Thursday, 10 August 2017

US and N. Korean Workers Should Disarm Their Respective Madmen

I am not the only one of my generation, who grew up with the threat of nuclear war constantly hanging above our heads, who, as a child had regular nightmares about such an event taking place.  I remember going to bed one night at the height of the Cuban Missile crisis, and being woken by a huge bang, and the curtains being lit up like a huge spotlight.  But, it was only a very bad thunderstorm.  The madness that nearly destroyed the world in 1962, was at least being conducted by two people who were at least themselves experienced politicians, and cool and calculated in their brinkmanship.  That is not the case today with Kim in North Korea and Donald Trump in the US. Both are mad men with their fingers on the nuclear buttons that could send the world, or at least humanity out of existence forever.  They have to be stopped, and stopped hard.

Its only a week or so ago, that I responded to a post on Phil's blog, which asked "What Is Donald Trump?"  I responded that Trump was,

"suffering a narcissistic personality disorder. He has to be the centre of attention no matter how idiotic or outrageous the statements he has to make to grab the attention. Some have argued that the best thing to do is to not give him the attention he seeks. Now that he is in the White House that would be very dangerous, because if the world stopped giving him that attention, he would be driven to ever more outlandish statements and actions until they did.

As I said above, it shows that under capitalism you do not have to be clever, talented, or good at business to lead a huge corporation. You only need to have obtained a large amount of capital. Actually, Trump reminds me a lot of the Biff Tannon in the dystopian 2015 of "Back To The Future II". It says a lot about the degeneracy of that section of the capitalist class, i.e. of the "coupon clippers"."

That should be borne in mind with the way Trump is likely to act in this as with any other crisis.  The Whitehouse today is not like any Whitehouse ever seen in the past, including under Tricky Dicky Nixon.  Nixon was a pathological liar, but he was a pathological liar who was also an experienced politician, and his lies were designed to spin a web of deceit around his administration's activities.  Trump's lies are just ridiculous.  Trump has always had to describe everything in superlative terms.  It is why despite all the obvious facts in front of everyone's face, he had to claim that the crowds watching his inauguration were the largest ever in history!  Everything with him has to be the biggest, the best etc. whilst everything he wants to dismiss, or oppose has to be the worst, has to be failing and so on, even if the next day, he switches his position 180 degrees.  Trump's lies remind me of the attitude that was once explained to me in relation to people suffering with Asperger's Syndrome, that it is just a way of justifying an action that otherwise they could not rationally explain.

Simply expecting Trump to act rationally will lead to disaster, and as said in the above comment,  any attempt to ignore Trump, in this case by North Korea, will lead him to only ratchet up his rhetoric even further driving him inevitably to have to back up his outburst with some kind of action.  The decision to put the "football" in the hands of the President, as Commander in Chief, was initially designed to prevent over zealous generals from launching the US into a nuclear war.  Today, the problem in the US is not over zealous generals, but an erratic and unstable President.

So, far the state in the US, has started coming for Trump by approaching him with kid gloves.  They are doing so, because as again stated in the comment above, Trump is a living piece of evidence that all of the bourgeois apologism for why capitalists are very rich and powerful is blown apart.  Here is a very, very rich man - though how rich we still do not know, because he refuses to disclose his tax returns - who obtained that wealth from his parents, and yet managed to go bankrupt four times, and whose business activities, for example, in Atlantic City, amounted to little more than asset stripping, which impoverished the area.  Trump is clearly not just an ignorant, boorish oaf, but he is also clearly incompetent.  Yet, how can the representatives of US capital come out and say that openly, as part of a campaign to remove him, without at the same time condemning from their own mouths the very system that allows someone like him not only to live off the inherited wealth, and exercise such power over other peoples lives, but also to use it to get into the Whitehouse?  Yet, Trump has not responded to the US state in like manner.  Despite all of the hand-wringing, Trump's response even to the inquiries into his affairs, and those of his entourage, and their connections to Putin's Russia, has been to sack one official after another - his own officials, that he appointed, and to launch a Twitter storm against them, and anyone who speaks out against him.  Anyone who challenges him from that other arm of the US state, the mass media, is likewise denounced as purveyors of "Fake news".  We are well down the rabbit hole here.  This is the US as banana republic.

But, there is another point here that was contained in my initial response to Phil's blog post.  It is that the real question that also has to be asked, is how could Trump get elected in the first place, and what does that say about those tens of millions of Americans who voted for him, a large proportion of whom continue to think he is doing a good job.  Its a point I addressed in my post Ignorocracy.  Unfortunately, social democracy has got so used to simply relying on the Tweedle Dee-Tweedle Dum alternation of political parties, both of whom essentially sold the same product, and only tailored that product after careful consideration of what set of ideas they had to tail, and reflect that it has lost all touch with the idea that it should actually stand for something itself, and go out and fight for it, whether or not it is, at any moment in time, unpopular!  So, they will not go out and fight those ideas that allow a Trump to get elected, or a Brexit to happen, for fear of making themselves unpopular with all of those millions of voters who hold that set of ignorant and bigoted views, which only thereby legitimises those views, and allows them to spread like a cancer.  Trump, therefore, sits on top of the US nuclear arsenal unphased by the prospect of nuclear annihilation, which he probably does not even comprehend, much like Slim Pickens sitting on top of the nuclear bomb, his cowboy hat waving in the wind, in Doctor Strangelove, as he and humanity hurtled to its doom.

And, facing him off is another madman in North Korea, who sits atop what is some kind of weird feudal/asiatic dynastic regime, in which no one dare criticise the Glorious Leader, or even fail to offer up the required level of sycophancy, for fear of their own life.  The capitalist media of course, term his regime "communist", even though it is clearly about as far from any concept of communism you can get.  This is a regime that hands down the top post on the basis of dynastic succession, like the old Chinese, Korean and Japanese traditional dynasties, and hands out patronage to its sycophants on a similar basis.  The vast mass of the population are kept in a condition of abject poverty, in order that the ruling dynasty and its hangers on can live in luxury, whilst it makes a virtue out of its isolation from the wider world.

The use of the country's wealth to be able to sustain a vast army, and to develop its range of military hardware, on a vast scale, including now, its development of nuclear weapons, and intercontinental ballistic missiles, is just another expression of that, in the same way that the old dynasties used society's wealth to construct pyramids, and other huge monuments in their honour.  Yet, there is logic behind Kim's action too, just as there was in the actions of ancient Chinese dynastic rulers in constructing the Great Wall.  Korea despite being separated from the US by thousands of miles of ocean, and posing no threat to the US, was nevertheless invaded by the US, and some of its allies in the 1950's.  Indeed, the US has invaded lots of countries over the years that posed no threat to it.

Its only necessary to look at the invasion of Iraq, its bombing of Syria and Libya, and the many activities of the CIA over the years, in Chile, in Iran, and so on, where it acted to overthrow regimes.  Who as a leader of a country that feels itself a potential target for US aggression of that kind would not seek to be able to defend themselves against the overwhelming conventional military might of the US, by obtaining nuclear weapons.  After all, that is the argument put by the opponents of unilateral nuclear disarmament, for having a "deterrent" themselves.  If the opponents of unilateralism believe the arguments they put, then they should recognise the right of North Korea, Iran, and every other country to have such a nuclear deterrent.  Indeed, as Kim has argued, in justification for developing his nuclear arsenal, the US has never attacked another country that has nuclear weapons.

If we really did have a global programme of nuclear disarmament, and the US, Britain and others were scrapping their existing nuclear weapons then it would be much easier to demand that any country that had them be disarmed.  But, there is no indication that the US or Britain has any intention of engaging in such multilateral disarmament.  The UK has announced its intention to increase and modernise its Trident nuclear weapons platforms, and Trump yesterday tweeted that one of his first actions was to modernise and strengthen the US nuclear arsenal even further, even way beyond its previous capacity to destroy the world several times over!  So, why would Kim or any other country in the world not want nuclear weapons to protect themselves from potential aggression?

It is precisely the hypocrisy of states like the US, Britain, Russia, China and so on that already have nuclear weapons, and continually upgrade them, and the history of those countries in intervening militarily in the affairs of other states that leads the smaller states to note that hypocrisy, and the hypocrisy of those who defend the retention of nuclear weapons as a means of deterrence, whilst opposing the states most likely to be the victims of big power aggression own right  to create their own nuclear deterrent.

But, for the workers in every state, our real defence comes not from a reliance on our own ruling class, that same ruling class that imposes austerity upon us, that limits our own freedoms in order to preserve its own wealth and power, whether we live in Korea, the US, Russia, China, Britain or anywhere else.  It comes rather from our own international solidarity as workers against those very same ruling classes.  But, it is difficult for us to build that solidarity so long as we allow our own ruling class to build up huge arsenals, and to point them at our brothers and sisters in the working-class of other nations.  The capitalist class has long since recognised itself as a global class.  Its top echelons hold their private property in the form of globally traded shares, bonds and other financial instruments.  As the revelations around the Grenfell Tower tragedy have shown, they also hold it in the form of huge property portfolios across the globe.  They can live and hold their wealth anywhere in the globe, without having any personal attachment to any particular state, which is why they have attempted everywhere to create capitalist states that protect the rights of their property as a global class.  Workers need to recognise their own existence as a global class in constant war with the global capitalist class, and to act accordingly.

In each state, our first priority is to disarm the capitalist state whose weapons nuclear and conventional are aimed at our fellow workers, be they at home or abroad.  In the present conflict, the immediate responsibility resides with the North Korean workers and peasants to rise up against their medieval regime, and to disarm it, just as it resides with US workers to rise up and disarm Trump and his crackpot regime whose healthcare, tax and other policies is aimed at impoverishing them further, whilst lining the pockets of the Trump dynasty, and the financial parasites his regime represents.

Trotsky in his History of the Russian Revolution, recounts the following discussion that took place amongst Russian and german troops fighting in the trenches on the Russian front.

“We have overthrown our Tsar. If you do the same with your Kaiser, we can end the War, and all go back to our families.”

It is the approach we should adopt today.

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