Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March 8 1917-2017

Happy and combatant Working Women's Day. 

Today, one hundred years ago, began the Russian Revolution. Its first phase to be precise, the so called "February Revolution" (the Julian calendar in use in Russia back then was 13 days off relative to the Gregorian one). It was the beginning of a revolutionary cycle that affected not just Russia but much of Europe. 

The situation was dire in Russia, the war had been lingering for years already and the masses were utterly exhausted by the ever-growing demands of the totalitarian regime and the war effort. Let's not forget that most of those killed in World War I were subjects of the Russian Empire. 

Since March 3rd, strikes had been popping around like mushrooms, the most famous one being the one at the huge Putilov factory. On March 7th, in spite of the unrest, the Tsar left for the front. On March 8th worker women marched in large numbers demanding something as basic as "bread", their striking male comrades joined them. It was a general strike at the capital of the most backward and reactionary state of Europe.


On March 9th the protesters gathered hundred of thousands and they already demanded the head of the autocrat. By March 10th, in spite of the prohibition, the marches broke all records, not a single industry was active in the city. Four people were killed but the uprising did not stop at all. 

On March 11th an inexperienced commander, General Khabalov, was ordered to put down the protests at any cost. On March 12th the city was besieged by his garrison. However soon troops began quarreling among them and one company was the first to mutiny, opening fire against the police.

That very same day the Petrograd Soviet was formed, while the (very conservative and not really democratic) Duma had been rendered ineffective by an imperial edict.

Before the day was over, four regimients mutinied and even the usually loyal cossacks hesitated. Officers were killed or had to flee for their lives.

The next day, Tsar Nicholas attempted to go back to Petrograd but could not reach it. His guards either deserted or declared "neutrality": the fake Emperor's clothes were gone. On request of the Duma, the Tsar abdicated. Few days later a provisional government under Octobrist (conservative) Rodzianko was formed.

In five days or so, Russia had gone from totalitarian empire to unstable provisional republic(?) That's how revolutions happen: they may only throw down rotten structures but when they do, they are fast and merciless.

In the following months the two opposing powers: the soviets (popular councils) and the Duma will go on a crash course. It may sound "unreal" but this is true history: this actually happened... and will happen again with whatever variations, because the real issues have never been solved but rather just aggravated.

As La Polla Records sang:
This story that was maybe true
seems a lie, we're going to tell it anyhow.
In the Russia of the beloved Tsar
lived a peasant named Ivan,
toiling the land without rest,
always hungry, no time to think.
Sowing, sowing and sowing yet again,
and Count Borrowich gets all the harvest,
the petty priest asks for resignation,
invites himself to Ivan's home
and he eats all the best. 
Ivan was there... (chorus, thrice)
A good day he worked with the hoe,
came some men, they told him: Comrade,
There are no more masters to whom obey,
you are a free man, we've taken power!
Thinking, thinking and thinking yet again,
Ivan gradually gets used to the idea:
the nobility has been deposed,
there will be no more jerks living at his expense.
Ivan was there...
Jumping around one-legged
the sickle and the hammer in the red banner,
with effort and some attention
what extreme flips reality makes!
Hurray!

Original song in Castilian (Spanish):



Monday, March 6, 2017

North Korean slaves in Poland

Poland is the shithole of Europe in way too many aspects but here there is one that was not exposed yet: for decades and still today Poland uses North Korean slave labor while everybody, in Warsaw as in Brussels pretends not to know.



I recall that when our unionized shipyard was closed by the occupant regime of Spain, under guidance of NATO-EU back in the 80s, it was said that it could not compete with Polish and Korean shipyards. It was obvious the barely camouflaged intent of subsidizing Walesa's yellow Christian-Fundamentalist "union" as part of the Reaganist plot against the Soviet bloc but I never really got the "Korean" part, after all South Korean unions were as hardy as ours, if not even more combatant.

Now I understand: what they had in mind all the time was not South Korea but North Korean slave labor in Poland.

Today, with the Communist Party forbidden and with Poland totally becoming an ultra-capitalist Fascist regime, the situation remains the same. Where are those "unions" defending the rights of North Korean workers? Nowhere: they were always a fake, a sockpuppet of the worst and most criminal Capitalism the World has known in many many decades!

Shame on you: Europe!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

DAESH is finished, what next?

The so-called Islamic State (DAESH by its Arab acronym) will be finished in a matter of weeks: Mosul is being liberated without almost any resistance, Kurdo-Arab forces have cut off Raqqa from Deir-el-Zor, Turkey marches on Al Bab along with their Al-Qaeda "moderate opposition" militias, while Syria is also force-marching to cut the Turkish advance on their sovereign territory, as well as against Palmyra. On top of that the USA has been mass-bombing Raqqa itself (and nope, nobody has cried about the "humanitarian situation" this time). There is no coalition but a general recognition that DAESH is the legitimate target, which each one is using for their own purposes. 

Military situation in Syria around February 12 per Wikimedia Commons (author: Ermanarich)

The expected end-game situation will be a partition of Syria in three areas: the main one under the legitimate Baath government, a very sizable chunk in the Northeast (plus a Kurdish enclave in the Northwest) under independent Kurdo-Arab control (Syrian Democratic Forces) and a strip of the rural Northwest under Turkish control and that of their allied militias who until recently flew the banner of Al Qaeda. 

DAESH will be then limited to dormant cells and a few guerrilla enclaves in Africa and Yemen, which may well turn their allegiance towards Al Qaeda/Turkey/Saudia/USA again or suffer the consequences. 

My big question is what next for Syria. I'm uncertain that Damascus and the YPG can get along once the common enemy has been smashed, although it will remain in the form of the FSA (Al Qaeda) and Turkey, they may both feel powerless to fight against the Turkish regional power and their NATO fallback line. Surely that won't dissuade the Kurds, who are in open war against Turkey (not by whim but because Erdogan imposed it) but I'm quite uncertain that Syria, which has not fought for the Golan Heights in many decades, was pushed out of Lebanon and has been struggling to win the "civil war" without support (Russian intervention proved decisive, no doubt) is ready to fight against the much stronger Islamo-Fascist Turkey of Erdogan. 

So my guess is that it will settle in some sort of unstable status quo, with Damascus demanding the pull back of Turkey with words rather than action, Turkey demanding "dialogue" (i.e. concesions to Islamo-Fascism and Turkmen tiny minorities) just to delay any retreat, Kurds growingly confronted with Turkey as leftover weapons and hardened warriors flow into the North of the country under Ankara's occupation, Turkey pressuring Syria to do something about it, Syria rebuilding while it looks at both sides between amused and concerned, etc. It's possible even that the Syrian Army and the SDF join forces to finally expel both "moderate" Islamo-Fascists and Turkish troops from Syrian territory but there will be no doubt a lot of distrust. 

Unless NATO collapses in the meantime (that would be very nice indeed but most unlikely), the Baghdad Railroad line (Turco-Syrian border) is a red line that Syrian forces will never cross, nor will Russian air forces if involved, only Kurds will because for them that border does not exist, just as they do not seem to exist as nation for the rest of the world. 

In any case the murderer, torturer, rapists and slavers DAESH will be gone for good. And that is indeed good. I can just hope that they arrest them as they flow back into Europe and other places, instead of letting them in as their Western protectors usually do, with the obvious intention of using them as pretext to implement every day more extremist dictatorial measures such as the permanent state of emergency in effect in France and to prop up the extremist Christo-Fascists and outright Nazis that seem to be groomed to replace the current constitutional regimes, once these are exhausted, as has happened in the USA with Trump, in Poland with Duda, etc.

Sadly enough hope alone won't do much.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Trump uses the Army to repress peaceful citizens in Dakota

A few days ago I was called the attention to a DHS (US Gestapo) leaked draft document that authorized the use of the National Guard (Army reserves) to enforce Trump's "final solution" to the issue of illegal immigration. I was at first a bit dismissive of the credibility of such claims, after all it is very apparent that a large segment of the US Oligarcy, led by the likes of Soros, Clinton, McCain, etc. are actively opposed to Trump, but they seem to be very real.

The evidence is on how the protest camp against the pipeline at Standing Rock was brutally evicted yesterday, with use of military forces and equipment. And journalists have been the first victims of the fascist repression. The information is therefore not fully clear but it is apparent that some protesters have been injured and many more arrested, often on absolutely no grounds.

In this no-words video report you can appreciate some of the magnitude of the militarization of repression:




Here a raw report from inside Oceti Camp as it was being raided:




I can only imagine this are "testing grounds" for a brutal escalation in repression and militarization inside the USA (and therefore in all its imperial area of influence). They are primarily targeting "minorities" because that is how you boil the frog alive: by only slowly increasing the temperature. You know: "first they came for the communists and I did not speak out..." But this affects every single person inside the borders of the USA and also outside (as the practices are being extended, in various ways, to every single country in NATO-plus).

This is the true ugly face of Capitalism, a psychopathic abuser that sometimes pretends to be "nice" but only to deceive you and then shows its true face: brutal repression and exploitation. On the good side, it is a symptom of its final crisis, on the bad side, unless we wake up and take back what is ours, is only going to get much worse before people wake up and do what we must.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How to commemorate the centenary of the Russian Revolution?

I've been chewing on this now and then for some months but really, had not come to any conclusion before seeing the curious concept promoted by RT of #1917Live, a Twitter dramatization of sorts (although subject to all kind of adherences and even trolling, as usually happens in Twitterspace).



So I'm thinking that indeed the best way to cover it is maybe to now and then (weekly?, on special occasion days?, both?) to mention what was happening in Russia (and for context maybe elsewhere). I'm not any expert on Russian Revolutionary history but I'll try to get my facts as straight as possible. Also it will probably be useful to discuss more in depth some characters, factions, episodes...

For example I stumbled today with this History on Trial video on Vladimir Lenin, which is probably about the fairer trial he may get in Western media (yeah, TED is quite Westernist most of the time but still they do a good job here):




So what was happening in February 1917? Well, not yet the February Revolution, which actually happened in early March (blame the Julian calendar for the offset) but certainly the mood was getting quite hot: the war (World War I) was raging and Russia was faring quite poorly, with six million Russians dead for a cause that was not even clear, and famine becoming way too prevalent in the midst of the freezing Russian winter. The Tsar, Nicholas II Romanov, had even rejected to form a constitutional government, alienating much of his own entourage, who hoped for some reforms.

So the Tsar figuratively tweets his worry about treason and deceit all around him... but who is to blame? Is it once again the Russian People (and various oppressed nations such as Poles, Finns, Uzbeks or Georgians) going to die in troves for the Tsar for no obvious good reason? Not this time: the Revolution has not yet begun but decades of worker struggle precede this fated year of 1917. Even a failed revolution has happened 12 years earlier, also after a catastrophic war (against Japan), which was bathed in blood by the autocrat. This time it will be different but the people living it do not yet know.

It is in this period of the 1905 Revolution in which the genial filmmaker Einsestein placed his famous movie Battleship Potemkin:





A bit of background

Before I close this introduction it may be worth mentioning some of the factions that will show up. It wouldn't be Marxist enough if we did not consider class structure first of all: there was a growing but still minor urban working class or "classical proletariat" (of which 82% worked in companies larger than 100 workers and 40% in mega-industries with more than 1000 workers) but the vast majority (80%) of the Empire's population were still rural farmers. Most had been slaves (serfs) until a generation ago but formal emancipation had not ended their troubles at all, lacking as they were of land to farm. In some areas, particularly towards the West (formerly part of Poland or Sweden), there were yeoman farmers, but otherwise the land was property of large aristocratic landowners and to lesser extent communal property of villages.

After 1905, the Tsar agreed to create a parliament called the Duma, however it was soon to be reformed in a reactionary way, making the electoral system very favorable to the aristocrats and anyhow with the autocrat always able to bypass it. It is in this period when the two main "liberal" (bourgeois, capitalist) parties emerged: the more left-leaning Kadets and the very reactionary Octobrists. Socialists of all types boycotted the Duma (although a few individuals were elected to its early version) but they were growing strong at the sidelines of the regime. 

These Socialists had initially two parties: the Socialist Revolutionary Party or Narodniki (Populists) had an agrarian base, was rather bourgeois-leaning and definitely not Marxist, the Socialist Democratic Party had an urban base and was part of the wider Socialist International, then still dominated by Marxist ideology. However in 1904 the Russian SDP split in two: one faction, led by Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov "Lenin", more radical and claiming to be the The Majority (Bolshevik in Russian) and another one, more moderate or reformist, called The Minority (Menshevik in Russian), led by Julius Martov. Both claimed to be the real Socialist Democratic Party of Russia, so they were distinguished by these labels. They reunified in 1906, with the Mensheviks becoming the majority, rather counter-intuitively, but split again in 1912, this time for good. 

One of the main differences was that the Mensheviks were skeptical of the chances for a socialist revolution in underdeveloped Russia, while the Bolsheviks thought there was no harm in trying. The Mensheviks also sought their allies among the liberal-bourgeois, while the Bolsheviks strongly preferred the peasantry instead. This same story would repeat later in China, albeit without a formal split of the Communist Party, as Stalin's Komintern and the official PCC leadership did not believe in the chances of a socialist revolution there either, preferring to cooperate with the Kuomintang "nationalists", but Mao and his rather unorthodox faction did and actually succeeded in due time. 

Another Socialist faction we just cannot ignore were the Anarchists or Libertarian Socialists/Communists (naming conventions have changed through time and tendency). A venerable figure was still alive when the Russian Revolution unfolded, Piotr Kropotkin, but he had been exiled in Western Europe since 1876. He returned to Russia in 1917 and live there until his death in 1921, being openly critical of the Bolshevik takeover, as he was strongly against authoritarian socialism, which he had predicted a failure ultimately. His funeral would be the last tolerated anti-Bolshevik demonstration in many decades. 

But there were others much more active in these troubled times. In 1881 they even managed to kill Tsar Alexander II, and, a few years alter, in 1887, they failed in a similar attempt against his heir Alexander III. Lenin's older brother Aleksander was the leading conspirator and was therefore executed. A little star shines in his memory (no kidding: asteroid 2112 Ulyanov is named in his honor). Anarchist agitation and armed struggle became very important around 1905 but Tsarist repression was brutal and they were pretty much annihilated by 1909. However they will resurface in 1917, being an important faction in the Soviet movement, in an uneasy alliance with the Bolsheviks, who also nominally supported the soviets (councils), so it is important in all this historical review to ponder what do we mean when we say "soviet": do we mean the autocracy implemented by Lenin's Bolshevik Party by usurping the power of the soviets or do we mean the original grassroots assemblies that represented the working classes?

Anarchists would also become very important after the retreat of the German occupation force in 1918 in Eastern Ukraine (now again shattered by rebellion and struggle against tyranny) under the leadership of Nestor Makhno, and traces of their ideals (all the power to the soviets, a demand usurped by Lenin to his authoritarian convenience) were also present in the Krondstadt uprising, made by Bolshevik Party member soldiers to a large extent.

Back to the Bolsheviks, three characters are particularly important and will come once and again as History unfolds: Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky. Who were these guys? 

I have already outlined the role of Lenin in the formation of the Bolshevik Party, of which he was unquestionable leader all the time. He was also a very notable intellectual, whose work is very much worth reading regardless of what we may think of him. He was imprisoned in Siberia at the end of the 19th century and soon after he founded the newspaper Iskra (Spark). In 1902 he published his most famous work, What Is To Be Done?, in which he argued that class consciousness was only achievable by activism and agitation outside of the industries, that worker spontaneous self-organization can only lead to limited and limiting trade-unionism and not to revolution. There is a point to make from the perspective that only time can give that he may have been right for the Fordist period (formal subsumption of work into capital in Marx' terminology) but that since the arrival of Toyotism (REAL subsumption) and its political branch Thatcherism/Reaganism, unions are pretty much done and the only real sphere remaining for the workers' struggle is certainly outside the companies, where repression is simply brutal and organization tends to zero way too rapidly. An open debate of course. 

Another seminal work of Lenin is Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, which comes very handy today as well, as the term "imperialism" is used often and many geopolitical situations resemble very much the inter-imperialist struggle between the great powers of the early 20th century, at least to some extent. In this work he opposed the views of Kautsky (one of the founding fathers of Social-Democracy as we know it today), who argued for the unavoidable cooperation of all capitalist powers in the exploitation of the global periphery (colonies and semi-colonies, the Third World in modern terminology). Lenin correctly argued that imperialist tendencies would instead cause conflict among the various capitalist powers, increasing the contradictions. One could argue that Lenin "cheated" because he wrote that in 1917, after WWI was well advanced, while Kautsky had published his work in 1914 instead. But, "cheat" or not, he was clearly correct and we can see the same happening today with tensions rising between the various capitalist powers: US-China rivalry on top of all but also the US siege of Russia, the, barely hidden, growing tensions between Germany and the Anglosaxon power ring, etc. He also transferred the focus of revolution to the periphery and, at least for the 20th century, he was again right, even if there is much to debate about whether those revolutions are genuinely socialist or rather sui generis versions of Capitalism, a Capitalism without bourgeoisie, which otherwise would be just subservient to the core powers ("comprador bourgeoisie") and hardly a national development force.

One of the early critics of Lenin was Lev Davidovich Bronstein, an Ukranian better known as Leon Trotsky, who was confronted with the Bolshevik leader at the split of the SDP in 1904. However he soon became an "independent" because the Mensheviks were clearly aligning themselves with the liberal bourgeois parties. He worked to reconcile the two factions to no avail and in 1917 he finally joined the Bolshevik Party, where many looked at him with distrust. His main theoretical work is the theory of Permanent Revolution (later partly adopted by the Maoists). The term was originally coined by Marx in several passages, so Trotsky is mostly extending on these early approaches of the genius of Trier. However, much as Lenin, Trotsky has a peripheral focus and thus he argued (correctly) that in Russia the bourgeoisie cannot make a successful progressive revolution but that only the proletariat can do it. This part of the theory, very innovative, was partly adopted by Lenin (April Theses) and was initially rejected even within the Bolshevik Party, however it would later become mainstream. But Trotsky also sustained that the revolution in a single country would unavoidably fail, unless it was quickly followed up by revolutions in other states, a concept never fully debated by the Bolsheviks and clearly opposed by Stalin. The key idea of Permanent Revolution in any case seems to be that the global working class (Humankind by another name) cannot falter until socialist goals have been thoroughly achieved, at risk of success of bourgeois reaction. 

Finally we won't forget the fierce Georgian activist who would eventually become sorta-Tsar himself, Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, who eventually adopted the alias of Stalin: Steel Man. He would be described today as a "terrorist" no doubt, leading part of the Bolshevik party into acts of robbery, extortion and assassination with terrible clarity and outstanding leadership. While he did write some articles and is co-author of the post-revolutionary concept of "Socialism in one country" (opposed to Trotsky's frantic Internationalism), Stalin was mostly a man of action and doubtlessly a most clever conspirator, whose power grew at the shadow of Lenin, within the Party's activist class preluding the kind of state he would eventually rule and largely shape.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Naval Empire, no functional Navy?

A few days ago I read that all of Britain's Trident class nuclear submarines are out of order (except one that is on trial). Granted that the info comes from The Sun but these days it's even possible that such a tabloid has better info than Prime Minister May. 

Alright, Britain has been decaying for a century or so, guess that it is a bit shocking but more or less within expectations. But today I read that more than half of US Navy aircraft and almost two thirds of the class F/A 18, which provide striking power to the famed or infamous US aircraft carriers, which allow the US Empire to extend its power projection to about all the planet, are out of service.

In this case the source is not a sensationalist newspaper but Defense News, a medium oriented to military personnel and contractors primarily. While it is normal that around 1/4 or even up to 1/3 of the aricraft are routinely undergoing maintenance at any moment, these figures are twice the normal and could severely hamper the operating capabilities of the feared US Navy. 

And this is what we get to know. How real is the power projection of the USA and its NATO-plus makeshift empire? Is The Empire a giant with feet of clay? 

Let's not forget that the power of the US dollar depends on its Navy and vice-versa: that the power of the US Armed Forces depend on the primacy of the green buck over all other currencies, because that's how they manage to export inflation and borrow infinitely from nowhere. This is no trivial matter at all.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Explosion at nuclear plant in Normandy (France) and other nuclear news

A explosion (described as massive or huge by some media) rocked the nuclear power plant of Flammanville (near Cherbourg, Upper Normandy) today around 10:00 CET. The information as of now is still fragmentary but the authorities have been quick in allegedly dispelling any fears of "nuclear accident", claiming it happened in the control room of a non-operative new reactor. 

Several workers have been affected by smoke inhalation and a fire is still burning at the site.  

If the accident would be a true nuclear accident, dominant winds should send the radiation to NW France, South England and the Rhine basin, the very core of European economy. Hopefully it is nothing too serious but that doesn't solve the problem of France being the most likely home to a new Fukushima, if not on Earth at least in Europe. 

I estimate that the next major nuclear accident should statistically happen around 2023, then around 2029, 2032 and since then about one per year or so. This is because nuclear facilities are every day older: they should be decommissioned but that is costly (and where do you put all that radioactive trash?) so they are just seeing their lives extended once and again. 


Green light for Garoña in Spain

The nuclear power plant of Garoña, near the Basque Country, which has a Fukushima-like design (but with a single reactor) and has long passed its expiration date, was given green light by the Spanish Nuclear Security Council yesterday, on condition of heavy investment to upgrade the facility to post-Fukushima new standards. The last word is now on the corporation Nuclenor, who will have to consider if the investment required is worth it, and the Spanish Government. 

All Basque institutions, parties and the popular movement have protested the decision. Absolutely nobody supports the persistence of a nuclear power plant built under fascism that should have been dismantled decades ago. 


Fukushima 2 radiation levels beat all records, big hole in the basement

In the last days it was also known that the devastated Fukushima nuclear power plant, reactor 2, was emitting peak radiation levels, worse even than the original disaster week, above Chernobyl even. Of course the news was pretty much ignored by the "free media" (propaganda outlets of the oligarchy), Trumptweeting seems more important somehow. 

Also a robot discovered the obvious: that the nuclear fuel has penetrated deep in the ground inside a hole of unknown depth. This is what was classically described as the "Syndrome of China", on the fallacious argument that nothing would stop the ever-melting corium from going all the way through Earth until reappearing on the opposite side of Earth, which was not China but nevermind. Actually gravity would stop the sinking at the center of Earth but anyhow the problem is similarly complicated, because it will penetrate slowly but without any possible stop, all the crust of Earth and cause some sort of most serious issues as it goes through layers of water and magma (radioactive volcano anyone?, that's my bet).

So happy Nuclear Catastrophe Week. Enjoy... while you can.