Thursday, May 21, 2009
Friday, January 02, 2009
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
February 8, 1968 Orangeburg South Carolina
I admit that I just learned about this event. The Orangeburg Massacre, when South Carolina police opened fire upon students protesting on the campus of South Carolina State University against segregation at the local All Star Bowling Lane. Three students were killed: Samuel Hammond, Delano Middleton, and Henry Smith. 28 others were wounded from bullets, being beaten, or being trampled by those fleeing the police onslaught. In an ensuing trial all officers were acquitted of any wrongdoing, reminiscent of the recent acquittal of the police murderers of Sean Bell. One of the protesters however, SNCC member Cleveland Sellers, spent several months in jail on the totally bogus charge of inciting a riot.
Some of the articles make the important point that this massacre is largely overshadowed by the Kent State police killings of students in 1970. It is hard not to make that inference since in racist America; white life is so much more precious that Black life.
This event deserves to be added to the arsenal of working class and radical historical memory. Let this event show: the racist nature of the U.S. capitalist class and their state, the heroic sacrifices made on behalf of those fighting for Black Liberation, and the lengths to which the ruling class will go in order to preserve their backwards order.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
This link will take you to a really nice short film taking a look at daily life in Lebanon before during and after the 2006 Israeli onslaught that killed in excess of one thousand people, including three hundred children. I lifted the Image from www.pangeaday.org.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
I wrote the following response to the recap and letters from a May 7 edition of "The Story" from American Public Media aired on NPR. The original story, linked to here, aired on May 5. The story and letters from May 7 were so grossly anti-communist that I could not help but to respond. Here is my response:
To Dick Gordon,
I have to voice my extreme displeasure over the coverage and subsequent stream of letters that followed the story of Ahn Duong, U.S. weapons maker. The extreme lies, smears and distortions against Communists presented in the story and in the letters that you read really present a lying and skewed picture of world history and the fight for freedom of the worlds oppressed. To read the story of the Vietnamese victimized by the Communists and not remind people of the possibly 2 million Vietnamese killed by the U.S., not to mention American bombing of Laos and Cambodia.
To constantly mention, as NPR does, persecution in Cuba by the Fidelistas, all the while hiding the great health care, and relative social equality that Cubans enjoy, far in excess of any other poor nation of their level of development, really distorts reality. How are people supposed to make informed decisions about history when even NPR is not much above a kind of "iced latte McCarthyism."
I am a descendent of Yugoslav immigrants who "fled" Yugoslav Communism. These parents/relatives of mine are the vilest sort racists who not only support the wholesale slaughter of their fellow country-men (during the 1990's Bosnian-Civil War, Kosovo, etc.) but are horrid racists against Blacks and other racial minorities here. I find a similar pattern among many of the "refugees" from Socialist states. They come to America/Canada and basically become white supremacists and ass holes. If I were alive in 1945, I too would have thrown my grandfather in prison as a soldier in the Royal Yugoslav Army-clearly a potential threat to multi-ethnic, communist Yugoslavia.
I would welcome an opportunity to share these views on your show.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I just returned from the Partisan Defense Committee initiated, united-front protest for Mumia's freedom in Chicago. About one hundred or so people were in attendance at the peak of events, possibly more. Excellent speakers included representative from the PDC, Spartacist League, AFSCME, ATU, UAW, an immigrant rights group I forget the name of, the Spartacist Youth Club, Labor Black Struggle League, murdered Black Panther Fred Hampton's Brother, and the New Black Panther Party among others.
Yes, their should have been more people but after the case has been demobilized, largely by the reformist left, it is necessary to rebuild support. Kudos to Gay rights groups which showed up. I think only one other leftist group came, the League for the Revolutionary Party. Chicago is the home of Avakian's Revolutionary Communist Party, where were they? Nowhere.
Many speakers stressed the need to place no faith in the capitalist courts, responsible for the racist frame-up in the first place, to grant Mumia freedom. Others stressed the importance of labor centered protest around unions, while the Panther criticized this position as excluding the "peasants" and the lumpenized. I spoke at length with the Panthers and both agreed and sharply disagreed with their positions, especially on their issue of social service or "charity work." Other speakers made clear the link between Mumia's case and the international important of the Black liberation struggle as part of the struggle for socialist revolution. Two Amalgamated Transit Workers held their banner the whole two hours in the cold. Nice, baby.
I had the opportunity to speak to Mumia's former attorney Rachel Wolkenstein and had a great conversation.
She was the epitome of what Lenin referred to as the necessity to patiently explain positions to the masses. My wife had many questions.
As I was passing out literature I happened upon two Irish tourists who took great interest in Mumia's case and likened it to the case of the Birmingham 8 (I think it was), the story that the Daniel Day-Lewis movie In the Name of the Father was made about. They whole heartedly agreed with the notion of Marx's parallel between the historic oppression of the Irish workers in Ireland and in England with Black workers in America, and the poisonous hatred sowed by the ruling class and the system of laws and rewards that were founded in their interests. They further shared that Irish unions had successfully fought on behalf of immigrant workers for rights and benefits. Just great.
Friday, April 25, 2008
NPR reported today that Africa’s GDP would have been 1/3 greater if there had been a cure or effective treatment for malaria. By extension, poverty would have actually been less severe. There is however, a number of existing treatments, cheap, preventative measures and other cures could have been developed except that capitalism saw no profit in doing so. A collectivized socialist world economy would make ridding Africa and other tropical regions of preventable diseases part of the program of extending free medical care to all.
This topic of the socialist planned economy seems all the more relevant given the huge spike in food prices, which seem to have been rising for some time now, that have spawned food riots across the globe. Again the proof that the capitalist economy can only serve the market and not human needs, essentially telling the 1 billion people who exist on less than $2 a day to go fuck themselves.
The long-term solution is in the establishment of a coordinated planned economy working to serve the total development of humanity. To do this we must work for world socialist revolution!
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, November 11, 2007
A new study just out from the environmental think tank "Global Footprint Network," has found that the deformed workers state of Cuba is the only country to meet the groups minimal standards for relatively modest resource consumption with high achievement of social development in health, longevity and education. Click on the title to access the NPR story.
These advances for Cuba were created on the one hand by the huge advance that the 1959 Revolution provided by eliminating capitalism and creating a centrally planned, collectivized economy, which is the basis for the provisioning of resources based upon human need. One of the major limits on Cuba's success, and consumption, has been the strangulation embargo imposed on Cuba and repeated attempts to destabilize the island nation by the United States. As the report notes, most likely Cubans would prefer a higher level of consumption, corresponding to a higher level of socio-economic comfort. However the point is that with relatively limited resources, especially given numerous economic constraints, including embargo and U.S. hostility, Cuba has achieved huge social progress and the most expansive system of social protections in all of Latin America, including free universal health care, free or low cost housing, and for many guaranteed life time employment. This was all made possible by the revolution and the collectivized economy, however deformed by nationalist Stalinist bureaucrats from its inception. Defend Cuba from counter revolution! For Proletarian Political Revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucracy!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
This case was brought to my attention by Prisonerofstarvation.blogspot.com.
Here are a few more links to news and video.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
This is a list of instances where the U.S. military has deployed troops, grounds forces, or had naval actions. This is an incredibly interesting and useful resource for researching and exposing U.S. imperialism. This does not however include the many covert operations of the CIA like Operation Ajax in 1953 (correct me if the date is wrong) which helped to overthrow Mossadegh in Iran and install the Shah. This is acknowledged use of force compiled by the Navy, so you can't say it is some biased left wing source! It does include among others, 11 invasions and occupations of Nicaragua in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, some brief and some lasting over a decade. Of course one must be wary of some of the descriptions that go along with that data, but on the whole there is little ideology in the list. I am using this resource in a paper I am writting on the effects of military interventions on working class power in the countries invaded. Enjoy!
Monday, July 16, 2007
Monday, May 07, 2007
The following is a speech I gave at a diversity conference at Ferris State University on the Marxist perspective on war and how imperialism helps to destroy "diversity" by sowing ethnic conflict, racism, and war.
Imperialism the Iraq War and Global Discord
This month marks the fourth year of murder, rape, death, and deprivation, in short a living hell, made by the U.S. for the people of Iraq. I am going to talk to you today about the topic of the Iraq War, the U.S. Occupation, U.S. imperialism and what this means for “diversity” and for the prospect of people getting along and working together. I will approach this topic from an angle that some may not have heard before, and thus may be confusing, I will try to be clear without being simplistic. My perspective is revolutionary Marxism. What does this mean and what does this have to do with the multiracial/multiethnic/multigendered and class divided society in which we live? It has everything to do with it. My main purpose will be to talk about the present racist, murderous U.S. war and occupation of Iraq and U.S. imperialisms impact on world diversity. I will demonstrate how at every chance U.S. imperialism, and it is imperialism, has acted to break apart unified multiethnic states, acted to fan and even ignite racial and ethnic hatreds worldwide, and has in general acted to hinder the cause of workers and the labor movement in general. I would like to talk for about half an hour or so and then leave the rest of the time open for questions, comments, and discussion.
What is revolutionary Marxism?
Simply put, revolutionary Marxism is the world view that the present epoch of capitalism is based upon and characterized by bloody genocide, slavery, racism and war and cannot exist otherwise. Capitalism is based upon the exploitation and domination of the labor and lives of the mass of the working population by a handful of capitalists, their retainers and lackeys. Capitalism must by necessity drive down the wages and living conditions of the workers in pursuit of profit. Profit we must say, is the result of the exploitation of the labor of the working class. This is based in Marx’s labor theory of value, which states that all value, anything that can be used, bought or sold, is the sole product of human labor, mental or physical work in the production of commodities. Value is not created by managers or investors, they simply appropriate or steal the fruits of the labor (the surplus value) of the working people. This is what constitutes capitalist profit. The less a capitalist has to pay its workers for the same hours and rate, the more profit the capitalist is able to accumulate.
Capitalism must drive millions of poor peasants off their measly plots into starvation for the proper functioning of global markets and in order to create a hungry and desperate population willing to work in its factories. Capitalism pits workers of different skin colors, national origins, and sexual orientations against each other through competition over the scraps from the master’s table. Capitalism dominates the states of the world, making a sham of the word “democracy,” which under capitalism means the rule of the property owners, plutocrats, and oligarchs. These same rulers, the capitalist class, are at the head of all of the imperialist powers: the U.S., Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Canada, Australia and their many client states including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and capitalist Russia. They wreak untold destruction on a grand scale and constantly threaten the world with nuclear annihilation. Revolutionary Marxism says that the capitalists have created a world of races, nation states, and religions in order to divide populations against each other so that they, the capitalist, might better rule the world, since the workers are so busy hating the racialized workers in the ghetto, or the poor workers south of the border to care about the capitalist. In the words of German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht “the real enemy is at home” meaning the capitalist! Revolutionary Marxism says that the only way out of this truly ghastly situation is through international proletarian, meaning working class, revolutions which smash the murderous capitalist states and replace them with workers governments run by workers councils democratically elected from among the revolutionary proletariat, and begin to abolish classes and private property. Only then can we establish an international planned economy where the poverty stricken areas can become developed, free from decades of industrial torture and death, where humankind can truly realize its potential to solve the worlds problems and achieve the promise of communism: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
What do I mean by imperialism? Imperialism does not mean old empire simply taking over another state, no. We are I capitalism and imperialism is as Lenin defines it the highest stage of Capitalism. Thus capitalism imperialism is based upon the export of capital, or simply money in the form of leans and investments. The largest lender and investor in the world is the U.S. followed by Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and, Canada. These capitalists states are driven by their competition with one another. This competition drives them to protect and expand these investments, they must reach new markets; find new resources at cheap prices; find new and cheap sources of labor to exploit. All of this means that they must break open, by force is necessary new markets, new resources and new sources of labor. This means that they must break any state in which workers are guaranteed a job for life or where property cannot be accumulated and bought. This means attacking deformed workers states (states where capitalism has been overthrown but the workers are oppressed by Stalinist bureaucrats) like China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba. It is the duty of Revolutionary Marxist to defend these states from imperialist attack and from internal counter-revolution. We must support a political revolution to oust the parasitic bureaucrats strangling the revolution! Imperialism also means attacking closed right wing dictatorships, which do not play nice with imperialism like Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria. These states and their people must be defended from imperialist attack but we must give their reactionary rulers not one iota of political support and encourage revolution against their capitalist, chauvinist ant-women rule.
Now to business!
What is the role of the U.S. in the world today?
Frankly, the role of the U.S. in the world today is as the enforcer of the conditions of global capitalism which daily condemns millions to squalor, ignorance, disease, exploitation, and poverty. How is this so you ask? Isn’t the U.S. an arsenal of democracy? Doesn’t the U.S. topple dictatorships and liberate people? Through a compilation of cases I will demonstrate that this is not so. That in fact the U.S. supports all kinds of dictatorships and repressive governments, especially those governments that fight against revolution, equality and workers rights. So let’s work backwards in time and look at the results of the last twenty or so years of U.S. policy and interventions and their impact upon multiethnic societies, and the standards of living of the worlds people.
Case number one, we have the current occupation of Iraq that began with the brutal unprovoked invasion in March 2003. After a savage invasion that decimated the countries infrastructure (even today electricity, safe drinking water, and petrol fuels are a scarce and expensive commodity in an oil rich country) and massacred thousands (both military and civilian, and actually more civilians). There followed a violent occupation, which discriminated against the Sunni minority in favor of certain western puppets and overt CIA contacts such as Ahmed Chalabi and Iyad Allawi.
The invasion and subsequent occupation has fanned inter religious and ethnic antagonisms by explicitly backing some groups (mainly Shia and Kurdish factions) while excluding others (mainly former ruling Sunni groups). U.S. violence including murder, rape, daily assaults upon civilians and homes, and now the constant sectarian attacks (many sponsored right out of the Shia dominated ministry of defense and interior) have all reduced Iraq to a living hell for its people. According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study published last year in the British journal The Lancet, since the 2003 invasion, over 650,000 excess deaths have occurred because of the occupation, a majority of deaths occurring because of gun shot wounds, air strikes and a rising number of car bombs. Of this 650,000 plus excess deaths, 31% or about 201,000 deaths can be attributed to coalition read U.S. and Western forces in Iraq.
The point of all of this is to show not only the terror perpetrated and spawned by the U.S., but also to show that U.S. actions have condemned Iraq and its people to a living hell with no end in sight short of the complete and immediate withdrawal of all U.S. and imperialist occupiers and a massive social revolution in Iraq to rip power away from the reactionary mullahs and the remnants of the capitalist Baathist regime.
Case number two, we have last summers’ Israeli war on Lebanon and Hezbollah which killed over one thousand civilians, including hundreds of women and children, and an unknown number of Hezbollah fighters. The Israelis lost 116 soldiers and 43 civilians in the Hezbollah response. Israel indiscriminately bombed civilian centers including the cities of Beirut and Tyre. Israel undertook this criminal act on the pretext that two of its soldiers were captured by Hezbollah. Now soldiers are legitimate military targets, they are in the military! Hezbollah has done this from time to time to gain bargaining power to free some of it captured people, among the 7000 Arab and Palestinian political prisoners sitting in Israeli concentration camps. Now Israel would never have been able to do this without direct political approval from the U.S. And here it is: John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN admitted to the BBC on March 22,
that the U.S. deliberately resisted calls for a ceasefire in the Israeli attack on Lebanon. And that the U.S. wanted Hezbollah’s military capacity eliminated regardless of the cost. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6479377.stm).
Now the Israeli war and the ousting of Syria from Lebanon by Christian and Sunni political forces backed by the U.S. military on the border with Syria has created a serious problem. It has given new strength to the right wing, anti-women, clerics leading Hezbollah and it has entrenched the minority ruling Sunni/Druze/Christian coalition in Lebanon. For Lebanon is a sham democracy based upon ethnic apportionment of parliamentary seats, based upon a 1930’s census which systematically undercounts and disenfranchises the Shia in the south who are probably now a majority, but the ruling parties, which the U.S. backs, will not allow a census because it would unseat them from power. This is a denial of basic democratic rights and directly undermines the delicate multiethnic fabric which is Lebanon, which only recently emerged from a fifteen year civil war.
A third case, briefly, included the entire U.S./ E.U. policy toward the former Yugoslavia and the Former Soviet Union. In the late eighties and early nineties, the capitalist class in the west was blowing its own trumpet over the so-called “death of communism” in Eastern Europe. That meant the unmaking of the deformed workers states of Eastern Europe, and the destruction of the Soviet degenerated workers state, the product of the only successful proletarian revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. In their rush to restore capitalism to these areas the U.S. and Western Europe undermined the only institutions that guaranteed the rights of minorities in these states. Because of the collapse of Communism, multiethnic peaceful Yugoslavia was consumed by fratricidal bloodletting at the hands of its new capitalist embracing politicians. This included the counter revolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union, openly supported by the U.S., opened the way for the emergence of all kinds of racist nationalist attitudes including great Russian chauvinism, evidenced in the two bloody wars against the small, beleaguered, backward, Muslim republic of Chechnya. While the West blames the communist past for these atrocities, it is the present capitalist regimes in these countries that are actually responsible for destroying these multiethnic societies.
The “anti-war” movement
Currently, as during past wars, the opposition by the populations of the advanced capitalist countries to the predatory wars of their own governments has been captured and channeled into various “peace” coalitions, or anti-war movements. These peace groups, unfortunately spread a dangerous lie, the lie of social pacifism. What is social pacifism? It is the unqualified opposition to all wars and the call to come to immediate peace. What is the problem with this you ask? The problem with this is that from the Marxist, proletarian revolutionary perspective it is a betrayal of all of those oppressed and enslaved peoples who have no other way out of their situation than by violence. Would these same people preach “peace” to the American slaves who were only set free by a massive force of arms? Would they preach peace to the peasants of eighteenth century France, who were ground down by the corrupt aristocracy? Of course not. These acts of violence were totally necessary and progressive acts for all of humanity. Then why do the peace activists call for peace now? Peace only means the maintenance of the status quo. That means the maintenance of the U.S. military domination of the world, that means the maintenance of grinding poverty for literally billions of people on the planet, that means daily death for thousands of people from absolutely preventable disease and malnutrition, that means the continuation of the entire capitalist system that daily drives down the wages and working conditions of the worlds population, that means the maintenance of the racist U.S. state with the largest prison population in the world, with thousands of poor black and Latino youth languishing in prison hell for the victimless crime of drug possession, including marijuana. Is this the kind of peace that these “anti-war” peaceniks want?
A second point about the peace movement is its tactics. Its tactics are a key to its politics. Its tactics are to petition, in one way or another, the “good”, “pro peace” politicians or get a peace platform on the agenda of the congress. Who are they trying to kid? First, I should mention, if people do not realize, the Republican party is the undisputed party of the capitalist class and therefore not even a potential ally of the oppressed, at least not at any time after 1876. Therefore, the potential for many seems to be the Democratic party, but this is yet another enormous lie. The Democratic Party is the other party of war, racism, and hatred for the poor. The Democrats have lead the country in every major war this century: Wilson in WWI, Roosevelt in WWII, Truman started the attack on the Korean revolution (otherwise known as the Korean war), Kennedy and Johnson started the war against the liberation of Vietnam, and Clinton lead the air war against Serbian in 1999. Carter renewed the arms race with the Soviet degenerated workers state. So who are the anti war people trying to kid about peace candidates? These same peace candidates today meet, welcome, and court lobbyists from the murderous defense and racist prison industry tomorrow. Today the great so called left liberals Hilary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Ted Kennedy talk about a wrong course in Iraq and then turn around and praise the murderous, ethnic cleansing state of Israel for its righteous fight against terror. So the point is it is a horrendous mistake to put your faith in a party that is just as invested in imperialism, war, racism and destruction. A party that represents the same class, the capitalist class, that daily drives down wages and working conditions here, for this party to represent peace is only the worst kind of joke.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Since the Democrats have ignominiously and through no effort of their own, “re-taken” both the Senate and the House, and the AFL-CIO has claimed “a victory for working family friendly candidates (AFL-CIO Press Release, Nov 8 2006)” it seems appropriate to have a comment on the necessity of class independence for the proletariat. Class independence does not mean shunning or refusing to work with other classes, such as poor peasants, the unemployed, the lumpen proletariat, intellectuals, or even liberals struggling to preserve bourgeois democratic freedoms. Class independence does mean that the working class has its own platform and program, classically when workers have created their own parties this platform has been some form of socialism (German Social Democrats, early British Labor, French Syndicalists and Socialists, Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (Bolshevik)etc.). Class independence entails that action and thought be carried out independently of any force other than the workers or intellectuals attached to them, such as Karl Marx. They do not rely on any bourgeois or other ruling class force or party to carry out their program for them. They create their own theory and critique through knowledge of the world class struggle (with the assistance of intellectuals). This means that they do not appeal, plead, call, ask, beseech, or strongly demand that some other class force, such as the Democratic Party carry out reforms on their behalf. If reforms are to be granted, they should be granted because the proletariat demanded and forced the hand of the ruling class to act. This is preserving one’s class independence.
When Marxists present the idea of class independence, breaking labor, Blacks, oppressed women, and other minorities away from the Democratic Party’s deathlike embrace, many people respond in disbelief, reject the idea as impossible, or dismiss the idea saying “the Democrats are not that bad, and anyway they are friends of labor!” Friends of labor indeed! What follows are some talking points, facts, and instances where the Democrat “fiends of labor” have betrayed or stabbed their supporters in the back, enjoy and please add more!
-“Welfare Reform” which threw millions of unemployed, under employed, suffering minorities, working but poor mothers with children, and indigent out on the street and even required many to “pay back” that which they received from the state, a form of debt peonage. This program was fully supported by Democrat President Clinton and most legislators. Insult was added to injury when the use of phrases like “return to dignity” were used to prettify the slashing of welfare benefits. Most egregious, Democrats turned a blind eye to the constant racist attacks and stereotypes such as the “Welfare Queen.”
A common misunderstanding among the working class is that welfare or public assistance somehow negatively affects them. Far from it. By eliminating public assistance programs people are forced into the labor market, contributing to the growing Reserve Army of Labor used for times of acute capitalist labor demand. These job seekers are forced to compete for scarce jobs, especially in the low skill and low wage markets thus driving down wages. By receiving public assistance, workers are better able to stay off the market and keep competition against their compatriots lower.
-Labor bureaucrats and the dems: http://www.aflcio.org/aboutus/thisistheaflcio/outfront/theyheard.cfm At this page one can see how the labor bureaucracy that today misleads the American labor movement in both the AFL-CIO and the “Change to Win” coalition put their faith in the Democratic party to carry out the policies of labor. A quick review of what they ask for is minimal indeed!
-Now governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, Democrat, while Attorney General imprisoned Transit Workers Union President Roger Toussaint for several days, imposed millions of dollars in fines on the TWU and the Amalgamated Transport Workers Union through the treacherous use of the injunction-labors ancient foe. He as well as Hillary Clinton supported the anti-labor Taylor Law that forbids public employees from striking.
-Black Democrats often pose as both friends of labor and of Black people but they often are neither. The Democrats have no real interest in helping African-Americans win new gains and protect themselves from racist cop violence:
From Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick has been cutting and threatening to cut thousands of unionized jobs in the city of Detroit. The last thing Detroit needs is fewer jobs! Ray Nagin supported non-union/below union scale wage recognition in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In the 1970’s a New Jersey teachers strike was baited and attacked as racist by a Black mayor. Black Democrats channel the wholly righteous community rage at the police into meaningless review boards meant as a prop for the police and state machinery. Both Jesse Jackson and Ray Naginhave used anti-Mexican anti-immigrant scapegoating and chauvinism to rally people to their cause around the governments, including Democrats, racist atrocity around Hurricane Katrina.
-But certainly white Democrats are the worst: Clinton, during his first campaign for President, cynically and with racist vengeance flew home to Arkansas to oversee the execution of a retarded black death row inmate. Though posing as a liberal and speaking against “illegal war” now, Senator Byrd of West Virginia used to support segregation in the South. Jimmy Carter spoke about peoples desire for "ethnic purity" during his campaign for president, a nod to the white supremacist and segregationist tendencies. A Democrat has led every major U.S. war of the century, since the bourgeoisie recognizes them as “more credible covers for imperialism”: WWI-Wilson, WWII-Roosevelt/Truman, Korea-Truman, Vietnam-Kennedy/Johnson. But people still try to promote the Democrats as peaceful.
Forge a revolutionary workers party!
There are certainly more examples but this was meant to stimulate debate and thinking. Feel free to add more, I will gladly add them to the text.
Friday, December 01, 2006
In the advanced capitalist countries the writing of Russian and Soviet history has for some time been possibly the most political and ideologically charged and biased of any historical subject matter. This is not to say that politics and ideology do not belong in history, they do. To deny or reject this is to deny reality, drain history of excitement, and create a false aura of objectivity. Ideology and politics, in history, as in science and society must be tested! Proposals and suppositions must be placed under scientific scrutiny, whether they are proposed by the left or by the right. I wish to promote theorizing about politics and ideology by an engagement with facts and analysis.
I propose here to detail several myths, fallacies, and stopgaps used in the historiography of Russia and the Soviet Union that prevent real analysis and thinking. By stopgaps, I mean words, phrases, or popular short hand that encapsulates an entire argument that is absent, assumed and never presented. The stopgap is a label, such as “totalitarian” that ends all consideration of counter facts, details, and history! It is a dismissive that ends discussion, to the detriment of thought. This brings us to our first fallacy.
Totalitarianism- this label whether used for the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, its two most common uses, is purely ideological, used as a prop for western liberalism. By calling a nation totalitarian, we cut short analysis and research, and bring in elementary or sophomoric assumptions about the all controlling society, “Big Brother” and other literary allusions to the works of Orwell and Arendt. The use of totalitarianism is wrong and false for several reasons. First, totalitarian society does not exist. For example, classic Stalinist terror in the 1930’s was actually a response to not controlling the situation in the realm of the economy. Terror and coercion in this case was the ultimate expression of being out of control of the pace and contradictions of building massive industry, at a fantastical pace, with minimal assistance, and with ever rising and more impossible targets. Terror was the only way the bureaucracy saw that it could attempt to gain control of the situation it partially produced. Second, totalitarianism ignores the ways in which the order it is supposedly referring to is built using methods of cooptation, privileges, and terror, even under U.S. capitalism. Totalitarianism is always used for the other, never for one’s own country. (For a fuller discussion of this, see Slavoj Zizek’s Did Someone Say Totalitarianism? Verso 2001).
A second myth in what we might say in the bourgeois writing of Russian history is the use of the idea of the “golden mean,” closely linked to the totalitarian use above. The “golden mean” refers to the idea that going to the extreme either on the left or on the right leads to evil totalitarianism. Again, this is another crutch and justification for bourgeois democracy (control of politics by capital, occasional elections that determine who will oppress the masses now, a cooptation of workers organizations into the state, etc.) and usually ignores much of western history, inequality, racism, and brutality while extolling the benefits of “pluralist tolerance.” This tactic is employed against any radical program for the remaking of society towards greater equality and socialism by falsely identifying any methods that do not match methods employed in legal parliamentary politics with evil tyranny. At the very least, the golden mean is another ideological tool that that stops thinking, the conclusion is given before the facts. We want to start thinking! Real thinking requires systematic reading and argumentation not simple brainstorming some shreds of facts one has heard in the press or in popular consciousness. The golden mean is employed principally against the Bolsheviks during the revolutionary period to argue against the Bolshevik seizure of power and the dismissal of the Constituent Assembly. That these were necessary and vastly progressive acts in history is shown elsewhere, the point here is that the golden mean automatically gives the conclusion that these are bad practices because they violate parliamentary procedure, never mind that they were necessary to the salvation of the revolution, the ending of the imperialist war, and a step toward world socialist revolution. But,because they are labled as anti-democratic acts, the reader, naturally wants to be democratic and thus concludes that these practices are bad.
A third falsification in Russian history writing is the “magic bullet” of the “Russian Radical Tradition.” In short, the argument is that all Russian radicals share a messianic, anti-capitalist, primitivist, non-democratic, non-liberal, terror-embracing worldview. This is meant to include everyone from Hertzen, Bakunin, the Narodniks, to the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks. This magic bullet is supposed to explain every twist and turn of the Russian Marxist and radical movement. Tactics, strategy, the actual conditions on the ground are secondary in this kind of analysis. Why did the Bolsheviks resort to terror? Because of the Russian radical tradition, of course! This is an anti-scientific, non-analysis. This is akin to explaining the recent fundamentalist religious revival in the U.S. by saying the Puritans founded the country! This should strike one as at least unsatisfactory and unscientific. Anti-Marxists to besmirch or belittle Karl Marx with a similar argument. It says his belief in the development of society and revolution is entirely a product of the messianic Jewish Rabbinical tradition, not the result of his years of careful study and argumentation, no.
I have encountered all of these arguments in textbooks, history books, the classroom, and in discussions with all sorts of people. The purpose here was to expose the ideological function of these arguments in putting down the struggle for socialism and supporting bourgeois democracy and often imperialist war. Be on the lookout for these arguments and recognize them as what they are, tools for stopping thinking and consideration and for forcing one to agree with capitalist politics.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Saturday, August 05, 2006
A personal post on activism. I would like to apologize ahead of time if this post is too personal or sounds too self aggrandizing, that is not the intention.
In a day filled with strange happenings, including the loss of my new job, the strangest event was an aggressive attack on a peaceful weekly public protest by a young soldier returned from Iraq and son of a state representative. The protests are small and comprised mainly of religiously oriented peaceniks, “anti-war Democrats” and other liberals. I attend in an attempt to raise a revolutionary opposition to imperialism in the small town where I live and to try to bring a class-struggle perspective to this small group.
On this day as the hour long march was coming to an end a young man walked passed us and proceeded down the street to where our large sign rests on the lawn of a church and proceeded to destroy it. The sign reads something like: “2,571 US dead 30,000> estimated Iraqi dead, the toll of war” these are both underestimates; especially for the Iraqi’s whose deaths probably exceed 100,000. As I saw him do this, I raced to him yelling. I think I said what the hell or fuck are you doing? Standing right in his face I berated him for destroying our sign, and infringing on our free expression and assemblage. The others in the group were all older people well over sixty (I’m thirty). The youth revealed that he was a soldier who had been in Iraq for the past year. He revealed his essentialist contempt for Semitic people has barbarous citing the bible as proof that “they have been fighting over there for ever.” I continued to confront and challenge him on his destruction of our sign t which he replied that we were dishonoring the soldiers over there, and the we should not be running our mouths over here. He said the soldiers, US soldiers, were dying for our freedom. I said they were killing Iraqi’s and oppressing them, to which he replied with a physical threat, “you’re going to get punched in a minute.” I was still inches from his face. No further violence occurred.
I continued to confront him for over half an hour, discovering that he was totally deluded about all of American history. When I said US imperialism massacred two million Vietnamese he replied but we prevented the spread of Communism, to which I responded we were continuing racist French colonial domination of oppressed people. Etc, Etc. I tld him repeatedly that he was wrong, infringing upon free speech, destroying out personal property, and supporting imperialist terror and the murder of innocent people including children.
Finally, the peace activists broke us up and we left.
He confessed that he is the son of a Michigan state representative from Midland. I now know who it is. What made his act cowardly, as I assert in the title, is that if this was a large protest, or there were a bunch of workers, construction workers, steel workers, or even local grocery workers, black, white, Latino, in other words the social strength of the multiracial working class and not just aging but dedicated peaceniks, this coward would have turned his tail and run!
The peace activists there said hey were glad I was there because they would have done nothing. This is the philosophy of the religious anti-war activists, to bear witness and to turn the other cheek. While I probably should have done more, I actively confronted this bandit for the ruling class. He felt entitled to act because of the super–patriotism and chauvinism taught to him by his reactionary family (they are religious Republicans) the reactionary churches, and the reactionary social institutions prevalent here in rural America.
I am however, proud that I defended, in front of this bigoted thug, a proletarian internationalist perspective that the main enemy was at home, that US imperialism is the greatest enemy and oppressor of the world working class, and that I support war waged by the working class against the capitalist class!
I am considering pressing formal charges but am weary of using the capitalist injustice system.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
The above link will take you to the Workers Vanguard leaflet on this issue.
After nearly starving the Palestinian people in Gaza for weeks, cutting their power, threatening their elected leaders and sabotaging all attempts at normal government, Israel came under rocket attack by Hezbollah petty-bourgeois religious nationalists stationed in Southern Lebanon. Using the capture of two Israeli soldiers as a pretext for war, Israel has mobilized massive and bloody retaliation against the whole population of Lebanon!
The Associated Press reports the following:
“At least 548 Lebanese have been killed since the fighting began three weeks ago, including 477 civilians and 25 Lebanese soldiers and at least 46 Hezbollah guerrillas. The health minister says the toll could be as high as 750, including those still buried in rubble or missing.
In all, 56 Israelis have died — 37 soldiers as well as 19 civilians killed in Hezbollah rocket attacks.”
Newsweek reports that Israel regards any building where Hezbollah hides is “a legitimate target.” Furthermore, Newsweek tells us, that this policy practically means that any building suspected of housing Hezbollah is a legitimate target. This demonstrates from the mouths of the U.S. bourgeois media that the Israeli bombing will necessarily target civilians as we have abundant proof.
The U.S. for its part has rushed to use the attacks by its sub-imperialist enforcer in the Middle East, Israel, to threaten Syria and Iraq! This all must be viewed in the context of U.S. imperialism's global "war on terror" which is an ideological obfuscation of the real war on potential rivals, minority movements, nationalist movements, and the remaining deformed workers states: China, Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam.
Western bourgeois Media has taken up the line of the U.S. and Israel without dissent. They minimize the totally asymetrical attack by wealthy and well armed Israel against barley reconstructed Lebanon. Workers, Marxists, Anarchists, and all of the oppressed must see Israel's attacks as part of imperialism. All should Defend Lebanon from these attacks!
Why should workers and Marxists Defend Lebanon, Gaza, and Palestine? Spartacist No. 55 Autumn 1999 states, quoting Lenin’s 1915 ‘Socialism and War’: “A revolutionary class cannot but wish for the defeat of its government in a reactionary war, and cannot fail to see that the latter’s military reverses must facilitate its overthrow.”
Meaning that “…in the case of an imperialist war against a small nation or semicolonial people, it is the duty of the working class not only to fight for the defeat of one’s “own” government but to defend the victims of imperialist aggression (ibid)”.
Let's consider some more arguments about this conflict:
First, look at the death toll and see how disproportional the Israeli response is: 370 Lebanese killed to 35 Israelis (New York Times, July 23, 2006), which is nearly 10: 1! If Hezbollah and Hamas have attacked civilians in “terrorist” attacks as many point out then Israel must be a state terrorist actor themselves in destroying the homes of “suspects,” deliberate segregation of Arabs, bombardment from tanks and aircraft of civilian areas, huge wall building (remember how the Western imperialists hate walls and denounce those who build them i.e. the Berlin Wall) and widely suspected possession of WMD’s in the form of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. As for kidnapping and torture, we can say the same for Israel, if not on a larger scale. The point is that the targeting of civilians by both Israel and various Arab nationalist militias are criminal acts and must be condemned. However we cannot forget the actual power dynamic in which Israel acts as a proxy for U.S. imperialist repression of Arabs.
Second, what is it that “throws the Middle East into instability?” Is it the involvement of other Middle Eastern countries or is it the involvement of the United States and their imperialist powers? It is the involvement of the U.S., the largest imperialist power in the world that makes the region unstable. It is the areas where Imperialist rule is being enforced that are unstable: Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel/Palestine. In addition, what does ‘stability’ mean? Does it mean that Arabs quietly acquiesce to outside domination and interference into their affairs? Does it mean that the class rule of the property owners is enforced through military states? That is not stability. Real “stability” is when every country and nation is free from the domination by another country or nation. In the current world, this national freedom must also be linked to a fight against imperialism and capitalism, and for socialist emancipation of the working class from its own greatest oppressors, their own ruling classes. National liberation without socialist revolution merely creates the conditions for the domination of workers by capitalists.
Unfortunately, the current leaders of the Palestinians and the Arab resistance are nationalistic misleaders. They use fundamentalist Islam, anti-woman bigotry, and anti-Semitism to marshal their populations, restrain women’s rights, and deter inter-communal, internationalist cooperation. On the Israeli side the workers are mislead by a nationalist Zionist Labor party and bureaucratic union leaders that are more interested in the preservation of the Israeli exclusionary militarist state than they are in international labor solidarity, and self-determination for all peoples. Both sides need internationalist workers parties that will champion the cause of Palestinian independence, the overthrow of capitalism through socialist revolution the creation of a united federation of the Middle East.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
This post is informational and organizational. It aims to gather information and gain knowledge through discussion and to help organize possible effective action. I will periodically edit this with more information, and events as they appear.
In Michigan, the state where I live, a white racist ballot proposal ( I am white and male so you cannot say I'm biased based on my identity) to end affirmative action has made its way to the voting booths for the November election in Michigan. This is very much the same proposal as California's infamous Prop 209 that passed in 1996 that seems to have ended any kind of state practiced affirmative action in California. The result in California was immediate and enormous declines in minority enrolment. Here I mean to sketch out the proper theory and practice for Marxists and for the working class towards this important question. Second, I encourage people to go to events which are scheduled, even if the platform is not revolutionary, with the goal of moving the movement to defend affirmative action in the direction of gaining new and greater gains for the oppressed and workers.
In short, affirmative action is a small gain made by the struggles of the oppressed and working people. The aim of creating real equality can only be achieved through multiracial socialist revolution that eliminates capitalism and allows the development of the world without racism, exploitation, sexism, and war. However the small gains like affirmative action must be defended if any new gains are ever to be won. The timing of this ballot is at a time of hardship for the working class including mass layoffs and high unemployment in Michigan. This proposal is meant to tap into latent and active resentment in white workers against the false perception that minorities get a “free ride.” Nothing could be further from the truth!
The goal should be to Defend Affirmative Action and More! Fight White Race Baiting! Toward Multiracial Socialist Revolution!
In the course of the last few months there have been several anti-racist and anti-MCRI activities that some friends and I have engaged in. One was a debate held at Central Michigan University between supporters of MCRIa: Jennifer Gratz-the white woman who sued the University of Michigan for discrimination based on race- and William Allen an elite sounding African -American professor from Michigan State University who also sits on the US Civil Rights Commission! The Detractors Were Kate Moss, state director of theACLU (not the model) and another lawyer whos name escapes me. We handed out a leaflet and spoke to people about the issue. Mostly young white students said that they did no want the leaflet because they opposed affirmative action. Here is the tex of the leaflet:
Defend Affirmative Action and More!
Stop white race baiting! Free, quality, integrated education for all!
The so-called Michigan Civil Rights Initiative and its rich backers claim to be for total non-discrimination based on race. This claim, they argue, is based on the very American concepts of equality, equal opportunity, and non-discrimination. They claim to be for universal rights in this regard. But are they? If they truly are in favor of equality and non-discrimination, they would support the abolition of preferences for the children of alumni in higher education that has nothing to do with merit and is actually a dirty excuse for white racial preferences and class preferences - preference at universities based on inherited familial privilege-in other words aristocratic privilege. If they truly favor equality and non-discrimination they would be for the abolition of district/locally based funding for public schools which only entrenches backwardness, deprivation, and inequality in the poor and oppressed minorities through ghettoization and ensures preference, enlightenment, exposure, technology, and care for the rich and overwhelmingly white. They should be in favor of a national education system from which all are educated equally or even to give preference to the poor to help them catch-up. So, by selectively targeting the so called “reverse racism” or “discrimination against whites” and not supporting real and full equality, the opponents of affirmative action are in fact helping to reinforce the privileged status of whites over Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and women-all groups suffering higher poverty rates, unemployment, deprivation, and discrimination than whites and males. By helping to reinforce the privileged status of whites they are performing today the historic task of the slave patrol, the overseer, the Ku Klux Klan, Plessey vs. Fergusson, George Wallace and David Duke. This is white supremacy!
The need to keep the most oppressed peoples in positions of inferiority and poverty stems from the needs of capitalism for cheap cohersed labor and a fear of unified working class insurgency. Therefore, differential treatment of various ethnic groups serves to create a hierachy within the working and lower classes where people compete against each other and not against the ruling capitalist class, the real enemy.
Build a revolutionary, internationalist, inter-racial party of the workers in Michigan! The capitalist ruling class has resorted to the crudest forms of racism in order to gain support for their programs of rolling back the gains of the civil rights struggle, the women’s liberation movement, and the labor movement. Reform will only end up impotently supporting the imperialist state and the ruling class! Revolution will bring lasting real change!
Contact an organizer at: firstname.lastname@example.org Nick
For a revolutionary perspective visit the International Communist League at :
*ICL is in no way responsible for the content of this leaflet. (End of leaflet)
Since the revolutionary party does not exist in Michigan I encourage entryism with liberal and left groups.
Events in Michigan:
(1)On Monday July 10, the Mt. Pleasant city commission will be voting on a resolution in opposition to the MCRI. Please come out and lend your presence to a strong show of community support for them taking this bold action. The meeting begins at 7pm
(2) On Tuesday July 11, the Isabella Chapter of Michigan United will have its next meeting at 5:30pm. The meeting will once again be at The Crossings on Broadway. Please come and bring a friend. We are definitely making progress in educating people about the MCRI but we must continue to reach out.
Update: The first vote was postponed by the memeber who brought it, a secret socialist he later confided. The second event was small, twenty people or so, with some of the standard talking points about such actions as how to educate such a large public in such a short time with such few resources, whether to associate or not with mainstream parties (I spoke on behalf of the negative answer to that question) and how broad or narrow to be. Several people were sympathetic to my socialist orientation however I must remenber that this is a group backed by the ACLU and mainstream trade union and civil rights groups which means that their politics are tied to the Democratic Party. While I certainly do not object to working with these afore mentioned organizations, especially on this issue and given the political environment in which I find myself, I must be careful to realize that this is mainly reformist pressure politics that is the staple of bourgeois politics. The power of labor and the oppressed must be brought to bear hard on this issue or else this fight may be over.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I appologize for the tardiness of this post. I wrote it on the suggestion of Comrade Edie. Enjoy, and please comment and discuss.
The recent round of struggles around the rights of immigrants has several components. First, is the state assault upon the rights and lives of immigrants, including the twin racist Congressional bills, the chauvinist-militarist furor over "secure borders" under the pretext of "terrorist threats", and the mobilization of the so-called Minutemen, a new version of Ernst Rohm's Nazi Brownshirts. The second component is the defensive actions and mass protests and strikes by immigrants and their supporters across the country.
The context of the current anti-immigrant furor is largely that of US imperialism's global war against "terror" which includes guerilla movements (FARC, Zapatistas, Southern Philippines, ETA...), workers, ethnic minorities, muslims, and the poor. As many people realize the September 2001 attacks have been used as a pretext to increase the already swelled US imperilaist military, further expand the mammoth police state apparatus, to tie-up the lose ends of US global imperial policy in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to threaten the existing potential contenders with the US for global or regional hegemony, namely the deformed workers state of China, and the other junior imperial powers Japan and Western Europe. These global level actions of imperialism are mirrored on the national level by the ethnic profiling of Arab-like peoples, the mass monitoring of the population by capitalists and the state, and the racist exclusionary reaction by the right wing, aided by a similarly racist second class citizen program by the Democrats with the President aiding both sides.
The anti-immigrant policies of the Republicans, Democrats and the state in general is meant to stir resentment and hatred toward immigrants among many whites and some non-white groups already hobbled by and subject to capitalist austerity, job and wage degradation, unstable employment prospects and a lack of clear anti-racist internationalist proletarian leadership. The Democrats for their part accept most of the lies about the ill effects of immigration, except in their obscure policy papers by the Economic Policy Institute. The purpose of the so-called Guest Worker Plan is to enshrine the vulnerable and dependent status of immigrnat workers in a new bracero program creating indentured servitude.
As part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the brain-child of US capitalists, Mexico need to open up its agricultural sector to more competition. This sector was populated by peasant tillers with relatively few means of modern agricultural production. Compared to the large commercial and highly capitalized farms in the US and to some extent Canada, the Mexican peasant tiller could not compete and thus millions have been driven from their lands in the same way that Marx observed that English peasants were encircled, dispossessed and later became proletarians. This has created a mass of new workers to populate the reserve army of labor to be used by capital as a wedge against currently employed workers.
The unions have presented a weak and expectedly tailing response to the curent immigration stuggle. They have not lead but have abdicted mass participation in the protests by immigrants, deciding instead to sit back and passively watch or contribute some time and money rather than forcefully making it their priority. This would be a real internationalist and anti-racist position to take. Why do they not? I propose that the bureaucracies' class collaborationist stance with the capitalist Democrats and their nationalistic stance, makes the misleaders oppose taking the lead in such struggles. A second reason could be that the bureacrats and misleaders take a dim view of the workers they represent, and figure that they would not go for this. I have heard this kind of talk from some union officials and wonder is they are not just undersestimating their own members?
There has even been a strange response from a minor African-American leader in the form of Ted Hayes. I checked this guy out, he is a homeless advocate and head of a futuristic homeless shelter community in L.A. He has openly made common cause with the racist Minutemen who in a minute will be attacking Blacks as soon as that comes arround. I must say though that he is an oddity.
Labor and all those who claim to be progressive, leftists, believers in democracy or even "the American dream" must take up the defence of immigrant from racist attack and reaction. This can be argued from seeral perspectives. First the purely economic. In a competitve labor market the least skilled workers are forced into competition with the skilld and unskilled immigrant workers. This increases labor supply and decreases the wage. However agrigate demand increases which increases the overall demand for labor in the economy. This is all hampered when one group of workers has a different status than other workers such as the "whiteness wage", and the enormous constraints placed on so-called free laborers such as segregation and Jim Crow for Black wage workers, Chinese Coolies (most abducted or forced into debt bondage and hownded by white mobs), and other oppression of non-white labor. Whites did not suffer these special oppressions but had to endure the regular exploitation of capitalism: long hours, hard and dangerous work, etc. By creating different tiers in the working class, treating some with priviledges and others with punishmnet, thereby is created racism. It is these labor market and social engineering preactices whereby the bourgeoisie and their state create the materail basis for racism. In combating this the working class also combats its own oppression. Thus it should be in the economic and the political interests of the working class to fight racism and to embrace immigration.
Thus the labor movement and the left must raise the demand for Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants! Not only would this be an enormous blow to racist and hyper-xenophobic American ideology and practice but it would give the proper enema to the constipated and sluggish unions to get them going. An injecting of militant foreign workers full of fiber is just what the American working class needs. Defend Immigrants! Full Citizenships Rights Now!
Saturday, June 24, 2006
History and Class
The fact that human societies are hierarchically organized into groups based upon their relative power, wealth, and prestige has been an aspect of political and social thought since the rise of stratified societies. In The Republic, Plato speaks about the ideal organization of society based upon the existence of three social groups, philosopher elites, warriors, and servant workers (often slaves) each playing a role in the proper functioning of society. Tacitus, in his Annals of Imperial Rome, describes the debauchery and decadence of the emperors and the ruling elite at the beginning of the Roman Empire. In feudal Europe, a small dominant group of titled property and shop owners lived by exploiting the labor of other people (Bloch, Feudal Society 1961: 288). In the modern age of manufacture, legal and hereditary bonds have given way to the free labor contract, private property, and the settling of society's needs through the market relation. In other words, industrial society “has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his 'natural superiors', and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous 'cash payment' (Marx and Engels, Manifesto... 1978 : 478) .” To these various relations people have given the name class or social class. To be clear, I do not here mean to say that stratification and the division of society into classes is natural or even inevitable but rather that “...the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production… (Marx to Weydemyer 1978 : 220).”
The recognition and understanding of a persons place within society's hierarchical arrangement has been quite a different matter. In ancient civilizations the master and slave relationship was based upon the conquest and subjugation of one people by another in warfare. Slavery in these systems was justified on the basis of the power and the purported superiority of the dominant civilizations. Slaves were conscious of systems and lives other than slavery and this can be seen during times of revolt, where in the famous example of Spartacus, a key demand of his slave army was to have ships with which they could return home. Feudal relations between lord and serf were justified on complex religious grounds and doctrines linking the actual property owners to religious institutions which were the representatives of the divine on earth. Thus, superiority over the serfs was naturalized and salvation was promised to the poor in the afterlife which served to moderate the misery of labor. In addition, a complex network of social distinctions, ranks, titles and duties served to mystify and blur the material distinctions between the rulers and the ruled. Under modern industrial capitalism the market relation of the wage laborer and the capitalist is underpinned by the theory and practice of liberalism. Thus, a representative bourgeois democracy, erected by and for the ruling class, claims to represent the “will of the people” and in civil society a cult of the rational individual is constructed. These institutions serve in this period to undermine class solidarity and the individual's recognition of their objective position within the class structure.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
The first purpose of the defence of class struggle prisoners is the intrinsic value, the "moral" imperitive to defend your own co-thinkers and actors. To not allow the state bourgeois terrorists to take one inch of ground or one fighter for the cause without struggle. This should be elementary, for to abandon the class struggle at the prison gates or at the court house steps means a great capitulation to the capitalist legal system, oppressors of Blacks, workers, and the poor. One very simple logical justifications for this is that if one wants to encourage solidarity among radicals and the oppressed, then radicals and the oppressed must band together for mutal self defence. If revolutionaries cannot defend themselves against small attacks by the system how can they expect to be able to act to overthrow this same system.
A second important reason to take up class struggle defence is the opportunity which the imprisonment of a "people's tribune" or "voice of the oppressed" creates to spread their word and the word of the socialist movement to the people. When "normal" means of propaganda do not reach or motivate enough people, the victimization of a leader of the oppressed can bring many people into open militant action. When socialism and revolution are scarry or too abstract for the masses, the issue of defending a single class struggle prisoner like Mumia Abu-Jamal or Leonard Peltier can animate youth and the uncommitted through the valor of their stories and struggles.
One might object that this is opportunisticly using one persons suffering to futher your own cause. Yes in a way it is taking advantage of the situation to further the struggle. However it needs to be done in such a way as to further the broad emancipatory goals of the class struggle prisoner.
This struggle must be a united front, and no capitulations from other grous should be asked in order for another groups support. The urgency of this fight must be carried on in a non-sectarian way. This struggle must be entirely for the prisoners benefits and for the benefit of those for whom they have spoken and fought.
Class struggle defence has a long history. Perhapse the best known case was the outpouring of International support for the Anarchists Nicolo Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti falsely accused of armed robbery. However other great traditions include the abolitionist defence and aiding of fugitive slaves, the international outcry over the framing of the Haymarket workers for which May Day is celebrated, the defence of the Passaic Strikers of 1926, the defence of Trotskyists and Communists arrested under the Smith Act, the defence of numerous Black Panthers attacked by the U.S. governments Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) including Abu-Jamal (See, Women and Revolution
no. 45, 1996, p. 24-36).
Currently, the Partisan Defence Committeee, initiated by the Spartacist League, is conducting a campaign to renew and revitalize the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, former Black Panther, MOVE supporter and fighter for Black freedom, falsely convicted of the killing of a Philidelphia cop in 1981. In addition this mobilization is an extention of the fight to end the racist death penalty in this country, a form of legal lynching which rouses race hatred among many whites. The link on this page is to a flier on Mumia. For more information see . Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! Abolish the Racist Death Penalty!
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
This is our dog Gustus, like the name Augustus without the "Au" and and a "goo" sound to begin with. I like to tell myself he was named after the socialist August Bebel or the philosopher and first socioloist August Comte but in reality my stepdaughter made up the name. I posted this so I could link it to my profile.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Hello Troskys' little one says bye,bye!
Sunday, March 05, 2006
On the first question, "What is the nature of the U.S. invasion and occupation?" The answer is, it is an imperialist war and occupation. First, the U.S. claim that it is toppling an undemocratic murderous dictator is false. One cannot at one time give political, economic, and military support to a regime to make an aggressive and murderous war on its neighbor Iran, sheepishly condemn its acts of murder against the Kurds (which the U.S. did do and then continued to ignore and do nothing about until it was convenient to ooportunisticly bring up the episodes years laterin order to justify war) and then make any credible claim to being in opposition to its policies. Second, the U.S. is the sole global power, the only country with the power to project its military anywhere in the world it wishes. Even when the Soviet Union existed it did not have this capablity, and the one time it attempted anything close to what the U.S. practices on a regular basis, putting missiles in Cuba, it met staunch opposition from the U.S.. Third, the aim of the war, at least the primary aim, was not the quest for the control of oil though this is important as an ever present context. Natural resource control can be accomplished in multiple ways, and more cheaply than hundreds of billions of dollars in military costs. The real aim, as Immanuel Wallerstein points out, is fear. Following from the logic of the U.S. being the sole global hegemon, without the Soviet Union to constrain it, the U.S. has decided to reign in so-called rogue states in a global get tough campaign to show its potential competitors in Europe, Japan, and possibly China who is running this show just in case they get any ideas about getting out of line and returning to the imperialist game outside of American control.
So what specifically makes this war imperialist? First Lenin defines imperialism as the division and redivision of the world by the imperialist powers. This means that wars carried out by the capitalist powers in the interests of their own bourgeoisie for the greater reaping of profits (either directly through immidiate access to resources or indirectly by improving the command and control of resources) are all imperialist wars. No war carried out by the capitalist powers in the era of monoploy capitalism can be supported by workers. The line of workers must be to smash imperialism utterly as it is the machine which has constantly and consistently smashed the strivings of workers and the oppressed for decades and centuries.
The invasion and occupation of Iraq as well as the entire "war on terror" has created a great dilemma for the American working class. The dilemma is that of national chauvinism and support for imperialism or internationalism and revolution. The tailing of the Democratic Party imperialists by the labor bureaucrats that hold leadership positions within the unions have historically hobbled the ablity of American workers to assume internationalist positions in support of workers world wide. During the entire Cold War the AFL-CIO (AFL-CIA to some) has supported virtually every U.S. intervention against national liberation movements of the oppressed and towed the chauvinist line of backing imperialist aggression in the name of "democracy." By offering alternative strategies of how best to use the U.S. military the Democrats are selling the illusion that labor can influence or even control the actions of a capitalist state. It is elementary for Marxists that the state is ruled by and for the capitalist class and politicians in their service. In buying in to this illusion labor misleaders sell out the internationalist perspective of revolutionary worker solidarity and opposition to capitalism by embracing the activity of its own exploiters in exploiting the rest of the world. In other words the U.S. working class is coopted in various ways into becoming the instruments of other workers oppression. The exception one might make is that urban workers and their families are not a large perportion of the military rather the rural and the petit bourgeois make up the majority of those who enter and are enthusiastic about it.
What does this brieff analysis mean as far as strategy for workers and revolutionaries? First, it should be obvious that no support whatsoever can be given to the imperialists or any of their new strategies at putting a good face on imperialist war, either in the guise of the dissident generals criticism which is really a lament that the U.S. did not hit Iraq harder with more troops and bombs, this is like criticizing Hitler for having held back against the Soviet Union in operation Barbarosa, the lagest military offensive of all time. Another guise is the Democrats "better imperialism" which states that Iraq is a distraction from the "real" threats of Iran, or the deformed workers states of North Korea or China. Please rest assured that these states as targets of U.S. aggression are never far from the minds of military planners.
Second, no support can be given to social pacifist "stop war" campaigns. If generalized war stopped tomorrow we would still have the results of centuries of colonial plunder, the exploitation of slaves and workers, and hundreds of years of "the diplomacy of imperialism" to use the words of W. S. Langer. What social pacifism, the stop war campaigns of many mainstream liberal petit bourgeois anti-war groups, does is to dissappear the class nature of war. Lenin says "...the struggle must consist... not simply in replacing war by peace, but in replacing capitalism by socialism, The essential thing is not merely to prevent war, but to utilize the crisis created by war in order to hasten the overthrow of the bourgeoisie (Agaisnt Imperialist War, 1966, p. 9)." What Lenin shows is the great failing of orgainized labor, the anti-war peaceniks, and even the leading organizations of the oppressed minorities (Arican-Americans, Latino/as, and Native Americans) to use the war to break with the Democrats and break with strident patriotism and flag waving and to raise the class demand of creating a multiracial working class war on U.S. imperialism, a war on the state, and a war on the capitalist class!