Sunday, August 30, 2015

Karl Marx on Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders?

From the Manifesto:

2. Conservative or Bourgeois Socialism

A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society.

To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organisers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind. This form of socialism has, moreover, been worked out into complete systems.

We may cite Proudhon's Philosophie de la Misère as an example of this form.

The Socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom. They desire the existing state of society, minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat. The bourgeoisie naturally conceives the world in which it is supreme to be the best; and bourgeois Socialism develops this comfortable conception into various more or less complete systems. In requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, and thereby to march straightway into the social New Jerusalem, it but requires in reality, that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie.

A second, and more practical, but less systematic, form of this Socialism sought to depreciate every revolutionary movement in the eyes of the working class by showing that no mere political reform, but only a change in the material conditions of existence, in economical relations, could be of any advantage to them. By changes in the material conditions of existence, this form of Socialism, however, by no means understands abolition of the bourgeois relations of production, an abolition that can be affected only by a revolution, but administrative reforms, based on the continued existence of these relations; reforms, therefore, that in no respect affect the relations between capital and labour, but, at the best, lessen the cost, and simplify the administrative work, of bourgeois government.

Bourgeois Socialism attains adequate expression when, and only when, it becomes a mere figure of speech.

Free trade: for the benefit of the working class. Protective duties: for the benefit of the working class. Prison Reform: for the benefit of the working class. This is the last word and the only seriously meant word of bourgeois socialism.

It is summed up in the phrase: the bourgeois is a bourgeois — for the benefit of the working class.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Struggle by the Basque people for national self-determination

Madrid's 70-year war on the Basque struggle

Vowing that his "priority is to fight every type of terrorism," the new Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has made it plain that his Socialist Party government will make full use of the March 11 train bombings in Madrid to reinforce the Spanish capitalist rulers' decades-long assault on the struggle by the Basque people for national self-determination.
The incoming administration supports the ban that the outgoing Popular Party government imposed last year on the main Basque pro-independence party, Herri Batasuna, which had won 10 percent of the votes in the 2001 elections in the Basque country, in the north of Spain. Zapatero has even said his government will "fiercely oppose the Ibarretxe Plan"—a proposal for increased limited autonomy made by Basque National Party leader and regional president Juan José Ibarretxe.

The Spanish rulers' anti-Basque offensive has been waged in the name of fighting "ETA terrorism," referring to a small underground Basque pro-independence group that has assassinated a number of government officials over the years.

Living in an area that straddles the modern-day border of France and Spain, the Basque people, who today number 3 million, are a distinct national group, with their own language, culture, and geographical area, known as Euskadi. Spain, one of the most economically backward nations of Western Europe, was late in forging a single bourgeois republic, a historic task of the bourgeois revolutions of the 19th century. As a result, Spain became a imperialist power in the 20th century but maintained significant economic and cultural differences between different regions—the Basque region, Catalonia, Galicia, Andalusia, and other areas.

While Euskadi and Catalonia are the two main industrial centers, they have historically been subjected to national oppression.

The Basque national movement arose in the 19th century with protests against compulsory taxation, military service, and other indignities imposed by Madrid on a region that had previously enjoyed a degree of economic autonomy. During the Spanish revolution of the 1930s, workers and peasants throughout the Spanish state overthrew the monarchy and established a republican government. The Basque National Party (PNV)—a bourgeois nationalist formation—and allied forces rose to power throughout the Basque provinces, advocating increased autonomy.

By the time the republican government, comprised of Socialist, Communist, and bourgeois parties, granted formal autonomy to Euskadi, it was already split in two by Franco's fascist rebellion. But the refusal of the leaders of the Socialist (PSOE), CP, and the anarchist movement to champion the Basque struggle for self-determination had effectively handed the initiative in the region to the PNV and other bourgeois forces.

The labor misleaders rationalized their stance by pointing to the reactionary character of the leading Basque parties, which were closely tied to the Catholic Church hierarchy. As Felix Morrow writes in Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain, this policy "gave the Basque clericals"—who were themselves threatened by the growth of the working-class movement in weight and political confidence—"a new hold on the masses."

The social-democratic and Stalinist parties, compromising with their bourgeois allies, blocked the working-class upsurge from heading toward the overthrow of capitalist rule and the establishment of a workers and farmers government. This course mortally weakened the republic in the face of the fascist rebellion led by Gen. Francisco Franco, which was employed by the majority of the capitalist rulers to crush the worker-farmer revolution.

While Basque country president José Antonio Aguirre opposed the rebellion, the Basque provincial governments split in their alliances, half siding with Franco and half backing the republic.

Like their brothers and sisters across Spain, many Basque workers and peasants fought heroically against the fascist forces in the ensuing three years. In April 1937 the Nazi government in Germany used its air force in support of Franco against the ancient Basque city of Guernica, leaving it in ruins and killing more than 1,600 people. This was a decisive blow to the Basque resistance and to the republic, which was overthrown in 1939.  
Repression under Franco
The Basque people were a special target of the Franco dictatorship. In the period immediately following the seizure of power it jailed and executed thousands of Basques. One historian says that in 1937 alone up to 150,000 were forced into exile in France, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. In the ensuing four decades Franco's police killed and imprisoned thousands more. All displays of Basque culture, including spoken and written use of the language, were banned.

The late 1950s and 1960s saw a resurgence of national resistance among Basques, sparked by the ferocious repression and inspired by the wave of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, including revolutions in Cuba, Algeria, and Vietnam. This was the context for the formation in 1959 of the armed group ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna—Basque Homeland and Freedom). ETA's leaders demanded the right to establish an independent Basque state, incorporating Basque regions on both the Spanish and French sides of the border. By the late 1960s ETA had embarked upon a strategy of kidnapping and killing government officials and prominent figures.

As the Franco regime came to an end in the mid-1970s, Basques mobilized in a series of massive demonstrations to assert their national rights. Since then the Basque people have won a degree of autonomy—including a regional government with limited powers—but not full self-determination.

But the capitalist rulers of Spain are afraid that a successful Basque independence movement would give workers and farmers and other oppressed nationalities renewed confidence in their ability to struggle. As a result, successive Spanish governments have cracked down on the Basque movement—all under the pretext of combating ETA and "terrorism." The government has enacted a raft of legislation giving authorities greater powers to spy, harass, and imprison Basque nationalists by accusing them of supporting ETA.

The PSOE and Communist Party, along with the union federations they lead, have played a key part in helping the wealthy minority mobilize bourgeois public opinion in Spain against the Basque struggle. On several occasions massive demonstrations have been organized to condemn ETA's armed actions and to support the government's crackdowns in the Basque country.

The 1982-96 PSOE government was notorious for its repressive policy toward the Basques. The administration of Prime Minister Felipe González oversaw a "dirty war" against the pro-sovereignty movement, using death squads made up of cops, known as the Antiterrorist Liberation Group (GAL). Revelations about police murders of 27 people accused of being ETA members helped to end González's reign in disgrace.

Today hundreds of Basque political prisoners remain in Spanish and French jails. Many of them, accused of supporting ETA, go before special tribunals. "Detention doesn't follow an investigation—it's the other way round. Electrodes, beatings, drowning, putting a bag over the person's head, sexual assault, and death threats" are among the interrogation techniques, said Iñigo Elkoro, a lawyer representing Basque political prisoners, in a 1997 interview in the Militant.

"Spain's antiterror laws permit the use of incommunicado detention, secret legal proceedings, and pre-trial detention for up to four years," said a March 2003 report by Human Rights Watch. "The investigating magistrate of the Audiencia Nacional, a special court that oversees terrorist cases, can request causa secreta [secret cause] for thirty days, consecutively renewable for the duration of the four-year pre-trial detention period. Secret proceedings bar the defense access to the prosecutor's evidence, except for information contained in the initial detention order."

In May 2003 tens of thousands protested in Bilbao against the outlawing of Herri Batasuna by the outgoing administration of Jose María Aznar. The previous year the National Court had suspended the party, accusing it of being linked to ETA, a charge denied by Batasuna leaders.

On March 22 Zapatero, having reaffirmed his support for this repressive course, dismissed an offer by ETA representatives of negotiations and a possible ceasefire.  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home

What is the stance of revolutionaries toward the Democratic and Republican parties?

'All-people's front' versus working-class political road
(Reply to a Reader column)

In a letter to the editor published in last week's issue, reader Shane Brinton challenges the Militant's stance of opposition to the two-party system of capitalist rule in this country. Advocating a vote for Democratic candidates as a legitimate "tactic" for socialists today, he argues for a "broad coalition (the All-People's Front) against Bush and the ultra-right."

What is the stance of revolutionaries toward the Democratic and Republican parties? This is not a matter of tactics but a more fundamental question of strategy. It begins not with elections but with the historic line of march of the working class. Wars of plunder, exploitation, racist oppression, the second-class status of women, the destruction of the environment, and other social ills are all inherent to capitalism—they cannot simply be reformed out of existence. Working people must lead a socialist revolution to eliminate capitalism: a struggle by millions to take power out of the hands of the ruling capitalist class, establish a government of workers and farmers, and create a different kind of state—a workers state.

In this epoch of imperialism that has existed worldwide since the 1890s, as V.I. Lenin explained in Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, there is no progressive wing of the capitalist class in the United States or any other country. Today, as capitalism slides toward a worldwide economic catastrophe because of its built-in contradictions, the ruling class as a whole is driven to try to reverse the long-term decline of its system. To do so they have no choice but to launch increasingly brutal assaults on the living standards and rights of working people at home, while unleashing wars of conquest abroad. The U.S. government serves as the executive body for this capitalist class. No matter who occupies the presidency, whether a Democrat or a Republican, their job is to continue to enforce the interests of the real, unelected rulers.  
Two-party system

The capitalist ruling families have two parties who work in cahoots with each other to try to hoodwink working people into thinking they have a democratic choice. The outstanding revolutionary leader Malcolm X explained well the dead-end trap of backing either capitalist party. In the 1964 presidential elections, when liberals and most radicals supported "peace" candidate Lyndon B. Johnson against Republican Barry Goldwater, Malcolm noted that "the shrewd capitalists, the shrewd imperialists, knew that the only way people would run towards the fox [Johnson] would be if you showed them the wolf." At that very moment, he noted, Johnson "had troops invading the Congo and South Vietnam!" Once elected, of course, Johnson brutally escalated the imperialist war against Vietnam.

Just as working people need to organize independently of the bosses in the economic arena by forming trade unions—rejecting company "unions"—our class must organize independently of the bosses in the political arena. An "all-people's front" based on supporting the Democratic Party is like a company union on a political level.

This stance is based on the approach revolutionary socialists have always taken in the United States—since Karl Marx and Frederick Engels collaborated with the young communist movement in the late 1800s, arguing for the building of an independent working-class political party. "Where the working class is not yet far enough advanced in its organization to undertake a decisive campaign against the collective power, i.e., the political power, of the ruling classes, it must at any rate be trained for this by continual agitation against this power and by a hostile attitude toward the policies of the ruling classes. Otherwise it remains a plaything in their hands," wrote Marx in a Nov. 23, 1871, letter to Friedrich Bolte, a communist working-class leader in New York. Lenin continued along these lines, explaining in a Nov. 9, 1912, article on the U.S. elections that year, "This so-called bipartisan system prevailing in America and Britain has been one of the most powerful means of preventing the rise of an independent working-class, i.e., genuinely socialist, party." The U.S. Communist Party in its early years rejected supporting any capitalist party. And since its founding in 1938, the Socialist Workers Party, following this political continuity, has maintained the perspective of independent working-class political action. I urge Brinton and other readers to study these rich lessons in the two-volume Revolutionary Continuity: Marxist Leadership in the U.S. by Farrell Dobbs; Labor's Giant Step: The First Twenty Years of the CIO, 1936-55 by Art Preis; and The Changing Face of U.S. Politics by Jack Barnes.

Brinton says, "I certainly agree that the Democratic Party is both reactionary and a party of capitalism." He says that workers "are becoming increasingly dissatisfied," but that the majority are "sticking with the Democratic Party." Therefore, he argues, a "tactic" of supporting the Democratic Party in the elections is necessary for workers to "have their own political experience" and for communists not to be isolated from the masses.

To the contrary. The "political experience" of remaining tied to the Democratic wing of the exploiters' party has been a trap for working people. What our class needs is not dependence on the bosses but a truthful explanation and a political course that raises its class consciousness and trust in its own forces.

In reality, it's the capitalist minority that needs the support of working people, not the other way around (in fact, the majority of working people simply don't vote, because they don't see much difference in choosing between one or the other big-business party). The so-called all-people's coalition is "a coalition between the owners of American industry and finance, and…the professional ward-heelers and politicians who keep the [Democratic] party machinery oiled, and, on the other hand, the various trade union bureaucrats and leaders of protest movements in American society, whose job it is to bring out the ranks of the coalition at voting time to guarantee the continuance of the rule of this party as opposed to the Republican Party," said Jack Barnes in a 1965 debate with social democrat Stanley Aronowitz, published in the Pathfinder book The Lesser Evil? Debates on the Democratic Party and Independent Working-Class Politics. Barnes added that when dissatisfaction among working people toward Democratic politicians and the bipartisan system grows, "it's those boys who whip things into shape, who go to the workers, to the Negroes, to the socialists, and say, 'Look, it's in your class interests, it's in your interests as socialists, to come out and vote from this group, as a tactic'—in order, of course, to defeat the 'greater evil.'"

This is the same argument the Communist Party USA has promoted since the 1930s, after the party became Stalinized and abandoned Lenin's revolutionary course. And this election year, once again, we are warned by Stalinist, social democratic, and centrist groups that the Republican wolf, George W. Bush, is akin to "fascism" and that we should go running toward the Democratic fox—John Kerry or whoever gets nominated.

Explaining this revolutionary course is the opposite of sectarian isolation. Precisely because of the dissatisfaction among many workers that Brinton points to, there are greater opportunities than ever for communist workers to discuss a class-struggle perspective with fellow working-class militants as we join with them in battles against the bosses and other social struggles.

Working people and youth do have a clear class choice in the elections—the Socialist Workers candidates, who put forward a revolutionary working-class alternative to the twin capitalist parties of imperialist war, exploitation, racism, and depression. They will be campaigning over the coming months at union picket lines, factory gates, campuses, on the job, at labor and political actions. Joining with campaigners for the socialist alternative is one of the most effective ways to get a broader hearing for a working-class political perspective and to build a party that will be capable of leading workers and farmers to make a revolution in the United States and join the worldwide struggle for socialism.  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home

Communism's long view of history

'Evolution applies to social organization, too'

(Books of the Month column)
Printed below are excerpts from The Long View of History, one of Pathfinder's Books of the Month for January, by noted Marxist George Novack. The pamphlet contains two talks given by Novack in 1955: "How humanity climbed to civilization" and "The main course of American history and its next stage."
They offer a popularized sketch of the key line of evolution from fish—the first backboned species—to humans, from savagery to civilization, and from Indian life to contemporary capitalism in the United States. The talks were designed as an introduction to a study of the march of humankind from the viewpoint of scientific socialism.

Novack aimed to show that the same principles of evolution that were uncovered with each new fossil record of natural life were indispensable tools in understanding social development and human history as well. "Contradictory as it is," Novack explained, "many scholars and scientists who take the order of evolution of organic species for granted, stubbornly resist the extension of the same lawfulness to the changing species of social organization. They will not admit that there has been, or can be, any definite and discernible sequence in the social development of mankind analogous to the steps in the progress from the invertebrates to the fish, through the reptile and mammalian creatures, up to the advent of mankind."

Copyright © 1960 by Pathfinder Press, reprinted by permission.


I propose first to trace the main line of human development, from our remote animal ancestors to the present, when humanity has become lord of the earth but not yet master of its own creations, not to mention its own social system. After that, I will deal with the central course of evolution in that specific segment of society that occupies the bulk of North America and represents the most developed form of capitalist society.

I will try to show not only how our national history is related to world development but also how we, collectively and individually, fit into the picture. This is a broad and bold undertaking, a sort of jet-propelled journey through the stratosphere of world history. It is forced upon us by the urge to grasp the whole vast spread of events and to understand our specific place within them, as well as by the very dynamic of scientific theory in sociology, which has its highest expression in Marxism. The movement based upon scientific socialism, which prepares most energetically for the future, likewise must probe most deeply into the past.…

We can single out four critical turning points in the timetable of evolution. The first was the origin of our planet about three or four billion years ago. The second was the emergence of life in the form of simple one-celled sea organisms about two and a half billion years ago. (These are only approximate but commonly accepted dates at the present time.) Third was the appearance of the first backboned animals about four to five hundred million years ago. Last was the creation of mankind, within the past million years or so….

It required four to five hundred million years to create the biological conditions necessary for the generation of the first subhumans. This was not brought about through anyone's forethought or foresight, or in accord with any plan, or with the aim of realizing some preconceived goal. It happened, we may say, as the lawful outcome of a series of blind and accidental developments in the forms of natural life, spurred forward in the struggle for survival, which eventually culminated in the production of a special kind of primate equipped with the capacities for acquiring more than animal powers.

At this juncture, about a million or so years ago, the most radical of all the transmutations of life on this planet took place. The emergence of mankind embodied something totally different which became the root of a unique line of development. What was this? It was the passage from animal separatism to human collectivism, from purely biological modes of behavior to the use of acquired social powers.

Where did these added artificial powers come from that have marked off emerging mankind from all other animal species, elevated our species above the other primates, and made mankind into the dominant order of life? Our dominance is indisputable because we command the power to destroy ourselves and all other forms of life, not to speak of changing them.

The fundamentally new powers mankind acquired were the powers of production, of securing the means of sustenance through the use of tools and joint labor, and sharing the results with one another….

In its evolution to our own century, civilized society can be divided into three main epochs: slavery, feudalism, and capitalism. Each of these is marked off by the special way in which the ruling propertied class at the head of the social setup manages to extract the surplus wealth upon which it lives from the laboring mass who directly create it. This entire period covers little more than the past five to six thousand years….

As a result of a long list of technological and other social advances, merging with a sequence of exceptional historical circumstances, feudalized Europe became the nursery for the next great stage of class society, capitalism. How and why did capitalism originate?

The epoch-making innovation upon which capitalism rested was the institution of working for wages as the dominant relation of production. Most of you have gone into the labor market, to an employment agency or personnel office, to get a buyer for your labor power. The employer buys this power at prevailing wage rates by the hour, day, or week and then applies it under his supervision to produce commodities that his company subsequently sells at a profit. That profit is derived from the fact that wage workers produce more value than the capitalist pays for their labor.

Up to the twentieth century, this mechanism for pumping surplus labor out of the working masses and transferring the surpluses of wealth they create to the personal credit of the capitalist was the mightiest accelerator of the productive forces and the expansion of civilization. As a distinct economic system, capitalism is only about 450 years old; it has conquered the world and journeyed from dawn to twilight in that time. This is a short life-span compared to savagery, which stretched over a million years or more, or to barbarism, which prevailed for four thousand to five thousand years. Obviously, the processes of social transformation have been considerably speeded up in modern times….

Capitalism has produced many things, good and bad, in the course of its evolution. But the most vital and valuable of all the social forces it has created is the industrial working class.  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home

[Background reading on Trump] -- The rightward shift in bourgeois politics

.... it is the failure of capitalism and the rightward drift of the two parties that provides these demagogues with the themes of their campaigns and makes other capitalist politicians so vulnerable to them. They simply state forthrightly the reactionary presumptions behind the politically more right-wing direction that politicians in both parties are taking, even as they spar with each other over how fast and how far to go right now in their assault on the freedoms and living standards of working people and the oppressed.

How many politicians, Democratic or Republican, for example, are willing to answer Buchanan's rightist demagogy by saying that they are for quotas when necessary to combat racist and antiwoman discrimination and move toward equality in hiring and education? Or that they welcome all those who choose to immigrate to the United States? Or that they are not for "America First"? The truth is that regardless of platitudes about world peace and cooperation, a harsher and harsher bourgeois nationalism increasingly marks the language of capitalist politics across the board in the United States (and throughout the imperialist world).

That is why we said Clinton will be a war president, that the elections prepared expanding world aggression. His administration, we said, will be marked by efforts to find new ways of threatening to use, and if necessary using, U.S. military force. The U.S. rulers try to use their small allies as surrogates in some cases. During the National Committee meeting last week, communists from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and Sweden listed the places around the world where troops from these countries are currently stationed: Lebanon, Cambodia, Bosnia, Somalia, and elsewhere.

But when push comes to shove, it is the U.S. armed forces that will dominate any sustained, large-scale military operation. And after initial enthusiasm and grudging support for our boys, a fight at home will open that will begin to transform politics in this country, as happened during the U.S. war against Vietnam.  
Communist analysis and the test of events
This is the world--its accelerating disorder, its lines of disintegration, its class struggles--whose dialectics the Socialist Workers Party and our co-thinkers in other countries have brought into focus since the 1987 stock market crash. Each time we have confronted a new turning point, we have gotten together at international leadership gatherings, evaluated how our analysis has stood up, made any indicated adjustments, and used that assessment as our guide for what to do next, as our guide to action.

I have taken the time to review this record to try to make the case for one conclusion: new turning points like these are not what is in store for us now. What is on the agenda is the further unfolding of this world pattern: growing class tensions, political polarization and radicalization, and class differentiations and conflicts within all nations and nationalities. Communists have to clearly and confidently present this world and explain it. That is what thinking workers and revolutionary-minded fighters want to hear about and discuss. Because if this description is true, then it has historic consequences for every fighter, everywhere in the world.

[Background reading on Trump]

....This kind of movement, this kind of demagogy is going to be a permanent and growing aspect of the intersection of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois politics in the period we have entered. It is an inevitable product of a world capitalist order heading toward intensified trade wars, economic breakdowns, banking and currency crises, accelerated war drives, and their inevitable accompaniment-class battles.

Perot's radicalism is a manifestation of the increasingly brutal politics of capitalism in decline. It is a radicalism that pits human beings against each other and reinforces all the most savage competitiveness and dog-eat-dog values of capitalist society. It singles out scapegoats among the most oppressed and exploited layers of our class. When Perot explains what "we" can and must do, the "we" is a lie. But when he says that "we" must act quickly and decisively, because "time is not on our side," Perot is pointing to a fundamental class truth-he is just deliberately using the wrong pronoun. Time is not on their side-the side of the capitalists and rightist demagogues who seek to salvage their system. But time is on our side-the side of the working class, in the United States and around the world.

That is why it is so important for workers and revolutionary- minded youth to absorb that radicalization per se is not in the interests of the working class. In and of itself it has no class content. Radicalism has staked out a permanent place in bourgeois politics, one that will expand as the crisis deepens. Perot may or may not be among its standard-bearers next time around. But the bourgeois right will win adherents to their own radical-radically reactionary-views and proposals until the working class begins to forge a leadership with class-struggle answers out of the fighting vanguard of the toilers.

Air-pockets, free-falls, and crashes

Stock plunge rooted in world crisis of capitalism

Amid a paroxysm of fear and panic, fueling dumping of stocks across financial markets worldwide, some $5 trillion was lost, including $2 trillion since Aug. 17 in the U.S. From Shanghai to New York, London to Sydney, losses, then "stabilizations," then continuing volatility have agitated bourgeois government policy makers and apologists for the capitalist system.

The mid-August plunge in stock markets is the result of the decades-long and growing crisis of capitalist accumulation, production and trade. Accelerated by the housing and credit collapse in 2007-2008, this crisis is producing depression conditions for working people, with no end in sight. As industrial profit margins have shrunk, beginning in the 1970s, the propertied rulers have increasingly turned from investing in plants and production, moving instead to speculation in stocks, bonds, derivatives and all kinds of financial paper.

World trade in the first half of 2015 has tumbled to the lowest level since 2009. Steel, oil, iron ore, copper, aluminum and nickel are contracting. The Bloomberg Commodity Index, which follows a basket of 22 raw materials, is at its lowest point in 16 years.

Some bourgeois commentators say this is all about China. "What we're seeing is not a U.S. problem," William Dudley, head of the Federal Reserve's New York branch, said Aug. 26, while admitting that the market turmoil means the Fed will now likely drop plans to raise interest rates at its September meeting. "This is very different to the financial crisis. The financial crisis was very much about us. This isn't about us."

But others admit it is about U.S. capitalism. "The trigger was most likely the sudden deterioration of leading economic measures, energy prices, and industrial commodities, both in the U.S. and globally," investment analyst John Hussman wrote in his weekly column Aug. 24.

When overvalued stocks hit "internal deterioration," with industries and other sectors breaking down, he said, they "become vulnerable to air-pockets, free-falls, and crashes."

On Aug. 23, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers urged the Fed not to "make a dangerous mistake" and instead keep interest rates at zero. He said the current production crisis and its effect on jobs will last at least another decade.

Working people feel the brunt of the capitalist crisis, as bosses push to lower wages, cut the workforce to the bone and speed up production. The government released figures at the end of July showing that wages are stagnant, posting the lowest quarterly growth in more than three decades.

Capitalist bosses in the U.S., Europe, Japan and Australia had looked to China as a possible way out of the crisis of their system. But Chinese capital is integrally part of the world capitalist system and subject to the same pressures and vulnerabilities. The "Chinese miracle" of expanding production and trade is imploding, with no buyers, leading to extensive overproduction of basic commodities both there and around the world.

China's Shanghai Composite dropped 8.5 percent Aug. 24, its biggest daily decline in eight and a half years. This happened despite efforts by China's capitalist rulers to boost market prices — cutting interest rates, betting greater amount of bank funds on stocks and devaluating the country's currency, the renminbi. None of them had much impact.

In China, where production is mostly geared for export, exports dropped 8 percent in July from a year earlier, and auto sales dropped 7 percent. Manufacturing in August shrank at the fastest pace since 2009.

The Chinese government announced Aug. 23 that workers' pension funds for the first time will now be invested in stocks.

'Stimulus' to boost stock prices
The propertied rulers have no answers to the worldwide economic crisis. They target workers wages, benefits and safety on the job, hoping to raise profit margins.
Coming out of the 2007-2008 steep economic downturn, "stimulus" measures were implemented in hopes of getting production going again. In December 2008 the Fed slashed interest rates to nearly zero and began a "quantitative easing" money-printing scheme in which the government bought $3 trillion in government bonds and largely worthless mortgage-backed securities to pump money into the financial system over the next six years. But these measures had little effect, except providing easy money that helped fuel the giant rise in stock market prices to record overvalued levels.

But the continued rise in the stock market prices was simply based on investors' belief that their market value would keep going up and up.

"This is a confidence game, Chris Weston, chief markets strategist at IG in Melbourne, Australia, told the Washington Post, "and when you don't have confidence, you press the sell button."

Whether the stock market will continue to tumble this week, or take a breather, the capitalists have no answer to the crisis of their system. The crisis will deepen.

1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Below on 1963 and 2013 articles on the march from the pages of The Militant newspaper.


1963 march registered advance in proletarian battle for Black rights 
Below are excerpts from the Militant's coverage of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, including from the speech prepared by John Lewis, then chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, that was censured by march organizers in part because of his criticisms of President John Kennedy and the Democratic Party.

The 1963 march registered the continuing expansion of a powerful proletarian movement to overthrow Jim Crow segregation. It also brought to the fore two opposing class trajectories. On one hand were those who censored Lewis' speech and looked to the Kennedy administration and Democratic Party. On the other were proletarian forces pressing for independent working-class political action, including Malcolm X, the Socialist Workers Party and those who chose the occasion of the march to launch the Freedom Now Party. 
Turnout Shows Negroes Ready for Action 


WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 29 — The massiveness — a quarter of a million people is the best estimate — was the outstanding feature of yesterday's March for Jobs and Freedom. This was also the most important thing about the march. For both friend and foe were carefully watching to see in what numbers Negroes would come out. To the politicians, the top union brass, the liberals, the fence-sitters and to the white supremacists — indeed to all social and political realists, the march's size would be a gauge of whether the Freedom Now fight was still in its upsurge or beginning to subside.

The Negro people were watching it very closely themselves and were exhilarated by the record-breaking turnout. It was also a source of great encouragement to those whites who are dependable allies of the Negroes, and who constituted about ten per cent of the marchers.

The march dramatized the readiness of the Negro masses to struggle, to go all the way in the fight. It also pointed up what the Negro people could do if they had leaders of the same mettle.

From the speech John Lewis was prevented from delivering 
We are now involved in a serious revolution. This nation is still a place of cheap political leaders who build their careers on immoral compromises and ally themselves with open forms of political, economic and social exploitation. What political leader here can stand up and say "My party is the party of principles"? The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? …

The revolution is a serious one. Mr. Kennedy is trying to take the revolution out of the street and put it in the courts. Listen Mr. Kennedy, Listen Mr. Congressmen, Listen fellow citizens, the black masses are on the march for jobs and freedom, and we must say to the politicians that there won't be a "cooling-off" period.

All of us must get in the revolution. Get in and stay in the streets of every city, every village and every hamlet of this nation, until true Freedom comes, until the revolution is complete. In the Delta of Mississippi, in southwest Georgia, in Alabama, Harlem, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and all over this nation. The black masses are on the march!

We won't stop now. All of the forces of Eastland, Barnett, Wallace, and Thurmond won't stop this revolution. The time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington. We will march through the South, through the Heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own "scorched earth" policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground — non-violently. We shall fragment the South into a thousand pieces and put them back together in the image of democracy. We will make the action of the past few months look petty. And I say to you, WAKE UP AMERICA! 


Support for Obama was focusof event marking 1963 march 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tens of thousands turned out here Aug. 24 on the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

In 1963 more than 200,000 marched as the fight against Jim Crow segregation and racism was advancing in battles across the South and spreading into the North.

This year's event was organized by National Action Network President Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, and endorsed by scores of Black and civil rights groups and trade unions.

The March for Jobs and Freedom anniversary was organized above all as a celebration of the Barack Obama presidency. In midst of the highest unemployment facing workers in decades — hitting disproportionately at workers who are Black — his administration has done nothing to put any of the millions of jobless to work. And attorney General Eric Holder, who spoke at the rally, has led the government's attacks on political rights.

The event included many workers looking to discuss what is happening today — from the economic crisis and the recent gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court to the anger many feel at the fact that George Zimmerman got off scot-free for the vigilante killing of Trayvon Martin.

Discussions on these questions swirled on the hundreds of buses to the rally and where workers gathered on lawn chairs and blankets that dotted the area around the National Mall.

Overwhelmingly Black in composition, most of those attending were workers, including substantial union contingents. But there was also many lawyers, professors and other professional and middle-class people, a section of the Black community that has expanded substantially in the decades since the 1963 march.

In addition to Sharpton, King, and Holder, speakers included Congressman John Lewis, one of the 1963 speakers; NAACP President Ben Jealous; Trayvon Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton; and several union officials.

Rally participants were looking to discuss what can be done to fight to change the deteriorating economic conditions workers face today, which for many is worse than in 1963.

"I came because we need to stay strong and fight for our rights," said Eric Timmons, 31, a member of the United Auto Workers union in Detroit. Timmons said that under the two-tier wages imposed where he works, he gets about half the pay of coworkers with more seniority on the first tier.

Rachel Hampton, 36, a nursing assistant, came from Rutherford County, N.C., with the local chapter of the NAACP. Hampton said she is working three different jobs, all at minimum wage, to make ends meet. Chapter secretary treasurer Darwin Little joined in the discussion. "We need to pull together, Black and white, to see more jobs created with better wages," he said.

Carolyn Taylor-Chester, 49, came to the action with Service Employees International Union Local 1199 from Baltimore. "So many of us are working in health care and we can't even afford it ourselves," she said.

"Trayvon is on my mind," Connie Henderson, 60, a retired autoworker from Detroit, told the Militant. "I feel like it was a lynching."

Theresa Green, a member of Transport Workers Local 100, said the rally "was more like a gathering. There are so many important issues we face. We really needed a protest."

"The tables were a real magnet for hundreds of workers looking for literature on what we face today," said Dan Fein, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of New York, who helped staff one of the two big literature displays for the Militant and Pathfinder books at the Aug. 24 event. Overall, 101 subscriptions and 165 books on revolutionary working-class politics were sold. 

Nuclear power

....The starting point here is not a technical, or scientific, question but a political question: how to advance the interests of workers, farmers, and the oppressed. This question must be approached in the framework of the world, not the United States.

As the editorial in the July 6 Militant noted, the fact that one-third of the world's population lacks access to modern energy is a direct consequence of imperialist exploitation and domination. It will only be resolved by workers and farmers organizing a fight to take political power out of the hands of the exploiting classes. That struggle can be successful only if the workers movement forges an alliance with our fellow producers on the land, the farmers. To do so it must champion the demand to expand electrification throughout the world as part of bridging the political and cultural gap between the urban and rural toilers. This means championing the efforts of nations oppressed by imperialism to develop their economic infrastructure and raise the living conditions and cultural level in face of systematic efforts by imperialism to perpetuate its domination and plunder of the semicolonial world.

It's not enough to say that such problems will be resolved after a victorious socialist revolution—they are burning questions that must be taken up today by the workers movement.

In addressing the needs of the vast majority of humanity, the point is not which kinds of technology represent a "positive good" as opposed to a necessary evil, as Anestos poses it. All technology has its hazards. Again, this is a social question, not a "scientific" issue that somehow stands above classes and outside the class struggle. How safe or dangerous technology is, and how fast advances can be made to overcome seemingly unsolvable safety problems, depends on which class controls it.

Since the mid-1970s, the Socialist Workers Party has opposed the production and use of nuclear power in the United States. Class-conscious workers don't trust big business, the capitalist government, and the bourgeois political parties to place human needs above profits in addressing the questions of health and safety posed by running nuclear power plants. That was the main point addressed in the 2001 Militanteditorial that Anestos quoted.

Marxists don't pretend to have the solution to the problem of the disposal of nuclear waste. But we don't believe that safely harnessing the atom for productive purposes is impossible. Our starting point is not the half-life of uranium or other technical issues. We start from the demonstrated capacity of human beings to transform nature, raise the productivity of social labor, and advance the progress of civilization and culture.

It's worth noting that in the two decades after the splitting of the atom, Socialist Workers Party leaders wrote—in America's Road to Socialism by James P. Cannon, Too Many Babies? The Myth of the Population Explosion by Joseph Hansen, and Understanding History by George Novack—about the possibilities that could be opened for human progress by applying atomic energy if working people took their destiny into their own hands.

To those who want to make the issue one of the dangers of nuclear power, we must ask: what is their alternative to bring the majority of humanity out of darkness?

In contrast with middle-class reformers, we start not with the framework of the United States but with a world view of how to advance the interests of productive humanity. Two billion people—overwhelmingly in the semicolonial world—have no access of any kind to electricity or modern sources of fuel for cooking and heating. And the use of coal or oil—not to mention solar and wind power—is not the solution to meeting the long-term energy needs of humanity. Pollution from oil and coal-fired power takes a heavy toll on public health and the environment, especially in the semicolonial world where "scrubbers" and other costly "clean coal" technologies are more difficult to obtain.

While nuclear power accounts for 80 percent of electricity produced in France and 20 percent in the United States, the figure is merely 2 percent in South Asia, less than 1 percent in Latin America, and virtually zero in Africa and the Middle East. The labor movement should oppose attempts by Washington and its imperialist allies to maintain this virtual monopoly on nuclear energy, including their efforts to block Third World governments that already have nuclear plants from producing enriched uranium as nuclear fuel for electrical power generation.

It's from this class and international standpoint that working people should defend the efforts of the power-poor semicolonial nations to obtain and develop the energy sources they need—including nuclear power—to lay the basis for closing the gap between city and countryside. Making this a central part of what the working-class vanguard fights for is necessary to be able to lead a successful struggle by workers and farmers for political power. A struggle that will change the course of history.

"Taming the proletariat"

Trade unions are primary target of fascists 
(Books of the Month column)
Below is an excerpt from Fascism and Big Business, one of Pathfinder's Books of the Month for June. It is a comprehensive study of fascism as it evolved in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. First published in French in 1936, Fascism and Big Business shows how fascism, far from being an aberration in mass psychology, arose from the specific conditions of the capitalist system in crisis.

The excerpt printed here is from chapter eight of the book, entitled, "Fascism in power: Taming the proletariat." It reviews how the trade unions and other working-class organizations were the central targets of the fascist movements in Italy and Germany, and that their attacks on the workers movement began long before the political victory of the fascists. Copyright © 1973 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission. 


The industrialists have attained their ends: at last they have at their command the "strong state" they wanted. Through a series of economic and social measures, the fascist state will try to check the decline of their profits and make their businesses pay once more.

This action is directed first and essentially against the working class. The fascist state begins by creating conditions that will permit the slashing of wages. This means the destruction of labor unions, the end of their representation inside the factories, the abolition of the right to strike, the nullification of union contracts, and the reestablishment of the absolute rule of the employers in their businesses.

But this is only the first part of the program. In addition, it must prevent any future independent groupings in the working masses. Hence the fascist state puts all its authority at the service of the employers. It herds the workers into organizations where they can be policed, with leaders appointed from above—organizations which the members have no way of controlling, and which only by the sheerest imposture style themselves the workers' "representatives." The state severely punishes every attempt to strike; henceforth to fight the boss is to rebel against the state. To forestall all labor conflicts, it exercises compulsory "arbitration"—that is to say, it disguises the employers' wishes as arbitrative decisions, and anyone contesting these decisions is considered an enemy of the state. Finally, it sanctions with its authority whatever wages the industrialists are pleased to pay those they exploit. Not to accept these wages is to disobey the state.  
In Italy 
The destruction of the labor unions in Italy began considerably before the taking of power, which makes it necessary to retrace some of our steps. Fascism first attacked the agricultural unions, as the most vulnerable. It wrecked the offices of the "Red Leagues" and cooperatives of the agricultural workers and assassinated the labor leaders responsible for these organizations. At the same time, fascist "unions" were founded under the patronage of the big landowners. "How were these fascist unions born?" Mussolini asked later, and replied: "Birth date: 1921. Place: the Po valley. Circumstances: the conquest and destruction of the revolutionary fortresses." Every means of pressure was brought to force workers to enroll in the fascist "unions." The landowners gave work only to laborers who belonged to the fascist unions and made contracts only with tenant farmers who belonged to them; the banks gave credit only to farmers who were members of the fascist organizations. "Fascist" unemployed were brought from great distances, escorted by "squadra." As soon as they arrived in the district, "the local landowners ignored the union employment offices and tore up the union contracts with no fear of strikes, for the immigrant unemployed…were there to replace local labor. In this way the 'Red' unions were smashed." In certain centers, where the socialist and cooperative ideas were firmly rooted, the resistance was stubborn and lasted for years. But gradually the farm workers, condemned to die of hunger if they did not yield to the demands of their employers, resigned themselves to entering the fascist "unions," either individually or in groups. "They bundled up cards, membership lists, and flags," Gorgolini has related, "and went in a troop to deposit them at the headquarters of the nearest Fascio."

It was chiefly after the conquest of power, however, that fascism dared attack the unions of industrial workers. After the March on Rome, the local Fasci almost everywhere succeeded in getting hold of the lists of union members, whom they gathered together and advised, under threats of violence, to join the fascist "unions." Those who were found to carry "Red" union cards were beaten up, persecuted and boycotted. Bosses hired, and employment offices accepted, only the workers who had fascist "union" cards. Frequently the industrialists themselves enrolled their employees in the fascist "unions" and deducted the membership dues from their wages. Rossi, in his book on the Birth of Fascism, tells how the management of the great Terni steel plants helped fascism destroy the "Red" union. After July, 1922, the mills were closed down for lack of orders. The "Red" union had received assurances that they would re-open September 1. But on that date they were still shut down. Then the fascists invaded the city, called the Socialists "liars" and "cowards" and set fire to the two labor exchanges. This operation completed, the management reopened the steel mills. Thereafter it would deal only with the fascist "unions."

Shift to right in U.S. bourgeois politics: Weakening of two-party setup

{From The Pages Of 'Capitalism's World Disorder' column}  

The excerpt below is from "So Far from God, So Close to Orange County: The Deflationary Drag of Finance Capital" by Socialist Workers Party national secretary Jack Barnes. This report is based on a talk and closing presentation Barnes gave to a regional socialist educational conference held in Los Angeles, California, over the 1994–95 New Year's weekend. The entire report is published in Capitalism's World Disorder: Working-Class Politics at the Millennium (see ad on front page). The book is copyright © Pathfinder Press. The excerpt is reprinted by permission. Subheadings are by the Militant. 


How is the pattern of world politics we have been discussing reflected concretely in the class struggle in the United States today? What do workers and youth in this country confront, and what can we do about it?

Right after the 1992 presidential elections, a public meeting was organized in New York City in conjunction with a conference of the Socialist Workers Party's National Committee and communist leaders from several other countries. At that public meeting, we said that what was most important about the bourgeoisie's election campaign was the fact that it was not going to end with the counting of the ballots. "America First," the "culture war," building a wall along the border with Mexico — the themes of the ultrarightist Republican primary candidate Patrick Buchanan — continued to resound. The campaign of Ross Perot — who ended up getting 19 percent of the popular vote — and his demagogic appeal to an insecure middle class was not a fleeting phenomenon in bourgeois politics, irrespective of Perot himself. In the course of the 1992 campaign, Clinton had already begun speaking Perot's language, probing measures to erode the social wage won through the labor struggles of the 1930s and civil rights battles of the 1950s and 1960s. The Democratic nominee campaigned on the pledge to "end welfare as we know it."
Across the bourgeois political spectrum, this coarsening rhetoric — aimed at heightening resentment in the middle classes and undercutting social solidarity among working people — continued after the election, as we said it would. Two years into the Clinton presidency and two months after the election of a Republican majority in the U.S. Congress, an ideological battle still rages within the bourgeoisie, packaged in demagogy directed to the broader population.
How should the capitalists operate politically in this new period of economic crisis and growing instability? Why are the employers still so far from accomplishing what they need to do, even after more than a decade of assaults on real wages, employment levels, job conditions, and working hours? How can they break through obstacles to take qualitatively more? How can the bourgeoisie start marshaling arguments that will enable them — even if ever so cautiously at first — to chip away more significantly at the assumptions underlying Social Security itself? These are among the questions at the center of bourgeois politics in the United States today.

Shift to right in bourgeois politics

The bipartisan framework of bourgeois politics continues to move to the right. What is the net result, for example, of a Democratic president coming into office and pledging to do something about national health care? Two years later, working people are further away from the socialization of medical coverage than before — further away. That is the reality. But the same direction is true across the board. There is a bipartisan movement to the right — and in some important respects a convergence —in the economic and social legislative agendas of both bourgeois parties.
Advancing along this trajectory inevitably breeds rightist demagogy, because the efforts by the Democratic and Republican politicians to rationalize their policies end up feeding reactionary biases, fears, and resentments. No matter how particular politicians try to package their anti-working-class moves, it is rightist views that are given the biggest impulse by the fact of these moves itself.…
Capitalism over the past couple of decades has at least doubled the official jobless rate that is considered "natural" in the United States, Europe, and most other imperialist countries. The numbers of workers no longer even counted as part of the labor force still con-tinues to grow. At the same time, the capitalists have reduced unem-ployment benefits, held down the minimum wage, diminished the buy-ing power of take-home pay, denied government funding for child care, and allowed welfare benefits to fall further and further be-hind price increases. Working people are being driven out of affordable housing, and medical and retirement benefits are being cut.
This is what capitalism is imposing on growing numbers in the working class today. And then politicians from both parties start branding those forced to live under these conditions as outlaws. They start talking about putting the children of the "underclass" into orphanages. They start denying workers unemployment benefits or welfare unless we accept jobs at a minimum or subminimum wage. They draw immigrants across the border to exploit cheap labor and then begin organizing to deny them schooling, medical care, and social benefits.…
The battle has opened up around all these questions in bourgeois politics in the United States. And it should come as no surprise that the right wing is firing the opening shots. The street battles will come later, after a fighting labor movement has begun to take shape and threaten capitalist rule. But the political initiative, to begin with, lies with the rightist and fascist forces that emerge out of the right wing of the bourgeois parties themselves, linking up over time with elements within the cops and officer corps of the armed forces.
Working-class currents, on the other hand, do not come out of the radicalization of a left wing of the bourgeois parties. They come out of a sharp and sustained rise in working-class struggles. And class battles on that scale will only begin later in the crisis; that is what the historical experience of our class has demonstrated. So it is the radical right that gets the first shot, and whose nuclei begin to grow earlier and faster.
That is why in the mass media today we already hear the voices of ultrarightists — a Patrick Buchanan, for example — but we do not hear communists.…

Weakening of two-party setup

During the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign, the bourgeoisie's two-party setup already began to show its tendency to disintegrate around the edges under the pressures we have been describing. And this process will continue. The first manifestations will not necessarily be recognizably fascist. Perot, for instance, is a Bonapartist demagogue who presses a generally right-wing political agenda, but his movement does not have the incipient fascist thrust of what Buchanan is trying to put together.
Whether it is Perot, Buchanan, or other figures and currents that carve out a niche in bourgeois politics, their initial target will not be to take the labor movement head on, or to go after revolutionary-minded workers and communists. In fact, many will demagogically speak on behalf of "the ordinary working man." Right now the ultrarightists are largely going after the Clinton administration, as well as those in their own milieu soft on these "New Deal–influenced" "globalist elites." They rail against those who are selling out "America" and "American workers." They condemn the "corrupt and decadent pretenders" to leadership of the nation among the spokespeople of the existing bourgeois parties, government institutions, and federal bureaucracy.1
This is how political radicalization begins, as evidence of political weakness and moral bankruptcy mount in capitalist politics. And we should remember that forces coming from different directions in bourgeois politics can and do converge around radical demagogy of this kind. Buchanan and Perot, for example, converge with those such as the so-called consumer advocate Ralph Nader and Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn to rail against the North American Free Trade Agreement — all of them speaking more or less openly in "America First" terms, while shedding crocodile tears over the con-ditions of Mexican workers and farmers.
Aspects of what incipient fascist forces say can sound like they are addressed to radicalizing workers and youth. Clinton has no respect for the ordinary working person, they say, or for the little guy in the middle class. Social conditions in the country just get worse and worse. But we should never be fooled for even a minute. What they say and what communists say have nothing in common — nothing at all. Theirs are the voices of a current in bourgeois politics, a current alien to everything the line of march of the working class leads toward.
1 In announcing his bid for the 1996 Republican presidential nomination in March 1995, Patrick Buchanan said: "This campaign is about an America that once again looks after its own people and our own country First. . . . Why are our people not realizing the fruits of their labor? Because we have a government that is frozen in the ice of its own indifference. A government that does not listen anymore to the forgotten men and women who work in the forges and factories and plants and businesses. We have instead a government that is too busy taking the phone calls from lobbyists for foreign countries and the corporate contributions of the Fortune 500."
This combination of American chauvinism and anticapitalist demagogy was a growing theme of Buchanan's primary campaign. "For whose benefit was that $50 billion bailout of Mexico City?" he asked participants at an August 1995 conference sponsored by Ross Perot. "It wasn't the workers of Main Street, it was the bankers of Wall Street. Citibank, Chase Manhattan, J.P. Morgan, and Goldman Sachs all got off the hook, and they put us on." In a campaign speech in early 1996 he said: "When AT&T lops off 40,000 jobs, the executioner that does it, he's a big hero on the cover of one of those magazines, and AT&T stock soars."
"Watch the establishment," Buchanan jubilantly told supporters two days before winning the New Hampshire primary in February 1996. "All the knights and barons will be riding into the castle, pulling up the drawbridge, because they're coming. All the peasants are coming with pitchforks after them."

"Bourgeois politics in this country is shifting slowly to the right"

Dean and the myth of the 'white worker' 
(As I See It column)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Howard Dean recently told a Des Moines newspaper, "I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks." Dean is now the leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. Liberal dailies like the Washington Post and New York Timeshave editorialized that the remark is simply a sign of the former Vermont governor's lack of political savvy.

Others aim their fire at the hypocritical character of the attack by Dean's Democratic opponents. After all, each of them knows Dean has been making this remark about pickup trucks and Confederate flags—sometimes pickup trucks and gun racks—for nearly a year. He has said it on at least three occasions: to a reporter for the Denver Post in March, at a meeting of Blacks in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in February, and again that month at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee, where he got a standing ovation after making a similar point.

Prominent bourgeois figures who are Black, from Jesse Jackson to Colin Powell, have largely been silent or have dubbed the remark as a "wrong metaphor" while saying that Dean's basic point is right. And what is the point? Dean clarified his remark in a return engagement in Des Moines, telling students at a local high school that he had used the description to refer to working-class, white southerners who vote Republican. With recent gubernatorial losses to Republicans in California, Kentucky, and Mississippi, several prominent Democratic politicians have warned that the party is veering too far to the left.

This is another way of saying bourgeois politics in this country is shifting slowly to the right. Under the pressure of the world economic and social crisis, this trend will continue. Dean's remarks about the Confederate flag are an attempt to pitch his message in tune with this rightward shift, not to identify with "white southern workers."

The picture of the South emerging by implication from Dean's remarks is completely false. It is not true that most "whites," even in the South, sport Confederate flags on their vehicles. The massive battles for civil rights for Blacks in the 1950s and '60s substantially broke down the racial prejudices of millions throughout the country. They paved the way for common struggles by Blacks and others against racist discrimination and violence that have continued to this day. This has been particularly true in struggles for union recognition like the strikes by shipyard workers and others who formed United Steel Workers of America Local 8888 in Newport News in 1978. In 1987 some 20,000 protesters, many of them white, marched in Forsyth, Georgia, in response to a white supremacist rally there. And on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January 2000 more than 50,000, again many of them white, marched in South Carolina to demand that the Confederate flag be removed from the state capitol building.

Dean's demagogy perpetuates the reactionary view that there is a section of our class that has some common interests, by virtue of light skin color, separate and apart from the interests of the toilers around the world. Any attempt by working people and youth to chart a course of action that makes any concession to the false notion of "whites" as a group only leads to subordinating the concrete fight to defend the most oppressed layers of our class to maintaining the relatively better-off status of more privileged layers, and feeds the ultraright. That is the logic of Dean's past comments that affirmative action should be based on class, not race. He might have added "not sex."

That course weakens the fighting unity of the class as a whole. Defense of affirmative action and abortion rights, and opposition to raids by la migra against immigrants and police violence against Blacks and Latinos are essential parts of any program that seeks to unite working people against the class of wealthy exploiters.

The capitalists use so-called racial differences only for the purpose of justifying oppression and superexploitation. It is a fiction, a form of mystification. In a speech published in the Pathfinder bookMalcolm X on Afro-American History, the revolutionary leader challenged the pseudo-scientific classification of "races."

"And actually Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid—there's no such thing," Malcolm said. "These are so-called anthropological terms that were put together by anthropologists who were nothing but agents of the colonial powers, and they were purposely given that status…in order that they could come up with definitions that would justify the European domination over the Africans and the Asians."

What isn't a mystification is that human beings with dark skin and all people of color have been singled out by capitalism to be subjected to oppression and superexploitation. This common oppression of Blacks in the United States and their fight against it have forged a common consciousness as an oppressed nationality. That consciousness and the fight for Black rights is progressive. The gains won out of the struggle to eradicate this oppression benefit all working people. But there is no oppression of human beings based on light skin color. Most "whites" are workers or farmers and are exploited, not because of their skin color but because of their class. There is no oppressed white nationality. Any fight by working people that attempts to start from the so-called interests of "whites" as a group is reactionary.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Bernie Sanders Primer

Illustration From:

It would be great fun to take the time to prepare a "Bernie Sanders primer."  Until I have the time for that, I have been doing some basic background reading on the Senator.

This is my personal compilation of excerpts from the online archives of The Militant newspaper. The Militant represents the views of the Socialist Workers Party, of which I am an active supporter.

Excerpts from articles

[November 29, 1999] ....explaining his new alliances, Buchanan said that Vermont Congressman "Bernie Sanders is a Socialist, just like Lenora is. And Bernie and I worked together in harness, as did [Minnesota senator] Paul Wellstone, to stop that miserable NAFTA deal, which was going to sell out the industrial independence of the country and the sovereignty, as well as the jobs of American workers."

Appearing together on Fox News Sunday, Buchanan let Fulani make the anti-Semitic statements while he posed as an opponent of bigotry. Asked about well-known remarks by Fulani mentor Fred Newman that "Jews are the storm troopers of decadent capitalism," Fulani finished the quote, "…and participated in oppressing groupings of people of color." She then declared, "What is anti-Semitic about that?"


[May 22, 2000] Teamsters union officials organized an American nationalist demonstration against China here April 12. The speakers platform featured rightist politician Patrick Buchanan, social democratic Congressman Bernard Sanders, and Teamsters president James Hoffa....

....Congressman Sanders from Vermont was introduced as an independent member of Congress. "This rally is about who controls the United States of America," he said. With anti–big-business rhetoric, Sanders said that for too long the "millionaires and the big corporate interests have been telling Capitol Hill what to do. Today we're going to begin the process to change that. The CEOs of the large corporations, who today make 400 times what their workers make, are in favor of free trade with China. They are flooding Capitol Hill with money telling them to sell out American workers."

Patrick Buchanan, who is seeking to build a fascist movement and is currently running for the Reform Party nomination for president, spoke following Sanders. Wearing a Teamsters union jacket, Buchanan easily picked up on Sanders's themes to advance his ultrarightist political views. "We've got Republicans and Democrats and Reform Party members [here], and you just heard from an American socialist, Bernie Sanders," Buchanan said.

Anticapitalist speeches and national socialism have marked many fascist movements, such as that of Adolf Hitler in Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s. Many liberals and union officials, as well as "socialists" who operate in an "American" framework, can get drawn into Buchanan's reactionary trap.


[The remaining excerpts are from articles printed in 2015]

.... The need for workers to organize independent working-class political action relying on our own power, as capitalist politicians — Democrats, Republicans and so-called independents and socialists such as Bernie Sanders — launch campaigns for president and other public offices....


....Bosses and workers have opposed interests. Rather than relying on the Democrats, the Republicans or so-called independents and socialists like Bernie Sanders who trail after them — all beholden to the bosses — we must forge a labor party based on fighting unions, a political tool workers can use to better act in our interests, not in the interests of the capitalist exploiters.


....Today the Bernie Sanders campaign for president is a sign we are going to see “more socialists and so-called independents, all reinforcing capitalism, not advancing an independent course for the working class that relies on our own power,” Sandler said.


....“Going door to door, some workers asked us about Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a socialist,” Staggs said. “We explain that Sanders is running, and getting a hearing, because of the big changes in the attitudes of working people.

Break with bourgeois parties

“Workers today face attacks from the bosses and their government, whose only way out of the capitalist crisis is to deepen the exploitation of the working class,” he said. “Workers are interested in how we can defend ourselves and how we can find a new perspective forward, including politically. Sanders presents a radical image with the intention of corralling us back into bourgeois politics.

“The Socialist Workers Party runs to point the road to workers breaking with the capitalist political parties,” Staggs said, “the road of independent working-class politics, forming a labor party based on the unions. This opens the door to the fight for working-class political power, like the Cuban workers and farmers did when they overthrew U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista and transformed themselves in the process. They have continued along this road for more than 55 years, an example for working people everywhere.”

The Socialist Workers Party candidates plan to hold a press conference and turn in their petitions Aug. 3 at City Hall....


....Fifteen months before the 2016 elections, the campaign of the capitalist parties is heating up, with 17 Republicans vying for the nomination, front-running Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign sputtering and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist, running second in the polls for the Democratic nomination and drawing big crowds....

Crowds for Sanders growing

Sanders has been attracting crowds — some 28,000 in Portland, Oregon, Aug. 9, and a similar number the next day in Los Angeles. His favorability rating doubled from 12 percent in March to 24 percent in late July, while Clinton’s dropped from 48 to 43 percent.
“As the crisis of the capitalist system grinds on, and attacks on workers deepen, many are looking for something different in 2016,” Staggs said.

“The interest in the Sanders campaign opens up a discussion,” he said. “People ask, ‘Are you a socialist like Bernie Sanders?’ We explain that Sanders proposes radical reforms to save capitalism.

“Sanders, in his ‘Reforming Wall Street’ plank, proposes breaking up the six biggest banks and taxing financial transactions. We think workers must end the dictatorship of capital and reorganize society based on relations of human solidarity. And we don’t have an American nationalist framework,” said Staggs. “We start with the world and what strengthens the working class worldwide on the road to taking power.

“We point to the example of Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement that led workers and farmers to power in Cuba,” he said. “Like Lenin and the Bolsheviks, who led workers and farmers to power in Russia.”

Sanders took some criticism from supporters of immigrant rights after his comments during a July 28 Vox interview when journalist Ezra Klein implied he supports “open borders.”

“Open borders?” Sanders exclaimed. “No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal,” referring to Charles and David Koch, billionaire manufacturers who contribute heavily to Republican campaigns and who favor less restrictive immigration laws.

“You’re doing away with the concept of a nation state,” he continued. “What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them.”

However, at the Los Angeles rally, Sanders had an immigrant rights supporter speak and said, “Eleven million people cannot continue to live in fear.”

Immigration policy has been prominent in the primary debate. In June Donald Trump slandered Mexican immigrants, saying, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Republican contender, defended Trump June 30, saying, “The American people are fed up” with illegal immigration.

Republican candidate Jeb Bush called Trump’s comments “vulgar” during a July 27 interview in Spanish on Telemundo. Bush promotes an “immigration reform” that includes a path to legal status, but not citizenship, for some immigrants.

Clinton — following the San Francisco arrest of an undocumented worker in a July 1 killing — denounced the city’s “sanctuary city” policy of not turning people who lack immigration papers over to immigration authorities.

“The SWP says no to deportations, no to E-Verify,” Staggs said. “The labor movement must reject the rulers’ divide-and-conquer tactics and stand with immigrants who insist, ‘We’re workers, not criminals.’”