Monday, September 15, 2014

When Kerry was the lesser evil and Bush was turning the U.S. into a "snake pit of fascism" - 2004


New York protests target 'Bush agenda,'
push election of Democrat John Kerry

(front page)
 
BY PAUL PEDERSON
AND ANGEL LARISCY  
NEW YORK—Carrying placards reading "Defend America, Dump Bush," "Bush Lies, Who Dies?" and signs with the photo of the Republican president and the inscription "Darn Good Liar," throngs of protesters filled the streets of Midtown Manhattan August 29.
"Say No to the Bush Agenda," was the theme of the march, organized to help the campaign of Democratic presidential contender John Kerry. United for Peace and Justice, a coalition that organized large peace demonstrations before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, sponsored the action. Beginning at noon, the march wound slowly to an end around 5:00 p.m. at Union Square Park, where ushers instructed demonstrators through a loudspeaker to disperse.

Organizers decided to forego a closing rally even though they had obtained a permit for one on the West Side Highway on the southern tip of Manhattan, where refurbished piers by the Hudson River provide adequate facilities for such an event. United for Peace and Justice spokespeople stated they would not organize a rally after the city administration and the courts denied their requests to hold one in Central Park.

There is a more plausible reason for their decision, however, which organizers did not touch on: the leadership of the Democratic Party did not want to have anything to do with such a rally, a stance that apparently kept well-known entertainers and all major Democratic Party figures away from the protest.  
 
Top Democrats oppose protests

The action "has got top Democrats in a major fret," said an article in the August 28 Kansas City Star, headlined "Not Only GOP Fears New York Protests." GOP, or Grand Old Party, is a common reference to the Republicans.

"Please," said Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, "let the Republicans have a great time, let them speak, let them go to their big corporate parties. If they can link us to a bunch of lawbreakers, they think people will not pay attention to the promises they've broken." McAuliffe added that the Democratic Party had nothing to do with any of the New York demonstrations.

A press conference at the beginning of the march featured a handful of low-ranking Democrats, a few labor officials, and peace group representatives. Actor Danny Glover and actress Rosie Pérez were the only artists present. Congressmen Charles Rangel of Harlem and Major Owens of Brooklyn, Jesse Jackson, and four members of the New York City Council were the only Democratic Party politicians at the press conference.

"Wake up America," declared Major Owens. "Because if you don't Bush will be reelected, and our country will be heading to the snake pit of fascism."

While relatively few signs at the demonstration promoted the false view that the Bush administration is "fascist," a number of marchers shared the point by Owens that the majority of voters in the United States would be at fault if Bush wins a second term. "Fool America once, shame on Bush," said a placard, the theme of which was repeated in other signs. "Fool America again and again and again and again, shame on America."

The widely circulated sign "Darn good liar" carried a similar message: Bush is succeeding in fooling the majority of voters.

"We're here today because we're really happy that the Republicans have only two months left," said filmmaker Michael Moore, in a dispirited presentation. Moore's so-called documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 has been widely used to promote the Kerry campaign. "To borrow an idea from Congressman Rangel, I think we should bring back the draft," Moore told the press. "But only for the sons of politicians and of owners of the Fortune 500 corporations," he remarked, in one of his trademark attempts at being funny that fall flat for most people.

Jesse Jackson, the featured speaker, concluded the press conference. While criticizing the way the Bush administration invaded Iraq and calling for bringing back the troops, he demanded that Washington intervene in the Sudan, which he had just visited. "We have a moral obligation to use our strength," he said, calling for a U.S. arms embargo against Sudan and military intervention to "disarm the Janjaweed," a militia that has carried out bloody attacks on the civilian population in that country.

Jackson went on to criticize the Bush administration for not spending enough money on "homeland defense."

"If Bush had given millionaires an $83,000 tax cut instead of $88,000, our ports could be secured from the threat of biological attack," he said. He also said the Republican administration was not putting enough police on the streets.  
 
American nationalism

American nationalism was in full display at the action. Many protesters held U.S. flags or signs that said "I am a true patriot" or "Dissent is patriotic." United for Peace and Justice sold T-shirts that read, "This is what a true patriot looks like."

One contingent at the end of the march carried nearly 1,000 coffins draped in U.S. flags, to symbolize the number of soldiers who have been killed in Iraq since the spring of 2003.

"The officers in my unit let me know it was something they didn't like," said Bryan Crowe, a Marine who spent five months in Iraq, of the reaction to his anti-war views. Crowe, a member of a group called Iraq Veterans Against the War, which had a contingent of about a dozen at the march, said he got some heat from his superiors after he spoke at an antiwar rally and was interviewed by a reporter. "Nothing really happened to me like on paper. More an intimidation thing.… I got some phone calls. I was asked to explain myself and I told them I didn't have to explain myself, it's my First Amendment right."

Crowe said it wasn't accurate to say half the U.S. troops in Iraq suffer from low morale, a statement made by two speakers at the press conference. "I don't think anyone's happy to be there, or as many people support the war as the media makes it out," Crowe said. "But even though I was against the war when I was sent there, I still had a job to do. Being miserable and not paying attention can cause you to lose your life, so I stayed on point." Crowe, a registered Green, said he wasn't sure electing Kerry will make a difference in Iraq.

Only one or two soldiers have deserted the U.S. military so far because of opposition to the Anglo-American assault on Iraq.

At several points, small groups of rightist counterdemonstrators lined side streets along the march route. At the intersection of 27th Street and 7th Avenue, the pro-Bush hecklers chanted "U.S.A!, U.S.A!" Protesters countered them by repeating the same chant, though more loudly, stealing the rightists' thunder.  
 
'Anything to get Bush out'
"I just want to beat Bush," said Anna Odem, a psychologist from Manhattan, in a comment reflecting the views most protesters who were interviewed expressed. "Anything just to get Bush out. He's destroyed most of what we stand for as a country. It's time to get Bush out."

Many of the demonstrators were from the middle classes, like Odem. A good portion were students or other youth.

A number of signs peddled conspiracy theories blaming Bush and the "neoconservative cabal" around him for covering up the truth about the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. "Expose the 9-11 coverup" was a sign held by many demonstrators. A group held a large banner reading "The Bush regime engineered 9-11." Protesters from that contingent passed out leaflets claiming that the Bush administration knew about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and helped orchestrate them.

Low-level, personalized attacks on Bush, including the false assertion that he is "stupid," were not uncommon, reflecting the coarsening discourse of bourgeois politics. "A village in Texas is missing its idiot; send him home," said a placard, for example, held by a number of protesters.

Estimates of the march size varied. The free dailies Metro and AM New York, and an unofficial police count reported by the Daily News, put the figure at more than 120,000. Organizers said that about 400,000 took part. The New York Times said reports of half a million protesters were "at best, a rough estimate."

The action was largely peaceful. Protesters marched slowly and patiently. While there was a heavy police presence around Madison Square Garden, site of the Republican convention, and along the demonstration route, relatively few arrests were made. According to the Daily News, cops arrested about 240 people that day, including 50 bikers who allegedly tried to crash the parade. Arrests were also made when a group called Black Bloc, self-described as anarchist, torched a papier-mâché dragon's head mounted on a rickshaw in front of Madison Square Garden.

Many more people were arrested the next two days, after the Republican convention started. About 1,000 people were arrested August 31, most while trying to block traffic. About 200 supporters of the War Resisters League were rounded up and arrested that day for a march up a sidewalk toward Madison Square Garden, for which the pacifist group said it had obtained a permit. Cops also arrested about 150 people gathered on sidewalks near the convention site who refused to heed police orders to disperse. According to the Washington Post, this brought to 1,600 the total number of those apprehended since August 26 during protest activities.  
 
Little enthusiasm for Kerry

A relatively small number of marchers wore buttons and T-shirts endorsing Kerry. The only pro-Kerry chant Militant reporters heard was "Bush is scary, vote Kerry." Not much enthusiasm for Kerry was on display, especially among younger protesters, a number of whom told Militant reporters they dislike the Democratic nominee's pro-war record and considered the action a peace rally.

"I don't think it's appropriate to wear John Kerry buttons to this rally since this is an antiwar march and Kerry is not opposed to the war," said Gil Wasserman, for example, 17, a high school student from Brooklyn. Wasserman said, however, he felt Kerry is the only realistic alternative to Bush in the elections.

Santiago Santos, a maintenance worker in a building in Queens who is a member of Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, was marching with a sign that said Bush, with an arrow pointed in one direction, and verdad (truth, in Spanish) with an arrow pointed in the other. "I hope Kerry will be better for the economy," said Santos. "It's a choice between a bad one and a halfway bad one. A little less bad."

The demonstration was billed in part as a peace march. Organizers distributed a large number of signs held by demonstrators calling for Washington to bring the troops home from Iraq. But relatively few chants expressed opposition to the war in Iraq, although this was the view held by all protesters the Militant interviewed.

Partly because of this reality, the Democratic Party cannot claim many of the protesters as its own or be assured they will even go to the polls to cast a vote for Kerry. Militant reporters observed a number of activists with Democratic National Committee T-shirts trying to sign up volunteers to help the Kerry campaign at the end of the march and getting the cold shoulder from most protesters.  
 
Bourgeois 'third' party campaigns

Supporters of the "third-party" campaigns of the Greens and Ralph Nader/Peter Camejo also took part in the march. While presenting themselves as "independent" alternatives to the two-party system of American capitalism, the banners of these contingents and comments by participants made it clear these are pro-capitalist campaigns aimed at pressuring the Democratic Party and attempting to nudge it a little to the left.

Green Party supporters marched with signs for their presidential candidates, David Cobb and Patricia LaMarche.

Cobb and LaMarche "believe very much that George Bush is an enormous threat to the United States," said Lynn Serpe, a New Yorker who was marching with the Greens contingent. "So the Greens are offering an alternative to the two-party system.… But, in swing states we say to Green supporters: if you can't vote Green, we understand, it's a tough election year."

Another contingent marched in support of the Nader/Camejo ticket behind a large banner that read "Impeach Bush/Cheney." A few hundred people marching with the campus-based group International Socialist Organization also carried placards supporting the Nader/Camejo ticket.

"I was a petitioner in Maryland," said Joe Schroeder, 20, a student at the Baltimore Community College who supports the Nader campaign. "We are 500 signatures short so I'm going through the list to find the valid ones. "It was tough," Schroeder said of the petitioning effort. He said that a Nader petitioner was attacked and three Republican supporters came out and defended him. "There are a lot of Democratic Party supporters in Baltimore."

Supporters of the Socialist Workers Party 2004 presidential ticket of Róger Calero for president and Arrin Hawkins for vice president, marched behind a banner reading, "It's not who you're against; it's what you're for. Vote Socialist Workers in 2004!" Many teams of SWP campaigners worked the crowd.

"People take this campaign very seriously," said Raúl, a worker at a meatpacking plant in San Francisco who was campaigning with the socialists at Union Square Park. "Some say it is utopian for Róger to run. 'He's Nicaraguan, not born in the United States,' they say. But when I explain that the campaign is part of organizing a working-class movement, for a working-class alternative to the parties of capitalism that goes beyond the elections, many people began to understand and appreciate it."

The socialists held a forum featuring SWP candidates the night before the August 29 march and an open house at their Garment District SWP campaign center, just a few blocks from the march route, after the demonstration. About two dozen people who first met the socialists at the protests took part in these campaign activities.

http://www.themilitant.com/2004/6833/683302.html

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Moscow's invasion of Ukraine spurs Russia's anti-war movement

.... Lev Shlosberg, publisher of Pskovskaya Gubernia in western Russia, was brutally attacked and hospitalized after he began investigations into the deaths of dozens of soldiers from Pskov, Russia, who were sent to Ukraine.

The paper printed a recorded conversation between Russian troops in Ukraine in which a soldier says that 80 Russian troops were killed by shelling Aug. 20.

The body of Anton Tumanov, 20, was delivered Aug. 20 to his mother, Elena Tumanova, in Kozmodemyansk, Russia. He was killed in battle in Snizhne, Ukraine, east of Donetsk.

Tumanov joined the Russian army in June, after searching for months for a job. He worked temporary jobs in construction and at a car plant in Moscow and Nizhniy Novgorod, but couldn't find steady work, his mother told Novaya Gazeta.

"'God forbid, they'll send you to Ukraine,' I told him," Tumanova said. "He told me the army wouldn't be sent to Ukraine."

Members of his unit, the 18th Motor Rifle Brigade, formation 27777, were sent to Ukraine disguised as Ukraine separatists, Tumanov's fellow soldiers told his mother. Tumanov was one of 120 killed and 450 wounded Aug. 12.

"No to war in Ukraine!" and "Let us not allow Afghanistan 2.0!" read the signs carried by veterans of the Russian war in Afghanistan in Bryansk, near the border with Belarus.

"How will we look the Ukrainians in the eyes if the war ends tomorrow," said Vladimir Barabanov, who served in Afghanistan from 1986 to 1988 and is head of the Bezhitsky district Afghanistan veterans' organization.

The Russian Anti-War Movement, formed in Moscow in late August, issued a statement Sept. 6 pointing to the growing number of soldiers who have died in Ukraine "that the government takes pains to cover up" and urging the soldiers' mothers to speak out.

"This bloody war is not being waged for the 'Russian world,' as the Kremlin propagandists try to convince us," the group said. "It is being waged to punish the people of Ukraine who rose up against Yanukovych the thief." Viktor Yanukovych, former pro-Moscow president of Ukraine, was brought down in February by mass demonstrations and street battles, known as the Maidan, the name of the square in Kiev where the actions were centered.

Putin sees czarist continuity

Moscow's intervention in Ukraine has been backed by both ultra-right and petty-bourgeois leftists, ranging from Marie Le Pen's National Front in France to the Workers World Party in the U.S. At the same time, Putin has made it clear that he sees his actions in Ukraine in continuity with the imperial invasions and wars of Russia's czarist rulers.

In a speech to the Seliger 2014 10th National Youth Forum in Tver, Russia, Aug. 29, the Russian president attacked V.I. Lenin and the Bolshevik Party for the overthrow of the czar and leading the workers, farmers and soldiers to power in 1917. "In the First World War, the Bolsheviks wished to see their Fatherland defeated," Putin said. "And while the heroic Russian soldiers shed their blood on the fronts in World War I, some were shaking Russia from within and shook it to the point that Russia as a state collapsed. … This was a complete betrayal of national interests."

Tatars active in politics in Crimea have faced harassment since the peninsula was forcibly annexed by Moscow in March. Most Crimean Tatars, who, as an entire people were rounded up by the regime of Joseph Stalin and deported to Kazakhstan and Siberia in Russia in the 1940s, are strong opponents of Moscow's occupation.

Leaders of the Tatar Mejlis (council) have been special targets of the Russian secret police and Crimean authorities. Moscow banned former Mejlis central leader Mustafa Dzhemilev from entering his Crimean homeland for five years in April. About 100 Tatars who blocked roads in May protesting Moscow's refusal to allow Dzhemilev into the country were slapped with fines. Some now face criminal investigations for "extremist behavior."

On Sept. 4, 15 riot and local cops showed up at the homes of several families in the Nizhnegorsk district, claiming they were searching for weapons and drugs, but only confiscating books and religious literature.

Since Russia took over, Crimean authorities have also searched schools, looking for titles on a list of more than 2,000 books that are banned in Russia.

On Sept. 9 a half dozen plainclothes cops entered the boarding school for gifted students in Tankove, heading straight for the library. They seized three books and wandered around the school demanding that all Crimean Tatar national symbols be taken down.

That same day 30-40 students gathered on the steps of the Crimean Industrial Pedagogical University and sang the Ukraine national anthem in protest against the appearance of the speaker of the Moscow-imposed Crimea State Council.  
 
 

http://www.themilitant.com/2014/7833/783303.html

The material basis of alienation

Capitalist system dehumanizes
and alienates workers

 
Below is an excerpt from The Marxist Theory of Alienation by Ernest Mandel and George Novack. In the book Mandel (1923-1995), a European leader of the Fourth International, and Novack (1905-1992), a leader of the Socialist Workers Party in the United States, explained that alienation is not an eternal condition of humanity, but rather a product of social relations under capitalism that can be overcome with the rise of a working-class fight for power. Copyright © 1970 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.
BY GEORGE NOVACK

--

It is necessary to analyze the economic foundations of capitalist society in order to bring out its characteristic processes of alienation.

(1) Capitalism emerges as a distinct and separate economic formation by wrenching away working people from precapitalist conditions of production. Before capitalism could be established, the mass of direct producers had to be separated from the material means of production and transformed into propertyless proletarians. The processes of expropriation whereby the peasants were uprooted from the land and the social elements fashioned for the wage labor required for capitalist exploitation in Western Europe were summarized by Marx in Chapter XIX of Capital.

(2) However, the alienation of the producers only begins with the primary accumulation of capital; it is continually reproduced on an ever-extended scale once capital takes over industry. Even before he physically engages in the productive process, the wage-worker finds his labor taken away from him by the stipulations of the labor contract. The worker agrees to hand over his labor power to the capitalist in return for the payment of the prevailing wage. The employer is then free to use and exploit this labor as he pleases.

(3) During the productive process, by virtue of the peculiar divisions of labor in capitalist enterprise, all the knowledge, will and direction is concentrated in the capitalist and his superintendents. The worker is converted into a mere physical accessory factor of production. "The capitalist represents the unity and will of the social working body" while the workers who make up that body are "dehumanized" and degraded to the status of things. The plan, the process, and the aim of capitalist production all confront the workers as alien, hostile, dominating powers. The auto workers on the assembly line can testify to the truth of this fact.

(4) At the end of the industrial process the product which is its result does not belong to the workers who made it but to the capitalist who owns it. In this way the product of labor is torn from the workers and goes into the market to be sold.

(5) The capitalist market, which is the totality of commodities and money in their circulation, likewise confronts the working class—whether as sellers of their labor power or as buyers of commodities—as an alien power. Its laws of operation dictate how much they shall get for their labor power, whether it is saleable at all, what their living standards shall be.

The world market is the ultimate arbiter of capitalist society. It not only rules over the wage-slaves; it is greater than the most powerful group of capitalists. The overriding laws of the market dominate all classes like uncontrollable forces of nature which bring weal or woe regardless of anyone's plans or intentions.

(6) In addition to the fundamental antagonism between the exploiters and the exploited, the competition characteristic of capitalism's economic activities pits the members of both classes against one another. The capitalists strive to get the better of their rivals so that the bigger and more efficient devour the smaller and less productive.

The workers who go into the labor market to sell their labor power are compelled to buck one another for available jobs. In the shop and factory they are often obliged to compete against one another under the goad of piece-work.

Both capitalists and workers try to mitigate the consequences of their competition by combination. The capitalists set up trusts and monopolies; the workers organize into trade unions. But however much these opposing forms of class organization modify and restrict competition, they cannot abolish it. The competitiveness eliminated from a monopolized industry springs up more violently in the struggles between one aggregation of capital and another. The workers in one craft, category or country are pitted, contrary to their will, against the workers of another.

These economic circumstances generate unbridled individualism, egotism, and self-seeking throughout bourgeois society. The members of this society, whatever their status, have to live in an atmosphere of mutual hostility rather than of solidarity.

Thus the real basis of the forms of alienation within capitalist society is found in the contradictory relations of its mode of production and in the class antagonisms arising from them. …

These internal social antagonisms are not everlasting. They do not spring from any intrinsic and inescapable evil in the nature of mankind as a species. They were generated by specific historico-social conditions which have been uncovered and can be explained.

Now that humanity has acquired superiority over nature through triumphs of technology and science, the next great step is to gain collective control over the blind forces of society. There is only one conscious agency in present-day life strong enough and strategically placed to shoulder and carry through this imperative task, says Marxism. That is the force of alienated labor incorporated in the industrial working class.

The material means for liberating mankind can be brought into existence only through the world socialist revolution which will concentrate political and economic power in the hands of the working people.  
 

http://www.themilitant.com/2014/7833/783349.html

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].