Review of Russia without Blinders / by Roger Keeran

The Moscow Kremlin | Wikipedia

Originally published in Marxism Leninism Today on January 9, 2023

Russia without Blinders: From the Conflict in Ukraine to a Turning Point in World Politics [Original title: La Russie Sans Oeilleres: Du conflit en Ukraine au tournant geopolitique mondial] edited by Maxime Vivas, Aymeric Monville and Jean-Pierre Page. (Paris, France: Editions Delga, 2022.)

Today the conflict in Ukraine advances every day and intensifies with Russian destruction of the Ukrainian infrastructure, with the western gift to Ukraine of more and more sophisticated and destructive weapons, with provocations like the missile aimed at Poland, and the Ukrainian attacks within Russia. Presently, the conflict in Ukraine has brought the world closer to nuclear war than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

In 1962, U.S. leaders believed that Russian missiles in Cuba posed such a national security threat that they were willing to risk nuclear war to get them removed. Yet, the U.S. and NATO propose creating exactly this kind of threat to Russia.  The gravity of the current situation is obvious if one can imagine the reaction of Russian leaders at the prospect of American/NATO nuclear missiles in Kiev two hours flight from Moscow.  Thus, the lack of an outcry against the war in Ukraine and the almost complete absence of calls for a ceasefire and negotiations constitute one of the most glaring and dangerous aspects of the present moment.

Though Washington officials and the mainstream media always refer to this conflict as Putin’s “unprovoked war,” seldom has a conflict been so clearly provoked as this one. The expansion of NATO since 1991 and U.S. insistence that Ukraine be allowed to join NATO are the most obvious and proximate causes of this conflict.  By increasing economic sanctions against Russia, by arming of Ukraine with ever more sophisticated weapons, and by saying that Putin is a “butcher” who “can no longer remain in power” (Biden in March 2022) and by insisting that Ukraine’s right to join NATO is non-negotiable, the United States continues to escalate the conflict and place a negotiated settlement further out of reach.

In spite of this situation in the United States and Europe, no movement for peace in Ukraine has emerged. Aside from a few right-wing outliers like Senator Rand Paul and a hastily withdrawn letter to Biden from the House Progressive Caucus calling for negotiations, no elected officials have denounced American behavior or called for peace. Almost no intelligent and informed discussion of the war occurs in the media and none at whatsoever in the recent electoral debates. The entire nation seems plunging into the unknown with blinders on.

This makes the current volume an island of facts and reason in a sea of insanity. Russia without Blinders was edited by Aymeric Monville, the head of Delga Editions, the main Marxist publishing house in France, Maxime Vivas, author of a recent book on the anti-Chinese “ravings” in France, and Jean-Pierre Page, a writer and past director of the International Department of the French General Confederation of Labor (CGT). It has seventeen contributors mostly scholars, writers and activists in France, whose contributions fall under three headings: Russophobia, the Origins of the Conflict, and Russia and the World. While exposing the phobia and propaganda that has completely obscured the meaning of this war, the book, in the words of the editors, aims to be not pro-Russian but pro-truth.

To the extent that the book’s many authors and subjects could be reduced to a simple argument it would be this: The war in Ukraine did not begin with the Russian invasion of February 23, 2022, but was rooted in events at least as far back as the collapse of the Soviet Union. Its meaning is far more serious than the simpleminded notion that this is an “unprovoked” war driven by a madman’s desire to restore the Czarist empire. Rather, this war is symbolic of a seismic change in international relations and balance of forces that has occurred since the collapse of the Soviet Union and which has intensified in recent years with the economic recovery of Russia, now the world’s eleventh largest economy and the rise of China, which has become the world’s second largest economy. The United States and its European vassals are determined to hold on to their superiority and even expand their economic, military, and ideological dominance. The authors further argue that these imperial ambitions are doomed to fail and that the war is actually showing the limits of American power and the emergence of a multipolar world. That is, the machinations of American imperialism are giving rise to its opposite, a growing resistance to American dominance not only by  Russia and China and but also by much of Africa, Asia and Latin America. This resistance manifests itself by the rejection of American hypocritical espousal of democracy, sovereignty, and the rule of law, as well as the rebellion against the domination of the American dollar, American sanctions, and American neoliberal policies.

It is impossible for a short review to do justice to the array of topics and the wealth of information and the high quality of research contained in these articles, which unfortunately are only available in French. Therefore, I will focus on the book’s main arguments as to the origin of the war and the increasing isolation and weakness of the U.S. revealed by the war.

Bombarded as we are by daily horror stories of Putin’s madness and  authoritarianism and Russian war atrocities, torture, executions, mass graves, kidnappings, and civilian bombings, it is hard to focus on the causes of the conflict. Yet, without some factual understanding, it is easy to be swept up by war hysteria. The history reveals that far from this being an “unprovoked war,” it was provoked by the expansion of NATO and the longstanding designs on Ukraine by American policy-makers.

Several aspects of this “hidden history” of the war stand out. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, central Asia, especially Ukraine, has assumed major importance in the thinking of strategists concerned with preserving American world dominance. In The Grand Chessboard (1997), Zbigniew Brzezinski said, “For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…. and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.” According to Brzezinski, on this international chessboard, Ukraine is the “geopolitical pivot.” Ukraine is a vast territory rich in gas, oil, wheat, rare minerals, and nuclear power. If “Russia regains control over Ukraine,” it automatically acquires the potential to become “a powerful imperial state,” and a challenge to the U.S.

Since 1990, the U.S. has tried to drive a wedge between Ukraine and Russia. In 1990, as the Soviet Union dissolved, the Ukrainians participated in a referendum in which some 90 percent voted to remain in a union with Russia. The United States, however, promoted Ukrainian leaders hostile to Russia. In 2010 Viktor Yanoukovitch was elected president. Yanoukovitch tried to weave a course friendly both to Russia and European Union. In the legislative election of 2012, Yanoukovitch’s party won more seats than the other three parties combined. The next year, however, when he refused to sign an agreement of association with the European Union, mass demonstrations encouraged by the U.S. broke out in what became known as the Euromaidan movement. The administration of President Barack Obama supported, financed and coached this movement, which was taken over by right-wing nationalists including neofascists and which eventually forced the president to flee the country.  On December 13, 2013, the U.S. State Department’s Undersecretary for Europe, Victoria Nuland, said that the U.S. had invested over five billion dollars in promoting democracy in Ukraine, that is to say in promoting the movement that ousted the democratically elected president. Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, the American ambassador to Ukraine, played an active role in choosing the new government of Ukraine that included neo-fascists.

In 2019, during the administration of Donald Trump, Vladimir Zelenskyy was elected president of Ukraine. The millionaire comedian, who is now lauded as the heroic defender of democracy, had a sordid past completely overlooked by the American media. The Pandora Papers exposed him as one of the corrupt world leaders with vast wealth stored in offshore accounts.  Moreover, Zelenskyy was closely connected to the corrupt oligarch, Igor Kolomoisky, the owner of the TV station where Zelenskyy’s show appeared and the owner of a major bank, Privat Bank, whose assets the government seized for corruption in 2016. In power, Zelenskyy made a leader of the neo-nazis the governor of Odessa. He also outlawed trade unions and a dozen political groups, including the Communist Party. Also, Zelenskyy pursued military action against the separatists in the Donbas, a pro-Russian and largely working class area of Ukraine. Since 2014, military strikes on the Donbas have killed 14,000 and wounded 40,000 citizens. The worst atrocities were linked to the neo-fascist army unit the Azov Battalion. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who served as the American-picked Prime Minister between 2014 and 2016, referred to the citizens of Donetsk and Lugansk as “non-humans.”

According to Page, under Zelenskyy, the U.S. completely “colonized” Ukraine. It sent billions of dollars of military aid and advisors, built 26 laboratories for biological research, seized a big role in Ukrainian industry and media, allowed American agribusiness to buy huge tracts of farmland, and proposed Ukraine joining NATO. Zelenskyy in turn ended all relations with Russia and suppressed all political opposition.

This was the background to the Russian intervention of February 2022. Putin gave three objectives for this action: to de-nazify Ukraine, to de-militarize Ukraine, and to stop the massacre of citizens in the Donbas.

When NATO met on March 24, 2022, Biden said that the conflict in Ukraine meant that there was going to be a “new world order” and “we must direct it.” Biden also said that Putin was a butcher. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “Our special military operation is designed to put an end to the rash expansion and rash course toward the complete international domination by the United States and other western countries.”

The book’s argument that the imperial designs of the United States is important and incontestable. The other thrust of the argument–that the war symbolizes the decline of American power and a realignment of global forces–is equally important though more debatable. Jean-Pierre Page and other of the book’s contributors contend that the U.S. attempt to isolate Russia politically and weaken it economically is doomed to fail. In the first place, Russia is one of the most economically self-sufficient nations of the world. The Russian economy has rebounded from the Soviet collapse and privatization and represents one the world’s largest economies. Moreover, it is rich in natural resources — gas, oil, coal, gold, wheat, nickel, aluminum, uranium, neon, lumber among other things. The idea that economic sanctions, which have never proved an effective instrument of international policy (witness the Cuban blockade), are going to force Russia to relent in the face of NATO expansion, which it sees as an existential threat, is simply delusional.

Furthermore, the expectation that the rest of the world would go along with the unilateral economic sanctions, which are illegal under the United Nations charter, has proven to be phantasmagorical. In spite of a tremendous campaign of cajoling, pressure, and threats, the United States has not managed to win the backing of any countries outside of Europe. The countries constituting BRICS–Brazil, India, China and South Africa have rejected sanctions, but so have such other large regional economies as Mexico, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia, Algeria and Egypt. The resistance to U.S. sanctions is part of a larger resistance to the domination of American neoliberal policies and the U.S. dollar. More and more countries have agreed to buy oil and other commodities with rubles, yuans and gold in place of the once mighty dollar. In the words quoted by of one of the book’s contributors, Tamara Kunanayakam, the resistance to sanctions is the sign or a new more fragmented global order in which states are avoiding the geopolitical objectives of the grand powers to pursue their own economic needs.

For all of its merits, the book is not without limitations. For all its strengths in exposing the imperialist ambitions and machinations of the U.S., the book ignores the fact that Russia also has its monopoly capitalists with designs on expanding to Ukraine and elsewhere, and Russia, too, is also part of the imperialist stage of world history. For a book looking at Russia “without blinders,” the authors are strangely blind to Russian imperialism. Lenin argued that is not just a policy but a stage in the development of capitalism dominated by monopolies and finance. As Andrew Murray has pointed out (Communist Review Autumn 2022), Russia ticks off many of the boxes of Lenin’s description of imperialism.  It present “an astonishing degree of economic monopolization” with 22 oligarchic groups accounting for 42 percent of employment and 39 percent of sales. In finance, Sberbank provides banking for 70 percent of Russians, controls a third of all bank assets, and operates in twenty-two countries. Moreover, Russia has repeatedly used military interventions in Chechnya, Kazakhstan and other former Soviet republics as well as in Syria and (with the mercenary Wagner Group) west Africa. Simply put, in Murray’s words Russia “is an imperialist power.”

At the Ideological Seminar in Caracas, Venezuela, in the fall of 2022, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) put forward a similar analysis (see, November 6, 2022): “Recently, in the face of developments and especially the imperialist war in Ukraine, other CPs have focused only on the obvious responsibilities of the US, the EU, and NATO, which has been advancing and encircling Russia for years. In fact, this was combined with the approach that Russia is a capitalist but not an imperialist power. This approach is detached from the fact that imperialism is not just an aggressive policy but capitalism in its modern stage, the monopoly stage. Today, large monopolies prevail in the entire world and in Russia. The plans of NATO, the US, and the EU in the past 30 years have clearly been a powder keg for this conflict, but when did this powder keg begin filling up? Did it not begin with the overthrow of socialism, the dissolution of the USSR —in fact through a coup d’état— against the will of the majority of its peoples? Wasn’t it then when factories, mines, oil, natural gas, precious metals, and labour power became a commodity once again? Wasn’t it then when, after 7 decades of socialist construction, all of the above became once again a bone of contention for the capitalists, for the big monopoly enterprises?”

If the authors of this volume are still wearing blinders with regard to Russia, some are also wearing rose tinted lenses with respect to the emergence of a “fragmented global order” or a “multipolar world.” Of course, the authors are right to point out the decline of American influence as represented by resistance to American sanctions against Russia and the domination of the American dollar and influence. Nevertheless, without actually saying so, some of the authors suggest that this shift in the global balance of forces represents something new and fundamental, and that it might provide a check on imperial expansion and imperial wars. Whether the authors really believe this and whether this idea has any validity remains to be seen, but it is helpful to recall the ideas of Lenin.

In 1916 Lenin wrote his classic analysis of imperialism, Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Lenin distinguished his view of imperialism from the leading competing view, that of the social-democrat Karl Kautsky. On the surface both Lenin and Kautsky had similar views of imperialism.  They both recognized the development of monopoly capital and finance capital, and saw it leading to expansion, exploitation and war.   For Lenin, however, imperialism was a stage, the latest stage, of capitalist development, the stage of monopoly capital that succeeded competitive capital.  For Kautsky, imperialism represented a policy adopted by the monopolists.  The implications of these different points of view were monumental. For Lenin, only revolutionary struggle against monopoly capital could end imperialism and end imperialist wars. Kautsky, however, thought it was possible to replace imperialist policies by other pacifist policies. Kautsky insisted that it was possible to imagine a new stage of economic development, “ultra-imperialism,” where the world would be divided up among a few great monopolies among whom peace would be possible.  The First World War and the Second World War effectively swept Kautsky’s ideas about ultra-imperialism and a pacific imperialist world into the dustbin. Kautsky is barely known let alone read today.

I would suggest that some of Kautsky’s ideas have been picked up or reinvented by contemporaries. The idea of an emerging new stage of multipolarity resembles Kautsky’s stage of super-imperialism. Some of those enamored by the emergence of multipolarity think that it represents a fundamental change in the global balance of forces and seem to think it can countervail the imperialist drive for expansion and war and thus provide a basis for peace within the framework of imperialism. Two of the writers of this volume even say that the time is coming when an alliance of Russia, China, India, Latin America and the Arab world can “prevent” the financial oligarchs of the world from “launching the third world war.”  The problem is that such thinking, however beguiling, avoids a tough-minded understanding of the fundamental nature of imperialism rooted in capitalism’s insatiable drive for profit, exploitation, and expansion. It may not be necessary for worldwide socialist revolution in order to stop any particular imperialist conflict, but under the imperialist stage of capitalism war is omnipresent and unavoidable. This understanding imperialism provides a better basis for struggle against it than social democratic illusions about the efficacy of multipolarity. Let’s hope that it will not take another world war to banish these illusions.

At stake in Ukraine is the future of globalized capitalism / by Samir Saul and Michel Seymour

Photo by Dmytro Smolienko/Ukraine Territorial Defense Forces/Twitter

Originally published in Canadian Dimension on November 30, 2022

Ukraine is only one front in an all-round confrontation

The far-reaching war in Ukraine is only one phase of a world-wide conflict that began earlier. In international relations, the driving forces are often obscured by surface occurrences, such as immediate military events and the din of apologetic or denunciatory rhetoric. What is at stake in Ukraine is not Ukraine: it is the future of globalized, neoliberal, financialized, US-ruled capitalism, the model that has been in place since the 1980s. While the parties gear up for the next stage of the fighting, while moronic propaganda continues unabated, even as public attention has dwindled, it is important to get to the root causes.

Hierarchical global economy

Globalization was the expedient found as a way out of the impasse faced by the Western economy following the exhaustion of the postwar economic boom. Capitalism was restructured and its territorial base broadened. As productive activities became less profitable, they were relocated to the “developing” world. The West reserved for itself the command functions, military industries, high technology and the more profitable sectors of finance and services.

Neoliberal globalism is hierarchical. At the top, the United States rules the system, uses the dollar to drain the world’s resources for its own benefit, and retains the key role of military arm of the whole structure. At the second rung, Europe, Japan and Canada reproduce the US formula and are progressively deindustrialized, financialized and service-sector oriented, while their foreign and military policies are integrated into those of the United States. At the bottom of the ladder, the rest of the world, more than 80 percent of humanity, is expected to produce industrial goods and raw materials in subcontracting economies.

The elites of the second-tier countries are in a subordinate position and are expected to bite the bullet in disputes with the US, but they are nonetheless beneficiaries of globalized capitalism, and thus are self-interestedly loyal to the US leader, no matter what the cost to their people and to their countries’ independence. Under the effect of Americanization they tend to merge with their American counterparts. As for the elites of the lowest-ranking countries, their share in globalization is, with individual exceptions, the smallest, and their countries’ room for maneuver the most limited.

The tribulations of American-centric globalism

They are of two kinds, one economic, the other political. Hailed at the outset as a guarantee of limitless and endless prosperity, financialized neoliberal globalization revealed its nature as a casino economy in crises and bubble bursts with international repercussions, notably in 1987, 1994, 1997 and 2008. Moreover, as was to be expected, the economies that produce material goods did not take kindly to their subordinate status to the rentier economies at the top of the pyramid. Their interests were translated politically in a desire for autonomy expressed through their states.

But globalization requires the compliance of states, their openness to external intervention and the loss of whole components of their sovereignty. The unipolar world knows only the state of the American hegemon, the others being only local extensions. It is monolithic and cannot tolerate autonomous tendencies, let alone withdrawals or disconnections, the risk being that a successful case set an example and led to a chain reaction of imitations.

Herein lies the motive of regime change operations in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen over the last 30 years: to destroy states so as to dislocate societies and set back economies in order to remove the means of possible autonomy.

Russia and China

The same method is being applied to Russia and China, with military pressure by means of Ukraine and Taiwan, economic threats, media campaigns and attempts at regime change. The strengthening of these two countries coincides with the relative weakening of the US, so much so that their submission becomes a precondition for continued US hegemony. Failure would expose American-centric globalism to eventual unraveling. Without disguise, Biden’s National Security Strategy, made public in October 2022, sets the sequence: put down Russia, then do the same to China.

Bleeding Russia white and inducing it to crumble is the proclaimed policy of the US. The objective is destabilization and internal collapse. This amounts to posing an existential threat to the Russian state and to Russia as a country, a situation explicitly provided for in its doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons. A Third World War looms as the outcome of this strategy.

In the event that nuclear war is avoided, an American success against Russia would prolong US hegemony and weaken China, itself destined for the same treatment. A breakup of Russia would represent the worst calamity in that country’s history, already strewn with disasters overcome at great cost. The Yeltsin years would look blessed by comparison. On the sidelines, disoriented and adrift, Europe will have its hands full rescuing its economy jeopardized by anti-Russian sanctions. It would be an understatement to qualify these stakes as enormous.

The conflict between the US and Russia is fought out in Ukraine but its scope is much wider. Can US-defined globalization continue? Can another form of globalization replace it? Can globalization be non-hierarchical? At the same time, Ukraine is only one front in an all-round confrontation pitting a dominant power, the US, and two other powers standing in its way, Russia and China. In Taiwan, a similar scenario is taking shape. Moreover, Ukraine and Taiwan are not the sole bones of contention between Washington, Moscow and Beijing. There are and will be others as Russia and China close the gap with the US and the latter strives to enlarge it by all means available, including force.

Samir Saul is a professor of history at the University of Montreal. Michel Seymour is a retired professor at the same university.

A different version of this article first appeared in Le Devoir.

The Russian Winter offensive / by Gordon M. Hahn

Originally published in Russian and Eurasian Politics on November 22, 2022

The only way Ukrainians will see anything approximating a holiday season is if a ceasefire can be arranged by New Year’s Day, and it just might happen, regardless of President Volodomyr Zelenskiy’s repeated assertions that there will be no negotiations with Russia until it withdraws all its troops from all occupied territories, including Crimea. There are several reasons for the possible ceasefire.

First, the Russian hammer is about to fall on Ukraine. The gloves are coming off; electric energy stations, bridges, and even ‘decision centers’ such as central Kiev’s government buildings are being targeted. Russia is one or two more massive bombing attacks on Ukraine’s energy and transport infrastructure from permanently disabling Ukraine’s electricity, water, and railroad systems. With ‘only’ 50 percent of Ukrainian electricity infrastructure knocked out by the first three widespread bombings of electricity grid components, demonstrations are already breaking out in Odessa and other places over the deteriorating humanitarian situation, with Zelenskiy sending the Ukrainian KGB, the SBU, in to break up the protests and banning coverage in media. The Office of the President was reportedly recently informed by technicians that the electricity system has entered the stage of ‘arbitrary and uncontrolled imbalance,” and one official has urged Ukrainians to be prepared to leave the country in winter. What will the sociopolitical situation be like when these critical infrastructures are in complete collapse and temperatures are 20 degrees colder? Russia will be moving closer to the strategy of ‘shock and awe’, fully destroying all infrastructure—military or otherwise—as the U.S. did in Serbia and Iraq and will likely take less care now to avoid civilian casualties.

After the infrastructures are completely destroyed or incapacitated, Russia’s reinforcements of 380,000 regular and newly mobilized troops will have been fully added into Russia’s forces across southeastern Ukraine. Even without these reinforcements, Russian forces continue to make small gains in Donbass around Ugledar, Bakhmut (Artemevsk), as withdrawals from and stabilization of the fronts in Kharkiv and Kherson have led to a redeployment and thus concentration of forces in Zaporozhe, Donetsk, and Luhansk. A winter offensive by some half a million troops will make substantial gains on those three fronts and multiply Ukrainian losses in personnel and materiel`, which are already high. This could lead easily to a collapse of Ukrainian forces on one or more front. On the backs of such a success Russian President Putin might also make another attempt to threaten Kiev by moving a much larger force in from Belarus than the small 30-40,000 force that advanced and then withdrew from Kiev’s surrounding districts in the first months of the war.

Second, the West is suffering from Ukraine fatigue. NATO countries’ arms supplies have been depleted beyond what is tolerable, and social cohesion is collapsing in the face of double-digit inflation and economic recession. All this makes Russia the winner on the strategic level and is forcing Washington and Brussels to seek at least a breathing spell by way of a ceasefire. This is evidenced by the plethora of Western leaders calling on Zelenskiy to resume talks with Putin and the emergence of the ‘Sullivan plan’. Most recently, rumors have it that new British PM Rishi Sunak used a package of military and financial aide he announced during his recent trip to Kiev to cover up his message to Zelenskiy that London could no longer bear the burden of leading the European support for Kiev and that Kiev should reengage wirh Moscow. There has been a several day delay in the fourth round of rocket sorties against Ukrainian infrastructure, suggesting Putin is waiting to to see if Zelenskiy will cave and offer talks before unleashing the major assaults on Ukrainian infrastructure and the Russian winter offensive.

Third, Ukraine’s greatest political asset—Zelenskiy himself—just got devalued, putting at even greater risk Ukraine’s political stability. The Ukrainian air defense strike on Poland (accidental or intentional) and the Ukrainian president’s insistence that it was a Russian air strike, despite the evidence and nearly unanimous opposing opinion among his Western backers, has hit Zelenskiy’s credulity hard. Zelenskiy’s insistence on the Russian origins of the missile and technical aspects of Ukrainian air defense suggests that the event may have been an intentional Ukrainian false flag strike on Polish/NATO territory designed to provoke NATO or Poland into entering the war. Some in the West are beginning to wake up to the dangers of Ukrainian ultranationalism and neofascism, not to mention the growing megalomania of Zelenskiy, who has appeared on ore than one occasion to be willing to risk the advent of a global nuclear winter in order to avoid sitting at the negotiating table across from Putin. Some may now come to understand that claims that Putin wants to seize all Ukraine and restore the USSR if not conquer Europe are yarns spun by Kiev to attract military and financial assistance and ultimately draw NATO forces into the war. There remains a danger that Kiev’s dream of a NATO intervention might come to fruition is the following temptation. NATO has declared that a defeat of Ukraine in the war is a defeat for NATO, and NATO cannot be allowed to lose a war to a Russia because that would accelerate the coming of the end to U.S. hegemony. It cannot be excluded and may even be likely that should Kiev appear to be losing the war that Polish forces, NATO or some ‘coalition of the willing’ will move military forces into western Ukraine up to the Dnepr but do so without attacking Russian forces. This would force Russia to cease much of its military activity or risk attacking NATO forces and a larger European-wide war. This or something like it is probably already being considered in Washington.

For now, in order to keep the West on board, Zelenskiy is rumored to be pushing Ukrainian armed forces commander Viktor Zalyuzhniy to start a last pre-winter offensive in northern Donetsk (Svatovo and Severodonetsk) or Zaporozhe in order to put a stop to the West’s ceasefire murmurs and reboost support. At the same time there is talk of continuing Zelenskiy-Zalyuzhniy tensions over the latter’s good press and star status in the West. Tensions first emerged over disagreements of previous offensives and Zalyuzhniy’s earlier entry on the Western media stage. On the background of the deteriorating battlefield and international strategic situation, such civil-military tensions are fraught with the potential for a coup. Much of Zelenskiy’s strategy and tactics is driven more by political than by military considerations. Not least among the former is Zelenskiy’s political survival, which any ceasefire or peace talks requiring Kiev to acquiesce in the loss of more territory certainly will doom. Neofascist, military, and much of public opinion will not brook the sacrifices made in blood and treasure bringing only additional ones in Ukrainian territory. Others will ask why was not all of this averted by way of agreeing to Ukrainian neutrality and fulfilling Minsk 2 could have avoided it all.

We may be reaching the watershed moment in the Ukrainian war. No electricity, no army, no society. But here, as with any Russian occupation of central or western Ukrainian lands (not planned but perhaps a necessity at some point down the road for Putin), a quagmire awaits the Kremlin. Russia can not allow complete societal breakdown and chaos to reign in Ukraine anymore than it could tolerate a NATO-member Ukraine with a large neofascist component next door. All of the above and the approaching presidential elections scheduled in Moscow, Kiev and Washington the year after next make this winter pivotal for all the war’s main parties.

Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California,; an expert analyst at Corr Analytics,; and an analyst at Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation (Chicago),

MRonline, November 28, 2022,

Is the Russia-Ukraine war at a crossroads? / by Gilbert Doctorow

Peace March – The Banner Reads ‘Together against the War’—the Message of the Combined Russian and Ukrainian Flags, Moscow, September 21, 2014 | Photo by E. Razumnyi/Vedomosti

Originally published on the Gilbert Doctorow Blog on November 21, 2022

In a new 25-minute live broadcast devoted to the war, Iran’s Press TV showcases key issues from this week’s developments on the front lines, including the latest bombardments of the Zaporozhie nuclear power station and the missiles which fell on Polish territory, threatening to bring in NATO as full co-belligerents. The panelists were asked to comment on likely ‘end game’ scenarios for this war.

As we know, mainstream Western media is rock-solid in its predictions of ultimate Ukrainian victory, with the Russian evacuations of Kharkov and Kherson as their leading arguments.  In the alternative media, opinion is divided over whether there will indeed be a new Russian offensive in coming weeks when the 220,000 recently mobilized reservists still in training are ready for action or whether the U.S. administration will push Zelensky into negotiations with the Russians that temporarily or even permanently put an end to the fighting.

A lot of attention is directed in world media to the resistance of Zelensky to entering into negotiations. That is explored as well on this Iran TV program. However, an issue which is not addressed there is the willingness and even the ability of the Russian President to enter into negotiations.

Ever since the October mobilization of reservists, the military operation in Ukraine has de facto become the war of a nation in arms about which everyone in Russia now has an opinion. The fact is that Russian society from top to bottom is very unhappy with the present state of the war—but their discontent is with what they see as the pusillanimity of their own government in not responding more resolutely to Ukrainian provocations in the form of continuing artillery strikes on the Kursk and Belgorod regions from the Kharkov oblast just across the border or through atrocities such as the just released video of the cold-blooded murder of Russian prisoners of war by gleeful Ukrainian soldiers. The withdrawal from the city of Kherson inflamed the passions of the Russian public who demand better explanations in their parliament and on their television than they have received so far.

The pressure on Mr. Putin is from his own patriotic supporters, and an untimely truce for negotiations right now could lead to civil disorder in Russia. This is not idle speculation: it was perfectly clear from the latest edition of yesterday’s talk show Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov in which a deputy speaker of the Duma from the ruling party United Russia and a Duma committee chairman from the Communists took an active part, meaning that the nation’s elites are moving with the popular current against Defense Minister Shoigu if not against those still higher in the Kremlin. Meanwhile, discredited Russian Liberalism is taking down with it the commitment to free markets for the sake of more effective war production. There is serious talk of reintroducing Five Year Plans. And the recent official approval of plans to proceed with traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year’s in Russian cities was denounced as inappropriate for a country at war in an existential struggle with NATO.

We may conclude that the Special Military Operation is indeed a watershed in Russian domestic politics.

Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. He chose this third career of ‘public intellectual’ after finishing up a 25 year career as corporate executive and outside consultant to multinational corporations doing business in Russia and Eastern Europe which culminated in the position of Managing Director, Russia during the years 1995-2000. He is presently publishing his memoirs of his 25 years of doing business in and around the Soviet Union/Russia, 1975 – 2000. Memoirs of a Russianist, Volume I: From the Ground Up was published on 10 November 2020. Volume II: Russia in the Roaring 1990s will go to press in two months.

MRonline, November 22, 2022,

There are hungry people. There are hungry people / by Vijay Prashad

Saloua Raouda Choucair (Lebanon), Chores, 1948.

Originally published: Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research on June 30, 2022

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of  Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

| Uzo Egonu Nigeria Stateless People An Assembly 1982 | MR Online

Uzo Egonu (Nigeria), Stateless People, An Assembly, 1982.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reports that, every minute, a child is pushed into hunger in fifteen countries most ravaged by the global food crisis. Twelve of these fifteen countries are in Africa (from Burkina Faso to Sudan), one is in the Caribbean (Haiti), and two are in Asia (Afghanistan and Yemen). Wars without end have degraded the ability of the state institutions in these countries to manage cascading crises of debt and unemployment, inflation and poverty. Joining the two Asian countries are the states that make up the Sahel region of Africa (especially Mali and Niger), where the levels of hunger are now almost out of control. As if the situation were not sufficiently dire, an earthquake struck Afghanistan last week, killing over a thousand people–yet another devastating blow to a society where 93% of the population has slipped into hunger.

In these crisis-hit countries, food aid has come from governments and the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP). Millions of refugees in these countries are almost entirely reliant upon UN agencies. The WFP provides ready-to-use therapeutic food, which is a food paste made of butter, peanuts, powdered milk, sugar, vegetable oil, and vitamins. Over the next six months, the cost of these ingredients is projected to rise by up to 16%, which is why on 20 June, the WFP announced that it would cut rations by 50%. This cut will impact three of every four refugees in East Africa, where about five million refugees live. ‘We are now seeing the tinderbox of conditions for extreme levels of child wasting begin to catch fire’, said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.

| Yolanda Váldes Rementería Mexico Diversidad Diversity 2009 | MR Online

Yolanda Váldes Rementería (Mexico), Diversidad (‘Diversity’), 2009.

Clearly, the spike in hunger is related to the food price inflation, which itself has been exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine are the world’s leading exporters of barley, corn, rapeseed, sunflower seed, sunflower oil, and wheat, as well as fertilisers. While the war has been catastrophic for world food prices, it is an error to see the war as the cause of the spike. World food prices began to rise about twenty years ago, and then went out of control in 2021 for a range of reasons, including:

  1. During the pandemic, the severe lockdowns inside countries and at their borders led to major disruptions in the movement of migrant labour. It is by now well-established that migrant labour–including refugees and asylum seekers–plays a key role in agricultural production. Anti-immigrant sentiment and the lockdowns have created a long-term problem on large-scale farms.
  2. A consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic was the breakdown of the supply chain. As China–the epicentre of a considerable volume of global manufacturing–pursued a zero-COVID policy, this set in motion a cascading problem for international shipping; with the lockdowns, ports closed and ships remained at sea for months on end. The return of international shipping to near normalcy and the return of industrial production–including fertilisers and food–has been slow. Food supply chains withered due to the logistics problems, but also due to staff shortages at processing plants.
  3. Extreme weather events have played a major role in the chaos of the food system. In the past decade, between 80 and 90% of natural disasters have been due to droughts, floods, or severe storms. Meanwhile, over the past forty years, the planet has lost 12 million hectares of arable land each year to drought and desertification; during this period, we have also lost a third of our arable land to erosion or pollution.
  4. Over the past forty years, global meat consumption (mostly poultry) increased dramatically, with the increases set to continue rising despite some indications that we have reached ‘peak meat consumption’. Meat production has an enormous environmental footprint: 57% of total emissions from agriculture come from meat,  while livestock production takes up 77% of the planet’s agricultural land (even though meat only contributes 18% of the global calorie supply).

The world food market was already stressed before the conflict in Ukraine, with prices going up during the pandemic to levels that many countries had not seen before. However, the war has almost broken this weakened food system. The most significant problem is in the world fertiliser market, which was resilient during the pandemic but is now in a crisis: Russia and Ukraine export 28% of nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser as well as 40% of the world’s exports of potash, while Russia by itself exports 48% of the world’s ammonium nitrate and 11% of the world’s urea. Cuts in fertiliser use by agriculturalists will lead to lower crop yields in the future unless farmers and farm companies are willing to switch to biofertilisers. Due to the uncertainty of the food market, many countries have established export restrictions, which further exacerbates the hunger crisis in countries that are not self-sufficient in food production.

Despite all the conversations on self-sufficiency in food production, studies show that action is lacking. By the end of the 21st century, we are being told, 141 countries in the world will not be self-sufficient and food production will not meet the nutritional demands of 9.8 out of the 15.6 billion people projected to be on the planet. Only 14% of the world’s states will be self-sufficient, with Russia, Thailand, and Eastern Europe as the leading producers of grain for the world. Such a bleak forecast demands that we radically transform the world food system; a provisional set of demands is listed in A Plan to Save the Planet, developed by Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and the Network of Research Institutes.

| Solano Trindade | MR Online

In the short-term, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has made it clear that the conflict in Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia must be ended so that these key producers of food and fertiliser can resume production for the world market.

A recent study conducted by the Brazilian Research Network on Food and Nutrition Sovereignty and Security (Rede Penssan) notes that nearly 60% of Brazilian families do not have access to adequate food. Of the country’s 212 million people, the number of those who have nothing to eat has leapt from 19 million to 33.1 million since 2020. ‘The economic policies chosen by the government and the reckless management of the pandemic lead to the even more scandalous increase in social inequality and hunger in our country’, said Ana Maria Segall, a medical epidemiologist at Rede Penssan. But, only a few years ago, the United Nations championed Brazil’s Fome Zero and Bolsa Família programmes, which cut hunger and poverty rates dramatically. Under the leadership of former presidents Lula da Silva (2003–2010) and Dilma Rousseff (2011–2016), Brazil met the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The governments that followed of Michel Temer (2016–2018) and Jair Bolsonaro (2019–present) have reversed these gains and brought Brazil back to the worst days of hunger, when the poet and singer Solano Trindade sang, ‘tem gente com fome’ (‘there are hungry people’):

there are hungry people
there are hungry people
there are hungry people

if there are hungry people
give them something to eat
if there are hungry people
give them something to eat
if there are hungry people
give them something to eat



Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He has written more than twenty books, including The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (The New Press, 2007), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013), The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016) and Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017). He writes regularly for Frontline, the Hindu, Newsclick, AlterNet and BirGün.

MR Online, July 2, 2022,

Progressives march in Bavaria, Germany, denouncing 48th G7 summit / by People’s Dispatch

Protest against the G7 meeting at Garmisch-Partenkirchen on June 26. (Photo: via Junge Welt)

The three-day summit of the Group-7 (G7) countries is being held from June 26-28 in Krunvin the Bavarian Alps with around 20,000 security personnel present in the region

Various groups ranging from anti-imperialists to climate justice activists protested in various parts of the German State of Bavaria against the ongoing 48th G7 summit which started on Sunday, June 26, at Schloss Elmau in the Bavarian Alps. At least 6,000 people participated in a major demonstration called by environmental groups, developmental and social associations, NGOs, and others in Munich’s Theresienwiese on Sunday in the run-up to the G7 summit.

The police acted against the protest march which included communists, trade unionists and cadres from the German Communist Party (DKP), Socialist German Workers Youth (SDAJ), Kommunistischer Aufbau (KA), Association Perspektive Kommunismus, MLPD, as well as the Communist Parties of Greece and Turkey. Kurdish youth groups, Die Linke (The Left) and Left Youth also participated in the protest march. They denounced the exploitative, neo-colonial and war mongering policies of the G7 and resolved to continue the fight against such policies. Progressive sections in Germany and abroad denounced the police attack on the protesters in Munich. Thousands of people also marched on Sunday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen against the summit.

The spokesperson of the anti-capitalist bloc told Junge Welt (JW) that “despite drastic police harassment and numerous preliminary checks, it had already been possible to carry out a militant and successful demonstration near the summit.”

The three-day summit of the Group-7 (G7) countries is being held from June 26-28 in Krun town in the Bavarian Alps under tight security with around 20,000 security personnel present in the region. Leaders from the G7 club of advanced economies, the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan, along with representatives from the EU, IMF, WTO, and others, and several other countries including India and Ukraine are taking part in the summit. The West’s sanctions against Russia and support for Kiev through weapons supply in the backdrop of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war are the dominant topics at the current G7 summit, but the agenda also includes the fight against the climate crisis and the threat of famine in parts of Africa.

Franz Haslbeck from the Munich Alliance against War and Racism told Unsere Zeit (UZ) that “the heads of state and government of the G-7 group want to find solutions to the problems that are being circulated by the media, especially the Ukraine crisis and the climate crisis. To be honest, however, solutions are not to be expected, but rather an exacerbation of these crises. Whether arms deliveries to the war zone or other symbolic policies for climate protection: Since the range of their toolbox only moves within the capitalist principles, only placebos or superficialities are to be expected. This is particularly hypocritical when we are aware that these problems and crises, together with their systemic roots, must be addressed if anything is to change for the better.”

Janine Wissler from Die Linke stated that “the hunger crisis is ramping up worldwide. Every ten seconds, a child under the age of five dies of hunger. However, a ban on food speculation, which further alleviates global hunger, is not expected at the upcoming G7 Summit in Elmau.”

The Socialist German Workers Youth (SDAJ) accused that “the G7 states represent the banks and corporations of the Western industrialized nations. They want to bypass talks at the UN level to enforce their Western capital interests on the backs of dependent countries as well as wage dependent classes in the imperialist centers.”

“Instead of the promised climate protection, plundering is carried out in nature. Instead of global justice, sanctions are being imposed that harm the world’s population by driving up energy prices and thus food prices,” added the SDAJ.

People’s Dispatch, June 27, 2022,

Berlin – Munich – Kyiv: Berlin Bulletin, No. 202 / by Victor Grossman,

The tide of public opinion in Germany is as overpowering–and changeable–as elsewhere: “Stop the Russian invasion!“–“Defend Ukraine!”–“Send money”–“More, bigger, further–reaching weapons!”–“Defeat Russia!” Sustaining this tide is an all–encompassing media campaign. No politician is exempt; even President Frank–Walter Steinmeier and ex–Chancellor Angela Merkel are pressured to make excuses for long–past efforts to achieve detente and decrease confrontation with Russia, now denounced as “appeasement”. (Steinmeier has abjectly apologized, Merkel stubbornly refuses to do so.) And the calls to defend Ukraine are expanding: now we are told to defend our “democratic rules of order” in a new crusade.

Every epoch has had its call to battle the Forces of Evil. Once it was Anarchism, then Bolshevism, Communism. After those menaces were defeated new ones were required; in 2001 it was Terrorism. With that frightening term eroding, it is being replaced by Authoritarianism. The gargoyle staring at us from magazine covers–after Stalin, Mao and Fidel have died and Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Gaddafi been eliminated–is now a scowling Putin. And with him Russia, which must be ostracized, sanctioned, wrecked, starved and, above all, defeated. I have not yet heard any direct use of the word “bombed,” but the weapons are ready, with $800 billion spent annually in the USA, about thirteen times Russia’s military budget, not counting the others in NATO. In Germany, on top of its already huge military outlay, a special €100 billion fund was added, after receiving the required 2/3 parliamentary majority to overrule constitutional limitations. Its use is restricted to strengthening and modernizing the Bundeswehr, for F–35 planes, capable of dropping atomic bombs on Moscow in record time, for warships capable of landing at any shore, for latest–model, deadliest tanks.

All this is “to achieve security”. German borders are nowhere threatened, but the Ukraine invasion, it’s said, proves Putin’s plans to regain the area of the USSR or the czarist empire. So who knows? And any call to reason, to push for a truce and negotiations instead of demands to defeat and “ruin” Russia, oust Putin and put him on trial, is denounced as appeasement, with allusions to the 1938 Munich Agreement, when Neville Chamberlain and French premier Daladier sold out Czechoslovakia.

I also see parallels, but very different ones. Hitler’s main aim, proclaimed in his Anti–Comintern Pact with Italy and Japan, was to invade and destroy the USSR, seizing the wealth of its giant expanse and moving closer toward hegemony, with Japan, of all Eurasia.

How did “the West” view such plans? In a secret meeting on November 19 1937, Lord Halifax, Britain’s representative, congratulated Hitler “that the Fuehrer had not only achieved great things in Germany, but that by destroying communism in his own country he had blocked its way to Europe and that therefore Germany can rightly be regarded as a bulwark against Bolshevism.”

The West, though not itself fascist, admired Hitler’s hatred of the USSR and hoped he might attack and destroy it, thus eliminating any nasty socialist threat. It demonstrated this by supporting Hitler, Mussolini and Franco in Spain, uttering hardly a whisper of disapproval of the Nazi takeover of Austria, agreeing to the sacrifice of Czechoslovakia which brought Germany to the Russian border, and rejecting calls by Soviet Foreign Minister Litvinov in the League of Nations for “collective security” against German expansion. Litvinov’s hopes for unity against fascism died with the West’s speedy recognition of Franco’s victory on April 1 1939. Within a week Stalin drew the consequential  conclusion, ousted Litvinov and set his successor, Molotov, to making a deal with Germany.

As Litvinov commented: British and French leaders…

had done everything they could to goad Hitler’s Germany against the Soviet Union by secret deals and provocative moves… The Soviet Government, in order to avoid an armed conflict with Germany in unfavorable circumstances and in a setting of complete isolation, was compelled to make the difficult choice and conclude a non–aggression treaty with Germany.

The two years it gained made the Red Army’s liberation of Berlin possible, but only after the death of over 50 million people, about 27 million of them Soviet citizens. The events following the West’s rejection of Litvinov’s “collective security” were bloody and devastating. So too are the events of 2022. Of course the world is very different and neither NATO, Putin nor Ukraine are Nazi Germany. But has it not been USA policy to push its NATO closer and closer to Russia, building up its neighbors militarily, with annually threatening  border maneuvers, organizing provocations like the putsch against an elected Ukrainian president in 2014 for wanting trade with both Russia and the West? Has it not been trying to totally surround Russia, weaken it economically, aiming at a final goal of “regime change” with a pawn like Yeltsin providing full access to a giant region and a ramp for an attack on the last big barrier to world hegemony, China? Doesn’t current U.S. (hence NATO) policy recall eastward pressures of the past–called “cordon sanitaire,” “containment“ or “rollback”?

That ugly agreement of Stalin with Hitler was necessitated by an overwhelmingly existential threat. Did Putin view the present scene similarly? We cannot tell. Of course he saw how Ukraine was being steadily armed with Javelin antitank missiles, modern artillery, drones and howitzers that fire deadly Excalibur shells “with pinpoint accuracy”. He most certainly knew of deadly, joint U.S.–Ukrainian “biological research facilities,” as admitted by Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland (the same official who guided the 2014 putsch in Kyiv). And we needn’t simply guess at what steps Washington would take if China conducted heavily–armed maneuvers in Tijuana or Baja California; we can look up the Bay of Pigs invasion or the attacks against Guatemala, Grenada, Panama, Dominican Republic, not to mention Korea, Vietnam, Iraq , Libya, Afghanistan, all of them far distant from Washington or New York. Luckily, the toll in lives and damage in Ukraine has not approached that in some of those invasions. Of burning necessity today; those numbers must never be approached!

But even the most valid comparisons with past or present dangers cannot minimize the Putin government’s share in the guilt for present horror! Nor can they overcome worries that Putin may indeed be dreaming of Czar Peter, of a Greater Russia, denying Ukrainian rights to independence and sovereignty. Nor do accusations of Nazi rule justify the violation of international law, the wrecking of so many towns, cities and families, despite a very real Bandera cult and the strength of Azov thugs. It is more than likely that a massive attack against the Russian–speaking Donbas republics was planned and Putin moved to prevent it. But was invasion the only method of prevention? I cannot say.

There is much we do not know. But there can be only one answer to current escalation, with growing election–related American belligerency, ever more powerful weaponry which will cost ever more lives, mostly Ukrainian ones–and the constant menace of atomic war. The answer must be to pressure Biden and Johnson, Baerbock and Scholz to support negotiations and peace. Difficult as such a response may be, I think it must top the agenda, worldwide, of every progressive! And it also means welcoming similar conclusions by a very mixed crowd including Erdogan in Turkey, the Pope in Rome, courageous Lutheran leaders in Germany and even that old war hawk Kissinger.

The call for peace is also heard from inside Russia, despite attempts to silence it. I hope it bears fruit–but not for those Russians who yearn for a NATO victory–and one more regime take–over!

In Germany, weak attempts to avoid total confrontation and work for peace were heard from Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, who dared briefly to look to the future, when a Europe deprived of its Russian component, unalterably aligned against it, should be unthinkable. But timid words in this direction were soon shushed by his coalition partners: the right–wing Free Democrats, ready to spend billions for war and weapons but not tax the billionaires one more euro, and the Greens, once seen as progressive, now nicknamed “Olive–Greens”, with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock loudest in the ravenous pack, outdoing even European Union Commission boss Ursula von der Layen. Scholz knows that resisting either partner could sink his coalition ship and end his captaincy. Both of them (and his own party) have happily joined in many state–level coalitions with the rightist Christian Democrats and could try it again nationally. His fears of their desertion could explain his loud support for the €100 billion package for the military. But the trend is strong all over Europe, as seen in the efforts of Sweden and Finland to break long–held traditions and apply to join NATO. The bellicose “Atlanticists” have used the Ukraine war to please the Pentagon and the  Raytheons and defeat the pragmatic, business–minded advocates of trade and rapprochement with Russia and China.

Olaf Scholz now plans to forget past insults from Kyiv and pay a visit, together with Emmanuel Macron and Italian premier Mario Draghi, all of them somewhat hesitant till now but all fearful of media accusations of being slouchers, the threesome will be listening favorably to Zelenskyy’s insistent demands for heavy weapons. They will undoubtedly be spared embarrassing encounters with the Nazi–like flags, insignia and tattoos of the Azov battalions or visits to giant Bandera statues.

Scholz has already paid a first–time state visit to Vilnius, where he assured the heads of state of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia that Germany was thinking of them and would send more troops to their countries, near Russian St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad. No mention was made of Hitler’s use of this Baltic area when attacking the USSR in 1941 and laying deathly siege to Leningrad for 2½ years, nor the eager participation of Baltic volunteers in SS units fighting for Hitler. During the visit none of the traditional, police–protected marches of SS veterans and supporters were held; their current accent has switched to support of Ukraine.

While the western winds were blowing stronger, partly out of sympathy and solidarity, partly tainted by the smell of nationalism and hatred, where in Germany was DIE LINKE, The Left, a party traditionally standing for peace and opposing the weapons race? Sadly said, it’s better not to ask!

After its disastrous results in the national election last September, where it sank to 4.9%, down from 9.9% in 2017 and only squeezed back into the Bundestag thanks to a rule by which, if three or more delegates were elected directly by their districts, proportional representation (PR) came into force.  Just three won, two in Berlin, one in Leipzig, so the party stayed in the Bundestag, but no longer the largest opposition party with 69 seats but as the weakest, down to 39. Drastic changes were more than urgent! But they were not made, and in three state elections the Left again lost catastrophically.

Despite participation in four state coalitions, in Berlin, Bremen, Mecklenburg–West Pomerania and Thuringia, the party’s further existence was clearly endangered. A heavy blow hit in April, when the more “reformist” co–chair Susanne Hennig–Wellsow resigned, because of her “personal situation” as mother but with a veiled attack on her more militant co–chair, Janine Wissler, based on a nastily distorted article in the crafty magazine Der Spiegel, always an enemy of Die Linke, which falsely wrote of Wissler covering up a case of misogyny by her ex–partner. Almost certainly allied with its usual behind–the–scenes snoopers and manipulators, it wrote of Die Linke’s mishandling of “sexism.”

Because of the co–chair’s resignation, the many election defeats, and the charges of sexism flying around (although Die Linke has a female majority in its Bundestag delegation and in state legislatures), it was decided to elect an entire new leadership at the party congress in Erfurt on June 24–26. Defying the unjust media attacks, Janis Wissner will run again for the top office. Since she is a left–leaning female West German, a likely co–chair might be a reformist–leaning male East German.

But the party is sharply divided. The “reformers,” who based their disastrous campaign last year on hopes of joining a national coalition with the Greens and the Social Democrats, had to bury this dream (for now). Even if feasible, the party would have had to abandon opposition to NATO and the deployment of German troops in foreign wars and occupations, as in Afghanistan and Mali, and its resistance to big armament plans, or sending heavy weapons to Ukraine. The ”left wing” of Die Linke insists that this would mean giving up its position as a lone party of peace, thus becoming irrelevant: a slightly left–leaning Social Democratic sector of the establishment, forgetting its opposition to the capitalist system and its mighty billionaire potentates!

Such basic questions will likely be at the center of debate in Erfurt at the end of the month–and in the choice of co–chairs and all other positions. Will the party choose sides? Will it find some compromise? Could it split, forming two weak parts, leaving a peace position unstated in the Bundestag and the media? In two weeks we should know.


Despite the current catastrophe, about forty people, also calling the past to mind. met at a  small square monument at Berlin’s Lustgarten park to commemorate a tragic failure.

In May 1942 the Nazi war machine, after all its Blitzkrieg victories and early gains in its attack on the USSR, had begun to bite on granite. Unexpected reverses and heavy losses meant flagging morale, so a big, multimedia exhibition, sarcastically named “Soviet Paradise,” was set up to show the desolate, poverty–stricken Soviet they were destroying–and regain enthusiasm for  ”our boys in uniform”.

Two underground groups, young Communists, decided to set fire to the exhibition. Five from one group, seven from a second, Jewish group, severely restricted but not yet hit by the deportations, were led by Herbert Baum, 29, highly talented, in sports, musically, and in support of Marxist ideas–and dearly loved by all of them.

But on the date set, May 18th 1942, the combustible material secreted around the exhibition failed to ignite; the plot was discovered and nearly all members of both groups were caught, tortured, and sent to the guillotine. Baum was found hanged in his cell. The small monument in East Berlin was erected in 1981 and only slightly altered after unification, partially veiling references to the USSR.


On May 8th, to mark the anniversary of a great victory, many hundreds of Berliners resumed the traditional annual visit to the Soviet Memorial Monument in Treptow, one of three in Berlin, with its statue of a Red Army soldier holding a small child protectively in one arm, in the other a sword, smashing a swastika at his feet. The long green lawn below the statue contains the remains of 7000 soldiers who, after four terrible war years, died in the last fierce battle to defeat Hitler fascism.

Additional side–notes:

  1. Elon Musk has started production of his electric autos in a gigafactory complex in a previously wooded area southeast of Berlin, to be his biggest plant in Europe.
  2. With prices here also soaring upwards, various schemes are constantly being debated, either to allay misery or blunt growing militancy, now seen in strikes by nurses, airline attendants, hospital personnel and others, with demands as high as 8% in raises.
  3. In a curious experiment, a single €9 ticket in June, July and August will grant free transportation for one month each on all subway, elevated, streetcar, bus and railroad travel, except only the fancy international routes. From the start, trains to Baltic and North Sea beaches were jammed.

Victor Grossman, born in NYC, fled McCarthy-era menaces as a young draftee, landed in East Germany where he observed the rise and fall of its German Democratic Republic (GDR). He has described his own life in his autobiography Crossing the River: A Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War, and Life in East Germany (University of Massachusetts Press, 2003), and analyzed the GDR and questions of capitalism and socialism in Germany and the USA, with his provocative conclusions, along with humor, irony and occasional sarcasm in all directions, in A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee (New York: Monthly Review Press). His address is wechsler_grossman [at] (also for a free sub to the Berlin Bulletins sent out by MR Online).

MR Online, June 13, 2022,

What is the US strategy in Ukraine? / by People’s Dispatch

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken speaks at NATO headquarters in Brussels | Olivier Matthys / AP

Eugene Puryear of BreakThrough News talks about the US strategy as the war in Ukraine crosses 100 days. He talks about the nature of US aid to Ukraine, its reluctance to encourage diplomacy and the prevailing views inside the establishment

100 days into the war in Ukraine, the US remains a key player. As it continues to supply money and weapons to Ukraine and lead a global sanctions regime, its actions are playing a determining role in the continuation of the conflict. Eugene Puryear of BreakThrough News analyzes the US role in the Ukraine war.

People’s Dispatch, June 7, 2022,

American weapons will ensure more deaths in Ukraine, but won’t change the conflict’s eventual outcome / by Scott Ritter

FILE PHOTO. High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). © Tony Overman/The Olympian via AP

The US is willing to sacrifice countless lives to weaken Russia

The US is doing everything possible to extend the suffering of the Ukrainian people by creating conditions that appear to mandate an expansion of Russia’s military effort, and the subsequent destruction of the Ukrainian nation.

US President Joe Biden has approved the transfer of at least four M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine. In a “guest essay” published in The New York Times, Biden declared that “[The United States has] moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table. That’s why I’ve decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

At least four of the HIMARS systems will be transferred to Kiev, part of a $700 million dollar military aid package sourced from the $8 billion authorized by Congress for direct drawdown from existing US military stocks. As configured for Ukraine, the M142 will be able to fire a pod of six 227mm artillery GPS-guided rockets, with a range of 43.5 miles (70 kilometers). What is known is that Biden will not be supplying Ukraine with the more advanced ATACMS short-range missile, with a range of 300 kilometers.

Ukrainian forces will be trained on the HIMARS systems prior to their being dispatched to Ukraine. According to the Pentagon, the estimated training time is three weeks. Previously, Ukrainian soldiers were trained on US M777A2 155mm artillery systems at a US Army training facility in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Given the need for an artillery range capable of accommodating the operational parameters of the HIMARS, it is likely that the Grafenwoehr facility will be used again.

With a $40 billion plan, the US is setting itself up for an expensive failure in Ukraine

Prior to the decision regarding HIMARS being announced, the president ppeared to be shying away from sending advanced artillery rockets to Ukraine. “We’re not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that strike into Russia,” he had announced, on May 30, in response to a reporter’s question. Biden, however, appears to have been speaking about the ATACMS missile. He clarified his position the next day, in his essay. “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.”

The fact is, the HIMARS system, if deployed close to the Russian frontier, would give Ukraine the ability to strike nearby Russian cities, such as the strategic logistics hub in Belgorod. Biden’s apparent reversal was in large part due to guarantees from Kiev. “The Ukrainians have given us assurances that they will not use these systems against targets on Russian territory,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared a day after Biden’s essay was published“There is a strong trust bond between Ukraine and the United States.”

The Russian Presidential spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, decried the HIMARS decision as “deliberately and diligently pouring fuel on the fire,” while scoffing at the notion of Ukrainian assurances regarding the weapons systems’ future use. “In order to trust [someone], you need to have experience with situations when such promises were kept,” Peskov said. “Regretfully, there is no such experience whatsoever.”

According to President Biden, the purpose behind his decision to arm Ukraine with billions of dollars’ worth of advanced weaponry was motivated by pure intent. “America’s goal is straightforward: We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.” Recognizing the difficult situation Ukraine has found itself in militarily, he seems to understand the pressures being placed upon Kiev to negotiate an end to the fighting. “I will not,” Biden declared, “pressure the Ukrainian government…to make any territorial concessions. It would be wrong and contrary to well-settled principles to do so.”

Biden was making specific reference to the fact that any potential agreement with Russia to stop the fighting would, at a minimum, need to recognize Crimea as Russian and the Donbass republics as independent, as well as understand the probability that Kherson and other Russian-majority territories currently under Moscow’s control would probably undertake referenda regarding whether they would remain a part of Ukraine going forward.

Biden’s posture flies in the face of historical and practical reality. Russia will never give up Crimea, nor will it pressure the newly independent republics of Lugansk and Donetsk to rescind their hard-won liberation. Any other questions of territorial status are directly related to battlefield realities, and everything indicates that not only will Ukraine be unable to reverse Russia’s territorial gains but will more than likely lose additional swaths of territory, in the weeks to come. as the fighting continues.

Biden, by providing advanced weapons to Ukraine, is seeking to accomplish the impossible–a negotiated Ukrainian victory. This is reflected in his fanciful depiction of the current state of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. “Ukraine’s talks with Russia are not stalled because Ukraine has turned its back on diplomacy,” Biden states. “They are stalled because Russia continues to wage a war to take control of as much of Ukraine as it can. The United States will continue to work to strengthen Ukraine and support its efforts to achieve a negotiated end to the conflict.”

Biden’s words, like the American policy they ostensibly describe, are inherently contradictory and reek of hypocrisy. After declaring that “We do not want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia,” Biden goes on to articulate a case for just that. “It is in our vital national interests to ensure a peaceful and stable Europe and to make it clear that might does not make right. If Russia does not pay a heavy price for its actions, it will send a message to other would-be aggressors that they too can seize territory and subjugate other countries.”

Donetsk under massive rocket fire – RT correspondent

The ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict is one that should never have been fought and once started, should have been brought to a quick conclusion. The blame for both the initiation of the conflict, and the fact that is it still ongoing today, does not lie, as Biden suggests, with Russia.

A quick history lesson: The special military operation is a direct result of America’s ongoing efforts to use NATO expansion, including the desired incorporation of Ukraine, as a means of weakening Russia while undermining the viability of the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin so that he could be replaced with a modern-day clone of Boris Yeltsin—a Russian ‘leader’ in name only, who would once again cast the country prostrate at the feet of a domineering West.

The decade of the 1990s was good for those in the West seeking to punish Russians for the perceived Cold War sins of the Soviet Union. But it was a horrible time for the Russian people. Neither President Putin nor wider society appear to be willing to allow the US and NATO to reverse the hands of time and repeat that era of darkness. Any student of modern Russian history would know this. Unfortunately, Western leaders are informed not by Russian historians but by Russophobe propagandists, and the result is a conflict in Ukraine.

The special military operation, however, was not triggered by NATO’s expansion, but rather by the policies of Ukraine, promoted and facilitated by NATO, which subjected the ethnic-Russian population of Donbass to the eight-year horror of genocidal, ethnic-driven hatred inflicted on them at the hands of the most vile, odious ideology imaginable – the neo-Nazi extremism of the Ukrainian political far right, embodied in the form of the Azov Regiment and other organizations of its ilk.

Despite the existence of a negotiated framework for peace – the 2015 Minsk Accords – brokered as part of the Normandy Format mechanism that included France, Germany, and Ukraine, with Russia observing, the US and its NATO allies (including France and Germany) not only failed to pressure successive Ukrainian presidential administrations to fulfil their obligations under the accords, but actively conspired against any process that would have led to the peaceful conclusion of the Donbass conflict in a manner which not only ended the killing, but also ensured that the Donbass region would remain an integral part of the Ukrainian nation.

The result was an eight-year conflict which killed over 14,000 people, most of them ethnic Russians.

Russia’s military operation was initiated for the purpose of bringing the conflict in Donbass, and the suffering of the local population, Ukrainian and Russian alike, to an end. That it has taken this long is the direct result of miscalculations on the part of the Russian military in the initial phases of the operation, the unexpected resilience and determination of the Ukrainian armed forces, and the fact that the Ukrainians had eight years to construct some of the most complex defensive positions in modern history along the line of conflict in the Donbass regions. In the end, however, Russia’s determination to see the mission through to its completion, combined with the professionalism and competence of its military forces, are producing the very victory that is unfolding on the ground in eastern Ukraine today, and which Biden seeks to reverse through the provision of advanced weapons systems such as HIMARS.

An important reality which cannot be overlooked in the ongoing military struggle is that the Ukrainian military has been functioning as a de facto extension of NATO for some time now. Since 2015 the US and its NATO allies have been training Ukrainian officers and soldiers to NATO standards in terms of organization, tactics, communications, and leadership. While most of the Ukraine military’s pre-conflict inventory was composed of Soviet-era equipment, much of this had been upgraded so that it met or exceeded the capabilities of most NATO members. In short, if Ukraine had been a formal member of NATO, it would have possessed the third largest military in the organization, after the United States and Turkey, with greater capabilities and competency than most of its other would-be NATO partners.

In the years leading up to Russia’s special military operation, Ukraine was supplied with hundreds of millions of dollars of modern military equipment, including Javelin anti-tank weapons. These weapons, and the Ukrainian military, failed to defeat the Russians. Indeed, by the end of Phase One of Russia’s operation, announced on March 25, Russia had inflicted significant harm on the Ukrainian military, making a Russian victory in Phase Two–the liberation of the Donbass–all but inevitable.

The provision of tens of billions of dollars of military aid by the US, NATO, and the European Union has not been able to reverse this tide. What these weapons, when combined with the simultaneous provision of real-time intelligence about Russian force dispositions and an untouchable strategic depth in the form of military bases in Germany, Poland, and other NATO countries from where Ukraine can receive training and equipment without fear or Russian attack, have been able to allow is the ability for Ukraine to reconstitute many of the military formations that Russia had destroyed or degraded during Phase One.

Some of these units will be equipped with HIMARS.

The “HIMARS Effect” will not have any meaningful impact on the battlefield in Ukraine–Russia’s military superiority is assured across the board, regardless of the numbers and quality of the weapons the US and its allies provide Ukraine. However, the goal of the US in Ukraine, according to President Biden, is to inflict a heavy price on Russia for its actions. HIMARS, when employed, will inevitably kill and wound Russian soldiers, and damage and destroy Russian military equipment. The same is true for all the lethal weapons Ukraine has been provided by the West.

Russia is, in fact, paying a heavy price in Ukraine, not because of any aggressive act of territorial acquisition carried out by the Russian military, but rather as a direct result of the policies undertaken by both NATO and Ukraine to threaten the legitimate national security interests of the Russian nation, and the lives of the ethnic Russian population of the Donbass and other eastern Ukrainian territories. All HIMARS contributes to this process is an expanded death count without a change in the outcome. In this, the HIMARS Effect perfectly encapsulates Biden’s Ukraine policy as a whole, where he is willing to sacrifice the lives and viability of the Ukrainian people and nation for the purpose of inflicting harm on Russia with no hope of altering the outcome of events on the ground.

It is a policy of death, pure and simple, and as such epitomizes the role played by America in the world today.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of ‘SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.’ He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. 

RT, June 7, 2022,

Food, famine and war / by Michael Roberts

Wheat (Photo: Shariot Sharif / Flickr)

If anything proves that famine and food insecurity are man-made rather than due to vagaries of nature and the weather, it is the current food crisis that is putting millions globally close to starvation.

The Russia-Ukraine war has highlighted the global food supply disaster but this was brewing well before the war. The food supply chain has been increasingly global. The Great Recession of 2008-9 began to disrupt that chain, based as it was on multi-national food companies controlling the supply from farmers across the world. These companies directed demand, generated the fertiliser supply and dominated much of the arable land. When the Great Recession struck, they lost profits, and so cut back on investment and increased pressure on food producers in the ‘Global South’.

The cracks in these fundamentals of food supply were accompanied by rising oil prices, explosive demand for corn-based biofuels, high shipping costs, financial market speculation, low grain reserves, severe weather disruptions in some major grain producers, and an increased protectionist trade policies. This was the food ‘climate’ in the long depression up to 2019, before the pandemic struck.

Food, fuel and fertiliser prices versus GDP growth in low- and middle-income countries, 2000-2022. FAO/IMF/World Bank.

| food crisis | MR Online

The food crisis after the Great Recession was relatively short lived but was followed by another food price explosion in 2011-12. Finally, the ‘commodities boom’ ended and food prices were relatively stable for a while. But the pandemic slump provoked a new crisis as the global supply chain collapsed, shipping costs rocketed and fertiliser supply dried up. The cereal price index showed prices hit their 2008 level in 2021.

| The Real Food Price Index | MR Online

The world has not recovered from the tailwinds of the COVID-19 pandemic, the worst economic crisis since the second world war. And this is at a time when many economies face large debt burdens relative to national income. Africa is the most vulnerable region. North Africa is a huge net importer of wheat, most of which comes from Russia and Ukraine, so it faces a particularly acute food crisis. Sub-Saharan Africa is predominantly rural, but its growing urban populations are relatively poor and more likely to consume imported grains. Farmers in many parts of Africa are struggling to access fertilisers, even at inflated prices, due to shipping and foreign exchange problems. Exorbitantly high costs will erode farmers’ profits and could reduce incentives to increase production, dampening the poverty-reduction benefits of higher food prices.

Countries already affected by conflict and climate change are exceptionally vulnerable. War-ravaged Yemen is heavily dependent on imported grains. Northern Ethiopia is one of the poorest regions on Earth, facing ongoing conflict and a humanitarian crisis. And Madagascar was slammed by successive tropical storms and cyclones in January and February, leaving its food system broken. In Afghanistan, child mortality rates are soaring due to the collapse of the economy and basic health services. Myanmar’s GDP shrunk by 18% after the military coup in February 2021.

The Russia-Ukraine war only exacerbated this food security and price disaster. Russia and Ukraine account for more than 30% of global grain exports, Russia alone provides 13% of global fertiliser and 11% of oil exports, and Ukraine supplies half of the world’s sunflower oil. In combination, this is huge a supply shock to the global food system, and a protracted war in Ukraine and the growing isolation of Russia’s economy could keep food, fuel and fertiliser prices high for years.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent the global food price index to an all-time high. The invasion idled Ukraine’s once-busy Black Sea ports and left fields untended, while curbing Russia’s ability to export. The pandemic continues to snarl supply chains, while climate change threatens production across many of the world’s agricultural regions, with more drought, flooding, heat, and wildfires.

Millions are being driven towards starvation according to the World Food Program. Those considered ‘undernourished’ rose by 118 million people in 2020 after remaining largely unchanged for several years. Current estimates now put that number at about 100 million more.

| Two Decades Undone | MR Online

Acute hunger levels—the number of people who can’t meet short-term food consumption needs–rose by nearly 40 million last year. War has always been the main driver of extreme hunger and now the Russia-Ukraine war is adding to the risk of hunger and starvation for many millions more.

| Extreme Hunger | MR Online

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva:

For several countries, this food crisis comes on top of a debt crisis. Since 2015 the share of low-income countries at or near debt distress has doubled, from 30 to 60%. For many, debt restructuring is a pressing priority… We know hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem. A looming crisis is the time to act decisively—and solve it.

But the mainstream solutions to this disaster are either inadequate or utopian, or both. The call is for the ‘major grain producers’ to resolve logistical bottlenecks, release stocks and resist the urge to impose food export restrictions. The oil-producing nations should increase fuel supplies to help bring down fuel, fertiliser and shipping costs. And governments, international institutions and even the private sector must offer social protection via food or financial aid.

None of these proposals is happening. Very little is being done by the major capitalist powers to help those poor countries with the starving and malnourished millions. At the end of last month, the European Commission announced a €1.5 billion aid package, along with additional measures, to support farmers in the EU and protect the bloc’s food security. The leaders of the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund, United Nations World Food Program, and World Trade Organization called for urgent, coordinated action to address food security. Fine words but no action.

A real help would be to cancel the debts of the poor countries. But all that the IMF and the major powers have offered is a debt service suspension–the debts remain but the repayments can be delayed. Even this ‘relief’ is pathetic. In total, over the last two years, the G20 governments have suspended just $10.3 billion. In the first year of the pandemic alone, low-income countries accumulated a debt burden totalling $860 billion, according to the World Bank.

The other IMF ‘solution’ was to increase the size of Special Drawing Rights, the international money, to be used for extra aid. The IMF injected $650 billion of aid through the SDR program. But because of the ‘quota’ system for the distribution of SDRs, SDR quotas are disproportionately tilted toward rich countries: Africa received less SDRs than the German Bundesbank!

The macroeconomic conditions are now sparking food riots. In a new report, titled “Tapering in a Time of Conflict”, UNCTAD spelt out the scenarios ahead. Sri Lanka, whose debt crisis is several years in the making, is a useful illustration of key dynamics. Remittances and exports collapsed during the pandemic, which also disrupted the crucial tourism sector. The growth slowdown strained the budget and depleted foreign-exchange reserves, leaving Colombo now struggling to import oil and food. The shortages are acute. Two men in their seventies died while waiting in line for fuel, Al Jazeera reported. Milk prices have increased, and school exams were cancelled due to shortages in paper and ink. As Sri Lanka struggles to service the $45 billion in long-term debt it owes, of which over $7 billion is due this year, it could join countries that have defaulted during the pandemic, including Argentina and Lebanon, the latter heavily dependent on wheat imports.

Instead of increasing supply, releasing food stocks and trying to end the war in Ukraine, governments and central banks are hiking interest rates which will increase the debt burden for the food-starved poor countries. As I have explained in previous posts and UNCTAD concurs, central bank interest-rate hikes do nothing to control inflation created by supply disruptions, except to provoke a global recession and an ‘emerging market’ debt crisis.

Increasing protests and political upheaval worries the major powers more that people starving. As U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said:

Inflation is reaching the highest levels seen in decades. Sharply higher prices for food and fertilizers put pressure on households worldwide—especially for the poorest. And we know that food crises can unleash social unrest.

Back in the 1840s as capitalism became the dominant mode of production globally, Marx talked of a “new regime” of industrial-capitalist food production, connected to the repeal of the Corn Laws and the triumph of free trade after 1846. He associated this “new regime” with the conversion of “large tracts of arable land in Britain,” driven by the “reorganization” of food production around developments in livestock breeding and management, and by crop rotation, coupled with related developments in the chemistry of manure-based fertilizers.

Capitalist food production dramatically increased food productivity and turned food production into a global enterprise. In the mid-1850s, these trends were already apparent: close to 25 percent of wheat consumed in Britain was imported, 60 percent of it from Germany, Russia, and the United States. But it also brought regular and recurring production and investment crises that created a new form of food insecurity. No longer could famine and hunger be blamed on nature and the weather–if it ever could. Now it was clearly the result of the inequities of capitalist production and social organisation on a global scale. And it is the poorest who suffer. Karl Marx once wrote that the famine ‘killed poor devils only’.

And with industrial farming came the cruel exploitation and treatment of animals just as much as humans. Marx wrote in an unpublished notebook, as “Disgusting!” Feeding in stables a “system of cell prison” for the animals.

In these prisons animals are born and remain there until they are killed off. The question is whether or not this system connected to the breeding system that grows animals in an abnormal way by aborting bones in order to transform them to mere meat and a bulk of fat—whereas earlier (before 1848) animals remained active by staying under free air as much as possible—will ultimately result in serious deterioration of life force?

This is a global crisis and requires global action in the same way that pandemic should have been dealt with and the climate crisis needs. But such global coordination is impossible while the global food industry is controlled and owned by a few multi-national food producers and distributors and the world economy heads towards another slump.

Michael Roberts is the creator and author of Michael Roberts Blog.

MR Online, June 6, 2022,