Socialist Fight No. 35

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14/08/2020 by socialistfight

Editorial 1: Steve Hedley and Popular Front class collaboration

July 2018: Steve Hedley bloodied in an attack by Tommy Robinson fascist supporters outside the Westminster Arms pub.
 

The Morning Star refused to publish a letter with hundreds of signatures, including a great many RMT members, in defence of Steve Hedley who was suspended as Senior Assistant General Secretary by the RMT Executive for saying about Boris John when he was in hospital critical care for Covid-19, “If he pops his clogs, I am throwing a party.”

‎John Page‎ initiated a “Defend Steve Hedley, RMT members choose their leaders not the Murdoch Press” campaign and reported on 21 April:

“Last night, we received a response from the Editor of the Morning Star, Ben Chacko, with regard the open letter we had sent his paper last week. Ben’s email concluded: ‘I’m sorry but we won’t be publishing the letter on this occasion. I understand you’ll be disappointed by our decision.’”

Vaughan Thomas, President, London Transport Region RMT, Regents Park, posted the following message online which said in part:

An Appeal to Members of the RMT

“With Senior Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley, what you see is what you get. Steve has been a life-long socialist, trade unionist, an anti-racist and a fighter against fascism. He constantly puts himself on the line on behalf of his class. He is the most high-profile officer in this great Union of ours. So, it’s not surprising that the right wing media hates him.

The Sun and the Daily Mail always attack the RMT and in March of this year they seized an opportunity to attack us through Steve. They found some irreverent posts that Steve made on his personal Facebook page referring to the Prime Minister’s illness and embarked on a campaign against him.

On April 10th, Good Friday Bank Holiday, the General Secretary and the President convened an extraordinary meeting of the NEC. Such a meeting would normally include Steve but on this occasion he was neither invited nor informed it was taking place. At this meeting it was decided by a majority vote to suspend Steve pending investigation; but the terms of suspension went way beyond what is acceptable.

… The RMT is a democratic organisation, we choose our leaders – we do not allow the right wing media to choose them for us.”

Socialist Fight unhesitatingly supports Steve Hedley in this struggle because we recognise that this is not an individual under attack but all the trade unions, Labour party, and every leftist militant, who might give a lead to workers in revolt.

Despite serious differences over the Caroline Leneghan affair in 2012 the principles of the united front demand we give him unconditional but critical support here.

We are aware that the Democratic Football Lads Alliance and other fascists have attacked him over this issue and physical attacked him and others in a central London pub in July 2018 when demonstrating against Tommy Robinson.

Steve has now been reinstated as an Assistant General Secretary, though the title ‘Senior’ is gone and severe restrictions has been placed on his rights to free speech. Mick Cash wrote to his saying, “However, the General Secretary is instructed to issue a written warning on file for two years to Bro Hedley about his future conduct and furthermore Bro Hedley is not to undertake the role or functions of Senior Assistant General Secretary for two years from this date.” We are confident that the next RMT AGM will overturn these restrictions.

Gerry Downing first encountered Steve when he was sacked from the rails in the middle 1990s and he participated in that Defend Steve Hedley campaign. The Derry man has been in the forefront of the campaigns to defend Irish Republican prisoners and has stood on picket lines and participated in meetings in this cause with the Irish Republican Prisoners Support Group and many others.

He earned the contempt of the Belfast Telegraph, who reported his suspension thus: “Bogside-bred union boss Steve Hedley suspended over tirade against Tories backed cop killer duo”, referring to a motion he got through the RMT in support of republicans Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, who are serving life sentences on trumped-up charges before a no-jury Diplock court for the murder of PSNI constable Stephen Carroll.

They report him saying, “We have looked at the evidence as a union and we think at the very least there should be a review of what happened. It’s no good waiting for 20-odd years and having a review after that and setting people free when their lives are destroyed.” He has always been in the forefront for this most vital issue for the British working class, against Britain’s first colony and one of its last in the north of Ireland. as Marx and the early Comintern reminded the then revolutionary CPGB.

We believe the Morning Star/CPB implicit support for this victimisation; their refusal to print the open letter and the silence of leading CPB/Morning Star supporters in the RMT, like Alex Gordon and Eddie Dempsey, speaks volumes of the class collaboration/popular frontism seen in the obscene celebrations of Victory In Europe day and the patriotic British chauvinism shown in the pages of the Morning Star for this. This was a nauseating display of ‘national unity’ as is the natural inclination of the entire corrupt trade union bureaucracies, with a few honourable exceptions, whose spokesperson the Morning Star is. They value their career prospects and pension pots far more than they do the welfare of their own members.

The popular front class collaboration was practiced by Joe Stalin during WWII and today’s Stalinists hope to repeat it in the inevitable outburst of class outrage at being forced to pay for the capitalist crisis again, as after the 2008 economic collapse, once the Covid-19 lockdown is over. We must not allow them to repeat these historic class betrayals today as they did in support of the antisemitic, racist, imperialist brutal war criminal Winston Churchill.

His crimes in Ireland, Africa (Kenya was the worst) and India are well known as is his deliberate starving of up to four million in Bengal in 1943. He excused his actions there by saying it was their own fault for “breeding like rabbits” and, “They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.” This in no way excuses the crimes of the Atlee Labour government in Malaya, Greece, and Vietnam, the vital element of the Spirit of ‘45 Ken Loach missed, or indeed Harold Wilson in Ireland or Tony Blair in Iraq.

The victimisation of Steve Hedley is the strongest indication that the Stalinist intend to repeat their war-time and post war crimes again. We will analyse the role they play in the class struggle in an article inside.

His former comrades in the Socialist Party defended Steve though with their usual ‘sensitivity’ to the TU bureaucracy and pitch towards the backwardness of sections of the working class:

“However, it is also a sensitive time, when millions are worrying about their own health and that of their loved ones, and some RMT members may have been offended by Steve’s comments. Steve’s Facebook posts put his opposition to Johnson and his Tory government in personal terms. The workers’ movement’s opposition to the Tories isn’t personal but is because of the Tories’ anti-working class policies, such as brutal austerity, the privatisation of the NHS, and railway and transport network, plus their anti-union laws, which include those which are now planned to be targeted at rail unions like the RMT.”

You couldn’t get much more class reductionist statement than that. Terms such as “Thatcher, the milk snatcher” and “As far as I’m concerned she can rot in Hell” as Bob Crow said on Thatcher’s death in 2013 are “personal” and so unworthy of a class fighter. Just as the attack on Steve is not “personal” neither is the attack on Boris Johnson. “Love your enemies” says Christ, in his infamous grovel to the Roman Empire. And that is where the SP joins with the CPB/Morning Star in its class collaborating popular frontism. ▲

Editorial 2: Trump and China, Biden and Russia

As the pandemic rages almost out of control (see pages 15,16) and Black Lives Matter continues to radicalise sections of the working class and middle class too, Donald Trump and the Democrats, in different ways, seek foreign foes to deflect the anger of the masses at home. Trump, with some measure of success, targets China, Iran and Syria, Biden targets Russia and others. Both represent different wings of US imperialism in crisis. Trump’s conspiracy mongering (see page 15) is winning middle class and disorientated leftist and Biden has condemned Netanyahu’s plans to annex the West Bank because this is “undermining support for the country in the United States among young people in both political parties”. He is fearful that the ageing, but still powerful, US Jewish lobby will be replaced by younger Jews who are increasingly alienated by Israel’s brutal and homicidal attacks on the Palestinians. Of course no serious Marxist would advocate a vore for either.

This targeting of both Russia and China makes the designations of these two states of prime importance. If we designated them as imperialist, then we must be dual defeatist in any war between them and USA-led Nato forces. That is, we must not only fight for the defeat of Nato forces in our own imperialist countries but also for the working class in both Russia and China to fight for the defeat of these countries by turning the wars into civil wars for the socialist revolution. This also applies to proxy wars where the US, via the CIA, the Pentagon (not always on the same side!) and its foreign allies sponsor internal uprising to secure regime change. We have been unrelenting in our criticism of those we dubbed the ‘pro-imperialist left’ for failure to fight for the defeat of Nato forces in Libya, the CIA and Saudi/Turkey backed jihadists in Syria and the CIA/NGO pro-fascist forces in the Maidan coup in Ukraine in February 2014.

But Socialist Fight and the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International have long argued that neither are imperialist but rather are advanced semi-colonial countries like the rest of the BRICS states, Brazil, India and South Africa. The relationships between imperialist states in not like that which obtained before WWI and WWII, when two roughly equal power blocs fought it out for global domination of colonies and third world countries to exploit. Now there is one global hegemonic super-power, the USA, with dependent secondary imperialist power seeking total domination against recalcitrant opponents; relatively well developed semi-colonies like the BRICS and all the rest of the far poorer third world which the IMF and World Bank super-exploit on behalf of Wall Street and the other subordinate finance capital markets on the City of London, the Paris Bourse, Frankfurt and Tokyo and their allied transnational corporations.

Our comrade Dov Winter in arguing China is imperialist wrote:

Some Trotskyists still consider China to be at best a semi-colony, while in reality, China has been imperialist for some time. The transformation of China into an imperialist country is illustrated by China spending 83.9 percent or $734 billion on construction across the globe: “From 2005 to 2017, low and middle-income economies received 83.9 percent of the $734 billion spent by China on construction projects across the globe.”

Of course, we agree that China is not still a deformed workers’ state. There are 200 billionaires on the central committee of the CP and China has more billionaires now that any other country bar the USA itself.

Dov also mentions that, “China also has become the second most powerful military power after the US” but fails to give the details. Here is the 2020 edition of “The Military Balance” from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), 1. United States of America: US$ bn 684.6, 2. China: US$ bn 181.1, 3. Saudi Arabia: US$ bn 78.4, 4. Russia: US$ bn 61.6, 5. India: US$ bn 60.5 6. United Kingdom. US$ bn 54.8, 7. France: US$ bn 52.3, 8. Japan: US$ bn 48.6, 9. Germany: US$ bn 48. The US and its allies in Nato and the gulf dwarf the spending of Russia and China several times over.

In my article The Hegemonic Domination of US Imperialism on 29/08/2018 I pointed to the prime importance of the US dollar:

The US Dollar is by far the world’s leading reserve and trading currency for oil and almost every other commodity in the world (although Russia and China are challenging that now). It gives the US an enormous economic and political advantage over its rivals. Wars against Iraq, Libya, and Ukraine today are at least partially launched to protect this privileged position which enables it to rob every other nation. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the dollar’s share in the world’s foreign-exchange trades rose slightly from 85% in 2010 to 87% in 2013. The dollar’s role as the undisputed reserve currency of the world allows the United States to impose unilateral sanctions against actions performed between other countries.

Closely allied to this is the fact that China is the prime buyer of US Treasury bonds. Investopedia explains the dependency of China on the US:

Japan and China own about 5.2% and 4.6% of the U.S. debt, respectively … The other countries that hold the most U.S. debt include the U.K., Brazil, and Ireland. There are two main economic reasons Chinese lenders bought up so many U.S. Treasuries. The first and most important is that China wants its own currency, the yuan, pegged to the dollar.10 This has been common practice for many countries ever since the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. A dollar-pegged yuan helps keep down the cost of Chinese exports, which the Chinese government believes makes it stronger in international markets. This also reduces the purchasing power of Chinese earners. Dollar-pegging adds stability to the yuan, since the dollar is still seen as one of the safest currencies in the world. This is the second reason the Chinese want Treasurys; they are essentially redeemable in dollars. Deng Xiaoping famously said in his 1974 speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations:

“If one day China changes her colour and turns into a superpower, if she too should play tyrant in the world, and everywhere subject others to her bullying, aggression, and exploitation, the people of the world should identify her as social imperialist, expose it, oppose it and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it.”

We say that day has not yet come, although Xi Jinping and his billionaires are working towards it. This does not mean that we then become apologists for Xi’s ultra-repressive regime like the obsequious John Ross, formerly of the International Marxist Group, where workers have no rights, a situation that is guaranteed by the 302 million strong All China Federation of Trade Unions, which is not a trade union at all and exists only do the Xi’s bidding, never calls strikes and targets and often assassinated militants who fight for workers’ rights. Nor do we condone the ultra-repressive regime measures in Hong Kong or in Xinjiang against the Uyghurs. Critical but unconditional support against imperialism means we do not support the US/British movement against China in Hong Kong nor the Al Qaeda inspired Uighur groups in Xinjiang who fight for an Islamic State.

Notes

[1] See Russia and China are NOT Imperialist states, 19/06/2014, Statement by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International on the US/EU/Nato attack on Ukraine. https://tinyurl.com/je4ugum

[2] Why China is an imperialist Country, 17/10/2018 Discussion article by Dov Winter. https://socialistfight.com/2018/10/17/why-china-is-an-imperialist-country/

[3] The Hegemonic Domination of US Imperialism on 29/08/2018 Why neither Russia nor China are imperialist powers 2017 https://socialistfight.com/2017/12/30/the-hegemonic-domination-of-us-imperialism/

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