The Third International after Lenin

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ten years after 9/11: U.S. Socialist Workers Party statements and analysis

Oppose U.S. military assaults and curbs on democratic rights
Socialist Workers candidate responds to attacks in New York, Washington

The following statement by Martín Koppel, candidate for mayor of New York, was released September 11 by the Socialist Workers Party.

Waving the banner that "America is under attack," that it has sustained "a second Pearl Harbor" in the wake of today's assault on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the U.S. government will seek to advance its "right" to launch military assaults on other countries, as it has done over the past few years against the peoples of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Sudan, and Afghanistan. The U.S. rulers will become even more brazen in their backing for the Israeli regime's escalating war drive against the Palestinians.

Calls by capitalist politicians and apologists for stiffer measures to prevent future such "intelligence failures" are being played up nonstop by the big-business dailies, news agencies, and TV and radio networks. Anti-Arab and anti-Islamic bigotry is being cranked up to bolster this onslaught.

The Socialist Workers Party calls on workers, farmers, and all defenders of democratic rights to speak out against the U.S. rulers' demagogic efforts, in the name of preempting "terrorism," to rationalize restrictions on political rights. We must oppose the campaign by the U.S. government--Democrats and Republicans alike--to curb the constitutionally guaranteed space for political organization and activity and to legitimize the use of the U.S. armed forces at home and abroad.

During its final months in office, following several years of preparations, the Clinton administration established for the first time in U.S. history, a North American command--that is, the command structure for deployment of U.S. armed forces at home, aimed first and foremost at working people in this country. The White House appointed a commander-in-chief of this new homeland command, euphemistically called the Joint Forces Command. As part of its preparations, the U.S. government has over the past two years carried out simulated "antiterrorist" military operations--together with city, state, and federal police forces--in New Jersey, northern California, and elsewhere.

The Bush administration is now deploying these forces in their first domestic military operations. On September 11 the U.S. government placed U.S. armed forces worldwide on hair-trigger war alert. It called out an army regiment of light infantry onto the streets of Washington, D.C.; mobilized the New York National Guard; and deployed heavily armed FBI "counter-terrorism squads" and other special federal police units in Los Angeles, along the borders with Mexico and Canada, and elsewhere across the country.

In coming days, as the administration acts on Bush's vow "to hunt down and punish those responsible," the labor movement and all democratic-minded organizations and individuals must be on the alert to protest government frame-up trials and oppose its trampling on the presumption of innocence; the right to due process; Fourth Amendment protections against arbitrary search, seizure, and wiretaps; and freedom of association without spying and harassment by government informers and agents provocateurs. The last four years of the Clinton administration, and the opening months of the Bush White House, have been marked by stepped-up bipartisan efforts to strengthen the federal death penalty, erode the rights of the accused and convicted, and increase the room for commando-style operations by the U.S. Border Patrol and other Immigration and Naturalization Service cops, the FBI, and other federal assault agencies.

Whoever may have carried out the September 11 operations, the destruction of the two World Trade Center towers, and the air attack on the Pentagon--with the resulting deaths and injuries of thousands of men, women, and children--these actions have nothing to do with the fight against capitalist exploitation and imperialist oppression. Revolutionists and other class-conscious workers, farmers, and youth the world over reject the use of such methods.

The U.S. government and its allies for more than a century have carried out systematic terror to defend their class privilege and interests at home and abroad--from the atomic incineration of hundreds of thousands at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the 10-year-long slaughter in Indochina, to the war against the Iraqi people in 1990-91, to the burning to death of 80 people at Waco on its home soil, to other examples too numerous to list. In recent weeks, the White House and Congress have stood behind Tel Aviv as it escalated its campaign of both random killings and outright murders in its historically failing effort to quell the struggle by the dispossessed Palestinian people for the return of their homeland.

Half a century ago the revolutionary workers movement and other opponents of colonial outrages, racism, and anti-Semitism in all its forms warned that by waging a war of terror to drive the Palestinians from their farms, towns, and cities, the founders of the Israeli state and their imperialist backers in North America and Europe were pitting the Jewish people against those fighting for national liberation in the Middle East and worldwide; they were creating a death trap for the Jews, which Israel remains to this day. By its systematic superexploitation of the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America; by its never-ending insults to their national and cultural dignity; by its ceaseless murderous violence in countless forms--U.S. imperialism is turning North America into a death trap for working people and all who live here.

The U.S. rulers know that as they press their assault on the living and working conditions of workers and farmers in the United States, they will meet growing resistance, as working people organize to defend their livelihoods and their rights. That's why Washington is systematically strengthening its hand against the battles it knows are coming.

The Socialist Workers Party calls on workers and farmers in the United States and worldwide to speak out in defense of the struggle of the Palestinian people, the people of Western Sahara, the Puerto Rican people, the rights of the people of Cuba, and others the world over fighting for their national rights and against all the ways in which the world capitalist order presses humanity toward fascism and war. We must oppose U.S. military intervention anywhere in the world. We must oppose efforts by Washington to escalate an assault on the political rights of working people and the organizations of our class and its oppressed and exploited allies.

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'Bosses' war against workers has opened on many fronts

Printed below is an excerpt from Cuba and the Coming American Revolution by Jack Barnes. The book is Copyright © 2001 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.

The battles we and other workers are and will be engaged in are being prepared on many fronts by the course of the ruling class.

Workers who have studied and absorbed some of the hard-earned lessons of our class--who have started to use the political arsenal published and distributed by Pathfinder, the cumulative record of more than 150 years of struggle the world over--can help other working people better understand the source of our exploitation and oppression. We can help fellow workers and farmers recognize that the conditions we face are a product of how capitalism works, not how it sometimes doesn't work. We can help them see that the root of our problems is not one or the other of the bosses' parties--the Republicans but not the Democrats, or vice versa. Nor is it the union misleaders, whose class-collaborationist course does hamper our capacity to fight effectively and win.

Our class enemy is the capitalists themselves and the two-party system that in the United States serves as the central political prop of their rule. We have no common interests with the capitalists. Everything they try to tell us about "our country," "our way of life," "our language," "our industry," "our factory" are lies. The "our" is the heart of the lie. It's a diversion aimed at dividing us from those with whom we do have common interests--the workers, farmers, and exploited toilers of all countries. All of us share the same class enemies: the imperialist ruling classes, and the domestic landlords and capitalists dominated by imperialism the world over. That's the only "we" and "they" that has any meaning for working people.

William Clinton, the politician whom liberals, with a straight face, sometimes described as the first Black president, has recently left office. From the beginning eight years ago, communist workers insisted that Clinton was no friend of the working class, that he would be a war president, a prison president, a death-penalty president--in short, a president, like those before him, whose course at home and abroad was aimed at serving the class interests of the U.S. ruling families. The same is true of Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, and of the bipartisan Congress, then and now.

Just hours before Bush was sworn in last January 20, Clinton ordered U.S. warplanes to bomb civilian targets in southern Iraq. Then, less than a month later, Bush sent U.S. planes to hit neighborhoods on the outskirts of Baghdad, dropping twenty-eight cluster bombs. These weapons, which scatter thousands of small explosive devices, are designed with one and only one purpose in mind: to kill and maim, to mangle the flesh of the maximum number of men, women, and children. (The Militant was the only newspaper where you could have found out about the cluster bombs, unless you happened to catch the Washington Post on-line on February 26. The Post editors made sure the article never made it into the print edition.)

The assaults on Iraq by Clinton and Bush were a virtual replay of the handoff eight years earlier from the elder Bush to Clinton. During the days prior to the January 1993 inauguration, the outgoing Republican administration rained down bombs on Iraq, and the new administration followed suit the very next week. Ever since then, the U.S. and British armed forces have kept up the bombing of Iraq virtually nonstop; the United Nations reported that on average one Iraqi civilian was killed in such raids every other day in 1999 and 2000. Others have been wounded, many mutilated for life.


The war against working people at home by the employers and their two parties has deepened on many fronts, as well.
  • During the eight years of the Clinton presidency, the number of people locked behind bars in U.S. prisons doubled to two million. While the United States has 5 percent of the world's population, today it has 25 percent of the world's prisoners. As throughout history, the overwhelming majority of those incarcerated are toilers, with the hammer falling most heavily on those who are Black, Latino, or Native American. Fully one of every three young Black males today is either in prison, on parole, or on probation. Lockdowns and solitary confinement, with all their dehumanizing effects on the human spirit, have increasingly become the norm.
  • The number of privatized "services," even privately owned prisons, continues to increase, and now we are witnessing the relentless growth of a concomitant: prison labor. The Wall Street Journal a few days ago featured an article on the expansion of programs to hire out inmates in state-operated prisons. Pointing to the emergence of what it calls "the convict version of Kelly Girls," the article was headlined: "Prison as Profit Center: Inmates' Labor, Expenditures Enhance the Bottom Line; Temp Agency Behind Bars."
  • In Oregon prisons, the article explains, "employers offer no retirement, vacation, or health benefits; nor do they pay for Social Security, workers' compensation, or Medicare....[H]iring inmates can cut an employer's payroll costs by 35%." As a result, it adds, "businessmen now all but beg for prison labor." Just like the good old days--New Economy chain gangs.
  • Prisons certified by the federal Prison Industry Enhancement program, the article continues, get a bonus; they are allowed to sell the products of prison labor in interstate commerce. Prisoners covered by this U.S. government "incentive" program must "be allowed to keep at least"--in other words, no more than--"20% of what they earn. The rest of their wages can be withheld to pay income taxes, child-support obligations, room-and-board charges, and payments due to victim-assistance funds."
  • In 1996 Clinton signed into law the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, adopted by a Republican Congress. That law expands the powers of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to round up and deport those charged with being "illegal" immigrants without the right to judicial review or appeal. Simultaneously the White House and Congress funded the expansion of the hated la migra into the largest federal cop agency, one that has stepped up factory raids and deportations to record numbers in recent years.
  • Far from aiming to stem the inflow of labor from the Americas and elsewhere, the rulers intend for their repressive measures to heighten insecurity and fear among immigrants, hoping to maintain them as a superexploitable labor pool and discourage involvement in unionization efforts and other social struggles and political fights.
  • Under the Star Chamber provisions of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the U.S. government has held some two dozen people without bail in "preventive detention" on the basis of "secret evidence." Most are immigrants from Arab or other majority Muslim countries accused of links with "terrorist organizations"--the code word the U.S. rulers increasingly use to rationalize both assaults on democratic rights at home and military strikes abroad. Altogether some 20,000 people are being held in U.S. jails awaiting the outcome of threatened deportations--a 245 percent increase just in the five years since adoption of the anti-immigrant legislation.
  • Last year, once again with bipartisan backing, the Clinton administration cynically exploited its half-year-long refusal to return the Cuban child Elián González to his country in order to burnish the image of the INS and establish legal precedents reinforcing the agency's powers that are exempt from judicial review. The April 2000 raid by heavily armed commandos of la migra to take the child from a home in Miami not only bolstered the powers of the Border Patrol but dealt a blow to the Fourth Amendment rights of all U.S. residents to be safe from arbitrary searches and seizures.
  • During his closing days in office Clinton issued a presidential directive establishing a "counterintelligence czar," and Bush just this week made an appointment to the new top-level spy post. According to press accounts, the position is "designed to facilitate a level of cooperation never seen before among the FBI, the CIA and the Pentagon, and will, for the first time, engage the rest of the government and the private sector as well." The private sector as well? What "private sector" police agencies are included? What strikebreaking rent-a-cops will now have more federal cover and encouragement?

The "czar" will be responsible to a board consisting of top CIA, FBI, Pentagon, and Justice Department officials and will in turn chair a National Counterintelligence Policy Board also involving officials of the State Department, Energy Department, and White House National Security Council. The former top CIA official who developed the so-called Counterintelligence for the 21st Century plan explained to one publication that "CI-21" will prioritize "the 'crown jewels' of American prosperity and national security," and told the Washington Post that it aims to defend "not only critical government assets but also the computer infrastructure used by government and private industry alike."

One reporter for the big-business press covering the new position wrote that it will force "the American public to rethink long-accepted notions about what constitutes national security and the once-clear boundaries between domestic law enforcement, foreign intelligence gathering and defense preparedness."

In short, the counterintelligence czar will draw together Washington's "anti-terrorist" operations from Iran, Korea, and Cuba, to the new immigrant living down the block. It will draw together the U.S. rulers' "war on drugs" from the new U.S. military bases in Colombia and Ecuador to working-class neighborhoods and factory locker rooms across North America. It will centralize the U.S. government's informers, wiretapping, snail-mail and e-mail snooping, and other secret police operations against both "enemies" abroad and the labor movement and social protest organizations at home.

Whether it is "endangering national security" or "giving away business secrets," the U.S. rulers will work to find a frame-up charge that sticks.

I raise the Clinton and Bush admin-istration's new counterintelligence czar not because there is reason to anticipate some tidal wave of repression right around the corner. But the U.S. rulers are already shifting gears from the last decade. They know they will face more and bigger battles as international capitalist competition drives them to slash wages, extend the workday, intensify speedup, cut social security protections, and crush the unions. And they are preparing to defend their class interests.

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