Higgs Boson, a particle theorised as having existed right after the Big Bang, and which is the particle whose existence is necessary to prove the existence of the Higgs Field which is supposed to explain how matter achieves mass.

But, some scientists have argued that the experiments are dabbling in things not properly understood, and could create phenomena, which could destroy the planet. One common theory is that of the creation of micro black holes, which could grow due to their immensely dense mass to consume all other surrounding matter. Some of these ideas are discussed on Wikipedia here.

I'm not a physicist so I'm not qualified to say whether any of these ideas hold water or whether the response to them from the majority of scientists, which states that the risks put forward do not constitute good science are valid. Similar concerns have been raised in the past, and science does have a habit of undertaking activities that might be dangerous. For example, when the nuclear bomb was being developed the scientists working on the programme themselves did not know whether the chain reaction started by the explosion would be contained or not. From what I do understand of the contending views being put I think it unlikely that these experiments will mean the end of the world, but to an extent that is besides the point. As the above Wiki article points out Britain's own Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, has speculated in a recent book that mankind has a 50-50 chance of destroying itself. The important issue surely is that science has now reached such a level that in a whole series of disciplines the consequences of error can spell catastrophes on a scale never previously possible. Just look at the way CFC's in a few short years of their extensive use led to the creation of the Ozone hole. It is surely time that the working class demanded that science be brought udner far greater democratic control, that some degree of workers inspection be developed to prevent a small minority who ultimately work in the interests of Capitalist society do not destroy the whole of mankind.

The Big Bucks Machine

In a CNN report today it was disclosed that Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, is not only a Creationist - which was disclosed last week - but that she was a member of a Christian Fundamentalist Church in Alaska known as The Assembly of God. The nutters in this cult not only gibber away like cretins supposedly speaking in tongues, but are also Endtimers. There are soemthing like 10 million Endtimers mostly on the Christian Fundamentlaist Right in America, and they had some influence on US politics under Bush, though he mostly relied on their votes rather than subscribed to their views.

The Endtimers are a frightening group of religious zealots. Were they just a small group somewhere their views would be frightening enough. That there are 10 million of them in the world's most heavily and nuclear armed country, a country where 70% of the population still believe that the world is less than 7,000 years old as the Bible bashers claim, and that Man walked on the Earth at the same time as the dinosaurs is even worse. That in such a country one of these nutters is possibly going to be in a position to have her finger on the nuclear trigger if the aged John Mccain were to pop his clogs by natural or other causes is far more frightening than the thought of either the world coming to an end through the experiments at CERN or the possession of a nuclear bomb by Ahmedinejad. Every year thousands of Entimers ffrom the US, UK and elsewhere visit Israel. They encourage conflict between Israel and Palestine hoping that sch a conflict will escalate into the Armageddon prophesied in the Bible, which will bring about the End of Days, and the Second Coming of Christ through which these religious lunatics hope to be saved.

See:Channel 4 - The Doomsday Code

It is necessary to do everything possible to stop Palin and McLean being elected. Of course, I'm not suggesting, even as a topic for discussion, that the fact that the world's most heavily armed nuclear power - and the only one to ever have used its nuclear arsenal (twice) - might under Palin bring about the end of humanity should lead to some pre-emptive strike against the US's nuclear capability or against the Republican candidates. Unlike others supposedly on the Left I can think of many socialist reasons why such actions would have to be condemned. Rather its necessary to build a working class in the US and internationally that is strong enough to remove such threats to human existence.

A Response to Mike McNair on Marxist Theory and the USSR

This is a preliminary response to Mike McNair's reply to our earlier discussion here.

1. I would not disagree that it is necessary to update Marx and Engels analysis in line with new information. However, I think its important to be careful about what new information is taken as valid. They may have had access to only 1% of the historical information now available, but to what extent is that other 99% the product largely of bourgeois science, and not necessarily 100% reliable. For instance, if we take anthropology, Leacock herself, in the introduction to “The Origin”, points to the fallacy of many studies into primitive peoples. Especially, in those areas of science that look into past societies there is a strong tendency of bourgeois social science to simply impose bourgeois norms on to non-bourgeois societies, to use categories such as class, Capital, productive forces and so on as though these were completely ahistorical. That said it is undoubtedly the case that science moves on, and new data is uncovered that allows us to deepen our understanding, and even to challenge some previous assumptions. The question as you say is how far the changes in the actual data and historical account undermine the core theory. As far as I can see they do not.

2. We might want to challenge the actual historical account of how the average rate of profit was formed – I have been doing some work on this myself in recent years – and prices of production, but does this invalidate the Labour Theory of Value, or even the concept of the Average Rate of Profit and prices of Production? Again I don’t think so. If we understand those two concepts in the way Marx did as something which exists in the background as the result of the drive of Capital to maximise profits not as some actual average rate of profit ever achieved, but as a moment within a dynamic process wherein Capital moves from one sphere to another in search of higher rates of profit, then the essential core of Marx’s theory remains. Indeed, I have suggested myself that in modern Capitalism we should update Marx’s theory. I have suggested that modern Capitalism is a version of State capitalism. But this State Capitalism does not operate through the State as such, but through the Stock Market, and its relationship to the State. We have a State Capitalist class that represents perhaps just 0.1% of the population, which has a controlling stake in the main means of production. It often retains some relationship to some particular Capital – for example Bill Gates and Microsoft – but its wealth is so great that it cannot be confined within such bounds. It owns shares across the Capitalist economy, and owns Government debt. The Stock Exchange acts in the same way that the State would do in a truly State capitalist economy – allocating Capital to where the highest rate of profit can be had. But, the movement of Capital is not that which Marx described, but now the movement of fictitious Capital, of instantaneous movements of share Capital in accordance with evaluation of current rates of profit now determined by current and future price earnings ratios, modified in accordance with risk premiums etc.

3. On the State. Does it matter that the State first appeared in Mesopotamia rather than Ancient Greece? The fact remains that in Mesopotamia and the other examples you cite what we had was the process that Engels describes. We had the breakdown of communal societies and the rise of class societies. In China we have the rise not of class societies, but of caste societies. The fact remains that the state arises as a specific institution with a particular purpose – to defend the interests of the ruling class or caste against the rest of society.

4. I don’t think in the same way that the historical evidence you cite in regard of the AMP or of the State under caste based systems changes anything within the core theory of historical materialism either. Surely, the significant aspect of the AMP is not the closed village community, but the need for a strong centralised state to undertake the kind of civil engineering products these societies required. It is this which gives the State its central function within such societies and leads consequently to the importance of those individuals that hold positions within this State. Consequently, it becomes necessary for these functionaries to be able to establish their power not through ownership of the means of production, but through its control. This is essentially what distinguishes caste based societies to class societies. But, whereas class societies reproduce themselves through ownership of the means of production and through inheritance of property, caste based societies can only achieve that through passing on control, and that means passing on social positions not property through birth. In order to do that such societies need completely different sets of mores, taboos, and laws to class societies. The Indian Caste system is a more classic version of that, whereas in contrast in China and other parts of Asia conflicts arise over control some degree of social mobility creates competing power centres, and so there are repeated overthrows of one Dynasty only to be replaced by another, whilst the basic social structure remains intact. I haven’t read it for some time, and don’t have access to it at the moment, but as I recall Mellotti’s “Marx and the Third World” deals succinctly with these issues.

5. States and ruling classes. I think your first example is wrong. Is it possible that in pre-class societies a bureaucracy existed. Yes, indeed likely if we take this as meaning some need for undertaking administrative functions and even religious ceremony. But, the same will be true of Communist society won’t it? It will be necessary to have some form of bureaucracy to undertake administrative functions. But, that is not the same as a State bureaucracy. Such a bureaucracy is not some independent factor in society ruling in its own interests, and conducting the economy in accordance with some laws of motion separate from those determined by society itself. The potential exists within such a society for such a bureaucracy to turn itself into such an independent factor, and Engels describes that process in Anti-Duhring in respect of primitive communist societies, but such a development must entail such a bureaucracy turning itself into either a ruling class, or a ruling caste. I agree with Trotsky’s analysis that the Soviet Bureaucracy could have turned itself into a ruling caste, I just don’t think it ever actually did, and the facts about its composition, about the laws and mores that existed within this society prove that it didn’t.

6. In relation to your second example this is very similar to the analysis I gave in relation to Cromwell’s State. However, I think there is a significant point here that requires further discussion. I believe that Leninism blurs the distinction between two different things – political power and state power. I would argue that Cromwell’s State remained in large part a feudal State not a Capitalist State. Cromwell as a representative of the nascent bourgeoisie exercised political power through the Dictatorship, and in so far as he held military power exercised State power on behalf of the bourgeoisie. But, the State is not just the exercise of military power, especially the more sophisticated society becomes. Its arguable that the ideological arm of the bourgeois State is far more important today than its bodies of armed men. Cromwell’s State failed because the material conditions within the society were not adequate to provide the human material for a sufficiently strong and class conscious bourgeois class to fill the State with a bourgeois class content. That fact did not stop the bourgeoisie exercising political control. In the same way the Chilean State was bourgeois, but that did not prevent the working class temporarily exercising political control, and to a certain extent political control is surrendered repeatedly to Social Democratic forces, or to Fascism where this meets the needs of the ruling class.

Leninism tends to deny this separation of State and Political power, because to accept the idea that the working class could exercise political power without actually holding State Power is seen as a concession to reformism.

7. On the USSR and serfdom. I think there are many, many problems with this theory. The first problem I think is that it fails to deal with the human element, and what motivates humans to act in various ways. The second and related problem is that I think it is ahistorical. To elaborate. For serfdom to exist in the 18th century, and to persist is rational and explicable. The level of productive forces were such that even in Britain Land and agriculture were the dominant productive forces. Commercial Capital exists and develops not by creating new value, but by buying low and selling high. The Landlords do not exploit labour as serf labour, or as peasant labour because it just takes their fancy to do so. They do so because that is the most efficient means of doing so given the level of productive forces. Once those productive forces change and capitalist production not only becomes possible, but becomes a more effective means of extracting a surplus it is not only a new Capitalist class that develops, but the old Landlord Class begins to utilise its land ownership capitalistically, begins itself to transform itself into a capitalist class.

But, in the Soviet Union this was not true. If we take your bureaucracy that stands as some new ruling class or caste over a vast economy of serfs the first question a Marxist has to ask is why given historical reality does this ruling class decide to exploit labour in this way, a way that is understandable for the conditions of the 18th century, but is incomprehensible in the conditions of the 20th.? We can only assume that the actual human beings that made up this new ruling class or caste were just as interested in maximising the extracted surplus as any other ruling group, so why not do so by Capitalistic methods rather than the methods of serfdom? That was not possible in the 18th century, but it was certainly possible in the 20th.

8. Now I have suggested the theoretical possibility that society could develop in the direction of what I have called “technological feudalism” that is that the changing nature of modern technology and production relations is leading to an atomised working class, and that increasingly production can be undertaken by individual workers sitting at a computer screen in their own home selling the products of their labour rather than their labour power in a Global Internet market place, and that a new Landlord class of owners of this cyber space could develop which charges a rent for use of that cyber space, but that is only a possibility for the future based on a projection of how productive relations might change, it cannot be used as an argument in relation for the existence of a serf class and Landlord class in the USSR.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Plenty of Shiraz But No Socialism

A couple of weeks ago after being told by Jim Denham at the Shiraz socialist blog that he wanted to ban me rather than engage in rational debate I wrote that I would save him the trouble, bevcause for the next couple of months or so I would be touring Europe. It had been my intention to concentrate on some rlaxation and re-writing of my novel. But I was drawn to the Shiraz site by a link about the resignation of Dave Broder from the AWL. Incidentally, I am glad he has been able to make this move in time.

Whilst there I spotted another rant by Jim Denham in response to my letter to the Weekly Worker about Denham and the AWL's position on South Ossetia. Such letter's are now necessary in addition to my comments here because the AWL simply delete my comments to there site - a practice they now seem to be adopting generally to other comrades too - and there hacks like Denham threaten the same response elsewhere.

So I wrote a brief response and submitted it. It didn't appear so I can only assume that Denham has effected his threat to ban me from the site. Interesting, because at the top of the post he had asked me for my opinion on reports of Russian ethnic cleansing in Georgia!!! That seems to be one of his odd ways of arguing, for example lamely claiming that I had been frightened to take up his challenge in the original post - because I had not seen his comments immediately to respond to - and then accusing me of lying when I explained why I had not immediately responded! The charge is ridiculous I am not frightened of Jim Denham on any basis of human existence, or any sphere of human activity. Replying to his lame argument took only a matter of minutes. Now he demands a reply, but prevents me from replying by physically banning me from the site! When that first happened with the AWL they claimed it was a "technical error". They dropped that pretext a short time ago, and Denham simp[ly announces his intention in advance. This from people who claim to want "rational debate". Dave Broder's piece showed how "kitsch" that claim is.

Denham asks what my attitude to reports of Russian ethnic cleansing is in Georgia. The answer is simple. Look at my blogs here. At the time it happened - not a week later as it took the AWL to dream up a form of words to cover their difficulties given their position on Kosovo - I posted my blog "Georgia and Russia out of South Ossetia". Look at all the other blogs that followed that give no support to either Georgia or Russia in this conflict and which instead insisted on the need for a workers solution and for the building of workers unity across borders. Comnpare that with the apologism of Denham's piece in respect of the Georgian agression, an apologism that is symptomatic of the AWL's posiitons over the last few years which have sought to defend the actions of imperialism and its agents - the apologism in advance of an Israeli attack on Iran being just the latest.

The other Minority comrades in the AWL should follow Dave Broder and Chris Ford's example. Get out of this degenerating Stalinist sect now before you are corrupted any further.