Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 51 Number 1, January 16, 2021 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

England Placed into Third National Lockdown:

Necessity for Working Class and People to Be at the Heart of Providing Solutions

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis

England Placed into Third National Lockdown:
Necessity for Working Class and People to Be at the Heart of Providing Solutions

Safeguarding the Future of the Health Service:
A Wrong Direction for a System of Care

Vitamin D and Covid-19:
Government's Dereliction of Duty and Care

Workers' Forum:
No to "Fire and Rehire"! British Gas Workers Strike
Let the Workers Decide Whether BTECs Go Ahead

Voices of the world reject U.S. aggression against Cuba:
Condemn the Fraudulent Designation of Cuba as State Sponsor of Terrorism
Cuba Is Not a Sponsor of Terrorism!
Cuba Solidarity Campaign statement on the United States' listing of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism

Report NATO 2030 United for New Era:
NATO is Incompatible with the Desire of the People for Peace and Security

New Year 2021:
The Party Begins the New Year with Online Forum

SUPPLEMENT - January 6 Events in the United States:
Counterrevolution Within the Counterrevolution

England Placed into Third National Lockdown:

Necessity for Working Class and People to Be at the Heart of Providing Solutions

England was placed into a state of national lockdown for the third time on Wednesday, January 6, meaning that people must remain inside the home except for certain defined circumstances. The lockdown is not in place for a specified length of time, but is effectively indefinite, subject to periodic review. It should be noted that the current lockdown is in fact partial, and does not yet reach the same level of restriction as the first national lockdown last spring. In particular, meeting other people is allowed (such as one-to-one meetings outdoors for exercise), production such as car manufacture is continuing to operate, and nurseries and pre-schools are currently open to all children.

Once again, the lockdown reveals the essence of healthcare, that it is a matter of human relations: the relations between people themselves, and between people and nature. The organised form healthcare takes, including its funding and form of public ownership, has to reflect and serve this essence. Care for health has to be deeply engrained in the psyche, the social consciousness.

What continues to characterise the official response to the pandemic, after nearly an entire year, is that everything is posed, on the one hand, as an individual matter, and on the other, as a problem of striking a balance between the people's health and wellbeing and what is called "the economy". Talk of "balance" is to obscure the fact that that first and foremost everything has been organised so that people are able to work, with the aim of minimising the impact on work, work for an economy that has profit-making as its prime motive.

As a result, people are yet again faced with having to make individual choices, choices that are in fact anything but. Take, for example, the closure of all schools except the nurseries. Are nursery staff able to decide on their conditions of work and are they able to take a decision on whether to work given the conditions? Is a family able to decide on whether to send their children? The reality is that nobody concerned is able to take any such decisions. It is not a matter of choice whether to work or whether to send the child to nursery. Employers, in general, demand that if you are able to do so, you must work. If one "chooses", for example, to keep their pre-school children at home, fine, will say the employer, as long as your work does not suffer. Of course, this is virtually impossible for most.

Where working people have children at home - for now, primary school age and older (and younger, in the common circumstance of closure due to confirmed cases or the need to self-isolate) - they are proving time and again their ability to make the impossible possible, but at huge expense to their personal wellbeing. This is again often dependent on the particular relations an individual has with their individual employer, such as the flexibility afforded. Whether children can be educated at home is a further individual matter largely dependent on family ability and financial means.

The point is that the population as a whole is not involved in taking decisions. People have no say in these matters that affect their lives, and nothing is affecting life more at the present time than decisions on what restrictions are necessary, what support mechanisms are in place, what is available for people, and so on. Rather, the method is one of executive order, rule by exception.

Going into this crisis last March, it was presented, with its address to the nation by the Queen and other rhetoric at the time, as a state of war. Instead of a matter of human relations, the approach of the pro-war government is one of "martial law", or in other words, rule by police powers. Arbitrary decisions are taken, and the government assumes the stance of being the authority to take the difficult decisions - the so-called balancing act - and out of the blue announcements are made. People are unable to be prepared, and the whole period has been marked by profound disempowerment.

All faith is being placed in the vaccines, posed as the key weapon in the war. They may well play a key role, although many aspects are not currently actually known, and indeed the virus itself has already mutated into new variants. But what are ultimately decisive are the human relations, which include the organising of how a vaccine for example or other scientific advances are brought into play. The Test and Trace fiasco has provided a shambolic example of how the existing relations and arrangements have proved simply unable to be effective.

Under the relation of arbitrary authority, citizens are supposed to entrust their fate to that authority. What is actually required is for people themselves at every level locally and nationally to be the decision-making authority, deciding the approach so that everybody is conscious. Only on that basis can people be truly organised to deal with the crisis. Throughout the whole of last year, the government singularly failed to mobilize the human factor in any way. It is only the working people themselves who are to be commended, who have had to find ways of dealing with difficult situations, and who have organised themselves locally to help each other out, as a matter of humanity.

So far, every lockdown, while temporarily slowing the spread, has merely prepared the conditions for further deaths and further lockdowns. The government refuses to see past its dogma of "business as usual". It clings to this, even though it itself represents the end of business as usual. Its claims that everything might start relaxing mid-February have already slipped to March and ring as hollow as its now ridiculous-sounding claim last March that everything would be back to normal by that summer.

This places the working class and people at the heart of providing solutions. As Workers' Weekly said on entering the first national lockdown [1]:

"What is being brought into sharp relief is how everything is connected together into an integrated whole. In every respect, each person exists in relation with each other person, the various collectives of people and the whole of the natural and social environment. Even the self-isolated person is not an isolated individual. ...

"The demand is that all take up their social responsibility. ...

"The needs of capital come first. Businesses are being seen to take various measures, such as switching to home working where possible, but everything is done in order to ensure but the business remains profitable. It is down to the employee to shoulder the burden; everybody has to get behind their employer to pull out all the stops and go all out to make their employer continue to be successful in these conditions.

"The health and safety of the people cannot be guaranteed when relations such as these prevail.

"The health of each and every individual is a collective matter. The entire community and indeed society as a whole mobilises itself to protect the health of every individual. When an individual becomes sick, it is not an individual matter: it is that the human relations have to be activated so that everybody is aware of that person's condition and is part of the solution. People, including of course the affected individual, act to ensure that the person gets the treatment they need. The mechanisms and institutions have to exist in society in order to treat that person; the economy is geared towards ensuring that those institutions have what they need to perform that function; the basic standard of living of every person is guaranteed, so that no individual falls short and people are not left to fend for themselves. ...

"Neo-liberal society is being exposed. People do not want to hear how bad the situation is. They want to become involved to change the situation. The whole society, gripped in this crisis, is in essence fighting for the New."

1. "Healthcare: A Matter of Human Relations", Workers' Weekly, March 28, 2020

Article Index

Safeguarding the Future of the Health Service

A Wrong Direction for a System of Care

The government is swiftly moving towards legislating on a US-style Integrated Care Systems (ICS). This would give much more power for corporate decisions to be made away from local areas in favour of private consultancies and health companies, as well as closing hospital and community services.

NHS England has produced a document Integrated Care: next steps to build strong and effective integrated care systems across England, which they say details their vision for "a more effective and responsive care system across England". NHS England has been running a survey on the document proposals, which began on November 26, 2020, and which has just closed on January 8 [1]. They state: "This document sets out how NHS organisations, local councils, front-line professionals and others will join forces in an integrated care system (ICS) in every part of England from April 2021."

It is a moot point whether NHS England will now press ahead with the proposals and claim that patients, NHS staff, partner organisations and interested members of the public were consulted.

The NHS England plan would take decisions further away from the communities, placing these decisions even more firmly in the hands of those that have vested interests in the NHS, and directly profit from then. This anti-social direction would be imposed across whole regions.

Far from providing greater incentive for collaboration and making health authorities accountable, the incentive will be the same as in the present "internal market". In fact, it would make it easier for the big players to capture even bigger contracts, for public bodies to swallow up smaller hospitals and services, and for private ones to use this monopoly of the ICS to get real "rewards" at even less risk. These corporate decisions will be for their benefit and not of patients as we see increasingly in the present system.

To allow systems to shape their own governance arrangements will not sort out the mess that the NHS is in, but will compound it. It must be the responsibility of government to involve all the staff and their trade unions, all the communities of England as well as local authorities in providing a comprehensive, human-centred public health and social care system to meet the needs of all at the highest level. Private companies and consultancies and those supporting their interests should have no place in deciding on the future of the NHS. Neither should they be provided with public NHS data, patient data or any insider information on our NHS.

The proposal that services currently commissioned by NHS England should be either transferred or delegated to ICS bodies would mean less transparency for people to grasp what is occurring with their health services. Decisions would be made in the ICSs. The democracy that must be established in running the health services is one involving all the staff and their trade unions, all the communities of England as well as local authorities in providing a comprehensive, human-centred public health and social care system to meet the needs of all at the highest level in every area.

What is needed is a new direction where public authorities based on health staff, and on people in the communities they serve, are empowered to directly speak about their needs and participate in making the decisions. A human-centred system providing a universal and publicly-funded health and social care system which is free to all is the requirement of the times.


Article Index

Vitamin D and Covid-19

Government's Dereliction of Duty and Care

An adjournment debate took place in the House of Commons on January 14 on the issue of the effectiveness of Vitamin D in preventing and ameliorating Covid-19. An adjournment debate is a device whereby on a formal motion that the House adjourns, an MP can secure a debate, often sparsely attended, on a question that is of importance to them or their constituents. The debate on January 14 was secured by Conservative MP David Davis, who presented a serious and well-argued case that there is good reason to believe that vitamin D supplementation will help reduce mortality from Covid-19 and cut susceptibility to infection. "It will save lives, improve population immunity, and help reduce the medical and economic impact as we continue the universal roll-out of vaccines," he said. "There is no more time to waste. The time to act is now," he concluded, urging the government to provide Vitamin D supplements of at least 4,000 IU (international units) per day, the equivalent of 100 micrograms, and to a significant proportion of the population, not just to the clinically extremely vulnerable.

It is reprehensible that it has taken this long for it to be discussed in Parliament, and then only as an adjournment debate. In reply to David Davis, Jo Churchill, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, refused to concede that there were no down-sides to such a course of action, and condescendingly accused the MP of wanting to move at pace, whereas the government is "nudging along and some progress has been made".

The reply of Jo Churchill typifies the government's dereliction of duty and care. It has been more and more widely reported since at least April 2020 that a high dose of Vitamin D can be used to guard against the ravages of Covid-19. On January 10, the Guardian Observer reported: "In April [2020], dozens of doctors wrote to the British Medical Journal describing the correction of vitamin D deficiencies as 'a safe, simple step' that 'convincingly holds out a potential, significant, feasible Covid-19 mitigation remedy'. In the Newcastle hospitals, patients found to be vitamin D-deficient were given extremely high oral doses of the nutrient, often up to 750 times the daily measure recommended by Public Health England. In July, clinicians wrote to the journal Clinical Endocrinology to share their initial outcomes. Of the first 134 coronavirus patients given vitamin D, 94 had been discharged, 24 were still receiving inpatient care, and 16 had died. The clinicians hadn't cl early associated vitamin D levels with overall death rates, but only three patients with high levels of the nutrient died, and all of them were frail and in their 90s. Increasingly, others followed the lead of the Newcastle doctors and began taking the vitamin themselves." [1]

This corroborates a Spanish study that David Davis quoted. He said: "As the death rate per million climbs month by month, from 175 in November to 324 now, the strategy certainly is not working as well as we would hope. Compare that with the province of Andalusia, a Spanish province of more than 8 million people. It started in November with a situation worse than ours - 189 deaths per million as against 175 - but which cut its death rate by at least two thirds while ours was doubling. That reduction, from between 50 and 70 deaths a day in November to between five and 15 deaths a day currently, started immediately after it initiated a programme of issuing calcifediol, the fast-acting high potency form of vitamin D, to at risk groups including care home residents."

Furthermore, he said: "In September 2020, the results of the world's first randomised control trial - the gold standard of medical research - on vitamin D and Covid-19 were published. The trial, conducted in the south of Spain at a hospital in Córdoba, involved 76 patients suffering from covid-19 sufficiently badly to have been hospitalised. Fifty of the patients were given vitamin D and the remaining 26 were not. Half of those not given vitamin D became so ill that they needed to be put in intensive care. By comparison, only one person of the 50 given vitamin D required ICU admission - just one. To put it another way, the use of vitamin D seemed to reduce a patient's risk of needing intensive care twenty-fivefold."

The recommendation of the doctors in the Newcastle study, to treat patients in hospital informally who had vitamin D deficiency, which is rife amongst older people, was at the time turned down by government scientific advisers. "Not enough evidence," it was said. Again, the advice had been that the treatment could do no harm and could only do good. Yet the government blames the people at every stage for allegedly not obeying the so-called lockdown when they travel more than five miles to support relatives, yet it is permissible to travel all over the world in "business class" flights. This is a lockdown which is becoming enforced by police powers, when at the same time universal health care is suspended.

This is not to diminish the real dangers of Covid-19, nor simply resort to pragmatism. It is to underline the irresponsibility of the government and that far from being cautious it is being reckless, while working people everywhere are solving the problems presented by the virus to the functioning of society themselves.


Article Index

Workers' Forum

No to "Fire and Rehire"! British Gas Workers Strike

The workers demand their role in decision-making, and reject arbitrary control. The owners in control and the workers stand in relation to each other, and those in control would have this relation be one of absolute control.

Workers employed by Britain's largest energy supplier British Gas, owned by the monopoly Centrica, held a five-day national strike from Thursday, January 7 to Monday, January 11 over the company's "fire and rehire" plans. Pickets, although limited due to coronavirus restrictions, were held across the country, particularly in Lancashire.

Centrica is trying to block the workers even from being able to negotiate or strike. It is trying to find a tactic whereby they are forced to accept. In so doing, those in control are upsetting the basic norms of established employment relations.

Further, whether the company forced a strike, and so is to blame, or not, the issue is being made that to strike is not in the public interest. There is supposed to be some conflict between the interests of these workers and the interests of the public.

The issue is rather that those in control are motivated by narrow private interests. The supply of gas and the maintenance of heating is essential, a necessity, especially during this particular winter. But the provision of those services is divided into competing private businesses, including large monopolies like Centrica. This fierce competition is causing this situation. Meanwhile, heating has to be provided by necessity, and the workers who deliver that service have a claim by right on the product of their work. They are creating a great deal of value into the economy in doing that work: that needs to be paid for and workers have their claim on that value.

Yet, because of this division into private interests, workers are being forced to cut their claim and compromise over their conditions of work. How can any of that be in the public interest? By defending themselves, workers are ultimately defending the public interest. Implicit in this struggle, then, is that workers are opposing the defining of the public interest by those in control.

It was in December that 89% of over 9,000 British Gas members of the GMB union voted to strike. Those involved included gas service and repair engineers, central heating installers, electrical engineers and smart meter engineers, along with call centre workers. Exceptions were made to cover emergencies and repairs for breakdowns affecting vulnerable people.

The dispute began in spring last year following Centrica's announcement of a so-called £1 billion loss in March, after which CEO Iain Conn was sacked, replaced by interim CEO Chris O'Shea, who announced the loss of 5,000 jobs. Under conditions of fierce competition, British Gas has been losing customers. According to Ofgem statistics, its market share has dropped from 25% in 2013 to less than 19% at present.

Nevertheless, the GMB pointed out in a recent press release that the strike action was provoked "against the backdrop of the company reporting operating profits of £901m in the latest available annual accounts [published in July] ... And Centrica declared an adjusted operating profit of £229 million for its domestic heating business in the UK for the six months to 30 June 2020 - up 27 per cent on the same period in the previous year."

Regardless, Centrica in July threatened 20,000 workers to accept new contracts, or be terminated and rehired so as to impose new terms, including a reported pay cut for gas service and repair engineers of up to 10%.

Angry at the ultimatum, 95% of members voted for action in August, a move which, by October, had forced a delay. "We sought to get the threat off the table," said Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary. "The best that they were prepared to do was postpone the ultimatum until January." It was this continued refusal to drop its "fire and rehire" threat that led to December's ballot for the present strike action.

Centrica, putting its private monopoly interest in first place, is accusing its workers of standing in the way of modernising.

"To win back customers from our competitors and reverse the decline of our business we must have flexibility to give customers what they want, at a price they want and when they need it," a Centrica spokesperson said. "Our current terms and conditions are stopping us doing this and modernising the way we work is critical to our success."

Those in control are defining what they mean by modernising. But how can what they are saying actually be a modern way of doing things?

"British Gas boss Chris O'Shea's attempts to bully workers into accepting cuts to their pay and terms and conditions has provoked this inevitable outcome," said GMB, bringing "massive disruption to customers in the depths of winter and a stain on the reputation of an historic company and brand."

What Centrica are trying to do is to say that workers need to get behind them and make concessions, and moreover, are trying to impose those concessions. There is no negotiation. Instead, they are tearing up the relations and disrupting everything. The workers, then, are quite right to point to the company's bullying tactics. The workers demand their role in decision-making, and reject arbitrary control.

The owners in control and the workers stand in relation to each other, and those in control would have this relation be one of absolute control. They want their workers to be what they call flexible, meaning that they want the flexibility to hire and fire workers at will, to change their terms and conditions at will, to reduce claim of the workers on the value they produce at will. In this way, the relation of being the owner becomes one of imposing their private will. Turning truth on its head, they portray any resistance to that as disruptive.

Centrica risk igniting an explosion! They are conscious of this, calling their plans to fire and rehire workers a "last resort". Even chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, Darren Jones, expressed his concern about what he called an "extreme measure".

Workers will not stand for this, and that is why so many voted for strike action. They refuse to be treated as a so-called human resource on the one hand and a cost on the other. It is not a confrontation they wanted, but it is the company that ruptured relations; striking was a "last resort" from the workers' perspective. But workers accepted their stand as necessary faced with the attitude and response of Centrica. There should be no sackings, conditions should not be arbitrarily determined by the company, and there should be no imposition of new contracts without discussion. The workers know that in the end, it is matter of who is in control and who decides.

"A profitable British Gas provoked their loyal staff into strike action in the depths of winter by refusing to heed their overwhelming rejection of the fire and rehire pay cuts," said Justin Bowden. "British Gas should recognise that the only way to end the disruption they provoked is to take fire and rehire pay cuts off the table."

For their part, the company have so far ignored the strike action, and as a result, workers have announced five further days of strike action, spread over Wednesday, January 20, to Monday, February 1, and have launched a national strike fund. The struggle is a matter of importance for all workers.

Article Index

Workers' Forum

Let the Workers Decide Whether BTECs Go Ahead

The Department for Education (DfE) has said schools and colleges can now cancel BTEC assessments due to take place this month but has left it up to leaders to decide. It is the workers who should decide, and they indicate that the exams should be halted.

Initially, the government had insisted that vocational exams, including BTECs, should go ahead this month in England. At a time when the pandemic lockdown has called for a halt in academic examinations and students' assessments are themselves being reassessed, that stance exposed once more that the interests of those in power who do not guarantee the safety and interests of the workers. The pandemic has revealed that the security of workers' lives is a matter of human relations. This essence had been ignored until the opposition arose. Self-interest is reflected in the official response to the pandemic, where everything is posed as an individual matter, and on the other hand as a problem of striking a balance between the people's health and wellbeing, and profit. Young workers engaged in the process of vocational education and BTEC exams asked: "Why haven't our exams been cancelled too?"

Skills training, part of the overall condition of young workers, is set by the DfE, which now abdicates responsibility and makes the school or college shoulder the responsibility and decision-making. The Association of Colleges warned the new decision would create more confusion, while a DfE spokesperson, sidestepping the issue, said: "Schools and colleges have already implemented extensive protective measures to make them as safe as possible."

The DfE is clinging to its position, saying: "In light of the evolving public health measures, schools and colleges can continue with the vocational and technical exams that are due to take place in January, where they judge it right to do so."

When pressed on this, a spokesperson confirmed this meant that schools and colleges now do not have to run the exams. But the onus and pressures are still on the student. Pearson, which runs BTECs and describes itself as "the world's leading learning company", awarding qualifications, has now said that they will award a grade for any student who is unable to take their exams and has "enough evidence to receive a certificate that they need for progression". Those unable to take their assessment this month "may be able to" take it at a later date.

The expressions of the government cannot be said to represent the public interest. There are the conditions affecting the lives of young workers and there are the decision-makers who hold sway over those conditions and who urge "business as usual". There is direction of the economy that serves private interests and there are the interests of the public. Workers have a right to be those who arrive at and implement decisions concerning their education, including to decide and determine forms of assessment.

Article Index

Voices of the world reject U.S. aggression against Cuba

Condemn the Fraudulent Designation of Cuba as State Sponsor of Terrorism

Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

The world embraces Cuba

RCPB(ML) condemns the decision of the outgoing Trump administration to designate Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Our Party adds its voice to that of democratic forces throughout the world in denouncing this outrageous move, and calls on the working class and peoples throughout Britain to do the same. The designation must be retracted immediately. The British government must also dissociate itself from the decision.

In fact, the designation turns truth on its head. It is the Cuban state which has all along been the victim of terrorist activities, which the government and people of Cuba have denounced and condemned since the revolution of 1959. The US either directly or with the involvement of its agents has carried out all manner of sabotage and terrorist attacks against Cuba. Reliable figures put the Cuban fatalities at 3,478, with 2,099 persons who have suffered disabilities as a consequence of these despicable acts. These acts of terror against Cuba include the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, the 1976 bombing of a civilian Cuban airliner that claimed the lives of 73 people, and the 1997 Havana hotel bombings.

October 6. A day of commemoration in Cuba for the victims of state terrorism.

It is a matter of record that Cuba rejects terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, wherever it is committed, no matter by whom or against whom. Who are the US authorities of whatever stripe to designate other countries as terrorist states? This contemptible move of the Trump administration shows how desperate it is, reflecting Washington's failure to isolate Cuba in international relations and public opinion. It is Cuba itself that is upholding international friendship and solidarity between peoples, international relations that stand diametrically opposed to terrorism. Its stands and its selfless international assistance have won Cuba global acclaim.

Cuba is widely recognised as a country that promotes peace and solidarity throughout the world. It is unconscionable that Cuba is subject to a unilateral all-sided economic blockade from Washington, causing untold damage to the Cuban economy and people. Normal and peaceful relations between states must be the way forward, and is the demand of all democratic people.

RCPB(ML) fully supports the statements of the Cuban government condemning the unjust, arbitrary and aggressive decision by the Trump administration. We call on the working class and peoples throughout Britain to stand with Cuba and the Cuban people, and to oppose the interference, aggression, sanctions and blockades against sovereign states which violate elementary demands of justice and damage the people's well-being everywhere.

Stand with Cuba! Solidarity between the World's Peoples!

Article Index

Voices of the world reject U.S. aggression against Cuba

Cuba Is Not a Sponsor of Terrorism!

Statement to the press by the Director General of United States Affairs of MINREX, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, on the decision of the United States government to include Cuba on the list of State sponsors of terrorism

As explained yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned in firm and absolute terms the qualification of Cuba as a nation sponsor of terrorism by the government of the United States and the inclusion of our country on a State Department list.

The reasons are numerous. First of all, Cuba is not a sponsor of terrorism. It is known by the President of the United States. It is known by the Secretary of State, who deliberately lied yesterday when making the qualification. It is known by the officials of the Department of State and the officials in the United States who are in charge of law enforcement issues know it.

Another reason is that Cuba does not recognise the authority in the qualification lists of countries issued by the State Department. These are lists, such as that of the States that supposedly sponsor terrorism, that are totally unilateral, lacking international recognition or recognition by any international authority, that exist and were designed to defame against countries that the United States has disagreements and discrepancies with, and to apply economic coercion measures against those countries. It is used as a pretext to punish countries, as in the case of Cuba, coercive economic measures that are applied to punish the Cuban people and to punish our nation.

And an additional reason is that Cuba is a victim of terrorism, of terrorism that has been organised, financed and perpetrated by the government of the United States or by individuals and organisations that reside in the territory of the United States, or that operate from the territory of the United States with the tolerance of the authorities of that country.

I could say that an additional reason is the political opportunism of those officials or of those who feel in political debt on the occasion of the recent elections in the United States, or those who are advancing favours for the year 2024 and believe that for a minority group with extreme positions against Cuba it is attractive to be applying measures against our country at the last minute.

I should add that this measure has received rejection at an international level, it has had of course the rejection of the Cuban people, the rejection of many sectors within the United States, including prominent members of Congress, both the House and the Senate, including religious organisations in the United States and also some international organisations.

There is an additional reason, which is important to consider here. This measure is taken by an outgoing government, with the obvious objective for the whole world to try to impose obstacles to any future recomposition of relations between Cuba and the United States. It is a deliberate intention and one that was obvious from the moment this qualification was first uttered against our country.

We insist that it is a calumny, an insult against Cuba and that the Secretary of State deliberately lies when describing Cuba as a country sponsor of terrorism.

January 12, 2021

Firm and Absolute Condemnation of Fraudulent Designation of Cuba as State Sponsor of Terrorism

Declaration of Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba condemns, in the strongest and most absolute terms, the fraudulent designation of Cuba as a State that sponsors terrorism which, in a cynical and hypocritical move, has been announced by the government of the United States.

For some months now, there have been speculations about the possibility of including Cuba in a unilateral list issued by the State Department that designates countries, without having received any mandate or having any legitimacy whatsoever to do that and without having any genuine motivation in relation to terrorism and its sequels, in order to use it as an instrument to denigrate and implement economic coercive measures against other countries that may refuse to indulge the whims of the US imperialism.

The announcement made by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is an arrogant action by a discredited, dishonest and morally bankrupted government. It is well known -- and there is little doubt about it -- that the true motivation behind this action is to impose additional obstacles to any prospective restoration of bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States.

Cuba is not a State that sponsors terrorism and this is a truth that has been widely recognized by everybody. Cuba's official and well-known policy and impeccable behavior has been that of rejecting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, particularly State terrorism, wherever and by and against whoever committed.

Cuba has been a State victim of terrorism and our people have suffered from it first hand, at the cost of 3,478 fatalities and 2,099 persons with disabilities due to the actions carried out by the government of the United States or that have been perpetrated and sponsored from the territory of that country with the acquiescence of the US official authorities. We Cubans disdainfully deplore every manoeuvre aimed at manipulating such a sensitive issue to achieve gross politically opportunistic goals.

January 11, 2021. Minrex.

Article Index

Voices of the world reject U.S. aggression against Cuba

Cuba Solidarity Campaign statement on the
United States' listing of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism

January 15, 2021

April 25, 2020. Members of Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade prepare to go to South Africa.

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign adds its voice to the worldwide condemnation of the outgoing Trump administration's listing of Cuba as a "state sponsor of terrorism".

Trump's move is designed to hinder the incoming Biden administration from reprising the Obama era's rapprochement with Havana. Obama's decision to formally remove Cuba from the terrorism list in 2015 was an important step that led to the restoration of diplomatic relations later that year.

Returning Cuba to the list is a unilateral measure that has been widely condemned and ridiculed. It is further evidence, if any is needed, of how sections of the right-wing in the US bully those who oppose its neo-liberal policies.

The move panders to the powerful, far-right anti-Cuba groups in Florida, who wield significant power within the Republican Party and form part of Trump's core support.

Richard Burgon MP said it was "a disgraceful decision made for cynical political objectives and based upon lies. Obama rightly removed Cuba from this classification and I hope that Joe Biden does so too, and swiftly."

There are already so many sanctions in place, tightened further by Trump, that the terrorism listing is unlikely to have significant or immediate effects. However it will entrench the sanctions policy, adding weight to the threats against international companies wishing to trade with Cuba, and it will make it more difficult for the incoming US administration to move towards an alternative policy of rapprochement and engagement with the island.

The US announcement is discredited, dishonest and comes from a morally bankrupt administration. Cuba is not in any way "a state sponsor of terrorism". The opposite is true: Cuba is a state victim of terrorism. Since 1959, over 3,000 Cubans have lost their lives to terrorist acts, most of which have emanated from the US. These include numerous early acts of aggression and sabotage following the 1959 Revolution, peaking in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 killing 73 people, and the hotel bombings in Havana in the 1990s designed to destroy the growing Cuban tourist industry.

The only terrorist aggression involving Cuba is coordinated, sponsored and perpetrated from the territory of the US, whose government is complicit and responsible for these atrocities.

We call on the incoming Biden administration to reverse this outrageous decision, and for good people across the world to join the campaign for an end to the US's illegal blockade. Countries need to be able to engage and cooperate with each other in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding. At this time of worldwide pandemic, friendship across frontiers is surely the only way forward.

Rob Miller, Director
Bernard Regan, National Secretary

Article Index

Report NATO 2030 United for New Era

NATO is Incompatible with the Desire of the People for Peace and Security

Last November, the report NATO 2030 United for New Era [1] was released aiming at trying to give NATO relevance in remaining a "regional Alliance" faced with "challenges increasingly global" and allegedly requiring "a reflection process to further strengthen NATO's political dimension". Since that time there have been some commentaries on what it says, and probably more importantly about what it does not say. For example, it has been noted as to how the report stresses "uniting" the alliance, reflecting that NATO is not now "united" and that the conflicts of interests between the US, Britain and other European powers and regional powers within the "alliance" are very sharp. In addition, as Finian Cunningham wrote in the Information Clearing House [2] on December 8, "The lunatics are running amok in the NATO asylum. The war junkies are craving for a fix. With Western capitalist economies tanking and social problems mounting, the danger is very real that NATO's hallucin ations about Russia and China could end up starting war."

The irrationality was highlighted a week later when, on December 15, NATO issued a statement [3] opposing the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons [4] as that Treaty comes into force this month for the 55 countries that have ratified the treaty. NATO justified its opposition to the UN Treaty by claiming that "the fundamental purpose of NATO's nuclear capability is to preserve peace", when of course it is ramping up Britain's Trident nuclear programme along with the US to confront Russia and China. For example, in 2020 the United States has conducted a five-fold increase in strategic bomber flights near Russia's western borders compared with the previous year. These aircraft are capable of launching nuclear weapons. Also in 2020, British and US warships and US nuclear bombers entered the Barents Sea off Russia for the first time since the Cold War as well as continuing to carry out provocative exercises in the Baltic, Black Sea and in the South China Sea. [5]

The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons sets out to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. It was adopted by a vote of 122 States in favour, with one vote against and one abstention at the United Nations on July 7, 2017, and opened for signature by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on September 20, 2017. It enters into force this year on January 22. The British and US governments have refused to engage with or participate in discussions on the treaty, and now refuse to sign.

The NATO 2030 report further emphasises that "NATO must devote much more time, political resources, and action to the security challenges posed by China". As Finian Cunningham says, "NATO is addicted to creating enemies because it needs to find a way to justify the spending of nearly $1,000 billion a year on military machines. That's the combined spending on "defence" by the US and its NATO allies. That represents about 20 times what Russia spends and on its military and five times that of China." Also, he warns, "ominously, President-elect Joe Biden is talking up strengthening the NATO alliance while pointing fingers at Russia and China. And America's European lackeys appear to be swooning at the prospect of more NATO adventurism. America 'is back', as Biden declares, and the European minions are delighted."

The fact is that NATO has never been an "alliance" in the sense of a free association of countries "to preserve peace, prevent coercion, and deter aggression" as NATO has always fraudulently claimed. Today NATO is being utilised to fight a global war on different fronts all over the world. It is still maintaining its "war on terror" to interfere and continue bombing raids in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and in Africa whilst increasingly confronting Russia and China. Whether or not NATO survives in its present form, what is certain is that the peoples are striving for peace, freedom and democracy and to make their countries zones for peace, uniting in action to take up the task of establishing anti-war governments. NATO is incompatible with the desire of the people for peace and security, with a modern and human centred conception of security based on defending the rights of all.

1. NATO 2030 United for New Era - November 25, 2020
2. NATO Craving Conflict by Finian Cunningham - December 8, 2020
3. North Atlantic Council Statement as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Enters Into Force - December 15, 2020
4. UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons - New York, 7 July 2017
5. End Britain's Participation in NATO's Global Warmongering - Workers' Weekly June 20, 2020

Article Index

New Year 2021

The Party Begins the New Year with Online Forum

Following the release of the New Year Statement of RCPB(ML) Looking Forward to Advancing Our Work in 2021, the Party held an online forum on January 2 to mark the beginning of the New Year and to bring together comrades and friends, young and old, new and of long-standing, in the conditions of the coronavirus pandemic.

Well over 20 people participated in the forum, which began with a newly-composed piece for solo violin hailing the NHS and all who work in it in these difficult times. The extended toast which followed took up the themes of the New Year Statement, paying tribute to Party activists and all the circles of the Party, and looking forward to the challenging times which lie ahead in the work of RCPB(ML) and all the forces in motion to bring about the New. It affirmed that the fight for a human-centred society, the fight for and the unfolding of the independent programme of the working class to which RCPB(ML) is dedicated, is a fight taken up for solution, with the perspective that new forms of governance have to be brought into being. The toast wished everyone the greatest success in 2021!

There followed a rendering of the song The Founding of the Party, after which many of the participants spoke of the work which lies ahead, and pledged to join together whatever the difficulties.

The evening concluded with a long-standing friend of the Party singing the upbeat version of The Red Flag to the tune of The White Cockade, and energetic farewells, including from the youngest participants in the forum.

Article Index

SUPPLEMENT - January 6 Events in the United States

Counterrevolution Within the Counterrevolution

Pauline Easton, TML Monthly supplement, January 10, 2021

Given the evidence available at this time, what took place at the Capitol building in Washington, DC on January 6 is a counterrevolution within the counterrevolution. It becomes increasingly evident that President Donald Trump staged a coup to keep the presidency in his own hands but this failed due to the defection of Vice President Mike Pence followed by others. Furthermore, due to the way things unfolded with the images of destruction, intimidation and hooliganism within the Capital building, Senate Chamber and House Speaker Pelosi's office broadcast across the world, Trump could not maintain the military united behind him either. The failed coup was then used by President-Elect Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others in an effort to unite the federal policing and military bureaucracies behind Biden to preserve the union and avert civil war. Pence and other Republicans, including those like Senator Ted Cruz who stuck to their stand of questioning the validity of the ele ction, disassociated themselves from the violence and Trump and have moved to preserve their own careers and the Republican Party to fight another day.

Biden has deliberately called the rampage which took place at the Capitol, an insurrection. Social media footage is revealing the extent of the damage caused by the rampage. Five people died, including a protester killed by police and a policeman who was bludgeoned while on duty. It was certainly no small matter but how does calling it an insurrection account for the President of the United States assaulting Congress?

Donald Trump received some 73 million votes in the election, to Biden's 81 million votes. This is thus more than a criminal "mob" or armed militia on a rampage. When Biden calls it an "insurrection", he does not define what that is or what makes it so, or the consequences. He is defining his presidency as the one which will restore law and order and the values the US stands for, which is exactly what Trump says. Furthermore, many in the top echelons of the Democratic Party and media who have long despised Donald Trump are calling for retribution through impeachment.

The FBI are identifying those who broke the law, with federal charges to date limited to 15 people, for "violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds" and "intent to impede government business". About 40 others face lesser charges of unlawful entry and curfew violations. Interestingly, despite a Trump executive order imposing a mandatory 10-year sentence for any action that "destroys, damages, vandalises, or desecrates" government property, no such charges are being made. The indication is that the FBI, like those in Congress, are not yet pursuing more serious charges, including those of insurrection or sedition. This is likely part of an effort to lessen conflicts among the ruling factions and avert violent civil war.

The word rampage describes violent or excited behaviour that is reckless, uncontrolled, or destructive; a state of violent anger or agitation. In a limited way it seems to aptly describe what took place on January 6. The reason we call it a counterrevolution within the counterrevolution is because we are not just dealing with two sides - one side which engaged in an insurrection and another which defends democracy. The whole picture is greater than the sum of its parts which cannot be aggregated in any case.

The counterrevolution against the standards and levels societies had hitherto achieved in the post-World War II period got underway under US President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990) when they unleashed neo-conservatism and claims that there is no society, just families, family values and individual right. This put the nail in the coffin of social welfare states and their institutions and organisations and set the course to restructure the state to eliminate any vestiges of public right, the public good or public authority. It was accompanied by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the counterrevolution initiated there by Mikhail Gorbachev in the name of glasnost and perestroika - openness and restructuring. Counterrevolution and retrogression took place in quick succession in the former peoples' democracies of eastern Europe (1989-1990) and the Soviet Union itself collapsed in 1991. An anti-social offensive and retrogression became the consequence of counterrevolution and capitalist restoration in those countries. In the US, Britain, countries of western Europe, Canada and others the trappings of the social welfare state were dismantled in favour of rule by decree. An anti-social offensive and retrogression also occurred and continues, often using justifications to pay the rich.

In the US, the military-industrial complex that emerged after World War II and further developed in this period is the merger of the military-industrial complex with the public authority. There is a war government, with the development of massive military and federal policing bureaucracies. Private interests are increasingly taking over government functions and institutions. Notions of serving the public good are eliminated. This is part of the counterrevolution of the period. It also means the problem of uniting the military and policing bureaucracies as part of preserving the union and preventing civil war takes on great significance.

The concerted assault by the rulers on US institutions of democratic governance was further advanced with the election of Bill Clinton on a platform of change in 1992. Ronald Reagan introduced a direction for the economy to pay the rich. This included the war profiteers and energy moguls. The Soviet Union's collapse unleashed the US imperialist striving for world domination. By the time Clinton came to power this policy was well entrenched.

Clinton defeated George H W Bush who had launched the first Iraq war with the stated intent to remove "a regime that developed and used weapons of mass destruction, that harboured and supported terrorists, committed outrageous human rights abuses, and defied the just demands of the United Nations and the world". This and subsequent wars were no longer politics through other means which would eventually be settled through negotiations and peace accords. They became desperate efforts to bring spheres of interest under US control and, failing ready submission through bribery, threats and killer sanctions, then by means of wars of destruction. This policy abroad has been combined with increasing repression at home, including a massive prison and detention apparatus and efforts to split the polity on the basis of race, religion or gender to impede the people uniting in action to achieve their own empowerment.

The assault on the democratic institutions has led to the destruction of the political parties which have become cartels and operate as coalitions. They spend billions and engage in disinformation to control the police powers of the presidency and other positions of power. The Congress has consequently also degenerated, as have elections, with neither serving to unite the massive military bureaucracy and contending factions vying for power, with wars no longer serving that purpose. Now we are witnessing one wing of government, the presidency, attacking another, Congress, for purposes of strengthening executive power. Biden, in speaking about the events, has not defended Congress as a legislative body with powers. He says how he, as President, will restore law and order, not permit the Justice Department to act like his personal law firm, and the like. The aim is to further strengthen the Office of the President and his ability to use police powers. It is not to provide the change d emanded by the people for rights and empowerment but rather to further the counterrevolution against the people.

It shows that narrow private interests have seized control of the decision-making powers at both the federal and state levels. Since Clinton's presidency and call for change, change which favours the people has been the casualty in the US. One president after another has perfected the use of police powers, using the office of the president to surpass the bounds of all hitherto permitted conduct. With 9/11 President George W Bush declared a permanent state of exception following which justifications for violating civil liberties have become the norm. Torture, wars of aggression and killer sanctions go hand in hand with the perpetuation of police killings with impunity, mainly of Black people, the inhuman treatment of refugees, undocumented workers, immigrants and children, the incarceration of ever-larger numbers of people who are criminalised as a matter of course, along with other crimes the US regularly commits. The entire Department of Homeland Security is established with its m assive police forces and bureaucracy, all for purposes of repression and impunity to use force. Only those who seek to appease the US imperialists repeat the mantra that the United States is a democracy or a civil society with democratic institutions.

Photo at conclusion of the election in Portland. The fight goes on to bring into being a government and institutions of governance which have a modern democratic anti-war personality and respect the sovereignty and equality of the peoples of the world.

For 30 years, all of this has constituted a counterrevolution whose results can be seen in the state of the US economy, the private health care and insurance systems and inability to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic (with one death for every 1,000 people), the length of the food lines, the treatment of veterans, seniors, the homeless, women and children, besides Blacks, Puerto Ricans, peoples of the Americas and Asians as well as the violations of the inherent rights of Indigenous nations. Now, there is a crisis of confidence in US governing institutions. The many millions who voted for Trump as well as those voting for Biden are angry with government failures and express their lack of confidence that problems will be solved in their favour.

The crisis of confidence in US governing institutions means that the vast majority of people are angry and not in agreement with the direction of the country. Some 20 million held protests for more than 100 days after George Floyd was killed, all viciously attacked by police forces. Many millions more supported these actions, as they had previously joined and supported demonstrations defending immigrants and refugees and their children. There is a drive among the people to have control over policing, budgets and for a new direction for the economy and politics, which will no doubt continue.

The counterrevolutionary forces organised this rampage on the Capitol building on January 6, including using armed militias, to try and subvert this drive and divide the people. The failed coup attempt on the part of Donald Trump and his attack on Congress is a counterrevolution within the counterrevolution which has now unleashed a wave of revenge-seeking among the rulers, which will polarise their factions even further.

None of their efforts, including those by Biden, will unite the federal policing and military bureaucracies, let alone the people of the United States, or solve a single problem facing the US democracy still touted as the greatest in the world. Only a modern nation-building project will set the United States on a course which can unite the people behind a common cause. Led by the US working class, such a project requires that the democratic renewal of the political decision-making process be put at the centre of its concern. It must strive to bring into being a government and institutions of governance which have a modern democratic anti-war personality and respect the sovereignty and equality of the peoples of the world. A modern constitution is required to replace all remnants of the present constitution which was a compromise with slavery and maintains the rule of the propertied elite and institutions which favour narrow private interests over the masses of the people.

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