Tuesday, January 2, 2024

SPGB Meetings (2024)

Party News from the January 2024 issue of the Socialist Standard

To connect to a Zoom meeting, enter https://zoom.us/j/7421974305 in your browser. Then follow instructions on the screen and wait to be admitted to the meeting.

New Year Party (2024)

From the January 2024 issue of the Socialist Standard

Unusually for an article in this magazine we are going to begin by consulting a god, Janus being the deity in question. Having the supernatural capacity to look backwards and forwards at the same moment he seems a worthy informant.

Actually, it does not require omniscience or 20/20 hindsight to see that 2023 was not a great year for humanity. Most recently an armed group of self-styled martyrs and freedom fighters demonstrated their military prowess by storming a pop festival and randomly killing teenagers before moving on to kill and kidnap across a wide area.

This provoked regressive nationalist ideologues into their brutal response, a protracted arbitrary slaughter of children, and civilians in general. In the insane gamble of war, atrocity is all too often matched and raised by greater atrocity.

In Britain this moved political leaders of the main parliamentary parties to declare their unwavering support for this ‘self-defence’. Does this mean that if you’re assaulted by your neighbour it’s legitimate for you to burn his house down with his family in it?

Meanwhile young, and perhaps not so young, Ukrainians and Russians continued to kill each other on behalf of their respective capitalisms. NATO countries seemingly have whole orchards of money trees allowing them lavish expenditure on the arms industry to continually supply weaponry freely to Ukraine.

Although the money trees of the USA are seemingly becoming less abundant as politicians of one wing of capitalist government refuse to endorse further funding. This is driven by the search for populist appeal in the forthcoming presidential election. Firm, unwavering support is suddenly trumped (forgive the pun) by pragmatic expediency.

In Britain also there seems to be rather less cash available from the fiscal orchard for growing numbers of families struggling with serious poverty, amassing rent/mortgage arrears along with other debts, becoming dependent on food banks even as actual banks continue to profit massively.

Similarly, the NHS is severely restricted from using technology that could prevent so many premature deaths and cure conditions or, at least, alleviate suffering caused by treatable ailments. With such advances being increasingly expensive in a profit-driven world, cost-effectiveness not diagnosis becomes the deciding cynical, clinical factor.

Climate change continues to demand attention. Wild fires flare, there’s drought and flood, storms rage as never before and the death toll rises. There seems no sense of irony amongst national leaders who fly around the world to attend climate change conferences. And it turns out many of the delegates are actually representatives of fossil fuel industries.

Through the natural instinct for self-preservation, people, individually or as families, flee from hot spots of war, extreme poverty and environmental degradation. At this point, of course, they stop being people and become migrants.

Migrants are subdivided into legal and illegal. Legal migrants can be just about tolerated as long as they accept being cheap labour doing jobs few others are willing to do for such poor wages. Illegal migrants though are anathema.

Underlying all this misery is capitalism that went its merry way unhindered, other than by its own contradictions, throughout yet another year. For a system now long since past its sell-by date, it persists despite the stench of its rottenness, but only because the great majority of world’s population, the workers who create the wealth, have yet to choose to dispense with it.

Our consultation with Janus as to forthcoming prospects is not encouraging. Looking forwards it doesn’t take a futurologist to foresee that radical change does not appear likely, at least in the short term.

There will be a general election which could be at least an indicator of an upsurge of enthusiasm for and interest in breaking with the established political pattern. The problem is there will be no clear way for such a change of consciousness to be clearly marked.

A significant vote for the few Socialist Party candidates would be a start. Mass spoiling of ballot papers, just writing ‘Socialism’ or ‘SPGB’ across them, would be a positive act, rather than just not voting which could suggest apathy rather than engagement.

It is often argued, correctly, that the right to vote is valuable and many people in the past suffered and fought for it, therefore it should be used. Indeed it should, but simply voting for one of the main parties, or one of their left/right-wing outliers, is truly wasting the vote as nothing will fundamentally change.

If you really consider your vote to be valuable then seriously consider to whom you will entrust it. How can it become the means to bring about significant and profound change? Capitalism lies at the root of the all the misery outlined above as experienced throughout 2023.

The alternative is a worldwide democratic commonwealth in which production is to meet everyone’s needs, not a small minority’s profit. A society without national borders and armies to defend or attack them. A world that can face up to climate change unencumbered by the need to continually produce commodities for sale.

Politics will no longer be split into rival factions of left and right. Despite the postures of many groups, sects and parties who misappropriate the word, socialism is not a left- wing cause. The left/right split is very much part of the politics of capitalism, originating in the national assembly of the late eighteenth-century French Revolution.

Socialists intend society to move beyond such notions as divide people, rather hoping to unite them in common cause to take control, and thereby improve, their economic, political and social prospects.

The New Year Party is the one that presently stands up and holds out for this change, this revolution including via the ballot box, understanding that it cannot be achieved through compromise. It is clear that people must develop the means to bring this about because no party can do it for them.

No small task to be sure. It will require a New Year resolution of the majority to actively work towards the realisation of socialism. Will it be this year? Next year? Sometime? Never? That depends entirely on what people decide. True democracy.

Or is Janus doomed to find his double vision blurred by tears shed for the suffering of the world at every turn of the year in perpetuity?
Dave Alton

Tiny Tips (2024)

The Tiny Tips column from the January 2024 issue of the Socialist Standard

A bottle of Scotch whisky billed as ‘the most sought-after’ in the world sold Saturday for almost 2.2 million pounds ($2.7 million), an auction record for a bottle of wine or spirits.

We often assume that religious beliefs are no different in kind from ordinary factual beliefs—that believing in the existence of God or of supernatural entities that hear our prayers is akin to believing that May comes before June. Neil Van Leeuwen shows that, in fact, these two forms of belief are strikingly different. Our brains do not process religious beliefs like they do beliefs concerning mundane reality; instead, empirical findings show that religious beliefs function like the imaginings that guide make-believe play.

Margot Friedl√§nder, the 102-year-old Holocaust survivor, recently offered a few important words during an appearance on one of Germany’s most-watched political talk shows. ‘There is no Christian blood, no Muslim blood, no Jewish blood,’ she said. ‘”It is all human blood. We are all equal.’ And further: ‘I believe there is something good in every person. Take the good and forget the bad. It’s so easy to be human.’ Perhaps Greta Thunberg should have a sit-down with Friedl√§nder. It might be a good start for getting back on the right track.

‘Queers for Palestine’ attempts to meld LGBT advocacy with Palestinian liberation, a juxtaposition that has precipitated a whirlwind of criticism and ridicule, since LGBT rights scarcely exist within the Muslim world; and the Palestinian territories are no exception. The slogan has been widely satirized. Variations like ‘Chickens for KFC’ and ‘Blacks for the KKK’” highlight its proponents’ basic lack of awareness of just how incompatible the values of the Western left are with those of the Islamic right they so readily champion.

They Survived Hell – but for Some, They’re Only a Means of Production

We were shocked to discover that mere days after being rescued, the migrant workers were pressured to return to work, including through threats to withhold their passports and their salaries. In some cases, they were required to return to work in the Gaza Envelope – near the killing fields they had just escaped.

The Pacific Institute, which regularly updates its Water Conflict Chronology, reported that at least 228 water conflicts were recorded in 2022—an 87 percent increase over 2021—driven in large part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian forces attacked water pipelines and supply systems in a number of Ukrainian cities after invading in February 2022, targeting water resources a total of 56 times since the war began .

A majority of American adults (72 percent) would not be willing to serve in the military were the U.S. to enter a major war, polling from Echelon Insights found, while public confidence in the armed forces also appears to be waning. It comes as all branches of the armed forces have struggled to meet their recruitment targets. Since 1987, the number of active-duty personnel has fallen by 39 percent.

Does voting matter? (2024)

From the January 2024 issue of the Socialist Standard

Every four or five years, you get to vote for some well-meaning individual, who promises to cure unemployment, poverty and homelessness. After that, you have no control over them, no power to influence events. Tony Blair once said that you are at your maximum power when you vote. If this is the most power you have, it’s not a lot, is it?

Real power lies in the hands of the owners of the wealth in our society, the capitalists. They control the decisions that affect us most: what food to grow, what houses to build, what clothes to make. They do so on one principle: no profit, no production. Our needs come second to profit.

Voting for a party that works within this principle cannot address the problems of our community. Any party that promises this or that tax or law is leaving this principle intact, and the capitalists in charge. So a vote for them – Labour, the Tories, the Liberals, the Greens, the Nationalists, etc – is a wasted vote.

Maybe you don’t vote at all. Maybe you think voting is a waste of time because it doesn’t change anything. Certainly, we’d agree with you that a vote for Labour, the Tories, the Liberals or the others is a waste of time.

It’s a waste, particularly, if you leave it there, at the voting, at the nose counting, and take no further part until the next election. Democracy means much more than a cross on a bit of paper; it means organising, debating, discussing and examining the world around us to work out how to change it for our benefit. Democracy is too important to be left to the professionals.

We’d argue, though, that it’s still a waste of time unless you see that inequality of wealth means inequality of power. That as long as a minority own society, it must be run in their interest. Labour, the Liberals, the Tories, none of them want to do anything about that, they’re content just to beg the owners of our society for some scraps from the table.

There is, though, an alternative. You can join with your fellow workers with the aim of taking control of society, in which we do all the work anyway, and begin running it directly for our mutual needs. You can have the power of membership in a democratic organisation that does not seek to take power on capitalist terms, but just seeks to abolish this rotten system. You can use your vote to show others where you stand, and proclaim your opposition to capitalism.

That is why we campaign for the common and democratic ownership and control of the wealth of the world. If you do that, you can make democracy and equality mean something, and change the world so that it is run for your benefit, not the tiny minority’s. We’re asking you to join us in that campaign.

Video Review: German cultural history and socialism (2024)

Video Review from the January 2024 issue of the Socialist Standard

In 2019 the German band Rammstein released a single and video entitled Deutschland and to anyone interested in popular culture and its relationship with politics this has to rate as one of the most powerful and revealing pieces of work. Rather like this band’s relationship with Germany my relationship with their music is very mixed. As a lover of power guitar riffs I find them matchless but the grotesque nature of some of their imagery I could do without. However, the insights into German culture that they provide are interesting and show an understanding of the popular zeitgeist. I searched the internet for English subtitles but failed to find a suitable version but this may be an advantage for English viewers because in the ignorance of the German language we can focus on the imagery – which is primarily the subject of this essay.

Here are some of the visual references used in the video. We had the aftermath of the battle of the Teutoburg Forest where the Roman legions were famously stopped from expanding the empire further into Germany; the knights of the Holy Roman Empire and the Teutonic knights; the savage Lutheran monks of the Reformation; the 30 Years War; the Hindenburg disaster; the inflation and decadence of the Weimar republic; the Nazis and the V2 rocket; the East Germans in space; the East German ‘communist’ regime; the Red Army Faction in the West and lastly the birth of a Leonberger puppy. A typically (in the context of this essay) Germanic bleak view of their own ‘history’.

It will be noticed that there are no ‘great men’ like Frederick the Great, Arminius, Bismarck or Hitler but only a succession of disasters with the implication that these were caused by some inherent characteristic of the German culture and people. A nice touch is that ‘Germania’ herself is portrayed by a famous black German actress and is the only woman to make an appearance. I say that there were no actual historical characters portrayed but there was one important exception – Karl Marx. He is identified with the East German Bolshevik puppet regime in the form of a looming statue and this is an anachronism to which I will return. Lastly the closing credits sequence is one of the most poignant I have ever seen with a beautiful piano version of another Rammstein song based on the German fairytale of Snow White.

Many of these myths and images were devised by the nationalist intelligentsia of the new German state in an effort to create a ‘German’ historical identity. Of course Rammstein has subverted this project by rejecting any heroic or romantic elements but there remains an acknowledgement of just how powerful the myth is by their embracing an antithetical version of it. Like the children of abusive parents there is still a need to love them – as they say in the lyrics: ‘Germany, your love is a curse and a blessing. Germany, my love I cannot give you.’ I suspect this is how many Germans feel about themselves and their cultural identity. They suspect that they have a darkness of the soul.

This was not always the case. After unification in the nineteenth century Germans were full of optimism for the future as is evidenced by the mass membership of the Second International. But this was to be fatally undermined by the nationalism that destroyed it and made the descent into the madness of the First World War possible. The socialism of Marx and the First International was lost. Many reasons are given for this including the theory that it was the failure of the German revolution of 1848 that enabled the slide back into autocracy and militarism which was to last, with the exception of the short-lived and failed Weimar Republic, until the Nazi defeat in 1945. With the partition after the war the Bolshevik puppet state of East Germany was identified with socialism and since this is where Rammstein originated it’s not surprising that we see Marx identified with this state in the video.

This identification with a cultural past is one of the main aspects of nationalist politics and is an important obstacle to socialist consciousness. Of course we are all created by the historical context into which we are born and there are many positive aspects of all cultures that should be celebrated but the danger is that political elites use them to create myths of superiority and exclusivity that form the foundations of reactionary nationalist ideology. Cultural development depends on the intersection of human communities and a flourishing delight in the novelty and ingenuity of invention and imagination of other people and their language and myths – it is the enemy of the fear caused by ignorance and the political manipulation and creation of suspicion that elites use to protect their wealth and power when they feel under threat.

There has been a long and celebrated aesthetic contrast between the Europe of the north and that of the south. The Mediterranean cultures of Greece and Rome have represented light, logic and democracy whereas the dark forests of the north represent the brooding aesthetic of the Romantic and the Gothic. It was the Goths who destroyed the Western Roman Empire and inaugurated the European ‘Dark Ages’ where the material culture and intellectual progress of the classical age was lost for hundreds of years until it flickered back into life during the Renaissance. We can enjoy both aesthetic traditions but the political consequences of Romanticism have always been highly problematic. Can we make cultural connections with political evolution? The Enlightenment was the inheritor of the classical tradition of reason and logic but in the hands of the bourgeoisie it became an oppressive and inhuman transition from quality to quantity – everything had to have a numerical equivalent before it was considered to be a ‘science’.

From what cultural inheritance does socialism emerge? Perhaps, like capitalism, socialism has primarily European origins – certainly the Marxian tradition is steeped in the tradition of French politics, German philosophy and British economics. German culture gave birth to both Nietzsche and Marx whose legacies still combat each other today. German nihilism still haunts us and perhaps, after Auschwitz, always will. As socialists we must never ignore cultural myths and realities. As this video shows, such identification still runs deep within the working class.

It’s class that counts (2024)

Book Review from the January 2024 issue of the Socialist Standard

Here Be Monsters: How to Fight Capitalism Instead of Each Other. By Rhys Wildermuth. Repeater. £12.99.

The idea behind the title is that monsters were once seen as signs that something was wrong in the world, but also as messengers pointing to a solution. However, this aspect of the book is not very convincing, so we will not deal with it here.

The book is basically a critique of ‘social justice identity politics’, a set of ideas that employs the concept of intersectionality. So a black woman is oppressed in two ways, by being a woman and by being black. The real oppressor is then, apparently, the white, heterosexual, able-bodied, cis-gender man, who subjugates anyone who is black, gay, disabled, transgender or a woman. Wildermuth argues that class has no position in such a system, and that introducing class would in fact undermine the entire framework. A man who matches all the above criteria but is homeless and jobless has little in common with a capitalist who has the same traits. And a black woman millionaire has equally little in common with a black woman struggling to pay the rent and feed her children. Intersectional social justice, he says, is perfectly compatible with the continuation of capitalism, and having more black women CEOs would not alter capitalism at all.

The concept of class employed here is however not entirely clear. There are references to the professional-managerial class, who supposedly ‘share and reproduce the cultural values of the capitalists’ and are ‘guardians of the social order’. They are part of the working class, though are paid more than most, and at one point are roughly identified with white-collar workers. The author is correct to say that both rural and urban workers belong to the same class and are exploited, but more needs to be said on how class is defined.

Wildermuth states that it is unfortunately all too easy for some on the left to dismiss any contrary view to theirs in very strong terms, such as the feminist academic Judith Butler, who considers as fascist the anti-gender movement in parts of eastern Europe (Guardian 23/10/21).

The account is enlivened by the author recounting some of his personal experiences, such as the time a black man in a cafe shouted at him, ‘The only good white person is the one who knows he should be shot and killed because he is incapable of not harming others.’ The book contains a lot of interesting points on how identity politics fails to address the real issues of poverty and exploitation, but (despite the sub-title) says disappointingly little about the real way to fight capitalism. There is a reference to how Lenin’s vanguardism was quite different from the views of Marx and Engels, but nothing about the abolition of the wages system. Wildermuth says at one point that the left had given up on trying to change material circumstances and instead ‘settled for symbolic struggles with no clear end goal’. Sadly, there is little here on end goals, either.
Paul Bennett

Cooking the Books: Capitalism: whose bonanza? (2024)

The Cooking the Books column from the January 2024 issue of the Socialist Standard
‘Few ideas are more unshakable than the notion that the rich keep getting richer while ordinary folks fall ever further behind. The belief that capitalism is rigged to benefit the wealthy and punish the workers has shaped how millions view the world, whom they vote for and whom they shake their fists at.’ 
So began the editorial in the Economist, 30 November.

The editorial went on to argue against this view by saying that the facts showed that income inequality, in the sense of the ‘wage gap’ between the lowest paid and the highest paid workers has not increased and that it is likely to decrease in coming years, describing this as a ‘blue-collar bonanza’. But this is a sleight of hand as it leaves out the incomes of the few who enjoy a privileged, non-work income from owning means of production.

Of course the owners keep getting richer. That is what the capitalist system is all about. It’s about money being invested in production with a view to making a profit. Competitive pressures ensure that most profit is re-invested in further production for profit. So capital accumulates and those who possess what it is invested in come to own more; they get richer. So, yes, capitalism is rigged — structurally determined — to benefit the wealthy as a class, however the proceeds might be divided amongst them.

Does capitalism ‘punish the workers’? Yes, though that’s a novel way of putting it. The source of profit is what wage-workers produce over and above what it costs them to produce and maintain their working skills. A part of what they produce is kept by their employer and subsequently divided into various privileged non-work incomes. In other words, they are economically exploited. Which could be described as a punishment. In any event, it’s a built-in part of the capitalist economic system.

But does the gap between the lower and higher paid workers have to increase? There is nothing built into capitalism that means it should. Wage differentials exist because the different kinds of working skills that workers sell command a different price, due both to their different costs of production and maintenance and to the varying demand for them. Sometimes the gap increases. Sometimes it decreases. Sometimes it stays the same. It depends on the job structure and labour market conditions in any period.

The editorial itself gives a good example of how changing labour market conditions can affect wage differentials:
‘At the end of the 20th century the information revolution vastly increased the demand for college graduates with brains and computing skills. From Wall Street to Walmart these stars were put to work transforming how firms did business, making use of new tools including email and spreadsheets. By the mid-2010s, however, the revolution had matured and the college wage premium began to shrink. In 2015 the average rich-world worker with a bachelor’s degree or more was paid two-thirds more than the average high-school leaver; four years later, the gap had narrowed to a half.’
At the same time there is a labour shortage for certain manual jobs. But will this really amount to a bonanza for blue-collar workers or just the prospect of a modest increase in wages due to their being in a better bargaining position? And what about the other section of the wage-working class that is losing out? It could just amount to no more than a redistribution within the broad working class. In any event, it doesn’t put an end to workers’ economic exploitation for profit. Meanwhile capitalism remains a bonanza for those who own the means of living.

50 Years Ago: Subsidizing food destruction (2024)

The 50 Years Ago column from the January 2024 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of the first pieces of legislation to be presented to the House of Commons this session has been the Horticulture (Special Payments) Bill. The intention of this bill is to provide for payments to be made to commercial growers of horticultural products, especially growers of apples and pears, facing ‘special difficulties’ as a result of Britain’s entry into the Common Market.(…..)

As we have pointed out before, governments, of whatever political persuasion, exist to protect the interests of the capitalist class (ie, the owners of the means of life). This they do in a number of ways — tariff barriers and subsidies to producers for example — always bearing in mind that by such measures they expect a healthier national capitalism to be the outcome.

The Horticulture (Special Payments) Bill is just such a measure, and has been welcomed as such. Payments are to be made to growers of apples and pears who discontinue production. The scheme is expected to cost £4.5 million to £5 million over the period 1974-78. This figure is far in excess of the £440,000 spent up to mid 1972 under a similar scheme (see Socialist Standard January 1973). There are to be checks on the growers who apply for the ‘grubbing up’ subsidy to ensure that the orchards dug up are not replanted for at least five years. In effect the government are subsidising the destruction of productive resources.

In this way, it is hoped, the competitive efficiency of British horticulture will be improved by reducing the amount of produce reaching the market. As a result market prices are expected to continue their upward trend after a period during the ’sixties when prices stagnated while costs increased. ‘Surpluses’, that is more being produced than the market can absorb profitably, could upset this state of affairs. As Roger Moate, M.P. for the Kent constituency of Faversham, pointed out:
‘It needs only a small amount of surplus at any moment to disrupt the market entirely, and a grower can quickly lose almost his annual profit because of the disruption’ (Hansard, 16 November, 1973).
So once again, in a world where food is short, market considerations get priority over the needs of people. All we need now is for a cynic to point out that the trees dug up could help to alleviate the fuel crisis.

(From the article Subsidizing Food Destruction by Gwynn Thomas, Socialist Standard, January 1974)

Action Replay: Odds against (2024)

The Action Replay column from the January 2024 issue of the Socialist Standard

There are over four hundred gambling-related suicides each year in the UK, and far more people suffer from addiction to gambling. In an attempt to deal with such problems, the Gambling Commission is proposing affordability checks for customers of online sites. This has naturally led to a lot of complaints from bookmakers, but also from others involved in the horse-racing industry. If gamblers are discouraged or even barred from placing a bet, bookmakers’ profits will go down, and so will the amount they pay into racing (the Horserace Betting Levy Board collects 10% of an operator’s profits above £500,000). So owners and trainers may well find themselves losing income too.

Various kinds of triggers are envisaged, such as having a net loss of £125 within a thirty-day period, which could lead to inquiry into, say, whether the punter has a history of unpaid debts. The gambling industry has objected that this would imply perhaps ten times the number involved in problem gambling having their bank statements and so on checked, even though what they are doing is entirely legal.

One view (The Sports Economist, 21 November) is that sports betting is an increasingly important part of gambling in general and it needs to be regulated ‘to ensure a fair game, keep bettors safe, and stop illegal acts’. AI and machine learning could be used to, for instance, evaluate a person’s betting history and recognise suspicious activities. So clearly a great deal of information would be acquired about both individuals and general trends.

There is also a concern that the checks will be extended from online to betting shops and perhaps even racecourses. The Gambling Commission has said that this is not the case, but bookmakers are not convinced. They also point out that amounts spent in high-street bookies are far smaller than what may be spent online, and that checks may be sufficiently intrusive to send punters to bet on the black market, where there will be no checks and no guards against scams and frauds.

Some companies are of course in favour of the checks, as it means business for them, such as the GB Group, which helps companies verify the identity of customers. ‘Keeping players safe online is right for players and gambling operators’, their website states, as it is part of the companies’ ‘corporate social responsibility’. Bet they’ll be happy if the proposals are implemented.
Paul Bennett

Editorial: No capitalism without war (2024)

Editorial from the January 2024 issue of the Socialist Standard

The year 2024 opens with at least two major ongoing wars in which the most up-to-date weapons of mass (and individual) destruction are being employed, resulting in the deliberate destruction of infrastructure on which societies depend, and in social regression rather than the progress that defenders of capitalism claim it provides.

The competitive struggle for profits is built into capitalism, but that this should require the manufacture of the most sophisticated weapons of war and destruction is in itself a condemnation of the system.

Capitalist competition involves not just economic entities but also states as armed bodies serving the interests of the businesses operating from within their frontiers. The states’ external role is to secure and protect sources of raw materials, trade routes, markets and investment outlets for these firms.

When disputes arise, as inevitably they do, states seek to settle them by diplomacy. The aim of diplomacy is not to find a ‘fair’ or ‘just’ solution but to bargain, with the outcome reflecting the relative bargaining position of the sides. ‘Might is right’, and is the reason why states seek to equip themselves with the most destructive and up-to-date weapons that they can afford.

Even if no war were ever to break out, the nature of capitalism would still require productive resources to be devoted to the manufacture and maintenance of armed forces. This anti-human waste of resources is built into capitalism and cannot be avoided as long as capitalism lasts.

But wars do break out.

The object of diplomacy is to avoid war as each side assesses where the real balance of power is. But diplomacy doesn’t always work. When this fails the balance of power between two states is tested by actual war. States don’t resort to this lightly as war is risky and expensive. This is why the state that starts it has to feel that it has no alternative but to make a stand. The rulers of the Russian state evidently thought that the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO represented such a threat.

Israel has been armed by the United States as its proxy in the Middle East where the issue has always been oil. It’s to increase its ‘might’ in the area to counterbalance Iran. But Israel is using these weapons to crush a comparatively weak armed insurgency in defence of its own ambition to rule over an area from the sea to the river.

In both Ukraine and Gaza we are seeing the horrors that result from the use of the most modern weapons of killing and destruction whose development and existence capitalism requires. Their existence is supposed to act as a deterrent to rivals and as bargaining chips in diplomacy, as they are most of the time. But not always. From time to time they are deployed to kill and destroy, adding to the charge-sheet against capitalism.

If you want peace, prepare for socialism.