Thursday, 27 June 2019

The Renegade Kautsky and his Acolyte Eric Blanc

This is actually a paraphrasing of a quotation by Trotsky, I don't know why this is attributed to Kautsky but its sums up his reputation very well


Jacobin magazine is increasingly becoming a bit of  punching bag in my circles, I can't really disagree the few articles I've liked or thought were important turned out to have been originally written for a different publication and then rehosted. Though to be fair, rehosting is an important and useful service, hell its mostly what I do online, I'm not bringing this up to be dismissive I'm just relating my experiences with the publication.

One article that got a lot of derision a few months ago was Why Kautsky was Right (and Why you Should Care). Most people on my radar made some comments about SPD degeneration, you know World War One, siding with the Freikorps, murdering its own members for being to radical etc.

But well I figured I'd read it, and eventually got around to it. I don't think the argument is convincing, but I think it does merit a bit of response, because honestly as increased popularity of "the Left" has continued I have noticed more people calling themselves Kautskyites.

The article written by Eric Blanc was largely a response piece to two other authors Muldoon and Post, whom Blanc believes are too attached to Leninism to be objective. Personally speaking I'm not really interesting in which of the three are proved right, so I'm going to be skipping most of the direct responses to Post and Muldoon, except for areas were I do believe its relevant to what I think are the main issues of the work.

That said here's the version on Jacobin, https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/04/karl-kautsky-democratic-socialism-elections-rupture

For me the article begins at Kautsky's Democratic Road to Socialism, the early section about Kautsky earlier more radical ideas and views being completely overshadowed by his ore famous, or more infamous and more reformist ideas later in life is fair I feel. Though I disagree with the way Blanc absolves him of agency in his own compromise. The man did re-join the SPD in 1920, after they had led a brutal paramilitary counterrevolution against German socialists after all. But this is a digression.

The articles defence of Kautsky's Democratic theories on revolution lies on two points.

  • The majority of workers in parliamentary countries would generally seek to use legal mass movements and the existing democratic channels to advance their interests.
  • Technological advances have made modern armies to strong to be overthrown through uprisings on the old-nineteenth model of barricade street fighting
On their own its hard to disagree with these points, I'm sure we can all think of dozens of failed insurrections and periods of mass struggle in democratic countries that didn't go beyond voting in a new crowd. To pick an example the Poll Tax riots and mass refusal to pay campaigns effectively toppled the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and forced the government to reverse course, but the government remained in power, and even got re-elected. 

But the combination is rather odd, while insurrections against states with modern armies have failed, for example the German Revolution of 1918, some of them have actively succeeded. To pick a random example a vast modern army didn't save the Shah in 1979. So if insurrections can topple autocratic states, the modern repressive apparatus doesn't seem that insurmountable an obstacle. And also insurrections haven't really relied on the old barricade model either, where barricades do appear in conflicts its largely an act of desperation by the defenders in individual battles. If anything most insurrections don't copy nineteenth century Paris.

Blanc often, because this a response piece aims his arguments in opposition to the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917. But again that wasn't really Paris 1830, the street fighting and combat was much different. They also didn't topple the Tsarist state but the Provisional Government, which on paper was much more democratic and republican. In practice it was still very autocratic, but so was the Germany of Kautsky's day when he made his turn, so that just raises the issue of what on earth do we mean by Democracy?

In popular terms we call governmental systems where the governing representatives are chosen via some form of election, and usually where every vote is weighted the same, preferably on a franchise that's open to every citizen from a certain age. 

In line with this approach, Kautsky insisted that fighting for a democratic republic — the complete democratization of the political regime, election of state officials, dissolution of the standing army, etc. — was a central component of socialist politics.

Now Blanc and Kautsky go beyond this in their views on "democratising the state" but Blanc at least admits that no state (certainly not the USA) measures up to this higher form democratisation, but this just leaves the question of how much democracy is needed before insurrection (supposedly) becomes impossible? Kautsky had already come to this conclusion in the 1910s, so even the low colloquial bar of universal suffrage for part of the political class had not been met by most of the countries on earth at that point. The Kaisers Germany of which Kautsky and his party operated within had parliaments, they did have influence within them, infamously when the Kaiser wanted War Credits to pursue war with Russia, which quickly turned into World War One. So did it qualify or not? If it did, its parliamentary channels didn't save the Kaiser when millions of workers, soldiers and sailors mutinied and built Councils. Or did it become sufficiently democratic after that, when the turmoil forced the creation of a federal Republic? 

And there's another issue, history has shown contrary to Blanc's assertion that insurrections against democratic societies are quite common and often successful. The issue here is most if not all such seizures of power have been by openly reactionary elements. 

In 1948 the Czechoslovak Communist party launched a coup against a parliamentary democracy and took the country into the Eastern Bloc. In 1967 João Goulart the President of Brazil was overthrown by the military. In 1973 in Chile Salvador Allende was deposed and murdered by the Chilean military, Blanc acknowledges this case in his article. I could go on all day.

Now I'm sure Blanc and other Kaustkyites would cry foul that these don't really count because they weren't carried out by Communists, or by the proletariat, but they do at least show that it is possible to topple a democratic society and even build sustained regime off of it. 

But I concede examples of left wing insurrections against democratic states are very limited, 1968 in France, and the struggles in Italy in the 70s are the most well known cases of revolts against democratic societies. Though the Zapatista insurrection in the 1990s was in opposition to a state that meets most definitions of Democratic, and does appear to have had a lot of support in Chiapas. Anyone familiar with Mexican government and its authorities will know that's a low bar, but still it seems to clear Blancs bar for a democratic state. And possibly the Irish Civil War, its debatable how socialistic the anti Free State IRA was, but they were a lot more friendly to workplace occupations and Councils in Ireland than the Free State, who had the backing of Irelands businessmen and actively intervened to defeat strikes. And the Free State despite its brutal repression and on the spot executions, was a functional Parliamentary society. The violence actually increased after Collins was killed and the Dail took over from the officers.

These aren't perfect examples I admit, but I think they show the question hasn't been so satisfactorily settled in Kautsky's favour like Blanc is suggesting.

Similarly, Post at no point provides any evidence for his assertion that
only workers’ councils, not a socialist-led government elected by universal suffrage, are capable of leading a break with capitalism.

Blanc seems to be correct from what I've read of Post, but he is also guilty of not providing any evidence for his chosen path leading to a break with Capitalism. He does cite an example of what he believes was a case of Kautskyite Socialist-led government elected by universal suffrage coming to power later on, but it didn't lead to a break with capitalism, and he misses out a lot of important context to that example.

So let's tackle it, the Finnish case.

The viability of Kautsky’s strategy in practice was demonstrated by the Finnish Revolution of 1917–18. Unlike most social-democratic parties of the era, the Finnish Social Democracy under the guidance of a cadre of young “Kautskyists” led by Otto Kuusinen upheld its commitment to radical democratic socialism. Through patient class-conscious organization and education, Finnish socialists won a majority in parliament in 1916, leading the Right to dissolve the institution in the summer of 1917, which in turn sparked a socialist-led revolution in January 1918. Finnish social democracy’s preference for a defensive parliamentary strategy did not prevent it from overthrowing capitalist rule and taking steps towards socialism.
It links to another article on Jacobin Finland's Revolution, also by Blanc.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/05/finland-revolution-russian-empire-tsarism-independence-general-strike

Which is a little curious because parts of that article throws up obstacles to this one.

The reason of citing Finland, is because its an example apparently of mass socialist party working within a Democratic system and maintaining a more radical commitment to anti-capitalism. There's just one problem here, in Blanc's own words in the Finnish Revolution article, that radicalism was tied to events in the wider Russian Empire.

But Finland’s participation in the 1905 Revolution veered the party to the left. During the November 1905 general strike, one Finnish socialist leader marveled at the popular upsurge:
"We live in a wonderful period of time … Peoples who were humble and satisfied to bear the burden of slavery have suddenly thrown off their yoke. Groups who until now have been eating pine bark, now demand bread."
In the wake of the 1905 Revolution, moderate socialist MPs, union leaders, and functionaries now found themselves a minority within the SDP. Seeking to implement the orientation elaborated by German Marxist theoretician Karl Kautsky, from 1906 onwards most of the party infused legal tactics and a parliamentary focus with a sharp class-struggle politics. “Class hatred is to be welcomed, as it is a virtue,” proclaimed one party publication.
Only an independent labor movement, the SDP announced, could advance workers’ interests, defend and expand Finnish autonomy from Russia, and win full political democracy. A socialist revolution would eventually be the task of the day, but until then the party should cautiously build up its strength and avoid any premature clashes with the ruling class.
This strategy of revolutionary social democracy — with its militant message and slow-but-steady methods — was spectacularly successful in Finland. By 1907, over one hundred thousand workers had joined the party, making it the largest socialist organization per capita in the world. And in July 1916 Finnish Social Democracy made history by becoming the first socialist party in any country to win a majority in parliament. Due to recent years of tsarist “Russification,” however, most state power in Finland by this time was held by the Russian administration. Only in 1917 did the SDP confront the challenges of holding a parliamentary socialist majority in a capitalist society.
So we have the Revolution of 1905 spurring the radicals against the moderates, we also have the acknowledgement that the Russian Empire had succeeded in keeping much of the power of Finnish society in Imperial hands. So while the Grand Duchy of Finland was very democratic for the Russian Empire, its doesn't really measure up Blanc and Kautsky's more Democratic society. So again this just begs the question yet again how democracy do we need for a Kautskyian revolution?

Anyway further into the article it describes how the army (mostly made up of Russians) quickly mutinied once news of the Insurrection in February of 1917 arrived in Finland, and they then disarmed the police. This is very important because it means that a key part of the success of the Finnish Social Democrats, was the insurrection against Tsarist autocracy in the other parts of the Empire. This is important because lets say for argument sake that the success of the Finnish SPD is an example of the successes of Kautskyian ideas, they're are no longer practical or viable. We don't live in a world where Empires like the Russian Empire exist anymore, there are no moderately democratic provinces within greater autocratic powers, well no I'll be fair, the situation with Hong Kong and the People's Republic might be similar but that's about it.

Blanc in his responses to Muldoon and Post believes that their ideas are too rooted in the past of 1917, but I don't see how he's any different here. In his own words, much of the political development of the Finnish SPD was dependent on its connections to the wider Empire, and it too like the German SPD had its own collaborationist wing that worked with anti-socialists.

Like in the rest of the empire, Finland in March was swept up by a call for “national unity.” Hoping to win broad autonomy from the new Russian Provisional Government, a wing of moderate SDP leaders broke with the party’s longstanding position and joined a coalition administration with Finnish liberals. Various radical socialists denounced this move as a “betrayal” and a gross violation of the SDP’s Marxist principles — other key leaders, however, went along with the entry into government in order to prevent a split in the party.

Finland’s political honeymoon was short-lived. The new coalition government was quickly caught in the crossfire of the class struggle as unprecedented militancy erupted in Finland’s workplaces, streets, and rural areas. Some Finnish socialists focused their efforts on building armed workers’ militias. Others promoted strikes, militant trade-unionism, and shop-floor activism.
This is not a picture of ideological coherence, and of course the Finnish parliament was also pushing for national independence, this would lead to the parliament being dissolved by the Russian Provisional Government. So again a very big limitation on Democracy in the Grand Duchy, Blanc even includes this quote.

 our bourgeoisie had no army, nor even a police force they could count upon … [t]herefore there seemed every reason to keep to the beaten track of parliamentary legality, in which, so it appeared, Social Democracy could wrest one victory after another.
This does not support Blancs assertions. Its an admission that the Finnish SPD only maintained its "kautskyian" parliamentary path, because the repressive apparatus of the state had been destroyed. But they had only been destroyed thanks to an external revolution. If there hadn't been an insurrection in the Imperial interior those regiments would have remained loyal and not have disarmed the police. And even after that the parliamentary majority of the SPD was neutralised from above.

The article and history goes on to outline how Finnish workers turned increasingly to mass direct action with the leaders of the SPD and its Unions being outflanked, before losing the civil war. I don't see how this is supposed to be compelling, Blanc says that eventually the Finnish SPD "grew a spine" and started leading the class struggle, but by his own admission this was after the workers and their militia's had already continued on after the moderates in the SPD backed down.

The Finnish Revolution is a very interesting episode and we can learn much from it, but one thing we can't learn from it is how to enact Kaustky's ideas of "Democratic Social Revolution". The SPD majority, divered and split, operated within a autocratic society and was forced into its radicalism (though curiously in neither article does Blanc explain how the Finnish SPD broke from Capital) by the Finnish workers. The only difference between Finland and Germany is the numbers within the factions of the SPD.

This is a recurring flaw in both Blanc and Kautsky's views, on the one hand both acknowledge that for socialism to be achieved it will have to rely on mass struggle, such as a general strike.

To defeat such ruling-class resistance, Kautsky advocated that workers use the weapon of a general strike. He also affirmed that though Marxists desired and advocated a peaceful revolution, they must be prepared to use force if necessary to uphold their democratic mandate. Capitalists would not renounce violence even if the socialists did.
Which raises the question, if the General strike and other forceful means will be the decisive factors, and why bother putting time, resources and faith into parliamentary representatives? Blanc is an outspoken Kautskyite, but even he can only point to one example, and even his own recounting of that example has the parliamentary wing getting in the way of the more radical workers movement. The phrase growing a spine to describe the eventually coming around of the SPD leaders was his usage, not mine.

But more relevantly, Blanc does have examples of what he believes are the viability of Democratic Socialism for the modern day.

Lastly, upholding the best elements of Kautsky’s approach is important for helping leftists take the electoral arena more seriously. After decades in which apolitical movementism dominated the far left, and consistent support for mainstream Democrats defined the broader “progressive” milieu, mass working-class politics is finally back. Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and other newly elected radicals have raised working people’s expectations and changed national politics. Socialists should participate in this electoral upsurge to promote mass movements and to organize hundreds of thousands of people into independent working-class organizations.

This is frankly bizarre, these Democrat politicians are not Kautskyites, and Kautsky's views are not represented by them. Bernie Sanders is not in favour of arming the people, on the contrary he has been a supporter of American militarism

Bernie became an imperialist to get elected in 1990. In August,
1990--after the Bush administration enticed Iraq into invading
Kuwait--Sanders said he wasn't "going to let some damn war cost him the
election," according to a staff member who was present at the time. So
Sanders backed the buildup in the Persian Gulf and dumped on the left
anti-imperialist peace movement, singling out his former
allies like Dave Dellinger for public criticism.
 https://libcom.org/library/why-we-are-occupying-bernie-sanders-burlington-office-1999

And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez like the SPD who showed their internationalism by voting for War Credits, showed hers by voting to fund ICE a paramilitary body in the United States that torments and hunts suspected illegal migrants, on her first day in office.

https://libcom.org/news/abolishing-ice-funding-it-07012019

Eric Blanc is doing Kautsky no favours by linking him to Democrat reformers. These are just two criticisms I've picked from memory, there are plenty of very detailed criticisms of this new wave of social democrats, both in general trends and in specifics.

Most supporters of these candidates argue that they're better than the alternatives, and sure I can see the case that overall they'd pass more beneficial reforms then the other competitors etc, and maybe that's true. But bizarrely Blanc and the Kautskyites are trying to salvage the revolutionary legacy of Karl Kautsky, how is that compatible with comparisons to liberal party politicians?

Conclusion

I think its obvious I don't hold this article in high regard. I think its lacking as a defence of Kautsky's better ideas, the argument constructed is self defeating and bizarre. I'm not a fan of Kautsky, but I'm not opposed to the Democratic Marxists, outright, I think some of their work can be useful and the question of how and why democratic societies remain so resistant to moves from more Communistic movements is an important one. But this doesn't really help. On contrary what I take away from Eric Blancs own work is confirmation that a direct action approach is the most viable path to challenging capitalism, autocratic and democratic. 

Monday, 17 June 2019

Josef Schultz - The Man Who Wouldn't Shoot


Map showing partisan areas of operation in 1943
Despite the staggering amount of media made about World War II we barely scratch the surface. Entire fronts of the war and its darker sides particularly those carried out by Allied powers are often overlooked with one or two exceptions. For example the Yugoslav front, while the war in Greece has received some attention, probably due to the presence of British divisions there before the country was occupied by the German army, almost nothing about what went on across the border in neighbouring Albania and Yugoslavia gets popular attention.

In the case of Albania its early annexation by Italy is brought up as an example of a missed warning sign, and the SS recruiting Albanians is brought up as footnote, often by Reich apologists to try and dispute the popular and correct impression that Nazi Germany was a nation obsessed with racial purity.

Yugoslavia tends to get much less, aside from Force 10 from Navarrone the cheaper more action pulp sequel to the famous Guns of Navarrone, it doesn't get much attention outside of Yugoslav and former Yugoslav made documentaries and books. In a way this is understandable if disappointing, the Balkans were extremely complex. Initially Kingdom of Yugoslavia joined the Axis before popular protests and a coup by officers in the armed forces installed a pro Allied one instead. A combined German and Italian force (mostly German, since Italy's failed invasion of Greece had cost it entire armies) quickly overran the country.

But instead of a quick and fairly easy occupation the region erupted into even more mass violence once the Wehrmacht had established itself. Croatian Fascists in the Ustashe movement set up an independent pro Nazi region, ran their own paramilitary and extermination camp system targeting Serbs and the Balkan Jewish community. A puppet government, Italian, Hungarian and Bulgarian occupation zones and bands of Chetniks, majority Serb armed bands that sometimes supported the Axis but over times worked independently. And then finally there were the partisans, of which Tito's Communist forces are the most well known and active.

This made for a vicious mix, with the armies of occupation and their allies often resorting to the destruction of entire villages, collective punishments and ethnic cleansing campaigns. Out of all of this confusion and terror and mythic hero was created. Private Josef Schultz, soldier of the 714th Infantry division.

Shultz is something of a folk hero in the region as a soldier who refused to take part in executions of prisoners, and according to legend was made to stand in line with those prisoners and die along side them. The existence of Josef Schultz and his deployment to Yugoslavia are confirmed, but West German investigations believe the stories around his death are fictious. Nevertheless he remains a popular folk hero.

In 1973 Zastava films made a short film about Josef Schultz, and at only 13 minutes long its one of the most moving anti-war films I've ever seen.



https://youtu.be/REkZ1gcqzL8

Short film about the life and death of Joseph Schultz, made in 1973 in Yugoslavia.
Download https://archive.org/details/josephschultz_201702
This photo often attributes the soldier without a helmet as being the last photo of Josef Schultz, sadly while this is disputed the photo is otherwise genuine. This is a real photo of a mass execution carried out by the German army.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Was Lenin a Mushroom?








Link https://youtu.be/1hQhkANKkJM
in the early 1990s a spoof made for Soviet TV, persuaded some Russians that Vladimir Lenin's personality had been seriously affected by hallucinogenic mushrooms. The mushrooms in question were the deadly poisonous fly agaric fungi which the programme alleged Lenin had eaten whilst in exile in Siberia. Dina Newman has spoken to journalist Sergei Sholokhov who presented the TV spoof.
 
Was Lenin a Mushroom?

Transcript



Dina Newman:

Hello, you’re listening to the Witness history podcast with me Dina Newman. Do you know who Vladimir Lenin was? A Russian politician? A communist revolutionary? All this may be true but in 1991 Russians came up with a different take on their former leader, a special program on Soviet TV claimed that Lenin was in fact a mushroom.

It was the most famous hoax in the history of Soviet media and an example of just how confused many Russians became once the structures and certainties of the communist system began to collapse.

Its May 1991, just months before the Soviet Union began to break apart and elsewhere in Eastern Europe Communism had already died a death over a year earlier. Russians could barely keep up with the drama’s unfolding on their screens. The centralised economic system they’d lived with for decades was unravelling. Politicians were openly attacking the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Hypnotists and spurious healers promoted their talents on state-controlled TV and brash adverts claimed to offer miraculous products.

Then on May 17th a special one-hour program unveiled an entirely new take on the familiar figure of Vladimir Lenin.

Sergei Kurekhin:

Fly Agaric is a hallucinogenic mushroom with a peculiar property. If a human being takes it regularly and for a long time his personality transforms into the personality of a mushroom. Fly Agaric has its own personality and basically, I want to say that Lenin was a mushroom.

Dina Newman:

The person who broadcast this ridiculous statement was a Russian avant-garde musician Sergei Khurekhin. His carefully constructed argument went something like this.

Fly Agarics are poisonous mushrooms but in Siberia they were traditionally used by Shaman’s for their hallucinogenic properties. Khurekhin claimed that during his long exile in Siberia Lenin regularly consumed these mushrooms. And that his glorious Communist revolution was a re-enactment of his hallucinogenic visions. The Soviet symbol Hammer and Sickle symbolized mushroom picking. Because the hammer looked like a mushroom and the sickle a knife.

And finally, the personality of the hallucinogenic mushroom Fly Agaric took over Lenin’s own personality and Lenin himself turned into a mushroom.

Sergei Sholokhov:

Sergei Khurekhin was a leader in Russia’s underground culture, a central figure for creative talent at the time.

Dina Newman:

Journalist Sergei Sholokhov was the presenter of the programme about Lenin as a mushroom. Sholokhov was a trusted and respected investigative journalist. But on that occasion jointly with his friend Sergei Khurekhin, Sholokhov set out to test the credulity of Russian viewers, and to have fun at their expense.

Halfway through the program the pair could contain their laughter.

[Laughing, wheezing, gasps]

Sergei Khurekhin:

Hang on, I have more to say, you have no idea what I’m about to say.

Sergei Sholokhov:

I have a question, are we recording?

[more laughter]

Sergei Khurekhin:

I’m all ears, I’m all ears – calm down! Will all of this be broadcast?

Sergei Sholokhov:

Of course, of course.

Dina Newman:

Struggling to contain their laughter the pair nevertheless managed to interview a biologist specialising in mushrooms, a so-called international organisation Mushrooms For Peace and even an inventor of a humane hallucinogenic bomb containing Fly Agarics.

It was all a spoof of the news stories of the time and despite the laughter many admitted to be perplexed and shaken by the news.

Sergei Sholokhov:

The next day a group of old party comrades went to the head of Communist Ideology in Leningrad region. And asked her if it was true that Lenin was a mushroom. As that’s what they had heard on TV.

The party officials said our theory was wrong because a mammal could not be a plant. But our response was as follows;

“the head of ideology should take upon herself the responsibility for calling Lenin a mammal. But we insisted that mushrooms were not plants they were an entirely separate kingdom.

Dina Newman:

Although ideologically very risky, given that the Communist party was still nominally in charge. The hoax did not cause Sholokov any trouble. During the last months of the Soviet Empire his bosses and State TV were pleased with the programs high ratings and did not care about the Communist party opinion.

Just two months later the absurd story developed further when Sergei Khurekhin who was also a talented musician was invited to play the piano in the radio studios of the BBC’s Russian service.

[Piano music]

In his interview with the Russian service that day Khurekhin suddenly revealed another extraordinary piece of fake news. According to him he had been forced to admit that Lenin was a mushroom under pressure from the US intelligence Agencies.

Sergei Khurekhin:

I’ve been working for the US intelligence service for the past twenty years. There is a reason why I use my fast-staccato technique. It’s a chance to send the maximum amount of sensitive information at super-fast speed. The faster I play, the more information I can send over.

Dina Newman:

An avant-garde musician Khurekhin, was fascinated by the effect of rhythm on his audience. He loved turning everything he came across into beats. Once he even created a musical version of a BBC World Service news story which read “the Russian Government of Yegor Gaider and the team of President Yeltsin have not been able to solve the problem of the Black Sea Fleet. “

[Music and singing]

Dina Newman:

Back in Leningrad, where Khurekhin lived audiences were beginning to appreciate his art. His Avant-garde band called Popular Mechanics a kind of noise orchestra improvised on a variety of instruments. Often found in skips and junkyards.

[Music, very grating]

The BBC recorded one of their rehearsals.

[More Music]

Popular Mechanics concerts were always full to capacity. For Khurekhin and his friend Sergei Sholokov last years of Communism were a time of incredible cultural change offering exciting creative opportunities.

Sergei Sholokhov:

That was the time of great creativity, it was very promising. New names appeared and new film makers showed their work, they were exploring new topics in the new reality. It was a powerful wave which gave us all hope. Khurekhin was able to sense that wave.

Dina Newman:

Sergei Khurekhin died of cardiac sarcoma; a rare cancer in 1996. A talented musician today he’s remembered in Russia mainly for his Lenin was mushroom stunt. Khurekhin’s friend Sergei Sholokov a film maker now lives in Moscow.  That’s it for this edition of the Witness History podcast with me Dina Newman.


Sunday, 2 June 2019

Tiananmen Square 30 Years on





Link https://youtu.be/cQqi_FA--ko

Video info

Even after 30 years...

When you're ordered to forget, to remember becomes an act of defiance.
Footage comes from
In Remembrance of Tiananmen Square China 1989  https://archive.org/details/714698flower
And Arthur Kent's Tiananmen Square Massacre: Black Night In June (2019) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA4iKSeijZI


Text of the cable from https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/UK_cable_on_Tiananmen_Square_Massacre
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/UK_cable_on_Tiananmen_Square_Massacre

SECRET
D E D I P
UK COMMS ONLY
FM PEKING
TO DESKBY 051600Z FCO
TELNO 1039
OF 051421Z JUNE 89
AND TO DESKBY 051600Z HONG KONG, JSIS HONG KONG, MODUK

SIC U2b
DESKBY 051600Z MODUK AND JSISHONG KONG.
HONG KONG PERSONAL FOR GOVERNOR.
CHINA: BACKGROUND TO MILITARY SITUATION.
1.   HE HAS PASSING ON INFORMATION GIVEN HIM BY A CLOSE FRIEND WHO IS CURRENTLY A MEMBER OF THE STATE COUNCIL. THIS SOURCE HAS PREVIOUSLY PROVED RELIABLE AND WAS CAREFUL TO SEPARATE FACT FROM SPECULATION AND RUMOUR.
2. FACT. THE ARMY THAT HAS COMMITTED THE ATROCITIES IN BEIJING IS 27 ARMY WHO ARE TROOPS FROM SHANXI PROVINCE (?), ARE 60 PERCENT ILLITERATE AND ARE CALLED PRIMITIVES. THE COMMANDER OF 27 ARMY WAS YANG ZHENHUA, SON OF YANG BAIDING BROTHER OF YANG SHANGKUN. THEY WERE KEPT WITHOUT NEWS FOR TEN DAYS AND TOLD THEY WERE TO TAKE PART IN AN EXERCISE. A TV FILM WOULD BE MADE OF THE EXERCISE WHICH PLEASED THEM. THEY WERE INFORMED OF MARTIAL LAW ON MAY 20. FOR THE FIRST 4 DAYS AFTER ARRIVAL THEY WERE DRIVEN AROUND BEIJING CITY TO FAMILIARISE THEM WITH THE AREA. 27 ARMY ARE AT FULL STRENGTH WITH THEIR OWN TANKS AND APCS AND A FULL OUTFIT OF AMMUNITION, TEAR GAS AND FLAMETHROWERS. OTHER ARMIES ARE ONLY AT 1 DIVISION STRENGTH. THE LEADERSHIP KEEPS 27 ARMY ON THE MOVE SO THAT IT CAN ATTACK FROM A DIFFERENT DIRECTION EACH TIME.
3. FACT. ON THE NIGHT OF 3/4 JUNE 27 ARMY WAS TO ATTACK FROM THE WEST WITH OTHER UNITS FROM SHENYANG MR. THE PLAN WAS THAT THE FIRST WAVE (SMR) WOULD ATTACK WITH NO WEAPONS. THE SECOND WAVE (SMR) WOULD ATTACK WITH WEAPONS BUT NO AMMUNITION. THE THIRD WAVE (SMR) WOULD ATTACK AS FOR SECOND WAVE BUT OFFICERS WOULD HAVE LOADED SIDE ARMS TO FRIGHTEN THE CROWD. THE FOURTH WAVE WOULD BE 27 ARMY WITH FULL EQUIPMENT AND AMMUNITION. THE FIRST ATTACKS OCCURRED AT MUCIDI AND SHILIPU. THE FIRST THREE WAVES WERE HELD BY THE DEMONSTRATORS AND SMR TROOPS TRIED TO PUSH BACK THE CROWDS TO LET 27 ARMY THROUGH. THEY FAILED AND 27 ARMY APCS OPENED FIRE ON THE CROWD (BOTH CIVILIANS AND SOLDIERS) BEFORE RUNNING OVER THEM IN THEIR APCS.
4. FACT. THE ENRAGED MASSES FOLLOWED IGNORING M/G FIRE TO NEXT BATTLE AT LIUBUKOU. APCS RAN OVER TROOPS AND CIVILIANS AT 65KPH IN SAME MANNER. ONE APC CRASHED AND DRIVER (A CAPTAIN) GOT OUT AND WAS TAKEN BY CROWD TO HOSPITAL. HE IS NOT DERANGED AND DEMANDS DEATH FOR HIS ATROCITIES.
5. FACT. ON ARRIVAL AT TIANANMEN TROOPS FROM SMR HAD SEPARATED STUDENTS AND RESIDENTS. STUDENTS UNDERSTOOD THEY WERE GIVEN ONE HOUR TO LEAVE SQUARE BUT AFTER FIVE MINUTES APCS ATTACKED. STUDENTS LINKED ARMS BUT WERE MOWN DOWN INCLUDING SOLDIERS. APCS THEN RAN OVER BODIES TIME AND TIME AGAIN TO MAKE QUOTE PIE UNQUOTE AND REMAINS COLLECTED BY BULLDOZER. REMAINS INCINERATED AND THEN HOSED DOWN DRAINS.
6. 27 ARMY ORDERED TO SPARE NOONE AND SHOT WOUNDED SMR SOLDIERS. 4 WOUNDED GIRL STUDENTS BEGGED FOR THEIR LIVES BUT WERE BAYONETED. A 3 YEAR OLD GIRL WAS INJURED BUT HER MOTHER WAS SHOT AS SHE WENT TO HER AID AS WERE SIX OTHERS WHO TRIED. 1000 SURVIVORS WERE TOLD THEY COULD ESCAPE VIA ZHENGYI LU BUT WERE THEN MOWN DOWN BY SPECIALLY PREPARED M/G POSITIONS. ARMY AMBULANCES WHO ATTEMPTED TO GIVE AID WERE SHOT UP AS WAS A SINO-JAPANESE HOSPITAL AMBULANCE. WITH MEDICAL CREW DEAD WOUNDED DRIVER ATTEMPTED TO RAM ATTACKERS BUT WAS BLOWN TO PIECES BY ANTI TANK WEAPON. IN FURTHER ATTACK APCS CAUGHT UP WITH SMR STRAGGLER TRUCKS, RAMMED AND OVERTURNED THEM AND RAN OVER TROOPS. DURING ATTACK 27 ARMY OFFICER SHOT DEAD BY OWN TROOPS APPARENTLY BECAUSE HE FALTERED. TROOPS EXPLAINED THEY WOULD BE SHOT IF THEY HADN'T SHOT OFFICER.
7. SPECULATION. 27 ARMY USED BECAUSE MOST RELIABLE AND OBEDIENT. SOME CONSIDERED OTHER ARMIES WOULD ATTACK 27 ARMY BUT THEY HAD NO AMMUNITION. ZHONGZHAI WAS PROTECTED BY 2 RINGS OF TANKS/APCS ONE INSIDE THE WALL, ONE WITHOUT.
8. RUMOUR. SOME SMR HAD RETURNED TO HOME BASES FOR AMMUNITION. ARMIES FROM SHANDONG, JIANGSI AND XINJIANG HAD LEFT BASES WITHOUT ORDERS FROM BEIJING TO DESTROY 27 ARMY. THE MR COMMANDERS FROM GUANZHOU, BEIJING AND SHENYANG HAS REFUSED TO ATTEND A RECENT MEETING OF MR COMMANDERS CALLED BY YANG SHANGKUN.
9. FACT. BEIJING MR COMMANDER HAD REFUSED TO SUPPLY OUTSIDE ARMIES WITH FOOD, WATER OR BARRACKS. SOURCE SAID MANY BARRACKS IN BEIJING BUT NOTE TV PICTURES OF TENTS. 27 ARMY WERE USING DUM-DUM BULLETS. 27 ARMY SNIPERS SHOT MANY CIVILIANS ON BALCONIES, STREETSWEEPERS ETC FOR TARGET PRACTICE. BEIJING HOSPITALS HAD BEEN ORDERED TO ACCEPT ONLY SECURITY FORCE CASULTIES. SO FAR 6 FOREIGN STUDENTS AND 23 FOREIGN JOURNALISTS HAD BEEN KILLED IN THE FIGHTING (NOTE: WE HAVE NO EVIDENCE OF THIS).
10. FACT. THE FIRST PHASE OF THE OPERATION WAS TO SECURE TIANANMEN. THE NEXT PHASE WOULD BE TO CONTROL MAJOR ROADS AND INTERSECTIONS AND MOVE OUTWARDS FROM CENTRE. THIS WOULD START WITHIN 2 DAYS.
11. FACT. YANG SHANGKUN AND DENG XIAOPING WERE VERY CLOSE FRIENDS. SOME MEMBERS OF THE STATE COUNCIL THAT CIVIL WAR IS IMMINENT. QIN JIWEI WAS FORCED UNWILLINGLY TO APPEAR IN BACKGROUND IN TV PROGRAMME ON 20 MAY TO GIVE AURA OF UNITY. MINIMUM ESTIMATE OF CIVILIAN DEAD 10,000.
DONALD 



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