Hong Kong: Make colonialism great again

Posted to lowwagecapitalism.com on Sept. 11, 2019.

By Fred Goldstein

Sept. 10 — It is a thoroughly reactionary development when demonstrators carrying U.S. flags march through a city asking the most hated imperialist figure, Donald Trump, to come to their aid. But that is what is happening in Hong Kong.

Despite all the claims in the capitalist press about the demonstrators being advocates of “democracy” and “freedom,” they have embraced a political figure who has locked immigrant children in cages after separating them from their families.

They have called for aid from a president who has called for Muslims to be banned from the U.S. They have embraced a vile racist who has called African nations and Haiti “shithole” countries. Trump has called Mexicans rapists and criminals. What can be the political mentality of demonstrators who would ask for help from a racist bigot in the name of “democracy”?

It is the mentality of capitalist greed.

Donald Trump is trying to low-key the demonstrations because he wants to de-escalate a trade war with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). He is afraid that the trade war will trigger an economic downturn in the U.S. And an economic downturn will hurt his chances of re-election in 2020.

But Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, the China hawks in Trump’s administration and the CIA, did not get the memo. And if they did, Trump is playing soft cop in this scenario.

Washington and the mainstream media outlets are going all out to foment a full-scale pro-imperialist rebellion, basically demanding independence for Hong Kong. They hope to prolong the demonstrations in order to embarrass the PRC on the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution on Oct. 1. But the strategic goal of the Trump administration is to back the PRC into a corner and provoke it to intervene in Hong Kong. 

Washington and the Pentagon would like to create a small-scale version of the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989. 

Washington hopes that this will give the entire worldwide propaganda apparatus of the imperialists a green light to open up a major anti-Chinese campaign and set the stage for hostilities or even war. Given the divisions in the imperialist camp and the growing weight of China as an economic power, however, it remains to be seen whether these plans can materialize. 

Hong Kong the new “Berlin Wall”

Joshua Wong, one of the leaders of the demonstrations in the 2014 Hong Kong “umbrella” movement and one of the main leaders in the present struggle spoke in Berlin on Sept. 9 saying:

“If we are in a new Cold War, Hong Kong is the new Berlin.” He continued, “We urge the free world to stand together with us in resisting the Chinese autocratic regime,” in a clear signal to the capitalist world. (Reuters, Sept. 9, 2019)

By recalling the image of Berlin and the wall that divided the East and West, Wong evoked the vision of the beginning of the destruction of the socialist camp in Eastern Europe and the ultimate demise of the USSR. Wang’s clear goal is the destruction of socialist China. 

The place of Hong Kong in modern China

With the victory of the Chinese revolution in 1949, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drove the imperialist puppet Nationalist army off the mainland and onto the island of Taiwan. From a military point of view, the PLA was supreme on mainland China. 

Mao Zedong could have ordered the PLA to take Hong Kong, and it would not have taken much more than a day. But he did not do that. Why? Because China was a vast and impoverished country. Before the revolution, China was known as the land of hunger. Famines took the lives of hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of people because of warlord rule and the lack of transportation.

The revolution solved that problem with massive land redistribution. 

But China was in dire need of agricultural and industrial infrastructure. Following the revolution, the U.S. imposed a blockade on technology and industrial equipment. The USSR gave assistance. But China still needed financial channels to the outside world, and Hong Kong was a crucial financial center.

‘One country, two systems’

Fast forward to 1982. Mao died in 1976 and the leftist forces associated with the Cultural Revolution were defeated. Deng Xiaoping entered into negotiations with the British imperialists over Hong Kong. The PRC made clear that they regarded Hong Kong as part of China. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher tried to hold out for the continuation of three oppressive treaties signed under military threats from Britain in 1842, 1860 and 1898. It was those treaties, known to the Chinese as the “unequal treaty,” which formalized the British colonization of Hong Kong. 

In the negotiations, the British imperialists wanted to retain administrative control of the territory. Deng told the British that the PRC regarded Hong Kong as part of China and threatened to invade to take back its territory. London was forced to abandon its attempts to retain the unequal treaties and the administration of Hong Kong.

However, with Mao gone, the “reformers” under Deng were in charge. The PRC adopted theone country, two systems” doctrine. An agreement was signed and went into effect in 1997. The doctrine said that Hong Kong would retain its capitalist system until 2047. A legislature and a governing council were set up. The PRC would have input into the legislature, retain the right to govern Hong Kong foreign policy and the right to interpret laws. Hong Kong was designated by China as a special administrative region. 

In a way, the arrangement with Hong Kong mirrored what the new Chinese leadership were trying to establish under the name “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.” A mix of socialism and capitalism. Only in China there was a mass Chinese Communist Party which could hold the capitalists in check as well as strategic state-owned enterprises. In Hong Kong, the largest imperialist banks, accounting firms, brokerage companies and law firms were left to dominate the economics of the territory. Always in fear of the PRC and socialism, they gradually tried to dominate the politics of Hong Kong as well.

The latest counterrevolutionary, pro-colonialist demonstrations, complete with U.S. flags, singing of the U.S. national anthem and appeals to Trump for assistance represent a surge forward by the anti-PRC capitalist class to take over the political system in Hong Kong. 

It is a law of capitalism that capital accumulates and gets stronger over time. Over the years, the Hong Kong capitalists, with the aid of imperialism, have never abandoned the attempt to get out from under the shadow of the PRC. This can only be done in a small territory like Hong Kong with the aid and backing of a major power like the U.S.

Hong Kong and world finance capital

The PRC faces significant risks in Hong Kong. The territory plays a crucial role in the economic development of China. Hundreds of billions of dollars flow in and out of mainland China through Hong Kong. (Why China Still Needs Hong Kong,” Peterson International Institute for Economics, July 15, 2019)

“No less than 64 percent of the mainland’s inward foreign direct investment and 65 percent of its outward foreign direct investment was booked in Hong Kong. Chinese banks, which are now worth US$1.2 trillion, hold overseas assets concentrated in Hong Kong.” (Hong Kong is irreplaceable for China,” South China Morning Post, Aug. 30, 2019)

The imperialists know this and are gambling that they can force concessions from China by economic extortion. This is the danger of the “one country, two systems” regime in Hong Kong. 

Lost in all the enthusiasm of the capitalist press for the reactionaries, is the plight of the working class. 

In Hong Kong, houses cost 20.9 times the average household income. Compare that with 9.4 times in Los Angeles and 9.1 times in San Francisco―cities infamous for their housing crises―and the extent of the problem becomes apparent.

“‘Hong Kong only builds for the rich. They need to care for real people,’ says Chan To, 30, a skinny man with flecks of gray in his hair who has been homeless since he lost his job as a chef last summer. … Chan sought refuge in McDonald’s, sleeping in various outlets every night for the last four months, he says.” (What Life Is Like In Hong Kong, The Most Expensive City To Live In The World,” Huffington Post, Nov. 20, 2018)

“McRefugees” is a Hong Kong term for people living in booths at fast food places. Homelessness and being rent poor is endemic in Hong Kong. The minimum wage is US$4 an hour in a city that has been rated as the most expensive city in the world. The demonstrators who carry U.S. flags have no demands to improve the lot of the impoverished Hong Kong working class.

‘Lady liberty’ at Tiananmen Square

Such flagrant appeals to colonialism have not been seen since the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in China in 1989. At that time, the vast assembly of counterrevolutionary student protesters, many of them schooled in the U.S., displayed a replica of the Statue of Liberty in Tiananmen Square in an open appeal for support from U.S. imperialism. Mikhail Gorbachev, who opened the door to counterrevolution in the USSR, went to the demonstrations to show his solidarity. The “reformist” capitalist-road Chinese premier at the time, Zao Zhiyang, was put under house arrest for encouraging a full-scale counterrevolution aimed at overthrowing the socialist system.

Parading through Hong Kong with U.S. flags in 2019 is the equivalent of displaying the statue of “Lady Liberty” in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Playing with capitalism is like playing with fire as far as socialists are concerned. The attacks on Chinese technology, the U.S. naval threats in the South China Sea, the brutal trade war initiated by Trump and the witch hunt by the FBI against Chinese scientists in the U.S. are all part of the growing antagonism between Chinese socialism and U.S. imperialism. Hopefully, the Chinese leadership will draw the necessary lessons from the developments in Hong Kong and the U.S. anti-China offensive. A hard assessment of U.S. imperialism and the voracious appetite of the exploiting class may be in order.

Following the great anti-colonial wave in Africa, India and the Middle East after World War II, the British Union Jack had to be pulled down. In fact, the surrender of Hong Kong was said to be the last gasp of the British world empire. The British, the U.S.and other imperialists had to resort to neocolonialism, economic penetration and the installation of puppet regimes to maintain their world domination.

Hoisting the U.S. flag in Hong Kong is a signal that these demonstrators want to return to the open colonialism of old. Trump and company want to make colonialism great again.

 

 

Washington’s anti-China strategy in Hong Kong

Posted to lowwagecapitalism.com on Aug. 28, 2019.

By Fred Goldstein

It is impossible to separate the counterrevolutionary colonialist demonstrations in Hong Kong from Washington’s new cold war against the People’s Republic of China (PRC). (See article “The New Cold War Against China,” lowwagecapitalism.com.}

The over two-month-long campaign of demonstrations–which are really for independence from the mainland and aimed at detaching the city from China–are sustained and guided by superpower resources from Washington and London, with an assist from Taiwan’s separatist forces.

The CIA-run National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and other U.S.-run nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are in the thick of the demonstrations. U.S. diplomats have met with so-called student leaders as an offer of support. (See the article in Fight Back News, Aug. 19, 2019.)

There are millions of poor workers in Hong Kong. Most of them are in low-paying jobs, including retail, food and drink, estate management, security, cleaning, elder care and courier services, among others.

They live in costly housing because the real estate industry has been dominant under Hong Kong capitalism, as have finance, tourism and other high-paid services. But you don’t see these workers on the streets demanding separation from mainland China.

Another thing you won’t see is the thousands of demonstrators who came out to defend the Hong Kong police and the Chinese mainland on Aug. 26 and denounce the protesters. “A rally organized by the Great Alliance to Protect Hong Kong, a new umbrella organization, drew tens of thousands of people to a park near the headquarters of China’s military garrison earlier this month.” (New York Times picture caption, Aug. 27, 2019)

In fact, the South China Morning Post reported on Aug. 23, 2019, that several thousand accountants joined the march for “democracy” in Hong Kong recently. The four largest accounting firms in the world, known as the “Big Four”are in Hong Kong. The four firms and their 2018 revenue in U.S. dollars are as follows:

Deloitte, based in New York, made $43.2 billion; PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), based in London, earned $41.3 billion; EY (Ernst & Young), based in London, earned $34.8 billion; KPMG (Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler), based in Amstelveen, Netherlands, earned $28.96 billion (Reuters, Aug. 24, 2019).

What you see instead are thousands of middle class anti-China demonstrators who are demanding autonomy for one of the largest financial centers in Asia. Hong Kong became a financial and commercial center under British colonial rule. London ruled Hong Kong for 156 years until it was forced to turn over sovereignty to the mainland in 1997.

According to Wikipedia’s list of banks in Hong Kong, 70 of the100 largest banks in the world are in this tiny city. This includes the largest U.S. and British banks. The largest insurance companies, hotel chains and tourist agencies are there as well.

It is hardly surprising that the imperialist NGOs and think tanks are able to mobilize thousands of professionals to take to the streets to separate from the mainland. And they carry out their protests violently, while the capitalist media complain about the Hong Kong police, who are under siege from the demonstrators. (Struggle-La Lucha, Behind the anti-China Protests in Hong Kong, Aug. 19, 2019)

In the meantime, “Australia has emerged as an ideal destination for Hong Kong millionaires who are looking to emigrate from the Chinese semi-autonomous territory reeling from political turmoil.

“A notable rise in applications for the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) program, which grants direct residency to applicants, has been filed with the New South Wales state migration department over the past months, reported Reuters. Interested individuals have to invest at least A$5 million (US$3.4 million) to be eligible for the program.” (Taiwan News, Aug. 23, 2019)

Hong Kong leadership offers dialogue: demonstrators escalate

U.S. imperialism, the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department want to use the Hong Kong demonstrations to vilify the PRC and socialism. The demonstrators are being as provocative as possible in order to try to draw the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into the battle. Many demonstrations have gone right up to the PLA garrison in Hong Kong with provocative acts and slogans.

Washington’s goal is to be able to create a new version of Tiananmen Square and raise a worldwide hue and cry against China, the way they did in 1989. National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the CIA and the military want a rerun as they drum up war fever against China.

Describing a recent demonstration, the Wall Street Journalof Aug. 24 wrote, “Tear gas engulfed the industrial neighborhood of Kwun Tong as protesters were more aggressive, blocking roads, surrounding the local police station and sawing down at least one video-surveillance pole, which protesters said could be used to spy on people.

“Demonstrators with poles fought face to face with the charging police, knocking some to the ground and sending others scrambling back. Some threw rocks at the police. A small fire bomb exploded amid the melee.“

This attack on the police, who held up signs warning the demonstrators to stop, came shortly after the Hong Kong chief executive, Carrie Lam, offered to enter into dialogue with the protesters. Lam said she “would be open to talking to the community.” In a post on her official Instagram account on Saturday—ahead of the latest violence—she said everyone was tired after months of protests and asked if “we can sit down and talk about it” after a calmer week. (WSJ, Aug. 24, 2019)

In other words, the reactionary forces tried to break up any move by the Hong Kong leadership to calm the situation.

On the day before the attack on the police, there was a demonstration in which the protesters held hands in the streets of Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong residents on Friday night formed human chains across large parts of the city in … a display that recalled a major anti-Soviet demonstration from 30 years ago.” The message was clear today just as it was at the time of the USSR: get free of mainland China. The demonstration was called the “Hong Kong Way.” (New York TImes, Aug. 23, 2019)

This was a replica of the “Baltic Way” demonstration in 1989 in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. It was a demonstration to be free of the Soviet Union. It was undoubtedly engineered by the same imperialist forces that were behind the “Hong Kong Way” demonstrations.

The Hong Kong Way demonstration, the attack on the police station the following day, the provocations against the PLA garrison in Hong Kong, the ransacking of the legislature, all these are signs of a Washington-London strategy of trying to provoke some type of Chinese intervention which can then be used to vastly escalate political tensions against the PRC. The Chinese Communist Party has reacted with great restraint in the face of these vicious provocations. Instead they have supported the pro-China forces in Hong Kong who don’t want to sell their country to imperialism.

 

Roots of the crisis over Kashmir: Colonial rule, class and national oppression

First published June 20, 2002.

By Fred Goldstein.

U.S. and British imperialism are working overtime to utilize the present crisis between India and Pakistan to their own advantage. Meanwhile, the reactionary regimes in Islamabad andNew Delhi are vying with one another to gain the favor of the Bush administration in their struggle against one another in general and in the struggle over Kashmir in particular.

It is possible to engage in extended analysis and speculation about the immediate cause of the crisis. There is of course a decade of reactionary, anti-Muslim, Hindu revivalism led by India’s ruling Bahratiya Janata Party since 1990 — including the destruction of the Babri Masjid Mosque in1992.

There is also the ascendancy of reactionary Islamic fundamentalist forces that had been nurtured and supported by the CIA and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan was the staging ground for an $8-billion counter-revolutionary war against the progressive socialist Afghan government and the Soviet Union. These forces, many now opponents of the U.S., have inserted themselves into the struggle against the repressive Indian regime in Kashmir.

Some try to explain the present struggle over Kashmir by starting with 1947, when India was partitioned, Pakistan was created, and Kashmir became a disputed territory occupied by both countries.

However, one can’t understand the 1947 partition and the horrendous religious conflict that followed — which dealt a great blow to the world forces of national liberation — without taking into account the 250 years of machinations by British colonialism that preceded.

British East India Company

It is useful to start the analysis in the middle of the 18th century with the predatory campaign of the British East India Company (EIC) to conquer and plunder India. The EIC, which dated back to the days of Queen Elizabeth, was given a monopoly to conduct business in India by the British Parliament, acting on behalf of the financial and commercial interests of London. It was backed by the Royal Navy. It was given the right to raise troops and to undermine the Indian economy, to interfere in social and political relations and do anything necessary to bring a handsome profit back to its investors in London.

But military force alone was insufficient for a small island in the North Atlantic to dominate such a vast land mass as India. Fortunately for the British ruling class, the EIC found a society that was fragmented into hundreds of states ruled over by a variety of petty rulers, held together only nominally by the declining Mogul empire.

The British conquered Bengal in 1757 and embarked on a century of creating “subordinate alliances.” The EIC would bestow local sovereignty on a ruler, make him subordinate to the company and to the British government, allow him some autonomy and guarantee protection against his enemies.

Whenever possible, the company would try to place a Muslim ruler over a majority Hindu population or a Hindu ruler over a majority Muslim population. They carried on this policy for over 100 years as they consolidated their conquest over the country. These subordinate alliances came to be known as”princely states.”

When India was partitioned in 1947, 550 such “princely states” were divided between India and Pakistan. This was the product of centuries in which the British colonialists brought the art of “divide and rule” to perfection.

British sold Kashmir in 1846

Kashmir is a vivid, concrete example of such subordinate alliances. With the infamous Treaty of Amritsar of 1846, the British created the present-day state of Kashmir, both geographically and socially, by selling part of the state of Lahore, which they had conquered, to a Hindu maharajah. This was in a territory that had been ruled historically by a Muslim empire and was predominantly Muslim in population.

The Treaty of Amritsar of 1846 declared that “The British government transfers and makes over, forever, independent possession [of the territory between the Indus River which constitutes Kashmir] to Maharajah Gulab Singh, and the male heirs of his body.” The surveying of the land was done by the British and the Gulab Singh was obliged to recognize the British-defined borders. Gulab Singh paid the Britishgovernment 7.5 million rupees and agreed there would be no changes without the consent of the British.

The British had the right to settle any disputes with neighboring states. The maharajah was required to send his military to serve the British military in case of any conflict. The maharajah could not hire any European or American without British permission. And in exchange “the British government will give its aid to Maharajah Gulab Singh in protecting his territories from external enemies.”

It was not long after the creation of Kashmir that the greatest uprising in Indian history took place, the Great Rebellion of native-born soldiers in the 150,000-man British colonial army. It is derogatorily called the “Sepoy Mutiny” by the colonialists. But it was a rebellion against the brutality and racist insensitivity of the British rulers, and it lasted from 1857 to 1859. In this rebellion Indian troops took over New Delhi and other cities and were only defeated after a furious struggle.

The rebellion was the first major manifestation of broad anti-British resistance, spontaneous and not politically organized. Soon a nationalist movement was born. It was moderate at first, seeking incremental change by which Indians could gain representation in the governing of India. By 1885 the first meeting of the Indian National Congress took place.

Formation of Congress Party

The Congress was composed of a majority of upper-caste Hindus. While there were Muslims in the Congress, other elements within the Muslim upper classes formed the Muslim League in 1906, with the encouragement of the British. For the following decades the fate of the anti-colonial movement in India hung on the relationship between the League and the Congress. Progressive forces in both organizations strove for unity. There were many progressive-minded Muslims with the Congress Party on the basis of secular national unity.

Once they felt the rumblings of even the moderate bourgeois nationalist, reformist movement, the British imperialists went to work trying to divide it. On the one hand they showed their utter intransigence. Lord Hamilton, then secretary of state, sent a message to the viceroy in India on April 14, 1899, saying: “We cannot give the Natives what they want: representative institutions or the diminution of the existing establishment of Europeans is impossible.”

On the other hand, they created separate election rolls in 1909 where those few who could vote — 1 percent — had to vote for candidates by religion. Under the guise of insuring the rights of minorities, the British channeled politics into the confines of religious rivalry rather than genuine representation. This process was deepened in 1919 when the colonial authorities were compelled to make reforms under the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.

The forced participation of Indian troops on the side of their British oppressors in World War I, the support of theRussian Revolution for oppressed peoples of the world struggling to overthrow colonialism, and the 1919 anti-imperialist upsurge in China reverberated in India. The first trade unions were formed and mass resistance to British rule flowered. But Indian communists were unable to take root in a political environment dominated by the entrenched bourgeois nationalist movement led by the Congress.

Mahatma Gandhi put himself at the head of the mass movement. He brought pacifist tactics and moderate religious ideology to the struggle. His economic goals were reactionary: going back to a village economy.

Communist Party — gains and setbacks

In the late 1920s the Communist Party of India (CPI) made progress in the trade union movement and the organization of the workers. In the 1930s it made a leap forward as a mass party in the struggle for class unity and national independence. But it suffered a huge, historic setback during World War II.

The war was a time of tempestuous mass struggle. Despite its moderate inclinations, the Congress was compelled to militantly oppose the British war effort. It had agreed to support the British if London would promise India independence. Whitehall stonewalled the movement and the Congress withdrew from all government posts. It began the “quit India” movement to force the British to withdraw.

By 1942 the British imperialists were in the worst crisis of rebellion since 1857. They had jailed over 60,000 people, including the entire Congress leadership. The Muslim League supported the British war effort and did not participate. The Soviet leadership pressed the CPI to support the war effort and suspend its struggle for independence until the war was over. The rationale was that since British imperialists were fighting the Nazis and the German imperialists were invading the Soviet Union, suspending the national struggle would be in defense of socialism.

This policy had similar tragic implications for the struggle of communists elsewhere in the British Empire, and in the French colonies and Latin America as well.

What Moscow did not take into account was that a revolutionary India could have been the greatest asset to the world revolution since 1917. In any case, the CPI lost an opportunity for revolutionary leadership at a moment of mass struggle.

The Congress, in spite of its militancy, was preparing for a negotiated withdrawal of the British and a managed transfer of power, rather than a revolutionary victory in the spirit of a genuine national liberation struggle. Bourgeois forces, dedicated to the preservation of capitalism, were fully in command and, as subsequent events proved, even the most progressive of them, represented by Jawaharlal Nehru, were incapable of overcoming the communal divisions sown by British colonialism.

In 1940, at the Lahore conference, the die was cast when the Muslim League and its leader, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, abandoned once and for all its ambivalence about staying within a united India and declared for a separate Muslim state. Although this split was managed behind the scenes with the connivance of British imperialism, the groundwork was laid by the Hindu bourgeoisie, particularly the right-wing nationalists, who promoted religious chauvinism and persecuted the Muslim majority.

The last act of the British imperialists in India was to dictate the terms of the division between India and Pakistan. Lord Mountbatten, the last British viceroy, laid down the rules and they were accepted by the League and the Congress. All majority Muslim provinces under the British crown would go toPakistan. All majority Hindu provinces would go to India. And the 550 “princely states” would choose, the decision being made by the ruler of each state.

Kashmir, strategically situated between India and Pakistan, was one of the largest “princely states.” It was over 70 percent Muslim and ruled by a Hindu feudal landlord, Maharajah Hari Singh, a descendent of the original ruler who had bought Kashmir from the British in 1846. Singh was trying to preserve maximum power and was toying with remaining independent.

The most popular leader in Kashmir, Sheik Abdullah, was a secular Muslim, the head of the All Kashmir Conference, which had had previous alliances with Nehru. Abdullah was dedicated to land reform and even raised the slogan of “Land to the tiller.” He was leaning towards independence because he was opposed to being put under the landlord regime of the MuslimLeague in Pakistan but was also opposed to being ruled by a landed aristocracy represented by the maharajah. He was thrown in jail.

The Pakistanis, using British military vehicles, sent military forces into Kashmir. Nehru consulted with Mountbatten and airlifted thousands of troops. Hari Singh, afraid for his throne, acceded to India. Sheik Abdullah was let out of jail and sent to New Delhi, where he agreed to accede to India on the basis of autonomy for Kashmir and the promise of a plebiscite to determine the final status. He became prime minister.

The war ended in 1948. The Indian forces gained the lion’s share of the territory. The issue was referred to the UN, dominated by U.S. and British imperialism. There never was a plebiscite. The autonomous provisions agreed to by the Congress were gradually violated and the Indian bourgeoisie consolidated its control over Kashmir. A Hindu ruling group controlled a majority of Muslims. Sheik Abdullah was jailed off and on throughout the years by Nehru.

The issue of Kashmir stands unresolved today.

Nehru, the most progressive of the bourgeois leaders of the Congress, justified the takeover of Kashmir on his historic position that India should be united and that it was possible to build a democratic, secular society of national unity in which Muslims would be equal with the Hindu majority. However, the deadlock gave rise to a national struggle and to repression by the Indian government.

A tide of reaction has now swept over the region; fundamentalist forces from Pakistan and Afghanistan are waging a struggle that amounts to an annexationist war, just as the Indian bourgeoisie de facto annexed its portion of occupied Kashmir in 1947. The genuine struggle for self-determination o fthe Kashmiris has become more and more difficult.

But the fundamental reason why the Congress in its most progressive phase could not win the hearts and minds of the oppressed people of Kashmir is the same reason that it could not win the struggle for a unified India against the machinations of British imperialism: it represented the exploiting bourgeoisie.

India under Nehru

The Indian state was founded in a global environment of socialist revolution and national liberation. The Soviet Union had defeated the Nazis and was once again championing the anti-colonial struggle. The Chinese Revolution had driven out the landlords and, like the USSR, was embarking upon constructing a planned economy with cooperatives and collectives in the countryside and five-year plans in industry.

Under Nehru’s guidance India was declared to be “socialist oriented.” But this was just a cover for the Indian bourgeoisie and landlords to use state capitalist methods to overcome the deficit in industry and infrastructure inherited from British rule. Private Indian industrialists drew up three five-year plans for national development based on retaining capitalist exploitation. Known as the “Bombay Plan,” the first was drawn up in 1944. It was modified after the new state was established.

The most urgent question in India for the masses was the land. Some landowners lost their most outrageous privileges. The government bought out many of the richest feudal landlords. But when the issue of limiting the amount of land that one person could have came up, the landlords in the Congress vetoed it.

The only way to overcome the 200 years of division sown on the Indian subcontinent by the British was to appeal directly to the class needs of the Indian workers and peasants of all religions, languages and nationalities. This was impossible for the exploiting classes of India, in spite of their socialist rhetoric and their diplomatic friendship with the USSR and with China in the early years. They had made a political transformation, not a social revolution.

Bourgeois experts will cite the complexities of Indian society and politics as the fundamental reason for the failure to unite. To be sure, India is an extremely complex social formation. It has 17 major languages and 35 others spoken by more than a million people. It has most of the major religions on the planet — Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity, Judaism and more. It has numerous national and linguistic groups. Furthermore, it is torn by the caste system, with thousands of sub-castes.

But for all its complexity, the problem in India reduces itself to the problem of class exploitation and private property. All propertied classes, no matter how oppressed and abused they may have been by imperialism, require the obfuscation of class relationships of exploitation. They require the fog of religion, or ideological backwardness and confusion, to mask the fact that the substructure of society is built on accumulating the labor of the workers and the peasants in one form or another — on appropriating to the ruling class the social surplus.

Why Bolsheviks could, but India couldn’t

The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was confronted with enormous national, linguistic and religious complexity that had been compressed into the tsarist empire, the “prison house of nations.” The revolution unearthed over 200 distinct language groups in its early days.

The Bolshevik government under Lenin declared to all the oppressed peoples of the empire that the Russian proletarian revolution would honor their right to self-determination. They had the right to decide whether to leave or join the SovietUnion — even though this ran the risk of having the oppressed nations abandon the revolution and leave the USSR truncated.

In fact, many of the national groups were Muslims who had been oppressed by the tsar and persecuted by the Russian military. They also had to fear the Russian Orthodox Church. The Bolsheviks called a conference of Muslim communists in 1918 in order to show solidarity and make them feel comfortable within the framework of the new proletarian revolution, which was thoroughly internationalist.

Why could the Bolsheviks solve the national question, bringing all the oppressed peoples into a secular Soviet state with a Great Russian majority, while the Indian bourgeoisie could not? Because they not only offered to do away with tsarist oppressors, they also eliminated the exploiting capitalists and landlords. They could offer to honor all the national, linguistic, ethnic, and cultural characteristics without qualification. In other words, the Bolsheviks could overcome all divisions and antagonisms by meeting the concrete national demands of the oppressed. The proletariat, as a revolutionary class whose mission was to destroy class exploitation, had no interest in dividing the oppressed and the exploited.

National antagonisms only reemerged in the Soviet Union when capitalist elements took hold of the apparatus, beginning the degeneration that ultimately led to its collapse.

This historical experience is priceless, not only for oppressed countries like India and Pakistan, but for the United States, which has truly become the oppressor of all nations both at home and abroad. A class understanding of the national question shows that the struggle against national oppression is the indispensable first step on the road to uniting the workers and oppressed. But it cannot be fully consummated unless it is indissolubly linked to the struggle to end class exploitation.

 

 

 

 

The New Cold War Against China

Posted to lowwagecapitalism.com on July 26, 2019.

Part 1

By Fred Goldstein

During the Cold War and the struggle that put the USSR and China on one side and imperialism headed by Washington on the other side, revolutionaries used to characterize the conflict as a class war between two irreconcilable social systems. 

There was the socialist camp, based upon socialized property, economic planning for human need and the government monopoly of foreign trade on the USSR-China side, and capitalism, a system of production for profit, on the other. 

That the two systems were irreconcilable was at the bottom of the conflict dubbed the Cold War. In light of the current sharpening economic, diplomatic, political and military conflict between U.S. imperialism and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), it is time to revive the concepts that were applied during the height of the Cold War.

Of course it is necessary to make modifications in these formulations with respect to socialism in China, with its mix of controlled capitalism and guided socialism.  Nevertheless, the conflict between imperialist capitalism, headed by Washington, Wall Street and the Pentagon, and the Chinese socialist economic system, which has state-owned industry at its core and planned economic guidance, is becoming much sharper, and imperialism is growing more openly hostile. 

U.S. imperialism’s long-standing effort to overthrow socialism  in China, Chinese capitalism notwithstanding, has been concealed beneath sugary bourgeois phrases about so-called “common interests” and “economic collaboration.”  But this kind of talk is coming to an end.

Washington’s first campaign to overthrow China — 1949-1975

This struggle has been ongoing since 1949 when the Chinese Red Army drove U.S. puppet Chiang-Kai Shek and his nationalist army from the mainland as it retreated to Taiwan under the protection of the Pentagon. 

The conflict continued through the Korean War when General Douglas MacArthur and the U.S. high command drove the U.S. troops to the Chinese border and threatened atomic war. Only the defeat of the U.S. military by the heroic Korean people under the leadership of Kim Il Sung, with the aid of the Chinese Red Army, stopped the U.S. invasion of China.

The struggle further continued with the U.S. war against Vietnam, whose strategic goal was to overthrow the socialist government of Vietnam in the north and drive to the border of China and to complete the military encirclement of the PRC. Only the world-historic efforts of the Vietnamese people under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh stopped the Pentagon in its tracks.

The Pentagon’s plans for military conquest failed 

With the rise of Deng Xiaoping and the opening up of China to foreign investment beginning in December 1978, Wall Street began to reevaluate its strategy. The U.S. ruling class began to take advantage of the opening up of China to foreign investment and the permission for private capitalism to function, which could both enrich U.S. corporations in the massive Chinese market and at the same time penetrate the Chinese economy with a long-range view to overturning socialism. 

U.S. multinational corporations set up operations in China, hiring millions of low-wage Chinese workers, who flocked to the coastal cities from the rural areas. These operations were part of a broader effort by the U.S. capitalists to set up low-wage global supply chains that integrated the Chinese economy into the world capitalist market. The U.S.’s recent sharp turn aimed at breaking up this economic integration with the Chinese economy, including the witch hunt against Chinese scientists and the U.S. Navy’s aggressive behavior in the South China Sea (called the Eastern Sea by Vietnam), is an admission that the economic phase of the U.S. attempt to bring counterrevolution to China has failed. 

China is now a growing counterweight to Washington in international economics, high technology,  diplomacy, and regional military might in the Pacific, which the Pentagon has always considered to be a “U.S. lake” ruled by the Seventh Fleet.

The attack on Huawei

A dramatic illustration of the developing antagonisms is the way the U.S. had Meng Wanzhou, the deputy chairwoman and chief financial officer of Huawei, arrested in Canada for supposed violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran — an outrageous example of imperialism exercising extraterritoriality. The Trump administration has also leveled sanctions against Huawei electronics, the world’s largest supplier of  high-tech operating systems in the world. Huawei employs 180,000 workers and is the second largest cell phone manufacturer in the world after the south Korean-based Samsung. The sanctions are part of the U.S. campaign to stifle China’s development of the latest version of data-transmission technology known as Fifth Generation or 5G. 

The Trump administration has barred U.S. companies from selling supplies to Huawei, which has been using Google’s Android operating system for its equipment and Microsoft for its laptop products − both U.S.-based companies. Huawei is contesting the U.S. ban in court. 

Meanwhile, as a backup plan in case Washington bans all access to Android and Microsoft, Huawei has quietly spent years building up an operating system of its own. Huawei developed its alternative operating system after a 2012 finding by Washington that Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese giant cell phone maker, were in criminal violation of U.S.“national security.” ZTE was forced to shut down for four months. (South Asia Morning Post, March 24, 2019)

But the conflict is about more than just Huawei and ZTE.

The new ‘red scare’ in Washington

The New York Times of July 20 carried a front page article entitled, “The New Red Scare in Washington.” A few excerpts give the flavor: 

“In a ballroom across from the Capitol building, an unlikely group of military hawks, populist crusaders, Chinese Muslim freedom fighters and followers of the Falun Gong has been meeting to warn anyone who will listen that China poses an existential threat to the United States that will not end until the Communist Party is overthrown.

“If the warnings sound straight out of the Cold War, they are. The Committee on the Present Danger, a long-defunct group that campaigned against the dangers of the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, has recently been revived with the help of Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, to warn against the dangers of China.

“Once dismissed as xenophobes and fringe elements, the group’s members are finding their views increasingly embraced in President Trump’s Washington, where skepticism and mistrust of China have taken hold. Fear of China has spread across the government, from the White House to Congress to federal agencies….” 

The Trump administration has opened up a tariff war against the PRC, imposing a 25-percent tariff on $250 billion worth of Chinese exports and threatening tariffs on another $300 billion. But there is much more to Washington’s campaign than just tariffs.

The FBI and officials from the NSC (National Security Council) have been conducting a witch hunt, continues the Times article, “particularly at universities and research institutions. Officials from the FBI and the National Security Council have been dispatched to Ivy League universities to warn administrators to be vigilant against Chinese students…” 

And according to the Times there are concerns that this witch hunt “is stoking a new red scare, fueling discrimination against students, scientists and companies with ties to China and risking the collapse of a fraught but deeply enmeshed trade relationship between the world’s two largest economies.” (New York Times, July 20, 2019)

FBI criminalizes cancer research

According to a major article in the June 13, 2019 Bloomberg News, “Ways of working that have long been encouraged by the NIH [National Institute of Health] and many research institutions, particularly MD Anderson [a major cancer treatment center and research institute in Houston], are now quasi-criminalized, with FBI agents reading private emails, stopping Chinese scientists at airports, and visiting people’s homes to ask about their loyalty.

“Xifeng Wu, who has been investigated by the FBI, joined MD Anderson while in graduate school and gained renown for creating several so-called study cohorts with data amassed from hundreds of thousands of patients in Asia and the U.S. The cohorts, which combine patient histories with personal biomarkers such as DNA characteristics and treatment descriptions, outcomes, and even lifestyle habits, are a gold mine for researchers.

“She was branded an oncological double agent.” 

The underlying accusation against Chinese scientists in the U.S. is that their research can lead to patentable medicines or cures, which in turn can be sold at enormous profits.

The Bloomberg article continues, “In recent decades, cancer research has become increasingly globalized, with scientists around the world pooling data and ideas to jointly study a disease that kills almost 10 million people a year. International collaborations are an intrinsic part of the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s Moonshot program, the government’s $1 billion blitz to double the pace of treatment discoveries by 2022. One of the program’s tag lines is: ‘Cancer knows no borders.’

“Except, it turns out, the borders around China. In January, Wu, an award-winning epidemiologist and naturalized American citizen, quietly stepped down as director of the Center for Public Health and Translational Genomics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center after a three-month investigation into her professional ties in China. Wu’s resignation, and the departures in recent months of three other top Chinese-American scientists from Houston-based MD Anderson, stem from a Trump administration drive to counter Chinese influence at U.S. research institutions …The collateral effect, however, is to stymie basic science, the foundational research that underlies new medical treatments. Everything is commodified in the economic cold war with China, including the struggle to find a cure for cancer.” 

Big surprise. A world famous Chinese epidemiologist, trying to find a cure for cancer, collaborates with scientists in China! 

Looking for the “reformers” and the counterrevolution

For decades the Chinese Communist Party has had changes of leadership every five years. These changes have been stable and managed peacefully. With each changeover, so-called “China experts” in the State Department, in Washington think tanks and U.S. universities have predicted the coming to power of a new “reformist” wing that will deepen capitalist reforms and lay the basis for an eventual full-scale capitalist counterrevolution. 

To be sure, there has been a steady erosion of China’s socialist institutions. The “iron rice bowl” which guaranteed a living to Chinese workers has been eliminated in private enterprises. Numerous state factories and enterprises have been sold off to the detriment of the workers, and in the rural areas land was decollectivized.

One of the biggest setbacks for socialism in China and one which truly gladdened the hearts of the prophets of counterrevolution, was the decision by the Jiang Jemin CCP leadership to allow capitalists into the Chinese Communist Party in 2001.

As the New York Times wrote at the time, “This decision raises the possibility of Communists co-opting capitalists — or of capitalists co-opting the party.”  (New York Times, Aug. 13, 2001) It was the latter part that the capitalist class has been looking forward to and striving for with fervent anticipation for almost four decades.

But on balance, this capitalist takeover has not materialized. Chinese socialism, despite the capitalist inroads into the economy, has proved far more durable than Washington ever imagined. 

And, under the Xi Jinping leadership, the counterrevolution seems to be getting further and further away. It is not that Xi Jinping has become a revolutionary internationalist and a champion of proletarian control. But it has become apparent that China’s status in the world is completely connected to its social and economic planning. 

Part 2: The New Cold War Against China

China’s planning and state enterprises overcame 2007-2009 world capitalist crisis

Without state planning in the economy China might have been dragged down by the 2007-2009 economic crisis. In June 2013 this author wrote an article entitled, “Marxism and the Social Character of China.” Here are some excerpts:

“More than 20 million Chinese workers lost their jobs in a very short time. So what did the Chinese government do?”

The article quoted Nicholas Lardy, a bourgeois China expert from the prestigious Peterson Institute for International Economics and no friend of China. (The full article by Lardy can be found in “Sustaining China’s Economic Growth after the Global Financial Crisis,” Kindle Locations 664-666, Peterson Institute for International Economics.)

Lardy described how “consumption in China actually grew during the crisis of 2008-09, wages went up, and the government created enough jobs to compensate for the layoffs caused by the global crisis,” this author’s emphasis.

Lardy continued: “In a year in which GDP expansion [in China] was the slowest in almost a decade, how could consumption growth in 2009 have been so strong in relative terms? How could this happen at a time when employment in export-oriented industries was collapsing, with a survey conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture reporting the loss of 20 million jobs in export manufacturing centers along the southeast coast, notably in Guangdong Province? The relatively strong growth of consumption in 2009 is explained by several factors.

“First, the boom in investment, particularly in construction activities, appears to have generated additional employment sufficient to offset a very large portion of the job losses in the export sector. For the year as a whole the Chinese economy created 11.02 million jobs in urban areas, very nearly matching the 11.13 million urban jobs created in 2008.

“Second, while the growth of employment slowed slightly, wages continued to rise. In nominal terms wages in the formal sector rose 12 percent, a few percentage points below the average of the previous five years (National Bureau of Statistics of China 2010f, 131). In real terms the increase was almost 13 percent.

“Third, the government continued its programs of increasing payments to those drawing pensions and raising transfer payments to China’s lowest-income residents. Monthly pension payments for enterprise retirees increased by RMB120, or 10 percent, in January 2009, substantially more than the 5.9 percent increase in consumer prices in 2008. This raised the total payments to retirees by about RMB75 billion. The Ministry of Civil Affairs raised transfer payments to about 70 million of China’s lowest-income citizens by a third, for an increase of RMB20 billion in 2009 (Ministry of Civil Affairs 2010).”

Lardy further explained that the Ministry of Railroads introduced eight specific plans, to be completed in 2020, to be implemented in the crisis.
According to Lardy, the World Bank called it “perhaps the biggest single planned program of passenger rail investment there has ever been in one country.” In addition, ultrahigh-voltage grid projects were undertaken, among other advances.

Socialist structures reversed collapse

So income went up, consumption went up and unemployment was overcome in China — all while the capitalist world was still mired in mass unemployment, austerity, recession, stagnation, slow growth and increasing poverty, and still is to a large extent.

The reversal of the effects of the crisis in China is the direct result of national planning, state-owned enterprises, state-owned banking and the policy decisions of the Chinese Communist Party.

There was a crisis in China, and it was caused by the world capitalist crisis. The question was which principle would prevail in the face of mass unemployment — the rational, humane principle of planning or the ruthless capitalist market. In China the planning principle, the conscious element, took precedence over the anarchy of production brought about by the laws of the market and the law of labor value in the capitalist countries.

Socialism and China’s standing in the world

China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. According to a United Nations report, China alone is responsible for the global decline in poverty. China’s universities have graduated millions of engineers, scientists, technicians and has allowed millions of peasants to enter the modern world.

Made in China 2025

In 2015 Xi Jingping and the Chinese CP leadership laid out the equivalent of a ten-year plan to take China to a higher level of technology and productivity in the struggle to modernize the country. 

Xi announced a long-range industrial policy backed by hundreds of billions of dollars in both state and private investment to revitalize China. It is named Made in China 2025 or MIC25. It is an ambitious project requiring local, regional and national coordination and participation.

The Mercator Institute for Economics (MERICS) is one of the most authoritative German think tanks on China. It wrote a major report on MIC25 on Feb. 7, 2019. According to MERICS,  “The MIC25 program is here to stay and, just like the GDP targets of the past, represents the CCP’s official marching orders for an ambitious industrial upgrading. Capitalist economies around the globe will have to face this strategic offensive.

“The tables have already started to turn: Today, China is setting the pace in many emerging technologies – and watches as the world tries to keep pace.”

The MERICS report continues, “China has forged ahead in fields such as next-generation IT (companies like Huawei and ZTE are set to gain global dominance in the roll-out of 5G networks), high-speed railways and ultra-high voltage electricity transmissions. More than 530 smart manufacturing industrial parks have popped up in China. Many focus on big data (21 percent), new materials (17 percent) and cloud computing (13 percent). Recently, green manufacturing and the creation of an “Industrial Internet” were given special emphasis in policy documents, underpinning President Xi Jinping’s vision of creating an ‘ecological civilization’ that thrives on sustainable development.

“China has also secured a strong position in areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), new energy and intelligent connected vehicles… 

“Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) continue to play a critical role for the development of strategic industries and high-tech equipment associated with MIC25. In so-called key industries like telecommunications, ship building, aviation and high-speed railways, SOEs still have a revenue share of around 83 percent. In what the Chinese government has identified as pillar industries (for instance electronics, equipment manufacturing, or automotive) it amounts to 45 percent.”

Breakup of U.S.-China relationship inevitable

The tariff war between the U.S. and China has been going back and forth. It may or may not be resolved for now or may end up in a compromise. The Pentagon’s provocations in the South China Sea and the Pacific are unlikely to subside. The witch hunt against Chinese scientists is gaining momentum. 

The U.S. has just appropriated $2.2 billion for arms to Taiwan. National Security Adviser and war-hawk John Bolton recently made a trip to Taiwan. The president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, made a recent stopover in the U.S. on the way to the Caribbean and is scheduled to make another one on the way back.

All these measures indicate the end of rapprochement between Beijing and Washington. This breakup between the two powers is not just the doing of Donald Trump. It flows from the growing fear of the predominant sections of the U.S. ruling class that the gamble they took in trying to overthrow Chinese socialism from within has failed, just as the previous military aggression from 1949 to 1975 also failed.

High technology is the key to the future 

Since as far back as the end of the 18th century the U.S. capitalist class has always coveted the Chinese market. The giant capitalist monopolies went charging in to get joint agreements, low wages, cheap exports and big super-profits when China “opened up” at the end of the 1970s.  

But the stronger the socialist core of the PRC becomes, the more weight it carries in the world and, above all, the stronger China becomes technologically the more Wall Street fears for its economic dominance and the more the Pentagon fears for its military dominance. 

The example of the stifling of international collaboration on cancer research is a demonstration of how global cooperation is essential to not only curing disease, but also to the development of society as a whole. International cooperation is needed to reverse the climate disaster wrought by private property — none of this can be carried out within the framework of private property and the profit system. Only the destruction of capitalism can bring about the liberation of humanity. 

Marxism asserts that society advances through the development of the productive forces from primary communism, to slavery, feudalism and capitalism. Marx wrote: “The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill society with the industrial capitalist.” (The Poverty of Philosophy, 1847) And now the revolution in high technology lays the basis for international socialism.  

The bourgeoisie knows that the society that can advance technology to the highest degree will be triumphant in shaping the future. This is why imperialism, headed by the U.S., imposed the strictest blockade of the flow of technology to the Soviet Union, as well as the Eastern Bloc and China. This was done by COCOM, an informal organization of all the imperialist countries, which was created in 1949 and headquartered in Paris.

The main targets were the USSR and the more industrialized socialist countries, such as the German Democratic Republic, the Czech Republic, etc. Detailed lists were drawn up of some 1,500 technological items that were forbidden to export to these countries.

Marx explained that developed socialist relations depend upon a high degree of the productivity of labor and the resulting abundance available to the population (Critique of the Gotha Program, 1875). However, as Lenin noted, the chain of imperialism broke at its weakest link in Russia — that is, the revolution was successful in the poorest, most backward  capitalist country. The result was that an advanced social system was established on an insufficient material foundation. This gave rise to many, many contradictions. The countries that revolutionaries correctly called socialist, were in fact really aspiring to socialism. Their revolutions laid the foundations for socialism. But imperialist blockade, war and subversion never allowed them to freely develop their social systems.

The great leap forward in technology in China today has the potential of raising  the productivity of labor and strengthening the socialist foundations. It is this great leap forward that is fueling the “new cold war” with China and the real threat of hot war. 

 

Trump, the ruling class and the Paris Accords

By Fred Goldstein posted on June 7, 2017.  

Donald Trump has confirmed his right-wing ideological alliance with the ultra-chauvinist Steve Bannon faction in the White House by announcing that he is going to “pull out” of the Paris Accords on combating climate change. His speech announcing the so-called pullout was also a campaign speech for the 2020 presidential election.

Washington, D.C.

In fact, Trump did not need to pull out of the agreement. The agreement is nonbinding. It has no teeth. It has no mechanism for enforcement. It has no way of checking on compliance. Everything is voluntary. And Trump is taking measures to undermine U.S. compliance, anyway, by attacking the Clean Power Plan, which limits the leasing of federal lands for coal mining and other polluting activities.

To be sure, Trump’s denunciation of the Paris Accords is reactionary. It was a totally political move, calculated to appeal to the most backward, chauvinist elements of his political base and his most right-wing backers in the ruling class.

But Trump and Bannon did not do it alone. The decision was backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, natural gas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, head of the Senate Republicans Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, among others.

Twenty-two Republican senators from oil, gas and coal states signed a letter to Trump urging him to reject the Paris Accords. These 22 senators have received at least $10 million in gas, oil and coal money since 2012. (Guardian, June 1)

Why the ruling class uproar over Trump pullout?

However, there was a general uproar against Trump’s move by large sections of the ruling class. This does not mean that big business CEOs have turned into environmentalists. On the contrary. The Paris Accords would allow the bosses to slow down climate change somewhat, while at the same time preserving, if not enhancing, their profits. No, their deepest concern about the pullout is over the potential loss of energy technology markets.

As Forbes magazine, a mouthpiece of big business, put it: “[T]he point here is that the evolution to a carbon-constrained world is underway and the technologies to facilitate that are now mainstream. China has fully embraced that evolution, vowing to help lead the charge along with the advanced economies of the world.”

Forbes continued, “‘Most of the business community, including international energy companies, urged the administration not to withdraw,’ Ambassador Richard Morningstar said, who is the chair of the Global Energy Center at the Atlantic Council. ‘By this action we are ceding leadership on climate and new technologies to China and Europe.’” (June 1)

Listen to the point of view of the former deputy director of Greenpeace, Ken Ward, who is going on trial soon on felony charges for shutting down an oil sands pipeline to prevent harm to the climate.

“The value of the Paris agreement is in its aspirational goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, not in its implementation mechanisms, which are voluntary, insufficient, and impossible to monitor. But that modest goal will be breached shortly, which makes the agreement a kind of fig leaf, offering political cover to those who would soft-pedal the runaway climate crisis a while longer.

“The U.N. Conference of the Parties is certainly not the organization to constrain powerful, retrenched fossil fuel interests and other bad climate actors and rogue climate states. The Paris agreement affords oil, gas and coal companies a globally visible platform through which to peddle influence and appear engaged on climate change while lobbying for business as usual. That won’t save the climate.” (The Hill, May 31)

Companies like Exxon, BP and Shell, among others, have protested the pullout by Trump. But these companies have been under attack globally for their devastation of the environment. The accords give them a “fig leaf” while in no way actually constraining them. With no monitoring, no enforcement and no punishment, it is up to the capitalist government in Washington to compel compliance.

Many of the giant companies financed the Paris meeting. If all the commitments made in Paris by all the countries were kept, the climate would still be in grave danger at a rise of 2 degrees Celsius in the atmosphere. The oppressed countries wanted the target for temperature rise to be no more than 1.5 degrees, but they lost out.

This weak agreement leaves the monopolies a free hand to revise, cheat, conceal and go ahead with business as usual.

While Obama was putting some soft pressure on them, Trump has given them a free hand and has assisted by attacking existing regulations.

To be sure, the big imperialists are concerned for the future of their system. They have seen first hand what happened during Hurricane Sandy. Flooding literally shut down Wall Street, as well as knocking out power to all of lower Manhattan in New York. It is costing billions of dollars to repair the subways and tunnels in the city.

Furthermore, the accelerated occurrence of tornadoes, hurricanes, excessive rainfall, floods, droughts, forest fires and other climate disasters that are televised have an impact on local, state and federal government, as well as insurance companies and destroyed businesses. The cost is running way into the tens and even hundreds of billions of dollars.

That is the way Wall Street and big business see it. They could not care less for the broad mass of people who suffer devastating losses, injury and death as a result of climate change. The capitalists are worried about the threat to their financial and physical structure in the future.

Pentagon and bankers fear climate change

The Climate and Security Advisory Group, a voluntary, nonpartisan group of 43 U.S.-based senior military, national security, homeland security and intelligence experts, including the former commanders of the U.S. Pacific and Central commands, issued a briefing book in 2016.

National Geographic reported last year: “The briefing book argues that climate change presents a significant and direct risk to U.S. military readiness, operations and strategy, and military leaders say it should transcend politics. It goes beyond protecting military bases from sea-level rise, the military advisers say. They urge Trump to order the Pentagon to game out catastrophic climate scenarios, track trends in climate impacts and collaborate with civilian communities. Stresses from climate change can increase the likelihood of international or civil conflict, state failure, mass migration and instability in strategically significant areas around the world, the defense experts argue.” (Nov. 15)

The briefing book leaves out that the Pentagon is one of the world’s biggest polluters.

As an example of the military’s problem, its naval base in Norfolk, Va., has been repeatedly flooded in recent years, interfering with military readiness to deploy the means of aggression. The Pentagon has hundreds of port bases that are threatened with similar obstacles from the rising tide of the oceans. Of course, island and coastal Indigenous civilizations, from Fiji to Bangladesh, face disaster.

Citibank is a global bank with branches in well over a hundred countries and a heavy stake in protecting U.S. and world imperialism. Citibank costed out the consequences of climate change for the world imperialist system in 2015.

“A new report from Citibank found that acting on climate change by investing in low-carbon energy would save the world $1.8 trillion through 2040, as compared to a business-as-usual scenario. In addition, not acting will cost an additional $44 trillion by 2060 from the ‘negative effects’ of climate change.

“The report, titled Energy Darwinism, looked at the predicted cost of energy over the coming decades, the costs of developing low carbon energy sources, and the implications of global energy choices.” (ThinkProgress, Aug. 31, 2015)

China’s environmental challenge to U.S. big business

It is reported that GE and other industrial companies urged Trump to stay in the pact. These companies have already geared up their corporate plans to grab market share of renewables like wind and solar. GE makes wind turbines. Numerous companies make solar panels, instruments and devices for the new technology. They have already invested based upon the Paris Accords. They fear that not being at the table would mean they would lose out to China and Europe as new technologies and new markets expand.

The bosses in the U.S. also have to worry about their cars and other carbon-emitting commodities meeting international standards or being shut out of overseas markets. In other words, the Paris agreement was all about profits and protection for the corporations and the imperialists.

China’s National Energy Administration has laid out a plan to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind. Thanks in large part to Chinese manufacturing, costs in the wind and solar industries are plummeting, making them increasingly competitive with power generation from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. (Obama put a 76 percent tariff on Chinese solar panels, driving up the costs for U.S. consumers.)

The New York Times wrote on Jan. 5: “Even the headline-grabbing numbers on total investment and job creation may understate what is already happening on the ground in China. Greenpeace estimates that China installed an average of more than one wind turbine every hour of every day in 2015, and covered the equivalent of one soccer field every hour with solar panels.” China has also embarked on a reforestation program that will absorb massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere.

So it is easy to see why Jeff Imelt, CEO of GE, and his fellow bosses are angry at Trump for putting them at a disadvantage, not only to China but also Europe, and particularly German imperialism.

Means of pollution are means of production

The workers and the oppressed should take sharp note of the fact that so many ruling figures and institutions have vowed to remain in support of the agreement. New York state, California and Washington are among the 30 states that have a network, United States Climate Alliance. About 180 cities are also forming a similar network. And big corporations are vowing to keep going with the Paris Accords.

What this means for the masses is that the ruling class is defying the White House and promoting it own environmental program, independent of the central capitalist state, including the Environmental Protection Agency.

In other words, Trump has control of the White House and the Republicans have control of the Congress, but the bourgeoisie have control of the means of production. And it is control over the means of production — the power plants, the oil wells, the natural gas, the coal mines, the factories, the means of transportation, etc. — that gives the bosses control over the CO2 emissions, the water supply, the air quality, the chemicals in the earth and so on.

The important point about all this is that if there is ever to be an effective policy to combat climate change — a policy in the interests of all humanity, a policy that does not depend on maintaining the profits of the polluters — then the means of production, the source of the pollution, must be taken out of the hands of the bourgeoisie and put into the hands of the workers and the oppressed. In other words, socialism is the only way out of the oncoming climate disaster.

Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End”, available at online booksellers.