Fifty years ago, on 29 April 1972, violence between Hutus and Tutsis broke out in Burundi. This was the latest round of ethnic conflict in the African Great Lakes region, and marked the beginning of a genocide of up to 300,000 people. Western imperialism bears direct responsibility for the horrors of the spring of 1972. They didn’t lift a finger to stop it, and in some cases, they actively supported it. Today, while western imperialists cry crocodile tears over Ukraine, they bury the history of the far greater abominations they perpetrated just 50 years ago.

We publish the editorial from the latest issue of the International Marxist Tendency’s theoretical journal, In Defence of Marxismavailable to buy now! Alan Woods introduces the contents of the magazine, including a piece of his own dealing with the oft-heard question: ‘why hasn’t there been a revolution?’ Additionally, the issue contains a pair of articles by Trotsky on the role of revolutionary leadership; a polemic against subjective idealism in science journalism; and a review of a new book on Lenin’s time in London.

The main peculiarity of the present war in Ukraine is that it has been completely overshadowed by an unprecedented war of information. This has served to generate a lot of heat, but very little light. In fact, its principal objective is not to inform, but to conceal the real situation. In this, one has to admit, it has been highly successful.

On 17 February, President Macron announced the withdrawal of French troops from Mali in West Africa. From 2013, alongside the forces involved in ‘Operation Barkhane’ and the ‘Takuba Task Force’, France led an intervention in Mali with the supposed intention of fighting to “stabilise the country”. All major European NATO countries were involved, and the intervention was fully backed by the UN, which sent a 15,000-strong mission, which it called “MINUSMA”, which also established itself in other countries of the Sahel region.

As the Russian army continues to shell the cities of Ukraine, the western press and politicians are doing their utmost to conceal the role of western imperialism in the disaster. Far from being a neutral party, the West have been provoking the conflict for their own imperialist reasons.

The French philosopher Voltaire was supposed to have written the celebrated phrase: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Whether or not he actually pronounced them, these words are often cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech.

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