Free all the Palestine campaigners arrested by brutal Egyptian regime

Posted on: April 24th, 2024 by Charlie
Women with a Palestine flag on a protest

The protest on Tuesday which the Egyptian authorities repressed (Picture: EIPR)

In a crackdown on protest, Egyptian authorities arrested 19 people demonstrating on Tuesday in solidarity with the women of Gaza and Sudan.

The arrests underline the disgusting hypocrisy of the Egyptian regime which claims to stand with the Palestinians but represses those who want to escalate solidarity with the people of Gaza and the West Bank,

Those seized include lawyer and socialist Mahienour el-Masry, Lobna Darwish from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) human rights group and journalist Rasha Azab. Also arrested were Hadeer Almahdawy, Asmaa Naeem, Farida al-Hefny, Eman Ouf, May al-Mahdy, Israa Youssef and Lina Aly.

Most of those involved were feminist activists who assembled outside the regional headquarters of UN Women in Cairo. UN Women describe itself as the “United Nations entity charged with working for gender equality and the empowerment of women”.

The Freedoms Committee of the Egyptian journalists’ union has called for the release of all those “arrested during a peaceful protest they organised in front of the United Nations headquarters, in rejection of the international failure towards the Zionist entity’s aggression against our people in Gaza, especially the violations against women in Gaza, and in Sudan amid….international silence.”

Mahienour is well known for her work defending activists, trade unionists and Syrian refugees. The state jailed her for two years in 2014 in a case connected with protests over the acquittal of policemen charged with the murder of Khaled Said.

He was the man whose death in 2010 sparked the protest movement which paved the way for the 2011 uprising.

The authorities released Mahienour in September 2014, only to be sentenced on a different charge, in May 2015, when under the Morsi presidency, she and a group of lawyers started a sit-in in front of El-Raml police station in Alexandria. They were demanding an official apology from the Ministry of Interior regarding a police attack on another lawyer.

In 2018 courts convicted her of breaking Egypt’s repressive anti-protest law, and breaching a law on public assembly imposed by the British colonial authorities in 1914. She was sentenced to two years in jail but quickly won release on appeal.

In September 2019, Mahienour was detained in Alexandria on charges of terrorism, releasing and spreading false rumours, and misuse of social media.

In August 2020, she was interrogated at the public prosecution office accused of a further count of “joining an illegal organisation”.

With that record—and there are many other instances of arrests and interrogation—imagine what resolve it took to return to protest this week. 

Eyewitnesses said the security forces attached to the UN Women offices assaulted the activists who participated in the protest on Tuesday at around 2pm local time. Contact with the detained group was lost at 3.15pm after they were forced into security vehicles and had their phones switched off.

EIPR said, “The protest was staged in solidarity with women in Palestine and Sudan and demanded an end to the war of annihilation in Gaza that has been ongoing for 200 days at the time of the protest.

In Britain, the Mena Solidarity Network and University and College Workers 4 Palestine said, “We are alarmed to hear that a case (no. 1567/2024) has been opened against those arrested on charges of ‘joining a terrorist organisation’ and ‘illegal assembly’.

“We call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release all those detained and to drop any charges against them. We also call on UN Women to immediately issue a statement condemning the arrests.

“We condemn the role of the Egyptian government in maintaining the siege of Gaza and fuelling the conflict in Sudan through its military and diplomatic support for the Sudanese Armed Forces. We demand that the British, EU and US governments end arms sales and diplomatic backing for Egypt’s brutal authoritarian regime.

“We salute all those who are standing in solidarity with people resisting war and genocide and speaking out against the complicity of our governments and international institutions.”

  • Sign and share a statement for the release of all those arrested here 
  • For a full list of those detained in recent protests go here 

Support the wave of school strikes

Posted on: April 24th, 2024 by TTE
A crowd shot of the picket line in Balham illustrating an article about school strikes

Nursery staff join the wave of school strikes in Balham, south London

Education workers have begun a wave of local strikes, in a sign of the discontent with pay and cuts to education.

NEU union members at St Anne’ School and Sixth Form College in Hessle, Yorkshire, struck this week over a new pay system that doesn’t cover their extra duties.

Around 70 workers at the school, which provides education for students with special educational needs and disabilities (Send), struck on Tuesday and Wednesday. They are set to strike for three days next week

Steve Scott is NEU education union joint branch secretary for east Riding. “The new pay system means that a lot of the bands of jobs have been decreased—more work for less money,” he told Socialist Worker.

“Support staff are doing intimate work with children with Send. It is high level stuff what these support staff are doing for effectively minimum wage.”

Support staff initially voted to strike and then teachers “voted for action in solidarity”. Steve said, “The picket lines have been big with up to 50 people on them. It’s the biggest picket in east Riding I’ve seen.

“And the parents have been completely on side, the strike has great public support. Steve added that “the council aren’t taking NEU members seriously as they aren’t engaging at all, and members had no input into the changes”.

“The more the council ignores us, the more fired up staff are becoming as more people are joining the strike,” he said.

Education workers are demanding that the council doesn’t implement this new system, or to come up with job profiles that adequately match what they do and pay them properly.

Steve said, “We’ve spoken to local MPs—but neither Tory nor Labour have properly helped us. That’s not the way forward. The only way to win is to keep fighting. We are looking to ramp up the strike and seriously escalate.”

Send messages of solidarity to [email protected]

Education workers in South Chingford Foundation School, east London, returned to work on Wednesday after winning all of their demands. They struck over unsafe workload practices that prevented them from adequately supporting students and delivering high-quality education.

Pablo is branch secretary of NEU education union in Walthamstow Forest, east Londo. He told Socialist Worker, “It was no surprise they took industrial action” as government cuts have led to excessive workloads that are damaging student’s education.”

Education workers won an end to increases in timetable allocations for staff and improvements in basic health and safety for both staff and students. Pablo argued, “It shows the success of striking. Measures are going to be put in place to ensure staff and students are in a much safer, and more child friendly environment.”

They struck on Thursday 28 April, Tuesday 16 April, Wednesday 17 April, Thursday 18 April and Tuesday 23 April.

Pablo spoke about the strength of solidarity on the pickets. He said, “Last week we had up to 20 people on the picket line. We spoke to delivery and catering workers coming to the school and then they refused to cross the picket line. That happened every day.”

Parents were very supportive of the strike and “teachers and support staff had a good bond with the kids and care about education,” he added.

With schools currently being underfunded and overstretched, Pablo argued, “if you care about education you are going to strike”.

Send messages of solidarity to [email protected]

Education workers at Sir Francis Hill Community Primary School in Lincoln struck on Tuesday and Wednesday—and are set for five more days of striking in the coming weeks. Workers are striking over allegations of management bullying, with several staff resigning in a short space of time.

The school closed to all but year six students on Tuesday and shut down entirely on Wednesday. Picket lines were well-attended and held at each entrance point to the school.

Workers are rightly angry at the school’s management, who are known to intimidate and undermine staff.

David Pike is a regional organiser for NEU education union’s east Midlands district. He said that the “damage this management style is causing reduces the ability to care for children in the area”.

“We’ve seen real transformation over the last 18 months were the NEU has gone on strike elsewhere,” he said. “It teaches a valuable lesson to working people that they don’t have to accept being treated this way.”

The NEU were in late-night negotiations with the local council on Monday evening. It says an agreement has been reached for a full investigation into the complaints of workers against management.

But the NEU union said it won’t be satisfied until the investigation is guaranteed to be independent—the best way to ensure that happens is to strike.

Send messages of solidarity to [email protected]

In Balham and Eastwood, south London, nursery staff struck on Tuesday and Wednesday, and were set to strike on Thursday. They are on strike over proposed cuts that would leave many redundant.

Bosses are threatening staff with compulsory redundancy amid plans to reduce the number of nursery places for children.

The nurseries take a high proportion of—and provide a wide range of provision for—children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send). But cuts would drastically reduce learning opportunities and the provisions offered.

The loss of those provisions would be devastating to children who need additional support.

Daniel Kebede, NEU union general secretary visited the picket on Tuesday morning. He posted on social media, “Over the past decade we have seen routine closures of these schools due to the crisis in funding.

But Kebede argued that council-funded “nurseries provide the gold standard of early years education. Maintained nurseries don’t just need defending. They need extending.”

NEU members are right to defend the nurseries—and should take hard-hitting action to do so.

Send messages of solidarity to [email protected]

Teachers at Bedford Greenacre Independent School struck on Tuesday and Wednesday to protect their pensions and fight back against bosses’ fire and rehire tactics.

Bosses have said teachers will be sacked if they don’t accept worse terms and have refused to enter into negotiations with the NEU union.

Deirdre Murphy, Bedford branch secretary for the NEU, said, “Our members have been placed in an unacceptable position where fire and rehire has become a reality.” The whole of Bedford district “supports the teachers at the school in their fight to maintain the pension provisions they rightly deserve”.

Send messages of solidarity to [email protected]

Teachers and support staff struck at City Academy Bristol on Tuesday in their first day of action—with another five days of strike to be announced.

The strike takes place following a number of issues, including bosses’ mismanagement of bullying and harassment cases and disparity over additional responsibility payments. 

Support staff at the school say that bosses have been bullying and harassing the special educational needs and disabilities. And support staff are being paid less than similar roles in the other 26 schools within the same trust that City Academy Bristol is in.

Send messages of solidarity to [email protected]

Egyptian people are ‘desperate and furious’ at repressive regime

Posted on: April 24th, 2024 by Isabel
Protesting for Palestine in Egypt

Protesting for Palestine in Egypt (Picture:

Egyptian ruler Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has never been more unpopular. His survival depends upon savage repression of the masses by the army, police and intelligence services. For years al-Sisi has begged allies to save his state from bankruptcy. Now they have showered him with aid and investment. These are ­high-risk investments and loans.

It’s a sign of anxiety that the Gaza crisis could affect his dictatorship and prompt an uprising like the ­revolution that brought down his predecessor in 2011. Egyptians ended Hosni Mubarak’s rule after weeks of massive demonstrations and strikes. Mubarak depended upon the same regime of arrest, torture and imprisonment as al-Sisi does today.

The uprising became a revolution that extended across the country, with an impact throughout the Arab world and beyond. Only an army coup led by al-Sisi in 2013 and followed by intense repression suppressed the mass movement. Could the movement return?

Al-Sisi’s allies fear that it might, and that Egypt’s economic crisis and Israel’s war on Gaza will prompt further protests and strikes. The regime’s policies have been a disaster for most Egyptians. Inflation is at almost 40 percent annually but food prices are rising much more steeply.

Price rises hit especially hard at Eid, the festival that ends the month of Ramadan. Most people couldn’t afford special foods or presents. This year many couldn’t. And parks that traditionally offer rides and amusements for children have been closed for the festival.

In 2015 the poorest Egyptians spent a quarter of their income on food. Now they spend a half of all income on basic foods.

Al-Sisi has infuriated Egyptians by telling them that in order to achieve his policies people must accept poverty and the prospect of famine. Last year he said that Egyptians must be patient—criticism and protests, he said, could “destroy the country”.

His policies include absurd vanity projects, including the construction of a new capital city in the desert ­south-east of Cairo at a cost of over £40 billion. It already includes a huge presidential palace and dozens of new ministry buildings. 

Al-Sisi has also ordered a new leg of the Suez Canal, the ­waterway connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Government income goes overwhelmingly to his friends among Egypt’s predatory businessmen and senior officials of the military.

Al-Sisi came to power with the aim of destroying the revolutionary movement that deposed Mubarak, and which organised for “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice”. 

In countless demonstrations, most famously in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, millions of people sought an end to policies that had enriched a minority of Egyptians. Mubarak had been a “poster boy” for the neoliberal IMF bank.

He willingly accepted its demands to cut food subsidies, sell off ­nationalised industries and revoke reforms that in the 1950s and 1960s gave peasants rights to cultivate land.

Millions of peasant families were forced from their fields when they returned to private owners. Many now live in impoverished areas of Cairo and Alexandria—or make dangerous journeys across the Sea to Europe as migrants.

European Union leaders are keen that al-Sisi stays in power and holds back migrants from Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. However, due to a mass of ­pressure from below, the government has been forced to make superficial concessions on pay. This month it agreed to increase the ­minimum wage by 71 percent to 6,000 Egyptian pounds a month—around £100.

But most workers will never get it. Exemptions are granted to businesses employing less than ten ­workers—97 percent of all ­enterprises, accounting for ­two-thirds of Egypt’s workforce. In February a wave of strikes showed that Egyptian workers are running out of patience. A ­partial victory at the country’s largest workplace, the Mahalla al-Kubra textile mill, resulted from walk-outs led by women workers.

Egypt’s Revolutionary Socialists reported, “Around 7,000 Workers occupied the factory square on 24 February and declared they would fight until bosses met their demands for a pay rise.” Within a week, workers forced the company to pay the new minimum wage. That was in addition to an annual 7 percent pay raise as of March and an 8 percent increase in monthly salary also paid out in March.

Workers at the Mahalla mill have always been a leading force in Egypt’s labour movement. The latest dispute gives hope to other workplaces that concerted action can bring change.  

Aid and investment ­supplied to Egypt by the UAE, the IMF and the EU mark serious worries among states and ­capitalists that al‑Sisi might not survive renewed mass struggle.

Like Israel, the Egyptian regime maintains an armed border at Gaza, preventing the movement of goods and people. For most Egyptians, Gaza is “Egypt’s shame”. An activist in Cairo described widespread feelings of anger and humiliation at the government’s stance.

“People are not only ­desperate about wages and prices but also furious that al-Sisi acts as if Binyamin Netanyahu was his best friend,” they said. “We are watching tens of ­thousands of Palestinians die and our regime behaves as if this was taking place on another planet.

“Millions of people want to show their solidarity with the Palestinians through public protests but right now those who do so face instant arrest.” Despite the regime’s clampdown, solidarity events have been held at union headquarters in Cairo. Recently a protest by women on International Women’s Day accused Arab states of betrayal, chanting, “O cowardly Arab ­governments, Gaza’s children are hungry.”

The regime’s strategy for survival, based upon relentless repression, is fraught with danger for al-Sisi. In 2013 he attacked and destroyed Egypt’s main opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood. The regime does not have a ­political party of its own, preferring to win elections by outright fraud and vote-rigging.

Without a “buffer” between the state and the people—a role ­performed for many decades by the Muslim Brotherhood—the regime is particularly vulnerable to ­movements from below.

Al-Sisi’s international friends lost a pharaoh in 2011 and wish to avoid another calamity. Israel will also be looking carefully at events on Egypt’s side of the Gaza border. The last thing Netanyahu and his genocidal government want to see is an insurgent Egyptian working class seeking, “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice”.

‘I barely escaped attack on al-Awda hospital’ says Palestinian mother

Posted on: April 24th, 2024 by TTE
a crowd shot of a Palestine demo illustrating an article about the Israeli attack on al-Awda hospital

Protesters rage against Israel’s genocide of Palestinians on the streets of London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Only a day after Ibitsam brought her new baby home, the Israeli state attacked the al-Awda hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza, where she had just given birth. 

“At dawn on Monday the al-Awda hospital, the place where I had my baby, was hit by bombs,” she told Socialist Worker.  

“Al-Awda hospital is the only place that is equipped for deliveries in the middle area of Gaza. All acquaintances and friends called me to congratulate me and tell me how fortunate I was to have given birth a day before the incident of the bombs.”

According to Palestinian media, the Israeli army fired a shell at the first floor of the hospital and another one of its buildings. There were reports that the Israelis were targeting the hospital’s solar panels, which help keep the generators running. 

There are around 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza, according to the United Nations. But Israel’s attacks on hospitals have meant there are fewer and fewer places for them to go to get adequate care. 

Ibitsam said in March that she was “terrified to die” in childbirth as most of the hospitals were out of order, and doctors had said she would be faced with complications at birth. She explained that her labour was hard, but the doctors were able to save her and her baby Salma at the last minute. 

Other women in Gaza won’t survive birth because they cannot get the care they need. Currently, there are only three hospitals in Gaza that are functioning enough to provide any maternity care. 

These are al-Sahaba hospital in northern Gaza, al-Awda and al-Emiriti hospital in Rafah. Other hospitals have been so overwhelmed with trauma patients that they have stopped providing any maternity care. 

United Nations Population Fund representative Dominic Allen said that the Israeli state has been destroying the infrastructure needed by pregnant women. “I visited ten hospitals in Gaza, focusing on maternal health,” he said. 

“Some are in rubble. Some hospitals are clinging to life while they are a lifeline for pregnant women in Gaza. We visited the Nasser hospital, and what I saw broke my heart.

“Medical equipment was purposefully broken and there were ultrasounds with cables that had been cut. There were medical screens smashed. It was purposeful wanton destruction.” 

He added that he also visited the al-Khair hospital —which was a specialist maternal health facility. Allen explained that “there wasn’t any piece of working medical equipment” in the hospital. 

“The birth rooms stand silent,” he said. “They should be a place of giving life, and they just have an eerie sense of death.”

And the Israeli state is working to stop aid organisations from delivering medical equipment to hospitals. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO). He said that “on 20 April, WHO and partners could only partially complete their mission to Kamal Adwan hospital and al-Awda hospitals due to severe delays at checkpoints and ongoing hostilities”. 

He added that WHO could not reach Kamal Adwan hospital for the second time and wasn’t about to get to al-Awda to help restore services. 

The Israeli state targeting hospitals is underlines the need to keep mobilising on the streets against the genocide—and the British state arming it.

Activists’ diary 

Sat 27 April: National demonstration, Stop Arming Israel, Ceasefire Now, assemble 12 noon, Parliament Square, London, for a march to Hyde Park. 

Wed 1 May: May Day workplace action for Palestine

Liz Truss’s memoir: how bats and badgers undermine the West

Posted on: April 24th, 2024 by TTE
The Ten Years to Save the West by Liz Truss

The lettuce could have done a better job than Liz Truss’s Ten Years to Save the West

“What the actual fuck?” was Liz Truss’s response when Michael Gove told her he’d decided to betray Boris Johnson and stand himself for Tory leader. Those who read her new memoir, Ten Years to Save the West, may have a similar response.  

Truss went from a comprehensive school in Leeds to Merton College, Oxford, from Shell PLC to parliament and then to Number 10. This may suggest a degree of intellectual and political capacity. There is, however, no evidence of either in her political memoir.

Right wing commentators are, unsurprisingly, predisposed to like Truss’s robotic defence of the free market. Although The Telegraph newspaper’s description of this turgid text as a “Riotous Romp” is bizarre by any partisan standards.

In contrast, Andrew Rawnsley of The Observer called it a “whingeing, unintentionally hilarious and scapegoating rant”. But there is more to say about this cliche ridden, selfish exercise in self-justification.

Truss cheerfully reveals her own incapacity to grasp basic facts. She decries the money spent on bat bridges over a new road through her constituency. Truss appears to imagine bats wandering around looking for little bridges to crawl over. A quick google search would have told her that “bridges” are metal structures which help bats to navigate their way over high-sided traffic.

And Truss is desperate to drop the names of the rich and powerful. She muses on how Joe Biden remembered her “blue eyes” even though both wore Covid masks on their only previous meeting. Now, I’m not sure what Truss’s mask looked like, but mine only covered my mouth.

Truss confronts all challenges, whether big or small with the same blinkered, martial zeal. China? Freeze it out of the world economy. Vladimir Putin? End the lily-livered appeasement. Badgers? Cull them. Truss apparently relished leading a badger cull, describing how she shouted down a walkie talkie, “Go out there and deliver—you can do this! This is important for the country!”

The country needs dead badgers. Lots of them. Presumably because badgers undermine the West.

The “West has lost its way”, its institutions are riddled with appeasers and cowed by lefty “agent officials” who’re determined to allow tyranny to thrive. The Conservatives have also lost their way, propelled by short term political popularity, lacking the grit and resolve necessary to resolving difficult questions.

Even the country has lost its way. “When a society becomes rich enough, there is a risk that it becomes decadent and stops trying so hard,” she writes. As an explanation for the decline of British capitalism, this is somewhere between unconvincing and total pants.

Truss describes how the antidote to all this insidious “woke” nonsense lies with bold politicians—she uses the words bold and boldness 29 times. We need more politicians who are instinctively anti-establishment, natural disrupters—more Liz Trusses in fact.

In 2012 Truss was appointed as a junior minister in the Department for Education, where she recalls senior officials regarded her as a naive junior minister of little consequence. She set about proving them right. In all her ministerial jobs Truss courageously took on various blobs and vague “vested interests”—and she lost every time.

Truss positions herself as one of the right wingers trying to pose as anti-establishment. There are so many these days it’s a wonder there is anyone left running the establishment. The problem for the aspiring Tory “disrupters” is that their party has been in office for the last 14 years—and for most of the last 100 years.

The much-lamented decline of Britain as an economic and political force on the world stage has occurred under Conservative administrations. Successive Tory governments have completely failed to reverse the long-term lack of growth in the economy and the decline in public services.

So, to pose as anti-establishment means identifying the establishment as someone else. It’s the green zealots, those pesky Trots in the civil service and leftie education experts with their childish rainbow logos. It’s the “watermelon” NGOs—green on the outside, pink on the inside—and CINOs—Conservative in Name Only.

Truss particularly hates the environmentalists and their “unstoppable bandwagon”, or “juggernaut”. She rebukes those Tory MPs at the Cop26 climate conference who were too busy taking selfies with Greta Thunberg to discuss policies. Who knew?

Truss had so many enemies, but very few friends. She is always outside looking in, never in the loop, without a clue about what was really happening. She is “blindsided”. She “hadn’t realised quite how the legal establishment works”. She “was in a minority of one, yet again”. The Treasury “should have warned” her.

But Truss was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her one lucky break came when she stood for the Tory leadership against the only Tory MP even less popular than her—Rishi Sunak. And that stroke of luck, as her husband warned her, ended in tears.

Today, Truss clearly wants to ingratiate herself with Donald Trump. She decries those who sneer at him and right wing populism more generally. The truth, Truss tells us, is that political parties do need to be popular.

Unfortunately for Truss, so do their leaders. Truss complains repeatedly that she was not given a fair chance to implement her policies, policies for which she had zero democratic mandate. She was elected by an unrepresentative white, old, and rich Tory party. Those whose lives were torn apart by her ideological fanaticism for free markets never had a chance either.

Truss’s 44-day premiership was a potent symbol that the Tories have run out of credit and out of touch with reality.

  • Liz Truss, Ten Years to Save the West: Lessons from the only conservative in the room (Biteback Publishing) April 2024

Takeover: a new book shows how Adolf Hitler was lifted to power

Posted on: April 23rd, 2024 by TTE
Takeover by Timothy W Ryback

Takeover by Timothy W Ryback

Takeover, a new book by Timothy Ryback, has two big positives—and two weakness.

The first strength is that it counters the myth that Adolf Hitler’s Nazis came to power because they were elected. It shows, through a detailed examination of the events of 1932, that he became chancellor—the equivalent of a prime minister in Britain—even though the Nazi vote was ebbing.

In the parliamentary elections of June 1932, Hitler’s party grabbed 13.5 million votes, over 37 percent of the total. But in November of the same year, its vote fell to 11.7 million, 33 percent.

This caused a deep crisis for the fascists. Ryback writes that Hitler’s propaganda head Joseph Gobbels “followed the election returns on the radio late into the night. ‘Every update is another defeat,’ he noted. ‘It’s a disaster.’”

Ryback adds, “A front page political cartoon showed Hitler slouched against a table holding a broken swastika.”

The fascists turned on one another. Gregor Strasser, a key member of the Nazis’ inner core, resigned his party positions because he disagreed with Hitler’s unwillingness to seek coalitions with other right wing forces.

Gottfried Feder went as well. He was one of the original seven men who had rallied to Hitler in 1919 and helped developed the vile theory of “Jewish finance capitalism”.

The party was also running out of cash. Ryback writes, “In Berlin 10,000 out of the city’s 16,000 storm troopers mutinied over shortage of funds. Three Hitler Youth leaders in Halle had their homes vandalised, not by Social Democrats or Communists but by their own members. A dispute over loyalty oaths in a Munich café led to a melee with broken table legs.”

Hitler threatened to kill himself. Yet two months later, he was the leader of Germany.

Here the second strength of the book comes out. Ryback shows that a group of businessmen and generals elevated Hitler to be leader. They argued among themselves, worried about the fascist “excesses”, conspired and did secret backroom deals.

Their sole motive was to construct a reliable force to smash workers’ organisation and the left parties. Eventually they decided that the Nazis were the only mechanism to deliver that.

Prominent among the elite manipulators were General Kurt von Schleicher and the right wing media owner Alfred Hugenberg.

Ryback sets out Schleicher’s “taming process,” which was meant to subdue the Nazis and make them just another right wing party.

He praised Hitler as a “modest, orderly man who only wants what is best” and who would stick to the limits of parliamentary democracy.

Schleicher’s secret hope was to use the Nazi street army to batter the left and then use the official army to wipe out the Nazi forces.

Hugenberg had massive media influence and he also headed up a mainstream right wing party. His Telegraph Union network embraced 1,600 newspapers and, although he often clashed with Hitler, he also boosted his progress.

He was one of the corporate titans who came to believe that Hitler’s thuggery and demagogy was required at a time of deep social emergency—and with the Communists coming for their money,.

That’s why some bosses, headed by steel manufacturer Fritz Thyssen, funded the Nazis and encouraged their rule.

They thought they would use Hitler and then cast him aside. Hugenberg said, “If Hitler sits in the saddle then I will have the whip.”

And one of his co-conspirators added, “Within two months, we will have pressed Hitler into a corner so tight that he’ll squeak.”

Their action in making Hitler chancellor set in train a process that within months saw the fascists implement the total destruction of workers’ organisations—and the murder of their leaders—and the elimination of all opposition activity. The barbarism eventually included the murder of 6 million Jews and hundreds of thousands of Roma people, LGBT+ people, disabled people, socialists and others.

The weaknesses of Ryback’s book are that it has only a thin examination of class relations and an almost complete absence of how the left could have stopped Hitler.

His rise and fall was partly determined by ruling class manoeuvres. But these were possible only because of the criminal failings of the Communists and the Labour-type Social Democrats (SDP).

Fascist rule was an opportunity to big business, a mechanism to smash their most feared opponents in the militant working class. But it was also a gamble.

The fascist methods meant turmoil and upheaval and an open war with the proletariat whose outcome was not guaranteed. As the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote, “The big bourgeoisie likes fascism as little as a man with aching molars likes to have his teeth pulled.”

They didn’t object to the slaughter of militant workers. They feared the resulting resistance might overwhelm their system.

So, instead of immediately putting Hitler in charge, the ruling class tried a succession of right wing figures who became chancellor from 1930 onwards. These tried to rule in the interests of big business using dictatorial methods.

They had only a narrow social base—and a small number of seats for their own parties in parliament. Lacking the cover of electoral success, they pumped out economic and social decrees and ordered the state to impose them.

Heinrich Bruning, chancellor from 1930-32 lasted two years and based himself on a parliamentary mish-mash of six parties.

His fall brought in Franz von Papen who lasted just 185 days before being replaced by Kurt von Schleicher who was chancellor for 58 days before Hitler took over.

The Communists said these people were indistinguishable from Hitler. They thought the Social Democrats and the Nazis were “twins”, so Bruning, von Papen and Schleicher were certainly fascist.

Trotsky disagreed. He put forward a careful analysis of such regimes as “Bonapartist” (or, in one case, “pre-Bonapartist”).

Karl Marx used the term to describe the rule of French emperor Louis Napoleon in the mid-19th century.

His regime was a form of military dictatorship, “rule by the sword”. Marx saw this as a government that emerged when the class struggle had ended in a form of stalemate.

Louis Napoleon appeared to rise above classes and the traditional political parties. He relied even more than “normal” governments on the state’s repressive forces.

But the appearance of independence was not a reality. Louis Napoleon ruled clearly in the interests of the capitalists and the big landowners.

Writing in 1932 Trotsky said Bruning’s government was “a regime of the military police dictatorship. As soon as the struggle of two social strata—the haves and the have-nots, the exploiter and the exploited—reaches its highest tension, the conditions are given for the domination of bureaucracy, police, soldiery.

“The government becomes ‘independent’ of society. If two forks are stuck symmetrically into a cork, the latter can stand even on the head of a pin.

“That is precisely the scheme of Bonapartism.”

This analysis was not some academic matter of classification. Trotsky argued that fascism would be far worse than the existing governments and was a mortal threat to the whole working class.

He hammered away at the left demanding an urgent united struggle against Hitler—without giving a shred of support to the capitalist parties.

He stressed that regimes of the Bruning-Papen-Schleicher type were insecure and a decisive outcome—Nazi seizure of power or a victory for workers—would soon come.

Trotsky wrote, “The Bonapartist regime can attain a comparatively stable and durable character only in the event that it brings a revolutionary epoch to a close. Without this basic condition, that is, without a preceding exhaustion of the mass energies in battles, a Bonapartist regime is in no position to develop.”

In practice Bruning, Papen and Schleicher did not deliver what the ruling class wanted. So sections of  businessmen turned to Hitler. 

They were further emboldened when in July 1932 Papen removed the SPD leadership of the important Prussian regional government almost without resistance. If Papen could do this, imagine what the Nazis could achieve.

Hitler conquered because the SPD and the Communists refused to join in active unity against the Nazis. Instead of bringing together their forces to confront Hitler on the streets and in the workplaces they continued to turn their fire on each other.

The Communists denounced the Social Democrats as “social fascists” and “1,000 times worse than an open fascist dictatorship”.

Communists had legitimate grievances against the SPD for killing their leaders and holding back revolution in 1919 and 1923. In “Bloody May” 1929, the Berlin SPD chief of police, Karl Frederick Zorgiebel, ordered cops to shoot protesters at rallies in working class neighbourhoods, killing at least 35 people. 

The SPD spurned the Communists as no better than the Nazis and believed the state, the constitution and sticking to the limits of the existing system would save them.

Faced with the Nazi menace a united, active working class opposition was essential.

Based on the 13 million SPD and Communist voters in 1932, mass demonstrations, strikes and physical confrontation with Nazi thugs could have broken the fascist challenge and opened the way to workers’ revolution.

Don’t look to Ryback for a deep analysis. But his book shows the capitalist elites’ ruthless determination to defeat a challenge to their rule in 1930s Germany.

Clara Zetkin:  The most important immediate task is the formation of a united front 

Ryback mentions the speech by the Communist Clara Zetkin opening the German parliament in August 1932, just after the Nazis reached their high point.

Zetkin, a veteran revolutionary, piercing analyst of fascism and fighter for women’s liberation, had the right to make this speech because she was the oldest MP.

Ryback describes her words as a “tedious polemic”. In fact it was a hugely courageous call for the working class to mobilise in a united front against fascism but also to fight for a revolution that could do away with the decaying capitalist system that produced fascism.

Zetkin was very frail and had to be carried to the podium. But her speech was anything but weak. Unfortunately her words were not heeded even by the Communist Party that cheered her.

Zetkin said, “The most important immediate task is the formation of a united front of all workers in order to turn back fascism (Communist shouts of “very true”) in order to preserve for the enslaved and exploited, the force and power of their organization as well as to maintain their own physical existence.

“Before this compelling historical necessity, all inhibiting and dividing political, trade union, religious and ideological opinions must take a back seat. All those who feel themselves threatened, all those who suffer and all those who long for liberation must belong to the united front against fascism and its representatives in government.

“The self-assertion of the workers with regard to fascism is the next indispensable prerequisite for the united front in the battle against crises and imperialist wars and their cause, the capitalist means of production. The revolt of millions of labouring men and women in Germany against hunger, slavery, fascist murder and imperialist wars is an expression of the indestructible destiny of the workers of the entire world.

“The united front of workers, which is also constituting itself in Germany, must not lack the millions of women, who still bear the chains of sex slavery (Communist shouts of “very good”), and are therefore exposed to the most oppressive class slavery. The youths that want to blossom and mature must fight in the very front ranks.

“The battle must be fought particularly in order to defeat fascism, which intends to destroy with blood and iron all class expressions of the workers. Our enemies know very well that the least amount of strength of the proletariat is derived from the number of parliamentary seats. Its strength rather is anchored in its political, trade union and cultural organisations.

“All attempts to alleviate the crisis while the capitalist system still prevails can only worsen the disaster. Intervention by the state has failed because the bourgeois state does not control the economy, but the capitalist economy controls the state. (Shouts of “very true” from the Communist deputies).

“As the power apparatus of the possessing class, it can only operate to its advantage and at the expense of the producing and consuming masses. A planned economy on the basis of capitalism is a contradiction in terms.

“Such attempts are all defeated by the private ownership of the means of production. A planned economy is only possible once the private ownership of the means of production has been abolished.

“The way to overcome the economic crises and all threats of imperialist wars is solely by the proletarian revolution (shouts of “bravo” by the Communists) which will do away with the private ownership of production and thus guarantee a planned economy.

“The fight of the labouring masses against the disastrous suffering of the present is, at the same time, the fight for their full liberation. The glances of the masses must be steadily directed towards this luminous goal which must not be shrouded by the illusion of a liberating democracy.

“The masses must not allow themselves to be frightened by the brutal use of force by which capitalism seeks its survival in the form of new world wars and fascist civil strife.

“I open this Congress in the fulfilment of my duties as honorary president and in the hope that despite my current infirmities, I may yet have the fortune to open as honorary president of the first Soviet Congress of a Soviet Germany.”

Strike over pension blow + fight against fire and rehire plans

Posted on: April 23rd, 2024 by Sophie
nursery education NEU

Nursery workers on picket lines in south London on Tuesday (Picture: Ben Morris)

Teachers at Bedford Greenacre Independent School in Bedford took to picket lines on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The NEU education union members say it’s to protect their pensions and dispute their employer’s use of fire and rehire tactics. 

The governors of the school wrote to NEU members saying they will be sacked on Tuesday if they don’t accept worse terms. 

Employers are placing NEU members in an unacceptable position where fire and rehire have become a reality. The teachers are right to fight back. 

And workers at nurseries in Balham and Eastwood, south London, struck on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

They are striking over proposed cuts that would leave many redundant. They were on strike on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week.

Employers are threatening members of the NEU union with compulsory redundancy amid plans to reduce the number of nursery places for children.

These nurseries take a high proportion of children with special educational needs (Send) and are well-known for providing a range of provision to children with Send.

But the cuts would drastically reduce learning opportunities and the provision offered. 

Messages of solidarity to [email protected]

College workers will not give up on pay

Workers at several colleges that are part of the Education Training Collective (ETC) won’t give up on winning a pay rise. 

Workers in Cleveland, Redcar and Stockton-on-Tees voted to strike again in a long running battle to get a better 2022-23 pay deal. 

ETC bosses continue to say that workers should accept the 3 percent pay increase for that year, with an additional 1 percent from May 2023. 

This group of workers have already struck six times this year.

Muslims are the state’s target, not Zionists

Posted on: April 23rd, 2024 by Isabel
Police at a national Palestine demonstration arrest young Muslims

The state has arrested many Muslims and Palestine protesters (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Right wingers and Zionists say that they are the ones most targeted by the police. Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, claimed this when he and his entourage tried to cause a provocation at the last national Palestine demonstration.

His group is known for its anti-Palestine and Islamaphobic hate. Surrounded by a camera crew and bodyguards he’d brought, Falter’s presence was a setup. The cops gave Falter the ammunition he was seeking—he aimed to drum up outrage and portray the Palestine movement as antisemitic. 

When the video came out, he seized the opportunity to say that the cops weren’t on the side of Zionists but on the side of those who are pro-Palestine. The opposite is true. Muslims and those who support Palestinian resistance are who the state sees as its real enemies

While Falter was calmly told to leave a Palestine demonstration, police have arrested, imprisoned and charged Palestine activists with criminal offences. This week protester Khaled Hajsaad was on trial for wearing a green headband with Arabic writing on it at a Palestine demonstration. 

A growing number of people have been arrested and charged for voicing their support or writing about the resistance. These attacks have hit young Muslims the hardest. It’s this group that the state targets—and it’s the Zionists and the right it wants to protect.