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Fascism and Big Business by Daniel Guerin

Sunday, January 23, 2011

US SWP event features current party perspectives

....U.S. military strategy toward China

Jack Barnes, the author of
Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power who is the national secretary of the SWP, was the final speaker. He opened his remarks pointing to the significance of U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates’s trip to Asia. During his trip Gates told reporters that the Chinese government has and continues to develop long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as other missile technology that is designed to destroy U.S. aircraft carriers and aircraft.”

These advances are part of Beijing’s efforts to assert some control over Pacific waters near China, which have been dominated by Washington since World War II.

The threat of a powerful adversary in China has a great deal to do with the wars Washington is currently fighting in Afghanistan and on the border with Pakistan, Barnes said. Washington is trying to strengthen its alliance with the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India as a counterweight to Beijing. Gen. David Petraeus is “the commander of the Western front with China,” Barnes said. Concern over Osama bin Laden is not Washington’s motivation. There are much bigger questions at stake.

Washington needs to get the Pakistani and Indian governments to pull their troops away from each other’s borders and look toward China. Barnes noted Washington’s success in getting better relations with the Indian government, which had been a Soviet ally until the collapse of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s.

Meanwhile, at home, the Barack Obama administration is stepping up restrictions on freedom of speech and workers rights. It’s adopting a harder and harder line against Cuba, seeking to take advantage of the difficult economic situation the revolutionary government faces there.

Under the pressures of the capitalist world economic crisis, the Cuban leadership is working to preserve the continuity of the revolution, while making necessary retreats, including opening up the economy to more private economic activity, Barnes explained in response to a question during the discussion.

Barnes commented on the debate over whether “vitriolic rhetoric” by Republicans and tea party supporters was partly to blame for the shooting spree by a mentally deranged man that killed six people in Arizona January 8. Democrats were forced to back down as their attempt to blame Sarah Palin for the shooting fell flat. In his speech at the memorial service for victims, Obama acknowledged that “a simple lack of civility” did not cause the shootings, noted Barnes.

Liberal Democrats and commentators frequently slander conservatives as “stupid,” “crazy,” or “paranoid,” because they are unable to answer Republicans’ arguments. It’s also how they view workers or farmers who support one or another plank of the Republican platform.

Barnes pointed out that supporters of the Militant failed to organize sales to the hundreds of thousands who turned out for the “Restoring Honor” rally organized by Glenn Beck and others in Washington August 28. “We would have had no problems selling at that event and no Black person would have had a problem attending,” Barnes said.

A lower percentage of those at the event would have been interested in buying the paper than at an AFL-CIO labor event like the October 2 march for jobs, Barnes noted, but there were many workers at the August 28 rally who would have given the socialists a hearing, debated the issues, and shown interest in the Militant. They were, after all, driven to come to Washington by the effects of the economic and social crisis that is unfolding and ruining their lives, just as those who marched October 2 were.

In the United States “the working class is stunned” by the severity of the attacks coming down, he said. “It has no class consciousness yet,” giving the example of support among some workers for sharply reducing wages and benefits for public employees.

But “pockets of struggle do exist,” Barnes went on, “and they are important.” He noted that the workers at Jimmy John’s sandwich shops in Minneapolis “came out stronger” by fighting to organize a union, even though they narrowly lost the vote. Now they’re preparing for a second vote.

It’s through these kinds of struggles that workers can acquire class consciousness and begin to see that it’s not a question of winning a better contract or better labor legislation, but a revolutionary overturn of capitalism that’s needed, Barnes said. ....

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