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Socialist Democracy Aug - Sept 2005



Basic Characteristics Of Capitalism

By Niran Okewole

The 7th of July, 2005 stands out in memory like a Minotaur, like the rough-hewn beast of Yeats, "slouching towards Bethlehem to be born". That was the day the G8 summit, hosted by Tony Blair, commenced at Gleneagles, Scotland, to the chants of protesters in 10 major world cities. A day before, London, had won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics. However, on the fated day, the sweet flakes of victory turned to blood-stained ash in the mouths of Londoners as multiple explosions terrifying in their synchrony and devastation rocked the city of London. Not since the Blitz of the Second World War six decades before had the city witnessed such terror. Progressives committed to the emancipation of mankind can in all conscience only condemn the bombings. Firstly, for the wanton loss of innocent lives, many of whom were working class elements subject to the same neo-liberal capitalist oppression which prompted those bombings. Secondly, the events of July 7 only played into the hands of the forces of oppression and imperialism, giving added justification to their mindless acts of plunder. The only parties that benefit from this act are the forces of reaction who can then hide behind the smokescreen from terrorist bombs, making capital out of the fear and fury of traumatized citizens and using this as further exercise for their so-called war on terror.

Thirdly, as Trotsky observed as far back as 1909, the trouble with individual terrorism is that it has a tendency to lull the masses - the real motive force in history - into a state of complacency, jaded by a messianic illusion that some other people are fighting their for them. The struggle against evil has to be collective or nothing. However, while one deplores the London bombing (and the 9/11 and Madrid bombings before it, with the faulty logic behind them), one must not fail to lay the blame squarely at the door of No 10, Downing Street, for its tenant Tony Blair.

The world has grown sick listening to the lies Blair and his Yankee boyfriend told to justify the armed invasion of Afghanistan and especially Iraq. Blair, though, must surely go down in history as one of the most na�ve characters ever to lead Britain. For the American ruling class, the issues were clearly about capital and republican militarism. Michael Moore's Cannes Festival award - winning documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11is a must read for anyone who is still in doubt about the true story of the war on terror. How Osama Bin Laden comes from a Saudi family who are business partners of the Bush family in the corporation known as the Carlyle Group, which includes the arms dealers, United Defense. How most of the implicated people in Al Qaeda are Saudis but how Saudi Arabia is being kept as much as possible out of the picture because the country has 860 billion dollars of investment in America, about 6 - 7 % of the American economy. How Saddam Hussein, propped up in years back by America as a bulwark against Iran, was just a convenient scapegoat. How Afghanistan had to go not so much for harbouring Al Qaeda - most of them got away, anyway - but because it was a convenient way to finally build a pipeline through the country to move oil from the Caspian sea. Talks about this started when George Bush, then governor of Texas, was visited by a Taliban delegation who came to discuss the pipeline deal with Unocal, an American corporation. The puppet president, Hamed Karzai, was an adviser for Unocal. The contract for the pipeline went to Dick Cheney's Halliburton.

Blair and Asnar (the former Prime Minister of Spain whose party was voted out of power on account of Madrid Bombing linked to the country's involvement in Iraq war) have sadly made the ordinary working people pay the supreme price for their war criminality in Iraq, for being part of the "Coalition of the Willing" They are fools, willing hypocrites, willing murders of Iraqis, willing looters of Iraqi oil. Thousands of American and Coalition forces have been killed. Now, in spite of the brave face put up by Bush and Blair, one could look in their eyes and see fear and doubt. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history repeat them. Guerrilla warfare remains the kind of warfare the west has found most difficult to win. It happened in Vietnam. Even, the Americans were surprised that the sacking of Baghdad was so swift. What they did not realize was that that was just the prelude to the real war- the guerrilla war, urban guerrilla warfare in the concrete jungle of Baghdad and other Iraq cities, whose reverberations would be felt as far as Madrid and now, London.

Apart from being such poor history students, the coalition of cowboys also proved to be defective in their grasp of the psychology of the oppressed. It always baffles the westerner with all the pleasures of life why all these bearded, turbaned men are so willing to blow themselves up. Why does anyone commit suicide? Edwin Schneidman saw suicide as "the conscious act of self - induced annihilation, best understood as a multi-dimensional malaise in a needful individual who defines an issue for which the act is perceived as the best solution." The Stoics saw suicide as a matter of honour. However, the real causes of suicide must be sought in the political economy and the impact of this on the psyche. Environment determines consciousness. The first person in modern times to point this out was no leftist ideologue but the bourgeois theorist, Emile Durkheim.

Suicide usually follows what we call suicidal ideation, itself a consequence of overwhelming despair. It usually appeals to people who feel oppressed, dispossessed and uprooted, people who are down trodden and economically deprived, who have seen in alien force take control of their life and livelihood, who have had cause to shed hurricane tears for the spilt milk of their pride and hence see no clear reason to keep on living.

The other force in this equation is religion. Religion in the first place evolved as a result of people's fears, feelings of insecurity and need for external help. Out of these subconscious needs evolve a complex of defence mechanisms which are then codified in the collective memory as the tenets of faith. To attack this complex is to attack a system of emotional and ideological props. This is usually strongly resisted by the self. Added to this is the mentality of the crusader, which in Islam is very strong. By the time you factor in the hope of everlasting reward, you have a suicide bomber on your hands.

Religion, though, must be recognized for what it is, the real roots of human insecurity are in the material conditions of life, the control of the productive forces and the equity/inequity of distribution of the common wealth. Oppressed people everywhere, whether in the Arab world, third world or wherever, must work together to find a working people's solution to the problems bedeviling the human race. Lenin aptly said, capitalism is horror without end. With 9/11, 7/7, Madrid bombing, ceaseless massacre of Iraqis, etc, correctness of this is not far-fetched. Genuine Socialism with workers' democracy is the only way out for the humanity. In that lies the only hope for emancipation of mankind from terrorism, wars, racism, poverty etc.



Socialist Democracy Aug - Sept 2005