Sunday, September 25, 2016

Babi Yar - a Marxist view

Stalinists whitewashed Nazis’
massacre of Jews at Babi Yar 

(feature article)

Sept. 28 and 29 mark the 73rd anniversary of the cold-blooded murder over two days in 1941 of more than 33,000 Jews at Babi Yar (Granny’s Ravine) on the outskirts of Kiev, Ukraine, by Nazi occupying troops and some collaborating Ukrainian police units. Over the next few years another 70,000 to 80,000 were killed and dumped in the ravine. Most were Jews, along with Romas, pro-Soviet partisans and anyone else who resisted or the Nazis thought should die.

Babi Yar was the most infamous Nazi massacre of Jews in Ukraine. In 1933, the Jewish population numbered more than 1.5 million. Most of those who survived, fled the country. Today there are around 67,000 there.

Two days before the killing started, German forces organized to put up some 2,000 posters in Russian, Ukrainian and German ordering all Jews in Kiev and the surrounding area to appear Monday morning near the train station with all documents, money and valuables.

The Nazis spread a rumor that the Jews would be put on American boats and shipped to Palestine. Instead, they were stripped naked, pushed into the ravine in waves, and shot dead. The mass slaughter took two days.

After the defeat of the fascist forces by Soviet troops, officials — in both Moscow and Kiev —refused to erect any memorial to the Holocaust massacre.

Anti-Semitism was an ideological feature not only of Nazism, but of the privileged and reactionary government bureaucracy under Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin.

“The revolutionary wave revived the finest sentiments of human solidarity,” Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote in 1937 about the first years of the Russian Revolution. Referring to the counterrevolution led by Joseph Stalin that was consolidated in the late 1920s, Trotsky said that the “reaction has stirred up all that is low, dark and backward. … The bureaucracy does not even hesitate to resort to chauvinistic tendencies, above all to anti-Semitic ones.”

The Stalinist regime’s anti-Semitism became more strident in the post-war decades.Jewish intellectuals, artists and others were arrested and killed as part of an “anti-cosmopolitanism” campaign. Conspiracy theories were spun to target Jews, such as the “Doctors’ Plot” of 1952-53 in which Jewish doctors were accused of plotting to poison government officials.

Demands that a memorial recognizing the Jewish victims be built at the site of the Babi Yar massacre began in the 1940s. To head off continuing pressure for a memorial, Soviet authorities in 1957 ordered construction of a dam to fill in the ravine, and planned to cover it with a park and a sports stadium.

In October 1959 Viktor Nekrasov, a veteran of the Second World War and Stalin-Prize-winning author of the 1946 In the Trenches of Stalingrad, published a protest inLiteraturnaya Gazeta, the main literature magazine in the Soviet Union, and called for a monument to those killed.

But authorities drove forward with the project and began filling the ravine with waste. In March 1961, the dam collapsed and a wall of sludge and debris swept through workers’ neighborhoods. Officials said 150 were killed, but some reports say it could be several thousand.

Shortly after the disaster, Yevgeny Yevtushenko — a well-known poet, opponent of Stalinism and champion of the Cuban Revolution — visited the ravine and wrote “Babi Yar,” which began with the words “No monument stands over Babi Yar.” He gave public readings of the poem in Moscow and Kiev in August 1961. The poem was published the following month inLiteraturnaya Gazeta and reprinted all over the world. The day after it was published, the magazine’s editor was sacked by Soviet cultural officials.

Composer Dmitri Shostakovich worked with Yevtushenko to write “Babi Yar,” his 13th symphony, which included the poem as well as four other works against Stalinism and anti-Semitism by Yevtushenko. Soviet officials tried to sabotage the premiere. After two performances, the composer and poet were told the work would be banned unless they agreed to change some of the lines in two of the poems, “Babi Yar” and “Fears.”

For example, “I wish that men were possessed of the fear of condemning a man without proper trial” was replaced with “I see new fears arising, the fear of being insincere to the country.”

In 1966 Soviet author Anatoly Kuznetsov published a book entitled Babi Yar. Though heavily censored by Soviet authorities it described Kuznetsov’s visit to the site after the collapse of the dam: “I went there and looked in amazement at the lake of mud, swallowing the ashes, bones, stone debris gravestones.”

The book has a chapter detailing the slaughter at Babi Yar by Dina Pronichev, one of a handful of survivors.

In 1966, on the 25th anniversary of Babi Yar, thousands of people — from Kiev and throughout the Soviet Union — came to the ravine. A spontaneous rally took place that included three speakers, Pronichev, Nekrasov and Ivan Dzyuba, a Marxist who wrote Internationalism vs. Russification. Dzyuba’s book defended Soviet policy under the leadership of V. I. Lenin to back the fight to free Ukrainians and other oppressed people from centuries of oppression under the Russian empire and support their cultural development. But after Lenin’s death, Stalin revived Russian domination, including resettlement of ethnic Russians in Ukraine, known as Russification.

Dzyuba’s speech was clandestinely published as samizdat and circulated in the Soviet Union and abroad.

“Babi Yar is a tragedy of the whole of mankind, but it happened on Ukrainian soil,” Dzyuba said. “And therefore a Ukrainian must not forget it any more than a Jew.”

“But what is strange is that no battle has been waged against [anti-Semitism] during the postwar decades,” he said, “and what is even stranger, it has often been artificially nourished.”

“The Jews have a right to be Jews and the Ukrainians have a right to be Ukrainians in the full and profound, not only the formal, meaning of the word,” he said.

Under pressure, Stalinist officials eventually put up a monument to Babi Yar in 1976, but it contained no mention that any of those killed were Jews.

A monument to the Holocaust victims at Babi Yar was finally erected after the fall of the Soviet Union and the establishment of Ukraine as a sovereign nation in 1991, along with memorials to Jewish victims in World War II in cities across the country.

In November 2013 popular protest began in Ukraine that led to the overthrow of pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014. The government of Vladimir Putin in Russia sought to paint the protesters as rightists and anti-Semites.

Asked if there was anti-Semitism at the “Maidan” protests, one of a number of Jewish fighters leading self-defense units there told the Israeli news website Hadashot, “There was not even a hint of such attitudes.”

“There is little doubt that the spirit of freedom and unity is concentrated on Maidan in abundance,” he said.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fear of working class rife among Democrats and Republicans

SWP: What is ‘deplorable’ is capitalist crisis, not working class



Half of Republican candidate Donald Trump’s supporters are a “basket of deplorables. … racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it,” Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Sept. 9. “They are irredeemable, but thankfully they’re not America.”

Democratic Party leaders and liberal pundits defended Clinton, saying she was accurate — in fact, understated.

Considering Caucasian workers backward bigots is a widely held proposition among liberals and the left. They look at those who come to Trump rallies and see danger.

Trump — who also has no proposals to advance the interests of working people as they face “slow burn” depression conditions and worse to come — takes advantage of workers’ search for an alternative to capitalist politics-as-usual and the Clintons’ lack of credibility. But much of what he offers is rightist demagogy, aimed at dividing the working class.

He moved to capitalize on the angry reaction of many workers to Clinton’s contemptuous remark, declaring himself the representative of the “deplorables.”

“What is deplorable is what working people face in the U.S. and around the world,” Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy, the only candidate representing the interests of the working class in the election, told the Militant Sept. 19. “When I campaign door to door with supporters, workers tell us about the reality they face — joblessness, low wages, speedup on the job and more dangerous conditions. They tell us of social problems like opiate and heroin addiction ravaging their communities.”

Kennedy said her experience — and that of hundreds of campaign supporters talking to workers about the SWP and its program on their doorsteps — shows opposition to racist attacks and a desire to build unity among workers of all nationalities against attacks by the bosses and the government.

“The capitalist rulers are afraid of the working class. They portray the majority, workers who are Caucasian, as reactionary to divide and discourage us,” Kennedy said. “But it’s not working. The mass movement that overthrew Jim Crow segregation, as well as recent protests against police killings, inspired millions of workers of all races and strengthened the working class.

“If this wasn’t true, how could you explain the speed and breadth of Confederate flags being taken down at statehouses all across the South over the past year?” she said.

“We meet workers of all races and nationalities who are attracted to the SWP’s confidence that working people are capable of fighting for unity, organizing the unorganized, and opposing the bosses and their government’s wars,” Kennedy said. “By doing this we will become strong enough to displace the capitalist dictatorship and build a new society run by workers and farmers based on values of solidarity and dignity.”

In a Sept. 15 Financial Times article, Edward Luce interviews people in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, especially Caucasian workers who say they’re leaning toward voting for Trump. Hazleton was built by workers from all across Europe who emigrated for jobs and made a living mining anthracite coal and in other factory jobs that have since shut down. The town began to shrink.

But it began to grow again, as the Latino population, largely Dominican, grew from 4 percent in 2000 to nearly half today. In 2006 then Mayor Louis Barletta gained nationwide notoriety trying to demonize the newcomers.

Much has changed in 10 years. “A striking thing about Hazleton’s Trump supporters is their reluctance to copy their candidate’s derogatory language about Hispanics,” Luce writes.

“Every time I see a Dominican they greet me and they smile,” Karen Ezak, 73, who favors Trump, told Luce. “I have never had a problem with them. They’ve brought life back to the schools and churches.”

Members of the Socialist Workers Party knocked on doors in a working-class area in Hazleton Sept. 18.

“I’m a full-time office worker, but I need a second job,” Dottie Pisano, 52, told the socialists. “I don’t live a flashy life. But I can’t make it month to month with one job. And if you get sick, forget about it — you have to move in with your folks.” She doesn’t like Trump but leans toward him, saying, “I refuse to vote for that woman,” meaning Clinton.

Pisano’s neighbor Angela Carrasco, in her 20s, at home on parental leave caring for her month-old son Johnny, was born in the Dominican Republic but grew up in Hazleton. Like many in the town she works for the big Amazon distribution center.

“There was a lot of discrimination against Dominican immigrants in the past,” Carrasco said, “but it’s much less now.”

Writing off large numbers of workers who are Caucasian, the Clinton campaign is counting on votes from African-Americans and Latinos, as well as those of women. But leaders of Clinton’s campaign are worried about lack of enthusiasm among Blacks.

“The Clinton campaign has refocused its efforts to a big turnout push directed at black and young voters,” the New York Times reported Sept. 18. “Younger black voters, in particular have expressed misgivings about Mrs. Clinton because of some of the policies of her husband’s administration,” including the 1994 crime bill, which imposed tougher sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and Clinton’s moves to “end welfare as we know it,” which resulted in deeper poverty, insecurity and social crisis for millions of working-class women and children.

“I will consider it a personal insult — an insult to my legacy — if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election,” President Barack Obama, revealing some panic and a meritocratic contempt for Black workers, told the Congressional Black Caucus Sept. 17.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Last time U.S. workers were this deplorable? Glad you asked!

Middle-class contempt for workers
fuels liberal panic over U.S. elections
(front page)


U.S. president George Bush won another four years in the White House November 2 by a significant margin. He received 51 percent of the popular vote, compared to 48 percent for Democrat John Kerry. The result was even more stunning to liberals and middle-class radicals because the turnout was larger than in previous elections and closer to what Democrats and their hangers-on worked for and dreamed about. About 116 million people, or 58 percent of eligible voters, went to the polls—the largest percentage since 1968, according to the Associated Press—and Bush won 3.5 million more votes than Kerry....

Read in full here:

The Militant - November 23, 2004 -- Middle-class contempt for workers fuels liberal panic over U.S. elections

Democrats prepare to frame-up Black voters as deplorable, too.

Workers who support Republican Donald Trump were dismissed last week as "coal people" by Wlliam Clinton and "a basket of deplorables" by HRC.

Now the Black electorate is being put on notice:

Apprently there will be plenty of blame for U.S. workers of all races if Clinton is defeated.

This is striking confirmation of an assessment posted a mere 48 hours ago:

"The 2016 election is increasingly focused on the working class...."

Read the entire article here:

The Militant - Vol. 80/No. 36 - September 26, 2016 -- front page

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Israel Question and the U.S. Socialist Workers Party

The post-Moreno website published a critique of the US Socialist Workers Party approach to Israel this week.  It can be read in full here:

The thesis seems to be that the author sees no changes worthy of acknowledgment in the Israel question since the party's 1971 resolution. No need to re-strategize. Time has stood still.  (I wonder if he would say the same about early 1970s resolutions in the Black struggle?)

This 2015 US SWP editorial is a useful comparison:

End attacks on Jews,

brutal Israeli response

The stabbings and other attacks on Jews in Israel, praised by Hamas and acquiesced to by the Palestinian Authority, and the brutally disproportionate response by the Israeli regime pose more sharply than ever the need for a revolutionary working-class leadership in Palestine and Israel. The Socialist Workers Party calls for an immediate end to the attacks on Jews and the Israeli government’s murderous response.

The terrorist actions set back the just struggle of the Palestinian people for national rights and against discrimination. They deepen divisions among Jewish, Arab and other workers in Israel and politically strengthen the hand of the capitalist Israeli government.

Neither the reactionary Islamist Hamas nor the bourgeois nationalist Palestinian Authority has any perspective to mobilize and lead the Palestinian toilers effectively. Instead they organize and encourage terrorist actions and provocations — including unconscionable assaults on civilians — that can only lead to repression and demoralization.

Nor is there any revolutionary working-class leadership in Israel that fights to unite all toilers in the country to battle side by side in defense of their class interests. Such a party would campaign against expanding settlements in the West Bank, for ending the economic embargo of Gaza and to stop discrimination and brutality against Palestinians and other Arab citizens. It would oppose deportation of immigrant workers.

A working-class leadership is needed in Palestine and Israel that can chart a course to increase the confidence and capacity of workers and farmers to combat Palestinian national oppression and capitalist exploitation. Toilers in the Middle East have proven their ability to forge such a leadership, for example in the revolution that brought a workers and farmers government to power in Algeria in 1962.

Such a leadership can be constructed in the fight to recognize the state of Israel, demand a contiguous, economically viable Palestinian state, and advance immediate demands to give the toilers space to live and organize. These include: End the “collective punishment” and destruction of the homes of Palestinian families by the Israeli regime! Guarantee the right of Palestinian toilers to land, water, and the ability to travel to work! Halt the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank! Oppose Jew-hatred in any form!

The Militant - November 2, 2015 -- End attacks on Jews, brutal Israeli response


I also direct your attention to this 2014 editorial:

Chart road forward for 

toilers of Palestine and Israel 



Working people worldwide should join actions condemning Washington-backed Israeli assaults on Gaza and support the decades-long struggle of the Palestinian people, whose fight against national oppression has been shackled by the senseless cycle of Hamas terrorism and murderous retaliation of Tel Aviv’s armed forces.

A new round of negotiations between the Israeli regime and representatives of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas has begun. Under current conditions, a foundation for a way forward can only be built on an agreement that includes:

❖ Recognition of a Palestinian state, as it is today, as a stepping stone to fight for a single, viable geographical homeland for the Palestinian people.

❖ Recognition of Israel, as it is today, both a Jewish and increasingly multinational secular state. This includes the right of return for the Jews, which will become increasingly relevant as the world crisis of capitalism kindles Jew hatred as a reactionary bludgeon against fighting labor.

These are essential immediate demands working people should back today to break the cycle of wars and bloodshed. A course of struggle on this basis would boost the self-confidence of the Palestinian masses and open the door to a renewal of their involvement as the motor force of the Palestinian struggle. It would open space to fight the balkanization of Palestine, for jobs for the unemployed, for land and water rights and for Palestinians’ freedom to travel, including the right to cross the border into Israel to work. It would provide stronger footing for economic and social development in Gaza and the West Bank. And it would create political space for the class struggle and the advancement of working-class solidarity in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere across the Middle East.

Any course that does not bring an end to the recurring retaliatory conflicts will only perpetuate the useless sacrifice of Palestinian lives. It will only continue to drive Jewish working people in Israel to support Tel Aviv’s wars, suppressing class consciousness and class-struggle activity in Israel. And it will maximize pressure on Palestinian toilers and their backers to remain silent about, or seek to rationalize, the deadly anti-working-class strategy of Hamas.

Hamas’ course has increased not only its own unpopularity, but the isolation of the Palestinian national struggle. For the first time, virtually no Arab government has felt enough pressure even to feign support for the Palestinian cause. And Hamas is becoming increasingly unpopular in Gaza, the West Bank and throughout the Middle East, as it violently suppresses political opposition to its rule and time and again hurls missiles and builds tunnels into Israel with full expectation that its actions will precipitate an Israeli military response whose only result will be death and destruction in Gaza. Its only “strategy” is to appeal to bourgeois public opinion at the cost of Palestinian lives and limbs taken by Israeli attacks, hoping to push Washington and other imperialist powers to withhold military aid from Tel Aviv and exert diplomatic pressure on it.

Israel has existed for 66 years. Revolutionary-minded working people have ceased some time ago being able to effectively set Israel apart from every other country on earth. The Palestinian and other Arab masses, too, will pay a big price for continuing to do so — and they recognize this fact more than ever before and are willing to act on it, if a leadership steps forth to lead the political fight.

A strategy that can advance the Palestinian cause and the interests of working people must also start with the class struggle and growing social contradictions in Israel itself. It must reach out to and seek sympathy and support among workers and their allies of Jewish, Arab, and other backgrounds in Israel and relate to new stirrings of working-class resistance — from union battles and street mobilizations against government policies, to struggles of immigrant workers, fights against police brutality and other social protests.

A Palestinian leadership championing and fighting for this overall course would attract the attention of working people across the Arab and Muslim world, have a powerful impact on workers in Israel, and win support among workers and farmers in the U.S. and other imperialist countries. It would inspire workers in struggle, from port truck drivers fighting to organize a union, to protesters against the cop killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown and fast-food workers fighting for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. 


The Militant - August 25, 2014 -- Chart road forward for toilers of Palestine and Israel

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A survey of UK petty bourgeois Jew-hatred

Just finished the book being reviewed here, which was the subject of posts on my FB over the last week.

Posted for information purposes


Dave Rich: The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism

Posted by s4r4hbrown

In The Left’s Jewish Problem Dave Rich offers a careful and scholarly (but unfailingly readable) intervention into the highly charged topic of the left’s relationship with antisemitism – a meticulous genealogy of the movements and ideological skirmishes that lie behind the most recent and familiar manifestations of the problem:

As this book will explain, while Corbyn’s rise to the leadership precipitated the Labour Party’s problem with anti-Semitism, the political trends on the left that brought that problem about long predate Corbyn’s leadership, and stretch well beyond the Labour Party. His rise is a symbol of the problem; whether he survives or not, the issue of anti-Semitism on the left of British politics is unlikely to go away.

Rich reminds us that the British left used to view Israel favourably. Zionism was associated with socialism and, through its conflict with a British occupying force, was perceived as anti-colonial in nature. ‘The cause of Israel is the cause of democratic socialism’ asserted a Tribune writer in 1955. What changed? Rich cautions against overstating the role played by active antisemitism, but demonstrates some of the ways in which antisemitic tropes were able to infect the discourse, and the thinking, of people who saw themselves as part of an antiracist struggle.

An important factor in Israel’s perceived shift from socialist underdog to colonial oppressor was the Six Day War. This polarised opinion, exacerbating nascent left wing hostility to Israel, but strengthening an identity with Zionism amongst British and American Jews. Another significant factor was the rise of the New Left, less interested in bread and butter socialist concerns, driven instead by identity politics, single issue pressure groups and anti-American sentiment. Through this lens, Israel began to be seen as a colonial imposition on the Middle East.

Many of today’s familiar anti-Israel tropes began to circulate in the late 1950s. The PLO compared Zionism to Nazism and the Algerian National Liberation Front blamed Israel’s creation on the monopoly of finance and media held by ‘magnate Jews’. Rich explains in detail how another trope – the comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa – gained so much traction. Surprisingly, the Young Liberals play a major part in this story. The relationship between this group and the wider Liberal Party was bizarrely disjunctive in the 1960s. Their vice-chairman Bernard Greaves, for example, ‘dismiss[ed] Parliament as a hindrance to “the revolutionary transformation of society”’.

Some members flirted with Communism and others engaged in violent direct action as part of their campaign against apartheid. Among the key players was Peter Hellyer, Vice-Chairman of the Young Liberals. Through his campaigning he made connections with Palestinian and other Arab activists and this political environment exposed him to Soviet and Egyptian anti-Zionist – and antisemitic – propaganda. As Rich explains, the Soviet Union was a particularly important vector for anti-Zionist discourse. Examining these 1960s networks, and the way ideas circulated within them (rather like tracing the transmission of a virus) helps explain not just the preoccupations of today’s left but the precise arguments and images they instinctively reach for.

The British Anti-Zionist Organisation (BAZO) was seen as one of the more extreme groups. ‘It argued that Zionists collaborated with Nazis during the Second World War and that they encouraged anti-Semitism to the benefit of Israel.’ If that sounds familiar, so will the names of several of its members – Tony Greenstein, George Galloway, Richard Burden. Another significant grouping was Matzpen – but this Israeli anti-Zionist movement was viewed with disfavour by some, such as Ghada Karmi, because it acknowledged a place for a separate Jewish grouping within the socialist federation they proposed for the region. This particular fault line prompted charges of tribalism against anti-Zionist Jewish activists – accusations since nastily amplified by Gilad Atzmon.

While the anti-Apartheid movement functioned as a gateway to zealous anti-Israel campaigning, the NUS’s No Platform policy, intended to repel fascism and racism, became weaponised against Zionism and (in an ironic twist) had a discriminatory impact on university Jewish societies. These were deemed to be racist unless they renounced any expression of a Zionist identity. The impulse to outlaw abhorrent speakers is understandable. John Randall, a former NUS president, insisted:

There are some boundaries that a civilised society adopts, and there are some behaviours that clearly lie outside those boundaries.

But as Rich dryly comments:

As Jewish students would discover, the flaw in the policy is that those boundaries are movable.

This is just one of many moments in the book where the reader may experience an uncanny sense of déjà vu. In the 1971 words of Kate Hoey, vice-president of the NUS we can read a foreshadowing of the stance taken by current NUS President, Malia Bouattia.

Unquestionably the mass media has given no prominence to the Palestinian case which is understandable because of the Zionist influence among the people who control it.

Although much in this book was unfamiliar to me, all too familiar was the sense of disbelief and frustration that so many on the left, sensitive to other forms of prejudice, have a seemingly limitless capacity for glossing over or blanking out antisemitism except on the right. Here’s one example of this selective obtuseness. Jeremy Corbyn (who refused to campaign alongside David Cameron to Remain) shared a platform with Dyab Abou Jahjah, a Hezbollah supporter who posted Holocaust denial material on his website. When complaints were raised, Corbyn’s response was careless and arrogant.

I refuse to be dragged into this stuff that somehow or other because we’re pro-Palestinian, we’re antisemitic. It’s a nonsense.

This is an example of a manoeuvre I see increasingly often – the invocation of Israel/Palestine to shut down accusations of antisemitism that have nothing to do with that topic.

Although the possibility of a left-wing antisemitism just doesn’t seem to compute for Corbyn and his ilk, the problem’s roots can be traced back to the early years of socialism in the nineteenth century. Jews became strongly identified with capitalism and there grew up the idea of ‘a specifically Jewish network of power and wealth that needed to be broken.’ Capitalism and Jewish power become dangerously interchangeable ideas, both perceived as barriers to a just society. The left needs to face up to its patchy record on this front, rather than brush it under the carpet. Here Rich reminds us of just one blot on our copybook.

The Trades Union Congress in 1900 passed a resolution decrying the war as one ‘to secure the gold fields of South Africa for cosmopolitan Jews, most of whom had no patriotism and no country.’

I wholeheartedly recommend this illuminating and timely study – there are so many more examples and observations I’m tempted to quote, but I’ll end with some strikingly prescient words from Jeremy Thorpe, speaking in 1968:

Britain suffers little from the disgrace of anti-Semitism. But the amiable weakness for the underdog, which is part of our national character, can all too easily allow us to become sentimental about political problems, while the perverse British characteristic of preferring our foes to our friends often corrupts our judgment.

What is stake for workers in rulers’ debate on  trade pact?


....Workers should oppose all tariffs and other barriers on goods coming into the United States and other imperialist nations. The workings of the world capitalist market guarantee the plunder of the semicolonial world, Barnes notes, not primarily due to “unfair” terms of trade, but as a result of “the differential value of labor power and the gap in productivity of labor between the imperialist countries” and those oppressed and exploited by imperialism.

Working people need to chart a course independent of the bosses and their parties, reach out in solidarity to workers around the world and refuse to be sucked into the nationalist anti-free trade campaigns that would pit us against each other.

"The Socialist Workers Party is the only party standing up for the working class "

‘The Socialist Workers Party is the working 
class’s party’


EVERETT, Wash. — “The Socialist Workers Party is the working-class alternative to the Democrats and Republicans, the two capitalist parties that have no solution to the worldwide crisis of capitalism hammering the working class,” Alyson Kennedy, SWP candidate for U.S. president, told Norma Jean Foster, a retired school custodian and member of the Operating Engineers union, who she met campaigning door to door here Aug. 29. Everett is home to thousands of Boeing aircraft and other workers.

“Our conditions of life and work are worsening as the bosses try to make workers all over the world pay for their crisis,” Kennedy said. “The Socialist Workers Party is the only party standing up for the working class and explaining that we have to organize a movement capable of making a revolutionary change in this country to put the working class in power.”

Foster told Kennedy she was leaning to Hillary Clinton, “because I’m afraid Trump will get us stuck in foreign wars.”

“Both Trump and Clinton will continue U.S. wars abroad, representing the interests of the ruling class,” Kennedy replied. “Clinton has a long record as secretary of state acting to keep Washington’s power and domination abroad in place.”

A friend of Foster’s, a Boeing worker who was visiting, asked Kennedy, “Did you know that Donald Trump is speaking here tomorrow night?”

“Yes, that’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here. I think a lot of working people go to hear what he has to say because they see him as being an outsider, not a professional politician,” Kennedy said. “But he has no solutions for the working class either, and his demagogic attacks against immigrants and scapegoating Muslim people divides us.” Foster decided to buy a subscription to the Militant and a copy of Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege and Learning Under Capitalism by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes.

Grace, a woman originally from East Africa, greeted Kennedy on the sidewalk near her home as she was returning from her job as a caregiver. “I never met a presidential candidate before. In my country politics are very corrupt and they buy and steal the elections,” she said.

“They steal the elections here too,” Kennedy said. “If the ruling class thinks one of the candidates will harm their interests, they make sure their favored alternative is declared the winner.

“Workers all over the world face the effects of the growing contraction in capitalist trade and production and bear the brunt of their crisis. This is why my party starts with what is happening to the international working class.”

“I know that people in my country are oppressed and people in this country are oppressed too,” Grace told Kennedy as she signed up for a Militant subscription. “But I thought I was the only one who thought like this. Let’s keep in touch.”

Kennedy brought solidarity to a protest rally by Familias Unidas por la Justicia, an independent farmworkers union in Burlington, where some 300 union members struck Aug. 27 demanding a union contract with Sakuma Brothers Farms. The farmworkers, most of whom are indigenous workers from Mexico, have been fighting for $15 an hour and union recognition for three years. A few days later the union announced Sakuma Farms bosses had agreed to hold a secret ballot election and begin negotiating a contract.

“Very few political candidates are willing to be on the ground with the people that the capitalist system affects most, especially in rural areas,” Josefina Mora, a student at Western Washington University who supports Familias Unidas, told Kennedy at the protest. “I’m excited to meet you.”

‘U.S. troops out of the Mideast’

“We are talking to workers about the devastating impact the world capitalist crisis is having on workers around the world and how only the working class itself can chart the way forward for humanity,” Kennedy told a campaign meeting at the Bethany United Church of Christ in Seattle Sept. 3. “We are spreading the word about the Socialist Workers Party, getting it known among workers and winning people to join us campaigning. Anger and unease is widespread among workers about deteriorating conditions we face. Workers want to discuss and debate the way forward.”

“My party believes working-class struggles will grow as the depression continues to deepen, in much bigger ways than today,” she said. “As we gain confidence we will organize a mass working-class movement capable of taking political power out of the hands of the capitalist class and joining with workers worldwide to fight for a socialist world.

“Working people are concerned about the seemingly unending wars waged by the U.S. government, especially in the Mideast,” Kennedy said. “We demand Washington get the troops out now.

“We support the fight of Kurdish people for self-determination and against the attacks by the Turkish government backed by the U.S. military,” she said. “And we join in fights against attacks on Muslims and mosques here in the U.S.”

“We condemn attacks on the right to vote today aimed at disenfranchising workers who are African-American. From North Carolina to Michigan, Kansas to Tennessee, where I campaigned recently, thousands of people are being purged from voter rolls,” she said. “We join in the fight to restore gains won in blood like the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was dealt a blow by the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision that opened the door for state and local governments to carry out the attacks we see today.”

“People I know say they are voting for Clinton because she is a woman,” Peggy Lytle, a Walmart worker, told Kennedy over coffee after the meeting. “They don’t take into consideration her character and what she and her husband have done to ordinary people. I can’t stand Clinton or Trump, but now I know who I can vote for.

“I can’t handle these foreign wars,” she told Kennedy.

“They’ve been going on continuously for decades because the U.S. rulers’ attempts to use military power to maintain control over the world’s resources and to exploit the world’s workers have run into difficulties, creating crises and catastrophe throughout the Mideast and beyond,” Kennedy said.

Workers World Party promotes another Democratic Party candidate

Jesse Jackson, Charles Barron, and too many others to mention, now joined by Baltimore Democrat sHortly Witherspoon. He's not running for office as a Democrat again, just head of the NAACP.
Full story:

Sunday, September 4, 2016

On the Star-Spangled Banner

A comrade on Facebook writes:

I'm with Colin Kaepernick without equivocation, and I have no intention of standing for the anthem of Washington's jingoism and brutality. He ranks among a proud tradition of black athletes like John Carlos and Muhammad Ali who've demonstrated exceptional courage confronting imperial arrogance and racism at great personal risk.

But the star-spangled banner isn't about slavery. At all. And those who keep trumpeting that it is are being historically dishonest. I also happen to think that they're doing so to sidestep the real politics of the moment.

Here's a handy translation of the controversial 3rd verse from my friend Steve M.:

"Tories listen up -- white, black, whatever. If you’re thinking about taking up arms for Britain, consider this: We will kill you all. Every judge or rube, slave or Canadian or Indian chief."

With a few exceptions, history doesn't have clear "good" and "bad" actors. The young independent United States was led by slave-owning farmers and an infant capitalist class. That was still the progressive side in a war with the British empire, no matter how many working people were recruited to fight for it.

That poem stood on the right side of history in 1812, just as today rejecting it's reverence does.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Labor Day: SWP: ‘Working class needs to take political power in US’

SWP: ‘Working class needs to take political power in US’

WATERVLIET, N.Y. — “I’m registered as a Democrat, but it really doesn’t matter. They’re both awful,” Mary Whitney told Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy at her doorstep Aug. 22. Whitney is a member of the United Steelworkers union working at Saint Gobain’s nearby abrasive materials plant.

“The media and liberals are frantic saying Trump has to be stopped, you have to vote for the lesser evil,” Kennedy said. “But both Trump and Clinton, the Democrats and Republicans, represent the capitalist class. Their economic system, capitalism, is in crisis and cannot meet the needs of the majority.”

Whitney told Kennedy and SWP campaigner Dean Hazlewood about what workers at her plant and others in the area face — speedup, layoffs and decades of attacks by the bosses.

“The Honeywell workers locked out in Green Island know me on the picket line, I bring them donuts,” she said. Kennedy joined United Auto Workers Local 1508 members on the Honeywell picket line later that day.

“My boss at Saint Gobain wants to get rid of me,” said Whitney. “I’m always fighting for the rights of younger workers. But they don’t know the importance of fighting.”

“Because the bosses have no answer for their problems, the deepening capitalist economic crisis will continue to bear down on the working class. Young workers, all workers, will explode into battles to defend ourselves and our class,” Kennedy said. “I don’t know how long it will take, but I’m confident this will happen.

“At a certain point during the Great Depression in the 1930s, workers couldn’t take it any more and launched massive strikes and organizing struggles,” she said. “The Teamsters union in the Midwest, whose leadership included members of my party, led in a way that maximized the workers’ power and won popular support from farmers, the unemployed and others, resulting in gains for the working class.”

As part of advancing these battles, Teamster leaders pointed to the political course workers needed as a class, from opposing the rulers’ war preparations to the battle for equal rights for Blacks to the need for workers to build their own party and take power, Kennedy said.

Kennedy showed Whitney the new bookAre They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege and Learning Under Capitalism by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes. “No, they’re rich because of us,” Whitney said, laughing as she read the title.

Whitney got the book to go with a Militantsubscription. She joked that had she met the SWP earlier, she would have been even more of a thorn in the bosses’ side. She said she would show the party’s literature around on the job.

— Jacob Perasso 

FRESNO, Calif. — “It was probably more than 500 people who responded,” Justice Medina told Osborne Hart, Socialist Workers Party candidate for vice-president, here Aug. 18. In July Medina helped organize a large and lively action to protest the June 25 Fresno cop killing of Dylan Noble, a 19-year-old unarmed roofer.

“It was my first step for activism in Fresno,” said Medina, who is 20. He called the action “because I don’t like violence and I hate abuse of authority.”

“Fresno cops arrested me right after the protest,” he said. “I was charged with organizing an event without a permit and with obstruction of the sidewalk.” Medina has an Oct. 13 court date.

Ever since, “police cars sit in front of my house and cops stop me and my relatives for no reason,” he said.

“The police are set up to ‘protect and serve’ the tiny minority of capitalists,” Hart said. “They’re not reformable. But our protests are very important. They build confidence and solidarity and can push back against the cops, getting some of them charged with a crime or fired. To end cop brutality, working people need to take political power out of the hands of the ruling rich.”

Hart said workers and farmers in Cuba overthrew capitalism and U.S. domination in 1959, transforming themselves as they gained political consciousness and a sense of their own self-worth.

They reorganized society from top to bottom to meet the needs of working people, he said. The former regime’s police, brutal guardians of the interests of the bosses under capitalism, were dismantled and replaced by revolutionary-minded workers.

“When I was in Cuba a few months ago,” Hart said, “I saw a traffic stop in Havana where the driver got into a heated discussion with the officer. There was no violent attack or abuse, unlike what a cop here or in Philadelphia, where I live, would likely have done.”

“Working people create all the wealth,” Hart said.

“Yes, and it’s stolen from us,” Medina responded. “Let’s keep in touch.”

— Joel Britton 

QUEENS, N.Y. — “We are here to bring solidarity and join you in opposing attacks on Muslims and mosques,” SWP presidential candidate Kennedy told Bazlur Rahman of the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque here Aug. 21.

The mosque’s imam, Maulama Akonjee, and his assistant Thara Uddin were murdered in broad daylight Aug. 13. Kennedy was joined by a delegation from the party in New York, including Norton Sandler and Jacob Perasso, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate.

“This is important for the working class,” Kennedy said. “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

— Jacob Perasso