The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 23rd May 2003
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US troops on the home front
US reaps the whirlwind
by our Arab Affairs Correspondent
THE ENTIRE MIDDLE EAST is on a terror alert following the devastating
bomb blasts in Morocco and Al Qaeda threats of plenty more to come.
Israel has been rocked by a series of suicide bombings by Islamic guerrillas,
some disguised as religious Jews. And the United States has gone onto orange
alert – the second highest level – indicating that the American security services
fear an attack is imminent.
Al Qaeda called on all Muslims to launch more suicide attacks in a tape
given to Al Jazeera TV this week. The call made by Ayman al Zawahiri, believed
to be Osama bin Laden’s deputy, was broadcast on Wednesday. “The Crusaders
[Westerners] and the Jews only understand the language of killing and blood”
Al Zawahiri declared. “Learn from your 19 brothers who attacked America in
its planes in New York and Washington”.
The Al Qaeda attacks and the renewed strikes by the Palestinian Islamic
resistance were clearly timed to coincide with the beginning of the so-called
“road map” peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
But these “talks” virtually collapsed before they even started when Israel’s
General Sharon made it clear that he was not prepared to make even the modest
confidence-building concessions required to get the ball rolling.
Few Arabs expected much from him. But those who hoped to see firm American
pressure on Tel Aviv to move forward – and this includes the British government
as well as the oil princes – have once again been bitterly disappointed.
While there’s talk in Washington of Bush himself going to the Middle East
to kick-start the “peace process”, American imperialism’s first response has
been to break off its dialogue with Iran, accusing Tehran implausibly of
sheltering Al Qaeda leaders responsible for the earlier bombings in Saudi
The Americans have, as usual, provided no evidence to back up claims which
have been consistently been rejected by the Iranian leadership – a leadership
which despises Al Qaeda and has long opposed Bin Laden and his Taleban friends
General Sharon will doubtless be pleased. His Likud-led extremist coalition
doesn’t want to give the Palestinian Arabs anything and it still believes
it can crush the civil and armed resistance through death squads and collective
But it’s not good news for the Saudis. Overall, Al Qaeda’s political influence
on the Arab street is negligible in the Arab world with the single exception
of the land it sprung from – Saudi Arabia. There anger at the continuing presence
of American troops is growing and Bin Laden’s brand of Islamic puritanism
and fiery nationalism finds a ready audience amongst desert people whose traditional
beliefs differ only to a degree with the views of Bin Laden’s Islamic order.
The Saudi royal family, one of the last remaining autocracies in the world,
is desperate to stamp Al Qaeda out.
Traditionally the House of Saud has maintained its power by funding Islamic
fundamentalism abroad and at home and relying on the military strength of
the United States. Now that fundamentalism is turning on the Crown and the
Americans are the sort of allies you don’t need these days in the Middle East.
Anglo-American imperialism’s occupation of Iraq has only made things worse.
There the imperialists have alienated virtually every section of society –
with the possible exception of the feudal Kurdish leaders in the north of
Setting up a credible puppet regime is proving almost impossible and armed
resistance is growing.
Israel’s occupation of the rest of Palestine in 1967 destabilised the entire
Middle East. Imperialism’s occupation of Iraq threatens to destabilise the
The rich get richer
THE AVERAGE PAY and pensions package for the leaders of Britain’s
top 100 companies soared last year to £1.73 million according to a survey
by the Independent, a leading bourgeois daily. Their average pay, before
pension benefits, rose by nine per cent, almost three times the rate of inflation
– in a year when the stock market as a whole dipped by 23 per cent.
This comes as no surprise to communists. This is after all what capitalism
is all about. Though it does seem to have annoyed other corporate shareholders
concerned at a consequent drain on their own profits who are now bleating
on about “rewards for failure”.
The name of the game is simply that whatever the state of the capitalist
economy nothing must stand in the way of the ruling class maintaining or increasing
its wealth – all of which is based on the ruthless exploitation of working
people in Britain and abroad. Under capitalism there’s no “reward for work”
apart from wages and the hope of a private pension which has been largely
paid for by your own contributions.
When it comes to election time Blair and his cohorts wring their hands and
utter the usual pious platitudes of concern at the crumbling remains of the
“Welfare State” while dismissing even the modest social-democratic reforms
of the past that could help restore it.
The first step must be the restoration of progressive taxation to the levels
held in 1979, the year Labour was last in office. The second has to be the
repeal of the Tory anti-union legislation and the restoration of
the principle of free collective bargaining in the trade union movement.
Much ado about EMU
The Blair government has been rocked by resignations over the Iraq war underlined
by differences over the question of the single European currency. These
differences mirror the divisions within the British ruling class between those
who will profit from a full partnership with Franco-German imperialism and
favour full integration with the European Union; those who believe British
imperialism’s interests are best served in alliance with American imperialism
and those who think it is possible to straddle the Atlantic and play
the EU off against the Americans forever. And the last course has been the
one most favoured by the ruling class for over 50 years.
Tory premier Harold Macmillan once hoped that British imperialism would
play the role of “Athens” to America’s “Rome”. Though he recognised that
this was an unequal post-war partnership and took the first tentative steps
to joining the Common Market to give British imperialism more leverage with
the Americans. It more or less worked until the Iraq crisis. Blair’s decision
to back the war-party has made him the hostage of the most reactionary and
pro-American elements of the ruling class – who are opposed to EMU and are
generally opposed to the whole idea of the single European state.
But the pro-European camp is putting up a fight and this struggle
is reflected in the bourgeois media and now within the heart of the parliamentary
Labour party. Blair’s response is to try to “bridge” the gap by some sort
of statement of intent while putting off the fateful day of a referendum on
the Euro again. This has done little to appease the pro-Europe camp
in his own party let alone within the ruling class. They all know that Blair’s
chosen successor is likely to be the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, who has never
masked his doubts about the Euro or his “Atlanticist” views.
Both sides within the social democratic movement look to allies outside
it. Blair & Co can rely on the Euro-sceptic Tories and the north American-owned
press. The Europhiles look to the Liberal Democrats, the media which reflects
the interest of Western European imperialism as a whole, the union leaders
who back European integration and to a certain degree the new anti-war movement.
Neither side wants to widen the debate let alone involve organised labour
or the working class in discussing the general direction of the Labour government.
But this is precisely what we have to do to prevent the question of
the Blair leadership being simply reduced to whether or not Britain joins
the Euro. Joining the Euro has no benefit whatsoever for the working
class and that goes for the European Union as a whole.
Britain is an immensely wealthy country. The immediate problems of the working
class – unemployment, poverty, health, education and pensions could all be
solved by returning to the policy of the redistribution of wealth through
taxation and public ownership.
This is the case that must be heard and won within the labour movement.
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