Thursday, March 31, 2016
Sunday, March 27, 2016
For information purposes only.
“No western Left was as philo-Semitic and pro-Zionist prior to 1967. Probably none subsequently identified so strongly with the Palestinian cause. What was termed ‘anti-Zionism’ was in fact so emotionally and psychically charged that it went far beyond the bounds of a political and social critique of Zionism.”
Saturday, March 26, 2016
....“The working class all over the world is feeling the impact of the capitalist economic crisis,” Kennedy said. “There were a lot of workers at the [Trump] rally who are fed up with the Democrats and Republicans, who see nothing being done about high unemployment, and who don’t like what the U.S. government is doing in the Middle East.
“We talked about why we need to break from the capitalist parties, emulate the Cuban Revolution and reorganize society to meet the interests of working people. The discussions were a lot like those with my co-workers when I worked in coal mines in Alabama, Colorado, Utah and West Virginia,” noted Kennedy, who is currently on leave from her job at Walmart. “It was a lot of fun.”
“Not everyone at the Trump rally was willing to talk, but most were,” she said. “One young woman said she didn’t agree that fast-food workers should get $15 an hour, saying ‘shouldn’t we be creating good jobs?’ I said yes, we need to fight for a federally funded public works program and for a union,” Kennedy said. “At the same time wages are set from the bottom up, not the top down.”
These discussions, she said, highlight why those who organized to prevent Trump from speaking did a grave disservice to the young people who joined them, mistakenly believing this advances the fight against attacks on immigrants, police brutality and anti-Muslim discrimination.
....“Trump’s not a fascist, he’s a demagogic bourgeois politician,” said Naomi Craine, a leader of the Socialist Workers Party here, who spoke along with Kennedy. “He uses crude anti-Mexican and anti-Muslim rhetoric, and there’s a real edge to his comments on women.”
What he proposes to do is not much different from the other capitalist politicians, however. The U.S. government should build a wall on the Mexican border, Trump says. In fact there already is a wall, much of it built during the administration of President Bill Clinton. Trump talks about keeping out Muslims “temporarily,” but the current administration “has already been denying visas to many Muslims,” Craine noted.
Yet virtually every petty-bourgeois radical group in the United States that calls itself socialist backed the March 11 attack on free speech and the right to assembly, under the guise of stopping the “fascist” Trump. Among the main organizers of the disruption was Moveon.org, which functions as a wing of the Democratic Party, and there was prominent participation from the Workers World Party, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the International Socialist Organization....
....Capitalist politicians who seek to scapegoat Muslims and immigrants have seized the opportunity to increase their calls for closing borders and turning away refugees across Europe, as well as in the United States. More than 44,000 refugees are already trapped in crisis-wracked Greece because neighboring Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia have sealed the borders.
EU-Turkey immigrant agreement
The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan just completed an agreement with European Union officials for Ankara to receive migrants turned back when they try to land on the Greek islands. In return, the EU promised Turkey $6.7 billion in aid and renewed consideration of its application for EU membership.
Another suicide bomber affiliated with Islamic State set off an explosion in Istanbul, Turkey, March 19 that killed three Israelis and an Iranian.
The monstrous attacks on civilians by Islamic State and the jihadists’ conduct in areas they control in Syria and Iraq, including beheading prisoners and making sex slaves of captured Yazidi women, are abhorrent to working people. This makes it easier for Washington and other capitalist rulers to justify their actions in the Mideast.
Washington’s increased collaboration with the governments of Russia and Iran to try to stabilize the Mideast in the interests of U.S. imperialism has resulted in a reduction of hostilities in parts of war-torn Syria, the expansion of areas controlled by the repressive regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, gains by Kurds in consolidating territory in northern Syria and a stepped-up military effort to retake cities and territories controlled by Islamic State.
Washington is turning increased attention and resources to what the Pentagon calls “the second phase in Iraq and Syria to degrade and ultimately defeat” Islamic State — the fight to retake Mosul, a large city in northern Iraq held by the brutal Islamists. The day after a U.S. Marine was killed fighting Islamic State 45 miles southeast of Mosul, the Pentagon assigned a detachment of Marines to join forces on the ground from the Kurdish Regional Government there and troops sent by Baghdad.
After carrying out a partial drawdown of Russia’s military presence in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin said March 17 that Moscow would maintain air power to back up Assad and would continue to train and financially support Syrian troops.
Russian bombing of Syrian opposition strongholds is down from 60-80 sorties a day to 20-30, Putin said. Moscow is aiding Damascus in efforts to reclaim Palmyra and Raqqa, Syria, from Islamic State, causing heavy civilian casualties, according to the anti-IS group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently.
New alliances across Mideast
Meanwhile, the governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel — longtime allies of Washington who see the U.S. partnership with Moscow and Tehran as a threat — are seeking to form new blocs to defend their national capitalist interests.
Relations between Ankara and Moscow have been tense since Turkish forces shot down a Russian fighter jet that briefly entered Turkish airspace in November. In retaliation, Putin limited Russian travel to Turkey and the purchase of Turkish fruits and vegetables.
Ankara is strengthening ties with the Ukrainian government. It recently extended a low-interest $50 million loan to Kiev and conducted joint naval exercises in the Black Sea.
The Israeli government is increasing trade with Turkey and looking toward relations with the Saudi government as “an ally rather than an enemy,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN Jan. 22, pointing to a shared interest in opposing greater Iranian control in the region.
When a truce and transition is reached in Syria, “it is critical from the Israeli standpoint that Syria does not emerge as an Iranian satellite,” Dore Gold, Israeli foreign ministry director general, told theWall Street Journal.
US out of Guantánamo!
End Cuba embargo now!
Socialist Workers Party campaign statement
The following statement was released March 23 by Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. president and Osborne Hart for vice president.
We call on working people in the U.S. and around the world to stand with the Cuban people and demand: End the U.S. embargo! Guantánamo belongs to Cuba — return it now! Stop meddling in Cuba’s internal affairs!
The presence of the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo — occupying an area about twice the size of Manhattan — is an outrageous violation of Cuban sovereignty. Washington seized Cuba’s best harbor in 1903 and imposed a “treaty” at gunpoint granting the imperialist masters a “perpetual lease.” Ever since the Cuban people overthrew the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship in 1959, the revolutionary government has demanded an end to this illegal occupation. What’s more, since 2002 Washington has maintained the infamous prison camp there that has turned the name “Guantánamo” into a symbol of torture and abuse.
The U.S. rulers have tried to destroy the Cuban Revolution for more than 56 years using everything from assassination attempts and invasion to sabotage and economic warfare. Having failed, they now hope to undermine the revolution by other methods.
In 1961 Fidel Castro boldly asserted, “There will be a victorious revolution in the United States before a victorious counterrevolution in Cuba.” Amid the growing world crisis of capitalism, these words are even more timely.
What does U.S. capitalism and its parties — Democrats, Republicans, and others — offer humanity? More wars, unemployment, discrimination against women, attacks on constitutional rights, racism, police brutality, farm foreclosures.
In face of what at times seemed insurmountable odds, Cuba’s workers and farmers have shown their capacity to build a society based on human solidarity, not on profits of a tiny minority. What people sent the most doctors to West Africa to cure those ill with Ebola? Who is setting the example of how to fight the Zika virus? What country sent hundreds of thousands of volunteers to help stop the racist South African regime in its tracks in Angola, asking nothing in return? The Cuban people and their revolutionary government.
As part of our campaign, the Socialist Workers Party candidates explain what the working class in the U.S. and elsewhere can learn from working people in Cuba — to make a socialist revolution in our own countries. Workers here have the same capacities as our brothers and sisters in Cuba.
We encourage workers and young people to read Cuba and the Coming American Revolution by Jack Barnes;The Cuban Five Talk About Their Lives Within the US Working Class; Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power and other books that explain what Cuba’s socialist revolution has accomplished and what the Socialist Workers Party is for.
As we campaign we are often asked, “What can I do?” Help us win new readers to the Militant newspaper and books like these. Join picket lines by workers on strike. Participate in protests against police brutality and in defense of a woman’s right to choose abortion. Speak out against the U.S. embargo of Cuba. Join the Socialist Workers Party and be part of organizing to make a revolution right here in the United States.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
An August 2013 statement:
Vigilantism: enemy of working class
George Zimmerman, who admits to fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, is a vigilante — a self-appointed judge, jury and executioner — whose murderous actions were backed by the Sanford cops who refused to indict him.
The die was cast when the “neighborhood watchman” moves beyond watching and exits his vehicle, armed and “ready for action” to pursue Martin — whom he knew nothing about, yet characterized as “suspicious” and an “asshole.” He disregards instructions from the cop dispatcher who instructed him to stay put. The killing is an example of how the bold, risk-taking vigilante, who “takes matters into his own hands” is more dangerous to the working class even than the cops, the organized and armed force whose job it is to protect the property and prerogatives of the propertied rulers and, as such, have some constraints on their conduct.
Based on the killer’s version of events, Martin responded as many teenage males would have when pursued by a creepy stranger. And for that his life was taken. (Only the kind of discipline young mili- tants learn through collective experience in working-class combat and social struggle can prepare the countless cocksure young-men-in-becoming to consider a more prudent response.)
Vigilantism has a long and deep history in the U.S. and has always been directed against the interests of working people. It has served as a tool of ruling-class terror to keep the oppressed and exploited “in-line,” divided and fearful. Targets have included African-Americans and all defenders of Black rights, other victims of discrimination from Mexicans and Chinese to Catholics, Jews and Mormons; as well as militant workers and their small farmer allies, unionists, communists and other targets of the propertied rulers.
Frontier “justice” and lynchings date back centuries. Countless Hollywood movies feature vigilantes in the West riding into town, hunting down and killing rustlers, Native Americans and others, then riding off into the sunset.
Among the registered gains of the revolutionary U.S. Civil War that overthrew the slavocracy was passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. These amendments outlawed slavery, made it the law of the land that all men could vote, and granted power to the federal government to take action against Ku Klux Klanners and other vigilante thugs who employed lynchings and mob violence against the social progress of Radical Reconstruction. Anti-vigilante laws were adopted in many areas of the country. The abolitionists and their allies who dominated the Congress sent federal troops to the South to defend freed Blacks and their allies.
But with the 1877 withdrawal of federal troops from the South and other counterrevolutionary moves by the Northern rulers, the reactionary forces were given free rein and were ultimately successful in dealing the greatest blows ever inflicted on the working class in the U.S., a body blow that included the imposition of Jim Crow segregation.
Through a series of Supreme Court decisions, the rulers overturned the newly adopted constitutional protections against mob rule and vigilante lynchings. The black-robed agents of the bosses declared protection of basic rights was a matter for the states, and Blacks and other workers couldn’t use federal constitutional protections to defend themselves.
In 1873 some 150 heavily armed vigilantes attacked and murdered an equal number of out-gunned African-Americans, many members of the city’s militia, who were defending the county courthouse in Colfax, La. The U.S. Attorney in New Orleans indicted nearly 100 of the attackers under the enforcement provisions of the 14th Amendment, affording equal protection of the laws to all. When the case reached the Supreme Court, the justices unanimously overturned the convictions in 1876, ruling the amendment only applied to actions carried out by state governments. This notorious ruling — still the law of the land — was a milestone blow to the fight against vigilantism and racist violence.
The need to push back and defend against all forms of vigilante “justice” is not a thing of the past. In fact, it will become a bigger question in the future when a sharpening class struggle leads the capitalist rulers to employ their armed state power — supplemented by deputized vigilantes and “extralegal” goons — against fighting workers and their organizations.
Addressing the danger and class character of vigilantism can help give perspective to millions of working people angered and seeking a fighting course of action in response to the vigilante killer George Zimmerman walking free. Efforts along these lines include the fights to overturn provigilante Stand Your Ground laws now on the books in 21 states.
Another trial not in our interests
Zimmerman would never have been brought to trial if not for the popular mass demonstrations demanding his prosecution that won an important victory. The jury did not find Zimmerman guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on the specific charges brought against him and based on the evidence presented. Calls to open a new trial on federal civil rights violations by various groups from the National Organization for Women to the NAACP — demands which finds a hearing among many with justifiable outrage — are not in the interests of working people.
Starting a new prosecution against Zimmerman — in fact, double jeopardy — would set a precedent that would erode hard-won protections from the state registered in the Bill of Rights and other protections that we need to organize to fight more effectively against the deepening ruling class offensive against our jobs, wages and political rights. And no evidence has been presented that shows Zimmerman was motivated by racial hatred when he killed Martin.
Blind pursuit of retribution cannot advance the struggles of the oppressed and exploited. On this question the leaders of the Cuban Revolution, along with millions of Cuban toilers, stood on the highest moral ground after the victorious revolutionary war, preventing mob justice and vengeance to befall hated and murderous cops and thugs of the fallen Fulgencio Batista dictatorship.
It is only the working class that has or ever will claim such high ground. And only on such moral grounds can the working class lead humanity to a world free of exploitation and oppression that are part and parcel of capitalist society.
Timely read again, alas.
....In their assault on our class, the rulers’ biggest target then, and now, is the section of the working class who are Muslims and Arabs, Sandler said. “Communists know the rights of the working class are what is always at stake when the capitalist rulers go to war.”
And the drive to war is being ramped up, Sandler said, in Washington, Paris and other imperialist capitals.
You see more soldiers and cops in Penn Station and Grand Central Station, he said. And the Bill de Blasio administration in New York is adding 560 counterterrorism intelligence cops to what is already a larger force than most countries have.
“The New York Socialist Workers Party plans to visit mosques and Muslim communities, get to know people and lend our support,” he said to applause. “I invite anyone who would like to join in to see me and sign up.”
“After Sept. 11 we discussed how the rulers and their government would try to make it sound like a classless ‘we’ made up the U.S. populace,” he said. “The same thing is developing in the wake of the murderous attack in Paris.”
The French legislature voted overwhelmingly to impose and extend a far-reaching state of emergency that gives cops more sweeping powers and guts political rights, Sandler said. There have been hundreds of raids inside France, with no warrant required. The French capitalist government wants to reinforce anti-working-class statutes, passed during French imperialism’s bloody but failed fight against the Algerian liberation struggle in the 1950s and ’60s, that allow for far-reaching spying and stripping citizenship from those named as terrorists.
The meeting featured debate on several questions. One participant said it was her opinion that the reactionary, terrorist Islamic State was growing and asked what was its attraction for young people and workers.
Islamic State attracts few youth
“I don’t think they attract many at all,” said Barnes, speaking from the audience. “There are millions and millions of Muslims and Arabs in France. Only a miniscule number are attracted to Islamic State. Go and sell the Militant at mosques and neighborhoods around them. You won’t find many favorable to Islamic State.”
Barnes contrasted the Algerian war for independence from France to the development of the brutal anti-working-class Islamic State.
IS was built by former officers from Saddam Hussein’s army — broken up by the U.S. invasion of Iraq — who merged with a handful of al-Qaeda terror adherents, Barnes said.
Young people in Algeria were fighting for their independence against extreme French brutality. Islamic State and its terror attacks has nothing to do with that, he said. It’s more like the murderous Pol Pot regime in Cambodia in the 1970s.
“We’re in a slow, slow depression,” Sandler said, “You don’t have bread lines like the 1930s, but it is depression conditions for working people and things are getting worse. That’s what motivates workers to go hear candidates like Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, who say they’re something different, and why the Socialist Workers Party gets more of a hearing than in decades.”
The following statement is by Osborne Hart, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Philadelphia in 2015.
Following the bloody carnage inflicted on some 500 people in Paris Nov. 13 by Islamic State terrorists, French President Francois Hollande called for expanded war in Syria and Iraq.
Beating of the war drums for more “boots on the ground” in the Middle East is growing in Washington, including in President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party. More and more politicians and pundits are saying that U.S.-organized bombings, deployment of special forces units, and assassinations and drone attacks are not enough.
Hollande calls for a “grand coalition” to step up the war, based on Paris, Washington and Moscow. Washington and its allies have used terror to defend their class interests, from dropping the atomic bomb to incinerate Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the leveling of city after city in North Korea during the 1950-53 war against workers and farmers there, to Iraq and Afghanistan. France’s capitalist rulers have a long and bloody record of imperialist intervention and exploitation, from Algeria to Vietnam, Syria to Mali.
The Socialist Workers Party calls on workers in the U.S. to oppose moves by Washington and Paris to expand their Mideast war. Demand they get their bombers and troops out of the region. Speak out against discrimination against Syrian refugees and against anti-Arab, anti-Muslim demagoguery.
The SWP opposes efforts by the capitalist rulers in Washington to seize the opportunity to step up assaults against political rights and to widen use of troops, informers, spies, “data mining” and more against working people. Capitalist politicians of all stripes are calling for barring Syrians from seeking refuge in the U.S. or to limit entrance to Syrian Christians. Anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry is being promoted to justify gutting workers’ rights.
This in the face of the fact that the biggest victims of imperialist policy, of Syria and other bourgeois regimes in the region, and of reactionary Islamic State terror are Arabs, Muslims, Kurds and others there.
The Socialist Workers Party calls on workers, farmers and all defenders of democratic rights to protest these attacks and defend constitutional rights to speak out and protest against government policy — from wars abroad to cop violence at home.
There is growing resistance today to attacks by the bosses and their government, like the large picket lines put up by members of the autoworkers union on strike at Kohler in Wisconsin; steelworkers and others fighting deep concession demands; Black youth leading protests against police killings; and activities in support of demands for an end to the criminal U.S. blockade of revolutionary Cuba. This resistance is Washington’s real target as it prepares for sharper battles to come.
The French rulers have imposed a far-reaching state of emergency, reinstituted French border controls, barred demonstrations, put army troops on the streets and stepped up spying in Arab and Muslim neighborhoods.
Islamic State, which has taken credit for the slaughter in Paris, as well as terror attacks against a Russian airliner in Egypt and dozens of workers and youth in Beirut over the last couple weeks, is a reactionary thug outfit.
Betrayals by Stalinist parties and bourgeois-minded nationalist misleaders have prevented toilers in the Middle East from developing a leadership like the July 26th Movement — which led workers and farmers in Cuba to power in 1959 — capable of organizing a revolutionary struggle against imperialist oppression and capitalists and landlords at home.
The U.S.-led decade-long imperialist war in Iraq propped up a brutal, factional regime that attacked and deepened suffering in Sunni areas.
The Bashar al-Assad dictatorship in Syria, backed by Moscow and Tehran, responded to mass mobilizations in 2011 calling for political rights and an end to the regime’s despotic rule with bombs, murder, torture and destruction, crushing the revolt.
In this political vacuum, the reactionary Islamic State emerged and seized territory, ruling by terror, beheadings and violence. The only force that has proved capable of pushing them back are the Kurds, motivated by decades-long aspirations for national rights and an independent Kurdish state. And their growing strength and confidence are viewed with fear and anger by the capitalist rulers in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, as well as by Washington.
The Socialist Workers Party demands Washington and Paris get out of the Middle East. We fight against the rulers’ attacks on our rights and political space to organize, challenge the assault of the bosses and take political action.
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Socialist candidate gets hearing at Trump event
Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy, left, talks with Jordan Strange about fight to win jobs and higher wages in line for Donald Trump rally March 11 in Chicago.
BY DAN FEIN
CHICAGO — The organized disruption that forced the cancellation of Republican candidate Donald Trump’s campaign rally here March 11 “was a blow to free speech,” Socialist Workers Party candidate for president Alyson Kennedy said. “Shutting down political expression is inevitably turned against workers.”
Kennedy’s statement stands in stark contrast to the celebration of the disruption on the left and among liberals who are increasingly shrill in charging Trump with being the spearhead of a rising racist and fascist movement. This could be “remembered as the dawn of the resistance,” declared Washington Postcolumnist Eugene Robinson March 14.
Republican rivals Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich said they opposed the disruptions, but argued they are Trump’s own fault, suggesting his politics encourage violence.
None of this has derailed Trump’s campaign. He won four of the five primary elections held March 15. Rubio, a senator from Florida, suspended his campaign after losing to Trump in his home state by a wide margin. Trump’s loss to Ohio Gov. Kasich in Ohio was expected. In all these states Trump won a big vote from working people.
Far from representing a rising rightist movement, Trump gets a hearing from workers and others who have been battered by the effects of years of the world capitalist economic crisis, and who are looking for something different from “establishment” politicians they know offer no solutions.
It’s for similar reasons that Bernie Sanders continues to get a substantial response. He got nearly half the vote in both Illinois and Missouri, even as the media is declaring that Hillary Clinton has the Democratic nomination virtually sewn up.
On the day of Trump’s rally, several thousand people demonstrated outside while others entered the meeting room. Their goal was “for Donald to take the stage and to completely interrupt him. The plan is to shut Donald Trump all the way down,” Quovadis Green told the Associated Press.
When a campaign staffer announced that due to safety concerns the rally was canceled, those who organized to disrupt it erupted in cheers, celebrating their victory over free speech. Some chanted “Bernie, Bernie,” waving Sanders campaign signs. A few Trump supporters confronted them. The big majority of those who had come to hear Trump looked incredulous, upset he wouldn’t be speaking.
Fight for unions, jobs, wages
SWP candidate Kennedy had wide-ranging discussions with many workers and young people who came hoping to hear Trump. She handed a campaign flyer to Jordan Strange, an 18-year-old student from Naperville, as they waited in line to get in. The Socialist Workers Party campaign “is part of the struggles of working people,” she said, “including the fight for $15 an hour and a union at McDonald’s and Walmart.”
“But McDonald’s is not a job for life, it’s a job for teenagers,” Strange said. “Shouldn’t we concentrate on creating jobs instead?”
“We need both,” Kennedy replied. “Workers of all ages make low wages and work part time or are unemployed. I took a leave from my job at a Walmart to run in this election. We must fight to increase wages for everyone, and also fight for a government-funded public works program to create jobs, build schools and medical facilities, child care and recreation centers, replace crumbling infrastructure and other things working people need. And unions are essential, a first step to relying on our own strength as a class.”
Fernando Garcia, an engineer at a local sheet metal factory, came to the rally with his son Eric, a brake press operator at the same plant. “I don’t know who I’ll vote for,” Fernando Garcia said. Like many there he came to hear what Trump had to offer.
“Trump is not a politician. He is not bought off,” said Eric Garcia, who was wearing a Trump campaign button.
Kennedy responded, “No Democrat, Republican or other capitalist candidate will do anything about the attacks against the working class. They talk about getting the ‘best deal’ to ensure profits keep flowing to the U.S. capitalists.”
Fernando Garcia agreed. “Under Obama the border crossings are more dangerous, resulting in many deaths” of immigrants, he said. “The government has increased its border patrols.”
After the rally was cancelled, Kennedy saw the Garcias walking to their car. “I don’t agree with Trump,” she told them, “but I don’t agree with what happened tonight. Freedom of speech protects the right of workers to speak out and organize.”
“This will just mean more votes for Trump,” Eric Garcia said.
The next day Kennedy campaigned door to door in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst. While much of the discussion was about Trump’s rally being broken up, topics ranged from police brutality to Syria to the effects on working people of the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Kennedy told Derek Dedman, a 20-year-old broker for a logistics company, about the fight against the cold-blooded police killing of cattle rancher Jack Yantis in Idaho, and showed him an article about it in theMilitant. “You hear about the police killing Blacks, but you never hear about things like this,” Dedman said.
Police killings are a class question, Kennedy said. “The police protect the interests of the wealthy by keeping workers in their place. But because of the protests more cops are being charged. This shows we can have an impact.”
Bojka Milanovich told Kennedy about the devastation her country, the former Yugoslavia, faces today. Rival fragments of the disintegrating Stalinist regime went to war in the 1990s, using nationalist demagogy to grab territory and resources. Washington and its imperialist competitors in Europe intervened militarily to advance their interests, adding to the carnage.
“The Socialist Workers Party campaigned against the U.S. bombing assault on your country,” Kennedy said, “and we oppose their intervention in Syria today. They don’t care what happens to us or the Syrian workers, they’re only protecting their imperial power in the Middle East.”
“We should get out of Syria,” Milanovich replied.
“I work in a hospital and see the abuse of workers, especially immigrants,” she said. She made a $10 donation to the campaign and got a copy of New Internationalmagazine with the article “Capitalism’s Long Hot Winter Has Begun,” which describes the roots of the growing capitalist conflicts and depression conditions that mark the world today.
"In Brazil there now reigns a semifascist regime that every revolutionary can only view with hatred. Let us assume, however, that on the morrow England enters into a military conflict with Brazil. I ask you on whose side of the conflict will the working class be? I will answer for myself personally—in this case I will be on the side of “fascist” Brazil against “democratic” Great Britain."
- Leon Trotsky, 1938
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
....In February 1979, oil, rail and other workers in massive mobilizations led a revolution that toppled U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his repressive regime. Workers organized factory councils, as did farmers and students. Washington lost a bulwark in defense of its interests in the Middle East.
Counterrevolutionary clerical forces led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini organized goon squads to attack revolutionaries and fighting workers and prevent encroachments on capitalist rule.
In September 1980 Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army, then backed by Washington, attacked Iran. The war raged for several years and many of the most revolutionary-minded workers died fighting to defend the country. The Islamist counterrevolution consolidated its power, pushing the working class off center stage in politics, but the power of the 1979 revolution prevented it from crushing the working class.
To obfuscate the real situation, both Tehran and Washington always try to erase the distinction between the 1979 revolution and the counterrevolutionary developments that followed.
As the counterrevolution made gains, the Revolutionary Guards built a growing industrial empire that has continued to expand, even in the face of imperialist sanctions. They have wide control over oil, construction, transportation, telecommunications and other industries.
The sanctions had a devastating effect on the lives of working people, including loss of jobs, rising living costs and low wages. Shifts reflected by the elections and lifting of sanctions open the door for an easing of the conditions of life and efforts to make more changes.
(SWP campaign statement)
Solidarity with working people of Syria
The following statement was released March 9 by Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. president, and Osborne Hart, SWP candidate for vice president.
The Socialist Workers Party calls on working people to stand with our fellow workers in Syria — in solidarity with their struggle to throw off the hated dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, to liberate sections of the country where the toilers have fallen under the tyranny of the reactionary Islamic State, and to aid the Kurdish people in their struggle to win independence and control over the regions where they live. All Syrian working people — Sunni, Shia, Christian, Alawite, Turkmen, Kurdish and others — have a common interest in fighting for these demands.
These struggles require international working-class solidarity. Syrian toilers need the space to mobilize in political action, to learn in struggle, to be transformed from victims into conscious actors in history. All of the imperialist and capitalist forces intervening in Syria today are obstacles to this course. We oppose the U.S. rulers’ involvement in the war in Syria and Iraq and call for Washington, its allies and others — from London and Paris to Moscow, Ankara and Tehran — to withdraw their warplanes, ships and troops now.
The relative weakness of U.S. imperialism in the Mideast today is a confirmation that Washington lost the Cold War. The U.S. ruling class lost the political assistance it got from Stalinist regimes and parties, which had used the prestige of their long-broken connection to the mighty Russian Revolution to disorient and destroy workers’ struggles worldwide. The vacuum of working-class leadership left by decades of class-collaboration by Stalinist parties in the region and the exhaustion of bourgeois nationalist forces there will take time and political space to fill.
Fearing the consequences of using their raw military might in the Middle East, the U.S. propertied rulers sought a bloc with Moscow and Tehran to replace the deepening disintegration of the old world order, in the futile hope of achieving stability for U.S. imperialism in the region. The truce Washington and Moscow have driven through strengthens the murderous Assad dictatorship, guaranteeing many more working people will be killed or driven from their homes.
“The drawing together of struggles by working people the world over opens the way toward winning more and more revolutionists to become communists, toward rebuilding proletarian leadership and an international communist movement,” the Socialist Workers Party’s 1990 resolution “U.S. Imperialism Has Lost the Cold War” explains. “The world in the making will see more Malcolm Xs, more Maurice Bishops, more Thomas Sankaras, more Nelson Mandelas, more Che Guevaras, more Fidel Castros. They will continue to be thrust forward through struggle toward the renewal of communist leadership. They will more and more recognize communism as the opposite of Stalinism and social democracy, as a road toward overthrowing world capitalism, not accommodation with it.” This perspective remains the way forward out of the devastation in Syria today.
The Cuban Revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista is an excellent example of how ordinary working people can come together, become stronger and more conscious and build a new society based on human solidarity. The 1954-65 Algerian Revolution led by Ahmed Ben Bella that overthrew French colonialism and established a workers and farmers government in a country where the majority is Muslim and Arab shows what is possible.
Help spread the truth about battles and the class realities unfolding in Syria, help get the Militant around! Solidarity with the working people of Syria!
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Sunday, March 13, 2016
From a 2011 article:
Closing space to speak is not in workers’ interests
(As I See It column)
BY FRANK FORRESTAL
AND PAUL MAILHOT
A front-page article in last week’s issue of the Militant, headlined “Prounion rally in Wisconsin outnumbers antilabor action,” gave an inaccurate account of the competing April 16 protests at the Wisconsin Statehouse in Madison.
The article also failed to explain why efforts by union members and others to shout down Republican Party politician Sarah Palin were a display of weakness not strength of the labor movement, damaging the political and moral standing of working people in the fight for our rights.
Since mid-February, workers in Wisconsin have helped open a broad discussion among workers and farmers in the United States and beyond about the unrelenting attacks that the government and employers are raining down on us. Despite talk in the big business media about a “recovery,” the devastating economic and social consequences of assaults on working people since the acceleration of the world capitalist crisis in 2007 continue to pile up. Actions of up to 100,000 in front of the Statehouse in Madison have helped focus world attention on these attacks and workers’ beginning resistance to them.
On April 16, some 5,000 workers, many of them union members, turned out in Madison once again for a demonstration against antilabor legislation and proposed cutbacks in needed social programs. That working-class message was not reported by the major capitalist media, however.
Instead, the dailies and TV newscasters focused on an attempt by a substantial number of union supporters there—although nowhere near a majority of those demonstrating for labor rights that day—to shout down Sarah Palin, who was speaking at a nearby rally associated with the tea party.
Like Democratic Party politicians who addressed the prounion rally on the opposite side of the capitol, Palin demagogically proclaimed she had been a union member herself. At the same time, she denounced working people who have protested Republican governor Scott Walker’s antiunion legislation and budget cuts, calling them “violent rent-a-mobs.”
Many working people, as well as middle-class individuals facing mounting uncertainties due to the capitalist crisis, turned out to hear Palin. Like other bourgeois politicians in both parties, she pretends to present an alternative for working people to government policies and bureaucratic indifference.
Palin denounced the Barack Obama administration and other Democratic Party politicians, a message that gains a hearing from many workers and small business owners who feel the blows coming down on millions today.
The Militant account of the April 16 rallies reported: “While prounion forces organized a counterrally on the opposite side of the capitol, thousands of union supporters intermingled with the tea party protest. They chanted and yelled prounion slogans, and rang cowbells. At times the chanting was so loud that it drowned out the speakers.”
Contrary to the impression given by this account, however, from the standpoint of advancing workers’ class interests, there was nothing positive about this effort to disrupt the tea party rally and prevent Palin from being heard. Whatever the broader aims of many involved, shouting down Palin was an attempt to silence someone with an opposing point of view. And many workers—not only those who share Palin’s views, but many others still looking for an explanation of the crisis and how to effectively fight its consequences—rightly reject such conduct as thuggish.
The April 16 events were in marked contrast to what happened at an earlier tea party protest in Madison on February 19, also reported in the Militant. That rally drew about 1,000 people. Tens of thousands of working people came to the prounion demonstration that same day—some estimates were as high as 70,000.
Protesters marched around the capitol for hours and never tried to disrupt the tea party rally. To the contrary, at times those denouncing Governor Walker’s antilabor legislation debated and argued with those who had come to hear the tea party speakers, seeking to sow doubts and neutralize some and to convince and win over anyone they could.
Closing down space to organize and speak is not in the interests of the working class in face of the capitalist class and its massive apparatus of state repression. Ultimately any actions aimed at silencing the expression of views will be used against working-class organizations by the capitalist government, their courts and cops, and their hired goons.
Taking the moral and political high ground in championing the right to speak and organize today will stand labor in good stead tomorrow, when we are called on to defend, by any means necessary, our pickets, our meetings, and our class organizations.
Insightful Facebook comments by comrades on the events around the Trump campaign.
Many people, many workers, support Trump not because he's a racist, but because he is talking about economic issues like the loss of well-paying manufacturing jobs that the other Republican candidates are not discussing. It is important and necessary to try to win over those workers, but when Trump's opponents come to a rally in Chicago, and many of them openly say they have come with the purpose of shutting down the rally, it makes it extremely difficult to have a good political discussion with those Trump supporters.
There is no disagreement that Trump is a reactionary demagogue, but we have to keep our eyes on the prize, which is to win workers away from his fool's paradise and to a more realistic perspective. Advocating shutting down his rallies is counterproductive in the extreme.
There's no doubt that there's a popular revulsion at Trump's poisonous rhetoric and a popular defense of immigrants, muslims, women etc. Such a reaction is welcome and necessary.
But shutting down meetings through disruption is a political mistake. I don't mean disrespect to any well-intentioned and potential fighters among those participating, but I do mean sincerely that closing off political space is of tremendous concern to anyone who would like to fight to change the world.
I want to discuss politics with many of those inspired by the demonstration in Chicago, but I also want to discuss it with those who attended the rally in earnest to hear trump speak. I don't think they're all brown shirts and irredeemable bigots, though a layer certainly are.
Shutting down political meetings is a dangerous road.
Will you shut down a union meeting if you happen to disagree? You may think you will, but you won't. Want to bet your front teeth?
The working class needs more space, not less, to discuss and debate politics.
Plus those who are celebrating the ‘great victory’ in Chicago are blind to the relationship of forces in this country today. The cops could easily have kept that rally going – and could easily shut yours down. They aren’t neutral.
The most imporant thing that happened in Chicago was the big demonstration outside the hall. That’s the road forward.
Likely everyone here was pleased there was a counter-mobilization outside the venue to protest and take objection to Trump's chauvinism and tough-guy act. In the future not only will there be counter-mobilizations but there will also be agitators organized by these counter-mobilizations that will engage in fraternization with those on the other side who are looking for answers and can be reached. Shouting down Trump, or any other candidate (how would folks feel if Trump supporters decided Sanders should not be allowed to speak) cedes the day to Trump. It makes him (and his supporters, the majority of which are looking for a way out of the crisis) appear to be the one who is the victim of undemocratic attacks and not the other way around.
Insightful Facebook comments by a comrade on the events around the Trump campaign. (Includes a couple of references to the initial exchange she posted this in.)
The art of politics is in knowing what to do next, and in this instance, starts with how you characterize Trump. Is he the fascist you love to hate? If the answer you come up with is "No, he's an opportunist who hopes to make a political career by gauging the current mood of disgust with politicians and the economic crisis they can't solve," you are not surprised when he avails himself of any port in a storm to capture votes.
You'll also realize that just because he's a demagogue doesn't make him any better or worse than Rahm Emmanuel, who covered up the police murders in Chicago, and whose party is the same one Trump used to belong to. Trump's got a big head and a trash mouth. Is he worse than Scalia, who said Black youth should set their sites on colleges with lower standards? No? Well, Scalia was a Republican, the party Trump now belongs to. Is he worse than Bill Maher, the contemptible guy you listen to each week, who made his name on the back of the term, "Politically incorrect," and whose favorite pass-time is ridiculing Islam and bragging about his assignations with Black women? No? Well he's a Libertarian. Should we shut down his TV show?
Should any or all of these misanthropes, based on their obnoxious rhetoric, be prevented from speaking in public? if so, to what end? Is preventing them from speaking going to stop a tide of reaction yet to come? No, winning workers at those rallies to understanding the political and social crisis is the first step in mobilizing to prevent such a tide from sweeping away their rights.
Should Trump and his thugs be condemned for advocating roughing up and roughing up those who disrupt his meetings, asking whether they're Mexicans, and pushing Black women around? Yes, of course they should. But then the question still hangs in the air: What do the disrupters expect will happen--that Trump, Sanders, Clinton, or anyone for that matter, will allow their First Amendment rights to be trounced? No, of course they won't.
Should Emmanuel be picketed and driven from office and thrown into jail? Yes, but as a Democrat, he's a protected species among so-called Leftists who are tied hand and foot to the liberals they bait. It would be good if everyone who has contributed to this discussion could go back to into their (reading) corners, take off their gloves, and leaf through Lenin's pamphlet, "Ultraleftism, an Infantile Disorder." He talks about revolutionary-minded cadre not substituting themselves for action initiatives that properly belong to the masses, but instead winning them, so as not to court a defeat before the day for victory has arrived. Just ask anyone who was on the beach in Grenada who survived Bernard Coard's depriving Maurice Bishop and Jacqueline Creft of their political rights, and lives, preparing the way for U.S. troops to sweep in and carry out the final mop-up of that revolution.
Obama invited the top cop in Boston to the White House for a beer after that cop's underlings attacked and handcuffed Louis Gates, a Black Harvard professor, for standing on his own porch, looking "suspicious" (read: Black) in front of his own house. That White House keg fest was an event worth protesting, but nobody did, including those in this discussion.
There's a broadside campaign on the part of the bourgeois press to get rid of Trump. Why? Because the Democratic and Republican parties are in a crisis which may well spell their doom. The Sanders and Trump campaigns are the electoral expression of masses of workers' disaffection with the parties of bourgeois rule, a kind of canary in the coal mine, except in this case, warning the rich. Should the cadre of Black Lives Matter become a tool in the Dump Trump frenzy to rescue what's left of the two parties of the exploiters? No, that is not why Black Lives Matter exists. Dump Trump is a trap to demobilize these forces, to distract them from the good work they have accomplished. It's one we should know better than to get caught up in, lest we sell our birthright of democratic rights for a mess of pottage left under the table when the Democrats and Republicans are done eating each other alive.
Instead, let's build the Black Lives Matter movement, Immigrant Rights fights, and a Labor Party based on the fight for $15 and a Union.
Ralph Miliband and Israel-Palestine
Ed Miliband’s father Ralph Miliband, a Marxist writer denounced by the Daily Mail as “the man who hated Britain”, left behind him two well-known books, Parliamentary Socialism and The State In Capitalist Society.
Less-known, but also valuable today, is a thin volume of letters in 1967 about Israel-Palestine between Ralph Miliband and his friend Marcel Liebman, who was then a contributor to the semi-Trotskyist Belgian weekly La Gauche.
The letters were translated from French by Peter Drucker and published in 2006 with an introduction by the Lebanese-French Marxist writer Gilbert Achcar.
Partly the letters are valuable in the same way that a view on any issue from a divergent and unfamiliar angle can be. In 1967, many assumptions on Israel-Palestine which currently go almost unquestioned on the left (in Britain, at least) were not assumed at all. And partly the letters are valuable because in them Miliband is exceptionally lucid.
The correspondence spans a few weeks around the June 1967 war between Israel and the Arab states.
The temper of the left on the Israel-Palestine question then was different from now. No-one on the left advocated wiping Israel off the map. Arab governments, and the leaders at the time of the PLO (then an annexe of the Egyptian government, without the autonomy it gained after 1968-9), openly advocate wiping Israel off the map, and everyone on the left dissented.
Inside IS (forerunner of the SWP), a small but substantial minority opposed SWP leader Tony Cliff’s line in June 1967 of backing the Arab states. There was a debate inconceivable today in the SWP or the SWP diaspora. (For the record: the forerunners of AWL backed Cliff’s line in 1967. We have learned since).
At the beginning of the debate recorded in the volume, Liebman is about as anti-Israeli as any socialist got those days. He expresses disgust that “the whole French left is basically for Israel... from [Jean-Paul] Sartre to [Socialist Party leader] Guy Mollet”, and says he wants to move to England where anti-Israeli sentiment is stronger.
In the first letter he denounces Miliband as “pro-Israeli” and “reacting as a European and a Jew rather than as a socialist”.
Miliband actually has a slightly rose-tinted picture of Israeli policy. He considers it “nonsense” to suppose there are “serious Israeli plans to conquer and subjugate Arab people outside its territory”.
Miliband is remonstrating with an indignant Liebman who suggests that Israel is about to invade and conquer Syria. He is right to do so: but in fact Israel would “conquer and subjugate Arab people outside its territory” in the West Bank and Gaza in 1967.
Miliband is critical of Israel’s foreign policy, of its attitude to the Palestinians who fled or were driven out in 1948, and of its bad treatment of Arabs within Israel itself. The criticism needed calibration. According to Achcar’s afterword, Miliband’s hostility to Israeli policy did indeed become steadily sharper (and rightly so, in line with events) after 1967.
But on basics, through the debate, Liebman moves closer to the axis of Miliband’s position: two nations, two states.
In his afterword, Achcar cites Miliband from 1973: “the idea I’ve always subscribed to [is of] creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel... a state, an institutional foundation on the basis of which more could be built in time to come, hypothetically with federalism, etc....
“[The] secular democratic state [combining all pre-1948 Palestinian territory, Jewish and Arab, which the PLO had advocated from 1969]... never was a solution, at the present time and for a long time to come; whereas my solution is possible, puts the Palestinians back in the historical and geographical swing of things and opens up new vistas”.
Liebman eventually concurred. In 1983 he commented on the murder of a Palestinian diplomat by Palestinian “ultras”. “Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians will find the way to compromise and reconciliation if the world continues to close its ears to the undeniable truths that [Issam] Sartawi never tired of repeating: peace is impossible unless the Palestinians... are granted the right to self-determination; it is just as indispensable for the Arabs to accept Israel’s right to exist”.
Even in 1967, Liebman emphatically affirms the right to exist of the Israeli-Jewish nation. But in 1967 he says it would be wrong to demand of the Arab states that they immediately recognise the right of the Israeli state to exist. That recognition can come only after time and after Israeli concessions.
Why? Because, so Liebman expounds at length, Israel is “in the imperialist camp”, is a serious enemy for Arab revolutions which are underway, and is founded on crimes against Arabs.
In his introduction to the volume, Achcar writes that “the paradox”, and “a rather common one”, was that Liebman’s anti-Israelism was rooted in him being more immersed in Jewishness, and having lost closer family members in the Holocaust, than Miliband.
That intense Jewish feeling generated in Liebman a revulsion against the Jewish state which turned out to be a commonplace bourgeois state, as mean-spirited, as chauvinistic, and as cynical in its alliances as any other. Miliband, who wore his Jewishness more lightly, was more detached.
Another influence on Liebman was his hope, common at the time, of “the Arab revolution”. Liebman concedes to Miliband that he had over-enthused about the claimed leftism of early 1960s Algeria, but claims that Syria’s “leftward shift” is “more convincing”. That was the Syrian regime of today in its early days, when the current dictator’s father was coming to the fore.
Miliband accepts Liebman’s term, “the imperialist camp”. Miliband was a “Deutscherite” on the USSR, seeing the USSR and its allies as more progressive and “imperialism” as meaning only the USA and its allies.
But, Miliband says, nothing else can be expected from a small bourgeois state like Israel surrounded by hostile neighbours than that it should seek allies where it can. Israel neither is, nor can be, a serious threat to what (little) “Arab revolution” is actually happening in 1967, or to future more serious Arab revolutions.
Miliband shows that all Liebman’s arguments evade a central point. “Although I would have preferred the creation of a Jewish-Arab or Arab-Jewish state at the time [of the formation of Israel, 1948], I’ve been forced to realise that everything — the history and evolution of the peoples in question, politics, sociology, etc. — made this solution entirely impossible and unacceptable for the forces on the ground.
“We can certainly discuss Israel’s borders, the refugees, anything you like, but... the existence of this state... can only be changed by force, that is by the liquidation of the nation (in one way or another, expulsion and/or liquidation) as the practical result of the liquidation of the state”.
“I posit the existence of the Israeli state, not out of Zionism etc. (all that is very much out of date now that the state of Israel exists, which makes what the great thinkers of the Second International said [about Zionism] of little relevance), but simply out of recognition of a reality whose disappearance would be a terrible catastrophe, given the only current conditions in which it could disappear”.
Miliband criticises the equivocation in “the unctuous statements in [the French Communist Party press] that a settlement ‘should not put in question [Israel’s existence]... How can anyone support the Arab leaders’ avowed positions without accepting their desire to liquidate Israel?” The Communist Parties backed the Arab states for reasons of Russian foreign policy, while still formally recognising Israel’s right to exist.
After 1969 the PLO came out with the formula of a “secular democratic state” (covering all pre-1948 Palestine) in place of the old line of “driving the Jews into the sea”. For a long while the forerunners of the AWL, like much of the left, accepted that formula. Miliband never accepted it, and Liebman only for a short time.
Achcar’s afterword quotes informatively from an article by Palestinian writer Elias Sanbar: the “secular democratic state” formula was concocted, on the PLO leaders’ request, by Palestinian professors at the American University of Beirut, and published in English and then in French... but not in Arabic!
It was a diplomatic formula, not a guide to action. From 1973 Palestinian leftists began to develop the “two states” idea, which Miliband and Liebman came to support, and which the AWL advocates today.
• The Israeli dilemma: letters between Ralph Miliband and Marcel Liebman, edited by Gilbert Achcar. Merlin Press 2006.
Saturday, March 12, 2016
....Millions of workers and others in the U.S. are fed up with all the bourgeois politicians and are looking for answers to the grinding effects of years of capitalist crisis. They have responded to Donald Trump, who has strengthened his position as Republican front runner — to the horror of party leaders and liberal commentators alike. Trump extended his lead, winning contests in Michigan, Mississippi and Hawaii March 8.
Similar sentiments account for the support for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, who came back from more than 20 percent behind to win the Michigan primary.
“I’m for anybody but Hillary [Clinton],” rail worker David Blanding told Hart as he took copies of campaign flyers at the New Jersey rally.
“Working people need to break with all of the capitalist politicians and parties,” Hart said, “and rely on our own strength and organization. We need to build and strengthen our unions, use union power, and build a labor party based on the unions to mobilize against the economic, social and political attacks of the bosses, and organize along the road toward overturning this dictatorship of capital.”
....Signs of a new capitalist downturn are growing, including a contraction in manufacturing in China, the U.S., the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Central banks in Japan, Sweden and the European Union have turned to negative interest rate schemes to try to “stimulate” the economy, without success. The bosses won’t invest in expanding production if they can’t make a profit from it.
“The Republican Party Is Shattering,” headlined a column by Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, in the March 3 Wall Street Journal. The Trump campaign shows “the top of the party and the bottom have split,” she warned. “Party leaders and thinkers should take note: It’s easier for a base to hire or develop a flashy new establishment than it is for an establishment to find itself a new base.”
“Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” former presidential candidate Republican Mitt Romney, declared in a March 3 speech. “He’s playing members of the American public for suckers.” It didn’t work. If anything Romney’s speech solidified Trump’s support.
Interviewed on MSNBC March 4, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who dropped out of the Democratic race before the primaries, said he couldn’t support Clinton, but wouldn’t rule out voting for Trump. The reason Trump gets support is not racism, Webb said, but that many see him “as the only one who has the courage to say, ‘We’ve got to clean out the stables of the American governmental system right now.’”
“If you’re voting for Hillary Clinton you’re going to get the same thing,” he said. “Do you want the same thing?”
Clinton’s campaign faces other problems that could derail it. The Justice Department announced March 2 it has granted immunity to a former State Department staffer who worked on Clinton’s private email server to cooperate in a criminal investigation into whether she mishandled classified information during her tenure as secretary of state. The administration has assigned more than 100 FBI agents to the investigation.
Polls show Bernie Sanders, whose “outsider” campaign mirrors that of Trump, would fare better than Clinton in a November election against either Trump or his closest rival Ted Cruz.
....Workers get off track if we spend energy trying to divine which judges will act more or less in our interests, any more than if we follow the ill-advised exhortations from labor officials to vote for the “lesser evil” of the capitalist politicians.
We need to rely on ourselves, on our class. On transforming ourselves as we fight, chart a course to overthrow the dictatorship of capital and build a society based on human solidarity and organized by self-confident workers and farmers. As a by-product of that revolutionary struggle, we can extract some concessions.
Friday, March 11, 2016
by Theodor W. Adorno
. . . . we [critical theorists] neither provided actionist programs nor did we even support actions by those who felt inspired by critical theory. I will not address the question of whether that can be demanded from theoretical thinkers, who are relatively sensitive and by no means shockproof instruments. The purpose that has fallen to them in a society based on the division of labor may be questionable; they themselves may be deformed by it. But they are also formed by it; of course, they could not by sheer will abolish what they have become. I do not want to deny the element of subjective weakness that clings to the narrowed focus on theory. . . . The objection, effortlessly rattled off, runs along these lines: the person who at this hour doubts the possibility of radical change in society and who therefore neither participates in spectacular, violent actions nor recommends them has resigned. What he has in mind he thinks cannot be realized; actually he doesn't even want to realize it. By leaving the conditions untouched, he condones them without admitting it.
Distance from praxis is disreputable to everyone. Whoever doesn't want to really knuckle down and get his hands dirty, is suspect, as though the aversion were not legitimate and only distorted by privilege. The distrust of whoever distrusts praxis extends from those on the opposite side who repeat the old slogan “enough talking already” all the way to the objective spirit of advertising that propagates the image—they call it a “guiding image”—of the active, practical person, be he an industrial leader or an athlete. One should join in. Whoever only thinks, removes himself, is considered weak, cowardly, virtually a traitor. The hostile cliché of the intellectual works its way deeply into that oppositional group, without them having noticed it, and who in turn are slandered as “intellectuals.”
Thinking actionists answer: among the things to be changed include precisely the present conditions of the separation of theory and praxis. Praxis is needed, they say, precisely in order to do away with the domination by practical people and the practical ideal. But then this is quickly transformed into a prohibition on thinking. . . . The much invoked unity of theory and praxis has the tendency of slipping into the predominance of praxis. Many movements defame theory itself as a form of oppression, as though praxis were not much more directly related to oppression. In Marx the doctrine of this unity was inspired by the real possibility of action, which even at that time was not actualized. Today what is emerging is more the direct contrary. One clings to action for the sake of the impossibility of action. . . .The forced primacy of praxis irrationally stopped the critique that Marx himself practiced. In Russia and in the orthodoxy of other countries the malicious derision of critical critique became an instrument so that the existing conditions could establish themselves so terrifyingly. The only thing praxis still meant was: increased production of the means of production; critique was not tolerated anymore except for the criticism that people were not yet working hard enough. So easily does the subordination of theory to praxis invert into service rendered to renewed oppression.
The repressive intolerance to the thought that is not immediately accompanied by instructions for action is founded on anxiety. Untrammeled thought and the posture that will not let it be bargained away must be feared because of what one deeply knows but cannot openly admit: that the thought is right. An age‑old bourgeois mechanism with which the eighteenth century enlightenment thinkers were quite familiar operates once again, but unchanged: the suffering caused by a negative situation—this time by obstructed reality—becomes rage leveled at the person who expresses it. . . . Pseudo‑reality is conjoined with, as its subjective attitude, pseudo‑activity: action that overdoes and aggravates itself for the sake of its own publicity, without admitting to itself to what extent it serves as a substitute satisfaction, elevating itself into an end in itself. People locked in desperately want to get out. In such situations one doesn't think anymore, or does so only under fictive premises. Within absolutized praxis only reaction is possible and therefore false. Only thinking could find an exit . . . . If the doors are barricaded, then thought more than ever should not stop short. . . . It is up to thought not to accept the situation as final. The situation can be changed, if at all, by undiminished insight. . . .
Pseudo‑activity is generally the attempt to rescue enclaves of immediacy in the midst of a thoroughly mediated and rigidified society. . . . The disastrous model of pseudo‑activity is the “do‑it‑yourself” . . . activities that do what has long been done better by the means of industrial production only in order to inspire in the unfree individuals, paralyzed in their spontaneity, the assurance that everything depends on them. . . . However, spontaneity should not be absolutized, just as little as it should be split off from the objective situation or idolized the way the administered world itself is. . . . Even political undertakings can sink into pseudo-activities, into theater. It is no coincidence that the ideals of immediate action, even the propaganda of the act, have been resurrected after the willing integration of formerly progressive organizations that now in all countries of the earth are developing the characteristic traits of what they once opposed. . . . By forgetting thought, the impatience falls back below it.
This is made easier for the individual by his capitulation to the collective with which he identifies himself. He is spared from recognizing his powerlessness; the few become the many in their own eyes. This act, not unwavering thought, is resignative. No transparent relationship obtains between the interests of the ego and the collective it surrenders itself to.The ego must abolish itself so that it may be blessed with the grace of being chosen by the collective. . . . The sense of a new security is purchased with the sacrifice of autonomous thinking. The consolation that thinking improves in the context of collective action is deceptive: thinking, as a mere instrument of activist actions, atrophies like all instrumental reason. . . .
By contrast the uncompromisingly critical thinker, who neither signs over his consciousness nor lets himself be terrorized into action, is in truth the one who does not give in. Thinking is not the intellectual reproduction of what already exists anyway. As long as it doesn't break off, thinking has a secure hold on possibility. Its insatiable aspect, its aversion to being quickly and easily satisfied, refuses the foolish wisdom of resignation. . . . Open thinking points beyond itself. . . .Whatever has once been thought can be suppressed, forgotten, can vanish. But it cannot be denied that something of it survives. For thinking has the element of the universal. What once was thought cogently must be thought elsewhere, by others: this confidence accompanies even the most solitary and powerless thought. . . .The happiness that dawns in the eye of the thinking person is the happiness of humanity. The universal tendency of oppression is opposed to thought as such. Thought is happiness, even where it defines unhappiness: by enunciating it.By this alone happiness reaches into the universal unhappiness. Whoever does not let it atrophy has not resigned.
SOURCE: Adorno, Theodor W. “Resignation”, in Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords, translated by Henry W. Pickford (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), pp. 289-293.
Radio lecture & first publication in German, 1969. First English translation by Wes Blomster, Telos, no. 35, 1978, pp. 165-168; reprinted in The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture, ed. J.M. Bernstein (London: Routledge, 1991), pp. 171-175.
Ellipses are mine, as is the boldface. Footnotes are omitted. This essay is so good, you shouldn’t miss any of it. Try to get hold of either translation.
Uploaded 22 December 2003
Site ©1999-2014 Ralph Dumain
Sunday, March 6, 2016
Jew-hatred for the 21st century: a review of "Satan at the Fountainhead: The Israel Lobby and the Financial Crisis" by Caleb Maupin
On page 270 of Satan at the Fountainhead: The Israel Lobby and the Financial Crisis, Caleb Maupin defines 19th century European anti-Semitism as: “....the reason for rising poverty as well as the decline of traditional values….”
Maupin tells us this kind of anti-Semitism no longer exists: revulsion over the Holocaust wiped it out. (Strangely, pages 270-271 are the only pages in his book where Maupin mentions the Holocaust. He brings it up only to rule contemporary concerns about rising anti-Semitism as out-of-order.)
But this book exists as an example of that old anti-Semitic wine in trendy new “anti-Zionist bottles.” It is a resource and a rationalization for a Jew-hatred of the 21st century.
Anti-Semitism is not a historical question superseded by events. Jew-hatred is a default setting of capitalism in all historical periods. It is used to deflect, disorient, and demoralize those seeking a scientific understanding of class exploitation and a road forward in the fight against the dictatorship of capital. Poverty, war, racism, union-busting, and the pornographication of bourgeois politics are laid safely at the feet of a wealthy cabal of international Jewish puppeteers, shielding the capitalist ruling class of each nation.
Maupin’s book rings few changes in this poisonous old canard. His Jewish bankers and their useful gentile idiots are rebranded as “Zionists.” They are linked with high-tech companies like Intel and GE, and low-wage companies like Starbucks and McDonalds.
All the tentacles of this Zionist octopus are united in one goal: exploiting and stealing money from US workers and using it to fund the exceptionalist colonial/settler/racist state of Israel. US workers who lost good-paying factory jobs in Detroit and Cleveland and must now work for a pittance at Wal-Mart should blame the Zionists. Workers whose families used to be “middle class” but now live in crumbling cities devastated by austerity budgets should blame the Zionists. Black workers whose kids are killed by cops (who share training/methods with Israeli cops) should blame the Zionists.
Satan at the Fountainhead says there is no connection between Jewish people and contemporary Zionism. Zionism, according to the book, is the political expression of a usurous policy of the wealthy, “draining” (in the vampiric sense?) resources to fund and defend Israel. (Apparently it is just a coincidence that Zionism and Israel are solely synonyms for Jew.)
The villains in Satan at the Fountainhead have names:
Jewish United Fund, Israel Lobby, Caterpillar, Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, Ayn Rand, among others. (To underscore Rand’s “Zionist” identity, Maupin frequently refers to her as Allisa Rosenbaum. Leo Strauss becomes Leopold Strauss for the same reason.)
Who are the heroes in the fight against this Zionist conspiracy to destroy the United States? First and foremost, Maupin proposes Franklin Roosevelt. This clearly underscores the intentional dishonesty of Satan at the Fountainhead. FDR is presented as the friend and ally of US workers: defender and promoter of labor unions, opponent of Jim Crow, and fighter against Wall Street usurers. (Popular Front Stalinism and fascist anti-Semitism may not be exactly two sides of the same coin, but it's hard to see the daylight between them the way Maupin stacks his rhetorical deck.)
One does not have to be a reader of Farrell Dobbs and Art Preis to know is Maupin is deliberately deceiving his readers about FDR. But Dobbs, for instance, is a good place to start if you want to see the type of working class movement that can be built to defeat the Jew-haters and the dictatorship of capital, and fight for independent labor political action and worker’s power.
The most insidious thing about Satan at the Fountainhead is the miseducation it gives to workers and youth looking for real answers and a real way out of today's slow-burning worldwide crisis of capitalist production and trade. It promotes the age-old pro-capitalist line that economic crises are not the normal workings of the capitalist system. It promotes the idea that electing someone like FDR to defeat the Israel Lobby would restore the “good wages” of middle class jobs.
6 March 2016
A good place to start for workers and youth in struggle is with this statement:
DC socialist: ‘Workers need to fight Jew-hatred!’
The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation By Abram Leon
Teamster Politics By Farrell Dobbs
N.B. I sent away for the book and read it (“so you won't have to.”)
Some of the more vomitous Jew-hating can be seen here: https://goo.gl/photos/VMZYzX9AFCH8663E7
Saturday, March 5, 2016
Friday, March 4, 2016
Marc Lichtman gave 5 stars to: It's the Poor Who Face the Savagery of the US Justice System http://www.amazon.com/review/discussions/start-thread.html/ref=cm_rss_rev_link0?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1604880856&authorID=A3PKVTL2F5W0T5&displayType=ReviewDetail&reviewID=R1XG580DY425PZ&store=yourstore
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Farrakhan is in the news this week, praising Trump for self-funding his campaign instead of taking "Jewish money."
The Militant has featured some excellent articles touching on Farrakhan over the years.