Saturday, 20 April 2013

The result of the Venezuelan elections, and its implications 

The result of the Venezuelan elections was a surprise, and it emphasises the danger of building a revolution around the charismatic personality of one man. Perhaps the supporters of Hugo Chavez were complacent, and did not go to vote, or they were so much in shock, and filled with grief at his untimely and unexpected passing that they lost faith. In other words were depressed. The result also shows how much the revolution was reliant on Chavez. No one is without fault, and one of Chavez’s was he hogged the whole stage of the Bolivarian revolution. This of course could have been a ploy to attract attention to his cause. But did he go too far. Should he have tried to be more conciliatory to the United States, though I recognize this was difficult with the knee jerk attitude they took towards him, and his revolution. Why do I say this? Well one thought has been swirling around my head. Though I have no doubt about the proficiency of the Cuban doctors, and that they did their very best to save him. If he could have been treated in the USA with their advance medical techniques, would he be alive today, but that is probably wish full thinking.
One thing though is clear all those who care about human suffering, and justice in Venezuela, should do all they can to support Nicolas Maduro to continue what Chavez started. Long live the Bolivarian revolution, long live socialism, and let as not forget Comandante Hugo Chavez.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Alan Woods speaks about Hugo Chavez

Alan Woods of talking about Hugo Chavez upon hearing of his death.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Israel the Apartheid State


Israel is increasingly being labeled an Apartheid State. One may think that this only applies to Palestinians, well this is not entirely true as I will show in this article, but from tomorrow [Monday 4th March 2013] an element of the old South African system will come into operation in the West Bank. Many Palestinians have work permits to enter Israel, but now they will only be allowed to travel into Israel on “Special” buses. The Jewish settlers on the West Bank, largely recognized by the world at large as illegal, Have complained that the Palestinians are a security risk. So the ministry of Transport has duly complied, and will introduce separate bus line for the Palestinians. 
The following report is by Ofra Yeshua-Lyth
 a member of Machsom Watch, a female advocacy group monitoring West Bank checkpoints as reported in the Israeli online news site Haaretz.
"Police officer Advanced Staff Sergeant Major Shai Zecharia stops the bus at the bus stop. Soldiers order all the Palestinians off the bus. The first thing they do is collect all their identity cards as they get off. One by one, the Palestinians are told to go away from the bus stop and walk to the Azzun Atma checkpoint, which is about 2.5 kilometers away from the Shaar Shomron interchange. All of them responded with restraint and sadness, at most asking why. Here and there they received answers such as, ‘You’re not allowed on Highway 5’ and ‘You’re not allowed on public transportation.’ Advanced Staff Sergeant Major Zecharia gave some vital information to one of the older Palestinians who had arrived there, telling him: You should ride in special vans, not on Israeli buses.”
One of the most hated aspects of the South African Apartheid regime was the pass cards. This discriminated Blacks, from Whites. Here in Israel we all have to carry ID cards. Israeli citizens ones are coloured blue, Palestinian ones are a different colour last time I saw one it was orange. Palestinians are stateless people, although I’m sure they, like their black brothers in the old South African regime, they hate their orange coloured ID cards, it is their passport to work. In the West Bank there is very high unemployment. The work that there is ironically is building homes for the settlers. These homes are luxury homes far better than the vast majority of Israelis living in Israel have, and much cheaper. There is a curfew by which time the Palestinian workers must return to the West Bank. Some try to avoid this restriction by hiding in Israel, and sleeping on park benches, and defecating in bushes like dogs, I’ve seen this with my own eyes.
As I said Apartheid does not apply only to Palestinians on buses. In certain areas of Jerusalem were the ultra orthodox dominate, women are forced to ride in the back of the bus. Last week a statue of Rosa Parks [] was unveiled by President Obama in Washington. Israel too had her Rosa Parks. Some time ago a religious woman refused to sit at the back of the a segregated bus. One of the male passengers stood in the door way not allowing the door to close preventing the driver from continuing the journey. Eventually the driver called the Police. The Policeman instead of telling the man who was in fact committing a public order offence to remove himself from the doorway, he told the woman to leave the bus. She was not committing any offence. For this arbitrary rule of forcing orthodox women to sit at the back of a bus, has no validity in Israeli law. The man eventually left the bus. Who was this woman, I don’t know. Did she make any difference to the segregation on the religious busses, no. So no statue to her will be erected anywhere in Israel. Statues are banned under Jewish law anyway. You may ask what is the purpose of this tale. Well it is just another example of how Israel is out of step with the rest of the so called civilized world. On one hand it is technologically advanced in that nearly all the mobile phones, and computers in the world be they desktop or tablets, have Israeli technologically in them, developed for the likes of Intel, Microsoft, and many others. But on the other hand, not only is it not in the 21st Century, with its colonist Zionism it dwells in the 19th Century

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Alan Woods of on BBC2

Alan Woods, political editor of spoke on the BBC2 news and current affairs programme Daily Politics, highlighting the relevance of Marxism today as capitalism is shaken by severe crisis

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Tahrir Revolution an Israeli Perspective

During the Tahrir Revolution, the only dissenting voice was that of Israel's. Israel likes to boast that it's the only democracy in this region, and if truth be told it would like it to stay that way. Dealing with totalitarian regimes is much easier than dealing with democracies.
During the upheaval in Egypt (not that I'm saying it has finished) all Israelis that were interviewed would always mention the Muslim Brotherhood. Even when it was pointed out to them that they had not started the revolution, and were not very prominent in the goings on in the Square. The retort was “look at Iran”.
The difference with Iran was the revolution there had a leader, as you well know.
To day in Haaretz the question was asked "Why no revolution in Israel". Well the Histadrut had announced a General Strike to take place next month before what happened in Cairo. Netanyahu, after seeing what was going on in Egypt quickly stepped in to thwart the planned strike with an increase of the minimum wage by 450 Shekels a month,. The minimum wage is at present 3, 800 Shekels US$ 1000 or approx 600 quid. this increase if approved by the cabinet will be for public sector workers only. The private sector has virtually no rights left any more. Also decreases in the price of petrol, and water rates, but not diesel. The latter is very significant, because this affects the price of food. Food has always been relatively cheap here. But lately the prices have soared. The price of water has also increased simply because Israel has been in a drought situation for some years, and this has also contributed to the price of food going up, and the quality. The changes proposed by the PM still have to be approved by the cabinet, as Israeli governments are always true coalitions, not the elephant mouse type you have in the UK at present, a lot of wrangling will take place before these changes will pass if indeed they will.
During the demonstrations in Egypt the Histadrut tried to arrange several demonstrations in various towns across Israel, but hardly anyone turned up.
Regarding the Egypt situation visa vies Israel. Well we have a period of grace of some few months. No doubt Israeli officials will be in contact with the present rulers in Egypt, and as they are military men, as are most of Israel's top politicians they will find a common language. Time will tell of course what will be the outcome, and if the generals in Egypt will hold elections or maybe they will get used to being in power, and keep putting off elections. This of course is what Israel would like especially as some in the Egyptian opposition have voiced intentions to renegotiate the Israeli Egypt Camp David peace accords if they obtain power. I'm also pretty sure that Jerusalem will make it very clear to both Cairo and Washington that it will not tolerate any government that may arise in Egypt that will in Israel's estimation pose any threat to Israel. I'm not talking about war between the two countries, but help to Hamas or any other organization that Israel would term “Terrorist”. Although Egypt has been rearmed by the US with weapons of either the same type or quality that Israel has, it is still no match for Israel, and I'm sure after 30 years of no war neither side wants to return to a “War Situation" as the Americans would put it.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Hugo Chavez and his socialist revolution, and where it's going

As a socialist I am intensely interested in what is being attempted in Venezuela. To try to correct the injustice of a long capitalist era in any country is not easy, and as history relates to us has not been successful. The revolution of 1917 in Russia was a great uprising of the working class, but although it did achieve some notable successes, with hindsight we can see it was doomed to failure. The success of pulling a vast part of the Russian population out of a feudal economic structure, where few could read or write. Into an industrial society similar to that of the leading industrial countries of the time such as Great Britain, Germany and the emerging might of the USA, was a mammoth task. In his dream of a socialist society being formed out of a capitalist society Karl Marx stressed that if this revolution were to succeed it could only happen in a wealthy country. Russia was the last place on his mind when he wrote Das Kapital. The fact that what was achieved in the USSR on the industrial front despite all the odds being against it. Is some sort of proof that socialism IE. a planed economy can work. We can ponder, and speculate if Russia had remained as it was from 1917 would it have been able to defeat the Nazi war machine. It was only by using the socialist system, that impoverished Russia was able to produce the Tanks, and other weapons of war that lead to Hitlers army being vanquished, and his eventual downfall. But the cost in human lives was so horrendous, and the tactics used by Stalin do much to mitigate its success.
Venezuela on the other hand has all the elements needed to transform a capitalist society into a true working class one. It has an abundance of oil. A recent survey by an American company, estimates that Venezuela may have twice the reserves of Saudi Arabia. Although they said it may be hard to extract all of it. I personally treat this statement with some skepticism. Seeing as it was an American company that did the survey, and Venezuela is not exactly the flavour of the month in the USA.
So as Venezuela has wealth why is the Bolivarian Revolution going wrong.
Venezuela is currently importing two thirds of its food from amongst others a fellow Latin American country Brazil. You see people lining up to get a few pieces of chicken for their families. Cooked from frozen chickens imported from Brazil. Where is Chavez going wrong? He has alienated himself from countries that could be of help to him, And has aligned his country with Iran, and probably worst of all he is taking advice from Fidel Castro. Castro is an old sick man. He is yesterdays man. So he is very happy for someone anyone to listen to him, and take his advice. Chavez has also been talking to Robert Mugabe. A vicious dictator, who unlike Chavez cares nothing for his people. Chavez has been following Mugabe's model of expropriating land from rich capitalist landowners, and giving it to people who know nothing about cultivating the land. Those people just lay around with little or no shelter waiting for Chavez to wave his magic wand, for something to happen. What he should have done is come to an agreement with the land owners to lease the land from them. So that they can teach the Chavistas how to run the farms, and in time give the landowners a fair price, and then hand the land over to the people.
A similar situation is also happening on the industrial front. Factories are being nationalized, and handed over to the workers. Here we have a different situation, because the workers know the factories, and how to produce, and run them. As a worker myself, I was often frustrated by the lack of liaison between the boss, and the factory floors I saw mistake, after mistake being made that I knew would eventually lead to closer, and being made redundant. But once aging Chavez must be aware of falling into the trap that befell the USSR. That is of over production. Producing goods just to give the impression of full employment, when in fact there are not enough people able to buy the goods, and they are dearer than what could be imported from abroad. This leads to inflation. Chavez has also set up a factory with Iran to produce tractors. Iran the worlds great tractor maker!All these accounts of misinterpretation of how to set up a socialist society are being done so that Chavez can stay in power. We must give him the benefit of the doubt that he is doing it so that he can help the poor of his country. He is also buying fighter aircraft from Russia, because the F16's he has are in need of spare parts that of course the USA will not furnish him with. He could backward engineer these parts, or buy them in the arms market. Because these planes are old the parts are available. No he is buying these weapons because he thinks it will somehow bring him a political alliance with Russia. As other countries have found out to their cost Russia's only interest is its own, and any harm it can do to the western alliance. To make matters worse he is borrowing the two billion Dollars to purchase these planes. Why does oil rich Venezuela need such a paltry lone.
He must change his position. Realign him self on a business platform with countries that can help Venezuela. These counties still buy his oil. Their capitalist greed will allow them to deal with him. He can buy good tractors, find real markets for Venezuela's products. If they are not good enough improve them. Disalign himself from Iran. He will then be able to associate himself with countries that can help his agriculture. If he does do these things, then in time he will be able to complete his socialist revolution. Then the world will see that he, and his country are no threat. If he continues on his present path, he will squander the oil money. If he still keeps Venezuela a democracy,he will be thrown out, and the ruthless capitalist elite will return to power, and the poor will be worse off because they will suffer the full force of retribution for Chavez's mistakes. Or he will turn Venezuela into a dictatorship like Castro's Cuba, and that will be a tragedy, and all the hopes and dreams of the Venezuelan people will be dashed, and socialism will just remain a dream.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

No Need For Religion

In this modern world I find it extraordinary that people still feel the need for religion and to have a God to worship. People accept the gifts that science has brought them, making their lives more comfortable, but when this same science albeit in a different field to the technological one that brings all the toys and luxuries of their comfortable lives shows with great proof that there is no truth in the creation story in the Old Testament….. they reject it.

The creation story in the Bible is not unique to the Judaic, Christian and Islamic world. Other cultures have their creation stories too, and their Gods, and God. As I am not versed in all of them, I will not go into them, except one example of God that seems to have been the most favoured the Sun. The Egyptians worshiped it. So did the Druids in the British Isles, and the people of South America. You see ancient peoples could not explain the world they lived in, but one object was always prominent, always there…. the Sun. So they worshiped it. Sacrificed to it, animals, and their fellow human beings, sometimes even their own children. The story of Abraham willing to kill his only son on the command of God is a good example. What would drive a person to kill his own child, fear, some sort of insecurity less the Sun should go away. They understood that without it there would be no food, and no life. So they started to build fantasies around this God they had invented. These fantastic stories were relayed by word of mouth by story tellers. Over time these stories, or religions changed as stories do when handed down from generation to generation, until they were finally written down. As stories they are great works of fiction, yes fiction, because there is not a shred of substantial evidence to support them. Believers will argue against this, because they genuinely believe in these religions, but when you ask them to produce evidence, all they can show you is a book. In the case of the Old Testament if they are English speakers it’s a translation from the Latin, from the Greek from Hebrew from the original Aramaic. Well we all know the phrase “lost in translation”.

Now we come to the great enemy of religion Evolution. The problem that a lot of religious people have with evolution is that it shows that there was no creator, no creator, no creation as laid down in the Bible. The Bible states that the world was created by God in 6 days, and he rested on the seventh. Also using the various time spans mentioned in the Bible the world is around six thousand years old. This can easily be disputed, as the Chinese have astrological charts much older than this time frame. On the other hand evolution says that the world is very, very, very much older than this, and with modern resources science can date our planet to 4.5 billion years of age.

Fossils, geological structure of rocks using carbon dating has proved this. The other problem the religious have is that we humans are descended from animals; the worst of these is that we are cousins of Apes. In the Bible it states that we humans are created in Gods image, and are higher than the creatures that inhabit this planet along side us. In recent years extensive research into the behaviour of apes particularly Chimpanzees has shown how similar the two species of man/woman and Apes are. Apes kill, unlike most other animals not just for food, but like humans for territory, this is murder. They like some humans are bisexual, homosexual. They like us masturbate and commit incest. Like us they can build tools to solve certain problems, but unlike human females child birth for them is not painful. The reason women scream when giving birth is because humans walk upright. This has made women’s birth canal much smaller than other animals, a trait of evolution. Not the work of an all powerful entity. This is just one of many proofs that we are descended from Apes. Also the Bible states that woman was made from man. This is wrong. The template for mammals is female. Females have 2 X chromosomes, males have 1 X & 1 Y chromosome, this is the reason men have nipples though of cause men can not produce milk, they are of no use. Would a creator make such a mistake? It is obvious to anyone who knows anything about monotheistic religions that they are male dominated. So it is only natural that the writers would make the male the model for humans. Men are stronger physically than women, and dominate society, but in the genetic world, it is women who are the dominant species. Religion and its teachings have caused most of the conflicts on this planet. The religious books are full of violence, hate towards others because they don’t believe the same, as others do, and because they are different. We must hope that in time, we humans will throw aside the old superstitions, beliefs, and see the world for what it is. A beautiful place that belongs to all of us, and that it is in our hands, and only in our hands that its destiny can be determined. No God or Gods are involved. Only ourselves.

I’ll end with the words of John Lennon’s Imagine.

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...