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Volume 41 Number 7, March 12, 2011 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

No to Military Intervention in Libya!
Britain Out of NATO!

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :

No to Military Intervention in Libya! Britain Out of NATO!

Celebrate the Centenary of International Women's Day!

30th Anniversary of the Irish Hunger Strikes:
Long Live the Spirit of Resistance of the Irish People!

No to Further Militarisation under the “Big Society”!:
The Linking of Military and Civilian Life in Oxfordshire

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No to Military Intervention in Libya!
Britain Out of NATO!

For An Anti-War Government

In the recent period, the British government has stepped up its warmongering activities in relation to Libya, as well as its interventionist approach to other countries in North Africa and the wider region. Indeed it appears that it is the British government that is the most zealous in demanding a so-called “no-fly zone” over Libya, calling for other forms of military intervention and rallying its allies in the EU, NATO and the G8. The government has openly called for regime change in Libya, which unmasks any pretence that it is motivated by “humanitarian concern” for the people of Libya. The claim that it is concerned with the need to protect life, also appears to be in contradiction with its eagerness to supply arms to those rebelling against the Libyan government and to launch air strikes and bombing raids that will inevitably lead to loss of life.

The government is, however, now making much of its “responsibility to protect” the people of Libya a policy which has now become connected with the current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who produced a report on the subject in 2009. In the past, however, this notion was more firmly associated with Blair’s “doctrine of the international community”, more commonly known as the Blair Doctrine, following the speech he made in Chicago in 1999. This doctrine, which justified invasion on alleged humanitarian grounds, was so widely used by the Anglo-American imperialists in the first decade of this century that it became openly exposed and completely discredited. The new coalition government initially distanced itself from New Labour’s openly warmongering policy, despite its continuing military interference in Iraq and occupation of Afghanistan, but is remains as much an enemy of peace and non-interference as its predecessor. The “responsibility to protect” policy, although associated with the UN has no basis in international law and does not provide states, individually or collectively with any legal basis for military intervention against other states unless there is a specific authorisation by the UN Security Council. Even this power is contested by some states, which uphold the view that military intervention should only take place where there is threat to international peace and security.

The Charter of the UN is specifically based on the need to maintain peaceful relations between states, for disputes between states to be settled without the use of force and for humankind to be spared from the scourge of war. International law was further strengthened by the UN’s adoption of the Nuremburg Principles. These established specific “crimes against peace”, including “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression” and “participation in a common plan or conspiracy” in order to carry out such acts. It is clear that the chieftains of Anglo-American imperialism are guilty of such crimes many times over.

In addition, the UN has on many occasions reaffirmed its commitment to the equal sovereignty of all states and the principle of non-intervention and non-interference in the affairs of sovereign states. For example, the UN Friendly Relations Declaration of 1970 declared: “No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements are in violation of international law.” This includes intervention in civil wars as well as financial and other support for political groups. It is clear that despite alleged concern for “the rule of law”, this is another legal principle that is more honored in the breach than in the observance by Anglo-American imperialism and the other big powers.

The crimes against peace currently being carried out by the British government and its allies relate in particular to their plans for military intervention in Libya. However, this is by no means the only crime in preparation. This week the government continued with its threats against the Iranian government, stepped up its intervention in Egypt and continued with its efforts to deny the Palestinian people their right to self-determination. In short the government remains committed to varying forms of interference and intervention throughout the region in order to safeguard the interests of the big monopolies and financial institutions. It is in these circumstances that all democratic people must take a stand not only against military intervention, although this is of particular importance at the present time, but also and all forms of interference in the affairs of the people of North Africa and the wider region.

All peace-loving people must step up and add momentum to the movement to block and end crimes against peace. The Anglo-US imperialists, the big powers and their aggressive military alliances – these are the warmongers, the dictators, and this must never be forgotten. Their doctrine of humanitarian intervention is dripping with hypocrisy. The invasion of Iraq began with the Gulf War and continued with sanctions and no-fly zones. It was during this period that Madeleine Albright made her infamous “price-worth paying” remarks. The bombing and dismemberment of Yugoslavia was carried out also under a “humanitarian” cloak, getting rid of a dictator and even supporting the right of self-determination. The warmongers have actually now become even more ravenous, duplicitous and lawless.

Workers’ Weekly calls on the working class and people to take a stand for justice, for principle, for peace and for non-intervention. It calls on the anti-war movement to intensify the struggle against the warmongers, to get Britain out of NATO, to end all aggressive military alliances and to aim the movement at actually achieving an anti-war government.

No to Military Intervention in Libya!
Hands Off the Middle East!
Britain Out of NATO!
Stay the Hands of the Warmongers!

Article Index


Celebrate the Centenary of International Women's Day!

International Women's DayMarch 8 this year marked the centenary of International Women's Day.

The first International Women’s Day was observed on March 19, 1911, and at rallies held in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland more than one million women and men participated on that day. It followed the resolution proposed by German communist leader Clara Zetkin and adopted in 1910 at the international women’s conference in Copenhagen organised by the then revolutionary Second International. It was established as a day which would agitate for the right of women to participate in the political affairs of their countries, in addition to their fight for their rights as workers and as women.

In the following years, International Women's Day was marked in more and more countries. It was a period when women were fighting for the right to vote, within the whole fight for universal suffrage. As women entered the workplace in increasing numbers, they waged and continue to wage struggles against their conditions of exploitation.

In the years before the start of the First World War, the celebration of International Women's Day opposed imperialist war and expressed the unity between working women of different countries in opposition to the national chauvinism promoted by the ruling circles. The demonstrations marking International Women’s Day in Russia were themselves an important precursor to the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917.

Mothers' MarchWomen's leading role in the struggles of today is part of a continuous line of march of women in all the important battles ever since the first International Women’s Day. As in the passing of the resolution to mark that day, communist and socialist women have taken the lead in the struggles of the time, and have continued to chart the line of march towards a new society.

Women's opposition to the neo-liberal anti-social offensive is part and parcel of the working class movement which is developing its own independent politics so as to resolve the crisis in a manner favouring the interests of the working class and people, not the rich. Working women take their place as producers of the wealth of society, and as bringing into being of the next generation of society. As such, they have their claims on society’s wealth, and raise their voices in demanding that investment in social programmes be increased, not cut back. They demand that such rights as the right to health careDemonstration at the Royal London Hospital on March 9 to , the care and security for seniors, childcare, education and recreation for children and youth, and all the things human beings require to flourish, be guaranteed by society.

Women are taking up this struggle also as part of the opposition to Cameron’s conception of the “Big Society”, of which they are bearing the brunt. Women are demonstrating that they are also in the forefront of the movement to end crimes against peace and bring into being an anti-war government, and in particular they are taking a stand against armed intervention in Libya, and to prevent even further disasters in the region and world-wide caused by the use of force and aggression.

In celebrating the centenary of International Women's Day, Workers’ Weekly celebrates that women are taking political action on an organised basis to fight for their rights, as leaders in the struggles of the working class and as central to developing the Workers’ Opposition to stem the government’s anti-social onslaught. We celebrate women's struggles over the past 100 years for their emancipation as an integral part of the emancipation of the working class and of all humanity, and of the establishment of a new society.

Celebrate 100 years of women's leading role in the fight for their rights and for the rights of all!

Article Index


30th Anniversary of the Irish Hunger Strikes:

Long Live the Spirit of Resistance of the Irish People!

The Hunger StrikersBobby Sands, Irish patriot, died at the age of 27 after a hunger strike lasting 66 days which began on March 1, 1981.

In early 1970s, faced with the growing resistance of the Irish people to the annexation of the Six Counties of the north of Ireland as part of the United Kingdom, the British government introduced internment without trial. During internment, the British government treated prisoners with extreme brutality using five techniques which the European Court of Human Rights subsequently declared ”amounted to a practice of inhuman and degrading treatment".

In 1976, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher imposed a policy of criminalisation of the Irish patriots and removed their status as political prisoners, saying, “A crime is a crime is a crime.” There followed a five-year struggle to assert their political status, which included the blanket protest and eventually the hunger strike.

The protests occurred at the H-Blocks of Maze prison near Belfast, where the Irish patriots were imprisoned. In all, ten hunger strikers died during 1981, the first of whom was Bobby Sands.

The demands of the Hunger Strikers were not to wear prison uniforms; not to do prison work; to be allowed to associate with other political prisoners, the provision of education and recreation; to receive 1 visitor, 1 letter, and 1 parcel a week; and for the restoration of time taken away from remission of their sentences.

As part of a mass mobilisation of public opinion against Margaret Thatcher, and the murderous policy of British imperialism towards the political prisoners, Bobby Sands was elected on April 9, 1981, as the Member of the Westminster Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, receiving 30,483 votes. It was as a result of his election that the Westminster Parliament passed the Representation of the People Act 1981 to prevent prisoners from running for election, and in particular to prevent the other hunger strikers and others jailed for political acts from doing so.

On this occasion, Workers’ Weekly salutes the undying memory of the heroic young men who not only braved the inhuman treatment at the hands of the state, but who gave their lives so that Ireland might be free. The spirit of resistance of the Irish people to assert their sovereignty and for the reunification of their country lives on!

Article Index


No to Further Militarisation under the “Big Society”!

The Linking of Military and Civilian Life in Oxfordshire

The Ministry of Defence has recently been promoting the conception of a “military covenant”, particularly under the umbrella of David Cameron’s “Big Society”, although the conception dates back to the Blair government. Although much ado has been made of cutbacks to the armed forces as part of the Coalition’s drive to reduce the budget deficit, in fact this conception of a military covenant and of “community engagement” reveals an intensification of the militarisation of society. Oxfordshire is a pilot area where the County Council has made a commitment to the Armed Forces Community Covenant, also launching a “Big Society Fund”. This article examines Oxfordshire as a key example of the militarisation of society and the economy.

There is a large military presence in Oxfordshire. 8,200 military personnel and almost 5,000 family members live and work in the county according to the Oxfordshire County Council website. Out of a total population of 640,000, that comes to around one person in fifty in the region.

While of average area, the county has five military bases. One of these, at Brize Norton, is the largest airbase of the Royal Air Force. As the County Council tells us, RAF Brize Norton currently employs nearly 4,000 service personnel and more than 600 civilians. “When RAF Lyneham closes in 2012, Brize Norton will become the single air movement base for the military in the UK. This expansion will bring huge capital investment to the area, including at least 1,000 new homes.”

The County Council website clearly lays out a military direction for Oxfordshire and a direct role of the military in the county’s long-term future.

“The aim is to encourage military and civilian communities to live together in more integrated ways, sharing facilities and community responsibilities,” says the Council. “Although security will continue to be maintained, there may be opportunities to explore sharing buildings (e.g. sports facilities), combining contracts (e.g. collecting rubbish) or even maintaining homes.”

The Council goes on to elaborate on its “active links in place with the military.” In their own words:

Military/civilian partnership – “To maintain a close working relationship and address issues that are common to both organisations we have established a military/civilian partnership which brings together our County Council Management Team with the Commander of the Regional Brigade and Base Commander of each base on a six-monthly basis.”

Military/civilian health liaison group – “A military/civilian health liaison group, chaired by a representative of Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust, meets to discuss common issues around access to NHS healthcare, including dentistry, waiting lists and GP surgeries.”

Locality partnership – “A locality partnership has been set up between the county, district and town councils in Carterton and RAF Brize Norton.”

Oxfordshire Partnership – “The Commander of 145 (S) Brigade provides armed forces representation on the Oxfordshire Partnership. This is the overarching partnership for the county, which aims to deliver a stronger voice for Oxfordshire and better services through increased collaboration. With Ministry of Defence plans to remain in and develop their sites in Oxfordshire, it is important that they are involved in discussions about Oxfordshire’s long-term future.”

Community covenant – “Oxfordshire County Council is also proud to be piloting the community covenant. The aim of the covenant is to encourage local authorities and other partners to work with the military to offer support for service personnel, service families and children, reservists and veterans in the area.

“We have been chosen as a pilot because the Ministry of Defence would like our hard work with our military partners to be recognised and used as best practice by other areas, where there is much less engagement with the military.”

People should resolutely oppose a military direction for Oxfordshire. The issue is of national as well as local importance. It should be remembered that the region is home to one of the country’s most important universities, one with a long history of training the upper echelons of society to rule and developing the ideological backing for British imperialism. Fostering partnerships between civilian life and the military, particularly in the conditions of ongoing imperialist intervention and economic crisis, can only have a reactionary aim. The military must not be involved in discussions about Oxfordshire’s future!

Notes on the Militarisation of Oxford’s Economy

A brief scan of some of the businesses and organisations based in Oxford reveals a deep permeation of the military into diverse sectors of the economy.

Oxford Science Park, a joint venture between Magdalen College, Oxford and Prudential Plc, currently contains over 50 companies. Located in the south of the city, it maintains strong links with the University.

13 of the 54 companies listed as based in the Science Park readily turn up military links when their websites are searched. This represents about a quarter of the park’s companies. Some are well-known, such as the defence technology company QinetiQ.

Others are less well-known, such as Oxford Technology Management, the manager of the Oxford Technology Enterprise Capital Fund and four Oxford Technology Venture Capital Trusts, which specialise in funding start-up and early-stage technology companies in the Britain.

The company has various military links. For example, one of its Venture Capital Trusts funds a company called Plasma Antennas, which supplies antennas for military use, the customer being “a large defence company”.

As well as technological hardware, a host of different types of firm, dealing with management consultancy, IT, advanced materials, molecular and even medical technology, reveal a variety of military connections and list military applications as forming part of the target market for their products.

Oxford University itself has been the subject of student protests over its investment in arms companies.

According to a report in 2009 by students campaigning for arms divestment, published on the Oxford Anti-War Action website, the University invested over £6 million in arms companies in 2008. At the time of the report, the University had investments in a number of such companies, including: BAE Systems (£807,456), Cobham (£140,194), Rolls Royce (£328,602) and Smiths Group (£201,081).

As part of the notion of the “knowledge-based economy”, universities have been spawning spin-off enterprises. Isis Innovation, wholly owned by the Oxford University, is a technology transfer company formed to facilitate this process, managing the University’s intellectual property and assisting with the commercialisation of University research.

Isis covers a wide variety of technology projects, a significant number of which have a military connection or are advertised as having military applications. As an example, one project is based on a new class of protocols developed in Oxford that enable secure communications. These can be used to ensure the privacy of transmitted information, such as emails, and “can also be used in highly secure environments (e.g. military, intelligence), either to create security where none exists (perhaps due to compromise or coalition operations) or to create specific security between parties in a wider network.”

As another example, University researchers have developed a new miniature atomic clock for use in portable devices. It is expected to find application in for both commercial and military applications; they could “have critical utility to military positioning and timing”.

Even from such a cursory look, it is apparent that all sorts of production, research and development, and other kinds of economic activity are engaged in areas that either are directly for military ends or are using potential military applications in their marketing strategies or to secure funding. A significant proportion of production is geared towards or influenced by military aims through a myriad of direct and indirect connections.

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