Craig Murray on why the Novichok story is “another Iraqi WMD scam”

wall of controversy

Whistleblower and former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has recently published a sequence of articles challenging official claims surrounding the attempted murder of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal.

On Tuesday 13th, Murray wrote:

The same people who assured you that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s now assure you Russian “novochok” nerve agents are being wielded by Vladimir Putin to attack people on British soil. As with the Iraqi WMD dossier, it is essential to comb the evidence very finely. A vital missing word from Theresa May’s statement yesterday was “only”. She did not state that the nerve agent used was manufactured ONLY by Russia. She rather stated this group of nerve agents had been “developed by” Russia. Antibiotics were first developed by a Scotsman, but that is not evidence that all antibiotics are today administered by Scots.

Yesterday, Murray followed up with a very tightly argued and…

View original post 1,538 more words


The Skripal poisoning: What lies behind UK-US ultimatums against Russia?


From the comments section:

The US is an Imperial Empire on the wane, that has lost its crown, both as a producer and increasingly as an arbiter of World affairs . It stands teetering on the cusp of a financial meltdown, that more and more bourgeois economists let alone ourselves see as potentially imminent in 2018 . Under such conditions and with its back against the wall it has ‘no choice’ but to invoke all its forces of controlling the perception of the masses both at home and abroad, for to wage a war it must carry ”the people with it .” The US has a long history of sculduggery , and to pick just one example we can go all the way back to the murder of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro and the involvement of Gladio, a US inspired and funded network of provocateurs throughout Europe.…

Once framed within the context of ”whose interest and agenda is served” then the smoke clears. Teressa May the hapless nodding dog for US Imperialism can come out with nothing else. Her script is as predictable as the Sun coming up in the morning for it coincides with her own desperate position and that of British imperialism in its scrap with Europe…..”


In little over a week since the mysterious poisoning of former Russian intelligence agent and British spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, Britain, on March 4, a campaign has emerged in ruling circles of the NATO alliance to pin blame for the poisoning on Moscow. Backed by top officials in Washington and in Europe, the British government is using this poisoning to concoct accusations against Russia with the most far-reaching implications.

On Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May issued an ultimatum, which expired at midnight today, declaring that absent a “credible response” from Moscow, her government will conclude there has been “an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom.” During the parliamentary debate May was urged to invoke Article 4 of the NATO treaty, forcing the alliance to confer if the “territorial integrity, political independence or security of any [NATO member state] is threatened.”

These are issues over which states go to war, and top NATO officials are clearly putting together a case for war with Russia, a major nuclear-armed power. Yesterday, as May prepared to return to Parliament today with proposals for action, reports emerged in international media that ruling circles in London are discussing also invoking Article 5 of the NATO treaty. This article compels all NATO countries to “assist” any NATO member state that says it has been attacked to take “such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force.”

Faced with such drastic threats raising the danger of nuclear war, one must ask: what is the basis of the allegations that it was Moscow that poisoned Skripal and his daughter, who are now very ill?

The World Socialist Web Site holds no brief for the kleptocratic business oligarchy that emerged in Russia from the Stalinist bureaucracy’s restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union in 1991. It cannot be ruled out that a faction of Russian intelligence, acting with or without the knowledge of President Vladimir Putin, may have poisoned Skripal.

But London and NATO have neither produced physical evidence of Kremlin involvement, nor established a motive for a hypothetical Russian attack. Nor has London explained why, if the Kremlin wanted Skripal dead because he spied for Britain in the 1990s and early 2000s, it did not execute him after convicting him of spying in 2006, and instead sent him to Britain four years later in exchange for Russian spies jailed by London.

Instead, a simplistic narrative accusing Moscow has emerged: If a crime appears to target countries or individuals hostile to the Russian government, NATO governments and media conclude within hours that it is self-evident that the Kremlin is responsible.

In fact, in international politics, the simple and obvious answer all but inevitably fails to reveal the complex web of political and economic interests that produce a given event or policy. Were the Skripal attack to be a Le Carré spy novel, the accusations so far would likely take up the first 10 pages of the book, after which the real story would unfold over the next 400 pages. The questions that must be posed in such cases are: what is the credibility of the accuser, and, above all, cui bono (who benefits from the crime)?

To those who say it is obvious that Russia poisoned Skripal, it is worth recalling the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, in which a deadly strain of anthrax was mailed to many US officials in Washington, killing 5 people and infecting 17 more, shortly after the September 11 attacks. There again, media immediately blamed the attacks on obvious targets of US-UK war threats—the Iraqi regime’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program and its alleged ties to Al Qaeda. These all proved to be lies, serving Washington’s foreign policy interests as it sought to go to war in Iraq.

And, after the US invaded and occupied Iraq, as it became clear that Iraq had no WMDs and was not responsible for the attacks, it emerged that the particular anthrax strain used in the attacks had in fact been created by Washington’s own WMD program at Fort Detrick, Maryland. A US scientist, Steven Hatfill, was rumored to be responsible, investigated, and ultimately cleared.

It still remains unclear to this day which US officials were involved in carrying out the anthrax attacks. The FBI closed the investigation in 2010 after pinning the blame on another scientist, Bruce Edwards Ivins, who had committed suicide in 2008. However, the US National Academy of Sciences found in 2011 that the US government did not have sufficient scientific evidence to definitively assert that the anthrax used in the attacks came from Ivins.

In the Skripal attack, it is unclear how Moscow would benefit. The attack took place shortly before this weekend’s elections in Russia, and as the NATO powers ramp up a confrontation with Russia over their failed war for regime change in Syria that has seen US forces attack and kill Russian military contractors in Syria in recent weeks. The Skripal attack hands Putin’s enemies inside NATO an ideal diplomatic and political weapon to use against him.

The benefits flow to sections of the British and European ruling class who are stoking war hysteria against Russia, and sections of the American ruling elite, particularly around the CIA and the Democratic Party, working with them to discredit Trump as a supposed agent of Russia. The Skripal attack allows these factions to place enormous pressure on rival sections of the European ruling class, notably in the French and German governments, who are calling for a European military policy independent from the United States and closer ties to Russia.

Thus, on Monday, former French President François Hollande issued a sharp if barely veiled attack in Le Monde on his successor, Emmanuel Macron, who is working closely with Berlin. Asserting that current NATO policy allows Moscow and the Syrian government to “liquidate its opposition and massacre its own people,” Hollande called for a confrontation with Moscow: “Russia has been rearming for several years, and if Russia is threatening, it must be threatened.”

Yesterday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States has “full confidence” in the British assessment of the attack—a statement he implicitly contradicted by then declaring that Russia was only “likely responsible.” Despite firing Tillerson shortly after he made those statements, Trump echoed Tillerson’s accusation of Russian complicity, declaring, “It sounds to me like it would be Russia, based on all the evidence they have.”

Under these conditions, and after the experience of the anthrax attacks, it must be said that factions of the British and American states themselves are prime suspects in the Skripal attack.

London has based its allegations against Russia entirely on the shifting analyses of its Porton Down biochemical warfare facility, located coincidentally only 10 miles from Salisbury. Initially, London alleged that Skripal had been exposed to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid more powerful than heroin. On March 7, however, British officials alleged that the poison was a nerve gas like sarin or VX, without explaining why Porton Down, a facility that has for decades specialized in producing nerve gases, failed to correctly identify one after it was used.

On Monday, May alleged that the nerve gas in question is in fact “novichok,” a special chemical weapon initially produced by the Soviet government. However, London has refused Moscow’s requests to actually provide it with samples of the substance used in the Salisbury attack for analysis, as required by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). As of now, at least, the case against Russia is based on the say-so of the Porton Down facility.

Porton Down is not a reliable source, however. It has a long record of illegal or covert testing of biological and chemical weapons on British citizens. These include the 1942 contamination with anthrax spores of Gruinard Island, which the British government was compelled to decontaminate in 1986; the unlawful death of Ronald Maddison in 1953 during trials of sarin gas on British servicemen; and the 1963-1975 spraying of biological weapons in Lyme Bay. The British government paid out 3 millions pounds to victims of such tests in 2008, without admitting liability.

None of the allegations directed by such sources against Russia on the still-murky Skripal poisoning case have a shred of credibility. Only a full, objective international public inquiry, whose findings are published in real time as the inquiry progresses, can establish the truth of what took place. In the meantime, it is a critical measure of self-preservation for workers in America, Europe and around the world to oppose the ruling elite’s stoking of war hysteria against Russia and the danger of an all-out confrontation between the world’s main nuclear-armed powers.

Alex Lantier

Some excellent comments, of which one is noted here(go to the site for others):

Also unmentioned in the Western Media coverage of whatever actually occurred in Salisbury is the fact that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW),the UN body in charge of investigating reports of chemical weapons use, as well as inspecting chemical stockpiles of countries signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention , and verifying their compliance with the treaty, apparently makes no mention of “Novichok” in it’s listing of all known nerve agents.

Russia is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention and undertook to destroy all its chemical weapons under international inspection and verification. This was completed in September 17th, 2017, and reported by RT and the Russian media at the time, but unmentioned in the Western Media.

From RT: “What about the chemical watchdog confirming Russia destroyed its stockpiles?

“In autumn last year, the OPCW confirmed that Moscow – a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention – had completely destroyed its stockpiles. The organization’s inspection teams verified the destruction at seven chemical weapons destruction facilities in Russia, and, on September 27, 2017, the last of these facilities officially ceased its operations. The six other facilities were closed between 2005 and 2015.”

“The completion of the verified destruction of Russia’s chemical weapons program is a major milestone in the achievement of the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention,” the organization’s Head Ambassador Ahmet Uzumcu said at the time. He praised countries that assisted Russia with its destruction program, as well as OPCW staff who verified the destruction.”

“Russian officials say the timing of the allegations is particularly notable. “Presidential elections are looming in Russia, and the country is accused of committing every mortal sin,” Sergey Stepashin, former FSB director, told Interfax. “Tell me, which idiot in Russia could carry out such an attack? Where is the logic in that?”

So, both Russia and Syria have already destroyed their entire chemical weapons stockpiles and production facilities in compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention under the inspection and verification of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an international body created to verify compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Meanwhile Britain and the United States haven’t even started destroying their chemical weapon stockpile and production facilities as required by the treaty. The US has now pushed its compliance date back another five years to 2023. And as the article notes, the incident in Salisbury is right adjacent to Britains main nerve gas production, research, and testing facility at Porton Down. Coincidence? Who is the real suspect here?


WATCH: The death of David Kelly: an open verdict

Driven to suicide or just plain eliminated for convenience?


If David Kelly had died on March 4 this year, and had he been a Russian exile, we can be sure the media would be screaming that Putin murdered him, and the numerous inconsistencies in his alleged “suicide” would be front page news. But when Kelly actually died in 2005, the only country potentially implicated in his death was Britain. And so the UK media were silent .

Theresa May has, on the basis of no published evidence whatsoever, and without any adherence to the bare minimum of due process, declared Russia “culpable” for the alleged Skripal poisoning. The message in the media is that any other potential perpetrator is not even to be considered, even though the alleged toxin used – Novichok – would have been obtainable by other state actors and individuals, and even though other states would appear to have far more motive in creating this international…

View original post 68 more words

Arabic Subtitles added to James Corbett’s “The White Helmets Are A Propaganda Construct”

TRANSCRIPT AND SOURCES: Contrary to what its multi-million dollar international PR campaign would have you believe, the “White Helmets” are not a group of volunteer search-and-rescue workers that sprang spontaneously out of the Syrian soil. When you peel back the layers of foreign financing and reveal the foreign intelligence operatives and murky lobbying groups at the heart of the organization, what you find is that the White Helmets are, in fact, a propaganda construct.
Related Links:

*Veteran journalist John Pilger described the White Helmets as “a complete propaganda construct.”

*Gareth Porter’s November 30, 2016,  article on the White Helmets, focusing on…

View original post 339 more words

Skripal case: Theresa May now demands Russia prove itself innocent


by Alexander Mercouris, originally published in the Duran

Theresa May in Parliament March 12 2018

British government lacking evidence of Russian guilt reverses the burden of proof

After a week of speculation and allegations British Prime Minister Theresa May has finally spoken about the murder attempt on the former British spy Sergey Skripal, which has left both him and his daughter critically ill.

This how the Guardian reports her statement

Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at Porton Down, our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so, Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations, and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations, the government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal….

Either this was a direct act by the…

View original post 1,706 more words

Husband of anti-cannabis UK Drugs Minister grows cannabis

Pride's Purge

This is Tory MP Victoria Atkins MP, the UK minister responsible for drugs policy:

Atkins strongly and totally opposes the use of cannabis for either medical or recreational use and supports the government’s hard-line position that there is ‘no therapeutic value’ in cannabis.

For example, Ms Atkins spoke out forcefully against deregulation of cannabis in Parliament in July 2017:

“I declare an interest: I used to prosecute national-level drug barons. We are talking about gun-toting criminals, who think nothing of shooting each other and the people who carry their drugs for them. What on earth does my hon. Friend think their reaction will be to the idea of drugs being regulated? Does he really think that these awful people are suddenly going to become law-abiding citizens?”

On the other side of the argument, here is Paul Kenward – the CEO of British Sugar – which surprisingly has managed…

View original post 105 more words

When is a Socialist not a Socialist: When they promote murderous Imperialist foreign policies.

From Steel City Scribblings (Phillip R – Steel City Scribe)

I’ve had a couple of exchanges of late with a supporter of what the mainstream calls the far left – the vanguard or Leninist model.1 Having read pieces from Socialist Workers Party (US), cited to straighten out my wayward thinking, I broadly agree with their analysis of imperialism2 but am troubled by the way SWP recycles accusations of Damascene and Muscovite criminality, blithely unaware of the flakiness of their sources.

For my pains I was just this week dubbed a parliamentary cretin. Stung but standing, I thought to check out what my old comrades from Workers Power – always more sophisticated in their analyses than SWP – have to say on Syria. Most alumni of my eighties cohort have gone: some to pipe and slipperhood, some to Labour Party work, Paul Mason to pen for the Graun on how ‘we’ need to stand up to Putin, and to tweet on the ‘forensic’ brilliance of what lesser mortals saw as a fact-lite hatchet job on White Helmet sceptics. But there’s a rump, and it’s hooked up with other Trotskyite splinterettes in Europe to offer an online voice it calls the League for the Fifth International.

What I found on its site did nothing to improve my mood. First was a posting less than a month ago, February 26. It begins:

The slaughter of civilians continued as the United Nations Security Council finally passed the resolution proposed by Kuwait and Sweden, calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta. Few believe that it will be either comprehensive or total since the Syrian envoy shrugged off the resolution, asserting his government had a right to defend its territory and would continue to “fight terrorism, wherever it is.” The last few days in New York witnessed the disgusting spectacle of the UN ambassadors of the United States and Russia trying to blame one another for delaying a ceasefire in the Damascus suburb, which has been under siege by government forces since 2013 and is home to some 400,000 people.

On February 23, the UK based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 417 citizens, including 96 children and 61 women, were killed in a five-day period alone. These were the result of 564 airstrikes by warplanes, while the regime’s helicopters dropped more than 219 barrel bombs. This massive escalation indicates that the Assad regime sees itself in a similar endgame where it can enforce an evacuation of fighters from Ghouta as it did in East Aleppo at the end of 2016.

Russia threatened to cast its veto …

This differs from a typical Guardian offering in that Russia is matched in disgustingness by the USA. That’s important, and puts Workers Power and League Fifth in a different solar system to the one corporate media orbit but there are similarities too, and significant ones. Since I intend to move shortly to a second of their postings, I’ll focus here on just two.

First, note that dismissive picture of an ambassador ‘shrugging off’ a resolution crafted to leave defenceless (echoes of the No Fly Zones preceding Libya’s descent to hell) a Syria besieged by Western armed jihadis. What could possibly justify his rejection of UN peacemaking? Nothing more substantial, it seems, than that after seven years of ‘civil war’ his government has “a right to defend its territory”. What a crap excuse! Any reasonable government of a secularist state would surely accept the will of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jabhat al-Nusra; would surely do all in its power to assist their continuing occupation of territory not ten miles from its capital …

Paragraph two opens with the uncritical citing of a claim by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. I’ll be returning to those guys – or to be precise, this guy – in a moment. For now I just want to say that its willingness to give time of day to such a source speaks volumes on Workers Power’s deplorable ignorance of the propaganda war on Syria.

Here’s how the second post opens:

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that Bashar al-Assad’s warplanes, artillery and barrel bombing helicopters have launched a major assault on the last extensive rebel-held region of Idlib, aided by their Russian allies. It is likely that the offensive aims to concentrate the population into a narrow pocket, subject them to final liquidation or to force them out of the region.

For Christ’s sake, Workers Power – do your bloody homework! SOHR is the one man band of Rami Abdul Rahman, a disgruntled Syrian who lives in Coventry and hasn’t set foot in Syria since 2003. His methods are opaque to say the least but seem to rely on what I’ll call ‘cascade inquiry’, whereby he phones a handful of pals inside Syria. They in turn phone their pals, who phone theirs. But who are these pals? Rumours abound that Rahman is affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, rivals to more recent Saudi backed Wahabbi groups led by Al Qaeda and ISIS, but nevertheless willing to work with Daesh to end Syria’s secularism and impose theocratic Sunni rule on Shia, Christian, Druze and Alawi alike. (Nor is there any evidence of widespread Muslim Brotherhood support from Syrian Sunnis, most of whom see Islam and Islamism as poles apart and value their secularist, authoritarian3 but religiously tolerant state.)

(As for the barrel bombs, do read former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, on how we’ve been red herringed on that subject.)

There’s ample evidence for all my claims, meticulously collated in Tim Anderson’s Dirty War on Syria. No ‘far left’ group should need reminding that the West has a record, going back to WW1 and collapse of the Ottoman Empire, of using Wahabbism and the Brotherhood to destabilise states which stand in the way of its control of the region. (I’ve written elsewhere on the need for nuance in the conclusions internationalists draw from the fact of Hafez al-Assad’s record of cooperation with imperialism.) In this context, citing Rahman’s grandiosely titled outfit, and not just the once, betrays an ignorance profound, and profoundly unforgivable.

The final sentence of that opening paragraph levels the gravest of charges; or rather – given the weasel qualifier, “it is likely that” – of smears. If Workers Power believes Damascus wishes to subject Idlib’s population to “final liquidation”, dare we ask for evidence – or even a motive?

Moving on:

This despite the fact that the region was supposed to be a “de-escalation” zone under the terms of an agreement brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran last year. Also despite the savage irony that a Russian and Turkish sponsored “Syrian national dialogue conference” opened in Sochi the day before the latest air attacks on Idlib; though all serious opposition forces, Syrian and Kurdish, have boycotted it.

I don’t share Workers Power’s (and Guardian’s) trust in the good intent of Kurdish forces but that’s too big a subject for now. My main point here is that ‘de-escalation’ zones, like their ‘no fly’ equivalents, are not only prone to breaking down amid a mire of accusation and counter accusation. More important is their habit of serving as trojan horses, innocent sounding covers for further aggression. That organisations like Amnesty International frequently fail to grasp this truth is one thing. When marxist groupings do the same it’s quite another, especially when they leave their readers in the dark as to what they mean by a “serious opposition” too close, for suspicious souls like me, to those elusive moderate Islamists.

Next, in a way reminiscent of BBC reports that skilfully weave undeniable truths on a people’s appalling ordeal into a broader narrative of demonisation, Workers Power say this:

There are already an estimated 1.1 million refugees from other parts of Syria in Idlib and the UN reports that the offensive, which started in January, has now resulted in 212,000 people fleeing the fighting. Conditions for them are unspeakably bad and UN officials have pleaded for a ceasefire and for aid to be sent to ease the suffering of people who are without tents, food or medical supplies.

Yes, Idlib is a living hell. On that we can all agree. Ceasefires, alas, too often serve the same end as ‘no fly zones’, ‘de-escalation zones’ and ‘safe corridors’. The Workers Power I knew, for all my later disillusionment with its vanguard model, never lost sight of such basic truths.

Wait though. We’re not quite done with the neutral observers crowded into that Coventry semi.

The UK-based Observatory also reported another likely sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun where, it said, 20 children and 17 women were among the dead civilians. Film footage shows convulsing and choking victims being doused with water and loaded into ambulances, with the bodies of around a dozen young children seen being laid out on blankets in a flatbed truck. The hospital at which victims were subsequently being treated was also bombed.

Khan Sheikhoun? WTF!?! Workers Power, do you want a word you say on Syria taken seriously? Then kindly address huge evidential issues re the events of April 4 2017. You can do the heavy lifting. Me, I’ll content myself with a UN declaring the crime scene too dangerous to send in its OPCW team but, hey, that’s no problem since the ‘rebels’ kindly bagged up the ‘evidence’ and shipped it via Syria’s good friend and neighbour, Turkey.

So that’s alright then.

Of course, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump immediately condemned this atrocity.

Same old same old. In sixteen words Workers Power mixes, as does SWP (US), unimpeachable denunciation of the hypocrisy and chilling venality of the West with uncritical acceptance of the allegations that give it cover. But let me jump to one last excerpt from a Positively Fifth League piece.

We call for the withdrawal of all the imperialist powers from Syria and the entire region – Russia, the USA and also the European powers. We demand the end of all arms supplies to the reactionary regimes of Assad or Erdogan, the withdrawal of all Turkish troops and support for Kurdish defence against the invasion.

Great! Meanwhile, here on planet earth …


  1. I reject the vanguard model as every bit as misconceived as the parliamentary model, and offering zero chance of success against a ruling class armed to the teeth. Granted, that leaves me with nothing to offer but unpalatable truths, but I never did see the sense in insisting that without a solution we’ve no business articulating the problem.
  2. My caveat is the depiction of Russia (GDP less than California’s) as an imperialism as bad as the USA. I call that specious. I don’t say Russia is not an imperialist power: only that (a) the case has not been made, and I need more than lazy references to Russia’s responses to NATO provocation in Georgia and Ukraine, (b) any danger posed by a Russian imperialism is in any case miniscule against that posed by Western powers, and (c) since that ‘far left’ offers no credible third way for Syria, I welcome Russia’s disruption of the West’s cruel neoliberal agenda for the middle east.
  3. One irony here is that on several fronts Bashar has shown he wants to liberalise his country after the iron rule of his father: a man with many faults but one who oversaw, with the Brotherhood fighting him all the way, undeniable rises in Syria’s prosperity. Many who joined the Daraa protests in early 2011 distinguished between a state they saw as oppressive, and a president they supported. Many more disengaged from the protests – and this too is a reality Workers Power shows no awareness of – when they saw them hijacked by Islamists armed by the West through Riyadh, Doha and Ankara.

Post navigation

3 Replies to “Workers Power too, I’m afraid …”

  1. March 11, 2018
    Thank you for this valuable contribution, Philip.

    In an earlier exchange, you wrote: “I don’t say Russia is not an imperialist power: only that (a) the case has not been made, and I need more than lazy references to Russia’s responses to NATO provocation in Georgia and Ukraine, (b) any danger posed by a Russian imperialism is in any case miniscule against that posed by Western powers, and (c) since that ‘far left’ offers no credible third way for Syria, I welcome Russia’s disruption of the West’s cruel neoliberal agenda for the middle east.”

    I’m not sure why your “I don’t say”. As you acknowledge, the argument for a so-called Russian imperialism has never been made. But the case against this idea was definitively made by Renfrey Clarke and me in our February 2016 essay: The myth of ‘Russian imperialism’: In defense of Lenin’s analyses ( Sam King in Australia has made a similarly compelling argument as to why China does not fit the descriptor of ‘imperialist’:

    A curious unanimity emerged amongst almost all of the groups calling themselves Trotskyists following the Maidan coup in Ukraine in February 2014. They came to condemn something they called ‘Russian imperialism’ and they turned a blind eye to NATO’s new cold war against Russia. They copied this stance in relation to events in Syria. Then a further curiosity emerged: a convergence of the Trotskyists with the fractured International Socialists current and its superficial theory of ‘state capitalism’ as a descriptor of the former Soviet Union. The sum total of all the proof of a ‘Russian imperialism’ was and remains… the use of the term! ‘I say it, therefore it is true.’

    It was the Trotskyist default on the crucial question of Russia’s exact social and economic character (a default applying also to China) which sent me on a quest to find out how Trotskyism could end up in such a spectacular dead end. In truth, the situations in Ukraine-Russia and in Syria were only the latest in a rather long string of reckless and downright dangerous responses by Trotskyists and other claimed Marxists to world events—notably the coups in Haiti (2004), Mali (2012) and Egypt (2013), and the NATO intervention into Libya in 2011.

    As I have written on my website (, Trotskyism was born of a large ultraleft impulse, namely, the resuscitation by Leon Trotsky in 1929 of his theory of permanent revolution. Related to that has been the progressive dismissal by the Trotskyist movement of the crucial lessons of the New Economic Policy in the Soviet Union from 1921 to 1928. NEP has by now disappeared from the Trotskyists’ account of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Their account of 1917 has been idealized beyond recognition.

    These early ultraleft impulses were amplified by the terrible setbacks suffered by the international working class with Stalin’s consolidation of power in the Soviet Union and with the rise of fascism in Germany leading to a new world war. Following World War Two, capitalism’s successful stabilization and its launch of the Cold War imposed further isolation on Marxism in the West (though the isolation was amplified by the Western Marxists’ own conduct).

    You mention the Socialist Workers Party of the United States. I know well this group and its cohorts in other countries. The SWP has steadily dwindled for more than three decades now, to the point where it now numbers 100 or fewer members. I am surprised at how many of its former members still hold the SWP’s doctrine in high esteem. This is a group which dismisses the Venezuela revolution as a form of “bourgeois populism” and which hailed the U.S. war in Iraq in 2003 as having the “unintended consequence” of bringing democracy to that country. The list of its political transgressions is very long, indeed.
    You are quite right that the ‘vanguard party’ model which Trotskyism has promoted has proven a dead end. Like much else of Trotskyist rendering of the Russian Revolution, its ‘party building’ strategy has little to do with the real-life revolutionary party which Russian revolutionaries (including Trotsky himself) successfully built.

    One of the tasks in reviving Marxism is to rescue Lenin’s conceptions of party building from the distortions of Stalinists, Trotskyists and other such ideologues. The years leading up to 1917 are exceptionally rich for studying. We learn that Lenin’s early concepts of a socialist (Marxist) party or parties are democratic and pluralist. The rescue also requires assessing the troubling record of the Bolshevik Party during and following the foreign-imposed, 1918-21 civil war. The Bolshevik Party never fully recovered from the emergency measures which were taken during the civil war. The measures restricting party and societal democracy during the civil war became entrenched in the years following 1921. This was a grave impediment to the necessary debate over the future course of building socialism which developed during the NEP years as NEP produced modest economic and social improvements. Indeed, one of the first victims of the new, Stalin-led regime in 1928 was NEP itself.

    The Soviet Union survived in spite of NEP’s elimination. This was a testament to the power of economic planning, even in circumstances of authoritarian political rule.
    Roger Annis
    Vancouver Canada