Palestinian misleaderships’ course
What do the new accords in the Mideast mean for working people? – The Militant
....The anti-Trump frenzy is also reflected in press coverage of the composition and character of the U.S. Supreme Court. Liberal commentators flew into a panic when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was diagnosed with cancer, sparking speculation that the 85-year-old would have to leave the court. They fear this would open the door for "arch-reactionary" Trump to nominate yet another justice in his image. Liberals view the court, and Ginsburg, as the agent for adopting political policies they favor but are unable to get through Congress, not as a court that makes rulings based on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
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Supreme Court justice:
U.S. Constitution passé
Workers should defend protections won in struggle
BY SETH GALINSKY
The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights is passé, so says U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, considered the most senior member of the court's liberal wing. According to this view, a constitution that gives the capitalists' government more power and "flexibility" to bestow numerous promises of rights and entitlements is better than the current Constitution and Bill of Rights, which are built around protections against the capitalist state.
"I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012," Ginsburg told a local television station when she was in Egypt at the end of January. "I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights."
The liberal justice, also pointed to Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedom and the European Convention on Human Rights as better models than the U.S. Bill of Rights.
Amendments won in struggle
The Bill of Rights of 1791 along with the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution—which abolished slavery, recognized "equal protection of the laws," and voting rights—were won as a result of massive, bloody struggles by and in the interests of workers and farmers, including the revolutionary war for independence, Shay's rebellion in 1786, the 1861-65 Civil War and related struggles that followed it.
South Africa's Bill of Rights, which is four times longer than the U.S. Bill of Rights, begins by saying it "affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom" and guarantees the "full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms."
Among the more than 35 categories containing scores of highly detailed rights, so highly lauded by Justice Ginsburg, are the rights to "life," "freedom of artistic creativity," "fair labour practices," "sufficient food and water" and "access to adequate housing."
These rights, the South African law says, may be limited "to the extent that the limitation is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society" or if a state of emergency is declared.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees rights subject "to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society."
Compare those descriptions to the preamble to the Bill of Rights, which notes that the amendments to the Constitution were made "in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers."
Succinct, clear and to the point. No worthless promises from the capitalist rulers to ensure "human dignity," much less caveats about "reasonable limits."
The last thing working people need is to depend on the capitalist state to "give us rights." We need it to leave us alone so we can organize independently and with as little interference as possible, until the working class and our allies are strong enough to wrest power and establish a new social order based on solidarity and the needs of the great majority of toiling humanity.
There are useful examples from the early history of the United States. The words "equal rights to life, liberty and property" were popular among bourgeois opponents of monarchial tyranny and feudal reaction in the late 18th century and were included in the constitution of the antislavery New York Manumission Society. In drafting the Declaration of Independence, however, these words were altered by slaveholder Thomas Jefferson to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The exploitation of wage and slave labor is predicated on dispossession and denial of property for the toiling majority.
We don't need any government involved in our "pursuit of happiness." We have as much use for that as so-called rights to "artistic freedom" or "adequate food and water" championed in Ginsburg's model constitution, while in the real world people go hungry. No, we'll work to take care of those things ourselves despite their rule—and we find "happiness" in fighting to replace it.
The fact is, the U.S. capitalist rulers are constantly working to undermine the Bill of Rights. The right to a "speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury" has become the right to plea bargain and go to jail—unless you want to risk a 10-fold harsher sentence. The right "against unreasonable searches and seizures" has become "stop and frisk" anywhere, anytime. "Equal protection of the laws" is today further from reality than at any time in nearly half a century. And President Barack Obama now asserts the Constitution does not protect citizens accused of being "terrorists" from being assassinated on his orders.
New York Times Supreme Court correspondent Adam Liptak put forward views similar to Ginsburg in a Jan. 6 article that reports on a study soon to be published in the New York University Law Review.
Liptak says the U.S. Constitution is "out of step with the rest of the world" is "terse and old" and "guarantees relatively few rights." He calls the "right to bear arms" an idiosyncrasy and favorably quotes University of Texas law professor Sanford Levinson bemoaning that "the U.S. Constitution is the most difficult to amend of any constitution currently existing in the world today."
That difficulty, including the separation of powers and restrictive rules for approving amendments, was built into the Constitution as a result of the heterogeneous alliance of merchants and slave owners that made up the first U.S. governments, their suspicions of each other and their fears of the laboring classes.
"Our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change than I would like sometimes," Obama complained in a Feb. 6 interview with NBC's Today Show.
As long as we're under capitalist rule, we'll stick with the current Constitution—especially the Bill of Rights and 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. Anything that helps to provide some protection from the state and slows down the ability of the rulers to impose their will is better than any dependency on the repressive state and false promises of the enemy class.
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Scalia's death prompts debate on
Supreme Court, Bill of Rights
BY MAGGIE TROWE
The Feb. 13 death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sparked a partisan debate on nominating his replacement and a broader debate about the role of the court and the place of the Bill of Rights and other amendments to the Constitution that defend equal protection under the law.
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders urged President Barack Obama to nominate a liberal replacement rapidly. Republicans demanded Obama decline to make a nomination, leaving it to the next president in 2017.
Scalia was hated by most liberals and leftists for his socially conservative views, but more importantly because he argued the court should base its rulings strictly on the Constitution, rejecting "outcome-driven" decisions that amount to decreeing laws from the bench.
But it's in the interest of the working class that the court uphold the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments won in struggle that are protections of the people against the government.
In his dissent on last year's ruling legalizing gay marriage, Scalia pointed to the narrowness of the class background of the justices, writing they are "only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School."
The justices are all Catholic or Jewish, he pointed out. "Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination. … Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States."
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a long-serving liberal Supreme Court justice, has raised other concerns about what is called judicial activism concerning the court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that decriminalized abortion. "It's not that the judgment was wrong, but it moved too far too fast," cutting short the political fight needed, she told a Columbia Law School symposium in 2012. She has also criticized the court for not basing the decision on the 14th Amendment's guarantee to every person of equal protection of the laws, a conquest of the revolutionary struggle that ended slavery.
Liberal supporters of judicial activism and the "living Constitution" say the court should prioritize achieving an outcome they view as positive and progressive, and then find some justification.
Scalia took the opposite approach, insisting on applying the Constitution and its amendments strictly, as limits on government abuse.
For example, in Kyllo v. U.S. in 2001, he wrote that the government violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure when it used thermal imaging technology without a warrant to detect marijuana cultivation inside a suspect's house.
When the court struck down a St. Paul, Minnesota, "hate-crime" law against racist speech in 1992, Scalia wrote, "Burning a cross in someone's front yard is reprehensible. But St. Paul has sufficient means at its disposal to prevent such behavior without adding the First Amendment to the fire."
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How left responded to '84 elections
Socialist Workers Party called for break with capitalist politics
BY PETER THIERJUNG
A significant feature of the 1984 presidential elections was the fact that most organizations and publications that consider themselves socialist or communist backed capitalist candidate Walter Mondale. Some groups did so openly, while others did so under the slogan "Defeat Reagan." The Socialist Workers Party ran the only campaign calling for independent working-class political action in the elections, putting forward the socialist perspective of struggle to replace the capitalist U.S. government with a workers and farmers government.
A review of the positions put forward by some left groups on the elections is useful in highlighting a few key lessons of this campaign.
The Guardian, a radical newsweekly published in New York, departed from past practice and for the first time in a presidential campaign openly urged a vote for the Democrats. In endorsing Mondale, the August 8 Guardian argued that, "A defeat for the reactionaries in November can offer" an important breathing space to the left and progressive forces in the U.S. and, perhaps more importantly, to the liberation movements and anti-imperialist countries around the world."
When Mondale came out just a few weeks later endorsing the U.S. invasion of Grenada and threatening to "quarantine" Nicaragua, the Guardian squirmed a bit, but didn't back down one inch from urging a big vote for Mondale .
Workers World Party
The Workers World Party campaigned vigorously for capitalist candidate Jesse Jackson. When Jackson lost the Democratic Party nomination to Mondale, Workers World decided to step up its own campaign of Larry Holmes for president and Gloria La Riva for vice-president, rather than endorse Mondale.
This represented no break from capitalist politics, however. The September 6 issue of the party's paper Workers World, reporting on Jackson's endorsement of Mondale, insisted that it had been correct to support Jackson's Democratic Party campaign and that the task was now to "build an even stronger independent working class movement to carry on the legacy of the Rainbow Coalition." According to the paper, "The candidacy of Jesse Jackson, particularly during the Democratic primaries, was objectively an independent campaign that exposed and challenged the racist structure and rules of the anti-poor, anti-worker bourgeois Democratic Party."
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has always supported Democratic candidates. This is in line with its outlook of accepting the framework of U.S. imperialism and seeking merely to reform it.
Declaring that ''We are Americans and democratic socialists and Democrats," the DSA endorsed the Mondale-Ferraro ticket saying, "They.... have the potential to create a liberal and humane administration infinitely superior to Ronald Reagan's on every count."
Advising the Democratic Party on how to win the election, Michael Harrington, a central leader of the DSA, pointed to the example of Harry Truman, who as Democratic president ordered the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Writing in the May-June issue of Democratic Left, the DSA newsletter, Harrington said: "Think of Truman again. He is not my hero ... but we can sure learn from him. He talked tough facts in 1948. He talked to workers and blacks and farmers; he mobilized . . . . And he won. And we can win in 1984, but only if we are at least as much a bunch of hell raisers as he and his friends."
The Communist Party (CP) ran its own candidates, Gus Hall and Angela Davis, for president and vice-president. While not formally endorsing the Democratic ticket, the clear message of the Hall-Davis campaign was to defeat Reagan by electing Mondale. This is not a new position for the CP; it has backed liberal capitalist candidates for half a century.
"For the period of the 1984 elections," Gus Hall told a CP central committee meeting last June, "all our creative energies must be focused on defeating Reaganism." "The reality," Hall was quoted as saying in the June 21 Daily World, the CP paper, "is that the electable candidate against Reagan is the lesser evil." He explained that the CP should only criticize Mondale if it would help strengthen the Democratic campaign. "Our party will express its differences and criticisms of the Democratic candidate when we think that will add to the struggle against Reaganism."
As the polls began to more and more confirm that Reagan had a strong lead over Mondale, the CP campaign took on a shrill pitch. It argued that U.S. capitalism is rapidly moving toward fascism under Reagan and that unity of all "anti-Reagan" forces was desperately needed to prevent another Republican term in office.
An editorial titled "Fascist odor" in the October 6 issue of the People's World, the CP's West Coast weekly, conveyed this view: "We do not use the term 'fascism' lightly. It is not just the normal, oppressive, exploitative, and brutal rule of capital that has characterized this system since its advent 200 years ago. It is rule by a special sector of that capital, the very sector which put Ronald Reagan in the White House and in whose interests he presently serves. It can happen here. It is a clear and present danger, and good reason to make sure the Oval Office has a new resident after Nov. 6."
The U.S. capitalist class will certainly prove capable of attempting to impose fascist rule, but that is not what is happening today.
The CP portrays Reagan as representing a "fascist" wing in order to cover up the fact that there is bipartisan support for the employers' policies of war, racism, and attacks on democratic rights. Mondale would have driven this antilabor offensive forward had he been elected, just as Reagan has done. Both represent the same fundamental class interests - the opposite of the interests of workers and working farmers. The U.S. rulers will step up their assault on working people here and abroad. Big class battles are going to erupt. But the best way to prepare working people for these battles is to tell them the unvarnished truth about the Republican and Democratic parties. The CP candidates have done the opposite. Let's take a few examples.
Fight against imperialist war
Throughout the campaign, Hall and Davis argued that nuclear war could well be the result of another four years of Reagan, while the world would be safer with Mondale in office.
As part of prettifying the imperialist policies of the
Democrats, the CP- endorsed their call for a bilateral freeze on nuclear
weapons production in the United States and the Soviet Union. This stance blurs
the real source of war - U.S. imperialism and its twin parties - and implies
the Soviet Union shares some responsibility for the nuclear arms buildup, for
which Washington alone is to blame.
The CP's support for Mondale led it to downplay the current war against Nicaragua and El Salvador being carried out with the support of Democrats and Republicans alike . It is precisely in such shooting wars that the danger of Washington using its nuclear arsenal is posed. But rather than expose the bipartisan character of the war drive, the CP told working people that voting Reagan out of office was the best way to guarantee peace. As Davis put it in an interview in the July 12 Daily World, "the most immediate priority of all in the peace movement, of all who are threatened by nuclear conflagration, is the defeat of Reagan and his pathologically anti-Communist Administration."
Adaptation to the Democrats on the war question has led the CP to bend also to the chauvinist propaganda campaigns of both capitalist parties. For example, the October 24 Daily World gave favorable coverage to AFL-CIO Pres. Lane Kirkland's recent tour to garner votes for Mondale. The paper quoted uncritically Kirkland's anti-imports patriotic line, reporting that the AFL-CIO bureaucrat attacked Reagan as "a man who appeals to patriotism for the benefit of those business and banking interests who would sell their own country out - people who don't care what flag flies over their plants or shops or ships." The CP has even gone so far as to print issues of the Daily World in red, white, and blue.
Over the last few months, women's right to legal abortion has come under attack from right-wing groups, the Catholic Church hierarchy, and Democratic and Republican politicians; While claiming she will uphold legal abortion as long as it is the law of the land, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro has emphasized her personal and religious view that abortion is murder. Explaining why she has voted for some Medicaid funding for abortions, Ferraro said, "The cost of putting an unwanted child through the system far outweighs the cost of funding an abortion on demand." This is the line of the racist, population-control forces.
What has been the CP's response to Ferraro's reactionary views on abortion rights? A September 21 column in the Daily World rushed to defend her! "Ms. Ferraro's position on abortions is a principled, democratic position," it said.
The Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialist Alliance approached the 1984 elections from a completely different standpoint than the other groups on the U.S. left.
The SWP ran 56 candidates for local office in 26 states. Its candidate for president was Mel Mason; for vice-president, Andrea Gonzalez.
The fight against imperialist war was at the center of the Mason-Gonzalez campaign as they visited plant gates, union halls, picket lines, farming areas, and working-class, Black, and Latino neighborhoods across the country. They talked to working people about the gains workers and peasants have won in Nicaragua and Cuba, and stressed the important role the labor movement must play in opposing U.S. intervention in Central· America and the Caribbean.
The socialists called for international working-class solidarity with others fighting for their rights, from the striking British coal miners, to Puerto Ricans demanding independence, to Blacks struggling against South Africa's apartheid, to the workers and farmers of Vietnam and Kampuchea .
Mason and Gonzalez opposed the reactionary anti-imports, protectionist schemes used to falsely label workers in other countries as the source of unemployment in the United States, rather than the U.S, employers ..
The SWP ticket was the only one that consistently defended abortion rights. Mason and Gonzalez demanded repeal of all laws restricting the right to safe, legal abortion. They called for restoring- and expanding - government funds for women who want abortions and cannot afford them.
The socialists explained that the problems of war, attacks on Black and women's rights, farm foreclosures, and union-busting cannot be solved at the ballot box. They explained the need for working people to reject the Democratic and Republican parties- the twin parties of war, exploitation, racism, and sexism. What ·is needed, they said, is independent working-class political action that can organize and mobilize the victims of class exploitation to overturn capitalist rule and establish a workers and farmers government.
Mason and Gonzalez called for a labor party based on a fighting, democratic trade union movement that will champion the interests of workers, farmers, Blacks, Latinos, women, and other ' victims of capitalism. They also called for the formation of an independent Black political party, which would not only be an advance for Blacks, but also help inspire and hasten the development of a labor party. The goal of the labor party, they explained, will be to lead the struggle for a workers and farmers government in the United States that will use the vast resources and technology of this country to aid in eliminating hunger, poverty and disease all over the globe. This government will abolish capitalism in the United States and join the worldwide struggle for socialism.
Peter Thierjung is national secretary of the Young Socialist Alliance and was a youth coordinator of the Mason/Gonzalez campaign .
November 16, 1984
The FSLN is named for liberation fighter Augusto César Sandino, who was murdered by U.S. Marines in 1933. In 1979, guerrilla fighters from the front overthrew the hated, U.S.-backed dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. A five-member "junta" that included Ortega took over leadership. In 1984 Ortega was elected president.
From 1981 to 1990 the U.S. engaged in economic sabotage against Nicaragua and financed the "contras," counterrevolutionaries who waged a war of terror that cost 40,000 to 50,000 lives. In 1990, Ortega lost to opposition candidate Violeta Chamorro, whose campaign was heavily funded by the U.S.
Ortega sought to rationalize this position by pointing to the U.S.-sponsored counterrevolutionary war and its impact on Nicaragua's small population. "The ones fighting in the front lines against this aggression are young men," he said. "One way of depleting our youth is to promote the sterilization of women in Nicaragua—just imagine what would happen then—or to promote a policy of abortion."
"The problem is that the woman is the one who reproduces. The man can't play that role," Ortega continued. Some women, he said, "aspiring to be liberated," decide not to bear children. "A woman who does so negates her own continuity, the continuity of the human species."
This stance was one registration of the FSLN leadership's growing abandonment of the revolutionary government's proletarian course in the early years following the overthrow of Somoza. The workers and farmers government had begun to take far-reaching measures in the interests of the producing majority. By the mid-1980s, however, the FSLN leadership began retreating from mobilizing working people to fight for their interests. Instead, it relied more and more on alliances with sections of the capitalist class. The current FSLN leadership has sought to carve out for itself a place in capitalist ruling circles, and to use its political influence to expand lucrative business interests as well.
All the ALBA window-dressing in the world cannot rechristen a capitalist electoral party like the FSLN as a revolutionary organization. Marxists judge individuals, groups, and political parties by their actions, not their campaign slogans or Tammany Hall-style perspicacity.
In a communist newspaper today, we are given not our own line of march, but this by Grevatt:
The FSLN-led government favors redistribution of wealth. It gives assistance to small farmers and thousands of worker-owned and -run cooperatives, not to big agribusiness as in the U.S. Under the FSLN, the cost of living for an average family has gone down while minimum salaries have doubled.
Quoting the press releases and public statements of Ortega flunkies like Dr. Paul Oquist will not suffice.
One should not leave the impression that the FSLN alone has a monopoly on shamelessly "dining-out" with the working class solely on the basis of past victories now explicitly rejected. Nationalist movements in the semicolonial world that never posed or achieved the clarity or mass mobilization of the FSLN in its heroic [i.e. communist] period, are likewise acting today on the fact that they are unfit for anything but ballot-mongering:
....exhaustion of revolutionary content marks the political evolution of petty-bourgeois and aspiring bourgeois leaderships of national liberation movements today: from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and other Palestinian organizations such as Hamas, to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA).
These organizations arose (or re-arose) during the closing decades of the twentieth century on the basis of powerful opposition to national oppression among the Palestinian, Irish, and Basque peoples. Over the past four decades, however, the leaderships of these organizations have relied on spectacular armed actions, in combination (especially as such operations not only produced no gains but met intensified repression) with diplomatic and political maneuvers to reach a negotiated accommodation with the oppressors. Mobilizations organized by them were more and more used solely as pressure to better realize such an accommodation.
None of these leaderships ever proved capable of mobilizing and leading the workers and peasants as the backbone of a revolutionary democratic movement capable of fighting effectively for national liberation, freedom from imperialist domination, land to the tillers, the right to armed self-defense, and the organization of the working class to act in the interests of the producing classes. None developed a leadership of the revolutionary caliber and political capacity of the July 26 Movement and Rebel Army in Cuba, the National Liberation Front of Algeria, Sandinista National Liberation Front of Nicaragua, New Jewel Movement of Grenada, or the revolutionary movement in Burkina Faso. [*]
Petty bourgeois leaderships like the FSLN today are an impediment. Telling workers in any part of the Americas that their electoral victory is a breakthrough for our class simply prepares the next generation for demoralization. We need a new levy of Carlos Fonsecas, and that will not be accomplished by a new electoral mandate for the FSLN's policies.
I will close with one more quotation of the programmatic basis today of these squalid, anti-worker policies:
....A brief declaration issued by the FSLN delegation to the Nicaraguan National Assembly Aug. 16, 2006, echoed this position.
"We are a party in favor of life," it said. "Therefore we reaffirm our respect, promotion, development, and protection of the lives of Nicaraguan men and women… and consequently we stand against abortion."
According to Ipas, a U.S.-based reproductive rights groups, only 24 authorized abortions have been performed in Nicaragua in the last three years, while some 32,000 illegal abortions are performed in the country each year. Maternal and infant mortality rates in Nicaragua are among the highest in the region, with abortions contributing to 16 percent of all maternal deaths.