Saturday, November 28, 2020

2020 vote shows ongoing crisis of rulers’ two-party system – The Militant

2020 vote shows ongoing crisis of rulers’ two-party system

December 7, 2020
Hundreds wait to file for unemployment benefits in Frankfort, Kentucky, June 17. Only solutions both Democrats and Republicans advance to solve jobs, health crisis attack working class.
LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER/RYAN C. HERMENSHundreds wait to file for unemployment benefits in Frankfort, Kentucky, June 17. Only solutions both Democrats and Republicans advance to solve jobs, health crisis attack working class.

“The U.S. rulers and their government have begun to fear the working class.” That’s because “working people are beginning to see that the bosses and their political parties have no ‘solutions’ that don’t further load the costs — monetary and human — of the crisis of their system on us.”

That’s what Steve Clark wrote about the 2016 elections in his introduction to The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record: Why Washington Fears Working People by Socialist Worker Party National Secretary Jack Barnes.

“Never before have the presidential candidates of both major capitalist parties evoked such political distrust, disgust and aversion among working people, youth and broad layers of the lower middle class.”

The 2020 election shows that this is more true today as working people face mounting job losses, with neither the Democratic nor Republican parties offering any protection from the impact of today’s capitalist economic, social and health crisis. Whichever way they voted, millions of working people increasingly distrust the bosses and their two main parties.

The Joe Biden campaign outspent the Donald Trump campaign by some 2 to 1 — one sign that the majority of ruling-class families preferred a Trump defeat. Facebook and Twitter censored pro-Trump postings and all liberal and many not-so-liberal news outlets portrayed him as the most despicable person to ever hold the presidency and a threat to democracy.

Their real target was the workers who voted for him, who — as Hillary Clinton infamously said in 2016 — are “deplorables” and “irredeemable.”

Lack of ‘blue wave’

The liberals hoped their anti-Trump hyperbole would lead to Democratic Party victories across the board. But there was no Democratic Party “blue wave.” They lost seats in the House and likely will fail to win the Senate. This worries editors at the New York Times. They have published a slew of opinion articles to debate what went “wrong.”

The left and liberal caricatures of Trump supporters as “bigoted, greedy and somewhat stupid white people” displayed “moral condescension,” noted Times columnist Bret Stephens, himself an anti-Trump conservative.

According to the media, Stephens wrote, “Trump is the most anti-Black, anti-Hispanic and anti-woman president in modern memory. Yet the CNN exit poll found that Trump won a majority of the vote of white women against both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden,” and “improved his vote share over 2016 with both Latino and Black voters.”

Stephens argues against those in the Democratic Party who say race and gender are much more important than class. He says the media underestimated the appeal of Trump’s claim he would bring back jobs.

In fact, according to the Miami Herald, “Congressional Republicans in 2021 will have the smallest percentage of white males in modern history,” as a result of the election of a number of Black, Asian, Hispanic and women candidates.

The Biden “victory” is accelerating the factional warfare in the Democratic Party between the socialist wing personified by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and more mainstream Democrats. Times columnist Michelle Goldberg urged both wings of the party to stop “sniping” at each other and come together.

Instead, democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, who lost to Biden in the primaries and then backed his campaign, said Nov. 20 it would be “enormously insulting” if Biden included Republicans and conservative Democrats in his cabinet but “ignored the progressive community.”

Patrisse Cullors, a self-appointed leader of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, sent a letter to Biden demanding to be part of his “Transition Team’s planning and policy work.” So far, Biden hasn’t got back to her.

The Republican Party has its own divisions, one wing led by Trump and the other by “Never Trumpers,” who yearn for a return to the days before 2016. Real estate mogul Trump presented himself as a champion of the working person, and called for “draining the swamp” in Washington.

While the pro-Trump New York Sun hailed him for forging a “Republican Workers Party,” others fear this will stir workers up. The election results ratcheted up these tensions.

“The former stability of the two-party shell game will not be restored,” Clark noted in his 2016 introduction.

The fact is neither the Democrats nor Republicans are capable of advancing a course in the interest of working people in the face of the massive unemployment that is a persistent feature of today’s capitalist crisis.

US ‘left’ blinds itself to class

Virtually the entire left called for a Biden victory. Typical is Workers World, the newspaper of the party of the same name, which is shocked that “even among white union members, a significant number backed Trump.” Why? Echoing the stance of liberals, their answer “simply put, is racism.” To make that case, they ignore the fact that nearly one in five Black men and one in three Latinos voted for Trump. They see everything through the lens of gender and race, as opposed to the class divisions that underlie all oppression and exploitation.

“An honest assessment of the consciousness of white workers can be demoralizing, to put it lightly,” the paper said. The accusation that working people who are Caucasian are “white supremacists” can only be made by a party that holds workers and farmers in contempt and has little connection with them.

Rigged elections

In the introduction to the Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record, Clark points out that the 2016 election exposed the fact that the “bourgeois electoral system in the United States is rigged … on behalf of the propertied owners and their large rent-collecting meritocracy.” The 2020 election was no different.

The liberal media and the middle-class left ran a semi-hysterical campaign to try and oust Trump by any means possible from the day he took office.

The Socialist Workers Party— on the ballot this year in six states — knows more than a little about rigged elections.

Election laws aim to preserve both capitalist parties’  monopoly and make it as difficult as possible for a workers party to get its candidates on the ballot in most states.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo rammed through changes in New York State last year that made it even harder, increasing the number of signatures needed for third parties to get on the ballot from 15,000 to 45,000.

Much of the bourgeois press refuses to cover SWP campaigns.

Despite this the Socialist Workers Party presidential slate of Alyson Kennedy and Malcolm Jarrett, along with a couple dozen local candidates, ran a bold campaign, finding widespread interest in the party’s action platform from working people around the country — in large cities, small towns and farming regions. They exchanged views with thousands about what working people can do together to defend ourselves, regardless of who those workers planned to vote for, or if they planned to vote at all.

Starting with the interests of the working class, SWP campaigners raised demands that workers and our unions can fight for today. This includes a government-funded public works program to put millions to work building and repairing needed infrastructure, cutting the workweek with no cut in take-home pay to prevent layoffs, and workers control of production.

Workers need to forge our own party, a labor party, based on fighting unions, to fight for political power and a workers and farmers government.

2020 vote shows ongoing crisis of rulers’ two-party system – The Militant

Bloody war in Ethiopia rages over control of nation’s riches – The Militant

Legacy of class struggles in Ethiopia 

....Under Emperor Haile Selassie, the government in Ethiopia was one of U.S. imperialism’s closest regional allies. In 1974 an uprising by peasants and workers, headed by junior military officers, toppled the Selassie regime. A deep-going social revolution unfolded, aimed at ridding the country of the semifeudal social relations that had long hampered its development. 

Nearly 20 years later, in 1991, popular protests led to the ousting of the military regime of Lt. Col. Mengitsu Haile Mariam that had ruled since 1974, bringing a coalition of different ethnic-based fronts to power. The TPLF dominated this coalition, going on to extend that control over the state and the country’s economy. 

Abiy came into office in 2018 promising to govern for all Ethiopians and develop the country. He is the first Oromo, the country’s largest ethnic group, to become prime minister. 

He ended the state of emergency, freed political prisoners and lifted the ban on three opposition groups. He also normalized relations with the government of Eritrea, ending two decades of bloody war between the rulers of the two neighboring countries — a move widely welcomed by working people. 

He set about dismantling the TPLF control of the military by arresting security officials. He undercut their practice of enriching themselves through control of state-owned companies, turning over sugar plants, industrial parks and railways to private ownership. 

In a country of about 100 language groupings, local capitalists and landlords for decades appealed for political support along ethnic lines. Abiy moved to dissolve the ruling coalition and imposed a single party, the Prosperity Party, not based on any one ethnic group. The TPLF refused to join it. 

Beijing, Washington rivalry

Abiy has encouraged competition between rival foreign investors, pitting renewed interest by capitalists from the U.S. and Western Europe against the growing influence of Chinese capital, which backed the former TPLF-led government. 

Chinese capitalists have invested in large-scale infrastructure projects in Ethiopia aimed at extending their access to trade and sources of raw materials across the African continent. 

They have been central to building hydroelectric infrastructure, part of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, on the Blue Nile. This project controls the supply of more than 85% of the water flowing into the lower Nile, on which tens of millions of people living downstream in Sudan and Egypt are dependent. The rulers in Sudan and Egypt oppose the project. Washington urges talks between the governments of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to settle the dispute. 

Bloody war in Ethiopia rages over control of nation’s riches – The Militant

Cuban Revolution sets an example for working people – The Militant


Cuban Revolution sets an example for working people

December 7, 2020

Millions of working people in the U.S. and worldwide face an economic, social and health crisis caused by the ruling capitalist families who exploit and oppress us in their greed for profits. They run a for-profit private health industry that denies care to working people. In contrast, the Cuban Revolution provides an inspiring example of what working people can accomplish when we take political power into our own hands.

That example is one the U.S. rulers have fought to overturn for 60 years, fearing the more workers learn about the Cuban Revolution, the more they will be won to emulate its example.

Since the pandemic struck, Cuba’s revolutionary government has acted as it has for decades, mobilizing working people to tackle whatever challenges they confront. As a result, Cuba has the highest success rate treating those stricken with COVID-19 and the lowest death rate from it in the world.

Thousands of volunteers — medical students and members of Cuba’s mass organizations — have mobilized to visit millions in their homes daily to see if they need help or have gotten sick, and organize rapid and free medical care. Everyone gets the best treatment available.

Preventative measures have been organized at workplaces, including spreading out work stations, something unthinkable for profit-hungry bosses here.

Staffing for elderly residents in care homes has been expanded, the opposite of what happened in the U.S., where the capitalists discard the elderly as expendable, as they’re no longer a source of profit.

Simultaneously, Cuba’s revolutionary government has sent thousands of medical volunteers to any country that requested help to combat coronavirus.

The mobilization of Cuban working people today cannot simply be grafted onto other countries where working people have yet to replace capitalist rule. These feats were accomplished not because Cuba had a better plan. They are the result of the mighty revolution Cuba’s working people made in 1959 and the way they were themselves transformed, then and over decades of advancing and defending the revolution from U.S. imperialist assault. So when coronavirus struck, they were prepared to respond in their millions.

We are determined to organize here in the U.S. to get out the truth about Cuba’s revolution and to build actions demanding that the U.S. rulers end their economic war against Cuba’s people!

Working people in the U.S. have the same capacities. The long history of courageous and disciplined mass struggles by workers and farmers here is proof of that, a history the capitalist rulers try to keep hidden from us. Struggles like the fight that built powerful industrial unions in the 1930s and the Black-led working-class movement that brought down Jim Crow segregation and changed forever working people’s views of each other.

Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara told medical students in 1960 that before he met Fidel Castro and joined the Cuban revolutionary movement, he had “wanted to help people through my personal efforts” and become “a revolutionary doctor.”

But his experiences in the Cuban Revolution taught him “a fundamental thing: to be a revolutionary doctor, or to be a revolutionary, there must first be a revolution.” Through the fight to make, defend and advance their socialist revolution, Guevara said, new men and women were forged.

That is the road forward. As our experiences in struggle grow, it will become increasingly clear we need to follow the Cuban people’s example. We will break from the twin parties of the capitalist rulers, the Democrats and Republicans, form our own party, a labor party, and set a course to lead working people here to take political power.

Cuban Revolution sets an example for working people – The Militant

Workers fight boss attacks on jobs, wages, conditions – The Militant

....Working people are increasingly finding ways to act together to stand up to the attacks of the bosses and their government as they press to make us pay for the economic and social crisis of their capitalist system. We face both surging coronavirus infections and the scourge of widespread unemployment. 

Workers fight boss attacks on jobs, wages, conditions – The Militant

Gag orders by ‘social media’ bosses attack political rights – The Militant

Gag orders by ‘social media’ bosses attack political rights

November 30, 2020

Growing restrictions and monitoring of political views by censorship officials at Facebook, Twitter and other “social media” are a danger to political rights. Liberal thought-control overseers have interfered with or blocked comments and sites that run the gamut from tweets by President Donald Trump to a Facebook page about a conference on solidarity with the Cuban Revolution.

“Social media,” which is supposed to be a neutral location where anyone can express an opinion or start a conversation group, already poses a serious threat to working people. It facilitates police and government spying on individuals and groups. As the class struggle heats up, workers fighting to build and strengthen unions and for Black and women’s rights can be targeted.

Under the pressure of liberal and middle-class radical organizations, the bosses at Twitter, Facebook and other sites — who make millions from running them — have put political censors and “fact checkers” to work deciding what’s politically correct and what should be flagged or shut down.

What Facebook administrators did to the “Stop the Steal” Facebook group is a good example of how the right to freedom of speech is being attacked. The “Stop the Steal” Facebook page was created at 3 p.m. Nov. 4 by 30-year-old Kylie Jane Kremer, who runs an organization called Women for America First. The presidential election had taken place the day before in a very tight race between Trump and Joe Biden with inconclusive results in several states.

The group uploaded a video showing a crowd outside a polling station in Detroit, charging that “Biden is stealing the vote.” Within 22 hours, the group had amassed over 320,000 users, making it “one of the fastest-growing groups in Facebook’s history,” according to the New York Times.

Facebook then promptly deleted the group from its system, just 23 hours after it had begun. This group was organized around “delegitimization of the election process,” charged Facebook spokesman Tom Reynolds, attempting to explain its disappearance.

“They were flagging our posts,” Kremer told the Times. “This is what they do, they censor.”

These self-appointed online political censors have joined in the four-years-long effort to oust the Trump administration, something they hope the election has accomplished. Biden himself said he favored Facebook censoring Trump’s “threatening behavior and lies.”

Both Facebook and Twitter officials have begun “fact checking” and placing disclaimers on comments they don’t agree with. They did so for Trump’s tweets where he called mail-in ballots “fraudulent.”

Twitter banned all political advertising leading up to the election. In August, Facebook bosses announced the removal of 14,200 online groups, claiming they were “militarized social movements.”

Yoel Roth, who has been designated as “head of site integrity” at Twitter, said in a blog that his goal is “to limit the spread of potentially harmful and misleading content.” But he doesn’t say a word about his own political record of railing against Trump’s presidency.

Twitter officials went so far as to shut down the New York Post ’s account Oct. 14 for a story the paper ran on business dealings in Ukraine by Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. Also closed were the accounts of White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany, the “Team Trump” campaign account, and that of Politico journalist Jake Sherman. This attack on freedom of the press was reversed two weeks later when, under pressure, Twitter restored the Post’s account.

The point here is not whether Trump, his supporters, or anyone else is right or wrong. The Constitution gives everyone the right to express their opinion, and this is important for the working class. Instead, liberal “do-gooders” like those on social media have anointed themselves to determine what is “politically correct.”

But, as the experiences of the Socialist Workers Party and other proletarian fighters has proven, whenever censorship like this starts up, it inevitably ends up being aimed at the working class. It is the working class that needs free expression to discuss and debate a fighting way forward.

Just like pro-Trump forces, Cheryl LaBash, who writes for Struggle for Socialism  and is a national co-chair of the National Network on Cuba, had her personal Facebook page deactivated Oct. 28. Unlike “Stop the Steal” groups, LaBash had joined in calls for liberals and radicals to “Occupy the streets” if it looks like Trump is trying to steal the election. “This is no idle threat,” Struggle for Socialism  wrote, “Trump has his own paramilitary police, Homeland Security, the support of the most virulent and reactionary police departments, and a myriad of violent, racist, vigilante-type groups.”

LaBash said other groups that had joined with her to call for a protest on Nov. 4 in Baltimore along these lines had been shut down as well.

Censoring Cuba solidarity event

Facebook political censorship has also been extended to include supporters of the Cuban Revolution. On Oct. 29 Facebook deleted the National Network on Cuba’s events page for a Nov. 14-15 online solidarity with Cuba conference. The page reported on panels being held on “After the U.S. Elections: For Normalization! Why We Must End the Blockade on Cuba!” and “Saving Lives Campaign — Bringing Cuba’s Example to the U.S. and Canada During the Global Pandemic.”

And it listed speakers, including José Ramón Cabañas and Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s ambassadors to the U.S. and Canada; Fernando González, president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples; and doctors, elected officials, and labor and religious figures.

To justify this decision, Facebook censors said, “We don’t allow symbols, praise or support of dangerous individuals or organizations on Facebook.”

The idea that public forums that extend a platform to Cuba’s ambassador to the U.S. should be arbitrarily shut down is a dagger in the heart of freedom of speech.

Gag orders by ‘social media’ bosses attack political rights – The Militant

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Election 2020


....For well over a century, the great weakness of the working class in the U.S. — workers of all skin colors, religious beliefs and national origins, both men and women — is the fact that the parties the big majority of working people look to for political leadership are instruments of the capitalist class whose wealth and power stem from exploiting us. Trade unions, churches, organizations claiming to speak for the interests of debt-laden farmers, shopkeepers and contract laborers, African Americans, women, Hispanics, immigrants, Indigenous peoples and more — all, almost without exception, are integrated into the political machinery of the capitalist state and its political parties.

The working class has no political instrument of our own, through which we can debate and make our own decisions, independent of the bosses and their Democratic, Republican, or various “third” capitalist parties. To the degree workers and our unions are drawn into political activity, it’s to try to engage us in capitalist electoral politics. Is he worse or is she worse? Throw the current “bad” guys out and bring the “good” guys in, then repeat the cycle with the same results, year after year, decade after decade … until world capitalism does us all in, in one or another manner.

That profound miseducation will only begin to be bypassed as class battles unfold in factories and other workplaces over wages and working conditions, and struggles for Black rights, women’s equality and other burning social issues become more working class in composition and leadership. The course of those struggles and growth of working-class consciousness will at the same time be accelerated by advances in revolutionary struggles in other regions of the world, in the same way the Cuban Revolution educated and helped transform earlier generations of workers and youth in the United States and elsewhere. Today’s deepening world capitalist crisis brings those days closer.

That’s why the most important aid we can bring to our embattled brothers and sisters in Cuba or anywhere else in the world is to do everything in our power to advance those struggles as we tirelessly educate about the example set by Cuban working people that socialist revolution is not only necessary — it can be made.

Above all, as SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes wrote in Cuba and the Coming American Revolutionwe are confident in our knowledge that in the U.S. “the political capacities and revolutionary potential of workers and farmers are today as utterly discounted by the ruling powers as were those of the Cuban toilers. And just as wrongly.”

Defending the Cuban Revolution, strengthening US working people – The Militant

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Anger at lack of charges filed in Taylor killing fuels debate – The Militant the absence of working-class leadership from unions, churches and other mass organizations, many protests here have targeted Caucasians, restaurant owners and others, as opposed to demanding the cops be held accountable. The actions have been organized in ways that encouraged indisciplined and violent acts. Groups carrying arms have been allowed to participate, opening the door to retaliation by cops and right-wing groups. 
Vandalism, looting, and attacks on police by protesters have occurred. Downtown Louisville, once a thriving center of restaurants, stores and museums, is a boarded-up, graffiti-scarred ghost town.
There was the potential here to build broad, disciplined protests to involve tens of thousands of working-class people of all races and nationalities who oppose the police killing of Taylor and others. Examples of what was possible started to happen early on, before these actions were hijacked by petty-bourgeois violence mongers and race-baiters who have contempt for working people. But the opening to mobilize the broad social pressure needed to hold the cops and city officials accountable has been badly damaged and squandered.
Middle-class radicals in and around organizations like Black Lives Matter have encouraged race-baiting, confrontations with police, and provocative armed bravado. And they have presented this as revolutionary. 
This narrows the space for increasing an understanding that police brutality is an essential component of the continued rule of the capitalist class and its government. 
The rulers here recognize that the cop killing of Breonna Taylor aroused the attention of tens of thousands. This is reflected in the decision of the city government to settle a civil case brought by Taylor’s family and pay them $12 million and agree to some police-related reforms.
Charges against the cops and other authorities remain possible. A federal investigation continues, including the possibility of charges based on the cops’ violation of Taylor’s constitutional rights. There are many questions about the killing that remain unanswered. The discussion of police brutality and the killing of Breonna Taylor is not over, and the need for the working class to put its stamp on whatever comes next isn’t either.

Anger at lack of charges filed in Taylor killing fuels debate – The Militant