Publication of the Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS on
“OCCUPY WALL STREET!”
Why this Rebellion Deserves our Support
by RAY LIGHT
Also included in this issue:
Let’s Fight for a Socialist Future!
U.S. Imperialism’s Murderous Role in Libya
U.S. and NATO Are Jubilant over the Spoils of War in Libya
Wikileaks Exposes Al Jazeera’s Role in U.S. Overthrow in Libya
On 94th Anniversary October Revolution: Proletarian Internationalism
Ohio Workers Taking Steps to “Save Our Unions”
“If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention”
On September 17, 2011, Occupy Wall Street (OWS), a diffuse group of mostly white middle class young people began a loosely organized protest in New York’s financial district. The group planned to camp out for some extended period in Zuccotti Park, a privately owned park in Lower Manhattan open to the public. This protest against corporate greed and social inequality and other disparities between rich and poor in the United States and around the world was fueled by their own anger and frustration at living in a country in the throes of a capitalist economic crisis where their own personal futures looked grim while the government was propping up and bailing out the super rich, the very people responsible for the crisis!
The “Modest Call to Action” issued by Occupy Wall St on September 17th was, in fact, not very modest at all. They referred to it as a “call for revolution.” They called for disrupting the system, for students and teachers to teach democracy together, for workers to “not only strike, but seize their workplaces collectively and to organize them democratically,” for the unemployed to “volunteer … to use what skills they have to support themselves as part of the … community,” “for the seizure and use of abandoned property,” and “for people’s assemblies in every city, every public square, every township.”
Despite very limited capitalist media coverage (for example, National Public Radio gave no coverage to the first nine days of the protest), and despite the rhetorical overreach of their call, Occupy Wall Street immediately resonated with thousands of people who share their view that, “we are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent.” (See OccupyWallSt.org, the group’s website)
Within a month, the New York group experienced real growth, with a few thousand marchers on certain days, even in the face of police arrests. Furthermore, sympathy demonstrations and local replica “occupation” movements have rapidly spread to cities across the USA, and solidarity actions have occurred around the world. Mass disenchantment with and disgust for capitalism is being expressed in moderate protest.
At the same time, however, the Occupy Wall Street campsite has become a tourist attraction and the fledgling “movement” has received close to a half million dollars in donations, a fund currently being used for the provision of food, laundering and dry cleaning for New York City’s camper-protesters.
Does this rather odd, spontaneous and self-described “leaderless” movement have any real revolutionary potential? Are there any potential reactionary dangers to which this movement is vulnerable? What follows are some questions and answers dealing with the responsibility of proletarian revolutionaries in the USA (and around the world) to bring critical support to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Question #1: Does the “Occupy Wall Street” Movement have any specific target? Is this sufficient?
Answer #1: Indeed, the outstanding positive feature of this movement is that it targets Wall Street. As prize-winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman observed, “The protesters’ indictment of Wall Street as a destructive force, economically and politically, is completely right.” (New York Times, 10-7-11)
Krugman explains, “They’re people who got rich, by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American People, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens. Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers … they continue to benefit from … federal guarantees …” (New York Times, 10-10-11) Krugman asserts that, “… we may, at long last, be seeing the rise of a populist movement that, unlike the Tea Party, is angry at the right people.” (ibid., 10-7-11)
Occupy Wall Street General Assembly, Washington Square, New York CityThe focus on Wall Street, while just, necessary, and crucial, is not however, sufficient. While bourgeois journalists, including Krugman, treat the U.S. economy and U.S. politics as if “never the twain shall meet,” the dialectical reality is that politics and economics are inextricably interwoven. U.S. political-economy is monopoly capitalist and imperialist. The U.S. government, the U.S. imperialist state, is fundamentally a servant of Wall Street. As Simon Johnson, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, admitted early in the current economic crisis, the U.S. government has been captured by the “financial oligarchy,” i.e. by Wall Street. To limit the target to “Wall Street” thus serves to seriously underestimate the power and influence of the enemy. It specifically takes our eye off of the main bulwark of world capitalism in this period, imperialism, headed by U.S. imperialism.
Question #2: Does the “Occupy Wall Street” Movement have any specific demands or goals? Should this be a matter of concern?
Answer #2: No, they don’t. And, yes, we should be very concerned. Such just slogans and demands as the right to a decent job, universal health care, an end to U.S. imperialist wars [in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Colombia and the Philippines], bring the troops home now, protect the planet, tax the rich, were projected by the recent October 2011 Movement in its demonstration in Washington, D.C. against the bipartisan “Republicrat” U.S. government’s War Abroad and its War at Home. Such concrete demands place political pressure on the U.S. imperialist state to meet the needs of the people or face the political consequences. The Occupy Wall Street Movement’s inability to adopt specific political demands and goals takes the heat off of U.S. imperialism. And since the “Republicrat” Congress, with its increasingly repressive and reactionary laws, and the Obama Regime, with its massive omnipresent apparatus of police and armed forces and military and civilian intelligence, are the main political servants of Wall Street, there can be no serious challenge to Wall Street without challenging the U.S. government politically.
Question #3: How is “Occupy Wall Street” similar to the “Arab Spring” movements in Tunisia, Egypt and throughout the Middle East and how is it different?Answer #3:There is no doubt that “Occupy Wall Street” drew much of its inspiration and the model for its technique of encampment in the New York financial district from the initial mass protests in Tunisia and especially in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. Furthermore, driven by the world capitalist economic crisis, the explosive mixture of widespread and growing unemployment and underemployment among the masses simultaneous with the continued amassing of undeserved wealth by the plutocrats, the already super wealthy and privileged rulers of the society, all with no end in sight, is the fuel common to the Arab youth and the youth of the USA that has sparked these revolts.*
* This is not to deny the fact that the sharp rise in food prices in the Middle East and other economic woes as well as the youth demographic there exacerbate conditions in the Arab countries. The situation facing the people of the Middle East does remain more harsh than are the worsening conditions facing the masses of people in the USA today.
One fundamental difference is based on the fact that behind virtually all the reactionary Arab regimes, propping them up in a thousand ways, has been U.S. imperialism. Egypt, during its decades under Mubarak, for example, received more than a billion dollars per year in direct U.S. military aid, second in the world in direct U.S. financial aid only to the settler state of Israel. This imperialist comprador and lackey role of the Arab reactionary rulers helps to explain why, in most if not all the “Arab Spring” uprisings, the goal of toppling, of driving out, the current reactionary political regimes was raised almost immediately as the most urgent demand of the demonstrators. In the Middle East, the Arab masses were enlightened enough to place the responsibility for their economic-social plight on their clearly compromised comprador political leaders and they are continuing to do so. In Tunisia and Egypt today the toiling masses and the youth press onward in the struggle for political power, even months after the toppling of Ben Ali and Mubarak.
In the USA, by contrast, the Occupy Wall Street and other new “Occupy” groups, reflecting the many years of imperialist bribery and relative privilege vis-à-vis the rest of the world, have barely mentioned any political targets at all. In fact, protecting and supporting the Obama Regime and the declining U.S. Empire remains a more likely motivation for most U.S. protesters thus far than the toppling of this barbaric reactionary regime, the faithful continuers of the Bush-Cheney war criminal regime.
Question #4: Does anarchism in program, organization, and practice have the capacity to achieve the objectives first enunciated by the Occupy Wall Street Movement?
Answer #4: No. Given the predominantly white middle class composition of the Occupy protesters and their privileged recent history in relation to the international working class and the oppressed peoples as an integral part of hegemonic U.S. imperialist society, it is not surprising that there is a strong anarchist political tendency present among them. This is especially so now that, in the current capitalist economic crisis, many of them have recently dropped out of the middle class into the lumpen-proletariat, having fallen upon hard times, job and income loss, homelessness, etc.
The most prominent of all anarchist thinkers, Michael Bakunin, consistently advocated that the workers and the unemployed “lumpen-proletariat” avoid political struggle altogether. He promoted the notion that “the triumph of humanity … is in the conquest and accomplishment of the full freedom and full development, material, intellectual and moral, of every individual, by the absolutely free and spontaneous organization of economic and social solidarity as completely as possible between all human beings living on the earth.” (page 22, Marxism, Freedom and the State, ROL emphasis) In the 1870’s, Bakunin asserted that, “… the proletariat … is animated today by a profound distrust against what is political and against all the politicians in the world, whatever their party color, all of them having equally deceived, oppressed, exploited – the reddest Republicans just as much as the most absolutist Monarchists.” (ibid., p.61)
The Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City has spent most of its time occupying a small park in the Wall Street area and has made no serious attempt to “occupy” or even interfere in a significant way with the workings of U.S. finance capital. Occupy groups in Atlanta, Georgia and elsewhere have been forcibly removed by the police from their “occupied areas” with little or no resistance. Meanwhile, both in that initial Occupy Wall Street group in New York City and in the many Occupy groups that have emerged around the USA, a tremendous amount of time and energy have been expended in procedural discussions, i.e. trying to make decisions about how to arrive at decisions (by consensus, majority vote, etc.), whether to “allow” commercial media and press to be present (even where there are no other constraints on participation), whether to have any unified demands and/or which ones, what kind of future world they envision, etc. In other words, the Occupy groups have been exercising “free speech” in their more or less spontaneous social and economic organization in their encampments in line with the anarchist credo of Bakunin.
Many of these newly politicized activists apparently believe that if they simply come up with a better socio-political system in their discussions, the U.S. monopoly capitalists and imperialists will freely adopt them without a fight. This is in keeping with Bakunin’s assertion that a better society can be reached by “anti-political power of the working masses of town and country alike, including all favorably disposed persons of the upper classes, who, breaking completely with their past, would be willing to join them and fully accept their program.” (ibid., p.18 )
But the outrage that has finally propelled several thousands of protesters into the Occupy groups around the country has been occasioned, in the first place, by the obscene bailout of Wall Street by the federal government under both Republican President George W. Bush and then Democratic President Barack Obama. The Bush Regime was only successful in getting the $700 billion bill passed in the House with vital support from Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as well as from both the Republican and Democratic candidates for President, McCain and Obama. The Obama Regime got the second installment of over $800 billion passed after Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury Paulson admitted that he used the first $700 billion for things other than what he had said he would use it for! And none of the “Republicrats” in Washington, DC demanded to know what he had done with the money!! Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, chief promoter of the Obama bailout, had been a key architect, with Paulson, his fellow alumnus of Goldman, Sachs, in getting the Republican Bush bailout passed in the first place.
Yes. Wall Street has been bailed out by the U.S. government, the U.S. imperialist state. Main Street has been impoverished, rendered homeless, jobless, without health care by the U.S. government. It was in this setting that Simon Johnson, the former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, admitted that the U.S. government had been captured by the “financial oligarchy.” (See “The Quiet Coup,” May 2009 Atlantic magazine)
The U.S. government, the state apparatus of U.S. finance capital, of Wall Street, protects and defends the interests of Wall Street within the USA and around the world primarily through its military might – through the army, navy, air force, marines, national guard in hundreds of military bases strategically placed in the four corners of the earth, backed up by an army of intelligence agencies, private military contractors (mercenaries), and an army of diplomats, along with state and local police forces and sheriffs’ departments. The U.S. government military budget is greater than the combined military expenditures of all the other governments on earth.
In this setting, anarchism cannot even begin to deal seriously with the monopoly capitalist class dictatorship of Wall Street and U.S. imperialism.
Question #5: What is the significance of the trade union support and the Democratic Party support currently being received by the Occupy Wall Street Movement?
Answer #5: There is both positive and negative significance to the Occupy movement’s involvement with organized labor. Positive is the fact that several major labor unions in the New York City area, including the Transport Workers Union, have begun to provide endorsements, manpower and resources to the fledgling protest movement directed against Wall Street. Even more positive has been the support of OWS folks for the Communication Workers Union (CWA)-led Verizon workers’ protests and OWS support for the Teamster workers at Sotheby’s. Perhaps most positive was the timely defense by hundreds of union workers called out by their unions to defend the OWS folks in Zuccotti Park when New York City Mayor Bloomberg threatened to bring in the police to remove the protesters. The too conservative U.S. trade union movement can surely benefit from the youthful impatience and militancy of the Occupy groups around the country. And association with the Occupy Wall Street protests can broaden, deepen and help radicalize the political perspective of the organized section of the working class in this period of economic crisis. At the same time, the new found activism and militancy of mostly white middle class youth with a smorgasbord of demands can too easily be transformed into destructive anarchistic activities. The Occupy groups can thus benefit greatly from becoming involved with the solid working class demands and campaigns and the union workers themselves in their battles with specific capitalist adversaries.*
* One of the most promising union campaigns which would perfectly suit the Occupy groups throughout the USA is the effort to defend and preserve the United States Postal Service (USPS), with its universal six day delivery and uniform rates. On the basis of a Congress-manufactured phony “postal crisis,” the USPS is currently threatened with dismantling and privatization by Wall Street, with the connivance of the Postmaster General who is supposed to be the leader of the institution he is helping Wall Street to destroy! In a Wall Street Journal article (October 5th), Gary MacDougal, a recently retired long time director of United Parcel Service, boldly exposed the postal privatizers’ real aim. He stated, “Entrepreneurs will see the demise of the USPS as an opportunity, and new companies will emerge. Indeed, this transition can be one of the badly needed bright spots in a troubled American economy.” It is only because the USPS is by far the most popular government service among the people of the USA that it has not been privatized already. Widespread OWS participation in defense of the USPS would be seen in a very positive light by the people on Main Street. And at least two of the four postal unions, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), are virtually everywhere there are Occupy groups. It would be a great help to the more than half a million union postal workers and to the Occupy groups around the country if they reach out to each other in this popular struggle to thwart Wall Street’s drive to take one more right away from the people, the right to a universal, public postal service.
On the negative side is the potential for the conservative labor leadership to seduce sections of the Occupy groups into the electoral dead end of exclusive Democratic Party political activity.
In early October, the AFL-CIO’s executive council expressed unanimous support for the Occupy Wall Street protest (even though most of this conservative labor leadership has “kept its distance” from the OWS folks). To some extent, these union misleaders recognize that the “Republicrats,” mainstream Republicans, led by Congressman John Boehner, along with Obama and the Democrats, have been making decisions throughout this economic crisis period that provide all kinds of support for Wall Street and little for Main Street. And yet these labor apologists for U.S. imperialism, so wedded to Obama and the Democratic Party, have remained politically paralyzed and impotent, afraid to arouse and mobilize their members and unwilling to break with the Democrats. In the recent period when the Tea Party movement has pushed the “Republicrat” politicians even further into taking everything from Main Street and giving everything to Wall Street, the labor bureaucracy has been in an even more desperate political dilemma. Thus, they hope they can use the OWS movement as a counterweight to the Tea Party and to help pressure Obama and Congress to focus on job creation and provide some relief or at least a few crumbs for Main Street.
Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union, (SEIU), the largest union in the AFL-CIO and a notoriously bureaucratic “top down” union, in a recent Wall Street Journal opinion column (“Why Labor Backs ‘Occupy Wall Street,’” 10-8-11) used the newly mobilized OWS movement to plead with the financial oligarchy to allow Congress to pass the American Jobs Act which would help rebuild the country’s crumbling infrastructure in a Depression-era WPA type project. She concluded: “The people are finally speaking. Now it’s up to our leaders and CEO’s to listen and respond.” SEIU President Henry is already trying to convert the OWS movement into an innocuous pressure group that will return the initiative to the very political and economic forces that have brought this country to its knees.
“God bless them for their spontaneity,” said House minority leader, California Democrat Nancy Pelosi, in collaboration with the AFL-CIO bureaucracy, as she embraced the OWS movement’s vulnerability. Liberal thinker Paul Krugman, can barely restrain his glee that, “Democrats are being given what amounts to a second chance. The Obama administration squandered a lot of potential good will early on by adopting banker-friendly policies that failed to deliver economic recovery even as bankers repaid the favor by turning on the president. Now however, Mr. Obama’s party has a chance for a do-over.” (New York Times, 10-7-11)
However, as Glen Ford, executive editor of the Black Agenda Report (BAR), brilliantly observed, “the Occupy Wall Street movement’s contribution to human welfare to date has been to call out the enemy’s name and address: finance capital, Wall Street. ... But the essence of the movement requires that there be no compromise on the necessity to remove finance capital from the commanding heights of U.S. politics. Absent that fundamental focus, all coherence vanishes. Any collaboration with Obama and his corporate Democrats means the instantaneous death of the movement – and rightly so.” (Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com, 10-12-11)
Occupy Wall Street and the other Occupy groups that have emerged in cities and towns throughout the USA are a breath of fresh air. Their anger and protest are well directed at Wall Street though they need to be broadened to include the U.S. imperialist state apparatus. Proletarian revolutionaries have a duty to support and join the Occupy group efforts wherever appropriate and to attempt to bring revolutionary politics to the struggle in the process.
One factor that makes the emergence of the Occupy movement so positive is that it follows decades of domination of right reformism within the working class, oppressed nationality, radical and revolutionary movements in the USA, rightism made even more entrenched by the plague of NGOism. The powerful influence of anarchism within this new motion is the natural response to the sins of reformism and can help change the landscape. But the proletarian revolutionary forces uniting with the OWS movement will need to struggle against ultra-left, adventurist and/or “anti-political” tactics of the anarchists that are sure to emerge. Unchecked, such actions will become the Republicrats’ rationale on behalf of Wall Street for increased repression against Main Street.
The participation of the organized section of the working class, the trade union activists, with the Occupy groups can provide tremendous cross fertilization for the socialist revolution in the USA. But revolutionary vigilance in relation to labor conservatism is important. As Glen Ford points out in the Black Agenda Report, “…the Democrats are the most clear and present danger to the Occupation Movement, because their entire purpose is to negate the central message: that Wall Street controls both parties, all three branches of government and most social discourse in the United States.”
The political answer to Reformism and Anarchism is Revolutionary Socialism. The socialist aim was put forward by the Philippines’ genuine, militant and anti-imperialist labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in its Solidarity message supporting the efforts of the Wall Street protesters. The KMU also urged the Occupy protesters to “deepen their grasp of the roots of the current crisis, roots that lie in the system of exploitation and repression named imperialism … [and] go beyond spontaneous protests and build a genuine progressive movement right there in the so-called ‘belly of the beast.’”
The leadership of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle in the USA, in its own support statement, made the important point that “Wall Street is the Enemy of All Humanity,” underscoring the need for international solidarity.
In the absence of a powerful, organized, serious and disciplined revolutionary movement in the USA, guided by proletarian internationalism, the U.S. political-economic system is incapable of fundamental change. To meet the just demands of the Occupy Wall Street movements, we need to accumulate forces and become capable of smashing U.S. imperialism in the fight for Workers Power and a Socialist USA.
For Human Need Over Capitalist Greed –
* Leaflet by the Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA distributed at the October 2011 Movement’s Washington, D.C. march and at other street demonstrations in this period.
Washington, D.C. – We are pleased to be here in solidarity with the October 2011 Movement on the 10th anniversary of the Bush and U.S. imperialist-led invasion of Afghanistan and the beginning of the 2012 federal austerity budget. For this protest righteously opposes the bipartisan “Republicrat” U.S. government’s War Abroad and its War at Home. We are inspired to be amongst the ranks of new and old fighters for Social Justice in the belly of the beast. Such October 2011 Movement slogans as, “human needs, not corporate greed,” “health care for all,” “tax the rich,” “workers before profits,” “end the wars: bring the troops home,” and “protect the planet” truly meet the needs of the 99% of us suffering under U.S. monopoly capitalist rule.
In this militant spirit, the sudden emergence and rapid growth of the Occupy Wall Street motion is extremely encouraging, as is the embrace of this new development by the October 2011 Movement. Thousands of people in the USA are now taking leadership from the Arab Spring, from the young people and working class of Tunisia, Egypt and the Middle East. By linking up with the Arab Spring, thousands of U.S. workers, unemployed, students, etc. are beginning to recognize that, like the Mubarak and Ben Ali regimes and other U.S. imperialist-sponsored reactionary Arab regimes, the U.S. government too needs to be toppled!
The Arab Spring thus far, with all its widespread influence and moral power, has achieved only modest concrete gains and is still learning the strength of the U.S.-backed reactionary Arab rulers and the seriousness and depth of struggle that will be required in order to meet the fundamental needs of the Arab people. The October 2011 Movement and the Occupy Wall Street motion (as well as the Wisconsin workers) are only in the very beginning stages of learning similar crucial lessons about Wall Street dictatorship over the USA: U.S. Imperialism is still the main bulwark of world capitalism. Imperialism is a global political-economic system driven by the unrestricted motive of private profit at the expense of the working people and all humanity.
This system is incapable of fundamental reform in the absence of a powerful, organized, serious and disciplined revolutionary movement. To meet the just demands of the Occupy Wall Street and October 2011 Movements, we need to become capable of smashing U.S. imperialism and building a Socialist USA.
Introduction to Statement by ILPS Chairman Sison
by RAY LIGHT
U.S. imperialism, in close coordination with British, French and Italian imperialism, as well as the royal families of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, skillfully used the popular uprisings of the “Arab Spring” as a fig leaf behind which they brutally violated the sovereignty of Libya. The United Nations Security Council, with China, Russia and Brazil all abstaining – when either China or Russia alone could have vetoed the resolution – gave its blessing to a so-called “humanitarian mission” to dominate Libyan airspace so as to “protect” Libyan protesters from the Gadhafi government the “protesters” were already carrying out an armed struggle against.
Unlike the peaceful street demonstrators almost everywhere else in the Middle East during the Arab Spring, from the very beginning of the protest Libyan “rebels” were armed. Moreover, high ranking officials of the Gadhafi Regime, including the head of the Libyan military, immediately defected to the rebel movement based in Benghazi. U.S. imperialism and other imperialist powers had obviously long ago made the preparations for these developments. Under imperialist sponsorship, it very quickly became a civil war in which several major imperialist powers now intervened on the “rebel” side.
It was in this setting that we made the following observations prior to the actual U.S./NATO military attack on Libya:
“… there are [some] sincere Libyan protesters who have legitimate grievances against the Gadhafi Regime, as Fidel implies. And these real protesters are opposed to open military intervention by U.S. imperialism and the other imperialist powers, especially after seeing the fate of Iraq, still occupied by the U.S. military. These protesters are currently providing a political problem for the Obama Regime interventionists….”
“Why is the Obama Regime mobilizing and organizing for an unprovoked attack on Libya, for an expansion of its imperialist war in the Middle East?! In brief, the once unchallenged hegemonic imperialist power is now the biggest debtor country in the world. Its economic clout has been diminished at a rapid rate under the impetus of the U.S. economy-initiated world capitalist economic crisis of the past several years. So it has to keep China and its other creditors at bay. For now it still has the most powerful military machine on earth, with more annual military spending than the rest of the world combined, as well as its long standing global diplomatic, political and intelligence operations.
“And it continues to control the vast majority of the world oil supply and reserves, still the very lifeblood of the global capitalist economy. But the Arab masses are threatening to liberate their countries and seize control of the oil in their own national territory. This in turn would render U.S. imperialism a second or third rate power. Thus the need for U.S. imperialism to establish a military beachhead in Libya and a smokescreen behind which to increase its military protection for U.S. possession of the Middle East’s vast oil wealth. And U.S. imperialism, having bullied Gadhafi into cooperation with international capital with its ‘shock and awe’ campaign against Iraq in 2003 thought Libya would be ‘easy pickings;’ all the more so after seven years of Gadhafi’s compromised stand in relation to international imperialism, including his repression of the Libyan people at the insistence of the International Monetary Fund.
“As Comrade Fidel asserts [“Reflections by Comrade Fidel – NATO’s Inevitable War”]: ‘the fundamental concern of the United States and NATO is not Libya, but the revolutionary wave unleashed in the Arab world, which they wish to prevent at all costs.’” (“The Arab Masses are Taking their Future into their Hands!” Ray O’ Light Newsletter #65, March-April 2011)
In the aftermath of the imperialist conquest of Libya, featuring the brutal murder of Moammar Gadhafi, we are proud to reprint below the comprehensive October 23rd statement by Filipino revolutionary leader, Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS).
by PROFESSOR JOSE MARIA SISON
The US and its imperialist allies in the NATO targeted Gaddafi and his regime for complete destruction because he had grievously offended them in the following ways: he called for the nationalization and retraction of so-called neoliberal concessions that he had granted to the Western oil companies, he refused to allow the African Command (Africom) of the US to establish its central base in Libya and he pushed a gold-backed dinar as the currency of Africa.
To set up Gaddafi for the kill, so-called human rights organizations financed by the Central Intelligence and the National Endowment for Democracy fabricated exaggerated reports which were subsequently played up by the US and other Western mass media depicting him as wantonly killing his political opponents. Such reports became the basis of the UN Security Council resolution allowing the imperialist powers to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and to undertake all necessary measures supposedly to protect civilians.
As soon as the US and its NATO allies got the resolution, they proceeded to attack Libya’s military and civilian structures, using their high tech air power (including jet fighters, cruise missiles, predator drones and helicopter gunships) and all sorts of bombs (including oxygen-sucking white phosphorus bombs) in order to cripple and destroy the Gaddafi regime. The so-called humanitarian intervention to protect civilians was nothing but a deceptive expression for an extremely brutal war of aggression against Libya and the Libyan people.
The aerial bombardments by the Western powers combined with the ground action by the various armed rabble brigades of the US-NATO sponsored National Transitional Council in massacring more than 60,000 civilians and destroying entire housing blocks and social infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, cultural, sports and recreation centers and sections of the great underground water system of Libya. The Western mass media and the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera rarely showed the mangled bodies of the victims and the ruins of civilian structures even as they kept on showing the rebel rabble ever reveling and ever shooting into the air with all kinds of weapons.
The rebel bands served as baits and guides for aerial attacks and for massacring civilians and wrecking buildings on the ground. Sirte became an untenable position of defense for Gaddafi as it was almost totally razed to the ground from aerial and artillery bombardments. Upon the signal of a US predator drone, French jet fighter planes attacked the convoy of Gaddafi as it tried to escape from Sirte. Only subsequently were the armed puppets on the ground able to seek out and capture Gaddafi and finally manhandle and murder him in full public view over global television.
Following the murder and martyrdom of Gaddafi, the U.S. and NATO allies are jubilant over the prospect of collecting the spoils of war. They control the huge amount of Libya’s sovereign wealth deposited in various Western banks. They are poised to collect payment in advance for the overstated costs of the bombardment and destruction of Libyan lives and property. They are set to tighten their control over the oilfields, grab the gold resources and privatize the water system of Libya and cash in on contracts for the reconstruction of what they have destroyed.
The national traitors that have collaborated with the US and the other Western powers in taking over Libya have been in disarray and will continue to be so to the full advantage of their imperialist masters. So far, they have been put together under the monarchist flag of convenience by their hatred of the Gaddafi regime and by special advisors and special forces who have been kept invisible by television. The US expects to lord over the local conflicting forces by establishing in Libya a US military base for its AFRICOM.
Serious contradictions exist among the NTC principal leaders who defected from Gaddafi regime over the murder of fellow defector NTC commander-in-chief Abdul Fatah Younis whose Obeidi tribe is aching for revenge. There are potentially violent contradictions between the Qatar-financed Islamists (including veterans of the pro-Al Qaida Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who now head the military councils of Tripoli and Benghazi) and the secularists or otherwise who rely on the Misrata and Zintan brigades. Still, there are other complex contradictions involving a wide range of armed factions, tribes and regions.
The overthrow of the Gaddafi regime will not result in democracy, even if some elections would be staged. Whichever of the many armed factions comes on top will tend to rule with an iron fist and will be corrupt as it will wield absolute power. We have seen on global television the wanton violation of the human rights of the civilians and prisoners by those who have overthrown the Gaddafi regime. We have seen the cynicism and callousness of these imperialist agents of sham democracy in the way that they have flaunted and then waved away the flagrant murder of their own commander-in-chief Younnis and their prisoner Gaddafi.
Certain factors are bound to keep the situation in Libya volatile and rife for the growth of a national liberation movement. Most important of such factors are the puppet, violent and corrupt character of the new ruling clique, the persistence of many conflicting armed factions, the still significant following of Gaddafi and the certain loss of social benefits as a result of the widespread destruction of the social infrastructure and increased profit-taking of the imperialists. The people stand to lose such free social services as education, health care, housing, and electricity, subsidized car purchases and negligible gasoline costs, allowances for newly-weds, subsidy for farming and so on.
No matter how much the fallen Gaddafi is ridiculed by the imperialist forces and puppets who have overthrown and murdered him, his martyrdom and final stand as an anti-imperialist fighter can still be inspiring to the tribes and the black Libyans (one third of the population) whose support Gaddafi developed and to the greater number of people who are bound to be oppressed and exploited by the Western imperialists and their puppets.
The anti-imperialist successors of Gaddafi are still the ones in the best position at the moment to carry out a national liberation struggle. But the conditions are also favorable for the rise of patriotic and progressive forces, including the revolutionary party of the working class, the trade union movement and other democratic mass formations, which have been suppressed since 1973 under Gaddafi’s anti-imperialist but anti-communist rule.
Wikileaks Exposes Al Jazeera’s Propaganda Role in the U.S. Imperialist-led Overthrow of the Gadhafi Government in Libya
In our May-June 2011 Newsletter we exposed the role of Qatar-based and controlled Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab news network, in beating the war drums for imperialist aggression against Libya and the Gadhafi regime. We said at the time, “Qatar is the home base for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forward headquarters directing the U.S. imperialist wars against the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan. Qatar is also the home of Al Jazeera which from the very first street protests in Libya had broadcast (with stirring background music) CIA packaged interviews with ‘protesters’ in Libya (and Egypt!) speaking in excellent English and begging for U.S. and western imperialist intervention in Libya. This is in marked contrast to the street protesters of all the other Arab countries who are struggling against the reactionary regimes in their countries.” (“Some Alarming and Promising News on May Day 2011,” Ray O’ Light Newsletter #66)
While some readers may have seen us as making a concrete analysis of the concrete conditions even if it was at odds with the conventional wisdom in “left” and “progressive” circles, others certainly thought we are nutty “conspiracy theorists” seeing a CIA plot in every “nook and cranny.” Wikileaks has provided an answer.
According to the New York Times of Sept 21, 2011, “Al Jazeera named a member of the Qatari royal family to replace its top news director following disclosures from the group Wikileaks indicating that the news director had modified the network’s coverage of the Iraq war in response to pressure from the United States.”
Among other things, the Wikileaks cables revealed: a) meetings between the U.S. embassy officials and news director Wadah Khanifar; b) a close three way consultation among the U.S. government, the Qatari government and Al Jazeera regarding its news coverage; c) an appeal on the part of news director Khanifar to keep the behind-the-scenes collaboration a secret; and d) admission that news coverage was actually changed due to the demands of the United States imperialists.
Especially in this complex political situation where the imperialists were able to wage an open war on sovereign Libya in the name of “supporting the Arab Spring” – hats off to Wikileaks for shedding the light of truth! Little wonder the U.S. and other imperialists want to permanently silence Julian Assange and Wikileaks. This is one more reminder of why revolutionaries and anti-imperialists need to defend them.
– The Editor
Of all the great revolutions in human history, the Great October Socialist Revolution that the Russian working class led when they “stormed the heavens” on November 7, 1917 ushered in an unprecedented period filled with proletarian internationalist valor. Under the immortal leadership of Lenin and Stalin and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik), they created a Soviet political-economic system and a Communist International that resulted in a Socialist Camp that rivaled the size and influence of the moribund capitalist world. We need to get back to the Leninist road.
In honor of the 94th Anniversary of the Proletarian Revolution in Russia, we reprint a beautiful poem by Ruth De Leon, a veteran leader of the Philippine Revolution of our time.
– The Editor
by RUTH DE LEON
Proletarian internationalists bring fear to imperialists
Who think they will forever reign
to bleed the peoples of the world
So they are afraid of you who are from a land so far away
Seemingly different from ours
Yet your people and mine share the common fate
of being ruled by the exploiters and the oppressors
You strengthen our resolve as we do yours
Learning from each other’s experiences
we enrich our lives
And together we weave the pattern of revolution
Yes, the imperialists are afraid of internationalists like you
For they know that a united people of the world
Will unshackle the fetters of exploitation and oppression
Will smash their reign of terror
And your people and our people
will dance to the music of victory
And we will speak once more with one language
The language of freedom
by MIKE S.
What can 10,000 volunteers in defense of workers’ rights accomplish? In Ohio it guaranteed that a referendum to repeal anti-union Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) will be on the November 8, 2011 ballot and placed before all the people of Ohio for a vote.
Simultaneously with the draconian assault on Wisconsin’s unionized public sector workers, Ohio SB 5, set out to smash the union rights of 360,000 Ohio state and local public employees. SB 5 passed the Ohio State Senate and House and was signed into law on March 31, 2011 by Ohio governor Kasich. The bill bans collective bargaining over health insurance and other benefits. It guts all other collective bargaining by allowing the government employer to impose its last offer if agreement between the workers and the government entity is not reached. The bill prohibits public employees from striking their employers. Furthermore, it gives government the right to lay-off employees without regard to length of service, torpedoing job security. In addition, SB 5 replaces regular pay raises with future “merit” raises, thus constricting pay increases while strengthening the power of the bosses through favoritism. It also allows public employers to terminate or modify collective bargaining agreements (union contracts) in a fiscal emergency.
In Wisconsin, public sector workers and their allies powerfully rebelled against similar attacks on their rights, benefits and generations of gains for workers. Undoubtedly inspired by the Tunisian and Egyptian workers and people who rose up against tyranny, the Wisconsin workers fought back in the streets and occupied the state capital for three weeks, with demonstrations peeking at 100,000 workers. The militant and determined struggle of the Wisconsin workers has been a significant advance for the working people of the United States. Wisconsin fightback against the government/corporate interests in turn has certainly helped to inspire the emerging “Occupy Wall Street” movements all over the country.
In the once union bastion of Ohio, the protest movement in the streets was unable to reach the level in size and militancy as in Wisconsin. But even within this weaker response of the Ohio unions and workers to the anti-union assaults, workers did not sit idly by watching years of struggle crushed. Using a creative electoral tactic of a referendum ballot initiative, and under the banner of the labor-led “We are Ohio” coalition, over 10,000 volunteers collected some 1.3 million signatures (of which over 900,000 were validated) to successfully place repeal of SB 5 on the November ballot. This is three times the number of validated signatures necessary to get on the ballot and the largest amount ever collected for any ballot initiative in Ohio!
Despite millions of dollars of corporate money flooding into Ohio through the Chamber of Commerce and the likes of the billionaire Koch brothers’ “Freedom Works” to defeat this referendum, this grass roots effort has a good chance of succeeding.
Too often the question of participation in the U.S. electoral process under the system of capitalist rule is seen as an “all or nothing proposition.” The “ultra-leftists” (who generally overestimate how advanced the struggle is at any given time) argue that any participation in bourgeois elections is purely counter-revolutionary and always against the interests of the working people. The “right-opportunists” (who generally underestimate the capability of the working class and oppressed to make history and have thus abandoned the goal of fundamental revolutionary change) argue that needed positive change can only be accomplished through the electoral process, i.e. the election of Democrats.
The battles in Wisconsin and Ohio to protect and defend workers’ rights underscore that participation in the electoral arena should be judged dialectically, that is, by whether such participation advances or retards the cause of working class power, of proletarian revolution. In this period, electoral participation represented a step backward in Wisconsin and a step forward in Ohio.
In a Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA article of May/June 2011 entitled “Wisconsin Battleground Update - the Struggle Continues,” we observed: “The tremendous unity and activity of the Wisconsin working class has now been largely diverted into the framework of the legal system and electoral politics ... Focus on recall election tactics [recalling Republicans and electing Democrats in their place] has taken the initiative away from the workers, dissipated the workers’ action in the street and directed it into a ‘safe’ electoral process with its facade of democracy. ... While creative use of the electoral process, such as referenda, can be a positive arena for struggle, it will never be a winning tactic when it is used to substitute for and divert the direct action of the workers.”
In Ohio, where the struggle is less advanced than it was in Wisconsin, the petition campaign for the referendum ballot initiative placing the issue of workers rights before the people for a direct vote has already provided a positive vehicle for empowerment of workers and their allies. Maintaining this momentum, an electoral victory repealing SB 5 will be a real advance in the struggle to “save the unions” on the protracted path to workers’ power!
Get Angry, Get Active, Rise Up –
Fight for Workers Power!
|*A good bumper sticker reads, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” If you are paying attention, please send me the items that are enraging you. Thanks. |
– the Editor
In a time of growing impoverishment and rising discontent, Afro-American prisoner Troy Davis was executed in a legal lynching in Georgia, sending a message to the Afro-American people to “get back in their place.” Since the Davis conviction 22 years earlier of killing a white police officer, seven of the nine witnesses recanted their testimony, six claimed they were threatened by police if they did not identify Davis, and the person who had fingered Davis confessed to the crime! The case was so outrageous that even William Sessions, the former director of the FBI – the very state agency that historically spearheaded the repression against the civil rights and Black liberation movement – was among those asking for clemency.
With mounting protests the Obama administration was called upon to intervene and halt the execution pending a federal investigation. The refusal came loud and clear. The administration led by the first Chief Executive of African descent deferred to states’ rights, the primary political tool used to suppress the Afro-American people during the long period of U.S. Apartheid, with its human slavery, segregation, land stealing and lynching!
Over the summer the White House, doing the bidding of industry, forced the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to abandon the air quality rule to curb ozone- forming smog. The EPA also delayed promised new rules on greenhouse gas emissions, a major contributor to climate change. Now the EPA plans to ease the July issued rules on air quality that required power plants to slash emissions, a regulation that alone would prevent some 34,000 premature deaths a year. The Environmental Protection Agency is busy doing just the opposite to the environment, the habitat of humanity!
After 6 months of the U.S./NATO brutal bombing campaign which succeeded in overthrowing the Gadhafi government, at the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Libya, U.S. Ambassador Cretz let the “cat out of the bag.” Cretz revealed that he had already participated in a conference call with the State Department and 150 U.S. companies hoping to do business with Libya. He also said: “We know that oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources.” According to the New York Times “his remarks were a rare nod to the tacit economic stakes in the Libyan conflict for the U.S. and other Western countries...” So much for the Obama Regime’s rationale for the bombing of Libya – “saving civilian lives.”
While U.S. politicians of all stripes love to spout about “family values,” the U.S. society they govern reveals the opposite reality. The U.S is part of a small group of 15 countries that requires no time off each week from work, a group of 9 countries that requires no paid vacation, and an even smaller group of 6 countries that guarantees no paid maternity leave.
|Revolutionary Organization of Labor (ROL), USAis a revolutionary working class organization that fights for working class power and the elimination of all human exploitation. Ray O’ Light Newsletter is the regular publication of ROL, USA. We believe, with comrade Lenin, that the working class “… needs the truth and there is nothing so harmful to its cause as plausible, respectable petty bourgeois lies.” In the spirit of Karl Marx who taught that “our theory is not a dogma but a guide to action,” we welcome your comments. |
Ray Light — Editor