Paris terror attacks: further proof that we need to overthrow imperialism

IMPORTANT STATEMENT of the CPGB-ML on the Paris attacks:latuff_paris

Jihadi terrorism is the bastard child of the union between blind religious fanaticism and imperialist market fundamentalism.

On the evening of Friday 13 November, a group of terrorists armed with kalashnikovs and wearing suicide belts launched coordinated assaults on six targets in Paris, killing 129 innocent people and injuring 350 others, 100 of them critically. According to eye-witness accounts, these attacks were professionally coordinated, meticulously planned and executed with cold-blooded disregard for human life. Eight of the terrorists were also killed.

The targets included the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 young people attending a performance by an American metal band were cut down in the prime of their lives; Stade de France, where a friendly football match between Germany and France was underway; Le Comptoir Voltaire restaurant and other bars and cafés.

The Islamic State (IS), also known as Isis, Isil or Daesh, has taken responsibility for the carnage in Paris, claiming: “This is only the start of the storm.” (IS claims responsibility, calling Paris attacks ‘start of the storm’ by Frank Camp,Independent Journal, 14 November 2015)

Progressive people will resolutely condemn the Paris tragedy. It is clear that there is no reason for anyone, except the crazed jihadis, to gloat over such a senseless massacre, for the action of its perpetrators, far from being an expression of anti-imperialist defiance, merely serves to strengthen the imperialist agenda of repression at home and war abroad.

Our own government, for example, having failed to win approval for all-out war against Syria in 2013, is bent upon using the attacks in Paris as a justification for resuscitating the debate and trying once more to gain parliamentary approval for the full-scale bombing of Syria.

Meanwhile, preparations for the repression of all dissent and opposition to government policies are well advanced, and the latest bombings will certainly be used to further justify this assault on what remain of our civil liberties. The Investigatory Powers Bill (also known as the Snoopers’ Charter) is currently being piloted through parliament by the home secretary, Theresa May, under which even more powers will be bestowed on the police and on the intelligence and border agencies. (See Guardian, 4 November 2015)

There will doubtless be further demonisation of minorities and asylum seekers and yet more stoking of islamophobia by bourgeois politicians and media in the wake of the Paris attacks, with the inevitable increase in discord between muslim and non-muslim, foreign-born and local workers – all in an attempt to weaken the working-class movement by diverting our attention away from our real enemy (the imperialist ruling class) to imaginary enemies (workers from ethnic minorities and refugees).

Selective empathy

The bourgeois media have expressed their outrage at the Paris bombings in hysterically hyperbolic terms. The Financial Times of 16 November described the attacks as “civilisation’s worst nightmare”, while another paper characterised Islamic State as “the most ruthless death cult”. The masses of workers across the imperialist world have been encouraged, to put it mildly, to wave the French flag in a show of sympathy – both with the victims as individuals and with France as the victim nation.

But this sympathy and fellow feeling are by no means applied consistently to the victims of terror attacks around the world. Recent events bring into stark relief just how our collective emotions are manipulated by media and politicians, who have become expert at either drawing out or suppressing the ‘human angle’ of an event to suit the British ruling class’s political agenda.

Just two weeks before the Paris attacks, on 31 October, a Russian holiday flight crashed 23 minutes after take-off from the Egyptian holiday resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. At the time of the crash, it was not known what had brought the plane down, but, far from expressing their deep sympathies and fellow-feeling with the 224 innocent victims of that disaster, 25 of whom were children, the commentators of the bourgeois presstitute fraternity were practically rubbing their hands with glee – hoping against hope that the crash would turn out to have been caused by a terrorist bomb, and that such an attack would turn public opinion in Russia against the country’s continued involvement in the war in Syria.

The media’s only other concern was for the effects of disruption on the British tourist industry and the inconvenience to British holidaymakers stranded at the resort as routine flights were cancelled. (See live updates on Telegraph website, 7 November 2015)

When it did, indeed, turn out that the plane had been brought down in a brutal terrorist attack by IS (an attack that claimed nearly a hundred more victims than the events in Paris), the bourgeois media did not feel the need to describe the tragedy as “civilisation’s worst nightmare”. Nobody condemned IS as “the most ruthless death cult” or rushed to tell the stories of the victims and describe the trauma of their families. There was no mass waving of the Russian flag, no chants of “We are all Russians” on the football terraces, no mass circulation of sympathy posts on Facebook or Twitter.

Instead, political analysts gave the impression that the tragedy was no more than what Russia deserved, and speculated enthusiastically about whether the Russian masses would blame their own government for the terrorist attack as blowback for the country’s air operations in Syria – clearly implying that they should and hoping that they would. (See Vladimir Putin’s showmanship has left him without a strategy by Edward Lucas, Telegraph, 7 November 2015)

Amidst this barely-suppressed frenzy of excitement that Russia’s ability to maintain its devastatingly effective role in Syria’s anti-terrorist struggle may have been seriously undermined, the fates of the crash victims were entirely sidelined. (See Putin’s crash test: Downed Russian jetliner could signal the president’s next big strike by Owen Matthews,Newsweek, 10 November 2015)

This selective application of the concepts of shared humanity and fellow feeling are further highlighted by the reporting of another brutal IS bombing, this time in Lebanon. On 12 November, IS bombed a district in Beirut, killing 43 innocent people who were out shopping at the local marketplace and going about the business of their daily lives.

The imperialist media, instead of galvanising us to feel sympathy with the victims of yet another senseless and brutal massacre, gave no names of victims and no details of their deaths, merely stating the number of dead and describing the ordinary neighbourhood that had been targeted as a “Hizbollah stronghold”.

The clear implication in the reporting (what there was of it) was that by fighting side by side with the Syrian Arab Army in its struggle against imperialism’s jihadis, the Lebanese people had somehow asked for (and deserved) this savage assault. Needless to say, no waving of the Lebanese flag was in evidence on Britain’s streets, football terraces or social media pages. (See Just as innocent – comparing Beirut and Paris by Habib Battah, Al Jazeera, 15 November 2015)

In his message of condolence to the French, David Cameron said: “Your pain is our pain, your fight is our fight.” No such words were uttered and no such sentiments expressed in the aftermath of the Russian air crash tragedy or the Beirut bombing – as if the massacre of 224 innocent Russian holidaymakers and 43 innocent Lebanese civilians meant nothing at all.

But, as the saying goes: be careful what you wish for. The very organisation created by imperialism to terrorise the peoples of the Middle East and to serve as an instrument for regime change across the region went on from these atrocities to strike back and bite the hand that feeds it. It did so just one day after the Beirut massacre that had drawn so little outrage from corporate media hacks and career politicians.

But how could this happen? What accounts for such a turn of events?

Russian intervention: a game changer

The answer must be found in the Russian intervention in the war to save Syria – at the Syrian government’s invitation. The aerial support given by Russia to the Syrian ground forces has proved to be a game changer, and has levelled the playing field for the first time in more than four years of an imperialist-inspired war that has claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million Syrians, including close to 100,000 Syrian army personnel.

Closely coordinated Russian aerial bombardments of terrorist headquarters, hideouts, ammunition depots, infrastructure and strongholds, and the Syrian Arab Army’s advance into areas held by IS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terror gangs, has inflicted more damage on the jihadis in six weeks than has been managed by the imperialist coalition’s phony ‘war on IS’ in more than a year.

The reason for the imperialists’ lack of success is becoming all-too embarrassingly obvious: while claiming to be waging war against terrorism, imperialism has in reality been pursuing its old policy of regime change, waging a vicious and destructive war against the Syrian people. Although they talk about ‘stopping IS’, the imperialist invaders of Syria have in fact continued to facilitate their terrorist proxies in Syria and beyond and have targeted their destructive power not at terrorist bases and supply lines but at Syria’s oil industry and civilian infrastructure. (See US airstrikes on Syria are not about IS – Syrians reject violation of sovereignty, Syriangirlpartisan on YouTube, 24 September 2014)

It is clear that the fight against terrorism and the fight for regime change cannot but be mutually exclusive objectives, for the only groups that are potentially capable of bringing down the popular government of Syria (and then only with the full backing of imperialism and its puppet Gulf medieval autocracies, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, not to speak of Turkey) are all terrorist outfits – whether they be IS, al-Nusra or the mythical ‘moderate’ opposition.

On the other hand, the only forces on the ground really capable of defeating terrorism are those of the Syrian people – the regular army and the national defence forces under the command of the legitimate government of Syria, headed by President Bashar al-Assad.

Recently, British foreign secretary Philip Hammond admitted as much, saying: “We all agree we want to target terrorists, but we do not agree what a terrorist is.” He added: “The Russians, in particular, have a rather broad-based definition of a terrorist as anyone who is fighting the [Syrian] regime.” (Friend or foe: Syria summit faces tough choices by Geoff Dyer and Kathrin Hille, Financial Times, 12 November 2015)

Mr Hammond ‘forgot’ to add that, in the eyes of the imperialist powers, no one is a terrorist who is fighting to destroy Syria’s progressive government, however terroristic their methods and however anti-popular they may be.

Be that as it may, the successes of the Russian air force and the Syrian army have exposed imperialism’s alleged fight against terrorism for the sham it is, forcing the imperialist countries most reluctantly to attack a few IS targets themselves – if only to gain some credibility in the eyes of the world’s people and to secure a few bargaining chips in advance of the next round of negotiations.

Up until the start of the Russian intervention, imperialist forces routinely turned a blind eye to long convoys of trucks and tankers carrying huge shipments of oil to be sold illegally in Turkey and elsewhere. These sales were well known to be providing IS and their fellow jihadis with hundreds of millions of dollars with which to buy weapons and pay mercenaries. (See Russian bomb – video shows IS oil sector undamaged by Obama’s ‘air war’ by Neil Munro, Breitbart, 19 November 2015)

Somehow, the US air force, which boasts an ability to see any and every movement on the ground, failed in broad daylight to detect or hamper these convoys. Moreover, the jihadis must have had help in laundering the money from the sale of such large quantities of oil, for it is nigh-on impossible to sell oil and keep the resulting funds secret. (See UK, US turn blind eye to Islamic State oil sales by Nafeez Ahmed, Middle East Eye, 31 July 2015)

In recent weeks, however, belated actions against IS by the imperialists have put some pressure on Raqqa, the terrorists’ headquarters in northeast Syria. On 12 November, a US drone strike claimed to have killed a British jihadi, Mohammed Emwazi (‘Jihadi John’), above the city.

The increasing attacks on IS infrastructure have caused rage in the jihadi camp and driven them to launching the deadly attack on Paris – the capital of one of their imperialist masters. It could have been any other member of the imperialist coalition, but it turned out to be France – presumably for logistical reasons.

One purpose of this sudden burst of activity on the part of the imperialist powers after a year of their fake ‘battle against terrorism’ has been to boost their position in the high-profile diplomatic tussle over Syria, with the resumption of foreign ministers’ talks in Vienna and the convening of the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey – both of which took place on the weekend of 14-15 November.

In his speech on 12 November, US secretary of state John Kerry acknowledged as much: “The chance for successful diplomacy depends, in part, on the ability to exert leverage, on control of territory, on perceptions about who is gaining or has the upper hand,” he said, adding: “That is why it matters that there is increasing evidence that Daesh can be defeated – even routed – when faced by the combination of coalition [he had in mind the imperialist coalition] air strikes and effective partners on the ground.” (US builds momentum in IS campaign by Geoff Dyer and Jane Arraf, Financial Times, 13 November 2015)

By ‘effective partners on the ground’, Mr Kerry could only have been referring to other sections of imperialism’s anti-Assad jihadis or to the various Kurdish forces. On the same day as the Paris events (13 November), a combination of US war planes and Kurdish fighters recaptured the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar from IS. In the same week, Kurdish forces captured territory from IS around the town of al-Hawl in eastern Syria – as part of a plan to cut off supply routes between Raqqa and Mosul in Iraq.

Dramatic change in fortunes

The Russian intervention in Syria, and the successes that have accompanied it, have brought a dramatic change in the situation of the main players in the Middle East. While the star of the imperialist powers is waning, that of Mr Putin’s Russia is on the rise.

At the last year’s G20 summit in Brisbane, imperialist leaders attempted to isolate Mr Putin and their media portrayed him as an outcast for Russia’s alleged intervention in Ukraine. “Twelve months on, an audience with the Russian president was one of the hottest tickets in the town [of Antalya], as western leaders were forced to recognise the road to peace in Syria inevitably runs through Moscow.

“Few at annual summits of world leaders have seen such transformation in their fortunes, nor appeared to enjoy it as much, as Mr Putin moved from a scolded outcast to a … problem solver the West cannot ignore …

“Mr Putin felt he held all the cards as the West came to him for answers.”

At his closing press conference, President Putin observed stoically: “There were no problems at all, not then and not now,” adding: “Of course, though, relations were more tense than today. But life goes on, everything changes: there are new problems, new challenges, which would be difficult to solve for anyone alone. It is necessary to join forces.”

He went on to capture the distrust in the fight against terrorism thus: “It is difficult to criticise us when they [ie, the US and its allies] tell us: ‘You are not hitting [IS],’ and we say: ‘Tell us where, name the targets,’ but they don’t!” (Putin transformed from outcast to problem solver at G20 by Alex Barker, George Barker and Kathrin Hille, Financial Times, 16 November 2015)

Split in the imperialist camp

The results of Russia’s successful intervention in Syria, compounded by the terrorist attacks in Paris, have brought about a deep split in the imperialist camp between those who still give primacy to regime change in Syria, and those who now regard IS as the greater danger.

Even after all that has happened, the incurably reactionary dimwit who wrote the Times editorial of 16 November asserted: “Assad is the author [not even merely the approximate cause] of the mayhem and destruction [in Syria] that threatens to spread still further across the region.” (Nous sommes tous Français)

As opposed to such demented ramblings, John R Bradley, writing in the Daily Mail of the same day, brought to bear a decidedly sane observation, castigating “our leaders”, who “continue to insist, against all reason and logic, on the removal of … Bashar al-Assad, despite the fact that he is the last secular Arab leader left, who, whether we like it or not, enjoys huge popularity in the … country.”

Continued Mr Bradley: “And then consider the breath-taking hypocrisy of our continued support for that atrocious human rights abuser Saudi Arabia, which continues to funnel money and arms to preposterously called ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria in the name of bringing about democracy.”

He ended his article with the following warning: “In the meantime, we should form an international coalition to fight Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria – a suggestion proposed by Russia’s Vladimir Putin. A refusal to do this would suggest a belief among western governments that Putin poses a greater threat to Europe’s stability than Islamic State.

“That would be an utterly irresponsible and wrong-headed assessment that could risk countless more innocent people’s lives.” (The most ruthless death cult in history)

On the same day, an editorial in the Telegraph called for a political settlement in Syria, observing that such a settlement “is impossible to achieve while the West insists that it cannot involve Bashar al-Assad. Yet his enemy and that of his principal ally, Russia (another recent victim of terror), is the same as ours, namely IS.” (Europe must have stronger borders, 15 November 2015)

Likewise, the Daily Mail of 16 November called upon “Nato allies” to involve themselves in negotiations, no matter how unpalatable they may regard them, “with Iran, Russia and even the Assad regime in Damascus – which until recently Mr Cameron intended to bomb”, adding that in the interests of eliminating the deadly threat of IS, “old enmities must be set aside”. (A fight the civilised world must not lose)

This turn of circumstances forced both US president Barack Obama and British prime minister David Cameron to hold meetings with the Russian president. An unscheduled meeting between Obama and President Putin at the G20 summit produced a noticeable change in tone on the part of the US. Previously, Washington had poured scorn and derision on the Russian bombing campaign in Syria. After meeting the Russian president, however, Obama “welcomed efforts by all nations to confront the terrorist group IS and noted the importance of Russia’s military efforts in Syria focusing on the group”. (Who’s in control: Obama or the generals?, Russia Today, 16 November 2015)

Following Obama’s climb-down, David Cameron, the would-be destroyer of the Syrian regime, was compelled to likewise recognise reality and wimpishly state: “We have our differences with the Russians … The conversation I want to have with Vladimir Putin is to say: ‘Look, there is one thing we agree about, which is we’d be safer in Russia, we’d be safer in Britain, if we destroy Isil. That’s what we should be focusing on.’” (UK’s Cameron to urge Putin to focus fight in Syria on Islamic State by Kylie Maclellan, Reuters, 15 November 2015)

In France, senior politicians from the main opposition party have broken ranks with Hollande and called for a new approach to the Syrian conflict. Former French prime minister Alain Juppé has advocated the abandonment of the policy of removing Bashar al-Assad from power, even if such an abandonment were to be considered humiliating.

Nicolas Sarkozy, M Hollande’s predecessor, called for a “new policy” on Syria that put aside differences, saying: “There cannot be two coalitions [against IS] in Syria.” He went on: “The risk of such events [of the type that took place in Paris] happening is real. We need changes in our foreign policy. We must draw conclusions from the situation in Syria. We need everyone to help fight Islamic State, notably the Russians.” (Hollande pressed to amend foreign policy after Paris attacks, Channel News Asia, 16 November 2015)

In adopting their present stance, prominent leaders from the leading imperialist countries are doing no more than expressing agreement, however painful they may find having to do so, with the observation of Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov at the Vienna talks: “It doesn’t matter if you are for Assad or against him … IS is your enemy, so it is not about Assad.” (Who benefits most from Paris attacks? Assad, Bloomberg, 15 November 2015)

Seeing the way the wind was blowing, even M Hollande was forced to change his tune and say: “There must be a union of all those who truly want to fight against this terrorist army as part of one big coalition. It is with this goal in mind that I will meet in the coming days President Obama and President Putin to join forces and achieve a result that has been postponed [by whom?] for too long.”

This is precisely what Mr Putin has been calling for since September. He has now ordered Russia’s armed forces to coordinate with the French military as allies on a joint action plan in Syria. (Putin orders Russian forces to work with French ‘allies’ in Syria, Financial Times, 17 November 2015)

IS can be beaten, and beaten decisively. However, it can only be fully beaten on the ground, not from the air alone – as the Russian intervention’s careful coordination with Syrian ground forces has clearly demonstrated. Even Murdoch’sodious Sun has been obliged to admit this truth in its own loathsome manner.

In what passes for an editorial, the Sun wrote: “we believe noses must be held [yes, but whose noses?] and a deal struck with Russia for a multinational force of ground troops and aircraft to eradicate IS in Syria and Iraq. It is in all our countries’ interests and bombing alone won’t work.” (It is time for Britain to take the fight to IS, 16 November 2015)

No nation can be free if it oppresses others

Two more facts must be highlighted. First, we should understand that the tragedy suffered by the citizens of Paris is no different to the many massacres that have been visited by imperialism for years on the citizens of Baghdad, Basra, Ramadi, Fallujah, Damascus, Aleppo, Palmyra, Raqqa, Kabul, Tripoli, Benghazi and many other places. Indeed, Paris has experienced for just one day what the people of Syria have been enduring daily for nearly five years.

Just as we react with anger to the outrage in Paris, workers in the centres of imperialism have an equal duty to express our outrage at the barbarous cruelties perpetrated by our rulers on the peoples of the oppressed countries that have become targets for regime change.

More than that: we have a duty to use our power to disrupt and sabotage the waging of these unjust wars for domination by refusing to cooperate in any way. We must organise ourselves en masse to refuse to fight, refuse to provide or transport supplies, and refuse to create or broadcast war propaganda – and we must actively obstruct those who do. (See Act together to stop war, CPGB-ML, 16 February 2013)

As long as we fail in this duty, what happened in Paris is sure to occur again in London or New York or in some other imperialist city, for no nation can be free if it oppresses other nations.

Imperialist wars make imperialist cities unsafe

Second, the ruling classes in the imperialist countries, in an effort to deceive and hoodwink the masses at home, are forever asserting that their wars abroad – from Afghanistan, through Iraq to Libya and Syria – are necessary to make the streets of Washington, New York, London and Paris safe. The experience of 11 September 2001 in New York and Washington, Madrid in 2004, London in 2005, and Paris in January and November 2015 proves quite the opposite.

The sooner imperialism is stopped from waging wars against other peoples, the sooner will the streets of the cities in imperialist countries be safe.

Further, as is shown by the latest attacks in Paris, the terrorists are not ‘foreign’. They are home-grown, and many of them have been nurtured and trained by imperialist agencies, which have facilitated their passage to countries like Syria to wage jihad against governments that imperialism wishes to overthrow.

From time to time, contradictions arise between imperialism and its mercenary stooges; the stooges go off message and commit the kind of heinous acts as have taken place in Paris. That being the case, it is hypocritical in the extreme for the imperialist ruling classes to put on such a show of outrage over the activities of the very terrorists that they themselves have conjured into being.

Fight to overthrow imperialism

Jihadi terrorism is the bastard child of the union between blind religious fanaticism and imperialist market fundamentalism.

In its quest for domination and maximisation of profit; in its drive for grabbing raw materials, markets and avenues for investment, imperialism brooks no obstacles, and there is no crime it will not commit in pursuit of these aims; no mean method it will not stoop to.

Present-day jihadi fundamentalism was spirited into existence by imperialism during the proxy war it waged to overthrow the progressive government of Afghanistan and to force that government’s Soviet allies out of the country. Since then, imperialism has used jihadi nutcases for the overthrow of the anti-imperialist Libyan government and as its proxies elsewhere in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

These same forces are today being used in Syria, with nearly 100,000 foreign jihadis unleashed on the country to perpetrate the most dreadful atrocities on the civilian population. It is a credit to the Syrian people and their government that they have successfully resisted this assault – with a heroism and self-sacrifice that are entirely undocumented by western corporate media.

Now, with the Russian intervention and the events in Paris, this barbarous assault on the Syrian people has run aground and is on the verge of sinking altogether.

In the final analysis, all war, including that waged through fundamentalist proxies, will only be completely put an end to through the successful overthrow of imperialism – this bloody system that has tormented humankind for too long.

The fight against war and for peace is inextricably linked with the struggle to overthrow imperialism: there is no other way forward for humanity.




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Dialectical & Historical Materialism – The philosophy of Marx

You may have heard people say that “Marx’s ideas are beautiful in theory, but they don’t work in practice“? It is almost universally the case that poeple who express this opinion have not read Marx – and have little or no understanding of his real philosophy.

At our recent study school, held on November 8 2015, the day after we celebrated the 98th anniversary of the October Revolution, Ranjeet Brar, member of the CPGB-ML gave the above presentation that we now present in video form. We hope it will go some way towards redressing the balance. An outline of the substance of the presentation can be found in the text below.

We felt this was an iportant subject to revisit, as besides revealing the mechainsm of capitalist exploitation, Marx’s truy great gift to human knowledge was his philisophical method, his “revolutionary dalectics“, as Lenin called it, which not only applies to the general study of thought and knowledge itself, but has profoundly influenced the study of the natural world, Science, as well as Society and its history.

The revolutionary implications of Marx’s Dialectics are not lost on our exploiters, the capitalists. It is for this reason that Marxism has become a taboo in ‘polite’ society, our media, state and educational institutions. For all of these are controlled by the capitalist class, directly and indirectly, but most assuredly and effectively. And yet Marx’s ideas have revolutionaised every branch of human learning, and cannot be ‘undiscovered’ any more than Darwin’s Evolutionary theory.

It is just these ‘dialectical materialist’ ideas applied to Human society that all workers must understand if we are to win our freedom, and combat our exploiters effectively.

It is just this approach to Socialism, the idea of changing society to meet the needs of the mass of working people, that has transformed our movement for workers’ freedom from a dream, a Utopia, to a reality.

The idea of stuying human history society in all its detail, understanding it and weighing up the forces that are impelling its development, forwards and backwards, allowed Marx to reveal how to bring a socialist world into being, not in idealist dreams, but in concrete reality, out of the chaos and destruction that is capitalism. It is the dialectical method that allows us to talk of Marxism-Leninism as being SCIENTIFIC socialism.

Yet precious little material is available to explain this revolutionary outlook and philosophy to Workers. We hope this modest contribution will go some way towards explaining and popularising the understanding of dialectics, but it can never be a substitute to grappling with the texts in detail. Get them, read them, form a study circle and increase your unertanding together. Great things may yet happen!

In the words of Marx:

“There is no royal road to science, and only thse who do not dread the fatiguing climbs of its steep paths, have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.

“Believe me, dear reader, your Karl Marx.”


We reproduce an article written by Ranjeet Brar as a contribution to an old magazine “Red Youth” – the proud forerunner of the youth wing of the CPGB-ML.


Dialectical & Historical Materialism – The philosophy of Marx

Marx’s greatest contributions to human knowledge were in the areas of political economy (theory of surplus value), which shows how the wages system exploits and effectively enslaves workers, and philosophy (dialectical and historical materialism).

The latter has had far-reaching implications in every branch of learning, reflected by a recent BBC poll, which voted Marx the greatest figure of the millennium. Its revolutionary implications in social science, however, especially its bearing on workers’ struggle has led to the suppression of this jewel of human knowledge. A class without a future must cling to the past, and so the bourgeoisie tries to deny workers the tools to win their freedom.

Marxism is ‘dialectical’ in its approach, its method of studying natural phenomena, while its interpretation of those phenomena, its theory, is materialistic.

The word dialectics comes from the Greek “dielago” meaning to debate, to discourse. Ancient Greek philosophers believed that the best way to advance their understanding was by argument between opposite points of view (thesis and antithesis). This would reveal weaknesses, inconsistencies or ‘contradictions’ in one or both arguments. Thus the principle features of a problem would be revealed, allowing their combination (synthesis) into a more complete and accurate idea, a more ‘truthful’ approximation of reality.

Dialectics developed into a way of describing and understanding the world around us. It regards nature as being in a state of continual movement, of constant change, this being brought about by the interaction of opposing forces. Dialectics is the direct opposite of metaphysics. Put simply, dialectics is a set of laws of motion of matter. The remarkable thing – because all things are composed of more or less complex forms of matter – is the extent to which these patterns manifest themselves everywhere one looks, from the microcosm to the macrocosm, physics to biology, palaeontology to human history.

Marx’s dialectics holds that:

  1. i) All things are interconnected, organically inter-linked and therefore dependent on one another. No natural phenomenon can be understood in isolation. Conversely, any and every phenomenon can be understood if considered in its inseparable connection with surrounding phenomena

Natural science is devoted entirely to understanding the connections between the phenomena of nature (and applying that understanding productively) and has achieved marked success. Yet when thinking about human society and its history we are encouraged to think (metaphysically) of all phenomena in isolation, lest we draw dangerous conclusions.

To take a topical example, ‘crime’ is rampant in our cities. This is very frightening if you are lucky enough to have any property worth stealing. Establishment politicians say they will solve crime, that theft is ‘immoral.’ “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” is taken to mean tough and yet tougher on the criminals. But why does crime continue to spiral out of control despite ever-harsher penalties? The answer is obvious: because of the growing inequalities in income distribution, the increasing impoverishment of the workers. There is a growing underclass for whom everyday life is comparable to a prison.

Poor income means poor housing, unhealthy and inadequate diet and poor quality clothing. It means no access to decent services, education, entertainment and sports facilities, daily humiliation in a consumer society which judges you – and encourages you to value yourself – according to the products you possess. It means lack of control over your life, increased stress and decreased life expectancy. Poor income means you are subject to harassment at the hands of the police, especially if you happen to be black or Irish. Being financially poor in capitalist society means you have a poor quality of life. So what is there to loose? In the absence of a way out (which only involvement in revolutionary politics can offer to the working class) why not steal? Why not destroy (other peoples) property? Why not take drugs? Don’t these seem the easiest ways to try and even out or escape the injustice life has dealt you? Can we not in fact accuse the state of actively encouraging the proletariat to indulge in such escapism (whilst hypocritically denouncing the drugs trade) in order to divert it from its task of setting society to rights?

To really tackle the causes of crime, unemployment and poverty must be eradicated, working people must be given a future and thereby a stake in society. But what lies behind impoverishment? We find the answer to be capitalist exploitation. And further, that this robbery from the poor to further enrich the already super-rich, which is carried out on the most organised basis and vast scale is no ‘crime’ but entirely ‘legal’, for capitalists make the laws. This is why capitalism cannot afford to let working people think dialectically about society, and why metaphysics persists.

  1. ii) All things undergo continuous change, renewal and development. Something is always arising and developing, something always dying away. Therefore things must be viewed not as being fixed for all time, as being static and unchanging (as does metaphysics), but from the standpoint of their movement and change. Their coming into being and going out of being.

Obvious examples abound in nature. In physical geography (sand dune or lagoon development to plate-tectonic formation and destruction of volcanoes, mountain ranges and entire continents), in astronomy (birth of stars and planets and their death forming ‘black holes’ etc.), in the human body itself.

Nature” says Engels, “is the test of dialectics, and it must be said for modern natural science that it has furnished extremely rich and daily increasing materials for this test, and has thus proved that in the last analysis nature’s process is dialectical and not metaphysical, that it does not move in an eternally uniform and constantly repeated circle, but passes through a real history. Here prime mention should be made of Darwin, who dealt a severe blow to the metaphysical conception of nature by proving that the organic world of today, plants and animals, and consequently man too, is all a product of a process of development that has been in progress for millions of years.” (Engels, Anti-Dühring.)

iii) Quantity is transformed into quality. Development does not occur as a simple process of smooth even change, but as periods of slow, gradual, almost imperceptible quantitative changes, which accumulate over a period of time, leading in turn to periods of rapid, abrupt, fundamental change. This latter qualitative change takes the form of a leap from one state to another.

Development therefore does not occur as a movement in a simple circle, as an endless repetition of what has already occurred (as metaphysics deduces from the superficial observation of repeating seasons, chicken-egg-chicken type lineage, etc.), but as an onward and upward movement, as a transition from an old qualitative state to a new qualitative state, from the simple to the complex, from the lower to the higher.

A classical example of the way in which quantitative change builds up to the point of sudden, qualitative change is the transition between the states of matter (solid, liquid and gas) in response to alterations in their physical conditions (pressure and temperature).  If we heat a beaker of water from room temperature, the energy imparted to the constituent molecules of the water causes them to move (vibrate, rotate and translate) faster, yet their outward appearance is much the same. Through gradual quantitative increase in the temperature of that water, however, we come to a point (the boiling point at the given pressure – 100°C at one atmosphere) where the energy of the individual molecules is sufficient to overcome the cohesive forces that bind them together in their liquid form, where the tiny progressive increments in temperature suddenly cause a rapid and fundamental rearrangement of water into steam.

Conversely if we cool water by degrees, a corresponding decrease in movement of the H2O molecules ensues, until their mutual forces of attraction (principally hydrogen bonds in this case) overcome their (translational) movement altogether, and again we see the abrupt and profound qualitative change of water becoming solid ice. The same can be said of the ‘nodal points’ of transition between different crystalline forms of ice and indeed for the phase transitions of all known substances, in as much as their inherent chemical stability allows them to be heated and cooled without decomposing.

Engels notes that “Chemistry may be called the science of qualitative changes which take place in bodies as the effect of quantitative changes in their composition.” (Dialectics of Nature) To illustrate the point: “Take oxygen: if the molecule contains three atoms instead of the customary two, we get ozone, a body definitely distinct in odour and reaction from ordinary oxygen.”

The very periodic table of elements is derived from quantitative addition of protons (neutrons) and electrons, resulting in the formation of profoundly (qualitatively) different elemental substances. A single proton with its orbital electron is a Hydrogen atom, addition of another proton and electron (and two neutrons) yields an atom of Helium. A third neutron and orbital electron gives Lithium, a fourth Beryllium, a fifth Boron, six yields a Carbon atom, seven Nitrogen, eight neutrons in the nucleus and we have Oxygen… and so on.

Life itself is a product of qualitative change caused by quantitative increases in the complexities of molecules (which may be traced back to the acquisition by certain molecules of the ability to replicate). The same may be said of consciousness – that man’s shift to a state of self-awareness was a product of quantitative increase in the complexity of his nervous system.

When studying the fossil record of life on earth, palaeontologists have long noted that there are “missing links” in the development of species. It is now thought, however, that there are unlikely to be fossilised remains of a smooth spectrum of intermediates (in the transition from ‘ape’ to man say), because in reality such a spectrum did not exist. Rather, using the term “punctuated equilibria,” scientists postulate that gradual change accumulates in the gene pool of species (in response to environmental selection pressures), leading at certain points to more rapid and abrupt periods of morphological evolution. So, once again, nature points the objective investigator toward the truth of dialectics.

  1. iv) Internal contradictions are inherent in all things and phenomena in nature. They all have their negative and positive sides, a past and a future, something developing and something dying away. This ‘struggle’ between opposite tendencies is the internal driving force behind the process of development. “Development is the struggle of opposites” (Lenin).

Atoms are made up of negative and positive constituent parts. Movement itself is inherently contradictory: objects, in order to move, must be at once in a place and not in that place! The concept of dynamic equilibrium in chemical reactions illustrates this point well.

During the course of reaction the substrates (alcohol and organic acid, say) are converted to products (the corresponding ester and water). The driving force is the more stable energetic state of the products compared to the reactants, yet there is a barrier to the reaction, an energy of activation which is very often insurmountable unless the reactants are given the necessary energetic push (by heating say, or by lowering the barrier of activation and finding an alternative, easier path of transition, as with use of enzymes and inorganic catalysts). By heating we force the reactants into a less stable transitional state, from which they may decay back to their starting point (the initial reactants) or recombine to form the more stable products – and on average, over time the latter, due to its stability, will be the favoured pathway. It is evident that the driving force behind this reaction – as with all change and progress – is the struggle between opposite tendencies.

The application of these principles to the study of the life and history of society leads us to the following conclusions:

“…if the world is in a constant state of development, if the dying away of the old and the upgrowth of the new is a law of development, then it is clear that there can be no immutable social systems, no “eternal principles” of private property and exploitation, no “eternal ideas” of the subjugation of the peasant to the landlord, of the worker to the capitalist.

Hence the capitalist system can be replaced by the socialist system, just as at one time the feudal system was replaced by the capitalist system” (J. V. Stalin, Dialectical and Historical Materialism. our emphasis)

Despite their currently subordinate position in society, the working class is the element of society that is developing, increasing in number and strength. Competition between big and small business-men, the bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeoisie, means that they are constantly putting each other out of business, decaying as a class, forcing each other into the ranks of the workers who have no way to survive other than selling their labour power. The workers, therefore, are the only class that is capable of effecting the change from capitalism to socialism.

Further, if the passing of slow quantitative changes into rapid and abrupt qualitative changes is a law of development, then it is clear that revolutions made by oppressed classes are a quite natural and inevitable phenomenon.”

Hence, in order not to err in policy we must be revolutionary, not reformist.” Faint-hearted social democrats shy away from revolution. It is ‘unrealistic,’ they say. But study of nature and human history show that both are shot through with revolutionary change, that it would be unrealistic to expect society to change in any other way. Just as one straw too many broke the proverbial camels back, so the misery and oppression heaped upon the workers will bring them all at once to revolution; will cause the fabric of capitalist social relations to break down.

Further, if development proceeds through the disclosure of internal contradictions, by way of collisions between opposite forces on the basis of these contradictions, then it is clear that the class struggle of the proletariat is a quite natural and inevitable phenomenon.

Hence we should not cover up the contradictions in the capitalist system but disclose and unravel them; we must not try to check the class struggle but carry it to its conclusion” (J.V. Stalin, ibid.)

We must not seek “third ways” to reconcile the interests of workers and capitalists. In reality no such third way exists. The significance of such attempts is that they mask the contradiction between workers interests and capitalism, hold back the workers’ struggle for freedom and serve the interests of the exploiters.

The transitional state of revolution may not progress on every occasion; it may decay back to its starting point. Further, under certain conditions, reactionary forces may gain the upper hand in the class struggle and drag a higher, fundamentally more stable, state of society back to a lower, less stable state of society for a certain period.

It is possible – as was the case in the USSR – for the reactionary forces of capitalism to gain the upper hand, for the more advanced socialist society to temporarily decay backward towards capitalism. Regardless of such reverses, on average, over time, history will forge a path towards the higher stages of socialism and communism, despite temporary setbacks, despite all zigzags of history. We can state this with confidence because the inherent volatility of monopoly capitalist society (arising from the contradiction between social production and private profit, the interests of workers and capitalists) will push the working class again and again towards the necessity of its revolutionary transformation; its replacement with economy planned to meet people’s needs rather than fill capitalist pockets.

The role of the working class party (and its socialist theory) in this progression is to act as the catalyst for change, to effectively organise and inspire the masses; to navigate the easiest, most direct and successful path though the rapids of revolution, to defend and consolidate the gains of socialism. The Bolsheviks were such a party. The SLP aims to become such a party, and will succeed in proportion as it enlists the most politically conscious sections of the workers into its ranks and wins the confidence of the working people. It is clear that the Labour Party (New or Old) was never such a party of the working class, regardless of the composition of its membership.

Marxist philosophical materialism contends (contrary to ‘idealism’) that:

  1. i) The world and all things in it are made up of matter. Interconnection of phenomena as outlined by dialectics are laws of development of that matter in motion. The material world develops in accordance with these laws and therefore stands in no need of a creator, (god or “universal spirit”) as idealist philosophy contends. That all things, to quote Engels once again, “…from the sun to a grain of rice, organic and inorganic, living and dead, in short all natural phenomena are different manifestations of matter in motion
  2. ii) That the world really exists, independently and outside of our conception. That matter is primary – since it is the source of our thoughts, ideas and sensations. That these thoughts, ideas and sensations are secondary, derivative – since the bodily organ which thinks (the brain) is itself a complex formation of matter as indeed are the sense organs and the nervous system which feed the brain with information, allowing it to create a more or less accurate mental picture of the surrounding environment.

Unlike idealism, which asserts that the world is illusion, a chimera, the projection of our minds, a fantasy that does not really exist (“I think therefore I am”, rather than the materialist understanding “I have a brain, therefore I think!”), materialism “in general recognises objectively real being (matter) as independent of consciousness, sensation, experience… Consciousness is only the reflection of being, at best, an approximately true (adequate, ideally exact) reflection of it” (Lenin).

iii) That the world and its laws are fully knowable. That our knowledge of the laws of nature, tested by experiment and practice, is authentic knowledge having the validity of objective truth. That there are no ‘unknowable’ things in the world, but only things that are not yet known.

The advance of science, “natural philosophy,” has proven the correctness of this outlook. Speaking of idealism, which holds that there are enigmatic phenomena, “things-in-themselves” which can by their very nature never be known (and thus must dwell in the realms of “faith”), Engels says:

The most telling refutation of this as of all theoretical fancies is practice, viz., experiment and industry. If we are able to prove the correctness of our conception of a natural process by making it ourselves, bringing it into being out of its conditions and using it for our own purposes into the bargain, then there is an end of the Kantian “thing in itself”. The chemical substances produced in the bodies of plants and animals remained such “things-in-themselves” until organic chemistry began to produce them one after another, whereupon the “thing in itself” became a thing for us, as for instance, alizarin, the colouring matter of the madder, which we no longer trouble to grow in the madder roots in the field, but produce much more cheaply and simply from coal tar. For three hundred years the Copernican solar system was a hypothesis. But wen Leverrier, by means of the data provided by this system, not only deduced the necessity of the existence of an unknown planet, but also calculated the position in the eavens which this planet must necessarily occupy, and when Galle really found this planet, the Copernican system was proved.”

The extension of these principles to the study of society and its history (Historical Materialism) gives important lessons for the working class and its party:

Human society and its history cannot be artificially separated from the rest of the material world. It too follows laws of development which are knowable and must be studied and understood by the proletarian party. In this light, history is not merely an “agglomeration of accidents“, but “the study of the development of society according to regular laws“. The struggle for socialism is taken forever from the realm of dreams and put on the precise foundations of science. It is in this sense that Marx and Engels are the founders of ‘Scientific’ (as opposed to ‘idealist’) Socialism.

What’s more, if nature, the material world is primary and mind, thought is secondary, the same can be said of human society as a whole. “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness” (Marx)

In other words, our ideas are formed by the material conditions in which we live. There is no unchanging, permanent “human nature” or set of “universal moral values”, but these change along with our material conditions, or ‘manner of life.’

Hence, if in different periods of history of society different social ideas, theories, views and political institutions are to be observed; if under the slave system we encounter certain social ideas, theories, views and political institutions, under

feudalism others, and under capitalism others still, this is not to be explained by their “nature,” the properties of the ideas, theories, views and political institutions themselves but by the different conditions of the material life of society at different periods of social development” (Stalin, ibid.)

Marx stressed, however, that this does not reduce the importance of the conscious activity of men, of social ideas, theories, political views and institutions. These, in so far as they are correct (facilitate the development of society’s material needs), have a tremendous role in organising and mobilising the progressive classes to effect great changes in society. They do not, however, arise independently and of themselves, but precisely because of the new tasks set by the changing material conditions of society.

But what, exactly, do we mean by “conditions of material life of society”? Many physical factors contribute to these ‘material conditions’: geography, environment, climate, population density, etc. But for our purposes we seek that “chief force in the complex of conditions of material life of society which determines the physiognomy of society, the character of the social system, the development of society from

one system to another.”

Study of human history has revealed that such a key factor really exists: it is technology. In particular the technology (or ‘means’) of production. The way in which humanity makes the goods necessary for its survival (food, clothing, housing, fuel, etc.) determines the way in which society is organised around those means of production in order to use them.

In production, men not only act on nature but also on one another. They produce only by co-operating in a certain way and mutually exchanging their activities. In order to produce they enter into definite connections and relations with one another, and only within these social connections and relations does their action on nature, does production, take place.” (Marx)

Relations of production, the structure of society and its division into different classes, are determined by the method of production. But technology of production is constantly developing. As the method of production advances by degrees it outgrows the old relations of production. The way in which old classes have organised themselves around the old means of production persists, but is no longer suitable for effective utilisation of the new, more powerful means of production. Society is thrown into economic and social turmoil demanding revolutionary re-organisation.

[And in this way, human society too progresses from the lower to the higher stage. Indeed, historical study shows that all human societies have moved through several readily identifiable stages, taking various cultural forms in different places, but readily identifiable by their chief economic and social characteristics. Briefly, these are barbarism (primitive communism), slavery, feudalism, capitalism and socialism.]

“…[H]aving developed productive forces to a tremendous extent, capitalism has become enmeshed in contradictions which it is unable to solve. By producing larger and larger quantities of commodities, and reducing their prices, capitalism intensifies competition, ruins the mass of small and medium private owners, converts them into proletarians and reduces their purchasing power, with the result that it becomes impossible to dispose of the commodities produced. On the other hand, by expanding production and concentrating millions of workers in huge mills and factories, capitalism lends the process of production a social character and thus undermines its own foundation, in as much as the social character of the process of production demands the social ownership of the means of production; yet the means of production remain private capitalist property, which is incompatible with the social character of the process of production.

These irreconcilable contradictions between the character of the productive forces and the relations of production make themselves felt in periodical crices of overproduction, when the capitalists, finding no effective demand for their goods owing to the ruin of the mass of the population which they themselves have brought about, are compelled to burn products, destroy manufactured goods, suspend production and destroy productive forces at a time when millions of people are forced to suffer unemployment and starvation, not because there are not enough goods, but because there is an overproduction of goods.

This means that capitalist relations have ceased to correspond to the state of productive forces of society and have come into irreconcilable contradiction with them.

This means that capitalism is pregnant with revolution, whose mission it is to replace the existing capitalist ownership of the means of production by socialist ownership.

This means that the main feature of the capitalist system is a most acute class struggle between the exploiter and the exploited.” (J. V. Stalin, Dialectical and Historical Materialism)

We can see, then, why bourgeois sponsored education and science do not clearly formulate and apply the principles of dialectical materialism. Despite this, it is evident that science rests precisely upon the dialectical materialist conception of the world. That all major scientific breakthroughs – from Copernicus and Galileo to Darwin and Mendel – have dealt crushing blows to sterile metaphysical and idealist conceptions of the world and give ringing endorsement to the correctness of dialectical and historical materialism.

Undoubtedly the lack of systematic teaching and application of dialectical materialism holds back the progress of science, the advance of human knowledge. To the capitalist, this is he unavoidable side effect of maintaining his senile rule. To the working class it is another indictment to add to the long charge sheet against capitalism, the proof that capitalism has become an insuperable barrier to human development and must be overthrown.


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Message of solidarity from Yanal Abourabbi on behalf of Red Youth to the Syrian masses, Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Armed forces

On behalf of Red Youth I wish to express in this meeting our solidarity with the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Armed forces in their fight against the wicked designs of imperialism in Syria! The Syrian Arab Army and the Russian armed forces are the main forces that are truly fighting ISIS and the Zio-wahabi entities which came to Syria to destroy the only nation in the Middle East that stood up against US imperialism and its proxy the fascist Israeli Zionist state.
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New CPGB-ML book published and available for sale!

World War One: an interimperialist war to redivide the world

Harpal Brar and Ella rule introduce this remarkable new pamphlet, produced by the CPGB-ML, on the causes and consequences of WW1.

The accompanying video and the book that it relates to should be compulsory viewing in every schoolroom up and down our country and throughout the world. If you are studying or writing about any topic related to the world war, you can’t afford not to watch this, and tell your classmates and contacts to do likewise.

Buy the Book here for only £5

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Chinese Premier Xi Jinping visits London

Picture1  On 19th October 2015, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and first lady Peng Liyuan arrived in London; this is the first visit by a Chinese President to the UK in ten years. Red youth and CPGB-ML member Jackson went to welcome president Xi at his ceremonial parade in the Mall, and having witnessed the event and the media Frenzy to portray the occasion as an anti-chinese protest, he gives us his report on the occasion.

A lot has happened in world politics in the last ten years, and China’s importance in the world has seemingly increased immensely, this is in no small part due to China’s enormous economic growth, China has within the last decade overtaken Japan to become the world’s second biggest economy, has overtaken the USA as the world’s biggest trading nation and is on course to overtake the USA in terms of GDP within the coming years.

China has also within these past ten years strengthened its opposition to US world hegemony- for example via the development and expansion of the BRICS group, the Shanghai Co-operation organisation (with Ex-Soviet states), investment in African countries and support for the African Union and on multiple occasions, opposing US plans for attacks on the Syrian Arab Republic in the United Nations, using its UNSC veto along with Russia.

On the 20th October 2015, President Xi, on his visit to the UK oversaw the Horse Guards parade and was taken on a ceremonial trip up the mall with the Queen. Flanking both sides of the mall were red Chinese banners, which phrases like “Hello, Xi Jinping!” and “Welcome Papa Xi!” The well-wishers, comprising of Chinese students studying in UK universities, Chinese community organisations and the general public, numbered in the thousands and there was a carnival like atmosphere with traditional Chinese lion dancers, musical performances and singing.

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A conversation with Billy Vincent – British Communist

“People knew me: they’d say that’s Billy Vincent – communist.”

These were the closing words of a moving and insightful conversation we had with our comrade William Hunt-Vincent, a dedicated CPGB and CPGB-ML cadre who sadly died from cancer last year.

“All of his life, William Hunt-Vincent has been a working man who sweated at the forge or was frozen fixing chains to the gib heads of cranes in hail storms. Always he has admired people who would work hard to advance in the world.”


Ranjeet and Jackson, from CPGB-ML and Red Youth. We went to meet Billy the day after attending the Durham Miners Gala, on a Sunday morning in July 2013.

We are saddened that we did not publish the interview in Billy’s lifetime. That was our avowed intention – and Billy gave us explicit permission to film and publish our discussion. But we are proud to present it now, so that young workers, from the Northeast and throughout Britain, can learn from his words of wisdom, and reflections on working class life and struggle during his eight decades living in Sunderland.

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No Pasaran in Wigan!

On 19 September the National Front held a demonstration in Wigan against immigration and the recent refugee crisis. Prior to this demonstration their local organiser, Daniel Lewis, called for homosexuals to be gassed in response to the Manchester gay pride festival.

The National Front was met by counter-protesters from parties such as the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Left Unity, SWP, and other organisations were present such as Hope Not Hate.

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