Lest we forget… Bolsheviks got the imperialist war right

Posted on  by c21styork (Reprinted from a couple of years ago)

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The first world war resulted in 40 million casualties: 15 to 19 million deaths and 23 million wounded. (Population of the world was less than two billion – so, in today’s terms, think 150 million casualties). 

It’s one of the major things on which it can be said ‘the Bolsheviks got it right’. They opposed the war as an imperialist one. 

Here’s (excerpts from) what Lenin had to say in a lecture ‘War and Revolution’, May 1917:

From the point of view of Marxism, that is, of modern scientific socialism, the main issue in any discussion by socialists on how to assess the war and what attitude to adopt towards it is this: what is the war being waged for, and what classes staged and directed it. We Marxists do not belong to that category of people who are unqualified opponents of all war. We say: our aim is to achieve a socialist   system of society, which, by eliminating the division of mankind into classes, by eliminating all exploitation of man by man and nation by nation, will inevitably eliminate the very possibility of war. But in the war to win that socialist system of society we are bound to encounter conditions under which the class struggle within each given nation may come up against a war between the different nations, a war conditioned by this very class struggle. Therefore, we cannot rule out the possibility of revolutionary wars, i.e., wars arising from the class struggle, wars waged by revolutionary classes, wars which are of direct and immediate revolutionary significance. Still less can we rule this out when we remember that though the history of European revolutions during the last century, in the course of 125–135 years, say, gave us wars which were mostly reactionary, it also gave us revolutionary wars, such as the war of the French revolutionary masses against a united monarchist, backward, feudal and semi-feudal Europe. No deception of the masses is more widespread today in Western Europe, and latterly here in Russia, too, than that which is practised by citing the example of revolutionary wars. There are wars and wars. We must be clear as to what historical conditions have given rise to the war, what classes are waging it, and for what ends. Unless we grasp this, all our talk about the war will necessarily be utterly futile, engendering more heat than light.

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We say: if you have not studied the policies of both belligerent groups over a period of decades so as to avoid accidental factors and the quoting of random examples if you have not shown what bearing this war has on preceding policies, then you don’t understand what this war is all about.

These policies show us just one thing continuous economic rivalry between the world’s two greatest giants, capitalist   economies. On the one hand we have Britain, a country which owns the greater part of the globe, a country which ranks first in wealth, which has created this wealth not so much by the labour of its workers as by the exploitation of innumerable colonies, by the vast power of its banks which have developed at the head of all the others into an insignificantly small group of some four or five super-banks handling billions of rubles, and handling them in such a way that it can he said without exaggeration that there is not a patch of land in the world today on which this capital has not laid its heavy hand, not a patch of land which British capital has not enmeshed by a thousand threads. This capital grew to such dimensions by the turn of the century that its activities extended far beyond the borders of individual states and formed a group of giant banks possessed of fabulous wealth. Having begotten this tiny group of banks, it has caught the whole world in the net of its billions. This is the sum and substance of Britain’s economic policy and of the economic policy of France, of which even French writers, some of them contributors to L’Humanité,[5] a paper now controlled by ex-socialists (in fact, no less a man than Lysis, the well-known financial writer), stated several years before the war: “France is a financial monarchy, France is a financial oligarchy, France is the world’s money-lender.”

On the other hand, opposed to this, mainly Anglo-French group, we have another group of capitalists, an even more rapacious, even more predatory one, a group who came to the capitalist banqueting table when all the seats were occupied, but who introduced into the struggle new methods for developing capitalist production, improved techniques, and superior organisation, which turned the old capitalism, the capitalism of the free-competition age, into the capitalism of giant trusts, syndicates, and cartels. This group introduced the beginnings of state-controlled capitalist production, combining the colossal power of capitalism with the colossal power of the state into a single mechanism and bringing tens of millions of people within the single organisation of state capitalism. Here is economic history, here is diplomatic history, covering several decades, from which no one can get away. It is the one and only guide-post to a proper solution of the problem of war; it leads you to the conclusion that the present war, too, is the outcome of the policies of the classes who have come to grips in it, of the two supreme giants, who, long before the war, had caught the whole world, all countries, in the net of financial exploitation and economically divided the globe up among themselves. They were bound to clash, because a redivision of this supremacy, from the point of view of capitalism, had become inevitable.

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The present war is a continuation of the policy of conquest, of the shooting down of whole nationalities, of unbelievable atrocities committed by the Germans and the British in Africa, and by the British and the Russians in Persia which of them committed most it is difficult to say. It was for this reason that the German capitalists looked upon them as their enemies. Ah, they said, you are strong because you are rich? But we are stronger, therefore we have the same “sacred” right to plunder. That is what the real history of British and German finance capital in the course of several decades preceding the war amounts to. That is what the history of Russo-German, Russo-British, and German-British relations amounts to. There you have the clue to an understanding of what the war is about. That is why the story that is current about the cause of the war is sheer duplicity and humbug. Forgetting the history of finance capital, the history of how this war had been brewing over the issue of redivision, they present the matter like this: two nations were living at peace, then one attacked the other, and the other fought back. All science, all banks are forgotten, and the peoples are told to take up arms, and so are the peasants, who know nothing about politics. All they have to do is to fight back! The logical thing, following this line of argument, would be to close down all newspapers, burn all books and ban all mention of annexations in the newspapers. In this way such a view of annexations could be justified. They can’t tell the truth about annexations because the whole history of Russia,   Britain, and Germany has been one of continuous, ruthless and sanguinary war over annexations. Ruthless wars were waged in Persia and Africa by the Liberals, who flogged political offenders in India for daring to put forward demands which were being fought for here in Russia. The French colonial troops oppressed peoples too. There you have the pre-history, the real history of unprecedented plunder! Such is the policy of these classes, of which the present war is a continuation. That is why, on the question of annexations, they cannot give the reply that we give, when we say that any nation joined to another one, not by the voluntary choice of its majority but by a decision of a king or government, is an annexed nation. To renounce annexation is to give each nation the right to form a separate state or to live in union with whomsoever it chooses. An answer like that is perfectly clear to every worker who is at all class-conscious.

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On the question of America entering the war I shall say this. People argue that America is a democracy, America   has the White House. I say: slavery was abolished there half a century ago. The anti-slave war ended in 1865. Since then multimillionaires have mushroomed. They have the whole of America in their financial grip. They are making ready to subdue Mexico and will inevitably come to war with Japan over a carve-up of the Pacific. This war has been brewing for several decades. All literature speaks about it. America’s real aim in entering the war is to prepare for this future war with Japan. The American people do enjoy considerable freedom and it is difficult to conceive them standing for compulsory military service, for the setting up of an army pursuing any aims of conquest a struggle with Japan, for instance. The Americans have the example of Europe to show them what this leads to. The American capitalists have stepped into this war in order to have an excuse, behind a smoke-screen of lofty ideals championing the rights of small nations, for building up a strong standing army

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Those interested in the socialist movement should read the Basle Manifesto of 1912 adopted unanimously by all the socialist parties of the world, a manifesto that was published in our newspaper Pravda, a manifesto that can be published now in none of the belligerent countries, neither in “free” Britain nor in republican France, because it said the truth about war before the war. It said that there would be war between Britain and Germany as a result of capitalist competition. It said that so much powder had accumulated that the guns would start shooting of their own accord. It told us what the war would be fought for, and said that the war would lead to a proletarian revolution. Therefore, we tell those socialists who signed this Manifesto and then went over to the side of their capitalist governments that they have betrayed socialism. There has been a split among the socialists all over the world. Some are in ministerial cabinets, others in prison. All over the world some socialists are preaching a war build-up, while others, like Eugene Debs, the American Bebel, who enjoys immense popularity among the American workers, say: “I’d rather be shot than give a cent towards the war. I’m willing to fight only the proletariat’s war against the capitalists all over the world.” That is how the socialists have split throughout the world. The world’s social-patriots think they are defending their country. They are mistaken they are defending the interests of one band of capitalists against another. We preach proletarian revolution the only true cause, for which scores of people have gone to the scaffold, and hundreds and thousands have been thrown into prison. These imprisoned socialists are a minority, but the working class is for them, the whole course of economic development is for them. All this tells us that there is no other way out. The only way to end this war is by a workers’ revolution in several countries. In the meantime we should make preparations for that revolution, we should assist it. For all its hatred of war and desire for peace, the Russian people could do nothing against the war, so long as it was being waged by the tsar, except work for a revolution   against the tsar and for the tsar’s overthrow. And that is what happened. History proved this to you yesterday and will prove it to you tomorrow. We said long ago that the mounting Russian revolution must be assisted. We said that at the end of 1914. Our Duma deputies were deported to Siberia for this, and we were told: “You are giving no answer. You talk about revolution when the strikes are off, when the deputies are doing hard labour, and when you haven’t a single newspaper!” And we were accused of evading an answer. We heard those accusations for a number of years. We answered: You can be indignant about it, but so long as the tsar has not been overthrown we can do nothing against the war. And our prediction was justified. It is not fully justified yet, but it has already begun to receive justification. The revolution is beginning to change the war on Russia’s part. The capitalists are still continuing the war, and we say: Until there is a workers’ revolution in several countries the war cannot be stopped, because the people who want that war are still in power. We are told: “In a number of countries everything seems to be asleep. In Germany all the socialists to a man are for the war, and Liebknecht is the only one against it.” To this I say: This only one, Liebknecht, represents the working class. The hopes of all are in him alone, in his supporters, in the German proletariat. You don’t believe this? Carry on with the war then! There is no other way. If you don’t believe in Liebknecht, if you don’t believe in the workers’ revolution, a revolution that is coming to a head if you don’t believe this then believe the capitalists!

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Also worth checking out is Lenin in July 1915 on ‘The defeat of one’s own government in the imperialist war‘. He gives Trotsky a serving for being a ‘social chauvinist’.

Lest we forget.

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Uneasy lies the head… Bertolt Brecht

I came across this poem, written by Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) in the 1930s, in an edited collection called ‘Student Power’ edited by Julian Nagel and published in 1969. The poem is attributed to Brecht’s ‘Svendborg poems’ collection. The poems were written by Brecht when he was in exile from Nazi Germany on the Danish island of Funen.

We need a revival of the spirit fueling the poem. Its truths remain valid – pretty much everywhere.

Revolution, the power of song – Nina Simone (1969)

Originally published by byork at ‘Strange Times Last Superpower blog’ on December 9, 2009

Remember the Beatles’ reactionary song, ‘Revolution’? I liked them as a group, and still do, but, gee, it was disappointing to be a young revolutionist in the 1960s and  hear them come out with lyrics against revolutionary change. Of course, the Beatles’ song was written from the perspective of the Establishment – lyrics about “minds that hate” and against “Chairman Mao” would not have made much sense to people who were struggling for survival and freedom in the Third World, not to mention in the ghettoes of the US.

Someone who, at that time, stood with the oppressed people was the great African American piano player, composer and singer, Nina Simone.

Poor Nina, she was not consistent later in life and her decline and end was a very sad one indeed. Her version of the Beatles’ song subverts it into an actual revolutionary song.

I’m sure she was addressing the Beatles with the lyrics:

“Some folks are gonna get the notion
I know they’ll say im preachin hate
But if i have to swim the ocean
Well i would just to communicate
Its not as simple as talkin jive
The daily struggle just to stay alive”.

And, hey, greenies, “It’s more than just air pollution”.

She recorded the song in 1969: “We’re in the middle of a revolution, coz I see the face of things to come”.

Enjoy! (And swim that ocean!)

Another great one by Nina Simone was her song about the desegregation struggle, and struggle for racial equality, in the US, called ‘Mississippi Goddam’. It was inspired by the murder of four girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church on 15 September 1963 by members of the Ku Klux Klan. The song was banned in some parts of the ‘Deep South’.

Lyrics below. Youtube clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAYVaHEMK0I

(1963) Nina Simone

The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can’t you see it
Can’t you feel it
It’s all in the air
I can’t stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasn’t been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day’s gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don’t belong here
I don’t belong there
I’ve even stopped believing in prayer

Don’t tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I’ve been there so I know
They keep on saying “Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
Washing the windows
“do it slow”
Picking the cotton
“do it slow”
You’re just plain rotten
“do it slow”
You’re too damn lazy
“do it slow”
The thinking’s crazy
“do it slow”
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don’t know
I don’t know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin’ didn’t we

Picket lines
School boycotts
They try to say it’s a communist plot
All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You’re all gonna die and die like flies
I don’t trust you any more
You keep on saying “Go slow!”
“Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
Desegregation
“do it slow”
Mass participation
“do it slow”
Reunification
“do it slow”
Do things gradually
“do it slow”
But bring more tragedy
“do it slow”
Why don’t you see it
Why don’t you feel it
I don’t know
I don’t know

You don’t have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

http://strangetimes.lastsuperpower.net/?p=505

Fascism and the Left… how do left-wing individuals end up fascists?

I am republishing this from 1980 as it remains so pertinent.

Barely a week goes by without me receiving a post on facebook from individuals who were once good comrades but who now promote all manner of right-wing conspiratorial theory and who openly take the side of fascist, autocratic and theocratic regimes against the masses who are trying to overthrow them and establish basic democracy, or what Marxists call ‘bourgeois democracy’. The chest-beaters are the worst.

Anyhow, I feel that this analysis, originally from the Red Eureka Movement in Melbourne, explains a lot and offers a rare but exceptionally important, cogent, analysis. (I was not with the REM people back then but rather stayed with the Blue Eureka nationalists – and had stopped thinking quite a few years earlier).

* * * * * * * *


Written: November 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.


EROL Note: This was a document that was circulated within the Red Eureka Movement in late 1980.

* * *

A major theme in left wing propaganda is opposition to fascism. Quite often relatively moderate opponents of the left are described as “fascists”.

Yet scratch a “Communist” and one quite often finds a fascist underneath.

The regime that began with the October Revolution is now a fascist dictatorship. In China too, since the defeat of the Cultural Revolution many revolutionaries have been executed and the right to speak out freely, hold great debates, put up big character posters and so on has been officially and formally repudiated.

The degeneration of Communist Parties in power is a separate problem calling for a separate analysis. But what about the degeneration of parties holding no power?

THE CPA (ML)

Our experiences with the “Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)” were sufficiently frightening to require some deep analysis. Almost any split is accompanied by outraged cries of “unfair” or “undemocratic” from the losing side, so it seemed undesirable to distract attention from the fundamental issues at stake by going into details of who done what to who. But another reason why we never got around to it was probably embarrassment at ever having been involved with such a sick group.

The bankruptcy of Australian nationalism as an ideology for communists is now pretty apparent, while the question of whether China has gone revisionist has been settled by open proclamations from the Chinese leadership themselves. Although Vanguard keeps coming out each week, the people behind it seem pretty discredited and there is little need to discredit them further.

In Adelaide the “Worker Student Alliance for Australian Independence” has disintegrated, along with its newspaper People’s Voice. In Melbourne the entire editorial collective of Independence Voice quit some time ago, there was no “Independence platform” at Mayday, the “Australian Independence Movement” is virtually defunct and supporters of this line have been completely routed in “Community Radio” 3CR. The Australia China Society is unable to defend the new regime in China and little has been heard from the CPA(ML) in the trade union movement either.

As a complete expression of E.F. Hill’s bankruptcy we have the suggestion in “Australian Communist”, that they want unity with us (previously described as “Soviet agents”). Hill has even signed an article proposing reunification with the CPA in “one Communist Party” (presumably because the Chinese revisionists, having recently re-united with their Italian and Yugoslav colleagues, also wish to re-establish relations with the CPA, leaving Hill out in the cold).

The thuggish behaviour of the CPA(ML) supporters in attempting to intimidate their opponents is well known. Both intellectual and physical thuggery, in 3CR and elsewhere, has become so notorious that the only “broad united front” they have been able to create has been that directed against themselves. They have also become notorious for openly preferring to ally themselves with various Nazis and other fascists against the Soviet Union rather than trying to unite the people, and especially the left, against Soviet imperialism on the basis of progressive principles. Their main political theme these days is the united front they claim to have with Malcolm Fraser, who nevertheless remains quite unaware of their existence. As for China, they openly say they would rather not talk about it, even though China was, and is, central to their whole political outlook.

These facts are mentioned, not to kick a dead horse, but to emphasise that the horse really is dead and to confirm that the additional facts about it cited below are genuine observations and not just part of some ongoing sectarian faction fight.

OTHERS TOO

The more or less open fascism of the CPA (ML) has resulted in that group being simply dismissed as “crazies”. But in fact they are only a more extreme expression of problems that exist, less overtly, throughout the left. Indeed it has been noticeable in 3CR for example, that the excuse of “keeping out the crazies”, has been used to justify appallingly manipulative and undemocratic behaviour (e.g. elected listener sponsor representatives voting against explicit directives from a large general meeting of listener sponsors). People who would be shocked and indignant about that in other contexts have made excuses for it when their own friends are doing it. Really how far is it from making excuses to acting in the same way?  And how far from there to ending up just like the “crazies” themselves?

Also the fact that China and the Chinese parrots are anti-Soviet (and Reagan, Thatcher, Fraser etc) has become an excuse to actually apologise for Soviet actions that would be called “fascist” if American was doing it.  Indeed many quite non-crazy “left liberals” have been prepared to go through the most amazing mental contortions to justify the Vietnamese occupation of Kampuchea or to minimise the significance of Soviet aggression elsewhere.  Rather than agree with “right-wingers” (like Churchill), they prefer to apologise for fascists (like Hitler).

Where was the left wing outrage (as distinct from concern) when Polish workers were being denied the elementary right to form free trade unions?  Why do “militants” in “left-wing” unions take delight in the same bureaucratic manoeuvres their opponents use to stay in power?  Why are splits in left wing groups so common and so nasty?

In Australia many other groups supposedly on the left have exhibited a personal intolerance comparable to the Chinese parrots, and also a comparable willingness to apologise for reactionary regimes in other countries, provided those regimes pay lip service to “anti-imperialist” principles. (Vietnam, Cuba, Iran, Libya… name a country that is suppressing some other country or trying to impose some medieval religion on its people and you will find a “left” group wildly enthusiastic about it.)  Scanning overseas “left” newspapers one gets the impression that narrow minded religious bigotry is pretty common, and even where it is not taken to extremes, it is still present.  No wonder so many on the “left” thought a fellow zealot like Khomeiny would be progressive for Iran.

The undemocratic tendencies of “Leninists” is a common theme in anti-Communist propaganda – from open representatives of the bourgeoisie, from Social Democrats, from Anarchists, from “Left” or “Council” Communists and what have you.  Nevertheless, attacks from our opponents should be taken seriously, and indeed have been taken seriously by the classic exponents of Marxism.

CHINESE FASCISM

This question was especially taken seriously in China and some of the material from the Chinese Cultural Revolution is very valuable for understanding the emergence of fascist tendencies among alleged “Communists”.

For example Mao Tsetung’s unpublished works, and the material criticizing Lin Piao (the “successor” who turned out to be a fascist). The Cultural Revolution was after all a direct struggle between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries who both purported to be part of the “left”. The concept of fighting bourgeois ideas disguised as “left” ideas was crucial to unleashing the 1960s upsurge and will be crucial again. It was necessary to challenge the “peace” ideas that were dominant in the left in the 1960s and it will be necessary to challenge the views that are dominant now – many of which are again crystallised in the eclectic mishmash of the “CPA”.

In the “gang of four’s” Peking University Journal of September 1, 1976 there is an important article on “The Bureaucrat Class and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat”:

…We must further recognise the high concentration of political and economic powers under the dictatorship of the proletariat. If the bureaucrat class succeeded in usurping power and in its restorationist conspiracies throughout the country, then it would continue to flaunt the banner of socialism, take advantage of this high concentration of political and economic powers and turn the democratic centralism of the proletariat into the fascist centralism of the bureaucrat class.

In controlling and manipulating the means of production and the product of Labor, these bureaucrats will be far more powerful than any previous exploiting classes and their political representatives, than the slave owners and feudal rulers who claimed that “all land under the sun is my territory and all people on earth are my subjects”, and than the bureaucrats and financiers in capitalist countries…In a similar vein, the present day new tsars behave much worse than the old tsars… (Translation from Selections from People’s Republic of China Magazines No 895, American Consulate General, Hong Kong. Reprinted in Study Notes No 6, Red Eureka Movement, August 1978)

This article also goes into the question of the transformation of authority into capital and capital into authority, which is relevant to an understanding of imperialism in the West as well as in the Soviet Union and China.

Western bourgeois democratic society is heading towards an acute crisis and upheaval as another Great Depression and a Third World War develop. The outcome can be Communist Revolution or some form of fascism or social-fascism. We could face a new ruling class more powerful than the present one. It largely depends on how clear the left is on what we are fighting for and what we are fighting against and how sharply we can draw the line against perpetuating the old system of exploitation in our own practice. If the left continues to whinge about capitalism, and even oppose it from a reactionary perspective then it cannot hope to inspire people to fight for something fundamentally different.

Indeed, just as one would have to defend the national independence that Western and Third World countries have already achieved, from Soviet “socialist” imperialism, one would also have to defend the achievements already won by the bourgeois democratic revolution from attack by alleged “socialists” who want to go backwards to a more oppressive society.

DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM

If the democratic centralism of the proletarian dictatorship can be easily transformed into the fascist centralism of the bureaucrat class in a developing socialist country, then what about democratic centralism in Leninist parties out of power? Is this an argument against democratic centralism and proletarian dictatorship, as anarchists and others insist?

The answer to this argument is that there never can be a guarantee against proletarian dictatorship turning into its opposite, and Communists in power must always be prepared for transition to underground life as Communists in opposition to capitalist roaders in power. Likewise in Communist Parties generally – one must be prepared to rebel and to be expelled for rebelling.

But if there was no democratic centralism and proletarian dictatorship then it would be quite impossible for the revolutionary ideas held only by a minority in capitalist and socialist society to be centralised and dominant and in that case the bourgeoisie holds power anyway. So weakening democratic centralism is not the answer. On the contrary, it needs to be strengthened to keep fascists out, on the same argument that the left cannot afford to be pacifist and must learn the use of arms if it doesn’t want warmongers to hold power.

Proletarian dictatorship means just that. It does not mean dictatorship over the proletariat by some bureaucrats. It means a political system in which the working class can really wield political power – something that can be achieved by workers councils led by a revolutionary party and cannot be achieved by parliamentary institutions or by milling around in confusion.

Democratic centralism also means just that. It does not mean the leadership imposing decisions on a reluctant membership. It means that the abstract “parliamentary” right which almost all organisations give their members to ultimately take decisions, is made real by conscious leadership of the decision making process to make it “from the masses, to the masses” and so make it actually work without manipulation or obstruction.

This article is not a plea for everybody to be more tolerant of everybody else. It is a call for sharper defence of our basic principles and less tolerance of attempts to undermine them. One cannot be a Communist if one is not first a democrat. The democratic revolutionaries of England, France and so on in earlier centuries had no hesitation about chopping off the heads of their aristocratic opponents and neither should we.

Fear of strengthening democratic centralism is really fear of struggle. Such fear is fully understandable in the present situation, and a lot better than blinkered complacency. But it must be overcome.

The quote from Orwell’s “Road to Wigan Pier” in “the Personal is Political” (Discussion Bulletin No 9) rang a few bells and is worth repeating:–

…..“Socialism” is pictured as a state of affairs in which our more vocal Socialists would feel thoroughly at home. This does great harm to the cause. The ordinary man may not flinch from a dictatorship of the proletariat, if you offer it tactfully; offer him a dictatorship of the prigs, and he gets ready to fight.

We should be ready to fight against the dictatorship of the prigs and to do this it is necessary to understand the transformation of Communists into prigs.

ARE WE DIFFERENT?

If we take Lin Piao for example, there is no doubt that he did make contributions to the Chinese revolution before emerging as an outright fascist. The superstitious Mao cult he built up in opposition to Mao had definite roots in China’s feudal past, but also struck a chord among Western “Maoists”.

Ted Hill now appears to be nothing more than a follower of Liu Shao-chi, then Lin Piao (as a major cult advocate) then Liu Shao-chi again, or whoever may hold power in China at any given moment. But some of his analyses of revisionism, parliamentarism and trade union politics in publications like “Looking Backward; Looking Forward” are still valuable and he once made a point of opposing sacred cows and stereotypes and supporting rebellion.

Things were drastically wrong with the CPA(ML) long before we parted company and people are entitled to ask how we got mixed up with them and why we should be regarded as any different. If we are to be any different then we must analyse the thin dividing line that appears to exist between being a Marxist-Leninist or “Maoist” on the one hand, and being a lunatic or a fascist on the other.

There is little need to “expose” the CPA(ML) leadership now in view of its obvious degeneration. But the roots of current fascist attitudes do need study, so the following facts are placed on the record for our own benefit rather than for the benefit of anyone still taken in by Hill.

SOME FACTS

1. There never was anything remotely resembling democracy within the CPA(ML). This became obvious when concrete disagreements made it necessary to have a proper discussion and take a decision. But it should have been obvious even when people thought they were in agreement.
2. As soon as a disagreement in principle was announced “through the proper channels” etcetera, the immediate response was to launch vituperative attacks on individuals – at first surreptitiously behind their backs and then openly in Vanguard.
3. The very idea of discussing the differences was repudiated and “security” was abused to tell people that there had been a full democratic discussion, which they just didn’t happen to be part of.
4. As a matter of fact it turned out that no Central Committee actually existed. One member of the Red Eureka Movement discovered that he was supposed to be a CC member after wanting to express his views to the CC. This must be some sort of record in the international communist movement!
5. Other members of the Red Eureka Movement who were both on the Central Committee and knew it, were able to expose the lie that there had been some kind of Central Committee discussion about China and that documents expressing opposition had been circulated to the Central Committee etc.
6. Individual party members had to go outside the “channels” to get any kind of discussion and then discovered that the “channels” didn’t really exist. Now others who accepted this are finding the same situation.
7. It was not a case of discussion being suppressed arbitrarily and decisions usurped, but of there being no provision whatever for seriously discussing and reversing a policy disagreed with.
8. This situation which existed long before it came to a head was put up with by people who would rebel strongly against similar fascist practices in any other social institution.
9. Many people on becoming aware of it, and seeing people branded as Soviet agents etcetera, took a cynical attitude that this was wrong but not a major question of principle requiring them to take a stand.
10. Our initial reaction to all this shit was not to launch a public struggle as in the Cultural Revolution or in accord with our own experiences in the 1960s. Instead we had great hangups about “the party” and organised semi-conspiratorially.
11. Despite being a very small group, since breaking with the CPA(ML) leadership we have not been able to resolve internal disagreements in a civilised, let alone comradely manner, but have had two further splits. While nowhere near as bad as Hill’s, these have also involved strange behaviour that would not be tolerated in most community organisations and should not be tolerated on the left. Moreover they have occurred in a situation where we are not leading any great revolutionary struggle and no pressing life or death decision was at stake.

LIFE WASN’T MEANT TO BE EASY!

We did not fully realise it at the time, but there was little alternative to the apparent extremism of Hill’s stand because there really wasn’t any possibility of a discussion. If he had agreed to a discussion, what could he possibly have said? And if the CPA(ML) did not follow China religiously, what else could it do? We cannot blame Hill for our own naivety.

We only realised how difficult most people find it to rebel and think for themselves once we had broken with Hill and company. “Stalinists without a country” was the contemptuous Trotskyist label, and there is something in it. It really is enormously easier to at least think you know what you’re doing when there is some “socialist motherland” backing you up. (Or a “Fourth International”, a “great leader” or some other crutch).

For non-revolutionaries it’s fairly easy to maintain a political position sustained by one or other of the reformist currents in mainstream bourgeois society. But in a non-revolutionary society and with no back up from a revolutionary society, it requires real effort to develop a revolutionary program. How much easer it would have been if we could have forgotten that we didn’t have such a program by simply pretending to ourselves that China, or Albania or somewhere was revolutionary and that supporting them would somehow produce a revolution here. Or by pretending that if we were all more dedicated, we would figure out where we were going while getting there.

Its interesting to note how even people with no attachment to Russia, China or Albania have managed to persuade themselves that Vietnam is still worth supporting and feel a deep and personal threat to their whole ideology when this is questioned. Or how people leaving REM because it hasn’t been getting anywhere who know perfectly well what’s wrong with the political line of the Revolutionary Communist Party (USA), are nevertheless attracted by the reassuring certainty of that group’s proclamations.

Idealism and metaphysics are the easiest things in the world, because people can talk as much nonsense as they like without basing it on objective reality or having it tested against reality. Materialism and dialectics, on the other hand, need effort. They must be based on and tested by objective reality. Unless one makes the effort, one is liable to slip into idealism and metaphysics. (Mao Tsetung)

PRIESTS AND HORSES

Judging from overseas literature, the temptation of closed minded religious fanaticism is very strong in this situation. It provides a certainty that would otherwise be lacking and puts an end to all confusion, doubt, cynicism, liberalism and so on.

But this way out is the way out of the movement. It means joining the innumerable sects that are much better organised and disciplined than we are, and are able to get more done precisely because they do not have the “burden” of really having to think out a revolutionary line.

We did not hesitate to reject the “security” of blindly following China, Albania or anybody else so we should not regret the consequences.

One consequence is that we are in some respects more vulnerable to confusion, doubt, liberalism, cynicism and so on than other left groups that feel more confident about their (manifestly wrong!) lines. The reason horses are given blinkers is that it keeps them working away steadily without getting distracted by things they might see. Groups that have attached themselves to a foreign state, or that merely reflect a reformist current  in mainstream bourgeois ideology, have a secure basis for their activity and can work away at it for years after it has ceased to have any social relevance or has become purely reactionary.

The same can easily be true of “revolutionary” groups that feel secure, or pretend to feel secure in their “correct line”. They can whip up a great frenzy of activity, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing. Take a look at the Communist Workers Party or the Revolutionary Communist Party (USA). On many points we would be in full agreement. They have a similar analysis of China and Albania to ours and they certainly do make a clear distinction between communist revolution and the bourgeois reformism advocated by most “revolutionaries”.

On international questions of very great significance they appear to have a fundamentally wrong analysis, But even more important, their whole approach to “correct line” politics seems alien. They are certainly not paralysed by liberalism like we are – but so what?

While confusion, doubt, liberalism, cynicism and so on persist we will remain unable to accomplish very much, including theoretical work:

We must have faith in the masses and we must have faith in the Party. These are two cardinal principles. If we doubt these principles, we shall accomplish nothing. (Mao Tsetung)

But the only basis for faith in the Party is confidence in the soundness of its analysis and line. Once we have grounds for such faith we will be able to accomplish something, but not before. (And of course once we do, we will again have the problem of blind faith and the potential for people to continue following a leadership that has proved itself worthy of confidence, long after it has ceased to play a progressive or revolutionary role. But then it would be at a higher stage of the spiral).

Demands that people pull themselves together, combat liberalism or what have you, will not solve the problem of lack of faith. This is an atheistic age and real communists are atheistic people. Our only God is the masses and the only basis for our faith is scientific analysis of reality.

The situation we are in calls urgently for working out where we are and where we are going. Without that, calls to press on more resolutely and with greater vigour will only result in people getting more lost.

CHIN UP, BACK STRAIGHT, EYES SHUT!

It is conservative, not revolutionary to promote “leadership”, “organisation”, “doing things”, “collective life” and so on without a clear perspective for liberating people from oppression. Defenders of the status quo habitually make such appeals and every organisation, revolutionary or not, naturally wants to be as effectively organised as possible (and most sewing circles and amateur theatrical societies are probably a lot better organised than REM). But it is quite wrong to see the organisational reflection of our confusion as the central problem instead of dealing with the confusion itself. (As for any who are not confused, they would have an even greater problem. Take off the blinkers!)

Communism is not the only ideology opposed to liberalism. Fascism opposes liberalism too. It is one thing to want to widen and deepen and ultimately transcend democracy by going beyond such mere forms as majority voting. It is quite another thing to declare that ones policies have proved their own correctness and deliberately exclude others from even a vote, let alone a real say, on the matter. Yet we have repeatedly experienced this kind of behaviour not just from enemies, but from comrades who probably really do want to be revolutionaries.

The fact that people like Lin Piao or Ted Hill could turn out to be fascists and that we could go along with a load of shit for a long time should alert us to the dangers. When people on the left start acting like people on the extreme right they must be pulled up sharply and told “You’re Ill” before the disease becomes incurable and before it spreads.

“Follow me and you need never think again”: Richard Wright, Liu Shao-Chi, Julius Fucik, the CPA(ML)… and the fire we need…

The following article is by Tom Griffiths…

“Follow me and you need never think again.”

This was the pithy saying uttered by an old comrade to describe secular religious thinking, or blind faith, in adhering to the Party line, no matter what the line was or how it was arrived at. It need not be confined to, or even predominantly associated with, Communist Party politics of course with yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir, the Daleks “I obey” and other variants all treding the same path. Follow me … arose in the aftermath of the CPA M-L kindly informing a number of us that we had “expelled” ourselves and the sense we then made of how a reputedly revolutionary organization, prompted by the arrest of the Gang of Four, could perform a 180 degree pivot overnight without discussion and still keep a straight face. I need hardly add that we did not keep a straight face but saw this as a joke – and not one on us.

I don’t know about others, but there are some sayings I hear that are gold and are instantly hard wired. “Follow me …” was one of them. It spoke to me then, and has done so since, most  recently after reading Richard Wright’s American Hunger, the second part of his autobiography Black Boy that deals, in large part, with his experiences in the CPUSA in the 1930’s. I will come back to this, for while this post is not about Wright per se, his experiences have certainly prompted it. Not for the first occasion it brought into sharp relief the contradiction between  communist aspirations (what we believe in, this is what we are fighting/struggling for), and the more disturbing, at times reactionary, internal and personal processes involved with what the ‘correct line’ is, how it is arrived at and ‘followed’. Walking the walk, as well as talking the talk, in other words; how what we do, and how we do it, as a reflection of our revolutionary (transformative or synthesizing) aspirations and practice.

So let me come back to Richard Wright and American Hunger. Wright (1908-1960) was a black American writer of great talent and vision who effectively fled the Jim Crow south when 19. Like so many of his black contemporaries he headed to Chicago. “The environment the South creates is too small to nourish human beings, especially Negro human beings.” he said later in a radio interview. He brought with him an intense curiosity, a hunger, a desire to grow. It was this that enabled him to observe in himself and others who had fled the south, loneliness and confusion. “Wherever my eyes turned they saw stricken, black faces trying vainly to cope with a civilization that they did not understand. I felt lonely. I had fled one insecurity and embraced another.”

By his mid twenties his hunger and curiosity, containing as they did a worldly, universalizing vision, had led him to the CPUSA. “Of all the developments in the Soviet Union the method by which scores of backward peoples had been led to unity on a national scale was what had enthralled me. I had read with awe how the Communists had sent phonetic experts into the vast regions of Russia to listen to the stammering dialects of peoples oppressed for centuries by the czars. I had made the first total emotional commitment of my life when I read how the phonetic experts had given these tongueless people a language, newspapers, institutions. I had read how these forgotten folk had been encouraged to keep their old cultures, to see in their ancient customs meanings and satisfactions as deep as those contained in supposedly superior ways of living. And I had exclaimed to myself how different this was from the way in which Negroes were sneered at in America.”

He wanted to use his ability and drive, with the organizational and political support of the CPUSA, to give the ignored and sneered at a place and a voice on the political stage. This was not simply a political quest, but also one that unavoidably required acculturation. In the same decade Mao was developing the mass line in China, while in still unoccupied Europe Bertolt Brecht was writing The Life of Galileo, the sixth scene of which begins with this couplet: ‘Things indeed take a wondrous turn/When learned men do stoop to learn’. In effect Wright advocated the adoption of a stooping stance and he began a process of taking oral histories from men, like himself, who had migrated north, effectively changing planets in the process. The one we hear about in American Hunger is Ross, a fellow Party member. But rather than applauding and supporting his initiative, what in Maoist language would be termed ‘learning from the masses’, the CPUSA viewed his project with suspicion. Paranoid thinking, in partnership with anxiety, is probably more accurate.

Outside of Ross, who was initially cooperative, this suspicion came from both black and white members. I think I get the nervousness of his black comrades. The confusion and insecurity Wright refers to above sounds very familiar to utterances I have heard from refugees. One, a young Hazara man from Afghanistan, said to a colleague some eight years ago, that what he really needed to know was “where do I fit in?” Coming from a society still dominated by strictly hierarchical and tribal norms this is a question he would never have had to seriously consider before he changed planets. Another, from a Sierra Leonean colleague, put the anxiety and confusion this way: “We have come from hell to find heaven. And it is heaven, if you change overnight.” Wright’s black comrades were still finding their feet, not yet standing on culturally solid ground and needed the support and approval of their white comrades.

Empathic understanding (an interest in, and understanding of, the hurdles they faced) appeared not to be present or offered, a situation Wright found baffling. Offering feelings of acceptance and purpose, probably patronizing, where the rules pertaining to these are too heavily sourced from above, was not good enough. Fascist organizations, and there were a few around at the time, provided this too. Indeed they were arguably better at it as they had no desire at all to see their membership grow intellectually or emotionally. Unthinking loyalty was what was demanded to both the organization and its ideological script.

Under a veil of suspicion Wright was repeatedly questioned about his motives and actions. His explanations fell on deaf ears and he was, again repeatedly, told by members higher up the food chain that he did “not understand”. Projection is an interesting psychological defence mechanism. It is a pity that those not listening to Wright were ignorant of their use of it. More disturbing, however, was the parallel process being reproduced in the party. Being a ‘good communist’ – being seen (needing to be seen) and understood as being compliant, obedient, well behaved and toeing the party line, qualities valorized by Lui Shao-Ch’i (see Quotations of Liu Shao-Ch’i, Paul Flesch and Co.1968, a ‘Little Yellow Book’ worth getting hold of), is not the same as being a good communist. The latter has the capacity, in reality develops the capacity, to swim against the tide, be that tide external or internal and to accept the associated risks. The party line down south was the Jim Crow line where the consequences for not being seen to be ‘good’ and obedient to Jim Crow cultural norms could, and often were, fatal. What Wright and so many others from down south were doing in heading north, was learning how to swim against the tide.

There is a difference between toeing the line (being obedient) and agreeing that a given line or position will be supported and acted upon, and that the processes by which it has been arrived at are democratic and not autocratic. Wright’s experience speaks of the latter and it was something, on a lesser scale, that I recognized at the time I and others ‘expelled ourselves’.

Walking hand in hand with this, and generally justifying it, was the question of organizational security. Wright mentions that, to his understanding, security was reckoned using the conditions under Czarist oppression as a measuring stick. The darkening clouds beginning to engulf Europe will have done nothing to abate this. But the USA was not a fascist state – unless you happened to be black living under the heel of Jim Crow. That this was not sufficiently grasped, underscores the importance of what Wright was trying to do and the failure of the CPUSA in supporting him in doing it. It also indicates that any purportedly revolutionary organization that is too reliant or wedded to top down decision making and the concomitant creation of a culture of membership obedience or compliance is likely to miss what’s under its nose.

None of this is meant to downplay the significance or need of security or measures to maintain a Party’s viability and effectiveness, considerations that become pressing the more oppressive and reactionary the prevailing context. The activities of the Czar’s secret police, the Okhrana, gave the Social Democrats, Bolsheviks, Mensheviks et al good reason to take those activities seriously. So too the activities of the Italian fascist secret police OVRA, the organization upon which the Nazi Gestapo was modelled, not to forget the Gestapo itself. But none of this could justify closing the minds of party members. Caution, in the face of external danger is not the same, and should not be confused with, closed or narrow mindedness in the face of such danger. Paranoid mindsets can be cultivated.

The most influential, and moving, account from a communist who kept the distinction between external danger and internal openness as distinct as circumstances would allow comes from Julius Fucik and his Report From the Gallows. Fucik, a central committee member of the Czech Party, was arrested and gaoled in 1942 and executed the following year. With the assistance of two patriotic cum anti fascist prison warders  he was able to write and smuggle out notes of his experiences and thoughts, his report from the gallows. I came across Fucik’s work in the mid to late 1970’s and, given recent events, I found it refreshing, insightful and invigorating. Here was a man experiencing the harshest of treatments, knowing that death was near, yet still embracing life rather than merely clinging to it. What I found particularly impressive was his ability to listen, to want to understand what made his jailers and wardens, most of whom came from working class stock, tick. Much of the book is devoted to what are dubbed in my edition “Figures and Little Figures”, nuanced reflections on comrades (Figures) and those in a more mixed bag, such as the prison superintendent who were certainly enemies and others among the wardens who deserved a deeper level of understanding (Little Figures), His ability to reflect upon and engage with both/all sides of contradictions was an ability, it would seem, that was absent, or certainly wanting in the CPUSA and the CPA M-L 

One of the things Fucik’s book did for me was to reinforce or make less abstract the absurdity of the CPA M-L adopting the same organizational structure as that used by the Czech and, I presume, other communist parties in occupied Europe (three member cell structures with one reporting higher up the chain, secrecy over membership etc). In occupied Europe this made a lot of sense – it was about survival. But not in the Australia we lived in. And in attempting to explain the rationale for its being, without getting sidetracked in theoretical bushland, the temptation to reach for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association) to determine the clinical criteria is difficult to resist. ‘Fucked’ seems an appropriate term to use that bridges the theoretical/clinical divide.

It is tempting to see my use of the concept ‘fuckedness’ as somewhat flippant. And to a degree it is because the ‘clinical’ component can seem like a cheap shot. But there is also a serious side to this that goes well beyond the drab manifestations I and others saw in the CPA-ML or the more disturbing, but not yet out of control manifestations that Wright witnessed and was subjected to. The example I wish to point to is the fate that befell the El Salvadoran revolutionary poet Roque Dalton who was murdered by elements in his own party with whom he was in disagreement over the importance of the party developing a mass base if it were to have any chance of overthrowing the regime. Unsurprisingly perhaps, given his murder, Dalton was argueing the importance of developing a mass base.

Dalton’s poetry is worth chasing up and to give a flavour of it – and of its relevance to this post – the following is the first stanza of his Dialectic of Genesis, Crisis and Rebirth:

‘For you we will not put the Party on an altar/Because you taught us that the Party/is an organism which lives in the real world/and it’s sickness is the same as bankruptcy/Because of you we know, Lenin/That the best crib for the Party/Is fire’

A bitter irony exposed in these lines is that Dalton’s murderers, and those who sanctioned it, were trying to put out the fire.

The fire that Dalton was speaking of, was not simply, or even primarily, that of the class enemy, whose fire belongs in the blindingly obvious department, but, as with Mao’s view of swimming against the tide being a revolutionary principle, refers to internal fire. Using gentler language, but making the same point, Wright referred to this as a “nurturing environment”. To see the meaning of this sentiment as being only directed against the tide generated by one’s political foes misses the point.

The proposition, be that stated openly or assumed, that the party line is, by definition correct, is a reflection of one sided, non dialectical thinking, the heritage of which comes more from medieval or pre medieval mind sets than modernist ones. If ever history were able to assume a sentient human form its reaction to the idea that leadership, be that in revolutionary organizations or not, automatically confers correctness and is thus deserving of deference, would be hysterical rolfing.

Our experience in the CPA M-L exposed political fuckedness, an organizational suspicion cum aversion to internal democratic processes, and a gift for paranoid thinking. This also seems to be the case in Wright’s experience of the CPUSA. The same cannot be said for Dalton’s. Politically fucked, certainly. But his murder exposed something pathalogical that was not only not organizationally contained, but was organizationally facilitated.

Revolutionary movements and parties in the developed world have disintegrated leaving in their wake a smug capitalist class and an opportunist and reactionary ‘left’ cum pseudo left drawn to every form of oppression other than that of class. It is ironic and certainly telling that we now live in an age where the capitalist class is quite happy to bend to and accommodate ‘woke’ agendas. And why not? The property question, the goal of expropriating the expropriators, has been successfully swept under the carpet. No prizes for guessing who/what has been doing most of the sweeping.

One of the tasks of a reemergent and genuine revolutionary left, will be to clean up its act regarding democratic processes; or to borrow from Dalton, to actually understand that the best crib or nurturing environment for its existence and growth is ‘fire’. It is not enough that a leadership pays lip service to the idea, as opposed to the practice of criticism and self criticism, reducing it to an auto de fe in the process. It must be open and be seen as being open, to itself being a target of fire.

One of the things communist parties, in whatever form their new iterations take, will need to do is to ensure that, to paraphrase and tweak Wright, the environment it creates is large enough to nourish the development and growth of rebellious and critical spirits, spirits who can not only keep an active eye and involvement on fire that is externally targeted and generated, but internally generated and directed.

Notes on Trump 63 – Collapse of anti-Trump GOP

It is more than two months since the “insurrection”. Many things still up in the air but some have landed so an update is overdue.

  1. I expected SCOTUS to hear some cases on unlawful changes to election rules. I was wrong about that. SCOTUS just refused to hear the last of the Trump campaign disputes (Wisconsin).

That has lots of implications which have not yet landed, so I won’t start analysis now.

  1. Trump’s recent speech confirmed his complete domination of the GOP with much the same orientation as before plus a focus on making it harder to vote in battleground States where GOP still controls the legislature but lost to Biden. Effects of that campaign and Federal legislation still have not landed.
  2. As I expected anti-Trump opposition within GOP has basically fizzled. A large majority of GOP Senators and a majority of GOP in House of Representatives oppose Trump but they won’t fight and Trump will. So the GOP will become a right wing populist party led by Trumpists with a large, militant and angry mass base and substantial representation in Congress.

The calibre of Trump’s opponents in the GOP is well illustrated by the fact that they want to use Trump’s brand to raise funds for defending GOP incumbents against Trumpist challengers:

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/542210-trump-ramps-up-battle-with-republican-leadership

That is a significant change to the US political system the results of which will become more clear after the 2022 primaries.

  1. Another significant change is the full commitment of Democrats to batshit craziness. It is now compulsory to believe that Trump incited an insurrection to overturn the last elections. Not one single Democrat in the House or Senate voted against that. The results of that, and of the efforts at media censorship, are also still up in the air.

In particular there is not yet any indication that the question of who decided not to protect the Capitol from an openly planned break in by militia groups will become an issue.

  1. There is still a race between vaccination and the new strains of covid-19 both in Europe and North America. Rest of the world still not likely to get vaccine quickly enough. Likely outcome still looks like at least several years of a new endemic disease. Less likelihood of hospital systems actually collapsing in developed countries but they are still trying to open up far faster than is justified by the levels of vaccination. Effect of that on US politics still up in the air along with general impact of new administration.

A socialist price system: answering the Austrians

David McMullen has written an important essay countering the market economists.

“According to Austrian economists, even with everyone’s best efforts, a system based on social ownership of the means of production could not effectively deploy a decentralized price system. An examination of the key writings on the question by Mises, Hayek and Lavoie reveals that this view rests on very shaky ground”.

The essay, ‘A socialist price system: answering the Austrians’, can be accessed here.

David is the author of ‘Bright future: abundance and progress in the twenty-first century’ and ‘The economic case for social ownership’.

covid-19 – The next strain

As noted in previous post, the UK and USA are both engaged in a race to vaccinate as many people as possible before their hospital systems get overwhelmed by the more infectious strains of covid-19 that are now becoming dominant worldwide.

Both are in dire straits and taking extraordinary and risky measures such as prolonging the interval between the two doses required and hoping to be able to catch up using different vaccines for a second dose if necessary.

In the UK they do at least seem to now be fully aware of the situation and starting to lockdown seriously.

Europe is in a similar mess and all the developed countries are competing for emergency supplies ahead of the poorer countries that need them even more desperately.

My impression is that the US public is still not aware that they could be facing double the current numbers of deaths following Biden’s plan for 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days and that this period could be the very worst part of the pandemic rather than the tail end currently expected.

There are reports sounding the alarm but I have not yet seen signs of the new administration taking even the sort of lockdown measures now belatedly taken in the UK.

Here for example is a current alarm sounded by a member of Biden’s covid-19 transition team, so the US government presumably does know:

27/01/2021 8:47 PM AEDT | Updated 28/01/2021 9:11 AM AEDT

Infectious Disease Expert Warns Next 6 To 14 Weeks May Be ‘Darkest’ Of COVID-19 Pandemic

By Lee Moran

Infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm said Tuesday that he fears the United States is about to enter its “darkest weeks” of the coronavirus pandemic yet.

The director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, who served on President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board during the presidential transition, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that there could be another potential explosion in new cases if mutated, more contagious variants of the virus take hold nationwide.

“We’re down now to 150,000 cases a day, which seems down,” he continued. “Remember when 70,000 or 32,000 cases a day seemed high? And if this variant takes off here in North America like it has throughout Europe, I think we could be seeing numbers much, much higher than we’ve had to date.”

Osterholm said an eruption in the number of infections could hinder the work of COVID-19 vaccines.

“We just won’t have enough out in time,” he said. “If we vaccinate everybody that the government has said the vaccine will be available for through April, that’s only about 12% of the U.S. population. This variant could do a great deal of harm in that time.”

“We’ll have to wait and see,” he concluded. “I sure hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does it’s going to be a long few weeks ahead of us.”

Osterholm echoed those fears on MSNBC, telling anchor Stephanie Ruhle on Tuesday that “the very worst of the pandemic is yet before us,” citing the “enormous challenge” of the new variants. (Watch the clip below.)

“I’m not at all optimistic,” he said.

The coronavirus has now killed more than 425,000 people nationwide. There have been 100 million confirmed cases around the globe, with more than a quarter of them (upwards of 25.4 million) in the United States.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/michael-osterholm-warning-coronavirus-pandemic_n_60112bc5c5b6b8719d888159

Here’s a very recent New York Times oped:

The New Virus Variants Make the Next 6 Weeks Crucial

By Ezra Klein
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 28, 2021

I hope, in the end, that this article reads as alarmism. I hope that a year from now it’s a piece people point to as an overreaction. I hope.

Coronavirus cases are falling. Vaccination numbers are rising. We are already jabbing more than a million people a day, which means President Biden’s initial goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days was far too conservative. In California, where I live, Governor Gavin Newsom lifted the statewide stay-at-home order. It feels like dawn is breaking.

And that is what makes this moment dangerous. The B.1.1.7 variant of coronavirus, first seen in Britain, and now spreading throughout Europe, appears to be 30 to 70 percent more contagious, and it may be more lethal, too. It hit Britain like a truck, sending daily confirmed deaths per million people from about six per million in early December to more than 18 per million today. The situation in Portugal is even more dire. Daily confirmed deaths have shot from about seven deaths per million in early December, to more than 24 per million now. Denmark is doing genomic sequencing of every positive coronavirus case, and it says cases involving the new variant are growing by 70 percent each week.

“What we need to do right now is to plan for the worst case scenario,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told me. “And when I say ‘worst case,’ I’m potentially talking about the most likely case. Let’s not wait until we wrap the car around the tree to start pumping the brakes.”

America is doing embarrassingly little genomic testing, but even the paltry surveillance that is being conducted has confirmed epidemiologists’ fears: B.1.1.7 is here, too. And there’s evidence of another super-contagious strain developing in California. It will take some weeks or even months for these new strains to become dominant, but virologists tell me there is every reason to believe they will. The results could be catastrophic, with hundreds of thousands dying before vaccinations neutralize the threat.

This is the part of the horror film where a happy ending seems in sight, but it is obvious, to those paying attention, that the monster is not dead, and that the worst may be yet to come. We cannot let ourselves be taken by surprise.

Paul Romer, the Nobel laureate economist, told me to think about it this way: The coming months are a race between three variables. There is the contagiousness of the virus itself. There are the measures we take to make it harder for the virus to spread, from lockdowns to masking. And there is the proportion of the country with protection against the virus, either because they’ve already caught it or because they’ve been vaccinated. If contagiousness is rising fast (and it is), then the measures we take to stop the spread or the measures we take to immunize the population need to strengthen faster. Romer’s modeling suggests that if we continue on our current path, delivering one million vaccinations a day and growing fatigued of lockdowns and masks, more than 300,000 could die in the coming months.

But calamity at that scale is a choice, not an inevitability. And so I’ve been asking health experts the same question: If you knew, with 100 percent certainty, that the coronavirus would be 50 percent more contagious six weeks from now, what would you recommend we do differently?

The most immediate danger is that optimism and exhaustion will overwhelm our common sense, and we will reopen just as the new strains are quietly building momentum. “Just in the last week or 10 days,” says Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, “a lot of state officials are looking at data of numbers coming down and asking me, ‘When can I reopen my restaurants to 75 percent? Bars have been closed for months, can I reopen bars now?’ It is true things are coming down but we are at a very high level. This is not the time to start letting up. This is the time to hunker down for what is likely to be a very difficult two or three months.”

With that introduction, one might expect the rest of the article to be explaining the need for prompt and drastic lockdowns, using whatever it takes, up to and including martial law.

Instead, it continues by assuming agreement against lockdown and pretending that testing provides some magic solution:

Let’s agree that total lockdown is the most ruinous of all options, and the one we’d like to use least. We have tools we could deploy to avoid it, but we’d need to start quickly. One is rapid, at-home testing. The technology exists to produce tens of millions of cheap, at-home antigen test strips each day. These strips are highly accurate during the period that matters most — when we are infected and contagious. Used widely, they’d let all of us check, daily, if we were potentially infected, so we could then isolate and avoid infecting others. “This is a public health issue and if we don’t empower the public to deal with it we won’t be able to defeat it,” Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard, told me.

The problem here is the Food and Drug Administration. They have been disastrously slow in approving these tests and have held them to a standard more appropriate to doctor’s offices than home testing.

I was going to write about the absurdity of pretending that cheaper and less accurate tests could be a substitute for lockdowns rather than a minor supplement when that idea was suggested here in a link to a podcast advocating them. But it did not seem worth the effort. It still doesn’t. Blaming the FDA for not being able to do it fast enough won’t work either.

Quite simply the oped takes it for granted that the only known effective measure is out of the question and proposes nothing but wishful thinking.

Some back of the envelope calculations in support of this from Paul Romer indicate the problem.

https://mobile.twitter.com/paulmromer/status/1355049460225765378

Despite having a Nobel Prize in Economics, Paul Romer is by no means stupid. Yet he looks for solutions by tripling the vaccination rate and doing lots of testing and contact tracing (without any optimism). Apparently locking down hard enough just isn’t worth analysing in the USA as they cannot do it any more than India or Indonesia could (but China, Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia did).

The likely extent of the disasters elsewhere are difficult to estimate in many places that lag behind the more developed countries where people came in contact with the virus more quickly. They have much less capacity for their health systems to cope when the levels of infection do catch up.

The lockdown just announced in Western Australia lockdown for the whole city of Perth and nearby is lucky for Australia:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-31/covid-quarantine-hotel-worker-tests-positive-in-perth-wa/13106968

There are certain to be ongoing leaks of the new strains from quarantine facilities.

Most people want to do whatever it takes to suppress them immediately rather than risk community transmission exploding as it is doing elsewhere.

The ruling class wants to take that risk. As far as I can make out this is sheer irrationality on their part. Naturally they put their asset values ahead of other people’s lives. There are bound to be sectional interests, like tourism, airlines and hospitality that could reasonably imagine that they would actually benefit from taking more risk. But all the evidence shows that the risks they loudly campaign for do more damage to the economy as a whole than the costs of not taking those risks – and therefore damage the overall interests of the ruling class as a whole.

The problem is that most “business leaders” here do not make any independent analysis. In most of the world it is simply not possible to avoid community transmission so “opinion leaders” on behalf of the ruling class are attempting to optimize the situation for their asset values without having that option. The “business community” here mostly looks to the same opinion leaders from North America and Europe rather than thinking for themselves about their own interests.

In Australia, like New Zealand, it is quite possible to avoid another wave but becoming more difficult with the new strains that are more infectious and will therefore escape more easily from quarantine and isolation facilities that were able to more successfully contain less infectious variants. Once they have escaped they are more likely to overwhelm contact tracing quickly.

Fortunately WA is in the middle of an election campaign. The government has responded in the same way that South Australia did when it wrongly believed a case of community transmission was from a more infectious strain. That over reaction in SA was an entirely necessary reaction in WA where they are reasonably certain that it is in fact a more infectious strain. They will be accused of doing it to pander to voters in an election. But whether that is the case or not it will make it much harder for the pressures from the Commonwealth Government, the media and “business” to intimidate other State governments from doing what has to be done.

So there is a still a good chance Australia could reach herd immunity through vaccination without going through another wave like Victoria’s, let alone anything as bad is happening in Europe and North America. It just depends on how incompetent they are.

It really is “touch and go” since, as I mentioned on December 2, we were then only half way through the emergency declared in the middle of last March. That was 8.5 months of the way through. Another 8.5 months would take till mid-August this year.

Although there is still talk of completing vaccination in Australia by October it looks increasingly unlikely that there could be herd immunity by then, let alone before September. As predicted, Europe and North America will not be exporting much in the way of vaccine supplies until they have dealt with the collapse of their hospital systems. That is likely to take all year by which time the disasters elsewhere will certainly be higher priority than Australia.

So apart from importing small amounts, Australia will be relying on its own new manufacturing facilities that were started late for AstraZeneca (and possibly others). Significant volumes may start to be available to the general public in April but will take many months to cover everyone who wants to be vaccinated. The small amounts imported earlier will be useful to help maintain isolation of quarantine and health workers in the frontlines. That will further reduce the risks of another wave before herd immunity, but will have negligible impact on reaching herd immunity.

There is currently no reason to expect that complete vaccination with relatively inefficient vaccines will result in herd immunity this year. However it could still result in an end to the State of Emergency before October. With a large proportion vaccinated subsequent clusters and outbreaks would be relatively easy to contain by contact tracing (in more or less the manner that the vicious liars opposing emergency restrictions now pretend is the case already). We would then just have the “normal” risks of just another endemic infectious disease until the whole world achieves herd immunity. That could be done quite quickly with rational international cooperation but there seems little chance of that so it looks more likely to take years with major disasters still unfolding in many places.

The problem the USA faces is that they already have huge numbers that are close to overwhelming hospital systems and the vaccine will not have much impact in the first few months when more than 80% of the population remain susceptible compared with the impact of new more infectious strains. That is not the situation in Australia.

No doubt Australia will keep selfishly demanding priority vaccination ahead of places that desperately need it. No doubt the Australian manufacturing plants will not give priority to saving lives in neighbours like Indonesia but it is safe to assume European and North American plants will eventually join China, Russia and India in supplying developing countries rather than diverting urgently needed supplies to countries like Australia whether the Australian government complains or not.

Notes on Trump 62 – covid-19 and Biden

Biden got more votes than Trump largely because of Trump’s catstrophically bad leadership on covid-19.

Trump was very good at provoking enough insanity from deranged liberals that he looked like getting a second term simply based on being hated by deranged people rather than having actually delivered anything.

The Democrats were so hopeless that despite running against a Trump who could be blamed for many of the 400,000 deaths they nearly lost in the Electoral College and there are serious doubts as to whether their victory was lawful.

The Biden administration has just released a 200 page strategy for covid-19:

Click to access National-Strategy-for-the-COVID-19-Response-and-Pandemic-Preparedness.pdf

I have only skimmed the first half. I could not bear to even skim the second half which had chapters on “equity” and “US leadership” plus the full text of Executive Orders to implement the strategy.

As far as I can see the strategy document adequately highlights the fact that the current wave is spreading uncontrolled across the USA and will get worse, with hospital systems already starting to be overwhelmed. That is better than Trump and a necessary preliminary to having a strategy.

But I did not notice any plausible strategy. As with Trump the focus is largely on the vaccine. Various measures are proposed to accelerate delivery but I did not notice any that could achieve even a parabolic acceleration, let alone catch up with exponential infection. For example great stress is placed on delivering 6 doses from each vial originally intended to ensure 5 doses with allowance for wastage. That is merely an insignificant blip, not even a plan for constant linear, let alone parabolic acceleration.

The target of 100 million doses in 100 days is comparable to the current level of bungled delivery (900,000 per day). Proportional to population it is substantially slower than what the UK is currently delivering. That is probably realistic and reflects how disfunctional the US health system is. If achieved it could substantially reduce mortality both by protecting many of the most vulnerable and by keeping most of the health and aged care workforce functioning so that staff sick, dead or in quarantine are not the main bottleneck on health and aged care.

But I did not see any calculation suggesting that vaccination of less than 1 in 6 Americans could avoid continued exponential increase resulting from the more infectious strains becoming dominant with the current levels of shutdown. Continuing at that rate would take more than a year to reach herd immunity if it was not reached by infection first.

Instead of plans to tighten lockdowns what I did see was a goal to open up kindergartens and schools within the same 100 days and focus on “testing” to open up rather than immediate mobilization for more severe lockdowns.

In other countries that opened schools too early so as to get parents back to work too early, the pretense that children do not transmit infection has been dropped and schools are being closed as an emergency measure to help keep hospitals open.

The USA is still headed in the same direction as Trump, the opposite to what is needed. So is the UK and so is most of Europe.

A worse disaster can be expected in most of the developing world. Hopefully they may get enough vaccines to protect their relatively small healthcare workforce. But they won’t receive vaccines before Europe and North America so herd immunity will take much more than 1 year with no realistic prospect of overtaking the exponential growth of new strains.

On December 2 I wrote:

This is not just a half baked, but rather a quarter baked article on the current situation with covid-19.

My guess is that Australia is about half way through the state of emergency that began in mid-March.

Current indications are that a vaccine will start to be available here from about March or April, with full availability and likely herd immunity by the end of next year.

That should mean Australia goes to the back of the queue for vaccination. There is currently no urgent need here and major disasters elsewhere, so it should take much longer than the end of next year to vaccinate Australia.

But its far more likely the poorer countries that are likely to eventually get hit very hard will come last and Australia will be in the middle. I would be surprised if the production plants in Europe and North America divert supplies from the disaster unfolding around them until they have that under control. So the initial vaccinations here could also be later than March and April.

Anyway there is plenty of time before next March to analyse the recent news re vaccines.

A lot more information will be available in a few weeks so I am not attempting to analyse this further now. The disasters in Europe and North America are still unfolding and far worse is to come in the rest of the world, but it will be a lot easier to analyse in a few weeks than it is right now.

I am just dashing this off quarter baked because I expect to be paying more attention to US politics over the next few weeks.

https://c21stleft.com/2020/12/02/covid-19-quarter-baked-half-time/


A few weeks later there is no doubt a lot more information available. But I am still focussed on US politics and have not caught up on covid-19.

We are still in the silly season and a lot of things are up in the air and have not yet landed – both for US politics and covid-19 (of my three main topics last year, only Brexit has “landed”, with the expected whimper not bang).

As far as I am aware covid-19 has developed pretty much as I expected. But the new virus strains could make things considerably worse than I was expecting. Anyway here’s another “quarter baked” update.

The UK hospital system has now been in crisis for several weeks. The explosion in case numbers was inevitable due to catastrophic government failure (worse than in USA) but it has been confirmed that new virus strains are indeed significantly more infectious and are pretty certain to spread worldwide.

Report 42 – Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Lineage B.1.1.7 in England: insights from linking epidemiological and genetic data
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/mrc-global-infectious-disease-analysis/covid-19/report-42-sars-cov-2-variant/

That is not an unexpected development. Natural selection favours survival of those viral strains that are more infectious.

Unexpectedly there is now preliminary data from the UK indicating that the strains expected to become dominant worldwide are also more deadly. Natural selection does not usually favour survival of viral strains that kill their hosts more quickly since dead people spread infection less than when alive. It is suggested that the mechanism which makes some new strains more infectious is stronger attachment between the virus spikes and host cells, which results in both a higher viral load that is more infectious and a more intense immune system response that is the main cause of death.

It is tempting to speculate that greater mortality could instead simply be due to collapse of the UK hospital system with government announcements naturally preferring to blame nature. But there is no doubt the preliminary data is based on serious statistical analysis by authoritative sources, not from Public Relations spokespeople.

Here is some commentary from outside experts followed by link to the technical paper that was just released:

expert reaction to suggestion made in Downing Street press conference that the new UK variant may be linked to higher mortality than the old variant (NERVTAG paper also now published)

I am not competent to evaluate any of this, but it seems likely to be important.

Both the US and UK are engaged in a race to vaccinate as many people as possible as fast as possible to get their hospital systems back under control.

That seems to me an inherently implausible strategy. We know that the new strains still grow exponentially under the levels of lockdown imposed so far. A plausible strategy would move immediately to a severe enough level of lockdown to actually stop transmission despite the greater infectiousness. That would require only really essential workers allowed out of their homes to work on delivering food, electricity and other essential supplies and services direct to households (as in Wuhan).

We also know that the rate of manufacture and delivery of vaccines cannot grow exponentially as vaccinations do not produce more vaccinations in the way that infections produce more infections. Extreme acceleration of vaccination can only be parabolic, like the acceleration due to gravity, not exponential, like a “viral” epidemic or a nuclear “chain reaction”.

Of course it is possible that even a constant linear delivery of vaccinations could reach herd immunity before the virus infects everybody. But it is very much a short term race with unfavourable odds.

The emergency already justified “emergency use” authorizations without the length of studies usually required and accelerated parallel development of manufacturing facilities. There are health as well as financial risks in both. These are now compouded by lengthening the period between initial and follow up doses so as to maximize short term numbers and permitting use of untested combinations of different vaccines for first and second doses when supplies of the vaccines initially available (mRNA) cannot keep up and manufacturing plants for others (eg AstraZenaca) do come on stream.

One risk already visible is that those for whom vaccination is most urgent – frontline health and quarantine workers – are also the most aware of the risks and about a quarter of healthcare workers in the UK are already hesitant about getting vaccinated.

That will presumably be met by media campaigns and lots of reassuring pronouncements by authorities that could induce actual panic given the perceived trustworthiness of authorities and the media.

Another risk strikes me that I have not read any technical papers about. Partially vaccinated people could be an ideal breeding ground for new strains that are harder to get rid of. My understanding is that people given a course of antibiotics are required to complete the full course to avoid the survival of those more resistant bugs that were not completely killed off by the initial dose.

I gather the effects of triggering the immune reaction are sufficiently unpleasant (nausea, fever, headaches etc in a small but not negligible proportion) that the dominant reason for two doses is to reduce that impact. Indeed recent evidence from Norway suggests that enough frail elderly people are getting killed by the effect of the vaccine to make it possible that the more frail residents of aged care facilities are better off just relying on the vaccination of staff, visitors and other residents rather than getting vaccinated themselves.

If the severity of those effects is the main reason for two doses, it seems possible not enough attention would be paid to the danger of breeding new strains by delaying a second dose in an emergency situation where there really is desperation to outrace collapse of the hospital system. I would of course not be capable of becoming competent to make that judgment.

So far the level of blithering incompetence in Australia has been less fatal than elsewhere. It remains to be seen whether Australian governments will act quickly enough to prevent the new strains escaping from quarantine. I have no way to judge whether they will or won’t. So far they have not. But things are already desperate enough elsewhere that it is reasonable to expect that they will.

I am not commenting on the dispute about whether AstraZeneva should be paused in Australia because it is unlikely to deliver herd immunity. As far as I know the simple fact is that mRNA plants in Europe and North America are not going to deliver supplies needed in a race to save their hospital systems to countries that are worse off, let alone countries that are better off, no matter how selfishly the Australian government demands it and how high it bids up the price. My impression is that even Paul Kelly makes more sense than the competent virologists who started and then backed away from that dispute. That unfavourable impression of competent virologists is not an endorsement of Paul Kelly. But it does strengthen my lack of confidence that people who should know what they are talking about actually do.

Notes on Trump 61 Splodey Heads Splode

I don’t have time to write an analysis.

This official explanation from twitter speaks for itself and needs no comment.

Overview

On January 8, 2021, President Donald J. Trump tweeted:

“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

Shortly thereafter, the President tweeted:

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks. After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.

Assessment

We assessed the two Tweets referenced above under our Glorification of Violence policy, which aims to prevent the glorification of violence that could inspire others to replicate violent acts and determined that they were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

This determination is based on a number of factors, including:

President Trump’s statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate and is seen as him disavowing his previous claim made via two Tweets (1, 2) by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, that there would be an “orderly transition” on January 20th.

The second Tweet may also serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a “safe” target, as he will not be attending.

The use of the words “American Patriots” to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol.

The mention of his supporters having a “GIANT VOICE long into the future” and that “They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an “orderly transition” and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.

Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.

As such, our determination is that the two Tweets above are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.

@Twitter
Twitter Inc.

‎@Twitter‎ verified

Your official source for what’s happening.

https://blog.twitter.com/en_us/topics/company/2020/suspension.html

If that had been written as a parody it would have been unconvincing.

But its real.

Of course Trump announced that his own platform will be rolled out shortly.

But Google took a more serious step. It won’t distribute apps for other platforms unless they meet its requirements for enforcing “better moderation”. (In Australia they would have said “safety”).

Since they have a near monopoly with semi-locked phones it could actually take a few days of email forwarding for most people who care to learn how to download and install apps from other sources such as those listed here:

https://forum.f-droid.org/t/known-repositories/721

The next logical step would be to suppress access to material that “glorifies violence” by preventing normal URLs from working through the normal DNS.

That could take weeks rather than days for people to learn how to configure access to alternate DNS services for the “dark web”.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_DNS_root

It would be more significant by assisting NSA et al to keep closer tab on that smaller subset of people using the “dark web”.

Further escalation would involve actually shutting down server access at high bandwidth colocation sites.

So far they have not even been able to shutdown “Library Genesis” and “Sci-Hub” on the public DNS:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_Genesis
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sci-Hub
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5832410/#

The resilience of the networks behind those sites was massively hardened during the explosion of scientific collaboration bypassing commercial publishers resulting from covid-19.

Now of course Google, NSA et al are thoroughly aware of and indeed contributors to all of that.

It would certainly be possible to shut everything down in an emergency. What’s missing is the ability to just make peoople disappear. That is far simpler, quicker and more effective. No actual fascist regime tries to impose such breathtaking levels of censorship as that being announced without being able to rely on just locking people up.

Meanwhile the main effect is just to drive people into narrower circles that can be more easily monitored – eg if they end up imagining that the Tor encrypted networks funded by the US Navy are some sort of way to avoid US government surveillance.

But the side effect is far more important.

Raising the general level of paranoia is certainly “likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021”.

Suppressing that is likely to inspire some actual “domestic terrorism”.

Is that the aim?

Possibly for some. But my guess is the corporate liberals have just lost the plot.

Some Republicans really are stupid enough to imagine they could survive the primaries in two years by prohibiting Trump from running for public office.

If just 17 GOP Senators join the Democrats in impeaching Trump in order to impose that penalty, we would be in quite an extraordinary situation. Not worth analysing unless it actually happens. I have no way to guess whether there are that many who are that desperate and stupid.

But it is certainly plausible that there will be enough Democrats to start the impeachment process. They already did “the Russia thing” and they already impeached Trump once. What harm would they see in helping to intensify the fight that Trump has already unleashed in the opposing party?

So everything possible is being done to increase the relevance, support and enthusiasm of a large mass based right wing party with both a substantial Congressional representation and a militant extra-Parliamentary wing.

Moreover the complete desertion of basic democratic principles by Trump’s opponents forces others to unite with Trumpists on the simple issue of whether we want to be told what we are allowed to think and say by corproate liberals (who Trump calls the “radical socialist, Marxist left”).

I honestly cannot guess what the people at Twitter who signed themselves “Your official source for what’s happening” think will now happen.

My guess is it will be a lot easier to get along with the Trumpists in a united front than with that lot.

See also my comments of January 4 and 9:
https://c21stleft.com/2020/12/18/notes-on-trump-59-biden-joins-the-trump-campaign/#comment-4322
https://c21stleft.com/2020/12/18/notes-on-trump-59-biden-joins-the-trump-campaign/#comment-4332