Sunday, August 31, 2014

The historical destiny of U.S. labor

Leon Trotsky: If America Should Go Communist

* * *

August 17, 1934

Should America go communist as a result of the difficulties and problems that your capitalist social order is unable to solve, it will discover that communism, far from being an intolerable bureaucratic tyranny and individual regimentation, will be the means of greater individual liberty and shared abundance.

At present most Americans regard communism solely in the light of the experience of the Soviet Union. They fear lest Sovietism in America would produce the same material result as it has brought for the culturally backward peoples of the Soviet Union.

They fear lest communism should try to fit them to a bed of Procrustes, and they point to the bulwark of Anglo-Saxon conservatism as an insuperable obstacle even to possibly desirable reforms. They argue that Great Britain and Japan would undertake military intervention against the American soviets. They shudder lest Americans be regimented in their habits of dress and diet, be compelled to subsist on famine rations, be forced to read stereotyped official propaganda in the newspapers, be coerced to serve as rubber stamps for decisions arrived at without their active participation or be required to keep their thoughts to themselves and loudly praise their soviet leaders in public, through fear of imprisonment and exile.

They fear monetary inflation, bureaucratic tyranny and intolerable red tape in obtaining the necessities of life. They fear soulless standardization in the arts and sciences, as well as in the daily necessities of life. They fear that all political spontaneity and the presumed freedom of the press will be destroyed by the dictatorship of a monstrous bureaucracy. And they shudder at the thought of being forced into an uncomprehended glibness in Marxist dialectic and disciplined social philosophies. They fear, in a word, that Soviet America will become the counterpart of what they have been told Soviet Russia looks like.

Actually American soviets will be as different from the Russian soviets as the United States of President Roosevelt differs from the Russian Empire of Czar Nicholas II. Yet communism can come in America only through revolution, just as independence and democracy came in America. The American temperament is energetic and violent, and it will insist on breaking a good many dishes and upsetting a good many apple carts before communism is firmly established. Americans are enthusiasts and sportsmen before they are specialists and statesmen, and it would be contrary to the American tradition to make a major change without choosing sides and cracking heads.

However, the American communist revolution will be insignificant compared to the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, in terms of your national wealth and population, no matter how great its comparative cost. That is because civil war of a revolutionary nature isn't fought by the handful of men at the top – the 5 or 10 percent who own nine-tenths of American wealth; this handful could recruit its counterrevolutionary armies only from among the lower middle classes. Even so, the revolution could easily attract them to its banner by showing that support of the soviets alone offers them the prospect of salvation.

Everybody below this group is already economically prepared for communism. The depression has ravaged your working class and has dealt a crushing blow to the farmers, who had already been injured by the long agricultural decline of the postwar decade. There is no reason why these groups should counterpose determined resistance to the revolution; they have nothing to lose, providing, of course, that the revolutionary leaders adopt a farsightcd and moderate policy toward them.

Who else will fight against communism? Your corporal's guard of billionaires and multimillionaires? Your Mellons, Morgans, Fords and Rockefellers? They will cease struggling as soon as they fail to find other people to fight for them.

The American soviet government will take firm possession of the commanding heights of your business system: the banks, the key industries and the transportation and communication systems. It will then give the farmers, the small tradespeople and businessmen a good long time to think things over and see how well the nationalized section of industry is working.

Here is where the American soviets can produce real miracles. "Technocracy" can come true only under communism, when the dead hands of private property rights and private profits are lifted from your industrial system. The most daring proposals of the Hoover commission on standardization and rationalization will seem childish compared to the new possibilities let loose by American communism.

National industry will be organized along the line of the conveyor belt in your modern continuous-production automotive factories. Scientific planning can be lifted out of the individual factory and applied to your entire economic system. The results will be stupendous.

Costs of production will be cut to 20 percent, or less, of their present figure. This, in turn, would rapidly increase your farmers' purchasing power.

To be sure, the American soviets would establish their own gigantic farm enterprises, as schools of voluntary collectivization. Your farmers could easily calculate whether it was to their individual advantage to remain as isolated links or to join the public chain.

The same method would be used to draw small businesses and industries into the national organization of industry. By soviet control of raw materials, credits and quotas of orders, these secondary industries could be kept solvent until they were gradually and without compulsion sucked into the socialized business system.

Without compulsion! The American soviets would not need to resort to the drastic measures that circumstances have often imposed upon the Russians. In the United States, through the science of publicity and advertising, you have means for winning the support of your middle class that were beyond the reach of the soviets of backward Russia with its vast majority of pauperized and illiterate peasants. This, in addition to your technical equipment and your wealth, is the greatest asset of your coming communist revolution. Your revolution will be smoother in character than ours; you will not waste your energies and resources in costly social conflicts after the main issues have been decided; and you will move ahead so much more rapidly in consequence.

Even the intensity and devotion of religious sentiment in America will not prove an obstacle to the revolution. If one assumes the perspective of soviets in America, none of the psychological brakes will prove firm enough to retard the pressure of the social crisis. This has been demonstrated more than once in history. Besides, it should not be forgotten that the Gospels themselves contain some pretty explosive aphorisms.

As to the comparatively few opponents of the soviet revolution, one can trust to American inventive genius. It may well be that you will take your unconvinced millionaires and send them to some picturesque island, rent-free for life, where they can do as they please.

You can do this safely, for you will not need to fear foreign interventions. Japan, Great Britain and the other capitalistic countries that intervened in Russia couldn't do anything but take American communism lying down. As a matter of fact, the victory of communism in America – the stronghold of capitalism – will cause communism to spread to other countries. Japan will probably have joined the communistic ranks even before the establishment of the American soviets. The same is true of Great Britain.

In any case, it would be a crazy idea to send His Britannic Majesty's fleet against Soviet America, even as a raid against the southern and more conservative half of your continent. It would be hopeless and would never get any farther than a second-rate military escapade.

Within a few weeks or months of the establishment of the American soviets, Pan-Americanism would be a political reality.

The governments of Central and South America would be pulled into your federation like iron filings to a magnet. So would Canada. The popular movements in these countries would be so strong that they would force this great unifying process within a short period and at insignificant costs. I am ready to bet that the first anniversary of the American soviets would find the Western Hemisphere transformed into the Soviet United States of North, Central and South America, with its capital at Panama. Thus for the first time the Monroe Doctrine would have a complete and positive meaning in world affairs, although not the one foreseen by its author.

In spite of the complaints of some of your arch-conservatives, Roosevelt is not preparing for a soviet transformation of the United States.

The NRA aims not to destroy but to strengthen the foundations of American capitalism by overcoming your business difficulties. Not the Blue Eagle but the difficulties that the Blue Eagle is powerless to overcome will bring about communism in America. The "radical" professors of your Brain Trust are not revolutionists: they are only frightened conservatives. Your president abhors "systems" and "generalities." But a soviet government is the greatest of all possible systems, a gigantic generality in action.

The average man doesn't like systems or generalities either. It is the task of your communist statesmen to make the system deliver the concrete goods that the average man desires: his food, cigars, amusements, his freedom to choose his own neckties, his own house and his own automobile. It will be easy to give him these comforts in Soviet America.

Most Americans have been misled by the fact that in the USSR we had to build whole new basic industries from the ground up. Such a thing could not happen in America, where you are already compelled to cut down on your farm area and to reduce your industrial production. As a matter of fact, your tremendous technological equipment has been paralyzed by the crisis and already clamors to be put to use. You will be able to make a rapid step-up of consumption by your people the starting point of your economic revival.

You are prepared to do this as is no other country. Nowhere else has the study of the internal market reached such intensity as in the United States. It has been done by your banks, trusts, individual businessmen, merchants, traveling salesmen and farmers as part of their stock-in-trade. Your soviet government will simply abolish all trade secrets, will combine all the findings of these researches for individual profit and will transform them into a scientific system of economic planning. In this your government will be helped by the existence of a large class of cultured and critical consumers. By combining the nationalized key industries, your private businesses and democratic consumer cooperation, you will quickly develop a highly flexible system for serving the needs of your population.

This system will be made to work not by bureaucracy and not by policemen but by cold, hard cash.

Your almighty dollar will play a principal part in making your new soviet system work. It is a great mistake to try to mix a "planned economy" with a "managed currency." Your money must act as regulator with which to measure the success or failure of your planning.

Your "radical" professors are dead wrong in their devotion to "managed money." It is an academic idea that could easily wreck your entire system of distribution and production. That is the great lesson to be derived from the Soviet Union, where bitter necessity has been converted into official virtue in the monetary realm.

There the lack of a stable gold ruble is one of the main causes of our many economic troubles and catastrophes. It is impossible to regulate wages, prices and quality of goods without a firm monetary system. An unstable ruble in a Soviet system is like having variable molds in a conveyor-belt factory. It won't work.

Only when socialism succeeds in substituting administrative control for money will it be possible to abandon a stable gold currency. Then money will become ordinary paper slips, like trolley or theater tickets. As socialism advances, these slips will also disappear, and control over individual consumption – whether by money or administration – will no longer be necessary when there is more than enough of everything for everybody!

Such a time has not yet come, though America will certainly reach it before any other country. Until then, the only way to reach such a state of development is to retain an effective regulator and measure for the working of your system. As a matter of fact, during the first few years a planned economy needs sound money even more than did old-fashioned capitalism. The professor who regulates the monetary unit with the aim of regulating the whole business system is like the man who tried to lift both his feet off the ground at the same time.

Soviet America will possess supplies of gold big enough to stabilize the dollar – a priceless asset. In Russia we have been expanding our industrial plant by 20 and 30 percent a year; but – owing to a weak ruble – we have not been able to distribute this increase effectively. This is partly because we have allowed our bureaucracy to subject our monetary system to administrative one-sidedness. You will be spared this evil. As a result you will greatly surpass us in both increased production and distribution, leading to a rapid advance in the comfort and welfare of your population.

In all this, you will not need to imitate our standardized production for our pitiable mass consumers. We have taken over from czarist Russia a pauper's heritage, a culturally undeveloped peasantry with a low standard of living. We had to build our factories and dams at the expense of our consumers. We have had continual monetary inflation and a monstrous bureaucracy.

Soviet America will not have to imitate our bureaucratic methods. Among us the lack of the bare necessities has caused an intense scramble for an extra loaf of bread, an extra yard of cloth by everyone. In this struggle our bureaucracy steps forward as a conciliator, as an all-powerful court of arbitration. You, on the other hand, are much wealthier and would have little difficulty in supplying all of your people with all of the necessities of life. Moreover, your needs, tastes and habits would never permit your bureaucracy to divide the national income. Instead, when you organize your society to produce for human needs rather than private profits, your entire population will group itself around new trends and groups, which will struggle with one another and prevent an overweening bureaucracy from imposing itself upon them.

You can thus avoid growth of bureaucratism by the practice of soviets, that is to say, democracy – the most flexible form of government yet developed. Soviet organization cannot achieve miracles but must simply reflect the will of the people. With us the soviets have been bureaucratized as a result of the political monopoly of a single party, which has itself become a bureaucracy. This situation resulted from the exceptional difficulties of socialist pioneering in a poor and backward country.

The American soviets will be full-blooded and vigorous, without need or opportunity for such measures as circumstances imposed upon Russia. Your unregenerate capitalists will, of course, find no place for themselves in the new setup. It is hard to imagine Henry Ford as the head of the Detroit Soviet.

Yet a wide struggle between interests, groups and ideas is not only conceivable – it is inevitable. One-year, five-year, ten-year plans of business development; schemes for national education; construction of new basic lines of transportation; the transformation of the farms; the program for improving the technological and cultural equipment of Latin America; a program for stratosphere communication; eugenics – all of these will arouse controversy, vigorous electoral struggle and passionate debate in the newspapers and at public meetings.

For Soviet America will not imitate the monopoly of the press by the heads of Soviet Russia's bureaucracy. While Soviet America would nationalize all printing plants, paper mills and means of distribution, this would be a purely negative measure. It would simply mean that private capital will no longer be allowed to decide what publications should be established, whether they should be progressive or reactionary, "wet" or "dry," puritanical or pornographic. Soviet America will have to find a new solution for the question of how the power of the press is to function in a socialist regime. It might be done on the basis of proportional representation for the votes in each soviet election.

Thus the right of each group of citizens to use the power of the press would depend on their numerical strength – the same principle being applied to the use of meeting halls, allotment of time on the air and so forth.

Thus the management and policy of publications would be decided not by individual checkbooks but by group ideas. This may take little account of numerically small but important groups, but it simply means that each new idea will be compelled, as throughout history, to prove its right to existence.

Rich Soviet America can set aside vast funds for research and invention, discoveries and experiments in every field. You won't neglect your bold architects and sculptors, your unconventional poets and audacious philosophers.

In fact, the Soviet Yankees of the future will give a lead to Europe in those very fields where Europe has hitherto been your master. Europeans have little conception of the power of technology to influence human destiny and have adopted an attitude of sneering superiority toward "Americanism," particularly since the crisis. Yet Americanism marks the true dividing line between the Middle Ages and the modern world.

Hitherto America's conquest of nature has been so violent and passionate that you have had no time to modernize your philosophies or to develop your own artistic forms. Hence you have been hostile to the doctrines of Hegel, Marx and Darwin. The burning of Darwin's works by the Baptists of Tennessee is only a clumsy reflection of the American dislike for the doctrines of evolution. This attitude is not confined to your pulpits. It is still part of your general mental makeup.

Your atheists as well as your Quakers are determined rationalists. And your rationalism itself is weakened by empiricism and moralism. It has none of the merciless vitality of the great European rationalists. So your philosophic method is even more antiquated than your economic system and your political institutions.

Today, quite unprepared, you are being forced to face those social contradictions that grow up unsuspected in every society. You have conquered nature by means of the tools that your inventive genius has created, only to find that your tools have all but destroyed you. Contrary to all your hopes and desires, your unheard-of wealth has produced unheard-of misfortunes. You have discovered that social development does not follow a simple formula. Hence you have been thrust into the school of the dialectic – to stay.

There is no turning back from it to the mode of thinking and acting prevalent in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

While the romantic numskulls of Nazi Germany are dreaming of restoring the old race of Europe's Dark Forest to its original purity, or rather its original filth, you Americans, after taking a firm grip on your economic machinery and your culture, will apply genuine scientific methods to the problem of eugenics. Within a century, out of your melting pot of races there will come a new breed of men – the first worthy of the name of Man.

One final prophecy: in the 3rd year of the Soviet rule in America you will no longer chew gum!

Last updated on: 12 April 2009

http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1934/08/ame.htm

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Marxism and a Jewish "right of return" to Israel/Palestine

Do Jews from around the world have a "right of return" to Palestine/Israel?  Is such a right or demand "increasingly relevant as the world crisis of capitalism kindles Jew hatred as a reactionary bludgeon against fighting labor."? [cite]

Excerpts from the Pathfinder pamphlet How Can the Jews Survive?  A socialist answer to Zionism bring a Marxist approach to the contradictions alive in the phrase "right of return."


Below are some excerpts from the pamphlet that have appeared in the "Books of the Week" column of The Militant in recent years.


How Can the Jews Survive?  A socialist answer to Zionism can be purchased here.








Anti-Semitism rooted in capitalist crises, disorder 

(Books of the Month column)
Below is an excerpt from How Can the Jews Survive? A socialist answer to Zionism, one of Pathfinder’s books of the month for May. “The salvation of the Jewish people,” says author George Novack, “cannot come from reliance upon Zionist chauvinism, American imperialism, or Stalinist bureaucratism. Every expedient short of the struggle for socialism will end in calamity for the Jews.” Novack, the son of immigrant Jews from Eastern Europe, joined the communist movement in the United States in 1933. He was a member and leader of the Socialist Workers Party until his death in 1992. Copyright © 1969 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.

BY GEORGE NOVACK  

The coming of capitalism eliminated the necessity and changed the possibilities and prospects for perpetuating Jewry as a people apart, since its special function became the general condition of the social economy. During the 19th century both liberals and Marxists held the view that the Jews would shed their distinctive traits and separate identity through gradual absorption into an enlightened bourgeois or a future socialist society. Progressive capitalism did institute a certain degree of assimilation in Western Europe and North America, although it failed to complete it there. The process of social and cultural homogenization was barely begun in Eastern Europe because of its backwardness.

The development of world capitalism in this century upset this perspective. Imperialistic, crisis-torn capitalism swung over to an exacerbated nationalism of its own. One of its most malignant manifestations was the resort to anti-Semitism, a ready-made means for diverting the wrath of despairing and deluded people away from the real authors of their misery by making the Jews a scapegoat for the crimes of a decaying capitalism. This relapse into barbarism was consummated in Germany, the most highly developed capitalist country of Europe, through the frenzied chauvinism of the Nazis capped by Hitler’s extermination of six million Jews.

The degeneration of capitalism coupled with the failure of the socialist movement to replace it in time gave the Jewish question an acuteness and urgency unanticipated by the first generations of Marxists. Hitlerism served to spur and fortify the feelings of national solidarity among the Jews which, for different reasons, had been fading in both East and West Europe. The harried Jews had to defend and define themselves anew in reaction to the menace to their very physical existence.

For the sake of self-preservation and national perpetuation, the survivors of East European Jewry who, especially among the workers, had been widely won over to the Marxist ideals of socialism, turned toward Zionism as the last hope of salvation. The project of seeking and securing refuge in a new Jewish state located in Palestine pushed aside the internationalist program and perspective… .

What is the way out? If the Israelis are not to be caught in a bloody trap of Zionist devising, they will have to abandon the exclusive and aggressive Jewish state and opt for a Middle East federation of the Arab and Jewish peoples. It is true that the Jewish bourgeois-chauvinists and their Anglo-American patrons, as well as demagogues and reactionaries among the Arabs, are equally opposed to such a solution. That is why this desirable political goal cannot be realized except through the joint struggle against imperialism and capitalism in that area under revolutionary socialist leadership.

By a circuitous route, lined by six million dead, which has led from Eastern Europe to Palestine, the Jewish masses today face the same alternative as their fathers and grandfathers: either alliance with the forces of socialist revolution or a bloody catastrophe.  

http://www.themilitant.com/2007/7121/712149.html



Capitalist rulers scapegoat Jews for economic crisis 

(Books of the Month column)
Below is an excerpt from How Can the Jews Survive? A Socialist Answer to Zionism by George Novack, one of Pathfinder’s Books of the Month for December. The pamphlet describes how the capitalist rulers in times of crisis resort to anti-Semitism to scapegoat Jews for the crimes of decaying capitalism. This piece comments on an essay by Isaac Deutscher titled “The Non-Jewish Jew.” Copyright © 1969 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.

BY GEORGE NOVACK  

Marxism takes issue with the mystique of the chosen people in reference to the Jews or any other nationality. It gives a historical and materialist explanation for the exceptional endurance and peculiar characteristics of the Jews since their dispersion. The Jews have maintained existence and individuality as a nationality primarily because of the special role they played as a people-class in precapitalist society, where they were agents of the money economy among peoples living in a natural economy. Judaism and anti-Semitism had common roots in the distinctive functions which marked off the commercial Jew from the rest of the nations.

The coming of capitalism eliminated the necessity and changed the possibilities and prospects for perpetuating Jewry as a people apart, since its special function became the general condition of the social economy. During the 19th century both liberals and Marxists held the view that the Jews would shed their distinctive traits and separate identity through gradual absorption into an enlightened bourgeois or a future socialist society. Progressive capitalism did institute a certain degree of assimilation in Western Europe and North America, although it failed to complete it there. The process of social and cultural homogenization was barely begun in Eastern Europe because of its backwardness.

The development of world capitalism in this century upset this perspective. Imperialistic, crisis-torn capitalism swung over to an exacerbated nationalism of its own. One of its most malignant manifestations was the resort to anti-Semitism, a ready-made means for diverting the wrath of despairing and deluded people away from the real authors of their misery by making the Jews a scapegoat for the crimes of a decaying capitalism. This relapse into barbarism was consummated in Germany, the most highly developed capitalist country of Europe, through the frenzied chauvinism of the Nazis capped by Hitler’s extermination of six million Jews.

The degeneration of capitalism coupled with the failure of the socialist movement to replace it in time gave the Jewish question an acuteness and urgency unanticipated by the first generations of Marxists. Hitlerism served to spur and fortify the feelings of national solidarity among the Jews which, for different reasons, had been fading in both East and West Europe. The harried Jews had to defend and define themselves anew in reaction to the menace to their very physical existence.

For the sake of self-preservation and national perpetuation, the survivors of East European Jewry who, especially among the workers, had been widely won over to the Marxist ideals of socialism, turned toward Zionism as the last hope of salvation. The project of seeking and securing refuge in a new Jewish state located in Palestine pushed aside the internationalist program and perspective.

There were dreadful pitfalls in this forced decision. “The world has driven the Jew to seek safety in a nation-state in the middle of this century when the nation-state is falling into decay,” Deutscher pointed out. The Jewish people, which was denied the benefits of bourgeois nationalism in its best days, was compelled to embrace a bourgeois nationalism of its own and constitute a separate Jewish state at a time when the progressive potential of that form of political organization within the capitalist framework had been reduced to a minimum.

To heap up their ill fortune, the Zionists chose to build their state in a tiny, poor and unfavorable terrain already occupied by another people, slowly awakening to its own national consciousness, which they then displaced by economic and military pressures… .

During the 1930s Roosevelt’s liberal Democratic administration did not heed the cries of the victims of Nazism and refused to open the doors guarded by the Statue of Liberty to more than a handful of Jewish refugees who were lucky enough to find sponsors here… .

The American ruling class, whose agents dropped the first atom bombs on the Japanese, conduct genocidal warfare in Vietnam, stood ready to use the H-bomb in the Caribbean confrontation of 1962 and maltreat their minorities at home, has shown itself capable of monstrous crimes. In case the survival of its power and profits hangs in the balance, why should it consider the six million American Jews to be less expendable than the six million European Jews it let Hitler exterminate? Inconceivable? So assimilated German Jews of the 1920s thought, too… .

Every expedient short of the struggle for socialism, any substitute for that, will end in calamity for the Jews. They cannot achieve security for themselves or anyone else so long as the root causes of discrimination, racism and reactionary nationalism continue to exist. Indeed, the Zionists have dealt fatal blows to themselves by succumbing to these practices. These curses can be removed only by abolishing capitalism, as the East European Jewish workers formerly believed and the non-Jewish Jews of the Marxist school taught.

The Jews have to link themselves with those forces in their own country and on a world scale that are fighting to overthrow imperialism and striving to build the new society. The solution of the Jewish question is indissolubly bound up with the complete emancipation of humanity that can be brought about only along the road of international socialism.  
 http://www.themilitant.com/2010/7449/744949.html


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Letters to a Stalinist" [1953]



On 16 June 1953 workers in East Berlin started an uprising against rising productivity demands, rising food prices, and anti-democratic practices of party and trade union leaders. Early wild-cat strikes spread in East Germany as initial wages/hours demands were met.  Within days a hundred thousand workers were sitting down.

The workers organized themselves to defend their pickets.  For a time they even ran their own government in the town of Bitterfeld.

The repercussions of this struggle, eventually beaten down by Vopos, Soviet military units, and harsh judicial sentences, were felt around the world in the vanguard of the labor movement. After the Moscow "doctor's plot" and Stalin's death earlier in the year, it was a third shock to the Stalinist system.

The U.S. Socialist Workers Party approached the East German events on a variety of fronts.  They continued with articles by John G. Wright on the struggle in Moscow between Stalin's inheritors, principally Beria and Malenkov.  Art Preis covered the revolt itself.

Wright wrote this about the stakes of the East German events in the 20 July 1953 issue:


The Malenkov regime was caught by surprise and rocked to its heels by the East German events.  The regime is especially fearful of repercussions inside the USSR resulting from the massive reappearance of the German working class as an independent force on the political arena.  This is clearly shown by Pravda, chief mouthpiece of the post-Stalin regime. Within six days of the uprising of the East German working class, Moscow organized an All-Union propaganda campaign to hide the truth about East Germany from the Soviet workers, a campaign still going on by early July.


One of the most interesting columns, of which I have found only five, is a Page Two series by Murray Weiss called "Letters to a Stalinist."  In them Weiss writes to a friend names Phil, a thoughtful rank and file member of the CPUSA who has been rationalizing several decades of Stalinist betrayals and treachery against workers and their exploited allies at home and abroad.

The tone of Weiss's letters is calm, patient, and serious. They are letters comradely in tone, but also stern and sharp, as the moment demanded.  They are a model of recruitment in a period of confusion in the camp of one's political enemy.

One of the strengths of the columns is how they deal with Moscow's smear of the workers' revolt as being inspired by Washington and local fascists.  The same kind of smears are being used today against the workers of Ukraine in their own rebellion for political space and against 300 years of Great Russian chauvinism.



1.  20 July 1953:





2. 3 August 1953:





3.  24 August 1953:





4.  19 October 1953:





5.  28 December 1953:






http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/themilitant/1953/index.htm

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A self-criticism from the home of the "neocon" conspiracy.



Since I have been spending what little political time I have for the last eight months in exposing Workers World Party's rationalizations and obfuscations [to be kind about it] attacking Ukraine's independence struggle against 300 years of Great Russian Chauvinism [here, here], it would be churlish not to recognize an instance of the actual facts of the "global class war" having a positive [if perhaps transitory] impact upon their politics.

A break in the overcast of Democratic Party opportunism has emerged in the heat of Israel's assault on Gaza:

....Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and every other “liberal” Democrat in the U.S. Senate voted to back this slaughter.
....If you think politicians’ morals are being held hostage by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), think again. The backbone of bourgeois support for Israel’s heartless genocide against Palestinians is not the Zionist lobby. It’s the indispensable role Israel plays for U.S. imperialism in the Middle East.
....It was easy and felt good to be anti-war and anti-George W. Bush. He was a dopey conservative who couldn’t pronounce “nuclear” and lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction.
Yet while literate, liberal President Barack Obama says all the right things about some social liberal issues — and may even bemoan Palestinian casualties here and there — he is backing Israel’s genocide to the hilt.

http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/08/09/gaza-slaughter-exposes-democrats/


Other corrections await [here, here].

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Workers World Party silent on Sarcelles synagogue attack


Anti-Semitic demo outside Sarcelles synagogue

Readers of this blog know I have pretty strong thoughts on the dangers of anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred for the working class and its allies.  The "socialism of fools" is a deadly trap that threatens to demobilize the growth of independent working class political action.  I cannot put it better than a comrade on social media yesterday:

Antisemitism is a poison in our movements because it takes the fire off the capitalist class. It redirects the anger of the masses towards the brutality of capitalism instead towards the ghost of Jewish conspiracy. It disorients us, and can ultimately shatter the workers movement. That's why we take it seriously.

Another comrade added:

Jew hatred is not a conjunctural and passing phenom of the 19-20th centuries. It's in the DNA of capitalism.

When workers and farmers begin to resist the consequences of austerity and the grinding "recovery" touted by the big-business press, Jew-hatred is a ready go-to. 

One of the chief responsibilities of a communist party today is explaining the roots of anti-Semitism, its danger to class solidarity and class political independence.  Fortunately, the communist movement has produced a wealth of material to accomplish this important task [here and here].

A few incidents of anti-Semitic violence have occurred in the last few weeks, accompanying large and successful marches in solidarity with the embattled population of Gaza. These events have been covered in the bourgeois press, usually in the spirit of spreading demoralization and spiking public opposition to  Israel's bombing and invasion. In France the government used the incidents to attack democratic rights and freedom to march.

Jewish-owed business looted in Sarcelles


One of the best communist analyses of successful protests against Israel's war on Gaza, and accompanying anti-Semitic incidents, is "Palestinian Solidarity Strengthened, Hamas Influence Weakened" by James Robb.

In the article, Robb explains and celebrates political strengths of a large Gaza solidarity rally in Auckland, New Zealand.  March organizers built a serious and inclusive event, and explained at the outset that any expression of anti-Semitism was unacceptable.

The feeling of strengthening solidarity with the Palestinian people under attack was so powerful on the Auckland march, I was tempted to believe that a similar shift was taking place around the world – a similar loosening of the influence of the Hamas perspectives, a similar political strengthening.
Not so, apparently. Demonstrations against the Israeli assault on Gaza  in both France and Germany took an anti-Semitic turn. A synagogue and several Jewish-owned shops were damaged in Paris. This video of a demonstration in Berlin shows part of a crowd chanting “Jew, cowardly pig, come on out and fight.” The French government is trying to take advantage of the political confusion that these actions generate to ban all demonstrations in support of Palestine, while the right-wing forces push to scapegoat immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. Let no one try to talk down the importance of these developments or explain away the anti-Semitic violence and threats that marred these demonstrations.

The violence this weekend in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, where a demonstration of several hundred marched on a synagogue and looted Jewish-owned shops and restaurants, has been widely covered in the bourgeois press [here and here].  

However, the reality of these events, the important lessons they hold for the international workers movement, are being ignored by the U.S. middle class left.  

Workers World newspaper presents Sarcelles anti-Semitic demo as "youth rebellion"


Workers World newspaper, organ of Workers World Party in the United States, is a case in point.  In the last few days, this paper has carried several articles on Gaza solidarity marches [here, here, and here.]  It has even referred to the Paris suburb Sarcelles.  About the looting and synagogue march, not a word:

The French government took the extraordinary step of outlawing pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Despite threats of prison and fines, organizers estimate that up to 10,000 people attended a rally in central Paris. In the city’s northern suburb of Sarcelles, young demonstrators erupted in rebellion against the ban to show solidarity with Gaza. Police arrested 38 for their alleged participation in the protest. (RT, July 20)

Is looting Jewish-owned businesses, and marching on a synagogue, a show of solidarity with the people of Gaza?  A thousand times no!  This rationalization strengthens the claims of the Israeli government that its opponents are motivated by Jew-hatred.  Such actions set back Gaza solidarity.  They demoralize and discourage all those who, inspired by the demonstrations last week, might have come out for the first time next week.

When Workers World decided to mention the Sarcelles demonstrations, it was incumbent on them as self-professed revolutionary socialists to explain the truth: Jews and their synagogue had been targeted by some demonstrators, and this was unacceptable.  Instead, WW obscured the facts to shield their readers from a discussion of the social fact of anti-Semitism today.  

Why did they do this?  Because in the left activist movement in which they swim, any serious political discussion of the reality of Jew-hatred today it would be too scandalous to endure.  It would make WW a pariah in the  milieu they have themselves spent decades building.  It is a world where anti-Zionism is promoted, while "neoconservatives" [i.e. Jews] are presented as the root of all evil U.S. government actions [here, here, and here], events like those in Sarcelles become non-events. They just never happen.  

The U.S. middle class left, typified by Workers World, is unwilling, unequipped and incapable of facing up to this crucial question.

The left in the U.S. likes to refer to itself as the "lesser evil." But because of its role as a derailer of class clarity and independent working class political action, "greater evil" is a more appropriate sobriquet.

Jay 
07/24/2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

"The truth must not only be the truth; it must be told and acted upon"

I wanted to share this post from a comrade on Facebook.

While reading the comments and "explanations" for why Israel "had to" bomb the Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, I'm reminded of Baruch Spinoza and the enduring value of the practical conclusions of this 17th-century worker-fighter for human progress: no matter what happens to one-self in life, one needs to understand beyond one-self to come to grips with life.
To do that today, one has to step back a bit and see what is happening with a longer-range sense of history, with the political approach of a citizen of the world, of a working-class internationalist. 
 The borders; the states; the national divisions and oppressive class relationships institutionalized by the competing (and sometimes "allied") "victors" coming out of the mass slaughters of World War I and World War II - that whole imperialist-imposed order is unraveling as we speak, from the battlefields of Iraq to the mines of Turkey, from a Kurdistan in becoming to the still-not-extinguished popular fight in Syria.

No matter what the ruling class of Israel - or any other ruling class or capitalist force in the broader region or on Earth - does today to close democratic and political space, working people will continue to meet each other, they will share experiences with each other and over time converge in life and political organization and thinking.

 
The truth must not only be the truth; it must be told and acted upon. We have to offer ourselves as working people a way forward; a political road in common that will transcend any border they put in our way. The fight for socialist revolution and a democratic and secular Palestine is not a matter of making an abstract "choice" among many others, it can not be postponed; it is a matter of offering ourselves the necessary conditions for freedom and life before un-ending horror and drawn-out death.
Leon Trotsky was right in 1940: the salvation of the Jewish people - AND the Palestinian people - lies in the victory of the world socialist revolution.
Israel is a PART of this changing world; that is a social fact there is no turning back from, and its ruling class will not escape the coming mass challenges to its power from "the inside", by workers and poor farmers who are Jewish, Arab, Russian, Eritrean; "native-born" or "immigrant". For that, there is NO wall that will ever "work".
Its not 1948, 1967 nor 1973 anymore; no Iron Dome nor "permanent military State" can change that. The world is getting smaller and the prospects for a politically independent (from any kind of exploiters) working-class course of action are broadening, propelled forward by the very workings and inevitable consequences of the capitalist world economy.
This massively imposed suffering for the people of Gaza is NOT about Hamas, Fatah nor any other - in historical terms, momentary - misleadership or political obstacles, whose bourgeois corruption and thugishness can not offer the Palestinian people (nor any other people) a unifying perspective nor peace, land and bread. 
Much more is at stake for the only class that produces all wealth and guards the common achievements of human culture, the international class whose collective labor and social transformation of nature offers a tomorrow, if that word is to have any future meaning at all.
No matter how many "targeted assassinations", invasions and bombs they rain down periodically upon the people of Gaza (or anywhere else); no matter how much suffering, hunger or misery they directly or indirectly inflict on the Palestinian people, the capitalist ruling class of Israel will not break the will to fight of the Palestinian people for land and dignity. That is also a fact, an inescapable historical, political and moral fact.
There is no "security" nor "peace" for the Jewish people (most of whom live outside of Israel) as long as the rule of Capital dominates the world; a historically outmoded system of economic and social (dis)organization that inevitably - if its not conquered in time by the united and conscious action of working people internationally - will once again unleash fascism on a mass scale as a means to survive, targeting the Jewish people once again...
The ruling class of Israel can not do otherwise than what they are doing today. They can not offer the working people of Israel (nor of Gaza and the West Bank) a real and livable future. They can not offer anything else than war and the mentality of the besieged. And what they "offer" the population of Gaza today is a glimpse of what they will offer anyone resisting their rule inside of Israel itself. 

https://www.facebook.com/ernesto.oleinik?hc_location=timeline

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Articles on Ukraine from The Militant newspaper 2004-2014

The Militant has been publishing reports on the class and national struggle in Ukraine for the last eight months.  They are unmatched in their accuracy and Marxist political clarity. Staff of The Militant have also made two trips to Ukraine for one-the-scene reports and interviews.

Pre­-2013 Ukraine articles from the Militant
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7trXEFcZimVTUIwY0JBVnBxZ3M/edit?usp=sharing


Ukraine articles 2013­2014 from the pages of The Militant newspaper
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7trXEFcZimVVnVsVkNCeF9hVFE/edit?usp=sharing

I collected the articles together for easy access.  

If anyone else finds them useful, please share them around.




Jay
07/20/14