|Volume 42 Number 24, August 4, 2012||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :
Weekly On Line Newspaper of the
Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA.
Phone: 020 7627 0599:
Workers'Weekly Internet Edition Freely available online
Workers' Weekly E-mail Edition Subscribe by e-mail daily: Free / Donate
WW Internet RSS Feed
The Line of March Monthly Publication of RCPB(ML)Subscribe
A (non-binding) draft resolution on Syria was debated at the UN General Assembly on Friday, August 3. The resolution was submitted by Saudi Arabia. References to regime change or to the imposition of sanctions had to be dropped because of widespread opposition to their inclusion, particularly from Latin American countries, as well as from Russia and China. The revised draft resolution still demands that the Syrian army stop its shelling and helicopter attacks and withdraw to its barracks.
Syria's Permanent Representative in the UN, Bashar al-Jaafari, speaking at the General Assembly, said that the draft resolution was hysterical and misleading, violating all principles of international legitimacy, and primarily the principle of respecting national sovereignty and non-interference in countries' internal affairs. He pointed out the irony that the countries adopting the resolution presented it under article 34 on the prevention of armed conflicts, while those very same countries have had a considerable part in the militarisation of the situation in Syria and pushing it away from the desired political solution by providing weapons to what he termed the “terrorist groups in Syria”.
The British government had been quick to denounce the veto exercised by Russia and China for the third time in the UN Security Council (UNSC) that prevented the adoption of a resolution threatening sanctions against the Syrian government if it did not withdraw its troops from its own towns and cities and stop using heavy weapons against the armed opposition. William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, went so far as to say that the actions of Russia and China were “inexcusable and indefensible”, that the Syrian people had been “betrayed”, and that both countries would pay a serious price in the Middle East diplomatically and politically, for what he called “this unjustifiable veto”. However, an amended UNSC resolution extending the mandate of the UN monitoring mission in Syria was unanimously adopted on July 20.
The government is fond of criticising those countries that veto its resolutions at the UNSC but remains silent when its allies exercise their power of veto, something that the US has done over sixty times on the issue of Palestine alone.
The British government and its closest allies have been at the forefront of attempts to introduce a new UN Security Council resolution which would pave the way for further sanctions against Syria and might also facilitate open external intervention under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The main feature of the government’s approach is to support and encourage the armed opposition to the Assad regime while condemning the latter’s attempts to contain it. The initial UNSC resolution also took this approach but voting on it had to be delayed because of the assassination of three leading members of the Syrian government, including the defence minister, in a planned bomb attack for which the NATO backed opposition claimed responsibility. It was noticeable that Hague, who had just returned from a visit to Jordan and Libya to whip up support for the government’s position, said nothing to condemn what the government of Syria has referred to as a terrorist act.
It is now widely accepted that the conflict that the government of Britain and its allies have openly encouraged has intensified and engulfed the whole country in a civil war, with fighting now being reported in the capital Damascus. The conflict is even spilling over into neighbouring countries and threatens to destabilise the entire region. The actions of the British government have not been designed to pacify this conflict but to exacerbate it. Hague has on many occasions stated that the government of Assad is doomed and in his latest statements has again pledged renewed support and training for the armed opposition. Indeed Hague openly acknowledged that what he referred to as “lethal support” would be provided to the opposition, not by Britain openly, but by its allies.
For his part, the Ambassador of Russia to the UN, Vitaly Churkin condemned the attempts of Britain and its allies to “whip up tensions in and around Syria at every opportunity”. He was also scathing about the so-called “Friends of Syria” grouping, which he characterised as “a group of countries that are enemies of the Syrian government, and NATO’s demand for “humanitarian intervention.” Although Russia has its own interests to advance, Churkin pointed out that Britain and its allies, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have clear geo-political interests including the aim of curtailing Iran’s influence in the region and that their actions have nothing to do with the interests of the Syrian people. Russia’s position, he stated, was to try to bring about dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition but so far it is the opposition, not the Syrian government, which has refused to negotiate.
The lies and disinformation produced by the government on Syria, Iran and other countries in the regions must be unequivocally condemned but what must also be condemned is the government’s hypocritical and warmongering policy, its support of assassination and regime change at any cost to the people of Syria and other countries in the region.
In their discussions on the “proposal”, which in reality was a thinly disguised piece of blackmail, the workers have upheld their dignity, and the spirit remains to do all they can to uphold their rights and interests.
In fact, the struggle in defence of the workers’ rights has now entered a new phase. The workers realise that they will have to strengthen their organisation through conscious participation, and further develop their political outlook. This is necessary, since not only is there not a “level playing field” as regards the workers and the owners of capital who hire their labour power, but such owners of capital do not even recognise the rules of the game any more. They are the criminals who demand the workers submit to whatever proposal is put forward. What right have the owners of capital, backed by the media, to say that the future of the plant is in jeopardy if workers do not agree to compulsory Saturday working and other working practices!
Who knows what gun was held to the head of the shop stewards during the negotiations. Not to negotiate in good faith is an abuse of power by the Tata monopoly, but that is the reality the workers have been faced with.
Although workers have voted for the deal, they cannot accept the issue as the company and others have posed it, that this is the key to the future and that the workers have come out fighting, expressing confidence in the plant. The Tata monopoly is not acting in the interests of society. Workers are not fooled by this and rejected the accusations that they were the ones jeopardising the economy, jobs and the local community
It must be emphasised that the problems of the economy demand real solutions, a new direction, not the imposition of neo-liberalism and dictating to the workers, who create the added value to the product, and who are the source of the capitalists’ profits.
There is an alternative, and workers have been marching for it. They demonstrated on March 26, 2011, for the alternative, and they will march again in October for a future that works. But they must clearly grasp that the alternative is of their own making, and that a new direction for the economy is required.
No to Monopoly Dictate! For the Rights of the Workers and the Public Good!
What was the significance of the Olympic Opening Ceremony? It was undoubtedly spectacular, and belied some predictions that it would be an embarrassment. But it was still a spectacle, meant to create a certain impression, rather than people participating together with an aim.
The question really poses itself in the form: what image of Britain is being promoted through this extravaganza. The history that was presented was all the “good” things about Britain. It could be asked whether this was perhaps like the image of Britain that Tony Blair presented in his electoral coup of 1997, of a Britain that could “only get better”. Blair’s claim was that the Labour Party values of 2000 were the same values that were held by the Labour Representation Committee of a century before, but adapted to present-day circumstances. These illusions that Blair sought to create about the direction of society under New Labour were quickly shown to be just that – illusions. The underlying ugly chauvinism of a “Great Britain”, with the project of “making Britain great again”, with its aggression and war, its “Third Way” neo-liberal agenda, was soon exposed.
In a similar fashion, the Olympic opening spectacle, though setting out to create the impression of an unstoppable progress, was at odds with the present reality of increasing poverty, student strikes and marches, health worker strikes and protests, riots, and anti-war protests. It was also at odds with the reality of the Games themselves as they unfolded: the "ticketless" archery, the empty seats reserved for the corporate sponsors, the cultural aggression which accompanied the preparations, the hysteria and militarisation.
While the presentation of the industrial revolution was very dramatic, it was the "theatricality", not the content which was made the issue. The impression was that "all is well in the State of Great Britain". We love our queen, we love James Bond, we love our pop music, we adore our NHS and Mary Poppins. The spectacle’s version of a “people’s history” and what Britain has given the world was shot through with this kind of chauvinism and the emasculation of the people’s struggles, the contradictions in society which move it forward.
In being apparently human-centred, but sanitising the reality, Danny Boyle could be said to have given a social-democratic account of the history and gains of Britain, the role of the working class, the significance of the health service. In that sense, it was intended to create a nostalgia for a Britain with a certain “greatness”, concern for the youth and for people’s well-being, and to lead people into the Games themselves, where it is meant to be forgotten that 17,000 soldiers are mobilised, the international financial oligarchy behind the big sponsors are the real winners who dominate the Games, and Britain’s aggression abroad is conveniently wiped out of the popular consciousness. It is a harking back which cannot bring into being anything genuinely new.
The Games have seen staggering sums expended to pay the rich in a time of “austerity”. The fraud that this is in the people’s benefit, while the Coalition is slashing social programmes like the health service because of the alleged need to “balance the budget” is striking. Volunteerism is promoted because “we are all in this together”. The unemployed are being treating like serfs on the same grounds, while the multi-national corporations make a killing.
Stop the War Coalition's Chris Nineham pointed out, for example, “Danny Boyle's opening ceremony was worlds away from how the Olympics are actually being organised. The Olympics has already broken records: the most arrests on the opening day, the highest ticket prices, the highest expenditure on security and the greatest degree of corporate control. And all this holds a mirror up to our government; brazenly elitist, obsessed with profit and the military.”
Blair put forward a vision for a “New Britain”, but his “Third Way”, while ostensibly setting out to renew social democracy, was a synonym for a neoliberal path of war, aggression, privatisation and a de-recognition of the rights of the working people. Now the Coalition government is openly intensifying this path of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalisation. To say simply, therefore, that the Opening Ceremony does not accord with Britain’s contemporary realities is true, but not its real essence. Its point is to attempt to reconcile the working class and people with this neo-liberal version of “things can only get better”.
It is a fraud because the Games exist to make big money for a few, and in that sense reflect the way the whole of society and its life is dominated by the dictate of this oligarchy. The opening ceremony paints some other picture, and creates an illusion. The same state which is funding the big scores to the financial oligarchy through the Games is also the one which destroying and wrecking the society and going against the public good, not promoting it.
What is of course not said and is completely obscured is the necessity to organise the working class now through the building of a Workers’ Opposition, to see through this fraud and fantasy, and build a human-centred alternative with the working class at the head. The fight that rights be recognised and guaranteed, the fight for a human-centred alternative, has not gone away, but is firmly on the agenda. The working class and people must continue to take it up.
RCPB(ML) Home Page
Workers' Weekly Online Archive