Many years ago, when the Stop the War Coalition could still pack a hall and communists had not yet been expelled, it held a congress, at which the CPGB-ML proposed a resolution calling on the coalition to lead a campaign of non-cooperation with imperialist wars.
The communists pointed out that imperialist wars could only be carried out with the cooperation of workers, and that by collectively withdrawing that cooperation it lay within the power of the organised working class, not simply to protest against such wars, but to stop them in their tracks.
The resolution was passed overwhelmingly by delegates at the congress, who really did want to stop the wars, but the policy was quietly shelved and ignored by the coalition’s leadership, dominated by Labour party and trade-union placemen and their Trotskyite hangers-on – a careerist crew that has overseen the effective demise of the anti-austerity as well as of the anti-war movement in Britain.
But now dockworkers in the Italian port of Genoa are demonstrating in practice that it is both possible and necessary to sabotage the war machine by collectively refusing to follow orders.
The dockers stopped the Saudi ship Bahri Yanbu from loading with drones and other equipment that would be used in the devastating war on Yemen. Anti-war activists joined forces with union members, demanding: “Open the ports to people, close them to arms.” (Italian dock strike blocks deadly cargo headed for Saudi Arabia by Steve Sweeney, Morning Star, 20 May 2019)
Activists in France had earlier succeeded in stopping the same ship from loading eight Caesar cannons in the port of Le Havre. Although their legal challenge failed, the ship’s owners were sufficiently rattled to leave France without the weapons, sending them overland to Italy in the hope of loading them there instead.
Honest journalists expose French crimes
The French action was inspired by Disclose media journalists Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal and Radio France journalist Benoit Collombat, who went public with a classified report on the ghastly scale of Yemeni casualties caused by France’s export of Caesar cannons. These brave reporters are now being threatened with jail time for refusing to reveal their sources. (France takes unprecedented action against reporters who published secret government document by Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept, 17 May 2019)
The Caesar cannons at the centre of the row are a French-manufactured variety of mobile armoured artillery, many using a Renault chassis, which are capable of firing devastating rocket-propelled shells with a high degree of accuracy over huge distances: up to 50km.
According to Telesur: “Maps produced for the classified note show that about 437,000 people could have been affected by strikes (including French cannon fire Caesar strikes) in three different border areas between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.” (Leaked secret note reveals French dirty role in Yemen war, 15 April 2019)
Disclose media has established that 35 civilians died during 52 bombings between March 2016 and December 2018 in the field where French Caesar cannon fire operated. And of course these confirmed fatalities from French weapons are just the tip of a very bloody iceberg.
It is particularly crucial for the imperialist war effort that journalists and media workers should cooperate in putting out war propaganda on behalf of their masters. This psychological war waged against workers is crucial in maintaining the capitalists’ grip on power at home and allowing them to conduct their criminal and aggressive wars abroad.
There is no shortage of well-paid volunteers for this dirty work. The few brave reporters who refuse find at best that they are blacklisted, and at worst that they are threatened with jail – as in the case of Julian Assange.
Those journalists who continue to broadcast the lies of the imperialist war machine should hang their heads in shame when confronted with that rare breed: an honest journalist.
Workers everywhere salute the dockworkers of Genoa, whose bold actions put them firmly in the proletarian internationalist tradition of our own East End dockers of London, who in 1920 refused to load the Jolly George with guns to shoot Russians.
By this action, and the threat of more to come, they were able to put an end to Britain’s involvement in the vicious war of intervention that was aimed at toppling the first ever workers’ state – the newly-established Soviet Union.
Like those Londoners a century ago, the Genoa dockers are showing exactly what can be achieved when workers organise to use their collective power in their own interests.
No cooperation with imperialist war!