Thursday, August 31, 2017

Michigan State Police Suspends Vehicle Chases Following ATV Death
Allie Gross, Detroit Free Press
3:42 p.m. ET Aug. 31, 2017

Attorney Geoffrey Fieger announces $50M lawsuit in ATV Taser case Wochit

Damon Grimes
(Photo: Supplied by Grimes family)

Michigan State Police has prohibited troopers from engaging in vehicle pursuits of misdemeanors and traffic violations, following the death of a Detroit teenager who was being chased by a trooper Saturday.

MSP Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue released a statement Thursday saying the department is "re-assessing its pursuit policy." In the interim, effective immediately, "troopers patrolling in the City of Detroit will be prohibited from engaging in vehicle pursuits resulting from a traffic violation or misdemeanor offense."

The ban only applies to the city of Detroit, said Etue. However, she also noted that all MSP officers "have been reminded that current policy requires members to weigh the hazard presented by the violator against the risk created by the pursuit in all instances."

On Saturday evening, 15-year-old Damon Grimes died after crashing his four-wheeled, all-terrain vehicle into a pickup truck during a high-speed chase with a trooper. Grimes crashed after trooper Mark Bessner, who was trying to get him off the road during a chase, reached out the passenger window of his patrol car and shocked the teen with a Taser, according to a source familiar with the case.  It's a violation of Michigan State Police policy to deploy a Taser from a moving vehicle.

Detroit police are investigating the incident and the subsequent death of the unarmed teen.

On Thursday, Mayor Mike Duggan also weighed in on the matter, specifically focusing on the issue of high-speed chases.

"Police chases often have the potential for tragedy and the difference in the policies of the Detroit Police Department and the Michigan State Police highlight that concern," Duggan wrote in a press release, noting that he supported Chief James Craig's decision to have DPD conduct an independent investigation into the events leading up to his death.

The Detroit Police Department has a policy not to engage in high-speed chases for traffic offenses or misdemeanors, and in the cases of felonies, the decision is made by a supervisor, Duggan explained.

Duggan noted that since Grimes death, he has met with Gov. Rick Snyder and "urged the State Police to adopt the City of Detroit’s policy when patrolling in our city."

State Rep. Sheldon Neely, D-Flint, has proposed legislation requiring MSP troopers to follow local pursuit policies when patrolling within the boundaries of a city. Duggan wrote that he spoke with Neely and expressed support for the provision.

"I am encouraged that MSP leadership is taking steps towards changing its policy," said Duggan. "Chief Craig and the Detroit Police Department will continue to work with them to ensure that safe policing procedures are followed in the city of Detroit."

On Wednesday, a $50-million lawsuit was filed against the trooper on behalf of Damon's parents, Monique and John Hughes. The federal lawsuit, which was filed in Detroit by attorney Geoffrey Fieger and assigned to U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain, was originally filed as a "John Doe" suit, as the firm had not yet confirmed the trooper's identity.

Following the news conference, the Detroit Free Press confirmed the identity of the trooper involved in the incident as Mark Bessner.

Court records obtained by Free Press indicate that Bessner, 43, who joined MSP's Metro Post in 2012 after serving three years with Canton Township Police Department, has a history of excessive force.

Since 2013, two different civil lawsuits, both involving Tasers, have been filed against Bessner.

The first, which was filed in 2013 in U.S. District Court in Detroit and settled a year later, alleges that Bessner "repeatedly struck" and "gratuitously kneed" an unarmed plaintiff, who was never charged with a crime.

The second case, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court in 2015, alleges that Bessner Tasered the plaintiff on "multiple and continuous occasions with the specific intent of inflicting pain," including after the plaintiff was in handcuffs.

On Wednesday evening, Bessner's defense attorney, Richard Convertino, released a statement to the Detroit Free Press in regard to his client, emphasizing the fact that the teen refused to obey Bessner's commands to stop prior to the Tasing.

"The death of Damon Grimes was tragic and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends," his attorney Richard Convertino wrote in an e-mailed statement to the Detroit Free Press. "On August 26th, Troopers attempted to stop Mr. Grimes who recklessly and dangerously drove an ATV as he actively resisted and evaded arrest. During the pursuit, Trooper Bessner was forced to make a split-second decision under circumstances on the scene and at the moment which was tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving.  We are fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation and trust the investigators will assess the facts objectively in light of the totality of the circumstances.”

Contact Allie Gross: Twitter: @Allie_Elisabeth
Detroit East Side Vigil for Tasered Teen Turns Into Protest
Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
10:32 p.m. ET Aug. 30, 2017

A vigil for a teen killed when his ATV crashed after he was Tasered by a state police trooper stopped traffic and evolved into a protest as hundreds gathered Wednesday night on Detroit’s east side.

“This is what happens when we gotta get organized,” said Ned Zeek of New Era Detroit. “We gotta get organized down here. ... we ain’t just gonna let (expletive) come to the hood and do whatever (expletive) they wanna do. Ya’ll gotta believe that ... we gotta be free!”

The crowd shouted in agreement. “That’s right,” someone said, punctuating Zeek’s speech. “It’s not right; it’s not right,” others yelled. Others cried out: “Power to the people!”

“The only way we gonna be able to beat it is if we organize,” Zeek shouted.

More than 200 people, from youngsters and teens to senior citizens, gathered outside Embassy Coney Island on Gratiot on Wednesday for what began as a quiet vigil.

An hour into the vigil,which began at 8:30 p.m., ATVs amassed on Gratiot in honor of Damon Grimes, the teen who died when he drove his ATV in the street at Rossini and Gratiot on Saturday. Police say Damon, 15, refused a Michigan State Police trooper’s order to stop. The trooper deployed his Taser and the teen hit a parked truck and was killed.

About 20 ATVs were turning onto East State Fair when a police car drove up to the scene, lights flashing and sirens on. The crowd surged and two males jumped on the squad car with the officers inside. Other police cars soon followed and ordered the crowd to back up and get off the street. The crowd heeded the orders.

The crowd raised their arms and chanted. Some help up cellphones to capture the moment.

“They jumped on the car. It was insane," said Ania Jameson, 16, a friend of Damon’s who came to the vigil. "He was a sweetheart, such a good kid and as you can see by who showed up. Everyone loved him."

Police did not make any arrests or issue tickets, Detroit police Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood said.

Candles, teddy bears and balloons filled the corner of Rossini and Gratiot. Balloons spelling "DaeDae" hung from the fence.

Some of those gathered for the vigil dressed in red, white and black, Damon’s favorite colors.

His sister came on her bright red Yamaha ATV Kodiak 700, wearing a tribute shirt saying #DaeDaeWorld.

Dezajanai, 17, said it’s normal for people in Detroit’s east side to ride ATV’s in the street. She and Damon use to ride all the time together.

"We're here tonight for him. To send him off right," said Dezajanai. "This is my ATV, he just got his a month ago."

Detroit News Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed to this report.
Guidance to Strategic Ballistic Rocket Launching Drill of KPA Strategic Force
Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, guided an intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket launching drill of the KPA Strategic Force on the spot.

The drill was observed by senior officials of the WPK Central Committee, including Ri Pyong Chol, Kim Jong Sik, Jo Yong Won and Yu Jin, and officials in the field of defence scientific research, including Jang Chang Ha and Jon Il Ho.

Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un was greeted by commanding officers of the KPA Strategic Force, including its General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the KPA Strategic Force.

Involved in the drill were Hwasong artillery units of the KPA Strategic Force tasked with striking the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces located in the Pacific operational theatre in contingency and intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12.

As known to the world, the intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket launching drill of the KPA Strategic Force was conducted as a part of the muscle-flexing to counter the Ulji Freedom Guardian joint military drills the US and the south Korean puppet forces finally kicked off in disregard of the DPRK's meaningful and crucial warning.

It was carried out through combination of sudden manoeuvres and strike in order to estimate and examine the posture of the KPA Strategic Force for prompt counteraction in contingency on the Korean peninsula and to confirm the actual war operation capacity of the intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket newly equipped by it.

The Hwasong artillery personnel, who were to conduct the launching drill for the first time in the capital city of the DPRK by order of Kim Jong Un, were all filled with strong militant enthusiasm.

Kim Jong Un arrived at the launching ground early at dawn and watched the artillerymen promptly moving and deploying the Hwasong-12 rocket launcher, praising them for their smart and accurate movement.

He learned in detail about the launch plan, preset flight track and target waters and issued an order to launch the rocket.

The fired ballistic rocket reflecting the dignity and might of the Juche-based nuclear power crossed the sky above Oshima peninsula of Hokkaido and Cape Erimo of Japan along the preset flight track and accurately hit the preset target waters in northern Pacific.

The drill had no impact on the security of neighbouring countries.

In the drill the rocket operational capacity of the Hwasong artillery units of the KPA Strategic Force for an actual war and the combat efficiency of the newly-equipped intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket were all proved perfect.

Kim Jong Un expressed great satisfaction over the successful launching.

Praising the Hwasong artillerymen of the Strategic Force for being well versed in the new ultra-modern rocket system and properly operating it, he said the drill would offer them an opportunity for gaining a good experience in their rocket operation for an actual war.

Noting that the current ballistic rocket launching drill like a real war is the first step of the military operation of the KPA in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam, an advanced base of invasion, he said that it is necessary to positively push forward the work for putting the strategic force on a modern basis by conducting more ballistic rocket launching drills with the Pacific as a target in the future.

Sternly saying that the US answered the DPRK's warning that it will closely watch the US behaviour with the bellicose war exercises for aggression, he added that the drill conducted by the Strategic Force is a curtain-raiser of its resolute countermeasures against the Ulji Freedom Guardian joint military exercises being conducted by the US and its stooges.

Noting that it is a lesson the DPRK drew this time again that it should show action, not talk, to the US imprudently denying the DPRK's initiative measure for easing the extreme tension, he stressed that the DPRK would continue to watch the US demeanours as was already declared and decide its future action according to them.

He expressed great belief and conviction that the officers and men of the Strategic Force would further strengthen the combat preparations of Hwasong artillery pieces as required by the grim situation, be fully ready to go into action for decisive battle so as to launch powerful ballistic rockets anytime and thus check the military racket of the US imperialists and their followers and firmly guarantee the security of the country and the happiness of the people.

The officers and men of the KPA Strategic Force extended the warmest thanks to Kim Jong Un, a peerless patriot and hero of the nation, who gave vent to the long-pent grudge of the Korean people by mapping out a bold plan to make the cruel Japanese islanders insensible on August 29 when the disgraceful "Korea-Japan Annexation Treaty" was proclaimed 107 years ago and approving the ballistic rocket launching in the capital region, and pledged that once the Party Central Committee issues an order, they would fulfil their sacred mission and duty as the reliable nuclear force of the WPK in the van of the final sacred war which would win victory in the standoff with the imperialists and the US.

THAAD Can Never Offer Comfort
The US and the south Korean puppet forces are pressing for the additional THAAD deployment, much upset by the successive successes by the DPRK in its ICBM Hwasong-14 test-launches only to touch off stronger and fiercer struggle of south Koreans from all walks of life against its deployment.

The committees for struggle in Songju and Kimchon, the sites of THAAD deployment, and other civic organizations, including the People's Action against THAAD Deployment, have held rallies and demonstrations almost every day demanding the immediate withdrawal of additional THAAD deployment, suspension of the assessment of THAAD impacts on environment, immediate suspension of the operation of THAAD hardware, probe into the truth behind the illegal THAAD deployment course and punishment of those responsible.

The Won Buddhism of south Korea formed a death-defying corps and have waged human shield action to check the introduction of THAAD launch pads and equipment of their groundwork.

Organizations of people from all other social standings also rose up, getting stronger in their denunciation that the present chief executive who seized power by taking advantage of the people's candlelight resistance is "increasing the danger of war through pressed-for additional deployment of THAAD" and "THAAD cannot check the north's missiles, and it is a monster exposing the Korean peninsula to the danger of a war".

This proves that opposition to THAAD deployment has become the unanimous mindset of the south Koreans.

THAAD deployment was planned by the US to weaken and contain its regional potential rivals and realize its strategy for putting Asia-Pacific and, furthermore, the world under its control. The direct executor of the plan is south Korea, a stooge serving the US.

Then, the question is would THAAD deployment be a real comfort for the US and south Korea.

The US is on jitters in fear that the nuclear-armed ICBM of the DPRK may fall on its mainland. It is easy to guess how much comfort THAAD can offer the US.

It is the unanimous comment of the world public, a fact also acknowledged by the people inside the US, that THAAD would not be enough to check the DPRK's ballistic rocket getting all the more intelligent and precision-based.

It is none other than south Korea which would be exposed to the greatest disaster due to THAAD deployment.

South Korea's introduction of THAAD, being pursuant to the US, has turned the land into the primary target of neighbouring big powers and ballistic rockets and a theatre of a nuclear war.

In the final analysis, THAAD deployment brought to south Koreans an increasing danger of a war, an extreme uneasiness over the life security and massive economic losses, not "iron-strong security".

It is quite natural that the south Koreans have turned out in the action against THAAD deployment, even shelving their earning for living, emphasizing that THAAD has to be checked even though they might risk their lives.

However, the US and the south Korean puppet forces go crafty to quench the mounting spirit against THAAD, saying that "the THAAD interception rate has been estimated to be high", "there is high approval rate supporting THAAD deployment" and "THAAD radar has no effect on human body and environment."

The south Koreans from all walks of life have to turn out in the action to withdraw from this land THAAD, a war monster inflicting nuclear holocaust on the nation.

Source of Headache of "World's Superpower"
US President Trump has become the source of headache at home and abroad.

Much upset by the DPRK's successful ICBM test-launches, Trump ran riot, talking about "fire and fury" unprecedented in the world. Senators from the Republican and Democratic parties of the US commented that it is like adding fuel to the aggravated situation, and demanded that the right to use military granted to Trump has to be constrained.

At least 60 members of the House of Representatives from the Democratic Party asserted that the "nuclear bag" should not be entrusted to him, as his remarks may invite the departed soul of a nuclear war.

Trump's self-justified way of thinking and abnormal demeanour have touched off discontent from Senators from the Republican Party, his political base. As a result, policies he had in mind were either ignored or delayed and some were declined to be reduced to a scrap of paper.

Trump issued executive orders every three days whose passage through Congress was not necessary.

The January executive order which banned the issuance of visas for entry into the US and the entry into the country by citizens from seven Muslim countries, including Syria and Iran, has led to large-scale demonstrations against it worldwide, to say nothing of in the US, and the filing of suit by human rights organizations, which forced the Seattle Federal Court to suspend the effectuation of the order.

Trump has been snubbed even by the Western countries as he revealed down to the bottom the American ferocity, lack of judgment and extreme recklessness.

German high-ranking politicians, including Chancellor Merkel, advised Trump to act with reason, making it clear that her country would never take part in any military action of the US targeting the DPRK.

Former Foreign Minister of Australia Gareth Evans said that Trump is the most unpopular and the least prepared president in the American history, who is challenging in terms of morality and ethics and low in psychological preparedness, adding he has led the administration prompted by his instinct and temporary impulse, not by knowledge or judgment and guided by circumstances, not by any policy.

Gallup, an American opinion poll body, issued the results of opinion poll the majority of respondents to which denounced Trump as the source of the biggest headache of the country.

Americans are bound to always have such an uneasy mentality as they serve such an ill-conducted president whose words do not match with acts.

US Interference Under Fire at DPRK Missions Abroad
DPRK missions in various countries held news conferences from August 20 to 22 as regards the fact that the US vice-president pressurized various countries of Latin America to cut off their diplomatic relations with the DPRK. The DPRK ambassador to Peru vehemently denounced the US vice- president for asking Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru to cut off their diplomatic relations with the DPRK while touring Chile.

He noted that the US high-handed practice only reveals its extreme self-interest and arrogance to sacrifice other countries for meeting its interests. It also proves that the US hostile policy towards the DPRK has reached its extreme pitch, he added.

He stressed that such act is bound to come under accusation and rebuff as it is a blatant interference in the internal affairs of independent sovereign states and an open challenge to international law and order.

The DPRK ambassador to Bangladesh said that if the US brigandish moves for stifling the DPRK are overlooked, every country would fall victim to the US interference in internal affairs.

Officials of the DPRK missions in Russia and China said that the DPRK would as ever further develop the friendly and cooperative relations with various countries in the idea of independence, peace and friendship, adding that the DPRK would smash the unreasonable and illegal moves for slapping sanctions on it, defend its dignity and strategic position and continue to make just and responsible efforts for realizing true international justice no matter who may say what.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Liquidation of Disgraceful Past Is Favourable to Japan’s Interests
More than a century has passed since the Japanese imperialists illegally fabricated the “Korea-Japan Annexation Treaty.”

They deprived the feudal Joson dynasty of its diplomatic rights and established their Residency-General in Korea by forcing on it the Ulsa Five-Point Treaty in 1905. They seized even its right of home administration by fabricating the “Jongmi Seven-point Treaty” in 1907.

On August 22, 1910, they placed Seoul under martial law and concentrated thousands of aggressive troops there to create a gruesome atmosphere. Then they concocted the “Korea-Japan Annexation Treaty” by blackmailing the Korean ministers. They kept the treaty secret for fear of strong protests by the Koreans. They made it public on August 29 and thus completely removed the existence of the feudal Joson dynasty, which had existed nominally.

Since then, they inflicted all sorts of indescribable misfortunes and sufferings upon the Korean people. They resorted to every possible means and method in order to exterminate the Korean nation and destroy Korea on the globe once and for all. They seduced, kidnapped and drafted as many as 200 000 Korean women into battlefields as their sex slaves and drove numerous young and middle-aged Koreans to battlefields and sites of slave labour to meet miserable death. They massacred over one million innocent Koreans, claiming that the latter did not obey their military rule meekly. They attempted to make the Koreans change their names to Japanese ones and enforce the policy of turning the Korean people into Japanese subjects, with an eye to depriving them of their language and names and obliterating their soul. They also plundered indiscriminately precious cultural heritage handed down through generations, natural resources of Korea and even spoons and rice bowls.

Japan, which committed crimes against the Korean people, is under an obligation to make an apology and reparation of its government for the past wrongdoings. There can be no precondition and argument about it.

However, the successive ruling forces of Japan have attempted to distort history, swimming against the demand of international community for breaking with their past crimes and taking a right path.

They have beautified and embellished their crime-woven history and acted willfully, resorting to all kinds of excuses for liquidating their past. To top it all, they do not hesitate to distort their history of aggression and praise war criminals as “heroes” and “patriots.”

This shows that Japan has no will to liquidate its past but hatches a plot to invade Korea again by repeating its crime-ridden history, when the time comes, and make inroads into the Continent with the Korean peninsula as its springboard.

It is for the good of Japan to put an end to its past crimes. Japan is now under strong criticism, failing to enjoy trust of the international community.

Japan’s liquidation of its past is not a simple problem confined to the relationship between the DPRK and Japan. It is a criterion which shows Japan’s viewpoint and attitude whether it sincerely recognizes its past crimes or not and whether it attempts to repeat its crime-woven history or it tries to take the road for peace. It is also a very sensitive political issue that has a bearing on peace and security in Asia.

Only when it breaks with its crime-woven history can Japan become a full-fledged member of the international community.
Art Performance Given by DPRK Youth and Students
There took place an art performance given by youth and students at the Rungna People's Pleasure Park on August 28, the 90th anniversary of the Young Communist League of Korea.

Among the audience were Choe Ryong Hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and vice-chairman of the WPK Central Committee, and Choe Thae Bok, vice-chairman of the WPK Central Committee.

The performance began with poem and chorus "Glory to General Kim Jong Un". Put on the stage were such numbers as story and song "Revolutionary" and real story-telling and chorus "We Are Successors to Revolution".

The performers sang high praises of the feats President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il performed by building the youth power without an equal in the world in the whole period of their revolutionary leadership.

Also put on the stage were numbers dealing with the great personality of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un who is ushering in the greatest heyday of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist youth movement.

Put on the stage were numbers dealing with the will of the young vanguard to demonstrate the wisdom and courage in the confrontation with the US and on the fronts towards the finish line of socialism and the pledge of the members of the Children's Union to prepare themselves to be young revolutionaries taking upon themselves future prosperous Korea.


Korean Youths Pledge to Usher in Golden Age of Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth Movement
There took place a meeting at the plaza of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on August 28, where members of the youth vanguard pledged to carry out the revolutionary cause of Juche that started on Mt Paektu to the end generation after generation, true to the leadership of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

Present there were Choe Ryong Hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and vice-chairman of the WPK Central Committee, Jon Yong Nam, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League, officials of the youth league, and youths and students.

All the participants paid tribute to the portraits of smiling President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il.

A poem marking the 90th anniversary of the Young Communist League of Korea was read out at the meeting.

Speakers said the history of the Korean youth movement is the history of the Juche-based youth movement pioneered and developed thanks to the outstanding idea and energetic leadership of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un, and the proud history associated with patriotism and loyalty of the Korean youth.

They underlined the need for all youth league officials and youths to firmly adhere to Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism as their guideline in the building and activities of the youth league, eternally glorify the great leaders' idea on the youth movement and leadership exploits and thoroughly implement the behests of the great leaders.

They called on the youths to firmly trust and follow Kim Jong Un only, thoroughly implement the important tasks given by the 7th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea and the 9th Conference of the youth league and thus make tangible contributions to ushering in the golden age of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist youth movement.

DPRK Dancing Parties of Youths and Students Held
Dancing parties of youths and students were held across the country on August 28, the 90th founding anniversary of the Young Communist League of Korea.

At the dancing parties held at the plazas of the Monument to Party Founding, Pyongyang Indoor Stadium and other places in Pyongyang, youths and students began dancing to the tune of song
"Youth Day Waltz", recalling the revolutionary career and exploits of President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il.

Such songs as "Let's Sing of the General Dear to People", "Our General Is the Greatest" and "We Are Mallima Riders" reverberated through the dancing parties.

Dancers were filled with the will to give full play to the heroic mettle of the young vanguard in the era of Songun in the struggle for achieving victory and prosperity of the powerful Paektusan nation, firmly united around Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

Dancing parties were held in provincial seats on the same day.

National Meeting Marks Anniversary of Young Communist League of Korea
A national meeting for marking the 90th anniversary of the Young Communist League of Korea was held at the Central Youth Hall on August 27.

Present there were Choe Ryong Hae, officials concerned and officials of the youth league, youth and students.

Jon Yong Nam, first secretary of the central committee of the youth league, said that with a scientific insight into the requirements of the developing revolution, President Kim Il Sung founded the Young Communist League of Korea on August 28, Juche 16 (1927).

At a significant meeting of proclaiming the formation of the Juche-oriented youth organization, the President made a historical speech "On the Occasion of the Founding of the Young Communist League of Korea" in which he clearly indicated the nature and fighting task of the league, thus providing a militant banner for effecting an epochal turn in developing the Korean revolution and the youth movement, the reporter said, and went on:

With his outstanding ideological and theoretical activities and energetic leadership, Chairman Kim Jong Il firmly defended the youth movement ideology and leadership exploits of the President and developed them in depth, thus opening up the golden days of the Juche-oriented youth movement.

Kim Jong Il set August 28 as the Youth Day and provided energetic leadership so that the youth of the new generation would carry forward the cause of the Juche revolution that started on Mt Paektu, by inheriting the glorious history and tradition of the Korean youth movement.

The Korean youth movement that was pioneered and advanced along the path of victory by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il has greeted the days of fresh surge of its development thanks to Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

The reporter called for waging more dynamic struggle for the final victory of the socialist cause of Juche, the steady strengthening and development of the glorious Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism youth movement and the bright future of the great Paektusan youth power under the leadership of Kim Jong Un.

US and Its Followers' Rubbish Against DPRK Censured by Swiss Bodies
The Switzerland-Korea Committee and the Swiss Group for the Study of the Juche Idea on August 20 made public a joint statement in support of the answers given by a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK to the questions put by KCNA over the fact that the secretary general of the United Nations, Australian authorities and US vice-president spelled anti-DPRK remarks.

The statement said that recently the UN secretary general told a news conference that increasing tension on the Korean peninsula is attributable to the DPRK's "development of nukes and missiles", betraying that he and the UNSC are the puppets of the US. It sniped at him for remaining dumb on the US which is driving the situation on the peninsula into the worst phase.

The stand of the Australian authorities abetting the US moves against the DPRK is aggravating the situation on the peninsula and encouraging Trump, a trigger-happy man, to start a war of aggression against the DPRK, said the statement, adding:

The US vice-president, while touring Chile, demanded Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru sever diplomatic ties with the DPRK. This is a shameless interference in those countries' internal affairs and violation of their sovereignty. The US purpose to isolate the DPRK can never come true.

DPRK Senior Party and State Officials Visit Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum
Senior Party and state officials and the chairman of a friendly party and officials of the Cabinet, working people's organizations, ministries and national agencies visited the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum on August 25, the 57th anniversary of Chairman Kim Jong Il's start of Songun revolutionary leadership.

Among the visitors were Kim Yong Nam, Pak Pong Ju, Choe Ryong Hae and other leading officials of the Party and the state and officials of the Cabinet, working people's organizations, ministries and national agencies.

They paid tribute to the statue of President Kim Il Sung waving back to the columns of the military parade at the square celebrating victory in the war.

They went round historic relics and things on display at the hall for victory in the Songun revolution, which show the Songun revolutionary leadership exploits performed by Kim Jong Il.
US and Vassal Forces Are Responsible for Escalating Tensions on Korean Peninsula
Jong Myong Chol, doctor of the Institute of International Studies of Korea, released an article, titled, "Blurred eyes of discerning truth will lead to injustice lording it over".

The author in the article dealt with the heated-up controversy in some parts of the world over the responsibility for the situation on the Korean peninsula turning worse.

He went on:

The US and its vassal forces stress that the DPRK is liable for the situation on the Korean peninsula inching close to a war phase.

Some big powers around Korea are asserting that both the DPRK and the US are to blame for the current aggravated situation on the peninsula.

But the DPRK is strong and firm in its stand that the responsibility for the current tense situation entirely rests with the US and its vassal forces.

Then, there arises a need to look with coolness into who is right and who is not.

To judge whether these statements are correct;

First, it is necessary to study the historical origin which led the Korean peninsula to the present tension.

The aggravation of the tension on the Korean peninsula, the world's biggest hotspot, started along with the demise of the Second World War and at the time when the US and a few other big powers divided this country into two.

The DPRK was neither a war criminal state nor a war defeated state like Germany and Japan.

But the US built an artificial wall called a military demarcation line along the 38th parallel at its will in violation of the Korean people's desire for a new society and new life, and occupied half of the land in an illegal way.

It fabricated a puppet regime with its hand-raised stooges and egged them on to military provocation against their fellow countrymen. It even ignited a war of aggression against the north and openly disclosed its intention to use A-bomb against the north.

In the postwar period, far from drawing a lesson from its big defeat in the war of aggression, the US introduced tens of thousands of aggression troops and thousands of nuclear weapons into south Korea and has since watched for an opportunity to invade the north.

Therefore, the US has been branded as the chief criminal that pushed the DPRK into having an access to nukes and a bellicose state which has constantly kept the situation on the Korean peninsula at a tense phase.

Second, it is imperative to have an insightful look into the present situation on the Korean peninsula with an objective and unbiased eye.

The US nuclear threat and blackmail targeting Pyongyang have lasted for decades.

Under such situation the Korean people could not but opt for building a nuclear force to defend themselves.

It was ultimately the US that forced the DPRK to take a resolute step of examining the proposal for an enveloping strike on Guam.

Despite the touch-and-go situation on the peninsula, the US began Ulji Freedom Guardian joint military exercises against the DPRK again together with the puppet military warmongers on August 21.

If the DPRK staged huge military exercises regardless of time just at the doorstep of the US with mobilization of nuclear strategic means, would the US remain with its arms folded.

Third, it is necessary to have a close look at the biased conduct observed on the international arena over the issue of the Korean peninsula on which the world attention is focused.

Seen on the international arena, including UN, are such happenings in which the US assertions that the DPRK makes a new "provocation" through nuclear test and missile launch and threatens regional security are just parroted as they are and public opinion is built over it and sanctions resolutions are hastily adopted pursuant to the assertion while the truth about the afore-mentioned historical origin which led to the tension on the peninsula and the truth about the present situation remain unseen.

Even some big neighbouring countries that used to maintain principle at the UN arena with their own view in the past now lie down flat before the US, frightened by its high-handed practices and bluffing.

History still remembers fresh what strenuous efforts they made to develop nuclear weapons and what a high price these countries paid, finding themselves unable to stand the US high-handed practices, pressure and contempt any more.

No wonder, there were mentioned such words that the cherished desire of "A-bomb, H-bomb and artificial satellite" has to be realized even though one's trousers are held mortgage and even just a half out of the country's population numbering hundreds of millions survive.

The DPRK extended full support and encouragement to the country when it was covering an arduous path beyond all descriptions under such a pressure of the West, including the US.

Those big neighbouring countries are now doggedly standing in the way of the DPRK in bolstering up its nuclear force for self-defence to cope with the US nuclear blackmail and threat. This reminds one of a saying which goes "Vows made in storms are forgotten in calms". They are even unhesitatingly joining in the US sanctions and pressure. Wherever can their face, conscience and good faith be found?

The unreasonable conducts of big neighbouring countries actively pursuing the US, while yielding to the UN and US high-handed practices by which they do not hesitate to cook up a criminal document of branding injustice as justice without objectivity and impartiality are quite enough to explain the situation on the Korean peninsula getting tenser and tenser.

Whoever with a clear sight capable of discerning the truth can easily judge who is responsible for the tense situation on the peninsula and will be able to discern correctness from falsity out of many assertions.

The US deplorable plight by which it is finding itself plunging into the pitfall it dug itself while getting recklessly keen on the moves for stifling the DPRK speaks volumes.

Should the US fail to draw a lesson from it and persist in reckless gambling, it will find itself getting deeper into the abyss of tragic end.

Those forces currying favour with the US should not regard it as the fate of the other.

The US and its vassal forces had better face up to the trend of the times and behave with discretion.

DPRK Letter Sent to UNSC President
The DPRK permanent representative at the UN sent a letter to the UN Security Council on August 25.

The letter referred to the fact that the US commenced the US-south Korea Ulji Freedom Guardian 17 joint military exercises from 21 August, 2017 in flagrant disregard of growing concerns and oppositions from the international communities, exposing the provocative and aggressive nature of the drills.

It went on:

Waging such provocative and aggressive joint military exercises on the Korean peninsula which has already turned into a tinderbox is nothing short of a hysteric conduct to add fuel to the raging flames.

The current situation testifies to the fact that the danger of a nuclear war is created by the US that doggedly pursues its evil intention of occupying the DPRK by force and that the US is the harasser of peace.

Acknowledging that the US-south Korea joint military exercises constitute a grave threat to peace and security of the world as well as those of the Korean peninsula, the DPRK strongly requests the UNSC to discuss the issue of the joint military exercises as an emergency agenda item.

Should the UNSC ignore the request from the DPRK once again, it will become self-evident that the UNSC has ceased to remain as a body that assumes the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and  that it has been reduced into a marionette and a political instrument of the US.

Now that the US has blatantly manifested its hostile intention towards the DPRK by waging aggressive joint military exercises despite the repeated warnings from the latter against its reckless behaviour, the DPRK has every reason to respond with tough countermeasures as an exercise of its right to self-defense and the US shall be held totally accountable for catastrophic consequences to be entailed by it.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What Did the October Revolution Do for Us? 
2. Housing
Proletarian Online
Reprinted from the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

The second in our series of articles examining the impact of the October Revolution of 1917 on the lives of workers in Britain.

One hundred years ago the Great October Socialist Revolution began to break down all the lies and myths about how society can be organised and who can share in the benefit of the wealth it creates. It opened up the potential that can only exist when the contradiction between private appropriation and social production is removed, building a society that is organised with people and their needs as the focus rather than the profit of the few at the expense of the many. Housing is a prime example of this and the focus of this article.

Housing: an essential requirement of life

Before the rise of capitalism humanity constantly suffered a shortage of life’s essentials. In part, this was because primitive techniques prevented people from producing sufficient quantities of the things they needed.

Modern scientific modes of production, however, are capable of producing abundance. Modern science and advanced technique, large-scale industry and machinery can produce many more things than people can consume, and yet, because of capitalism, because of private ownership and private appropriation, workers remain hungry, thirsty, and in need of housing, clothing and many other essentials.

Housing is a primary question for us all today. The terrible fire at the Grenfell Tower in London is a stark example of the importance of how housing is provided and who benefits from it.

At Grenfell, cost savings in a cosmetic makeover, designed to ‘improve’ the area in the interests of the rich rather than for the people who lived in the tower, resulted in the loss of many lives and the devastation of many more. The ‘improvement’ was not carried out for the benefit of the people that lived there; the investment was not in order to make the conditions of life better for the residents, but was instead aimed at raising the aesthetic profile of the area for the benefit of the surrounding private landowners, purely with the aim of increasing their financial returns.

Add to that the cost savings that are worked in to increase the margins for corporations involved in the ‘redevelopment’ and you get the result that working-class people and their lives are worth nothing, while increasing land value and saving money to boost profits is worth everything.

Grenfell is a particularly stark example, but think also about the number of homeless people you see as you walk through any town in Britain. In this wealthy country there are over 250,000 homeless people, of whom it is estimated that at least 4,000 are living on the streets, while the rest are moved between bed and breakfasts and other temporary accommodation with no stability and generally in poor housing.

These figures include a significant number of children, as the number of households in temporary accommodation continues to rise 10 percent annually, to an estimated 75,740 households in the last quarter of 2016. (Figures given by Shelter and

Then consider there are more than 200000 homes that have been empty for over six months across Britain, with an estimated value of £43bn – and this is a fraction of the properties available when second homes or those awaiting tenants is included. Government figures puts the total number of surplus houses at over 1 million – that is 1,000,000 more houses than there are households in Britain.

With figures like these you would not expect there to be an issue of homelessness or overcrowding – or, for that matter, the delays in rehousing the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. Yet there is. And that is because under capitalism housing is not a right, it is a commodity; it is something that is sold to those who can afford to buy it, not provided for those who need it.

Council housing, introduced in 1919, went some way towards ameliorating the worst effects of the market by encouraging local authorities to provide housing for those most in need. And it is here that we can start to see the impact of the October Revolution on the lives of British workers in the field of housing.

Housing conditions in Britain before WW1

Poor housing was the norm for most workers in the first part of the 20th century, and as populations in inner-city areas grew to a high density, unorganised neighbourhoods and overcrowding were a feature of most cities. In poorer areas many families could be found huddled in dark and unsanitary courts of filthy housing, often without basic facilities or natural light.

Most housing built before 1919 was by private builders. Although councils did have the power to build houses, most had little involvement in providing housing. It was mainly in areas of London, Liverpool and Glasgow that some corporation (council) housing was provided – in the main for those who had to be rehoused as a consequence of street improvement schemes.

During the first world war building activity came to a virtual standstill, making the housing shortage even more acute. With the shortage came high rents for even the most squalid of housing.

A well-known historian of those times documented: “The worst houses were damp insanitary slums. The typical London slum was a two-storey four-bedroomed terraced-type house with a lean-to washroom. The fabric of the house would be porous, the roof leaking, the wall plaster perished, the ceiling sagging. A defective water closet would be in the yard, so would the only tap ...

“Towns in the north had even more intense problems. Leeds had scores of thousands of ‘back-to-backs’; houses built at seventy or eighty to the acre, damp, decayed, badly ventilated, dark, with one outside lavatory to every three or four houses. Birmingham too, had 40,000 ‘back-to-backs’.

“Liverpool had probably the worst slums in England; here there were people living in cellars and courts whose building had been prohibited in 1854. In Liverpool 20,000 people were living more than three to a room. In Glasgow, where the slums were far worse than the worst in England, nearly 200,000 were living more than three to a room.” (Quoted in Noreen Branson and Margot Heinemann, Britain in the 1930s, Panther, 1973, p203)

Meanwhile, in the USSR

In the Soviet Union no such insanity was tolerated, despite having to start from incomparably worse beginnings. The October Revolution nationalised large homes, and vacant properties were shared amongst the people; rents were kept to less than four percent of workers’ incomes, and a focus on decent living standards for all was the state’s priority.

The Soviet Union tackled at breakneck speed a severe housing problem inherited from tsarism; a problem that had been compounded by the devastation of the civil war, the war of intervention and later by the Great Patriotic War against fascism. The Soviet government put the housing of its people, all across the vast territory of the USSR, as a high priority that warranted focus, investment and planning.

The second decree issued by the new Soviet government, on the day after the revolution in 1917, abolished the private ownership of land. In towns with over 10,000 people the government abrogated the right of private ownership of buildings whose value exceeded a certain limit set by the local organs of power. This meant that before the end of 1917 large residential buildings had been nationalised and hundreds of thousands of workers were moved out of the slums into these nationalised houses.

Having done that the government also redistributed more of the existing stock by sequestering and requisitioning houses belonging to the nobility and bourgeoisie. Just days after the revolution the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs issued an order granting the right to sequester empty buildings suitable for habitation and to use them for people living in overcrowded or insanitary conditions. It also entitled workers to set up housing inspectorates, tenants’ committees and courts for settling disputes arising out of the letting of buildings.

The programme of the eighth party congress in March 1919 declared that: “Soviet power, in order to solve the housing problem, has expropriated completely all housing belonging to capitalists and has handed these over to city soviets; it has brought about a large-scale resettlement of workers from the outskirts of cities into the houses of the bourgeoisie; it has transferred the best of these houses to workers’ organisations.”

The Communist Party went on to state that it was necessary in every way “to strive to improve the housing conditions of the working masses; to put an end to the congestion and insanitary conditions in the old blocks, to demolish the buildings which were unfit to live in, to reconstruct the old houses and to build new houses answering to the new conditions of life of the working masses, and to rationally resettle the working people”.

Housing space was redistributed according to need based on a definition of a minimum requirement and a maximum entitlement of space per person. The Commissariat for Health (Narkomzdrav) in 1919 set the minimum space requirement at 8.25 square metres per person of actual living space and 30 cubic metres of air space for each adult and 20 cubic metres for children under age 14.

A comparison of the average living area per person in workers’ flats before 1917 and in those at the beginning of 1938 shows a striking change. In Leningrad, for instance, the average living area per person doubled; in Moscow it was up 94 percent, in the cities of the Donbas it rose by 176 percent, and in the Urals by 195 percent (information taken from the 1939 census).

Imagine the government here issuing a decree requisitioning the 1 million vacant houses in Britain to house the homeless on our streets, and the thousands of those holed up in doss houses and so-called B&Bs because there are no social houses available – not to mention the increasing numbers who are living in overcrowded houses in rented accommodation across Britain.

Britain needed to do something

It is just such imagining that put the fear of god into the powers that be in Britain in 1919, resulting in the push for councils actually to build houses for those most in need, and which forced the prime minister at the time, Lloyd George, to promise ‘homes fit for heroes’ for the soldiers returning from the war.

It is often declared by British historians that it was the first world war that was the driving force behind the need for councils to provide housing for the returning troops., and certainly this was a significant factor.

After enduring the terrible conditions at the front the troops, who were returning home to worse conditions than those they left, would undoubtedly be discontented ... and were, moreover, now trained in combat. Throw into that mix the striking example that was being set by the fledgling Soviet state, and workers’ discontent had the clear potential to be turned into something revolutionary.

This potential was not lost on the British government and, sure enough, the secretary to the local government board openly admitted: “the money we are going to spend on housing is insurance against bolshevism and revolution”. (Annie Power and John Houghton, Jigsaw Cities: Big Places, Small Spaces, Policy Press, 2007)

Through the Town and Country Planning Act of 1919, commonly called the Addison Act, the government introduced state subsidies (aka insurance against bolshevism and revolution) for municipal housing through the construction of 500,000 houses. However, after three years, only 213,000 had been completed.

These houses were supposed to be the fulfilment of Lloyd George’s promise of ‘homes fit for heroes’ and are now seen as the watershed moment in the provision of social housing. Yet, despite the initiative and the determination to distract people from the example of the Soviet Union, fewer than a quarter of a million were actually built. Even when it has a focus and a need, capitalism is inevitably limited by the laws of the market.

Meanwhile, the improvements in housing standards that had been initiated in 1919 in response to pressure from workers and returning soldiers from the war, and out of fear of the spread of socialist revolution, soon subsided during the 1920s and 30s, as Britain and the capitalist world plunged headlong into the worst-yet periodic crisis of overproduction.

In 1924 the Wheatley Act was introduced with the principal objective of securing a continuous building programme to address Britain’s acute housing shortage. The Wheatley Act and government policy had to turn, in some small way, to the question of social housing – or at the very least to planned provision.

The act aimed to tackle the shortage of homes over a period of 15 years and to erect houses that would be let at lower rents to meet the needs of lower wage earners. However, under capitalist conditions, restricting future rents merely resulted in a corresponding reduction in the size and standard of the houses that were built, and they were consequently developed at a higher density.

For instance, during this period, a new three-bedroom house was often only 57sqm, as compared to over 90sqm in 1919, which could be translated as approximately 14sqm per person and 23sqm per person respectively.

By comparison to this downward trend in Britain, the Soviet Union was striving mightily to improve the lot of the workers and peasants. The living space for a worker was increasing from under 2-3sqm per person [!] in 1913 to around 16sqm per person by 1923, through the provision of three-room family homes of over 60sqm.

The Soviet example

In the USSR there were no slum landlords; housing was social and rents were kept low. The lowest-paid workers often only had to find two or three roubles per month, representing perhaps two percent of their income. Moreover, a poor man would pay less for his share of an apartment than someone better off having the same space.

Having nationalised and redistributed large amounts of the existing stock, the state embarked on an extensive building programme. In the five years 1923-27 well over 12.5 million square metres of living space was built, and in the following five years 1927-31 another 28.85 million square metres. And it should be made clear that this construction was not confined to the existing towns.

Great progress in housing construction had also been made during the course of the first and second five-year plans in the formerly economically backward national republics. In Kazakhstan, for instance, state-owned housing increased 5.5 times between 1926 and 1940; in Georgia three times, in Kirghizia (modern day Kyrgyzstan) 6.5 times. In Frunze, capital of Kirghizia, state-owned housing increased 110 times, and in Alma Ata, capital of Kazakhstan 160 times.

Thus from year to year, and from month to month, the rate of construction throughout the country kept growing and housing needs were gradually being met.

The state not only made house building a priority, it also gave every encouragement and support to the design, appearance and layout of the houses, blocks and streets. With land nationalised the incentive that had driven development before the revolution, and what drives development in Britain now – namely, money – had been removed from the equation.

Under capitalism making every last square metre of land ‘work’ for the landowner means getting as much rentable or saleable space onto the land as possible. The result is small houses and high population densities without green space or social facilities, and the use of cheap materials on standard designs that are replicated as much as possible.

Under socialism, for the land to ‘work’, the space is considered, the land is utilised for the benefit of the people who will live there, and those who use it, providing larger houses, better provision of light into the development block, more green space, adequate social and cultural facilities and a consideration of the aesthetic appearance for all buildings.

For example, in Leningrad (now St Petersburg), in streets built before the revolution, the residential blocks consisted of congested tenements, with the living space taking up between 60-70 percent of the total area. In the 1950s the Soviets were building residential blocks with no more than 25-30 percent of the total area built on, 40-50 percent would be set aside for greenery, children’s playgrounds and leisure facilities for the residents. The remaining land would be used to provide anything from nurseries, schools and clinics to libraries and shops. (Figures taken from Yuri Yaralov, Housing in the USSR, Soviet News, London, 1954)

The impact on the streets would be striking. The amount of space and the number of trees visible sets a precedent that has never been followed in Britain, apart from in affluent leafy suburbs where the financial cost of leaving land undeveloped is realised through the high values of the houses.

The Soviet Union also made great headway in developing approaches to construction that would improve the build time through standardisation and prefabrication. The need to build millions of square metres of living space in relatively short periods of time in order to address the massive shortage that the USSR inherited was a significant factor in this area of work.

Through standardisation, the Soviets were able to improve construction techniques and train specialist workers. Even with this approach to construction, the appreciation for design and the need to take into account the specific context of the buildings was not lost, however. Through the use of different cladding techniques, the character and cultural differences across the territories of the Soviet Union was reflected. The use of ceramic or stone cladding was a particularly common form, with detailing, colour and finish resulting in very different buildings across the Soviet Union.

Collapse of the USSR and the overproduction crisis

With the collapse of the Soviet Union the pressure to distract the working class in this country from revolutionary change subsided; the need to keep up the welfare state as a sop to hold back the revolt of the working class in Britain became less significant.

Added to that is the deep overproduction crisis into which imperialism is presently spiralling, whereby far more is being produced than can be bought on the market, and increasing numbers of workers are without work or only just making ends meet. This means the ability for capital to expand and accumulate is slowing and the amount of profit in the capitalist coffers is not as readily available as in times of boom to maintain such a sop for the working class.

Hence the destruction of the welfare state (which is, after all, a tax on profits) and the drive to create new opportunities for private finance to turn a profit on public services that had for a while been run for the benefit of the people rather than for the benefit of capital.

We have seen the impact of this on housing over the past decades, as the provision of council housing has rapidly declined. In 1979, councils in Britain built 21,386 new houses; in 2006, they built just 277. In 2016, the number of ‘affordable homes’ being built dropped to a 24-year low.

Private developers are now primarily responsible for the construction of ‘affordable houses’, with local authorities building fewer than two percent and registered social landlords just under 20 percent. The term ‘affordable’ itself is far from accurate, as it can represent a rate of up to 80 percent of the market value.

Moreover, recent government changes mean that ‘starter homes’ can now be considered as part of the 30 percent ‘affordable’ provision in any new development, which means even fewer social rented houses are built year on year.

Unsurprisingly, council waiting lists have continued increasing, as the need for housing has not miraculously disappeared. Since 1997 the number on the waiting lists has increased from 1 million to 1.6 million households.

Private rents are high, related as they are to the high cost to the private landlords of buying the properties in question, and to the appreciation that this most basic of human needs provides an opportunity to gouge huge profits. On average, private rents are 35 percent of household income, social rents are 8 percent of household income and mortgage repayments are 18 percent of a household income – nowhere near the 4 percent that was the norm for rents in the Soviet Union.

It is clear in the following quote from a British economist that the example set by the Soviet Union was one that far exceeded expectation. This is an example that the capitalist class would not like the working class to know about, lest it should inspire us to revolutionary action.

Decent homes for all

Paul Winterton, a British economist and Labour Party member who lived in Russia for a year in 1928 and returned to visit in 1933 and again in 1937, reflected in an article in the News Chronicle after his visit in 1937: “The Soviet Union’s startling rise from an extreme of miserable poverty to a standard of life which in the towns begins to approach a western level must always rank as one of the major miracles of history.”

He remarked: “electricity, water and gas were ... very cheap. One man I met was earning 225 roubles a month and paying only seven-tenths of a rouble for his electric light.”

“The lowest paid Soviet worker – the entirely unskilled labourer – receives about 125 roubles a month. Rent, at two or three roubles a month, is a negligible part of his budget, and the remainder would provide for a basic subsistence in terms of food and clothing.

“My first inclination,” he recalled, “was to compare this lowest-paid Soviet family with an unemployed family in England. As regards food and clothing, their expectation would be approximately the same. There are, however, several qualifications which disturb this comparison.

“In the first place, the wife in such a Russian family would almost certainly be at work, earning not less than 125 roubles a month herself. Her children, if young, would be in a crêche all day where they would be looked after and well fed for a nominal payment. Russia does not allow undernourished children.

“In the second place, both husband and wife would probably be attached to some club where all kinds of amusements would be available virtually free of charge. They might obtain cheap meals at their place of work.

“The whole family would have a good chance of spending a week or more at some rest place in the country during the summer free of charge. Husband and wife would have complete security in their job. Every facility for education, the best of care during sickness without charge, and modest provision for old age would be their right.

“Shall I put it this way? On balance, I would definitely prefer to be a Soviet worker with a wife and two children living on 125 roubles a month, with all the additional assistance, opportunity and security that the Soviet state affords, than an unemployed man with the same family in England, with no hope for the future and nothing but the dole for the present.

“I would make that choice notwithstanding the housing conditions in which at the moment such a Soviet worker would have to live.

“Deliberately I have started my comparison with the lowest-paid (there are no unemployed in Russia) worker. But the average wage of the Soviet worker and employee this year is about 270 roubles per month. If the wife works, the family income doubles this amount. Life on such a level would take on a very different aspect. Small luxuries would be possible. Clothes would be things saved up for. Such a family would have ample to eat and drink and money enough to enjoy their leisure.” (Paul Winterton, Russia – With Open Eyes, Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1937)

We have seen how capitalism, under governments led by Tory and Labour alike, has failed to provide for the working class: the rich keep getting richer while the poor only get poorer. It’s time for us to go beyond temporary measures and refuse any longer to be duped by the likes of the local government board with its ‘investment in housing as an investment against bolshevik revolution’.

Let us follow the example of the Soviet Union and take control of our own future so that we can build the decent and secure homes all workers have a right to enjoy. 
Proletarian Online Editorial: The London Housing Crisis
Publication of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

The horrific fire at Grenfell Tower in London, which has killed so many working-class people, demonstrates the terrible reality of housing in Britain today. In the capital’s richest borough, with house prices over 38 times the average annual salary, people ultimately died because flammable cladding cost the borough and construction companies a mere £5,000 less per metre. The unnecessary cladding had the effect of prettifying the tower for surrounding luxury properties, and raising the value of nearby council-owned land.

Grenfell must be seen in the context of ongoing social cleansing in London, which has already seen thousands of families conned or evicted from their homes so that property developers can create investment opportunities for the super-wealthy. The drive to ‘invest’ in housing has ultimately been created by the global capitalist crisis of overproduction, as opportunities for productive ways to make profits have dried up. These estate demolitions, while driving thousands of workers out of previously secure homes and into the waiting arms of private landlords (driving up rents and pushing down standards) are making room for yet more luxury developments in which the super-rich can rest their surplus capital.

Our party holds that houses should be homes for people, not investment opportunities for billionaires. The rights to shelter and to a secure family life are fundamental human rights. By its utter inability to solve the housing question and meet this basic need of working people, the capitalist system is providing yet more proof that it is well past its use-by date and due for demolition. We demand:

1. The immediate scrapping of the 2016-17 housing bill, which threatens hundreds of thousands with poverty and homelessness.

2. The end of the ‘right to buy’ and the scrapping of all other schemes that fuel prices, create shortages and offer subsidies to landlords and developers.

3. The return of housing association and ‘non-profit’ properties to council ownership, the abolition of housing charities and the reintroduction of the legal right to decent, secure housing for all; slums, overcrowding and homelessness are an indictment on capitalism and a crime against humanity.

4. The confiscation of all empty homes and unfinished developments and their transformation into council housing.

5. The provision of at least 300,000 new council houses per year to end the crisis.

6. Guaranteed, secure and well-maintained social housing for all who want it, close to people’s work and families, and the abolition of divisive allocation criteria.

7. The introduction of a rent cap at 20 percent of minimum wage for all privately rented accommodation, and the scrapping of housing benefit (a subsidy to landlords that has helped to fuel rent rises).

8. The establishment of residents’ management committees to oversee planning and maintenance and ensure that all workers have access to adequate space, necessary amenities and decent facilities, including having usable and pleasant outdoor spaces and community halls.

The CPGB-ML believes that the welfare of workers can only be safeguarded by a socialist system of economy, controlled and administered by the working people themselves.Let the capitalists’ ministers try and show us otherwise; let them start by meeting this list of simple demands.
Grenfell Tower: Tragedy or Crime?
Proletarian Online
Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

What was behind the devastating fire in north Kensington in June?

Tragedy: a serious play or drama with the problems of the central character, leading to an unhappy or disastrous ending, as in ancient drama by fate and an inherent flaw in this character, or, in modern drama, usually by moral weakness, psychological maladjustment, or social pressures; or: a very sad event or sequence of events; disaster.

Crime: an action or omission which constitutes an offence and is punishable by law; or: an action or activity considered to be evil, shameful or wrong.

How the inferno came about

Soon after midnight on the morning of Wednesday 15 June, the back of a fridge-freezer in a flat on the fourth floor of the 24-storey 1970s concrete tower block known as Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, west London, malfunctioned and caught fire.

This is apparently a not uncommon occurrence, and hundreds of fridge-freezers suffer similar malfunctions each year without the wider public ever knowing about it, usually with only minor damage resulting if it is dealt with promptly. A domestic fire extinguisher, then, should be adequate to put out such a fire and stop it spreading.

In this case, the appliance was situated with its back to the wall near the flat’s kitchen window. The fire brigade was called out and the fire was extinguished. Imagine the confusion of the original team of firefighters when they saw two, four, eight and then sixteen more fire engines arriving after them. All became clear when they left the flat: the flames were spreading up the outside of the tower until the building resembled the nightmare depicted in the film The Towering Inferno. Unseen from within, the flames from the back of the fridge freezer had ignited the external cladding panels just outside the adjacent window.

Nothing more would have been heard of this fire but for the fact that Grenfell Tower had been refurbished recently – the last of the works not yet completely finished. That refurbishment included the fixing of layers of insulation and aluminium cladding on the outside of the tower – supposedly to make the flats easier and cheaper to heat and keep cool, but also for cosmetic effect – to make the block, built in what is known as the ‘brutalist’ style (utilitarian with no disguise of materials, usually concrete, or function – the National Theatre being a prime example), more aesthetically pleasing to current taste (and wealthy neighbours) and in line with present fashions in building design and appearance.

When Grenfell Tower was built, the object of the designers was twofold: to prevent the collapse of the tower in the event of a gas leak and explosion, as had happened in the tower block called Ronan Point in Newham, East London, on 16 May 1968, just months after its opening; and to enable any fire to be contained in the flat where it had started so it could be extinguished there or otherwise allow time for occupiers of neighbouring flats to be evacuated safely.

Ronan Point had been erected using pre-cast concrete panels assembled on site, which, under the pressure from a gas explosion, collapsed all down one side of the building as though they were no more than a pack of cards. The new design of a concrete framework cast on site created a very stable and secure structure. It is noticeable that, notwithstanding the intensity of the fire that raged through the building, Grenfell Tower still stands – all 24 floors of it – even though everything (inside and out) apart from that concrete shell has been reduced to ashes.

That structure and the building’s design was the reason for the advice given to residents that, in the event of fire, they should stay in their own flat and close the door (as smoke is the primary cause of death in all major fires). That advice had been correct and had kept the residents safe for 40 years up until the refurbishment last year. (See Grenfell Tower: Construction facts by Thomas Lane, Building, 16 June 2017)

The original lead architect for the building, Nigel Whitbread, said in 2016 that the tower had been designed with attention to strength, following the [a title="Ronan Point" href=""]Ronan Point[/a] collapse of 1968, “and from what I can see could last another 100 years”. He described it as a “very simple and straightforward concept. You have a central core containing the lift, staircase and the vertical risers for the services and then you have [10] external perimeter columns.

“The services are connected to the central boiler and pump which powered the whole development and this is located in the basement of the tower block. This basement is about 4 metres deep and in addition has 2 metres of concrete at its base. This foundation holds up the tower block and in situ concrete columns and slabs and pre-cast beams all tie the building together.” (Protesters march as anger mounts over Grenfell Tower response, The Guardian, 17 June 2017

Local council organisation at the time of building

In the 1970s local councils commonly employed their own architects, engineers and workforce for building and maintaining the council housing which it had been the priority of every government since the end of WW2 to build.

This resulted in a team of permanent council officers and employees who knew their colleagues and workmates over a long period of time, for whom ‘public service’ had a real meaning, who took pride in their work and who knew their local area and community. They also knew that they would be held accountable for mistakes in the construction or repair of council houses or in any other aspect of the council’s work and responsibilities.

This was the situation when the Grenfell Tower and others like it were built. Such teams were not perfect, but they had a measure of continuity and accountability – both personally and through the elected councillors – singularly lacking in the current era of outside contractors and evanescent subcontractors with a shifting workforce.

Unusually for the time, the Kensington and Chelsea borough council initially appointed external architects Clifford Wearden and Associates to design Grenfell Tower as part of the Lancaster West estate, for which the master plan was drawn up by the architect Peter Deakins. (Although he was not the designer of the individual buildings on the Lancaster West estate, many of which were completed by in-house architects of the London County Council).

Interviewed on the Today, programme, he told Sanchia Berg: “In those days the process was more closely overseen, which may help explain why the tower is still standing, despite the fierce fire that raged through it. It’s a very solid building underneath, and would stand up to pretty well anything, I would think. The way buildings were detailed, there was so much control, there were so many fire officers involved, and building regulations under the London Building Acts – it was far more strict.” (See Grenfell planner’s shock at burnt remains by Sanchia Berg, BBC News,13 July 2017)

By contrast, today many contracts are so-called ‘design and build’. The architects will draw up the design, but hand their plans over to the builder or developer once the project has been approved by the local authority planners. Contractors will often take over the detailed design, meaning they will be responsible for compliance with regulations, and they will have a building control officer, who can either be employed by the local authority or work independently. Contractors are now responsible for assessing fire risk, as opposed to the old system where the fire service would inspect and provide a fire certificate.

The Keynesian consensus

Local councils in the 1970s also ran the sewerage services, while all the utilities were publicly owned and each had its own, permanent workforce covering every grade of worker from the humblest to the most senior and including all the professional and technical staff each operation needed, with a similar cohesion and pride in their work and in public service to that of the council teams. It is hard for people who started work in the 80s and later to imagine what it was like working in such an environment and how rewarding that work could be.

The working class had returned home after the war – men and women, armed forces and civilian workers – determined that the appalling conditions that they had suffered all through the 1930s should not be resumed or repeated. The ruling class was terrified of the example of the Soviet Union, which not only had entirely escaped the economic depression before the war, but had grown so fast and so solidly that it was able not only to withstand and defeat the terrible onslaught of the German army (albeit at very great cost) but also to rebuild at an awe-inspiring speed after their defeat of the Nazi power in May 1945.

There was an alternative to capitalism that shone bright and clear in the form of socialism – proletarian state power – which after the success of the Chinese revolution in 1949 and the foundation of all the various east European and Asian socialist states controlled one third of the world’s land mass and provided for one quarter of its population,

This example, and the fear that the working class in the west European and other nations would follow it (as the French and Italians wanted to and the Greeks notably did fight to do), meant that, in order for their rule to survive, the imperialists had to improve the conditions of their own working class.

Hence in Britain there was the creation of the ‘welfare state’, the provision of free secondary and tertiary education and the massive house-building and nationalisation programmes of the Attlee Labour government of 1945-51 – elected in 1945 when the expectation was that Churchill (and his Conservative party) would be rewarded for his wartime leadership with a return to government.

These programmes became a cross-party consensus during the 1950s and 60s, and both Labour and Tory parties competed to see which of their governments could build more social housing units per year throughout that period. Party leaders on both sides had lived through the 30s and the war and often had a personal conviction that these programmes were the ‘right thing’, as well as a class view that these policies were the necessary thing to do.

Abandonment of the consensus

This consensus was broken in the late 1970s, the final rupture coming with the election of the Tories under Margaret Thatcher’s leadership in 1979. Much as she is reviled by much of the working class and blamed for the destruction of British industry in the 1980s, if it had not been her it would have been another leader of the Tories or of Labour pursuing those policies – Blair followed exactly the same policies when Labour came to power in 1997, and Callaghan had started to implement monetarist policies before 1979.

‘Monetarism’ was the first policy aimed at reversing the Keynesian consensus of the postwar era, whereby state intervention in markets had for a time allowed the money supply to increase as needed to keep production flowing with public works, allowing inflation and higher taxes to cover the cost to government of such interventions.

Monetarism, by contrast, aimed to lower inflation by restricting the money supply. As there is no link with gold deposits held, governments can decide how much money is minted or printed at any given time. Later, ‘neoliberalism’, the policy of letting the market decide everything, replaced that of state intervention. (See Monetarism page on Wikipedia)

The Thatcher government came to power in 1979. Privatisation was her government’s most high-profile policy after the bloodbath of the first few years, during which the high cost of borrowing (deliberately high, following the restriction in the supply of money in the system) drove much of British manufacturing to the wall, entailing a huge loss of jobs.

Many manufacturing firms had become uncompetitive in the world market owing to decades of underinvestment in new technology. British capital looked for easier and greater profits abroad and relied on Victorian engineering and infrastructure to support production at home; out-of-date machinery being the true reason for the much-complained-of ‘low productivity’ of the British worker.

British industry had been protected for many years by the monopoly afforded in many markets owing to the direct rule of British imperialism, but this direct rule (and with it the exclusive domination of the subject countries’ markets) had had to be ceded to the independence movements (inspired and helped by the USSR) of the British empire’s subject nations in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Shedding ‘surplus’ labour was another theme in Britain in the 1980s, resulting in private firms and public services no longer having the staff to provide adequate cover for sickness and holidays, so that the hours of the remaining workers became longer and the pressure on them more intense: a significant reduction in the quality of their own and their families’ and communities’ lives.

Had it not been for the Falklands’ War and the jingoism that engendered, it is unlikely that Thatcher’s Tories would have won a second term of office in the 1984 election. But the crisis of overproduction – already started then – would have resulted in similar policies by whichever party was in power.

This was the time that saw the beginning of the sale of council houses, first by Tory then by Labour governments and councils, at a substantial discount to the current tenants – a bribe to the more prosperous sections of the working class to sell their children’s and grandchildren’s chances of decent and secure housing.

In conjunction with alterations to the law (which ended restrictions on private rents, removed security of tenure for private tenants and reduced security for social tenants), this resulted in the housing market being ‘freed’ and opened up to private capital and private profit. To hasten the process, councils were forbidden by law from using the proceeds of the sales to build more social housing and were not even allowed to keep the proceeds for their other outgoings, but had to hand it to government for the latter to spend as it thought fit.

Housing Associations were formed and encouraged to take over council houses and flats, as well as to build their own, thus taking much of what remained of the diminishing stock of social housing away from local government and removing any pretence of democratic responsibility for it.

What was the reason for these profound changes of policy? The post-war boom of reconstruction and manufacturing was coming to an end and the latest, longest and deepest of capitalist imperialism’s periodic crises of overproduction had begun.

The factories were producing more goods cheaper, but there were not enough workers in the world with sufficient means to buy all the goods produced. Credit cards were introduced in the 1970s to encourage workers to borrow and so keep spending, but the capitalists needed new opportunities to invest and make profits. The government tax or council tax pound was a guaranteed source of money (local or national government very rarely defaults on its debts).

After the utilities’ privatisations had allowed massive land grabs by private companies and guaranteed returns on their investments, another source of profit was found in outsourcing. Starting with the workers perceived to be the weakest, such as hospital cleaners, jobs in public services were transferred to private companies on the basis that the latter could run them more ‘efficiently’ – ie, at less cost to the government, council or other public body.

Attacks on the working class and its organisations

This could only be achieved by eroding the pay and conditions of the workers, and to do so their collective strength had to be weakened. Unions were demonised and hedged around with increasing restrictions. The Wilson (Labour) government had tried to curb the power and influence of the unions in order to weaken workers’ resistance to the erosion of their jobs and living standards. Barbara Castle had produced a white paper euphemistically entitled ‘In Place of Strife’ in 1969 with that aim: proposing no strikes without ballots and an industrial board with power to enforce settlements in industrial disputes, but the unions at that time were too strong for a Labour government (which had to keep up the façade of being pro-worker) to pass anti-trade union legislation.

The cabinet was split, with Callaghan leading the opposition within, and the TUC were opposed. The ruling class and its media set about undermining the Labour government and in 1979 were successful in replacing it with the Tories under Thatcher (their previous leader, Heath, having been too conciliatory to workers, especially the miners, and having been discredited in his turn).

By 1984 the ruling class were prepared and ready; the miners were deliberately taken on at a time of the Thatcher government’s choosing in order to reduce the power and prestige of the NUM, one of the leading unions whose members had always enjoyed a great deal of public sympathy because of the dangers of their job.

Just as industrial workers losing their jobs in the early 1980s were pressurised into not taking a stand against lay-offs by enhanced redundancy payments – which could be withdrawn in the event of non-cooperation with the job losses – so the workers later transferred to private companies from public bodies such as hospitals and local councils were assured that their terms and conditions of work would be secured in their new contracts by their new employers. But there was no guarantee for future workers’ pay and conditions.

In addition, after the Thatcher government allowed private companies to use their ‘surplus’ pension funds as company money, many hitherto good occupational pension funds went into deficit and benefits were withdrawn – as before, first from ‘new’ workers while existing workers were supposedly protected, though not for long.

This process continues to the present day. Even privileged sections of the public service, including judges and hospital doctors, who were protected when the industrial workers, miners and later junior clerical and unskilled public service workers’ terms of service and pensions were eroded, are now themselves feeling the pinch.

In the early 1970s a Tory councillor in the home counties was discussing the future of local government with a fellow councillor in the presence of a council employee* whose job it was to act as secretary to the council committee on which both sat. He envisaged – as the most desirable aim – that councils should sit just once per year in order to allocate contracts to cover all the services that the council is obliged by law to provide. Councils would no longer need to employ anyone except a team to collect the rates (now council tax) and negotiate the contracts.

In the context of the time, it seemed a mad idea. However, it is now clear that it was a serious proposal within the Tory party then, and that, over the next 40 years, the ruling class through both Tory and Labour governments and councils has worked steadily to bring this about, forcing out any of the politicians who objected.

When the crisis of capitalism reached its peak in 2008 with the collapse of the market in bad mortgage debt – unaffordable loans that had been another attempt to keep increasingly impoverished workers spending – it was the Labour government that decided to nationalise the bad debts of the banks, giving the banks vast sums of money in order to keep them afloat, justifying it as protecting small account holders’ savings and access to their money. Gordon Brown, in a Freudian slip of the tongue, said he had “saved the world” by initiating this action by all the imperialist countries; in fact, he had acted to save imperialism.

The cost of this bailout was and is still being borne by the taxpayer (disproportionately by the poorer of these, as the rich have a huge variety of ways at their disposal to minimise their liability to tax or to avoid paying it altogether). At the same time the tax-funded services that form a vital part of the social wage, essential to the health and wellbeing of workers who cannot afford to provide everything individually (even supposing that were possible, which in the case of education, private and public healthcare and housing to name a few, it clearly is not) have been steadily starved of funds and eroded.

Cuts to the fire service

Then, when the coalition government came into power in 2010, it promised to cut ‘red tape’, regarding it as an unnecessary handicap to business, setting the benchmark as three regulations repealed for every new one enacted.

This only followed on from the previous business-friendly policies of both the Thatcher and Blair governments. It was Labour that introduced and drove forward the infamous ‘private finance initiative’ (PFI) contracts, which gave construction of important public buildings like schools and hospitals to private companies on terms that have left the recipients of those buildings with crippling annual payments and extortionate fees for simple maintenance jobs over which the construction company has a contractual monopoly.

It is conveniently forgotten that the cuts to staffing in both education and the NHS owe much to this haemorrhaging of funds to the PFI contractors, who enjoy guaranteed, risk-free profits out of tax revenues.

It was the Labour government in 2005 that removed the need for the professional fire service to provide fire certificates to new and refurbished buildings, instead allowing private companies to take on the job, supplying ‘inspectors’ who had neither the training nor the experience to fulfil that role adequately (but providing another ‘nice little earner’ for the companies that undertook the task of providing the inspections and certificates for a fee).

All this time, the fire service has been steadily reduced in number – both of stations and personnel – in the name of ‘modernisation’ (though the last Labour government’s plan to centralising phone calls for fire assistance to just a few call centres has run into the sand after millions of pounds have been spent on it).

Also, to the accompaniment of the bourgeois media steadily vilifying ‘health and safety’, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been denied funds and reduced in size so that there are not enough inspectors to ensure that such regulations as survive the onslaught of repeals are observed. The Trading Standards Inspectorate has been decimated similarly.

With regard to building, the pressure is on local councils to grant planning permission whenever it is sought, and building regulations are relaxed (or ambiguous, as the verbal fights over the panels used for the refurbishment of the Grenfell Tower demonstrate).

The councillors of ‘The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’ moved responsibility for the borough’s remaining social housing to an arms-length organisation called Kensington and Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation (KCTMO), thus taking away the direct public accountability of its elected councillors.

There were tenants included on the governing committee of this body but their presence was a figleaf, as the fact that tenants’ voices were not listened to is amply proved by the Grenfell Tower disaster. Tenants had complained about the exposed gas pipes on the single stairway (only approved if encased in fireproof covers, which had still not been completed at the time of the fire) and many other aspects of the refurbishment.

This is the history that led up to the Grenfell Tower fire. A sequence of deliberate decisions and changes to the law, to the workforce and to the method of operation of local councils came together on 15 June this year to destroy Grenfell Tower. With it were destroyed the lives of well over 100 members of the approximately 200 households living in the tower, and the homes and health of the survivors: hundreds of working-class people of all ages, guilty of no crime except of being poor in the wealthiest borough in London (and probably in Britain).

Where do we go from here?

The government has ordered a public enquiry into the causes of the fire (although an inquest has been demanded by the survivors, as that offers the them the chance not just to be heard but also to be represented, which an enquiry does not).

Books will be written about the disaster these families suffered, analysing the specific people and companies involved: the decisions made, the design of the refurbishment and the materials and methods chosen for it. New information is coming to light every day, especially about the cladding used, and about the lack of care for the tenants shown by the contractors and those supposed to be overseeing them at the council and the KCTMO.

One of the subcontractors has already gone into liquidation. The insurers of all the many firms involved in the work will fight through the courts for years in an effort to pass the buck for the responsibility for the fire and the cost of compensating the victims (and the council and KCTMO). We will see the unedifying spectacle of councillors and council officials passing the buck to the KCTMO and the contractors and subcontractors.

Senior officers and the leaders of the council have resigned from their positions (but remain as employees or as councillors and are therefore still being paid) in order that they can “devote their time to the public enquiry” (and to covering their own backs).

Many other articles in this journal and in Lalkar, as well as in bourgeois media in Britain and worldwide, have already, are now and will continue to investigate and report on this story, with details of the nature of the building and its refurbishment and the actions (and inaction) of the May government, Kensington council and of all others involved.

A recent search of The Times website for mentions of the Grenfell Tower fire resulted in 424 results – and that was just one of the hundreds of papers and journals worldwide reporting this catastrophic fire.

Tragedy or crime?

The question now is whether it is right to call this terrible fire a tragedy or a crime?

Tragedy implies a degree of inevitability, and a helplessness by the humans involved to escape their fate. For the families caught up in the fire as residents – whether they died or survived – and for their relations and friends outside of the tower, it was undoubtedly a tragedy. They were swept up in a sequence of decisions and events that they were powerless to alter, let alone control.

The fire itself, however, was not a tragedy; it was a crime. It was avoidable – as mounting evidence shows. Whether those responsible for the management of the block, at whatever level, and for the refurbishment, in whatever capacity, are guilty of a crime in the strict sense of a breach of the laws of this country is open to question.

The Metropolitan Police are conducting an investigation as to whether charges of corporate manslaughter can be brought against anyone. There is no certainty such charges can be made to stick, even though there appears to be no doubt that the panels used to clad the tower were highly flammable and totally unsuitable for such a high-rise building, acting as a transmitter of the fire from one small incident to the whole of the outside of the building so that it became a raging inferno within minutes.

In any event, such charges will in all probability only be brought against the agents who carried out the orders of the persons actually behind the fire: the capitalists who call the shots and ultimately control directly and indirectly all those decisions referred to in this article.

Engels, in his 1845 book The Condition of the Working Class in England referred to the “social murder” committed by the capitalists and their servants and agents who created the working and living conditions that resulted in the prevalent misery and disease of the industrial working class and the premature death of hundreds of their number every year.

Engels categorised it as murder (intentional) and not manslaughter (unintentional) because of the wealth of government enquiries and official statistics that were available even in 1845, and which pointed out the conditions and the deadly results of these conditions. (See Chapter 7, Results)

In the case of the Grenfell Tower fire, there have been inquests and reports at home and abroad at least since 1988 which have shown the danger of using cladding such as that used on Grenfell Tower on any building higher than a fireman’s ladder can reach. There is absolutely no doubt that social murder has been perpetrated upon the residents of Grenfell Tower, but it is highly unlikely that the true culprits will ever be required to answer for it.

This is not a tale of ‘conspiracy’, nor is it a tale of ‘evil’ Tories versus ‘good’ Labour party; it is an account of the inexorable economic forces that drive capitalism in its current, final, decadent stage of imperialism and world monopolies. Individual owners of capital may rise and fall, but the ever-increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people and the ever-increasing impoverishment of the majority of the world’s population is well documented – Oxfam publishes the figures annually.

This is a tale of class against class. The economic forces are those inherent in imperialism itself. Contrary to what the bourgeois media and other spokespersons for the system of imperialism would have us believe, this situation is not inevitable; there is an alternative.

To achieve that alternative, the workers must take control of their lives by taking control of their work places, homes, schools, health and environment. They can only do this by smashing the state power of the imperialists, and substituting the state power of the working class; by using that power to take over ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and then organising production and all services for need, not for profit.

This was done with great success in the USSR, even though that country was eventually destroyed by revisionism. It is being done still in Cuba and in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and other countries now oppressed by imperialism are fighting to break free from its stranglehold. It can be done here in Britain once the working class understands the necessity and the possibility and fights for it.

In this year of the centenary of the great October Revolution, which founded the USSR, let us learn the lesson and come together to organise for the proletarian revolution here, in the heartland of imperialism.

“Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.”

*The writer was that council employee.