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The cult of ignorance in the United States: Anti-intellectualism and the “dumbing down” of America
| May 24, 2017 | 8:17 pm | Analysis | No comments

The cult of ignorance in the United States: Anti-intellectualism and the “dumbing down” of America

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There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility.

Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, says in an article in the Washington Post, “Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture; a disjunction between Americans’ rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism.”

There has been a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in America, unlike most other Western countries. Richard Hofstadter, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his book, Anti-Intellectualism In American Life, describes how the vast underlying foundations of anti-elite, anti-reason and anti-science have been infused into America’s political and social fabric. Famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov once said:

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Mark Bauerlein, in his book, The Dumbest Generation, reveals how a whole generation of youth is being dumbed down by their aversion to reading anything of substance and their addiction to digital “crap” via social media.

Journalist Charles Pierce, author of Idiot America, adds another perspective:

“The rise of idiot America today represents – for profit mainly, but also and more cynically, for political advantage in the pursuit of power – the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they are talking about. In the new media age, everybody is an expert.”

“There’s a pervasive suspicion of rights, privileges, knowledge and specialization,” says Catherine Liu, the author of American Idyll: Academic Antielitism as Cultural Critique and a film and media studies professor at University of California. The very mission of universities has changed, argues Liu. “We don’t educate people anymore. We train them to get jobs.”

Part of the reason for the rising anti-intellectualism can be found in the declining state of education in the U.S. compared to other advanced countries:

  • After leading the world for decades in 25-34 year olds with university degrees, the U.S. is now in 12th place. The World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. at 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly 50% of all graduate students in the sciences in the U.S. are foreigners, most of whom are returning to their home countries;
  • The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs commissioned a civic education poll among public school students. A surprising 77% didn’t know that George Washington was the first President; couldn’t name Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence; and only 2.8% of the students actually passed the citizenship test. Along similar lines, the Goldwater Institute of Phoenix did the same survey and only 3.5% of students passed the civics test;
  • According to the National Research Council report, only 28% of high school science teachers consistently follow the National Research Council guidelines on teaching evolution, and 13% of those teachers explicitly advocate creationism or “intelligent design;”
  • 18% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth, according to a Gallup poll;
  • The American Association of State Colleges and Universities report on education shows that the U.S. ranks second among all nations in the proportion of the population aged 35-64 with a college degree, but 19th in the percentage of those aged 25-34 with an associate or high school diploma, which means that for the first time, the educational attainment of young people will be lower than their parents;
  • 74% of Republicans in the U.S. Senate and 53% in the House of Representatives deny the validity of climate change despite the findings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and every other significant scientific organization in the world;
  • According to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 68% of public school children in the U.S. do not read proficiently by the time they finish third grade. And the U.S. News & World reported that barely 50% of students are ready for college level reading when they graduate;
  • According to a 2006 survey by National Geographic-Roper, nearly half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 do not think it necessary to know the location of other countries in which important news is being made. More than a third consider it “not at all important” to know a foreign language, and only 14 percent consider it “very important;”
  • According to the National Endowment for the Arts report in 1982, 82% of college graduates read novels or poems for pleasure; two decades later only 67% did. And more than 40% of Americans under 44 did not read a single book–fiction or nonfiction–over the course of a year. The proportion of 17 year olds who read nothing (unless required by school ) has doubled between 1984-2004;
  • Gallup released a poll indicating 42 percent of Americans still believe God created human beings in their present form less than 10,000 years ago;
  • A 2008 University of Texas study found that 25 percent of public school biology teachers believe that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth simultaneously.

In American schools, the culture exalts the athlete and good-looking cheerleader. Well-educated and intellectual students are commonly referred to in public schools and the media as “nerds,” “dweebs,” “dorks,” and “geeks,” and are relentlessly harassed and even assaulted by the more popular “jocks” for openly displaying any intellect. These anti-intellectual attitudes are not reflected in students in most European or Asian countries, whose educational levels have now equaled and and will surpass that of the U.S. And most TV shows or movies such as The Big Bang Theory depict intellectuals as being geeks if not effeminate.

John W. Traphagan, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Texas, argues the problem is that Asian countries have core cultural values that are more akin to a cult of intelligence and education than a cult of ignorance and anti-intellectualism. In Japan, for example, teachers are held in high esteem and normally viewed as among the most important members of a community. There is suspicion and even disdain for the work of teachers that occurs in the U.S. Teachers in Japan typically are paid significantly more than their peers in the U.S. The profession of teaching is one that is seen as being of central value in Japanese society and those who choose that profession are well compensated in terms of salary, pension, and respect for their knowledge and their efforts on behalf of children.

In addition, we do not see in Japan significant numbers of the types of religious schools that are designed to shield children from knowledge about basic tenets of science and accepted understandings of history – such as evolutionary theory or the religious views of the Founding Fathers, who were largely deists – which are essential to having a fundamental understanding of the world, Traphagan contends. The reason for this is because in general Japanese value education, value the work of intellectuals, and see a well-educated public with a basic common knowledge in areas of scientific fact, math, history, literature, etc. as being an essential foundation to a successful democracy.

We’re creating a world of dummies. Angry dummies who feel they have the right, the authority and the need not only to comment on everything, but to make sure their voice is heard above the rest, and to drag down any opposing views through personal attacks, loud repetition and confrontation.

Bill Keller, writing in the New York Times argues that the anti-intellectual elitism is not an elitism of wisdom, education, experience or knowledge. The new elite are the angry social media posters, those who can shout loudest and more often, a clique of bullies and malcontents baying together like dogs cornering a fox. Too often it’s a combined elite of the anti-intellectuals and the conspiracy followers – not those who can voice the most cogent, most coherent response. Together they foment a rabid culture of anti-rationalism where every fact is suspect; every shadow holds a secret conspiracy. Rational thought is the enemy. Critical thinking is the devil’s tool.

Keller also notes that the herd mentality takes over online; the anti-intellectuals become the metaphorical equivalent of an angry lynch mob when anyone either challenges one of the mob beliefs or posts anything outside the mob’s self-limiting set of values.

Keller blames this in part to the online universe that “skews young, educated and attentive to fashions.” Fashion, entertainment, spectacle, voyeurism – we’re directed towards trivia, towards the inconsequential, towards unquestioning and blatant consumerism. This results in intellectual complacency. People accept without questioning, believe without weighing the choices, join the pack because in a culture where convenience rules, real individualism is too hard work. Thinking takes too much time: it gets in the way of the immediacy of the online experience.

Reality TV and pop culture presented in magazines and online sites claim to provide useful information about the importance of The Housewives of [you name the city] that can somehow enrich our lives. After all, how else can one explain the insipid and pointless stories that tout divorces, cheating and weight gain? How else can we explain how the Kardashians, or Paris Hilton are known for being famous without actually contributing anything worth discussion? The artificial events of their lives become the mainstay of populist media to distract people from the real issues and concerns facing us.

The current trend of increasing anti-intellectualism now establishing itself in politics and business leadership, and supported by a declining education system should be a cause for concern for leaders and the general population, one that needs to be addressed now.

Comment: Professor Patrick Deneen explains how kids have become a generation of know-nothings

We have fallen into the bad and unquestioned habit of thinking that our educational system is broken, but it is working on all cylinders. What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like “critical thinking,” “diversity,” “ways of knowing,” “social justice,” and “cultural competence.”

Our education system produces solipsistic, self-contained selves whose only public commitment is an absence of commitment to a public, a common culture, a shared history. They are perfectly hollowed vessels, receptive and obedient, without any real obligations or devotions.

Nigeria: Corruption Undercuts Boko Haram Fight
| May 24, 2017 | 8:14 pm | Africa | No comments

AfricaFocus Bulletin May 24, 2017 (170524) (Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

“Nigeria’s corrupt elites have profited from conflict; with oil prices at a record low, defence has provided new and lucrative opportunities for the country’s corrupt kleptocrats. Former military chiefs have stolen as much as US $15 billion – a sum equivalent to half of Nigeria’s foreign currency reserves – through fraudulent arms procurement deals.” – new report on “Weaponizing Tranparency”

This new report, excerpted in this AfricaFocus Bulletin, was released earlier this month by Transparency International, Transparency International Defence and Security and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre in Nigeria: Entitled “Weaponising Transparency: Defence Procurement Reform as a Counterterrorism Strategy in Nigeria,” it stresses that considerable progress has been made by the Buhari administration in its campaign against corruption, but that corruption is still pervasive, not least in the military. This corruption, the report argues, is one of the major impediments to an effective counterinsurgency campaign against Boko Haram.

Both topics, corruption and Boko Haram, are frequent themes of both national and international coverage of Nigeria. But this report is distinctive in closely linking the two issues, and in presenting specific proposals to strengthening anti-corruption efforts aimed at arms procurement in particular.

For a press release on the report, launched on May 18 in Abuja, visit http://tinyurl.com/mel4ozo

Notably, the report has received wide press coverage in Nigeria, but little international attention and virtually no international news coverage, although it includes the point that Nigeria’s international partners share the blame for enabling such corruption.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Nigeria, visit http://www.africafocus.org/country/nigeria.php

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++

Weaponising Transparency: Defence Procurement Reform as a Counterterrorism Strategy in Nigeria

In Partnership With

Transparency International (TI; http://www.transparency.org)

Transparency International Defence and Security (TI-DS; http://ti-defence.org)

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC; http://cislacnigeria.net/)

May 2017

[full report, with other related coverage, available at http://allafrica.com/view/group/main/main/id/00051928.html; Direct link to full report: http://tinyurl.com/lozqbah]

Executive Summary

Defence sector corruption is a major threat to Nigeria’s internal security and political stability. Largely unaddressed, it has weakened Nigerian counterterrorism capacity whilst strengthening Boko Haram.

Nigeria’s corrupt elites have profited from conflict; with oil prices at a record low, defence has provided new and lucrative opportunities for the country’s corrupt kleptocrats. Former military chiefs have stolen as much as US $15 billion – a sum equivalent to half of Nigeria’s foreign currency reserves – through fraudulent arms procurement deals. Defence sector corruption in Nigeria has enabled the political elite to accumulate and distribute political patronage. Longstanding military exceptionalism meanwhile, has justified weak and compromised oversight of securityrelated spending and excessive secrecy.

By far the most significant corruption opportunities are those exploited through inflating procurement contract values and creating “phantom” defence contracts. Such contracts are used as a vehicle for money laundering: facilitated via weak or corrupted Nigerian banks, illicit financial flows are often hidden in property in the UK, United States, South Africa and Dubai.

President Buhari’s government has taken significant steps to identify and prosecute individuals involved in security sector corruption. And the campaign to focus international attention on returning stolen assets has been powerful. But however effective these efforts are, they will not be enough to win the long fight against corruption. The reality is that Nigeria’s attempt to secure the repatriation of large quantities of illicitly laundered assets from places like the UK makes a better media headline than it does anti-corruption strategy.

With the President’s first term ending in 2019, the window of opportunity for far reaching change is closing rapidly. Only a holistic reform agenda can deliver the deep, systemic changes and improvements in transparency and accountability needed to prevent the next US $15 billion quietly leaving Nigeria through the back door.

Ex-Air Force Chief of Staff Adesola Amosu was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in 2016, and his trial is still ongoing. Photo credit: Premium Times

Introduction

Violent extremism thrives as a result of exploitative governing structures and state predation. Terrorist groups motivated by radical political and religious ideologies have destabilized Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria, and other weak or misgoverned states. These groups have been able to co-opt disaffected populations by leveraging popular antipathy toward corrupt governments, often by presenting their own radical agenda as having greater moral value and popular legitimacy than the secular governments they seek to destroy. Predation by these regimes – whether it takes the form of elite corruption, security force abuses, or ethno-religious chauvinism – serves to validate extremist narratives about the immorality of secular governance.

The Boko Haram insurgency is now entering its fifteenth year, fed by the notorious levels of public sector corruption that have eroded the Nigerian state’s legitimacy. Politicians compete for private control of national coffers, rather than delivering public goods based on the growing needs of Nigeria’s booming population – on track to be the third largest in the world by 2050. Yet for the vast majority, corruption remains endemic and systemic, warping the social contract between the government and citizens. Patronage – not performance – is the ticket to advancement.

Securing a prosperous future for nearly 180 million people will be tough. The continent’s largest economy has, since 1970, suffered from the largest per annum illicit financial outflow on the continent as corrupt actors seek to exploit banking loopholes to launder and hide their unlawful assets. An estimated US $217.7bn was illegally transferred out of Nigeria between 1970 and 2008. The same study estimated that illegal transfers from the African continent have tripled since 2001.

Across the board, public sector corruption is undermining the state’s ability to address Nigeria’s many challenges: socioeconomic underdevelopment, unemployment and insecurity. Nowhere is the failure of governance more evident than in the northeast, a region that was already impoverished even before it was devastated by Boko Haram. The conflict has displaced over 2.6 million people and killed as many as 50,000 since May 2011.

Corruption has been particularly destructive in the defence and security sector. Overlooked in peacetime, defence sector corruption has devastating real world consequences when conflict flares. With lower oil prices, corrupt elites have increasingly exploited alternative illicit revenue streams. The secret nature of defence and security budgets has made them the easiest and most lucrative opportunity to exploit. While Boko Haram has constructed a conflict economy geared around pillage, racketeering, and kidnapping; senior players in the Nigerian security sector have also profited from the insurgency.

Extra-budgetary spending on counterterrorism has dramatically increased throughout 2014 and into 2015, and with it the scale and scope of corrupt opportunities in the defence sector. Corruption has hollowed out the Nigerian Army, the largest in West Africa, and compromised the integrity of the country’s Navy, which has been implicated in the theft of millions of barrels of crude oil in recent years. The result has been a corrupt war economy that incentivises high- ranking officials and security personnel to perpetuate conflict for personal gain. War has been a boon to Nigeria’s corrupt.

Since coming to power in May 2015, President Buhari has taken some bold action in tackling defence sector corruption. Central to his approach have been two ad hoc, temporary audit committees: one investigating spending by the Office of the National Security Adviser and one investigating defence arms and equipment procurement. Taking on the defence establishment was a significant move: the evidence uncovered by these probes revealed that several of the country’s former military chiefs, using dozens of companies, together stole as much as US $15 billion.

President Buhari’s anti-corruption drive is a rare example of senior Nigerian defence and security officials being exposed to criminal investigation. By signalling that military impunity is not without limit, it is undoubtedly a positive step forward.

The approach has been coupled with a determined attempt to see the return of Nigeria’s stolen wealth. During the London Anti-corruption Summit in May 2016, President Buhari demanded the return of illicitly laundered assets from the UK. The point was powerfully made, but sadly, the chances of success are slim. Asset recovery is a lengthy and resource heavy procedure. The UK performs relatively well compared to international peers, but even at the highest estimate, asset freezing and repatriation are tiny in relation to the vast scale of theft.

Over the past 12 years, UK enforcement agencies have prosecuted just a handful of cases – three state governors – and repatriated only a few million pounds to Nigeria. This is a fraction of what has surely been stolen. The extent of misappropriation of public funds by former General Sani Abacha is notorious. Listed as one of the top four most corrupt world leaders, during five years in office Abacha is estimated to have embezzled between US $2 and 5 billion. Despite unprecedented cooperation between UK, USA, Swiss and Nigerian authorities to return these stolen assets, the case is on-going 19 years after Abacha’s death.

Abacha and these three governors all plundered defence and security budgets. Nigeria suffers from the continent’s highest illicit financial flows because it offers the most opportunities for corruption. To stop today’s assets being misappropriated, defence sector reform must be an equal priority to enforcement and repatriation, or Nigeria’s leaders will always be chasing the past. Since independence, every civilian and military administration has come to power promising to root out corruption. Without progressing its approach to anti-corruption reform, Nigeria’s current and future governments will at best be destined to the same media headlines as its predecessors.

1. The context for defence sector corruption

“Corruption in Nigeria is not mindless…it is calculated and systematic.” former Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi

Political patronage

With evidence uncovered by the two ad hoc audit committees established by President Buhari, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria’s main anticorruption agency, has indicted over 300 individuals and companies for defence sector procurement theft and misappropriation.

Fifty-five people, including former government ministers, military chiefs, state governors, and bankers were reported by the committees to have stolen 1.34 trillion naira ($6.8 billion) over a seven-year period in the shape of arms equipment deals. A further $2 billion was allegedly stolen from the National Security Budget under the watch of National Security Advisor, Colonel Sambo Dasuki. What these investigations illustrate is a system of kickbacks, where billions of dollars were diverted from procurement spending, through the use of ‘briefcase’ companies, in order to fund the ruling party’s supporters and ensure electoral success for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 general elections.

The amounts stolen are shockingly bold. Yet the misappropriation of budgets to buy political support is not new. Successive Nigerian leaders, both civilian and military, have built governmental power structures around the country’s main income stream: oil. And until recently oil revenues have typically accounted for up to 70 per cent of government revenues – feeding powerful patronage networks. Obasanjo did not even appoint an oil minister, preferring to supervise the ministry directly himself. Successive administrations have maintained the same structure: former PDP president Goodluck Jonathan, a civilian, appointed his close ally Diezani AlisonMadueke as Oil Minister. Madueke – who has recently been charged with money laundering – was described by one Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) official as, “the oil institution.”

The drop in Nigeria’s state oil revenues has hit oil sector rents hard, and this has led Nigeria’s corrupt elites to raid defence and security sector budgets to maintain their power bases. With defence budgets forming close to 20 per cent of total government spending in 2017, the sector offers lucrative rewards to Nigeria’s corrupt elite. Much of this has been hidden through large value contracts. According to the former Head of the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) – the agency established to monitor, oversee and set standards for government procurement spending – 90 per cent of bribes in Nigeria occur through procurement. Both the size and opacity of the defence sector has made it an attractive veil for fake corporate activity.

While some of this money is stolen for individual profit, a great deal is dispersed through complex patronage networks. As former Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi phrased it, “corruption in Nigeria is not mindless…it is calculated and systematic.” Sustaining political patronage is a system, a system that was previously predominantly funded by the oil sector but is now increasingly relying on plundering of the defence and security budget. Former President Goodluck Jonathan expended unprecedented amounts of patronage, even beyond historical norms, to improve his electoral chances. One former adviser observed that President Jonathan and his allies acted “with a siege mentality” within an unstable PDP. The oil and defence sectors were exploited to record levels in order to sure up an extensive patronage network and safeguard President Jonathan’s political future. These kleptocractic networks have yet to be disabled.

Kleptocratic capture of the defence sector

What is overwhelmingly clear from the results of the ad hoc audit committee investigations is the extent of unmonitored, systemic control over the defence sector by senior government elites. The lack of clear separation between the executive and the military is a long running problem. Despite the formal end of military rule in 1999, the military has played a significant role in political life. With control of the armed forces and a monopoly on access to arms, military generals have the power to protect access to resource rents and ensure their place within the ruling elite.

Kleptocratic capture of the defence sector rests on three pillars: capture of defence budgets and income, capture of defence spending and procurement, and capture of senior military posts. Facilitating this capture are powerful senior figures – godfathers – who select and appoint personnel to defence sector positions, in order to operationalise systemic control over security finances. The system facilitates control from the highest levels of the political party to the lowest levels of the military.

Appointments can also be used as political bargaining chips: former President Jonathan cemented a pre-election political alliance with former head of state Ibrahim Babangida by appointing Aliyu Mohammed – a long-time Babangida loyalist, ex-Army chief, and NSA to two presidents – as minister. As one Nigerian Army officer put it, the “selection of officials [both civilian and military] is done politically and based on who is who. Even when personnel are picked to oversee certain aspects that involve anything in procurement, it is done based on the gain expected or to be reaped by the ‘godfather’ who does the selection.”

Among the rank-and-file, chronic pay shortfalls, inadequate training, and dilapidated facilities create powerful incentives for corruption by undercutting the overall professionalism and morale of the military. As the military’s esprit de corps has eroded, so too has its sense of purpose and focus on its core missions. Over time individual officers and soldiers have come to prioritise their own personal wellbeing – or even their mere subsistence – over the needs of the service. Perceiving themselves to be victims of corrupt behaviour, such as the skimming of allowances or embezzlement of essential operational funds, many have lost faith in the legitimacy of the system and the patrimonial guarantees made to them when they joined it.

Excessive secrecy

In any country, a proportion of spending must remain confidential for security reasons; typically 15 per cent, including among states in conflict. Yet Nigeria classifies nearly all defence contracts and budgets, and considers any broadlydefined security-related matter ‘secret’ by definition.

Even according to the Nigerian government, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) ranks among the agencies least compliant with the 2011 Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. Civil society, meanwhile, ranks the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) among those security agencies most resistant to disclosing information in response to FOI requests. These opaque habits are cultural remnants of the decades Nigeria spent under military rule that have been preserved by contemporary military and civilian leaders keen to forestall outside scrutiny of their activities. As a result, Nigeria ranks among those countries at the highest risk of corruption due to the overclassification of budget data and weak oversight of secret budgets.

This culture of secrecy is often openly hostile or vengeful towards journalists and civil society. In December 2015, soldiers reportedly perpetrated gross human rights violations during two separate military crackdowns in Zaria and Onitsha. In response to these allegations the Nigerian Army has labelled its critics as “unscrupulous and unpatriotic”. Meanwhile President Buhari’s government has failed to take any action to hold the military to account for incidents such as the deaths of several thousand detainees – due to starvation, torture, and disease – at the Giwa Barracks military prison between 2011 and 2014.

Similarly, in June 2016 Nigeria’s Minister of Defence condemned media reports about the Chief of Army Staff’s links to high-end property in Dubai describing them as “disgruntled and unpatriotic elements” and warning the media that they should show more “professionalism [when reporting on] security and defence related matters”. In September 2016, military soldiers and officers of the State Security Services allegedly stripped and beat ten journalists and media workers with barbed wire before arresting them.

The Nigerian military’s hostile response to scrutiny reinforces the perception that it is distinct from other state institutions and can play by a different set of rules. Moreover, there has been a long standing culture among senior officers that rank has its privileges and that promotion to top echelons comes with the prerogative to use one’s position for personal gain. This heavily undermines public trust.

Military exceptionalism

Despite Nigeria’s 1999 return to democratic rule, the oversight exercised by civilian officials and other watchdogs over the military and security agencies remains very weak. Weak accountability has enabled powerholders along the entire defence spending chain to misappropriate state funds, from the Presidency down to unit commanders at ground level.

Although the Senate and the House of Representatives have several security committees (National Security and Intelligence, Defence, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Police Affairs), members of these panels rarely undertake in-depth oversight activities. With defence sector spending shrouded in secrecy, entities such as civil society groups, media organisations, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the Auditor General of the Federation, and National Assembly committees are similarly unable to marshal sufficient information to play watchdog, even if they have the formal legal authority to do so.

By establishing two ad hoc investigatory committees to audit the ONSA and past defence procurement, President Buhari has attempted to sidestep existing undeveloped or ineffective oversight institutions. Official announcements from the Presidency declared the probe would investigate contracts entered into from 2007 to 2015, but critics claim that current ruling party members implicated in fraud have been allowed to pay to evade charges, while opposition supporters have been held without bail and charged. Whether or not accusations over political manipulations are true, the reality is that these ad hoc bodies lack the legitimacy and credibility to be a successful long-term solution.

The acquiescence of international partners

International military partners have a part to play and have done precious little to disincentivise Nigerian security-sector corruption. By failing to integrate effective anti-corruption measures into their security engagement policies, partners are inadvertently diminishing the impact of their military assistance. US military and police aid to Nigeria, totalled US $45.4 million from 2010 to 2014, but was just a small fraction of the more than US $2 billion in security funds that was allegedly stolen by Nigeria’s previous National Security Advisor – who for three decades enjoyed a close relationship with Washington.

Key international suppliers of Nigerian military hardware are facilitating fraud by agreeing to uncompetitive or unorthodox contracts. In 2013, Nigeria officials reportedly skimmed US $20 million from an internet surveillance contract directly awarded to an Israeli company in defiance of public procurement competition rules. Likewise, a former air-force chief admitted embezzling millions via seven arms contracts directly awarded to a Ukrainian company.

International partners are missing opportunities to encourage reform. The United States’ efforts to sell 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to the Nigerian Air Force – whose last three chiefs, along with other senior officers, are currently on trial for embezzlement and procurement fraud – looks like business as usual. Contracts such as this are opportunities to prompt change, yet it is not at all clear that the Nigerian Air Force has become more transparent about its finances and procurement; and the senior air force officer invited to Washington in July 2015 to discuss the Super Tucano sale, has since been charged with corruption.

The widespread use of both international and Nigerian agents to facilitate such deals also increases opportunities for inflating contracts and paying bribes, as illustrated by the recent investigation into Rolls-Royce. Although this case is a good example of how strong, coordinated international enforcement efforts can make businesses accountable for unethical conduct.

Disrupting financial crime

The most effective action against asset flight is to prevent it occurring in the first place; and here the Nigerian and international financial sectors could play a much greater role. Recent evidence from the Presidentially-appointed ad hoc Audit Committees has shown that stolen funds often pass through multiple accounts before being moved offshore beyond the reach of domestic authorities. As facilitators of corrupt funds, both Nigerian and international banks need to raise their standards of governance and control. Those that repeatedly fail should be sanctioned or shut down. But this is not currently happening: Skye Bank has been consistently implicated in the EFCC’s corruption and fraud prosecutions, such as the current N22.8 billion trial of three former air force chiefs and an Air Force Director of Finance for money laundering. Skye Bank has been indicted alongside the defendants, yet the Central Bank of Nigeria has not used its sanctioning powers to hold board members to account. Instead, the Central Bank allowed board members to announce they had “voluntarily resigned” – despite evidence of gross insider malpractice, including by the Chairman Tunde Ayeni. Ayeni is a close associate of President Jonathan and convicted PDP governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. Whilst chair of Skye Bank, Ayeni was also chair of Joint Aviation Services Limited – a briefcase company involved in bidding for inflated defence procurement contracts – highlighting the high level of elite control of defence spending and money laundering.

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AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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Brazil: Canary in the Global Economy Coalmine?

Brazil: Canary in the Global Economy Coalmine?

Brazil is transitioning to a greater political crisis based on events of the past week, May 2017. The origins of the political crisis, however, are economic. Business and right wing forces precipitated the legal coup of 2016 to put their political representatives in direct control to enrich themselves again. The coup, however, was made possible only by the Brazilian economy’s deep recession of recent years, which was precipitated by its central bank raising interest rates to 14.25%, in order to prop up the value of its currency and prevent the collapse of assets of the wealthy.

How the Brazilian economy collapsed into recession was addressed in chapter 3, ‘Emerging Markets Perfect Storm’, in my 2016 book, “Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy”, Clarity press, 2016. (see the book icon on the front webpage of this website for reviews and more detail).

To read the chapter’s excerpt on Brazil’s economy, go to the following url to the ‘articles’ subpage on my website.

http://www.kyklosproductions.com/articles.html

Communist-backed ‘Panspoudastiki’ gains second place in Greece’s student elections

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Communist-backed ‘Panspoudastiki’ gains second place in Greece’s student elections

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/05/communist-backed-panspoudastiki-ks.html
Report by In Defense of Communism, Info by 902.gr.
 

“Panspoudastiki KS”, the communist-backed university students party- emerges again at a national level as the second force in the Universities and the Technological Institutes. The result confirms that there is a very important mass of students that place their trust in the positions and activity of the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE).

Thousands of students supported the lists of “Panspoudastiki KS” (PKS) in the student union elections held on the 24th of May. They struggled alongside the members of KNE in order to shape the positive result of the student union elections.

“Panspoudastiki KS” increased its actual votes and percentage in the Universities, receiving 24.48% (in 114 from 199 Schools). The lists of DAP (of the conservative party New Democracy) gain the majority of votes (37.89%), while PASP (of the social-democratic party PASOK) and EAAK (ultra-left ANTARSYA) saw a reduction in their actual votes in the universities. The government-oriented  list BLOKO of the new social-democratic party SYRIZA has decreased dramatically, reaching 0.50%.

In the Technological Institutes “Panspoudastiki KS” received 25.81% (in 37 from 66 Schools) remaining the second force there as well.
 
In a statement, the General Secretary of the CC of KNE Nikos Abatielos points out the fact that “Panspoudastiki KS” remains a “militant force”, remaing the second force in the University student elections. “The KKE and KNE will continue our efforts to strengthen the line of counterattack, against the antipeople policy of governments-EU-capital which crashes the studies and life of thousands of students” said Abatielos, adding that “the KKE and KNE will be in the front line of the struggle”.

* While this post was written, the counting of the votes was still in progress. You can check out the results by clicking here (in Greek). 
Does Assange have a get-out-of-jail card over the ‘Russia-gate’ scandal?
| May 23, 2017 | 8:44 pm | Analysis, Julian Assange | No comments

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/389073-asange-wikileaks-russia-case/

Finian Cunningham
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.
Does Assange have a get-out-of-jail card over the ‘Russia-gate’ scandal?
The surprise dropping of an alleged rape case by Swedish prosecutors against whistleblower/publisher Julian Assange paves the way, possibly, to his eventual freedom. It raises an intriguing question: did Assange play an ace card in a backchannel deal?

It seems highly significant that the apparent loosening of the legal vendetta against Assange comes at the same time that the “Russia-gate” scandal embroiling the US president is reaching a critical state.

Powerful political opponents of US President Donald Trump are intensifying their attempts to impeach him over allegations that he in some way colluded with Russia to win the US election last November.

Assange’s possible ‘ace card’ is that he threatened to release so-far undisclosed information that would expose the allegations of Russian collusion as bogus.

The appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference – which is reported to have been elevated now to a criminal probe – can be read as a sign that ‘deep state’ opponents to Trump are earnestly raising the stakes against the president.

Trump has repeatedly denied there was any collusion. He dismisses the claims as a “giant hoax.” Separately, the Russian government has also rejected the speculation, pointing out that no verifiable evidence has ever been presented to substantiate the claims.

The theory of a Trump-Russia plot rests entirely on suspicions that Russian state computer hackers broke into the email system of Democrat presidential rival Hillary Clinton. During the election campaign last year, the damaging email information on Clinton’s links to Wall Street and other shenanigans were allegedly passed by Russian cyber agents to WikiLeaks, which in turn published it. Somehow, the Trump campaign team were allegedly complicit, and the whole imbroglio served to undermine Clinton’s support among voters.

To say that Assange is a wanted man by the US authorities and especially deep state forces is a colossal understatement. What then could explain the sudden move to drop the legal battle to extradite him?

The seven-year case against Assange was unexpectedly cancelled last week by the Swedish authorities. The bombshell news took everyone by surprise.

Australian journalist and editor of whistleblower site WikiLeaks has spent nearly five years confined to the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, where he sought political asylum from extradition to Sweden. Assange feared that his prosecution in Sweden was a pretext by American authorities in order to obtain his further extradition to the US where he would face grave charges of espionage and possibly a life sentence in prison, if not the death penalty.

Over the past seven years, WikiLeaks has shot to global notoriety for publishing damning classified information and secret diplomatic cables that have revealed a litany of war crimes committed by the American government in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Other mammoth crimes revealed by WikiLeaks include a vast network of illegal surveillance by the US state on citizens at home and around the world, as well as on other governments and political leaders, including supposed American allies.

Assange and his supporters have always maintained that the rape case against him in Sweden was a trumped-up conspiracy, which the Swedish, American, and British authorities had concocted in order to stealthily secure his extradition to the US.

So, the apparent move to call off the legal battle against Assange by governments which have up to now shown unremitting vindictiveness to “get their man” seems a bit strange, to say the least.

It begs the question that Assange might have possessed explosive information giving him crucial leverage.

Enter the troubling case of Seth Rich, the former staffer at the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Rich was shot dead last July while he was walking home late at night in Washington DC. His killing remains an unsolved homicide case.

But there are credible claims that 27-year-old Rich was the source of the notorious Clinton emails to WikiLeaks. A private investigator in Washington recently told Fox News that Rich released over 40,000 computer files to WikiLeaks. Notably, it was around the time of his death that the torrent of damaging emails against the Clinton campaign began to emerge in the public domain.

Rich’s family have vehemently denied that he was involved as a whistleblower. His alleged involvement with WikiLeaks is still largely speculative.

Julian Assange has never confirmed that Seth Rich was the source of the emails from the DNC. However, weeks after his killing, Assange offered a $20,000 reward for information that might lead to solving the case. Why would Assange take such a personal interest?

Notably, too, Assange has consistently denied that his information damaging Clinton’s campaign was supplied by Russia.

Revealing sources would be a gross violation of journalistic ethics, especially for an organization like WikiLeaks, which relies on the courage of whistleblowers to take great personal risks in coming forward with highly sensitive information. But in the case of Seth Rich, a dead source, the normal ethical rules of not identifying sources could be considered null and void.

If the young staffer at the DNC was the source of the ‘Clinton emails’ to WikiLeaks, it would have staggering consequences. Ultimately, it would show that the whole premise of the Russia-gate scandal embroiling Trump is baseless. The alleged Trump-Russian collusion narrative is premised on the claims that Russian cyber agents hacked into the Democratic Party database, purloined damaging information on Clinton, and then forwarded all that to WikiLeaks.

Alternatively, if the information was not hacked, but rather leaked by a disaffected DNC staffer like Seth Rich – as many observers believe – then that chain of communication would in one fell swoop demolish the Russia-gate scandal. It’s not a case of hacking. It’s a case of internal leaking.

At a critical time in the Russia-gate scandal – when the stakes have been raised to almost impeachment level – the political opponents gunning for Trump have a lot to lose. The criminal consequences are huge for those intelligence agencies, political operatives, and media assets who are mounting the conspiracy to oust Trump from office.

It seems a pertinent question: did Julian Assange threaten to use an ace card to extricate himself from the punishing vendetta orchestrated by the American, British, and Swedish deep state authorities?

If Assange could demonstrate that the Russia-gate collusion scandal is nothing but a fabrication to unlawfully impeach the US president – by showing the real source of his information – then that would give him immense leverage to thwart the legal vendetta against him.

It is by no means clear if the unprecedented move by the Swedish prosecutor to call off the case will actually result in Assange’s imminent freedom from his sanctuary in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.

Assange and his supporters cautiously welcomed the “victory and vindication” on receiving the news on Friday. There remain concerns that the British authorities may still arrest Assange on behalf of their American partners if Assange attempts to walk free. The British government and London Metropolitan police have so far equivocated on their next move.

But if Assange does indeed have an ace card to play in the whole Trump-Russia affair then he may well have enough leverage to gain his freedom. We shall see.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Bernie Sanders Drops The Stone Cold Truth And Calls Trump Dishonest While Destroying His Budget

Bernie Sanders Drops The Stone Cold Truth And Calls Trump Dishonest While Destroying His Budget

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called Trump dishonest and his budget immoral as he dropped the stone cold truth on what Donald Trump’s budget would mean for the wealthiest and most vulnerable Americans.


Bernie Sanders Drops The Stone Cold Truth And Calls Trump Dishonest While Destroying His Budget

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called Trump dishonest and his budget immoral as he dropped the stone cold truth on what Donald Trump’s budget would mean for the wealthiest and most vulnerable Americans.

Sanders explained how the Trump budget helps people like Donald Trump:

This is a budget which says that if you are the richest family in America, the Walton family, you can get up to a $53 billion tax break through the repeal of the estate tax. $53 billion tax break. But at the same time, it says that if you are a lower income senior citizen you will not be able to get the one nutritious meal a day you now receive through the Meals on Wheels program, or the help you desperately need if you are disabled.

This is a budget that says that if you are the second wealthiest family in America, the Koch brothers family – a family that has contributed many hundreds of millions into the Republican Party – you may get up to a $34 billion tax break. But at the same time, if you are a working class student trying to figure out how you could possibly afford college, your dream of a college education will evaporate because of major cuts to student financial assistance programs.

This is a budget which says that if you are a member of the Trump family you may receive a tax break of up to $4 billion, but if you are a child of a working class family you could well lose the health insurance you currently have through the Children’s Health Insurance program and massive cuts to Medicaid. At a time when we remain the only country on earth not to guarantee health care to all, this budget makes a bad situation worse in terms of health care.

Sanders called out the dishonest rhetoric of Trump, “When Donald Trump campaigned for president, he told the American people that he would be a different type of Republican. That he would take on the political and economic establishment. That he would stand up for working people. That he understood the pain that families all over this country were feeling. Well, sadly, this budget exposes all of that verbiage for what it really was – just cheap and dishonest campaign rhetoric that was meant to get votes. Nothing more than that.”

This budget makes the Republican priorities clear. The Trump budget may not pass in Congress, but many of its ideas are very popular with congressional Republicans. Don’t think that the defeat Trump’s budget will be the end of the assault on programs for poor and the disabled.

In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan has been dreaming up these kinds of budgets for years. The Trump budget may not pass, but something very close to it will.

Sanders and the Democratic leadership are painting the picture of immoral upward redistribution of wealth.

The Trump budget is the first shot in the battle to save programs that benefit millions of Americans, If Democrats are going to take back Congress, they need to educate voters on the reality of the Trump budget and Republican economic ideology.

Dimitris Koutsoumbas: The significance of the October Revolution in the era of the transition from capitalism to socialism-communism

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dimitris Koutsoumbas: The significance of the October Revolution in the era of the transition from capitalism to socialism-communism

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/05/dimitris-koutsoumbas-significance-of.html
By Dimitris Koutsoumbas*.
Source: International Communist Review, Issue 7, 2017.
 
In 2017 we will honour the 100th anniversary of the Great Socialist Revolution that took place in 1917 in Russia. This event marked and determined the course of millions of people, not just within the geographical confines of the first workers’ state in the history of humanity, the USSR, but it also had an impact of every corner of the planet for many decades.
October demonstrates the working class’s potential and capacity to implement its historical mission as the only truly revolutionary class, to lead the first attempt to construct socialism-communism.
At the same time, October shows the irreplaceable role of the guiding force of the socialist revolution, the communist party.
Great October demonstrates the enormous strength of proletarian internationalism. Despite the developments after the overthrow of socialism in 1989-1991, the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, with all the theoretical and practical experience and maturity that we have acquired over the years, makes us even more certain and categorical about the timeliness and necessity of socialism-communism.
The counterrevolutionary overthrows do not change the character of the era. The 21st century will be the century of a new upsurge of the global revolutionary movement and a new series of socialist revolutions.
The daily struggles for partial and more general gains are undeniably necessary, but they cannot provide substantial, long-term and permanent solutions. Socialism remains the only way out.
The necessity of socialism is highlighted by the sharpening of the contradictions in the contemporary capitalist world, the international imperialist system. The material preconditions for socialism, i.e. labour power and the means of production, have matured within capitalism itself.
Capitalism has socialized labour and production to unprecedented levels. The working class, the main productive force, constitutes the majority of the economically active population. However, the means of production, the products of social labour are privately owned by the capitalists.
This contradiction is the root cause of all the crisis phenomena of contemporary capitalist societies, such as economic crises, the destruction of the environment, the drug problem, the long working day despite the great increase of labour productivity, and which of course coexists with unemployment, under-employment and semi-employment, the intensification of the exploitation of labour power etc.
At the same time, however, this reality signals the need to abolish private ownership of the concentrated means of production, to socialize them and use them in a planned way in social production, the planning of the economy by workers’ power so that the relations of production correspond to the level of development of the forces of production.
 
***
The impact of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the first victorious battle in history for the emancipation of the working class, remains undiminished to this day. Socialism was transformed from a prediction into a specific reality.
The victory of the revolution provided the possibility of condensing its lessons into a complete theory for socialist revolution and the party. The lessons from it provided the ideological and political basis for the establishment of the Communist International, for a new impetus for the international communist movement.
The theoretical legacy of October, enriched by the experience of the socialist revolutions that then followed, is priceless.
It confirmed in practice the correctness of the Marxist-Leninist theory of the revolution, which flows from the complete systematic analysis of imperialism i.e. that the revolution matures over the course of historical developments and breaks out in a period determined by a combination of objective and subjective causes.
The imperialists and all kinds of renegades distort or conceal the importance of the October Revolution because they obviously understand full well that through its victory the theory and ideas of Marxism became a material force, that millions of workers all over the world mobilized and continue to mobilize against capital’s power, were victorious and organized their own state, the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is founded on the direct producers, the working majority, and is the highest form of democracy that humanity has ever seen.
The Paris Communards in the 19th century took and held power for just 70 days; the new charge to heaven lasted 70 years, constructed socialism, and made an enormous contribution all over the world, surpassing the confines of one country.
The nihilistic stance towards the socialism we knew, the adoption of views that say it was a total failure-because its course was interrupted-is an unscientific stance and an ahistorical one and leads to impasses.
Socialism was constructed, developed, and began to solve the major economic and social problems. It was not possible for a number of reasons for it to highlight and most of all liberate, over the entire course of its construction, the inherent potential for the constant development and perfecting of production, to consolidate itself in its struggle against the capitalist system.
However, this does not negate the contribution and role of the socialist system, as it was formed in the 20th century, irrespective of deficiencies, weaknesses and mistakes that appeared during this difficult course.
What the October Revolution objectively signaled is the undeniable fact that socialism is the future of humanity. It is the system that through the historical development of society will create new social relations, socialist-communist ones, focusing on the people and the satisfaction of all their needs.
 
***
The October Revolution in practice confirmed the Leninist analysis concerning the weakest link in the imperialist chain. Up until that point what was missing in the international movement was the theoretical foundation for the possibility of the socialist revolution being victorious in one country or a group of countries, which would emerge as weak links, as a result of the sharpening of the internal contradictions under the influence of international developments.
Of course due to uneven economic and political development, such characteristics can manifest themselves in countries of a medium and lower level of development, where the revolutionary process of course can begin more easily but where it is exceptionally difficult for socialist construction to continue victoriously. Lenin’s analyses contributed to the development of Marxism and to the strategic thinking of the Bolsheviks as a whole.
The contribution of Lenin and the Bolshevik party was decisive in the confrontation against the section of social-democracy which, violating the decisions of the 2nd International, supported the bourgeois classes of their countries, sometimes by voting for war credits in Parliament, other times by participating in governments that waged wars, supposedly so that there could be a “peaceful development”, defending the “imperialist peace” with a gun to the people’s heads. A political line which inevitably entangled them even more deeply in the imperialist war, in the sharpening of the contradictions and antagonisms of the imperialist states and their alliances.
Lenin with the strategic line that he followed determined that from the standpoint of the revolutionary movement of the working class that aims to take power via a revolution, the issue is not a simple “pacifist” opposition to war, but chiefly the utilization of ruptures, which objectively in such conditions, are created in the imperialist camp, the utilization of the weakening of the bourgeoisie in each country with the aim of transforming this imperialist war in each country, whether the country is an “aggressive” or “defensive” stance, into a struggle to overthrow bourgeois power that brings death and poverty for the children of the working class and people.
The October Revolution confirmed the Leninist position that the modern era, the era of monopoly capitalism, i.e. the imperialist stage of capitalism, is the era of the transition from capitalism to socialism-the era of socialist revolutions.
The Great October Socialist Revolution also confirmed the role of opportunism as the ideological-political expression of bought off sections of the working class, as the impact of bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology on the labour movement.
Lenin, on the basis of the experience of the October revolution, engaged in particular with issues of the power of the new workers’ state, the dictatorship of the proletariat. He studied the experience of the Paris commune in detail, the experience of the Soviets of the 1905 revolution in Russia, the role of the state on the basis of the conclusions of Marx and Engels.
He made a particular contribution to identifying the seeds of the organs of the new power, the character of the dictatorship of the proletariat, as a higher form of state organization of class power for the transition from the early imperfect socialist society to the fully communist society, in both form and content.
These are lessons and experiences that have timeless value for today as regards the organization of the workers’-people’s struggle, when the class struggle is sharpening in conditions of a revolutionary crisis, a revolutionary situation, as regards the organization and expression of the alliance of the working class with the poor popular strata, its natural allies, the poor farmers and self-employed, with the working class in the vanguard, their transformation into a revolutionary forces capable of leading the decisive confrontation against bourgeois power and forming new worker’s-people’s institutions of the new power.
 
***
The KKE, studying the valuable experience of the October Revolution, Lenin’s legacy, the experience of the International Communist Movement itself expressed the conclusions from this research in a number of analyses and documents (Reflections on the causes of the overthrows in 1995, the 18th Congress’ decision in 2009 on the experience of the USSR and socialist construction and the causes of the overthrows, the National Conference on the History of the Party in 2011, the elaboration of the new Programme and Statutes of the Party at the 19th Congress in 2013).
We came to the crucial conclusion that the definition of the political goal, worker’s power, must be carried out on the basis of the objective definition of the character of the era, something that determines the class that is objectively in the foreground of social development.
This defines the character of the revolution and not the correlation of forces which other Communist Parties focus on.
Of course, the correlation between the two basic rival classes, the bourgeois class and the working class, as well as the stance of the intermediate strata, is a decisive factor for the timing of the socialist revolution. In this sense, a CP must take the correlation of class forces into account, in Leninist terms, i.e. in terms of the relations of the classes with power.
The CP must at the same time take into account and calculate the correlation of forces inside the labour movement, the movements of its social allies, as an necessary element for suitable maneuvers, slogans so that the masses can be drawn to the struggle for power on the basis of their own experience.
However this can in no instance become an alibi for the submission of the labour and communist movement to any form of bourgeois governance, for its participation in or toleration of this in the framework of capitalism.
All the flowers of bourgeois and opportunist ideological constructs bloomed in Greece in recent years. There was and still is a lot of discussion in relation to the need to create “left”, “progressive”, “democratic”, “anti-right”, “anti-memorandum”, “patriotic”, “national”, “ecumenical” government (All these names have been used to describe such governments) as an immediate proposal for a way out of the economic crisis and anti-people political line.
These proposals are being made both by the traditional and the newly formed bourgeois parties, as well as by parties on the “left” wing of the political spectrum. The labour movement must reject all those traps that aim to manipulate the workers’-people’s struggle and to co-opt the movement.
Of course, the unrepentant “Mensheviks” are also present today along with other tardy “communists” who, apart from anything else, follow the development of revolutionary thinking in a delayed way. They ahistorically promote Leninist analysis dating from before the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia in February 1917, regarding the possibility of a temporary government of workers and peasants, in conditions when Tsarist power had not yet been overthrown. What has this got to do with the situation today?
It is undeniable that the conditions of that period were entirely different, as we are talking about a revolutionary situation, with the people organized in the Soviets, armed. We are talking about a bourgeois state that had not had time to establish all its mechanisms.
In the current conditions of a non-revolutionary situation, of bourgeois power well established for many decades with a fully organized bourgeois state, such a goal of a transitional-temporary government in essence means cooperation with bourgeois forces in order to provide capitalism with breathing space, so that the system can overcome temporary or more general difficulties.
And what is even more important. Why should the revolutionary movement elevate a thought concerning a possible scenario, which was never realized in the end, into a general theoretical principle and not generalize the strategy of Lenin and the Bolsheviks that actually led to victory?
Of course, all these well-wishers today say nothing about the positions and political actions of Lenin, beginning in April, after the fall of Tsarism, proclaiming the victorious social revolution in Russia and leading the proletariat for the first time in history to storm heaven and carry out the revolution, breaking the ice, opening up and forging the path for socialism-communism.
Historical experience has taught us that first “workers'” and “left” governments emerged from social-democratic parties or as coalition governments of social-democratic parties with other bourgeois parties. There has been no instance in the history of the international labour movement and in the period immediately after World War I in particular, when such governments did not arise as a result of the maneuvering of the bourgeoisie in order to deal with a revolutionary upsurge, in order to assimilate the workers’-people’s discontent in conditions of a very deep economic crisis before or after a war.
The goal of such a “left”, “workers'” government in the framework of capitalist power, without a revolutionary overthrow, via parliamentary processes, was later adopted by CPs as an intermediate goal with transitional measures. The aim of this, as they believed, was to facilitate the struggle for socialism and solve some pressing popular demands.
However, experience demonstrates that, despite the good intentions of CPs, they were not able to open a window even and certainly not a path to socialism anywhere, and were also not able to stabilize some gains of the people’s movement. This includes the experience before and after World War II and up to the present day. Communist Parties found themselves in the end organizationally, ideologically and politically disarmed.
The historical experience and significance of the Great October Revolution is incomparable. It confirms that the salvation of the working class and the other popular strata, in conditions of an economic and political crisis, in conditions of imperialist war, is only possible by overthrowing capitalist power and ownership, which of course presupposes the weakening and complete bankruptcy of its various “left” forms, represented by the dangerous trends of reformism-opportunism and the governmental left, as is expressed in Greece by SYRIZA, as well as by its occasional satellites, such as Popular Unity, ANTARSYA and other marginal groups-both in quality and quantity-which give them the pretext of a false broadness.
 
***
The experience and theoretical analysis of the Bolsheviks together with their revolutionary activity in the period from the 1905 revolution to the October Revolution of 1917 has major timeless importance for communists all over the world. It is related to every aspect of the activity of a revolutionary party, which has not lost the goal of workers’ power.
It provides valuable experience for the work of communists amongst broad working class masses, inexperienced working class masses and poor popular strata. It demonstrates the constant and at the same time contradictory features of the development of the working class’s alliance with other allied popular strata.
It teaches us that heightened militant and even revolutionary attitudes coexist with confused and disorienting standpoints and views. Of course the most robust attitudes develop amongst the industrial workers, the working class.
Consequently, it is very important for the ideological and political vanguard, the communist party, to elaborate and stick closely to the political line, to intervene substantially and specifically so that the movement of insurgent masses, the militant protests, planned confrontation and subversive activity take on a revolutionary orientation. Indeed, it must take into account that within the ranks of the movement there are forces active which are influenced by bourgeois ideology, a plethora of wavering petty bourgeois forces that bring these views into the ranks of the vanguard.
The ability of the Bolshevik Party, headed by Lenin, to constantly adapt did not lead it into following the mistaken path of erasing the essence of its goal for the revolutionary overthrow of the system and workers’ power. The ability to fulfill each task through correct adjustments should not lead to the gradual change of the strategic goal in the name of being adaptable. This is a crucial question for every CP.
Otherwise, there is a real danger of being dispersed amongst the masses, of being co-opted to positions inside the system, of transforming your strategy into one continuous set of maneuvers and tactics. Of course, one must always be aware that you can also be led onto a path that is equally painful for the working class and of course painless for the bourgeois class i.e. the path of isolation, retrenchment and dogmatism.
The communist parties today must constantly seek to creatively use the method and experience of the Bolsheviks, of that party’s leadership and Lenin, in their daily activity and the way in which they combined theoretical work with the study of domestic and international developments and the experience of the class struggle itself.
Through this process, a clear Marxist-Leninist answer can be provided to the following question, why was the victorious strategy of the Bolsheviks not at the centre of the analyses of the International Communist Movement, why did the CPs operate mainly on the basis of the previous analyses, in essence depriving the Leninist line of its revolutionary workers’ content and leading many CPs into sliding into social-democratic positions and opportunism?
 
***
The fact that the revolutionary content and gains which came as a result of the October Revolution over the course of decades were weakened due to the impact of trying to solve existent problems of socialist construction in a mistaken direction, by following capitalist recipes, as we often say, a course that chronologically coincided with the decisions of the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956, does not change or alter the internal dynamism of socialist construction or of course the decisive importance of the Great October Revolution of 1917.
Socialism did not endure in its first great attempt, in the struggle against the old, against reaction both domestically and internationally, something that resulted in its degeneration and in the end its overthrow, which entered its final phase in the 1980s through the notorious Perestroika and was completed through the counterrevolution and capitalist restoration in the USSR and the other socialist countries of Europe and Asia at the beginning of the 1990s.
Of course, the imperialist encirclement of the socialist system was a powerful fact that fed the internal problems and contradictions. It led to decisions that made socialist construction more difficult. One aspect, which is very rarely highlighted, is the objective fact that the arms race that the socialist countries were driven into participating in, above all the USSR, in confrontation with imperialist barbarity absorbed a large section of the economic and other resources of the Soviet Union and the other countries.
At the same time, the line of “peaceful coexistence” that mainly developed at the 20th Congress of the CPSU and afterwards, allowed for the fostering of many utopian views that it is possible for imperialism to give up on war and military methods.
The developments in the International Communist Movement, the split in the ICM, issues to do with its strategy also played a serious role in the formation of the global correlation of forces.
The dissolution of the Communist International in 1943, under specific historical political conditions, signaled in any case the absence of a centre for the elaboration of a revolutionary workers’ strategy against the international bourgeoisie, the international capitalist system.
Despite the fact that the conditions for the sharpening of the class contradictions during the 2nd World War sharpened, the anti-fascist struggle of the peoples led to the overthrow of bourgeois power only in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, with the decisive contribution of the Red Army.
The Communist Parties in the capitalist West were not able to elaborate a strategy to transform the imperialist war or liberation struggle into struggle to conquer state power.
After the end of World War II, the lack of organizational connection between the CPs to form an independent strategy against the unified strategy of international imperialism became apparent. The International Conferences that took place later were not able to contribute to the ideological unity and the formation of a revolutionary strategy.
Our party has learned from its weaknesses and mistakes during the past, such as the lack of theoretical and political readiness to understand the development of the counterrevolution in the USSR in a timely fashion.

We consider that it is the responsibility and right of every CP to study the theoretical issues of socialism, to evaluate the course of socialist construction, to draw conclusions for the battle against opportunism at an international level, to prepare the party and class forces in general in order to explain the class struggle at an international level, to provide a scientific class explanation of the setbacks to social progress and development. In this internationalist and communist spirit, we try to follow the developments today in countries like China, Vietnam, Cuba and other countries.

The scientific explanation and defense of socialism’s contribution in the 20th century is an element that strengthens the revolutionary strategy of the communist movement.
The study of the contradictions, of the subjective mistakes of the historical progress as a whole is a process that develops the theory of socialism-communism, which will revive the communist movement ideologically and politically and will provide it with overwhelming strength in its new offensive and final victory.
We are convinced that the final victory will be emerge from the repeated defeats. The “defeat” of the October revolution by the counterrevolution of 1989-1991 can become a school for the next revolution. As a great intellectual wrote (the Hungarian, Laszlo Gurko): “The revolution is the greatest elation of humanity. Whoever has tasted it once never forgets its taste.”
Amongst our most important tasks today is to restore the workers’ knowledge about the truth of socialism in the 20th century, without idealizations, objectively and free of the slanders of the bourgeoisie, which are based on the catastrophes brought about by the counterrevolution.
Capitalism may still be strong today, but it is not invincible. The people are powerful when they struggle with the correct strategy. We look upon the 21st century with optimism.
The 20th century began with the greatest offensive launched by the proletariat in any era and ended with its temporary defeat. The 21st century will bring new offensives and revolutionary victories, the final and this time irreversible overthrow of capitalism and the construction of socialism-communism.
The spectre of socialism-communism is today haunting the bloody dreams of the bourgeois the world over. We must take the decision to become their permanent nightmare.
* General Secretary of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).