The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 22nd January, 1999

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Editorial - A matter of class.
Lead Story - No to NATO air strikes.
Feature - Pinochet: wanted for 3,178 murders.
International - UN faces failure in Angola.
British News - Students standing firm in fees protest.


A matter of class

 ACCORDING to a recent Blair pronouncement, the middle class is growing apace and will become a force to keep New Labour in office for years to come.

 He tells us that many people who have traditionally regarded themselves as working class are now part of the great expanding middle class of a "new" and "cool" Britain.

 What is this rubbish based on? It surely can't be on account of rising incomes since wages have been under attack for years. What's more, recent figures showed the current level of personal debt amounts in total to around £25 billion. Home re-possessions are rising once again and High Street shops are still obliged to have sale after sale in order to attract what trade there is -- hardly a picture of growing affluence.

 And what of the quality of life? Most of the workforce, including white collar workers, supervisors, teachers, health care workers, junior managers and so on are on a treadmill of long hours and hard toil as bosses raise the level of exploitation by forcing a cut-back workforce to cover the tasks previously done by many more staff.

 Young families are worried that they are not able to spend enough time with their children because their conditions of work are so bad. And they live in fear of unemployment and recession.

 While Blair prattles on about the expanding middle class, his government has yet to do anything for low paid workers, has yet to restore the link between average male earnings and the state retirement pension, has yet to give trade unionists the right to recognition on a reasonable basis, and has yet to lift the freeze on public sector pay.

 Whereabouts in Blair's middle class fantasy are the emergency patients receiving their treatment in an ambulance; where are the elderly patients waiting for a doctor in the corridors of our hospitals and obliged to lie for hours on uncomfortable trolleys?

 It might well seem the sort of dream a person might have while relaxing in a sun-soaked Tuscan villa or on a sandy Seychelles beach. But it's unlikely to be that simple. After all Tony Blair wasn't the first, and won't be the last, to try and spread confusion about class. It is not surprising that in a society in which the few rule over the many that every effort will be made to prevent the many -- the working class -- from recognising the potential power it has if it is united and conscious of itself as class.

 Many attempts have been made to muddy the waters. We have had sociologists trying to sell us their ideas of a society divided into a number of social bands and comprised of many social groups. We have had the A, B, C, D classifications of the marketing industry. We have even had the revisionist Eurocommunists in the seventies and eighties claiming the working class was disappearing and that new social forces were coming to the fore. Thatcher even denied that society existed at all.

  They all have in common a desire to turn our eyes away from the analysis made bv Karl Marx and  Frederick Engels into the nature and workings of the  capitalist system. They want to conceal the analysis  made by Lenin into the nature of state power and the role of the state in class divided societies.

 The reality of capitalist society is that the ruling capitalist class, a small minority who own most of the wealth, the means of production, distribution and  exchange, increase their wealth by exploitating labour. The majority of the people are obliged to sell their labour power in order to live.

  The more the workers are exploited, the greater are the capitalists' profits. There is therefore a contradiction between labour and capital -- a struggle between  the capitalist class and the working class.

  Even though there are income differences within the working class these are as nothing compared to the differences between the highest paid workers and the capitalists who live parasitically off the backs of us all.

  It only serves the interests of the capitalist class to try and smother working class consciousness and cause the working class to be divided -- whether that is done by fermenting racism, false notions of social standing, religious or regional differences.

  This is where Blair's pronouncement fits in - elevating the false idea that it is somehow more desirable to be middle class than working class and, despite all the protestations about building an "inclusive society", to further separate workers along lines of jobs and income levels.

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Lead Story

No to NATO air strikes

by Andy Brooks
 ANGLO-AMERICAN Imperialism has told Yugoslavia that it must submit to their demands or face Nato airstrikes within days.

 Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosovich has been given a virtual ultimatum -- pull-out all federal troops and security forces currently trying to quell the Western-backed revolt by the "Kosovo Liberation Army" (KLA) and allow the Western-backed "war-crimes" tribunal to investigate the shooting of 45 Kosovo Albanians in the village of Racak after it was taken from rebel hands -- or face air raids which would include the capital, Belgrade.

 US National Security Advisor Samuel Berger said on Tuesday that the threat of force was still a strong option. "Nato's plans are still very much on the table and the threat of force is very much an option," Berger warned.

 Nato commander Wesley Clark, accompanied by General Klaus Naumann of the alliance's military committee arrived in Belgrade on Tuesday.

 His mission was to tell Milosovich to allow Western inspectors to investigate the Racak "massacre" claims and implement last October's ceasefire in the middle of a renewed offensive by the Western-backed "Kosovo Liberation Front" which wants independence for the province and union with Albania.

 But as talks in Belgrade continue with Nato commanders there are signs of increasing doubts within the Nato camp about the wisdom of attacks which could spark off the very Balkan conflict they claim they're trying to prevent.

 The Yugoslav authorities say they are conducting their own inquiry into the bloodshed at Racak and the deaths of 45 ethnic Albanians last week.

 The American boss of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring teams, General William Walker, was ordered out of the country after he alleged that the victims had been shot and mutilated by Serbian police. This has been denied by the federal authorities who say the villagers were killed in the heavy fighting around the village and add that the bodies were not mutilated.

 The chief prosecutor for the International Tribunal at The Hague was denied entry into Yugoslavia on Monday when she tried to enter Kosovo to probe the killings. Yugoslav Justice Minister Zoran Knezevich later told Louise Arbour that the Kosovo problem is an internal affair and has nothing to do with the war-crimes tribunal.

 The Americans are pushing for air-strikes but have ruled out the use of US ground troops in any offensive against the Yugoslavs. They can count on the loyal support of the Blair government but whether they'll get the wholehearted support from the rest of Nato remains to be seen. Greece, generally sympathetic to Belgrade, is calling for restraint and the new German social-democratic-Green coalition may be less than keen to get involved in a Balkan conflict whose outcome is unpredictable.

 The current crisis has torn apart last year's agreement between Yugoslavia and the West designed to end the conflict in the Yugoslav province with a 90 per cent Albanian population. The trigger has been renewed terror attacks on federal police and civilian supporters of the pro-Serbian Kosovo administration currently inplace by the US-backed "Kosovo Liberation Army" based in Albania.

 This is the final chapter in the break-up of Yugoslavia, planned and orchestrated by imperialism following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. The successor states with the exception of Serbia and Montenegro are all Western puppet regimes.

 Repeated Western attempts to bring down the Yugoslav government from inside have failed and so they have returned once again to the policy of inciting communal violence to divide and rule what's left of the Yugoslav federation.

 The Yugoslav leader has refused to knuckle under, fearful that if he does order the federal forces back to their barracks the KLA will over-run the province. So far Milosevich is sticking to his guns -- in every sense.

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Pinochet: wanted for 3,178 murders
by Caroline Colebrook
 MORE than 1,000 Chilean exiles, their friends and supporters marched through central London last Sunday to demand that former dictator Pinochet should not be let off by the House of Lords but should face extradition and trial in Spain for his crimes against humanity.

 Prominent among the demonstrators were a group dressed in black and wearing white masks to represent those Chilean victims who simply disappeared underthe brutal Pinochet regime.

 And Chilean exiles had come from all over Europe to swell the ranks to make this the largest demonstration so far in this campaign.

 It was timed to impact on the re-opening of deliberations by the House of Lords as to whether the butcher is liable to stand trial, or whether as a head of state, he is exempt.

 The previous House of Lords decision, given last autumn, had been set aside because of objections that one of the five lords involved had been a member of Amnesty International, implying that being in favour of human rights automatically rendered the lord biased against Pinochet.

 This was the first time a House of Lords ruling has ever been set aside and removed the last crumb of credibility for retaining the House of Lords as part of our bourgeois state machinery.

 Meanwhile Margaret Thatchcr has leant her own public relations expert to try to orchestrate a campaign on behalf of the general. This will not be an easy task but he has been given a budget of £200,000, donated by Chilean business interests.

 They have launched a new pamphlet entitled The real General Pinochet in which they claim he is a benevolent old man and a "hero in the fight against communism".

 Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzon, who initiated the extradition proceedings, is in London to attend the Lords' hearing. He has received death threats from Pinochet supporters.

 Senor Garzon has accused Pinochet of planning the systematic torture of captives, not only to extract information but as an instrument of terror to "spread the word of the horrors of the tortures which might be inflicted".

 The first Lords' ruling, last October, overturned a High Court decision that Pinochet was immune because he was a head of state.

 Even if this was a legitimate argument, Pinochet was never a legally elected head of state. He overthrew the legitimate popular socialist government of Salvador Allende.

 He did it with the aid of the United States, which had been conducting systematic economic sabotage of Allende's government.

 And after the violent overthrow of Allende, many of the worst atrocities attributed to Pinochet were carried out before he proclaimed himself the new head of state.

 Thousands of socialists, democrats and liberals were rounded up in Chile's national soccer stadium where many were tortured and murdered before the survivors were moved to prisons.

 Now the supporters of Pinochet are trying to libel the memory of Allende and make out that his government was just as brutal as Pinochet's.

 This is an absolute nonsense. The only people who suffered at all at the hands of the Allende government lost only property -- not their freedom or their lives.

 They were some of the big landowners, wealthy business entrepreneurs and of course the big, US-based transnationals who controlled the country's lucrative copper mines.

 The middle classes did suffer from the growing economic crisis but that was caused by deliberate US sabotage, not by Allende's mismanagement.

 The current, post-Pinochet, Chilean government did not make any representations to the first Lords' hearing but they are addressing the current hearing.

 That government is now claiming that if Pinochet is to be tried anywhere, it should be in Chile where most of his crimes happened.

 There would be some weight to this argument if the Chilean judiciary had not been personally appointed by Pinochet himself, as is most of the current Chilean government, when Pinochet retired from power.

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UN faces failure in Angola

by Gu Zhenqui - Xinhua
 UN SECRETARY GENERAL Kofi Annan presented a 26 page report to the Security Council on Monday calling for the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from war-torn Angola.

 The reluctant proposal by Annan, who attached great importance to peace and development in Africa since he took office two years ago, signals another failure for the world body.

 "The events of the last few months have clearly demonstrated that, for all intents and purposes, the Angolan peace process has collapsed and the country is now in a state of war," Annan said.

 "In light of the expected determination of the parties to test their fortunes on the battlefield the steadily worsening security situation and the inability of MONUA (UN Military Observer Mission in Angola) to carry out its mandate, it has become increasingly clear, that, for the time being, the conditions for a meaningful United Nations peacekeeping role in Angola ceased to exist," he said.

 The civil war began in 1975 after Angola's independence from Portugal. A 1991 peace accord collapse after Unita refused to accept its electoral defeat in the 1992 elections.

 The Angolan government and the Unita rebels both blame the UN for the deteriorating situation in the country. The government says the UN failed to disarm Unita (National Union for the Total Independcnce of Angola) while the rebels claim the UN failed to stop government attacks on their bases.

 This has led, Annan declared, to a "negative public atmosphere" and incidents of harassment and non-co-operation with the UN teams in several parts of the country including the capital, Luanda.

 Annan's report follows repeated calls From the Angolan government to end the UN mandate and the shooting-down of two UN cargo planes over Angola shortly after Christmas with the loss of 23 personnel whose fate remains unknown.

 The two UN planes were downed in the central highlands of south-west Angola, the scene of fierce fighting between government troops and Unita rebels.

 Both sides deny any hand in the tradgedy. Nor will either of them allow the UN to visit the first crash site because of renewed heavy fighting in the area. Nor have they been allowed access to the site of the second crash even though Unita told the UN it had located the wreckage of the UN flight brought down on 2 January.

 The root cause of this deeply regrettable state of affairs is well known. They lie in Unita's refusal to comply with the basic provisions of the UN-brokered Lusaka Protocol which demanded that it demilitarise its forces and allow the government administration to be extended throughout its territory.

 Annan described the shooting down of the planes as "a particularly outrageous crime apparently intended to intimidate the United Nations and force it to curtail its operations".

 Annan's pull-out proposal has to be approved by the Security Council. But the UN and the international community should not and must not turn its back on Angola and the Angolan people.

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British News

Students standing firm in fees protest
 STUDENTS at Oxford University who are refusing to pay course tuition fees are risking their places at college but standing firm after the start of the new term earlier this month.

 The imposition of tuition fees and the complete withdrawal of student maintenance grants is causing real hardship to some students and is greatly resented by most of them.

 Back in the 60s and 70s the right to free higher education with maintenance grants for those who gained college places was taken for granted. Society was willing to pay, through the general tax system, for the benefits of having many graduates from all backgrounds.

 Now the right-wing monetarist theories prevail and education is seen as a privilege only for those who can pay. There is some financial help for a few very poor students but the majority from middle to low income families will be daunted by the average £12,000 debts students are now expected to incur for their courses.

 Alex Ismail, of the Oxford University Student Union, said of the abolition of grants: "The result is that two students could get the same degree, at the same university, leave and get the same job, with the same pay.

 "But one faces a crippling debt because he comes from an ordinary family, while the other, from a well-off family, remains totally debt-free".

 The students are also angry that the money paid for tuition fees will simply be used by the Treasury to permit yet further funding cuts for the universities.

 Government money for each student has fallen by 30 per cent since 1979 and universities are being forced to cut back on teaching because of lack of cash.

 The students are calling for higher education to be funded entirely from taxes. They suggest a graduate tax of around two per cent on earnings above a certain threshold or a small rise in corporation tax, which would raise billions, without the need to raise taxation for ordinary people.

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