Monday, July 24, 2006

Update on Anti-Affirmative Action Michigan Civil Rights Initiative

Today several people including myself spoke on the topic of defending Affirmative Action in Michigan. We spoke at a city council meeting of the city of Mt. Pleasant that later unanamously approved a motion denouncing the racist inspired Michigan Civil Rights Initiative to ban Affirmative Action and the use of racial, ethnic, and other categories in employment, contract awards and school admissions. I mean not to create illusions among workers that pleading with capitalist governments, including liberals, will win gains for workers and the oppressed, it will not! Only mass multiracial, militant, workers struggle will win real and lasting gains. This vote was a very, very small part of a larger struggle to beat back the capitalist assault upon the gains of workers through civil rights and womens struggles. Much more needs to be done and I feel saddened that there is not a larger and more radical fight in the region where I work. Defend Affirmative Action and More! For Free, Quality Educationa For All! For Full Employment Through Multiracial Union Hiring Halls!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Defend Lebanon! Defend Gaza! Defend Palestine! (Update)

Second update.

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

Bourgeois Race Baiting: The so-called Michigan Civil Rights Initiative

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: 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.