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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The Ugly Face of Anti-Communism

Since the Russian revolution, the founding of the Communist International, and the organization of a revolutionary party “of a new type” in nearly every country, Communist and Workers Parties have been in the sights of every country’s bourgeoisie. In nearly all countries, the bourgeoisie, its political parties, its media, and its other henchmen have sought to thwart, even destroy the revolutionary vanguard of the workers. Thus, the existence of maneuvers or actions to suppress or repress Communist Parties comes as no surprise.

Throughout the last one hundred six years, a Communist Party’s size or influence has been reflected in the force or violence to which they are met. That, too, comes as no surprise.

Of course Communists resist the repression that inevitably ensues from capitalism’s defenders. In some cases and on some rare occasions, a deeply embedded sense of fair play or principled belief in liberal values among the masses ensures that Communists enjoy a modicum of permitted activity in spite of the ruling bourgeoisie’s wishes.

So it should come as no surprise that the bourgeoisie in Venezuela would like to bury the Communist Party, consigning it to the political margins or worse. Over the course of the Venezuelan Communist Party’s long and determined history of the defense of Venezuela’s workers, it has been attacked, repressed, and banned by bourgeois politicians or the military. In fact, since its birth in 1931 until 1969, the Party has known little more than five years of legality. 

It should come as no surprise, either, when a popular movement wins electoral victories against the established bourgeois parties, promising to defend Venezuela’s independence and to implement a people’s program, that Venezuela’s Communist Party would enthusiastically offer conditional support. With its own program based on revolutionary Marxism-Leninism, the vigorous support the Communists offered to the government of Hugo Chavez was necessarily conditional, though supportive.

The Chavez program was vaguely socialist-- drawing on Christian ethics, utopian socialism, and a motley assembly of enthusiastic volunteer academic advisors from around the world. Nonetheless, it drew the enmity of US imperialism and its allies for its foreign policy and resource independence. While it defied the influence of the domestic bourgeoisie, the Chavez government did not establish workers’ power or eliminate the bourgeoisie’s economic base.

Despite these weaknesses, the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) continued to defend the government and support it against US intervention and counter-revolutionary intrigue. The PCV continued its conditional support in the post-Chavez era-- with Maduro’s election-- but with emerging differences over domestic policy, especially with regards to the working class and corruption.

Over the last decade, the differences grew sharper. In the eyes of the PCV and in its own words: “It is on the reality of total rupture with the Unitary Framework Agreement [an agreement proposed before the 2018 election] and with the programmatic bases of the Bolivarian process initiated by Hugo Chavez that the PCV distanced itself from the Maduro government.”

Of course the distancing does not mean abandoning joint patriotic resistance to US and other foreign intervention.

In the wake of these political differences-- a common enough feature of center-left and left electoral formations-- the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice imposed a new leadership on the PCV on August 11, a wildly arbitrary and unjust move with no possible motivation other than to weaken and disable the PCV. Venezuela’s highest court summarily ruled that a new leadership-- composed of renegades, dissidents, and non-members-- should constitute a new leading body, negating the democratically elected leadership of the PCV from its last Congress in November of last year.

Venezuelan Communists were denied serious participation, due process, and the right to appeal this attempt to disable a historical instrument of the Venezuelan working class.

Some might dismiss this as a rogue court attacking the PCV, but the fact that the Venezuelan government had sought to deny electoral participation by the PCV earlier and that a prominent leader of the leading political party had mounted a campaign against the PCV, demonstrate that Maduro’s party was complicit in the court’s maneuvers. 

Certainly the government, Maduro, and Maduro’s party have had every opportunity to denounce or resist the blatant attempt to disarm the working class’s most dedicated advocates, the Venezuelan Communists. They have not.

Clearly, this is an instance of raw anti-Communism, updated to the twenty-first century. Others can probe the reasons that Maduro and his party have succumbed to anti-Communism, but succumb they have. If they believe that creating a bogus Communist Party will deflect criticism or improve their electoral opportunities, it will not be the first time that fear of Communism leads to the suppression of political choices and dishonors the perpetrators.

But the PCV will endure. Its cadre will find their way through this thicket of distraction and continue to fight for working people.

Many Communist and Workers’ Parties have rallied-- along with many other honest people-- in defense of the PCV and the cause of Venezuelan workers. They understand the cost of anti-Communism on the fate of working people.

But many on the left have failed this moment. Their reasons constitute a basket of opportunism. They stare at their shoe tops, equivocate, plead ignorance, or soil the banner of solidarity. History will judge.

Greg Godels


Wednesday, November 8, 2023

“....exceeding 10 kilograms of explosives per individual”

The November 2, 2023 edition of The Wall Street Journal acknowledges that “the three-week-long air campaign by Israel… is the most intense in its history and rivals any aerial bombardment this century,” according to “military analysts”. The Israelis have “hit more than 11,000 targets, with missiles, bombs, and artillery, in Gaza, an area that is half the size of New York City that is home to about two million people.”

Reporting only one week after the war began, the Turkish state-run news agency takes note of the following comparisons: 

The Washington Post, citing Marc Garlasco, a military adviser at the Dutch organization PAX for Peace, reported that Israel is “dropping in less than a week what the US was dropping in Afghanistan in a year, in a much smaller, much more densely populated area, where mistakes are going to be magnified.”

Garlasco, who is also a former UN war crimes investigator in Libya, told the daily, citing records from the US Air Force Central Command, that the highest number of bombs dropped in a year for the war in Afghanistan was just over 7,423. According to the UN, during the entire war in Libya, NATO reported dropping more than 7,600 bombs and missiles from aircraft, the daily reported…

Charles Lister, a senior fellow and director of the Extremism and Counterterrorism Program at the Middle East Institute, was also surprised by the figure.

WOW -- 6,000 bombs in 6 days, in 365 km2 #Gaza,” Lister said on X.

“For comparison, the international anti-#ISIS coalition dropped an average of ~2,500 bombs **per month, across 46,000 km2 in #Syria & #Iraq.**”

In a release on November 2, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor reports:

Geneva - Israel has dropped more than 25,000 tons of explosives on the Gaza Strip since the start of its large-scale war on 7 October, equivalent to two nuclear bombs, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a press release issued today.

According to the Geneva-based human rights organisation, the Israeli army has admitted to bombing over 12,000 targets in the Gaza Strip, with a record tally of bombs exceeding 10 kilograms of explosives per individual. Euro-Med Monitor highlighted that the weight of the nuclear bombs dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan at the end of World War II in August 1945 was estimated at about 15,000 tons of explosives.

Due to technological developments affecting the potency of bombs, the explosives dropped on Gaza may be twice as powerful as a nuclear bomb. This means that the destructive power of the explosives dropped on Gaza exceeds that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Euro-Med Monitor said, noting that the area of the Japanese city is 900 square kilometres, while the area of Gaza does not exceed 360 square kilometres.

The rights group’s statement underlined that Israel uses bombs with huge destructive power, some of which range from 150 to 1,000 kilograms, and cited a recent statement by Israeli War Minister Yoav Gallant that declared that more than 10,000 bombs have been dropped on Gaza City alone.

Israel’s use of internationally banned weapons in its attacks on the Gaza Strip has been documented, said Euro-Med Monitor, especially the use of cluster and phosphorus bombs, which are waxy toxic substances that react quickly to oxygen and cause severe second- and third-degree burns.

While comparisons are rough, they give some sense of the scale of the Israeli assault on Gaza which is lost in much of the media coverage. The assault on the civilian population of Gaza is savage. The immediacy of this catastrophe on the civilian population of Gaza vastly overshadows the questions that occupy the media, the punditry, and the politicians. They, and others, who fail to recognize this human disaster and fail to call for its ending will be judged harshly by history.

The world-wide outrage voiced by the people is in sharp contrast to the complacency of the elites. Despite the best efforts of elites to minimize and distort the facts and to threaten and ostracize resistance, millions have emphatically called for a ceasefire. The shameful attempt to stifle this resistance should not be forgotten when future political options are weighed.

The effectiveness of global resistance has forced the US State Department warmongers-- the slavish apologists for Israeli policies-- to call for a “humanitarian pause,” a tepid, cowardly attempt to save face in the wake of mass slaughter. Predictably, the extremist Israeli government has turned down this feeble request.

As civilian deaths in Gaza climb obscenely, there is only one honest demand: Cease fire! End the war now!


Like the war in Ukraine, the conflict in Gaza-- in the entire Middle East, for that matter-- can neither be understood nor judged without delving into its history. Simplistic accounts that place ethnicity, religion, or ideology ahead of the machinations of imperialism miss the point. Since the politics of oil has dominated great power interests in the Middle East, the traditional relations of the various peoples and their fate have been largely determined by those powers. Beginning with the Balfour Declaration and the Sykes-Picot agreement, the people of the region have been largely side-line observers of British and French imperial designs.

Matters changed after World War II with the upsurge in nationalism, both narrow nationalism and progressive national liberation. The Zionist “victory” over British rule in Palestine and the subsequent purging of Palestinian villages and residents led to a narrow nationalist, theocratic regime in Israel that quickly became a watchdog for US and NATO imperialism, joining in the suppression and manipulation of popular risings in the Middle East.

At the same time, popular, secular, Arab nationalist, independent, proto-socialist movements arose, alongside existing worker and Communist parties, targeting both backward, feudal, and fundamentalist regimes installed or sustained throughout the Middle East by the West, as well as their Western puppeteers.

Arab nationalism and the inspiration of socialism-- encouraged by the 1952 revolution in Egypt-- grew into a powerful movement that, despite relentless efforts to undermine them, lingers to this day. The Ba’ath Party, Yasser Arafat’s PLO, and Quaddafi’s Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya were modern-day remnants of the 1952 revolution’s legacy.

Wherever these secular movements rose in stature, the Western powers and Israel sponsored anti-Communist, religious fundamentalists as a bulwark against secularism, progressive nationalism, and tolerance.

Famously, this sponsorship has often backfired on the sponsor-- what Chalmers Johnson cleverly dubbed “blowback” -- as it did when the US courted the mujahideen in Afghanistan. Opportunistically using Islamic fundamentalism to combat Afghani revolutionaries and Soviet assistance, the US enabled a powerful new reactionary force in the Middle East that led directly to the infamous jihadist attack on September 11, 2001.

Hamas is a similar creature. Nourished and encouraged by Israel as an alternative to the secular PLO, it turned on its masters. As Avner Cohen, a former Israeli intelligence officer affirmed recently in The Wall Street Journal:

Instead of trying to curb Gaza's Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat's Fatah.

Since October 7, the regarded Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, has posted a series of articles chronicling the Israeli government’s efforts to strengthen Hamas in order to ensure that Palestinian governance would be divided between the West Bank and Gaza: divide and conquer.

The great tragedy of the Palestinian people is brought forth by today's massacre at the hands of Zionist zealots: the death of thousands of civilians and the injury of many more. But its roots lie in the machinations of Western imperialism, the indifference, even hostility, of many Arab states, and the failings of the left.

Kemal Okuyan, General Secretary of the Turkish Communist Party addresses the failing in a recent speech:

Because today, political Islam has turned into an effective tool in the hands of the ruling classes not only to attack, divide or control the workers but also to gain advantage in the competition within the imperialist system. When its class-based characteristics is missed, in Europe and North America, political Islam is either viewed with an orientalist approach as "an anti-imperialist, even revolutionary revolt of the backward world," or, as in the case of ISIS, as a medieval barbarism. I regret to say that both approaches lead us to mistakes. It must be recognized that political Islam is an important reality of the modern world, it is fundamentally a class phenomenon and a problem that cannot be overcome by romanticism or feelings of terror. We will not allow the Palestinian resistance to be reduced to Hamas. But we need to answer the question why religion has become decisive in social dynamics of the Islamic world.


Comrades, the regression in the Middle East is ultimately due to the same reason as the decline of the working-class movement in the rest of the world today. This reason can be summarized as the abandonment of the class positions and the perspective of revolution. One of the most important, if not the only, reasons for the rise of right-wing populism or the far right in Europe today is the gaps left by the left. Capitalism constantly generates problems that require radical responses. The same mechanism is also at work in the Middle East, which has a very different historical, cultural and political background. Politics does not tolerate any gaps. The truth is that they are stealing the anger of the poor and they are stealing it from us. We cannot accept this. The moment we put aside the actuality of the revolution; we commit mistakes. Anti-US positions without the goal of socialism leads us to consider political Islam or the so-called national bourgeoisies as allies; putting democracy before socialism often leads us to co-operate with the US or the EU or other bourgeois forces. This is a vicious circle. This vicious circle traps us in Europe, Latin America or North America as much as it does in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt or Palestine. 

The power of Okuyan’s analysis lies in underscoring the legitimacy of the Palestinian resistance while insisting that Palestinian liberation requires different options, revolutionary options that will better serve the interests of the Palestinian masses. 

Whatever else the Hamas attack has done, Israeli reaction has exposed the brutality of the Israeli regime to millions of people who were unaware or in denial of the oppression, abuse, and destruction of the Palestinian people in their historic homeland and in Gaza. Even the Western media has, to some extent, been forced to acknowledge the horrors of life in Gaza under Israeli attack, leaving their political patrons exposed for their sheer indifference and their lack of moral principle. Leaders of Arab countries are forced to face their unprincipled relations with Israel or face their outraged populations.

Yet the political strata continue to escalate both their support for Israel and their suppression of domestic resistance. They will pay dearly for this, as the Israeli government further shows its brutal face to the world.

The people of the world must demand the end of the Israeli attack on Gaza. That victory might begin the march to restoring dignity to the long-suffering Palestinian people.

Greg Godels