A Socialist View of US Government ‘Gun Control’ – by Tom Crean (Socialist Alternative) 5 Dec 2017

The horrific Las Vegas massacre at the start of October and the more recent massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas has rekindled the debate about what can be done to prevent the nightmare of recurring mass shootings. There have been renewed calls from liberal politicians for gun control measures. Even the National Rifle Association recently agreed that there should be some limits placed on the availability of “bump stocks” which allowed Stephen Paddock to turn his weapons into killing machines spewing hundreds of rounds of ammunition over the course of a few minutes into the concert crowd across the street from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

But while mass shootings focus public attention, the truth is that they only account for a fraction of the total number of people killed by guns in the U.S. One recent report suggested that more Americans have died due to gun violence since 1968 than in all the wars engaged in by the U.S. in its entire history.

The question we posed in the document is whether the situation where society is awash in weapons in the interests of the working class. We elaborate why, as socialists, we reject both the “gun rights” narrative of the right as well as the liberal gun control narrative.

We must also note though that despite numerous horrific mass shootings, overall support for gun control measures has not grown over the last five years although there are increases in support for some measures in the wake of particularly horrific mass shootings. For example, 64% told Politico/Morning Consult in October that they support tightening gun regulation, a 3% increase. But the picture becomes much less clear when you look at specific measures

The longer term trend over the past 20 years is actually away from support for tougher gun control measures. For example, according to Gallup the support for a ban on assault rifles went down from 46% in December 2012 to 36% in October 2016. In 1996, by contrast, there was 57% support for a ban.

The gun control measure with overwhelming support is universal background checks including for private sales and sales at gun shows. There is also strong support for preventing people with mental health issues and those on government screening lists from buying weapons as well as for a centralized national database for gun sales.

Gun rights have become a key issue in the country’s deepening political polarization. It is also clear that the liberal arguments for more sweeping gun control measures have failed to convince broad swathes of the population. The NRA tragically has clearly had some success arguing in sections of the population that the way to combat gun violence in society is for the “good guys” to be armed to the teeth. This points all the more to the left needing to articulate an independent position on how to address the epidemic levels of violence in our society.

Is Gun Control the Solution to Gun Violence? A Socialist Analysis (2012)

Horror in Newtown

The massacre of 20 students and 7 adults in a Newtown, Connecticut school in December 2012 by a mentally disturbed young man has reignited the debate on gun control in the U.S. In mid-January, the Obama administration announced its support for a series of legislative measures that would among other things mandate background checks on all gun sales; ban the sale of “military style” semiautomatic weapons and limit ammunition magazines to a maximum of 10 rounds. This proposal to impose limited measures of gun control at the federal level has led to a furious response from the right, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA). However, polls indicate that there is a significant shift in popular sentiment toward supporting such measures.

Nevertheless the attempt to strengthen gun regulation at the federal level is for now dead in the water after even the background check measure which polls say is supported by nearly 90% of the public failed to get the 60 votes required to prevent a filibuster in the Senate. It should be stressed that this outcome does not mean the debate on gun control is over. Measures have been brought forward at state level and other massacres, unfortunately inevitable, will revive the issue. It is also clear that a significant section of the elite for their own reasons want to bring the gun lobby to heel.

As a Marxist organization with an increasing public profile we need to have a clear position in this public debate. We must look at the historical context of the right to bear arms and gun control both in the U.S. and internationally. We need to analyze the complex causes of the massive level of gun violence that exists in American society and put forward socialist solutions. We must look dispassionately at the real agenda of both the bourgeois forces pushing for gun control and those opposing it.

Perhaps most importantly, we must ask whether the arming of large sections of the American population in the concrete circumstances of the early 21st century and given the reactionary individualist ideology that promotes this is really in the interests of the working class. On the other hand, how do we address the ever increasing powers of the state which clearly do pose a threat to any section of American society that would resist the dictates of the ruling class? These are complex issues which cannot be summarized in a few glib phrases.

Historical Context

The Second Amendment to the Constitution reads as follows: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The context of the amendment in 1791 was the recent Revolutionary War and the belief that the struggle against the British crown was probably not over – this was confirmed by the War of 1812 when the British burned Washington DC to the ground. There was strong opposition to the idea of a standing army based on historical experience in Europe and recent experience with the British Army. Standing armies were correctly seen as the tools of tyrannical regimes.

As a result, in the early American republic, a big section of the white male population was armed for military reasons first and foremost. Of course there was no question, as far as the elite was concerned, of allowing black slaves or even free blacks to have guns. Many states required gun owners to register their weapons and prohibited carrying concealed weapons.

Broadly speaking, the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights of which it is part, represents part of the progressive legacy of the American Revolution. But as capitalism developed, the issue of weapons and gun control became inseparable from the class struggle between labor and capital and the desire of the ruling class to maintain the subjugation of the African American population.

There have been repeated horrific massacres in U.S. history of working people fighting for their rights. In 1914 during a miners’ strike in Colorado, 21 men, women, and children were killed in Ludlow by machine gun fire from the state militia. In 1937 during a peaceful protest of striking Republic Steel workers and their families in South Chicago, the police opened fire. Ten workers were shot dead and another 40 workers were wounded by gunfire, all of them shot in the back.

On the other side, striking workers resisting attacks from company goons and/or the state during strikes have on numerous occasions armed themselves for self-defense. In the 1880s Chicago’s militant German-centered labor movement went as far as creating a workers’ militia. This is not just a question of the dim and distant past. As recently as the 1970s, some miners pickets armed themselves in self-defense during wildcat UMWA strikes.

Likewise in the mid-1960s during the civil rights movement, the armed Deacons for Defense and Justice were formed by black veterans to protect civil rights activists against attacks by the Klan and state forces. The Deacons were very effective and played an important adjunct role to the mass protests at the heart of that struggle.

The Black Panther Party for Self Defense continued this tradition although their experience also shows the life and death consequences of an “ultra-left” approach to this question. Initially some of the actions the Panthers took were effective in exposing police violence, giving people confidence to stand up and putting a check on the state. On a general political level the Panthers were correct to argue a revolutionary case, i.e. against pacifism, and for the right to self-defense, and indeed to take concrete defensive action that was understandable to broader (not yet revolutionary) layers of the black community and the working class – such as practical measures to defend against violent attacks by racist forces.

However, the brandishing of weapons, while being attractive to a minority of revolutionary black youth, was a serious mistake. It contributed to keeping the Panthers isolated from the broader black working class, which sympathized with them but was not prepared to join an explicitly armed revolutionary organization, and played into the hands of the capitalist state which succeeded in brutally crushing them.

Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and the Panther leadership eventually recognized this. As Huey Newton says in his book Revolutionary Suicide “We soon discovered that weapons and uniforms set us apart from the community. We were looked upon as an ad hoc military group, acting outside the community fabric and too radical to be a part of it. Perhaps some of our tactics at the time were extreme; perhaps we placed too much emphasis on military action.”

Even in an actual revolutionary situation, the key issue is not military but political mobilization of the working class and the oppressed on the basis of defensive and democratic appeals to oppose and defeat any violent efforts of the small ruling elite to subvert the will of the majority. This was precisely what the Bolsheviks did in October 1917, the most democratic revolution in history in which there was extremely little violence. The Bolsheviks also made a class appeal to the ranks of the Tsarist army thereby largely neutralizing the old state forces as a weapon for the autocratic regime.

Of course history is replete with negative examples where the working class lacked a leadership sufficiently determined to face down the threat of the old order to unleash counterrevolutionary violence. Adventurist attempts by revolutionaries to prematurely “seize power” have also led to bloody defeats for working people.

The ruling class always tries to portray its opponents as violent. It is the task of Marxists to demonstrate to the mass of the population that the central source of violence in modern society is capitalism and the capitalist elite. This is particularly true in the United States whose ruling class has waged and is still waging a whole series of bloody imperialist adventures around the world to defend the rule of profit.

This is the context in which we must look at gun control. Attempts at gun control have been an ongoing feature of U.S. and other capitalist societies. In Europe, the ruling class made concerted efforts to disarm revolutionary and working class forces in the wake of the revolutionary upheavals of 1848. In general, whatever the reasons given at the time, most attempts at gun control have been at least partly motivated by the desire of the ruling class to disarm its potential opponents, first and foremost the working class. For example, the Mulford Act passed by the California legislature in 1967 which banned the public carrying of a loaded firearm was a direct response to the Black Panthers. The federal Gun Control Act of 1968 was also partly motivated by fear of an armed black population especially in the wake of the 1967 urban upheavals.

Marxists have historically opposed such attempts to try to enforce the bourgeoisie’s desire for a monopoly of force. We do not accept the idea that only the state should be armed as a “neutral” arbiter between the classes. All historical experience shows that the state’s armed bodies are not neutral but rather serve the interests of the ruling class.

How the debate on gun rights changed

For much of the 20th century, federal gun control measures had bipartisan support. In the wake of the defeat of the radical wing of the civil rights movement, the collapse of Stalinism, and the drastic weakening of the labor movement and any real internal challenges to the power of U.S. capitalism, the debate on weapons within the ruling class shifted away from trying to disarm its potential adversaries.

This shift could already be seen during the Reagan administration, with the development of the New Right which took the position that any restrictions on the “right to bear arms” were an attack on the Second Amendment. This was part of a broader process underway in the Republican Party with a turn towards populist and religious appeals. The issue of gun ownership was tied to right-wing populism which used coded racism about crime to mobilize sections of the white working and middle class. This was part of providing a broader political and electoral base for an increasingly aggressive neoliberal corporate agenda.

The NRA wielded increasing power. Despite suffering a setback in the banning of the sales of assault rifles from 1994-2004, their influence continued to grow. At state and local level, they have had a string of successful drives to remove restrictions on the “right” to carry concealed weapons. [According to David Frum, writing in The Atlantic, “Since Newtown, more than two dozen states have expanded the right to carry into previously unknown places: bars, churches, schools, college campuses, and so on” (10/3/2017)]. While we would not in general base ourselves on the argument of what the Constitutional “founders” had in mind, let us be clear that the members of Congress who voted for the Bill of Rights in 1789 would not have supported the right to carry concealed weapons into taverns!

What is behind the rise of the NRA and the drive to systematically repeal gun control measures? One part is the NRA’s role as mouthpiece for the incredibly profitable gun industry whose sales in 2012 are estimated to have been $11.7 billion and whose profits amounted to $993 million (Washington Post, 12/19/2012) [by 2015 revenue had reached $13.5 billion and profits stood at $1.5 billion]. In the wake of the Newtown massacre, it was revealed that Cerberus Capital, a major Wall Street private equity firm, owned the Freedom Group, makers of the legally owned Bushmaster AR-15 that was used by Adam Lanza. Those making big money off of the sale of guns are not just the manufacturers but retailers like Walmart which is now the biggest seller of firearms and ammunition in America (The Nation, 1/7-14/2013).

But the NRA is also driven by a right-wing libertarian ideology that promotes a particularly reactionary version of individualism. This point of view overlaps with the idea that an armed (white) citizenry is needed to defend the constitution against a new tyranny. Of course it is true that the state has significantly increased its powers in the past historical period, using first the “war on drugs” and then the “war against terrorism” as excuses for increasing surveillance and largely shredding Fourth Amendment protections against “unreasonable search and seizure.”

It is no accident that gun sales have accelerated since Obama came into office in 2008 and have reportedly skyrocketed since his announcement in the wake of Newtown that he would make gun control a priority. Obama’s reelection margin as we have noted was significant but hardly overwhelming. And within the vote for Romney there is a significant section that has been influenced by the fantasies of the far right, specifically the view that Obama is some sort of anti-American Muslim/socialist tyrant. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, right-wing militia groups and other right wing extremist groups have been growing since 2008 although for the time being none of them has a mass audience. The Tea Party was a vehicle for this development but they were set back after 2011.

In reality one of the main right wing groups with a mass base is the NRA itself – as of 2010 it claimed 4.3 million members [5 million as of 2017]. Currently it is used in the interests of the gun industry and to mobilize for “gun rights” as one of several issues that provide cover for the right wing of corporate America to pursue its anti-working class agenda (along with opposition to abortion, immigration, etc.). But we should be clear that while the NRA and its backers currently promote the idea of individually armed citizens and not militias, at another stage a significant part of their heavily armed base could be turned into an overtly counterrevolutionary force to terrorize left-wing activists, workers in struggle, people of color, immigrants, and LGBT people as an auxiliary force to the capitalist state.

Gun violence in the U.S. today

We also need to look at the specific features and causes of the extremely high level of gun violence in U.S. society.

There are an estimated 300 million privately owned weapons in the U.S. The U.S. is far and away the most violent of the wealthy capitalist societies. In 2004, there were 5.5 homicides for every 100,000 persons, roughly three times as high as Canada (1.9) and six times as high as Germany. To quote Occupy the NRA, an OWS offshoot, “The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but accounts for half of all firearms worldwide and 80% of gun deaths in the 23 richest countries.”

Nevertheless we also need to recognize that the homicide level declined sharply in the 1990s. As of 2009 the homicide rate was at its lowest level since 1964 and half of what it was at the start of the 1980s. While this is a significant fact, the level of violent death is still staggering. In 2010, there were 14,748 homicides. 67.5% of these killings involved a gun (“Crime in The United States 2010, FBI Statistics” ).

The homicide rate nearly doubled from the mid 1960s to the late 1970s. In 1980, it peaked at 10.2 per 100,000 population and subsequently fell off to 7.9 per 100,000 in 1984. It rose again in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s to another peak in 1991 of 9.8 per 100,000. From 1992 to 2000, the rate declined sharply. (Bureau of Justice Statistics) [in the past few years, the number of homicides has been creeping upward nationally, and dramatically in some cities like Chicago].

And while homicide levels have declined to the level of the early 1960s, violent crime overall (much of it involving guns) remains at a much higher level than it was 50 years ago (FBI Uniform Crime Reports).

While media attention has focused on massacres from Virginia Tech to Aurora, Colorado, gun violence is concentrated in poor neighborhoods in big cities and most of the victims are poor people of color. Perhaps the most extreme example is New Orleans where the 2004 homicide rate was 52 per 100,000, ten times the national average.

Chicago has recently experienced a spike in gun violence. But as The New York Times noted, more than 80 percent of the Chicago’s 500+ homicides in 2012 took place in only about half of the city’s 23 police districts, largely on the city’s South and West Sides (1/3/2013).

Opponents of gun control will argue that the sharp decline of homicides shows that the prevalence of gun ownership and lack of much regulation does not mean that violence will increase. On the other hand, proponents of gun control like New York City’s former Mayor Mike Bloomberg will cite the fact that homicides in NYC are at a 50 year low [334 in 2016 compared to a high of 2,245 in 1989] as proof of the effectiveness of aggressive policing policies and the drive to get illegal guns off the street. In reality in many big cities there is much tighter gun control than in suburbs and rural areas. Massive police presence in poor communities has undoubtedly had some effect but at the cost of creating mini-police states where the police systematically harass young men and a massive prison gulag.

But there are clearly other reasons for the decline in homicide including the end of the crack epidemic of the 1980s. A more recent factor is the improvement in emergency medicine which improves the survival chances of people who have been shot. A Wall Street Journal (12/8/12) article on this subject is worth quoting at length because of its emphasis on the key point – gun violence and overall violence remain at epidemic levels:

“The number of U.S. homicides has been falling for two decades, but America has become no less violent.

“Crime experts who attribute the drop in killings to better policing or an aging population fail to square the image of a more tranquil nation with this statistic: The reported number of people treated for gunshot attacks from 2001 to 2011 has grown by nearly half. Improved medical care doesn’t account for the entire decline in homicides but experts say it is a major factor.

“Emergency-room physicians who treat victims of gunshot and knife attacks say more people survive because of the spread of hospital trauma centers—which specialize in treating severe injuries—the increased use of helicopters to ferry patients, better training of first-responders and lessons gleaned from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Why is American Society So Violent?

There is no single reason for the level of violence in society. Clearly, the fact that the U.S. is one of the most – if not the most – unequal of the Advanced Capitalist Countries (ACCs) is very relevant. For example the U.S. has a higher poverty rate (17.2% in late 2000s) compared with 22 other OECD countries (Economic Policy Institute, based on OECD Stat Extracts). As documented in The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, the level of inequality in a society contributes directly to the level of alienation. But of course massive inequality is the result of the particular development of U.S. capitalism. U.S. society has also been steeped in violence from its birth. One element of this historical legacy was that the U.S. was a frontier society where the violent campaign to wrest land from Native Americans lasted well into the 19th century. This involved the arming of a significant section of the population.

Even more important is the legacy of chattel slavery and the ongoing violent repression of African American communities to the present day. The “war on drugs” beginning in the 1970s was an attempt to criminalize and suppress black youth whom the state saw as the most radical section of society, as well as a political/electoral strategy to make a coded appeal to racism under new conditions with the end of legal segregation. This has led the U.S. to have the highest level of incarceration in the world – which in itself is a huge source of violence. Hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders enter the extremely violent prison system and come out with far fewer rights and far more alienated from society than when they entered.

In many of the most depressed communities in the U.S. there exists a toxic combination of systemic poverty, massive alienation, and ferocious state repression. Violence is the inevitable result. Does the availability of weapons contribute to the level of violence? Undoubtedly but it is not the central cause.

And while the dynamic is not the same in more affluent communities like Newtown, it is undoubtedly the case that stress because of economic uncertainty and general social alienation are pervasive in American society. It can be argued that alienation for some young people in some suburbs may be even worse due to the lack of recreation facilities, areas to socialize, etc. An author of a study of “rampage shootings” points out that “There has been only one example of a rampage school shooting in an urban setting since 1970” (The Nation, 12/19/2012).

Added to this is the severely ineffective mental health system, an inevitable result of for-profit medicine and the cuts in funding for mental health and social services. These factors have all contributed to the spate of massacres.

U.S. imperialism’s willingness to unleash massive violence around the world also directly contributes to the violence within the U.S. itself. In a direct sense it has led to a massive expansion of the state justified by the “war on terror.” Obama and other capitalist politicians repeatedly call to “end the violence” inside America while using drones and state assassination abroad and militarizing the police domestically.

But there are other indirect effects as well. As Marxists point out, cultural production inevitably reflects the dominant (ruling class) values of society. Given the commitment of the U.S. ruling class to endless violence against its perceived enemies it is not surprising to see this reflected in movies, videogames, and music which idealize a macho, gun toting cult of death. The Current Debate on Gun Control

After years in which gun control measures especially at the federal level were seen by liberals as politically unfeasible because of the strength of the NRA, the aftermath of the Newtown massacre caused the issue to return to center stage. Obama decided to make this one of the central issues of his second term alongside immigration reform, fiscal “reform,” and climate change.

The debate on gun control as played out in the capitalist media features only two sides: on the one hand high profile Democrats, big city mayors and a section of the bourgeois who have decided that it is time to take on the NRA and on the other side right wing Republicans, backed up by the NRA who are digging in to oppose almost any gun control measures.

Our starting point in formulating our position should be sympathy with the understandable desire of most ordinary people to do something about gun violence, particularly to stop the horrific string of massacres. We completely rejected the NRA’s proposal that the appropriate response to Newtown was to put an armed police officer in every school in the country – right wingers have even raised the idea of allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons in the classroom and incredibly South Dakota passed a law to allow this! Their argument that the only way to stop “bad guys with guns” is to have more “good guys with guns” on the streets is a recipe for even more violence in society not less.

While we strongly believe in the right of working people, racial minorities, and the oppressed to defend themselves against the violence of the bosses, the state or reactionary groups, the current level of gun violence in the U.S. is actually an obstacle to the development of social struggle. While defending our general theoretical position on the state – and not making any concession to liberal ideas that the state is neutral we need to examine the question concretely under the current conditions, balance of forces, and consciousness. In the situation prevailing in the U.S. today, does the current regime of widespread access to guns actually help strengthen the position of the working class?

The reality is that it does not, and in fact the past 30 years – when the tendency has been for gun control to be relaxed – has seen a major offensive by big business, an undermining of democratic rights, and the strengthening of the repressive powers of the state. The dominant forces arguing against gun control promote a right-wing, individualist, racist, and sexist ideology that weakens the working class.

Furthermore the threat of violence, ranging from the everyday threat of shootings in many communities up to and including the threat of terrorist attacks, has given the state ready-made excuses to ramp up its powers of repression. That does not mean we should adopt the position of the liberal gun-control advocates or echo the view that guns are the main problem in society. We need to put forward an independent, working-class position.

We reject the NRA argument that the type of limited gun control measures proposed by Obama are the beginning of the end of the Second Amendment or the right to bear arms. There is no serious proposal being put forward to try to disarm or partially disarm the population as a whole. The only areas where there are forcible attempts by the police to disarm people are public housing projects in the inner cities.

But opposing the attempt of the NRA to whip up collective paranoia is not sufficient. We also need to be clear that there are many legitimate reasons why people want to own guns. In rural culture, guns are widely used for hunting, dealing with predators, and entertainment. This does not inevitably lead to massive levels of violence. Likewise many suburban and urban dwellers understandably want to own a gun for protection. This is often particularly the case in areas where gun violence is endemic. It is not surprising that many women want to own a gun for self-defense. Socialists are not pacifists and we do not criticize ordinary people for owning a gun or wanting to.

But the question which most ordinary people want answered now is how to significantly reduce the violence. The elite advocates of gun control do not have a serious answer to this question. Even if all the measures proposed by the Obama administration were passed into law the history of recent gun control measures suggests that the extremely powerful gun industry will find ways around them. This is what happened to the 1994 “ban” on assault weapons.

The other fundamental reason that the ruling-class gun-control lobby can’t show a way to seriously reduce violence is that, as has already been pointed out, the central source of violence in society is capitalism itself including the capitalist state.

Serious measures to reduce violence would include ending the “war on drugs” and decriminalizing most or all drugs. (It should be stressed that decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Essentially it means trying to treat drug addiction as a public health problem first and foremost.) Releasing the hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders from prison and the dismantling of the bloated and racist criminal injustice system would do more to reduce violence than any gun control measure.

We also advocate taking serious measures against the massively profitable gun industry such as banning the sales of weapons by these companies (or the government) to various right-wing regimes around the world. We also are for ending the military adventures of U.S. imperialism abroad and massively reducing the scale of the military and the Pentagon budget. The resources freed up could be used to create jobs and improve education, health care (including mental health), and social services and thereby contribute to reducing violence abroad and at home. Finally we are for repealing the Patriot Act and other legislation that has legalized a massive security state that has done precious little to improve the safety of ordinary people but has certainly contributed to a big increase in state violence.

Simply enacting a massive jobs program, a $15 an hour federal minimum wage and other anti-poverty measures, and a single-payer, socialized health-care system which prioritizes mental health care would be huge steps forward in creating a saner, less violent society. We advocate all measures that would reduce the level of inequality in society and that would dismantle institutional racism, but we stress that only by uprooting capitalism can we create a just, egalitarian society. However, even limited reforms quite quickly come up against the limits of this diseased and decaying system.

Again it should be stressed that these measures we are proposing would be far more effective in reducing gun violence than “gun control” which is likely to be very ineffective. But in the context of our wider aim of strengthening the struggle of working people, we support some gun control measures including mandating background checks [ by the capitalist government’s police forces ] on all gun sales, banning the sale of “military style” semi-automatic weapons, and reducing the number of rounds in ammunition magazines on the basis that they would act to reduce the level of violence even if only to a limited degree.

However, we have reservations about how background checks proposals are often written. Banning anyone with a conviction from buying a gun in practice means excluding a significant section of the black working class. At the very least, there should be an appeal process built into background checks.

Again we are in no way saying that many ordinary people do not have entirely legitimate reasons for owning or wanting to own weapons but we do not see the present situation as being in the interests of the working class. Not all issues have a simple yes or no answer. Our position embodies a certain contradiction but really it is reality which is full of impossible contradictions as long as we continue to operate within a capitalist framework.

https://web.archive.org/web/20171210101637/https://www.socialistalternative.org/2017/12/05/gun-control-solution-gun-violence-socialist-analysis/

Genocidal Terror in Myanmar – For an Independent Rohingyan State! (Workers Vanguard) Feb 2018

https://archive.is/sK9L9

Audio of Article – Mp3

Workers Vanguard No. 1127 9 February 2018

Genocidal Terror in Myanmar

For an Independent Rohingyan State!

In late August, the military of Myanmar (Burma) launched a systematic campaign of massacre, rape and arson against the deeply oppressed Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority, killing thousands and fueling a mass exodus to neighboring Bangladesh. Nearly 700,000 people, some two-thirds of the Rohingya population, have fled the northern part of Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine (formerly Arakan), their small villages burned to the ground. The pretext for this latest scorched-earth carnage was an attack by lightly armed Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) fighters on police posts and an army base in Rakhine that reportedly left 12 security personnel and at least 59 Rohingya dead.

Genocidal terror at the hands of the armed forces is nothing new for the beleaguered Rohingya. They have been kept subjugated and impoverished by the generals from the ethnic Burmese (Bamar) Buddhist majority, who remain the real power in Myanmar despite the “democratic transition” that began in 2011. Especially since the 1962 military coup, the Rohingya have increasingly been subjected to organized state violence—arbitrary arrests, forced labor, restriction of travel and marriage, destruction of mosques and seizure of their lands. To limit their population, the government bars them from having more than two children. In 1977 and again in 1991, the military carried out “cleaning operations” that resulted in some half million people being forced out. The latest wave of Rohingyans to enter Bangladesh’s squalid camps join some 300,000 who escaped previous attacks, while nearly a million more are overwhelmingly in other Muslim-majority countries. Many of those still in Rakhine are interned in camps, surrounded by government forces and hostile Buddhist communities and denied work, education and medical care.

Myanmar is a prison house for over 135 ethno-linguistic groups. The country’s rulers, predominantly Bamars from the central lowland of the Irrawaddy River valley, lord over a myriad of nationally oppressed peoples, including the Shan, Mon, Kachin, Karen, Chin and Wa. Since Myanmar gained independence from Britain in 1948, many of these ethnic groups have engaged in insurgencies of varying levels of intensity to assert separatist claims or to attain some form of autonomy or greater rights. Among them are the Rakhine Buddhists, who are the largest group inhabiting the state that bears their name.

While many of Myanmar’s peoples suffer under Bamar rule, the Rohingya, with their distinctive South Asian features, language and religion, are the most vulnerable. Unlike larger ethnic minorities that have greater military capacity and occupy the inaccessible rugged and mountainous terrains of the frontiers, the Rohingya are relatively small in numbers and reside in the coastal plain of Rakhine state. Denigrated as “Bengali” foreign intruders, they are denied Myanmar citizenship—codified in a 1982 law—rendering them stateless, even though they have lived in Rakhine for generations. Bangladesh does not allow the Rohingya citizenship, either. In the mid 1990s, some 200,000 of them were forcibly repatriated to Myanmar, a process overseen by the United Nations; today, Bangladesh again wants to expel the Rohingya.

These stateless people desperately need their own independent state in what is now north Rakhine, both as an elementary measure of protection for those still there and to permit the safe return of the million-plus Rohingya now in the diaspora. Rohingya Muslims have repeatedly expressed their desire for separation from Myanmar since the time of the country’s independence, when they waged an armed struggle seeking to be part of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). At other times, they have agitated for autonomy. In armed clashes between the ARSA or other Rohingya insurgents and the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military), revolutionary Marxists militarily side with the Rohingya, who are locked in a struggle for existence. We uphold full equality and democratic rights for all the peoples in Myanmar, including the right to self-determination, and raise the call: Tatmadaw out of Rakhine! For an independent Rohingyan state!

The Buddhist chauvinists want to erase all memory of the Rohingya in accordance with the policy of “Burmanization,” an ultranationalist ideology based on asserting the mythical racial purity of the Bamar ethnicity and upholding the conservative Theravada Buddhist faith. (The same form of Buddhism is dominant in Sri Lanka, where it promotes violence against Tamil Hindus and Christians, and in Thailand, where it targets Muslims.) Burmanization’s loudest advocates include extremist monks of the Buddhist organizations 969 and the Committee to Protect Race and Religion (or Ma Ba Tha). But they are not the only ones inciting holy war. In October, Sitagu Sayadaw, a supposedly “pacifist” monk, gave a sermon to a group of army officers that invoked a parable about an ancient Sri Lankan king who was advised not to grieve for the many non-Buddhists he killed in battle because they were not human beings.

The monks and their organizations are backed by the Tatmadaw and Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy. A darling of the U.S. and other imperialists, Suu Kyi was showered with accolades, from the Nobel Peace Prize to the Congressional Gold Medal. Liberals embraced her as a “champion of democracy and human rights.” Truth is, she is a Buddhist chauvinist who denounces the Rohingya as “terrorists” and Bengali “foreigners” and dismisses their massacre as “a huge iceberg of misinformation.” As State Counsellor, she is presiding over the terror campaign against the Rohingya. Two decades ago, well before Suu Kyi was released from house arrest and assumed office, our comrades of the Spartacist League of Australia succinctly described her role as “a very thin ‘democratic’ veneer to the continued brutal exploitation of the workers and peasants” (Australasian Spartacist No. 159, Spring 1996).

One of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia, Myanmar has suffered from decades of economic stagnation and isolation. After the return to a nominally civilian government, large chunks of state/military-owned enterprises were sold off at rock-bottom prices, largely to a small circle of military cronies. The end of sanctions by the West and the passage of new laws over the same period have opened the economy to international capital. Major corporations from Coca-Cola to Chevron and General Electric are moving in to get a piece of the action. Textile barons are scrambling to set up poverty-wage sweatshops employing largely young female workers.

It is in the interest of the country’s small but growing working class, itself multiethnic, to take up the cause of the Rohingya and other minorities. The Myanmar regime whips up anti-Muslim fervor to deflect workers from struggle against the ravages of capitalism and the relentless violence unleashed by those at the top of society.

U.S. Imperialism and China in Myanmar

In September, the Trump administration urged the UN Security Council to take “strong and swift action” to end violence against the Rohingya. This rhetoric was pure hypocrisy. The U.S. imperialists have one overriding strategic objective in Myanmar: countering China, the largest and most powerful of the remaining bureaucratically deformed workers states.

When Barack Obama first assumed the presidency in 2009, he initiated a new policy of engagement with the Myanmar military to pull the country away from China’s orbit. As Swedish journalist Bertil Lintner documented in his book Great Game East (2015):

“In early December 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a visit to Burma, the first by a high-level American official in more than half a century. While paying lip service to democracy and human rights, it was clear that China’s growing influence in Burma was a major concern. Hillary raised Burma’s ties with China—and North Korea—in her talks with the new Burmese president, Thein Sein, and strategic interests have now returned to the forefront of Washington’s Burma policy.”

Obama himself subsequently made two separate trips to Myanmar, promoting stronger trade and security relations. In 2016, the Obama White House feted Suu Kyi, U.S. imperialism’s chief political asset in Myanmar, and lifted economic sanctions against the country. The last of these was scrapped that December, with the Democratic president declaring that Myanmar had made “substantial progress in improving human rights.” At the time, the Tatmadaw was sweeping through Rakhine in yet another savage anti-Rohingya offensive.

Beginning in the late 1980s, the imperialists imposed sanctions on impoverished Myanmar in a cynical maneuver to isolate its military regime. As a result, China became the country’s main foreign investor, gaining a foothold in every sector of the economy. In recent years, China has begun extensive infrastructure development there. As part of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, oil and gas pipelines were built from southwestern China to coastal Rakhine. A nearby Chinese-owned deep-sea port on the Bay of Bengal, now under construction, will provide China with an alternative route for energy imports that bypasses the chokepoint of the Malacca Straits.

As Trotskyists, we stand for the unconditional military defense of the Chinese deformed workers state against imperialism and the forces of capitalist counterrevolution. Despite the rule of a parasitic Stalinist bureaucracy, the overthrow of capitalism in the 1949 Revolution and establishment of an economy centrally based on collectivized property forms were historic gains for the world’s working people. Key to our defense of the Chinese Revolution is the struggle for proletarian political revolution to oust the Stalinist misleaders and replace them with a regime of workers democracy committed to the fight for world socialism.

While we support Beijing’s right to enter into economic relations with whatever capitalist country it so chooses, we recognize that the ruling bureaucracy is guided by narrow nationalist interests, which are rooted in the anti-revolutionary dogma of “building socialism in one country.” Thus, China lends its political and military support to the junta in Myanmar, which viciously represses workers, ethnic minorities and the rural poor.

Since 1988, China has been the Tatmadaw’s top supplier of military hardware, including armored vehicles, artillery, aircraft, missiles and naval vessels. (Playing both sides of the fence, Beijing has also armed, to a lesser extent, the United Wa State Army and other insurgent groups.) Last May, the Chinese navy conducted its first-ever exercises with its Myanmar counterpart. Now the Beijing Stalinists are providing cover for the murderous generals in the name of stabilizing Rakhine, where China has large infrastructure investments. We oppose and condemn China’s military aid to Myanmar’s junta.

Colonial Divide and Rule

While a comparatively modern term, “Rohingya” simply means “inhabitant of Rohang,” the Muslim name for the formerly independent Buddhist kingdom of Arakan. From the early 15th century, the Rohingya served in the Arakan court and settled as traders in its dominion. The Burmese king, having staked claims for submission, tribute and slaves across much of what now constitutes Myanmar, conquered Arakan in the mid 1780s.

Burmese control of the territory was short-lived, as the British seized Arakan in 1824 during the first of three Anglo-Burmese wars. Colonial rule, by design, greatly aggravated tensions between the Arakanese (Rakhine Buddhists) and a rapidly growing Muslim population. With Arakan incorporated into British India, hundreds of thousands of Bengalis readily emigrated there to toil in the fields, which the colonial masters had handed over to largely Indian Muslim landlords.

After completing the conquest of the Burmese in 1886, the British drew Burma’s borders and constituted it as a single province within the Indian empire. Forcibly lumping together extremely diverse and potentially antagonistic peoples in a single state, while simultaneously playing them off against one another in line with their policy of divide to better subjugate, the British stoked the fires of communal violence. Notably, Indians, both Hindu and Muslim, were promoted at the expense of the Burmese and others. The administrative units of “Burma Proper” were policed, taxed and ruled by a new layer of officials, mostly brought over from the subcontinent. British army units composed of Indian troops were deployed to suppress Burmese resistance to colonial rule. The British also relied on ethnic minorities—the so-called “martial races” like the Karen, Kachin and Chin—for military manpower.

The often-violent tensions between all these groups exploded with the Japanese invasion of Burma during World War II. Burmese nationalists, led by Aung San, Suu Kyi’s father, fought on the side of the Japanese (before switching to the British at the war’s end when it became clear Japan would lose). Tens of thousands of Indians attempting to escape the country were butchered, including by Aung San’s forces. In the course of the interimperialist conflict, Arakan descended into a brutal civil war that pitted Muslims against Buddhists. By the end of that fighting, the Muslims were compacted in the north of Arakan and the Buddhists in the south.

The Communist Party of Burma (CPB) was founded on the eve of WWII, in August 1939, largely by student leaders of the militant nationalist Dohbama Asiayone (“Our Burma Association”), including Aung San. Although elected secretary-general, Aung San decamped from the CPB soon after. The CPB never had a commitment to the Marxist principle of proletarian class independence from all bourgeois and petty-bourgeois forces. During the war, the loosely organized Communists lent their services to the British imperialists in accordance with the line issued by the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy. After Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941 and the wartime alliance between Britain and the USSR was sealed, the Comintern promulgated the “People’s War Against Fascism” and all-out support for the war effort in the Allied imperialist countries and their colonies.

By helping the British reconquer Burma, the CPB betrayed the anti-colonial struggle. In fact, the Communists were the initial go-betweens for Aung San and the British at the war’s end and to that end set up a popular front, that is, a political bloc with the bourgeois nationalists. The CPB’s class collaboration had a predictable outcome. Just over a year after the Aung San-led popular front—at Britain’s invitation—took the reins of the postwar capitalist government, the Communists were expelled from its ranks and targeted for severe state repression.

From May 1945, workers strikes in the cities and peasant revolts in the countryside had come under Communist leadership. With independence negotiations underway, Time magazine (3 February 1947) reported that Aung San “liked the idea of British troops staying awhile to help him control the Reds, some of whom could not even be controlled by Moscow.” Although that idea did not come to pass, the next year the hammer came down on the CPB, which abandoned the cities, adopting a peasant-based guerrilla strategy. In 1989, the CPB collapsed.

The Fight for Permanent Revolution

Resource-rich Myanmar is marked by combined and uneven development, with stark contrasts of wealth and poverty, of new industry and unspeakable squalor. The British imperialists threw fuel on every manner of special oppression inherited from the past, and the generals continue to fan the flames of communalist terror. What is needed is revolutionary proletarian opposition to both the imperialist powers and local capitalist rulers. The way forward is shown by the program of permanent revolution, developed by Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky and verified by the Russian October Revolution. Trotsky recognized that in backward, semicolonial countries, the achievement of modernization and liberation from the imperialist yoke requires smashing capitalist rule, which would clear the path for socialist development.

The socialist liberation of Myanmar, where 70 percent of the population depends on agriculture for its livelihood, requires looking not only to the fledgling working class there but also to the massive proletarian concentrations in its neighboring countries: India, Bangladesh, Thailand and China. Myanmar’s exploited and oppressed, from those of South Asian and Chinese origin to the ethnic groups on the Thai border, have significant links to all these countries. What is posed is the need to forge proletarian internationalist parties committed to the overthrow of capitalist rule in the region as well as to political revolution in the Chinese deformed workers state. Within Myanmar itself, it is vital to plant the seeds of Marxism and cohere the cadres who would struggle to build a genuinely Leninist party that acts as the tribune of the people, including by championing the right of self-determination for all oppressed national minorities.

This perspective must be tied to the fight for socialist revolution in the U.S. and other imperialist centers. We fight to reforge Leon Trotsky’s Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution. When those who labor rule on a global scale, technology and industrial development will be tapped to lift the world’s masses out of want and misery on the road to building a secular, classless communist society free of communal, national and religious conflict.

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1127/myanmar.html

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One Hour of Communist Music – Burma

Phony ‘Leninist’ Party Collapses – ISO Implodes and Disappears into the Democratic Party (Workers Vanguard) 3 May 2019

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Anti-Communists Go Home to the Democrats

ISO: Rest In Pieces

After nearly half a century in the orbit of the Democratic Party, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has finally landed. In March, the reformist group and publisher of Socialist Worker voted to disband following internal disarray over how to capitalize on the “emerging socialist movement”—which is neither socialist nor a movement but a layer within the capitalist Democratic Party. The popularity of Bernie Sanders and the growth of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), with its rising Congressional star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, posed an existential crisis for the ISO, which had long assumed dominion over petty-bourgeois “fight the right” activism in the U.S. The collapse, spurred by a scandal involving an alleged cover-up of an alleged sexual assault in 2013, also laid bare an organization mired in bureaucratic rot.

As its former members perform a political autopsy, what is in the guts of the ISO is no mystery: anti-Communism. The organization was born upholding imperialist “democracy” against Soviet “totalitarianism,” promoting the cause of imperialist-backed counterrevolutionary forces whose aim was the destruction of the Soviet bureaucratically degenerated workers state. The domestic corollary of its anti-Sovietism was to chase after a supposed “progressive” wing of the bourgeoisie at home, that is, the Democrats, and prettify capitalist rule. Though paying occasional lip service to Marxism, the ISO was always a staunch enemy of proletarian revolution.

For the last two years, the ISO has been eclipsed by the DSA in the anti-Trump “resistance,” whose entire purpose is to get Democrats elected in 2020 by selling the lie that they can represent an alternative for workers and the oppressed. Within the left, the prevailing pro-Democratic Party pressures of the Trump era have fractured other pseudo-socialist groups like Socialist Alternative and Workers World Party.

The DSA, with its nearly 60,000 members, has attracted droves of millennial Berniecrats behind the trending banner of “democratic socialism.” The expressed goal of the DSA, which is organically embedded in the Democrats, is to “realign” the party of slavery, Hiroshima and Vietnam. The ISO wanted a cut of the DSA’s electoral success, but was stifled by the fact that it was supposed to feign at least one degree of separation from the Democrats by not openly endorsing them. At the same time, the ISO always gave Democrats backhanded support or celebrated them outright, as it did with Wall Street’s man Barack Obama.

Last summer, a debate ran in the pages of Socialist Worker between those advocating a “clean” versus a “dirty” break from the Democrats, a squabble over whether to officially campaign for candidates running on the Democratic ballot. Well before the ISO’s annual convention in February, which established an “Elections committee,” the organization had been touting a new crop of Democratic Party “progressives” and the 2020 presidential bid of long-serving imperialist politician Sanders. The tomes of internal bulletins published in the lead-up to the convention document the enthusiasm for joint work with the DSA and support to DSA candidates.

After all, if the DSA represented a supposed “unprecedented” opening and if the Sanders campaign put “socialism in the air,” why not swim with the big fish? Former honcho Todd Chretien lamented during a workshop at the DSA-affiliated Jacobin’s “Socialism in Our Time” conference in New York last month that the ISO had been “built for a period of defeat,” i.e., with the labor movement in steep decline, and thus was unable “to adapt our politics and our form for a new sort of movement.” Far from advancing the cause of socialism, Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and their ilk serve to deepen deadly illusions in the capitalist Democratic Party. Such illusions are the greatest political obstacle to militant class struggle and a key mechanism for co-opting discontent among youth.

As we wrote in “Opponents of the Revolutionary Internationalist Workers Movement,” published alongside the SL/U.S. Programmatic Statement in 2000:

“Lacking a revolutionary perspective, the reformist left is inexorably led to the gates of the Democratic Party, reinforcing its influence. This has many expressions, from overtly calling for votes for Democratic candidates to somewhat more masked appeals to ‘fight the right’ (i.e., the Republicans) to working hand in glove with the labor bureaucracy. Deriving from the reformist view of the ‘neutrality’ of the capitalist state, and in the absence of a mass social-democratic party in this country, the Democratic Party is offered as the vehicle through which the capitalist state can be pressured to serve the interests of the working class and oppressed.”

Shachtmanism Full Circle

The ISO and the DSA have a common granddaddy, Max Shachtman, who split from the Trotskyist movement in 1940, dumping the position for the unconditional military defense of the Soviet Union and subsequently rejecting its class nature as a workers state. Shachtman eventually ended up an unabashed social-patriot in the right wing of American social democracy, working in the Democratic Party and with the agencies of U.S. imperialism to push counterrevolution. He became the most effective ideologist of “State Department socialism.”

The ISO’s forebears flunked the most basic acid test for Marxists: defense of the world’s first workers state, born through the October 1917 Russian Revolution led by V. I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky’s Bolshevik Party, which was a historic victory for the international proletariat. Despite its subsequent degeneration under a conservative bureaucratic caste headed by J. V. Stalin that seized political power in 1923-24, the key gain of the October Revolution remained: the collectivized economy, which laid the basis for full employment, universal health care, free education and affordable housing.

To his dying day, Trotsky fought to defend the workers state, which was being undermined by the Stalinist bureaucrats. These misrulers had renounced the struggle for workers revolution internationally in the name of building “socialism in one country” and seeking “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism. Trotsky’s last political struggle was against Shachtman and others on the Russian question. We Trotskyists in the ICL fought for the unconditional military defense of the USSR against imperialism and capitalist counterrevolution, as well as for proletarian political revolution to replace the Stalinist bureaucracy with a government based on workers democracy and revolutionary internationalism.

Both Michael Harrington, who was the founder of the DSA, and Hal Draper, whose Independent Socialist Clubs were the precursor to the ISO, followed Shachtman into the Cold War Socialist Party (SP) in 1958. Harrington, a leader of the SP until 1973, was a loyal servant of U.S. imperialism, supporting its war in Vietnam and acting as a consultant to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Draper, a left-wing critic of the SP leadership, split in the early 1960s, coalescing his group around the New Left student movement in Berkeley. As the student protests grew more radical, old-style Cold War social democracy was pushed to the sidelines. Renaming itself the International Socialists (I.S.) in 1969, Draper’s group used Marxist-sounding rhetoric about revolution and claimed to be “anti-imperialist,” but anti-Communism was its real program and essential reason for existing.

The I.S. had a loose association with Tony Cliff’s followers in Britain. Capitulating to the Cold War Labour government, Cliff had refused, in 1950, to defend the North Korean and Chinese deformed workers states against a counterrevolutionary war on the Korean peninsula by U.S. imperialism and its British allies. Cliff came up with a theoretical justification for his programmatic departure from Trotskyism by maintaining that the Soviet Union was “state capitalist” and that the bureaucracy was a new ruling class. (See “The Bankruptcy of ‘New Class’ Theories,” Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 55, Autumn 1999.)

In 1977, with the U.S. capitalist rulers about to launch Cold War II, a section of the I.S. split off to form the ISO, adopting Cliff’s “state capitalist” line and claiming to stand for an illusory “third camp” between capitalism and Stalinism—encapsulated in the slogan “neither Washington nor Moscow.” In reality, the so-called third camp was always the camp of imperialism. Cliff’s equally Stalinophobic British Socialist Workers Party was affiliated with the ISO until the early 2000s, when its American satellite split away after a bitter factional struggle over competing opportunist appetites.

Like Shachtman, who supported Washington’s Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, Cliff and his American cothinkers worked overtime in support of imperialism. In the 1980s, the ISO threw its lot in with the forces of capitalist restoration in Poland around the purported “union” of Solidarność, which was an instrument of the Vatican, Wall Street, and Western social democracy. The ISO also championed the CIA-backed mujahedin fundamentalists in Afghanistan against the Soviet Army’s military intervention—one of the few progressive acts carried out by the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy—which could have crushed the woman-hating butchers. We said, “Hail Red Army!” and denounced the Kremlin’s withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1988-89 as a betrayal. The ISO, in contrast, rejoiced: “We welcome the defeat of the Russians in Afghanistan. It will give heart to all those inside the USSR and in Eastern Europe who want to break the rule of Stalin’s heirs” (Socialist Worker, May 1988).

In the early 1990s, the ISO—along with every imperialist ruling class on the planet—got what it wanted. The restoration of capitalism in the USSR and East Europe had the U.S. bourgeoisie rejoicing over the “death of communism” and the Cliffites were singing in tune, trumpeting that Boris Yeltsin’s coming to power “should have every genuine socialist rejoicing” (Socialist Worker, September 1991). The final undoing of the Soviet Union in 1991-92 ushered in a global offensive against the world’s working class and oppressed by the imperialist ruling classes, as well as profound economic and social devastation. The collapse of the USSR qualitatively threw back political consciousness such that advanced workers generally no longer identified their aspirations for a better life with the fight for workers power and a classless, communist future.

The ISO assumed that the post-Soviet world would generate mass radicalization and open up a left niche. Today, some former members admit that this demented fantasy was off. For the last 25 years, these opportunists tried to cash in on the backward ideological climate—to which they had in their own way contributed—by moving farther to the right. ISOers continued their practice of hyper-activism within single-issue “movements,” acting as a barnacle on whatever liberal coalition was on offer from the campus left and trying to maneuver their way into positions of leadership.

With Cold War season over, the ISO still promoted the “human rights” guise for U.S. imperialist intervention. Socialist Worker spent the last few years supporting the CIA-backed “democratic” rebels in the so-called “Syrian Revolution,” berating Washington for not doing enough while slandering leftists opposed to U.S. intervention for their “Islamophobia.” The ISO also echoed the Democratic Party’s hysteria against Russia, the main ally of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. (See “Pimps for U.S. Imperialism,” WV No. 1097, 7 October 2016.)

Class Independence vs. Class Collaboration

The ISO’s plunge into demoralization and self-destruction was evident at its February convention, described as the “most painful” in the history of the organization. There, several longtime leaders like Ahmed Shawki, Paul D’Amato, Sharon Smith, Lance Selfa and Lee Sustar—regular writers for their International Socialist Review journal and publishing company Haymarket Books—were voted off the Steering Committee. Things blew up just three weeks after the convention when a letter was circulated alleging that the former leadership had protected a member accused of sexual assault in 2013 and then concealed it from the membership. We have no way of knowing the truth of the allegations. A mere two weeks later, the ISO ceased to exist.

Following the letter’s receipt, nearly the entire 2013 Steering Committee was either suspended or forced to resign. The new leadership had no qualms over dumping the old guard, which had already been sacked from leading bodies for putting up some resistance to dissolving whole hog into the Democrats. These gestures by the old guard, labeled the “arch-conservative” minority, were nothing more than an attempt to preserve the organization’s existence. As then-Socialist Worker labor editor Lee Sustar put it: “If the ISO were to accept that its independence from the Democratic Party is ‘strategic’ rather than a principle, then the question arises as to why the ISO should exist outside the DSA.”

The ISO’s occasional talk of “independence” from capitalist parties was fraudulent. Among other things, it politically endorsed and ran its own candidates on the ticket of the capitalist Green Party, which acts as a shill for the Democrats. Todd Chretien’s Green campaign in 2006, as well as the ISO’s support to union-buster Ralph Nader earlier and Green Party activist Jill Stein later, were the very opposite of fighting for the necessary independent mobilization of the working class against the capitalists and all their parties.

In the labor movement, the ISO’s activity reinforced illusions in capitalist politicians and state agencies by acting as waterboys for a wing of the labor bureaucracy. Union formations it supported over the years, from the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) to the CORE caucus in the Chicago Teachers Union, regularly endorsed Democrats for office and proved themselves to be total class collaborationists when in leadership positions. The TDU were cheerleaders for government intervention, inviting the courts into the affairs of the union to supposedly “clean out” corruption, although the purpose of the state was to destroy the powerful Teamsters. (See “Lawyers for Government Union-Busting,” WV No. 738, 30 June 2000.)

As further proof of being deep in the pockets of the class enemy, the nonprofit that managed the finances for the ISO and Haymarket Books—the Center for Economic Research and Social Change (CERSC)—received money from sources tied to U.S. big-business interests, including the Wallace Global Fund and Rockefeller Brothers Fund. CERSC accepted grants from a variety of bourgeois “charitable” sources and liberal institutions. Such ties recall the old saying: “He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

Leninism: What It Is and What It Isn’t

In search of the ISO’s original sin, a number of former members have published documents attacking Leninism, even though the ISO’s life and death had zilch to do with Lenin. The Cliffite castoffs are burnishing their anti-Communist “god that failed” credentials as they dive headfirst into the DSA. Both groups have embraced every rotten social-democratic position that Lenin and the Bolsheviks had to defeat in order to lead the October Revolution.

The March 21 “A Letter from Canadian Comrades” published on socialistworker.org grotesquely links the ISO’s purportedly “Leninist party model” to the alleged sexual assault cover-up. The letter claims: “When people make the stability or preservation of the leadership and its ‘Leninist’ authority their top concern, they may avoid suspending or expelling members, especially ‘leaders’ for oppressive behavior,” adding, “We’re convinced that what should be discarded isn’t socialism from below, but the ‘Leninist’ micro-party model.” The ISO’s mantra of “socialism from below” is its way of saying that Leninism is elitist, a version of the bourgeois lie that Leninism leads to Stalinism.

The ISO never had any semblance of or need for Leninist organizational practices, because it was thoroughly hostile to the entire purpose of a Leninist vanguard party: to lead the working class, through conscious and collective action, to the taking of state power. All experience has shown that even the most militant struggles by the workers spontaneously produce a consciousness that is limited by a framework that accepts capitalism. Socialist consciousness can only be brought to the working class through the intervention of a democratic-centralist Leninist vanguard party—made up of advanced workers and declassed intellectuals—which seeks to instill in the working class an understanding of its historic revolutionary mission of abolishing the rule of capital.

The purpose of democratic-centralism is for the party to speak and act with a single voice while allowing the fullest possible debate among its membership. Unlike the Cliff tendency, we do not publicly thrash out internal differences. Doing so is tantamount to inviting more backward layers of society to be the jury to decide matters of revolutionary strategy, and making the party more permeable to bourgeois ideas. Regarding Leninist organizational principles, the founder of American Trotskyism, James P. Cannon, wrote:

“Democratic-centralism has no special virtue per se. It is the specific principle of a combat party, united by a single program, which aims to lead a revolution. Social Democrats have no need of such a system of organization for the simple reason that they have no intention of organizing a revolution.”

—“Leninist Organization Principles,” 3 April 1953, Speeches to the Party (1973)

Insofar as the ISO honchos displayed any pretensions to Leninism or democratic-centralism, it was to justify the bureaucratic suppression of their membership. The external reflection of this internal bureaucratism was the ISO’s hatred of open political debate on the left and rejection of elementary workers democracy. The ISO had a special animus toward us as revolutionary Trotskyists: it regularly resorted to red-baiting, exclusion and thuggery against our organization.

The task of a vanguard party is also to act, in Lenin’s words, as a “tribune of the people” championing the cause of the exploited and oppressed and combating every manifestation of national, racial and sexual oppression. As opponents of workers rule, the ISO could provide no program for the liberation of black people or women, which requires the overthrow of the system of exploitation in which their oppression is rooted. Instead, the ISO, having rejected the working class as the motor force for revolutionary change, embraced petty-bourgeois liberalism like #MeToo feminism and Democratic Party constituency politics. The ISO simply reaped what it had sown.

The difference between the ISO and the Spartacist League always came down to the difference between reform and revolution. For revolutionary, proletarian, internationalists in the U.S. imperialist belly of the beast, our central strategic task remains the same: breaking the allegiance of the working class to the Democrats to forge a revolutionary vanguard party that can lead the fight for socialist revolution. It is only under the banner of Leninism that the workers of the world can at long last sweep away the capitalist exploiters into the dustbin of history.

Workers Vanguard https://archive.is/VItbJ

Historical Materialism and the Protestant Reformation (Workers Vanguard) 1 Dec 2017

https://archive.is/VOEMG

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Workers Vanguard No. 1123 1 December 2017

Historical Materialism and the Protestant Reformation

(Quote of the Week)

October 31 marked the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses criticizing the Roman Catholic church to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany. Friedrich Engels explained that behind the cloak of religious ideology lay a clash of class interests between the rising bourgeoisie and the decaying feudal order that was more starkly shown in the 17th-century English Revolution led by Oliver Cromwell.

When Europe emerged from the Middle Ages, the rising middle class of the towns constituted its revolutionary element. It had conquered a recognised position within medieval feudal organisation, but this position, also, had become too narrow for its expansive power. The development of the middle class, the bourgeoisie, became incompatible with the maintenance of the feudal system; the feudal system, therefore, had to fall.

But the great international centre of feudalism was the Roman Catholic Church. It united the whole of feudalised Western Europe, in spite of all internal wars, into one grand political system, opposed as much to the schismatic Greeks as to the Mohammedan countries. It surrounded feudal institutions with the halo of divine consecration. It had organised its own hierarchy on the feudal model, and, lastly, it was itself by far the most powerful feudal lord, holding, as it did, full one-third of the soil of the Catholic world. Before profane feudalism could be successfully attacked in each country and in detail, this, its sacred central organisation, had to be destroyed….

The war-cry raised against the Church by Luther was responded to by two insurrections of a political nature: first, that of the lower nobility under Franz von Sickingen (1523), then the great Peasants’ War, 1525. Both were defeated, chiefly in consequence of the indecision of the parties most interested, the burghers of the towns—an indecision into the causes of which we cannot here enter. From that moment the struggle degenerated into a fight between the local princes and the central power, and ended by blotting out Germany for two hundred years, from the politically active nations of Europe. The Lutheran Reformation produced a new creed indeed, a religion adapted to absolute monarchy. No sooner were the peasants of North-East Germany converted to Lutheranism than they were from freemen reduced to serfs.

But where Luther failed, Calvin won the day. Calvin’s creed was one fit for the boldest of the bourgeoisie of his time. His predestination doctrine was the religious expression of the fact that in the commercial world of competition success or failure does not depend upon a man’s activity or cleverness, but upon circumstances uncontrollable by him. It is not of him that willeth or of him that runneth, but of the mercy of unknown superior economic powers; and this was especially true at a period of economic revolution, when all old commercial routes and centres were replaced by new ones, when India and America were opened to the world, and when even the most sacred economic articles of faith—the value of gold and silver—began to totter and to break down. Calvin’s church constitution was thoroughly democratic and republican; and where the kingdom of God was republicanised, could the kingdoms of this world remain subject to monarchs, bishops and lords? While German Lutheranism became a willing tool in the hands of princes, Calvinism founded a republic in Holland, and active republican parties in England, and, above all, Scotland.

In Calvinism, the second great bourgeois upheaval found its doctrine ready cut and dried. This upheaval took place in England. The middle class of the towns brought it on, and the yeomanry of the country districts fought it out. Curiously enough, in all the three great bourgeois risings, the peasantry furnishes the army that has to do the fighting; and the peasantry is just the class that, the victory once gained, is most surely ruined by the economic consequences of that victory.

—Friedrich Engels, Introduction to the 1892 English edition of Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880)

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1123/qotw.html

Celebrating the 1917 Russian Revolution – For New October Revolutions! (Workers Vanguard) 1 Dec 2018

Audio of Article – Mp3

https://archive.is/bszW5

Workers Vanguard No. 1123 1 December 2017

Celebrating the 1917 Russian Revolution

For New October Revolutions!

(Part One)

We print below the first part of a presentation, edited for publication, given by Spartacist League speaker Diana Coleman at a November 4 forum in Chicago.

It is the 100th anniversary of the Russian October Revolution, the defining event of modern history and the greatest victory ever for working people. The proletariat, led by a Leninist vanguard party, smashed the bourgeois state and set up a workers state. I pondered what I could tell you in one hour—when after all, Leon Trotsky needed about 1,200 pages in his History of the Russian Revolution (1932). But if this talk encourages you to read or reread Trotsky’s History, then I will have accomplished something.

As the founder of American Trotskyism, James P. Cannon, put it:

“The Russian Bolsheviks on November 7, 1917, once and for all, took the question of the workers’ revolution out of the realm of abstraction and gave it flesh and blood reality….

“The Russian revolution showed…how the workers’ revolution is to be made…. It showed in life what kind of a party the workers must have.”

—“Speech on the Russian Question” (1939), printed in Struggle for a Proletarian Party (1943)

The need for a revolutionary party will be one of the themes of this talk. During the course of the Russian Revolution, the multinational proletariat, drawing behind it the peasantry and the oppressed nationalities, forged its own new organs of class power, the soviets, or workers councils. With the smashing of the old capitalist state, these soviets, under Bolshevik leadership, formed the basis of the new workers state. The vanguard of the workers understood that they were not just taking power in Russia; they were opening the first chapter of international proletarian revolution. The Russian Revolution inspired workers uprisings throughout Europe and rebellions in the colonial countries.

The Soviet government expropriated the capitalists and landlords and repudiated totally the tsar’s massive debt to foreign bankers. It proclaimed the right of working people to jobs, health care, housing and education, as the first steps to building a socialist society. Sounds good, doesn’t it?! The new workers state gave land to the peasants and self-determination—the right to their own independent state—to the many oppressed nations that had been ruled over by the hated tsar. I will speak some about the struggles V.I. Lenin waged to ensure the right of these nations to self-determination. The early Soviet government gave women in Russia an unprecedented level of equality and freedom.

Like many people, when I first came around the Spartacist League, I assumed that in a revolutionary situation all the left would get together and fight for socialist revolution. Comrades encouraged me to read about the Russian Revolution, which proves exactly the opposite. Believe me, if a group like the International Socialist Organization or Workers World has a reformist approach to pressuring the capitalist state now, then when the time comes, like the Mensheviks, they will wind up defending capitalism tooth and nail.

The bourgeoisie has always wanted to bury the October Revolution under a mountain of lies. There has been a bunch of articles in the press on the 100th anniversary. A few were interesting. Most were like, “Yikes, it was just a historical accident, let’s hope it never happens again.” But it happened because the socially organized productive forces of the planet had developed to the point where bourgeois private property forms and the bourgeois nation-states had become shackles on social progress. World War I marked the descent of the capitalist system into mass slaughter and barbaric destruction. It signaled that to free the planet’s productive forces from capitalist imperialism, proletarian revolution was necessary.

Capitalist imperialism is still caught in its fatal contradictions; it still creates a proletariat with the social power to overthrow the bourgeoisie, and it still creates the barbarism that we see around us. Under both capitalist parties, Democrats and Republicans, U.S. imperialism has destroyed countries around the world. Much of the Near East is a bombed-out shell. Now Trump is threatening nuclear war against North Korea for their terrible crime of developing weapons to defend themselves. We call for the military defense of the North Korean and Chinese bureaucratically deformed workers states. It’s a good thing that North Korea is developing a credible nuclear deterrent. Without that, the U.S. would already have bombed them into oblivion.

Here at home, racist cop terror, union-busting, destruction of working people’s living standards, domestic surveillance and mass deportations continue apace under Trump as they did under Obama. Trump is not a fascist, but he has encouraged the fascist scum to come out of the woodwork. We all wish for there to be some hard class struggle in this country, and it will come—it is inevitable under capitalism. Our job is to make sure that there will be a party like Lenin’s in the right place at the right time. So this talk is not just about what happened in 1917 in Russia; it is also about the fight of the International Communist League to organize for new Octobers.

Russia’s Uneven and Combined Development

At this point I am going to discuss some of the background to the Russian Revolution and speak to why the first and, so far, only proletarian socialist revolution occurred in Russia. Russia was an acute example of what Trotsky called uneven and combined development. The country was ruled by a reactionary tsarist aristocracy presiding over a prison house of many oppressed nations. Seventy million Great Russians constituted the main mass of the country, but there were 90 million “outlanders.” So a majority of the country was oppressed nationalities. Barely 50 years out of serfdom, peasants made up some 85 percent of the population and lived in the most backward conditions imaginable. Ignorance and illiteracy were the norm. The ancient institutions of the traditional household and the communal village enforced a rigid patriarchal hierarchy and the degradation of women. Peasant women were beasts of burden; we have a picture in an article on “The Russian Revolution and the Emancipation of Women” of peasant women harnessed up like oxen to pull a river barge (see Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 59, Spring 2006).

But underdeveloped countries do not just mechanically go through every stage that the more developed countries went through: they jump over certain aspects while retaining many very backward elements. By 1914, massive investment from Europe had created a new urban proletariat (one-third women!) in large-scale, state-of-the-art industrial concentrations. The percentage of Russian workers employed in factories of more than 1,000 employees was higher than in Britain, Germany or the U.S. The late-emerging Russian bourgeoisie, subordinated to foreign capitalists and tied to the Russian aristocracy, knew that any mass upsurge against tsarism was bound to sweep them away, too.

It was in response to this uneven and combined development that Trotsky formulated his theory of permanent revolution. Trotsky projected that despite the economic backwardness of the country, the Russian proletariat could come to power before an extended period of capitalist development. Indeed, the workers would have to come to power if Russia were to be liberated from its feudal past because the weak and cowardly capitalists sure weren’t going to do it.

An essential aspect of Trotsky’s permanent revolution was, as he wrote in the August 1939 article “Three Conceptions of the Russian Revolution” (also known as “Three Concepts”): “Only the victory of the proletariat in the West will shield Russia from bourgeois restoration and secure for her the possibility of bringing the socialist construction to its conclusion.” And that, of course, was and is the rub. With the delay of world revolution, particularly in the advanced industrial countries, the Stalinist bureaucracy usurped political power in the Soviet Union in 1923-24, and capitalism was eventually restored in 1991-92. I will make the point that the ICL defended the Soviet Union against capitalist counterrevolution to the bitter end, unlike most left groups.

Key to the Bolsheviks’ success in 1917 was the coming together of Trotsky’s program of permanent revolution with Lenin’s struggle to build a programmatically based vanguard party steeled against all manner of reconciliation with the capitalist order. The Bolshevik Party was cohered in the long years of struggle against the Mensheviks, who looked to the liberal bourgeoisie to overthrow tsarism.

World War I had a profound impact on Lenin’s thinking. In 1916, he wrote the book Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, which explained that imperialism is not a policy, but is the highest stage of capitalism. Imperialist wars to divide and redivide the world are inevitable under monopoly capitalism. World War I triggered the collapse of the Second “Socialist” International, which the Bolsheviks had considered themselves part of, when the vast majority of its affiliated parties lined up behind their own bourgeoisies’ war efforts. Lenin at first didn’t believe it when he heard that the German Social Democratic Party’s parliamentary group had unanimously voted to support the war. I guess he thought it was what today might be called “fake news.” But it was true.

Lenin concluded that the war had demonstrated that capitalism was in its final stage of decay. He maintained that the path to proletarian revolution was the transformation of the imperialist war into a revolutionary civil war and that socialists in the imperialist centers must stand for the defeat, above all, of their own bourgeois state in the war. Lenin also concluded that a new, revolutionary international, the Third International, must be built on the hard programmatic Bolshevik model.

National Liberation Struggles and Socialist Revolution

If you look at Lenin’s writings during the years leading up to 1917, a lot of them deal with the need for a hard position against the imperialist war and against not only the overtly pro-war fake socialists but also against the centrists like Karl Kautsky who covered for them. A number of the articles deal with the national question.

Now, the ICL has just had an intense internal struggle against a longstanding perversion of Leninism on the national question, particularly in relation to oppressed nations like Quebec and Catalonia within multinational states. As the fight unfolded internationally, it exposed a number of examples of chauvinist positions in opposition to just national struggles of oppressed nations. To get a sense of how these represented a capitulation to the pressures of Anglophone imperialism, read “The Struggle Against the Chauvinist Hydra” (Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 65, Summer 2017).

The point is that our old position went against Lenin’s very extensive writings on the national question. In his 1914 article, “The Right of Nations to Self-Determination,” Lenin outlined a very definite programmatic stance: “Complete equality of rights for all nations; the right of nations to self-determination; the unity of the workers of all nations—such is the national programme that Marxism, the experience of the whole world, and the experience of Russia, teach the workers.”

This stance applied not only to colonies but also to countries forcibly retained within multinational states. Lenin wrote:

“The proletariat must struggle against the enforced retention of the oppressed nations within the bounds of the given state…. Otherwise, the internationalism of the proletariat would be nothing but empty words…”

Further:

“On the other hand, the socialists of the oppressed nations must, in particular, defend and implement the full and unconditional unity, including organizational unity, of the workers of the oppressed nation and those of the oppressor nation. Without this it is impossible to defend the independent policy of the proletariat and their class solidarity with the proletariat of other countries in face of all manner of intrigues, treachery and trickery on the part of the bourgeoisie.”

—“The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination” (1916)

During the war years, Lenin waged a struggle against the advocates of what he called imperialist economism. The original Economists of whom he speaks in What Is To Be Done? (1902) thought that the economic struggle was everything and that there was no need to bother with political problems and struggle. The imperialist Economists thought that since imperialism had triumphed, there was no need to bother with the problems of political democracy and self-determination. These included various Polish Social Democrats whom Lenin denounced for thinking that “self-determination is impossible under capitalism and superfluous under socialism” (“A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism” [1916]).

Lenin adamantly disagreed with both these propositions. He wrote: “Socialist parties which did not show by all their activity, both now, during the revolution, and after its victory, that they would liberate the enslaved nations and build up relations with them on the basis of a free union…these parties would be betraying socialism” (“The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination,” emphasis added).

This position was key to making the Russian Revolution. Our old articles contained phrases like “getting the national question off the agenda,” which we often used as an excuse for not supporting struggles for national liberation. The Bolsheviks saw that national liberation struggles could be catalysts for socialist revolution and sought to unleash their revolutionary potential. National liberation can be a motor force for proletarian rule if the proletariat acquires communist consciousness and is led by a communist party.

Fighting national oppression is one of the things the Bolsheviks were known for, as well as their workers mobilizations against anti-Jewish pogroms by the fascistic Black Hundreds. We could certainly use some of these workers mobilizations against today’s fascists. As Lenin said in What Is To Be Done?, the party must be “the tribune of the people…able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression.”

The February Revolution

So by now you’re all saying, “Enough already, let’s get on with the revolution!” The February Revolution of 1917 that overthrew the tsarist monarchy was carried out overwhelmingly by the working class, with the peasants, organized in the army, also playing a key role. The spark was a demonstration by women workers demanding bread on February 23 (which is March 8 in the new calendar, International Women’s Day). It shows it’s a good thing for women to get out of the villages and have some social power as workers! Then on February 25 there was a general strike in Petrograd, followed by a mutiny in some army regiments.

What broke the back of the tsarist monarchy was that the army no longer wanted to fight, and whole units were abandoning the front or refusing to carry out orders. A powerful indication was when the Cossack regiments, who were considered very loyal to the tsar, refused to suppress a workers demonstration in Petrograd. In his History of the Russian Revolution, Trotsky relates:

“The officers first charged through the crowd. Behind them, filling the whole width of the [Sampsonievsky] Prospect, galloped the Cossacks. Decisive moment! But the horsemen, cautiously, in a long ribbon, rode through the corridor just made by the officers. ‘Some of them smiled,’…‘and one of them gave the workers a good wink’.”

If the Cossacks were winking at the workers, the tsar was in trouble.

You have to realize how bloody and unpopular the war was. The ABC of Communism (1920) by Bolshevik leaders Nikolai Bukharin and Evgeny Preobrazhensky estimated that by 1918 the number of Russian soldiers killed in the war was eight million. And they remarked acidly, “If we assume the average weight of a soldier to be 150 lb., this means that between 1 August 1914, and 1 January 1918, the capitalists had brought to market twelve hundred million pounds of putrid human flesh.” Trotsky encapsulated the situation as follows: “‘Everything for the war!’ said the ministers, deputies, generals, journalists. ‘Yes,’ the soldier began to think in the trenches, ‘they are all ready to fight to the last drop…of my blood’.”

Trotsky’s History shows the quick tempo of events. February 23 International Women’s Day demo; February 25 general strike; police and state officials were sent packing and on February 27 the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies was formed. The soviets, which had previously arisen in the 1905 Revolution, were revived in the February Revolution, but they now included soldiers, who were mainly peasants and who would otherwise have been difficult to organize. By February 28 the tsar’s ministers were arrested, and by March 2 the tsar had abdicated.

The paradox of the February Revolution was that while the autocracy and the tsar had been overthrown by the workers, the official government that emerged was bourgeois. Even as street fighting was raging in Petrograd on the night of February 27, a self-appointed Provisional Committee composed of bourgeois-monarchist politicians met in the Tauride Palace, behind the back of the popular revolution. They declared a Provisional Government aimed at erecting a constitutional monarchy.

Meanwhile, in another wing of the Tauride Palace, a “Provisional Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies” was being formed. The leadership of the Soviet was dominated by the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries (SRs). While the SRs were largely based on the peasantry, the Mensheviks represented urban petty-bourgeois layers and the more conservative and privileged workers. The program of the Mensheviks and SRs was that the bourgeoisie should lead and rule, and they desperately appealed to the bourgeois Provisional Government to take control.

Trotsky often quotes the left Menshevik Nikolai Sukhanov, who was a leader of the Soviet in its early days and himself wrote a history of the Russian Revolution. Trotsky in his History of the Russian Revolution quotes Sukhanov as saying: “The Executive Committee [of the Soviet] was in a perfect position either to give the power to the bourgeois government, or not give it.” Further: “The power destined to replace tsarism must be only a bourgeois power…. Otherwise the uprising will not succeed and the revolution will collapse.”

That’s blunt! When I first read about this, I had trouble believing that any kind of so-called socialist, with the workers in ascendancy and soviets being set up, deliberately runs around the city looking for capitalist politicians to hand over power to. But let me tell you something: This has happened many times. From the abortive Chinese Revolution of the late 1920s to Spain in the 1930s to Greece in the late 1940s after World War II, promising revolutionary situations have been betrayed by latter-day Mensheviks and deliberately handed over to the bourgeois executioners time and time again. These reformists seriously do not believe that the working class can take and hold power.

The February Revolution thus resulted in a situation of dual power. That is, alongside the Provisional Government of the bourgeoisie, there stood the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. There was continual conflict between the Provisional Government and the soviets. Trotsky notes that one bourgeois politician complained: “The government, alas, has no real power; the troops, the railroads, the post and telegraph are in the hands of the Soviet. The simple fact is that the Provisional Government exists only so long as the Soviet permits it.” Dual power is unstable and can only be resolved either by revolution or counterrevolution.

Rearming the Bolshevik Party

Trotsky comments that the February Revolution was led by “conscious and tempered workers educated for the most part by the party of Lenin.” The Bolsheviks were in the soviets, of course, but as a minority. The Bolsheviks were slow off the mark, with a leadership underground and dispersed—Lenin was in exile—and, in general, lagging behind the masses. The soviets in February were dominated by the SRs and Mensheviks, who maintained that the February Revolution had achieved the main task of overthrowing the monarchy, and now the task was to defend “democratic” Russia against German imperialism. In other words, upholding the war aims of the Russian bourgeoisie, the Mensheviks and SRs took positions similar to the pro-war German Social Democrats. During Lenin’s exile and particularly after the return of Joseph Stalin and Lev Kamenev, the Bolshevik leaders in Russia began to bend in the direction of the Mensheviks’ defensism, dropping Lenin’s revolutionary defeatism and even mooting the possibility of the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks merging! Lenin in exile was trying desperately to get back to Russia and wrote in a furious March letter: “I would choose an immediate split with no matter whom in our party, rather than surrender to social-patriotism.”

When he finally arrived in Petrograd, Lenin climbed atop an armored car to address the cheering workers who had brought down the tsar. Lenin hailed them and, to the shock of the official pro-war Soviet welcoming committee, gave an internationalist salute to the German revolutionary Marxist leader Karl Liebknecht, who was in prison for opposing German militarism. “The hour is not far when, at the summons of our comrade Karl Liebknecht, the people will turn their weapons against their capitalist exploiters…. Long live the worldwide socialist revolution!” (Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution).

Lenin went straight on to a Bolshevik meeting, where he gave a two-hour speech. The speech is not preserved, but the ever-present Sukhanov, who was allowed into this Bolshevik meeting by an overindulgent Kamenev, describes Lenin as saying: “‘We don’t need any parliamentary republic. We don’t need any bourgeois democracy. We don’t need any government except the soviet of workers’, soldiers’, and farmhands’ deputies!’” Sukhanov bleats: “I will never forget that thunderlike speech, startling and amazing not only to me, a heretic accidentally dropped in, but also to the faithful.”

This was the opening shot of Lenin’s fight to rearm the party. Lenin’s “April Theses,” which he fought for at the April party conference, included recognition that the seizure of power by the proletariat in Russia would place on the order of the day not only the democratic tasks but also socialist tasks. So now Lenin is sounding more like Trotsky on permanent revolution. As Trotsky noted in Lessons of October (1924): “The fundamental controversial question, around which everything else centered, was this: whether or not we should struggle for power; whether or not we should assume power.”

Lenin could win over the party because his program corresponded to the needs of the proletariat and peasantry. And because there was a proletarian base to the party that had been waiting—as Trotsky says in his History of the Russian Revolution, “gritting their teeth”—for Lenin or someone to put forward a revolutionary strategy for the seizure of power by the Soviets. Yet, at the same time, there was a conservative wing of the party. As Trotsky points out in Lessons of October, “A revolutionary party is subject to the pressure of other political forces.” The party’s power of resistance is weakened when it has to make political turns and it “becomes, or runs the risk of becoming, the indirect tool of other classes.” The most abrupt turn is when the question of armed insurrection against the bourgeoisie is on the agenda. We’ll see a second part of this fight right before the insurrection. After Lenin’s successful struggle to rearm the party, the Bolshevik Party began to raise its revolutionary program, and its influence spread like wildfire.

Not surprisingly, the fall of the tsarist monarchy in February had stimulated national movements among the oppressed nations of Russia. Trotsky wrote: “In this matter, however, we observe the same thing as in all other departments of the February regime: the official democracy, held in leash by its political dependence upon an imperialist bourgeoisie, was totally incapable of breaking the old fetters.” They sure weren’t going to relinquish, as Trotsky put it, “Ukrainian grain, Donetz coal, and the ores of Krivorog.” So, after February as before, Lenin kept hammering away on the right of self-determination for oppressed nations.

[TO BE CONTINUED]

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1123/1917.html

https://archive.is/EwW2C

Workers Vanguard No. 1124 15 December 2017

Celebrating the 1917 Russian Revolution

For New October Revolutions!

(Part Two)

We print below the second part of a presentation, edited for publication, given by Spartacist League speaker Diana Coleman at a November 4 forum in Chicago. Part One appeared in WV No. 1123 (1 December).

The first Provisional Government, which was established after the February Revolution, was brought down by the uproar over its pledge to continue the hated imperialist war. A new cabinet was formed on May 5. This time Socialist-Revolutionary (SR) Party and Menshevik leaders in the soviets (councils of workers’, soldiers’ and peasants’ deputies that arose in the wake of the February Revolution) took ministerial posts, alongside the bourgeois Constitutional Democratic (Kadet) Party, in the capitalist government. Trotsky later called this Russian coalition government “the greatest historical example of the Popular Front” (“The POUM and the Popular Front,” July 1936).

The popular front was the name that the Stalinists would use, starting in the 1930s, to designate their coalition government betrayals. In South Africa it’s called the Tripartite Alliance. Such class collaboration is not a tactic but the greatest betrayal! When a workers party enters a popular front with capitalist parties, whether in government or in opposition, it is a pledge by the traitorous working-class leaders that they will not violate the bourgeois order; in fact, they’ll defend it.

The mood in Petrograd was changing in favor of the Bolsheviks, who had a near majority in the factories. In early June when a demonstration called by the Bolsheviks was banned by the Menshevik/SR-led Soviet, the Bolsheviks stood down and called it off. The conciliationist Soviet leadership then called a demonstration on June 18, but to their horror the workers came out en masse under Bolshevik slogans, including: “Down with the offensive!” “All power to the soviets!” and “Down with the ten capitalist ministers!”

Trotsky was now back in Russia and, finally understanding the need for a hard Leninist party, was working closely with Lenin. In response to the coalition government, Lenin and Trotsky devised the slogan, “Down with the ten capitalist ministers!” It meant: break the coalition with the capitalists; the soviets should take all the power!

By early July, Petrograd was in semi-insurrection. Workers and soldiers infuriated by the coalition government, now led by Alexander Kerensky, were demanding “All power to the Soviet!” In his History of the Russian Revolution (1932), Trotsky vividly quotes an eyewitness who saw Victor Chernov, an SR minister, trying to speak to a crowd of workers and soldiers: “A husky worker shaking his fist in the face of the minister, shouted furiously: ‘Take the power, you son-of-a-bitch, when they give it to you’.”

But the conciliationists didn’t want the power! This is very different from the Bolsheviks. Speaking at the First Congress of Soviets in June 1917, Lenin called for a Soviet government and asserted: “According to the previous speaker…there was no political party in Russia expressing its readiness to assume full power. I reply: ‘Yes, there is. No party can refuse this, and our Party certainly doesn’t’” (“Speech on the Attitude Towards the Provisional Government,” 4 June 1917).

The Bolsheviks were worried that a July insurrection in the cities was premature, that it would not be backed by the peasantry, and thus it would be impossible for the workers to hold power. But after initially opposing the July demonstrations, the Bolshevik leadership decided that it was better to go with the masses and try to provide leadership and prevent a premature insurrection. The Bolshevik estimation was correct, and after the demonstrations, a period of severe repression followed. Bolsheviks were killed, Trotsky was arrested and Lenin went into hiding. The repression, however, did make clear to the workers the true nature of this popular-front government—that it was nothing other than the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

While in hiding, Lenin devoted what he thought might be his last days to writing The State and Revolution. He argued that while the bourgeoisie uses lies to hide its dictatorship, the truth is that the state is not a neutral arbiter above classes. He defended Friedrich Engels’ understanding that the core of the state is armed bodies of men—the military, prisons and police—who hold a monopoly of violence over society. These instruments exist for the social domination by the ruling class—under capitalism, the rule of the bourgeoisie.

Lenin’s pamphlet codifies a central lesson of revolutionary struggle: that the proletariat cannot take over the bourgeois state to wield it in the interests of the working class. Rather, the proletariat must smash the old state machinery, create a new state and impose its own class rule—the dictatorship of the proletariat—to suppress and expropriate the capitalist exploiters. As you can see, this was not an abstract discussion but a part of an ongoing political debate. There was supposed to be a seventh chapter of The State and Revolution, but Lenin had to stop writing and go back to Petrograd to actually lead the revolution. As he noted in a postscript: “It is more pleasant and useful to go through the ‘experience of the revolution’ than to write about it.”

By August, the bourgeoisie had realized that only a military coup could stop the revolution and called on the commander-in-chief of the army, General Kornilov, to crush the soviets. Kornilov was a monarchist general of the anti-Jewish “Black Hundred” type. Trotsky notes that Kornilov had the heart of a lion and the brain of a sheep. The conciliationist soviet tops were paralyzed in response to the counterrevolutionary offensive, but the masses rallied around the Bolshevik-organized united-front action that stopped Kornilov in his tracks.

Lenin was very clear:

“Even now we must not support Kerensky’s government. This is unprincipled. We may be asked: aren’t we going to fight against Kornilov? Of course we must! But this is not the same thing; there is a dividing line here, which is being stepped over by some Bolsheviks who fall into compromise and allow themselves to be carried away by the course of events.

“We shall fight, we are fighting against Kornilov, just as Kerensky’s troops do, but we do not support Kerensky. On the contrary, we expose his weakness.”

Lenin was also very clear on the war even though by this time the German army was approaching Petrograd: “We shall become defencists only after the transfer of power to the proletariat” (“To the Central Committee of the RSDLP,” 30 August 1917).

It is also worth noting that a victory for Kornilov would have meant not only a slaughter of the pro-Bolshevik masses, but would also have been fatal for many of the compromisers as well. The failed coup showed that bourgeois democracy, as represented by the Provisional Government, was not viable in the historical sense in Russia in 1917. The real choices were represented by the Bolsheviks on the one hand and Kornilov and the forces of military reaction on the other.

Toward the Seizure of Power

A crucial corner had been turned by the beginning of September. The masses were convinced that the old soviet misleaders were politically bankrupt and that only the Bolsheviks would take decisive action to end the war, stop capitalist sabotage of the economy and lead the soviets to power. The general staff of the army was no longer capable of mobilizing military units against revolutionary Petrograd. The countryside was aflame as returning peasant soldiers seized the landlords’ fields and torched their huge mansions. On September 4, Trotsky was released from prison, and by the 23rd he was elected chairman of the Petrograd Soviet.

The Bolsheviks finally had solid majorities in the Moscow and Petrograd Soviets. Trotsky declared, “Long live the direct and open struggle for a revolutionary power throughout the country!” The bourgeoisie and the conciliationists tried some parliamentary diversions—the Democratic Conference and the Pre-Parliament—but it was too late for that. The crucial upcoming event was the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, which was very popular with the masses because it was sure to have a Bolshevik majority.

The first showdown in the Bolshevik leadership over the insurrection was the famous central committee meeting of October 10, where the insurrection was voted up ten votes to two—Gregory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev voted against. As Trotsky wrote: “Whatever remains in the party that is irresolute, skeptical, conciliationist, capitulatory—in short Menshevik—all this rises to the surface in opposition to the insurrection” (Lessons of October, 1924). The resolution, as is typical of Lenin, starts with the international situation, that is, the ripening of world revolution; the insurrection in Russia is regarded as a link in the chain. The idea of having socialism in one country was not in anyone’s mind then, even Stalin’s.

Alexander Rabinowitch, in The Bolsheviks Come to Power (1976), tells a funny story about this meeting which had to be held secretly because Lenin was still subject to arrest:

“By an ironic twist of fate the gathering was to be held in the apartment of the left Menshevik Sukhanov…. But on this occasion Sukhanov was not in attendance. His wife, Galina Flakserman, a Bolshevik activist since 1905…had offered…the use of the Sukhanov flat, should the need arise.”

Rabinowitch continues:

“For her part, Flakserman insured that her meddlesome husband would remain away on this historic night. ‘The weather is wretched, and you must promise not to try to make it all the way back home tonight,’ she had counseled solicitously as he departed for work early that morning.”

He must have been irritated to miss this meeting.

So, after this decisive resolution, the workers were arming, drilling, setting up the Red Guards. Workers at the weapons factories were funneling weapons directly to the Red Guards. But there were still differences in the leadership. There was another meeting on October 16, where Lenin again argued for insurrection and Kamenev and Zinoviev again voted against it. Then Kamenev and Zinoviev got a public statement printed in a non-Bolshevik newspaper opposing the insurrection. Lenin called them strikebreakers and demanded their expulsion from the party. Luckily for them, the revolution intervened. Stalin voted with Lenin for insurrection but defended Kamenev and Zinoviev and minimized the differences. He was keeping his options open in case the revolution didn’t come off.

A decisive step toward the seizure of power came when the Petrograd Soviet, at the behest of the Bolsheviks, invalidated an order by Kerensky to transfer two-thirds of the Petrograd garrison to the front. Trotsky noted:

“The moment when the regiments, upon the instructions of the [Soviet] Military Revolutionary Committee, refused to depart from the city, we had a victorious insurrection in the capital, only slightly screened at the top by the remnants of the bourgeois-democratic state forms. The insurrection of October 25 was only supplementary in character.”

—Lessons of October

The Seizure of Power

On October 24, Kerensky foolishly tried to shut down the Bolshevik newspaper. The Military Revolutionary Committee immediately sent a detachment to reopen it and also to start taking over the telephone exchange and other key centers. Even at this point Lenin was frustrated with the lack of progress of the insurrection and went in disguise to the Bolshevik headquarters at the Smolny Institute to oversee preparations personally. One Bolshevik remembered that Lenin “paced around a small room at Smolny like a lion in a cage. He needed the Winter Palace at any cost: it remained the last gate on the road to workers’ power. V. I. scolded…he screamed…he was ready to shoot us” (Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power).

Kerensky, by the way, escaped in the safety of a diplomatic vehicle flying the American flag. He wound up here in the U.S., home to counterrevolutionary gusanos of all varieties, at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. There he wrote and lectured about how to fight communism—something which he hadn’t done too well in life.

The cruiser Aurora was firing on the Winter Palace when the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets opened. Lenin got up and opened his speech with the famous sentence: “We shall now proceed to construct the socialist order.” The three-point agenda was: end the war, give land to the peasants and establish the socialist dictatorship. The Bolsheviks’ proclamations were punctuated by the steady boom of Red naval artillery directed against the government holdouts in the Winter Palace, which was finally taken.

As we’ve seen, the soviets by themselves do not settle the question of power. They can serve different programs and leaderships. As Trotsky wrote in Lessons of October, “Without a party, apart from a party, over the head of a party, or with a substitute for a party, the proletarian revolution cannot conquer.” At the opening session of the Congress of Soviets, the Mensheviks and the right-wing Socialist-Revolutionaries were enraged that the Bolsheviks had taken power and walked out. Trotsky basically said “Good riddance!”

Consistent with their opposition to the seizure of power, the right wing of the Bolshevik Party leadership around Zinoviev and Kamenev argued for a coalition government. They had to back down when it became clear that there was nobody to form a coalition with. Far from wanting to help run a workers state, the Mensheviks and SRs immediately started organizing a counterrevolutionary uprising against the Bolsheviks, which was quickly suppressed.

Let me state as a general rule that it is a bad idea to seek a coalition with those who are actively trying to overthrow the workers state and kill you all. This right wing of the Bolsheviks would re-emerge after Lenin’s death and the defeat of the German Revolution of 1923, when a bureaucratic caste began to coalesce around J.V. Stalin. But for now, another acute party crisis had been overcome. Some Left SRs finally did join the government, at least for a while.

I will briefly comment on the “constituent assembly” call and recommend to people our article in Spartacist ([English-language edition] No. 63, Winter 2012-13), “Why We Reject the ‘Constituent Assembly’ Demand.” This was a longtime Bolshevik demand, but the problem is that a constituent assembly is a bourgeois parliament. When it finally came into being after the revolution, it was counterrevolutionary. As we state in our article:

“The issues of permanent revolution and the constituent assembly are closely linked because the central question is what form of state will be able to accomplish the democratic tasks of the revolution: the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie or that of the proletariat?…

“Even after the essential concepts of the perspective of permanent revolution came to be accepted—by Trotsky in 1905, by Lenin in early 1917—the relationship between soviets and constituent assembly remained to be tested in real life. It was the experience of the October Revolution that led Lenin and Trotsky to support the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, despite their previous support for calls to convene it.”

The Revolutionary Regime

Besides proceeding on peace negotiations and land to the peasantry, a new revolutionary government of People’s Commissars was appointed, which over the next period moved forward with nationalizing the banks, restarting industry and laying the foundations of the new soviet state.

On November 15, the new Soviet government issued the “Declaration of Rights of the Peoples of Russia,” putting forward the following principles: equality and sovereignty of the peoples of Russia, the right of self-determination up to secession and formation of a separate state, abolition of all national and religious privileges, and the free development of all national and ethnic groups inhabiting Russia. Trotsky comments in his History of the Russian Revolution:

“The bourgeoisie of the border nations entered the road of separatism in the autumn of 1917, not in a struggle against national oppression, but in a struggle against the advancing proletarian revolution. In the sum total, the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations manifested no less hostility to the revolution than the Great Russian bourgeoisie.”

True enough, and certainly the local bourgeoisie of various border areas were willing lackeys of the imperialist powers, including of course the U.S., which tried to overturn the Russian Revolution. But this is why Lenin’s position on the national question spoke so powerfully to the working masses. What he wanted was a voluntary union of nations. Writing in December 1919 about the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Lenin said:

“Regarding it as beyond dispute for every Communist and for every politically-conscious worker that the closest alliance of all Soviet republics in their struggle against the menacing forces of world imperialism is essential, the R.C.P. [Russian Communist Party] maintains that the form of that alliance must be finally determined by the Ukrainian workers and labouring peasants themselves.”

—“Draft Resolution of the C.C., R.C.P.(B.) on Soviet Rule in the Ukraine”

The question of national divisions does not go away the day after the socialist revolution, but only in the more distant communist future. The idea that the national question was no longer an issue was defeated in the debate in 1919 over the Russian party program. Actually, it was another go-around with those who had proposed “imperialist economism” before the revolution (see Part One of this presentation).

The party program asserted not only that “the colonial and other nations which are oppressed, or whose rights are restricted, must be completely liberated and granted the right to secede.” It also emphasized that “the workers of those nations which under capitalism were oppressor nations must take exceptional care not to hurt the national sentiments of the oppressed nations…and must not only promote the actual equality, but also the development of the language and literature of the working people of the formerly oppressed nations so as to remove all traces of distrust and alienation inherited from the epoch of capitalism” (“Draft Programme of the R.C.P.[B.]”).

Indeed, Lenin’s last struggle was waged against the Great Russian chauvinist bullying of Georgian Communists by Stalin and others. This was part of the struggle against the developing Stalinist bureaucracy. As Trotsky said: “Whatever may be the further destiny of the Soviet Union—and it is still far from a quiet haven—the national policy of Lenin will find its place among the eternal treasures of mankind” (History of the Russian Revolution).

This talk cannot take up in any depth the question of the Stalinist degeneration of the Soviet Union. Marxists have always understood that the material abundance necessary to uproot class society and its attendant oppressions can only come from the highest level of technology and science based on an internationally planned economy. The economic devastation and isolation of the Soviet workers state led to strong material pressures toward bureaucratization.

In the last years of his life, Lenin, often in alliance with Trotsky, waged a series of battles in the party against the political manifestations of the bureaucratic pressures. The Bolsheviks knew that socialism could only be built on a worldwide basis, and they fought to extend the revolution internationally, especially to the advanced capitalist economies of Europe. The idea that socialism could be built in a single country was a later perversion introduced as part of the justification for the bureaucratic degeneration of the revolution.

Despite the triumph of the bureaucratic caste in 1924 and the consequent degeneration of the Russian Revolution, the central gains of the revolution—embodied in the overthrow of capitalist property relations and the establishment of a collectivized, planned economy—remained. We of the International Communist League stand on the heritage of Trotsky’s Left Opposition, which fought against Stalin and the degeneration of the revolution. We stood for the unconditional military defense of the Soviet Union against imperialist attack and all threats of capitalist counterrevolution, internal or external. At the same time, we understood that the bureaucratic caste at the top was a mortal threat to the continued existence of the workers state. We called for a proletarian political revolution to oust the bureaucracy, restore workers democracy and pursue the fight for the international proletarian revolution.

The gains of the revolution were apparent, for example, in the material position of women. Despite the grim poverty of Russia at the time of the October Revolution, the young workers state implemented far-reaching measures of equality for women. The Soviet government established civil marriage and allowed for divorce at the request of either partner; all laws against homosexual acts and other consensual sexual activity were abolished.

As explained in a pamphlet, The Sexual Revolution in Russia (1923), by Grigorii Batkis, director of the Moscow Institute of Social Hygiene, the Bolshevik position was based on the following principle: “the absolute non-interference of the state and society into sexual matters, so long as nobody is injured, and no one’s interests are encroached upon.” This is light-years ahead of the consciousness of liberals and fake leftists today, like Socialist Alternative, who go ballistic over our defense of Roman Polanski, who has been persecuted for consensual sexual activity, and NAMBLA (the North American Man/Boy Love Association), which advocates the right of consensual relationships between youth and older men.

One of the few recent good articles in the New York Times about the Russian Revolution was an August 12 piece by Kristen R. Ghodsee titled “Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism.” It was mostly about East European countries, which became bureaucratically deformed workers states after World War II. The article stated: “A comparative sociological study of East and West Germans conducted after reunification in 1990 found that Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women.” Some examples:

“Consider Ana Durcheva from Bulgaria…. Having lived her first 43 years under Communism, she often complained that the new free market hindered Bulgarians’ ability to develop healthy amorous relationships. ‘Sure, some things were bad during that time, but my life was full of romance,’ she said. ‘After my divorce, I had my job and my salary, and I didn’t need a man to support me. I could do as I pleased’.”

From a 30-something working woman of Germany today speaking of her mother’s desire for grandchildren: “She doesn’t understand how much harder it is now—it was so easy for women [in East Germany] before the Wall fell,” referring to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989. “They had kindergartens and crèches, and they could take maternity leave and have their jobs held for them. I work contract to contract, and don’t have time to get pregnant.”

Another quote from researchers in Poland when it was still a workers state: “Even the best stimulation…will not help to achieve pleasure if a woman is stressed or overworked, worried about her future and financial stability.” Indeed! In fact, the most amazing thing about this article is that the New York Times actually published it.

“Left” Apostles of Counterrevolution

The destruction of the Soviet Union and the restoration of capitalism there in 1991-92 and in East Europe transformed the political landscape of the planet and threw proletarian consciousness backward. Capitalist counterrevolution triggered an unparalleled economic collapse throughout the former Soviet Union, with skyrocketing rates of poverty and disease. Internationally, with the destruction of the Soviet Union as a counterweight, the imperialists felt they had a free hand to project their military might.

We actively fought counterrevolution from East Germany to the Soviet Union itself. The Socialist Workers Party of Britain, then affiliated with the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in the U.S., was just the bluntest of the “left” cheerleaders for counterrevolution when they triumphantly proclaimed: “Communism has collapsed…. It is a fact that should have every socialist rejoicing” (Socialist Worker [Britain], 31 August 1991).

Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of Jacobin and big shot in the Democratic Socialists of America, has this to say about the Russian Revolution:

“One hundred years after Lenin’s sealed train arrived at Finland Station and set into motion the events that led to Stalin’s gulags [really?!], the idea that we should return to this history for inspiration might sound absurd. But there was good reason that the Bolsheviks once called themselves ‘social democrats’.”

So Sunkara believes Leninism leads to Stalinism and wants to return to every rotten social-democratic position that Lenin and the Bolsheviks had to fight against to make the Russian Revolution. Todd Chretien, ISO honcho, endorses the article with a few oh-so-polite caveats and says: “Today, like it or not, all of us socialists are on the same train, even if we might start out on different cars…and communication between compartments is flowing freely”—between what he calls the “healthy sections of the socialist left,” i.e., the reformists of various varieties.

Well, we Trotskyists of the ICL are not on their train. We don’t spend our days trying to refurbish the capitalist Democratic Party; we don’t support U.S. imperialism’s bloody wars around the world; and we don’t promote counterrevolution in those countries, like China or North Korea, where capitalist rule was overthrown. And our goal isn’t trying to reform the capitalist system.

During World War I, Rosa Luxemburg posited that the choices were socialism or barbarism. That’s true now, too. We know we have a long row to hoe and that we are a small international revolutionary Marxist propaganda group. We also know that the tide will again turn and that future workers revolutions will need the Bolshevik political arsenal. Their cadres must be educated in the experiences of the October Revolution. So that’s our job and no one else’s. To quote James Cannon, “We are, in fact, the party of the Russian revolution. We have been the people, and the only people, who have had the Russian revolution in their program and in their blood” (Struggle for a Proletarian Party [1943]).

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1124/1917.html

Under the Banner of the “Three L’s” – Lenin (Workers Vanguard) 12 Jan 2018

Audio of Article – Mp3

https://archive.is/KNobe

Workers Vanguard No. 1125 12 January 2018

Under the Banner of the “Three L’s”

(Quote of the Week)

V. I. Lenin 1919

This month, we continue the communist tradition of honoring the “Three L’s”: V.I. Lenin, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. On 15 January 1919, Luxemburg and Liebknecht, founders of the German Spartakusbund and Communist Party, were murdered by counterrevolutionary troops unleashed by the Social Democratic Party-led capitalist government as it crushed a workers uprising. Five years later, on January 21, Lenin, head of the Bolshevik Party and Soviet workers state, died after suffering a series of strokes following an assassination attempt. Liebknecht and Luxemburg’s assassination exemplified “democratic” bourgeois rule, as Lenin noted in a resolution presented to the First Congress of the Communist International.

In Germany, the most developed capitalist country of continental Europe, the very first months of full republican freedom, established as a result of imperialist Germany’s defeat [in World War I], have shown the German workers and the whole world the true class substance of the bourgeois-democratic republic. The murder of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg is an event of epoch-making significance not only because of the tragic death of these finest people and leaders of the truly proletarian, Communist International, but also because the class nature of an advanced European state—it can be said without exaggeration, of an advanced state on a world-wide scale—has been conclusively exposed. If those arrested, i.e., those placed under state protection, could be assassinated by officers and capitalists with impunity, and this under a government headed by social-patriots, then the democratic republic where such a thing was possible is a bourgeois dictatorship. Those who voice their indignation at the murder of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg but fail to understand this fact are only demonstrating their stupidity, or hypocrisy. “Freedom” in the German republic, one of the freest and advanced republics of the world, is freedom to murder arrested leaders of the proletariat with impunity. Nor can it be otherwise as long as capitalism remains, for the development of democracy sharpens rather than dampens the class struggle which, by virtue of all the results and influences of the war and of its consequences, has been brought to boiling point….

In these circumstances, proletarian dictatorship is not only an absolutely legitimate means of overthrowing the exploiters and suppressing their resistance, but also absolutely necessary to the entire mass of working people, being their only defence against the bourgeois dictatorship which led to the war and is preparing new wars.

—V.I. Lenin, “Theses and Report on Bourgeois Democracy and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat” (4 March 1919)

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1125/qotw.html

Einleitung zum Konferenzdokument (Spartacist Deutsche Ausgabe) Herbst 2017

Audio – Mp3

https://archive.is/ay938

Spartacist (deutsche Ausgabe) Nummer 31

Herbst 2017

Einleitung zum Konferenzdokument

Die Internationale Kommunistische Liga (Vierte Internationalisten) hielt in diesem Jahr ihre VII. Internationale Konferenz ab, die das höchste politische und organisatorische Entscheidungsgremium der IKL ist. Ein monatelanger intensiver interner Kampf gegen eine langjährige Entstellung des Leninismus in der nationalen Frage, besonders hinsichtlich unterdrückter Nationen in multinationalen Staaten, gipfelte in der Annahme des Hauptdokuments sowie in den Anträgen, Diskussionen und in einer neuen Führung, die auf der Konferenz gewählt wurde. Diese Deformation stellte eine Kapitulation vor dem vorherrschenden Druck des anglofonen Imperialismus der USA dar, wo unsere Tendenz ihren Ursprung hat. Im Verlauf des Kampfes wurde klar, dass diese Anpassung an den Großmachtchauvinismus unseren Kampf für die Wiederschmiedung der Vierten Internationale infiziert hatte, was sich besonders an der arroganten Herabsetzung von Genossen aus unterdrückten Ländern zeigte.

Begonnen hat der Kampf, als ein Kollektiv von Kadern aus Québec, die wir nach den dortigen massiven Studentenstreiks 2012 rekrutierten, sich gegen die groteske anglochauvinistische Geringschätzung der nationalen Rechte und Sprachenrechte der unterdrückten Québécois-Bevölkerung wandte, die in Artikeln von Spartacist Canada (SC), Zeitung der Trotskyist League of Canada (TLC), ausgedrückt wurde. Die schockierendsten Beispiele fielen in den Zeitraum zwischen der Gründung der TLC 1975 und dem Jahr 1995, als die Sektion beschloss, die Forderung nach Unabhängigkeit für Québec zu erheben. Dieser notwendige Linienwechsel hatte jedoch einen zentristischen Charakter, da die Arbeit und Propaganda der Sektion weiterhin im anglochauvinistischen Rahmen verblieben.

Von Anfang an schlossen sich den Québécois-Genossen die führende Genossin unseres Internationalen Sekretariats (IS), Genossin Coelho, sowie der Gründer und Führer unserer internationalen Tendenz, Jim Robertson, dem Kampf gegen Anglochauvinismus an. Robertson hatte 1995 erfolgreich dafür gekämpft, unsere Opposition zur Unabhängigkeit für Québec umzukehren. Als die Auseinandersetzung sich international ausweitete, kamen weitere Beispiele des Chauvinismus ans Licht, wo wir gegen gerechte nationale Kämpfe aufgetreten waren, insbesondere in Bezug auf den Kampf des baskischen und des katalanischen Volkes, sich aus dem Völkergefängnis Spaniens zu befreien sowie auch vom Joch der rabiat chauvinistischen französischen Imperialisten. Es kam zu einer politischen Differenzierung unter den historischen englischsprachigen Kadern der IKL. Auf der einen Seite standen diejenigen, die dem alten Programm zur nationalen Frage und der alten Funktionsweise der Partei verhaftet blieben; auf der anderen standen jene, die für eine authentische, längst überfällige Fusion mit den Québécois-Genossen kämpften.

In dieser Ausgabe des Spartacist drucken wir den Großteil des Konferenzdokuments ab, „Der Kampf gegen die chauvinistische Hydra“, zur Veröffentlichung redigiert. Das Dokument behandelt den theoretischen Rahmen und die politischen Konsequenzen unserer früheren, antileninistischen Positionen zur nationalen Frage. Indem die Genossen, die diesen Kampf führten, ein äußerst grelles Licht auf unsere Anpassung an imperialistische Vorherrschaft warfen, insbesondere die der USA, haben sie sich für die Erhaltung unserer revolutionären Kontinuität eingesetzt. Wie der revolutionäre marxistische Führer W. I. Lenin schrieb:

„Das Verhalten einer politischen Partei zu ihren Fehlern ist eines der wichtigsten und sichersten Kriterien für den Ernst einer Partei und für die tatsächliche Erfüllung ihrer Pflichten gegenüber ihrer Klasse und den werktätigen Massen. Einen Fehler offen zugeben, seine Ursachen aufdecken, die Umstände, die ihn hervorgerufen haben, analysieren, die Mittel zur Behebung des Fehlers sorgfältig prüfen – das ist das Merkmal einer ernsten Partei, das heißt Erfüllung ihrer Pflichten, das heißt Erziehung und Schulung der Klasse und dann auch der Masse.“

– Der „linke Radikalismus“, die Kinderkrankheit im Kommunismus, 1920

Um mit der englischsprachigen Vorherrschaft in unserer Internationale zu brechen, wurde das Dokument in Québec-Französisch verfasst. Es entstand durch die mehrsprachige Zusammenarbeit von Kadern aus der ganzen IKL, insbesondere aus unseren Sektionen in Mexiko, Griechenland und Südafrika, deren Hingabe für unsere Partei und deren Führungsqualitäten hervorstachen. Der erwiesene Internationalismus dieser Genossen wurde von einer Reihe von IS-Regimen lange missbraucht. Besonders seit dem Untergang der Sowjetunion 1991/92 gaben diese Regime dem Druck der imperialistischen USA nach, wo sich unsere Zentrale befindet.

Bei dieser Konferenz hatten wir zum ersten Mal vollständige Simultanübersetzungen der Sitzungen in drei Sprachen. Die Genossen verschiedener Sektionen überbrachten Grüße an die Konferenz in ihrer Muttersprache (oder ihren Muttersprachen). Damit brachen wir mit unserer jahrzehntelangen Praxis, Diskussionen bei internationalen Treffen auf Englisch abzuhalten (und für Nicht-Englischsprachige nur informelle Übersetzungen bereitzustellen). Diese Praxis stellte an sich schon eine Anpassung an das anglo-imperialistische Diktat von „Englisch über alles“ dar. Unsere neue Vorgehensweise drückt unsere Entschlossenheit aus, die Sprachen der Arbeiter und unterdrückten Völker der Welt zu erlernen und zu sprechen. Wie ein Führungsgenosse unserer australischen Sektion treffend argumentierte: „Kommunisten wollen nicht in einer Welt leben, in der die historische Sprache der britischen imperialistischen Unterdrücker, ihrer australischen Ableger … und des bluttriefenden amerikanischen Ungeheuers weiter dominiert.“

Der Kampf, ein internationalistisches Führungskollektiv aufzubauen

Im Verlauf des internen Kampfes gab es unter langjährigen englischsprachigen Kadern – von denen etliche zu den Verfassern unserer antileninistischen Linie gehört hatten – Opposition gegen die Fusion mit den Genossen aus Québec. Niemand wollte offen den Anglochauvinismus verteidigen. Stattdessen nahm die Opposition die Form eines Guerillakriegs gegen die Genossen an, die den Kampf führten, obwohl diese mit großer Geduld versuchten, diese Kader zu gewinnen. Zwar wurde das Konferenzdokument einstimmig angenommen, aber oppositionelle Nachhutgefechte gingen während und nach der Konferenz weiter. Genossin Coelho unterstrich den hinterhältigen, cliquistischen Charakter dieser Opposition und erinnerte an Trotzkis Erklärung in „Der Zentrismus und die IV. Internationale“ (Februar 1934):

„Der Zentrist, seiner Position und seiner Methoden nie gewiss, steht dem revolutionären Prinzip Aussprechen, was ist voll Widerwillen gegenüber; er neigt dazu, anstelle grundsätzlicher Kritik personelle Kombinationen und kleinliche Organisations-Diplomatie zu setzen.“

Die Zukunft wird zeigen, ob diese Kader sich in der Tat dieser Fusion verpflichtet haben. Wir schmälern ihre lebenslangen, oft hart erkämpften Beiträge zum Aufbau unserer Internationale nicht. Diese Schicht ist weiterhin in unserem Internationalen Exekutivkomitee (IEK) vertreten, allerdings ohne entscheidende Stimme. Die Mehrheit der Vollmitglieder des neuen IEK entstammt nicht dem englischsprachigen Raum, jedoch gehören auch langjährige englischsprachige Kader, die diesen Kampf zu führen halfen, dem IEK an.

Der Kampf in Kanada verschaffte Genossen in anderen Ländern das Gerüst, Probleme im Verhältnis zwischen der Internationale und ihrer eigenen Arbeit zu verstehen. Die Genossen der Trotzkistischen Gruppe Griechenlands (TOE) sahen Parallelen zwischen der Bevormundung und Arroganz, der die QuébécoisGenossen ausgesetzt waren, und der ekelhaften und chauvinistischen Verachtung, der sie selbst unterworfen waren, insbesondere seitens einiger Genossen, die in den letzten Jahren an der Arbeit der Sektion stark beteiligt waren. Die Konferenz erkannte endlich die TOE als volle Sektion der IKL an. Durch ihren Kampf für die Verteidigung der Rechte unterdrückter nationaler Minderheiten in Griechenland und für Frauenbefreiung – in Opposition gegen den krassen griechischen Chauvinismus des Anführers ihrer damaligen Gruppe – waren die Genossen 2004 zu einer sympathisierenden Sektion geworden. Die Tatsache, dass die TOE 13 Jahre lang eine sympathisierende Sektion blieb, zeigt überdeutlich die bevormundende Politik des IS.

Ebenso wie die Genossen aus Québec wurde die TOE praktisch als Jugendgruppe behandelt und ihre ganz besonderen politischen Erfahrungen und herausragenden Führungseigenschaften wurden ignoriert. Es hat mehr als zehn Jahre gedauert, bevor wir in Griechenland eine Zeitung herausbrachten. Propaganda ist absolut notwendig, damit wir in diese explosive Gesellschaft intervenieren können, wo eine der wenigen stalinistischen Massenparteien der kapitalistischen Welt existiert. Unsere griechischen Genossen stellen eine lebenswichtige Brücke zu anderen Ländern auf dem Balkan und zum Nahen Osten dar, und sie sind ein bedeutendes Gegengewicht zu dem Druck, der auf unseren Sektionen in den imperialistischen Ländern lastet, die die Europäische Union (EU) dominieren.

Auch unsere mexikanische Sektion, die Grupo Espartaquista de México (GEM), wurde seit ihrer Gründung auf herablassende Weise behandelt. Vor mehr als 20 Jahren fand ein scharfer Kampf gegen die opportunistische Politik des diktatorischen Jefe [Boss] der Sektion, Negrete, statt. Bald darauf zogen Negrete und sein Mentor Jan Norden, langjähriger Chefredakteur unserer amerikanischen Zeitung Workers Vanguard, die organisatorischen Schlussfolgerungen aus ihrem Zentrismus und setzten sich aus der IKL ab, um die Internationalist Group zu bilden. Als der wohl hässlichste der „Ugly Americans“ hatte sich Negrete als Herr der mexikanischen Sektion in den ersten sechs Jahren ihres Bestehens aufgespielt. Über seinen Kopf hinweg fusionierte die Sektion 1990 mit zwei früheren Führern einer Opponentenorganisation, die beide mehr als ein Jahrzehnt an Erfahrung in der Arbeiterbewegung hatten. Jedoch wurde ihre reiche Erfahrung ignoriert, und diese Kader wurden weder wirklich in unsere internationale Führung integriert noch wurde ihnen erlaubt, eine führende Rolle in Mexiko wirklich zu spielen. Selbst die Propaganda der GEM wurde weitgehend von Norden oder Negrete geschrieben.

Auch nachdem die GEM Negrete losgeworden war, behandelte das IS die Sektion weiterhin als Anhängsel der Spartacist League/U.S. (SL/U.S.). Das wurde besonders augenfällig beim Streik an der UNAM (Nationale Autonome Universität von Mexiko) 1999, als das IS erst gegen jede nachhaltige Intervention argumentierte und dann die GEM des „Abstentionismus“ bezichtigte. Das Extrembeispiel dieser Verachtung, Arroganz und des ausgesprochenen Chauvinismus war die Auflösung des Zentralkomitees der GEM 2007 auf Geheiß des Wolkenstein-Regimes, dessen zentrale Mitglieder 2010 austraten.

Bis vor kurzem war auch die Beziehung des IS zu Spartacist/South Africa, ebenfalls von der Konferenz zu einer Vollsektion der IKL gemacht, von ähnlichen Problemen gekennzeichnet. Das Konferenzdokument begrüßt den jüngsten erfolgreichen Fraktionskampf unserer südafrikanischen Genossen gegen ihre historischen Führer, die unsere grundlegende programmatische Forderung nach einer zentral von Schwarzen getragenen Arbeiterregierung auf den Müll werfen wollten (siehe „The Fight for a South African Section of the ICL“, Extrablatt von Spartacist South Africa, April 2016). Gegen die fehlbenannte „Leninistische Fraktion“ bildeten unsere Genossen die Fraktion für trotzkistische Kontinuität. Ihre Fraktionserklärung verwies auf die Probleme, die dem südafrikanischen Kapitalismus notwendig innewohnen, und unterstrich:

„Nur durch die Diktatur des Proletariats können die nationale Unterdrückung der schwarzen Mehrheit beendet und die rassischen, ethnischen und auf Stammeszugehörigkeit basierenden Spaltungen innerhalb der nicht-weißen Völker überwunden werden.“

In einer frappanten Parallele zum Ahornblatt-Chauvinismus der TLC hinsichtlich Québecs setzte die Leninistische Fraktion den Nationalismus der unterdrückten schwarzen Mehrheit mit dem rassistischen Chauvinismus der weißen Unterdrücker in Südafrika gleich und behauptete, es sei eine Versöhnung mit schwarzem Nationalismus, die beiden zu unterscheiden!

Während des Fraktionskampfes war Hilfe vom IS und vom IEK wesentlich. Diese Intervention unterschied sich aber drastisch von der früheren Behandlung der südafrikanischen Genossen, deren Meinungen regelmäßig, vor allem von US-amerikanischen Genossen, herabgemindert oder ignoriert worden waren. Genosse Bride, ein Führer des IS, schrieb vor fast 20 Jahren treffend:

„Genossen, die aus dem Westen hierher gezogen sind, mögen darüber nachdenken, dass unsere südafrikanischen Mitglieder nur allzu viel Erfahrung damit haben, dass die aus Europa stammende herrschende Klasse dieses Landes sie herumkommandiert. Wenn wir zulassen, dass auch nur ein Hauch der Ungleichheit der kapitalistischen Gesellschaft in den Beziehungen zwischen Genossen in unserer Partei auftaucht, sind wir in großen Schwierigkeiten.“

Imperiale Arroganz kennzeichnete später auch das Regime von Wolkenstein, das unverhohlen die Fähigkeiten der Führer unserer südafrikanischen Sektion verhöhnte. Mit der Behauptung, die Genossen verstünden den Charakter der regierenden Dreierallianz nicht, stoppte sie deren Veröffentlichung von Propaganda zu dieser Frage und bevorzugte stattdessen ihre IS-Agenten, die sie mit dieser Aufgabe betraute.

Was unsere amerikanische Sektion betrifft, so bekräftigte das Konferenzdokument unser Ziel, eine Partei aufzubauen, deren Mitgliedschaft und Führung zu 70 Prozent aus Schwarzen, Latinos und anderen Minderheiten besteht. Ursprünglich war der Aufruf zu einer 70-prozentig schwarzen Partei eine interne Polemik gegen Genossen, die in den 1970er- und frühen 80er-Jahren vor dem Kampf um die Rekrutierung von schwarzen Arbeitern und Jugendlichen zurückschreckten. Im Grunde genommen handelt es sich hierbei nicht um eine Losung, sondern um unsere Entschlossenheit, eine schwarze trotzkistische Führung zu rekrutieren und zu konsolidieren. Die Konferenz bekräftigte unser revolutionär-integrationistisches Programm, dargelegt in einem Gründungsdokument der SL/U.S., „Black and Red – Class Struggle Road to Negro Freedom“, Schwarz und Rot – Klassenkampfperspektive für die Freiheit der Schwarzen (Spartacist, englische Ausgabe Nr. 10, Mai/Juni 1967), wo es heißt:

„Unser unmittelbares Ziel ist es, schwarze trotzkistische Kader herauszubilden. Wir streben nicht nur an, schwarze Mitglieder zu rekrutieren – in dieser Periode eine Abkürzung zur Arbeiterklasse –, sondern diese schwarzen Arbeiter zu trotzkistischen Kadern herauszubilden, die bei der Organisierung der schwarzen Massen, innerhalb der League [SL/U.S.] und darüber hinaus eine Führungsrolle spielen werden.“

Ein andauerndes hohes Bewusstsein ist nötig, um führende schwarze Kader in einem Land zu entwickeln, dessen definierendes Merkmal intensiver Rassenhass ist, der in der erzwungenen Ausgrenzung der Mehrheit der schwarzen Bevölkerung in der untersten Schicht der Gesellschaft wurzelt. Das verlangt besondere Wachsamkeit gegenüber dem unablässigen Druck und Missbrauch, dem unsere schwarzen Genossen ausgesetzt sind, und zwar auch von Seiten scheinheiliger weißer Liberaler. Stattdessen benutzten frühere Führungen unseren wertvollen Kern von schwarzen Genossen oft als Aushängeschild für opportunistische Kampagnen. Zwei Beispiele: der „Große Sprung nach vorn“ – eine wirklichkeitsfremde Kampagne zur Rekrutierung junger schwarzer Arbeiter nach einer Einheitsfrontaktion gegen den faschistischen Ku Klux Klan in New York City 1999 –, und das endlose Bemühen, eine nicht existierende Massenbewegung für die Freiheit des Klassenkriegsgefangenen Mumia Abu-Jamal „wiederzubeleben“.

Für die Wiederschmiedung der Vierten Internationale!

In dieser Ausgabe drucken wir auch einen von den Konferenzdelegierten angenommenen Antrag ab, der unsere Artikel über den indisch-pakistanischen Krieg von 1971 korrigiert. Diese Artikel behaupteten fälschlich, dass der Kampf für die Unabhängigkeit Bangladeschs der Intervention des indischen Militärs untergeordnet gewesen sei (siehe Seite 30). Die Konferenz unterstützte auch einen von der Spartacist League of Australia angenommenen Antrag, in dem die Forderung nach der Unabhängigkeit Westpapuas von indonesischer Herrschaft wieder erhoben und erneut die Forderungen bekräftigt wurden: „Indonesische Truppen raus, sofort! Australien: Hände weg!“ Der Antrag verweist auf einen Bergarbeiterstreik von 2011, der die aktive Unterstützung von westpapuanischen Unabhängigkeitskämpfern hervorrief, und schlussfolgert:

„Das beleuchtet unsere Perspektive, die Befreiung der zutiefst ausgebeuteten Arbeiterklasse des Archipels mit den Kämpfen seiner Minderheitenvölker zu verknüpfen, und zeigt die Notwendigkeit, den Kampf für Arbeiterrevolution in Indonesien mit dem Kampf für Arbeiterrevolution in den fortgeschrittenen imperialistischen Ländern zu verbinden.“

Die zentralen Kader, die am Konferenzdokument arbeiteten, machten effektiven Gebrauch von den wertvollen Ressourcen der Prometheus Research Library (zentrales Referenzarchiv des Zentralkomitees der SL/U.S.). Ihre intensiven Forschungen und Diskussionen in der PRL bekräftigten erneut die Bedeutung dieser Bibliothek als marxistischer Arbeitsstätte. Die Bibliotheksbestände bewahren die hart erkämpften Lehren der Vergangenheit und werden gleichzeitig als Waffen dienen für den Kampf neuer Generationen von kommunistischen Führern. Die kostbaren Materialien der Bibliothek in diversen Sprachen, wie Hindi und Bengali, müssen für die Ausweitung unserer Internationale genutzt werden.

Die Konferenz setzte sich auch zum Ziel, die Redaktionen unserer viersprachigen internationalen theoretischen Zeitschrift Spartacist zu wirklichen politischen Körperschaften mit eigenen Beratungen und Entscheidungen über den Inhalt zu machen, die nicht nur Übersetzungsbüros der englischsprachigen Ausgabe sind. So wurde die französische Ausgabe diesmal vor der englischen veröffentlicht. Die französische Ausgabe hat für die IKL besondere Bedeutung in Québec, wo eine öffentliche Korrektur unserer früheren anglochauvinistischen Linie unentbehrlich ist für unsere weitere Arbeit, nicht zuletzt den Start unserer Québécois-Zeitung République ouvrière.

Seit der konterrevolutionären Zerstörung der Sowjetunion musste die IKL wiederholt Kämpfe austragen, um unsere revolutionäre Kontinuität gegen eine Reihe von opportunistischen Führungen zu bewahren. In Erwiderung auf Genossen, die die Hauptschuld für unsere Probleme auf den Druck der ungünstigen Realität legen, mit der wir konfrontiert sind, antwortete ein führender Québécois-Genosse:

„Der objektive Druck auf uns ist eine gewaltige Herausforderung, aber das rechtfertigt nicht das Aufgeben unseres Ziels. Es wäre objektivistisch und deterministisch zu denken, dass der subjektive Faktor die Realität nicht verändern und den Druck der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft nicht überwinden kann. Die Rolle der Führung und der Partei als Ganzes ist es, sich diesem Druck entgegenzustellen und ein marxistisches Programm auf die Realität anzuwenden…

Die politischen Verhältnisse werden für uns nicht günstiger. Es ist die Aufgabe der vor uns liegenden Konferenz, eine Führung zu wählen, die am besten dazu fähig ist, die anstehenden Herausforderungen mit einem trotzkistischen Programm zu konfrontieren. Eine Garantie auf Erfolg gibt es nicht, aber wir haben eine Chance. Unseren Kurs können wir jedoch erst dann korrigieren, wenn wir unsere Vergangenheit ehrlich konfrontieren. Nur auf diese Weise können wir unsere Kontinuität verteidigen.“

Durch diesen Kampf, der die Notwendigkeit einer proletarischen, revolutionären und internationalistischen Partei erneut bekräftigte, wurde diese Kontinuität nicht nur bewahrt, sondern auch gestärkt. Das Singen der „Internationale“ zum Abschluss der Konferenz war eine kleine aber lebendige Bekundung unseres Ziels. Auf Französisch von einem Québécois-Genossen angestimmt, ertönte sie auf Punjabi, Katalanisch, Spanisch, Griechisch, Arabisch, Deutsch, Polnisch, Italienisch, Englisch und in anderen Sprachen. In diesem Mikrokosmos wurde der schallende Refrain greifbar (in der deutschen Fassung von Franz Diederich von 1908): „Die Internationale wird die Menschheit sein!“

http://www.icl-fi.org/deutsch/dsp/31/einleitung.html

Ideologues of Decaying Capitalism – The Bankruptcy of Liberal Economists – by Joseph Seymour and Bruce André (Workers Vanguard) 12 Jan 2018

Audio of Article – Mp3

https://archive.is/lSee7

Workers Vanguard No. 1125 12 January 2018

Ideologues of Decaying Capitalism The Bankruptcy of Liberal Economists

By Joseph Seymour and Bruce André

(Part One)

“This expropriation [of capitalist property] will make it possible for the productive forces to develop to a tremendous extent. And when we see how incredibly capitalism is already retarding this development, when we see how much progress could be achieved on the basis of the level of technique already attained, we are entitled to say with the fullest confidence that the expropriation of the capitalists will inevitably result in an enormous development of the productive forces of human society.” [emphasis in original]

—V.I. Lenin, The State and Revolution (1917)

Lenin thus summarized Karl Marx’s fundamental critique of the capitalist system as well as the ultimate goal of socialism. Marxists gauge human progress by the development of mankind’s productive forces, from the stone tools of primitive society to present-day science, technology and the modern factory. With the advent and development of industrial capitalism beginning in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, one could envisage for the first time a future end to scarcity and class divisions. However, the private ownership of the means of production increasingly acted as a brake on the further development of the productive forces, not least through periodic economic crises. The emergence of modern imperialism at the end of the 19th century marked the onset of an epoch of global capitalist decay. The major capitalist powers, having divided the world through imperial conquest, embarked on a series of wars for its redivision, seeking to expand their colonial holdings and spheres of domination at the expense of their rivals.

The goal of proletarian revolution is to resolve the contradiction at the heart of capitalism, in which production for private profit stifles overall productive growth. Collectivizing the means of production and making the bounty of society available to all, a workers state will organize all of industry in the way that an individual assembly line is today conceived: according to a rational plan. An international socialist economy, by applying scientific planning to the entire economic system, will unleash a qualitative development of the productive forces and of labor productivity. This will liberate the productive capacities of mankind, ultimately eliminating economic scarcity and, with that, laying the material basis for the disappearance of classes and the withering away of the state.

In contrast to that Marxist view, the equation of capitalism with unlimited economic growth was an article of faith for bourgeois economists of the post-World War II generation. Today, that faith has largely faded. In the eyes of liberal economists, the meager rate of economic growth experienced in the U.S. in the past few decades has become the “new normal.” Lawrence Summers, a key economic operator in the Bill Clinton administration in the 1990s, sees the advanced capitalist countries as having entered a prolonged period of “secular stagnation,” reviving a notion that originated among liberal Keynesians like Alvin Hansen during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

That view was reflected in the 2016 presidential election as Hillary Clinton offered nothing except more of the same—“America is great”—with maybe some minor tinkering. Even her left-liberal (“progressive”) Democratic Party challenger Bernie Sanders did not claim that his policies would lead to a substantial boost in economic output but only that they would bring about a somewhat more equitable redistribution of income. Right-wing demagogue Donald Trump promoted the patent lie that he would double the current annual rate of economic growth from 2 percent to 4 percent, or even triple it.

Now, Trump and the Republican-dominated Congress, resurrecting Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economics, have pushed through a massive tax cut for corporations and the ultrarich. The idea that the benefits resulting from tax breaks for the wealthy will “trickle down” to the rest of the population in the form of increased investment, more jobs and higher wages is even more ludicrous today than it was in the 1980s, when it was the centerpiece of Reaganomics. American businesses are already sitting on an unprecedented stockpile of more than $2.4 trillion in cash. Apple and General Motors are hoarding almost 30 percent of their total value in cash. Why are companies not investing those staggering sums in new plants, machinery and additional workers? The obvious answer is that they lack confidence that such investment would generate an acceptable rate of return.

Meanwhile, the Democrats do not even pretend to offer a policy alternative that might significantly increase the rate of growth. Paul Krugman, probably the country’s best-known “progressive” economist because of his regular column in the New York Times, defended Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign on the grounds that government policy has little effect on economic growth, a supposedly mysterious process beyond the ken of his profession to understand, much less change:

“What do we know about accelerating long-run growth? According to the [Congressional] budget office, potential growth was pretty stable from 1970 to 2000, with nothing either Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton did making much obvious difference. The subsequent slide began under George W. Bush and continued under Mr. Obama. This history suggests no easy way to change the trend.”

—New York Times, 15 August 2016

The Falling Rate of Profit

A recent, book-length version of the “there’s not much we can do about economic growth” school of thought is Marc Levinson’s An Extraordinary Time: The End of the Postwar Boom and the Return of the Ordinary Economy (2016). A former economics and finance editor of the Economist, house organ of Anglo-American bankers, Levinson strikes a contrarian pose, gleefully debunking the economic policy doctrines of both wings of the bourgeois political spectrum: Keynesianism on the left and monetarism and supply-side economics on the right. He contends that the relatively high rates of growth experienced by the advanced capitalist countries in the three decades after World War II amounted to a fortuitous historical accident that cannot be replicated by any kind of government policy.

A much weightier expression (in every respect) of historical pessimism with regard to the American economy is a recent book by a prominent liberal academic economist, Robert J. Gordon, The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (2016). Unlike An Extraordinary Time, which has a slapdash, journalistic quality, Gordon’s book (a 700-plus-page tome) is a work of serious scholarship. While Gordon’s argumentation differs somewhat from that of Levinson, as does the historical scope of his study, his conclusion is basically the same:

“This is a book about the drama of a revolutionary century when, through a set of miracles, economic growth accelerated, the modern world was created, and then after that creation the potential for future inventions having a similar impact on everyday life of necessity was inevitably diminished. The implications for the future of U.S. and world economic growth could not be more profound….

“The economic revolution of 1870 to 1970 was unique in human history, unrepeatable because so many of its achievements could happen only once.”

Gordon’s use of the term “miracles” underscores his belief that mere mortals cannot consciously control the quantity and content of the material wealth created by their labor.

In the introductory section of An Extraordinary Time, Levinson defends Obama against a charge leveled by right-wing scribe George F. Will, who stated: “Making slow growth normal serves the progressive program of defining economic failure down.” To this Levinson replies, “as if the rate of economic growth were a matter of presidential discretion.” It is, of course, true that in capitalist America the policies of a given administration usually have a marginal effect on economic growth.

The expansion (or contraction) of the production of marketable goods and services under capitalism is mainly determined by the extent to which the executives of large corporations and Wall Street financiers invest profits in new productive facilities, especially those embodying more advanced (labor-saving) technologies. What drives capitalist investment is not the impulse to maximize output or labor productivity but rather to maximize the rate of profit (i.e., the ratio of profit to the market value of the means of production).

However, Marx, in one of his key insights, demonstrated that there is an inherent tendency for the rate of profit, the driving force of the capitalist system, to decline over time. By prompting capitalists to cut back their investments, a falling rate of profit generates periodic crises, usually triggered in financial markets. The result is a contraction of output and increased unemployment.

Marx’s explanation for the falling tendency of the rate of profit flowed from his understanding that surplus value—the unpaid portion of workers’ labor—is the source of profit, not the capitalists’ expenditures on the means of production (e.g., machinery and raw materials). Marx observed that especially in periods of economic boom, when workers can feel emboldened to demand higher wages, individual capitalists invest an increased amount of capital in plant upgrades and such in order to cut labor costs. By doing so, the capitalist gains a competitive advantage. However, as all capitalists follow suit, the total amount of surplus value generated per amount of capital invested—i.e., the average profit rate—declines.

Capitalists invest in expanding productive capacity on the assumption that they will be able to sell the goods produced at a particular rate of profit. However, as the profit rate drops, they find themselves unable to sell their products at the expected profit rate. They cut back investments and slash production, resulting in an economic downturn. Workers are thrown out onto the street; entire factories become rusted relics.

Bourgeois economic ideologues, from Keynesians to monetarists and supply-siders, identify the laws governing the capitalist mode of production with the laws governing production as such. In the absence of a revolutionary working-class alternative, the appeal of Trump’s right-wing populist demagogy is enhanced by the fact that both liberals, like Krugman and Gordon, as well as centrists on the bourgeois political spectrum, like Summers and Levinson, insist that it is not possible to overcome the decades-long stagnation in the living standards of American working people.

From Kennedy’s “New Economics” to Obama’s “New Normal”

In the past, Democratic politicians, especially those on the more liberal wing of the party, promised to deliver a new era of economic prosperity. John F. Kennedy’s successful 1960 presidential campaign against Richard Nixon, who had been vice president in the Republican Eisenhower administration (1953-61), was dominated by Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union and fears among the ruling class that the U.S. was falling behind in science and technology. In its economic message, Kennedy’s campaign resembled Trump’s. His platform called for boosting economic growth and dynamism under the slogan “Let’s get this country moving again.” He pointed to the sluggish economic performance, punctuated by two recessions, during Eisenhower’s second term. In this respect, the campaign tactics used by Kennedy against Nixon and Eisenhower were similar to those used by Trump against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

In An Extraordinary Time, Levinson retrospectively criticizes liberal Keynesians like Walter Heller, chief economic adviser to both the Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson administrations. Heller claimed that fiscal policy (taxation and government expenditure) could be fine-tuned so as to maintain full employment and maximize economic growth. By the late 1970s, Democratic politicians and their intellectual apologists were singing a different, more downbeat, tune.

Capitalizing on the downfall of Nixon resulting from the Watergate scandal, in 1977 Jimmy Carter, a centrist Southern Democrat (like Bill Clinton), entered the White House. A few years later, the hapless Carter administration confronted an unusual condition termed “stagflation”: rapidly rising prices combined with a recession. Levinson describes the widespread economic insecurity that propelled the right-wing Republican Reagan to the presidency in 1981: “The conservative ascendance came only as mortgage interest rates above 11 percent made young people despair of ever buying a home and as layoff notices went out to ironworkers on construction sites and toolmakers in auto plants.”

Surveying those dismal times, a mainstream liberal academic economist, Lester C. Thurow, published a book in 1980 on the state of the U.S. economy titled The Zero-Sum Society: Distribution and the Possibilities for Economic Change. As indicated by the title, Thurow argued that it was no longer possible to substantially increase the size of the economic pie so that everyone would get a somewhat bigger piece. Economic policy now involved recutting the existing pie such that some people would get a larger slice and others a smaller one:

“For most of our problems there are several solutions. But all these solutions have the characteristic that someone must suffer large economic losses. No one wants to volunteer for this role, and we have a political process that is incapable of forcing anyone to shoulder this burden. Everyone wants someone else to suffer the necessary economic losses, and as a consequence none of the possible solutions can be adopted.”

In fact, the almost four decades since Thurow wrote those lines have seen an unremitting war by the bourgeoisie to force workers, minorities and the poor to “suffer the necessary economic losses” to bolster capitalist profits. That one-sided war on workers has been facilitated by the trade-union bureaucracy, which maneuvers for crumbs while peddling a mythical “partnership” of labor with the bosses and their parties, particularly Democrats who falsely pose as “friends of labor.”

Technological Innovation and Capitalist Investment

The main theme of Levinson’s An Extraordinary Time is that economic growth, based on increasing labor productivity through technological innovation, is impervious to government policy. After listing several explanations offered by academic economists for the slower growth of labor productivity in the advanced capitalist countries since the 1970s, Levinson concludes:

“None of these explanations sufficed to explain the productivity bust afflicting countries with vastly different economies and divergent approaches to economic policy. The more deeply the scholars mined the data, the more confused they became. What the data could not yet show was that the world had moved to a new stage of economic growth, one that would develop in a far different way….

“Future advances in well-being would depend heavily on developing innovations and putting them to effective use.”

The last statement is manifestly true. Increases in labor productivity under capitalism are determined by two main factors: the extent to which capitalists invest their profits in new productive facilities (plant and equipment) embodying more advanced technology and the degree to which the new technology increases output per unit of labor input.

Levinson does recognize a causal link between the slowdown in the growth of labor productivity and a decline in the rate of capital investment:

“Across the wealthy economies, business investment, which had increased an average of 5.6 percent per year between 1960 and 1973, grew at a far slower rate, barely 4 percent per year, for the next two decades. Sluggish investment left steel mills operating antiquated blast furnaces and insurance offices using high-speed computer printers to spit out form upon form for clerks to organize in file cabinets. Technological innovations usually arrive in the business world incorporated in new equipment and facilities. With firms deferring such investments at every turn, their workers’ productivity improved at less than half the rate in the decades after 1973 as in the decades before.”

However, Levinson makes no effort to explain why the rate of investment has declined to such an extent. In particular, he does not consider the interrelationship between capital investment, technological innovation and the rate of profit.

As Marx underlined, capitalists will invest in new facilities incorporating more advanced technology if, and only if, they believe the increase in profit per worker will be greater than the increased market value of capital per worker. If capitalists discover that their investments are not generating a competitive rate of profit, they will halt or cut back their investments, often triggering an economic downturn.

Marx thus proved that capitalist production increasingly puts the brakes on historical development, at the same time that it creates capitalism’s own gravedigger, the proletariat. He and Friedrich Engels explained that the only way to end the boom-bust cycles inherent to capitalism is for the working class to take control of the means of production through socialist revolution and institute a planned, collectivized economy.

[TO BE CONTINUED] (Part Two https://www.reddit.com/r/WorkersVanguard2/comments/7uohi4/ideologues_of_decaying_capitalism_the_bankruptcy/?st=jd5d7ha4&sh=d0b93079)

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1125/economy.html

https://archive.is/iAdgD

Workers Vanguard No. 1126 26 January 2018

Ideologues of Decaying Capitalism

The Bankruptcy of Liberal Economists

By Joseph Seymour and Bruce André

(Part Two)

This part concludes the article, Part One of which appeared in WV No. 1125 (12 January). (Part One – https://www.reddit.com/r/WorkersVanguard2/comments/7qtzfg/ideologues_of_decaying_capitalism_the_bankruptcy/?st=jd5d5vnr&sh=1e01032c)

Economist Marc Levinson in An Extraordinary Time and his more liberal counterpart Robert J. Gordon in The Rise and Fall of American Growth both address the slowdown in the U.S. growth rate since the 1970s. Levinson at least recognizes that the slowdown was rooted in a decline in investment, although he provides no explanation for that decline. Gordon provides an explanation that is more apologetic for the capitalist system and even more pessimistic regarding future prospects.

Gordon’s implicit premise is that all progressive technological innovations—in the spheres of both production and consumer goods—have been and will be transformed into new, widely marketed (that is, generally affordable) commodities, although in some cases with a lengthy time lag. To paraphrase Voltaire’s parody of the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz, with regard to technological innovation Gordon views American capitalism as the best of all possible worlds. If the possibilities for growth have diminished in recent decades, it is because the intrinsic character of technological innovations has changed in a way that diminishes their effect on productivity.

The structure of Gordon’s historical study of U.S. economic growth is based on the concept of three successive industrial revolutions. The first industrial revolution (IR #1) derived from inventions developed between 1770 and 1820, primarily the steam engine and its offshoots—railroads, steamships and the shift from wood to iron and steel. The second industrial revolution (IR #2) derived from technology developed in the late 19th century, particularly electricity and the internal combustion engine. The third industrial revolution (IR #3), beginning in the 1960s, was centered on new information and communication technology (ICT), such as computers and smartphones.

According to Gordon, the root cause of the slowdown in U.S. economic growth in recent decades was the diminishing effects of the second industrial revolution and the insufficient potency of the third:

“This decline in productivity growth by almost half reflects the ebbing tide of the productivity stimulus provided by the great inventions of IR #2. Its successor, the ICT-oriented IR #3, was sufficiently potent to cause a revival in the productivity growth trend to an average of 2.05 percent during the decade 1995-2004. But the power of ICT-related innovations to boost productivity growth petered out after 2004.”

Gordon never considers the possibility that some progressive technological innovations might not be transformed into widely marketed commodities because it is not profitable to do so. Later we will address his insistence that computerization and new digital technologies in general cannot significantly increase labor productivity in the future. In fact, he maintains that these technologies have pretty much exhausted their potential.

Here we will consider Gordon’s implicit assumption that all new, widely marketed commodities were more efficient than those they replaced and improved the living standards of the populace. In particular, let’s consider the partial replacement of electrified streetcars and subway and elevated trains by the automobile, which began between 1910 and 1930. Gordon analyzes the transition from one means of personal transportation to another in some detail. However, he does not attempt to measure their comparative techno-economic efficiency. Did electrified subways and elevated trains expend greater or lesser economic resources per passenger mile than Model T Fords? And if lesser, wherein lay the advantages of the automobile?

Gordon does acknowledge that the ascendancy of the automobile was not just the result of the workings of “free market” capitalism. Government policy was a very important causal factor:

“Government policies encouraged urban sprawl and undermined the financial viability of urban transit and passenger railways. Even before World War II, public policy was skewed in favor of the automobile by building streets and highways with public funds while leaving urban transit and interurban electric railways to operate as self-sufficient private companies. Many of the early roads were built by issuing bonds on which the interest was paid by local property taxes, so the automobile owner and transit rider paid equally to build a road system that made the automobile ever more attractive than transit.”

However, Gordon offers no judgment on whether government policies that favored automobile travel at the expense of public mass transit were economically rational and socially beneficial. Nor does he address why state and local governments pursued auto-friendly policies. The answer, of course, is primarily rooted in the capitalist drive for profits: The bourgeois politicians involved were beholden to the owners of the big car companies, like Henry Ford and Alfred P. Sloan of General Motors, and also the rubber and oil companies that provided tires and gasoline.

Class Struggle and a Shorter Workweek

Gordon states: “This book is about not just the standard of living from the viewpoint of the consumer, but also the quality of working conditions both outside and inside the home.” In keeping with his main theme, that the American people experienced a qualitative improvement in everyday conditions of life during the first half of the 20th century, Gordon cites the reduction in the average workweek from 60 hours at the turn of the century to 41 hours by 1950. But his liberal worldview blinds him to both the fundamental cause of that important change in the lives of working people and the inherent limitation of its impact on their quality of life.

According to Gordon, the decrease in the average workweek resulted from an interest shared by business owners and their workers in having a rested and healthy workforce:

“Interpretations of the movement for shorter hours center on the widespread belief on the part of both firms and labor leaders that a reduction in hours would improve work performance and increase production. Higher productivity and higher real wages made possible a gradual reduction of hours of work, for the onerous demands of sixty- and seventy-two-hour work weeks had created an exhausted male working class.”

To back up his view, Gordon cites legislation passed during the Progressive Era in the early 20th century and the New Deal in the 1930s.

In fact, the 40-hour workweek was won through decades of hard-fought and often bloody class battles by the workers movement. Agitation by the nascent industrial working class for the eight-hour day and for unions led to the Great Rail Strike of 1877, which was brutally suppressed by the Army. In the 1886 Haymarket massacre, Chicago police attacked workers rallying for the eight-hour day and arrested eight anarchist labor organizers who were subsequently framed up and imprisoned or executed. In the 1937 “Little Steel” strike, whose demands included a 40-hour week, police killed ten workers near the gates of Republic Steel in South Chicago in what became known as the “Memorial Day Massacre.”

Today, after decades of one-sided class warfare by the bourgeoisie and givebacks by the hidebound trade-union bureaucracy, the 40-hour workweek has been substantially eroded. The average workweek for full-time U.S. workers has risen to about 47 hours, nearly a full extra eight-hour day per week. About one in five full-time workers toil 60 or more hours a week, while millions are unemployed or forced to work part-time.

Workers need to fight for a shorter workweek with no loss in pay, linking the fight for decent working conditions to the struggle for jobs for all. A 30-hour workweek at 40 hours’ pay, with the available work divided among everyone, would go a long way toward addressing both unemployment and the serious safety problems resulting from fatigue and understaffing.

The capitalists would, of course, reply that such demands are not practical—at least, not if they are to maintain their obscene wealth. Indeed, the felt needs of the working class run right up against the inability of the capitalist system to satisfy them. The solution will not be found in the struggle, however necessary, by workers for a slightly bigger share of society’s wealth against a capitalist ruling class determined to maximize its profits. The goal must be a wholly different type of society, a workers America where the productive wealth has been ripped out of the hands of the tiny capitalist elite and put at the disposal of the vast majority. Such a society can be achieved only when the working class, led by a revolutionary party, overthrows capitalist class rule through a socialist revolution and establishes a workers government.

On Labor and the Quality of Life

Like the class battles that won the 40-hour week, the steady erosion of this historic gain for labor since the late 1970s is for Gordon a closed book. Yet even if we accept his focus on the first half of the 20th century, when the workweek was reduced from 60 to 40 hours, this gain actually constituted something less than a qualitative change in the lives of American working people. While deploring growing income inequality in the U.S. in recent decades, Gordon does not address or even recognize a more fundamental inequality in all capitalist societies in all times: between the vast majority who have to perform what Marx called “alienated labor” to secure the means of subsistence for themselves and their families and the privileged few who can engage in creative, satisfying work.

In the preface to The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Gordon recounts that his interest in the changing rates of economic growth and labor productivity over the course of U.S. history goes back to his days as a graduate student in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the mid 1960s. The research for this book was undertaken to satisfy his intellectual curiosity, not because he had to do so to earn a living. But very few people have the luxury of working to satisfy their intellectual curiosity or express their creative impulses.

Consider, for example, the employees of Princeton University Press, who transformed Gordon’s manuscript into the printed pages of a book. True, they use technology that is radically different from that used by their predecessors in the 1920s, who set type for books by prominent academic economists of the time like Irving Fisher and Wesley C. Mitchell. And they work in more comfortable facilities. Nonetheless, they do the same kind of work for the same personal reason, to earn a livelihood.

Reading Gordon’s book, one would conclude that the 40-hour workweek and 11-plus-month work year, as in the U.S., is the highest possible level of organized society with regard to the necessary labor time expended by its members. However, in a planned socialist economy it would be possible, through a progressive, self-reinforcing increase in labor productivity, to radically reduce the total labor time necessary to produce both the means of production and articles of consumption. Within no more than a few generations, people would only be working, say, 20 hours a week and six months a year. Everyone would then have both the available time and access to material and cultural resources to acquire the scientific and technological knowledge that is now the province of a privileged elite. Projecting a future communist society, Marx wrote more than a century and a half ago:

“Free time—which is both leisure and time for higher activity—has naturally transformed its possessor into another subject; and it is then as this other subject that he enters into the immediate production process. This process is simultaneously discipline, with respect to the developing human being, and application, experimental science, material creative and self-objectifying science, with respect to the developed man, whose mind is the repository of the accumulated knowledge of society.”

—“Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy” (1857-58)

In a future communist society, there would be a vast expansion of the number of people capable of developing technological innovations on the order of Gordon’s heroes of the past, like Thomas Edison, Karl Benz (inventor of the automobile) and Guglielmo Marconi (a developer of the radio).

World War II: An Instance of State Capitalism

For Marxists, the most valuable part of Gordon’s book is his analysis of the “great leap forward” in labor productivity that occurred during the Second World War (1939-45) and carried into the first few decades of the postwar era. Gordon concludes: “World War II saved the U.S. economy from secular stagnation, and a hypothetical scenario of economic growth after 1939 that does not include the war looks dismal at best.” This was the one moment in modern American history when the expansion of productive facilities embodying new, more advanced technologies was not determined by the profit-making calculations of corporate executives and Wall Street financiers. In order to defeat its capitalist-imperialist enemies, the U.S. government—the executive agency of the American ruling class as a whole—directed and financed the unprecedented construction of industrial plant and equipment.

A standard economic history of the Second World War states:

“The period 1940 to 1944 saw a greater expansion of industrial production in the United States than any previous period…. Between 1940 and 1944 the total output of manufactured goods increased 300 per cent and that of raw materials by about 60 per cent. Investment in new plant and equipment, much of it direct investment by the government, is estimated to have increased the productive capacity of the economy by as much as 50 per cent.”

—Alan S. Milward, War, Economy and Society 1939-1945 (1977)

Government-funded factories and other productive facilities were turned over free of charge to corporate capitalists, thereby greatly increasing their profits both during and after the war. Gordon comments in this regard: “Though private capital input stagnated during 1930-45, the amount of capital input financed by the government surged ahead throughout that fifteen-year interval. Of particular interest was the creation of new plant facilities paid for by the government but operated by private firms to produce military equipment and supplies.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt and the other political directors of the U.S. imperialist state (for example, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau) were intimately familiar with the workings of industrial corporations and banks. They knew from firsthand experience that they could not depend on the normal mechanisms of the capitalist market to maximize the output of armaments in the shortest possible time. Big industrialists like Henry Ford and Henry Kaiser were therefore guaranteed profits through the cost-plus method of setting procurement prices. Their firms were paid whatever they claimed it cost them to build battleships, bombers, tanks, etc., with an additional markup for profit. Over the course of the war, the after-tax profits of industrial firms increased by 120 percent.

Far more important in its long-term economic effects was direct government financing of the construction of factories and other industrial infrastructure. Gordon emphasizes that the number of machine tools—the core component of an industrial economy—doubled from 1940 to 1945, and “almost all of these new machine tools were paid for by the government rather than by private firms.” Ford’s gigantic bomber-building plant in Willow Run, Michigan, was government-financed. Likewise were major pipelines, still in use today, conveying petroleum from the Texas oil fields to the Northeast. Moreover, the basic technology underlying what Gordon termed the “third industrial revolution,” beginning in the 1960s, also originated in the U.S. military during the Second World War. The prototype of the mainframe computer, ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), was developed by scientists and engineers, employed by the war department, at the University of Pennsylvania.

When the American capitalist-imperialist state maximized production, labor productivity and technological innovation, it was in order to bring death and destruction to other peoples. Arguably the most important scientific and technological breakthrough in the 20th century, the unleashing of nuclear energy, was used to incinerate the civilian populations of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Gordon Versus the “Techno-Optimists”

Gordon’s main foil in his book is an intellectual current he deems “techno-optimists,” who foresee new technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence placing the American economy on the cusp of a wave of economic growth. Like Gordon, these techno-optimists (including Joel Mokyr, Gordon’s colleague at Northwestern University, as well as Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson at MIT, among others) believe that it is technological innovation above all else that determines the course of society. The dispute involves two very different questions. One concerns the sphere of consumption in the present, the other the sphere of production in the future.

Gordon argues that the effect of the new information and communications technologies on the quality of everyday life has been relatively meager compared to the major innovations and inventions in the century between 1870 and 1970. Those ranged from indoor plumbing, electric lighting and central heating to automobiles, airplanes and television. Gordon writes:

“Though there has been continuous innovation since 1970, it has been less broad in its scope than before, focused on entertainment and information and communication technology (ICT), and advances in several dimensions of the standard of living related to food, clothing, appliances, housing, transportation, health, and working conditions have advanced at a slower pace than before 1970.”

At another level, the dispute between Gordon and the techno-optimists is over the “futurology” of the likelihood of dramatically transformative new technologies developing and being put into widespread use in the near future. Both sides implicitly treat capitalism as a system that best fosters technological innovation. Both, of course, write off the perspective of a collectivized planned economy as not meriting serious consideration.

In a 2014 essay titled “The Next Age of Invention: Technology’s Future Is Brighter than Pessimists Allow,” Mokyr rhapsodizes about supercomputers, 3-D printing, genetic engineering and the like. There is, however, no mention of wages, production costs, markets or profits. These basic categories determining capitalist production and investment in new technologies are likewise absent from his brief polemical response to Gordon’s recent book, “Is Our Economic Future Behind Us?” (29 November 2016). In the unlikely event that Mokyr becomes CEO of Apple or General Electric, these companies would likely face bankruptcy. If he followed his own prescriptions, Mokyr would use the most advanced and therefore most expensive equipment, irrespective of whether this elevated production costs above those of competing firms.

In his 2014 essay, Mokyr does advance an economic argument in the service of techno-optimism: “A second reason technological progress will continue unabated has to do with the emergence of a competitive global marketplace, which will encourage the spread of new technology from its originating locations to other users who do not wish to be left behind.” In fact, the extension of international trade and capital export hardly represents an unambiguous encouragement to the development of technology. In the imperialist epoch, the international economy runs up against the very nation-states upon which the imperialists base their power, constituting an obstacle to the further development of humanity’s productive forces. Production in Europe, Japan and some spots in Asia may use modern methods. However, the vast pool of cheap labor available in South and East Asia and Latin America tends to inhibit investment in laborsaving technology in both the Third World and the imperialist centers.

When U.S. and European industrial firms shift manufacturing operations to poor countries, they often tend to use less capital-intensive methods of production. Consider clothing manufacture. While the technology exists to perform this in capital-intensive, highly automated plants, it remains cheaper for companies to pay workers in oppressed neocolonies like Bangladesh pennies on the dollar to sew clothing in conditions that are closer to those of the 19th century than the 21st.

In First World countries, too, current scientific and technological knowledge is not used in a rational and socially beneficial way, and in many cases is willfully misused. Consider the field of medical research, where major efforts are made to treat baldness and erectile dysfunction while only a pittance is invested in new drugs and vaccines for potentially fatal tropical diseases.

In the U.S. alone, some 23,000 people die every year of infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A study commissioned by the British government reported that by midcentury as many as ten million people a year globally could die from drug-resistant bacteria if new treatments are not discovered. Yet despite the critical social need, most of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies long ago stopped developing new antibiotics, citing low returns on investment.

Likewise, some 25 million people in the U.S. suffer from so-called rare diseases, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease and cystic fibrosis as well as sickle cell anemia, which overwhelmingly affects black people. Yet investment in research on treatments and cures for such diseases is notoriously meager, even though rare-disease research has often uncovered fruitful pathways for treating and curing some of the most prevalent ailments. The Center for Health Journalism at the University of Southern California explained the reluctance of pharmaceutical companies: “Most say investing in treatments for rare diseases—ones that affect tens of thousands of people—does not make for good business sense.”

Disregarding the laws governing the capitalist mode of production, Mokyr, McAfee, Brynjolfsson & Co. project a quantum leap in productivity in the near future through the use of “brilliant technologies.” Gordon implicitly accepts the limitations of the capitalist system in denying the very possibility of such a development. With regard to robotics, he writes: “The exponential increase in computer speed and memory has apparently raced far ahead of the capability of robots to duplicate human movements.” Gordon offers no argument for why this gap could not be greatly reduced by future advances in scientific and technological knowledge. He makes no assessment of the resources currently expended on robotics research.

Most of the vast amount of scientific research conducted by universities is directly funded by the federal government, and the biggest chunk of federal funding is directed toward military ends. The U.S. budget last year directed $6.5 billion in R&D to the National Science Foundation, while the R&D budget of the Air Force alone totaled almost $27 billion. Research in the physical sciences, including robotics, even if at some layers of remove, tends toward the ultimate end of building better drones and other machinery to blow up things and kill people in the interests of capitalist imperialism. Mathematics funding tends toward algorithms for securing state secrets and operations while hacking into the secrets of others. The National Security Agency is widely thought to be the largest employer of mathematicians in the U.S.

At every turn, despite its thirst for technological innovation, capitalism is not the ally of scientific advance but its opponent. From intellectual property laws and the perverse incentives of the market to the tens of billions spent on more effective weaponry, capitalism directs research in the interests of the ruling class and its state apparatus. If those same resources were directed toward advancing human knowledge, furthering human happiness and putting mankind in control of its destiny, what could be accomplished is nearly unimaginable. This requires overturning the capitalist-imperialist system through a series of proletarian revolutions, laying the basis for a globally planned socialist economy. It is to lead the proletariat in that fight that the International Communist League seeks to reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution.

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1126/economy.html

Black Oppression: What Makes America America – Spartacist Speaker at NYC Holiday Appeal – January 2018

Audio of Article – Mp3

https://archive.is/o1IBm

Workers Vanguard No. 1127 9 February 2018

Spartacist Speaker at NYC Holiday Appeal

Black Oppression: What Makes America America

The following speech, edited for publication, was delivered by Spartacist speaker Laura Zamora at the Partisan Defense Committee’s 32nd annual Holiday Appeal for Class-War Prisoners in New York City on January 27.

On New Year’s Day, a few of us woke up to messages reassuring us that “this year will be better.” I found this 2018 catchphrase rather annoying and anti-scientific—Marxists don’t believe in crystal balls. I also knew why people were cursing last year, and it ends with the word Trump. One year into this new chapter of the evil empire, the U.S. rulers have continued their war against working people, the poor, black people, immigrants, women, gay and trans people. They’ve kept up their imperialist wars and occupations against the poor and dispossessed abroad.

Liberals are very fond of blaming everything on the Orange Vader Trump, as if nothing like this has happened before. Trump is, after all, an easy target—the big bully of racist American capitalism. He shows the rulers’ most primal urge for profit and power without the hypocritical pretense of “democratic values.” We’re in a midterm year; the Democrats say: “Take our country back.” Take it back? This country was founded through racist bloodshed, the genocide of Native Americans. U.S. capitalism was built upon the backs of black people—from slavery to convict labor, from the chain gang to the assembly line. Both Republicans and Democrats rule in the interest of the capitalist class and its profit system: the difference is that one party is better at putting lipstick on the pig. When we hear people talking about the “resistance” these days, it’s just about resisting Trump and the Republicans. It’s not about resisting the misery, exploitation and bigotry inherent to the capitalist order.

To use Trump’s word, the “shithole” is capitalist America. It has always been so for those at the bottom. About 5.3 million Americans live on less than four dollars a day. Some 30 million have no health insurance. Women in the U.S. are more likely to die from childbirth- or pregnancy-related causes than anywhere else in the industrialized world—black women at three times the rate of white women. The U.S. locks up more people than any other country. And we know who they lock up: courageous fighters like Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier and other class-war prisoners. Nearly 3,000 people are on death row. One in every nine people in prison is serving a life sentence, nearly half of them black. Meanwhile, the local cops are attacking protesters and killing people as much as they were last year and the year before and the year before that. The Feds are smearing black activists and radicals as “domestic terrorists,” setting them up for repression.

The capitalist class at the top, a tiny fraction of the “1 percent,” keeps making a killing while the laborers who sweat and toil get their wages slashed. And those whose countries have been wrecked by U.S. imperialism—they make a harrowing escape, come here to work for small change and live in fear of deportation. Anyone who has made it to this country should get all the rights of anyone already here. Our demand is for full citizenship rights for all immigrants.

Trump inherited a well-oiled deportation machine from the plantation’s first black overseer. Under Obama, we saw the expansion of nightmare detention centers, a “fast track” system for arrests and millions of deportations. Trump is explicit about his aims and has a loud mouth; Obama was the smart sugarcoater, the quiet enemy.

To get a measure of Washington’s contempt for those it dominates, look at Puerto Rico. Four months after Hurricane Maria, 40 percent of the island still has no electricity. On top of that: massive debt, taken out of the hides of working people; government services slashed; hobbled medical care and transportation; foreclosures. How does one breathe under this weight of a colonial master who loots you, lets you rot, then stomps on your tattered remains? Puerto Ricans are an important part of the working class and union movement here in the U.S. American workers should side with their Puerto Rican class brothers and sisters—they have a common class enemy. Cancel Puerto Rico’s debt! For the right of independence!

Imagine telling workers of countries plundered by imperialism like Puerto Rico that national sovereignty doesn’t matter, or that they have to suck it up and remain at the mercy of the overlords’ banks. That’s what it means to tell Greek workers that they should stay in the European Union (EU), an imperialist cartel where the European powers, especially Germany, dominate the weaker states. We are for breaking up this capitalist trade bloc. This is why we not only call for Greece to get out of the EU, but also welcomed the Brexit vote. The vote for Britain to leave the EU was a blow against the bosses and bankers of Europe—including those in the City of London, who lord it over workers in Britain.

And to those who point out how the hardcore racists and fascists seized on the Brexit vote to step up their race-hate provocations, I will say this: the answer to racist terror and anti-immigrant chauvinism does not lie in looking to the so-called good graces of the EU, which implements austerity and sets up immigrant concentration camps. The answer is mobilizing the multiracial and multinational proletariat at the head of all the oppressed.

That is definitely what needs to be done here in the U.S. In the last year, the race-terrorists, and that filth around the “alt-right,” have been taking their cue from the White House. They’ve fed off economic devastation. The new fascist organizations in the U.S. are small, but they’re growing, armed and dangerous. Their ultimate aim is racial genocide and the destruction of unions and the left.

The misery and discontent of the working class and oppressed can fuel the rise of a fighting workers movement. We talk about how organized labor must urgently mobilize to stop the fascists. Labor has a great weapon: its social power, numbers, collective organization and ability to choke off profits through strike action. In the factories, the transit barns and on the docks, the workplace remains the main site of integration in racist America, where the majority of black people remain a forcibly segregated race-color caste at the bottom.

The early union misleaders’ refusal to organize black workers gave the bosses the ability to use them against the unions—to the benefit of no one but the racist capitalists. It took organizing white and black workers side by side to forge the industrial unions in the 1930s, building picket lines that no scab dared cross.

If an integrated militant fight by organized labor seems improbable today, it’s because this generation has seen little to no real union struggle. Why is union membership half of what it was 30 years ago? How did the bosses get away with implementing “right to work” laws in 28 states? The trade-union misleaders bear much of this responsibility. They have fed patriotism and protectionist poison and begged the politicians for the right to live. They have chained the working class to the Democratic Party and therefore to its class enemy.

Yes, its enemy. When the Commander-in-Chief is an unabashed chauvinist and bigot, we have to remember who all our enemies are. The Democrats would have you believe that the nemesis is Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, who supposedly organized an army of hackers and trolls to subvert American “democracy.” Not so fast. The Trump-Russia collusion story is a big distraction by the same media pundits who manufacture the lies for war abroad. Malcolm X called the media the most powerful entity on earth that can “make the innocent guilty” and “make the guilty innocent.”

So, when the bourgeois media becomes the judge, jury and executioner against anyone accused of sexual misconduct, it should cause some apprehension. Sexual harassment is a serious problem; sexual assault and rape are serious crimes—and they’re regularly covered up in the workplace, in the military, and especially in the prisons. But the mainstream #MeToo movement has flattened any distinction between trivial acts—which very well could be offensive and unpleasant—and criminal acts. The media treats anything from a wink to a sleazeball comment like an act of coercion and violence, convicting all suspects without any due process. And that never bodes well for anyone outside bourgeois convention and especially not for black men, who are the main victims of lynch mob “justice” in this country.

The anti-Trump “resistance” gave birth to the liberal feminist #MeToo movement we see today. It was a way for the Democrats to keep up the ruse that Hillary Clinton—that imperialist hawk and wolf of Wall Street—represented some kind of advancement for women, and to pretend that they defend women’s rights. It was also a way for the Democrats to go after the “pussy grabber in chief” for his morals. Meanwhile, the rulers can get on with their crimes: nuclear war threats, union-busting, and, don’t forget, the gutting of abortion rights. Despite the formal existence of Roe v. Wade, 43 states outlaw most abortions after a certain point in pregnancy. There are more than 1,000 state restrictions making it impossible for the vast majority of women to have the procedure. One-third of those restrictions were enacted in the past seven years.

Where was the “resistance” when access to abortion was being dismantled? Where was the “resistance” when Obama deported more people than any other president in U.S. history? Where was the “resistance” when the livelihoods of black and working people were being destroyed by Wall Street? We want there to be protests and opposition to the depravities of this system. But this “resistance” is really about getting the Democrats back into the halls of power. And in power, they will try to crush us as they’ve always done. They will use any means to divide working people, primarily through race.

What makes America America is the all-sided brutal oppression of black people. To sweep away this rotting, decaying America means shattering this oppression. It’s in the interests of all workers, including white workers and immigrants, to take up this fight. The struggle for black liberation through socialist revolution is also a struggle for the liberation of all the working masses, women and all the oppressed in this country.

That is why any discontent needs to be directed against the capitalist class enemy, independently of the Democrats and other false friends. Our goal is for the working class to take power, to become the ruling class through workers revolution, as the workers did in Russia through the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. The continuity of revolutionary Marxism, of communism, is Trotskyism. Only with a Trotskyist program and the establishment of an egalitarian socialist society will the resources of society be able to be used for the benefit of all. For such a struggle to go forward to victory, we need to build a multiracial revolutionary workers party. Join the Spartacist League to make future years, future generations, better.

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1127/black_oppression.html

Paths to Marxism – by Chris Cutrone – Dec 2021

Platypus Review 142 | December 2021/January 2022

Audio -f Article – Mp3

MY PRINCIPAL TEACHERS IN MARXISM were the Spartacist League, Adolph Reed and Moishe Postone — Theodor Adorno was also a crucial teacher, through his writings, which Reed had pointed me towards when we met up in Chicago after I graduated from college. The title of this essay is an homage to Adolph’s own “Paths to Critical Theory,” which narrates his political and theoretical coming to consciousness. I first met Reed when I was in college at Hampshire, in the same entering class as his son Touré, and when I was already a member of the Spartacus Youth Club, the youth group of the orthodox Trotskyist Spartacist League.

High school

I had previously considered myself to be a “Marxist” after having read the Communist Manifesto and other random, miscellaneous writings by Marx (also Ernest Mandel’s Revolutionary Marxism Today) in high school. I had been equivocal about the Russian Revolution and Lenin, but felt predisposed towards respecting Trotsky as a dissident figure — I had been taught not only George Orwell’s 1984 but Animal Farm as well: Emmanuel Goldstein and Snowball were sympathetic if tragic figures. But it was really Marx who got me.

I was a “Leftist” activist in high school during the 1980s, protesting against local anti-black racism (housing discrimination) and in solidarity with Central American movements and the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa. I was surrounded by Catholic Worker, Quaker (American Friends Service Committee) and Secular Humanist adult activists on Long Island, but I occasionally encountered “Marxist” Leftist organizations at demonstrations in New York City. My family was apolitical or otherwise conservative. Of all my friends, only one had any “Leftist” background of any kind: his parents were Irish immigrants of the Catholic Worker Liberation Theology variety and his older sister supplied us with “Left” literature as well as music listening recommendations (Depeche Mode, New Order, et al).

In my solidarity work on Central America and South Africa, I met émigré refugee militants who told me melancholically that “socialism is impossible” because “American workers voted for Ronald Reagan.”

College

By the time I was applying to college, my high school boyfriend discovered Hampshire College, to which we both applied and attended together. It was during our first year that we met the Spartacist League at the nearby University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Actually, a mutual friend had first met them and asked us to attend a meeting between them and her, because as “Marxists” we could help her evaluate them: Were they for real? She was unmoved but we were interested and became contacts.

The Spartacist League provided my first real education in Marxism. One of the first things I read by them was their Lenin and the Vanguard Party pamphlet from 1978, which greatly impressed me. (My first serious college course paper was on Rosa Luxemburg’s critique of Lenin, rebutting the usual anti-Lenin misreadings of Luxemburg.) Soon after, they had me read Cliff Slaughter’s 1960 essay “What is revolutionary leadership?,” whose oblique reference to Lukács’s History and Class Consciousness I filed for a later date — I had already read Gramsci by that point in college and was intrigued but not exactly convinced by his arguments. Adolph said that the problem with Gramsci was that “he means all things to all people.” The Spartacists said simply that Gramsci was a Stalinist.

At this time the Fall of the Berlin Wall and uprisings in Eastern Europe and the USSR were taking place — the Soviet dissident Boris Kagarlitsky was an invited guest speaker at Hampshire College, who I distinctly recall telling me point-blank that there was no point to Marxism which was an outdated ideology of industrialization (when I asked him about this almost 30 years later, he denied ever saying such a thing, he claimed because he never believed it — perhaps it was someone else?).

With the Spartacist League I attended speeches with Q&A discussions by Noam Chomsky and Michael Harrington, with whom I was otherwise not acquainted. The Spartacists’ provocative questions from the audience prompted Chomsky and Harrington to articulate their anti-Leninism — their anti-Marxism: Chomsky rehearsed his condemnation of the Bolsheviks for allegedly hijacking and dominating the Russian Revolution; Harrington sarcastically confessed that, yes, he “killed Rosa Luxemburg,” with a cynicism that turned me off completely. I later came to respect Harrington more through his writings, and, if not Chomsky himself, at least anarchism to some degree, mostly through the classical writings — I had met Murray Bookchin in high school at New York City’s anarchist book store, when he came storming out of the back office to scold me after hearing me ask if they had any books by Lenin: I swear he yelled at me, “Listen, Marxist!”

The Spartacists introduced me to various different social and political realities, through activity in their locals on the East Coast. They had me do various manual labors as proof of my “proletarian” affinities, in addition to selling their newspaper Workers Vanguard weekly. For instance, I was required to do my bit cleaning the bathrooms and scrubbing the floors of their fortified international headquarters in New York’s financial district, as well as paying regular dues and contributing to various fundraising efforts. They resented my need as a working class student to work in the summer as well as work-study jobs to help pay my tuition and other expenses at Hampshire, asking, “Couldn’t your parents just give you the money?” (No, they couldn’t.) We attended a strike at the New York Daily News newspaper, where a union shop steward carried a pistol openly in his hip holster to defend against scabs, while across the street a police sniper was set up on the roof overlooking the picket line. At a demonstration against something or other in Manhattan, the Borough President Ruth Messinger showed up — the Spartacists pointed her out as a prominent member of the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America): I saw a villain.

The big issues of the day were things like the Crown Heights anti-Semitic riots over a black child struck and killed accidentally by a Hasidic Jewish motorcade, and City College of New York’s Professor Leonard Jeffries teaching students that whites were “ice people” and blacks “sun people.” A Latino gay Spartacist member with whom I was acquainted was stabbed while selling WV on the campus of Howard University by a Nation of Islam supporter, because the Spartacists pointed out that Louis Farrakhan had called for Malcolm X’s death after Malcolm had broken with Elijah Muhammad. My friends and I had read Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as well as Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice) and watched all the Roots series on television. Public Enemy and NWA kept the memory alive.

Chris Hani of the South African Communist Party spoke at UMass and said that the “wind of democracy blowing through Eastern Europe should come to South Africa” — upon his return to South Africa a Polish immigrant gunned him down outside his suburban home. I was shocked and appalled by both his speech and his murder. — Later, I would meet Nelson Mandela of the ANC (African National Congress), Jay Naidoo of COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) and other famous anti-Apartheid political figures, when I visited South Africa for their first Gay and Lesbian Film Festival with a delegation of American and British filmmakers, including Isaac Julien, Barbara Hammer and others, in 1994. At a reception dinner, I got Mandela to inform my fellow travelers, who were otherwise drunk on rhetoric, that the end of Apartheid in South Africa was “not a revolution,” which anyhow would only provoke a civil war and U.S. invasion. At the time, Mandela’s ANC was engaged in fierce bloody street battles against Chief Buthelezi’s Inkatha Freedom Party of Zulu nationalists. I was critical but sympathetic to Mandela: at least he didn’t lie.

I met Adolph Reed when he visited Hampshire, as back then he was not so far away in New Haven at Yale. I had written to him in response to an op-ed in Long Island’s Newsday I read on the problem of black student activists’ demands on campus — at first, I had no idea he was a Marxist, though the Spartacists informed me that he was and spoke admiringly of his work. Adolph wrote back and said we could meet when he next came up to Hampshire.

I had read Horkheimer and Adorno’s “The Culture Industry” chapter of Dialectic of Enlightenment in a Media Studies course at Hampshire, but it didn’t leave much impression on me — I was much more influenced by Stuart Hall and Raymond Williams in that context. It wasn’t until after I graduated that I started reading the Frankfurt School in earnest, and not until I was a graduate art student in Chicago that I read Adorno’s writings with any seriousness — in order for Adorno to help defend my Marxism against the postmodernism I was encountering for the first time: my Hampshire professor Margaret Cerullo, a friend of Adolph Reed and editor of the legacy SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) journal Radical America, had said to me discouragingly that, while her education was in Marxism (she later told me when applying for graduate study that “the Frankfurt School is like a second skin” to her, but no one was interested anymore, so why would I want to pursue such things?), perhaps now Foucault was more relevant; and anyway weren’t the Spartacists an FBI COINTELPRO operation?

Adolph Reed spoke on campus and made a special visit to my class taught by Margaret Cerullo and Carollee Bengelsdorf. The following week after Adolph spoke, some (white) students in class complained about him as an “African-American who was interested in an obscure 19th century Jewish philosopher (Marx).” When my professors failed to challenge this, saying, “That’s a good question,” I stood up to defend both Adolph and Marx, shouting, “No, it’s not!”

The anti-war movement around the Gulf War U.S. intervention against the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait was a key moment for me. The utter futility of the protests, which were met by counter-protesters with lurid signage against “Sodom Insane” (Iraqi Baathist leader Saddam Hussein) charging anti-war marchers with American flagpoles wielded as weapons, seemingly permitted to pass through police lines to do so, left me dejected as President George H.W. Bush declared, unhindered, the “New World Order.”

By the time I graduated from Hampshire in 1993, I was done with the “Left” — but not with Marxism. Events of my final year in 1992 — the “Left” protesting of the quint-centenary of the Columbian Discovery, the Los Angeles riots against the acquittal of the police who beat Rodney King that the “Left” called a “rebellion,” and the election of William Jefferson Clinton after 12 years of Republican Presidents, which was met with jubilation by my fellow “Left” students as well as by our “Leftist” professors at Hampshire — convinced me that my moment was not apt for Marxism or socialism. I was depressed that the world seemed forever frozen and stuck in a dead-end 1960s New Left framework that I could not abide. During the Rodney King protests, I witnessed black students take over an administration building at Hampshire, but proceed to kick out first the white students, then the non-black students of color and finally the black women for supposedly not sharing the plight of black men’s abuse by police. When soon afterwards the Spartacists decided to try to “break” me with accusations of “petit bourgeois intellectualism,” I had had enough.

Richard Rubin, an acquaintance from the Hampshire Spartacus Youth Club chapter, and I kept alive the idea of trying to carry on the Spartacists’ outlook without their organizational insularity and paranoia: we toyed with the idea of starting a “Leviné League,” named after the martyr of the 1919 Bavarian Workers Republic, Eugen Leviné, but it amounted to nothing. All the former Hampshire Spartacus Youth members I had recruited except me and Richard scattered to the wind. We maintained our subscriptions to Workers Vanguard. I dutifully checked in with the Chicago local — and reunited with Richard, who had always kept his distance from the Spartacist as an avowed heterodox “Menshevik Centrist” — when I moved there. But I settled depoliticized into the 1990s Clinton regime, struggling to make my way in the world as a young adult.

Chicago

I became a video artist and publicly continued to avow and promulgate my Marxism — mostly through quotations from Adorno’s cultural-critical writings in artist statements — but this made me into more of a curiosity than a militant ideologue in the art world. I met the poet Reginald Shepherd, who was the first to recommend Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (as well as his Notes to Literature) to me — Adolph had recommended Negative DialecticsMinima Moralia and Prisms. Reginald told me that Adorno would cure me of my Marxism, but ended up only confirming it — and deepening it. I became convinced I had to read everything by Adorno — eventually, I realized I must write a dissertation on Adorno, on his Marxism.

Eventually, I earned first my Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and my Masters and PhD from the University of Chicago, launching my teaching career, first as a graduate student, and then thereafter, up to the present.

At SAIC, I studied in the Video Department, which was staffed with avowedly “Marxist” professors, one of whom had made a documentary on Mumia Abu-Jamal that the Spartacists used to promote Mumia’s case. — I recall vividly attending with the Spartacists a “Free Mumia!” rally in Philadelphia, which was denounced by the local Fraternal Order of Police head, who said on TV that we protesters should be put on an “electric couch” to join in Mumia’s execution. But my art work was accused of being “too aesthetic” by my professors and fellow students at SAIC. The separate Film Department was also staffed by “Marxist” filmmakers but was regarded by the Video Department as being too interested in art as opposed to “politics.” But I knew the difference between politics and art.

During this time of the mid-1990s, I met and became friends with the up-and-coming “New / Post-Black Black Artists” such as Isaac Julien, Glenn Ligon and others, as well as meeting the faculty at the new Harvard University department organized by Henry Louis Gates Jr., such as Cornel West, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Paul Gilroy, Homi Bhabha and others — including meeting Stuart Hall on a visit — when Isaac Julien was teaching there (in New York, Isaac introduced me to bell hooks, who objected to my existence). As an artist, I spoke individually and on panels about — dissenting against — racial and sexual identity, at film festivals, art museums and galleries, and colleges and universities around the world.

Many conversations about Marxism were had: the consensus was that it was finished.

Back in Chicago, I was living through the brunt of neoliberal capitalism. I participated marginally in Adolph’s anti-Clintonite Labor Party USA organizing, meeting his local colleagues in the venture (mostly Maoist labor union activists). I made my skepticism about the Labor Party clearly known to Adolph, and suggested that we should be working towards a socialist party instead. He said that I sounded like the “Trotskyite sectarians” he was struggling against in the Labor Party — the ISO (International Socialist Organization), Solidarity, and others — and accused me of being “too abstractly theoretical” in my politics. The Labor Party USA project seemed to me to be just Democrats dissenting against Clintonism. He was opposed to running Labor Party candidates against Democrats — he didn’t want to be a spoiler. Nonetheless, he called for voting for the Green Party’s Ralph Nader against Al Gore for President in 2000 — and regretted it ever since. Adolph amused me driving around Chicago: just missing an open parking space, he would exclaim, “Racist yuppies!” He introduced me through the Labor Party activities in Chicago to his then-girlfriend, Stephanie Karamitsos, a PhD student at Northwestern University, with whom I bonded as a fellow artist, reading and discussing Adorno widely and at great length.

Adolph is a follower of the later “council communist” Karl Korsch and of thinkers who were students of the later Lukács such as Istvan Meszaros and others such as Karel Kosik, whose book Dialectics of the Concrete Adolph opposed to the alleged bad “idealism” of the Frankfurt School. Both the later Korsch and Lukács had turned away from their Hegelian Marxism circa 1917 towards “materialism.” In Korsch’s case this meant turning against Lenin and ultimately against Marxism as a whole — including Marx — because of their alleged “bourgeois elitism and vanguardism” contra the working class. Adolph disliked Trotskyism on this basis. He worked out a very elaborate argument concerning this issue in his book on W.E.B. Du Bois on which he was working when I was in my period of closest contact with him.

Adolph ascribed my resistance to his Labor Party USA project to my supposed “abstract idealism” that he attributed to my Trotskyism and strong affinity for Adorno. It was precisely Adorno who, in his Negative Dialectics, had helped me sort out the vexed issue of “materialism vs. idealism” in Marxism, which he taught me to see as a historical symptom of the defeat of the revolution rather than a matter of ahistorical principle as Adolph and others did. There was no need to raise the failure of Lenin and Trotsky to achieve socialism through the Russian Revolution to a matter of principle; indeed, Adorno taught me that it was important to remember them and Marxism against the grain of subsequent history, as an important attempt not easily explained away.

In addition to working various odd jobs — for instance at Kinko’s photocopy shop, where I met a couple of young Zapatista militants visiting Chicago who came in with literature to print, and including as support staff for engineers at the local Shure Electronics factory, drafting assembly-line instructions for workers (mostly Mexican women) there as well as at their sister location across the border in Juarez — I taught film and video production to aspiring workers in the media industry at Columbia College in Chicago.

Meanwhile, local “Leftist” activists were protesting against “big box stores” such as Borders Books and Walmart, Target, et al, trying to defend local businesses from them — I saw them rather as opportunities for organizing — and shopping — for the working class. Adolph said of mom-and-pop stores that “exploitation begins at home.” Cynical city aldermen would hire insta-crowds to picket the stores. I encountered race-baiting at the NGO level with local arts and media “Left” organizations descended from the 1970s–80s post-New Left cultural activist scene, which lost their government funding and, seeking private foundation support, were attacked for being too “white” — and promptly confessed their guilt and disappeared, leaving a void artistically, culturally and politically. It was the end of an era.

At the time of the O.J. Simpson trial, Adolph pointed out that single cases never serve well as rallying-points politically because the facts are always complicated and reality is not symbolic or allegorical, though the capitalist politicians and news media try to make it so. About Simpson himself, Adolph observed that “even a guilty man can be framed” and the police frame people, innocent or guilty, routinely. O.J. was found not guilty, though he was not innocent. I learned later as a victim of crime that the trial court, if not the criminal justice system as a whole, exists — at least ostensibly — for the benefit of the accused defendant against the state — as it should be. The police are there not to protect society against crime but to enforce the law; and prosecutors try to win cases, not achieve justice — which cannot be found in court anyway, especially not in capitalism. A bitter truth, but true nonetheless. — Life is not a morality play.

Graduate school

At the University of Chicago, I again met my Irish-American high school friend, who was then finishing his PhD in Musicology, writing a dissertation on Weimar Republic popular music, and who told me that a German professor had said that unless one is a native German language speaker one can never truly understand Adorno. He studied German, found a German boyfriend and relocated there, claiming his Irish citizenship in the EU. Before parting, he warned me against studying with Moishe Postone because Postone didn’t tolerate any dissent from his students — I ignored his advice and became Moishe’s student anyway. Adolph warned me archly that Moishe was perhaps too “tribal” — a veiled reference to Moishe’s (famous, but as-yet unknown to me) criticisms of Palestinian solidarity and “anti-Zionist Leftism.” For his part, Moishe said that, while he appreciated Adolph’s work a great deal, he found it too “angular:” Moishe couldn’t countenance Adolph’s fierce criticisms of black Democrat politicians.

Before studying with Moishe, I first took Adolph’s friend Kenneth Warren’s courses in African-American literary history and theory at the University of Chicago, and Ken became one of my advisors, eventually serving as my dissertation chair. My dissertation was on Adorno, and when a professor, editor of a prestigious critical theory journal, heard my subject of study, he exclaimed, incredulously, “I didn’t know Adorno was gay!,” to which I replied that as far as I knew he wasn’t — I certainly hoped he wasn’t. Who knows what he thought of Ken chairing my committee?

I started out as an Art History — Media Studies — student, and earned the ire of the department chair when I corrected a fellow student’s misreading of Walter Benjamin’s essay on “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” as a culturally conservative rejection of modern mass media rather than a dialectical critique, which the chair blamed me for the student, the one black member of our cohort, eventually dropping out — he cut me from the program as punishment. Or perhaps it was for another reason: when discussing my Masters thesis on Benjamin, the chair chastised me that Lenin and Trotsky relished “killing the innocent as well as the guilty” — I learned later that he was an ex-Marxist.

At Univ. Chicago, I took courses with the Hegel scholar Robert Pippin, who had been a member of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) in the 1960s and became an acolyte of Marcuse when he taught at University of California at San Diego. We conversed in and out of class on issues of German Idealism and Marxism, with Adorno and Benjamin figuring prominently. The question regarding Hegel and Marx was the philosophy of freedom.

The Marxist literary critic Fredric Jameson once replied to a question I posed at a Univ. Chicago event about his account of Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary — that perhaps it was about freedom and not merely happiness — that “freedom is a Right-wing concept.” Adolph responded to my question in a graduate student colloquium he co-taught with Ken on the history of anti-black racism in the U.S., regarding the issue with the Taft-Hartley Act of official government-recognized labor unions as a historical gain or setback for workers, that “freedom is in the eye of the beholder,” a version of the usual Leftist “freedom for who?” dismissal of the question of social freedom — the freedom of society as a whole, over which Marxists such as Lenin and Adorno considered capitalism to be dominating as an impersonal force, affecting all of its members.

As Postone did later, Pippin confessed that he felt he “couldn’t really understand” Benjamin and Adorno, which made sense to me as ignorance of the Marxism at the core of their work. Pippin highlighted a sentence in one of my course papers on Marxism about the philosophical difficulty of “recognizing oneself as a subject of change from within the process of self-transformation.”

Postone’s courses — which I attended with Stephanie and sometimes Richard as outside auditors — on Marx and the Frankfurt School as well as on the post-1960s “Left” criticisms of capitalism, were a welcome respite from the otherwise unrelenting anti-Marxism of postmodernist academia — if however, as I soon came to realize, they were their own form of anti-Marxism. Moishe would say that, while Marx himself was politically a “traditional Marxist,” his theoretical work pointed beyond this. When teaching Adorno’s work, Moishe confessed that he wasn’t sure he really understood it: I replied simply that Adorno was a Marxist; and maybe Marxist politics was more and other than what Moishe thought.

In Moishe’s classes, I met a new friend, Spencer Leonard, with whom I immediately engaged on issues of Lenin, Trotsky, the Russian Revolution and historical Marxism more generally. Spencer, Stephanie and I formed a close friendship circle; we were joined by fellow graduate student friends Atiya Khan, Sunit Singh and James Vaughn.

I appreciated the pedagogy in Marx and the Frankfurt School we were receiving from Postone, but felt it all made sense only if one took certain things about Marxism for granted, politically, which Moishe did not and indeed opposed. Still, I was a little shocked when Moishe told me point-blank, angrily, that I was inappropriately trying to reconcile his work with what it was designed precisely against, Marxism — more specifically, Lenin. But it was clear to me that Marx and Lenin wanted to overcome labor as a social relation and not hypostatize it politically, as Postone alleged. James’s old Trotskyist professor Robert Brenner (and member of Solidarity) said that Moishe’s insights into Marx were nothing new to actual Marxists, and his political apprehensions were misplaced. But I knew that most “Marxists” were exactly what Moishe said they were, not really followers of Marx at all: they were the socialists and communists that Marx himself had critiqued in his day. Marxists had always complained of the constant degeneration into “vulgar” and pseudo-“Marxism” and relapse into pre-Marxian socialism, for instance Luxemburg’s critique of reformist Revisionism of Marxism.

Moishe objected to what he called my characterization of “Luxemburg and Lenin as bosom buddies walking arm-in-arm,” and was incensed when I produced evidence that Luxemburg spoke and wrote fondly of Lenin and that they were indeed good friends who spent many an evening together, walking arm-in-arm, to which he responded dismissively that, “Of course Luxemburg was a traditional Marxist anyway.” Moishe ended up protesting stridently during my dissertation defense on Adorno’s Marxism, but relented when I talked him down, admitting, “Perhaps everything ended in 1919, but we’re still thinking,” to which I replied, “But are we really thinking, Moishe?” Meeting for coffee several weeks later, he said, “You know, Chris, you might have a point about Lenin, but you need to support it better.” I thought Lenin supported it best himself.

In any case, I remained independent from Postone in ways that always irritated him and made him distrustful of me. He told others that while he admired that I am “always thinking,” he thought that I was, problematically, “once a Spartacist, always a Spartacist.” — Here Moishe agreed with Adolph. Nonetheless, Moishe hired me in the College Core Curriculum of the Social Sciences, teaching undergraduates courses on Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Freud for the next decade and a half — until, after Moishe’s death, his students were purged from the staff.

When I began teaching Adorno and the Frankfurt School at SAIC, 9/11 had happened and the War on Terror was already underway, and Iraq had been invaded, but the U.S. occupation was facing difficulties, and the anti-war movement was regaining ground. My students attended protests and encountered the “Left” and its “Marxist” organizations, and the effects of this filtered back into my classes, raising many questions.

My students at SAIC and Univ. Chicago asked me to start an extra-curricular reading group in early 2006, wanting me to inform them more explicitly of the political implications of the Marxism I was teaching, outside the academic classroom. I warned them that this would become very intense and very political very quickly. Among the first writings we read together was something recommended to me by Adolph Reed more than a decade earlier, Korsch’s 1923 essay on “Marxism and Philosophy.” We attended “Left” events as a group, including the first national conference of the new Students for a Democratic Society, held at the University of Chicago in summer 2006. These activities soon led to founding an organization, the Platypus Affiliated Society, in 2007.

The rest is history.

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EU Can’t Outorganize China – by Tom Fowdy – 3 Dec 2021

Why EU will never out-build China’s Belt and Road

Audio of Article – Mp3
Why EU will never out-build China's Belt and Road

The European Union’s bid to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative is doomed to failure because Brussels is incapable of cajoling its members into singing from the same hymn sheet.

On Wednesday the European Commission revealed a proposed €300 billion Euro fund to take on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, titled “the global gateway”. The project strives for member states and private sector financiers to come together and invest in an “alternative” for infrastructure needs across the developing world. It comes at a time when Western nations are all proposing new brands to “counter” China’s massive spree of overseas infrastructure financing, including America’s “Build Back Better” as well as the UK’s much smaller scheme announced under Liz Truss. It seems to be the Western agenda of the time is a multilateral, yet individual, gamut of projects all designed to counter Beijing. Incidentally, they also seem to give the impression that they wouldn’t really care about developing countries if it weren’t for that.

As set out in the BBC report, even though it does not name China directly, it is a naked battle for influence and there’s no effort to hide that. But of course, the jury is out, is it truly an “alternative”? And can they pull off their grand vision successfully? The answer put simply is, ‘no’. The European Union is, collectively speaking, the single most poorly positioned and ill-suited actor in this grand “scramble for infrastructure” going. For a plethora of reasons, this project will never ever live up to its promises, let alone compete with the monolithic, highly organized mantra of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Why so? The answer is not so much structural, as political. It’s a matter of “how” as opposed to “if” or “why”. Ideally speaking, why would any countries turn down increased infrastructure spending from Europe? No matter where you stand on the China spectrum, it’s a good opportunity. Germany is particularly famed for its engineering prowess. France is also a successful country when it comes to infrastructure, there’s a reason why China participates with them in their own nuclear energy initiatives at home. Europe has quality, experience, and success. But that isn’t the same thing as trying to singlehandedly organize a visionary global infrastructure scheme applied to developing countries, is it? And given how Europe is politically and economically organized, and how they plan to implement these projects, it is bound to run into trouble.

China is a single party, hierarchic Communist state which coordinates its mega Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) through an almost command and control system of state-owned banks and engineering and construction enterprises, which work in near perfect unison with China’s Foreign Ministry. When China wants something done from the top, it gets done, and the task jumps through all bureaucratic hoops. For example, building a functional hospital in 10 days. On the other hand, the European Union is a bureaucratic ensemble of 26 different countries existing in a supranational organization that has limited collective sovereignty and attempts to function by establishing points of unity and consensus amongst its members. Institutions such as the European Commission attempt to guide and induce legislation, but ultimately act as referees and have little power to entice, let alone compel, states to act.

The European Union is not a “state” and cannot function as a coherent body on the global stage without setting the bar very low. This makes it extraordinarily more challenging to coordinate large transnational finance projects, with a separate private sector, in the way China can. They rely on the goodwill and presumed cooperation of companies and banks, who will be interested in some things, but will ultimately consider many countries China has dived headfirst into as undesirable, high risk or financially unpalatable. The EU can’t “force” companies to invest and nor can they so readily jump through all the hoops whilst insisting on “standards”. This not only means projects are less likely to materialize but will take significantly longer to come about too.

Secondly, you might be mistaken thinking the European Union is a union of prosperous equals, it is not. The EU is suffering myriad economic problems, it is in a state of stagnation and has a huge north-south and west-east divide in wealth. It cannot even address its own infrastructure needs, let alone those of other countries. Last week on a trip to Greece, a country that has lost 50% of its entire GDP since 2007 thanks to European financial mismanagement, I discovered the grim reality of Athens Central Railway station, which does not even have a working information screen, and only has aging, graffiti covered rolling stock. How can some EU states be content to cough up €300 billion, across seven years, into an ambitious geopolitically motivated overseas infrastructure race, when such widespread problems at home remain? Is this fair?

These internal divisions are real. We see the scale of the struggle over even the most important things, such as the EU recovery fund last year in the midst of Covid, how one of its most important member states literally quit, and how a new wave of economic damage is surely on its way with Omicron and the growing number of lockdowns across the continent. Then you have dissenting states such as Poland and Hungary, who may seek to upend, delay and block the entire thing as part of wrestling their sovereignty away from the institution. Doesn’t it speak volumes that Budapest is getting China to build its high-speed railways? Where is Brussels amidst all this? In many aspects, the EU can barely keep itself together, let alone coordinate this. It wants to compete with the BRI but can’t actually keep the BRI out of its own territory.

Finally, whilst €300 billion sounds like a lot, it is only a fraction of the BRI in real terms. As a report from the Silk Road briefing sets out: in the first quarter of 2020, the value of belt and road projects exceeded US$4 trillion for the first time. Among these, 1,590 projects – valued at $1.9 trillion – were BRI projects, while 1,574 other projects with a combined value of $2.1 trillion were classified as “Projects with Chinese involvement“. By 2019 at least $519 billion worth of projects had been completed, showing the EU is offering too little, and too late,

The EU are jumping headlong into a pie-in-the-sky grand scheme which, though they would bring tangible benefits on paper, is ultimately and fatally devoid of realism. A loose gathering of states mired with all kinds of problems wants to try and compete with the engine-like unity of a Communist economic giant. What we see today is little more than a public relations stunt which very well could be doomed from the start, simply because Europe is bad, and will continue to be bad, at making things happen.

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US: “Our Elites Claim Christmas Is ‘White Supremacy Culture At Work.’ Their Problem – The Music Is So Beautiful” – by James Fulford – 2 Dec 2021

Audio of Article – Mp3

A since-deleted tweet indicated that some of those emboldened by Joe Biden’s “victory” are now eager to redouble the effort to suppress the public celebration of Christmas. “Philanthropy professional” Jen Bokoff,  awarded a blue checkmark by Twitter, tweeted shortly before Christmas 2020: “This is your annual reminder that not everyone celebrates Christmas. The default to ‘Merry Christmas’ as a normal greeting is also white supremacy culture at work. If someone celebrates, by all means. But so many don’t.”  

Shortly after Christmas the person the Washington Post once promoted as, I kid you not, its conservative representative, Jennifer Rubin [email her] used her Blue Checkmark to write something very similar:

As The Post’s Dan Balz writes, “For Trump supporters, cultural preservation of an America long dominated by a White, Christian majority remains a cornerstone of their beliefs.” That is the definition of white supremacy.

[America isn’t ‘hopelessly divided.’ It only looks that way because of our Constitution., December28, 2020]

Rubin’s linking of Christmas or voting for Trump or anything else to “White Supremacy” in America 2021 cannot be seen as anything other than an attempt to suppress whatever is being linked.

But her branding Christmas as a manifestation of “white supremacy culture” is a hard sell, since Christmas is celebrated by people of all races in America, not just whites.

Nor is “cultural preservation of an America long dominated by a White, Christian majority” the “definition of White supremacy.” “White supremacy” is in fact defined by things like de jure segregation, eugenic laws, and limiting the franchise to whites, none of which have been present in America for a very long time. What Rubin means by “White Supremacy” is, obviously, whites.

A nation’s desire to preserve its culture is simply normal and natural and part of what countries everywhere seek to do. Presumably there is no real objection, even at the Washington Post, to India seeking to preserve Indian culture, China seeking to preserve Chinese culture, Japan seeking to preserve Japanese culture, and Israel seeking to preserve Jewish culture—just as there is no real objection to public celebrations of Chinese New Year, Diwali, Bodhi Day, Hanukkah, or any other holiday that can be discovered, promoted, or invented to water down the public celebration of Christmas.

As I have argued since 2001, multiculturalism is at the heart of the contemporary assault on Christmas. And as I have also argued since 2001, the best way to defend Christmas is to insist on the excellence of the culture of which it is a part, an excellence that is appreciated by all the Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans who have embraced Western classical music, all the people from all manner of cultures who flock to see the great Western cathedrals and basilicas and were shocked by the fire at Notre Dame (still unexplained), and even all the people who choose to live in countries dominated by “a White, Christian majority” when so many other options are available to them.

Angry tweets from Blue Checks are not the only way to undermine Christmas and the broader culture that created a multifaceted celebration to mark the birth of Christ. We can also do that to ourselves when we fail to pass on what we have received.

And, unfortunately, in too many instances American radio stations playing what they call “holiday music” or even “Christmas music” foster such cultural amnesia.

Many friends and acquaintances have complained to me that, in tuning into Christmas music on the radio, they no longer get even a tiny sampling of traditional Christmas music. Instead, what they hear are playlists largely limited to a handful of songs that are ridiculously overplayed because they are performed by famous rockers or mention rock in the title (John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “So This Is Christmas,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and its myriad performers, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, “Jingle Bell Rock”), absurdly revived obscurities (“It’s a Marshmallow World,” “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”), and a bevy of pop tunes of varying quality that make some reference to winter, snow, Santa, shopping, and, in the best of them, the joy and good feelings that accompany Christmas.

But even the best of these pop songs stringently avoid telling us what Linus so memorably told Charlie Brown—what Christmas is all about.

It’s vital to realize that it didn’t used to be this way. And there is no reason for it to be this way now.

Back in 2003, I reported that Paula Simons got to the heart of the matter when she wrote

Traditional Christmas carols are beautiful songs. They combine rich, lyric poetry with melodies of timeless power. A child who grows up hearing and singing the likes of God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen or Silent Night . . . or the other great world classics gets a profound musical education. The intricate harmonies and modalities of real carols don’t just move our hearts. They train our ears to appreciate more sophisticated musical forms and our voices to sing in concert with others.

[Cultural Censorship is Ruining Christmas Carols, by Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal, December 17, 2003]

I know that Ms. Simons got is exactly right because what she described is what happened to me.

My musical education began by listening to the many great Christmas records my parents enjoyed playing throughout the Christmas season. Among the first voices I recognized outside of my immediate family were those of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. And I first heard those voices on Christmas albums that were owned by millions of Americans. On these albums Crosby and Sinatra each sang secular Christmas songs such as “White Christmas,” “Silver Bells,” “The Christmas Waltz,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

These songs were popular when they were written and remain so, for good reason: they are comparable in quality to the standards Crosby and Sinatra sang outside of December and can serve today as an introduction to what has become known as the Great American Songbook. But no one listening to those albums could fail to understand what Christmas was all about, since each also featured several traditional Christmas carols sung with feeling and artistry. Bing Crosby’s “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and Frank Sinatra’s “The First Noel” have long been favorites of mine.

Singers of less prominence than Crosby and Sinatra followed the same formula in their own Christmas albums, singing both secular Christmas songs and traditional carols. And they also crossed over into classical music appropriate for Christmas.

Indeed, Andy Williams’ second Christmas album included both of the most popular versions of the “Ave Maria,” the one derived from Franz Schubert’s music for “Lady of the Lake” and the other fitted to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach by Charles Gounod. I was particularly fond of Robert Goulet’s Christmas album, which ended with four powerful performances of religious music. I am quite certain that the first time I ever heard Cesar Franck’s “Panis Angelicus” was on that album.

And among American popular singers, Goulet’s stirring rendition of the operatic “O Holy Night” is matched only by Nat King Cole’s exquisite version. (It is unclear if Cole’s race would be sufficient to erase the taint of his Christianity in the eyes of Bokoff and Rubin, but Crosby, Sinatra, Williams, and Goulet were all white Christians and therefore part of the culture that Bokoff and Rubin think impermissible to preserve.)

My parents also had Christmas recordings made by popular choral groups. One, by the Harry Simeone Chorale, featured the initial recording of the song made famous by the group, “The Little Drummer Boy.”  The Harry Simeone record also brought home to my young ears the sheer variety of Christmas music, featuring carols originating in Spain, France, and Germany in addition to England and America, including the utterly charming tale of how the animals helped the Holy Family, “The Friendly Beasts.”

Even more impressive to me was Robert Shaw’s “The Many Moods of Christmas,” which featured four carol medleys arranged by Robert Russell Bennett. As with the Harry Simeone record, these carols came from all over Christendom, including the French “Pat a Pan” and “The March of the Three Kings” (the music for which was used by Georges Bizet in his L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2), the Spanish “Fum, Fum, Fum,” and “Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light,” a Bach chorale used in his “Christmas Oratorio.” (The record also impressed my junior high choir director, since we song both “Pat a Pan” and “Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light” in our Christmas concert, back when public schools still had Christmas concerts denominated as such and featuring religious Christmas music).

I loved it all, but my favorite was and remains the third medley, which begins well enough in England with “What Child Is This” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and ends even stronger in France, with “Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabelle” and “Angels We Have Heard on High” blended together so beautifully that, if I were ever forced to choose just one carol as my favorite, it would likely be the one about two French village girls hurrying to see the baby Jesus and His Mother.

Songs by such choral groups used to fill American airwaves and Americans’ home record collections.

Later in life, I acquired a fondness for another Christmas record of that type that I did not grow up with but a friend did. One evening I came home to find that my very thoughtful friend had, unbeknownst to me, set up and decorated my Christmas tree while I was working. He had also set up a CD to play in a continuous loop on my stereo, Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians’ “Now is the Caroling Season.”

‘Now is the Caroling Season’ – Mp3

It was a very welcome and memorable Christmas present to someone who was feeling particularly harried at work.

Given the way I first heard it, it is unsurprising that I love this Fred Waring recording, but the whole album is excellent, particularly “In Sweetest Jubilee,” an adaptation of “In Dulci Jubilo;” “Masters in this Hall,” a carol I have heard nowhere else; and the concluding “March of the Kings,” an adaptation of the same music used by Bizet. The lesson taught by these popular records was that, although there were many facets to the Christmas celebration, and room for the type of secular Christmas songs made popular by singers such as Crosby, Sinatra, Williams, and Goulet, the focus of the celebration was the birth of Christ.

The television specials featuring such singers drove that lesson home even further. Those shows would often feature a good deal of lighthearted fun, but they all eventually turned into reverent performances of religious Christmas music. That was the highpoint of the show.

Examples include “Silent Night” sung by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra and their families, “Ave Maria” sung by Perry Como and by Karen Carpenter in 1977, the same year that saw Johnny Cash getting Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Roy Clark, and the Statler Brothers to join him in singing “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” after Cash had described his visit to Bethlehem and talked unabashedly about his Christian faith.

Such was American TV before the War on Christmas.

My love for all of these products of American culture undoubtedly helped to inoculate me against the attempts to suppress the public celebration of Christmas that were to grow stronger and more insistent as I got older. But that inoculation was reinforced by a less typical experience in America.

As a child, my Grandma Piatak used to sing Polish Christmas carols for her mother. When I was a child, my Grandma no longer sang those Polish carols, but she did delight in playing a record of a playing a dozen or so of the most popular Polish carols. I liked them, even though I had no idea what they meant, so my Grandma told me about them.

The bottom line is this: even though I still know only what a few of the words mean, I know that none of these carols are about snow, or shopping, or Santa. They are all about Christmas, and often beautiful (such as “Lulajze Jezuniu,” quoted in a scherzo by Chopin and sung in translation by the Three Tenors; or “Zlobie Lezy,” sung in English as “Infant Holy, Infant, Lowly”) or exuberant (such as “Dzisiaj w Betlejem,” used as the music for a charming cartoon of the Nativity that racked up hundreds of thousands of additional hits this Christmas), or both, depending on the emphasis of the performers (such as these contrasting performances of perhaps the most popular Polish carol, “Wsrod nocnej ciszy.”)

Exposure to this tradition also helped prepare me to see through two of the arguments offered ad nauseam by the Christmas deconstructionists.

I remember one law school classmate pompously dismissing Christmas as a thinly disguised continuation of the pagan celebrations of the Winter Solstice. I kept quiet, but thought: how would you explain all the Polish Christmas traditions so obviously rooted in Christianity?

The principal meal is not an elaborate feast, but a simpler dinner on Christmas Eve, meatless because of the fasting requirements formerly imposed by the Catholic Church. That meal does not begin until the first star of the evening is sighted, a reminder of the Star of Bethlehem. The meal starts with the sharing of oplatki, wafers of unleavened bread reminiscent of the host used for Holy Communion and featuring pictures of the Nativity. The table is often covered (generally under the tablecloth) with straw, to remind the diners of the manger where Christ was born.

We’re a long way here from Yule logs or Saturnalia.

The other intellectual benefit I received from my familiarity with this tradition: a skepticism toward the multiculturalist rationale offered to diminish Christmas.

I am fairly certain my pompous classmate had never heard of Polish Christmas carols, much less ever heard one, and knew nothing of all the traditions I recalled as he lectured us, even though those traditions are observed, to some extent, by millions of Americans. If learning about how other people do things were the goal, schools would teach children about the many different Christmas traditions brought to America from all over the world.

But that’s not what schools do, because that’s not what multiculturalism is all about. It’s about indoctrinating children to believe there is something inherently wrong with Western, Christian culture.

Hence, the War on Christmas and also this 2020’s wave of iconoclasm, among other things.

Of course, Poland is far from unique in having rich Christmas traditions all its own. One memorable Christmas gift my Dad’s brother brought back to Cleveland in 1974 from the exotic climes of Manhattan was a record called “Christmas at St. John’s” featuring the choir of St. John’s College in Cambridge and the organist Stephen Cleobury. That was my introduction to the unsurpassed excellence of the great English choirs, and also my introduction to some beautiful Christmas music I had never heard before, including the haunting Welsh lullaby, “Suo Gan.”  Every carol on that album is a treasure, including the song that my Uncle told me was his favorite, “The Holly and the Ivy.”

As for Stephen Cleobury, he became the choir director at King’s College, Cambridge. In that role, he spent decades leading the choir in performing the carols that were part of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols broadcast every Christmas Eve around the world by the BBC.

Eight years later saw an introduction to another facet of the beauty that has developed over centuries to accompany Christmas. That was the year PBS broadcast Luciano Pavarotti’s amazing Christmas concert in Montreal from four years before. That concert was held in a perfect venue, Montreal’s stunning Notre Dame basilica, below:

Pavarotti’s voice was at its peak, and he needed no microphone to thrill the spectators jammed into every corner of the church.

The “Adeste Fideles” with which Pavarotti ended the concert remains the most memorable performance I have ever heard of the great carol that begins the Christmas service in thousands of churches around the world every year. (I also remain particularly fond of Pavarotti’s rendition of “Gesu Bambino,” which I heard, for the first time, at my junior high Christmas concert a few years before).

My third year at Michigan Law school saw another memorable step in my Christmas-inspired musical education. Some background: the school’s new Dean, Lee Bollinger, kept his first Christmas in that role by forbidding the law student singing group from performing Mel Torme’s “Christmas Song” at the end of semester gathering right before our “winter break” [Dean Secularizes Concert, Res Gestae, December 7, 1988].

Bollinger claimed to the singers that he actually liked the piece, and that he might have allowed it if the song mentioned Christmas quickly and inconspicuously. But he felt that men and women who would soon be working in the nation’s top law firms should not be expected to tolerate the robust “Merry Christmas” with which the song ends.

Bollinger [Email him], who is now president of Columbia University, certainly knew how strongly the winds of Political Correctness would soon be blowing.

This was the depressing backdrop to attending, for the first time, a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” at Michigan’s Hill Auditorium with two law school friends.

It was a night I will never forget: there is a reason Handel regarded Messiah as his crowning achievement, and why Haydn exclaimed “Handel is the master of us all” after hearing it performed in London. Given the Grinch-like way Lee Bollinger had just canceled Mel Torme, I’ll admit I felt like one of the Whos standing around the Christmas tree when I followed tradition and stood for the Hallelujah chorus. (Although “Messiah” premiered in Dublin at Easter, it is also perfectly suited to Christmas, and its first American performance, in Boston, was at Christmas).

Since law school, I have continued to attend Christmas concerts and buy Christmas music. (A particular favorite is Deutsche Grammophon’s “An Old World Christmas,” which focuses on German Christmas music, including a recording of “Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen” so beautiful that I used it to illustrate why public school students should be allowed to perform religious Christmas music at a meeting of the local chapter of the Federalist Society).

Such is the cultural depth and breadth of Christmas that each year I discover something previously unknown to me that so captures the spirt of Christmas that I come back to it again and again and share it widely with friends. This year’s discovery was a carol medley performed at Carnegie Hall not long after I graduated from law school, featuring the black soprano Kathleen Battle and German-American Frederica von Stade, several choirs, and an orchestra conducted by André Previn. One look at the composition of the performers, beginning with Kathleen Battle, explodes the lie that the celebration of Christmas has anything at all to do with “white supremacy.”

And one listen drives home the point that no matter how assiduously the Main Stream Media promote them as alternatives to Christmas, no other winter holiday can match Christmas. It is possible to imagine an equally magnificent medley featuring dozens of other Christmas carols. It is impossible to imagine even one comparable medley put together by music inspired by any other winter holiday.

When I first started writing about the War on Christmas nineteen years ago, I feared that the suppression of all public observance of Christmas was a real possibility.

But thanks to ordinary Americans’ great attachment to Christmas, that has not happened. We have yet not returned to the days when great cities observed Christmas by lighting up skyscraper windows to form crosses at night, or major newspapers ran unabashedly religious editorials each Christmas, or students in public schools learned about the major holiday of their civilization by singing religious Christmas carols and by putting on religious Christmas plays, or in which major American corporations produced a new Christmas record each year to give to customers and vendors, the way Goodyear and Firestone used to do. But there still are public figures and public spaces celebrating Christmas, and attempts to replace Christmas with “holiday” now often meet determined opposition.

Above, Cleveland’s Terminal Tower, 1938, displaying lights in the shape of a cross for Christmastime, below, the same tower in1957.

Considering what has happened to the conservative side in many other fronts in the Culture War, that is no mean achievement.

The next task should be comparatively easy. I am not suggesting that radio stations stop playing “White Christmas” or “Silver Bells” or even “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” But they should greatly expand their Christmas playlists.

If enough Americans begin asking broadcasters to make a little more room for the real meaning of Christmas and all the beautiful music that it has inspired, you may be pleasantly surprised one future December by turning on the radio and hearing Frank Sinatra singing about Jesus, Karen Carpenter singing about Mary, Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians singing about the Three Wise Men—and maybe, just maybe, Kathleen Battle singing “O Holy Night.”

Thomas Piatak [Email him] is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.

US Radical Liberal Doxxers on Twitter Don’t Like Being Doxxed – by Drew Harwell (WaPo) 2 Dec 2021

Far right is using Twitter’s new rule against anti-extremism researchers

Drew Harwell, 

The Washington Post

Dec. 2, 2021

Neo-Nazis and far-right activists are coaching followers on how to use a new Twitter rule to persuade the social media platform to remove photos of them posted by anti-extremism researchers and journalists who specialize in identifying episodes of real-world hate.

Advocates said they worry the new policy will suppress efforts to document the activities of the far right and will prove to be a gift to members of hateful movements eager to keep their identities concealed.

“It’s going to be emboldening to the fascists,” said Gwen Snyder, an anti-fascist researcher and organizer in Philadelphia.

Snyder’s Twitter account was suspended early Thursday after someone reported a 2019 tweet of hers showing photos of a local mayoral candidate attending a public rally alongside the extremist group the Proud Boys. After The Washington Post asked about the suspension, a Twitter spokesperson said the tweet was not in violation and that “our teams took enforcement action in error.”

On Tuesday, Twitter said its new “private information policy” would allow someone whose photo or video was tweeted without their consent to request the company take it down.

Twitter said the rule would help “curb the misuse of media to harass, intimidate and reveal the identities of private individuals, which disproportionately impacts women, activists, dissidents, and members of minority communities.”

The rule, company officials said Tuesday, would not apply to photos that added “value to public discourse” or were of people involved in a large-scale protest, crisis situation or other “newsworthy event due to public interest value.”

In the days since, however, white supremacists on channels such as the encrypted chat service Telegram have urged supporters to use the new policy against activists and journalists who have shared their information or identified them in photos of hate rallies or public events.

“Due to the new privacy policy at Twitter, things now unexpectedly work more in our favor as we can take down Antifa . . . doxing pages more easily,” a white nationalist and Nazi sympathizer wrote to followers on Telegram on Wednesday night, referring to the anti-fascist political movement whose members often clash with far-right protesters and to the practice of publishing people’s personal information online.

He included a list of nearly 50 Twitter accounts and urged people to report them for suspension under the new rule. At least one of the accounts was suspended by Thursday. Twitter did not respond to a question about why the account had been taken down.

The Telegram post has been viewed more than 10,000 times. After it was shared on Twitter by anti-extremism researcher Kristofer Goldsmith, the Telegram user wrote, “Yeah and we’ll do it again.”

How Twitter will enforce the new policy remains contentious. A Twitter spokesman told The Post this week that the policy would help prevent the unauthorized sharing of photos of rape victims or women in authoritarian countries who could face real-world punishment for going outside without a burqa.

The company said that each report will be reviewed case-by-case and that flagged accounts can file an appeal or delete the offending posts to resolve their suspensions.

Snyder, the Philadelphia anti-fascist researcher, said she believed her reported tweet did not break the rules but deleted it anyway, worried that any appeal she filed would take too long or ultimately fail. She suspects the rule could have a “catastrophic” chilling effect on other researchers working to expose extremists.

Since the violent white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017, anti-extremism activists have used Twitter to identify previously anonymous members of far-right militias, neo-Nazis and other hate groups, sharing their photos, names and other information.

In some cases, the exposed people have lost jobs, been reported to law enforcement or faced consequences with co-workers, friends or family. Activists and researchers who have shared their information have also faced death threats and online attacks.

Goldsmith, a researcher with the Innovation Lab at Human Rights First who tracks the far right, said the rule could undermine Twitter’s front-line role in distributing critical information about online and real-world hate campaigns.

Amateur investigators known as “sedition hunters” openly used Twitter to identify rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Other researchers did the same after Charlottesville, he said. A jury last week ruled that more than a dozen white supremacists and hate groups should pay more than $26 million in damages for acts of intimidation and violence during the rally that left one woman dead.

“A large portion of the evidence that has been presented in these cases came from what Twitter now says is protected or ‘private’ information,” Goldsmith said.

Anti-extremism researchers and photojournalists on Twitter have in recent days posted reports showing suspension notices they’d received related to the new rule, even for months-old tweets of people in public places for whom the rule would not appear to apply.

Far-right activists have also worked to exploit their newfound power. On Telegram, one far-right activist shared tips on how to find potentially reportable images, using Twitter search queries such as “images fascist exposed.”

On other sites, like the fringe social network Gab, far-right activists said they were aggressively hammering out reports in hopes of taking down anti-fascist Twitter accounts. One said he had filed more than 50 reports in a day, adding, “It’s time to stay on the offensive.”

Some have also attempted to organize on Twitter, with one account saying they had submitted dozens of reports under the rule against anti-fascist accounts, tweeting, “[Right-wing] Twitter, it is time. I told you yesterday and you had reservations. No more excuses. We have work to do.” The account has since been suspended.

Goldsmith said he worried that Twitter’s moderators would not be prepared for a flood of reports from bad actors who could organize on other sites in hopes of blocking or hindering researchers’ work.

“Twitter simply does not have the human power to make these judgment calls,” he said.

Oren Segal, vice president of the Center on Extremism at the Anti-Defamation League, said that Twitter needs to provide more clarity into how these rules will be enforced.

“If the intention of the new rules is to help stop doxing and harassment, that is important. But exposing extremists is also important,” Segal said. “Accountability is important. And sunlight can be the best disinfectant when done responsibly.”

…………..

Source

Biden Creates Another Work of Fiction In Alternate Universe – Was in Israel’s 6 Day War?

CLAIM: President Joe Biden claimed Wednesday he was invited to Israel as a “liaison” to Egypt during the Six Day War.

VERDICT: FALSE. Biden was a law student during the Six Day War in 1967. He visited Israel six years later, in 1973

President Biden tried to impress his audience at the annual White House menorah lighting ceremony, telling the kind of tall tale that has become his trademark, claiming to have been invited to Israel by Prime Minister Golda Meir in the Six Day War.

From the White House transcript:

I was saying to a couple of younger members of my staff, before I came over, about the many times I’ve been to Israel. I said — and then, all of a sudden, I realized, “God, you’re getting old, Biden.” (Laughter.)

I have known every — every prime minister well since Golda Meir, including Golda Meir. (Applause.) And during the Six-Day War, I had an opportunity to — she invited me to come over because I was going to be the liaison between she and the Egyptians about the Suez, and so on and so forth.

And I sat in front of her desk, Chuck. And she had a guy — her staff member — to my right. His name was Rabin. (Laughter.) And she kept flipping those maps up and down. She had that bevy of maps — sort of kept it — and it was — it was so depressing what she was — about what happened. She gave me every detail.

There are several factual inaccuracies in Biden’s claim, including the following:

  • The Six Day War took place in 1967. Biden was a law student; he was only elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972.
  • Golda Meir was not the prime minister of Israel in 1967; that was Levi Eshkol. She was only elected in 1969.
  • Biden’s first visit to Israel as a U.S. Senator took place in 1973 (he has told the story several times before).
  • Biden was not a “liaison” between Israel and Egypt; if he was, he was a poor one, because war broke out weeks later.

Biden does not mention any work as a “liaison” between Israel and Egypt in his 2007 memoirPromises to Keep.

One meeting with an Israeli leader that Biden does not want to talk about is a clash that took place behind closed doors in 1982, when he tried to threaten Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin with a cutoff of U.S. aid. Begin was not impressed.

California looting unrelated to any particular political event – Shops boarded up (SF Chronicle)

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

As San Francisco approached the critical December shopping month, instead of holiday lights and Santa Claus decorations, dozens of downtown retailers greeted shoppers with plywood-encased storefronts and armed guards in the wake of mass retail thefts in Union Square two weeks ago.

Around a half-dozen stores in the Union Square area were boarded up on Tuesday, including the Louis Vuitton store and others that sustained damage during the robberies. Other luxury stores such as Gucci, which Mayor London Breed said had an existing security gate system and wasn’t damaged in previous robberies, had a guard outside as well.

It’s a stark contrast from previous years when December in Union Square was marked by windows full of holiday ornamentation and the seasonal enticement of products that could fit under Christmas trees.

Oliver Stone – New Documentary – Did The CIA Kill JFK? – Greyzone (22:00 min) 25 Nov 2021

Red Lines host Anya Parampil speaks with award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter Oliver Stone about his new film “JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass,” which was recently released on SHOWTIME. Stone explores misconceptions regarding JFK’s legacy and discusses why he believes the US government refuses declassify documents related to the assassination even 58 years since it took place.

Venezuela’s socialists win elections in landslide – so US tries to discredit them (GreyZone) 23 Nov 2021

Venezuela’s socialists win elections in landslide – so US tries to discredit them

BEN NORTON·

NOVEMBER 23, 2021

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won the November 21 mega-elections in a landslide, getting more votes in 20 of 23 states and the capital Caracas. So the US government responded by trying to discredit the vote.

Venezuelan journalist Diego Sequera speaks about the elections, the historic victory of the ruling party of President Nicolás Maduro, and Washington’s attempt to de-legitimize the process.



Venezuela’s November 21 regional elections were monitored by the European Union.

After years of boycotting previous votes, Venezuela’s right-wing opposition parties agreed to participate in these elections, through a series of negotiations that were held in Mexico and sponsored by Norway and the Netherlands.

A delegation of US National Lawyers Guild members traveled to Venezuela to monitor the elections, visiting 12 voting sites in Caracas and other states. They reported, “We observed a balanced and transparent voting process which voters expressed confidence in.”

“From a technical point of view, we observed an electoral system that was fundamentally transparent and facilitated by a workforce (poll workers, coordinators, table presidents) with strong technical competence regarding the functioning of the machines and the integrated election systems,” the National Lawyers Guild members wrote.

The North American electoral observers added, “We found that voters aligned with opposition parties also expressed confidence in the voting system. Additionally, the participation of opposition parties at polling sites, including as witnesses in opening and closing processes, strengthened the process and underscored the legitimacy of election results.”

Despite the teams of international observers affirming the legitimacy of Venezuela’s November 21 elections, the US State Department published a statement attacked the vote.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed the regional elections were “flawed” and that the “regime” of democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro supposedly “grossly skewed the process to determine the result of this election long before any ballots had been cast.”

In his declaration, Blinken also reaffirmed US support for unelected coup leader Juan Guaidó, referring to him as supposed “interim president” of Venezuela.

In his interview with the Moderate Rebels podcast, Venezuelan journalist Diego Sequera quipped, “If Maduro’s government is a dictatorship, it must be the most flawed dictatorship and the most inconsistent dictatorship I’ve ever seen.”

There were “three times the number of opposition candidates that were running in all of these different elections, way over the Chavista candidates,” Diego added. “So it’s a very strange and defective ‘dictatorship’ that allows the political opposition to participate, that allows them to vote, that guarantees the right to vote and also a transparent process to vote.”

Sequera emphasized how the Biden administration has continued the Trump administration’s aggressive policies in Latin America.

“Look what happened in Cuba. It wasn’t the reversion of the Trump policy, of Pompeo’s policy, and it didn’t go back to the Obama stage of relations between Cuba and the US,” Sequera said. “It actually remained under the framework of Trump’s State Department policy.”

“They’re not able to change anything,” Sequera continued. “They’re just ruled by some crazy inertia that won’t allow them to even highlight the return to a liberal, neoliberal, US order. And the same with Venezuela.”

……………….

Source

Intro to – The Real Anthony Fauci Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health – by Robert F. Kennedy Jr

6,900 Words

Introduction

.

“The first step is to give up the illusion that the primary purpose of modern medical research is to improve Americans’ health most effectively and efficiently. In our opinion, the primary purpose of commercially funded clinical research is to maximize financial return on investment, not health.”

—John Abramson, M.D., Harvard Medical School

I wrote this book to help Americans—and citizens across the globe—understand the historical underpinnings of the bewildering cataclysm that began in 2020. In that single annus horribilis, liberal democracy effectively collapsed worldwide. The very governmental health regulators, social media eminences, and media companies that idealistic populations relied upon as champions of freedom, health, democracy, civil rights, and evidence-based public policy seemed to collectively pivot in a lockstep assault against free speech and personal freedoms.

Suddenly, those trusted institutions seemed to be acting in concert to generate fear, promote obedience, discourage critical thinking, and herd seven billion people to march to a single tune, culminating in mass public health experiments with a novel, shoddily tested and improperly licensed technology so risky that manufacturers refused to produce it unless every government on Earth shielded them from liability.

Across Western nations, shell-shocked citizens experienced all the well-worn tactics of rising totalitarianism—mass propaganda and censorship, the orchestrated promotion of terror, the manipulation of science, the suppression of debate, the vilification of dissent, and use of force to prevent protest. Conscientious objectors who resisted these unwanted, experimental, zero-liability medical interventions faced orchestrated gaslighting, marginalization, and scapegoating.

American lives and livelihoods were shattered by a bewildering array of draconian diktats imposed without legislative approval or judicial review, risk assessment, or scientific citation. So-called Emergency Orders closed our businesses, schools and churches, made unprecedented intrusions into privacy, and disrupted our most treasured social and family relationships. Citizens the world over were ordered to stay in their homes.

Standing in the center of all the mayhem, with his confident hand on the helm, was one dominating figure. As the trusted public face of the United States government response to COVID, Dr. Anthony Fauci set this perilous course and sold the American public on a new destination for our democracy.

This book is a product of my own struggle to understand how the idealistic institutions our country built to safeguard both public health and democracy suddenly turned against our citizens and our values with such violence. I am a lifelong Democrat, whose family has had eighty years of deep engagement with America’s public health bureaucracy and long friendships with key federal regulators, including Anthony Fauci, Francis Collins, and Robert Gallo. Members of my family wrote many of the statutes under which these men govern, nurtured the growth of equitable and effective public health policies, and defended that regulatory bulwark against ferocious attacks funded by industry—and often executed by Republican-controlled congressional committees intent on defunding and defanging these agencies to make them more “industry friendly.” I built alliances with these individuals and their agencies during my years of environmental and public health advocacy. I watched them, often with admiration. But I also watched how the industry, supposedly being regulated, used its indentured servants on Capitol Hill to systematically hollow out those agencies beginning in 1980, disabling their regulatory functions and transforming them, finally, into sock-puppets for the very industry Congress charged them with regulating.

My 40-year career as an environmental and public health advocate gave me a unique understanding of the corrupting mechanisms of “regulatory capture,” the process by which the regulator becomes beholden to the industry it’s meant to regulate. I spent four decades suing the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other environmental agencies to expose and remedy the corrupt sweetheart relationship that so often put regulators in bed with the polluting industries they regulated. Among the hundreds of lawsuits I filed, perhaps a quarter were against regulatory officials making illegal concessions to Big Oil, King Coal, and the chemical and agricultural polluters that had captured their loyalties. I thought I knew everything about regulatory capture and that I had armored myself with an appropriate shield of cynicism.

But I was wrong about that. From the moment of my reluctant entrance into the vaccine debate in 2005, I was astonished to realize that the pervasive web of deep financial entanglements between Pharma and the government health agencies had put regulatory capture on steroids. The CDC, for example, owns 57 vaccine patents[1]
 and spends $4.9 of its $12.0 billion-dollar annual budget (as of 2019) buying and distributing vaccines.[2][3] NIH owns hundreds of vaccine patents and often profits from the sale of products it supposedly regulates. High level officials, including Dr. Fauci, receive yearly emoluments of up to $150,000 in royalty payments on products that they help develop and then usher through the approval process.[4] The FDA receives 45 percent of its budget from the pharmaceutical industry, through what are euphemistically called “user fees.”[5] When I learned that extraordinary fact, the disastrous health of the American people was no longer a mystery; I wondered what the environment would look like if the EPA received 45 percent of its budget from the coal industry!

Today many of my liberal chums are still crouched in a knee jerk posture defending “our” agencies against Republican slanders and budget cuts, never quite realizing how thoroughly the decades of attacks succeeded in transforming those agencies into subsidiaries of Big Pharma.

In this book, I track the rise of Anthony Fauci from his start as a young public health researcher and physician through his metamorphosis into the powerful technocrat who helped orchestrate and execute 2020’s historic coup d’état against Western democracy. I explore the carefully planned militarization and monetization of medicine that has left American health ailing and its democracy shattered. I chronicle the troubling role of the dangerous concentrated mainstream media, Big Tech robber barons, the military and intelligence communities and their deep historical alliances with Big Pharma and public health agencies. The disturbing story that unfolds here has never been told, and many in power have worked hard to prevent the public from learning it. The main character is Anthony Fauci.

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Fauci, who turned 80 that year, occupied center stage in a global drama unprecedented in human history. At the contagion’s beginnings, the US still enjoyed its reputation as the universal standard-bearer in public health. As the world’s faith in American leadership dwindled during the Trump era, the singular US institutions that were seemingly immune from international disillusionment were our public health regulators; HHS—and its subsidiary agencies CDC, FDA, and NIH—persisted as role models for global health policies and gold standard scientific research. Other nations looked to Dr. Fauci, America’s most powerful and enduring public health bureaucrat, to competently direct US health policies, and rapidly develop countermeasures that would serve as state-of-the-art templates for the rest of the world.

Dr. Anthony Fauci spent half a century as America’s reigning health commissar, ever preparing for his final role as Commander of history’s biggest war against a global pandemic. Beginning in 1968, he occupied various posts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), serving as that agency’s Director since November 1984.[6] His $417,608 annual salary makes him the highest paid of all four million federal employees, including the President.[7]
 His experiences surviving 50 years as the panjandrum of a key federal bureaucracy, having advised six Presidents, the Pentagon, intelligence agencies, foreign governments, and the WHO, seasoned him exquisitely for a crisis that would allow him to wield power enjoyed by few rulers and no doctor in history.

During the epidemic’s early months, Dr. Fauci’s calm, authoritative, and avuncular manner was Prozac for Americans besieged by two existential crises: the Trump Presidency, and COVID-19. Democrats and idealistic liberals around the globe, traumatized by President Trump’s chaotic governing style, took heart from Dr. Fauci’s serene, solid presence on the White House stage. He seemed to offer a rational, straight-talking, science-based counterweight to President Trump’s desultory, narcissistic bombast. Navigating the hazardous waters between an erratic President and a deadly contagion, Dr. Fauci initially cut a heroic figure, like Homer’s Ulysses steering his ship between Scylla and Charybdis. Turning their backs to the foreboding horizon, trusting Americans manned the oars and blindly obeyed his commands—little realizing they were propelling our country toward the desolate destination where democracy goes to die.

Throughout the first year of the crisis, Dr. Fauci’s personal charisma and authoritative voice inspired confidence in his prescriptions and won him substantial—though not universal—affection. Many Americans, dutifully locked in their homes in compliance with Dr. Fauci’s quarantine, took consolation in their capacity to join a Tony Fauci fan club, chillax on an “I heart Fauci” throw pillow, sip from an “In Fauci We Trust” coffee mug, warm cold feet in Fauci socks and booties, gorge on Fauci donuts, post a “Honk for Dr. Fauci” yard sign, or genuflect before a Dr. Fauci prayer candle. Fauci aficionados could choose from a variety of Fauci browser games and a squadron of Fauci action figures and bobbleheads, and could read his hagiography to their offspring from a worshipful children’s book. At the height of the lockdown, Brad Pitt performed a reverential homage to Dr. Fauci on Saturday Night Live,[8] and Barbara Streisand surprised him with a recorded message during a live Zoom birthday party in his honor.[9]
 The New Yorker dubbed him “America’s Doctor.”[10]

Dr. Fauci encouraged his own canonization and the disturbing inquisition against his blasphemous critics. In a June 9, 2021 je suis l’état interview, he pronounced that Americans who questioned his statements were, per se, anti-science. “Attacks on me,” he explained, “quite frankly, are attacks on science.”[11]
 The sentiment he expressed reminds us that blind faith in authority is a function of religion, not science. Science, like democracy, flourishes on skepticism toward official orthodoxies. Dr. Fauci’s schoolboy scorn for citation and his acknowledgement to the New York Times that he had twice lied to Americans to promote his agendas—on masks and herd immunity—raised the prospect that some of his other “scientific” assertions were, likewise, noble lies to a credulous public he believes is unworthy of self-determination.[12]
[13]

In August 2021, Dr. Fauci’s acolyte—CNN’s television doctor, Peter Hotez—published an article in a scientific journal calling for legislation to “expand federal hate crime protections” to make criticism of Dr. Fauci a felony.[14]
 In declaring that he had no conflicts, Dr. Hotez, who says that vaccine skeptics should be snuffed out,[15]
 evidently forgot the millions of dollars in grants he has taken from Dr. Fauci’s NIAID since 1993,[16]
 and more than $15 million from Dr. Fauci’s partner, Bill Gates, for his Baylor University Tropical Medicine Institute.[17]
[18]
 As we shall see, Dr. Fauci’s direct and indirect control—through NIH, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust of some 57 percent of global biomedical research funding[19]—guarantees him this sort of obsequious homage from leading medical researchers, allows him to craft and perpetuate the reigning global medical narratives, and can fortify the canon that he, himself, is science incarnate.

High-visibility henchmen like Hotez—and Pharma’s financial control over the media through advertising dollars—have made Dr. Fauci’s pronouncements impervious to debate and endowed the NIAID Director with personal virtues and medical gravitas supported by neither science nor his public health record. By the latter metric, his 50-year regime has been calamitous for public health and for democracy. His administration of the COVID pandemic was, likewise, a disaster.

As the world watched, Tony Fauci dictated a series of policies that resulted in by far the most deaths, and one of the highest percentage COVID-19 body counts of any nation on the planet. Only relentless propaganda and wall-to-wall censorship could conceal his disastrous mismanagement during COVID-19’s first year. The US, with 4 percent of the world’s population, suffered 14.5 percent of total COVID deaths. By September 30, 2021, mortality rates in the US had climbed to 2,107/1,000,000, compared to 139/1,000,000 in Japan.

Anthony Fauci’s Report Card

Death Rates from COVID per million population, as of September 30, 2021:[20]
United States2,107 deaths/1,000,000
Sweden1,444 deaths/1,000,000
Iran1,449 deaths/1,000,000
Germany1,126 deaths/1,000,000
Cuba650 deaths/1,000,000
Jamaica630 deaths/1,000,000
Denmark455 deaths/1,000,000
India327 deaths/1,000,000
Finland194 deaths/1,000,000
Vietnam197 deaths/1,000,000
Norway161 deaths/1,000,000
Japan139 deaths/1,000,000
Pakistan128 deaths/1,000,000
Kenya97 deaths/1,000,000
South Korea47 deaths/1,000,000
Congo (Brazzaville)35 deaths/1,000,000
Hong Kong28 deaths/1,000,000[21]
China3 deaths/1,000,000
Tanzania0.86 deaths/1,000,000

After achieving these cataclysmicly awful results, “Teflon Tony’s” media savvy and his skills for deft maneuvering beguiled incoming President Joe Biden into appointing him as the new administration’s COVID Response Director.

Blinded by generously stoked fear of deadly disease against which Dr. Fauci seemed the only reliable bulwark, Americans failed to see the mounting evidence that Dr. Fauci’s strategies were consistently failing to achieve promised results, as he doggedly elevated Pharma profits and bureaucratic powers over waning public health.

As we shall see from this 50-year saga, Dr. Fauci’s remedies are often more lethal than the diseases they pretend to treat. His COVID prescriptions were no exception. With his narrow focus on the solution of mass vaccination, Dr. Fauci never mentioned any of the many other costs associated with his policy directives.

Anthony Fauci seems to have not considered that his unprecedented quarantine of the healthy would kill far more people than COVID, obliterate the global economy, plunge millions into poverty and bankruptcy, and grievously wound constitutional democracy globally. We have no way of knowing how many people died from isolation, unemployment, deferred medical care, depression, mental illness, obesity, stress, overdoses, suicide, addiction, alcoholism, and the accidents that so often accompany despair. We cannot dismiss the accusations that his lockdowns proved more deadly than the contagion. A June 24, 2021 BMJ study[22] showed that US life expectancy decreased by 1.9 years during the quarantine. Since COVID mortalities were mainly among the elderly, and the average age of death from COVID in the UK was 82.4, which was above the average lifespan,[23] the virus could not by itself cause the astonishing decline. As we shall see, Hispanic and Black Americans often shoulder the heaviest burden of Dr. Fauci’s public health adventures. In this respect, his COVID-19 countermeasures proved no exception. Between 2018 and 2020, the average Hispanic American lost around 3.9 years in longevity, while the average lifespan of a Black American dropped by 3.25 years.[24]

This dramatic culling was unique to America. Between 2018 and 2020, the 1.9 year decrease in average life expectancy at birth in the US was roughly 8.5 times the average decrease in 16 comparable countries, all of which were measured in months, not years.[25]

“I naïvely thought the pandemic would not make a big difference in the gap because my thinking was that it’s a global pandemic, so every country is going to take a hit,” said Steven Woolf, Director Emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. “What I didn’t anticipate was how badly the US would handle the pandemic. These are numbers we aren’t at all used to seeing in this research; 0.1 years is something that normally gets attention in the field, so 3.9 years and 3.25 years and even 1.4 years is just horrible,” Woolf continued. “We haven’t had a decrease of that magnitude since World War II.”[26]

Cost of Quarantines—Deaths

As Dr. Fauci’s policies took hold globally, 300 million humans fell into dire poverty, food insecurity, and starvation. “Globally, the impact of lockdowns on health programs, food production, and supply chains plunged millions of people into severe hunger and malnutrition,” said Alex Gutentag in Tablet Magazine.[27] According to the Associated Press (AP), during 2020, 10,000 children died each month due to virus-linked hunger from global lockdowns. In addition, 500,000 children per month experienced wasting and stunting from malnutrition—up 6.7 million from last year’s total of 47 million—which can “permanently damage children physically and mentally, transforming individual tragedies into a generational catastrophe.”[28]
 In 2020, disruptions to health and nutrition services killed 228,000 children in South Asia.[29] Deferred medical treatments for cancers, kidney failure, and diabetes killed hundreds of thousands of people and created epidemics of cardiovascular disease and undiagnosed cancer. Unemployment shock is expected to cause 890,000 additional deaths over the next 15 years.[30]
[31]

The lockdown disintegrated vital food chains, dramatically increased rates of child abuse, suicide, addiction, alcoholism, obesity, mental illness, as well as debilitating developmental delays, isolation, depression, and severe educational deficits in young children. One-third of teens and young adults reported worsening mental health during the pandemic. According to an Ohio State University study,[32]
 suicide rates among children rose 50 percent.[33] An August 11, 2021 study by Brown University found that infants born during the quarantine were short, on average, 22 IQ points as measured by Baylor scale tests.[34] Some 93,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2020—a 30 percent rise over 2019.[35]
 “Overdoses from synthetic opioids increased by 38.4 percent,[36] and 11 percent of US adults considered suicide in June 2020.[37]
 Three million children disappeared from public school systems, and ERs saw a 31 percent increase in adolescent mental health visits,”[38][39] according to Gutentag. Record numbers of young children failed to reach crucial developmental milestones.[40][41]
 Millions of hospital and nursing home patients died alone without comfort or a final goodbye from their families. Dr. Fauci admitted that he never assessed the costs of desolation, poverty, unhealthy isolation, and depression fostered by his countermeasures. “I don’t give advice about economic things,”[42] Dr. Fauci explained. “I don’t give advice about anything other than public health,” he continued, even though he was so clearly among those responsible for the economic and social costs.

Economic Destruction and Shifting Wealth Upward

During the COVID pandemic, Dr. Fauci served as ringmaster in the engineered demolition of America’s economy. His lockdown predictably shattered the nation’s once-booming economic engine, putting 58 million Americans out of work,[43] and permanently bankrupting small businesses, including 41 percent of Black-owned businesses, some of which took generations of investment to build.[44] The business closures contributed to a run-up in the national deficit—the interest payments alone will cost almost $1 trillion annually.[45] That ruinous debt will likely permanently bankrupt the New Deal programs—the social safety net that, since 1945, fortified, nurtured, and sustained America’s envied middle-class. Government officials have already begun liquidating the almost 100-year legacies of the New Deal, New Frontier, the Great Society, and Obamacare to pay the accumulated lockdown debts. Will we find ourselves saying goodbye to school lunches, healthcare, WIC, Medicaid, Medicare, university scholarships, and other long standing assistance programs?

Enriching the Wealthy

Dr. Fauci’s business closures pulverized America’s middle class and engineered the largest upward transfer of wealth in human history. In 2020, workers lost $3.7 trillion while billionaires gained $3.9 trillion.[46]
 Some 493 individuals became new billionaires,[47]
 and an additional 8 million Americans dropped below the poverty line.[48]
 The biggest winners were the robber barons—the very companies that were cheerleading Dr. Fauci’s lockdown and censoring his critics: Big Technology, Big Data, Big Telecom, Big Finance, Big Media behemoths (Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, Viacom, and Disney), and Silicon Valley Internet titans like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Larry Ellison, and Jack Dorsey.

The very Internet companies that snookered us all with the promise of democratizing communications made it impermissible for Americans to criticize their government or question the safety of pharmaceutical products; these companies propped up all official pronouncements while scrubbing all dissent. The same Tech/Data and Telecom robber barons, gorging themselves on the corpses of our obliterated middle class, rapidly transformed America’s once-proud democracy into a censorship and surveillance police state from which they profit at every turn.

CEO Satya Nadella boasted that Microsoft, by working with the CDC and the Gates-funded Johns Hopkins Center for Biosecurity, had used the COVID pandemic to achieve “two years of digital transformation in two months.”[49]
 Microsoft Teams users ballooned to 200 million meeting participants in a single day, averaged more than 75 million active users, compared to 20 million users in November 2019,[50] and the company’s stock value skyrocketed. Larry Ellison’s company, Oracle, which partnered with the CIA to build new cloud services, won the contract to process all CDC vaccination data.[51]
 Ellison’s wealth increased by $34 billion in 2020; Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth grew by $35 billion; Google’s Sergey Brin by $41 billion; Jeff Bezos by $86 billion; Bill Gates by $22 billion[52]
 and Michael Bloomberg by nearly $7 billion.[53]

Ellison, Gates, and the other members of this government/industry collaboration used the lockdown to accelerate construction of their 5G network[54]
 of satellites, antennae, biometric facial recognition, and “track and trace” infrastructure that they, and their government and intelligence agency partners, can use to mine and monetize our data, further suppress dissent, to compel obedience to arbitrary dictates, and to manage the rage that comes as Americans finally wake up to the fact that this outlaw gang has stolen our democracy, our civil rights, our country, and our way of life—while we huddled in orchestrated fear from a flu-like virus.

With fears of COVID generously stoked, the dramatic and steady erosion of constitutional rights and fomenting of a global coup d’état against democracy, the demolition of our economy, the obliteration of a million small businesses, the collapsing of the middle class, the evisceration of our Bill of Rights, the tidal wave of surveillance capitalism and the rising bio-security state, and the stunning shifts in wealth and power going to a burgeoning oligarchy of high-tech Silicon Valley robber barons seemed, to a dazed and uncritical America, like it might be a reasonable price to pay for safety. And anyway, we were told, it’s just for 15 days, or maybe 15 months, or however long it takes for Dr. Fauci to “follow the data” to his answer.

Failing Upward

Dr. Fauci’s catastrophic failure to achieve beneficial health outcomes during the COVID-19 crisis is consistent with the disastrous declines in public health during his half-century running NIAID. For anyone who might have assumed that federal and public health bureaucrats survive and flourish by achieving improvements in public health, Dr. Fauci’s durability at NIAID is a disheartening wake-up call. By any measure, he has consistently failed upward.

The “J. Edgar Hoover of public health” has presided over cataclysmic declines in public health, including an exploding chronic disease epidemic that has made the “Fauci generation”—children born after his elevation to NIAID kingpin in 1984— the sickest generation in American history, and has made Americans among the least healthy citizens on the planet. His obsequious subservience to the Big Ag, Big Food, and pharmaceutical companies has left our children drowning in a toxic soup of pesticide residues, corn syrup, and processed foods, while also serving as pincushions for 69 mandated vaccine doses by age 18—none of them properly safety tested.[55]

When Dr. Fauci took office, America was still ranked among the world’s healthiest populations. An August 2021 study by the Commonwealth Fund ranked America’s health care system dead last among industrialized nations, with the highest infant mortality and the lowest life expectancy. “If health care were an Olympic sport, the US might not qualify in a competition with other high-income nations,”[56]
 laments the study’s lead author, Eric Schneider, who serves as Senior Vice President for Policy and Research at the Commonwealth Fund.

Following WWII, life expectancy in the US climbed for five decades, making Americans among the longest-lived people in the developed world. IQ also grew steadily by three points each decade since 1900. But as Tony Fauci spent the 1990s expanding the pharmaceutical and chemical paradigm—instead of public health— the pace of both longevity and intelligence slowed. The life expectancy decrease widened the gap between the US and its peers to nearly five years,[57]
 and American children have lost seven IQ points since 2000.[58]

Under Dr. Fauci’s leadership, the allergic, autoimmune, and chronic illnesses which Congress specifically charged NIAID to investigate and prevent, have mushroomed to afflict 54 percent of children, up from 12.8 percent when he took over NIAID in 1984.[59]
 Dr. Fauci has offered no explanation as to why allergic diseases like asthma, eczema, food allergies, allergic rhinitis, and anaphylaxis suddenly exploded beginning in 1989, five years after he came to power. On its website, NIAID boasts that autoimmune disease is one of the agency’s top priorities. Some 80 autoimmune diseases, including juvenile diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, Graves’ disease, and Crohn’s disease, which were practically unknown prior to 1984, suddenly became epidemic under his watch.[60]
[61]
[62]
 Autism, which many scientists now consider an autoimmune disease,[63][64]
[65] exploded from between 2/10,000 and 4/10,000 Americans[66]
 when Tony Fauci joined NIAID, to one in thirty-four today. Neurological diseases like ADD/ADHD, speech and sleep disorders, narcolepsy, facial tics, and Tourette’s syndrome have become commonplace in American children.[67]
 The human, health, and economic costs of chronic disease dwarf the costs of all infectious diseases in the United States. By this decade’s end, obesity, diabetes, and pre-diabetes are on track to debilitate 85 percent of America’s citizens.[68] America is among the ten most overweight countries on Earth. The health impacts of these epidemics—which fall mainly on the young—eclipse even the most exaggerated health impacts of COVID-19.

What is causing this cataclysm? Since genes don’t cause epidemics, it must be environmental toxins. Many of these illnesses became epidemic in the late 1980s, after vaccine manufacturers were granted government protection from liability, and consequently accelerated their introduction of new vaccines.[69]
 The manufacturer’s inserts of the 69 vaccine doses list each of the now-common illnesses—some 170 in total—as vaccine side effects.[70] So vaccines are a potential culprit, but not the only one. Other possible perpetrators—or accomplices—that fit the applicable criterion—a sudden epidemic across all demographics beginning in 1989—are corn syrup, PFOA flame retardants, processed foods, cell phones and EMF radiation, chlorpyrifos, ultrasound, and neonicotinoid pesticides.

The list is finite, and it would be a simple thing to design studies that give us these answers. Tracing the etiology of these diseases through epidemiological research, observational and bench studies, and animal research is exactly what Congress charged Dr. Fauci to perform. But Tony Fauci controls the public health bankbook and has shown little interest in funding basic science to answer those questions.

Is this because any serious investigation into the sources of the chronic disease epidemic would certainly implicate the powerful pharmaceutical companies and the chemical, agricultural, and processed food multinationals that Dr. Fauci and his twenty-year business partner, Bill Gates, have devoted their careers to promoting? As we shall see, his capacity to curry favor with these merchants of pills, powders, potions, poisons, pesticides, pollutants, and pricks has been the key to Dr. Fauci’s longevity at HHS.

Is it fair to blame Dr. Fauci for a crisis that, of course, has many authors? Due to his vast budgetary discretion, his unique political access, his power over HHS and its various agencies, his moral authority, his moral flexibility, and his bully pulpit, Tony Fauci has more power than any other individual to direct public energies toward solutions. He has done the opposite. Instead of striving to identify the etiologies of the chronic disease pandemic, we shall see that Dr. Fauci has deliberately and systematically used his staggering power over Federal scientific research, medical schools, medical journals, and the careers of individual scientists, to derail inquiry and obstruct research that might provide the answers.

Dr. Phauci’s Pharmanation

While some Republicans bridled warily at Dr. Fauci’s accumulating power and seemingly arbitrary pronouncements, the alchemies of political tribalism and the relentlessly stoked terror of COVID-19 persuaded spellbound Democrats to close their eyes to the damning evidence that his COVID-19 policies were a catastrophic and dangerous failure.

As an advocate for public health, robust science, and independent regulatory agencies—free from corruption and financial entanglements with Pharma—I have battled Dr. Fauci for many years. I know him personally, and my impression of him is very different from my fellow Democrats, who first encountered him as the polished, humble, earnest, endearing, and long-suffering star of the televised White House COVID press conferences. Dr. Fauci played a historic role as the leading architect of “agency capture”—the corporate seizure of America’s public health agencies by the pharmaceutical industry.Subscribe to New Columns

Lamentably, Dr. Fauci’s failure to achieve public health goals during the COVID pandemic are not anomalous errors, but consistent with a recurrent pattern of sacrificing public health and safety on the altar of pharmaceutical profits and self-interest. He consistently priortized pharmaceutical industry profits over public health. Readers of these pages will learn how in exalting patented medicine Dr. Fauci has, throughout his long career, routinely falsified science, deceived the public and physicians, and lied about safety and efficacy. Dr. Fauci’s malefactions detailed in this volume include his crimes against the hundreds of Black and Hispanic orphan and foster children whom he subjected to cruel and deadly medical experiments and his role, with Bill Gates, in transforming hundreds of thousands of Africans into lab rats for low-cost clinical trials of dangerous experimental drugs that, once approved, remain financially out of reach for most Africans. You will learn how Dr. Fauci and Mr. Gates have turned the African continent into a dumping ground for expired, dangerous, and ineffective drugs, many of them discontinued for safety reasons in the US and Europe.

You will read how Dr. Fauci’s strange fascination with, and generous investments in, so-called “gain of function” experiments to engineer pandemic superbugs, give rise to the ironic possibility that Dr. Fauci may have played a role in triggering the global contagion that two US presidents entrusted him to manage. You will also read about his two-decade strategy of promoting false pandemics as a scheme for promoting novel vaccines, drugs and Pharma profits. You will learn of his actions to conceal widespread contamination in blood and vaccines, his destructive vendettas against scientists who challenge the Pharma paradigm, his deliberate sabotaging of patent-expired remedies against infectious diseases, from HIV to COVID-19, to grease the skids for less effective, but more profitable, remedies. You will learn of the grotesque body counts that have accumulated in the wake of his cold-blooded focus on industry profits over public health. All his strategies during COVID—falsifying science to bring dangerous and ineffective drugs to market, suppressing and sabotaging competitive products that have lower profit margins even if the cost is prolonging pandemics and losing thousands of lives—all of these share a common purpose: the myopic devotion to Pharma. This book will show you that Tony Fauci does not do public health; he is a businessman, who has used his office to enrich his pharmaceutical partners and expand the reach of influence that has made him the most powerful—and despotic—doctor in human history. For some readers, reaching that conclusion will require crossing some new bridges; many readers, however, intuitively know the real Anthony Fauci, and need only to see the facts illuminated and organized.

I wrote this book so that Americans—both Democrat and Republican—can understand Dr. Fauci’s pernicious role in allowing pharmaceutical companies to dominate our government and subvert our democracy, and to chronicle the key role Dr. Fauci has played in the current coup d’état against democracy.

For updates, new citations and references, and new information about topics in this chapter:

Endnotes

[1] Google Patents, Assignee: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
https://www.google.com/search?tbo=p&tbm=pts&hl=en&q=vaccine+inassignee:centers+inassignee:for+inassignee:disease+inassignee:control&tbs=,ptss:g&num=100

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President’s Budget FY 2020, 2019 Enacted Column, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/budget/documents/fy2020/fy-2020-detail-table.pdf

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dept. of HHS FY 2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Justification of Estimates for Appropriation Committees- FY 2019 Enacted, 2020, p. 42-43, https://www.cdc.gov/budget/documents/fy2020/fy-2020-cdc-congressional-justification.pdf

[4] Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute, 15 U.S. Code § 3710c—Distribution of royalties received by Federal agencieshttps://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/3710c

[5] FDA, Fact Sheet: FDA at a Glance, FDA (Nov. 18, 2020), https://www.fda.gov/about-fda/fda-basics/ fact-sheet-fda-glance

[6] Anthony S. Fauci, MD, Biography, NIAID https://www.niaid.nih.gov/about/anthony-s-fauci-md-bio

[7] Adam Andrezejewski, “Dr. Anthony Fauci: The Highest Paid Employee in the Entire U.S. Federal Government,” FORBES (Jan. 25, 2021),
https://www.forbes.com/sites/ adamandrzejewski/2021/01/25/dr-anthony-fauci-the-highest-paid-employee-in-the-entire-us-federalgovernment/?sh=5ed2512386f0

[8] Saturday Night Live, “Dr. Anthony Fauci Cold Open—SNL, YOUTUBE” (Apr. 25, 2020), https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=uW56CL0pk0g

[9] Zack Budryk, “AIDS activists recruit Barbra Streisand for surprise Fauci birthday party on Zoom,” THE HILL (Dec. 24, 2020, 5:36 PM),
https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/531636-aids-activistsrecruit-barbra-streisand-for-surprise-zoom-birthday-party

[10] Michael Specter, “How Anthony Fauci Became America’s Doctor,” The New Yorker (Apr. 10, 2020),
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/04/20/how-anthony-fauci-became-americas-doctor

[11] Peter Sullivan, “Fauci: Attacks on me are really also ‘attacks on science,’” The Hill (Jun. 9, 2021),
https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/557602-fauci-attacks-on-me-are-really-also-attacks-on-science

[12] Donald G. McNeil Jr., “How Much Herd Immunity Is Enough?” New York Times (Dec. 24, 2020, updated Apr. 2, 2021),
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/24/health/herd-immunity-covidcoronavirus.html

[13] Tiana Lowe, “Fauci lies about lying about the efficacy of masks,” MSN (Jun. 21, 2021),
https://www. msn.com/en-us/health/medical/fauci-lies-about-lying-about-the-efficacy-of-masks/ar-AALhCrp

[14] Peter Hotez, “Mounting antiscience aggression in the United States,” PLOS BIOLOGY (Jul. 28, 2021),
https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3001369

[15] Peter Hotez, “Will an American-Led Anti-Vaccine Movement Subvert Global Health?” Scientific American (Mar. 3, 2017),
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/will-an-american-led-antivaccine-movement-subvert-global-health/

[16] National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Health Awards by Location and Organization, (2021),
https://childrenshealthdefense.org/citation/niaid-grants-to-baylor-by-year-since-1993/

[17] Philanthropy News Digest, “Sabin Institute Receives $12 Million From Gates Foundation to Develop Hookworm Vaccine” (Jul 1, 2011),
https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/sabin-institute-receives12-million-from-gates-foundation-to-develop-hookworm-vaccine

[18] Vipul Naik, “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donations made to Baylor College of Medicine,”
https://donations.vipulnaik.com/donorDonee.php?donor=Bill+and+Melinda+Gates+Foundation&do nee=Baylor+College+of+Medicine

[19] Rebecca G. Baker, “Bill Gates Asks NIH Scientists for Help in Saving Lives And Explains Why the Future Depends on Biomedical Innovation,” THE NIH CATALYST (Jan-Feb, 2014), https://irp.nih.gov/catalyst/v22i1/bill-gates-asks-nih-scientists-for-help-in-saving-lives

[20] Statista, Coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths worldwide per one million population as of September 30, 2021, by country (Oct. 6, 2021), https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104709/coronavirus-deathsworldwide-per-million-inhabitants/

[21] Reported Cases and Deaths by Country or Territory, WORLDOMETER (Oct. 4, 2021), https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

[22] S H Woolf, et al, “Effect of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020 on life expectancy across populations in the USA and other high income countries: simulations of provisional mortality data,” BMJ 2021;373:n1343 (June 24, 2021), https://www.bmj.com/content/373/bmj.n1343

[23] Jemima Kelly, “Covid kills, but do we overestimate the risk?” Financial Times (Nov. 20, 2020), https://www.ft.com/content/879f2a2b-e366-47ac-b67a-8d1326d40b5e

[24] S H Woolf et al, “Effect of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020 on life expectancy across populations in the USA and other high income countries: simulations of provisional mortality data,” BMJ 2021;373:n1343 (June 24, 2021) https://www.bmj.com/content/373/bmj.n1343

[25] Kaitlin Sullivan, “U.S. Life Expectancy Decreased by an ‘alarming’ amount during pandemic,” NBC NEWS ( Jun. 23, 2021),
https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/u-s-life-expectancydecreased-alarming-amount-during-pandemic-n1272206

[26] Ibid.

[27] Alex Gutentag, “The War on Reality,” TABLET MAGAZINE (June 28, 2021), https://www. tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/the-war-on-reality-gutentag

[28] Lori Hinnant and Sam Mednick, “Virus-linked hunger tied to 10,000 child deaths each month,” AP (Jul. 27, 2020),
https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-africa-ap-top-news-understanding-theoutbreak-hunger-5cbee9693c52728a3808f4e7b4965cbd

[29] BBC News, “Covid-19 disruptions killed 228,000 children in South Asia, says UN report, BBC (Mar. 17, 2021), https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-56425115

[30] Megan Henney, “COVID’s economic fallout could elevate US mortality rate for years, study shows,” FOX BUSINESS (Jan. 5, 2021),
https://www.foxbusiness.com/economy/economic-fallout-fromcoronavirus-pandemic-could-elevate-us-mortality-rate-for-years

[31] Francesco Bianchi, Giada Bianchi, and Dongho Song, “The Long-term Impact Of The Covid-19 Unemployment Shock On Life Expectancy And Mortality Rates,” National Bureau of Economic Research (Dec. 2020, rev. Sep. 2021), https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w28304/w28304.pdf

[32] Ohio State University, “A third of teens, young adults reported worsening mental health during pandemic,” OSU Press Release (Jul 12, 2021),
https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/545757

[33] CDC, Emergency Department Visits for Suspected Suicide Attempts Among Persons Aged 12–25 Years Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic—United States, January 2019–May 2021, (Jun. 18, 2021), https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7024e1.htm

[34] Sean CL Deoni et al, Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Early Child Cognitive Development: Initial Findings in a Longitudinal Observational Study of Child Health, medRxiv 2021.08.10.21261846; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.08.10.21261846

[35] Bill Chappell, Drug Overdoses Killed A Record Number Of Americans In 2020, Jumping By Nearly 30%, NPR (Jul. 14, 2021),
https://www.npr.org/2021/07/14/1016029270/drug-overdoses-killed-arecord-number-of-americans-in-2020-jumping-by-nearly-30

[36] CDC Health Alert Network, Increase in Fatal Drug Overdoses Across the United States Driven by Synthetic Opioids Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic, CDC (Dec. 20, 2020), https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/2020/han00438.asp

[37] Andrea Petersen, Amid Pandemic, More U.S. Adults Say They Considered Suicide, (Aug. 13, 2020 7:42 pm),
https://www.wsj.com/articles/amid-pandemic-more-u-s-adults-say-they-consideredsuicide-11597362131

[38] Rebecca T. Leeb et al, Mental Health–Related Emergency Department Visits Among Children Aged <18 Years During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, January 1–October 17, 2020, CDC (Nov. 13, 2020), https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6945a3.htm

[39] Alex Gutentag, The War on Reality, TABLET MAGAZINE (June 28, 2021), https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/the-war-on-reality-gutentag

[40] Id.

[41] Amarica Rafanelli, Growing Up in a Pandemic: How Covid is Affecting Children’s Development, DIRECT RELIEF (Jan. 19, 2021, 10:41 AM),
https://www.directrelief.org/2021/01/growing-up-inthe-midst-of-a-pandemic-how-covid-is-affecting-childrens-development/

[42] James Freeman, The Limits of Anthony Fauci’s Expertise, WALL STREET JOURNAL (May 13, 2020 1:52 pm) https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-limits-of-anthony-faucis-expertise-11589392347

[43] Nigel Chiwaya & Jiachuan Wu, Unemployment claims by state: See how COVID-19 has destroyed the job market, NBC NEWS (Apr. 14, 2020, updated Aug.27, 2020), https://www.nbcnews.com/ business/economy/unemployment-claims-state-see-how-covid-19-has-destroyed-job-n1183686Subscribe to New Columns

[44] Anne Sraders & Lance Lambert, Nearly 100,000 establishments that temporarily shut down due to the pandemic are now out of business, FORTUNE (Sep. 28, 2020), https://fortune.com/2020/09/28/ covid-buisnesses-shut-down-closed/

[45] Deficit Tracker, BIPARTISAN POLICY (Sept. 20, 2021), https://bipartisanpolicy.org/report/deficittracker/

[46] Viral Inequity: Billionaires Gained $3.9tn, Workers Lost $3.7tn in 2020, TRT WORLD (Jan. 28, 2021),
https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/viral-inequality-billionaires-gained-3-9tn-workers-lost-37tn-in-2020-43674

[47] Chase Peterson-Withorn, Nearly 500 People Became Billionaires During The Pandemic Year, FORBES (Apr. 6, 2021),
https://www.forbes.com/sites/kerryadolan/2021/04/06/forbes-35th-annual-worldsbillionaires-list-facts-and-figures-2021/?sh=4c7b81775e58

[48] Heather Long, Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer, WASHINGTON POST (Dec. 16, 2020),
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/16/poverty-rising/

[49] Jared Spataro, 2 Years of Digital Transformation in 2 Months, MICROSOFT (Apr. 30, 2020),
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2020/04/30/2-years-digital-transformation-2months/

[50] Id.

[51] Oracle Cloud Manages COVID-19 Vaccination Program in the United States, ORACLE PRESS RELEASE (Dec. 15, 2020),
https://www.oracle.com/news/announcement/oracle-cloud-managescovid-19-vaccination-program-121520.html

[52] Chase Petersen-Withorn, How Much Money America’s Billionaires Have Made During The Covid-19 Pandemic, FORBES (Apr. 30, 2021),
https://www.forbes.com/sites/chasewithorn/2021/04/30/ american-billionaires-have-gotten-12-trillion-richer-during-the-pandemic/?sh=461b1067f557

[53] Samuel Stebbins and Grant Suneson, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk among US billionaires getting richer during coronavirus pandemic, USA TODAY, (Dec 1, 2020).
https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/12/01/american-billionaires-that-got-richer-during-covid/43205617/

[54] Sue Halpern, The Terrifying Potential of the 5G Network, THE NEW YORKER (Apr. 26, 2019),
https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-communications/the-terrifying-potential-of-the-5gnetwork

[55] Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule for ages 18 years or younger, United States, 2021, CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/child-adolescent.html

[56] Joseph Guzman, Stunning new report ranks US dead last in health care among richest countries-despite spending the most, THE HILL (Aug. 6, 2021),
https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/longevity/566715-stunning-new-report-ranks-us-dead-last-in-healthcare

[57] Kaitlin Sullivan, U.S. Life Expectancy Decreased by an ‘alarming’ amount during pandemic, NBC NEWS ( Jun. 23, 2021),
ttps://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/u-s-life-expectancydecreased-alarming-amount-during-pandemic-n1272206

[58] Dr. Robert Gorter, Dr. Joseph Mercola, et al., “Why are IQ scores declining over the previous 20 years?,” The Gorter Model, (Jul. 1, 2018),
http://www.gorter-model.org/iq-scores-declining-previous20-years/

[59] Could Goldman Sachs Report Be Exposing Pharma’s Real End Game of Drug Dependency vs. Curing Disease, CHD (Apr. 18, 2018),
https://childrenshealthdefense.org/news/could-goldman-sachs-reportbe-exposing-pharmas-real-end-game-of-drug-dependency-vs-curing-disease/

[60] Lana Andelane, Autism may be an autoimmune disorder – study, NEWSHUB, )Oct 20, 2019).
https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/lifestyle/2019/10/autism-may-be-an-autoimmune-disorder-study.html

[61] Children’s Health Defense, Campaign to Restore Child Health, CHILDREN’S HEALTH DEFENSE, (2018).
https://childrenshealthdefense.org/campaign-restore-child-health/

[62] Gianna Melillo, Study Highlights Prevalence of Comorbid Autoimmune Diseases, T1D in Pediatric Populations, AJMC, (Sep 9, 2020).
https://www.ajmc.com/view/study-highlights-prevalence-ofcomorbid-autoimmune-diseases-t1d-in-pediatric-populations

[63] J.B. HANDLEY, HOW TO END THE AUTISM EPIDEMIC, (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018).

[64] Elizabeth Edmiston, et al, Autoimmunity, Autoantibodies, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, BIOLOGICAL PSYCHIATRY, (Mar 1, 2017).
https://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/ S0006-3223(16)32739-1/fulltext

[65] Heather K. Hughes et al, Immune Dysfunction and Autoimmunity as Pathological Mechanisms in Autism Spectrum Disorders, FRONTIERS IN CELLULAR NEUROSCIENCE, (Nov 13, 2018). https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fncel.2018.00405/full

[66] THOMAS F. BOAT & JOE T. WU, ED., MENTAL DISORDERS AND DISABILITIES AMONG LOW-INCOME CHILDREN, 241 National Academies Press, (Oct. 28, 2015),
https://&nbsp;www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK332896/

[67] Elizabeth Mumper, MD, Increasing Rates of Childhood Neurological Illness, THE INSTITUTE FOR FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE, (2017).
https://www.ifm.org/news-insights/increasing-rateschildhood-neurological-illness/

[68] Adela Hruby and Frank B. Hu, The Epidemiology of Obesity: A Big Picture, PHARMACOECONOMICS, (Jul 1, 2016). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC4859313/

[69] Michael E. McDonald and John F. Paul, Timing of Increased Autistic Disorder Cumulative Incidence, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, (Feb 16, 2010).
https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es902057k

[70] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Table 1. Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule for ages 18 years or younger, United States, 2021, (2021), https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/child/0-18yrs-child-combined-schedule.pdf

US Movie Labor Union – “We Need to Take Back Our Union”: An IATSE Worker on Organizing for Change

A retired member of IATSE Local 80 describes the transformative process of organizing for union democracy in the wake of a disappointing contract fight.Left VoiceNovember 23, 2021

After a long negotiation process and an overwhelmingly positive strike authorization vote, the 13 West Coast Locals of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) voted to ratify a contract that many rank-and-file members found disappointing and insufficient. The tentative agreement, which failed to provide more than ten hours of turnaround time between shifts, reasonable breaks, or future funding for workers’ pensions, was turned down by a popular vote, but was still approved through IATSE’s electoral college-style ratification process. In an interview with Left Voice, Cory, a semi-retired grip and member of IATSE Local 80, describes the transformative process of organizing inter-local town halls with other rank-and-file IATSE workers, and beginning the process of organizing for union democracy. 

***

I’m mostly retired from the industry where I worked for 17 years. I did commercials, I did movies, I did TV, I did every type of classification. I worked on the gang, which is like being the grunts of the whole industry. I worked on construction, I worked on set, I worked in rigging. Then I got a neck injury. Kaiser called me two days after my MRI and said, “Dude, you need to have emergency surgery, you’re going to be paralyzed.” And it was by the grace of God that the injury didn’t actually cut my spinal cord. 

It was an injury caused by time and pressure. I’m a small guy, five-foot-eight, so doing the hard manual labor of rigging without rest and constantly working through injuries just broke my body. I had a huge neck surgery that left me where I couldn’t lift more than 50 pounds of weight. I can never grip again, I can never go snowboarding again, I can’t give my kids a piggyback ride. I can’t even rough-house with my kids again without risking becoming paralyzed. During my recovery from the surgery, I couldn’t get enough hours to keep my insurance and I couldn’t make a paycheck. So I said, OK, I have to go back to real estate, which I haven’t done since I was 21.

This contract ratification was definitely a gut punch. We knew we had an uphill battle, but we really thought that we were going to turn down the first tentative agreement. It’s just that this was the first proposed contract, so we should’ve sent it back and said, “Hey, let’s keep going. Contracts get voted down all the time.” We could have done better than that proposal. And we just saw, in the John Deere strike, where workers voted down their first contract and got a better one. Anyone that knows anything about negotiations knows that no one ever proposes their best contract first.

From the beginning of the negotiating process, our business representatives (BAs) weren’t listening to us. I can only speak for my Local, but we’ve never even had an outreach committee. We’ve never had a committee that goes up to the members before a contract fight and says, “Hey, what do you think’s important out there? What are the grievances? What are your core issues? What are the abuses you’re putting up with?” We finally got an outreach committee, two years ago. They started working on this process, collecting data, but then COVID hit, which hindered them a little bit. And when they shared the data they collected, our BA said, sorry, we’re not going to listen to you this time, but we’ll listen to you next time. 
Then when negotiations picked up last spring and summer, the BAs started sending us memos about how hard they were fighting for us. One of them was dated October 13th, and it basically said, “the union will continue bargaining with the producers this week in the hopes of reaching an agreement that addresses core issues such as reasonable rest periods, meal breaks, and living wages. And we can’t do this without your strike authorization vote. We need you guys to support this.”

Then the tentative agreement came out, and it didn’t address any of the things they told us they were fighting for. And what we got was propaganda from our BAs and our IATSE leadership to vote yes on ratifying it. We constantly got text messages and emails saying something like, “You have to vote yes to be in solidarity with your brothers and sisters. If you vote no, we’re going to go into immediate strike. And last time we had a strike, people killed themselves. Do you want their deaths on your hands if you vote? No, we lose everything. We’re going to get the worst contract ever. So you better vote yes because this is the best contract you’re ever going to see.“ 

So we said, “Hey, guys, this isn’t good enough. This is not what we wanted.” And they kept playing us off of each other, saying, “maybe you guys don’t want this, but those other locals, they want this, so you’re going to be fighting with them if you turn this down. There’s no point in fighting this.” Or, “You know what? No one wants the same thing, guys. We’d end up with hundreds of demands and we’re not going to know how to stay focused.”

So some of us members hosted our own inter-local town halls, and invited everyone. We knew other people in other Locals wanted to vote no, because loads of people were talking about it on Facebook. So we wanted to see if we all actually wanted different things, like the BAs were telling us. Well, when we did the inter-local town halls, what we realized was there are only 12 basic core issues and 12 demands that could cover everyone’s complaints. We learned we have a lot in common, actually. And we learned a lot more about each other. 

For instance, there’s a position called on-call, for editors. And I used to think, oh, that’s a sweet position, you’re guaranteed to get paid ten hours. Whether you work two hours or eight hours or ten hours, you’re going to be paid for ten. And we were told by IATSE leadership that no one’s ever going to want to get rid of on-call positions, so the contract includes them.

But then some people who have those positions came to our town hall and said, ”Please, guys, if we can eliminate this, we would love to, because what actually happens is we work 12, 14, 16 hours a day. Not only are we not paid for those hours we’re working, those days happen way more than the days that we only work a couple of hours. Our pensions are not put in for more than ten hours, so we’re only getting a little money towards the pensions. And what happens is they abuse us, so they’ll call us at 3:00 in the morning and go, ‘Hey, dude, you need to get up. We’re changing this. You need to edit this real, real quick.’” And they would get no turnaround time between shifts. So they end up working and getting abused.

So for a grip like me, to whom it doesn’t matter if there’s on-call positions or not, after hearing my brothers and sisters talk about their conditions, I said, you know what? I could never vote yes on another contract with on-call. I don’t fucking work for free. I don’t want anyone to work for free, and definitely not a union sibling.

Never, since I’ve been in IATSE, have we had inter-local town halls. Once we held them and listened to our union siblings, we started to realize that it appears the IATSE leadership wants us divided. They want us not to communicate with each other. 

We need to take back our union. A few other workers and I are going to a few government agencies with our complaints about the contents of this contract that we think might be illegal, like not protecting lunch breaks and making people work for hours and hours without rest, and we’re going to file claims to see if there’s something that can be done. We’re also starting to realize that all our union elections are coming up. People are now realizing how important it is to have a BA that really has the member’s best interests at heart. In some of our Locals, our BAs have never even worked a day on set, ever. Some of them don’t even come from our field. Of course, they can’t negotiate for you because they’ve never been on set for 17 hours a day, so they don’t even know what you’re going through. Our Local’s BA has been a BA since 1996, so he’s been in power for twenty six years. And you’re thinking like, wait a second, you’re supposed to be a business representative. You’re making more money than we’re all making and you’re sending guys out there for seventeen dollars an hour and telling them not to complain, and that they should be lucky to have a job. 

We’re going to have another inter-local town hall meeting and say, hey, guys, this is the information we found out about our contract and the upcoming elections, and now it’s going to be up to us. Do we want to file multiple claims to these government agencies to have them come in and say, “is this legal”? Is it legal not to give us lunch breaks? Is it legal to make us work 17 hours a day with eight-hour, ten-hour turnarounds where people are dying at the wheel on the way home? Is it legal to make us work on studio lots that aren’t OSHA safe? And then we’re also going to talk about, how do we take back our unions? How do we change our constitutional bylaws? How do we make sure that we can keep our elected officials in check? And how do we make sure all of our BAs, our elected officials, aren’t cronies of the IATSE President? Do we need to have some kind of term limits? Like, “Hey, you’re a great BA, you can be a BA’s assistant, but you can’t stay in power for twenty six years as the BA, no matter how good you are, because that will lead to corruption.”

It’s those kinds of things that we’re going to change. Over the next three to six months, we’re going to be pretty proud to be a part of this union, because change is going to happen and there’s no way to stop it.

……………..

Source

Don’t Mourn … Organize! Remembering Joe Hill and His Music – Labor Union Militant

Today marks the day 106 years ago that Joe Hill was executed by the state of Utah. An immigrant, worker, Wobbly, and songwriter, we celebrate his legacy with some of his best songs. His work lives on today, still performed widely with the same witty, fierce lyrics that rail against the capitalist system.

Kimberly Ann

November 19, 2021

On November 19, 1915, the state of Utah executed Joe Hill on a trumped-up murder charge. A Swedish immigrant, born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund and also known as Joseph Hillström, he came to the United States and joined the large swath of precarious workers in dangerous, low-paying jobs. Around 1910, he joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), also known as the Wobblies, and soon became renowned for his songwriting abilities. Utilizing well-known melodies, mostly from hymns, he wrote sharply funny lyrics that mock the capitalist system, aimed at rallying the working class to rise up. His fame soon got the better of him and he was framed for two murders at a Salt Lake City grocery store.

Why did the state murder Joe Hill? In every town the itinerant laborer and singer visited, he would sing his songs on the street and “rouse the rabble.” The capitalists were determined to put an end to that. Even an international campaign to overturn his conviction was unsuccessful.

Before his execution, he sent a telegraph to IWW “Big Bill” Haywood that read: “Goodbye Bill. I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize … Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don’t want to be found dead in Utah.” 

His songs live on, and are oft-quoted and performed by many folksingers to this day. The IWW’s infamous Little Red Songbook is filled with his lyrics and has had a lasting effect on socialist art. Here are four of his tunes to listen to on the anniversary of his death, and one famous song that celebrates the man himself. 

“The Preacher and the Slave”

The Preacher and The Slave – Utah Philips

Joe Hill coined the term “pie in the sky” with this song. A parody of the famous hymn “In the Sweet Bye and Bye,” his lyrics sharply criticize the weaponization of religion to placate the working class in its exploitative labor in life by promising salvation after death. 

“You will eat (you will eat) by and by

In that glorious land in the sky (way up high)

Work and pray, live on hay

You’ll get pie in the sky when you die 

(That’s a lie!)” 

“Casey Jones—the Union Scab”

Casey Jones – Pete Seeger

Hill wrote this song shortly after the first day of a nationwide walkout of railway employees during the Illinois Central shopmen’s strike of 1911. An anti-scab anthem, it’s a good reminder that all scabs go to hell. 

Casey Jones a-went to Hell a-flyin’

“Casey Jones,” the Devil said, “Oh, fine:

Casey Jones, get busy shovelin’ sulfur;

It’s what you get for scabbin’ on the S.P. Line.”

“The Rebel Girl”

The Rebel Girl – Hazel Dickens

One of his most earnest songs, Hill wrote this for IWW comrade Elizabeth Gurley Flynn as an ode to and celebration of working-class womenfor their strength, courage, and fearless fight against the capitalists. 

Yes, her hands may be hardened from labor

And her dress may not be very fine

But a heart in her bosom is beating

That is true to her class and her kind.

“There is Power In a Union”

There is Power in A Union – Utah Phillips

Sung to the tune of “There is Power in the Blood (of the Lamb),” Hill subverted the song to instead relish in the power of the working class coming together. Oftentimes, the IWW would go to worksites to organize laborers, but were competing for the attention from preachers and church folk. Utilizing these hymns was a way to get noticed, but with lyrics holding up the fight against capitalism. 

There is pow’r there is pow’r in a band of workingmen,

When they stand hand in hand,

That’s a pow’r, that’s a pow’r

That must rule in every land—

One Industrial Union Grand

“Joe Hill”

Joe Hill – Joan Baez

Perhaps better known as “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night,” this song was written after Hill’s execution to honor him and his unyielding commitment to overturning capitalism and freeing the working class from wage slavery. With lyrics by Alfred Hayes and music by Earl Robinson, it speaks poetically of Hill’s legacy living on in every struggle against the capitalist bosses. It was made most famous in a performance by folk singer Joan Baez at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.  

Joe Hill ain’t dead, he says to me,

Joe Hill ain’t never died.

Where working men are out on strike,

Joe Hill is at their side.

Joe Hill is at their side.

……………

Source

US: Democratic Party and Capitalism’s Economic Contradictions (Left Voice) 27 Nov 2021

The Democratic Party is promising that its spending packages will rejuvenate the economy. And that has helped the party bewitch the Left and dampen mass struggle in the United States. But the economic situation today — riven by fundamental, explosive contradictions — shows that those promises are built on sand, and that we need to reject the Democrats and organize for an independent, revolutionary struggle.

by Jason Koslowski

Joe Biden in the foreground in black and white, red and blue arrows in the background

The Democratic Party has once again bewitched much of the U.S. Left.

A little over a year after last summer’s social protest movement, the biggest in U.S. history, the masses have largely left the streets. The energy of that struggle was funneled into electing a Democrat president. The DSA has largely given up on any real break from the Democratic Party.

One way the Democrats accomplished this was by promising major spending programs — concessions to working-class and oppressed people on healthcare, education, and childcare, and new investments in the country’s bridges and roads.

This is perfectly reflected in Dan Kotz’s argument in the DSA journal Catalyst. Kotz argues that Biden could start a fundamental shift toward a “green social democracy” — meaning the Left should stand shoulder to shoulder with the Democrats to help make that happen. In Jacobin, others grumble that Biden’s economic policies have been too small. But they still hope that the Democrats could be pushed so far left that they’d institute new, lasting policies and programs on the way to a robust social democracy.

Even if Biden’s spending packages weren’t being massively cut down, the Democrats’ spending plans would face radical economic limits. The Democrats’ plans — even the ones coming from the “progressives” like Bernie Sanders and others — are almost certainly far too weak to overcome those limits.

The solution is not allying with the Democrats. It’s building the power of working and oppressed people to overthrow the ruling class and centralize and rationalize production under worker control. That will take independent, revolutionary organizing of the working class and oppressed people — nothing less.

What Is “Bidenomics”?

For months, capitalist news outlets, and the two capitalist parties, have been debating “Bidenomics.” The term is a loose one, but it usually means the set of economic policies and proposals from the Biden administration — tools to help shore up the U.S. system of exploitation.

Quick on the heels of Trump’s stimulus, Biden championed his own $1.9 trillion stimulus package — the “American Rescue Plan.” Congress approved that plan in March. It extended federal unemployment benefits, sent $1,400 direct payments to people as a means of weathering the pandemic, and expanded the child tax credit, among other things. Then in November of this year, Congress approved a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package aiming to repair crumbling roads and bridges; improve airports and railways; establish national internet access; and help build a national network of charging stations for electric vehicles.

The third package is still hung up in Congress. In early talks it added up to $3.5 trillion, to support what Biden calls “human infrastructure”: funding universal pre-K, childcare for children under six, paid family leave, and more. Now it’s been slashed in half but still hasn’t been approved by Congress.

Why are the Democrats offering this kind of spending in the first place, after decades of neoliberalism and austerity?

“Bidenomics” is born of ruling-class fear. That fear comes from the economic crisis last year, when the economy was shut down during the pandemic. And it was intensified by the huge swell of mass struggle in the anti-cop uprising, and then the Far Right’s storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The spending packages — with their limited concessions to working-class and oppressed people — aim to help shore up the ruling class’s rule at home. But inseparable from this is a struggle to shore up the U.S. ruling class’s imperialist power.

The position of the U.S. ruling class in the world is slipping. The decline of its international power was on full display in the catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan — yet another lost war. In other words, the U.S. finds itself in increasing danger of being crowded out of zones of investment and profit-making across the globe. Trying to jump-start the U.S. economy would help the U.S. ruling class to better compete with China. In the words of Biden himself, either the U.S. increases its spending on infrastructure or China will “eat our lunch.”

Above all, the spending packages aim to address these issues through raising the productivity of U.S. capitalism. A surge in productivity, Biden’s administration seems to think, would mean more political stability at home. A jump-started economy would lend more credibility to the capitalist system and its institutions as a whole. Taxes on additional profits could make possible more concessions to the workers and oppressed who might otherwise revolt. All this would cut off some of the oxygen to the more radical sectors of the Right (guided by Trump) as well as of the Left. And the hope seems to be that a more rapidly expanding U.S. economy would make U.S. capitalists more competitive on the world stage for profits.

The Democrats and Their Economic Limits

But “Bidenomics” faces major limits. And the limits facing Biden also face the more “ambitious” economic and social ideas from so-called progressive Democrats like Bernie Sanders — meaning they, too, would have a slim chance of success even if they could get passed.

First, even if Biden’s bills had passed as originally promised, their impact would already have been limited. The first infrastructure bill, for example, was always slated to roll out over the course of almost a decade, greatly limiting its economic effect. And a substantial chunk of the package aimed only to keep up existing infrastructure.

This reality is reflected in the mainstream press. The Wall Street Journal predicts a muted impact for Biden’s infrastructure plan. The International Monetary Fund predicts a steep slowdown of GDP growth in coming years, to just 1.7 percent by 2026. In other words, bourgeois economists themselves are saying the U.S. economy will return to its anemic economic growth of the era after the 2008 crisis.

But the Democrats face more fundamental limits, too.

Over the last few decades, bourgeois economics has noted an ongoing, grinding crisis of productivity growth. The latter is important for both individual capitalists and for the capitalist economy as a whole. Increasing productivity means workers can produce more per hour worked — and so, potentially, generate more profit for a company’s bosses. As Kim Moody points out, this is exactly what happened in the wake of World War II: the postwar growth of productivity allowed bosses to offer combative unions and oppressed people concessions as a way of coping with mass struggle.1 On the national scale, growing productivity and greater profits could make it easier for the ruling class to offer concessions to the workers and oppressed people, especially in periods of heightened mass struggle.

The boom years after World War II were driven in important part by a surge in working-class productivity. From 1948 to 1970, output per hour almost tripled.2 But by the 1970s, productivity growth began slowing sharply. The period from 1970 to 1994 saw the growth of labor productivity slow to a factor of 1.54. There was a brief uptick in productivity growth from 1994 to 2004 — not reaching the levels of the post-World War II boom — before grinding to a near halt in the years after 2004.

From 2004 to 2015, productivity basically stopped growing. As Robert Gordon notes, the period after 2004 has had the lowest growth rate of productivity of any time in U.S. history. The U.S. is hardly alone. From 1996 to 2016, the rate of productivity growth in Europe was half that of the United States.3 Erber, Fritsche, and Harms’ study of 25 industrialized countries shows the same trend.

This crisis of productivity can’t be understood apart from an intertwined, structural limit facing the ruling class today: a declining average rate of profit (ARP).

Marx’s Capital shows that all profits come from the exploitation of human labor. But capitalists tend to replace labor with labor-saving machinery and techniques, ramping up productivity in their quest to increase profits. This trend, though, catches on; labor-saving devices and techniques tend to become widespread.

And that leads to a basic tendency in capitalism: a shrinking ratio of profit-producing labor compared to more and more machinery — and so, a shrinking ARP. This is what Marx formulated as the law of the tendential fall of the rate of profit (LTFRP). It’s a “tendency” because it is always combated by strategies from the ruling class. By ramping up the exploitation of workers, for example, bosses try to squeeze more profits from them, like by introducing new forms of technology to make their capitals more productive, etc.

So productivity and profitability are linked in a contradictory relationship. New, more productive technologies can make leaps in profitability possible. But they also tend to decrease average profitability over time. And this is precisely what we have seen in the last few decades: a fall not only in productivity growth but also in the ARP for U.S. capitalism and — with some differences — globally. In 1950 the rate of profit in the U.S. peaked at 23 percent.4 Since then it has been in long-term decline through a series of smaller boom-and-bust cycles. By the 1970s economic growth had slowed substantially, which expressed itself in the U.S. crisis called “stagflation,” or low growth with surging prices.

The U.S. ruling class responded in the 1970s and 1980s with a set of policies — today called neoliberalism — to ramp up its profits: dismantle unions, ramp up worker exploitation, accelerate the outsourcing of labor to cheaper, nonunion workforces in the U.S. South and abroad, and so on. One main element of this ruling-class response was the restoration of capitalism — rushing into the void left by the fall of the USSR in particular. Such restoration opened up new markets for privatization and new, huge segments of the global workforce to be exploited.

And these measures worked — to a degree. Average profitability rose 18 percent during the 1980s and 1990s,5 although the average rate of profit did not reach the levels it had in the boom years after World War II.

In other words, it looks like the neoliberal project has exhausted its ability to respond to the decline of profitability. By the late 1990s the ARP began, once more, to fall.

The lack of profitable targets for investing mean the ruling class artificially inflates its profits through maneuvers like stock buybacks. But more importantly when the ruling class sees few places it can invest for a substantial profit, it turns to financial speculation. These moves all further reduce the productive investments in new technologies. 

The ruling class’s increasing turn to financial speculation lay the groundwork for the 2008 financial crisis. After the bubble of fictitious capital popped in 2008, the U.S. and global capitalism never really recovered. The years that followed have been marked above all by anemic GDP growth and low ARP. It’s this context — grinding, multidecade, fundamental economic limits — that the Democrats mean to change with a few trillion dollars’ worth of spending. The odds are long.

Long Odds

The Democrats are fighting these twin forces: the global crisis of productivity and the anemic GDP growth and profits that capitalists face today. What chances do they have to succeed? And what chance do progressives or socialists have in winning major reforms through the Democrats on that basis?

To answer these questions, we first have to understand what made it possible for the last major upsurge of profits and productivity to happen after World War II.

First, that upsurge resulted from the sheer economic devastation of the Great Depression. Such destruction devalues or destroys capitals altogether, clearing the rubble of less profitable firms and technologies and making it easier for capitalists to invest in new, labor-saving machinery that can ramp up productivity and profitability on the global scale.6

But the U.S. ruling class has been refusing to allow exactly that kind of destruction for fear of the economic chaos it would unleash. In 2008 the government rescued firms that were on the brink of disaster but “too big to fail.” Since then, the Federal Reserve policy has been setting hyperlow interest rates and buying up bonds and securities — pumping money into the economy and ensuring debt-driven growth for financial institutions and corporations. One result has been a sizable number of indebted “zombie” firms that can barely survive — but continuing limping on.

And the economic takeoff during and after World War II was driven by massive, barbaric physical destruction: the savagery of global imperialist war. The literal destruction of lives, infrastructure, and economies across the world opened up a pathway for U.S. economic domination in the decades to come.

More than this, the U.S. war economy called for huge levels of state investment in economic infrastructure to advance its imperialist aims in and after World War. From 1940 to 1945, the amount of additional productive equipment that the government purchased amounted to half of all the stock of equipment that existed in the entire country before 1941.7 That meant that the productive machinery that was being installed in factories was the newest and most productive kind, replacing older, less productive technologies — machinery then privately owned and run for profit. Even the Democrats’ most “ambitious” spending plans look pale in comparison to those levels of destruction and federal spending.

But the problem is not just that the Democrats seem to be spitting in the wind. It’s also — crucially — that “Bidenomics” is facing a conjunction of other volatile contradictions.

For example, the Democrats face the real possibility of another financial crisis. The loose money policies of the Federal Reserve, paired with low profitability, have meant that the ruling class is still turning to the stock market and speculation to pad its profits, driving the potential for another crash. This comes at a time when many corporations have high levels of debt, meaning that a financial crash could have long-lasting and deep economic impacts.

And any economic recovery requires stability in capital’s global supply chains. But as Esteban Mercantante points out, those supply chains have been made increasingly brittle over the last several decades as part of the development of “just in time” production in the 20th century — a key feature of the neoliberal era.

That is now a major liability for contemporary capitalism as it faces violent climate catastrophes, driven by its own destruction of the ecosphere. A single tanker, wedged in a single waterway — the Suez Canal — snarled global supply lines and cost the ruling class $9.6 billion per day. A climate disaster at such “choke points” is hardly unlikely. It would have a far heavier, far longer-lasting toll. And such supply issues would only drive up the already-high rates of inflation.

The threat of debt looms too. Federal debt now far outstrips U.S. GDP, meaning that a sharp increase in interest rates or a major financial disruption could upset the U.S. ability to pay its debtors, potentially leading to further rounds of austerity and further economic turmoil. But perhaps more pressing are the problems of increasing corporate debt, on the one hand, and local and state debt on the other. Unlike the federal government, municipalities and states in the U.S. are forbidden from running a deficit. The collapse of major firms, affecting the income of states, towns, and cities, would make those lower levels of state rule “ground zero” for the implementation of austerity and the fomenting of social unrest.

All of this is to say: the odds are very good that the Democrats can’t overcome these contradictions. We face the real possibility that the U.S. will return to the anemic economic growth of the post-2008 era — all while it sits atop a powder keg of contradictions.

The Answer Is Clear

While the capitalist parties debate “Bidenomics,” capitalism’s contradictions continue to rage. The pandemic is still sweeping the globe. Five million are dead and counting. In the U.S. alone, that number is just over 770,000. Capitalism’s leaders are making sure economies stay open — on the backs of the global working class — so profits can keep flowing. Meanwhile, inflation is spiking, cutting into the ability of workers and oppressed people to buy food and gas. Wages have barely moved, but the ruling class is celebrating a bonanza of profits. And beneath all this, the ecological system is convulsing in catastrophic storms and fires.

Our task today is not to help the Democratic Party try to restore faith in capitalism with half measures that in all probability won’t succeed. It’s to secure the existence and needs of working-class and oppressed people themselves — and the survival of the ecosystem.

Winning those demands calls for fundamentally dismantling the capitalist economy as a whole, away from the ecocidal quest for profit and for satisfying human need. These are the tasks that the capitalist system of private property has so utterly failed at — the system the Democrats want to restore faith in.

And all of this means that the only real, the only practical solution is organizing for the revolution to overthrow the people in charge. And the contradictions racking capitalism are helping generate some of the sparks of revolt needed to overthrow that system. In just the last few years, we have seen some of those sparks in the mass struggle of the 2020 anti-cop uprising in the United States, in the general strike in Malaysia, and in the radical struggle that shook Chile. But only conscious, revolutionary organizing, in revolutionary parties independent of the ruling class, can succeed.

Striking deals with Democrats discredits the Left, wastes our energy, and helps prop up a system that can’t solve the problems we must solve. The obvious solution is organizing for the revolutionary expropriation of the rulers, so workers and oppressed people can rule in their own name.

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Source

St Louis MO: Boeing Workers Protest Compulsory Vaccines – Mandates Won’t Fly (Video) 27 Oct 2021

Mandates Won’t Fly is an organization started in Melbourne, FL by aerospace employees and spouses of aerospace workers in direct response to the unconstitutional mandates that our current administration is trying to force on federal workers and federal government contractors. We believe that everyone should have the right to make their own personal decisions when it comes to their health care and the health care of their families.

Don’t Dream It’s Over – Mp3

We stand with employees in all industries to help organize and unite as a cohesive front to protest these mandates, no matter what company or location.

Beyond protest organization and planning, we are fundraising to seek legal counsel and take court action if needed. We are also working to have reserve funds to help with legal fees for those personally discriminated against in the workplace due to this mandate, being treated differently, or denied exemptions. Our long term goal is to work on federal legislation to ensure this type of federal government over reach never happens again.

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Source

Fauci and the Great AIDS Swindle – RFK jr Book Review – by Laurent Guyenot – 27 Nov 2021

Audio of Article – Mp3


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s new book, The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health is not the book of a politician seeking attention. It is the book of a man determined to stake his own life in the resistance against the unfolding bio-terrorist assault on humankind by governments captive of the pharmaceutical industry. He is calling for mass insurrection, and his last word is: “I’ll see you on the barricades.” The book begins like this:

I wrote this book to help Americans—and citizens across the globe—understand the historical underpinnings of the bewildering cataclysm that began in 2020. In that single annus horribilis, liberal democracy effectively collapsed worldwide. The very governmental health regulators, social media eminences, and media companies that idealistic populations relied upon as champions of freedom, health, democracy, civil rights, and evidence-based public policy seemed to collectively pivot in a lockstep assault against free speech and personal freedoms. Suddenly, those trusted institutions seemed to be acting in concert to generate fear, promote obedience, discourage critical thinking, and herd seven billion people to march to a single tune, culminating in mass public health experiments with a novel, shoddily tested and improperly licensed technology so risky that manufacturers refused to produce it unless every government on Earth shielded them from liability. … Conscientious objectors who resisted these unwanted, experimental, zero-liability medical interventions faced orchestrated gaslighting, marginalization, and scapegoating. American lives and livelihoods were shattered by a bewildering array of draconian diktats imposed without legislative approval or judicial review, risk assessment, or scientific citation. So-called Emergency Orders closed our businesses, schools and churches, made unprecedented intrusions into privacy, and disrupted our most treasured social and family relationships.

Kennedy is not a newcomer to this frightening dystopia. “My 40-year career as an environmental and public health advocate,” he writes, “gave me a unique understanding of the corrupting mechanisms of ‘regulatory capture,’ the process by which the regulator becomes beholden to the industry it’s meant to regulate.” From the time he entered the vaccine debate in 2005, he realized that “the pervasive web of deep financial entanglements between Pharma and the government health agencies had put regulatory capture on steroids.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example, owns 57 vaccine patents and spent $4.9 billion in 2019 buying and distributing vaccines. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives 45 percent of its budget from the pharmaceutical industry. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), with its $42 billion budget, owns hundreds of vaccine patents and often profits from the sale of products it supposedly regulates. High-level officials receive yearly emoluments of up to $150,000 in royalty payments on products that they help develop and then usher through the approval process.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, “America’s reigning health commissar,” stands at the summit of that Leviathan. From 1968, he occupied various posts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a sub-agency of NIH, of which he became director in 1984. With a $417,608 annual salary, he is the highest paid of all federal employees, including the President. “His experiences surviving 50 years as the panjandrum of a key federal bureaucracy, having advised six Presidents, the Pentagon, intelligence agencies, foreign governments, and the WHO, seasoned him exquisitely for a crisis that would allow him to wield power enjoyed by few rulers and no doctor in history.” He has nurtured a complex web of financial entanglements that has transformed the NIH into a subsidiary of Big Pharma. Reaching into the deep pockets of the Clinton and Gates Foundations, he has used his $6 billion annual budget to achieve dominance and control over many agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO). He can make and break careers, enrich or punish university research centers, and dictate the outcome of scientific research across the globe, consistently prioritizing pharmaceutical industry profits over public health.

Kennedy’s book documents Fauci’s “two-decade strategy of promoting false pandemics as a scheme for promoting novel vaccines,” as well as “his actions to conceal widespread contamination in blood and vaccines, his destructive vendettas against scientists who challenge the Pharma paradigm, [and] his deliberate sabotaging of patent-expired remedies against infectious diseases.”

But of course, Kennedy’s book is not about a man: it is about an irremediably corrupt and predatory system created in the U.S. and exported worldwide. Ultimately, however, the system is built and run by humans, and focusing on its most emblematic representative shows its very soul.

Kennedy’s book puts the current crisis in a historical perspective. But it doesn’t tell the story chronologically. It starts with a very long first chapter on the current Covid crisis—a book by itself—, then goes back, from chapter 3, to the 1980s and the search for the AIDS vaccine, the template for today’s pharmaceutical coup. In this review, I will focus on the AIDS episode, because it is the least familiar part of a history covering fifty years, and it helps making sense of what is happening today. It is an incredible story, that I would have had difficulty believing just three years ago, but that our current enslavement now makes utterly credible.

The thirty-year decampment of journalistic scrutiny means that there is still no coherent public narrative chronicling Dr. Fauci’s futile quest for his “inevitable” AIDS vaccine, much less accountability. Industry and government scientists have instead shrouded the scandalous saga in secrecy, subterfuge, and prevarication, obscuring a thousand calamities and a sea of tears deserving its own book. Every meager effort to research the debacle—on Google, PubMed, news sites, and published clinical trial data—yields only shocking new atrocities—a grim, repetitive parade of horribles: heartbreaking tragedies, entrenched institutional arrogance and racism, broken promises, vast expenditures of squandered treasure, and the recurring chicanery of Anthony Fauci, Bob Gallo, and Bill Gates.

Kennedy deserves praise and gratitude for his courage to bring this controversy out into the open, in a clear and well-documented exposé. His book is destined to become a landmark in the struggle for Life and Truth—and in the Kennedy heroic saga. This article reflects only a fraction of what that can be learned from its 480 pages packed with data and references. Since pages numbers in the kindle edition (recommended for its thousand hyperlinks) differ from those in the printing book, I have dispensed with them.

In the Beginning

In the first lines of his 2014 book Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak (documenting an astonishing 1,135 percent higher rate of autism among children who took hepatitis B vaccines), Kennedy prudently claimed to be “pro-vaccine” and to “believe that vaccines have saves the lives of hundreds of millions of humans over the past century.” Kennedy makes no such disclaimer in his new book. Rather, he sides with the critics of the popular dogma that vaccines played the key role in abolishing mortal contagious illnesses in North America and Europe, citing a 2000 study by CDC and Johns Hopkins scientists that concluded: “nearly 90 percent of the decline in infections disease mortality among US children occurred before 1940, when few antibiotics or vaccines were available.” The main causes of the dramatic 74 percent decline in infectious disease mortalities in the first half of the twentieth century were improved nutrition and sanitation.

From Kennedy, The Real Anthony Fauci, 2021

From Kennedy, The Real Anthony Fauci, 2021

This revisionist but objective perspective explains why Fauci and Gates’s obsession with vaccine-preventable diseases has caused negative overall impacts on public health in Africa and Asia, by proportionally reducing assistance streams for nutrition, clean water, transportation, hygiene, and economic development. Gates and Fauci have actually hijacked WHO’s public health agenda away from the projects that are proven to curb infectious diseases, and diverted international aid to wedge open emerging markets for their multinational partners.

To understand their craze for vaccines, Kennedy reminds us of the pioneering influence of the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1911, after the Supreme Court ruled that Standard Oil constituted an “unreasonable monopoly” and splintered it into thirty-four companies, John D. Rockefeller inaugurated what Bill Gates would later call “philanthrocapitalism.” He provided large grants to scientists for synthesizing and patenting chemical versions of the molecules identified in traditional medicine. The Foundation provided almost half of the initial budget for the League of Nations’ Health Organization (LNHO) in 1922, and populated its ranks with its veterans and favorites. It imbued the League with its technocratic philosophy of health, inherited by its successor body, the WHO, in 1948.

The Rockefeller Foundation launched a “public-private partnership” with pharmaceutical companies called the International Health Commission, which first set about inoculating the hapless populations of the colonized tropics with a yellow fever jab. By the time John D. Rockefeller, Jr. disbanded it in 1951, the International Health Commission had spent billions of dollars on tropical disease campaigns in almost 100 countries and colonies. These projects had a hidden agenda, according to a 2017 report, U.S. Philanthrocapitalism and the Global Health Agenda: they allowed the Rockefeller family to open developing world markets for oil, mining, banking and other profitable trades, including pharmaceutical profits that grew tremendously when, in the 1970s:

a wave of new technologies, including PCR and super powerful electron microscopes, had opened windows on teeming new worlds containing millions of species of previously unknown viruses to scientists. … The lure of fame and fortune ignited a chaotic revolution in virology as ambitious young PhDs scrambled to inculpate newly discovered microbes as the cause of old malignancies. … Under this new rubric, every theoretical breakthrough, every find, became potentially the basis for a new generation of drugs.

By the mid-1970s, the CDC was seeking to justify its existence by tracking small outbreaks of rabies. “Drumming up public fear of periodic pandemics was a natural way for NIAID and CDC bureaucrats to keep their agencies relevant. Dr. Fauci’s immediate boss and predecessor as NIAID Director, Richard M. Krause, helped pioneer this new strategy in 1976.” That year was concocted the fake swine flu epidemic. The experimental vaccine was so fraught with problems that the Health and Human Services (HHS) discontinued the jab after vaccinating 49 million Americans. According to news accounts, the incidence of flu was seven times greater among the vaccinated than the unvaccinated. Furthermore, the vaccine caused some 500 cases of the degenerative nerve disease Guillain-Barré Syndrome, 32 deaths, more than 400 paralyzations, and as many as 4,000 other injuries. Injured plaintiffs filed 1,604 lawsuits. By April 1985, the government had paid out $83,233,714 and spent tens of millions of dollars adjudicating and processing those claims.

President Ford was filmed receiving a flu inoculation, October 14, 1976 (Wikipedia)

President Ford was filmed receiving a flu inoculation, October 14, 1976 (Wikipedia)

Another scandal broke in 1983, when a NIH-funded UCLA study found that the DTP vaccine developed by Wyeth—now Pfizer—was killing or causing severe brain injury, including seizures and death, in one in every 300 vaccinated children. While protecting children against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, the DTP vaccine had ruined their immune systems, making them vulnerable to a wide range of deadly other infections.

The resultant lawsuits caused the collapse of insurance markets for vaccines and threatened to bankrupt the industry. Wyeth claimed to be losing $20 in downstream liability for every dollar it earned on vaccine sales, and induced Congress to pass in 1986 the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which shielded vaccine makers from liability. (This incentive for unrestricted greed was strengthened in 2005 when George W. Bush signed into law the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act).

AIDS and AZT

In 1984, when Fauci became director of NIAID, the AIDS crisis was spiraling out of control. That proved “a redemptive juncture for NIAID and the launch pad for Dr. Fauci’s stellar rise.” In an April 1984 press conference, NIH scientist Robert Gallo linked AIDS to the virus that was soon to be named HIV. Dr. Fauci then moved aggressively to claim jurisdiction for his agency over the National Cancer Institute (NCI), another sub-agency of NIH. “As the nation’s newly appointed AIDS czar, Dr. Fauci was now a gatekeeper for almost all AIDS research … parroting NCI’s vows to cure cancer, Dr. Fauci promised Congress that he would quickly produce drugs and vaccines to banish AIDS.”

At the same time, he was deliberately spreading contagion terror, warning in a 1983 fear-mongering article that “the scope of the syndrome may be enormous”, since “routine close contact, as within a family household, can spread the disease”—despite the fact that AIDS was almost exclusive to intravenous drug users and male homosexuals. A year later, Fauci was forced to concede that health officials had never detected a case of the disease spread through “casual contact.” Nevertheless, Dr. Fauci’s systematic response was “to amplify the widespread panic of dreaded pestilence that would naturally magnify his power, elevate his profile, and expand his influence. Amplifying terror of infectious disease was already an ingrained knee-jerk institutional response at NIAID.”

Having seized control over AIDS research, Fauci captured the new flood of congressional AIDS appropriations flowing to NIH through the lobbying of a newly organized gay community. By 1990, NIAID’s annual AIDS budget reached $3 billion. In the ensuing decades, the federal government spent over half a trillion dollars in the quest for an elusive vaccine that never materialized. Dr. Fauci pumped up taxpayers’ money into nearly 100 vaccine candidates, with no other result than “massive transfers of public lucre to Dr. Fauci’s Pharma partners,” and a sea of tears for millions of unfortunate human guinea pigs.

NIAID’s lack of in-house drug development capacity meant that Fauci had to farm out drug research to a network of so-called “principal investigators” (PIs), academic physicians and researchers controlled by pharmaceutical companies and acting as liaisons, recruiters and spokespersons.

PIs are pharmaceutical industry surrogates who play key roles promoting the pharmaceutical paradigm and functioning as high priests of all its orthodoxies, which they proselytize with missionary zeal. They use their seats on medical boards and chairmanships of university departments to propagate dogma and root out heresy. … They are the credentialed and trusted medical experts who prognosticate on television networks—now helplessly reliant on pharmaceutical ad revenue—to push out Pharma content.

Dr. Fauci’s choice to transfer virtually all of NIAID’s budget to pharmaceutical PIs for drug development was an abdication of the agency’s duty to find the source and eliminate the explosive epidemics of allergic and autoimmune disease that began under his watch around 1989. … NIAID money effectively became a giant subsidy to the blossoming pharmaceutical industry to incubate a pipeline of profitable new drugs targeted to treat the symptoms of those very diseases.

In the late 80s and early 90s, PIs received every year between 4 and 5 billions of dollars from NIH’s budget. But “legalized bribes” from drug companies and royalty payments from drug products often dwarfed their government funding. Celia Farber’s 2006 Harper’s article, “Out of Control: AIDS and the Destruction of Medical Science,” laid bare the culture of squalor, corruption, and vendetta at Fauci’s AIDS Branch, the Division of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (DAIDS).

Despite his miserable track record at reducing illness over the previous decade, Fauci persuaded President Bill Clinton, in May 1997, to set a new national goal for science. In a speech delivered at Morgan State University, Clinton—perhaps not without cryptic irony— imitated Kennedy’s May 25, 1961 moonshot promise, saying, “Today let us commit ourselves to developing an AIDS vaccine within the next decade.”

A year later, Bill Gates, who had just founded his International Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), sealed a deal with Fauci. “Over the next two decades, that partnership would metastasize to include pharmaceutical companies, military and intelligence planners, and international health agencies all collaborating to promote weaponized pandemics and vaccines and a new brand of corporate imperialism rooted in the ideology of biosecurity.” The story of Gates’ involvement in the vaccine business, of his murderous experiments in Africa and India, and of his rise as the unofficial top sponsor of the WHO (ordering in 2011: “All 193 member states, you must make vaccines a central focus of your health systems”), is told in chapters 9 and 10 of Kennedy’s book.

When Dr. Fauci became head of NIAID, azidothymidine, known as AZT, was the only candidate as an AIDS remedy. AZT is a “DNA chain terminator,” randomly destroying DNA synthesis in reproducing cells. It had been developed in 1964 for cancer, but abandoned as too toxic even for short-term therapy. It was deemed so worthless that it was not even patented. In 1985, Samuel Broder, head of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), claimed having found that AZT killed HIV in test tubes. The British company Burroughs Wellcome then patented it as an AIDS remedy. “Recognizing financial opportunity in the desperate terror of young AIDS patients facing certain death, the drug company set the price at up to $10,000/year per patient—making AZT one of the most expensive drugs in pharmaceutical history. Since Burroughs Wellcome could manufacture AZT for pennies per dose, the company anticipated a bonanza.”

Fauci gave Burroughs Wellcome a monopoly control over the government’s HIV response. But all did not go smoothly. “AZT’s horrendous toxicity hobbled researchers struggling to design study protocols that would make it appear either safe or effective.” Another problem is that community-based doctors were achieving promising results with cheap, off-label therapeutic drugs. Dr. Fauci refused to test any of those repurposed drugs that had no Pharma patrons. When he did put on trial AL721, an antiviral that was far less toxic than AZT, he rigged the studies to fail, and abruptly cancelled Phase 2.

Meanwhile, he accelerated testing of AZT, skipping animal testing and allowing Burroughs Wellcome to proceed directly to human trials. In March 1987, Fauci’s team declared the human trials a success after only four months, and Fauci congratulated himself in front of the press. However, when in July 1987, the official report of Burroughs Wellcome’s Phase 2 trial was published, European scientists complained that raw data showed no benefit in reducing symptoms. FDA conducted its own investigation eighteen months later, but kept its results secrets, until investigative journalist John Lauritsen obtained some of them by using the Freedom of Information Act; the documents showed that the Fauci/Burroughs Wellcome research teams had engaged in widespread data tampering. More than half of the AZT patients suffered adverse reactions so deadly that they needed multiple blood transfusions just to keep them alive. Nevertheless, Fauci kept on lying himself to the top of the world, with little scrutiny from mainstream media.

A key and enduring legacy of the AZT battle was Dr. Fauci’s emergence as the alpha wolf of HHS [Health and Human Services]. His enormous budget, and multiplying contacts on Capitol Hill, the White House, and the medical industry, thereafter allowed him to influence or ignore a succession of politically appointed HHS directors and to bully, manipulate, and dominate HHS’s other sister agencies, most notably FDA.

AZT was not the only subject of interest to Fauci. By June 2003, NIH was running 10,906 clinical trials on new antiviral concoctions in some four hundred clinical trials in ninety countries. Some of those trials seemed pulled out of Dickens’ worst nightmares. The Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP), a medical industry watchdog organization, has documented that between 1985 and 2005, NIAID conscripted at least 532 infants and children from foster care in New York City as subjects of clinical trials testing experimental AIDS drugs and vaccines. AHRP’s investigation revealed that many of those children were perfectly healthy and may not even have been HIV-infected. Yet 80 of them died. In 2004, journalist Liam Scheff chronicled Dr. Fauci’s secretive experiments on foster children at Incarnation Children’s Center (ICC) in New York City and numerous sister facilities between 1988 and 2002. These disclosures, comments Kennedy, beg many questions:

From what moral wilderness did the monsters who devised and condoned these experiments descend upon our idealistic country? How have they lately come to exercise such tyrannical power over our citizens? What sort of nation are we if we allow them to continue? Most trenchantly, does it not make sense that the malevolent minds, the elastic ethics, the appalling judgment, the arrogance, and savagery that sanctioned the barbaric brutalization of children at the Incarceration Convent House, and the torture of animals for industry profit, could also concoct a moral justification for suppressing lifesaving remedies and prolonging a deadly epidemic? Could these same dark alchemists justify a strategy of prioritizing their $48 billion vaccine project ahead of public health and human life? Did similar hubris—that deadly human impulse to play God—pave the lethal path to Wuhan and fuel the reckless decision to hack the codes of Creation and fabricate diabolical new forms of life—pandemic superbugs—in a ramshackle laboratory with scientists linked to the Chinese military?

Indeed, Kennedy shows in his final chapter, “Germ Games,” that Fauci’s investments in so-called “gain of function” experiments to engineer pandemic superbugs raise “the ironic possibility that Dr. Fauci may have played a role in triggering the global contagion that two US presidents entrusted him to manage.”

Africa is “the venue of choice for companies seeking cooperative government officials, compliant populations, the lowest per-patient enrollment costs, and lax oversight by media and regulatory officials.” In the early 1990s, African dictators rolled out the red carpet for Pharma, cashing in on the lucrative business of farming out their citizens for the booming clinical trial business. And on January 29, 2003, President George W. Bush announced at his State of the Union speech his Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Fauci’s new swindle:

On the continent of Africa, nearly 30 million people have the AIDS virus. … Yet across that continent, only 50,000 AIDS victims—only 50,000—are receiving the medicine they need. … I ask the Congress to commit $15 billion over the next five years, including nearly $10 billion in new money, to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean.

Does HIV Cause AIDS?

Kennedy’s chapter 5, “The HIV Heresies,” opens up with the following note:

I hesitated to include this chapter because any questioning of the orthodoxy that HIV is the sole cause of AIDS remains an unforgivable—even dangerous—heresy among our reigning medical cartel and its media allies. But one cannot write a complete book about Tony Fauci without touching on the abiding—and fascinating—scientific controversy over what he characterizes as his “greatest accomplishment” and his “life’s work.”

The controversy illustrates how pharmaceutical industries and health agencies, acting in concert, engineer consensus on incomplete or fraudulent theories, and ruthlessly suppress dissent from even the most gifted recognized scientists. “From the outset,” Kennedy insists, “I want to make clear that I take no position on the relationship between HIV and AIDS.” However, there seems little doubt that his basic point is correct:

During the thirty-six years since Dr. Fauci and his colleague, Dr. Robert Gallo, first claimed that HIV is the sole cause of AIDS, no one has been able to point to a study that demonstrates their hypothesis using accepted scientific proofs. … Even today, incoherence, knowledge gaps, contradictions, and inconsistencies continue to bedevil the official dogma.

The success story of the HIV-AIDS dogma shows “many of the tactics Dr. Fauci has pioneered to dodge debate—bedazzling and bamboozling the press into ignoring legitimate inquiry of the credo, and undermining, gaslighting, punishing, bullying, intimidating, marginalizing, vilifying, and muzzling critics.” One of Fauci’s victims was Dr. Peter Duesberg, who in 1987 was still recognized as the world’s most accomplished retrovirologist. Duesberg argues that HIV does not cause AIDS but is essentially a “free rider” common to high-risk populations who suffer immune suppression due to environmental exposures. HIV, he says, is a harmless passenger virus that has almost certainly coexisted in humans for thousands of generations without causing diseases. While HIV may be sexually transmittable, Duesberg claims, AIDS is not.

Duesberg published his views in a groundbreaking 1987 article, then in a 724-page book, Inventing the AIDS Virus. Kennedy finds that “Duesberg’s rationales appear so clean, so elegantly crafted, and so compelling that, in reading them, it seems impossible that the entire [orthodox] hypothesis did not instantly collapse under the smothering weight of relentless logic.” But Fauci and Gallo never attempted to reply to Duesberg. Blaming AIDS on a virus was the gambit that had allowed NIAID to claim the jurisdiction—and cash flow—away from NCI, and Duesberg was severely punished for endangering this.

Dr. Fauci summoned the entire upper clergy of his HIV orthodoxy—and all of its lower acolytes and altar boys—to unleash a storm of fierce retribution on the Berkeley virologist and his followers. … the AIDS establishment, down to its lowliest doctor, publicly reviled Duesberg, NIH defunded him, and academia ostracized and exiled the brilliant Berkeley professor. The scientific press all but banished him. He became radioactive.

Surprisingly, however, Dr. Luc Montagnier, whose discovery of HIV Gallo had in fact stolen—as he admitted in 1991 after years of litigation—, became Duesberg’s most embarrassing convert, declaring at the San Francisco International AIDS Conference in June 1990, that “the HIV virus is harmless and passive, a benign virus.” He added that, according to his findings, HIV becomes dangerous only in the presence of a second organism, a bacteria-like bug called a mycoplasma. Montagnier, in fact, had never claimed that HIV was the only factor in AIDS, and grew increasingly skeptical of that theory. His repeated questioning of the establishment paradigm signaled the beginning of his vilification, for which his Nobel Prize hardly protected him.

Gallo’s “proof” that the cause of AIDS was a virus—as opposed to toxic exposures— provided the critical foundation stone of Dr. Fauci’s career. It allowed Fauci to capture the AIDS program and launch NIAID as the leading federal partner of the drug-production industry. This explains why Fauci never funded any study to explore whether HIV actually caused AIDS, and took vigorous preemptive action against any such study.

Kennedy cites other dissenting voices on AIDS epidemiology. Dr. Shyh-Ching Lo, the Chief Researcher in charge of AIDS programs for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, was shocked by Anthony Fauci’s unconventional claim that antibodies, normally the sign of a robust immune response, should, with HIV, be the signal for impending death. Since “HIV tests” do not in reality detect the elusive virus but only antibodies, there seems to be an Orwellian inversion at work. Kennedy also quotes Dr. David Rasnick, a PhD biochemist who has worked for thirty years in the pharmaceutical biotech field:

Fauci’s fundamental conundrum is that he has told everybody to diagnose AIDS based on the presence of HIV antibodies. With every other disease, the presence of antibodies is the signal that the patient has vanquished the disease. With AIDS, Fauci and Gallo, and now Gates, claim it’s a sign you’re about to die. Think about it; if the objective of an AIDS vaccine is to stimulate antibody production, then success would mean that every vaccinated person would also have an AIDS diagnosis. I mean, this is fodder for a comedy bit. It’s like someone gave the Three Stooges an annual billion-dollar budget!

The nature of AIDS—a syndrome, not a disease—is itself subject to questions, since it was made to encompass a galaxy of some thirty separate well-known diseases, all of which occur in individuals who have no HIV infection. “In the hands of Dr. Fauci’s opportunistic PIs, AIDS became an amorphous malady subject to ever-changing definitions, encompassing a multitude of old diseases in hosts who test positive for HIV.” Nobel Laureate Kary Mullis, the inventor of the PCR tests, pointed out that the PCR was capable of finding HIV signals in large segments of the population who suffered no AIDS symptoms. On the other hand, AIDS commonly occurs in people who test HIV negative, as Geoffrey Cowley documented in a 1992 Newsweek article, followed by Steve Heimoff in the Los Angeles Times.

These very inconsistencies were not a problem for Fauci and his standing army of pharmaceutical mercenaries. Quite the opposite: they opened up Africa’s AIDS bonanza. Researchers funded by Fauci, using PCR tests and murky statistical models, declared that up to 30 million Africans were suffering from AIDS, nearly half the adult population in some nations. While in Western nations, AIDS continued to be a disease of drug addicts and homosexual “poppers” (consumers of the amyl nitrite vasodilator providing relaxation of the anal musculature, packaged into the “popper” container patented by Burroughs Wellcome and advertised in the gay press throughout the AIDS epidemic), mysteriously, in Africa, 59 percent of AIDS cases were women, and 85 percent were heterosexuals.

But in the early 1990s, the character of AIDS changed dramatically with the proliferation of AZT. As they started to give AZT to people who were in fact not even sick but simply positive on the HIV test, AIDS started to look increasingly like AZT poisoning. And the death rate climbed precipitously. According to the Duesbergians, the vast majority of “AIDS deaths” after 1987 were actually caused by AZT. The medication that Dr. Fauci was prescribing to treat AIDS patients actually did what the virus could not: it caused AIDS itself. In 1988, the average survival time for patients taking AZT was four months. In 1997, recognizing the lethal effect of AZT, health officials lowered the dose; the average lifespan of AZT patients then rose to twenty-four months. According to Dr. Claus Köhnlein, a German oncologist, “We virtually killed a whole generation of AIDS patients without even noticing it because the symptoms of the AZT intoxication were almost indistinguishable from AIDS.”

Conclusion

In July 2019, Dr. Fauci made a surprise announcement: he finally had a working HIV vaccine, the potential “nail in the coffin” for the epidemic. He conceded that his new vaccine didn’t prevent transmission of AIDS, but predicted that those who took the jab would find that when they did get AIDS, the symptoms would be much reduced. Kennedy comments:

So confident was Dr. Fauci of the media’s slavish credulity that he assumed, correctly, that he’d never need to answer the many questions raised by this feverish gibberish. That entire odd proposition received zero critical press commentary. His success at slapping lipstick on this donkey and selling it to the world as a Thoroughbred may have emboldened his ruse—a year later—of placing similar cosmetics on the COVID vaccines that, likewise, neither prevent disease nor preclude transmission.

By 2019, the AIDS rope started to wear out. Who still cared about AIDS anyway? The “Covid-19 Pandemic” came as the perfect opportunity for a reset and an update in the pharmaceutical racket. As Winston Churchill reportedly said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. With complicit corporate media blacking out the scandalous track record of his white-coat mafia, Fauci emerged, again, as the good doctor, the savior.

“Is it fair to blame Dr. Fauci for a crisis that, of course, has many authors?” asks Kennedy. To some extent, it is.

Under Dr. Fauci’s leadership, the allergic, autoimmune, and chronic illnesses which Congress specifically charged NIAID to investigate and prevent, have mushroomed to afflict 54 percent of children, up from 12.8 percent when he took over NIAID in 1984. Dr. Fauci has offered no explanation as to why allergic diseases like asthma, eczema, food allergies, allergic rhinitis, and anaphylaxis suddenly exploded beginning in 1989, five years after he came to power. On its website, NIAID boasts that autoimmune disease is one of the agency’s top priorities. Some 80 autoimmune diseases, including juvenile diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, Graves’ disease, and Crohn’s disease, which were practically unknown prior to 1984, suddenly became epidemic under his watch. Autism, which many scientists now consider an autoimmune disease, exploded from between 2/10,000 and 4/10,000 Americans when Tony Fauci joined NIAID, to one in thirty-four today. Neurological diseases like ADD/ADHD, speech and sleep disorders, narcolepsy, facial tics, and Tourette’s syndrome have become commonplace in American children. The human, health, and economic costs of chronic disease dwarf the costs of all infectious diseases in the United States. By this decade’s end, obesity, diabetes, and pre-diabetes are on track to debilitate 85 percent of America’s citizens. America is among the ten most over-weight countries on Earth. The health impacts of these epidemics—which fall mainly on the young—eclipse even the most exaggerated health impacts of COVID-19.

Dr. Fauci has done nothing to advance NIAID’s core obligation of researching the causes of chronic allergic and autoimmune diseases that have mushroomed under his tenure. Instead, Fauci has “reshaped NIAID into the leading incubator for new pharmaceutical products, many of which, ironically, profit from the cascading chronic disease pandemic.” Instead of researching the causes of Americans’ failing health, Dr. Fauci funnels the bulk of his $6 billion budget to the research and development of new drugs and vaccines that are largely responsible for weakening our natural immunity. “Of late, he has played a central role in undermining public health and subverting democracy and constitutional governance around the globe and in transitioning our civil governance toward medical totalitarianism.”

I was reminded of Dr. Knock, the central character of Jules Romains’s famous novel Knock or the Triumph of Medicine, written in 1923. Dr. Knock is a shady medical doctor of dubious competence who professes that “health” is an obsolete and unscientific concept, and that all men are sick and need to be informed about it by their doctor. To advance his plan of converting a whole town into permanent patients, he enlists the help of the school teacher and of the pharmacist, who suddenly sees his clientele booming (watch unforgettable moments of Guy Lefranc’s 1951 film adaptation with Louis Jouvet here and here).

Louis Jouvet as Dr. Knock in 1951

Louis Jouvet as Dr. Knock in 1951

To some extent, however, Fauci is himself the product of a civilizational orientation that could only, in the long run, lead to the tyrannical medical technocracy that is now trying to enslave us. Rather than a new Dr. Frankenstein, Fauci is our own monster coming back after us. Kennedy hints at this vast aspect of the question, pointing to the need for deep questioning. The way Americans and Westerners in general have come to view health care has been shaped by the philosophy of the Rockefeller Foundation: “a pill for an ill.” In the debate between the “miasma theory”—that emphasizes preventing disease by fortifying the immune system through nutrition and by reducing exposures to environmental toxins and stresses—versus the “germ theory”—which blames disease on microscopic pathogens—we have unambiguously opted for the latter. We have signed in for an approach to disease that requires to identify the culpable germ and tailor a poison to kill it. The choice was not forced upon us. We have surrendered responsibility for our health to medical experts and insurance brokers.

As Dr. Claus Köhnlein and Torsten Engelbrecht observe in their book Virus Mania (2007) quoted by Kennedy: “The idea that certain microbes—above all fungi, bacteria, and viruses—are our great opponents in battle, causing certain diseases that must be fought with special chemical bombs, has buried itself deep into the collective conscience.” It is a warlike paradigm, perfectly suited for manufacturing consent on the way to dictatorship. As Kennedy wrote in his preface to Dr. Joseph Mercola and Ronni Cummins, The Truth About Covid-19 (2021), “demagogues must weaponize fear to justify their demands for blind obedience.”

Government technocrats, billionaire oligarchs, Big Pharma, Big Data, Big Media, the high-finance robber barons, and the military industrial intelligence apparatus love pandemics for the same reasons they love wars and terrorist attacks. Catastrophic crises create opportunities of convenience to increase both power and wealth.

Laurent Guyénot, PhD, is the author of The Unspoken Kennedy Truth and of a film on the same subject.

The NATOstan Clown Show – by Pepe Escobar 29 Nov 2021

Audio of Article – Mp3

1,300 WORDS •

American hysteria over the “imminent” Russian invasion of Ukraine has exploded every geopolitical Stupid-o-Meter in sight – and that’s quite an accomplishment.

What a mess. Sections of the U.S. Deep State are in open revolt against the combo that remote controls Crash Test Dummy, who impersonates POTUS. The neocon-neoliberal axis is itching for a war – but has no idea how to sell it to an immensely fractured public opinion.

UKUS, which de facto controls the Five Eyes spy scam, excels only in propaganda. So in the end it’s up to the CIA/MI6 intel axis and their vast network of media chihuahuas to accelerate Fear and Loathing ad infinitum.

Russophobic U.S. Think Tankland would very much cherish a Russian “invasion”, out of the blue, and could not give a damn about the inevitable trouncing of Ukraine. The problem is the White House – and the Pentagon – must “intervene”, forcefully; otherwise that will represent a catastrophic loss of “credibility” for the Empire.

So what do these people want? They want to provoke Moscow by all means available to exercise “Russian aggression”, resulting in a lightning fast war that will be a highway to hell for Ukraine, but with zero casualties for NATO and the Pentagon.

Then the Empire of Chaos will blame Russia; unleash a tsunami of fresh sanctions, especially financial; and try to shut off all economic links between Russia and NATOstan.

Reality dictates that none of the above is going to happen.

All exponents of Russian leadership, starting with President Putin, have already made it clear, over and over again, what happens if the Ukro-dementials start a blitzkrieg over Donbass: Ukraine will be mercilessly smashed – and that applies not only to the ethno-fascist gang in Kiev. Ukraine will cease to exist as a state.

Defense Minister Shoigu, for his part, has staged all manner of not exactly soft persuasion, featuring Tu-22M3 bombers or Tu-160 White Swan bombers.

The inestimable Andrei Martyanov has conclusively explained, over and over again, that “NATO doesn’t have forces not only to ‘counter-act’ anything Russia does but even if it wanted to it still has no means to fight a war with Russia.”

Martyanov notes, “there is nothing in the U.S. arsenal now and in the foreseeable future which can intercept Mach=9-10+, let alone M=20-27, targets. That’s the issue. Same analytical method applies to a situation in 404. The only thing U.S. (NATO) can hope for is to somehow provoke Russia into the invasion of this shithole of a country and then get all SIGINT it can once Russia’s C4ISR gets into full combat mode.”

Translation: anything the Empire of Chaos and its NATO subsidiary try in Donbass, directly or indirectly, the humiliation will make the Afghanistan “withdrawal” look like a House of Gucci dinner party.

No one should expect clueless NATO puppets – starting with secretary-general Stoltenberg – to understand the military stakes. After all, these are the same puppets who have been building up a situation which might ultimately leave Moscow with a single, stark choice: be ready to fight a full scale hot war in Europe – which could become nuclear in a flash. And ready they are.

It’s all about Minsk

In a parallel reality, “meddling in 404” – a delightful Martyanov reference to a hellhole that is little more than a computer error – is a totally different story. That perfectly fits American juvenilia ethos.

At least some of the adults in selected rooms are talking. The CIA’s Burns went to Moscow to try to extract some assurance that in the event NATO Special Forces were caught in the cauldrons – Debaltsevo 2015-style – that the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, with Russian help, will concoct, they would be allowed to escape.

His interlocutor, Patrushev, told Burns – diplomatically – to get lost.

Chief of the General Staff, Gen Valery Gerasimov, had a phone call with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen Mark Milley, ostensibly to ensure, in Pentagonese, “risk-reduction and operational de-confliction”. No substantial details were leaked.

It remains to be seen how this “de-confliction” will happen in practice when Defense Minister Shoigu revealed U.S. nuclear-capable bombers have been practicing, in their sorties across Eastern Europe, “their ability to use nuclear weapons against Russia”. Shoigu discussed that in detail with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe: after all the Americans will certainly pull the same stunt against China.

The root cause of all this drama is stark: Kiev simply refuses to respect the February 2015 Minsk Agreement.

In a nutshell, the deal stipulated that Kiev should grant autonomy to Donbass via a constitutional amendment, referred to as “special status”; issue a general amnesty; and start a dialogue with the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Over the years, Kiev fulfilled exactly zero commitments – while the proverbial NATOstan media machine incessantly pounded global opinion with fake news, spinning that Russia was violating Minsk. Russia is not even mentioned in the agreement.

Moscow in fact always respected the Minsk Agreement – which translates as regarding Donbass as an integral, autonomous part of Ukraine. Moscow has zero interest in promoting regime change in Kiev.

This charade has come to a point that – diplomatically – is quite unprecedented: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lost his Taoist patience.

Lavrov was forced, under the circumstances, to publish 28 pages of correspondence between Moscow on one hand, and Berlin and Paris on the other, evolving around the preparation of a high-level meeting on Ukraine.

Moscow was in fact calling for one of the central points of the agreement to be implemented: a direct dialogue between Kiev and Donbass. Berlin and Paris said this was unacceptable. So yes: both, for all practical purposes, destroyed the Minsk Agreement. Public opinion across NATOstan has no idea whatsoever this actually happened.

Lavrov did not mince his words: “I am sure that you understand the necessity of this unconventional step, because it is a matter of conveying to the world community the truth about who is fulfilling, and how, the obligations under international law that have been agreed at the highest level.”

So it’s no wonder that the leadership in Moscow concluded it’s an absolute waste of time to talk to Berlin and Paris about Ukraine: they lied, cheated – and then blamed Russia. This “decision” at the EU level faithfully mirrors NATO’s campaign of stoking the flames of imminent “Russian aggression” against Ukraine.

Armchair warriors, unite!

Across NATOstan, the trademark stupidity of U.S. Think Tankland rules unabated, congregating countless acolytes spewing out the talking points of choice: “relentless Russian subversion”, “thug” Putin “intimidation” of Ukraine, Russians as “predators”, and everything now coupled with “power-hungry China’s war on Western values.”

Some Brit hack, in a twisted way, actually managed to sum up the overall impotence – and insignificance – by painting Europe as a victim, “a beleaguered democratic island in an anarchic world, which a rising tide of authoritarianism, impunity and international rule-breaking threatens to inundate”.

The answer by NATOstan Defense Ministers is to come up with a Strategic Compass – essentially an anti-Russia-China scam – complete with “rapid deployment forces”. Led by who, General Macron?

As it stands, poor NATOstan is uncontrollably sobbing, accusing those Russian hooligans – scary monsters, to quote David Bowie – of staging an anti-satellite missile test and thus “scorning European safety concerns”.

Something must have got lost in translation. So here’s what happened: Russia conclusively demonstrated it’s capable of obliterating each and every one of NATO’s satellites and blind “all their missiles, planes and ships, not to mention ground forces” in case they decide to materialize their warmongering ideas.

Obviously those deaf, dumb and blind NATOstan armchair warrior clowns – fresh from their Afghan “performance” – won’t get the message. But NATOstan anyway was never accused of being partial to reality.

………………..

(Republished from Strategic Culture Foundation)

Australian Prime Minister: Chinese Navy Has ‘Every Right’ to Operate In Our Exclusive Economic Zone (USNI) 26 Nov 2021

By: Dzirhan Mahadzir

A naval soldier of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) views through a pair of binoculars onboard China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning as it visits a military harbour on the South China Sea. Xinhua Photo

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Chinese naval ships have every right to operate in Australia’s exclusive economic zone, just as Australia and other countries have the right to freedom of movement in the South China Sea, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday.

During a press conference today in South Australia, Morrison was asked about reports that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surveillance vessel Yuhengxing (798) had been conducting surveillance off Australia for three weeks in August and September.

“They have every right to be there under international maritime law, just like we have every right to be in the South China Sea, and other free liberal democratic countries have every right to be having freedom of movement in the South China Sea. Our movements in the South China Sea and those of other countries has been an issue of challenge to Australia,” Morrison said.

Morrison went on to say that because Australia has stood up for its right to be in the South China Sea, emphasized freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and is building up its defense capability – including the construction of nuclear powered submarines – China has taken up issues with Australia and the two nations have a strained relationship. Morrison added that these issues, however, “are not issues that any self-respecting government like Australia’s, or indeed any self-respecting liberal democracy, would ever give ground on.”

The Australian Prime Minister said the situation demonstrated that no one could be complacent in the Indo-Pacific.

“They have every right to be where they are. We knew they were there and they are, they are able to be there under international maritime law,” Morrison said. “But don’t think for a second that we weren’t keeping our eye on them, as they were seeking to keep an eye on us. What it demonstrates is now no one can be complacent about the situation in the Indo-Pacific.”

Australia’s Daily Telegraph reported on Friday that the vessel was seen circling Australia’s coast for three weeks in August and September, and that sources had informed the paper that the ship entered Australia’s 200-kilometer EEZ off the coast of Darwin in August before slowly heading south, hugging the coastline and monitoring a number of crucial military training areas as it traveled as far south as Sydney. The surveillance ship then went across the Tasman Sea towards New Zealand. In response to media queries on the matter, Australia’s Department of Defence supplied a photo of the ship in question, identifying it as the Yuhengxing.

Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton on Friday criticized China in a speech at the National Press Club of Australia, stating that while the Chinese government says it will work with other countries to maintain freedom of navigation and safe maritime routes, and address peaceful territorial disputes with dialogue and consultation, what actually happens is different.

“And yet we bear witness to a significant disconnect between words and actions, between the rhetoric and reality. Along with peoples of the Indo-Pacific and the world, Australians have watched on as the Chinese government has engaged in increasingly alarming activities,” Dutton said.

Among the examples Dutton gave of such activities were the occupation, fabrication and militarization of disputed features to establish 20 outposts in the South China Sea, the rejection of The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration 2016 verdict on claims of historic rights in the South China Sea, sending increasing numbers of military jets into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, using militia-crewed fishing vessels to intrude in the Philippines’ EEZ, and escalating tensions on China’s border with India and in the East China Sea with Japan.

The Australian Defence Minister said that China is using its increasing power in security, trade and economics, media and the internet to compel compliance and noted that China has also rapidly expanded the size and capabilities of its military. China now has the largest navy in the world with some 355 ships and submarines, a naval battle force that has more than tripled in size in two decades. He pointed out that averaged over the last four years, China has built new naval vessels equivalent in tonnage to the entire Royal Australian Navy fleet every 18 months and that by 2030, China’s navy is predicted to number some 460 vessels.

Chinese troops patrol disputed holding in the Spratly Islands. Photo via Reuters

Dutton added that China also has two other fleets subordinated to its armed forces – a coast guard that has doubled from 60 to 130 1000-ton ships in around a decade and a maritime militia that routinely has 300 vessels operating in the Spratly Islands on any given day. He also noted that the China Coast Guard alone possesses capabilities and maintains an operational tempo on par with some southeast Asian navies.

He said that nations seek to bolster their defense capabilities when facing aggression and that Australia plans to complement its defense capabilities with strong relationships, like partnerships with like-minded countries that want peace in the Indo-Pacific region.

Dutton also pointed out that the technology sharing agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States – known as AUKUS – is not a partnership trying to foist an agenda on other countries in the region.

“Rather, it complements a broader network of partnerships – like ASEAN, the Five Eyes, the Five Power Defence Arrangements, the Quad and other like-minded arrangements – which are committed to promoting sovereignty, security and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” Dutton said.

The Chinese Embassy in Australia issued a shore statement in response to Dutton’s speech.

“In his NPC speech, Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton continued preaching his quixotic misunderstanding of China’s foreign policy, distorting China’s efforts to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity, misguiding the Australian people on regional situations and priorities, and fanning conflict and division between peoples and nations,” the Chinese embassy said. “It is inconceivable that China-Australia relationship will take on a good momentum or the overall interest of regional countries, including that of Australia, will be better promoted if the Australian Government bases its national strategy on such visionless analysis and outdated mentality.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense during a Thursday press conference said China attaches great importance to the development of relations between the American and Chinese militaries and is willing to maintain exchanges and cooperation with the U.S.

Col. Wu Qian noted that “for a period of time, the US has said a lot of irresponsible things and done a lot of provocative things on Taiwan, the South China Sea, and the arrival of warships and planes for reconnaissance, etc., for which China naturally has to fight tit-for-tat and resolutely. We have said many times that China has principles for the development of relations between the two militaries, that is, China’s sovereignty, dignity, and core interests cannot be violated. Especially on the Taiwan issue, China has no room for compromise, and the US should not have any illusions.”

USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114) steams near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on July 14, 2020. US Navy Photo

When asked to comment on U.S. Navy Secretary of the Navy’s Carlos Del Toro’s remarks about China being a primary threat and U.S. media reports about China building targets resembling U.S Navy ships, Col. Wu said: “People who are addicted to and chasing hegemony always feel that others are coveting their hegemony. For a long time, some people in the United States have been immersed in ‘persecution delusions’ and cannot extricate themselves, insisting on fabricating a non-existent ‘Chinese military threat.’ Their purpose is nothing more than to find excuses for themselves to seek absolute superiority in the military field and maintain global hegemony.” The Chinese military has always opposed such characterizations, he added, and that in regard to “the so-called missile target issue, we ask the US to seriously reflect on itself before blaming China.”

USNI News reported earlier this month that China appeared to be building missile targets shaped like U.S. aircraft carriers and other American warships in the Taklamakan desert.

As for the underwater collision involving USS Connecticut (SSN-22), which hit an unidentified seamount in early October in the South China Sea, Col. Wu said the U.S. needs to clarify three questions – namely what was the intention of the submarine’s navigation in the area, where was the specific location of the incident and whether the accident caused nuclear leakage and marine environmental pollution. He said China believes that the root cause of the accident was the large-scale, high-frequency approach, the reconnaissance, interference, provocation and military activities of U.S. warships in the Asia-Pacific region, and the militarization and navigational hegemony of the South China Sea.

“We ask the US to stop such activities immediately,” he said.

After the incident, a U.S. Navy spokesman in October said the submarine’s nuclear propulsion plant was not damaged in the collision.

“The submarine remains in a safe and stable condition. USS Connecticut’s nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected and remain fully operational. The extent of damage to the remainder of the submarine is being assessed. The U.S. Navy has not requested assistance. The incident will be investigated,” U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Bill Clinton said in a statement at the time.

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1956 Hungary And 1968 Czechoslovakia: Lessons For Taiwan And Ukraine Today? – by Daniel Davis (The Embassy) 25 Nov 2021

Audio of Article – Mp3
Ukraine War

In recent months, both Russia and China have been making threatening military moves directed against the countries of Ukraine and Taiwan. Many in the West argue the United States must be prepared to offer military assistance to both – and possibly fight for Taiwan – as anything less would be tantamount to a 1938 “Munich” appeasement. The far more applicable historical analogy, however, would be 1956 Hungary and 1968 Czechoslovakia – when Washington wisely opted against military intervention, successfully preserving American national security and ultimately, peace in Europe.

It is no exaggeration, however, to suggest that both Moscow and Beijing have been stepping up military action and rhetoric directed against the erstwhile thorn-in-the-side of each nation: Ukraine, for Russia, and Taiwan, for China.

Since October, China has sent a record number of military planes patrolling the skies around Taiwan and President Xi has issued increasingly dire warnings of “red lines” to Taipei and Washington that could portend a Chinese attack. Likewise, Russia has not explained why it has suddenly built up nearly 100,000 armored and mechanized troops near its border with Ukraine while President Putin issues “redline” warnings of his own.

Many in Washington’s foreign policy establishment argue that the United States has an obligation to defend Taiwan from China and argue for the threat of U.S. military intervention on Ukraine’s behalf against Russia. Anything less will be appeasement to both China and Russia, many argue.

Implicit in such arguments is the belief that, like Hitler did after Europe handed him Czechoslovakia in 1938 via the Munich Agreement, Xi and Putin will move to conquer other lands if the West doesn’t go to war with each should they attack Ukraine or Taiwan. Its an easy, emotional argument for Americans to understand, as there is broad understanding about how 1938 Munich fueled Hitler’s thirst for territorial conquest beyond 1938. Yet the better historical analogy to use – and the ones far more applicable given the conditions at play today – is America’s experience with 1956 Hungary and 1968 Czechoslovakia.

1956 Hungary

In the early years of the Cold War, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were bad and getting progressively worse.  In 1948 the USSR began its blockade of West Berlin, ratcheting up military tensions. The next year Moscow crossed the threshold to becoming a nuclear power, sparking fears of nuclear Armageddon throughout the U.S. and West. There was also the genuine concern that the Soviets were successfully spreading communist ideology, even into some parts of the West. Fear of the communist government in Moscow, therefore, was widespread and real in the U.S.

At the same time, the client states of the USSR began to realize the promises that communism would bring about a “workers paradise” were empty while the loss of freedoms were real. One of the first Soviet satellite countries that sought to reclaim some of their freedoms was Hungary. In October 1956, thousands of Hungarian students protested against Moscow and demanded the removal of Soviet troops from its soil, economic reforms, and free elections.

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower – America’s most decorated and accomplished general during World War II – applauded the student’s desires for freedom and encouraged them to continue resisting. After 12 days of massive protests in which thousands of Hungarian soldiers stood down to allow the protests – some even giving their weapons to the revolutionaries – Soviet tanks rolled in on November 4, 1956 to utterly crush the uprising and occupy the capital of Budapest, killing thousands. Eisenhower came under enormous pressure to militarily respond to the attack.

Eisenhower was deeply moved by the suffering of the Hungarians and wanted to help them free themselves from Soviet domination. But looking at the situation realistically, Eisenhower later admitted in his memoirs that unless “the major nations of Europe would, without delay, ally themselves spontaneously with us (an unimaginable prospect), we could do nothing,” he wrote. “Sending United States troops alone into Hungary through hostile or neutral territory would have involved us in general war.”

Eisenhower knew that would have meant nuclear war with Russia which could have resulted in entire American cities disappearing beneath mushroom clouds. However much his heart was with Hungarians seeking freedom, a cold, sober recognition of geographic and military realities required him to refuse to use American military power in their support.

1968 Czechoslovakia

The Red Army’s crushing response to suppress Hungarian protesters in 1956 had a chilling effect on the rest of Russia’s satellite states, and for a time none dared reprise Budapest’s uprising. But the quest for freedom can’t be suppressed forever, and about a decade later, the people in another Soviet republic, this time Czechoslovakia, became so disillusioned with the communist system that they risked Moscow’s ire by attempting to inject freedom into their system.

In January 1968, Alexander Dubcek became the leader of Czechoslovakia. One of the first tasks he undertook once in office was to reform their political and economic system into something called “Socialism with a Human Face,” which sought to subtly introduce democratic elements into the governing system – without using the word democracy, which they knew would upset the Kremlin. Dubcek began increasing freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and increased trade with the United States, which spawned a movement called the “Prague Spring.”

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson had been working with Moscow for months trying to forge a nuclear arms reduction treaty and was sharply focused on improving relations with Russia to lower the risk to America of a nuclear war. While Johnson did support the advancement of economic opportunity for the U.S. with Czechoslovakia, he paid little attention to the growing unrest in Prague and the growing concern in Moscow.

Russia began massing troops near the Czech border, but Dubcek did not believe the Warsaw Pact troops would actually invade. But, on August 20, 1968, the Kremlin had reached its limit, and – fearing any move towards freedom of a Soviet satellite country could cause other client states to withdraw from the USSR – invaded with an army of 200,000 troops and 5,000 tanks, crushing the reform movement.

Dubcek was removed from office the following year. In response to the invasion, Johnson said that the United States was, “consulting urgently with others to consider what steps should be undertaken in the United Nations.” Beyond insisting “upon the Charter rights of Czechoslovakia and its people,” however, Johnson did not consider using military means to redress Prague’s suppression by Moscow. The president’s primary focus remained focused on safeguarding American national security objectives.

Lessons that Washington Should Apply to the Current Situations with Ukraine and Taiwan

There are a number of lessons today’s leaders in Washington be prepared to apply in the event either Russia or China moves against Ukraine or Taiwan. There will be the temptation to “show strength” and use or threaten the use of military power against the offending nation. Doing so, however, would almost certainly harm American interests, potentially catastrophically so. There are, fortunately, meaningful actions the U.S. can take, even in the event of Russian or Chinese aggression, that contains the damage and can ultimately strengthen American national security.

It is instructive to examine what happened with both Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the medium and long term following their invasions. Within a few years, both nations returned to a sort of status quo ante. That was not the preferred outcome of many in each country, but it did return to a degree of normalcy for the population. By the early 1990s, however, both states were free of their great power overlords and became fully independent states.

Had the United States or our Western allies gone to war against the USSR to fight for the independence of one or both states, the destruction and bloodshed to the domestic populations of both states would have been profoundly higher – and its possible that after entering a fight against the Soviet Union, we may have lost the war, failing to wrest either country free. Worse, there was a distinct possibility that the conflagration could have escalated into a nuclear exchange, causing catastrophic destruction, even potentially against U.S. cities.

The situation with Ukraine and Taiwan today pose remarkably similar challenges for both the United States and the countries themselves. Both nations are currently threatened by a neighboring major power. Both Taiwan and Ukraine appeal to the United States for support. Both Beijing and Moscow feel threatened by the continued independence of Taiwan and Ukraine, fearing they may ally with the West against them. Both major powers have expressly declared or previously proven they are willing to use force to guarantee their security – and most crucially: both Russia and China have nuclear weapons that could be used against the United States if things spiraled out of control.

There is another similarity at play today that supports America’s decision to avoid any military conflicts over either Taiwan or Ukraine. In both 1956 and 1968, the USSR achieved its stated aim of guaranteeing its security and took no further action. Many feared the Russians would try to seize other lands. But for reasons described below, Moscow’s aspirations to win more territory wasn’t the deciding factor.

What mattered is that they were constrained from doing so by the existing balance of power. Trying to grab more land beyond those two actions included a high probability of failure, which prevented the Kremlin from making any additional moves. Those same constraints would today preclude Beijing and Moscow from making any further attempts to seize territory beyond either Taiwan or Ukraine.

Russia’s Limitations

It is likely that even if Moscow moved against Ukraine, it would only be the Russian-friendly provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. But even if Putin successfully took all of Ukraine, he would then find himself facing the frontiers of four, Article 5 wielding NATO members (Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland), backed by the nuclear arsenals of France, the UK, and the U.S. Putin may be power-hungry, but he is not irrational and there is virtually no chance he would attempt to move one inch beyond Ukraine, knowing that he would be risking the very existence if he did.

China’s Limitations

In a similar manner, China has been overtly seeking to unify with Taiwan since 1949 and has never been shy about declaring they might use force to seize it. They have made no such threats against any other sovereign territory. But as with Russia, the United States doesn’t need to take Beijing’s word for anything: geography and military realities make any attempts at territorial conquest by China to be essentially impossible.

It has taken the better part of four decades for China to be on the cusp of being able to successfully cross the 100 miles of water in the Straits to attack Taiwan, a country that has a mutual defense treaty with no other land. Meanwhile, the PLA would have to cross between 350 and 2,500 miles of open ocean to make a move against any of America’s territories or treaty allies of South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and Guam. The U.S. nuclear umbrella is securely covering them all.

Beijing and Moscow would today both face the same calculations the USSR did with Czechoslovakia and Hungary: go one inch beyond Taiwan or Ukraine and they risk of running into a strong military alliance of nations and the destruction of their conventional forces – and in a worst-case scenario – losing cities in a nuclear exchange.  Both Russia and China want to preserve their border security; neither wants to risk losing it all.

Basing Policies on Cold, Hard Reality Washington’s Best Hope to Assure American National Security

Without question, democratic lands the world over want to see both Taiwan and Ukraine remain free and secure, and would strongly oppose either being oppressed by force.  But the United States must also make hard decisions based on a cold, tough, realistic assessment of ground-truth reality. Emotions can’t dominate our foreign policy choices, especially when the security, freedom, and economic prosperity of our own people hang in the balance.

The wisest choice Washington could make would be to refuse to be drawn into a no-win fight with either Russia or China. Today, Moscow and Beijing possess regional military advantages over the U.S. and our allies that would likely prove decisive in a fight over Ukraine and Taiwan. Once either Russia or China takes its target, however, their military advantages evaporate overnight and they would then be at a marked disadvantage to the United States and our allies.

Both the Russian and Chinese armed forces would suffer battle losses in any fight to take neighboring territory. But were Russia and China to one day succeed in taking Taiwan and Ukraine, They would then face not just the weak military capacity of a single non-allied country, but a major, nuclear-armed alliance of the most modern and rich countries on earth (NATO in Europe, and our alliances with Japan, South Korea, and Australia in the Indo-Pacific).

Conclusion

In short, if the U.S. chooses not to engage in a fight it couldn’t win – as Eisenhower and Johnson did in 1956 and 1968 – we would again be positioned as the dominant power, effectively deterring both Russia and China from any further aggression. If, on the other hand, we foolishly choose to engage in a war with China or Russia, we will almost certainly suffer egregious losses and our standing in the world would likely be severely diminished.

A cold, unemotional, and rational assessment by Washington of the factors at play in a potential Russia/Ukraine or China/Taiwan attack scenario would confirm that the best course of action would be to avoid war and strengthen our alliances. Any decisions to fight an unnecessary fight could seriously jeopardize our standing in the world – or result in a catastrophic nuclear strike on American soil.

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A 1945 Contributing Editor, Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis1

US: Return Of The ‘Law And Order’ Issue – by Patrick J. Buchanan – 29 Nov 2021

Audio of Article – Mp3

According to Gallup, on the issue of crime, President Joe Biden is 18 points underwater. While 57% of Americans disapprove of how he is handling crime, only 39% approve.

Biden’s dismal rating was recorded before the verdict came in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial—not guilty on all five counts—a verdict Biden declared had made him “angry.”

Biden’s rating also came before career criminal Darrell Brooks, free on $1,000 bail after running over his girlfriend, drove his Ford Escape into the Waukesha Christmas parade, killing six and injuring 60.

Biden’s low rating on crime came before “flash mobs” of thieves in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York looted Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Apple, cleaning them out in minutes.

It came before the guilty verdicts came in against the three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, the black jogger, in Georgia.

Media efforts to infuse a racial motive to Rittenhouse’s action, however, failed. Rittenhouse is white, as were the three rioters he shot. As were the lead prosecutor and his deputy. As were Rittenhouse’s defense attorney and his deputy. And as was the judge.

Parody of CNN

Race never came up during Rittenhouse’s time on the witness stand. And nothing in his background suggests any link to “white supremacists,” as was insinuated by Biden, who has made no apology.

Parody Edited Image

But what these incidents, involving killings with racial connotations, portend is that crime, race, law and order will be blazing issues in 2022 and 2024. And as of now, Biden and his Democratic Party are not on the side of America’s majority.

The latest statistics on homicide and murders for 2021 seem to guarantee that this mega-issue remains front and center.

A day before Thanksgiving, the Washington Post reported that Washington, D.C., had recorded its 200th homicide this year, surpassing last year’s total five weeks before this year’s end. Homicides in 2020 were up 30% from 2019.

Though Baltimore has a smaller population than D.C., there have been 300 killings there this year, half again as many as in D.C.

In Philadelphia, America’s sixth most populous city, there have been 503 victims of homicides thus far in 2021, a new record.

Who is doing all this shooting, knifing and killing on the savage streets of our great cities, and who are the principal victims?

Heather Mac Donald, among the nation’s foremost statisticians of crime, relates, using the figures for New York:

“In 2020, blacks were over 72% of all shooting suspects; we know that from victim and witness descriptions. Whites were 1.4% of all shooting suspects … based on victim and witness descriptions.”

“A black New Yorker is roughly 50 times as likely to commit a shooting as a white New Yorker. Blacks were 63.4% of murder suspects; whites, 6.3%. (That white share of homicide suspects represents domestic violence incidents, not street crime.)”

African On Expired Visa Raped Random Woman On Subway Train In Philadelphia

Bottom line: Disproportionately, the perpetrators, the shooters and the killers in America, are black. As are their victims. If Black Lives Matter wants to preserve black lives, they should look to their own communities because that is whence almost all of the killers come.

Indeed, of all of the black folks who will have died of homicide or murder in D.C., Baltimore, Philly and New York this year, how many will have been shot or stabbed by Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, white vigilantes, white supremacists or rogue white cops?

2022 and 2024 could prove to be a political rerun of the mid-’60s. Then it was that “law and order,” a slogan liberals called code words for racism, helped propel conservatives to preeminence in the GOP and thence to national power.

And between then and now, the similarities are many.

Then, there were the riots in Harlem and Watts in 1964 and 1965, Newark and Detroit in 1967, and D.C. and 100 other cities after the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. During those years, there was also a national explosion in violent street crime.

Then came the anti-war protests and riots, which kept Lyndon B. Johnson locked up in the White House in his final days in 1968 and tore apart the Democratic convention in Chicago.

Today’s Democratic Party is associated with defunding the police, ending cash bail for arrested felons, emptying prisons, and embracing the BLM and Antifa “social justice protests” of 2020 that often involved looting, arson and assaults upon police.

As for Biden, the 2021 model bears little resemblance to the tough-talking Delaware senator who pushed the principal anti-crime bill of the 1990s and explained his approach in a 1994 Senate speech:

“Every time Richard Nixon, when he was running in 1972, would say, ‘Law and order,’ the Democratic match or response was, ‘Law and order with justice’—whatever that meant. And I would say, ‘Lock the S.O.B.s up.'”

Today, the progressive wing of his party prevents Biden from taking that kind of stand. But that is what his country is calling for.

US: Senator Rand Paul – Unelected Fauci Refers To Himself As “Science” (DailyMail) 29 Nov 2021

‘The absolute hubris of someone claiming THEY represent science’: Sen Rand Paul launches fresh salvo at Fauci after COVID tsar claimed critics were anti-science and referred to himself in the third person

  • In an interview with CBS News’ Face The Nation, President Joe Biden ‘s chief medical adviser also dismissed Republican criticism of his work as ‘lies’ 
  • ‘The absolute hubris of someone claiming THEY represent science,’ responded Paul in a tweet
  • ‘It’s astounding and alarming that a public health bureaucrat would even think to claim such a thing,’ the Kentucky Senator continued
  • Senator Ted Cruz also responded to Fauci’s remarks in a Twitter thread branding the White House COVID tsar a ‘smug authoritarian’
  • ‘Fauci is an unelected technocrat who has distorted science and facts in order to exercise authoritarian control over millions of Americans,’ Cruz wrote

By STEPHEN M. LEPORE

Republican Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz snapped back at Anthony Fauci for attacking GOP criticism of his COVID policies during an interview which also saw Fauci refer to himself in the third person. 

Paul tweeted Sunday: ‘The absolute hubris of someone claiming THEY represent science. It’s astounding and alarming that a public health bureaucrat would even think to claim such a thing, especially one who has worked so hard to ignore the science of natural immunity.’  

He was responding to an interview with CBS News’ Face The Nation where President Joe Biden‘s chief medical adviser dismissed Republican criticism of his work as ‘lies’ and agreed with the notion that GOP lawmakers were using him as a scapegoat.

‘Anybody who’s looking at this carefully realizes that there’s a distinct anti-science flavor to this, so if they get up and criticize science, nobody’s going to know what they’re talking about,’ Fauci told CBS’ Margaret Brennan.

Referring to himself in the third person, he added: ‘But if they get up and really aim their bullets at Tony Fauci, well people can recognize that there’s a person there, so it’s easy to criticize, but they’re really criticizing science because I represent science.’  

Paul had confronted Fauci earlier this year of lying about the NIH’s involvement in coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a claim Fauci fought back against, calling Paul a liar.  Senator Rand Paul responded to comments made about him by Dr Anthony Fauci on Sunday+10

Senator Rand Paul responded to comments made about him by Dr Anthony Fauci on Sunday

In May, Fauci testified that the NIH ‘has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.’

However, Fauci also said during that hearing that there was no way to know if Chinese scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology lied and conducted gain of function experiments on bat coronaviruses using U.S. tax dollars.

‘There’s no way of guaranteeing that,’ Fauci said at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, responding to a question from Republican Sen. John Kennedy.

‘But in our experience with grantees, including Chinese grantees, which we have had interactions with for a very long period of time – they are very competent, trustworthy scientists,’ Fauci testified. 

Then in July Dr. Fauci lashed out at Senator Paul during a Senate hearing as he accused the Kentucky Republican of being a ‘liar’ who ‘doesn’t know what you’re talking about’ when it comes to COVID origins and gain-of-function research.

‘Dr. Fauci, knowing that it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement of May 11 where you claimed the NIH [National Institutes of Health] never funded gain of function research in Wuhan?’ Paul asked of the nation’s top immunologist and Joe Biden’s top COVID advisor.

‘Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement,’ Fauci shot back in the heated exchange on Capitol Hill during a Senate Health Committee hearing. Fauci singled out Paul as a liar. The two have argued in Congressional testimony several times in 2021+10

Fauci singled out Paul as a liar. The two have argued in Congressional testimony several times in 2021He sat down for an hour-long interview with CBS News' Face The Nation that aired Sunday+10

He sat down for an hour-long interview with CBS News’ Face The Nation that aired Sunday

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/DzTvQ7HyW6I

Texas Senator Ted Cruz also had harsh words in response to Fauci’s criticism.  

Cruz responded in a tweet thread of his own. 

The former presidential candidate wrote: ‘Fauci is an unelected technocrat who has distorted science and facts in order to exercise authoritarian control over millions of Americans. He lives in a liberal world where his smug ‘I REPRESENT science’ attitude is praised.’

He then went on to restate his criticisms of Fauci. 

Cruz’s tweets were in response to Brennan telling Fauci, ‘Senator Cruz told the attorney general you should be prosecuted.’  

Fauci laughed off the accusation before appearing to claim that Cruz had a role in the events leading up to the deadly Capitol riot. 

‘Yeah. I have to laugh at that. I should be prosecuted? What happened on January 6, senator?’ Fauci replied.

The news anchor asked Fauci if he thought ‘this is about making you a scapegoat’ to deflect from Donald Trump.

‘Of course, you have to be asleep not to figure that one out,’ he said.

‘That’s OK, I’m just going to do my job and I’m going to be saving lives and they’re going to be lying.’

Cruz is one of several Republican senators who have accused Fauci of lying to Congress about funding for biological research involving studying the genetic sequencing of viruses, known as ‘gain of function’ research. 

Republicans have claimed that the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where Fauci works as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, funded the controversial research in Wuhan, where COVID-19 first emerged.

Both NIH and Fauci have denied the claim.November: ‘He is incorrect’: Fauci fires back at Rand Pa

Fauci dismissed Ted Cruz’s claim that he should be prosecuted over accusations he lied to CongressTed Cruz is one of several Republicans accusing Fauci of lying+10Fauci says he's being scapegoated to distract from Trump+10

Ted Cruz is one of several Republicans accusing Fauci of lying, which the scientist claims is an attempt to distract from Donald TrumpSenator Cruz also criticized Fauci's remarks in a Twitter thread+10

Senator Cruz also criticized Fauci’s remarks in a Twitter thread

+10

+10

Elsewhere in the hour-long interview, Fauci warned the US could be on the precipice of yet another surge in COVID-19 cases.

Infections have begun to rise in parts of the US after a hopeful downturn following the last summer surge. 

Burgeoning cases are compounded by concerns over the new Omicron variant first detected in South Africa. No cases have been found in the US yet, but the Biden administration announced travel bans on eight African countries in a bid to slow the strain’s arrival.

‘We certainly have the potential to go into a fifth wave,’ Fauci said.

‘And the fifth wave, or the magnitude of any increase, if you want to call it that it will turn into a wave, will really be dependent upon what we do in the next few weeks to a couple of months.’He also warned of a potential and even 'likely' fifth coronavirus wave if the US fails to blunt the rise in daily infections+10

He also warned of a potential and even ‘likely’ fifth coronavirus wave if the US fails to blunt the rise in daily infections

He said the US needs to urgently ‘blunt’ the rising daily case rates – which averaged at nearly 95,000 this last week after hovering at 70,000 – 80,000 earlier in November.

‘If we don’t do it successfully, it is certainly conceivable and maybe likely that we will see another bit of a surge. How bad it gets is dependent upon us and how we mitigate,’ Fauci said. 

In a separate interview on ABC Sunday, Fauci told host George Stephanopoulos that the Omicron variant will ‘inevitably’ be detected within the United States.

‘If and when – and it’s going to be when – it comes here, hopefully we will be ready for it by enhancing our capabilities via vaccine, masking – all the things that we do, and should be doing,’ Fauci said.

He admitted that Biden’s travel bans aren’t a fool-proof solution, but added they would ‘delay it enough to get us better prepared.’ 2020: Fauci lectures Rand Paul for ‘not listening’ on COVID science.

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Cuba and The Left – Left Voice / Trotskyist Faction – Zigzagging Across The Class Line

 


Repression? This is the aftermath of anti-government riot in Havana that social-democrats claim was repressed. (Photo: Yamil Lage / AFP)

Hovering on the left flank of the DSA milieu is Left Voice (LV), an internet media outlet that is part of an international network of the “Trotskyist Fraction.” (Known as the FT from its Spanish acronym, it is led by the Argentine Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas, or PST.) As the FSP and SAlt echo Biden and AOC in fulsomely embracing the protests and denouncing repression by the Cuban government, LV talks out of both sides of its mouth. It notes that U.S. and bourgeois exile forces sought to “manipulate” the protests to promote counterrevolution, while mainly denouncing the bureaucracy, which it (like SAlt) calls capitalist-restorationist. The double-talk serves to cover the fact that ultimately the FT lines up with imperialism, as in 2019 over Hong Kong’s anti-China riots, and as it did in 1989-92 in the counterrevolutionary wave that swept through East Europe and the Soviet Union – all in the name of “democracy.”

The first, instinctive reaction of the FT and LV to the July 11 protests in Cuba was to denounce “police repression.” As noted above, the police only intervened when the protests became violent. In response to the arrest of Frank García Hernández (the main organizer of the 2019 Trotsky Conference in Havana) during the protests, Left Voice (12 July) published a statement demanding, “Repression and arbitrary detentions by the Cuban government must end. Yes to the democratic right to protest and to free trade union, social, and political organizations.” “Free trade unions”? This was the classic anti-communist demand of Cold War labor operatives – whose counterrevolutionary machinations led the U.S. labor federation to be known as the “AFL-CIA” – as they went about financing subversion in the Soviet bloc (e.g., Polish Solidarność). “Free political organizations”? What about counterrevolutionaries like the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)? Trotskyists say, no way!

And that “democratic right to protest” – any protest? There was no mention of the role of U.S. government-funded actors and of gusano internet operations in the July 11 protests. At least it called for “hands off Cuba” and to “end the blockade,” although this is hardly radical, as almost every government in the world has voted year after year for almost three decades calling for the U.S. to end the embargo. Moreover, when the next day it was reported that García Hernández had been released, Left Voice repeated its “democratic” demand for freedom for counterrevolutionary agitation. This is a fundamental class issue, particularly in an isolated workers state under unrelenting imperialist assault – and LV/FT is on the wrong side of the class line.

Left Voice and the FT often use leftist verbiage to package their ingrained opportunist practice, so unlike out-and-out reformists like SAlt and the FSP, they soon started oscillating. The first iteration was an article, “End the U.S. Embargo of Cuba: Support the Revolution and the Right to Protest” (Left Voice, 12 July), saying they “reject the right wing, the church, and the ‘Patria y Vida’ movement that continue to capitalize on this discontent over the situation in Cuba, attempt to stifle the pending conquests of the revolution, and set the path for capitalist restoration.” This time they defended the “right to demonstration and union organization of those who fight to defend and deepen the conquests of the Cuban Revolution,” while demanding “an immediate release of the political prisoners that defend the revolution.”

But, hold on, in an article on July 16 they were back to the original bourgeois democratic call: “In the present context, we must first of all fight government repression, and fight for the freedom of those arrested in demonstrations, and for freedom of expression, demonstration, and union democracy.”7 So whatever happened to the call for the right to demonstration and union organization and freedom for political prisoners “that defend the revolution”? On July 17, we read: “We must not hand over the banner of democracy to imperialism and its agents.” Here the FT calls for “an end to repression; freedom for those detained” and “political freedom and freedom of organization for the Cuban masses.” Yet the next sentence calls for “legalization of the anti-imperialist Left parties and forces that defend the conquests of the revolution.”8

This was becoming downright schizophrenic: every day a different line on whether it’s calling for democratic rights for all (thus including counterrevolutionaries) or for defenders of the revolution, and now two lines in one article. So yet again, as the “Trotskyist” Fraction swayed to and fro, it was time for another corrective. On July 18, an article by one of the FT’s main writers, Claudia Cinatti, admitted that rightists not only “encouraged” and were “taking advantage of” the July 11 protests, they also “participated,” and “bombarded the social media,” using agencies “funded by the State Department,” along with “bots, ‘influencers’ and celebrities coopted by imperialism.”9 But along with “legalization of political organizations committed to defending the gains of the revolution,” there is once again a call for “the right to freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of trade unions.”

Wanting to have it both ways, with its endless zigzagging over fundamental questions of principle – of revolution vs. counterrevolution – the FT proved, yet again, blind to the class line.

The gyrations of the “Trotskyist Fraction” over Cuba make clear that it is anything but Trotskyist. In the Transitional Program, the founding document of the Fourth International, Trotsky emphasized that in the USSR under Stalin’s bureaucratic regime, the fight for “freedom of the trade unions and the factory committees, for the right of assembly and freedom of the press” must be part of “the struggle for the regeneration and development of Soviet democracy” (emphasis in original). And again: “Democratization of the soviets is impossible without legalization of soviet parties.” Not “free trade unions” in general; not the “right of assembly” for counterrevolutionaries as well; not “freedom of the press” for imperialist-financed publications, nor “free political organizations” of any stripe, but specifically soviet democracy, soviet parties.

This question was sharply posed during the 2019 Havana Trotsky conference. Comrades of the League for the Fourth International who participated there waged a sharp fight against “third camp” tendencies that raise such supposedly classless “democratic” demands, and thereby undercut defense of Cuba. As we reported on this groundbreaking event, our comrades said:

“Democracy. Is Trotskyism the champion of democracy ‘in general’? Does Trotskyism want democracy ‘in general’ in a state where capitalism has been abolished, in a bureaucratically degenerated or deformed workers state? Does Trotskyism call for freedom for all political parties in states of that type? Not according to Trotsky. Not according to Lenin. According to Lenin, if you read his ‘Theses on Bourgeois Democracy and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ [1919], you’ll see that democracy ‘in general’ means bourgeois democracy. We stand for proletarian democracy. What is bourgeois democracy, the call for bourgeois democracy, in a bureaucratically degenerated or deformed workers state? It means capitalist counterrevolution. Capitalist counterrevolution.

“And this is not an asterisk or a footnote for Trotsky. He wrote many polemics and whole books on these topics. Comrades should know that there was a fundamental split in the Trotskyist movement between those who upheld the program of the Fourth International, of unconditional military defense of the Soviet Union against imperialism, and those who rejected this program, such as Max Shachtman. That meant that Shachtman refused to defend the Soviet Union in World War Two.”10

After one of our comrades gave a presentation on Trotsky’s last battles, including the fight against Shachtman, DSAer La Botz shouted “Shachtman was right” in taking a “third camp” position rather than defending the USSR, as Trotsky had insisted. Now La Botz’s immediate reponse to the July protests on Cuba was to call for the “right” of “Cubans” to “organize new political parties” in general and to “organize independent labor unions.”11 And the knee-jerk response of the misnamed Trotskyist Fraction was the same line as that of this latter-day Shachtmanite.

Anti-Trotskyist Fraction Sided with Counterrevolution in the Soviet Bloc

Cinatti’s article claims that “free trade unions” is “a basic demand which Lenin defended in the 1920s in the Soviet Union.” False! Lenin held, in the 1921 trade-union controversy with Trotsky and Bukharin, that the trade unions in Soviet Russia should not be simply a state institution (although already fulfilling certain functions of the workers state) but should be mass organizations “open to workers of various political views and attitudes” while “under the leadership of the communist fractions.”12 This is very different from what the LV/FT as well as “labor” spokesmen for U.S. imperialism are calling for, the “freedom” to form anti-communist unions that would in reality be pro-capitalist political groupings serving as weapons against the workers state. And when the model of such a “union,” CIA-financed Solidarność, brought own the Polish deformed workers state in the late 1980s, the FT’s forerunner opposed calls to defend that state.

The Trotskyist Fraction resulted from a split with the current founded and led by the Argentine pseudo-Trotskyist Nahuel Moreno, whose followers were so rabid in their “solidarity with Solidarność” that they named their newspaper after it, copying the logo. The new Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas (PTS – Socialist Workers Party), which gave rise to the FT, was founded in 1989, just as Polish Solidarność took power as the spearhead of counterrevolution in East Europe. Today, Claudia Cinatti writes that, “The processes of capitalist restoration started in 1989 have re-created exploitative relations, deepened inequality, and, against all democratic illusions, established authoritarian (Bonapartist) regimes.” But that was decidedly not what the PTS said at the time. On the contrary, it insisted that, “In short, the process we are going through is one of political revolution and not of capitalist counterrevolution.” And so it argued that calls to “defend the workers state” were a “crude capitulation to Stalinism.”13

Not only did the PTS explicitly not call to defend the bureaucratically deformed workers states against imperialism and counterrevolution (and denounced those who did), it actively called for counterrevolution in East Germany in the guise of defending “democracy.” Thus as struggle over the fate of the German Democratic Republic (DDR, from its initials in German) heated up, even as it talked of a “united, workers and socialist Germany,” the PTS called for the “Immediate withdrawal of all occupation troops from German soil, of the armed forces of NATO and the Warsaw Pact.”14 In neither case were these “occupation armies,” and as the then-Trotskyist International Communist League (ICL)15 underlined: “The Soviet troops have been the first line of defense of the workers states against imperialism, and that is what the Morenoites want to withdraw.”16

While the future Trotskyist Fraction joined the pro-imperialist chorus of Western leftists demanding withdrawal of Soviet troops, we were distributing Trotskyist literature to those troops, as well as forming soldiers committees in the DDR army on the program of mobilizing to stop counterrevolution. Then, following the March 1990 DDR elections – in which the ICL ran candidates on a program of “No to Capitalist Reunification” and “For a Red Germany of Workers Councils” – the PTS wrote that it “defended the right of the German masses to unite however they wish, even if they decide to do so within the framework of capitalism,” so long as it “is carried out democratically.”17 Spelling that out, the next month they added the slogan: “For a Truly Sovereign Constituent Assembly” in East and West Germany. Here the FT’s hobbyhorse call for constituent assemblies everywhere was directly in the service of restoring capitalist rule.

The real position of the current that is now the Trotskyist Fraction in 1989-90 was for “democratic” counterrevolution, refusing to defend the workers states as they were being liquidated by imperialism.Today it joins the imperialist outcry to free all those detained in the July 11 protests that were instigated, propagated and exploited by counterrevolutionary forces. In Mexico, the FT affiliate noted that the government of the bourgeois populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador sent aid to Cuba, but took AMLO to task for “not say[ing] a word about the repression unleashed by Díaz-Canel’s government, nor about the political prisoners after the recent demonstrations” (La Izquierda Diario, 27 July). So the FT is calling on the capitalist Mexican government to demand the freeing of those arrested in anti-communist-led protests!

The Trotskyist Fraction claims now to have broken with Morenoism, but maintains Moreno’s overall “democratist” outlook, constituent assemblies and all, and his penchant for constant maneuverism. Far from repudiating its tailing of capitalist counterrevolution in the crucialperiod of 1989-92, this was a central building block for what became the FT. After the July 11 events in Cuba, the official Morenoites noted that the FT’s back-and-forth over the protests meant that, in its several articles, there was “not a single concrete orientation about what an FT member should do faced with these mobilizations…. Should they promote and participate in them, … or on the contrary, fight them and call to not participate.”18 For our part, the League for the Fourth International declared forthrightly, “Trotskyists would have joined the pro-government mobilization, appropriately equipped to stop those who would bring back the Yankee imperialists and gusanos.” ■19

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Omaha Neb: Striking Labor Union At Kellogg’s Resists Two-tier Wages (The Militant) 17 Nov 2021

Spirits high as Kellogg’s strike over two-tier wages continues

BY EDWIN FRUIT

OMAHA, Neb. — With spirits high, workers on picket lines outside the Kellogg’s plant here Nov. 17 said they’re determined to win their strike against divisive two-tier wages. 

The 480 workers here are striking along with over 1,000 other members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union at Kellogg’s cereal plants in Memphis, Tennessee; Battle Creek, Michigan; and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. 

The main issue is “equal pay for equal work,” Dan Osborn, president of BCTGM Local 50G, told the Militant. New hires, who the company calls “transitory,” are paid less and get fewer benefits. Kellogg’s wants to create more profitable divisions among workers, demanding the end of a 30% cap on the number of  transitory workers they can hire. “If we allow that,” Osborn said, “eventually the whole workforce would be at the lower level of pay and benefits. We want parity for new workers while they want to bust the union.” 

The union proposes that “after four years probationary workers would reach the top levels,” he said. 

“It can take as much as eight years now to get to be a regular worker,” said Jeff Jens. “I am a second generation Kellogg’s worker and I want it to be a place where my kids can work if they choose.”

The union knows of only five who crossed the picket lines, he said. He estimates the company is working at 20% of capacity. “They are using temporary workers and offering them $26 an hour, with signing bonuses. Ordinarily probationary workers only make $19 an hour.” 

Strikers picket four hours a day, three days a week, although many come to the lines more often. Some have gotten temporary jobs until the strike is over. 

The company “cut off medical benefits on the first day of the strike,” Osborn said. It also “got a restraining order limiting what pickets can do.”  

Douglas County District Court Judge Timothy Burns issued the order Nov. 10, hours after the company filed a lawsuit against the union. The order is an attack on strikers’ freedom of speech and assembly. It prevents them from trying to stop vehicles and talk to scabs  going into the plant, Osborn said.  

‘Workers are sticking together’

“This is my first union job and my first strike,” said Lorianne Tartaglione, who has worked for 16 years as a machine operator at the plant. “But I have learned about the importance of the union and sticking together. I will go back into the plant with my head held high.” 

“I worked as a transitory worker for five years. In that whole time I had a total raise of $1.40,” said Edward Tibbs, who was recently made a permanent worker. “I was doing the same work as someone making $10 to $15 an hour more than me. I had to pay 20% of my health coverage with a $3,500 yearly deductible and no dental coverage or pension. 

“This strike has gotten a lot of support from other unions. When this is over, if I see other folks on strike I will walk their picket lines with them,” he added. Local unionists have helped construct weatherproof shelters at all the picket sites here. 

“We had been working six and seven days a week, mostly 12-hour shifts,” said Tristan Farley, a transitory worker. “The company says it is not sustainable to have everyone paid the same wages, but how is it sustainable to give their CEO a $2 million raise and rake in all the profits that they have over the past couple of years?” 

Talks resumed briefly between the union and the company Nov. 22. The next day bosses announced they would start hiring permanent replacement workers in an effort to break the strike. 

Solidarity with the strike is crucial. Go to the BCTGM Local 50G’s website, where information on how to donate to each of the four locals on strike is posted. 

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Brookwood, Alabama: Striking Miners Confront Capitalist Ban On Labor Union Strike Pickets (The Militant) 18 Nov 2021

BY OMARI MUSA

Miners march in Washington, D.C., Nov. 18, part of national actions against Warrior Met Coal bosses’ court order banning all strike activity within 300 yards of company’s coal mines.
UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA/BRANDON ROBERTSMiners march in Washington, D.C., Nov. 18, part of national actions against Warrior Met Coal bosses’ court order banning all strike activity within 300 yards of company’s coal mines.

WASHINGTON — “No contract, no coal” chanted some 150 United Mine Workers of America members and their supporters at a rally here Nov. 18 in support of striking miners locked in a bitter strike battle against Warrior Met mine bosses in Brookwood, Alabama. The action took place outside Fidelity Investments, one of the largest shareholders at Warrior Met. 

It was one of six protests that day in cities across the country and in Melbourne, Australia. More solidarity actions are needed as bosses turn to the courts to try to use state power to stifle the miners’ fight. An Oct. 27 restraining order by Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge James Roberts banned picketing and all union activity within 300 yards of the Brookwood mines. The ban has been extended twice and currently runs until Dec. 5. 

It is one of the most severe restrictions the labor movement has faced in decades, attacking the constitutional right to free assembly, as mine owners push to break the UMWA.  

“We could be where the Warrior Met miners are tomorrow,” Jeffery Harris, a miner from Harris Number One mine in Boone County, West Virginia, told the Militant  at the rally. “The company where I work could do the same thing.” 

Some 1,100 UMWA members went on strike at Warrior Met April 1, after bosses refused to reverse concessions imposed in 2016 after the previous owner, Jim Walter Resources, went bankrupt and demanded miners make concessions to let the mines get back on their feet. Wage cuts of $6 an hour were forced on miners, along with reductions to retirement benefits and health insurance. This year, bosses reneged on promises they made to reverse the cuts once the mine returned to profitability. 

Harris described how bosses at the mine where he works also used bankruptcy proceedings to threaten to cut medical coverage and overturn the union’s contract a few years ago. 

Eventually “we did get a contract,” he said, “but they could try it again. Workers are standing up. They think we are supposed to bow down but from now on we are going to fight.” 

The majority of miners and their families at the rally came in on buses from West Virginia and Kentucky, many from generations of mining families. AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, were among those who addressed the crowd.

Some three dozen miners and supporters rallied the same day on the steps of the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, to demand Gov. Kay Ivey end her use of state troopers to escort strikebreakers across UMWA picket lines. Bosses at Warrior Met have violence-baited the union, claiming strikers have assaulted scabs. 

UMWA President Cecil Roberts condemned Ivey’s use of the Alabama State Police. “This is all about which side are you on,” he told the rally. 

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Los Angeles CA: Factory Workers Strike against Poverty Pay, Abuse by Management at Rich Products Food Plant (Left Voice) 28 Nov 2021

Since November 3, the group of well over 100 strikers has been on the picket line at the Rich Products-owned Jon Donaire Desserts plant, demanding better wages, improved retirement benefits, and changes to the company’s abusive, punitive point system, which provides workers with only three days of sick leave per year.Edgar ReyesNovember 28, 2021

Strikers at Rich Foods in the Los Angeles area pose with picket signs

Originally published in Socialist Resurgence and Workers’ Voice/La Voz

In Santa Fe Springs, California, located in the Los Angeles area, a group of largely immigrant Latina factory workers is waging a high-stakes strike against the multibillion-dollar food manufacturing company Rich Products. Since November 3, the group of well over 100 strikers has been on the picket line at the Rich Products-owned Jon Donaire Desserts plant, demanding better wages, improved retirement benefits, and changes to the company’s abusive, punitive point system, which provides workers with only three days of sick leave per year.

The striking workers are members of Local 37 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union (BCTGM)—the same union that has waged multiple strikes across the country against major multinational food manufacturing companies thus far this year.

There is a strong feminist component to the struggle at Rich Products. After years of being pushed around, disrespected, and hyper-exploited at the hands of the company’s condescending male bosses, the disproportionately women workforce at the plant has taken a stand for dignity and respect on the job.

“There are a lot of people here that have been mistreated,” points out Miguel Angel Perez, a worker in the plant’s warehouse. “As you can tell, 80 percent of the workers here are female. Management doesn’t seem to understand that it’s a people-driven company, and the women workers are the ones that have been treated the worst. When workers want days off, or they have doctor appointments, or they have babysitting issues—the bosses don’t care about that. What management wants is just someone that’ll be here at work—and if they leave or miss a day, management will give them a half-a-point or a point. And once you get to seven points here, they fire you.”

On top of the demands for more sick days and alterations to the unacceptable point system, strikers are calling for better wages and improved pension and retirement benefits. Currently, many workers at the plant make less than $17 an hour—a rate that is particularly offensive given the high cost of living in the Los Angeles area. In negotiations with the company, the union is demanding a fair increase in wages as part of a new three-year contract.

Rich Products is a very large, privately-owned company. Based in Buffalo, New York, the company sells thousands of different types of processed food products in different countries across the world – everything from pizza crust to packaged barbeque meat to ice cream cakes. In terms of its production network, the company employs some 11,000 workers globally, with 7,000 of them working at more than 20 facilities in the United States and Canada, according to the company’s website. In the Los Angeles area, Rich Products has plants in Torrance and Santa Ana in addition to the struck plant in Santa Fe Springs.

Meanwhile, on an international level, Rich Products also maintains production facilities in Mexico and Brazil, as well as other countries in Asia, Africa, and Europe. The company ranked number 114 on Forbes’s list of America’s Largest Private Companies for 2020 with management reporting some $4 billion in sales for the 2019 fiscal year. Thus the striking workers in Santa Fe Springs are engaged in a struggle with a massive, rapacious corporation that exploits workers all over the world.

At the Santa Fe Springs plant specifically, workers manufacture multiple varieties of ice cream cake that’s sold at many different retail companies, including Baskin-Robbins, Cold Stone Creamery, Walmart, Safeway, and other major outlets. Notably, the Santa Fe Springs plant is the company’s only manufacturing facility that makes this particular type of product, according to striking workers.

By all accounts, the production volumes normally maintained at the Santa Fe Springs plant are very high. On many of the plant’s conveyor-belt-style production lines, workers perform their work processes on dozens of cakes per minute – producing thousands of cakes in total per shift.

“These conveyors are running at about 38 cakes per minute,” explains Julissa Marquez, a shop steward that works on the cake decorating line, in an interview featured on a recent episode of the BCTGM Voices podcast. “Our decorating lines go … 13 cakes per minute. Of course, when we were understaffed, [management] would sort of lower the conveyor speed. But it was still relatively fast, where anything that takes two people to do, one person would do it.”

The brutal pace of work inside the plant causes health issues and leads to repetitive strain injuries for many workers. On the picket line, many strikers are quick to tell stories of injuries they sustained on the job that required them to take time off from work.

Beyond this, another grievance that striking workers express on the picket line relates to mandatory forced overtime – an issue that has been at the heart of all of the strikes waged by the BCTGM thus far this year. At the Santa Fe Springs plant, workers often work shifts of as long as 12 to 16 hours. While workers are technically scheduled to work eight-hour days, in actuality, shifts at the plant only end when workers meet the daily production quotas set by management. Needless to say, this situation makes it difficult for the many working mothers employed at the plant to balance their wage labor requirements with the social reproduction work that they perform at home in order to support their families and raise children. Combined with the low amount of sick days and the punitive point system, the mandatory overtime schedule puts many workers in an intolerable situation—a factor that helped set the stage for the outbreak of the strike.

* * *

Since workers walked off the job more than three weeks ago, the strike has significantly reduced production output at the plant. Out of 175 workers in the bargaining unit, only around 30 workers have crossed the picket line. Importantly, every single worker employed as part of the plant’s sanitation crew—the workers tasked with cleaning the production lines and machines that produce the ice cream cakes—has supported the strike. As a result of this, striking workers observe that the lines are not being properly cleaned in accord with safety standards—and, on multiple occasions, the company has had to throw away the pallets stacked with unsanitary cakes produced by scabs.

Since the start of the struggle, workers have maintained an around-the-clock picket line—24 hours a day and seven days a week—in front of the struck plant. Despite the adversity that comes from being on strike, the workers—who toil elbow-to-elbow beside each other on the plant’s fast-moving production lines – have built a culture of solidarity and mutual support. Workers share meals and warmly welcome visitors that show up to the picket line to lend solidarity. On top of this, workers are receiving support from the broader Los Angeles labor movement. On November 15, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the BCTGM sponsored a rally in front of the struck plant that drew dozens of supporters, including members of multiple other unions in the area. Striking workers have also received international statements of support from workers in Argentina and Mexico. Notably, a group of three worker militants at the big Felfort chocolate factory in Buenos Aires recorded a video declaring “all support to the struggle” of the Rich Products strikers.

“The neighbors, they have been nothing but supportive,” observes Marquez. “The people passing by, we tell them what we’re here for; we ask them for some motivation. And we’ve gotten it … We’ve received food from a few [union] locals. We’ve received donations … And we’re all so grateful for it. It’s keeping us motivated and letting us know that we’re not alone—that we will not be alone, and therefore we have more leverage against the company to keep going.”

The strike at Rich Products is part of a broader uptick of strikes and struggles waged by workers across the country—what the mainstream press and the labor movement has termed “Striketober” and “Strikesgiving.” Within this broader trend, many of the most militant and important strikes have been fought at industrial bakeries and food manufacturing plants and led by the same union to which the Santa Fe Springs strikers belong—the BCTGM. On top of the struggle at Rich Products, the list of strikes waged by the BCTGM thus far this year includes the hard-fought, nearly three-week strike by members of Local 218 at the Frito-Lay snack foods plant in Topeka, Kansas; the victorious strike by some 1,000 workers at Nabisco factories and facilities in five states; and the ongoing strike by 1,400 Kellogg’s cereal production workers in four states. Beyond this, the BCTGM is currently waging a union drive at the Hershey’s Chocolate plant in Stuarts Draft, Virginia, which employs some 1,100 workers and manufactures various types of popular candy products.

Across the country, workers in food processing plants—and workers in manufacturing and other sectors more generally—have grown sick and tired of low pay, deteriorating conditions, abuse by management, mandatory forced overtime, and never-ending speed-ups and hyper-exploitation at the hands of the bosses. The workers at Rich Products are one vital part of this growing struggle, and the entire labor and socialist movement has a duty to come to the support of these courageous workers.

In order to stand in solidarity with the Rich Products strikers, supporters can stop by the picket line in front of the struck plant at 12805 Busch Place in Santa Fe Springs. In addition, the union is now calling on supporters to boycott products from Rich Products and Jon Donaire. Beyond this, supporters can follow the Rich Products strike on social media on the Rich’s Union Members Appreciation Page.

Finally, striking workers have started a GoFundMe account to give strike supporters the opportunity to provide donations to sustain the strikers and their families for the duration of this important, inspiring struggle.

Fauci as The Darth Vader Of COVID Wars – by Pepe Escobar (Asia Times) 27 Nov 2021

Audio of Article – Mp3

2,700 WORDS •

Robert F Kennedy Jr’s The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health should be front-page news in all the news media in the US. Instead, it has been met with the proverbial thundering silence.

Sample of RFK jr Book – Mp3

Critics seeking to have Kennedy dismissed as a kook trading on a famous name had scored a hit in February, when Instagram permanently deleted his account, allegedly for making false claims about coronavirus and vaccines. Nevertheless, the book, published only a few days ago, is already a certified pop hit on Amazon.

RFK Jr, chairman of the board of and chief legal counsel for Children’s Health Defense, sets out to deconstruct a New Normal, encroaching upon all of us since early 2020. In my early 2021 book Raging Twenties I have termed this force techno-feudalism . Kennedy describes it as “rising totalitarianism,” complete with “mass propaganda and censorship, the orchestrated promotion of terror, the manipulation of science, the suppression of debate, the vilification of dissent and use of force to prevent protest.”

Focusing on Dr Anthony Fauci as the fulcrum of the biggest story of the 21st century allows RFK Jr to paint a complex canvas of planned militarization and, especially, monetization of medicine, a toxic process managed by Big Pharma, Big Tech and the military/intel complex – and dutifully promoted by mainstream media.

By now everyone knows that the big winners have been Big Finance, Big Pharma, Big Tech and Big Data, with a special niche for Silicon Valley behemoths.

Why Fauci? RFK Jr argues that for five decades, he has been essentially a Big Pharma agent, nurturing “a complex web of financial entanglements among pharmaceutical companies and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and its employees that have transformed NIAID into a seamless subsidiary of the pharmaceutical industry. Fauci unabashedly promotes his sweetheart relationship with Pharma as a ‘public-private partnership.’”

Arguably the full contours of this very convoluted story have never before been examined along these lines, extensively documented and with a wealth of links. Fauci may not be a household name outside of the US and especially across the Global South. And yet it’s this global audience that should be particularly interested in his story.

RFK Jr accuses Fauci of having pursued nefarious strategies since the onset of Covid-19 – from falsifying science to suppressing and sabotaging competitive products that bring lower profit margins.

Kennedy’s verdict is stark: “Tony Fauci does not do public health; he is a businessman, who has used his office to enrich his pharmaceutical partners and expand the reach of influence that has made him the most powerful – and despotic – doctor in human history.” This is a very serious accusation. It’s up to readers to examine the facts of the case and decide whether Fauci is some kind of medical Dr Strangelove.

No Vitamin D?

Pride of place goes to the Fauci-privileged modeling that overestimated Covid deaths by 525%, cooked up by fabricator Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College in London and duly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This is the model, later debunked, that justified lockdown hysteria all across the planet.

Kennedy attributes to Canadian vaccine researcher Dr Jessica Rose the charge that Fauci was at the frontline of erasing the notion of natural immunity even as throughout 2020 the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) admitted that people with healthy immune systems bear minimal risk of dying from Covid.

Dr Pierre Kory, president of Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance, was among those who denounced Fauci’s modus operandi of privileging the development of tech vaccines while allowing no space for repurposed medications effective against Covid: “It is absolutely shocking that he recommended no outpatient care, not even Vitamin D.”

Clinical cardiologist Peter McCullough and his team of frontline doctors tested prophylactic protocols using, for instance, ivermectin – “we had terrific data from medical teams in Bangladesh” – and added other medications such as azithromycin, zinc, Vitamin D and IV Vitamin C. And all this while across Asia there was widespread use of saline nasal lavages.

By July 1, 2020, McCullough and his team submitted their first, ground-breaking protocol to the American Journal of Medicine, which was widely downloaded.

McCullough complained last year that Fauci had never, to date, published anything on how to treat a Covid patient. He additionally alleged without corroborating evidence: “Anyone who tries to publish a new treatment protocol will find themselves airtight blocked by the journals that are all under Fauci’s control.”

It got much worse. McCullough: “The whole medical establishment was trying to shut down early treatment and silence all the doctors who talked about success. A whole generation of doctors just stopped practicing medicine.”

(A contrarian view would argue that McCullough got carried away: A million US doctors – the approximate number practicing at any given time – could not all have been in on it.)

The book argues that the reasons there was a lack of original research on how to fight Covid were the dependence of much-vaunted American academics on the billions of dollars granted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the fact they were terrified of contradicting Fauci.

Frontline Covid specialists Kory and McCullough are quoted as charging that Fauci’s suppression of early treatment and off-patent medication was responsible for up to 80% of deaths attributed to Covid in the US.

How to kill the competition

The book offers a detailed outline of an alleged offensive by Big Pharma to kill hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) – with research mercenaries funded by the Gates-Fauci axis allegedly misinterpreting and misreporting negative results by employing faulty protocols.

Kennedy says that Bill Gates by 2020 virtually controlled the whole WHO apparatus, as the largest funder after the US government (before Trump pulled the US out of the WHO) and used the agency to fully discredit HCQ – a sweeping if not incendiary claim.

The book also addresses Lancetgate – when the world’s top two scientific journals, The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine – published fraudulent studies from a nonexistent database owned by a previously unknown company.

Only a few weeks later both journals – deeply embarrassed and with their hard-earned credibility challenged – withdrew the studies. There was never any explanation as to why they got involved in what could be interpreted as one of the most serious frauds in the history of scientific publishing.

But it all served a purpose. For Big Pharma, says Kennedy, killing HCQ and, later, Ivermectin (IVM) were top priorities. Ivermectin happens to be a low-profit competitor to a Merck product, molnupiravir, which is essentially a copycat but capable of being retailed at a profitable $700 per course.

The book alleges Fauci was quite excited by a promising study of Gilead’s remdesivir – which not only is widely seen as ineffective against Covid but is a de facto deadly poison, at $3,000 for each treatment.

The book also suggests that Fauci might have wanted to kill HCQ and IVM because, under US federal rules, the Food and Drug Administration’s recognition of both HCQ and IVM would automatically kill remdesivir.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation happens to have a large equity stake in Gilead. A key point for Kennedy is that vaccines were Big Pharma’s Holy Grail.

Robert F Kennedy Jr. Photo: NDTV.com

Robert F Kennedy Jr. Photo: NDTV.com

He details how what could be construed as a Fauci-Gates alliance put “billions of taxpayer and tax-deducted dollars into developing” an mRNA “platform for vaccines that, in theory, would allow them to quickly produce new ‘boosters’ to combat each ‘escape variant.’”

Vaccines, he writes, “are one of the rare commercial products that multiply profits by failing … The good news for pharma was that all of humanity would be permanently dependent on biannual or even triannual booster shots.”

Any similarities with our current “booster” reality are not mere coincidence.

The final summary of Pfizer’s clinical trial data will raise countless eyebrows. Peter McCullough: “Because the clinical trial showed that vaccines reduce absolute risk less than 1%, those vaccines can’t possibly influence epidemic curves. It’s mathematically impossible.”

The Gates matrix

Bill Gates describes the operational philosophy of his foundation as “philantrocapitalism.” It’s more like strategic self-philantropy, as both the foundation’s capital and his net worth have been ballooning.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – “a nonprofit, fighting poverty, disease and inequity around the world” – invests in multinational pharma, food, agriculture, energy, telecom and global tech companies. It exercises considerable de facto control over international health and agricultural agencies as well as mainstream media – as the Columbia Journalism Review showed in August 2020.

Gates, without a graduate degree, not to mention medical school degree (like author Kennedy, it must be noted, whose training was as a lawyer), dispenses wisdom around the world as a health expert. The foundation holds corporate stocks and bonds in Pfizer, Merck, GSK, Novartis and Sanofi, among other giants, and substantial positions in Gilead, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

The book delves in minute detail into how Gates controls the WHO (the largest direct donor: $604.2 million in 2018-2019, the latest available numbers). Already in 2011 Gates suggested: “All 183 member states, you must make vaccines a central focus of your health systems.” The next year, the World Health Assembly, which sets the WHO agenda, adopted a Global Vaccine Plan designed by – who else? – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Foundation also reputedly controls the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), the top advisory group to the WHO on vaccines, as well as the crucial GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization), which is the second-largest donor to the WHO.

GAVI is a Gates “public-private partnership” that essentially corrals bulk sales of vaccines from Big Pharma to poor nations. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, only three months ago, proclaimed that “GAVI is the new NATO.”

Few in East and West know that it was Gates who in 2017 handpicked the WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – who brought no medical degree and a quite dodgy background.

Dr Vandana Shiva, among India’s leading human rights activists (routinely accused of being merely anti-vax), sums up: “Gates has hijacked the WHO and transformed it into an instrument of personal power that he wields for the cynical purpose of increasing pharmaceutical profits. He has single-handedly destroyed the infrastructure of public health globally. He has privatized our health systems and our food systems to serve his own purposes.”

Gaming pandemics

The book’s Chapter 12, “Germ Games,” may arguably be its most explosive, as it focuses on the US bioweapons and biosecurity apparatus, with a special mention of Robert Kadlec, who might claim leadership of the – contagious – logic according to which infectious disease poses a national security threat to the US, thus requiring a militarized response.

The book argues that Kadlec, closely linked to spy agencies, Big Pharma, the Pentagon and assorted military contractors, is also linked to Fauci investments in “gain of function” experiments capable of engineering pandemic superbugs. Fauci strongly denies he’s promoted such experiments. In 1998 Kadlec had written an internal strategy paper for the Pentagon – though not for Fauci – promoting the role of pandemic pathogens as stealth weapons leaving no fingerprints.

Since 2005 DARPA, which invented the internet by building the ARPANET in 1969, has funded biological weapons research. DARPA – call it the Pentagon’s angel investor – also developed the GPS, stealth bombers, weather satellites, pilotless drones – and that prodigy of combat, the M16 rifle.

In 2017 DARPA funneled $6.5 million through Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance to fund “gain of function” work at the Wuhan lab, on top of gain of function experiments at Fort DetrickEcoHealth Alliance was the organization through which the financing went.

RFK Jr dutifully connects the Germ Games progress, starting with Dark Winter in 2001, which emphasized the Pentagon’s drive towards bioweapon vaccines (the code name was coined by Kadlec); the anthrax attack three weeks after 9/11; Atlantic Storm in 2003 and 2005, focused on the response to a terrorist attack unleashing smallpox; Global Mercury 2003; and Lockstep in 2010, which developed a scenario funded by the Rockefeller Foundation where we find this pearl:

During the pandemic, national leaders around the world flexed their authority and imposed airtight rules and restrictions, from the mandatory wearing of face masks to body-temperature checks at the entries to communal spaces like train stations and supermarkets. Even after the pandemic faded, this more authoritarian control and oversight of citizens and their activities stuck and even intensified. In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly global problems – from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crises and rising poverty – leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power.

RFK Jr paints a picture in which, by mid-2017, the Rockefeller Foundation and US intel agencies had all but crowned Bill Gates as the top financier for the intel/military pandemic simulation business.

Enter the MARS (Mountain Associated Respiratory Virus) simulation during the G20 in Germany in 2017. MARS happened to hit China. MARS was about a novel respiratory virus that spread out of busy markets in a mountainous border of an unnamed nation that looked very much like China.Subscribe to New Columns

It gets curiouser and curiouser when one learns that MARS’s two moderators were very close to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. One of them, David Heymann, sat with the Moderna CEO on the Merieux Foundation USA Board. BioMerieux happens to be the French company that built the Wuhan lab.

Big Pharma kisses Western intel

Afterward came SPARS 2017 at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation happen to be major funders of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. SPARS 2017 gamed a coronavirus pandemic running from 2025 to 2028. As RFK Jr. notes, “the exercise turned out to be an eerily precise predictor of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In 2015, Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned about global pandemics in a TED Talk. Credit: File photo.

In 2015, Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned about global pandemics in a TED Talk. Credit: File photo.

By 2018, bioweapons expert Peter Daszak was enthroned as the key connector through whom grants were moved to fund gain-of-function research, including at the Wuhan Institute of Virology Biosafety Lab.

Crimson Contagion, overseen by Kadlec after eight months of planning, came in August 2019. Fauci was on board the self-described “functional exercise,” representing the NIH, alongside the CDC’s Robert Redfield and several members of the National Security Council.

The war game was supposedly held in secret, nationwide. In the After-Action Crimson Contagion Report, which only came out via a FOIA request, however, the list of participating organizations goes on and on for pages, including Indian tribes and county governments. It is impossible to determine from his organization’s simple involvement that this was a Fauci project.

The star of the Gates pandemic show was undoubtedly Event 201 in October 2019, held only 3 weeks before US intel may – or may not – have suspected that Covid-19 was circulating in Wuhan. Event 201 was about a global coronavirus pandemic. RFK Jr persuasively argues that Event 201 was as close as possible to a “real-time” simulation.

The book’s “Germ Games” chapter leads the reader to acknowledge what mainstream media have simply refused to report: how the pervasive involvement of US (and UK) intel has a secretive – yet dominating – presence in the whole response to Covid-19.

A very good example is the Wellcome Trust – the UK version of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – which is a spinoff of Big Pharma’s GlaxoSmith Kline. This epitomizes the marriage between Big Pharma and Western intel.

The Wellcome Trust chair, from 2015 to 2020, used to be a former director-general of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller. She was also chair of the Imperial College, since 2001. The “English Dr Fauci,” Neil Ferguson, of the infamous, deadly wrong models that led to all lockdowns, was an epidemiologist working for the Wellcome Trust.

These are only a few of the insights, connections and loaded allegations woven through RFK Jr’s book. As a matter of public service, the whole lot should be available for popular scrutiny worldwide (and indeed, the digital Kindle edition is priced at a rock-bottom $2.99). These matters concern the whole planet, especially the Global South.

Nobel laureate Luc Montaigner has noted how, “tragically for humanity, there are many, many untruths emanating from Fauci and his minions.” Even more tragic is what emanates from his masters.(Republished from Asia Times

Don’t Write What You Know – A Story is Not About Something – A Story is Something

https://archive.is/9ryIq&nbsp;

I posted this article on Craigslist in ‘Community’ where all the other posts are low rent commercial ads.  This is a way for me to pay attention to the ideas in this wise piece of writing advice.

Audio of Article – Mp3

Every Wednesday, I teach an introductory fiction workshop at Harvard University, and on the first day of class I pass out a bullet-pointed list of things the students should try hard to avoid. Don’t start a story with an alarm clock going off. Don’t end a story with the whole shebang having been a suicide note. Don’t use flashy dialogue tags like intoned or queried or, God forbid, ejaculated. Twelve unbearably gifted students are sitting around the table, and they appreciate having such perimeters established. With each variable the list isolates, their imaginations soar higher. They smile and nod. The mood in the room is congenial, almost festive with learning. I feel like a very effective teacher; I can practically hear my course-evaluation scores hitting the roof. Then, when the students reach the last point on the list, the mood shifts. Some of them squint at the words as if their vision has gone blurry; others ask their neighbors for clarification. The neighbor will shake her head, looking pale and dejected, as if the last point confirms that she should have opted for that aseptic-surgery class where you operate on a fetal pig. The last point is: Don’t Write What You Know.

The idea panics them for two reasons. First, like all writers, the students have been encouraged, explicitly or implicitly, for as long as they can remember, to write what they know, so the prospect of abandoning that approach now is disorienting. Second, they know an awful lot. In recent workshops, my students have included Iraq War veterans, professional athletes, a minister, a circus clown, a woman with a pet miniature elephant, and gobs of certified geniuses. They are endlessly interesting people, their lives brimming with uniquely compelling experiences, and too often they believe those experiences are what equip them to be writers. Encouraging them not to write what they know sounds as wrongheaded as a football coach telling a quarterback with a bazooka of a right arm to ride the bench. For them, the advice is confusing and heartbreaking, maybe even insulting. For me, it’s the difference between fiction that matters only to those who know the author and fiction that, well, matters.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should admit I’ve been accused of writing what I know on a good many occasions. Acquaintances, book reviewers, kind souls who’ve attended public readings, students, they’ve all charged me with writing autobiographical fiction. Sometimes, the critic notes a parallel between my background and that of a character. At other times, the reasoning is fuzzier. A woman at a reading once told me, “I liked your book a lot, but the stories made me think you’d be taller.” I’m never offended; at times, I’ve been weirdly flattered. Comments like these make me think I’m getting away with something.

The facts are these: I was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, the part of the country where most every word of fiction I’ve published takes place. I grew up around horses and hurricanes; my father worried about money, occasionally moonlighted to pay the bills, and died young; my mother smoked and paid mightily for it. If you read Corpus Christi: Stories, you’ll undoubtedly recognize elements from my life in the stories; however, very few of the experiences in the book are my own. In early versions of some stories, my impulse was to try to record how certain events in my life had played out, but by the third draft, I was prohibitively bored. I knew how, in real life, the stories ended, and I had a pretty firm idea of what they “meant,” so the story could not surprise me, or provide an opportunity for wonder. I was writing to explain, not to discover. The writing process was as exciting as completing a crossword puzzle I’d already solved. So I changed my approach.

Instead of thinking of my experiences as structures I wanted to erect in fiction, I started conceiving of them as the scaffolding that would be torn down once the work was complete. I took small details from my life to evoke a place and the people who inhabit it, but those details served to illuminate my imagination. Before, I’d forced my fiction to conform to the contours of my life; now I sought out any and every point where a plot could be rerouted away from what I’d known. The shift was seismic. My confidence waned, but my curiosity sprawled. I was writing fiction, to paraphrase William Trevor, not to express myself, but to escape myself. When I recall those stories now, the flashes of autobiography remind me of stars staking a constellation. Individually, the stars are unimportant; only when they map shapes in the darkness, shapes born of imagination, do we understand their light.

I don’t know the origin of the “write what you know” logic. A lot of folks attribute it to Hemingway, but what I find is his having said this: “From all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive.” If this is the logic’s origin, then maybe what’s happened is akin to that old game called Telephone. In the game, one kid whispers a message to a second kid and then that kid whispers it to a third and so on, until the message circles the room and returns to the first kid. The message is always altered, minimized, and corrupted by translation. “Bill is smart to sit in the grass” becomes “Bill is a smart-ass.” A similar transmission problem undermines the logic of writing what you know and, ironically, Hemingway may have been arguing against it all along. The very act of committing an experience to the page is necessarily an act of reduction, and regardless of craft or skill, vision or voice, the result is a story beholden to and inevitably eclipsed by source material.

Another confession: part of me dies inside when a student whose story has been critiqued responds to the workshop by saying, “You can’t object to the _________ scene. It really happened! I was there!” The writer is giving preference to the facts of an experience, the so-called literal truth, rather than fiction’s narrative and emotional integrity. Conceived this way, the writer’s story is relegated to an inferior and insurmountable station; it can neither compete with, nor live without, the ur-experience. Such a writer’s sole ambition is for the characters and events to represent other and superior–read: actual–characters and events. Meaning, the written story has never been what mattered most. Meaning, the reader is meant to care less about the characters and more about whoever inspired them, and the actions in a story serve to ensure that we track their provenance and regard that material as truer. Meaning, the story is engineered–and expected–to be about something. And aboutness is all but terminal in fiction.

Stories aren’t about things. Stories are things.

Stories aren’t about actions. Stories are, unto themselves, actions.

To be perfectly clear: I don’t tell students not to ferret through their lives for potential stories. I don’t want, say, a soldier who served in Iraq to shy away from writing war stories. Quite the opposite. I want him to freight his fiction with rich details of combat. I want the story to evoke the texture of the sand and the noise of a Baghdad bazaar, the terrible and beautiful shade of blue smoke ribboning from the barrel of his M-4. His experience should liberate his imagination, not restrict it. Of course I want him to take inspiration where he can find it. What I don’t want–and what’s prone to happen when writers set out to write what they know–is for him to think an imagined story is less urgent, less harrowing or authentic, than a true story.

Take, for example, The Lazarus Project, by Bosnian-born author Aleksandar Hemon. In this superb and wrenching novel, Hemon entwines two narratives–the 1908 murder of Lazarus Averbuch in Chicago, and the present-day journey of a writer named Brik through eastern Europe to research a book about Lazarus. Superficially, the novel seems as entrenched in autobiography as it is in history: Brik, like Hemon, was born in Bosnia, and Hemon lives, like the fictional Brik, in Chicago; Hemon, like Brik, also traveled through Europe to research the project with a photographer friend, and sure enough, both a photographer friend and photographs can be found in the novel. However, The Lazarus Project is far more than the sum of its parts. The raw materials serve Hemon’s fiction in the same way that paint, canvas, and onions served Cezanne’s Still Life With Onions. The goal isn’t to represent an experience, but instead to create a piece of art that is itself an experience. In a recent interview, Hemon, a MacArthur “genius grant” recipient, said, “I reserve the right to get engaged with any aspect of human experience, and so that means that I can–indeed I must–go beyond my experience to engage. That’s non-negotiable.” Amen.

And what of Lorrie Moore’s masterpiece “People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk”? Upon its publication in 1997, many readers assumed Moore’s short story of parents coping with their one-year-old boy’s kidney cancer was nonfiction; after all, her family had endured similar trauma and the mother in the story was, like Moore, a teacher and fiction writer. (At one point, the father encourages the mother to “take notes” on the ordeal so she can write and sell a story to offset the mounting medical expenses.) And yet the story’s potency is attributable to the architecture of fiction, the distance that Moore pries open between her family and the family on the page. A straightforward recounting of the experience would merely confirm what reader and author already know: cancer is horrible, watching children suffer is horrible, etc. To affect the reader, to reveal the fullness and force of such trauma, Moore invokes her imagination. She deploys humor, wordplay, dramatized scenes, a complex (mostly) third-person narration, and an apparatus of irony built on the crucial conceit that the mother lacks the necessary skill and courage to write this story. As she makes her way to see her son after his surgery, her thinking sums up the limitations of simply writing what you know: “How can any of it be described? The trip and the story of the trip are always two different things . . . One cannot go to a place and speak of it; one cannot both see and say, not really.”

Or, speaking of war stories, consider Tim O’Brien’s collection of stories, The Things They Carried. The book renders the myriad horrors, exhilarations, doldrums, and tragedies of the Vietnam War with vividness and intimacy, and because the author is a veteran, the book’s power might be assumed to emanate from O’Brien’s firsthand knowledge. And maybe it does. But in “Good Form,” one of the short-short stories in the collection, the narrator says, “Story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.” I’ve always found an abiding comfort in this claim, and the comfort is compounded by the fact that the narrator is a man who shares so much of the author’s pedigree–his experience in Vietnam, his current literary vocation, even his age and name. O’Brien could have written the “happening-truth” of his experience and called it a day. (In fact, he did just that in his first book, If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home.) But by choosing fiction here, especially after having written a nonfiction account of his experiences, he tacitly acknowledges that something is gained by setting imagination loose on history, something profound and revelatory and vital: empathy. Empathy, to my mind, is the channel through which writer and reader can most assuredly connect with the characters. And if personal experience constrains a story, often to the point of dullness and abstraction, then empathy simultaneously sharpens and emancipates it. O’Brien writes:

Here is happening-truth, I was once a soldier. There were many bodies, real bodies with real faces, but I was young then and afraid to look . . .

Here is the story-truth. He was a slim, dead, almost dainty young man of about twenty. He lay in the center of a red clay trail near the village of My Khe. His jaw was in his throat. His one eye was shut, the other eye was a star-shaped hole. I killed him.

Another deeper, more essential part of me dies when a workshop student says, “What I wanted to do was __________.” The idea of a writer “wanting” to do something in a story unhinges me. At best, such desire smacks of nostalgia and, at worst, it betrays agenda. I feel pity for the characters, a real sense of futility. I’m reminded of Ron Carlson’s hilarious story, “What We Wanted to Do,” in which a group of villagers intends to spill a cauldron of boiling oil on the Visigoths storming their gates. The oil, however, never reaches its boiling point, so when the villagers commence their dousing, the liquid is lukewarm and the Visigoths aren’t so much scalded as they are terribly pissed off. The result is their most vicious attack. The lesson is a good one for fiction writers: stories fueled by intentions never reach their boiling point.

And writing what you know is knotted up with intention, and intention in fiction is always related to control, to rigidity, and more often than not, a little solipsism. The writer seems to have chosen an event because it illustrates a point or mounts an argument. When a fiction writer has a message to deliver, a residue of smugness is often in the prose, a distressing sense of the story’s being rushed, of the author’s going through the motions, hurrying the characters toward whatever wisdom awaits on the last page. As a reader, I feel pandered to and closed out. Maybe even a little bullied. My involvement in the story, like the characters’, becomes utterly passive. We are there to follow orders, to admire and applaud the author’s supposed insight.

Maybe, though, the hardest thing for me to hear in workshop is a student’s claim that he isn’t “comfortable” writing certain stories. The words are almost blasphemous to me, equally saddening and maddening. Usually, the student’s discomfort relates to race or gender, sexuality or class. He feels ill-equipped to write about characters that don’t resemble him in the mirror and bedroom, so he reverts to writing what he knows. I argue that if the subject or character is intimidating, then that’s exactly what the writer should be exploring in fiction. My students worry about being invasive or predatory, and few things frighten them more than charges of appropriation and literary trespassing. But I see an altogether more menacing threat: the devaluing of not only imagination, but also compassion. And if empathy is important to fiction, compassion is invaluable. Compassion is empathy on steroids.

Was Toni Morrison a slave? Did she ever slit a child’s throat? Was Nabokov, in light of his “fancy prose style,” a murderer? Has Haruki Murakami ever constructed a flute from the souls of cats? Yes, Flannery O’Connor limped, but did she ever lose a wooden leg to a huckster Bible salesman? Tim O’Brien served in Vietnam, but, as the narrator of “Good Form” says, “almost everything else is invented.” Even without extended research, I can guarantee Ron Carlson has never spilled oil onto the head of a Visigoth.

All of this recalls for me an interview with Allan Gurganus, the sublime novelist who so thoroughly imagined Lucy Marsden, that oldest living Confederate widow who dished all her secrets. Gurganus says, “As an amateur historian, I’m forever aware that ‘the second story’ of a building once referred to its murals.” I also remember reading that the murals painted on a building’s interior walls usually depicted a tale from history, and thus, if you were on the fourth floor, if you were seeing the fourth mural, you were on the fourth story. In the interview, Gurganus goes on to say, “For fantasists like me, history constitutes the ground floor only, staff entrance. We all enter there but–given our spirit yearnings, our malformed characters, as soon as possible, we ascend.” This seems inviolably true to me, and impossibly inspiring. Writers may enter their stories through literal experience, through the ground floor, but fiction brings with it an obligation to rise past the base level, to transcend the limitations of fact and history, and proceed skyward.

I’m also thinking again about my fiction workshop, those Wednesdays spent talking about people who don’t exist, and how chilled the students are when I discourage them from writing what they know. To reanimate them–or at least salvage my course-evaluation scores–I say fiction is an act of courage and humility, a protest against our mortality, and we, the authors, don’t matter. What matters is our characters, those constructions of imagination that can transcend our biases and agendas, our egos and entitlements and flesh. Trust your powers of empathy and invention, I say. Trust the example of the authors you love to read–Flaubert: “Emma, c’est moi”–and trust that your craft, when braided with compassion, will produce stories that matter both to you and to readers you’ve never met.

The students mostly buy it. Week by week, their stories are arresting and rewarding, and with each revision, I feel more optimistic, more reassured and moved by their work. My students succeed about as often as most writers do, as often as I do–in other words, often enough. As I read their good fiction, though, I sometimes wonder if I haven’t misunderstood something simple and essential. I’ve long believed that what has kept writers, again myself included, from fully transcending their personal experiences on the page was fear of incompetence: I can’t write a plot that involves a kidnapping because I’ve never been kidnapped, etc. But what if it’s the opposite? What if the reason we find it so difficult to cleave our fiction from our experience, the reason we’re so loath to engage our imaginations and let the story rise above the ground floor of truth, isn’t that we’re afraid we’ll do the job poorly, but that we’re afraid we’ll do it too well? If we succeed, if the characters are fully imagined, if they are so beautifully real that they quicken and rise off the page, then maybe our own experiences will feel smaller, our actions less consequential. Maybe we’re afraid that if we write what we don’t know, we’ll discover something truer than anything our real lives will ever yield. And maybe we encounter still another, more insidious threat–the threat that if we do our jobs too well, if we powerfully render characters who are untethered from our experience, they’ll supplant us in the reader’s mind. Maybe we worry that fiction’s vividness will put our own brief and negligible lives into too stark a relief, and the reader, seduced by literature’s permanence, will leave us behind. Maybe we worry we’ll be forgotten. Maybe we’re afraid of what we want most–for our characters to outlive us–and maybe the possibility that the writer, not the reader, will get lost in the pages of a great book is, ultimately, too much for us to bear.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/08/dont-write-what-you-know/308576/

Workers of the World: Labor’s Potential to Resist Capital is as Strong as Ever

Trade unionists in the 1920s didn’t have much reason for optimism. Labor membership, which had shot upwards amid postwar unrest, crested and then plunged. Observers fretted that technological and cultural changes had rendered the labor movement obsolete and workers apathetic. “Our younger members, especially, have gone jazzy,” one union official lamented in the mid 1920s.

A decade later, strikes were blocking production across the country, and union density was skyrocketing.

After years of malaise in the labor movement, is a similar upsurge possible today?

Renowned labor scholar Beverly Silver thinks so. Chair of the sociology department at Johns Hopkins University, Silver has been a radical advocate for workers her whole life. Her award-winning work, including her pathbreaking Forces of Labor, deals with profound questions of labor, development, social conflict, and war. In a recent interview with Jacobin she explained what labor’s past can tell us about the present state — and future — of working-class struggle around the globe. The last few decades have seen a profound restructuring of the working class in the United States and other advanced capitalist countries. What are the broad contours of that restructuring process, and what are the forces driving it?

Capitalism is constantly transforming the organization of production and the balance of power between labor and capital — restructuring the working class, remaking the working class. So to answer this question I think we need to take a longer-term view.

It makes sense to go back to the mid-twentieth century — to the thirties, forties, and fifties. That’s when we first see the emergence of a very strong mass-production working class in the United States, most paradigmatically in the automobile industry but also in sectors like mining, energy, and transportation, which were central to industrialization and trade.

Pretty much right out of the gate after World War II, capital moved to restructure — reconfiguring the organization of production, the labor process, sources of labor supply, and the geographical location of production. This restructuring was in large part a response to strong labor movements in manufacturing and mining, in logistics and transportation.

An expanded version of David Harvey’s concept of the spatial fix is helpful here for understanding this restructuring. Capital tried to resolve the problem of strong labor movements, and the threat to profitability that labor posed, by implementing a series of “fixes.”

Companies utilized a spatial fix by moving to lower-wage sites. They implemented “technological fixes” — reducing their dependence on workers by accelerating automation. And they have been implementing what we can think of as a “financial fix” — moving capital out of trade and production and into finance and speculation as yet another means of reducing dependence on the established, mass-production working class for profits.

The beginnings of this shift of capital to finance and speculation was already visible in the 1970s, but it exploded after the mid 1990s, following the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act during the Clinton years.

So what looked like a sudden collapse in the power of organized labor in the United States in the eighties and nineties was actually rooted in decades of restructuring on these multiple fronts that began in the mid-twentieth century.

Of course, it is important to point out that there is another side of the coin. These capitalist fixes unmade the established mass-production working class, but they simultaneously made new working classes in the United States and elsewhere. These new working classes are emerging as the protagonists of labor struggles in many parts of the world today. It is no secret that the traditional forms of working-class organization, like trade unions in the United States and social-democratic parties in Europe, are in the midst of a severe crisis. How has capital succeeded in undermining and taming these organized expressions of working-class interest?

If we look back in history at high points of labor militancy, particularly those moments involving left movements tied to socialist and working-class parties, a recurrent set of strategies to undermine the radical potential of these movements is apparent. They can be summed up as restructuring, co-optation, and repression.

So, the kinds of restructuring or fixes I mentioned above — geographical relocation, technological change, financialization — certainly played an important role in weakening these movements. In the meantime, the co-optation of trade unions and working-class parties — their incorporation as junior partners into national hegemonic projects and social compacts — also played an important role. Finally, repression was an important part of the mix all along.

Just taking the United States as an example, in the post–World War II decades we see McCarthyism and the expulsion of left and Communist militants from the trade unions. Then, in the sixties and seventies, strong factory- and community-based movements of black workers — the Black Panther Party, the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM) — were brought under control by out-and-out repression.

And today — with the militarization of local police forces and the endless “war on terror” creating a hostile environment for the mobilization of immigrant and black workers — coercion continues to play a major role. One of the big debates today is whether the defining dynamic shaping the global working class is exploitation — workers being squeezed at the point of production — or exclusion — workers being essentially locked out of stable wage labor. What are your thoughts on this debate?

I see them as equally important. Certainly it would be a mistake to write off the continuing importance of struggles against exploitation at the point of production. Indeed, one outcome of the spatial-fix strategy has been to create new working classes and labor-capital contradictions wherever capital goes.

In other words, workers’ resistance to exploitation at the point of production has followed the movement of capital around the globe over the past half-century. Indeed, we are witnessing the latest manifestation of this dynamic with the massive wave of labor unrest now taking place in China.

Once it became clear to corporations that simply moving factories to low-wage sites could not solve the problem of labor control, capital came to rely more heavily on automation and financialization. Automation, while hardly new, has recently been expelling wage workers from production at a rapid clip, increasing the visibility of the exclusionary dynamic. A recent glaring illustration is the news that FoxConn has actually followed through with its threat to introduce a massive number of robots into its factories in China.

Likewise, the movement of surplus capital into finance and speculation is also contributing in a major way to the increasing salience of exclusion. Finance — especially those financial activities that are not adjuncts to trade and production — absorbs relatively little wage labor; more importantly, it derives profits primarily from the regressive redistribution of wealth through speculation, rather than the creation of new wealth. Hence the link made by Occupy between obscene levels of class inequality and financialization.

Automation and financialization are leading to an acceleration in the long-term tendency of capitalism to destroy established livelihoods at a much faster rate than it creates new ones. This was always the predominant tendency of historical capitalism in much of the Global South, where dispossession tended to outpace the absorption of wage labor, and thus where workers increasingly had nothing to sell but their labor power, but little chance of actually selling it.

While this tendency is nothing new, both its acceleration and the fact that its negative effects are being felt in core countries — and not just in the Third World — help explain why the exclusionary dynamic has come to the fore in current debates. To frame the question differently, does it even make sense to think of exclusion and exploitation as separate processes?

Well, Marx certainly didn’t view them as separate phenomena. In the first volume of Capital, he argued that the accumulation of capital went hand in hand with the accumulation of a surplus population — that wealth was being created through exploitation, but at the same time big chunks of the working class were excluded or made superfluous to the needs of capital.

For most of the twentieth century, there was an uneven geographical distribution in terms of where the brunt of exclusionary processes was felt. Indeed, until recently, one of the ways capital maintained legitimacy within core countries was by pushing the weight of the exclusionary processes onto the Third World as well as onto marginalized sections of the working class within the core.

The world working class was divided, with boundaries very much defined by citizenship, race, ethnicity, and gender. Today these boundaries are still quite salient, however. Particularly after the 2008 global financial crisis, the weight of exclusionary processes is being felt more heavily in core countries than in the past — with all sorts of political implications. In your work you’ve thought a lot about the power of workers and the working class. You distinguish between different sources of worker power. Can you talk more about that?

Yes, a major distinction is between structural power and associational power. Associational power is the capacity to make gains through trade union and political party organization. Structural power is the power that comes from workers’ strategic location within the process of production — a power that can be, and often has been, exercised in the absence of trade union organization. Why is it useful to make these distinctions?

Well, take structural power, for example. There are two main types of structural power: workplace bargaining power and marketplace bargaining power.

Most of the time, people think about marketplace bargaining power to understand worker power more broadly. If there’s high unemployment, your marketplace bargaining power is low, and vice versa. Workplace bargaining power — the ability to bring interconnected processes of production to a halt through localized work stoppages — is less emphasized, but is perhaps even more important for understanding sources of workers’ power today.

This is because, if you look at long-term historical trends, workers’ power at the point of production is undoubtedly, on balance, increasing. This is surprising to people. But this increased workplace bargaining power is apparent with the spread of just-in-time methods in manufacturing. In contrast to more traditional mass-production methods, no buffers or surpluses are built into the production process.

Thus, with the spread of just-in-time production in the automobile industry, for example, a relatively small number of workers, by simply stopping production in a strategic node — even, say, a windshield-wiper parts supplier — can bring an entire corporation to a standstill. There are plenty of recent examples of this in the automobile industry around the world.

Likewise, workers in logistics — transport and communication — have significant and growing workplace bargaining power tied to the cascading economic impact that stoppages in these sectors would have. Moreover, notwithstanding the almost universal tendency to think of globalization processes as weakening labor, the potential geographical scale of the impacts of these stoppages has increased with globalization. What about associational power? If workers have no unions or labor parties, doesn’t that undermine their structural bargaining power?

Not necessarily. Take the case of China. Autonomous trade unions are illegal, but there have been some major improvements recently in minimum-wage laws, labor laws, and working conditions. These changes have come out of a grassroots upsurge that has taken advantage of workers’ structural power, both in the marketplace and, even more important, in the workplace.

I think we also have to be honest about the ambiguous structural position of trade unions. If they’re too successful and deliver too much to their base, capital becomes extremely hostile and doesn’t want to deal with them and so moves to a more repressive strategy.

Capital will sometimes make deals with trade unions, but only if trade unions agree to play a mediating role, limiting labor militancy and ensuring labor control. But in order to effectively do that, unions have to deliver something to their base, which brings us back to the first problem. Ultimately, the question is: in what kind of situations does this contradictory dynamic between trade unions and capitalists play out to the benefit of workers? What do you think about arguments that struggles are shifting from the point of production to the streets or community?

This brings us back to the earlier question about the relative importance of exploitation and exclusion in shaping the world working class. Looking at the world working class as a whole today, I don’t think it would be accurate to say that struggles are shifting predominantly to the streets, especially if we are talking about struggles that have a serious disruptive impact on business as usual.

Struggles at the point of production continue to be an important component of overall world labor unrest. At the same time, the excluded — the unemployed and those with weak structural power — have no choice but to make their voices heard through direct action in the streets rather than direct action in the workplace.

The coexistence of struggles at the workplace and struggles in the street has been a feature of capitalism historically, as has the coexistence of exploitation and exclusion. Sometimes these two types of struggles proceed without intersecting in solidarity with each other, especially since, historically, the working class has been divided — both within countries and between countries — in the degree to which their experience is primarily shaped by the dynamics of exclusion or the dynamics of exploitation.

But if we think of major successful waves of labor unrest, they combined, in explicit or implicit solidarity, both of these kinds of struggles. Even the Flint factory occupation and subsequent 1936 and ’37 strike wave — a movement that was fundamentally based on leveraging workers’ power at the point of production — was made more potent by simultaneous struggles in the streets of unemployed workers and community solidarity.

Or, if we think of a recent mass movement that was widely seen as taking place almost entirely in the streets — Egypt in 2011 — it was when the Suez Canal workers leveraged their workplace bargaining power with a strike in support of the mass movement in the streets that Mubarak was forced to step down. It is also interesting to note that the April 6 youth movement that initiated the occupation of Tahrir Square was founded in 2008 to support a major strike by industrial workers.

So a fundamental problem for the Left today, which is also not new, is to figure out how to combine workplace bargaining power and the power of the street — to find the nodes of connection between unemployed, excluded, and exploited wage workers. This is almost certainly easier when the excluded and exploited are members of the same households or the same communities.

In the United States, we can see glimmers of these intersections with the 2015 dockworkers’ strike in California in support of Black Lives Matter mobilizations in the streets, and with the way the community and workplace struggles of immigrant workers intersect. In the United States today, it seems like a major focus of labor organizing and activism is on the lowest-wage workers in the service sectors. What do you make of this? Is this where we should be focusing our energies? Or should we be looking at different kinds of workers in different industries and sectors?

It’s not a mistake to place a big emphasis on these workers. If you’re going to raise the conditions of the majority of the population, you have to raise the conditions of these workers.

I think part of the skepticism inherent in this question is that so far this strategy hasn’t been very successful. Again, thinking about workplace bargaining power is useful here. At Walmart, for example, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to hit the retail side. You have to hit the distribution side.

The same goes for fast food. If you hit the distribution side, then you can leverage workplace bargaining power. Otherwise, you are left with a struggle that is confined to the streets. But this also leads us back to the question of how and when workers with strong workplace bargaining power exercise that power in support of broader transformational goals. Along with Giovanni Arrighi, you have argued that the trajectory of the workers’ movements in the United States and other national contexts are profoundly influenced by their relationship to broader movements in global politics, wars, and international conflicts. How have recent geopolitical shifts affected the strength of labor in the United States?

This is a very big and important question. I think a lot of the discussion of labor movements tends to focus on the economic side, but the geopolitical side is equally, if not more, important for understanding the prospects and possibilities for workers and workers’ movements, historically and going forward.

Fifteen years ago, right before September 11, it looked like we were on the verge of a mass upsurge of labor unrest in the United States, with a strong epicenter among immigrant workers. There were a number of major strikes that had been planned or were in progress, and then the dynamic shifted.

The war on terror gave a major boost to coercion and repression in maintaining the status quo, and not just in the workplace, in terms of employer hostility to trade unions, but more broadly, in terms of the impact of the permanent war environment on the prospects for organizing. Coercion and repression seem to be fundamental to capitalism. What’s different today in the relationship between workers, workers’ movements, and geopolitics?

Well, I think to answer this question it is important to place the current permanent war environment within the context of the broader crisis of US world power and hegemonic decline.

And we need to look at the long-term historical relationship between workers’ rights and the reliance of states on the working class to fight wars. Let’s discuss the latter first.

One of the well-known, but not widely discussed, roots of labor strength — or at least the institutionalization of trade unions and the deepening of democratic rights in the United States and in Western Europe, and to some extent globally — was the particular nature of war in the twentieth century, including the industrialization of the means of war and mass conscription.

To fight this type of war, the core powers, the imperial powers, needed the cooperation of the working class, both as soldiers fighting at the front and as workers keeping the factories going. War-making depended on industrial production for everything from armaments to boots. Hence the common wisdom during both world wars was that whoever kept the factories running would win the war.

In this context worker cooperation was key, and the relationship between war-making and civil unrest was unmistakable. The two biggest peaks of world labor unrest in the twentieth century, by far, were the years immediately following World War I and World War II. The troughs of labor unrest were in the midst of the wars themselves.

It’s also no coincidence that the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement was in the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, and that the height of the Black Power Movement came during and after the Vietnam War.

States sought to secure the cooperation of workers through the mobilization of nationalist and patriotic sentiments, but this was not sustainable without tangible advances in workers’ rights. Thus, expansions of the welfare state went hand in hand with expansions of the warfare state in the twentieth century. Put differently: working-class nationalism could only trump working-class internationalism if states showed that winning wars meant rising standards of living and expanding rights for workers as both workers and citizens. Do you think this is still the case today, in the context of seemingly permanent warfare?

The nature of war has changed today in many respects. Just like capital reorganized production in response to the strength of labor, so has the state restructured the military to lessen its dependence on workers and citizens to wage war. The mass movement against the Vietnam War, and the refusal of soldiers at the front in Vietnam to go on fighting, was a turning point, triggering a fundamental restructuring of the organization and nature of war-making.

We see the results of this restructuring today with the end of mass conscription and the increasing automation of warfare. With the growing reliance on drones and other high-tech weaponry, US soldiers are being removed from direct danger — not entirely, but much more than in the past.

This is a different situation than the one that linked workers’ movements and warfare in the twentieth century. The welfare and warfare states have become uncoupled in the twenty-first century. Whether, under these changing conditions, working-class internationalism will trump working-class nationalism is a critical but unresolved question.

I have focused on the United States in this discussion, but the transformation in the nature of war-making has broader impacts. In the mid-twentieth century, many colonial countries were incorporated into the imperial war process as suppliers of both soldiers and materials for the war effort, leading to an analogous strengthening and militancy of the working class.

Today, in country after country in a wide swath of the Global South, you have a situation in which modern US war-making is leading to the wholesale disorganization and destruction of the working class in places where high-tech weaponry is being dropped. The current “migrant crisis,” both its roots and its repercussions, is a deeply disturbing blowback from this new age of war. In previous periods, rising tides of militancy and organization have tended to bring with them new and powerful organizational forms. In the nineteenth century it was the craft union, in the twentieth century it was the industrial union. Are these forms doomed to historical oblivion, and if so, what might replace them?

They’re certainly not doomed to historical oblivion. In the United States, for example, some of the most successful unions today — in terms of recruiting new members and militancy — are the ones that have their roots in the old AFL, in the craft-worker tradition. Some people say elements of that old organizing style are more suitable to the horizontal nature of current workplaces, rather than the industrial unions associated with vertically integrated corporations.

But this doesn’t mean industrial unions are dead, either. The types of successes that were characteristic of the classic CIO unions — the Flint sit-down strike in the engine plant and the strikes beyond that — relied on the strategic bargaining power of workers at the point of production. I think that there are still lessons to be learned from these successes.

Clearly neither of these forms succeeded in touching the fundamental problems of capitalism, however. As I already mentioned, the problem with trade unions is that, to the extent that they are too effective, capital and the state have no interest in working with them and cooperating. Yet to the extent that they — and this is largely what’s happened — don’t deliver a serious transformation in the life and livelihoods of workers, they lose credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of workers themselves.

I think we constantly see both sides of this contradiction. The trade unions are part of the solution but are not the full solution. One of the ideas that Marx advocated for is imploring trade unions to connect with the unemployed in a single organization. Is that an option in places like the United States? I think that it’s certainly the ideal — it’s what Marx and Engels were talking about in the Communist Manifesto in terms of the role of communists in the labor movement.

It also brings us back to the questions about the relationship between processes of exploitation and exclusion and about the relationship between struggles at the point of production and struggles in the street. For trade unions seeking to follow Marx’s directive, it means thinking strategically about the conditions under which workers with stable waged employment can be drawn into and be radicalized by the struggles of the unemployed and precariously employed, and vice versa. What are the prospects for labor revitalization in the United States? Do you expect to see an upsurge in militancy and organization in the near future?

On the one hand, let me say that I do, just on theoretical grounds, expect an upsurge of labor militancy in the United States, and not just in the United States. On an empirical level, since 2008, we have been witnessing an upsurge worldwide in class-based social unrest, which may be seen in retrospect as the beginnings of a longer-term revitalization. This assessment goes against the prevailing sentiment. It’s interesting to compare the current pessimism to what was being said by experts in the 1920s. At that time, they were looking at the ways in which craft workers were being undermined by the expansion of mass production, and they were claiming that the labor movement was mortally weakened and permanently dead. They were saying that right up until the eve of the mass wave of labor unrest in the mid 1930s.

They didn’t understand that, while it was true that a lot of the craft-worker unions were being undermined, there was a new working class in formation. We see the same thing today — a situation where there is a twentieth-century mass-production working class that’s being undermined, but there is also a new working class in formation, including in manufacturing.

It’s important not to just wipe manufacturing out of the consciousness of what’s happening even in the United States, much less in the world as a whole. Nevertheless, each time new waves of labor unrest erupt, the working class looks fundamentally different, and the strategies and mobilization again are fundamentally different. Who do you think would lead the upsurge this time around? It’s hard to say. What is clearer are the critical issues facing labor today, and to some extent these point to the mass base and leadership needed for a “next upsurge” that is transformational. We’re in a situation where capital is destroying livelihoods at a much faster pace than it’s creating new ones, so we’re experiencing on a global scale, including in core countries and the United States, an expansion of the surplus population, and particularly what Marx referred to in Capital as the stagnant surplus population: those who are really never going to be incorporated into stable wage labor.

Contingent workers, temporary workers, part-time workers, and the long-term unemployed — this whole group is expanding, leading us down the road to pauperism. Notwithstanding the deep crisis of legitimacy this is creating for capitalism, there’s nothing, no tendency within capitalism itself, to go in a different direction. If we are going to change directions, it’s going to have to come from a mass political movement, rather than something coming out of capital itself. There are two other important points to consider. One is that capitalist profitability, throughout its history, has depended on the partial externalization of not only the cost of reproduction of labor, but also the cost of reproduction of nature. This externalization is becoming increasingly untenable and unsustainable, but there’s also no inherent tendency within capital to redirect this.

Moreover, since the treatment of nature as a free good was a pillar of the postwar social compact tying mass production to the promise of working-class mass consumption, no simple return to the so-called golden age of Keynesianism and developmentalism is possible. Second, the historical tendency in capitalism to resolve economic and political crises through expansionist, militaristic policies and war is something we have to take seriously, particularly in the current period of US hegemonic crisis and decline. Getting control over oil, grabbing resources, fighting over sea lanes in the South China Sea — these struggles have the potential for incredibly horrific outcomes for humanity as a whole. To avoid this, a renewed and updated labor internationalism will have to overcome the visible tendencies toward a resurgent and atavistic labor nationalism.

So a consideration of geopolitics — examining the links between militarism, domestic conflict, and labor movements — is where we need to begin and end any serious analysis. The old question of socialism or barbarism is as relevant today as it has ever been.

https://archive.is/0yfzL

How to Trap a Wild Squirrel

In US eastern cities, before the Civil War, squirrels had been hunted to extinction. Cities with large populations like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were free of squirrels because people had hunted and eaten then since colonial times.

Around 1870 nature boosters began to release birds and squirrels into newly constructed urban parks. The animals were seen as a way to bring wild creatures back into the city for all to experience a bit of nature.

Now, squirrels are everywhere in cities across the US and spend a lot of their time chewing on things. As rodents squirrels have sharp teeth that grow continuously. Squirrels have to chew on hard things to keep their teeth the right length and sharpness. So, they chew on trees and houses and power lines and telephone poles and….anything. They get in people’s houses or businesses and chew, chew, chew.

So…people want to get rid of the squirrels in their homes or property. If they are inside a building one can leave out cubes of rat poison stuck in peanut butter. Large spring rat traps can be baited with peanut butter and peanuts to attract a squirrel. There are many brands of catch and release traps available for about $30 or $40 and up.

If one catches or traps a rodent or squirrel inside a home or property one can kill it. Some removal experts say that they have put color code marks on squirrels fur and released them ten miles away and then caught the same animal later. So putting a squirrel down is perhaps the best way to stop squirrel problems in a home or business. One way is to fill a barrel with water and put the trapped animals cage into the water for a quick death. Squirrels cause millions of dollars of damage and untold numbers of fires and danger to humans.

Trapping a squirrel outdoors is a different story. One can not release a capture squirrel onto a public park or woods. If one catches a squirrel on their city property the only legal way to release the animal is to buy property in the country and release the animal there. Check local rules and regulations.

https://shauntrain.blogspot.com/2017/04/how-to-trap-wild-squirrel.html

Qatar Pays the Largest Ransom in History – $500,000,000 – April 2017

The Qataris and Saudis were hunting with falcons in southern Iraq in December 2015 when they were seized by armed men from the the powerful Iranian-supported movement known as Ketaeb of God. What an adventure hunting with falcons in southern Iraq must have seemed like to two dozen wealthy Qataris and two Saudi Arabian friends. The hunting party got permission to hunt with their birds of prey from the government in Baghdad. The group, including several members of the Qatari royal al-Thani family, was going to be in the ‘safe’ part of the country far from the fighting against Isis in the north around Mosul. But there are many armed groups in many parts of Iraq that are not under the control of the Baghdad government. The armed groups are called ‘militia’ but they are often more like private armies that carry out the goals of religious or other leaders who are essentially war lords. When not fighting other religious groups or ‘enemy’ targets the militias are often engaged in criminal enterprises with the aim of self enrichment

Southern Iraq is also heavily Shia and Qatar and Saudi Arabia have backed and are backing Sunni militants in Syria and Iraq who are making war on Shia communities. That this wealthy hunting party thought they could go into the heartland of the Shia as Qatar and Saudi Arabia fund and arm Sunni fanatics who make merciless war on Shia shows how out of touch they are. The hunter became the hunted. The 24 Qataris and 2 Saudis were captured by a Shia militia.

The ransom not only involved $500,000,000 in dollars and euros in 23 x-ray proof bags sent to Baghdad airport – the trade involved the release of two surrounded Shia communities in Syria and two surrounded Sunni ‘rebel’ communities being allowed to evacuate to other areas under a truce. The Islamist ‘rebels’ showed what they thought of the truce when a suicide bomber in a truck that seemed to be loaded with supplies and treats for children drove next to the evacuation buses of the Shia civilians. As the bomber called the children off a number of buses to his vehicle he set of an explosion that killed about 170 people and wounded another 350. Qatar backs the Islamist ‘rebels’ who send truck bombers to specifically target Shia children. Another part of the $500,000,000 deal felt through when the Baghdad authorities tried to x-ray and scan the 23 bags that came in on an airplane from Qatar. The bags were cut open and the hundreds of millions of dollars and euros where reveal to the Iraqi authorities who seized the money. The Qatari ambassador to Iraq was on the airplane but had not asked for the bags to be given diplomatic immunity. The Qataris had apparently thought the the hostage takers where working with the Iraqi airport authorities and would pick up the money at the airport.

The Iraq government does not want to give a half billion dollars to help fund a private army that they have no control over. “Hundreds of millions for armed groups? Is this acceptable?” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asked later at a press conference. In a special confidential document Mr. Abadi sent on 22 April 2017 told the Dawa Party members that Qatar had requested landing permission for a plane at Baghdad International Airport on 15 April 2017 so that freed hostages from the hunting party could fly home. When the aircraft landed and was routinely inspected airport officials “were surprised that there were 23 large heavy bags that appeared without prior notice or approval.” Going through the x-ray machine “the image appeared black,” meaning the contents were in some kind of lead lined bag to avoid detection.

Strangely the Qatari ambassador to Iraq and a special envoy sent by the Qatari Emir Tamimbin Hamad al-Thani got off the plane but did not ask for diplomatic immunity for the bags of money. Apparently the Qataris thought the kidnappers and militia had their own operatives at the airport who would take the bags upon arrival as the hostages came to the plane.

Even before the bags were opened the airport officials could hear the Qataris talking as if the 23 bags contained money. But opening the bags revealed a great deal of money, “hundreds of millions of dollars and euros.”

The Iraq government confiscated the money even as the Qatar government informed them that it was a ransom payment. The Iraq government had not been informed, and the Iraq government did not want to see a private army get a half a billion in funding.

……………….

https://shauntrain.blogspot.com/2017/04/qatar-pays-largest-ransome-in-history.html

Hellas: In Memory of Zoe Chrysali 1968–2018 – Requiescat in Pace et in Amore

In Memory of Zoe Chrysali 1968–2018 – Requiescat in Pace et in Amore

https://archive.is/x4SQG

Workers Vanguard No. 1136 29 June 2018

In Memory of Zoe Chrysali

1968–2018

The following is translated from O Bolsevikos [The Bolshevik] (No. 4, April 2018), newspaper of the Trotskyist Group of Greece (TOE).

Zoe Chrysali, one of the founding cadres of the Trotskyist Group of Greece, section of the International Communist League, died at the age of only 50 of brain cancer at her home in Aspropyrgos after years of health problems. We extend our deepest condolences to her sister Georgia and to all her friends.

Zoe was born and grew up in the working-class district of Aspropyrgos. From an early age she suffered from serious health issues, which she fought to the end with her incomparable tenacity despite the extreme adversity she faced. She was a stubborn person, with a special, sharp sense of humor, passionately insistent in expressing her opinions. She loved to tease and challenge her comrades and friends and was always up for a good fight. She adored music and books.

Having a keen sense of what it is to grow up and live as a woman in backward Greek society, Zoe joined the workers movement to fight against women’s oppression and for female sexual liberation. She understood that only through socialist revolution could women achieve their full emancipation.

Zoe came into contact with the ICL in mid 1999 and was won to the international’s position of principled opposition to the imperialist war against Serbia. In March 2000, she took part in discussions, along with other sympathizers, studying the ICL’s program. From then until 2003, when the TOE became a sympathizing section of the ICL at its Fourth International Conference, she played a leading role in the founding of the Greek section on a number of key questions, including the “Russian Question” and capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union and East Europe. In June 2000, she wrote:

“I studied anew Trotsky’s books The Class Nature of the Soviet State, The Revolution Betrayed and the “Declaration of Principles” of the ICL. Thereafter, together with our own discussions, I consider that the positions of the ICL on the question of Afghanistan are consistent with our ideology and I agree with them on the basis of the defense of a bureaucratically degenerated workers state against the threat of the bourgeois counterrevolution.

“In regard to the question of China, what I consider applies is what Trotsky maintained in 1933, when he fought against the conception that the bureaucracy had already destroyed the Soviet workers state: Trotskyists judge that situation as dangerous but not desperate and they consider it an act of cowardice to announce that the revolutionary fight has been lost before the fight and without a fight.”

In 2001, Zoe engaged in the most important fight of her political life, playing a leading role in defense of national minorities in Greece against the then “leader” of the group, who refused to defend oppressed national minorities. This is a vital question for the establishment of a genuine Leninist-Trotskyist party in a Balkan country. The fight that she waged with other comrades on the national question led to a split in the group between the real internationalists and those who had compromised with poisonous Greek nationalism. It was this major struggle that laid the basis for the founding of the TOE. It is no exaggeration to say that without Zoe, there would probably not be a section of the ICL in Greece. In 2002, she went to London and worked with our comrades there, gaining valuable internationalist experience.

In 2005, Zoe withdrew from politics but remained a sympathizer of the TOE for many years. For a while, due to the enormous health problems that she faced, Zoe lost touch with our section and with the international. However, around five years ago she resumed contact with the Greek section. Fully aware that she had only a short time to live, Zoe asked us to arrange a secular funeral for her after she died. In a society in which cremation of the dead is not allowed and in which, for the most part, funeral arrangements—whether secular or religious—are dictated by the family, Zoe wished to make a final statement against religion and the Orthodox church.

It was not easy to carry out this last request, and we had to fight against the religious ceremony that had already been organized. Nevertheless, we succeeded with the valuable help of a sympathizer. In our grief at no longer having Zoe among us, we are comforted a little by the knowledge that we were able to satisfy her last wish. Those who knew her well will laugh and say that even in her death there had to be a little fight. It is more than certain that she deserved it.

We dedicate to our friend and comrade Zoe this issue of our newspaper, which reflects her struggle against the “holy trinity” of Greek capitalism—fatherland, religion and family.

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1136/zoe_chrysali.html

Radical Liberal ‘Marxist’ David Harvey Says ‘Das Kapital’ Is Too Dense Too Understand – Too Revolutionary, Actually

David Harvey’s Jacobin interview on Marx’s Capital A promotion of the “life-style” politics

David Harvey’s Jacobin interview on Marx’s Capital A promotion of the “life-style” politics of the academic left

21 July 2018

(Vimeo – video of David Harvey’s Introduction to Reading Karl Marx’ ‘Capital’ –

The Jacobin magazine, which functions as a kind of house journal for the middle class radical liberal milieu, in particular the Democratic Socialists of America, has published an interview with the academic David Harvey, purporting to show why Marx’s Capital is “still the defining guide to understanding—and overcoming—the horrors of capitalism.”

Harvey, variously described as a social theorist, a historical-materialist geographer and sometimes a Marxist, has attracted a wide following over the past decade in the wake of the global financial crisis due to his online lectures on Capital and a number of books critical of capitalism and its irrationalities.

The interest in his writings and lectures, particularly from among younger people and students, is an expression of the growing hostility to capitalism, increasingly regarded as having failed, and the growing receptiveness towards socialism, coupled with a turn to Marx in the search for answers to the mounting problems and crises caused by the ongoing breakdown of the capitalist order.

But as with all of Harvey’s work, this interview does not provide a clarification or guide to Marx but serves to prevent an understanding of his masterwork, seeking to render him suitable to the political and life-style sensibilities of a middle class “left” audience.

This emerges from the very outset of the interview. Asked to give an overview of the three volumes of Capital, Harvey says: “Marx is very much into detail and it’s sometimes hard to get a sense of exactly what the whole concept of Capital is about.” This has been a recurring theme virtually since the day Capital was published—that it is too difficult and too dense to be comprehended.

Capital is certainly no easy work but that difficulty arises not from Marx but from the fact that capitalism is the most complex form of socio-economic organisation in the historical development of mankind.

However, as Harvey well knows, Marx provided a very clear explanation of the essential thread of his theoretical labours.

In the postface to the second edition of Capital, Marx favourably cited a Russian reviewer of the first edition published in 1867 who had set out the objective logic of his analysis.

The reviewer had begun by citing Marx’s famous Preface to the Critique of Political Economy, published in 1859, in which he set out the materialist basis of his method.

There Marx had written: “In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. … At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing social relations of production … From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution.”

Basing himself on this explanation, the Russian reviewer concluded that Marx “concerns himself with one thing: to show, by an exact scientific investigation, the necessity of successive determinate orders of social relations, and to establish, as impeccably as possible, the facts from which he starts out and on which he depends. For this it is quite enough if he proves, at the same time, both the necessity of the present order of things, and the necessity of another order into which the first must inevitably pass over.”

In other words, Capital was the application of the theory of historical materialism, worked out by Marx and Engels in the late 1840s, to the analysis of capitalist society in which the central social relation of production was the buying and selling of the labour power of the new social force, the working class, which this society had brought into being. It was aimed at demonstrating how the very development of the productive forces to which this new social order had given rise inevitably came into conflict with the social relations on which it was based, leading to social revolution and the transition to a new and higher form of society.

While Capital was grounded on a thorough-going scientific analysis of capitalist society, it was not an academic treatise. It was written with the aim of providing the working class, its historical gravedigger, with the theoretical weapons necessary for its overthrow and the transition to a higher socio-economic order, international socialism.

It is highly significant, therefore, that in Harvey’s interview on Capital and its significance, the words “social revolution” and “working class” never appear.

What then is the essential content of the interview? It is the dressing up in Marxist-sounding terminology of the politics of the middle class pseudo-left, focusing on protests against some of the irrationalities and outrages of the capitalist system, concerned not with its overthrow but “life-style changes.” Its role is to seek to divert those seeking answers away from a real grappling with and understanding of Marx’s masterwork.

Harvey presents the three volumes of Capital as something of a jumble, that Marx was saying “in volume one, I deal with this, in volume two I deal with that and in volume three I deal with something else.”

Harvey goes on to say that Marx has in mind “the totality of the circulation of capital” but then points to a problem because Marx did not complete volumes two and three (they were edited by Engels from Marx’s drafts) and so they “aren’t as satisfactory as volume one.”

The upshot of this focus on circulation is twofold. First, it leaves the impression that there is no inherent logic to Marx’s presentation. Second, it downplays the centrality of capitalist production, dissolving it in the process of circulation, a move which, as we shall see, forms a key foundation of Harvey’s political perspective.

Contrary to Harvey, Marx is very clear on the logic of the three volumes, which he sets out at the beginning of volume three.

There he explains that the investigation in volume one concerns the process of capitalist production itself, leaving out the external secondary influences on this process. But as he notes, the analysis does not complete the life cycle of capital and so in volume two he considers how the process of production is supplemented by the process of circulation.

In volume three the issue is to “discover and present the concrete forms which grow out of the process of capital’s movement considered as a whole.”

“The configurations of capital, as developed in this volume,” he writes, “thus approach step by step the form in which they appear on the surface of society, in the action of different capitals on one another, i.e., in competition, and in the everyday consciousness of the agents of production themselves.” [1]

The materialist method employed by Marx is to ascend from the most abstract forms to the concrete. Capital, therefore, begins with the cell-form of the capitalist economy, the commodity, in which the product of human labour—the basis of all society—presents itself in the social form of a product produced for exchange.

The significance of this starting point was noted by Lenin:

“In his Capital, Marx first analyses the simplest, most ordinary and fundamental, most common and everyday relation of bourgeois (commodity) society, a relation encountered billions of times, viz. the exchange of commodities. In this very simple phenomenon (in this ‘cell’ of bourgeois society) analysis reveals all the contradictions (or the germs of all the contradictions) of modern society. The subsequent exposition shows us the development (both growth and movement) of these contradictions and of this society in the summation of its individual parts, from its beginning to its end.” [2]

From the analysis of the commodity and its value, Marx reveals the origin of money as the material expression of value. The analysis of money discloses the nature of capital as self-expanding value.

The most decisive breakthrough made by Marx was to discover the source of this self-expansion. The issue which had tortured the minds of Marx’s classical predecessors in the science of political economy, in particular its two leading representatives, Adam Smith and David Ricardo, was how, on the basis of market relations in which equivalents exchange for equivalents, could a surplus arise? In particular, how out of the most important exchange in commodity-capitalist society, could profit rise, if equivalents were exchanged for equivalents according to the laws of the market.

Marx established that the commodity that the worker sold to the capitalist was not his or her labour, as had previously been maintained, but the capacity to work, or labour power.

Like every other commodity its value was determined by the time taken to reproduce it, that is, it was determined by the value of the commodities needed to sustain the worker and enable the raising of a family to produce the next generation of wage workers.

The surplus value appropriated by the capitalist owner of the means of production, to whom the worker sold his or her labour power, arose from the fact that the value of labour power was less than the value created by the worker in the course of the working day. That is, while it may take, say three hours, for the worker to reproduce the value of labour power, the working day extended for much longer and this additional, or surplus, value fell to capital.

This epoch-making discovery had vast political implications. Marx was by no means the first socialist. Others before him had trenchantly criticised the operations of the capitalist system and pointed to its irrationalities, the increasing exploitation of the working class and widening social inequality. But as Engels explained:

“The socialism of earlier days certainly criticised the existing capitalistic mode of production and its consequences. It could not explain them, and, therefore could not get the mastery of them. It could only simply reject them as bad.” [3]

It was necessary, Engels continued, to present the capitalist mode of production as necessary during a given historical period and also to present the inevitability of its downfall and to lay bare its essential character. The critics had attacked its evil consequences rather than reveal the secret of the thing itself. This was revealed by the discovery of surplus value.

With these two great discoveries, he concluded, the materialist conception of history and the revelation of the secret of capitalist production, socialism became a science. The next step was to work out the details.

Marx’s discoveries revealed that not only was the working class an exploited class but, in laying bare the source of that exploitation in the social relations of capitalism itself, established that it was a revolutionary class. That is, to secure its own emancipation the working class had to overthrow the entire system of social relations, deriving from wage-labour—on which capitalism was grounded.

One of the most important “details” to which Engels referred, was the way in which the contradiction between the growth of the productive forces under capitalism and the social relations based on wage-labour—the contradiction that was the driving force of social revolution—manifested itself in the capitalist economy.

This was discovered by Marx in his analysis of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. He demonstrated that this tendency—the nemesis of the capitalist mode of production whose driving force is profit—arose from the very development of the productive forces to which it gave rise.

The sole source of surplus value and profit, the basis for the self-expansion of capital, is the living labour of the working class. But the more capital grows the greater must be the extraction of surplus value from the working class in order to expand it yet again. To the extent that the extraction of surplus value fails to keep pace with the growth of capital, the rate of profit tends to fall. This leads to a crisis to which capital responds by reorganising production, in order to intensify exploitation in order to continue. But the very development of these crises, growing ever more serious, drives the working class into struggle against the capitalist system and its ruling class.

This is the source of the realities of “everyday life,” as Marx put it, in which we see the vast accumulation of wealth and an enormous growth in the productive forces and the social productivity of labour on the one hand and the growth of poverty, misery and degradation, accompanied by ever widening social inequality on the other.

The discovery of the secret of surplus value as the basis of the capitalist accumulation process and the contradictions arising from it, had, as we noted, far-reaching political implications. It concretised, as Marx had set out in in his early writings, the revolutionary role of the working class.

“It is not a question of what this or that proletarian, or even the whole proletariat, at the moment regards as its aim. It is a question of what the proletariat is, and what, in accordance with this being, it will historically be compelled to do. Its aim and historical action is visibly and irrevocably foreshadowed in its own life situation, as well as in the whole organisation of bourgeois society.”[4]

The key to Harvey’s politics is his rejection of and outright hostility to the analysis made by Marx of the revolutionary role of the working class which is central to Capital. Therefore, as far as his “socialism” is concerned it is clouded in the mists of pre-Marxist conceptions.

“Capital has built the capacity, technologically and organisationally, to create a far better world,” he says in the Jacobin interview. “But it does so through social relations of domination rather than emancipation. This is the central contradiction. And Marx keeps saying, ‘Why don’t we use all of this technological and organisational capacity to create a world which is liberatory, rather than one which is about domination?”

Here Harvey follows the road taken by previous “social theorists” who, while identifying some of the irrationalities of the capitalist mode of production, separated Marx’s scientific analysis of capitalism from its central purpose, that is, the arming of the working class for the revolutionary struggles in which it is driven by the crises of the profit system.

The Frankfurt School, for example, sought the agency for social transformation—insofar as it had not completely abandoned such a perspective—in the “cultural criticism” of the irrationalities of capitalism and “consumerism.”

Paul Sweezy, the “independent Marxist”, writing in the 1960s, wrote off the working class in the advanced capitalist countries and glorified the national liberation movements in what was then known as the Third World.

Herbert Marcuse, the darling of the New Left in the 1960s, maintained that the working class had been completely integrated into advanced capitalist society—and was even a potential basis for fascism—and found the agency for social change in the marginalised sections of society.

On the basis of his historical materialist analysis, Marx was well aware of the fact that the advancement in the productive force under capitalism had created the basis for socialist society, free of class exploitation and domination “in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

But he rejected as utopian any perspective which sought to bring about this transformation by drawing out the contrast between what was possible under a different form of social organisation and what presently existed in capitalist society. Such a perspective made the socialist transformation a question of the criticism of capitalist society by so-called enlightened individuals.

The crucial question for Marx was what was the social material force—the class—created by capitalist society itself, which would be the agency, the driving force, of this transformation. Today, the point at issue is not that socialism will somehow be more advantageous for humanity—that was already clear in Marx’s day—but that it is an historic necessity if human civilisation is to survive and progress.

The contradictions of capitalism are not, as Harvey attempts to portray them, the contrast between what would be possible under socialism as compared to present reality but are rooted in the inexorable drive of the profit system towards the impoverishment of the working class, the development of authoritarian forms of rule and war, threatening the very destruction of human civilisation, and a relapse into barbarism. For socialism to become a reality and not simply a dream of human advancement, there must be a social force in capitalist society whose material interests drive it forward to its realisation. That force is the working class, that is, the class separated from the control and ownership of the productive forces which is compelled in order to sustain its existence to sell its labour power.

One of the most significant historical developments of the past three decades has been the transformation of the overwhelming majority of the world’s population into proletarians, forced to sell their labour power. Hundreds of millions of peasants in China, India and elsewhere have been transformed into wage workers while in the advanced capitalist countries hundreds of millions of people, employed in what were once considered secure “middle class” occupations, have discovered, through relentless job cuts, downsizing and cuts in their incomes, that they are proletarians with nothing to sell but their labour power, no less than the millions engaged in the factories.

In his criticism of the utopian socialists of his day, Marx pointed to their dreams of experimental realisation of their social utopia as they opposed all political action by the working class.

It is therefore significant that Harvey says nothing in his interview about the resurgent movement of the working class, manifested in the widespread teachers’ strikes in the US, the strike movements in Europe and in countries such as India after decades of suppression by the trade unions and the social democratic and labour parties, and focuses attention on “life-style” movements.

“Now, there are revolts against certain things that are happening,” he writes. “People are beginning to say, ‘look, we want something different.’ I find little communities all around the place in urban areas, and in rural areas, too, where people are trying to set up a different lifestyle. The ones that interest me most are those which use new technologies, like cell phones and the internet, to create an alternative lifestyle with different forms of social relations than those characteristic of corporations, with hierarchical structures of power, that we encounter in our daily lives. To struggle over a lifestyle is rather different than struggling over wages or conditions of labour in a factory.”

Of course Harvey does not leave matters there. He would rapidly lose all credibility in the eyes of those who consider him to be an interpreter and a guide to Marx if he did. And so he maintains that those who are struggling over lifestyle issues, or race, or the environment need to recognise from the standpoint of the totality of capital the relationship between those struggles and how they are related to the forms of production. Putting them all together provides a picture of what a capitalist society is all about “and the kinds of dissatisfactions and alienations that exist in different components of the circulation of capital, which Marx identifies.”

Harvey recognises the struggle of the working class, though it is not so much as mentioned in the interview, but he identifies it as purely the struggle over wages and conditions within a given factory, and thus purely within a trade union perspective.

But as workers are coming to realise, on the basis of their experiences, even struggles which begin on this limited basis rapidly extend to embody broader, political, issues. Workers fighting for improved wages and conditions are immediately confronted not just with the management of the individual corporation or firm within which they work but the apparatuses of the trade union bureaucracy and behind them the capitalist government and the state.

Every struggle of the working class, whether it begins over wages, social conditions, health, pensions or today the increasing use of internet censorship to try to prevent them organising themselves, places them more and more directly in conflict with the entire capitalist organisation of society and raises the question of political power, that is, which class is to rule. As Marx put it, every class struggle is, therefore, a political struggle.

The political aim of Harvey’s work now comes into clearer focus. It is aimed at subordinating the struggles of the working class to the politics of the pseudo-left and middle classes concerned with questions of sexual orientation, life style and individual, not class, identity.

This political orientation makes clear why Harvey, insofar as he deals with questions of political economy and the structure of Capital, seeks to downplay the centrality of production and dissolve it into the question of the circulation of capital.

He maintains that if one really wants to understand Marx’s conception of capital, “then you can’t just understand it as just being about production. It’s about circulation. It’s about getting it to the market and selling it, then it’s about distributing the profits.”

The issues related to circulation and the distribution of profits are, of course, vital to an understanding of the capitalist economy, its movement and contradictions. But the key point at issue is this: what is the essential determinant of the structure of society, its political relations and state apparatus and the driving force of its development.

In volume three of Capital, Marx directly addresses this question as follows:

“The specific economic form in which the unpaid surplus labour is pumped out of the direct producers determines the relationship of domination and servitude, as this grows directly out of production itself and reacts back on it as a determinant. On this is based the entire configuration of the economic community arising from the actual relations of production and hence also its specific political form.”

It is in the direct relationship of the owners of the conditions of production to the immediate producers, Marx continues, “in which we find the innermost secret, the hidden basis of the entire social edifice, and with it the political form of the relation of sovereignty and dependence, in short, the corresponding specific form of the state.”[5]

As Marx goes on to point out, the same economic forms can display variations and gradations in the political forms of rule, depending on a series of external factors and historical circumstances. But there is no question that the essential content of these various political forms is the mode in which surplus labour is pumped out of the immediate producers.

Volume one of Capital is concerned with the way in which under capitalism, a specific historical mode of production, this unpaid surplus labour is pumped out of the immediate producers, the working class, through the system of social relations based on wage labour to yield surplus value.

Harvey wants to de-emphasise or outright dissolve this fundamental structural foundation by pointing out that there is more to capitalism than simply the production of surplus value—there is also the process of realisation, detailed in volume two and distribution in volume three.

However, the essential foundation of capitalism is in production—not the production of commodities as such, or the means of production, the production of the material needs of society as a living organism—but the production of surplus value which forms the essential driving force of this society.

Volume two is concerned with the relationships pertaining to realisation. But this, it must be emphasised, is the realisation of the surplus value, its transformation from the commodity form back into money so the process of surplus value extraction can begin again. Likewise, volume three is concerned with the distribution of this surplus value among the various owners of property in the form of profit, interest and rent.

In his recent writings, Harvey has drawn out the connection between his focus on the process of circulation and realisation and his downplaying of the centrality of the production of surplus value and his political perspective.

In his latest book, Marx, Capital and the Madness of Economic Reason, Harvey writes:

“Struggles at the point of valorisation inevitably have a class character … Those at the point of realisation focus on buyers and sellers and trigger fights against the predatory practices and accumulation by dispossession in the market place … Such struggles are not well theorised. In the field of social reproduction issues of social hierarchy, gender, sexuality, kinship and family and the like become much more predominant and the primary political focus shifts to the qualities of daily life rather than the labour process. These struggles have often been ignored in the Marxist literature.”

What follows from this dissolving of the centrality of the production of surplus value within the capitalist system is that “the social and political struggles against the power of capital within the totality of capital circulation take different forms and call for different kinds of strategic alliances if they are to succeed.”[6]

There is no question what kind of “strategic alliances” Harvey has in mind—alliances with sections of the radical petty bourgeoisie and its concern for life-style politics and even sections of the bourgeoisie itself.

This is done on the basis of a misrepresentation of Capital, implying that it was not directed to politically and theoretically arming the working class for social revolution but was aimed at merely drawing out the irrationalities of capitalist society.

By this means, Harvey is seeking to misdirect those who are turning to Marx and have followed his own work in the hope that it might provide a guide. He seeks to divert them away from a struggle in the working class, to mobilise it as an independent revolutionary force, and channel them into the milieu of pseudo-left and middle-class radical politics and there to fight for “strategic alliances” that ensure the continued domination of the bourgeoisie and capital.

Notes:

[1] Marx, Capital Volume 3 (London: Penguin, 1991) p. 117 [2] Lenin, Collected Works Volume 38 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1961) p. 360 [3] Engels, Anti-Dühring (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1969) p. 38 [4] Marx, The Holy Family (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975) pp. 44–45 [5] Marx, Capital Volume 3 (London: Penguin 1993) p. 927 [6] David Harvey, Marx, Capital and the Madness of Economic Reason (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018) p. 48

………………

https://shauntrain.blogspot.com/2018/07/david-harveys-jacobin-interview-on.html

Movie Review – American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs

 Eugene Victor Debs in 1912 from the documentary “American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs.” (Indiana State University Library archives / First Run features)

In my earliest days entering activism, Eugene Debs – the great American socialist – became my first hero, so when I heard about the Yale Strom’s movie American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs I knew I had to go. With Strom’s collection of photos and recordings of speeches, it’s easy to see why people flocked by the thousands to hear Debs speak. In fact, in 1912 a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden gave Debs’ a 29 minute standing ovation after his speech.

The timing could not be better for this movie as there is currently a resurgence in interest in socialist ideas. Pushed by the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016, and now continued primarily in the explosive growth of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), looking back to the life of Eugene Debs is looking to the socialist heritage of the USA.

The small New York City theater I went to would not receive the kind of attention Debs received in Madison Square Garden, only a handful of note-taking Debs’ fans attended, but it did leave me understanding this period of American socialism much better, and for anyone interested in Debs it should be a must see. The Many Stages of Eugene Debs’ Political Development

We are given a close look at the many stages of Debs, and his political development; from a Democratic craft union leader to a union fighter who built the first mass industrial labor union to a five-time Socialist Party presidential candidate who was jailed multiple times for his beliefs, there are lessons to be learned throughout his life.

Debs’ got his start in Terre Haute, Indiana, where he became a key figure as a labor leader of the railroad workers. But his politics at the start were far from the socialist ideas he later developed. In fact, the film correctly points out that Debs did not side with the workers in the 1877 railroad strike actions, where he suggested negotiating rather than going on strike.

It was Deb’s key role in constructing the American Railroad Union (ARU), which organized all railroad workers into one union, and the subsequent Pullman strike, which shut down railroad across the Eastern United States which lead to Debs’ first stint in jail. It also inspired him to a take a socialist view of the world. Although Debs had previously never focused on theory, he spent his six months in jail immersing himself in Marxist literature. This was due, in part, to the many visitors, inspired by his work, discussing Marxism with him. The most notable of these was Victor Berger, who later helped Debs create the Socialist Party. The experience of the federal government smashing the Pullman strike shattered Deb’s belief that all workers had to do was organize into a bigger and stronger union in order to have a decent life.

Debs was a tireless campaigner for the interests of the working class and as a Socialist Party organizer, travelled from city to city on a small train nicknamed the “Red Special” speaking to crowds of thousands about the evils of capitalism. The archival footage was really able to capture the energy and excitement of the crowds.

Debs and the Socialist Party reached their height during the 1912 Presidential campaign, where Debs received nearly a million votes – 6% of the popular vote. This momentum played a huge role in getting a wave of Socialists elected all over the country.

Unfortunately, this success wouldn’t be enough to overcome the obstacles created by World War I, where many socialists gave in to pressures and accepted the war, causing a giant rift in the party. Debs stood firmly against the war, so much so that he was once again sentenced to prison. It was from his prison cell that Debs made history by receiving just under a million votes for president in 1920.

Debs’ Spoke the Language of People

This film does a remarkable job of showing Debs’ effect on people. Not only do we learn of Debs’ character, but we travel back in time to see what life was like then. We’re given many cultural touch points that show us how well Debs ideas captured the imagination of people – such as references and quotes from popular figures such as poets, musicians, and religious leaders as well as workers themselves.

In his folksy manner, he spoke the language of the country. When he spoke it was as a worker to workers, engaging them through their own experiences; he met the workers where their understanding was. This can be summed up in his famous statement “While there is a lower class, I am in it; and while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” This is one of the big reason people would pile in wherever he was speaking by the thousands.

There are many examples shown in this film where Debs was able to communicate with workers, and overcome challenges the Socialist Party and trade unions had faced for years. This was especially displayed in Debs’ struggle for black equality. There was an underlying racism held by many white socialists, which Debs rebelled against. To relate to black southern workers, Debs would often invoke religious language – “What is socialism, merely Christianity in action.”

In another example, the film highlights Debs ability to capture the attention of Polish workers, despite the fact that they didn’t understand many of his words.

I was especially inspired by Debs’ role in organizing prisoners during his time in jail. Despite his poor health, Debs became a leader amongst the prisoners. When he was freed they gave him loud cheers, similar to the cheers heard around the country with traveling on the “Red Special.” Class Position Against War

In 1918, Debs gave an iconic anti-war speech in Canton, Ohio, which would land him in jail for violating the wartime espionage law. This speech, as well as his appeal to the jury, are regarded as some of the most powerful speeches ever made. He explains who benefits from the war when he tells the working people “the master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose – especially their lives.”

Debs was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In poor health and isolated, as he was eventually moved to a maximum penitentiary where he could not read socialist literature or communicate with anyone outside, Debs as well as his loved ones struggled during this period. The film does a remarkable job of revealing the struggles of his family at this time too, something I had not considered nor seen before. We’re shown how much his parents, his wife Kate, and his brother, were devoted to his political work.

It was from this jail cell that Debs, inmate 9653, received nearly one million votes for president (about 3.4% of the popular vote). Despite such a remarkable feat, Debs was still disappointed the turnout (by percentage of popular vote) was lower than his history 1912 campaign – due largely to the factions over the war creating a rift in the party.

Uneven Leadership

We study Debs today not just for his story, but because the lessons learned during his life remain relevant. Unfortunately, this film fails to acknowledge some of Debs’ mistakes, particularly during the rift in the Socialist Party created by members taking a nationalist view and supporting WWI. While Debs was very vocal about his opposition to the war, he refused to take a leadership role in confronting those supporting the war, and so he withdrew from party disputes. Debs could have used his influence, as the most popular person in the party, to fight for his ideas, but he believed an all-inclusive party was more important than fighting for his positions and ideas.

In 1956 James Cannon wrote “The Debs Centennial” where he referred to Debs’ inaction and unwillingness to take a leading role in the party during the faction fight. He said “Debs’ mistaken theory of the party was one of the most costly mistakes a revolutionist ever made in the entire history of the American movement.” As the most influential Socialist Party member of his day, he could have played a huge role in turning the Socialist Party to oppose WWI, which would have given an organizational strength to the antiwar sentiment that did exist.

We owe so much to Debs for his work, and this film really conveys this. However, as socialists we must be critical of even our most inspirational leaders to learn the lessons of history so we may be armed for current and future struggles. It is to all those who suffer under this rotten capitalist system that we owe this.

Who Would Debs be Today?

This film is hugely successful at revealing who Debs was, but even takes it a step further. Throughout the movie we see flashpoints of movements in other times. For example, when pointing out Debs’ commitment to liberating black workers the film cuts to clips of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The end of the film shows a collage of modern movements such as Occupy and Black Lives Matter, which serve as a reminder that the horrors of the capitalist system Debs was fighting still exist today.

Today’s political situation is ripe for the growth of socialism. Just this year there has been huge growth in socialist organizations, most notably DSA who has grown to over 20,000 members. With such a dramatic shift, Debs’ ideas, and the lessons we’ve learned from his leadership, can reach a whole new generation, even 92 years after his death.

Bernie Sanders has also played a huge role in the growth of socialist ideas. Although he hasn’t yet drawn the same conclusions as Debs about the need to be independent of the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders named Debs as a huge influence, even creating a documentary on him. From Bernie’s popularity we have an opportunity, in the spirit of Debs, to argue for the need for a working-class party, independent of big business, to challenge the capitalist system. Debs laid out this need when he said “as a rule, large capitalists are Republicans and small capitalists are Democrats, but workingmen must remember that they are all capitalists, and that the many small ones, like the fewer large ones, are all politically supporting their class interests, and this is always and everywhere the capitalist class.”

The film has been released on DVD and is available on Amazon.

LA Times Review

Timed to May Day and International Workers’ Day, on May 1, comes the documentary “American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs,” directed by Yale Strom. The film opens with the assertion that Debs was the only presidential candidate to be jailed for his platform, and the documentary then wends its way toward this event.

“American Socialist” is a fairly straightforward biographical documentary of Debs, the radical, forward-thinking Socialist leader active during the turn of the century. He got his start as a railroad union leader, was a founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World, and rose through the ranks of the Socialist Party in the United States, which was focused on rights for workers and farmers. He ran for U.S. president five times, once from a prison cell while serving a sentence for sedition because he publicly opposed World War I, and he still managed to garner nearly a million votes.

Though Debs is a legendary and influential character, the style of “American Socialist” fails to come to life. It decidedly apes the style of Ken Burns’ documentaries, with archival photos, narrated voice-over passages, plus various contemporary talking heads.

It feels rooted in the past, despite the freshness of Debs’ ideas. But “American Socialist” is an exhaustive primer on his life, executed in a traditional style that doesn’t necessarily match the revolutionary thoughts of the man and the movement.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-capsule-american-socialist-eugene-debs-review-20180503-story.html

The Best Music for Productivity? Silence – by Olga Khazan – 8 Dec 2016

Audio of Article – Mp3

Like most modern “knowledge” workers, I spend my days in an open office. That means I also spend my days amid ringing phones, the inquisitive tones of co-workers conducting interviews, and—because we work in a somewhat old, infamous building—the pounding and drilling of seemingly endless renovations.

Even so, the #content must still be wrung from my distracted brain. And so, I join the characters of trend pieces everywhere in wearing headphones almost all day, every day. And what better to listen to with headphones than music? By now, I’ve worked my way through all the “Focus” playlists on Spotify—most of which sound like they were meant for a very old planetarium—and I’ve looped back around to a genre I like to call “soft, synthy pop songs whose lyrics don’t make much sense:” Think Miike Snow rather than Michael Jackson.

But lately I’ve been wondering, am I just replacing one distracting noise with another? Worse yet is the possibility that the constant soundtrack is poisoning my writing, with the lyrics somehow weaving into and scrambling my thoughts before they ever hit the keyboard. I try to tune it out, but after all, I’m still, I’m still an animal!

To find out, I retreated to my safe space, Google Scholar.

It contained bad news for anyone, like me, who believes background music is some sort of special hay that makes the writing horse trot. It turns out the best thing to listen to, for most office workers, is nothing.

An early study called “Music—an aid to productivity,” appropriately found that music could be just that. But the study subjects in that experiment were doing rote factory work, examining metal parts on conveyor belts. The boost in productivity the researchers noticed happened because the music simply made the task less boring and kept the workers alert. This also helps explain later studies finding that music helped surgeons perform better. “Most of what a brain surgeon spends their time doing is drilling through the skull bone,” said Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist and author of This Is Your Brain on Music. “In that case, it’s a situation like being a long-distance truck driver. If nothing goes wrong, the task itself is somewhat boring and repetitive, so you need something that will keep you psychologically aroused.” (Of course, at some point the surgeon will have to start doing stuff to the brain itself, at which point you’d hope they would hit pause.)

When silence and music were put head to head in more cognitively complex tests, people did better in silence. In a study from the 1980s, researchers gave subjects the option to listen to either upbeat or soft music of their preferred genre, or nothing, while counting backward. The people who listened to their favorite, upbeat tunes did worst of all, and those who heard silence did best.

The more engaging the music is, the worse it is for concentration. Music with lyrics is dreadful for verbal tasks, Levitin said. Music with lots of variation has been found to impair performance—even if the person enjoys it. A just-out conference paper showed that music and speech, compared with white noise, made study subjects more annoyed and hurt their scores on memory and math tests.

Some studies—one that used meditative Koan music and another that used quiet classical music —showed slightly positive effects of background noise on task performance. But lyric-free music is less distracting, and some of the people whose performance was improved may have come up with subconscious mental hacks to avoid getting sidetracked by music. One study that had middle-schoolers listen to the Billboard singles from 2006—Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” and such—while reading found nearly three-quarters of them did worse on a comprehension test. But those that didn’t might “have developed cognitive strategies that enable them to focus on study tasks despite competing background stimuli,” the authors wrote.

The reason this doesn’t work for most people, Levitin said, is most people can’t pay attention to very much at once. Lyrics can soak up precious attention, as can flashing lights or a really bad smell.

“You’ve got semantic information that you’re trying to use when you’re reading a book, and you’ve got semantic information from the lyrics,” Nick Perham, a psychologist at the University of Wales Institute told Edutopia. “If you can understand the lyrics, it doesn’t matter whether you like it or not, it will impair your performance of reading comprehension.”

The effect of music on concentration might be worse for older people, or those who naturally prefer quiet. One experiment had extroverts and introverts listen to, among other songs, INXS’s “A New Sensation,” which made it more difficult for introverts, but less so for extroverts, to memorize images and read a passage. (Extroverts also tend to play background music while they work more than introverts do, so perhaps they’re just more accustomed to it.) Another recent study of 42 children found that white noise helped those with ADHD concentrate. The authors chalked it up to a concept called stochastic resonance— the idea that lower-than-average dopamine levels in the brains of people with ADHD means they might need a bit more noise from the external environment in order to steady their concentration skills.

So, I asked Levitin, if listening to music while working is so bad, why do so many of us do it? Simple: We like it, and we can’t tell it’s messing us up. As one small recent study found, people prefer listening to music over office noise or silence, even though it didn’t help them think any better.

If you simply can’t go a day without your beats, “take a break every few hours and listen to music for 15 minutes,” Levitin said. (There’s some evidence that listening to music between tasks can boost performance.) Then go back to your silent cave and order this chit-chat stoplight to passively aggress against your noisy colleagues instead.

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In Honor of John Brown (Workers Vanguard)(Archived) 7 Sept 2018

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John Brown
Audio of Article – Mp3

In Honor of John Brown

Part One

We print below the first part of a presentation, edited for publication, given by Spartacist League Central Committee member Don Alexander at a February 24 Black History Month forum in New York City.


I was just handed a piece of paper with a quote by James P. Cannon, founder of American Trotskyism, that I want to start with. It’s from his speech on the way to prison in 1943, when 18 Trotskyist and Minneapolis Teamsters union leaders were jailed for opposing imperialist World War II. Cannon said, “The grandest figure in the whole history of America was John Brown” (printed in Speeches for Socialism [1971]). Over the years, a number of comrades have paid tribute to John Brown in North Elba, New York, where he is buried, and have given talks on different aspects of the Civil War and Reconstruction. We raise the slogans “Finish the Civil War!” and “For black liberation through socialist revolution!” to express the historic tasks that fall to the revolutionary party. Acting as the tribune of the people, a revolutionary workers party will fight for the interests of all the oppressed—black people, Latinos, women, Asians, immigrants and others. It will lead the working class to carry out a third American revolution, a proletarian revolution, the only road to the full integration of black people into an egalitarian socialist society.


The existence of black chattel slavery in the United States had a peculiar character. “Chattel” means personal property; it meant to own people like cattle to trade or kill. Comrades and friends will recall that veteran Trotskyist Richard S. Fraser underscored in his writings some 60 years ago how the concept of race was central to the development of American capitalism. He outlined how the material basis of black oppression drew upon a precapitalist system of production. Slavery played an important role in the development of British industrial capitalism and U.S. capitalism. British textile owners received Southern cotton, which was shipped by powerful New York merchants. New York merchants used some of this money to send manufactured goods to the South. Although slavery and capitalism were intertwined, they were different economic systems. There is an excellent presentation by comrade Jacob Zorn called “Slavery and the Origins of American Capitalism” (printed in WV Nos. 942, 943 and 944, 11 and 25 September and 9 October 2009).


I will add that the conflation of slaves with skin color didn’t exist in ancient slavery. But with regard to the U.S., the great black abolitionist Frederick Douglass put it well: “We are then a persecuted people not because we are colored, but simply because this color has for a series of years been coupled in the public mind with the degradation of slavery and servitude.” Black people constitute a race-color caste, with their color defining their so-called inferior status. In the majority, black people are forcibly segregated at the bottom of this racist, capitalist system, deemed pariahs and outcasts. Anti-black racism is ruthlessly promoted by the ruling class to keep the working class divided and to conceal the common class interests of working people against their exploiters.


Today, the filthy rich capitalists’ huge profits rest upon the backs of working people—black, immigrant and white. The rulers’ system of “checks and balances” has been and always will be that they get the checks while they balance their bone-crushing, anti-worker, anti-poor budgets on our backs! The multiracial working class, with a strategic black component, has the social power and the interest to champion the fight not only for black freedom, but of all the oppressed and to break the chains of wage slavery. Whether or not this is understood at the moment, the fight for black freedom is an inseparable part of the struggle for the emancipation of the entire working class from capitalist exploitation. The working class cannot take power without confronting and defeating centuries of black oppression. We say that those who labor must rule!


The Road to Harpers Ferry


In reflecting on John Brown, fellow abolitionist Harriet Tubman once said: We didn’t call him John Brown, we called him our “savior” because he died for our people. In the late 1950s and early ’60s, military veteran Robert F. Williams, who organized armed self-defense against the Klan and was driven out of the country on trumped-up kidnapping charges, carried around with him a copy of A Plea for Captain John Brown, an 1859 speech in defense of Brown by Henry David Thoreau. Malcolm X also praised John Brown.
The notion that John Brown was crazy, an insane mass murderer and a fanatic, is still peddled in bourgeois academia and cinema. The truth is that John Brown was a revolutionary who saw deeper than any other abolitionist that it would take a revolution, a bloody war to uproot slavery. John Brown did not dread that war. He did not deprecate it. He did not seek to avert it. And that is one reason why the bourgeoisie still looks at him with disdain and hatred.


Along with Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, John Brown was part of the revolutionary wing of the abolitionist movement who saw the outlines of what was coming in the struggle to destroy chattel slavery. Abraham Lincoln was a good leader during the Civil War who, under pressure, did eventually make it an official war against slavery. John Brown’s final push against slavery had been to lead a raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. For this, he and several of his followers were publicly executed by the State of Virginia in December 1859.


Summing up for the world his last thoughts before his hanging, John Brown hurled a bolt of lightning toward his captors and executioners, proclaiming that this land must be purged with blood—there needed to be revolution. He was almost 60 years old, which is quite amazing. How did John Brown become a revolutionary abolitionist dedicated to the destruction of slavery through force? From where did he think he would get the forces to accomplish his goals? What is the significance today of his struggle for black freedom?


John Brown was born in 1800. He was a generation removed from the first American Revolution which, while getting rid of British colonial oppression, left slavery intact and in most states gave suffrage only to propertied white males. He was deeply religious and raised by parents who hated slavery. His father Owen Brown, who had a significant influence on John, was a pacifist and a Calvinist as well as an active abolitionist, a stationmaster and conductor on the Underground Railroad. Fueled by Protestant beliefs, his family was tough and resourceful.


Owen subscribed to abolitionist papers like TheLiberator, which John grew up reading. John Brown worked with his father on the Underground Railroad, gaining valuable experience for his future revolutionary activities. While herding cattle when he was 12 years old, John witnessed a young slave boy being pummeled mercilessly by a slaveholder with an iron shovel. This incident shook him to the core. John picked up on the fact that in contrast to the slave boy, he himself was treated very well by the slaveowner. This only infuriated John more. He knew that the slave boy was horribly oppressed and had nothing, not a mother and not a father. From that point on, John Brown declared eternal war on slavery.
Brown fervently believed in the “divine authenticity of the Bible.” His prayers were combined with a call to deliver the slaves from bondage. But he was not sitting back and waiting for his pie in the sky. As black historian Benjamin Quarles put it in Allies for Freedom: Blacks and John Brown (1974): “Prayer to Brown was a prelude to action, not a release from further involvement.” In his last days, he cursed hypocritical preachers and their offers of consolation, saying they should be praying for themselves.

John Brown 2

John Brown and Abolitionism


I would like to briefly touch on the abolitionist movement. The U.S. abolitionist movement was part of the broader bourgeois radicalism in the 19th century, developing from radical elements of the Protestant Reformation and the 18th-century Enlightenment. It was also a product of the limitations of the first American Revolution, which continued the enslavement of half a million people. By John Brown’s time, the number of slaves had grown to four million.


In the beginning of his political awakening, John Brown admired the anti-slavery Quakers and also closely read TheLiberator, which was put out by the most famous abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison of Boston. Some of the first abolitionists like Garrison had belonged to the American Colonization Society that formed in 1816. The Colonization Society was a racist alliance between abolitionists and slaveholders promoting the settlement of black Americans in Africa. The underlying purpose of the colonization scheme was to drive free blacks out of the country. Free blacks were viewed with suspicion that they might stir up slave rebellions. Black abolitionists, who saw the organization as anathema, bitterly and vigorously resisted colonization because it told black people that they should leave the land of their birth.
Starting in 1817, a series of black abolitionist conventions was organized in various cities in order to defeat this racist program, in what came to be known as the Negro Convention Movement. After attending the 1831 National Negro Convention, William Lloyd Garrison became radicalized and eventually sharply repudiated colonization. This gained him respect, admiration and support among abolitionists—especially black abolitionists.


There was considerable racism in the abolitionist movement. However, radical abolitionists had a wider vision for human emancipation. As we stated in Black History and the Class Struggle No. 5 (February 1988): “Although slavery was their preeminent concern, these radical bourgeois egalitarians also fought for many other pressing political issues of the time, such as free education, religious tolerance and workers’ rights.” The women’s suffrage movement first began as a fight within abolitionism over the role of women anti-slavery activists. Women’s rights leaders such as Angelina Grimké and her sister Sarah, who came from a slaveholding family, were staunch fighters for black freedom. They were clear on the connection between black and women’s oppression. Angelina said: “I want to be identified with the negro; until he gets his rights, we shall never have ours.” The radical egalitarianism embodied in this principled position also animated John Brown’s hatred of all oppression.


The beginning of the formation of white abolitionist organizations was the establishment of the New England Anti-Slavery Society. Formed in 1832, it was galvanized by Nat Turner’s slave revolt a year prior, which killed some 60 white people. The revolt was followed by the execution of Nat Turner and his followers, and the massacre of a considerable number of black people.


William Lloyd Garrison represented the “moral suasion” wing of the abolitionists. Garrison also thought that the North should secede from the South, which objectively meant leaving the slaves helpless and defenseless. Although he sincerely hated slavery and wanted to see it destroyed, he stood for passive resistance. He rejected political action and instead put forward a futile program to appeal to the conscience of slaveowners to liberate their slaves. Garrison’s slogan of “No Union with Slaveholders” placed the struggle against slavery on the level of particular evils of individual slaveholders.


Frederick Douglass, who started out as a Garrisonian, strenuously objected to this slogan, recognizing that behind it was a defeatist strategy. He counterposed an aggressive fight against slavery. He instead raised in its place the slogan, “No Union with Slaveholding.” This was not a word play, but a different program and outlook. Douglass understood that the slaveholding system had to be destroyed, mainly through political means.


John Brown followed the debates and struggles of the abolitionists closely, especially those of the militant black abolitionists such as the young minister Henry Highland Garnet and David Walker, who advocated that the slaves rise up against their hated oppressors. According to social historian Robert Allen in his book Reluctant Reformers (1975), David Walker “was a free black who operated a small business in Boston, and in his spare time acted as a local agent for Freedom’s Journal, a black anti-slavery newspaper.” Walker argued that a “God of justice and armies” would destroy the whole system. His pamphlet, the Appeal, called for the immediate abolition of slavery.


But Walker was contradictory. He combined a militant stance of resistance to slaveholders with a call for the masters to repent and to voluntarily relinquish the slave system. He had explicit instructions on what the slaves must do when they rose up for their freedom: “Make sure work—do not trifle, for they will not trifle with you—they want us for their slaves, and think nothing of murdering us in order to subject us to that wretched condition—therefore, if there is an attempt made by us, kill or be killed.” The Southern planters wanted him captured dead or alive and enacted state bans on anti-slavery literature. Reportedly, both Walker’s Appeal and Henry Highland Garnet’s address to the 1843 National Negro Convention appeared together in a pamphlet that John Brown paid to produce. Brown would incorporate the spirit of Walker’s Appeal in his attempt to win black people to his revolutionary plans.


Transforming into a Revolutionary


As I mentioned earlier, as a young man, John Brown was an Underground Railroad operator. The Underground Railroad was bringing to the fore the most conscious elements of anti-slavery black radicalism. The great significance of the Underground Railroad, an interracial network of activists who were willing to risk their lives, was not the number of slaves it freed—which was perhaps 1,000 slaves per year out of a population of four million slaves. Its importance in the long run was that it crystallized a black abolitionist vanguard in the North. As the historian W.E.B. DuBois wrote, it “more and more secured the cooperation of men like John Brown, and of others less radical but just as sympathetic.”


In pursuing his growing commitment to black freedom, at age 34, John Brown wrote a letter to his brother about his aspiration to establish a school for black people. He understood the revolutionary implications of this: “If the young blacks of our country could once become enlightened, it would most assuredly operate on slavery like firing powder confined in rock, and all the slaveholders know it well.”
In the 1830s and ’40s, John Brown moved around a lot to earn a living and support his family. He went to Springfield, Massachusetts, and became more familiar with the lives and struggles of black people. Brown moved to North Elba in upstate New York, where well-known and wealthy radical abolitionist Gerrit Smith had donated land to be used by black people for farming. Brown forged ties with Smith as well as with radical black New York abolitionists like James McCune Smith and the Gloucester family of Brooklyn. He had many unsuccessful business pursuits, as a tanner, a land surveyor, a wool merchant. His travels while doing business enabled him to gain indispensable knowledge of the different strands of abolitionism in the Midwest and Northeast. From what he observed, he wasn’t impressed with the talkathons of abolitionist meetings. He never joined them because he disdained mere talk.


Brown was never able to set up a school, but he pressed on with teaching black people history and how to farm and carry out self-defense against slave catchers. His belief in social equality was clear. He shocked one white visitor to his home, who observed that black people were eating at the same table with the Brown family. The Browns showed respect to the black people there by addressing them as Mister and Missus.


John Brown kept his ear close to the ground, the better to follow and assimilate the thoughts of free and fugitive black people. Under the guise of a black writer, he wrote to a black abolitionist paper, the Ram’s Horn, to offer his frank opinions on how best to push forward black self-improvement. He didn’t hide his observations or criticisms of what he considered to be negative behaviors of some black people, ranging from flashy dressing to smoking—surely in accordance with his strict Calvinist morality. At the same time, he struggled to win them to the understanding that they should not meekly bow down to white racist aggression, but should resist it.


There was one major development that accelerated his transformation into a professional revolutionary. It was the 1837 violent killing of Elijah Lovejoy, the editor of an anti-slavery newspaper in Alton, Illinois. Lovejoy was attacked by a pro-slavery mob, which also hurled his printing press into the river. His murder shocked the abolitionist movement. Lovejoy was the first abolitionist martyr—and it could happen to any of them.


John Brown’s developing revolutionary social consciousness cost him some racist “anti-slavery” friends. As the biographer Tony Horwitz noted: “The Browns believed in full equality for blacks and were determined to fight for it” (Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War [2011]). The family’s resistance to segregation came to a head when they fought for integration in a Congregational church they attended. During a revival meeting, black people in attendance were seated in the rear of the church. At the next church service, Brown and his family gave up their seats and led the black worshippers to sit in theirs, located in the family pew. The deacons of the church were outraged and later wrote to them that they should find somewhere else to worship. This vile racism led John to distance himself from the institution of the church.


Preparing for Battle


Consciously wanting to link up with militant black abolitionists, John Brown put Frederick Douglass high on his list. Douglass and Brown had their first meeting in 1847 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Brown had avidly read Douglass’s abolitionist paper, TheNorth Star (later Frederick Douglass’ Paper), and went on to share his developing plans. According to Horwitz:“Brown pointed to a map of the Allegheny Mountains, which run diagonally from Pennsylvania into Maryland and Virginia and deep into the South. Filled with natural forts and caves, these mountains, Brown said, had been placed by God ‘for the emancipation of the negro race’.”


This meeting was a turning point in Douglass’s evolution from a protégé of Garrison into a revolutionary abolitionist. Brown fought to convince him of the futility of non-resistance to the slaveholders. He told him that the only thing the slaveowners appreciated was sticks upside their heads—something like that. Five years later, Douglass would abandon his naive faith in pacifist non-resistance. He began to openly state that slavery could be destroyed only through bloodshed, which shocked his former comrades.
Going forward, several challenges loomed for both revolutionary abolitionists, Douglass and Brown: the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the further expansion of slavery to the Western territories like Kansas, and the Dred Scott decision of 1857. The last involved a slave named Dred Scott who sued for his freedom on the basis that he had resided in a free state for many years. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled against Scott and went on to assert that black people, free or slave, were not U.S. citizens. In the words of Taney, which are echoed by today’s modern-day slaveholders—the ruling class in this country—black people “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”


Let me say a few things about the continued expansion of slavery. The South’s cotton production was booming in the 1840s and ’50s. It supplied most of the world’s demand, outstripping other American exports combined. Northerners wanted slavery to stay put where it was.


Many white laborers were primarily concerned with having to compete with black people for jobs, not with the inherent brutality against and degradation of slaves. Some Northern states, such as Ohio and Illinois, had long enacted “Black Laws” that set controls on freed blacks and deterred black people from migrating there. Meanwhile, there were bloody land grabs under way, such as during the 1846-48 Mexican-American War, when the United States seized about half of Mexico’s territory. The appetites of slaveowners and prospective ones were whetted. The question was sharply posed: Could Southerners carry “their” property into new territories? Would those territories be free or slave?The Compromise of 1850, which was contentious in Congress, concluded that California would be a free state, while the question of Utah and New Mexico was left to the white settlers to decide. Along with this, the new Fugitive Slave Act (the first was enacted in 1793) now mandated that ordinary citizens were required to aid in the capture and return of runaway slaves, even forming posses to do so. Northerners in effect became deputized slave catchers.


Douglass had plenty to say about the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. In 1852 he remarked: “The only way to make the Fugitive Slave Law a dead letter is to make half a dozen or more dead kidnappers. A half dozen or more dead kidnappers carried down South would cool the ardor of Southern gentlemen, and keep their rapacity in check.” Anti-slavery fury was swelling in the North, and in places like Boston, slave catchers were set upon and fugitives freed. However, because the full power of the federal government lay behind the enforcement of the law, militant abolitionists were not always successful.For his part, John Brown responded to the Fugitive Slave Act by forming a secret self-defense organization to fight slave catchers.

The organization was called the United States League of Gileadites, named after Gideon, a figure in the Old Testament who repelled the attacks of enemies who far outnumbered his forces. Brown drew up a fighting program for the League called “Words of Advice.” In the League’s manifesto, he offered such tactics as “when engaged do not work by halves, but make clean work with your enemies…. Never confess, never betray, never renounce the cause.”With a plan slowly germinating in his mind, John Brown was gathering the forces for the raid on Harpers Ferry. As then-Trotskyist George Novack wrote about Brown in January 1938 (printed in the New International), “By establishing a stronghold in the mountains bordering Southern territory from which his men could raid the plantations, he planned to free the slaves, and run them off to Canada.” Accordingly, Brown did a serious investigation of the terrain, including circling on a map figures on slave concentrations throughout the South. This information was discovered after he was captured at Harpers Ferry.


John Brown also prepared through reading and travel. A number of his business pursuits enabled him to go to places outside the U.S. like England, for example, where in 1851 he went seeking better prices for his wool. A key part of his trip to Europe was to inspect military fortifications, like at Waterloo where Napoleon met defeat. He studied military tactics and especially guerrilla war in mountainous terrain. He read books on Nat Turner’s revolt, the Maroons—the runaway slaves in Jamaica and other places who waged guerrilla warfare—and Francisco Espoz y Mina, the guerrilla leader in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. He also had books on Toussaint L’Ouverture, leader of the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804, and a biography of the leader of the English Revolution of 1640, Oliver Cromwell. Brown was familiar with and recited for his friends and followers the story of Spartacus, who led a slave rebellion against Roman rule.
His preparations for war meant that he didn’t spend a lot of time with the rest of his family in North Elba.

They understood and agreed, knowing that while he was away, it was their duty to resist the slave catchers, even if it meant imprisonment or death. Brown cared deeply for his family’s welfare and tried to alleviate some of their brutal poverty. He did what he could to support them as they all endured incredible hardships and suffered many setbacks. For example, John himself fathered 20 children and lost nine of them before they reached age ten, including three on three consecutive days. The Brown family knew that the cause of the slaves’ emancipation transcended their personal lives and they stuck it out, together. For John Brown, slavery was the “sum of villanies,” the ultimate atrocity against human freedom. And the fight lay ahead.

I’m sure that most of you have heard that what’s so terrible about the abolitionist John Brown was that he was a heartless, bloodthirsty killer. These are longstanding bourgeois lies. The real John Brown fought for armed slave rebellion and organized armed struggle against the slave system in “Bleeding Kansas” in the 1850s.

In 1855, John Brown joined his four oldest sons who had migrated to Kansas to fight against it becoming a slave state and win the territory for the “free-soilers.” The free-soilers had been associated with the short-lived Free Soil Party, whose platform called both for barring slavery from western territories and for the federal government to provide free homesteads to white settlers. In 1854, many of the Party’s former members had gone on to join the newly established Republican Party, which was born on the platform of “free soil” and “free labor.”

It was a period of turmoil. Congress had just passed a new law called the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the terms of the 1820 Missouri Compromise that was supposed to limit slavery’s expansion. Sponsored by a Northern Democrat, Stephen A. Douglas, the law allowed the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery within their borders. According to Karl Marx, the Kansas-Nebraska Act had “placed slavery and freedom on the same footing.” As he described it, “For the first time in the history of the United States, every geographical and legal limit to the extension of slavery in the Territories was removed” (“The North American Civil War” [1861]). The Kansas-Nebraska Act was nothing more than a signal for pro-slavery Missourians next door to invade and, through terror and violence, open Kansas to slavery.

At this point it was clear that there wouldn’t be, and couldn’t be, any lasting “compromises.” From the early days of the republic there evolved several sham “compromises” between the North and South. The first of these concessions, coming out of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, made slaves three-fifths of a person for the purposes of apportioning representatives to Congress; this gave the Southern slaveowners control of Washington. Now, the fundamental and irreconcilable class interests between the slavocracy and the Northern industrial bourgeoisie were coming to a head. One or the other would prevail. War was coming and Kansas was the next arena.

After some initial hesitation, Brown sought the approval of his black supporters and garnered the support of several radical abolitionists before joining his sons in Kansas. He decided that it was best to go there because it would be more important ultimately for the cause of freedom. From that point, his determination hardened and grew in the fight against slavery.

John Brown brought weapons and ammunition with him to Kansas to equip an anti-slavery militia where he was captain. He and his sons confronted a well-armed pro-slavery group of Missourians appropriately called the Border Ruffians, who were pouring into the state to terrorize free settlers. The free settlers needed an infusion of fresh blood to beat back a highly organized campaign of intimidation and murder. John Brown, his sons and supporters waged several successful battles in their defense. His militia retaliated for a number of murders of free settlers—in one night raid they killed five pro-slavery sympathizers near Pottawatomie Creek. Brown’s force struck fear into the hearts of the marauding pro-slavery bands.

Both the governor of Missouri and President James Buchanan, a Northern Democrat, offered rewards for Brown’s capture. Buchanan and other Northerners with Southern sympathies were called “doughfaces” because they were “half-baked and malleable.” Without John Brown’s intervention, which strengthened the free settlers’ morale and military defenses, a lot worse could have happened. It was not impossible that Kansas could have become a slave state.

Brown fought in Kansas throughout 1856. Toward the end of his stay, a Missouri slave crossed the border into Kansas, seeking help from anyone to keep him and his family from being sold. What do you think John Brown did? He led his militia to where the slaveholder was back in Missouri. His forces freed a number of slaves, eleven in all, including the family that was imperiled. A slaveowner was also killed. Brown’s militia seized horses and supplies to facilitate their escape and transport with the final destination being Canada. The local, state and federal authorities were outraged and over $3,000 was put on Brown’s head.

In the end, the slaves made it to Canada because of John Brown. In a frenzy, some of his abolitionist “friends” denounced him—not for seizing the slaves, but for the seizure of the slaveowners’ other personal property. And it’s not surprising, because some of these abolitionists were capitalists, for whom capitalist private property was sacred. For his part, John Brown had no trust in politicians from either political party. As author Stephen B. Oates noted in To Purge This Land With Blood (1970), Brown “hated the Democrats because he believed their party was dominated by the South and despised the Republicans because they were too ‘wishy-washy’ on the slavery issue.”

Roll Call for Harpers Ferry

The next arena for Brown was Chatham, Ontario. Chatham was a small town just east of Detroit and was a terminus on the Underground Railroad where thousands of fugitive slaves and free blacks resided. Living nearby in St. Catherines was Harriet Tubman. I’ll get back to her in a minute.

In Chatham in May 1858, John Brown convened a secret convention to debate the way forward and to finalize plans for the coming assault on and seizure of the federal armory and arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. The primary aim of the convention was to seek recruits for this action. One of the more important parts of the convention was a programmatic document he submitted—the Provisional Constitution. It was no mere empty exercise, but the basis for a selection of an abolitionist vanguard for revolutionary war. John Brown was making plans for a future provisional egalitarian free-state government in the mountains.

Brown’s Provisional Constitution was seriously debated. Some delegates argued that the best time to have a coordinated attack somewhere in the South would be when the U.S. government was at war. But the argument to delay was defeated. There were delegates who rejected any reference to the flag of the United States as a symbol of freedom; they said, this is my oppression, the American flag. Brown argued that the flag was an expression of America’s early democratic ideals—a vote was taken and he won. It became the flag against slavery during the Civil War, but today it is the flag of imperialist plunder and mass murder, racial oppression and anti-immigrant bigotry.

When his business was finished in Chatham, he finalized his plans for Harpers Ferry. Brown tirelessly gave speeches to raise money for his war preparations, for the consummation of his life’s work to free the slaves. In need of more money for arms and supplies, he contacted a radical abolitionist group that he relied upon: the “Secret Six,” which included Franklin Sanborn and Gerrit Smith, who were animated by his Kansas exploits. However, he never revealed to them the specific target of his next strike.

Brown knew that in order to attract significant black support, it was vital to win over Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. Tubman was key to recruiting followers among the many freedmen and fugitives who had settled in Canada beyond the reach of the Fugitive Slave Law. Through her courageous Underground Railroad work, Tubman had extensive knowledge of the planned Appalachian route. Showing deep appreciation of her leadership skills, Brown called her the “General” or “He.” Tubman fully embraced Brown’s plans. She was organizing people to go with her, but she fell ill and didn’t make it. Unceasing toil and hardships, on top of terrible spells of unconsciousness and injuries sustained from beatings by slaveowners, had taken their toll. John Brown was deeply disappointed.

John Brown was about to lead 21 men to what would be in effect the first battle of the Civil War. As the time for action arrived, Brown met one last time with Frederick Douglass. It didn’t go well. He revealed his plans for seizing the armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Douglass sharply disagreed and said that they were falling into a “perfect steel-trap” and would be crushed. They argued for several hours, and Douglass turned down the offer to go. However, at the meeting was a friend, an ex-slave named Shields Green, who was one tough fighter and became highly esteemed by John Brown and his associates. When questioned about going or staying, Green remarked: I think I’ll go with the Old Man. Four other black men went—Osborne Anderson, John Copeland, his uncle Lewis Leary and Dangerfield Newby (who in his 40s was the oldest black man to go). Newby was sturdy and immovable and joined to help get his wife and children out of slavery in Virginia.

Putting his plan into effect required meticulous preparation and sheer courage. To hide his forces from the eyes of the prying enemy, Brown required the assistance of trustworthy collaborators. His first pick was his wife Mary, for whom he had tremendous respect. It’s clear from his letters and correspondence that they shared and discussed the political news of the day. Brown’s 15-year-old daughter Annie and 16-year-old sister-in-law Martha were assigned to hold down the secret farmhouse five miles from Harpers Ferry, keeping watch and feeding soldiers. The men were John Brown men, so they knew how to help and keep the place clean. Though when they didn’t, they were set straight. The men were confined in a tiny place and stuffed in an attic. There they studied together, argued about the history of slavery and discussed Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason. They were nearly broken by tension and their discipline was weakened, but the courageous young women kept up their morale and cohesion.

The whole thing could have been blown when one of the neighbors, who had a habit of showing up unannounced, caught a glimpse of a black man in the farmhouse. She suspected that Annie was helping runaways and challenged her to an explanation, but Annie denied it. Annie devised a plan to silence her neighbor by providing her and her children with food and helping them with other tasks as long as necessary.

In a very interesting biography of the women in John Brown’s family called The Tie That Bound Us: The Women of John Brown’s Family and the Legacy of Radical Abolitionism (2013), author Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz describes Annie’s “trial-by-fire inauguration into abolitionist activism.” Annie herself later described this as the most important period of her life. As Laughlin-Schultz remarked, “Though she did not march to Harpers Ferry in October 1859, Annie’s work in the Maryland countryside may have allowed Brown’s raiders to do so, and the work of Mary and Ruth [his wife and daughter] at North Elba helped smooth over the Brown men’s absences.”

The aim of John Brown was this: to procure arms, free slaves in the nearby area, lead his army into the mountains where they could establish a liberated area and, if need be, wage war against the slave masters. From a military point of view, Brown’s plan for Harpers Ferry was futile. His son Owen said it was like Napoleon trying to take Moscow. One of the reasons it failed was that Brown didn’t fully carry out his plans, which he admitted to afterwards. He also believed he was overly solicitous to his prisoners and relied on some of them to ward off the enemy’s blows. In the end, Brown’s forces killed five people but lost ten of their own. They held control for 36 hours, surrounded by gunmen from nearby towns and hamlets and eventually by federal troops. The troops were dispatched by President Buchanan, under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee, the future commander of Confederate forces during the Civil War (you know, the “honorable” man according to White House chief of staff John Kelly). Brown and most of his associates were rounded up and captured, though several managed to escape. Those who were not killed on the spot were railroaded and later hanged by the vindictive courts of Virginia.

The Aftermath

While they were defeated in the end, John Brown and his men certainly fought. The raid at Harpers Ferry was a bold but unsuccessful action staged by a small, determined, interracial revolutionary band. What soon followed was what abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison termed “the new reign of terror” against black people in the South and against any Northerner who dared raise his head. Southerners were conjuring up fears of more Nat Turner revolts.

Harpers Ferry also caused fright and panic among some of John Brown’s so-called radical abolitionist friends in the Secret Six—they burned their correspondence with him. Gerrit Smith claimed insanity and briefly checked into an asylum while others fled for Canada. Some of them had probably been, to put it mildly, surprised when they found out that the plan was an assault on a federal arsenal and armory. It was euphemistically described by Brown, referring to the Underground Railroad, as “Rail Road business on a somewhat extended scale.” Secret Six member Thomas Wentworth Higginson refused to capitulate. He had told Brown before the raid that he was “always ready to invest in treason,” and didn’t burn his papers or correspondence. He later led a black regiment in the Civil War.

Frederick Douglass solidarized with the raid in a piece called “Capt. John Brown Not Insane” (Douglass’ Monthly, November 1859):

“Posterity will owe everlasting thanks to John Brown…[for he] has attacked slavery with the weapons precisely adapted to bring it to the death…. Like Samson, he has laid his hands upon the pillars of this great national temple of cruelty and blood, and when he falls, that temple, will speedily crumble to its final doom, burying its denizens in its ruins.”

Douglass had a price placed on his head by the federal government and used a pre-planned trip to England to escape.

John Brown knew that the pro-slavery federal government and its State of Virginia hangmen were close to finishing him off. While imprisoned, Brown was unbowed and wrote and answered many letters to family, friends and supporters (who mostly endorsed his action only some time after the fact). Above all, he pushed very hard for financial help to his family. He said that had he interfered on behalf of the rich, the oppressors would have poured praise upon him. Instead, his whole life had been devoted to fighting for the liberation of the slaves, and now he was willing to pay the ultimate price.

As I said, John Brown despised the ruling-class politicians of his day. For their murderous, cruel and unjust laws, he denounced the government as being filled with “fiends in human shape.” Before his death, in a letter to the abolitionist wife of George L. Stearns, Brown stated his wishes to be escorted to the gallows not by some pro-slavery clergyman but by poor blacks, his people: “I have asked to be spared from having any mock; or hypocritical prayers made over me, when I am publicly murdered: & that my only religious attendants be poor little, dirty, ragged, bare headed, & barefooted Slave Boys; & Girls led by some old grey headed Slave Mother.”

Following his execution, there were memorial services of black and white abolitionists in several cities. There was international impact. French writer Victor Hugo had written a rousing appeal to stop his execution and that of his followers. (The British abolitionists sat on their hands.) Brown’s death was also keenly felt in Haiti, the country with the first and only successful slave revolution in the Western Hemisphere, which was against the French slaveholders in 1791. Haitians, who saw in John Brown the great revolutionary and liberator of black slaves, Toussaint L’Ouverture, organized gatherings and fundraisers for the Brown family in every corner of the country. In addition, there were German workers—the Red ’48ers—European refugees who came to the U.S. following the failure of the 1848 revolution, who ended up playing an important role in building up the Union Army. Alongside black people in Cincinnati, they marched to memorialize John Brown.

John Brown gave his all and championed the struggles of the oppressed worldwide, including the 19th-century Hungarian, Greek and Polish struggles against national oppression. And it was his revolutionary war that opened the road to the annihilation of slavery. As radical abolitionist Wendell Phillips noted: “History will date Virginia Emancipation from Harper’s Ferry. True, the slave is still there. So, when the tempest uproots a pine on your hill, it looks green for months—a year or two. Still, it is timber, not a tree. John Brown has loosened the roots of the slave system; it only breathes,—it does not live,—hereafter.”

George Novack wrote a tribute to John Brown, published in January 1938 in the New International, journal of the revolutionary Trotskyists at that time, the Socialist Workers Party. He captured the dialectical development of events, noting how a seemingly stable and eternal slavocracy contained the seeds of its own destruction: “Through John Brown the coming civil war entered into the nerves of the people in the many months before it was exhibited in their ideas and actions.”

His Body Moldering in the Grave —His Soul Marching On

The Civil War broke out less than two years after the execution of Brown and his comrades. The Civil War was the last great bourgeois revolution, the last progressive war of the U.S. bourgeoisie. Instead of a confederation of states, it consolidated a unified capitalist market under a United States of America.

In the fires of secessionist rebellion and total war, Douglass called for arming the slaves. For his part, Lincoln was reluctant to wage what he called a “remorseless revolutionary struggle” to crush the slaveholders. Facing ongoing military reverses, Lincoln changed in the course of the war. He was compelled to deploy powerful black arms—ultimately 200,000 black soldiers and sailors—who were critical in tipping the balance of forces against the slavocracy. At the war’s end more than 600,000 Americans lay dead.

We are told that slavery was a “stain” on this “great” capitalist democracy. This suggests it was an aberration, a deviation from an essential goodness. This is a perfumed lie. Slavery was a barbarous economic system built into the very foundations of U.S. capitalism. Its legacy stamps every aspect of social and economic life. The slaves were liberated through the Civil War. But with the undoing of subsequent Radical Reconstruction, the most democratic period in U.S. history for black people, the promise of black equality was crushed through Klan terror and defeated by political counterrevolution. This led to the consolidation of black people as an oppressed race-color caste toward the end of the 19th century.

John Brown considered himself to be an instrument of “God.” He believed that it was part of God’s will for him to liberate the slaves through force, unlike those preachers who pontificated about solace and consolation to the oppressed. We are atheists and dialectical materialists, and we base our revolutionary Marxist outlook firmly upon science. This means explaining the world from the world itself, not from some nonexistent “higher power.” In the face of natural occurrences, early human beings devised a system of mystical explanations for what they didn’t understand. Earthquakes, famines, sickness and death were not attributed to the workings of a material, physical world—a world that existed prior to and independent of human consciousness. In contrast to a materialist view, an idealist view maintains ideas, opinions and thoughts as primary and material reality as secondary. In his writings, Karl Marx asserts that “man makes religion, religion does not make man,” that “religious suffering is at one and the same time the expression of real suffering,” and that religion is the “opium of the people.”

When the hour of action arrived, John Brown’s advice was to be quick, not to trifle. That is good advice. Importantly, he also struggled firmly to win revolutionary abolitionists to the fight for black freedom. He knew his foibles well and wrote about them. But what comes through from those who knew him was not a sense of superiority, but his kindness. Though we should proceed with historical care in analogies, one could say that there was a similarity he shared with Oliver Cromwell—the great 17th-century Puritan revolutionary of England. Brown would, as Trotsky noted of Cromwell, hesitate at nothing to smash oppression.

We of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) seek to build Leninist-Trotskyist vanguard parties that will hesitate at nothing in the fight to put the wealth of the world created by labor into the hands of labor itself through proletarian revolutions across the globe. Guided by a firm, revolutionary vanguard party, the workers will forge the class-struggle leadership of labor by ousting the agents of the bourgeoisie within the workers movement.

In racist capitalist America, we will remember those like John Brown and many others who waged war to throw off the shackles of the oppressed. Capitalism cannot be reformed—no ruling class ever has relinquished its power, its profits and accumulated wealth without a fight and it never will. This understanding is contrary to the illusions spread by the reformist socialists, such as the International Socialist Organization and Socialist Alternative, that you can pressure the Democrats to reform capitalism.

We understand that class struggle is the motor force of history. But this is not all. Even before Marx and Engels, bourgeois historians were writing about class struggle in France and elsewhere. We Marxists seek to extend this to recognizing the necessity for proletarian power, for proletarian dictatorship that will eliminate capitalism. We fight to end the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, the capitalists, as part of a transition to a classless society of material abundance.

We stand for the full integration of black people into an egalitarian socialist order, for revolutionary integrationism. This means integrated class struggle, mobilizing the social power of the proletariat to lead the fight against all manifestations of racial oppression, against racist police terror, against segregated education, against the hated Confederate flag of slavery and finally, to victory over the exploiters.

We fight to win a new generation of conscious workers and militant youth to take up the banner of genuine Marxism: Trotskyism. As a Leninist-Trotskyist vanguard party acting as a tribune of the people, we have no interests separate from the working class and oppressed. We fight for a communist future. We say: Remember John Brown and all our revolutionary heroes and heroines! We say: Finish the Civil War! For a third American Revolution! For black liberation through socialist revolution!


https://www.icl-fi.org/print/english/wv/1139/john_brown.html

Leçons de la Commune de Paris 1871 (Le Bolchevik) Sept 2011

Audio – Mp3

Il y a 140 ans, le 18 mars 1871, la classe ouvrière parisienne se soulevait et instaurait son propre Etat, un Etat ouvrier éphémère dans une seule ville. Alors qu’une bonne partie du gouvernement et de l’armée capitalistes s’étaient déjà enfuis de Paris, les ouvriers balayèrent ce qui restait et commencèrent à exercer le pouvoir. Cela ne dura que quelques semaines, jusqu’à fin mai 1871. La Commune fut un avant-goût de ce qu’Engels, dans son introduction de 1891 au livre de Marx la Guerre civile en France, appela la « dictature du prolétariat ». Lénine a attentivement étudié la Commune : il a révisé et publié la deuxième édition russe de la Guerre civile en France. Il a utilisé les leçons de la Commune dans l’Etat et la révolution, écrit peu avant le début de la Révolution d’octobre 1917, et dans la Révolution prolétarienne et le renégat Kautsky, écrit après cette révolution. Comme Lénine, nous devons tirer la leçon fondamentale de la Commune : contrairement à la Révolution russe victorieuse, elle n’avait pas de direction à la hauteur de la situation et elle s’est terminée par un massacre.

Origines de la Commune

L’idée de « commune » remonte au Moyen Age. A l’époque féodale, quand les villes se développaient en centres d’échanges, les citadins (artisans, marchands, et la bourgeoisie dont le nombre croissait) cherchaient parfois à obtenir une charte de franchise qui les exonérait des droits féodaux et leur permettait d’avoir une commune, c’est-à-dire une sorte de gouvernement municipal autonome « en commun ». Plus tard, pendant la Révolution bourgeoise française, une « commune » fit son apparition à Paris et servit de base à Maximilien Robespierre, le plus radical des jacobins, en 1792-1793. Elle avait pris le nom de « commune insurrectionnelle ». Elle était favorable au suffrage universel masculin et était basée sur les citoyens armés de Paris. En 1871, les ouvriers prenaient modèle sur ces exemples passés. Dans la Guerre civile en France, Marx écrivait : « C’est en général le sort des formations historiques entièrement nouvelles d’être prises à tort pour la réplique de formes plus anciennes, et même éteintes, de la vie sociale, avec lesquelles elles peuvent offrir une certaine ressemblance. Ainsi, dans cette nouvelle Commune, qui brise le pouvoir d’Etat moderne, on a voulu voir un rappel à la vie des communes médiévales […]. » La nouveauté de la Commune de 1871 tenait à sa nature révolutionnaire prolétarienne.

Pour comprendre les acteurs de la Commune de Paris, nous devons commencer par nous intéresser aux révolutions de 1848 qui l’ont précédée, quand une vague de soulèvements contre la réaction monarchique et féodale avait déferlé sur l’Europe continentale. En France, un monarque du nom de Louis-Philippe d’Orléans gouvernait depuis 1830 en défendant les intérêts des capitalistes financiers et industriels. En février 1848 un soulèvement de masse renversa la monarchie orléaniste et mit au pouvoir un gouvernement provisoire bourgeois dans lequel figuraient quelques représentants des socialistes et des ouvriers. Sous la pression des ouvriers, le gouvernement provisoire mit en place ce qu’on appelait les Ateliers nationaux, qui étaient une forme d’aide sociale pour les chômeurs parisiens. La principale opposition de gauche au gouvernement provisoire était dirigée par Auguste Blanqui, dont les partisans devaient plus tard jouer un rôle dans la Commune. En avril 1848, le gouvernement provisoire organisa des élections à une Assemblée constituante (à laquelle Blanqui était opposé). Une majorité de la population française, la paysannerie réactionnaire, vota pour le « Parti de l’ordre », une coalition de la droite monarchiste soutenue par la bourgeoisie. L’un de ses dirigeants était un certain Adolphe Thiers, qui sera plus tard le boucher de la Commune. En juin 1848, l’Assemblée constituante démocratiquement élue déclara la suppression des Ateliers nationaux, provoquant un soulèvement ouvrier à Paris. Il fut violemment réprimé par l’Assemblée. Des milliers d’ouvriers et d’opprimés furent tués – un avant-goût de ce qui adviendra avec la défaite de la Commune.

En France mais aussi dans toute l’Europe, la classe ouvrière s’était affirmée en 1848 comme une force de classe indépendante, et la bourgeoisie avait montré qu’en tant que classe elle était devenue contre-révolutionnaire. Au cours des siècles précédents, pendant les grandes révolutions bourgeoises, la bourgeoisie avait renversé les monarchies féodales. Mais en 1848, elle s’était alliée aux éléments féodaux réactionnaires pour écraser les ouvriers. Initialement, Marx et Engels, avant de participer aux révolutions de 1848, envisageaient la possibilité que le parti prolétarien s’allie avec l’opposition bourgeoise républicaine pendant une révolution démocratique bourgeoise (du moins en France et en Allemagne). Mais en 1850, dans leur célèbre Adresse du comité central à la Ligue des communistes, Marx et Engels, tirant les leçons de 1848, affirmèrent que le parti ouvrier devait agir indépendamment de la bourgeoisie et de la petite bourgeoisie et proclamèrent que pour les ouvriers, « leur cri de guerre doit être : la révolution en permanence ! »

Juste avant 1848, Marx et Engels avaient été pour beaucoup dans la création d’une organisation qui s’appelait la Ligue des communistes, qui était un petit groupe de révolutionnaires communistes avec pour programme le Manifeste du Parti communiste. Mais quelques années après les révolutions de 1848, la Ligue des communistes se désintégra. A l’époque de la Commune, en 1871, Marx et Engels étaient les dirigeants de ce qui s’appelait l’Association internationale des travailleurs, également connue sous le nom de Première Internationale ; elle avait été créée en 1864 et reflétait le renouveau du mouvement ouvrier en Europe après la défaite des révolutions de 1848. Contrairement à l’organisation de cadres qu’était la Ligue des communistes, la Première Internationale était constituée de multiples courants idéologiques, révolutionnaires comme petits-bourgeois. L’idéologie de Pierre-Joseph Proudhon était très influente dans la section française de l’Internationale. Proudhon était un des pères idéologiques de l’anarchisme, une idéologie petite-bourgeoise reflétant les intérêts des petits artisans et non du prolétariat industriel. Les proudhoniens étaient des « mutuellistes », qui rejetaient les grèves ou la participation à la lutte « politique ». Ils pensaient que la société devait se composer de petits propriétaires et luttaient pour des « sociétés de secours mutuel » qui dispenseraient des crédits bon marché ou gratuits, et leur arme était la « lutte économique ». Blanqui (qui n’avait pas adhéré à l’Internationale) était lui aussi très influent dans le mouvement ouvrier français. Pour Engels, c’était un « révolutionnaire de la génération précédente », parce que les origines de son idéologie remontaient aux communistes jacobins radicaux d’après la Révolution française de 1789. Blanqui croyait à la politique conspiratrice, c’est-à-dire organiser une petite minorité dans des cellules secrètes, pour ensuite apparaître au grand jour et tenter de provoquer une révolution par une insurrection armée. En 1839, avec un millier de ses disciples, il tenta de mettre en pratique cette conception, avec le résultat auquel on pouvait s’attendre : lui et un certain nombre de ses partisans se retrouvèrent immédiatement en prison.

La Première Internationale comptait aussi dans ses rangs un certain nombre de syndicalistes anglais. En Angleterre, contrairement à ce qui se passait dans le reste de l’Europe, les syndicats étaient un mouvement de masse, mais avec une orientation politique démocratique bourgeoise. L’Internationale incluait aussi plusieurs anciens militants allemands de la Ligue des communistes, et un mélange d’éléments éclectiques, dont un certain nombre d’Italiens et de Polonais. L’anarchiste Mikhaïl Bakounine avait fait alliance avec la Première Internationale en 1868-1869, tout en maintenant en parallèle et secrètement sa propre organisation, l’« Alliance internationale de la démocratie socialiste », ce qui était une source de tensions permanentes avec Marx et Engels. Comme les proudhoniens, les bakouniniens considéraient que la source du changement social était la petite bourgeoisie et non la classe ouvrière. Bakounine croyait que l’Etat bourgeois pouvait simplement être aboli, et il était contre l’idée de dictature du prolétariat, ainsi que contre toute « autorité ». Comme l’écrira plus tard Engels, pour Bakounine « l’autorité – l’Etat – voilà le grand mal ». Comme Proudhon, Bakounine rejetait la « lutte politique » au profit de la « lutte économique ». Pour en savoir plus sur ces questions, Joseph Seymour a écrit une série d’articles formidables sur les communistes des premières années et les révolutions de 1848, qui ont été publiés dans Young Spartacus (1976-1979) sous le titre « Le marxisme et la tradition communiste jacobine ». On trouvera aussi des détails intéressants sur Proudhon et Bakounine dans la brochure spartaciste Marxisme contre anarchisme.

Paris et le développement industriel

Dans la période qui suivit les insurrections de 1848, le prolétariat industriel s’était développé en Europe occidentale à un rythme rapide, conséquence du développement de l’industrie elle-même : dans les deux décennies qui séparent la défaite de 1848 et la Commune, la production industrielle et le commerce extérieur français avaient doublé. En 1840, il n’existait que quelques chemins de fer hors de Grande-Bretagne et des Etats-Unis, mais en 1870 il y avait en France près de 20 000 kilomètres de voies ferrées, des milliers de kilomètres de lignes télégraphiques, et la construction navale avait connu un développement considérable. L’or de la « ruée vers l’or » californienne affluait en Europe. Le capital financier s’était développé avec la création en France de banques géantes comme le Crédit lyonnais et le Crédit foncier, qui finançaient l’expansion industrielle et des grands projets immobiliers.

Même si la classe ouvrière parisienne était restée en grande partie de nature artisanale, ou organisée en petits ateliers (c’était une des raisons de l’influence de Proudhon), le développement en France (et dans une mesure limitée à Paris) d’un prolétariat industriel significatif représentait un changement par rapport à l’époque d’avant 1848, quand Marx et Engels pensaient que le prolétariat, particulièrement en France et en Allemagne, avait besoin de davantage de temps pour se développer économiquement en tant que classe. Comme l’écrivait Engels dans son introduction à la Guerre civile en France de Marx, en 1871, « même à Paris, ce centre de l’artisanat d’art, la grande industrie avait […] cessé d’être une exception », et Marx « dit très justement » que la guerre civile « devait aboutir finalement au communisme, c’est-à-dire à l’exact opposé de la doctrine de Proudhon ».

La croissance de l’industrie s’était accompagnée d’une expansion rapide de la population urbaine. La population parisienne avait plus que doublé entre 1831 et 1872. Pendant les deux décennies précédant la Commune, le préfet de Paris, le baron Haussmann, avait remodelé de fond en comble l’urbanisme parisien. Avant lui, de nombreux quartiers de Paris étaient très différents de ce qu’ils sont aujourd’hui et ressemblaient davantage à ceux de la plupart des villes médiévales : minuscules ruelles, maisons hétéroclites entassées les unes contre les autres dans le centre-ville, rues mal éclairées qui étaient autant de coupe-gorge crasseux, et la classe ouvrière et les pauvres étaient affligés de toutes sortes de maladies. La classe moyenne « respectable » vivait dans la peur du centre-ville, qui était aussi le centre historique des révoltes contre la classe dirigeante. Haussmann fit raser cette partie de la ville et la remplaça par les « grands boulevards », larges, avec de grands carrefours à angles droits où il serait plus facile de faire manœuvrer la troupe et de mater des barricades. Haussmann lui-même écrivait : « C’était l’éventrement du Vieux Paris, du quartier des émeutes, des barricades, par une large voie centrale, perçant, de part en part, ce dédale presque impraticable […]. » Les ouvriers furent chassés du centre-ville vers les faubourgs comme les collines de Belleville et de Montmartre, qui devinrent par la suite les bastions de la Commune.

La guerre franco-prussienne

L’événement déclencheur de la Commune de Paris fut la guerre franco-prussienne de 1870. Pendant la plus grande partie du XIXe siècle, l’Allemagne n’était pas un pays unifié. Pendant la Révolution de 1848, Marx et d’autres socialistes avaient combattu pour l’unification de l’Allemagne. Mais quand en 1848 la bourgeoisie allemande fit alliance avec la réaction féodale, ceci eut pour conséquence la survivance de nombreux petits Etats germanophones, dont certains étaient dominés par la noblesse locale, tandis que d’autres étaient sous le contrôle de l’étranger. Le plus puissant des Etats allemands était la Prusse, où régnait la monarchie des Hohenzollern. Au milieu des années 1860, sous le roi Guillaume 1er, un chancelier allemand à poigne du nom d’Otto von Bismarck arriva aux affaires. Bismarck affronta successivement le Danemark et l’Autriche pour le contrôle des provinces germanophones, accélérant ainsi un processus d’unification allemande officialisé par la création en 1867 de la Confédération de l’Allemagne du Nord. Pour achever l’unification allemande, Bismarck devait défier à l’ouest la domination française : il provoqua Napoléon III et l’incita à déclarer la guerre à la Prusse en menaçant de placer sur le trône d’Espagne un roi issu de la noblesse prussienne (la France aurait alors été encerclée par des régimes favorables à la Prusse).

L’arrivée au pouvoir de Louis Napoléon Bonaparte (le neveu de Napoléon 1er) avait été la conséquence de l’écrasement de l’insurrection du prolétariat français en juin 1848. Il avait été président de l’Assemblée nationale de 1848 à 1851, mais il avait fait un coup d’Etat et dissous l’Assemblée nationale en décembre 1851. Une année plus tard, il proclamait le Second Empire et se couronnait empereur Napoléon III. A propos des deux Napoléon, Marx, dans le 18-Brumaire de Louis Bonaparte, écrivait ironiquement : « Hegel fait quelque part cette remarque que tous les grands événements et personnages historiques se répètent pour ainsi dire une deuxième fois. Il a oublié d’ajouter : la première fois comme tragédie, la seconde fois comme farce. »

Le 19 juillet 1870, Napoléon III déclarait la guerre à la Prusse, et la guerre franco-prussienne commençait. Dans une déclaration sur la guerre, rédigée par Marx sous le titre de « Première adresse du Conseil général », l’Internationale se rangeait militairement du côté de l’Allemagne, du point de vue de l’internationalisme révolutionnaire. Marx argumentait qu’il s’agissait d’une guerre défensive et il soutenait l’unification de l’Allemagne tout en étant politiquement opposé à Bismarck et à Napoléon III. Marx lançait aussi une mise en garde : « Si la classe ouvrière allemande permet à la guerre actuelle de perdre son caractère strictement défensif et de dégénérer en une guerre contre le peuple français, victoire ou défaite, ce sera toujours un désastre. »

Mais en quelques semaines, la Prusse occupait sans difficulté une partie de la France. Un coup décisif avait été porté quand l’armée française fut écrasée lors de la bataille de Sedan, dans l’est de la France, les 1er et 2 septembre 1870 ; plus de 80 000 soldats et officiers furent faits prisonniers, dont Napoléon III. La nouvelle de la défaite et de la capture de Napoléon III provoqua dans toute la France des manifestations ouvrières contre la monarchie napoléonienne, pour la république et contre la capitulation devant les Prussiens. Le matin du 4 septembre, les ouvriers parisiens envahirent le Palais-Bourbon, siège de la Chambre des députés. Les masses chassèrent physiquement les députés et Léon Gambetta, un politicien républicain bourgeois, fut forcé d’annoncer l’abolition de l’Empire de Napoléon III et de proclamer la Troisième République. Les ouvriers conduisirent un certain nombre de députés à l’Hôtel de ville, où un « gouvernement de la Défense nationale » fut formé.

A partir de ce jour, le 4 septembre, le « gouvernement de la Défense nationale » fut tenaillé par « la peur de la classe ouvrière ». Il était « composé en partie d’orléanistes [monarchistes bourgeois] notoires, en partie de républicains bourgeois, sur quelques-uns desquels l’insurrection de juin 1848 a laissé son stigmate indélébile » (Marx, la Guerre civile en France, 1871). Malgré son nom, le groupe des politiciens bourgeois du « gouvernement de la Défense nationale » était peu désireux de combattre les Prussiens ; il voulait principalement mater la révolte ouvrière. Comme devait le déclarer plus tard Jules Favre, à l’époque ministre des Affaires étrangères, le gouvernement de la Défense nationale avait pris le pouvoir pour repousser les forces de l’anarchie et empêcher une révolte honteuse à Paris.

Début septembre, quelques jours après la défaite française à Sedan, la Première Internationale publiait la « Seconde adresse du Conseil général » de Marx, qui saluait la proclamation de la république en France et dénonçait l’invasion du pays par la Prusse. L’Internationale exigeait que l’Alsace et la Lorraine, où est parlé un dialecte allemand mais qui se considéraient depuis longtemps comme françaises, ne soient pas annexées par l’Allemagne. Marx mettait aussi en garde contre le danger d’une insurrection des ouvriers français parce qu’il pensait qu’elle serait prématurée (cependant, quand la Commune fut plus tard proclamée, Marx, Engels et l’Internationale furent les premiers à prendre fait et cause pour elle). Ceci dit, les forces hétérogènes qui composaient l’Internationale n’avaient pas toutes la même attitude : Marx et Engels critiquaient la section française de l’Internationale pour avoir publié une déclaration « chauvine » adressée au « peuple allemand » au nom du « peuple français », c’est-à-dire sur une base nationaliste bourgeoise et non du point de vue de l’internationalisme prolétarien. Cela a continué à être une faiblesse politique des éléments qui devaient plus tard diriger la Commune. Comme le fera remarquer Lénine : combiner « patriotisme et socialisme » fut « l’erreur fatale des socialistes français » ; la bourgeoisie française aurait dû porter « la responsabilité de l’humiliation nationale ! L’affaire du prolétariat est de lutter pour affranchir le travail du joug de la bourgeoisie par le socialisme. »

Le siège de Paris et l’armistice

Après le 4 septembre 1870, les Français continuèrent la guerre contre les Prussiens, mais sous un commandement bourgeois hésitant. Les Prussiens encerclèrent bientôt Paris. La ville fut assiégée et au bout de quelques semaines la famine régnait. En octobre 1870, non seulement les masses ouvrières mais aussi la bourgeoisie avaient déjà dû se résoudre à manger de la viande de cheval. (La classe ouvrière avait commencé à en manger pendant la crise industrielle de 1866). A la mi-novembre, on mangeait des animaux de compagnie, et même des rats et des pigeons voyageurs. L’écrivain Victor Hugo se vit attribuer des morceaux de cerf et d’antilope du zoo. Le combustible de chauffage aussi vint à manquer et les ouvriers et les pauvres de Paris se mirent bientôt à grelotter de froid. Pour couronner le tout, début janvier 1871, les Prussiens bombardaient la ville sans répit.

Pendant cette période, à l’automne-hiver 1870-1871, eurent lieu d’autres révoltes d’éléments ouvriers, et le gouvernement bourgeois fit quelques timides tentatives d’attaques contre les Prussiens. Le 31 octobre 1870, arriva de province la nouvelle que la deuxième armée française avait été battue à Metz, et Thiers arriva à Paris pour négocier un armistice avec Bismarck. Mais les ouvriers français étaient opposés à un armistice, et le 31 octobre, ils se révoltèrent dans plusieurs villes. Lors du soulèvement parisien, les dirigeants les plus radicaux, dont Blanqui, prirent en otage des membres du « gouvernement de la Défense nationale ». Les socialistes firent promettre au gouvernement d’organiser des élections pour une Commune, mais il s’agissait là d’une promesse fallacieuse. Il l’avait faite uniquement pour apaiser la colère populaire et gagner le temps nécessaire à ses troupes pour surprendre et désarmer les ouvriers qui avaient pris en otage le « gouvernement de la Défense nationale ». Après l’échec du soulèvement, et alors que le siège de Paris se poursuivait, le gouvernement commença à négocier en secret avec les Prussiens.

Finalement, fin janvier 1871, la majorité de la population française était à bout de forces. Le 28 janvier, Jules Favre, membre du « gouvernement de la Défense nationale » se rendit à Versailles pour négocier un armistice avec les Prussiens. Les termes de cet armistice étaient draconiens : le paiement à la Prusse d’une indemnité de 200 millions de francs, dont le premier versement devait avoir lieu dans les deux semaines ; reddition immédiate de la plupart des forts entourant Paris ; remise des armes et des munitions de l’armée (mais pas de la Garde nationale) ; annexion de l’Alsace et de la Lorraine par l’Allemagne ; et tenue des élections pour une Assemblée nationale.

Les élections à l’Assemblée nationale eurent lieu le 8 février 1871. Celle-ci était dominée par des monarchistes élus par les paysans conservateurs des campagnes. (L’Assemblée et ses partisans étaient appelés les « ruraux » par les ouvriers insurgés des villes). Adolphe Thiers, qui en 1848 était un dirigeant du « Parti de l’ordre » qui avait massacré les ouvriers, fut nommé chef du gouvernement par cette Assemblée nationale réactionnaire. Comme les Prussiens étaient toujours à Versailles, l’Assemblée nationale siégeait à Bordeaux. Un mois plus tard, le 1er mars, les Prussiens défilèrent symboliquement sur les Champs-Elysées, mais ils se retirèrent peu après de Versailles, tout en continuant à occuper la région à l’est de Paris et le nord de la France, en gage du paiement des réparations de guerre qui leur étaient dues.

La Garde nationale

Je voudrais m’arrêter un peu sur la Garde nationale. La Garde nationale de Paris était une force distincte de l’armée française. L’existence de la Garde nationale remonte au tout début de la Révolution française de 1789, quand elle s’était constituée comme une milice citoyenne bourgeoise. Elle avait été abolie pendant la brève restauration de la monarchie des Bourbons et rétablie en 1830. Par la suite, la composition de classe et la taille de la Garde nationale avaient fluctué en fonction des circonstances politiques. Pendant la Révolution de 1848, par exemple, elle s’était transformée, passant d’une petite force bourgeoise conservatrice à une milice de 250 000 hommes, dans laquelle les bataillons composés de pauvres et d’ouvriers formaient une écrasante majorité. Après la défaite de 1848, elle redevint une petite milice bourgeoise. A la proclamation de la Troisième République, le 4 septembre 1870, la police parisienne s’était enfuie, et la Garde nationale était devenue la principale force armée qui restait à Paris. Et donc, pendant le siège prussien de l’hiver 1870-1871, les ouvriers parisiens de la Garde nationale étaient armés parce qu’il n’y avait pas d’autre force pour repousser les Prussiens. Les effectifs de la Garde nationale augmentèrent à nouveau, atteignant 300 000 hommes. Pendant le siège, toutes les ressources disponibles dans Paris furent mobilisées pour fabriquer des munitions, et les ouvriers, grâce à une souscription ouverte par Victor Hugo, donnèrent de l’argent pour fabriquer des canons.

Fin janvier 1871, après la signature de l’armistice avec les Prussiens, la bourgeoisie française ne disposait plus que de 15 000 soldats loyaux – les autres étaient prisonniers de Bismarck. Parallèlement, il y avait dans la Garde nationale parisienne 300 000 ouvriers en armes, dont une proportion non négligeable de rouges. Thiers devait désarmer les ouvriers parisiens pour obtenir des banquiers français l’argent nécessaire à effectuer le premier versement aux Prussiens prévu par l’armistice. Comme il l’expliquera plus tard, « les gens d’affaires allaient répétant partout : “Vous ne ferez jamais d’opérations financières, si vous n’en finissez pas avec tous ces scélérats, si vous ne leur enlevez pas les canons”. »

Les ouvriers de la Garde nationale avaient immédiatement commencé à s’organiser en opposition à l’armistice de janvier 1871. Les bataillons de la Garde nationale commencèrent à créer des comités électoraux sur une plate-forme républicaine de gauche pour les élections du 8 février. Quand les monarchistes remportèrent les élections à l’Assemblée nationale, la Garde nationale appela à de nouveaux meetings et continua pendant environ un mois, de début février à début mars, à organiser les ouvriers parisiens. Thiers nomma un officier connu pour sa brutalité « général » de la Garde nationale. Opposés à ce choix, plusieurs dirigeants de la Garde nationale (affiliés à la Première Internationale) se révoltèrent le 3 mars 1871, nommèrent une direction provisoire de la Garde nationale et appelèrent à des élections à un comité central. Comme l’écrivait Marx, le soulèvement de Paris « ne date pas du 18 mars, bien qu’il ait remporté ce jour-là sa première victoire sur la conspiration ; il date du 31 janvier, du jour même de la capitulation ».

Début mars, les élections au Comité central de la Garde nationale furent annoncées par des affiches rouge vif placardées dans tout Paris, qui demandaient aux citoyens de s’organiser dans leur quartier et dans leur arrondissement. En réponse à la campagne de la Garde nationale, l’Assemblée nationale réactionnaire prétendit que Paris était livré à l’incendie et au pillage. Les Prussiens ayant quitté Versailles, le gouvernement français quitta Bordeaux et s’installa dans cette ville plutôt qu’à Paris par peur des masses plébéiennes. L’Assemblée décréta également des mesures de représailles contre les ouvriers et la petite bourgeoisie des villes. Elle supprima l’indemnité versée aux gardes nationaux, qui était une des rares ressources de la plupart des Parisiens. L’Assemblée apporta aussi son soutien aux propriétaires qui exigeaient le paiement de tous les arriérés de loyer depuis le début du siège, une mesure qui concernait une grande partie de la population. Elle exigea aussi le règlement avec intérêt de tous les impayés dans un délai de quatre mois, ce qui touchait en particulier la petite bourgeoisie des boutiquiers.

Ces mesures provoquèrent l’indignation générale, mais l’étincelle de l’insurrection ouvrière de Paris se produisit au petit matin du 18 mars 1871. Thiers, qui manquait de soldats, avait envoyé discrètement à Paris des bataillons de l’armée pour voler les canons de la Garde nationale. Détail symptomatique du manque d’organisation consciente qui régnait au sein de la Garde nationale, les canons n’étaient pas gardés. A l’aube, lorsque des crémières virent l’armée en train d’essayer d’emporter un des canons, payés avec le propre argent des ouvriers, elles alertèrent la Garde nationale et s’interposèrent physiquement, en reprochant aux soldats d’agir contre la République. Les gardes nationaux commencèrent à affluer et fraternisèrent avec les simples soldats, les gagnant à leur cause. Quand le général Lecomte, qui les commandait, donna l’ordre de tirer sur la population désarmée, les soldats refusèrent d’obéir ; le général et un autre officier furent arrêtés par les soldats et la Garde nationale. Très vite, partout dans Paris, l’armée désobéit aux ordres et fraternisa avec les masses parisiennes. Plus tard dans la journée, Clément Thomas, un politicien bourgeois qui avait soutenu la brutale répression du soulèvement ouvrier de juin 1848, fut reconnu dans la rue. Le général Lecomte et lui furent alignés contre un mur et fusillés par les insurgés.

Après le soulèvement du 18 mars et la mutinerie de l’armée, le gouverneur de Paris s’enfuit à Versailles, et le Comité central de la Garde nationale commença à exercer le pouvoir et à décréter immédiatement des mesures favorables aux masses laborieuses. Le 21 mars, il suspendit la vente des objets déposés en gages – les prêts sur gages avaient été un des rares moyens de survie des Parisiens pauvres pendant le siège. Il abrogea plusieurs mesures réactionnaires de l’Assemblée nationale, notamment en accordant des délais supplémentaires aux débiteurs et en interdisant les expulsions pour non-paiement de loyer. Même s’il avait le pouvoir entre les mains, le Comité central de la Garde nationale commença à proposer des élections pour une commune, dans l’illusion qu’il serait possible de négocier avec les maires d’arrondissement bourgeois, qui tous soutenaient Thiers. Au bout de quelques jours, les maires bourgeois et leurs partisans s’enfuirent à Versailles pour y rejoindre l’Assemblée nationale.

La Commune et la dictature du prolétariat

C’est ainsi que le Comité central de la Garde nationale se retrouva à la tête de Paris, avec entre ses mains tout l’appareil matériel du pouvoir. Il était, selon la formule de Trotsky, un Conseil de Députés des ouvriers armés et de la petite bourgeoisie. Mais le Comité central de la Garde nationale ne se considérait pas lui-même comme une autorité révolutionnaire centrale. Marx argumentait qu’étant donné que la bourgeoisie venait juste de s’enfuir, était désorganisée, et n’avait pas beaucoup de soldats, le Comité central, au lieu d’appeler à des élections pour une commune, aurait dû « marcher tout de suite sur Versailles », mais que « par scrupules de conscience, on laissa passer le moment opportun ». Autrement dit, au lieu d’anéantir ses ennemis, le Comité central chercha à prendre sur eux un ascendant moral et laissa les Versaillais tranquilles. Cela a ainsi permis à ces derniers de se ressaisir et de préparer l’écrasement ultérieur de la Commune.

D’autres villes françaises avaient déjà connu au moins un soulèvement depuis septembre 1870. Après le 18 mars, des communes s’étaient créées à Lyon, à Saint-Etienne et au Creusot, un centre de l’industrie lourde. Cependant, le Comité central, et plus tard le conseil de la Commune, étaient attachés aux idées anarchisantes de « fédération » et d’« autonomie », et comme devait l’expliquer Trotsky, ils s’efforçaient de « remplacer la révolution prolétarienne, qui se développait, par une réforme petite-bourgeoise : l’autonomie communale. La vraie tâche révolutionnaire consistait à assurer au prolétariat le Pouvoir dans tout le pays. Paris en devait servir de base […]. Et, pour atteindre ce but, il fallait, sans perdre de temps, vaincre Versailles et envoyer par toute la France des agitateurs, des organisateurs, de la force armée ».

Mais malgré ces faiblesses, la Commune de Paris représentait le noyau d’un Etat ouvrier. Selon la formule de Marx et Engels, la classe ouvrière ne pouvait pas « se contenter de prendre telle quelle la machine de l’Etat et de la faire fonctionner pour son propre compte », elle devait briser ce qui restait de l’Etat bourgeois et le remplacer par sa propre dictature de classe, la « dictature du prolétariat ». Et c’est précisément ce qui s’est passé. Le 28 mars, deux jours après que la Garde nationale avait organisé les élections pour la Commune, le nouveau conseil de la Commune, le gouvernement du Paris prolétarien, se réunit. Son premier décret fut la suppression de l’armée permanente et son remplacement par le peuple en armes. Il transforma aussi la bureaucratie d’Etat en diminuant les salaires et en rendant tous les responsables révocables à tout moment. Jean-Baptiste Millière, un proudhonien de gauche membre de la Commune, la décrit en ces termes : « La Commune n’est pas une Assemblée Constituante, elle est un conseil de guerre. Elle ne doit avoir qu’un but : la victoire ; qu’une arme : la force ; qu’une loi : celle du salut public ». (cité par Trotsky dans Terrorisme et communisme, 1920). Dans le Manifeste du Parti communiste déjà, Marx et Engels affirmaient que les ouvriers devaient avoir leur Etat, c’est-à-dire le prolétariat « organisé en classe dominante ». Après l’expérience de 1848, ils avaient acquis la conviction qu’il fallait briser la machine d’Etat bourgeoise, mais par quoi la remplacer demeurait abstrait. C’est en prenant la Commune comme modèle qu’ils arrivèrent à une conception claire de ce à quoi ressemblerait la « dictature du prolétariat ».

Je veux dire quelques mots sur ce qu’est la « dictature du prolétariat ». La Commune avait donné un aperçu de l’avenir, mais c’est seulement en octobre 1917, sous la direction des bolchéviks, qu’une révolution ouvrière complètement aboutie vit le jour – quand ouvriers et soldats organisés en conseils (analogues à la Commune elle-même) et dirigés par le Parti bolchévique renversèrent la classe capitaliste et instaurèrent l’Etat ouvrier soviétique, la formation sociale la plus avancée de toute l’histoire de l’humanité. Les révisionnistes de tous poils déforment la signification de la « dictature du prolétariat » pour dépeindre la Commune comme une paisible démocratie bourgeoise, et rejettent ainsi les leçons fondamentales de la Commune et de la Révolution bolchévique. Le premier porte-parole de ce révisionnisme fut Karl Kautsky, un dirigeant du SPD allemand et de la Deuxième Internationale qui abandonna la base de l’internationalisme marxiste pour soutenir sa propre classe dirigeante pendant la Première Guerre mondiale. Plus récemment, un autre révisionniste, Daniel Bensaïd, dirigeant aujourd’hui décédé du Secrétariat unifié, a recyclé (sans le citer) un certain nombre d’arguments de Kautsky dans un article reproduit dans Tout est à nous ! La Revue, publiée par le Nouveau parti anticapitaliste (NPA).

Pour paraphraser Kautsky, celui-ci argumentait que contrairement à la Révolution bolchévique, à laquelle il était opposé et qu’il considérait comme un « putsch », « la Commune de Paris a été la dictature du prolétariat ; or, elle a été élue au suffrage universel, c’est-à-dire sans que la bourgeoisie ait été privée de ses droits électoraux, c’est à dire “démocratiquement” » (Lénine, la Révolution prolétarienne et le renégat Kautsky). De même, Bensaïd argumentait que la « forme » de la « dictature du prolétariat » dans la Commune restait « celle du suffrage universel » (Tout est à Nous ! La Revue, n° 19, mars). Autrement dit, ils s’efforcent tous les deux de réduire la « dictature du prolétariat » de la Commune à une question de « démocratie » et de « suffrage universel » en général. En tant que marxistes, nous savons qu’il n’existe pas de « démocratie » sans contenu de classe. Tout en défendant le maximum de démocratie sous le capitalisme, nous sommes conscients que le « suffrage universel » est une forme de démocratie bourgeoise, c’est-à-dire une forme de la domination de la classe capitaliste. Lénine et Trotsky, dans leurs ouvrages de référence en réponse à Kautsky (la Révolution prolétarienne et le renégat Kautsky et Terrorisme et communisme), faisaient remarquer que la bourgeoisie s’était déjà enfuie de Paris à l’époque des élections pour la Commune, et que bien qu’il y ait eu des élections sur la base du suffrage universel, celles-ci reflétaient fondamentalement un vote de classe, celui du prolétariat. Ce qui définissait la « dictature du prolétariat » de la Commune, c’était la suppression de l’armée permanente bourgeoise et son remplacement par les ouvriers en armes.

Peindre la Commune sous les couleurs de la démocratie bourgeoise, c’est faire l’apologie du capitalisme et escamoter les leçons marxistes essentielles de la Commune. Considéré à l’échelle nationale, le « suffrage universel » ne représentait pas les intérêts de la classe ouvrière. L’Assemblée nationale réactionnaire, amenée au pouvoir le 8 février, avait été élue sur la base du « suffrage universel », et elle a cherché à écraser la Commune qui avait renversé la domination de classe bourgeoise. En fait, à l’époque de la Commune, certains soi-disant « socialistes » ont soutenu la démocratie bourgeoise contre les ouvriers. Parmi eux figurait Louis Blanc, une figure historique qui s’est opposée aux communards parce que ceux-ci s’étaient « insurgés contre l’Assemblée la plus librement élue ». Les véritables prédécesseurs de Kautsky et de Bensaïd sont les « socialistes » bourgeois de ce genre et non pas les communards.

Les membres de la Commune, et ce que la Commune a accompli

Un des principaux problèmes de la Commune, une fois arrivée au pouvoir, fut l’influence petite-bourgeoise et anarchoïde au sein de sa direction, avec comme conséquence que les différents éléments de la Commune étaient réticents envers le centralisme et « l’autorité ». Comme l’explique Trotsky, la Commune fourmillait de « socialistes bourgeois ». Et Marx regrettait que « la Commune me semble perdre trop de temps avec des bagatelles et des querelles personnelles. On voit qu’il y a encore d’autres influences que celles des ouvriers. » Toutefois, la Commune, s’étant emparée du pouvoir d’Etat, était poussée par cette logique à appliquer des mesures conformes aux intérêts des ouvriers et de la petite bourgeoisie, parfois en contradiction avec les programmes dont ses participants se réclamaient.

Qui étaient les représentants élus au conseil de la Commune ? Il y avait là des personnalités très diverses, qui oscillaient entre un Charles Delescluze, radical bourgeois jacobin et une quarantaine de membres de la Première Internationale, dont la plupart étaient influencés par Proudhon, et dans une bien moindre mesure par Mikhaïl Bakounine. (La principale contribution de Bakounine en 1870-1871 fut de tenter de diriger un soulèvement à Lyon fin septembre 1870 : il y proclama l’abolition de l’Etat bourgeois, après quoi l’Etat ne tarda pas à écraser son soulèvement). Il y avait aussi à la Commune un certain nombre de partisans de Blanqui, ainsi que d’autres éléments hétéroclites comme Félix Pyat, aventurier petit-bourgeois et calomniateur de Marx, que l’Internationale avait publiquement désavoué en 1870.

Un collaborateur de Marx dans l’Internationale joua un rôle important. Léo Frankel, joaillier de métier, était à la Commune et y défendit les réformes les plus progressistes qui furent instaurées concernant la classe ouvrière. Il réclama l’abolition du travail de nuit pour les boulangers, et demanda que les ateliers qui n’étaient pas en activité soient placés sous le contrôle des coopératives ouvrières et des syndicats. Il argumenta que la Commune ne devait pas accepter de passer des marchés avec les entrepreneurs les moins-disants qui faisaient pression à la baisse sur les salaires, mais qu’elle devait traiter uniquement avec des coopératives ouvrières. Il ne fut pas suivi sur ce point, mais la Commune accepta d’instaurer un salaire minimum.

Le conseil de la Commune comptait une dizaine de partisans de Blanqui. Mais le 17 mars, juste avant sa tentative pour dérober les canons de la Commune, Thiers avait préventivement fait arrêter Blanqui (qui était alors âgé), afin d’empêcher les ouvriers parisiens de se rassembler derrière lui. Les blanquistes étaient des conspirateurs. Leur position était bien résumée par un des dirigeants blanquistes de la Commune, Raoul Rigault : « Avec Blanqui, nous obtiendrons tout, sans Blanqui, rien. » Et ils passèrent le plus clair de la révolution à chercher à le récupérer. Les historiens bourgeois continuent à attaquer la Commune de façon haineuse et hystérique (ceci afin de faire passer les ouvriers pour des bandits sanguinaires) pour ce qui était une mesure parfaitement défendable, à savoir l’arrestation d’un certain nombre d’otages, dont l’archevêque de Paris Georges Darboy, qu’ils espéraient échanger contre Blanqui. (Plus tard, pendant que les Versaillais écrasaient la Commune, Darboy et plusieurs dizaines d’autres otages furent fusillés.) En fait, c’est Thiers qui a cherché à transformer l’archevêque en martyr de la cause contre-révolutionnaire ; Darboy lui-même avait plaidé auprès de Versailles pour que l’échange ait lieu, et écrivit : « Il est acquis que Versailles ne veut ni d’échange ni de conciliation ».

Parmi les autres réformes réalisées par la Commune, citons : la séparation de l’Eglise et de l’Etat, l’expropriation des biens de l’Eglise, et l’enseignement public gratuit. La Commune appliqua également ce qui correspondait à un programme de « pleins droits de citoyenneté pour les immigrés » comptant parmi ses éminents membres un certain nombre d’étrangers, dont les Polonais Jaroslaw Dombrowski et Walery Wroblewski qui faisaient partie de ses cadres militaires les plus compétents, et Léo Frankel, que je viens de mentionner, qui était né en Hongrie et avait travaillé avec le mouvement ouvrier allemand. Les femmes jouèrent aussi un rôle important dans la Commune. L’« Union des femmes pour la défense de Paris et l’aide aux blessés » fut fondée par Elisabeth Dmitrieff, qui connaissait Marx et ses filles et qui avait été envoyée à Paris par Marx. Avec l’appui de Frankel, son Union confectionnait des vêtements pour la Garde nationale, afin d’engager les femmes et les maintenir aux côtés de la révolution. Louise Michel, peut-être la femme la plus célèbre de la Commune, organisa un service d’ambulancières qui soignaient les blessés jusque sous les balles, et qui permit aux communards blessés d’échapper aux religieuses hostiles qui dirigeaient à l’époque les hôpitaux.

Pour Marx, une des plus graves erreurs de la Commune fut de ne pas prendre le contrôle des banques. Le 20 mars, le Comité central de la Garde nationale, à court d’argent, alla trouver les Rothschild pour qu’ils lui ouvrent un crédit à leur banque ; ils « prêtèrent » au nouveau gouvernement ouvrier parisien un million de francs. Toutefois, la Banque de France disposait de plusieurs milliards de francs, des lingots d’or, des bons du Trésor et des titres en tous genres. Sans les banques, tous les capitalistes auraient été mis à genoux devant la Commune. Lissagaray, un des meilleurs historiens de la Commune, qui travailla plus tard avec Marx à Londres, écrivait à ce sujet : « Depuis le 19 Mars, les régents de la Banque vivaient comme les condamnés à mort, attendant chaque matin l’exécution de leur caisse. De la déménager à Versailles, on n’y pouvait songer. Il aurait fallu soixante ou quatre vingt voitures et un corps d’armée. » Les proudhoniens de la Commune, prosternés devant la sacro-sainte propriété privée, ne voulaient pas toucher à la Banque de France.

Ceci étant dit, comme je l’ai indiqué, certains aspects de la politique de la Commune étaient en contradiction directe avec le programme dont se réclamaient certains de ses membres. Quand elle organisait la grande industrie et la production à grande échelle, la Commune s’engageait dans la voie de la socialisation, en opposition directe avec le programme proudhonien favorable à la petite propriété privée. Les blanquistes croyaient aux méthodes conspiratrices et voulaient construire une organisation secrète, pourtant dans la réalité leurs déclarations pendant la Commune appelaient à une fédération libre de communes, une grande organisation nationale.

L’acte le plus symbolique de la Commune, qui a souvent suscité l’ire des historiens bourgeois, fut peut-être la destruction de la colonne Vendôme. Dans une atmosphère de liesse, on vendit au public des tickets pour assister au spectacle de l’abattage de ce monument aux conquêtes militaires de Napoléon 1er. Le 16 mai, la Commune la détruisit en symbole de son opposition au militarisme bourgeois. Le peintre Gustave Courbet était parmi les plus célèbres partisans de son déboulonnage. Un autre symbole durable dont l’origine remonte à la Commune est l’Internationale, l’hymne du mouvement ouvrier international, écrit après la défaite de la Commune par le poète-ouvrier Eugène Pottier, qui avait lui aussi siégé au conseil de la Commune. Comme l’écrira plus tard Lénine, la Commune avait été une « fête des opprimés », et d’ailleurs, le 21 mai, beaucoup de communards s’étaient rassemblés pour un concert en plein air sous le chaud soleil printanier, quand les Versaillais commencèrent à se faufiler dans Paris pour entamer leurs massacres systématiques.

Désorganisation et défaite sanglante

Les initiatives militaires de la Commune furent contrariées par le fait qu’elle était dépourvue d’une direction militaire compétente, et aussi par la rivalité continuelle avec la Garde nationale, qui n’avait abandonné à la Commune qu’une partie de ses pouvoirs. Il n’y eut jamais de commandement unifié des forces armées. Les communards n’avaient pas immédiatement marché contre Thiers à Versailles en mars ; celui-ci et les forces de la contre-révolution commencèrent alors à se regrouper. A partir de début avril 1871, les Versaillais bombardèrent Paris en permanence et, après avoir conclu un accord avec Bismarck, ils obtinrent de lui la libération de 60 000 soldats français prisonniers, qui vinrent s’ajouter aux troupes loyalistes qui encerclaient Paris. Après une série de sorties très mal conduites contre les Versaillais, entre début avril et début mai, la situation bascula le 9 mai quand les communards perdirent le fort d’Issy, une position clé entre Paris et Versailles. Après Issy, le fort de Vanves tomba à son tour. Finalement, le 22 mai, un traître ayant informé les troupes versaillaises que la Porte de Saint-Cloud était sans défense, celles-ci commencèrent à s’infiltrer dans Paris.

Au cours des semaines précédentes, l’armée de la Commune s’était retrouvée totalement désorganisée. Elle n’avait pratiquement pas de commandement effectif ni de discipline, et face au bombardement sans répit par les Versaillais, des voix de plus en plus nombreuses s’élevaient pour réclamer une direction forte, centralisée et dictatoriale. Le 1er mai, un certain nombre de communards, s’inspirant de la vieille Révolution française bourgeoise à l’époque des jacobins, avaient constitué une succession de « comités de salut public ». La Commune se divisa entre une majorité et une minorité où figuraient plusieurs partisans de l’Internationale. Trotsky a fait remarquer que la création du Comité de salut public avait été dictée par la nécessité d’une « terreur rouge », et décrit les différentes mesures prises pour tenter de défendre la Commune. Mais il note aussi que « la réalité en était paralysée par l’esprit de conciliation informe des éléments dirigeants de la Commune, par leur désir de concilier par des phrases creuses la bourgeoisie avec le fait accompli, par leurs oscillations entre la fiction de la démocratie et la réalité de la dictature ». Finalement, fin mai, au fur et à mesure qu’un quartier après l’autre tombait aux mains des Versaillais, la Commune se désintégra totalement. Delescluze, le vieux jacobin malade qui avait été élu chef du dernier « comité de salut public », alla participer aux combats sur une barricade où il fut tué.

Après l’entrée des Versaillais à Paris, les communards se battirent désespérément. Mais la Commune fut écrasée rue par rue. Hommes, femmes et enfants furent massacrés sans distinction. Les derniers combats eurent lieu dans les quartiers ouvriers sur les hauteurs de Belleville et Ménilmontant. C’est au mur des Fédérés, au cimetière du Père Lachaise, que 200 communards qui avaient combattu jusqu’au bout furent alignés et exécutés. Aujourd’hui, nous continuons à nous rassembler en ce lieu pour rendre hommage à nos camarades disparus. Des dizaines de milliers de communards, plus de 30 000 personnes, furent massacrés par les Versaillais pendant cette dernière semaine de mai. Dans une prison, tellement de gens furent exécutés que le sang coulait dans les caniveaux.

Beaucoup de ceux qui n’avaient pas trouvé la mort pendant le massacre initial connurent un sort pire encore. Certains furent emmenés à Versailles sous les insultes et les crachats, parqués en plein air ou dans des geôles où ils moururent de faim, de soif, de choléra ou de gangrène. D’autres furent entassés sur des barges transformées en prisons où ils étaient ligotés et enfermés dans d’étroites cellules. Certains furent condamnés à la déportation en Nouvelle-Calédonie, une colonie désolée située dans l’océan Pacifique, à l’est de l’Australie, où ils souffrirent de malnutrition, de malaria et d’épuisement dans des bagnes, si toutefois ils avaient survécu au voyage dans des cages à fond de cale. Acte particulièrement vicieux et revanchard, le peintre Courbet, fut tenu pour responsable de la démolition de la colonne Vendôme et condamné en guise de représailles à verser plusieurs centaines de milliers de francs pour sa reconstruction. Pour éviter la ruine, il fut contraint de peindre sans répit, mais l’argent qu’il recevait pour chaque tableau vendu allait directement à l’Etat. Finalement, il s’enfuit en Suisse où il mourut dans la misère en 1877. Pour marquer le triomphe de la réaction, en haut