AROUND THE WORLD: Political Prisoners Across Turkey Continue Hunger Strike As Repression Continues

More than 700 Kurdish and leftist political prisoners and 300 Kurdish people worldwide are on an indefinite hunger strike as prison conditions continue to worsen for leftist militants currently imprisoned in Turkey.

The hunger strike was first started by the formerly imprisoned HDP MP Leyla Guven in protest over the increasing isolation of the Kurdish Workers Party leader, Abdullah Ocalan. Guven herself was imprisoned following her public critique of Turkish military actions in the predominately Kurdish town of Afrin.

Worldwide solidarity has been shown to the strike especially within Germany where Left Party and Communist Party of Germany activists joined with Kurdish protesters in numerous cities across Germany. Here in the UK, Imam Sis (a Kurdish rights activist) has been on hunger strike for 52 days and has been supported within his new home of Wales by Liz Saville Roberts MP, of Plaid Cymru. Over in France, Leyla Guven was awarded honorary citizenship of Paris after a motion was tabled and supported by French leftist opposition parties including the French Communist Party and France Insoumise.

The strike has been primarily driven by a desire to end the isolation and horrific conditions faced by Abdullah Ocalan who has been imprisoned since 1999. Since 2011 his lawyers have been refused access to him and have attempted to appeal over 700 times. This is not the first hunger strike in support of Ocalan. In October 2012 several hundred Kurdish political prisoners went on hunger strike for 68 days until Ocalan demanded for it to be stopped.

The hunger strike comes amid a wave of repression by the Erdogan regime and its benefactors against not only Kurdish activists but also against any form of opposition including numerous radical leftists. It also comes as a part of Turkeys long running history of political violence between right wing Salafists and nationalists against communist revolutionary organisations and pro-Kurdish groups.

Turkish politics lives in the shadow of the years of leadership in the late 70’s that cost the lives of around 5000 people from rival left wing and right wing paramilitaries. The scars of the war can still be seen today as this week saw the imprisonment in Germany of key Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front leader Musa Asoglu who is accused of masterminding the bombing of the United States embassy in 2013 as well as numerous attacks against Erdogans right wing Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party.

Asoglu’s Marxist-Leninist revolutionary group (commonly known as the DHKP-C) is part of the numerous armed opposition groups who have long opposed Erdogan and Turkeys authoritarian rightist governance which has been long plagued by numerous military coups and NATO’s stay behind operational forces known as the Gladio Organization. A 38 year old Maoist peoples war has also gripped the country mainly in the east Tunceli region. The current hunger strike can be seen as part of a long running, although not necessarily united, struggle by Kurds and leftists to topple the Erdogan regime.

The ongoing hunger strikes success hinges on the solidarity shown to oppressed groups in Turkey. A hunger strike in the year 2000 by numerous communist organisations with a total of 816 prisoners in 18 prisons against the holding of political prisoners in isolation eventually succeeded after the martyrdom of 122 people, some of whom died by self-immolation. The Turkish opposition faces a formidable challenge against the Erdogan government but its continued resolve will no doubt see it remain committed to ending the authoritarian rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Hidden Reason Behind Trump’s Intervention in Venezuela

In today’s corporatist world, black is the new yellow, oil is the new gold. For many countries with this asset, it can prove to be both a gift and a curse. Countries like Saudi Arabia have enjoyed the fruits of their labour and a cosy relationship with the United States while countries like Iraq paid the damaging cost of it when the US-led coalition invaded the land and left it unstable and poverty-stricken. However, it seems as if the United States’ corporatist eye for oil isn’t always towards the oil-rich Middle Eastern lands but the country downstairs. This country is Venezuela and it has the largest oil reserves in the world. Yes, the world. Yes, even larger than Saudi Arabia.

Before Hugo Chavez took leadership of the South American country, it had enjoyed an intimate bond with the US who enjoyed bathing in its oil however relations turn from sweet to sour when Chavez began rebelling against the US by forming relations with leaders such as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Al Gathafi. What acted as the last straw for America was when the Venezuelan leader has appointed a prominent position in Venezuela’s national oil company (PDVSA) which threatened oil corporate interests. This was followed by a coup attempt against the Chavez government which the Bush administration denied of being behind, which is rather believable because corporatist America is the most truthful when it comes to foreign affairs, right? 

Even though Venezuela prospered under most of Hugo Chavez’s leadership and was no longer an epitome of “A Tale of Two Cities”, the country’s economy went into crisis mode in 2010 in which the leader declared “economic war” due to severe shortages of resources such as food. Nicolas Maduro inherited this economic illness when he took power in 2013 after Chavez lost his battle to cancer. The crisis only intensified under Maduro’s leadership and continues to do so every day with mass food shortages, starvation and an exodus of Venezuelan people from the poverty-stricken country. Even though there were some flaws in both Hugo Chavez’ and Nicolas Maduro’s leadership and approach to the economic crisis, the 2015 US sanctions have played a huge role in Venezuela we see today on the news. In other words, the US corporatist boot stomped on and continues to stomp on a country already suffering tremendously.

As the world has watched on the news, Juan Guaido, leader of the “Voluntad Popular” has risen to popularity in the mainstream media and has gained the support of many right-wing Hispanic governments, the United States (unsurprisingly) and the E.U after declaring himself president. However, something seems a little bit fishy about this all. Guaido has only been the leader of the opposition for about a month; the Venezuelan elections occurred in May 2018 in which Guiado did not even run as a presidential candidate. The Trump administration was quick to support him and recognise him as the President of Venezuela as well as pushing for a regime change. Many people pushing for a regime change are doing so with the guise of bringing democracy to Venezuela which is rather laughable because Juan Guaido was never elected by the Venezuelan people in an election, he was crowd surfed onto the stage by foreign governments. How is this just as democratic as Maduro winning an election through corruption? It is not, placing Guaido in power in this manner is simply sugar coating dictatorship.

This is not bringing democracy and human rights to Venezuela, this is the United States meddling in South America (again).

 

 

The impossible consensus – is China threatening democracy in Taiwan?

It was the 1st January 2019: a new year. Numerous leaders across the world had welcomed it in their own unique way. Theresa May delivered a speech to the United Kingdom from Downing Street, calling for unification and a message of optimism in the face of Brexit uncertainty. Donald Trump chose to pick up his smart phone, sending out a tweet, ‘to all including my many enemies’, displaying the usual tact and magnanimity that has so far defined his presidency. In Moscow, Vladimir Putin addressed his country from a platform in Red Square, running on a theme of charity and family values to gauge his people’s enthusiasm for the challenges that lie ahead.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, Xi Jinping sat down and spoke to nearly 1.5 billion of his fellow Chinese, lauding the successes they had made as ‘comrades’ in 2018 and announcing that China’s reforms ‘will never stop’. Within this speech lay a premise that would be a precursor to his statement the next day. Xi spoke of the resilience of all the Chinese people, hinting at a new found togetherness, and stating that an ambitious construction spree would see over 5.8 million new homes built. “Many people from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan now have resident permits for the mainland.” A new style by the Chinese premier: giving an almost reconciliatory tone when referring to those from across the Formosa Strait in Taiwan.

The next day, 2nd January, the world watched again as Xi sat down and this time sent out a clear message directly to Taiwan. “Chinese people don’t attack Chinese people. We are willing to strive for the prospect of reunification through peaceful methods…we do not promise to renounce the use of force.” Having welcomed in the New Year, Xi took the opportunity to reassert the old Chinese policy of treating Taiwan as merely a disobedient province. The speech proceeded to highlight the problems caused by “foreign forces who seek to interfere”, referred to the pro-independence, ruling DPP party as “separatists” and claiming that unification with the mainland would culminate in greater prosperity, dignity and an enhanced standing within the international community.  The speech prompted a furious response from Tsai ing-wen, President of Taiwan. She said China must accept Taiwan’s democratic institutions and seek a peaceful manner to resolve issues.

This exchange was over three weeks ago and now the western international community appears to have largely forgotten it, but the question remains: is the threat to democracy in Taiwan real?

History shows that there is no love lost between the two countries; the frosty relations can be clearly traced back to the bloody civil war, when Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalist Kuomintang party fled to the island of Taiwan from Mao’s victorious communists in 1949. For thirty-years, the relationship between the two was warlike at worst and hostile at best, with several crises almost sparking armed conflict between the two. The thawing in relations that began in 1979 culminated in a breakthrough in the early 1990s, when the two sides came together and agreed on what is known as the ‘1992 consensus’.  This accord stated that the two sides both adhered to the view that there was ‘one China’, with differing interpretations on its consistency. 

Whilst this consensus was hailed as a historic breakthrough, the flaws in it seem to have caused an almost unbreakable impasse. Before going any further, it is important to emphasise that an agreement that has brought relative peace and stability to a notoriously hostile region is something to be commended; in 2008 a high-profile meeting between representatives of both sides led to an agreement to build on postal, trade and transport links between Taiwan and the mainland. However, the ‘consensus’ has only served to delay the inevitable question: how do you build on a consensus when both parties will not tolerate the other’s interpretation of it? Within the context of the Formosa Strait the short answer is: you can’t. China will not abandon its claim to Taiwan; Xi’s New Year speech outlined this clearly. As Shining Tan explained in an article in The Diplomat, the agreement is considered to be a major strategic asset in Beijing, giving them the basis with which to push for reunification and simultaneously oppose Taiwan independence. Furthermore, Xi’s communist party refuses to take part in any further talks unless it is based around the framework of the consensus; that the issues being discussed concern ‘one China’ rather than two separate states. The current political position of Taiwan also serves to complicate matters: the ruling DPP vehemently oppose the consensus, while the KMT opposition supports the agreement in their manifesto. In November 2018, Tsai’s DPP suffered heavily in the midterm elections leading to her resignation as leader of the party. Many political commentators believe that these results were the catalyst for Xi’s aggressive statement from 2nd January.

In the past, Beijing has frequently backed up its claims to Taiwan and opposition to what it calls ‘separatist independence movements’, with shows of military force. Prior to 1979, this was shown with regular artillery bombardments from the mainland. Under Xi’s premiership, the increasingly modernised People’s Liberation Army has, according to some US sources, increased its preparedness in the event of a so-called ‘Taiwan contingency’. Furthermore, satellite photos from May 2018 have shown that China is significantly developing its major air base in the south of the country; a base noted for being only 160 miles from the centre of the Taiwanese capital Taipei.

China hasn’t just limited itself to military posturing in its goal to isolate Taiwan. There is also significant evidence demonstrating that China is ramping up pressure on businesses and governments to accept Taiwan as a part of the People’s Republic. In 2018 the three biggest US airlines, along with Qantas, BA and Lufthansa all bowed to pressure from Beijing and stopped referring to Taiwan as a nation, following demands from the mainland that to almost fifty international airlines.

So what if Taiwan becomes part of China? Xi Jinping has used the famous ‘one country, two systems’ model in Hong Kong as part of his carrot and stick approach with Taiwan. In theory, Taiwan would have a semi-devolved government and democracy would remain reasonably intact but given China’s track record in Hong Kong and its attempts to encroach on the cities democratic institutions, it is no wonder President Tsai was defiant in her response to such a suggestion. In fact, the one face of this stand-off in the Formosa Strait that gives Taiwan a strong position is the current incumbent of the US Presidency. Donald Trump’s fiery and aggressive position concerning China is well-documented, culminating in the current ongoing trade war. Even before his victory in 2016, Trump had accused the Chinese of ‘ripping off America’, of being ‘currency manipulators’ and even claiming climate change was a hoax created by China. It only took a few days into his presidency before Trump went against the status quo and spoke to the leader of Taiwan; the first president since Jimmy Carter to do so. This prompted a furious response from Beijing, but it did not deter ‘The Donald’. Since that time the US position concerning Taiwanese sovereignty has remained strong, with arms sales being approved at a much faster pace than under both Barack Obama and George W. Bush. But, much like the 1992 consensus, the administration’s support for Taiwan could prove problematic, given how unpredictable and aggressive Trump can be. From a Taiwanese perspective, what is more favourable? A volatile, but anti-China, individual in Donald Trump. Or: a more diplomatic President akin to Obama or Clinton. Much will hinge on political developments in the US, particularly with the next Presidential election set for 2020, the same year Tsai will look to triumph in her own election, a vote touted to be a close call after the defeats in the 2018 midterms. One thing is for certain though: no matter what happens, China will be watching very, very closely.

How poverty and addiction intersect in the U.S.

It is often said that addiction doesn’t discriminate. Data from numerous sources informs us that addiction can affect anyone, regardless of their class, gender, race, or occupation. While this sentiment may be true, it’s also clear that addressing addiction is far more difficult when you’re poor.

Perhaps the greatest example of this lies in observing conditions in the United States, where income inequality is rampant and addiction has been declared a public health crisis. States across the country are particularly concerned about an emerging opioid crisis, and a lack of infrastructure to help those most affected. Instead, criminalizing illicit activity remains the default, despite evidence that suggests that criminalization simply doesn’t work.

The crisis has been caused by several factors, and while doctors and pharmaceutical companies are working together with Federal lawmakers, drug enforcement, and recovery programs to mitigate them, the number of individuals struggling with addiction continue to rise.

So how does this opioid crisis — a crisis that does not discriminate by ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or economic status — intersect with poverty? To truly understand and address the nature of this public health crisis, it is necessary to understand the cycle of poverty and how socioeconomic challenges can prevent an individual from overcoming addiction.

First, it’s important to understand that there is historical precedence to this issue. After all, this epidemic isn’t new. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, America faced a similar crisis when addiction to crack cocaine rose to prominence in Black communities. At the time, this community was facing high rates of unemployment, due in part to a decline in manufacturing jobs and their racially discriminatory hiring and firing practices.

Today, many Americans find themselves facing similar sets of extenuating circumstances.

“White America today looks economically a lot more like Black America in the 1990s: stable well-paying jobs are disappearing, replaced by lower-wage positions with far more uncertainty,” writes The Guardian’s Maia Szalavitz. “Criminalizing drug use, while proven not to work, remains the default.”

It’s these socioeconomic challenges that make overcoming addiction difficult, and only add to the public health crisis that has emerged since then.

“Though advocates like to claim that addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer,” Szalavitz continues, “in reality, it is far less likely to hit people who have stable, structured lives and decent employment than it is those whose lives are marked by uncertainty and lack of work.”

When the economy is stable, the middle class is flourishing, and economic inequality is addressed, addiction rates typically decline. But when unemployment rates rise, the job market is unstable, and income inequality is prevalent, more people find themselves at risk for drug addiction and their chances of overcoming these obstacles drastically declines. Given the nature of cyclical poverty, this is even more true, and there is abundant data to prove it.

According to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin addiction is three times as common among individuals who make less than $20,000 per year when compared to populations that make ovr $50,000 per year. The study also notes that those who have obtained a higher educational status are less likely to become or succumb to addiction.

Furthermore, research indicates that those who live in socioeconomically balanced societies are far less likely to use and abuse drugs and other harmful substances. Societies like the U.S. and the UK, where there are large discrepancies between the wealthy and impoverished have much higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse.

In addition, there is a large pool of data that suggests that addiction rate among those who are unemployed are twice as high when compared to individuals who have jobs. While some may argue that this indicates that addiction was the reason for job loss, research actually confirms that in many cases unemployment tends to predate addiction.

Regardless of the timeline in which addiction occurs, it’s clear that access to a stable income is important, and those without gainful employment have a far more difficult time accessing treatment from mental healthcare professionals.

When decent jobs are available and people have access to a living wage, recovery from addiction becomes far more accessible.

If the U.S. truly wants to help individuals suffering from addictions, policy makers and healthcare leaders will have to look more closely at what drives people to abuse substances in the first place. Although the reasons for this are plentiful, it’s clear that wealth and income inequality cannot be ignored any longer.

AROUND THE WORLD: With Imperialism Knocking At It’s Doorstep, Venezuela Must Be Uncritically Defended

46 years ago, the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende was deposed and butchered in a bloody coup with the assistance of the United States intelligence services. The coup led to a vengeful reprisal by reactionary forces in Chile against working class citizens who had participated in Allende’s attempts to build a socialist society. In the most notorious example, a death squad nicknamed the “Caravan of Death” flew via helicopters from town to town to torture and execute imprisoned leftists. It is reported the squad “…cut eyes out with daggers. They broke their jaws and legs.” The way the coup was conducted from the heavy sanctions to the use of counter-revolutionary protest to the eventual targeted assassination of working-class activists all show similarities to the current situation in Venezuela.

Much has been written in the western political scene about the Maduro government and the previous Hugo Chavez led administration’s Bolivarian Revolution. It goes from complete condemnation by neo-conservatives to lukewarm support by certain social democrats. However, with the current threat of an imperialist coup in Venezuela directed by Elliott Abrams (a man who “lavished praise” on the military battalion in El Salvador that committed the El Mozote massacre which featured the rape, throat slitting and hanging of children as young as two) it should be obvious to anyone with even the slightest belief in anti-imperialism that Venezuela must be defended. With military intervention looming, now is not the time to critique the Maduro government but to give it full-fledged support to its defence.

Already the ground has been set for what would be inevitably, a gruesome and violent coup. The recent electoral victory of Maduro’s United Socialist Party has been declared a sham despite the fact that it was the opposition that opposed UN observers coming in to monitor the election. With regards to the supposed “fraudulent election” Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard stated that “I was in #Venezuela as an international observer for the election and met with oppositional figures who were freely campaigning against #Maduro Its also not possible to “stuff ballot boxes” as ballots are electronically twinned with voter ID & fingerprints”. From this, the talking point of an alleged sham election is merely just an excuse to justify intervention.

Similarly, the crisis of food and medical shortages has been blamed entirely on Maduro despite the fact that the US has placed crippling sanctions on the country that are said to amount to “crimes against humanity”. This is once again history repeating itself with the US directly destabilising a Latin American socialist government via economic means. In Chile, Nixon had ordered the CIA to “make the economy scream” in order to overthrow Allende. This same tactic is clearly being demonstrated right now in Venezuela.

For whatever faults the Maduro government is said to have, there is a reason for its past and present electoral success. Its reforms have enormously benefited the poor in Venezuela including a housing programme that has delivered 2.3 million houses to working-class Venezuelans.

Meanwhile, the opposition is made up of the most reactionary segments of Venezuelan society. Chiefly white and middle class, the Venezuelan opposition forces on the streets showed their true face when they stabbed, burned alive and lynched a black man they suspected of being a government supporter and a “thief”. Any successful coup against Maduro will lead to a campaign of rampant, discriminatory mass-murder in a similar vein to the genocide of peasants in Guatemala and working class people in Chile after US-sponsored coups occurred in those states.

The American Empire is naked in its push for regime change in Venezuela, just as grossly as it has done in Libya, Honduras and countless other nations across the world that do not subscribe to Yankee Capitalism. With the potential for deadly intervention still on the cards, Venezuela’s anti-imperialist government must be defended at all costs. Otherwise, the blood of working class people will flow in the streets of Caracas.

VOX: Spain’s Far Right Party Shakes Up Spanish Politics

In the recent years while witnessing the worrying rise of extreme nationalism all across Europe I, as a Spaniard, couldn’t help but feel a slightly selfish sense of relief, completely sure that this trend wouldn’t reach my home country. As a nation, we had decades of darkness and suffering under Franco’s dictatorship and I assumed all the cruelty of that regime was enough to make Spain immune to the advances of the extreme right. I was wrong. Vox, an ultra-conservative Spanish nationalist party, took 11 per cent of the vote in last December’s Andalusian elections. The 12 seats were the key to form a right coalition government with the right People’s Party (PP) and centre Ciudadanos that has ended 36 years of socialist rule in Spain’s most southern region.

It is the first time the extreme right has played any role in the formation of a Spanish government, regional or national, since Franco’s death in 1975. It would be wrong to believe that Vox is a result of the nostalgia for the old dictator. Their manifesto is simple and sounds familiar to other parts of Europe. It revolves around sovereignty, national identity and very conservative Catholic values. The party, created in 2013, is led by a former Basque parliament member, Santiago Abascal who in recent interviews has shared his enthusiasm and admiration for Donald Trump’s ‘America first’ stance and his will to control its borders and protect its identity and economy. Abascal is very adamant to distance himself from any similarities with Franco’s vision but he has certainly exploited the notion of defending Spain and its unity against the independent forces in Catalonia. The issue is still unresolved by the main parties and people’s disappointment in politics keeps growing. For those whose views on the Catalan secession are filled up with resent and hatred, Vox is rapidly becoming the answer as the defenders of the homeland and its promise to defend its unity whatever the cost might be.

Vox is a direct result of the main parties incompetence to make a stand against corruption within its members, combined with their failure to get any further in the reshaping of a country that needs to change, in order to accommodate the increasing needs of its different regions. Vox is not the answer to Spain’s problems. As much as they and their newfound voters constantly repeat the same old “we are neither extremist nor dangerous”, one only has to look at their social policies to realise how dangerous they are indeed. The party is against same-sex marriage and abortion and has launched vicious attacks on migrants and the Muslim community. They want undocumented migrants to be denied medical help in Spain and have also spoken of putting up a wall in the Spanish enclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa as Trump wants to do with the Mexico border. In a Vox rally in Madrid, last October Santiago Abascal said: “The living Spain has awoken, thank God. Spain does not rise up randomly. A nation reacts when it has historical inertia, when there is blood coursing through its veins, and when it is aggravated, as Spain is being aggravated now.” Language from a time that should be confined to history. Whether Vox will keep rising remains to be seen. As it stands now it does look very likely they will be again a key in future regional elections across Spain. It has proven to be a useful tool for the Popular Party to gain power, but it is a fire, with Spain’s history, that shouldn’t be played with.

How America Whitewashed And Destroyed The Black Power Movement, 90 years on from the birth of MLK.

This week marked 90 years since the birth of one the most famous figureheads of the civil rights movement; Dr Martin Luther King, a southern baptist who rallied against the United States’ draconian racially segregated society. As a radical preacher who rallied against inequality, housing crises, poverty and the Vietnam War, King was an outcast in the political scene. Now he has become a staple of modern America. Streets are named after him, holidays are celebrated and his image has been re-purposed to that of an American hero. Before his martyrdom, this was not the case.

In a 1966 poll,  63 percent of Americans had an unfavourable opinion of King. By 1987, almost 75 percent of Americans had a favourable rating of King. What is the reason behind this rapid turnaround? The answer is his murder at the hands of a white supremacist combined with his mostly passive from of resistance. This alleged passivity is what makes him the go-to radical icon for the American establishment. This is a whitewash, it defangs Kings movement which included many militant blacks willing to take on white supremacy head on. King himself was especially critical of whites and the role they played in upholding white supremacy stating “First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.”

Yet despite this, on Twitter both the CIA and the FBI wrote in remembrance of the civil rights leader. The hypocrisy is astounding. King was a victim to the FBI’s COINTELPRO, a programme that targeted and sought to destroy radical groups in the United States. Believing King to be a communist, the FBI reportedly sent him a letter which King interpreted as a suggestion to kill himself.

King is not the only victim of the US governments targeting and later whitewashing. Perhaps even more mind-boggling, the US’s canonisation of Malcolm X is remarkable considering X’s militant black separatist and Islamic virtues. The US government eventually awarded X a postage stamp, despite similarly surveilling X and sowing discontent within the Nation of Islam which would eventually lead to his assassination.

The case of the Black Panthers is another one of bewilderment. In her performance at the Super Bowl, Beyonce paid a homage to the Black Panthers on the world stage for all to see. What is probably forgotten is that the Panthers were an armed group of Marxist-Leninist’s who supported the DPRK.  Any sort of homage to them at Americas premier sporting event is startling to say the least. Namely also due to fact that the Panthers were viciously targeted by COINTELPRO. In perhaps the most heinous example, the young 21 year old chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party Fred Hampton was murdered by armed police who shot over a hundred rounds into his room whilst he slept. He was later found to have been shot twice in the head at point blank range in a clear act of state murder. His corpse was then unceremoniously dragged out of the apartment whilst white officers smiled.

The FBI’s lack of self awareness in the tweet mentioned earlier is not a mistake. The whitewashing of the Black Power movement after its destruction is a deliberate act to fit in with the US establishments narrative of history. In moments like this, it is important to remember those acts and victims of establishment white supremacy which are forgotten. On this point, this year also marks the 40th anniversary since the Greensboro massacre where multiple black Maoist workers were shot at and killed by Klansmen and Neo-Nazis with police collusion.

When the establishment seeks to re-purpose the message of King, X and the Panthers, it must be reminded of its role in the destruction of the Black Power movement and be held to full account for the deaths of its protagonists. Only then can the white supremacy that King, X and the Panthers rallied against start to be successfully combated.

Fears of a coup in Venezuela as Donald Trump recognises Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó

The news came forward yesterday that the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president with the backing of the white house. Protests have erupted, with six deaths. In response the current president, Nicolas Maduro, has declared that diplomatic ties will be cut with ‘imperialist’ North America, giving diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.

This supposed coup attempt follows the 2018 May election which placed Maduro back in office amidst international claims of vote buying and electoral fraud.

Maduro has denied claims of electoral rigging and has made clear his belief that this is an imperialist intervention by the USA in an attempt to destabilise Venezuelan, declaring “They intend to govern Venezuela from Washington”.

With the possible secondary backing of the Canadian government this latest development in Venezuela appears, to some, to fit into the trend of American interventionism in Latin America. Which includes a chequered history of repression and brutal overthrows by regimes like that of Chilean General Pinochet and the failed Venezuelan coup of 2002.

Some have claimed that despite the questionable circumstances surrounding the 2018 elections, American enabled coups are not the way forward, including the rapper Boots Riley who pointed out

“If you’ve been worried about Russian bots influencing elections here [North America], I’d hope you express outrage about this”.

Others point to the fact that Venezuela currently has the largest proven crude oil reserves in the world, a resource the United States government has expressed keen interest in before, leading to the question of their humanitarian stance.

Whether the sham election of 2018 is leading to a cuba-style dictatorship or not, is the intervention of North America in yet another Latin American coup really the answer to the failures of the Madura government? Needless to say, these are complicated and fraught times for the people of Venezuela.

The World’s Biggest Strike: Why 200 Million Indian Workers Decided To Strike

 

Around 200 million workers are estimated to have participated in the worlds largest general strike action in India against the “anti-worker and anti-people policies of the Modi government,”. The strike, which was organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Union who was assisted by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has led to the detention of communist party leaders in West Bengal and Kerala where communist activists shut down transport services.

The strike has come amongst a notable growing trend of tension within India between the Modi government and the RSS far-right paramilitary against left-wing progressive activists in the country. Within Kerala, a communist stronghold state led by the Left Democratic Front, tensions have run especially high. Political murders have increased in recent years with the rise of both Hindu nationalist sentiment and communist party activism. Beatings, stabbings and hackings have dominated Kerala party politics.

The strike itself has seen the visible presence of a vast array of workers from factory workers to bus drivers to bank workers. It can be seen as a vast show of strength by the leftist linked Indian trade unions protesting against the recent neoliberal reforms of the Modi/BJP administration which has included the privatisation of the transport system as proposed in a recent government bill. Recent job losses from the economic crisis in India has led to rising support for the various movements that occupy the Indian left.

Indian left-wing politics is lead by its militancy. Amongst the strikers at the various demonstrations were cadres from the Maoist CPI (ML) Liberation, a former guerrilla outfit now involved in organising landless farmers and street vendors. The struggle in the rural areas over land rights has been especially militant over the years. The Indian government is currently fighting an on-going 50-year insurgency from Maoist rebels known as the Naxalites. The group has in more recent times come to prominence after it assassinated 24 Indian National Congress leaders in a single attack.

The strike has continued in certain areas since its callout by union heads. In Mumbai, transport workers are on an “indefinite” strike against the municipal government-owned Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking. 32,000 workers in the city have shut down the transport service that usually accommodates over 4 million people.

The strike will no doubt worry president Modi who is only months away from running for re-election. Accusations of fascism and sectarianism have haunted the president who has been accused of repealing India’s secularist past by inflaming tensions between Muslims and Hindus. In 2002, the BJP government refused to intervene in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat which led to the deaths of over 2000 Muslims

With the strike uniting both rural and urban workers and official unemployment rising to 7.4 percent, the radical left in India has built some solid ground to challenge the anti-working class Modi government and their fascist para-militarist allies. Coming elections will be telling but the success of parliamentarian-ism has been questioned by young militant communist radicals who can now be seen at the frontlines of the struggle. Whether further revolutionary sentiment can be developed within India remains to be seen. However, with violence and militancy growing, revolutionary fervour appears to be expanding day by day.

A Revolutionary Socialist: 100 Years Since The Assassination Of Rosa Luxemburg

 

This past week has seen the remembrance and commemoration of one the worlds greatest Marxist thinkers, the Polish-born revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. In Germany, an estimated 20,000 people came out in dignified fashion to remember the communist leaders of the Spartacist Uprising, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, and the multiple leftist workers who were tortured and murdered by right-wing death squads when the uprising fell.

In Berlin, leftists of various radical affiliations solemnly paid respects to the two lost leaders of the working class, placing flowers at their graves and a note which read  “Peace, bread, roses, freedom”. Communists from across Europe came out to commemorate the event including British communists who ran the headline “Red Rosa, the communist eagle”, Soviet Union founder Vladimir Lenin’s description of the budding revolutionary.

Rosa Luxemburg’s popularity and important place in left-wing circles can be owed to her pioneering role in revolutionary politics in a scene mostly dominated by men. A notable critic of World War 1, she became a founding member of the Communist Party of Germany. Her brutal death, beaten tortured shot and thrown in a lake, by the Freikorps (the far right paramilitary forerunners to Hitlers Brownshirts) mean that many radicals see her as a lost leader of the working class in Europe. Whilst she disagreed with the Bolsheviks on various issues, her solidarity to the international revolution led her to help lead the Spartacist League and attempt to establish a Soviet government in Germany.

Her murder and subsequent martyrdom lay not only at the hands of the far right but also the centre-left Social Democratic Party who sanctioned the Freikorps to brutally put down the workers’ revolt. The state-sanctioned assassinations of Liebknecht and Luxemburg led to an irreversible split between the social democrats and the communists with both parties pitted against each other throughout the history of the Weimar Republic. The lack of a united front became one of the factors that led to the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party in the 1930s.

To date, the SPD has never officially apologised for its role in the murders despite evidence that Gustav Noske, the minister of defence at the time, signed off on the murders instead of imprisoning the leaders. After effects of the killings of 1919 can still be felt today in German politics. Die Linke, the descendant of the former ruling socialist party of East Germany, accuses the SPD of betraying the working class now as it did then.

Rosa Luxemburg’s impact on politics cannot be downplayed. Her contributions to Marxist theory on issues such as imperialism and the national question are considerable. Her writings most famous statement of “Socialism or Barbarism” rings true today as it did in the ’30s with the rise of far-right forces and decaying capitalism. Rosa Luxemburg message is as factual now as it was when she wrote her thesis’ and through this acknowledgement can her memory be best remembered. Her sorrowful demise at the hands of fascists and opportunists cannot compromise her work as an empowered Jewish female spokesperson of the working class.

A true revolutionary, her message lives on.