Monday, August 09, 2004

Open University - Idiots Politics Session 4b - Violent Insurrection

The last session has raised a particular question that needs perhaps to be tackled in its own subsection, call it the seminar that follows the lecture to stick with the OU analogy if you like!
There are many groups who struggle against what they see as oppression. We may indeed agree with many of their motives but we may not agree with their modus operandi. Obviously the most prevalent of these examples is when it comes to violent insurrection.

In an ideal world everyone would be represented and things would be equal without being homogenous. Without getting into an argument about how possible this may be and to what degree desirable I think we can all safely agree that it is not the case now. This means there are many marginalised and disenfranchised and they have a right to struggle for recognition, again I don't think this is especially contentious. What is more the repressive armies and police of the state constitute quite legitimate targets and any focus on insurrection should primarily be aimed here. The problem comes if such resistance to the actual bodies of the State proves ineffectual.

Remember that the armies of the state rarely play by the rules when it suits them. Take the Israelis the most heavily-armed and crack-trained military unit in the world. Occupying large areas of land in defience of international law they flout the rules and regulations laid down and whilst they may be censured for doing so they are allowed to continue because there remains the upholding of the 'might is right' principle. They think nothing of obliterating whole areas of residential -?- in order to secure 1 "legitimate" target. The Palestinians would certainly be highly unlikely to inflict serious military damage against the Israeli army because it is not a level playing field, they have neither the hardware not the training nor the manpower and therefore they fight in the way they know how.

So in such a one-sided conflict it does seem rather bourgeous to sit and eulogise about only attacking military targets etc. I do not deny it is right as a utopian strategy, but I question it's effectiveness and therefore its relevance in the modern world. Not to do so is I feel not to understand the nature of the problem, it labels such conflicts as wrong because of the methods without necessarily the acknowledgement of why these methods are adopted and the cause for which they stand. It is, for example, all very right and proper to condemn Al Queda bombers for their targeting of civilians but one must be very careful not to be swept up in that tide of condemnation that merely labels these men as mad extremists and begins a path to reprisals and retaliation. After all it IS as a direct result of US foreign policy that the West is so unpopular and not just in the Islamic world but across swathes of the Far East and Central & South America where their self-indulgant interventionist policies have ridden roughshod over democracies and the needs/wishes of the people for the good of the US establishment. Let us not forget that the US has the most-equipped Air Force in the world and has used it to bomb over 50 countries since the Second World War. It seems a large number, how many do you think you can name? In the face of B-52s and such like can one really be so self-righteous as to tell disperate groups of ordinary men that they may only attack legitimate military targets? It's a hell of a choice. It is easy for me because I sit in my house and I can just about get by from day to day and I have just enough education to perform as it were. Would I have the luxury of such circumspection if I lived in Ramala and Israeli shells were frequently blowing up parts of the neighbourhood? Or if I was an African or South American marxist seeing my country starve because of the raping of resources by the West and the corruption of the governments that support them. Would I still feel that talking about the problem or being nobly detached from engagement empowered me in any way shape of form?

Another aspect to add to this question is that the world's major powers now run on economic might and it is precisely this force and power that is used to subjugate so many. Should this make Wall St. a legitimate target, or the World Bank building, the WTO, the IMF offices? I feel the case for this is strong based on the widescale damage these organisations cause, and yet whilst I would certainly baulk at the possible loss of innocent lives, withdrawing from any conflict in this area may yet result in the death of thousands, maybe millions more. Do we not have to strike a balance? At what point do the lives of the many outweigh the lives of the few? Is there such a point, is it static or fluid? I think the only conclusion of sorts that I can come up with is that this has to be a choice for the individual, each of us may face it and based on our characters and experience we may make different decisions, history or perhaps your God may judge you for your actions. If we apply our usual tenets to any such situation it should help us decide what is right. To me the Gandhi "An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind" quote is such a powerful mantra that it would have to take a very serious cause for me to reconsider that approach. After all it was Gandhi who achieved much with non-violent confrontation. I would like to think this approach can always work but I fear there are many situations where it may not and then the question raised is one of whether you are prepared to stand up for your principles and to what extent you feel prepared to take that stand. Will I ever choose violence over peace to try to achieve what I believe is right, definitely not, but will I defend what I ardently believe in, what I consider paramount for me and my family, by any means necessary, I would like to think I might find the courage to do so should the occasion ever arise.

I would like to end by citing an article of a fellow (!) academic, Abhinav Aima, which was brought to my attention by my twin and whose prose is a deal more eloquent than mine and goes some way to explaining the roots of the current Middle Eastern problem within the context of this session.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Open University - Idiots Politics Session 4 - Terrorism

I do not think I need to add anymore to my fairly well-publisised view on violence however what does need to be looked at is the perception of who the aggressor is in many of the instances of "terrorism". It is a much-vaunted mantra that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, but does the evidence support the claim?
If you take Ireland as an initial example, the problems stem from the British occupation and the planned migration of many protestant Scots to the hitherto Catholic Ireland and principally the northern Ulster province. Britain needed to drive the indigenous population as far away from the coast as possible to avoid them giving assistance to the Catholic Jacobite rebelllions which were taking place to undermine the accession of William of Orange. (Bonnie Prince Charlie and all that) Hence for many years the Irish had been fighting the English in what would legitimately have been called an independence struggle but would have been seen by the British as terrorism. In the other 3 Irish counties fighting stopped after the gaining of Irish independence after the First World War but a part of the independence conditions were the retaining of the six counties of Ulster by England as part of the United Kingdom. It is interesting that people regard partition generally as a very bad thing and see unification as an ultimate goal -look at the perception of Germany in 1990, and yet they do not understand why there are still problems in Ireland. Of course the situation of the six counties is tricky because of the Protestant contingent (the Loyalists) who do not want to go from being part of the protestant UK to part of the Catholic Republic of Ireland and the Catholic contingent (the Republicans or Nationalists) who for obvious reasons do not want to stay part of the UK. The original IRA was a Irish organisation fighting for an Irish nation pre-1922. After the treaty granting independence the organisation split many times before becoming what was known as the Provisional IRA (Provos) which is what most people think of when you mention the acronym nowadays. Generally it is accepted that the Irish had a right to fight for their autonomy and yet somehow an arbitrary line has been drawn in the sand declaring it unacceptable for those still in Ulster and remaining under British military rule to continue their struggle.

Now take the examples of the Palestinians who previous to 1948 had their land and post Israel settlement had large sections of it confiscated for the creation of a nation that has no geographic precedent (Like the Irish it was in fact the British that caused the shit in Palestine too!). Like the Irish the Palestinians had their territory occupied by a difference ethnic and religious group and this caused friction. Like the Irish the Palestinians chose to resist this in many different forms and the less electoral influence exacted the more violent tactics and civil disobedience was employed. When civil disobedience comes up against the most heavily armed force in the world it is clear that something is going to have to give. The less empowered people feel the more likely they are to take drastic measures. Unlike the Palestinians who do not have widespread representation in the Israeli Knessit, the Irish never felt the need to use suicide bombers because they always had a foot in the electoral door too which has eventually led to the potential for change. It would however be folly to suggest that the Irish question would have been in the agenda of any British premier were it not for the possibility of the IRA bombing the shit out of London. No, I do not agree with the bombing of civilians, but I also categorically disagree with the marginalising of peoples by oppressive governments leading people to believe that the only thing they can do is fight back violently. This is why I can understand the disenfranchised desperation that can lead to such actions even if it is not the course I take myself. Do not make the mistake in thinking that suicide bombing is a new or specifically Islamic thing. The military tactics of the whirling Dervishes as well as the Kamikaze Japanese pilots are a couple of examples. The most common and widespread use of suicide bombers is by the Tamil Tigers who are not islamic but a secular Marxist group fighting for autonomy in Sri Lanka. To take the example further there are Western soldiers lauded as heroes who, when the die was cast, decided if they were going to die they'd take as many of the enemy with them as possible. It's the old cornered rat analogy. This is seen as a legitimate military tactic in war-time, which is exactly the perception of reality of many groups using such tactics today

There are a myriad assortment of other struggles from East Timor's occupation by Indonesia, the FARC's battle against the repressive Uribe regime in Colombia, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Marxists in Nepal, Pro-Democracy movement in Burma, ETA in the Basque country in Northern Spain etc. etc. etc. However these are not high-profile cases because on the whole the incumbant regimes have done little or nothing to tick off the US, in fact in many cases the regimes have supported the US openly such as in Colombia and Central America and have therefore received funding, training and hardware courtesy of the jackbooted Uncle Sam. Basically if you have tactical significance or natural resources heaven help you if you democratically elect anyone that you're not supposed to. You can vote for anyone you like as long as it's the ones they tell you to.

The common thread through these conflicts is that there is a clear aggressor, whether you agree with the reasons or simply accept the way history has panned out or not, in the Ireland question it is the British, in the case of Palestine it is Israel and in Iraq as so many others it is the US. Thus the way the oppressed feel towards the oppressor determines how they feel it necessary to act in order to free themselves. In the case of many of the former Eastern Bloc countries the oppressive governments were overthrown by peaceful demonstrations whilst in Romania Ceaucescu was seen as a more entrenched despot and his use of the Securitate meant there was considerable bloodshed and battles like Timisoara in order to change the status quo. It may not even be the actual facts of the agressor that is important but the perception of the agressor and this is the part that can be used as a recruiting sergeant. The Americans have for many years used the Big Bad Wolf theory to justify many things in particular some homeland security measures and the defence budget to back up a very agressive foreign policy. The Big Bad Wolf theory requires there to be a threat from a monster, a renegade or a rogue state and looking back there has been one for the Americans for most of the modern era from Hitler direct to Stalin to Kruschev to Castro etc. etc. through Gadaffi, Ayatollah Khomeni, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Mullah Omar, Osama Bin Laden etc. There is always one, as soon as the threat from one is neutralised there must be another to take his place, the maintaining of the heightened state of public alert is paramount.

We are fed propaganda in a way similar to WWII but most people don't see it as such. There is the belief that since we have so many different sources of news that we cannot be hoodwinked how we once could. This is a total misnomer and one of the biggest smoke screens of all. This will be discussed in Session 5 the Media.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Open University Idiot’s Guide to Politics Session 3 - Taxation

Another in Professor Baron's occasional series in sociopolitical commentary.

So, tax yes, not much of a chortle on this one but I feel quite strongly about tax to tell the truth so I thought I'd share my convictions with you. Hell, it'll be a change from counting sheep for you!

Now if one accepts the necessity for an over-arching state then one must in turn accept the concept of it needing to raise money. This can be done in a couple of obvious ways.

The most obvious is taxation, a series of levies based around a tariff constant whereby the State effectively takes a cut of an existing transaction. The profit element for the state is 100% in cases where it is not having to provide the infrastructure for the transaction to take place but that is generally only the case within private industry and since I don’t believe private industry is a good idea we’ll leave one aside. So where the state has provided the infrastructure or is at least bound to it there will be a degree of overhead. Take the Inland Revenue for example, the myriad offices and tax collectors etc.

Another form of revenue is for the state to make money from the services that it provides, ie charges based on the usage of those services, be that fares on public transport and such like or a charge for the use of public utilities. Many people on the right-wing feel that the State should have levying powers on all services such as hospitals etc. It is important here to define services because the provision of hospital treatment is rather different to that of say a train system or electricity. One does not expect the amount of usage of a hospital to be charged the way say one might be for electricity or for traveling on the bus.

Now when it comes to taxation this is always going to have a degree of unpopularity because ideally people would like as much money to live off as they can. However it would not be true to say that people will never like tax. If a taxation system is managed correctly and open and accountable there is no reason why people will not accept it as part of daily life. The problems come when the system is poorly managed and either closed to scrutiny or so complex as to require a specialist qualification to understand it.

Taxation must be taken on an ability to pay basis, there is no point trying to extort money from someone who does not have the means to pay, the revenue is not forthcoming and money spent on recovery etc. is throwing good after bad. If a tax is taken proportionally this provides no basis for accusations of imbalance. Thus the percentage system is the only fair way to do so.

I am aware that there are people who do not believe in the concept of from each according to his ability to each according to his needs. These are people who see that what they have attained as being a direct result of their own hard work and they resent the fruits of their labours benefitting somebody else that they deem may not be as deserving as they. This fails to take into account that the people that have done well as a result of the system have often done so at the expense of many others whether directly or indirectly. To benefit from an iniquitous system and not seek to change it is to offer compliance however tacit. The current system is not a fair one and therefore there are many factors which go into who succeeds and who does not. A person subjected to prejudice because of creed, colour, appearance or gender will not have the same opportunities regardless of whether they work as hard as one not subject to the same restrictions, it is therefore a smokescreen to suggest that success in our current environment is directly proportionate to output. Thus by the same token it is right and proper that those who happen to be on the right side of such a system should be made to subsidise the services for those who are less able to fund them. This creates a society whereby everybody should at least be able to live with comparative dignity and not have to worry about the provision for basic services such as healthcare, education, pensions, transportation etc.

Personally I agree wholeheatedly with the concept of a higher rate of tax for the more well-off. I believe that there should be a study carried out into how much is necessary for adaquate survival, based on circumstance like size of family etc. and those earning above that threshold will pay a gradually increasing percentage of tax. It may seem punitive that someone earning £30,000 is taxed at 40% whilst someone earning far more is taxed at 80% but if you look at it pragmatically the person earning £30k ends up with £18k net whilst someone earning £150,000 would even on an 80% tax rate still end up with £30k net. This would however go a long way to reducing the gap between the very rich and the vast majority of society as well as raising huge amounts of revenue for the Treasury. Put in context Britain would not have an insurmountable pensions crisis if a proper higher rate of tax was implemented.

The question is, is this a disincentive? Well, in the current system yes it is because we have been brought up of late to believe that we not only can but also should be able to have everything. People resent encroaching on what they perceive as being their "rights" and yet they do not expect to back these rights up by living up to their responsibilities. If people are brought up to believe that it is just as important for them to fill their roles in society and contribute to the good of the whole and not just the individual then it would be a more natural progression to recognise the need for a tax gradient.

Song Of The Day ~ Kenickie - Acetone

Friday, June 18, 2004

Open University Idiot’s Guide to Politics Session 2b -Britain (conti)

Welcome back to Dr. R. Baron's series of lectures on the declining shithole that is Britain. Having covered the historical precedent of British politics Dr. Baron will now go on to look at the role of the Monarchy in British political life, with particular emphasis on post 1642.

The Monarchy

Well, before I get into a diatribe about the monarchy it is important to explain to you what the monarchy actually does in this country. The simple answer is not a lot but there are things that require some further explanation. Obviously the monarchy now is substantively different to the monarchy in say the Middle Ages or even up to the mid 17th century. Up to this point it was the old Divine Right principle, monarchy put there by God and absolute power etc. etc. the monarch effectively ran the show. The only way to get anything done would be therefore to influence the monarch and thus things were only done for the wealthy and powerful anyway as these were the only people with sufficient patronage to gain an audience. Magna Carta is a good example of this, it is not some groundbreaking bill of rights as some might have you believe it is simply the underpinning of the rights of the richest and most powerful landowners to have serfs and levy taxes and raise armies independently from the monarchs control. As I said 1215 was hardly the age of enlightenment!

Since the Civil War and execution of Charles I the situation has been somewhat different with the monarchy tied down far more and subject to Parliamentary control, of course not until the 20th century did this make a vast amount of difference because the people in charge of Parliament were hardly dyed-in-the-wool reds! In terms of current monarchical power over the legislature the sovereign is largely symbolic providing a rubber stamp element to government, however the monarch has the veto, tho' rarely used it does still exist. It is also worthy of note that the current queen has exercised her power on occasions, partially it must be said on trivial matters but none the less in a wholly unconstitutional and undemocratic fashion. Tony Benn recalls in his diaries whilst serving as Postmaster General his attempts to change the design of stamps, something the queen has absolute veto over, when he met with the queen and presented the designs no objection was given but later he was informed that the queen would not sanction any design that did not have her head on it and the designs had to be dropped. This is I agree a banal example but it is perhaps most worrying precisely because of its banality, why should something so trivial not be under the auspices of the elected government what is it about this that the monarchy wishes to hang on to? To understand this point you have to understand the monarchy as a whole and where its politics lie. It will probably not surprise most people to know that the British monarchy, as establishment a set of figures as you could ever hope to avoid, is fervently right-wing. Some like the mad old Greek Prince Philip make no secret of the fact and regularly take pride in offending a new national group by making xenophobic and idiotic remarks, other like the dead queen mother were more subtle but no less vitriolic. The monarchy is understandably one of the most reactionary groups in the world, it has every reason to be so after all it would be able to survive far better in the old days than it does now. Bearing in mind that in the scheme of things the monarchy has every reason to fear the people it would like to keep them at a long arm's length, after all it's only relatively recently that they've started speaking the same language as the rest of the population and some might say that whilst the words are the same their language is still as different as the Americans.

If you want any example of the impact that the monarchy can have ask the people of Diego Garcia who today have found out that In Counsel for the Queen the High Court ruling that their eviction was illegal has been overturned. The islands were cleared some years ago to make way for an American airbase, interestingly the airbase was only on one island but it seemed necessary to remove the inhabitants of surrounding islands up to 200 miles away. The residents have campaigned through the UK judicial system and were recently rewarded with a High Court judgement in their favour - the High Court being the highest judicial court in the land bar the House of Lords. However rather than heed the judgement the government decided to go through a non-appealable process 'in the name of the Queen' and thus put an end to the matter in their favour. So that's the Queen's 'Rubber Stamp' power for you. What a surprise to find the Americans involved there as well.

Next session: Contemporary British Politics, same time, same place soon, thank you for your attention.

Prof R. Baron MA D Phil

Song Of The Day - Air ~ Cherry Blossom Girl

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Open University Idiot’s Guide to Politics Session 2a -Britain

The second in my occasional series of Idiot’s Politics, yes the apostrophe is intentional. Today I will attempt to give a brief overview of British politics as I see it, I stress the ‘as I see it’ because I shall be biased, so sue me!


British political history is long-winded and full of pompous arses I shall gloss over them and just start post civil war. In the 18th and 19th Centuries you had principally 2 political parties namely the Whigs and the Tories and this was the case right up until the early 20th century. You must bear in mind that at this point the actual political process was open to comparatively few enfranchised people. These were the landowners and industrial middle class there was no talk of votes for women or for the proles. Britain did not at any time in its history have a popular revolution and therefore missed out on the sort of political reform that say France had in the late 18th century. Thus even to this day the British constitution is no more than a loose interpretation of the Magna Carta which is dated 1215, 1215 is hardly a period in time known for its emancipation or universal suffrage of the masses.

In the 20th century after the Industrial Revolution had fully taken hold and transformed urban and rural life in Britain, mass movement ideas had been circulating for some time including most famously The Communist Party Manifesto of 1848 written in London by Marx and Engels. It is worthy of note that a document of such historical importance as this that was written here had by comparison little impact in England as it did across the rest of the world. The Labour Party in Britain was founded in London’s Faringdon district on the 27th Feb. 1900, whilst it was founded out of the Trade Union movement and the work of socialists such as Keir Hardie who believed it was necessary to unite the movement to achieve socialist success the initial founding was something of a mess, 2/3 of the Trade Union movement didn’t send delegates to Faringdon which undermined somewhat the claim to be a mass movement furthermore other socialist intellectual groups did not take part including the Fabians who believed in attempting to push a socialist agenda within the Liberal party. It wasn’t until 1906 when on the back of a Liberal landslide Labour actually gained any substantial electoral success returning 29 Mps. The Labour party stood for ideals such as nationalisation, emancipation, universal suffrage, human rights etc.

Since that point there have been 3 major political parties in Britain, and since the 1930s only 2 have really been able to call on the sort of support that enables the forming of a government. Between the 1930s and 1970s the 2 main parties stood pretty much either side of the political spectrum with the Labour party representing the Left-wing and the inner city populations, the working class and the philanthropic middle-class intelligentsia whilst the Conservatives represented the aristocracy, the upper middle-classes and the industrialists –the business vote. The Liberals mopped up the rest, the protest votes, the middle ground etc. etc. In the 1980s Labour started to change its agenda after suffering heavy losses in 1979/1983/1987 to Mrs Thatcher’s Conservatives. Thatcher had embarked on a series of measures to dismantle Trade Union power which she and her followers saw as instrumental in bringing about the economic downturn in the 1970s [This view did however not take into consideration the global economic downturn which was being felt in many countries across Europe regardless of the political alignment of the incumbent government, this point is graphically illustrated by the recession in 1991 which was a direct throwback to the Tory economic policy of the 1980s and resulted in a devaluation of the £ in 1992 just as had happened after the Winter of Discontent in 1978-9]

Labour's response to the 1980s was to drop much of its socialist credentials such as Clause 4, which was a tenet in the party manifesto committing itself to the nationalisation of industry. The party did this in an attempt to address what it saw as itself being unelectable, it sought not to stick to its guns but chase the electorate to the right in the hope of capturing people on the whet end of the Conservative party. Now Labour may point to this strategy achieving success in 1997 which one of the largest landslide victories ever and backed up by a consolidation in 2001. This in my opinion is about as accurate an assessment as Thatcher's view of global economics. In 1997 the Labour party could quite literally have stood for anything and they would have been elected just as the Conservatives could have done in 1979, the incumbent governments had presided over a period of economic shambles and people blamed them for their personal lack of prosperity. In 1979 the Tories entrenched their position and Thatcherism became a phenomenon of right-wing thinking it was picked up on by many right-wing governments in the industrialised world such as the USA.

That's the history part covered in brief, and I think I was quite restrained there I didn't fill every paragraph with bilious comments even when mentioning Her name! There are a couple of other things that you need to know about British politics too, I shall tackle them in the next instalments.

Next session: The Role of the Monarchy, same time, same place tomorrow, thank you for your attention.

Prof R. Baron MA D Phil

Song Of The Day - Blondie ~ Good Boys

Friday, March 26, 2004

Open University - Idiot Politics Session 1

Well this blog is prompted by an interesting point that bobred raised namely that in a democracy no-one is satisfied because everyone has to make compromises whereas in a dictatorship at least the one in charge is satisfied. OK this was in part I suspect a tongue in cheek remark but nevertheless it raises the question of what is the best method of government if there is such a thing or is it a case of looking for the best of a bad lot? I'm no expert but since this is my blog and not that of Vernon Bogdanor I shall put my views forward.

Let’s tackle those we know first and look at the pros and cons and see if that leads anywhere.

Democracy: In democracy the enfranchised (it would be a mistake to use a generic such as ‘everyone’ or ‘the people’ because this is almost always wrong from Greece to present day US/UK) vote their representatives into government to look after their interests, and therein lies the first problem, this structure already is fundamentally reactionary, for the enfranchised elect representatives for their own interests not primarily for the good of the majority. Thus those outside the system do not necessarily have any method of a voice for their interests. The disenfranchised can lobby for increased rights in a number of ways, they can seek to win round those already in the system to widen the scope of the franchise. This can usually take 2 forms, the genuine altruistic radical who fights for the equality because s/he believes it is correct to do so or the pragmatic rebel who believes it is necessary to throw the occasional bone to the masses in order to preserve the structure of the existing status quo. Another form of social change can be brought about by revolution, this doesn’t have to be a Russia 1917 style, it can be minor insurrection or civil disobedience or such like. Now the severity of this and the prospective success are not linked in the way one might think. In fact the effectiveness of such action is determined by how secure the ruling classes feel. Should their hold on power be strong they have many ways to avoid having to change such as politics and in a worst case scenario the military. If, however their grip on government is weak they will often try to put down any trouble in a more conciliatory way. Sometimes these mini-concessions are provided before such trouble, it is part of a strategy of social control, because the more pro-active the establishment is the easier it can shape social consciousness to prevent such rumblings below from ever happening.

Dictatorship: Now what we would assume is meant by dictatorship is a sort of inverse pyramid structure with a despot at the top who has in practise absolute power. In reality there are few circumstances where this simplistic view really holds water. Firstly one person cannot ever pull all the strings regardless of how much they might want to, they simply do not have the time. Thus what is generated is a series of mini-dictators who look after an individual area of policy, they have on a day to day basis autonomy but report to the dictator at the top on larger matters and at his/her bequest. This was certainly the case of Hitler in 1930's Germany who had such a convuluted beaureacratic structure that it was often impossible to get day-to-day things done, there was a party structure which ran almost parallel to a state structure. Whilst my knowledge of the intricasies of Stalin's time is less I suspect the MO was similar. The problem with Dictatorship is that you are dependent on the nature of a few select people, in certain matters they may be perceived to be benign, many Germans alive in the 1930's thought that Hitler did much to ease the economic situation and provide employment. However they attributed this change to him and the NSdAP rather than looking at the global economic cycle and how war-footing economies work etc.

So what's the difference, well in dictatorship people often do not have the illusion of a representative democracy, this means they have very little way of expressing their grievances but is the situation much different in a democracy? I would contend that it is simply a shift in who and how many hold the power, the actual representative side is a sham. look at Britain now, if you do not agree with middle-class neo-liberal politics and there are plenty of people who do not who would you vote for in an election, there is no real choice at the moment. [I hasten to add I sincerely hope that RESPECT will be able to offer at least some hope for this] If you take the US the way their system is structured the candidate in the presidential election who was voted for by the popular majority was not elected (and this is disregarding the Florida fiasco, the vote numbers issue is not under discussion) the way the electoral system is set out the final say rests with a fundamentally reactionary group hence the appointment of Bush. And yet where are the UN and EU election observers -if this had been in an African country you can bet your arse they'd be scrutinising the current election. Finally it's not as if this is the first time irregularities have happened in the US, and Britain doesn't even have a secret ballot so forgive me if I don't buy into the democracy principle.

Next week: Communism and Anarchy