Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Racist State Assault on Immigrants

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

Histoy and Class

The following is from a larger piece I am writing on class consciousness that I have decided to omit but post here for your enjoyment.
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 [1848]: 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 [1852]: 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

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

An important part of the work of revolutionaries and the working class movement is the defence of fellow radicals and other victims of state terror. The fight to defend and free class struggle prisoners serves several important purposes in the proletarian movement. Class struggle prisoners are heroic fighters for the workers or the oppressed who have been railroaded or framed by the criminal injustice system for the purpose of a state and class war on revolutionaries, labor, oppressed minorities, and women. The working class itself must be organized for the defence of these fighters.

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

Hello, my name is Gustus

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.